cavaleira: (kryptonese)

Title: Three Days
Rating: R
Universe: DCAU (takes place some time after the World’s Finest movie)
Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Clark, Lex Luthor, Mercy, Mr. Mxyzpltk, Ms. Gsptlsnz, Alfred Pennyworth
Summary: When Lex Luthor discovers their secret identities, Superman and Batman have no choice but to spend the holidays together, stuck on a mission. But as the heroes get beneath each others exteriors, they discover that what seemed like the worst holiday ever has turned into the greatest gift either of them could have asked for.
Word Count: 8100
Notes: Written for "The Greatest Gift: A Superman/Batman Fanzine" which can be downloaded here.

[profile] darkj3 did the fabulous art:



And now the story:

Part 1
Part 2
cavaleira: (Default)

Bruce paced back and forth, watching the alien machines with their strange crystals do their work.

 

The plane ride over had felt unbearably long. He’d done what he could to try and stop the bleeding, tried talking to Clark just to keep him conscious. But still, Bruce felt the terror flow through him every time Clark’s eyes had closed or his breathing had hitched.

 

Once they had finally reached the Fortress, Clark’s robot staff had known exactly what to do and had placed him in the strange machine.

 

Bruce looked around the Fortress, all cold crystals and rock formations. He gazed back toward the foyer at the huge statue of a man and woman holding up a planet. Probably a representation of some Kryptonian heroes or gods. Or maybe even Clark’s parents. Standing there in the Fortress, Bruce could feel the loneliness and isolation that lay hidden beneath Superman’s smiling exterior. He had lost so much.

 

They weren’t so different, he and Clark.

 

“Bruce?”

 

Bruce stopped dead in his tracks. Clark was sitting up. He looked tired and the suit was covered in blood, but he was…okay.

 

Bruce wanted to tell him how scared he had been, how happy he was that Clark was alright. How deeply he cared for him. Loved him even.

 

“You got blood all over my plane.”

 

Clark only laughed as he stood up on shaky legs.

 

“You’re rich. You can buy anoth-”

 

Bruce quickly closed the distance between them, grasped Clark by shoulders and kissed him hard.

 

He ran his hands all over Clark, needing to feel him. Needing to make sure that he was alive and safe and real. The kiss ended and they just stood silently for a long moment, tightly wrapped up in their embrace.

 

“You saved my life.”

 

“I… I should have been paying better attention back there. I could have stopped him.”

 

Clark gave an exasperated sigh, but there was humor in his eyes.

 

“I thank you for saving my life and all you can think of is how you could have done it better,” he said. “Always pushing yourself and everyone around you to be their best. You’re so damn stubborn, such a perfectionist. But it’s one of the things I love most about you.”

 

This earned him another kiss from Bruce.

 

“And by saving my life I didn’t mean just bringing me to the Fortress in time. That batarang you threw completely changed the direction of Luthor's hand. If you hadn’t thrown it, he would have stabbed a lung, or even my heart.”

 

“Maybe,” Bruce conceded.

 

Clark smiled and leaned in for another kiss.

 

“You’re healed but you’re still tired,” Bruce said once he had pulled away, “You should rest.”

 

They curled up together on the machine’s “bed,” Clark’s head resting on Bruce’s shoulder.

 

“Clark… I’m glad you’re okay.”

 

“Me too. My strength isn’t all back yet, but I am healed. Oh, and you can call me Kal-El if you want to. It’s my Kryptonian name.”

 

“Okay…Kal-El.”

 

Bruce pulled Kal-El closer.

 

It went without saying that there were few people who knew that name, and even fewer who had ever been inside the Fortress. He felt privileged to be one of them. To be trusted enough to be let in, to see the man with all his walls down.

 

“Bruce, what happened to Lex?”

 

“He’s in police custody.”

“But what about our identities? He still believes I’m Clark Kent and you’re Bruce Wayne.”

 

“Yes, but not for long. I used a contingency plan I had in place. I asked a friend to help.”

 

“I didn’t think you had many friends.”

 

“I have a few.”

 

He knew it must have taken a lot of energy for Zatanna to make temporary dopplegangers of them. He would have to find a way to thank her later.

 

Bruce sighed and glanced at the clock on the machine’s computer console. It was shortly after midnight in Gotham. Christmas Day. And as much as he loved finally being safe and curled up with Clark, he wanted nothing more than to go home.

 

“I know a… safe place where we can both go rest.”

 

“But this is my safe place…” Clark mumbled, half-asleep.

 

Bruce chuckled.

 

“But does your safe place have a butler who makes the best cookies in the world? Or a ten-year-old boy who’s been dying to meet you?”

 

“No, I don’t have any of those things here. Just robots. Let’s go to your place…” Clark said with a sleepy smile.

 

Both exhausted, they got up and headed for the plane. Once inside, Bruce set the coordinates for the Manor and set the plane on autopilot. Then he leaned against Clark’s shoulder and they both fell asleep.

