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He knew that coming to Gotham City without first discussing it with the Batman would probably not end well. He had been in the city before for various reasons but never for something like this. As Clark Kent, he had met his suspect a few times for interviews, social events, and other Daily Planet obligations. Never had he met the man as Superman.
But it was Superman who had come across the paperwork for the illegal arms deal while breaking apart one of the several dummy corporations run by Lex Corp. It had taken him a while to plow though everything and then a while longer to fully understand what it all meant, but his investigation eventually led him to a partner of Luthor's. Lex Corp. didn't have the capabilities to build all of the parts in the new fangled nano-technologies and had therefore been forced to outsource to a company in Gotham City.
Even as an outsider of Gotham City, he knew that he had to have a very solid case against the billionaire playboy if he was going to go to the local authorities. He considered going over the heads of the Gotham police and going straight to the FBI but the Batman had vouched for the Commissioner and he figured he might as well give the man a shot. And with the Batman not answering his calls, Superman was forced to take everything he had to Gordon before he could have the detective look it over.
Predictably, it had been both easy and annoying to get in touch with the Police Commissioner. He had simply walked through the front door of Police Headquarters-ironically housed in an old Wayne building, but what important facet of Gotham wasn't connected to the Waynes in some way? Everyone stared at him.
Even the Riddler, who had just been brought in it seemed, had stared at the Kryptonian with a dumbfounded look on his face as he passed in the corridor leading to the elevators. Within just a few minutes, Superman was being greeted by Gordon personally and was invited into the man's office. It was a little darker than the alien was used to but he didn't much expect anything different. A single desk lamp was the only available light and he saw a window by the overstuffed filing cabinets was left open despite the November chill. It was either broken or left that way for a friend. Superman suspected that both options were equally likely knowing what he did of the Batman and his relationship with the law enforcement of his city.
"What can I help you with?" Gordon asked politely as he offered the Kryptonian a plastic cup of water. The alien took it out of politeness but set it on the desk before answering the man. The Commissioner didn't appear to be comfortable enough to take a seat. Superman didn't bother to ask for one. The only place to sit in the office was behind the desk. There was a couch but it was currently holding a wall of boxes that Superman could guess contained the files of cases that required the man's attention in some way. The superhero didn't envy this man his job.
"Something has come to my attention," he finally said after thinking over his words very carefully. "It concerns a powerful member of your community and I thought you should be aware of it."
"Which member of the community are we speaking about?" Gordon asked, suddenly all business and his nervousness washing away from him with the knowledge that there was possibly a case to be dealt with.
"Bruce Wayne," Superman said and the man actually snorted in amusement.
"Didn't know the JLA was handling paternity cases these days," he joked and Superman raised an eyebrow at him.
"We don't," he said and gave the man the binder he'd brought with him detailing everything he knew about the arms deals. "This is about illegal weapons trading." Gordon looked at him with complete shock. He set his coffee mug on the desk and opened the binder in his hands. As he read he walked around the desk and sunk down into his chair.
"You're certain?" Gordon asked even as he continued to plow through the pages at a rate Superman knew meant he was just skimming.
"Yes," Superman said. "It's all there. Wayne Industries not only built the vital component for the new weapons system, they took a cut directly from the deal. They were directly involved with the illegal trade."
"But are you certain it was Bruce Wayne himself?" Gordon pressed. "The guy's a good person and not all that bright either."
"I can't speak for his character," Superman said, "but he left a pretty significant trail of evidence behind him." He refrained from mentioning that this fact said more than enough about Bruce Wayne's intelligence. Gordon shook his head.
"I can't believe this," he said. "This doesn't sound like Bruce."
Superman was forcibly reminded why he had wanted to involve the FBI first and foremost. Bruce Wayne just knew too many people. But Batman had vouched.
"Look Commissioner," Superman said and the man looked up at the forceful tone. "You're the first one I've shown this to. I wanted to go directly to the FBI or the NSA but Batman vouched for you. If you're too close to this man to look at this objectively you need to tell me now."
