mithen: (Hand on Shoulder S/B)
[personal profile] mithen
Title: You Can Quote Me On That
Pairing/Characters: Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: None
Fandom: DC Comics
Summary: Batman stops by when Clark Kent is writing a newspaper story about Superman, who's not popular in Metropolis at the moment.
Word Count: 1600

“I know you’re there.” Clark Kent didn’t turn from his computer to look at the figure crouched in the window of his apartment.

“I didn’t expect otherwise,” said Batman, slipping to the floor in a sinuous whisper of cape and kevlar. “What’s wrong?”

Now Clark did shoot an annoyed glance over his shoulder. “What makes you think something’s wrong? And what are you doing here, anyway?”

“To answer the second question first, is it so strange that I’d want to stop by and say hello to my…” A glimmer of uncertainty touched Batman’s voice, “...significant other?”

“You don’t sound like you’re sure that’s the right word,” Clark muttered, looking back at the computer screen.

Boyfriend is high school; lover is medieval; partner is rather dry. I confess to being at a loss what exactly I should call you.”

My reason for living is a common response.”

“You know you’re not my reason for living,” said Batman, quiet and factual. “Just like I’m not yours.”

“Which is in part why we are...whatever exactly we are, I guess,” said Clark with something close to a laugh. “Which brings us back to the question: why are you here?”

Batman made a small, catlike sound in his throat that was also close to a laugh. “I’m in Metropolis for the Murry case. There was a lead I needed to follow on the waterfront. Got done sooner than I expected. I’m here--here being your apartment--because I wanted to see you.”

“Well, I’m glad someone does,” muttered Clark, staring at his computer screen. Then he made an annoyed noise. “I’m sorry, self-pity isn’t a good look on me, I know.”

“Which brings us back to my original question: what’s wrong? It doesn’t exactly take the world’s greatest detective to see how tense your back and shoulders are, or to hear your fingers hitting the keyboard much harder than necessary.”

Clark drew his shoulders up in something that was a little too tense to be a shrug. “Working on the story Perry assigned me. One of the state senators has decided to draft a bill that bans Superman from the state as a hazard to public safety.”

Batman laughed, a quick harsh bark. “What?”

“You know, the usual reasons--Superman draws in supervillains, resulting in untold property damage. I think he compared it to an ‘attractive nuisance’ law.”

“Well, the senator and I at least agree on Superman being an attractive nuisance,” Batman said.

“Don’t,” Clark cut him off, flat and expressionless, and for a beat there was silence. Clark swallowed and went on, “Anyway, my job was to interview various people and synthesize their opinions. That’s what I’m working on now.”

Batman glanced over Clark’s shoulder at the screen. “When asked about the Man of Steel,” he read out loud, “Vicki Allen shrugs. ‘All I know is I slept better at night when I lived in Boise,’ says the mechanic, ‘Never had to worry about having a car dropped on me.’ Others are less sanguine. Superman is a ‘menace,’ according to Donald Marchetti, owner of Marchetti’s Pizzeria. ‘People say if I don’t like it, I should move away. But this building belonged to my grandfather. My family’s been here way longer than his, why should I leave it just because I don’t love Superman?’ Perhaps due to a recent rash of Justice-League level crises, citizens are on edge and unhappy with Superman. In current opinion polls, public sentiment is running very much against Superman, with his approval ratings at a two-year low. Overall, the mood is one of distrust and doubt. ‘I can’t give you my opinion,’ said one man who preferred to remain anonymous, looking up at the sky. ‘He might be listening, you know?’”

If Batman found it grimly humorous to imagine a skitterish citizen whispering to Clark Kent that you never knew when Superman might be listening, he looked at Clark’s tensed shoulders and didn’t let it show. Instead, after a moment he swiveled away from the screen as if it were beneath his notice, his cape whispering against Clark’s chair, and sat down on the beat-up Ikea blue sofa with the stuffing starting to escape one seam.

“Those aren’t the whole story,” he said.

“Of course not,” said Clark, still staring at the computer screen. “There are always people who like Superman, too. I’ll work those quotes in later. But…” He let the sentence trail off into silence, staring at the screen. Batman didn’t need to see the article to know which words Clark was seeing, as if they were highlighted in green: Menace. Threat. Fear. Alien.