 

 

 

December 25

 

Lex Luthor sat in the prison’s TV lounge, arms crossed over his chest defiantly. He looked down at his jumpsuit and made a face.

 

Orange was not his color.

 

It was Christmas so that meant that those who had visitors got to spend an extra hour with friends and family. For Lex and the other inmates without visitors, it meant that they got to watch an extra hour of TV in the common room.

 

Lex sat down as a program was ending. Maybe he would catch news of his own arrest.

 

The anchorwoman was saying farewell to their special foreign correspondent reporting from the Middle East.

 

“Thank you, Clark. That was Clark Kent, closing out his week-long series of reports from the peace talks…”

 

Lex sat upright in his chair.

 

No, it’s impossible!

 

“Hey Lexie! Isn’t that that reporter guy, Kent? Thought you said he was Superman,” said Vinnie, a particularly annoying prisoner. He and his buddies laughed and slapped each other high-fives.

 

When he’d been captured and realized that his plans had failed, he had wanted revenge. He’d made the mistake of revealing Superman and Batman’s identities to anyone who would listen, but unfortunately, no one believed him.

 

Lex just rolled his eyes and focused on the TV. A new program was coming on, Celebrity Insider.

 

“…and tonight’s top story, playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne’s wild holiday in Fiji. How Brucie’s partying nearly caused an international incident…”

 

There was more laughter from Vinnie and his friends.

 

“And that guy’s supposed to be Batman? Bet that guy can’t even tie his own shoes!”

 

Lex glared at them and clenched his fists in rage.

 

He’d been had.

 

He’d been a fool to trust Mr. Zpitlick; the thief had taken his money and sold him lies.

 

As soon as he got out, he vowed to track down that bastard Max Zpitlick. No one made a fool out of Lex Luthor.

 

 

Elsewhere

 

Ms. Gsptlsnz yawned and turned another page in her magazine. She looked up when she heard the sound of angry footsteps moving quickly across the floor.

 

“So, how did it go?” she asked, although she already knew. She had been keeping tabs on the situation.

 

“Oooh, that Superman!” Mxyzptlk yelled, shaking his fist.

 

He began pacing around the room.

 

“Whenever I go head to head against him, he always tricks me into saying my name backwards. I thought he’d be easy to destroy if I stayed behind the scenes this time and used that Luthor to do my bidding.”

 

Gsptlsnz laughed. “But not only did you not kill him, you got him a boyfriend.”

 

“It’s not funny, Gsptlsnz!”

 

“We had a deal, Mxy. If you failed this time, you promised to stop messing with beings from the 3rd dimension. It’s so passé. There’s so much more fun to be had here in the 5th dimension.”

 

“Aw, alright sweetie, a deal’s a deal.”

 

But when he turned away, there was an impish gleam in his eye. He was willing to leave Superman alone for awhile, but playing with Lex Luthor had been more fun than he’d bargained for. He’d have to pay the man a visit again, and soon.

 

 

That morning

 

“So, this is your bedroom. According to the tabloids, many people have been here before me.”

 

“Yeah, well you of all people know better than to believe what you read in the tabloids, Mr. Kent. In reality, few people ever make it this far.”

 

They had come in through the cave in the wee hours of the morning, and while Clark had wanted to explore it, he was much more interested in exploring Bruce. Naked.

 

Although they were very different, both the cave and the bedroom were so… Bruce. From forensics equipment and grappling guns, to wood furniture and dark, rich fabrics, he could feel Bruce’s presence all around him. They were just different sides to the very complicated man that he’d fallen for.

 

They were both still exhausted, but sleeping on the plane had helped. They had undressed in the Cave and slipped into a pair of the black silk robes that Bruce kept down there.

 

Bruce let his robe fall into a pool around his feet. Clark drank in the sight before him. The perfectly defined muscles, the sprinkling of scars. Seeing Bruce like this it was impossible to believe that anyone could really buy the vapid playboy act. It was impossible to believe he was anything other than what he was.

 

Powerful. Beautiful.

 

Bruce cleared his throat.

 

“Are you just going to stand there staring, or are you going to touch me?”

 

Clark let his own robe fall to the floor and then crossed the room and closed the distance between them. He wrapped his arms around Bruce, pressing their bodies firmly together as he captured Bruce’s mouth. He felt strong arms wrap around him and pull him down onto the bed.

 

They both groaned as they sank into soft sheets and each other. Clark ran his hands all over Bruce’s body, caressing the tense muscles, memorizing the skin with his fingers.

 

Suddenly, Bruce flipped them over so that he was stretched out on top of Clark. Clark could see his wolfish grin in the dark.

He kissed Clark deeply as he grasped both of their erections, slowly stroking them up and down together. Clark moaned into Bruce’s mouth, unable to control the movement of his hips.

 

“Clark… Kal,” Bruce gasped, his hand moving rougher, faster. There was no finesse now. Only need and sweet friction.

 

Clark laced his own fingers in Bruce’s, sliding up and down, over and over again.