"I'll be fine," the man replied in a tone that Superman would have called mocking if he'd known the man a little better. "In this city, in this job, everything's personal. You learn to look past that quickly enough. " He set the binder down on his desk and leaned forward on his elbows. It cast his features into the light and the tone of his next words was harsh and commanding. "But if you don't have rock solid evidence against him you need to tell me now."
"It's all in the binder," Superman reiterated. "I know it's a lot to go through but it's all there."
"Well, unfortunately, Bruce Wayne leaves tomorrow for a very important business conference in Iceland," Gordon said and Superman suddenly saw the folly in his timing. "If I keep him from that conference on a charge that can't hold the city will most likely go bankrupt from the lawsuit. I don't have time to go through this thing with a fine tooth comb so I'll ask again: is this solid information?"
"It's on you if it's not," Gordon warned and Superman nodded, not overly concerned. He knew what he had. The Commissioner picked up one of the three phones on his desk and was soon talking to a judge, asking for an arrest warrant. It took a few hours to push all the paper work through and get the troops rallied but in the end Bruce Wayne was in handcuffs by three in the morning. It would have been sooner but they'd been forced to search through several different clubs in order to find him, supermodels and all.
Superman watched him being escorted to an interrogation room by a rookie who looked both star struck and concerned. Gordon came up behind him only moments after the heavy metal door shut behind the two men.
"Care to join me?" he asked.
"Really?" Superman replied, surprised. He knew Gotham's general stance when it came to superheroes and vigilantes. He was actually quite surprised not to have been thrown out already.
"Sure," Gordon shrugged. "My usual cape isn't answering the floodlight and with Wayne's attorneys coming any second I'll need all the advantage I can get."
"I'd be happy to help," he said with a smile.
"Great," Gordon replied with his own smile. "Just remember, you're not there to talk or ask questions. You're thereto look scary and imposing." The human then eyed his bright red and blue armor. "Well, as scary and imposing as someone can be in that costume."
"What's wrong with my armor?" he asked, actually offended. He had received jabs and jibes before-he got them all the time actually-but he hadn't expected such a comment from Gordon of all people.
"It's a little, uh, cheery," Gordon replied. "This is Gotham son, it takes a little more than an alien origin story to shake people up. Come on." He followed the human into the interrogation room in silence. It wasn't because he was respecting Gordon's request, he was simply too surprised to say anything. He had known that Gothamites were a unique breed, but it was a little hard to keep up once you were actually trying to work with them.
The interrogation room was far more creepy than was necessary in Superman's opinion. It was a long and narrow room with cinderblock walls. Half of the overhead lights were broken and the ones that did work were flickering precariously. The door was solid metal and they had to be buzzed in by a guard in the control room four floors down. Wayne was seated at the metal table, handcuffs removed, and Superman saw the rookie officer slip out without a word. Gordon crossed over and took his seat without a word, opening the file in his hands, and looking perfectly content to ignore Wayne for several minutes. Superman took that moment to quickly look through the two-way mirror and saw that there were several people in the viewing room that he assumed would be the DA, his staff, and some detectives.
"Look, Jim," Wayne said and Superman instantly knew that he had no idea what was going on. He sounded much too carefree. "If this is about that creepy horse statue in Gateway Park, I'll just pay for the damages." Gordon looked at the man as if he had grown another head.
"I have no idea what that means," the Commissioner said and he sounded as if he was scolding his own son. Once more, Superman was questioning the man's objectivity to the situation.
"Oh," he said. "Then way did I get arrested?"
"They didn't tell you?"
"They probably did," Wayne replied with a shrug. "I wasn't really listening."
"You're here because of Project Gen-Z," Gordon said. Wayne looked blank. "Do you know what that is?"
"It's one of your company's projects," Gordon said. "The one concerning weaponized nano technologies."