“There’s one person you need to interview that you haven’t,” Batman said after a moment.

“I know, but Senator Hopkins has been busy all week. Tomorrow I’ll--”

“--Not that idiot,” said Batman.”You haven’t interviewed noted philanthropist and entrepreneur Bruce Wayne.”

Clark turned from the screen to blink at him. This was an improvement, as far as Batman was concerned. Once he was sure he had Clark’s attention, he crossed an ankle over his knee and threw his arms out to either side on the back of the couch, tilting his head back so his throat was exposed, and smiled, flicking from cautious wariness to careless insouciance in the blink of an eye.

“So,” he said, lifting his voice up into a clear tenor, banishing all gravel, “Ask away, Mr. Kent! I do have opinions and I would love to share them with you.”

Clark stared blankly at Bruce Wayne lounging in the Batsuit on his couch. “What are you--”

“--What am I thinking Superman brings to Metropolis?” Bruce cut him off. “I’m so glad you asked.” He waved a hand as though it should be holding a champagne glass, and kevlar and leather creaked slightly. “Besides the obvious beautification benefits having such a stunning example of masculinity in one’s city--”

“Oh, come on,” muttered Clark, but Bruce spoke over him.

“It’s clear that Superman has saved your ungrateful city many, many times over, and it’s important to remember that evil doesn’t target your city because Superman is in it--Metropolis is a target because it’s a major urban center. Boise is relatively safe, yes, but in the last year alone the Justice League has been called in to save Paris, Shanghai, Los Angeles--it’s a dangerous galaxy, and any place where people gather is a place at risk. Mr. Marchetti is welcome to move his pizza joint to Flat Rock, Illinois, and I’m sure all 331 residents will be happy to stop by and eat in peace now and then. But no, I believe Mr. Marchetti loves Metropolis because it’s vibrant, vigorous, and beautiful--rather like its famous guardian,” he added sotto voce, “and whether Superman is there or not, there will always be evil-doers who target such places.”

Bruce smiled at Clark, the bright and dazzling smile of the playboy. The cowl, untailored to the motion, scraped oddly against his cheeks.

“In addition,” Bruce went on, “Superman enhances life in Metropolis in so many ways. Besides the obvious benefit in tourism--as a businessman, I can assure you that sales of Superman t-shirts alone add substantially to your city’s GDP--Superman is an untiring volunteer and booster of Metropolis. He supports the arts, he helps in scientific discoveries! Did he not just last week return from a trip to space with dysprosium--a rare earth element in short supply on our globe--to use in experiments that could lead to inexpensive mass transportation? Does that not make life better for everyone?”

Clark was looking at him oddly. Bruce barged ahead.

“Finally, it’s important to mention that Superman is what we call a ‘trickle-down inspiration.’” He ignored Clark’s snort, saying, “People find themselves doing good in small ways in their lives, because they remember Superman would want them to.” He jabbed a finger at Clark, then remembered belatedly that playboys are not given to accusing finger-jabbing and moderated it into a gentle wave. “Why, just last week I read someone online saying ‘Be the online commenter Superman would want you to be.’ Disarmed a flamewar with one post. The world was better for that, Mr. Kent, believe me.”

He stood up, careful to keep his stance appropriate for Brucie and not Batman, as odd as that felt, and walked toward Clark.

Clark looked more exasperated than reassured. “I can never tell when you’re being serious,” he said.

“But you can tell when I’m being right,” Bruce retorted. “And that, Mr. Kent, is why Superman may not be my reason for living, but he is certainly one of my reasons for living. And you can quote me on that.”

“I...don’t think I will,” said Clark. “But...thank you.”

With no warning, Batman tossed himself lightly into Clark’s lap, legs hanging over the arm and his arms clasped around Clark’s neck: pure frivolous socialite wrapped in black leather and armored cloth. “I do believe I shall introduce you that way from now on,” he said. “‘This is Clark Kent, one of my reasons for living.’ I like it. It’s rather smashing.”

Clark shook his head, still staring at him. It was a gesture of disbelief, but Batman could feel how the shoulders beneath his arms were relaxing, almost imperceptibly. “You should do this ‘Brucie Wayne in the batsuit’ routine for the Justice League sometime. It would blow their minds.”

“Not a chance,” rasped Batman in his best gravel-laced growl.

And kissed him.
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