 

And then a pleasure so deep he could feel it all the way down to the tips of his toes.

 

Bruce collapsed against him, his breath coming in hot, harsh pants against Clark’s neck.

 

They stayed that way for a moment until Bruce reached into a drawer in the nightstand and pulled out a small towel to clean them up. He tossed the towel and curled up next to Clark, letting himself be pulled into an embrace.

 

They lay in contented silence until Clark chuckled softly.

 

“What?”

 

“Nothing, I was just remembering something.”

 

“Which would be?”

 

“Always the detective,” he said, as he grinned and sat up in bed. “I was remembering the look on Luthor’s face when I stood up, right before I punched him.”

 

“No! It can’t be!” Clark said, in a perfect imitation.

 

Bruce smiled. And then he snorted. Then he just let himself really laugh.

 

His laugh was a deep baritone, falling like velvet on Clark’s ears.

 

He let his enhanced senses take in every sight and sound. The change in heart rate, the slight flush of his cheeks, the tensing and releasing of his shoulder muscles, the unrestrained joy in his eyes. He carefully memorized each one and filed them away.

 

He would treasure these subtle details. Bruce’s true smiles, true laughter did not come easy or often. This moment was a gift, one Clark felt honored to receive. It felt like a victory, for both of them.

 

Their laughter finally died down and they settled into a comfortable silence. Bruce rested his head on Clark’s chest while the other man ran languid fingers through his hair.

 

“You know, if someone had told me three days ago that I’d be spending Christmas morning in your bed with you, I wouldn’t have believed it.

 

“You can say that again.” Clark could feel Bruce’s lips curving upwards as he planted a kiss on Clark’s collarbone.

 

“But even though we almost died… I wouldn’t trade the last few days for anything.”

 

“Me neither,” Bruce said quietly.

 

Clark smiled.

 

“Even though I bled all over your plane?” he teased.

 

“Yes,” Bruce answered with laughter in his eyes, “just don’t do it again.”

 

“I won’t, Scout’s honor. But I’ll need you to do something for me.”

 

Bruce lifted his head and raised an eyebrow in question.

 

“In a few days or weeks or months when it really hits you what we’ve become to each other, can you promise not to freak out and push me away?”

 

Bruce was silent for a long moment. Apparently, Clark knew him even better that he’d realized.

 

“I’ll… try. I’m not good at this, Clark. Letting people in… it’s difficult.”

 

“I know, and it can be hard for me too. But no one ever said it would be easy. And maybe it wouldn’t be worth it if it was.”

 

There was a lot more to be said and to think over, but that could all wait.

 

For now, Clark was content to just pull Bruce closer, whisper “Merry Christmas” in his ear, and fall asleep.

 

 

Bruce was still half-asleep. He wasn’t totally conscious yet, but he was aware of two things. Clark was there. And everything felt dark and warm and wonderful.

 

Then everything was unbearably bright.

 

Bruce groaned and glanced up to see Alfred standing by the window, the recently opened curtain still in his hand. Satisfied with the amount of light coming into the room, the butler turned to face the two men.

 

“Rise and shine, sirs.”

 

Bruce rubbed his eyes sleepily and felt the other body stir next to him. And that was when he remembered Clark.

 

Damn.

 

He glanced over at the man who was wide awake and blushing like mad. He had inched away from Bruce a bit and pulled the covers up to his chin. Bruce felt the flush rising on his own cheeks. He had no problem facing death and danger as Batman, but being caught in a compromising position by Alfred made him want to hide under the covers too.

 

“Um. Alfred, this is – ”

 

“Mister Clark Kent. Yes, I’m well aware of that.”

 

Ignoring a slightly frazzled Bruce, Alfred turned his attention to Clark.

 

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, sir.”

 

“Uh… thank you. You too, Mister Pennyworth,” Clark said, recovering a bit.

 

“Master Bruce speaks of you often, and in the highest regard.”

 

“Does he now?” Clark said, relaxing enough to partly lower the blanket and give Bruce a teasing grin.

 

Bruce only grunted and muttered something about nosy people. Clearly, Clark and Alfred were going to get along just fine. Now if only he could decide whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.

 

Alfred turned to the closet and began pulling out towels and bathrobes.

 

“Normally, I would encourage Master Bruce to sleep, but today is Christmas and I’m afraid I can only keep a 10-year-old boy from opening his gifts for so long.”

 

“What time is it?” Bruce asked.

 

“Almost 10am, sir. I must go finish preparing things. I suggest you shower and dress quickly and then join us downstairs. Master Dick is not yet aware that you’ve returned. I’m sure he’ll be pleasantly surprised to see you and to meet such an esteemed guest.”

 

He laid the towels and robes down on the corner of the bed and turned to leave, but he paused in the doorway.

 

“Oh, and Mister Kent?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Welcome to Wayne Manor. I hope this visit is but the first of many.”

 

Bruce and Clark gazed at each other, and Bruce squeezed Clark's hand underneath the covers.