Wayne shrugged and then sighed.
"Look, Jim," he said and splayed his hands out on the table. He looked the picture of confused rich boy. "I don't handle most of that stuff. I mean, Lucius has been trying to get me interested in all of that but most of it puts me to sleep."
"What are you telling me?" Gordon asked.
"I'm telling you that if you have questions about the company, I'm not your guy," Wayne said and his blue eyes flickered from Gordon to Superman. "And since when does Superman do anything in Gotham?"
"That's not your concern," Gordon replied offhandedly, quickly flipping through the file in front of him.
"Busy. Focus, Bruce."
"What about this project is so important?"
"Who handles the weapons projects in Wayne Industries?" Gordon asked. "Specifically, who handles where the finished project ultimately ends up?"
"Uh, let's see," Wayne said and then looked up at the dark ceiling as if trying to remember something very important. He even scratched at the back of his neck. "I think that would Cindy Hanson. She's this really cute blond, brown eyes, spiky heels."
He got a faraway look to him and Superman was actually surprised that the man had the capacity to be that airheaded, especially considering the environment he was currently in. He wondered if the man was intoxicated. There hadn't been any obvious signs but what other explanation was there? Gordon looked incredulous and snapped his fingers several times in front of the younger man's face in order to get his full attention again.
"Focus, Bruce," he snapped. "This is important. What do you know about Ms. Hanson?"
"Nothing," the man shrugged again. "You'd have to ask Lucius."
"Alright," Gordon replied and stood up. "You wait here. We'll get this cleared up."
He walked past Superman with a glare that the hero knew meant he was about to get yelled at. He hadn't realized that Bruce Wayne was such an airhead. On paper it had seemed as if the man played a much bigger role in his company which had been what led them to believe that all this had been his doing. Apparently, that was no longer the case.
"Can I at least get some coffee?" Wayne shouted after them as the door closed. Nobody bothered to answer him.
"You said the case was solid!" Gordon snapped.
"The evidence suggested that it was!" Superman snapped back. "On paper, it was solid." Gordon just glared knowing that he had no argument. He had, of course, jumped the gun. He hadn't taken the time to read through that large binder. He had simply taken the word of a visiting superhero. He was so used to taking Batman at his word he hadn't stopped to consider that he shouldn't take Superman at his word without first testing it. Clearly, Superman was no Batman.
Gordon simply turned and walked away.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to call Wayne's butler," Gordon replied. "Someone has to pick his drunken ass up."
Wayne's butler was everything Superman expected of a butler. British, buttoned up, looking incredibly out of place standing next to a frumpy Commissioner. Superman doubted that the man's suit had ever been wrinkle free. The man's sleeves were rolled up, his white hair was going every which way, and his tie was loose. He looked as if he been working nonstop for days which wouldn't surprise Superman in the slightest.
However, the little boy, likely no older than nine, was a surprise to the alien. He was clearly with the butler-Pennyworth-if the fact that the old man was holding the boy's hand was any indication. It took the Kryptonian a moment to remember that the boy was the new addition to Wayne's family. A foster child. He couldn't remember the boy's name. At four-thirty in the morning he looked tired and he kept trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes with the fisted sleeve of his grey hoodie. He was wearing black sweatpants and some red Converse sneakers. He clearly had just rolled out of bed. Superman felt a little bad. He hoped the kid hadn't been too worried about his guardian.
The alien watched as Wayne was escorted back from holding and moved across the room to speak with him quietly. The man glanced at him as he approached and then turned back to the paperwork in front of him. The police officers surrounding him scattered as Superman drew near.
"Sorry about the mix up," he said quietly and Bruce Wayne looked up again. Unlike before, his eyes held no confusion, no dimwittedness, and no laughter. They were deep and cold. It fully surprised Superman.
"Next time you decide to do business in Gotham," the billionaire hissed, "you might want to make sure you've got the right guy."
