Disclaimer: The rights of Superman belong to DC comics and Warner Bros. I am making no financial gain from this story whatsoever.

A/N: I just realised by misspelling Batman by one letter, one can have 'Barman'. So if you ever see that in the story, please have pity. The 'r' and the 't' are suspiciously too close on a keyboard.


Chapter 8
Who Said It Was Going To Be Easy?

Superman was flying around later in the night, and saw a light flashing at him on a building. Curious, he flew there and descended to on top of the building.

"Finally," someone growled. "I thought it was gonna take all year to catch your attention."

Superman looked into the shadows to see who it was.

"If you wanted my attention," said Superman. "You have it. Why not come out of the shadows?"

The man obliged, and walked out. Dressed in all black with a yellow belt and a mask...

"Are those horns?" said Superman with a smile. Even though he already knew, he didn't want to give any impressions about what he did or didn't know, he asked, "And what's your name?"

"You're one to talk," said Batman, looking at Superman's outfit. "Who am I? I'm Batman."

"So, what are you doing here?" said Superman. "Gotham gotten too quiet?"

"Just wanted to see you, in the flesh," said Batman.

"Hang on, would you like a glass of water?" said Superman. "Your voice sounds rather hoarse."

"Shut up."

"So, you've seen me," said Superman. "And?"

"Wanted to know your intentions," said Batman.

"Oh for the love of..." said Superman, exasperated. "You too? Why is everyone doubting my intentions?"

"You can fly, you're an alien," said Batman, flicking fingers upwards counting. "Oh... and you're invulnerable apparently. Does that sound odd now?"

"Fine," said Superman. "I want to help out, and inspire. Surely you'll understand that, considering what you're wearing and doing?"

"Fair enough," said Batman.

"So, any other inquiries?" Superman asked.

"Well, word around some of the criminals is that Luthor's trying to gather resources," said Batman.

"Like what?" said Superman. "For what?"

"Criminals, weapons and so on," said Batman. "As for what, nobody knows, but I'm betting you spooked him."

"Pity, wasn't planning that," said Superman, frowning.

"That happens," said Batman, waving his hand. "I got word some guy is throwing playing cards in his crime scene. Joker cards."

"Sounds ridiculous," said Superman.

"Don't worry about it," said Batman. "I'm planning to hit the banks to get the mob cash. That's the big fish. I'll deal with that face-painted guy later. Just wanted to let you know our mere presence brings out situations we can't foresee."

"If you hear any word about Luthor's activities..." said Superman.

"I'll give you a heads-up," said Batman. "I'm going to keep an eye on it, since whatever Luthor's up to it sounds big."

"Thanks," said Superman.

"It's not going to be easy," said Batman.

"What is?" said Superman.

"Inspiring people," said Batman. "People sometimes react the opposite to what you think. Sometimes they think I'm a criminal."

"Yeah, I'm beginning to think so," said Superman. "People seem to hear I'm an alien, and voila anything I've done is forgotten. Instead, it's all 'what does he want to do to us?'"

"It's rough sometimes," said Batman, shrugging.

"Anything else?" said Superman.

"No, not right now," said Batman. "But we'll keep in touch."

"Like bumping onto another building next time?" said Superman, chuckling at his own joke.

"By the way," said Batman, "I'm going to ask you not to reveal my identity."

"What identity?" asked Superman.

"I've seen you do your thing," said Batman. "You enter situations already aware of what is going on inside. You can see through objects, I bet. So... don't go around blabbing about my identity."

"Yes, I can see through objects," said Superman. "I just don't know who you are."

"Wait," said Batman. "You're saying... you didn't peek under the hood?"

"You're a hero," said Superman. "And you're hiding your identity. Not my place to check."

"You really are great at fooling me, or crazy," said Batman. "But I like your style."

"If I ever need to, I always can," said Superman.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"You've got some nerve, Kent," she growled, waving a newspaper in the air. "You manipulative, no good, sneaky, article-stealing..."

"What the blazes are you on about?" said Clark.

"You managed to write an article on the hostage situation at the Sharks' stadium," she snarled.

"Yes, and...?" he asked.

"Argh!" she exclaimed. "You told me to go get it."

"Yes, and you weren't anywhere nearby when I got there," he said. "What - you want me to drop a story you claimed dibs on that you didn't collect?"

"But, how did you even get there before me?" she asked, angrily. "The traffic was outrageous."

"You had a headstart," he said, thinking quickly about this problem. "I managed to get lucky and get on a news helicopter that was heading there."

"And you couldn't tell me?" she asked.

"You were long gone," he said. "I can't do telepathy. I missed the whole events still, all my quotes are from people who were nearby then."

Lois still looked at him with suspicion for the rest of the day, but she let the matter go.

"Hey, look at this," said Jimmy, holding a remote. He pointed it at a tv screen and raised the volume.

"... asking questions of relatives of victims from crimes," was heard as the images of gunshot holes were shown on a wall. "While some have been saved, undoubtedly, others are asking why their loved ones were not helped?"