 

Both men were certain that it would be.

 

 

 

cavaleira: (Default)

Prologue

 

Lex Luthor leaned back in his leather office chair, a smug look on his face. Despite the best efforts of Superman and Batman, his lawyers had gotten him out of prison. The American legal system could be easily overcome if one had enough money. His first order of business had been to restore LexCorp to its former glory.

 

“Mr. Luthor?” came a voice over the intercom.

 

“Yes, Mercy?”

 

“Mr. Zpitlick is here to see you.”

 

“Ah, yes. Send him in.”

 

Hopefully, this meeting would help with his second order of business: destroying Superman and Batman. The mysterious Max Zpitlick had contacted him, saying that he had some very important information about the two heroes.

 

“Mr. Zpitlick. Please, sit down.”

 

The man had brown hair and eyes, was of average height, and was dressed in a non-descript brown suit. In fact, he looked completely average except for the strange purple bowler hat that he wore on his head. But no matter. Lex Luthor didn’t care about the man’s fashion choices; he wanted information.

 

“I detest small talk, so let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”

 

 “Okay then, Mr. Luthor. I have something you need.”

 

“Really,” Lex said, with an air of disdain, “and what would that be?”

 

“Information.”

 

Lex gave a bored sigh.

 

“Look, I’m a very busy man. Either get to the point or get out.”

 

“I have information about Superman and Batman’s secret identities.”

 

Lex burst into laughter.

 

“Superman doesn’t have a secret identity. He’s always Superman. Not just a mortal in tights like that Gotham freak.”

 

“But what if he did have a civilian identity? An apartment. Friends. Family, even.”

 

“He doesn’t. Believe me, I’ve looked.”

 

“Well,” the man said, pulling a manila folder out of his briefcase, “maybe you just haven’t looked hard enough.”

 

 

 

December 23

 

Batman steadied the plane with a final glance at Wayne Manor below. Alfred and Dick were probably baking Christmas cookies inside, or maybe wrapping a few final gifts. Maybe later they would drink hot chocolate and sit by the fire, safe from the cold and snow outside.

 

All he could do was speculate because he wouldn't be there.

 

Even though Bruce’s extensive training and three years as Gotham City’s Batman had proven him to be somewhat of a workaholic, it had never been his intention to miss Dick’s first Christmas at the Manor. But there didn’t seem to be any other choice.

 

Bruce reflected on the past few weeks as he maneuvered the plane through a flurry of snow.

 

It had started out slowly. First, LexCorp had set up a branch in Gotham. Then there had been the break-in at WayneCorp, and the stolen technology from the company’s abandoned weapons project. Luthor’s purchase of the media conglomerate that owned the Daily Planet. Luthor for some reason buying up half the small town of Smallville, Kansas. The attempted kidnapping of Dick Grayson. The mysterious derailing of the commuter train that Lois Lane usually took to work. Thankfully, Superman had been there to save everyone.

 

He was alarmed, but it wasn’t until he’d run into Luthor at a charity event that he’d realized just how serious the situation was. They had been shaking hands and saying goodbye, when Luthor had leaned forward and whispered in his ear:

 

“I know everything, Batman. I know all about Clark, too. And I won’t rest until I destroy both of you and everything you’ve worked for.”

 

Bruce’s expression had given away nothing, but a chill had run up his spine at Lex’s words and his sinister smile as he’d walked away. Bruce knew what Lex had done so far was just a small sample of what he had in store for them. After that incident, he had contacted Superman. They both knew they needed to take action immediately.

 

If his identity was discovered, the results would be disastrous. Bruce Wayne would be in danger and his ability to operate as Batman would be severely compromised. But he wasn’t the only one whose safety would be threatened. Alfred. Dick. Even Jim, Leslie, and Lucius.

 

So while he would much rather spend the holidays with the people he cared about, instead he would have to spend it protecting their safety.

 

He knew that Alfred and Dick understood, yet he couldn’t help being haunted by the sadness in the boy’s eyes when they’d said goodbye. Bruce remembered his first few Christmases after his parents had died, how the hurt had seemed even more overwhelming during that time of year. He had hoped his presence and understanding of Dick’s situation would help spare the boy some of that pain.

 

He’d try to make it up to him, somehow.

 

Right now, there was nothing he could do about it; he needed to focus on the task at hand. He could see the Metropolis skyline on the horizon.

 

Metropolis.

 

It seemed so different from Gotham. Gotham, with her old-world charm, her shadows and darkness. Gotham, whose unspoken histories and secrets were embedded in stone gargoyles, in the bricks and mortar of crumbling buildings. Though Gotham sometimes seemed hopeless, the city had a quiet dignity.

 

But Metropolis… everything was so clean, and bright, and modern. It was so… open. And though it was the antithesis to everything he loved about his own hometown, he couldn’t help but be drawn into the brightness of the city. Or its protector.