"The evidence pointed directly to you," Superman replied, unphased and unwilling to back down. Wayne broke eye contact long enough to smile heartedly at the clerk returning his wallet and four thousand dollar watch. But once the clerk walked away, the billionaire turned back to him, still ice cold.
"You can't build a case on paper alone," Wayne said. "It takes more than a binder full of secondhand information to result in a conclusion worth anything; you should know that by now." Superman was stunned into silence. Not by the meaning of the words, but by the words themselves. He'd heard them before. From the Batman. Wayne smirked at his dumbfounded expression, slipped his wallet into his back pocket, pulled his watch on and then walked towards the butler and the kid.
When the man reached them the kid silently demanded to be lifted up and Wayne complied, easily settling the youngster in his arms. The boy closed his eyes and seemed to fall asleep. The billionaire had a small conversation with his butler that the alien didn't bother eavesdropping on before the small group began to move towards the door.
Wayne turned his head to look Superman in the eye as he passed through the archway towards the elevators. In the brief moment before he disappeared from sight, Superman could easily tell who he was looking at and he couldn't help but smile. Just a little bit. His trance was broken by the sound of the heavy binder slapping down on the counter next to him. The hero turned to see Gordon looking even more frazzled than he had five minutes ago. Apparently, a lot happened in five minutes.
"Somebody get this down to the boys in white collar," he told the clerk. "Tell them to pick through it with a fine toothed comb and then send anything relevant to the police over in Metropolis."
"Yes, sir," the clerk said and quickly disappeared with the binder.
"I still can't get a hold of Batman," Gordon said under his breath clearly not wanting to be overheard.
"And you think I can get in touch with him?" Superman asked, genuinely curious.
"Can't you?" Gordon challenged. Superman shook his head.
"Actually, no," he said. "The Batman's a ghost. Even to us."
"He's not a ghost," Gordon admonished. "He's a man; a creepier man than most, but still a man."
"You would know better than I would," Superman replied. Gordon gave him an assessing look that Superman couldn't quite read.
"Yeah," the man said. "I guess I would."
"Can I ask something?" the alien blurted out, on impulse. If he didn't ask now he would lose his nerve to. "Something important? About the Batman."
"What?" Gordon acquiesced though reluctantly.
"Do you know who the Batman is?" The Kryptonian tuned his hearing to the man's heartbeat. If Gordon was about to lie, he wanted to know.
"Sorry son," he said. "The Batman's nothing but an urban legend." The alien looked at him as if he was crazy. Gordon hadn't talked about the Batman like that before. He had made it quite clear that he had known the masked vigilante all along. He had even said outright that he hadn't been able to get in touch with him during the night.
"What about earlier?" the Kryptonian asked floundering for an understanding. "What about the signal on the roof?"
"You mean that busted up flood light?" Gordon asked. "I keep telling maintenance to fix that thing." The man winked and suddenly everything clicked into place. Gordon would probably never outright admit that he took help from the Batman. It was just one of those things about Gotham City that only a Gothamite could understand the logic behind. Superman smiled.
"Got it," he said. Their conversation probably would have continued but at that moment every phone on the three upper floors began to ring. Desk phones, cell phones, and even a majority of the radios sprang to life in an electronic signal of something bad.
"Arkham break out!"
The shout sprang from a random detective that Superman didn't know and it brought the building to life. Uniforms, detectives, clerks, and secretaries began moving. Most of them ran to the elevators in such a fluid mob that Superman was certain that they had practiced such an exit.
"Well, Superman," Gordon said sounding just as calm as before. "You can show yourself out of the city?"
"Do you need any help?" the hero asked and Gordon smirked.
"Careful Superman," the human said. "Wouldn't want you to step on anyone's toes, would we?" And with another all-knowing smile the human disappeared into the chaos. Superman left after that, heading towards Metropolis.
In all honesty, he was glad to put the screaming sirens, alarms, dark offices, and split-personality playboys behind him. He didn't much care for Gotham.