Images of a neighbourhood appeared, with a small street separating houses. Outside a house stood a police car, with the yellow tape held up. A pool of red lay on the ground.

"Nancy was just nineteen years old," said the background voice. "She got her first car two months ago, and was by all accounts very proud of it."

The scene dimmed slowly, and lost it's colour as it became black-and-white.

"Last night," continued the voice, "she was jumped by two criminals attempting to take her car. Resisting them, bravely, she was shot three times in the chest."

The scene faded to black, and the voice said, "She was dead before the ambulance even arrived."

"Where was he?" spat a man, who's despair was etched on his face. "Flying about, claiming to save people? Where was he when my little girl needed him?"

"It was on the same night as the hostage attempt on Sharks stadium," said the background voice.

"Flying about in his ridiculous tights," said the man, "saving billionaires and their friends... why couldn't he come and save my little girl?"

The man sobbed, as the cameras continued to film, and...

Jimmy switched off the t.v. screen.

"Are you kidding me?" said Lois. "Is he getting criticised for not stopping all crimes?"

"The guy there lost his kid," said Clark, who shook his head after being silent in a daze. "He's just grieving."

"No, he's lashing out," she said. "Ridiculous to expect Superman to be a constant saviour."

"Is it?" asked Perry, who walked by as the t.v. program was playing. "Here we have an individual who apparently can fly, withstand any attack we know of so far, and has a great speed. And this individual has been helping out people all over the city, saving lives. Someone who loses a loved one to a similar situation then asks 'why not him or her?'"

"So, he has helped when he can... then expect him to help everyone?" said Lois. "It makes no sense!"

"Nothing in this situation makes sense," said Perry. "Nothing. He's a deus ex machina in real life. There is no prediction to where or when he'll arrive. He pops in and saves someone from certain harm or even death. And imagine seeing someone you love in the same situation but no, nobody helping him miraculously. Was there something he/she did wrong? Is this Superman picking who to save, or is he unable to save everyone? Is it fair, then?"

"But..." began Lois, but was silenced as Perry raised his hand.

"I'm not saying it's the least bit rational," said Perry. "Or right. But since when did people react rationally all the time?"

"Perry!" someone yelled some metres away.

"What?!" yelled Perry right back.

"There's been an fire in the Metropolis Electricity," said the person. "Also there's a school..."

Perry then shouted out some orders, but Clark had tuned everything out after hearing the 'fire' bit as he rushed as fast as possible without being noticeable.

Superman soared high in the air towards the Met. Electricity, and could see the smoke billowing in the air from a distance back. He lowered quickly and saw a few workers outside.

"Is there anybody stuck inside?" he said.

"I don't know," said a man, coughing at the smoke. "I think so."

Superman went inside and blew as hard as he can. It took a few minutes but he managed to get as much of the fire out as he could. As he looked around for anybody who was hurt, the man he spoke to earlier was walking to him quickly, still coughing.

"Superman!" he said loudly, hacking coughs now. "There's an accident at a school, the building's apparently collapsing."

"Where's the school?" asked Superman.

"It's Metropolis School of..." said the man, filling in Superman with the details.

Superman flew there as fast as he could. As he arrived, he noticed emergency crews had already arrived. The sight seen was nothing short of a tragedy.

A building, obviously decades old in structure, had collapsed due to it's own weight or some other cause he could not tell. Dust still filled the air in a small radius surrounding the school. The playground beside it not visible due to the debris on it, but he could make out the bent metal poles of a swing in the rubble. Many children were already outside the building, thankfully able to escape the crumble before it got too late. Some were already reunited with their parents or guardians, while others were tended to by the paramedics, while some parents stood helplessly looking around for any sign of their children.

"Thank goodness you've come," said a police officer. "We can't account for forty-nine... people."

"I'll look into it," said Superman, not waiting another second and flying towards the rubble.

He spent minutes picking up broken chunks of concrete and heaving it off, which turned to one hour, which turned to two hours. He flew back and forth, carrying the concrete chunks to somewhere nearby, not risking tossing them away should they hit someone. He did not stop, and one by one, slowly by slowly managed to find the forty-nine. He did so despite him knowing the situation before even removing the rubble away. He didn't speak to anyone, he didn't stop for a moment until he was done.

Silence, sombre silence, filled the air as everyone around waited and watched Superman continue to clear the collapse out. The emergency crews were the only ones moving as they looked for anything they were needed to deal with as more and more could be reached. News crews stood, filming, but no reporters' voice was heard throughout the situation. What could be said to equal what was being seen?

At no point did Superman let on what he had suspected, in case he was wrong. From the moment he was told some were still trapped in the building, he used his hearing to try to find a clue of an individual. Despite him acting in removing the debris, he didn't forget what he heard when he got close to the damaged building. Or more like didn't hear.

He could hear no sound of breathing, no shuffle of movement.

No beat of a heart.


A/N: Feedback is always appreciated. What don't you like? What do you like to see more of?

By the way, Joker will not appear in this story, as far as I'm planning currently. Just a comment from Batman.