 

Bruce sighed, trying to will his thoughts away from Clark, but knowing that it was impossible. He hadn’t been able to since the moment he’d laid eyes on the man. He remembered their first meeting, back when Luthor had teamed up with the Joker. He had been in a nightclub questioning a suspect when Superman had shown up, all disapproving Boy Scout in those ridiculous primary colors. He was so damn self-righteous, so quick to condemn Batman’s methods. But still, there was something about him, something that drew him in and wouldn’t let him go. He couldn’t help wanting to trust the man.

 

As time passed, he learned to see beneath the Superman exterior to the man underneath it all, and the truth was, he liked what he saw. Despite themselves, they had formed a connection. The more they worked together the more obvious it became that there was something brewing between them, even though Clark was always giving him that annoyed sigh and Bruce was always trying his damnedest to keep Clark at arm's length.

 

But there were a million reasons why it could never happen. He needed to focus, needed to keep their relationship strictly professional. His emotions were irrelevant.

 

Bruce sighed as he taxied the plane into his secret Metropolis hangar, preparing to take the “rooftop express” to their meeting point. Being forced to spend the holidays with Clark was not going make things easier.

 

 

 

 

“Thank you for meeting me here.” Superman smiled as Batman landed on the roof of the Daily Planet. He hadn’t planned on spending the holidays going after Luthor with the man who both frustrated him and turned him on beyond belief, but he was determined to make the best of the situation. It was almost Christmas after all, and little Christmas cheer could go a long way.

 

Batman only grunted. Superman chuckled, earning him a glare. He’d begun to get used to the man’s non-committal grunts. If he were honest with himself, he’d come to find them almost… endearing.

 

“Here,” Batman said, handing Superman a file.

 

“Is this what you’ve gathered so far?”

 

“Most of it.”

 

Superman sighed, but he was far from surprised. Holiday season or no, Batman wasn’t exactly what one would call “giving”. Despite the previous times they’d worked together, everything with him was on a need-to-know basis.

 

“You know, if we’re going to work together you might want to be just a little more cooperative.”

 

“If I’m going to work with you, it’s going to be on my terms. Deal with it.”

 

“We’ll see about that,” Superman said in a steely voice as he crossed his arms over his chest. His holiday cheer was quickly fading.

 

“Yes, I guess we will,” Batman challenged.

 

But underneath all the bravado, all either man could think was that this was shaping up to be the worst holiday in a long time.

 

 

Superman flew around the city in lazy circles, trying to clear his head. He’d expected to spend a quiet Christmas at home in Smallville with his Ma and Pa.

 

Instead, he was stuck with the most abrasive, impossible, beautiful man on the planet.

 

Although Bruce had been in full jerk-mode back on the rooftop, there were moments when he would let the mask down a bit and Clark was able to catch a glimpse of the man underneath. Or times when they’d work on a case together and be so perfectly in sync. Their methods were different, but their goals were the same. And even though they fought and argued and annoyed the hell out of each other, there was a bond between them that went beyond just being colleagues. More than anyone else, he felt like he and Bruce truly had the capacity to understand each other.

 

But really, the man was just too stubborn and too obstinate for it ever to work. Plus, Clark had his own responsibilities as Superman to think of. Although he was a much friendlier and more public hero than Batman, there was more to him beneath the smiling exterior. He had secrets too. He rarely felt able to show more than one side of himself to most people; it was rare that anyone saw the hero, the farmboy, and the alien in him.

As he flew past a series of skyscrapers, he remembered the conversation with Bruce that had led to this mission in the first place.

 

 

“There’s no time to waste. I have to stop him immediately.”

 

You have to stop him? There’s absolutely no way that I’m letting you do this without me,” Batman said icily.

 

“I appreciate your concern, but I think I can handle Luthor on my own.”

 

“You think. That’s a first. This is my case too and I’ll be damned if I’m going to just stand by and let you ‘handle’ it. Not when there’s so much at stake.”

 

Superman rolled his eyes.

 

“Nice, insulting my intelligence. Well, you’re nothing if not a creature of habit.”

 

Batman only glared at him.

 

“Since you’re just going to do what you want anyway, you can help. I’d rather have you on my side than in my way.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Great. I just hope you’re in a better mood then, Mr. Scrooge.”

 

“Believe me, I have people I would much rather spend the holidays with.”

 

At that statement, Superman had raised an eyebrow. Batman always seemed to be the quintessential loner, not the type of man one thought of as ‘having people’. He knew that Bruce Wayne had a butler and that he’d recently taken in an orphaned circus boy, but he had no idea what either of them were really like or the depth of their relationship with Bruce.

 

Everything he learned about the Batman or Bruce Wayne only added to the man’s overall mystery. Though they interacted more and more, and often even worked well together, Clark never felt as if he really got to know the man any better. He was always holding something back.

 

Clark sighed and headed towards his apartment. It seemed no matter how many times he flew around the city, he wouldn’t be able to escape his thoughts of Bruce.

 

Opening the window, he quickly slipped inside the dark apartment. He took off his cape and then flopped down on the couch. Maybe he would write for a little while, or just try to sleep. He didn’t need to sleep as often as humans did, but it looked like tomorrow was going to be a very busy day.

 

Suddenly, he heard a soft shuffling sound. Focusing his hearing, he picked up another heartbeat in the room.

 

“Who’s there?” he asked, preparing to attack.

 

“It’s just me.”

 

Batman stepped out of the shadows and into the silvery moonlight that was pouring in through the window. Clark’s breath caught at the sight of him. The image was doing nothing to help him forget about how drawn he felt to the man.

 

“You should really invest in some better security.”

 

Clark rolled his eyes. It seemed Bruce always had to spoil things by opening his mouth.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“I have something for you.”

 

Clark raised an eyebrow.

 

“Here,” Bruce said, handing him two large envelopes. “This is everything I have on Luthor.”

 

Clark was speechless for a moment. Maybe Bruce couldn’t just come out and say “I’m sorry” like regular people, but Clark accepted the gesture for what it was.

 

“Thank you,” Clark said as he stood.

 

“Yes, well…”

 

Bruce trailed off and they were left there in silence, staring at each other in the moonlight.

 

“I should be going. Busy day tomorrow,” Bruce said as his voice and expression hardened. He turned and quickly slipped out of the window without so much as a second glance behind him.

 

Clark smiled and looked down at the files in his hands. It didn’t matter that Bruce had run off scared. Something had happened in that moment. Something had changed and there was no turning back.

 

Maybe this mission wouldn’t be such a disaster after all.

 

 

December 24

 

Darkness had finally fallen and Superman and Batman hovered outside of the LexCorp facility in Metropolis. Although he’d been surprised that Batman had allowed him to fly them there, it felt nice to have the man in his arms.

 

“Can you see into the building?”

 

“No, Luthor has everything lined in lead. There shouldn’t be many civilians inside though. Maybe a few researchers at most. It is Christmas Eve after all.”

 

Batman nodded as they landed on the roof.

 

“Then let’s go in. We should split up. I’ll try and hack into his systems and find out the extent of his plans and just how much he knows about us. You go find the weapons he’s been building with stolen WayneCorp technology.”

 

“Wait. I don’t think it’s a good idea to split up now. We don’t know exactly what – ”

 

“No. We split up. It’s more efficient. Plus, I don’t need you looking over my shoulder.”

 

“Fine,” Superman answered tersely, but Batman had already begun making his entry into the building.

 

 

Batman’s fingers flew across the keyboard at the central computer. The room had been unguarded, and he realized he had most likely walked into a trap.

 

Maybe Clark had been right about not splitting up.

 

But he needed information; if it was a trap, so be it. He had walked into worse situations. He could take care of himself.

 

He smiled slightly as he broke through another firewall. The smile faded as sparks shot off the keyboard, shocking him into unconsciousness.

 

 

Superman moved through the compound, looking for his objective. He had memorized the building’s layout, but that didn’t really tell him what was in each room. For the first time, he wished that his costume was made of darker colors. Red, blue, and yellow weren’t really the best colors for sneaking around.

 

“Superman,” came a voice over a loudspeaker.

 

Luthor.

 

“We have your partner here in the control room. I suggest you come try to retrieve him.”

 

Bruce was in danger.

 

Superman moved quickly through the corridors, but he felt like he couldn’t move fast enough. He had to get to Bruce, had to make sure he was okay.

 

Superman arrived to see Lex standing next to the computer console. Beside him was Mercy, who had a gun pressed firmly against Batman’s temple. Batman’s hands were bound and his utility belt was missing. Mercy looked angry and her hair was sticking up in places, almost as if she had been electrocuted.

 

Superman weighed his options. He was fast, but the gun was pressed right against Batman’s head. And who knew what other tricks Lex had up his sleeve? He couldn’t risk it. He would have to wait and play things by ear.

 

Lex flashed a grin when he saw Superman enter the room.

 

“I knew you would come sooner or later. And I’m glad it was sooner. Ruining your Christmas will make my victory just that much sweeter.”

 

Superman crossed his arms over his chest. He was not impressed.

 

“This evening I saw a blip on my radar, a very fast moving one. And I knew it was neither a bird nor a plane. So we began laying a trap for you and your little friend here.”

 

“Get to the point, Luthor. What do you want?”

 

Lex laughed.

 

“What do I want? I want to take everything you have, everything you care about. I want you to feel the sting of defeat that you’ve made me feel time and time again. I want you to die knowing you have failed to protect the things and people you care about, that everything you hold dear is completely at my mercy.”

 

Superman clenched his fists in anger.

 

“Everything and everyone has a price, Superman. Perhaps I’ll continue to take over Mr. Wayne's illustrious company and use it to manufacture weapons. Buy his ancestral home and raze it to the ground. Adopt his young ward. And I have several plans for the small town of Smallville, Kansas. Such lovely people there, especially the Kents.”

 

“Stay calm, Clark,” Batman whispered in a voice so low only Superman could hear it, “There’s still a chance to maintain our secret identities. Just trust me.”

 

Superman nodded slightly, letting the other man know that he’d heard him. It seemed futile to keep pretending that he wasn’t Clark Kent, but if Bruce had a plan then he was willing to go with it.

 

Superman laughed at Lex.

 

“You think you have it all figured out, don’t you? I may be a lot of things, Lex, but I’m not Clark Kent. And he isn’t Bruce Wayne. Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?”

 

Lex laughed, too.

 

“I know the truth, Mr. Kent. Mercy, remove Mr. Wayne’s cowl.”

 

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Batman said darkly.

 

“Oh, really?” Lex challenged.

 

“The cowl is insulated to protect me, but anyone else who tries to remove it now will receive an electric shock. Similar to what Mercy received when she tried to open my utility belt.”

 

Lex looked at Mercy.

 

“Oh, no way, Lex. This is where I draw the line.”

 

“No matter. Although I would have enjoyed exposing his identity to the world, I think I’d prefer to see him die today. You’ve always been a thorn in my side, Superman, but Batman has also become a problem. The damn Daily Planet has even taken to calling you the ‘World’s Finest’.”

 

Lex snorted derisively.

 

“Really now. An alien and a lunatic in a batsuit? If anyone is the ‘World’s Finest’ it’s me! And after today, there will be no one standing in my way...”

 

 

 

Superman pounded a fist against the glass case. It was difficult because there wasn’t much space and he almost hit Batman in the head. And with the red sun rays beating down on him, it was also completely useless.

 

“Hey, watch it.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

Superman sighed in frustration of more than one kind. They were trapped in a glass case with no super-powers, no utility belt, and a rapidly diminishing air supply. Lex was gone for now, to God knows where, but he’d promised to come back “to enjoy the show when things get interesting,” which Clark took to mean when their air was almost gone.

 

And to add fuel to the fire, the glass case was ridiculously small. There was barely enough room for them to turn around and he couldn’t move without feeling Bruce’s body or the heat of his breath on Clark’s neck.

 

He doubted Luthor realized what he had done, but intentional or not, the man was a master of torture. It was tempting to just give in and use their last bit of air to resolve the growing sexual tension between them.

 

But they needed to escape; the people they cared about could be in danger if they didn’t.

 

“So. I take it you have a plan then.”

 

“I always have a plan.”

 

“Hm. I guess not even certain death can stop you from being a smartass.”

 

“Just shut up and reach down to my left boot.”

 

Clark struggled and finally turned around to face Bruce.

 

Oh God. That had been a terrible idea.

 

Superman pressed himself as far against the glass as he could so that their lips or any other… sensitive areas… wouldn’t touch.

 

“Hurry up,” Batman said gruffly, but his breath was coming out harsher than usual.

 

Oh Rao.

 

Clark bent down quickly, trying to ignore just how close his face was to the man's crotch.

 

He found a small device in Bruce’s boot and stood up quickly once it was firmly in his grip.

 

“Here. What is it?”

 

“It’s a specialized sonic device. Emits a variety of high frequency sounds, including one that will break glass. Once he caught us, I figured we would be imprisoned. I thought I’d be using the lock pick in my right boot to escape and this to create a diversion, but we’ll have to change things up.”

 

Batman pressed the device against the glass.

 

“Cover your ears.”

 

The glass shattered and they both sprang to their feet. Bruce found himself feeling both relieved and disappointed to no longer be in such close quarters with Clark.

 

“I’m going to find my belt.”

 

Superman nodded.

 

“I’m going after Luthor.”

 

“No,” Batman said, placing a hand on Superman’s shoulder, “splitting up before was what got us into this mess. We do this together. We’re a team.”

 

A slow smile spread over the Man of Steel’s face.

 

“Yes. Yes we are.”

 

Their gazes met and lingered, Batman’s hand still firmly on his partner’s shoulder. They both wanted this moment to last longer, to have the chance to say the words that were still unspoken between them.

 

But this would have to be enough for now; there was still work to be done.

 

“They’ve most likely taken my utility belt to the Research and Development area.”

 

“I memorized the layout of the building, follow me.”

 

“Hm. You’re learning.”

 

Superman only grinned and began leading them through a series of corridors. They moved quickly; without Superman’s heat vision and Batman’s utility belt, they didn’t have any way to quickly disable the security cameras. Luthor would be after them any minute now.

 

“Here!” Superman called out, pointing to a room ahead.

 

“Damn,” Batman said as they stopped in front of the door. It was locked by Luthor’s hi-tech security system and he had neither the time nor the tools to crack the security code.

 

He looked around quickly, his eyes resting on the ceiling.

 

“The vent.”

 

“Good idea. I can give you a boost to get in, but then I have no way of getting up there too.”

 

“Don’t worry, this won’t take long. Just trust me.”

 

I always have, Clark thought. He nodded to Batman and began helping him get into the vent. They moved quickly, efficiently focused on their common task.

 

Once inside, Batman moved quickly through the vent. Figuring he had traveled far enough, he found the opening and lowered himself out, landing quietly. He scanned the room, seeing a few of Luthor’s research technicians pouring over his belt. It seemed they had grown tired of being shocked and had upgraded from normal clothes to insulated body suits. So the belt’s defenses were still working then. This made him smile.

 

Silently, he approached the men who were so caught up in their work that they didn’t notice the intruder.

 

“Ahem.”

 

In their shock, the three technicians appeared to leap two feet in the air.

 

“You have something that belongs to me. Either you can give it back or I can take it. Your choice.”

 

“H-h-here!” the dark-haired man said, handing him the belt.

 

The Dark Knight quickly secured the belt around his waist, gave the terrified techs a patented Bat-smile (which he often thought to be even scarier than his Bat-glare), and exited the room.

 

“What are you so happy about?” Superman asked, seeing the smile on his partner’s face.

 

“Sometimes it’s good to be the Batman. Now, let’s go. Maybe we can use the computers in the control room to find Luthor. I’m sure there’s some kind of surveillance system.”

 

Superman led the way again as they ran down another corridor, then down a flight of stairs.

 

“Do you find it odd that he hasn't realized we've escaped? Or at least sent Mercy after us?” Superman asked as they ran.

 

“Yes, very. We’re almost certainly walking into another trap. He’s probably waiting for us.”

 

“You’re right. But it doesn’t matter. We’re a team. The World’s Finest.”

 

“I can’t decide whether you’re brave or just foolish. Or both.”

 

“Well, you’re about to find out,” Clark said as they came to a stop. They had reached the control room.

 

The door was open and they could see Luthor inside sitting at the large central computer console, Mercy standing at his side.

 

“Welcome,” Lex said as he turned around in the chair, “I’ve been expecting you.”

 

“No more games, Luthor. It ends here,” Superman said, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Yes. Yes it does, though not in the way you hope, Superman.”

 

Luthor stood and crossed the room to stand face to face with his arch-nemesis.

 

Batman glanced at Mercy who was standing near the console with her gun cocked and aimed at him. He smiled his most terrifying grin. This was going to be fun.

 

She fired the pistol, but he was ready for it. He ducked, rolled, and threw a perfectly aimed batarang and knocked the gun out of her hands. She lunged at him with a jab and flurry of kicks.

 

She was good. In another situation he might have liked to spar with her. But today, he needed to dispatch her as quickly and painlessly as possible. He dodged another kick and grabbed her in a hold. From there, it was just a few fingers to a pressure point on her neck and she was out cold. He laid her on the floor and turned his attention back to Clark and Lex.

 

“You think you’re some kind of hero, Lex.”

 

Luthor punched at Superman, but he dodged the blow.

 

“Even without my powers, you’re no match for me.”

 

Superman punched him hard, knocking him down.

 

“You’ve failed, Luthor. Just like you always do. You may have temporarily de-powered me. You may think you’ve discovered our secret identities. But you haven’t done anything except guaranteed that you’ll spend Christmas behind bars where you belong. And this time I’ll find a way to make sure you stay there for a very, very long time.”

 

“Bluff all you want, Mr. Kent, but I know the truth. But it was never about revealing your identities. Not today anyway. Today, was always about this.”

 

Luthor lunged. Batman made out a sharp, bright green object in his hand.

 

“No!” he yelled out, throwing a batarang in an attempt to deflect Luthor’s blow. For Bruce, time seemed to go by in slow-motion.

 

Until Superman’s anguished cry broke the spell.

 

Batman looked on in horror as Superman crumpled and fell to his knees.

 

What did you do to him?” he barked at Lex as he ran to Clark’s side. His breathing was slow and labored, but the Kryptonian was still alive.

 

Lex grinned and held up his weapon, a dagger with a blade made of kryptonite.

 

“As much as I would have enjoyed witnessing your slow and painful deaths in the glass case, I had a feeling that you might escape. So I had this made. I also had this wonderful little lead-lined sheath made for it, so that Superman wouldn’t even be aware of its presence until I decided to strike.”

 

He laughed maniacally as he re-sheathed the bloody blade.

 

Batman felt wave after wave of rage wash over him. He couldn’t lose Clark now, not with so many things between them still left unspoken.

 

“Luthor,” he growled, readying himself to attack when he felt Clark stir next to him and begin to stand. Batman gasped and Luthor eyes widened as he took a step back in surprise.

 

“No. No! I felt it make contact!”

 

“It’s over, Luthor.”

 

Then with his last bit of strength, Superman gave Luthor a right-hook that left him an unconscious heap on the floor. He stood over Luthor in victory for a moment more before collapsing to the floor himself.

 

“Superman!”

 

Batman dropped down to the floor next to his fallen comrade. Frantically, he pulled Superman’s cape back so he could better see his torso. He cringed when he saw the bleeding wound in his side.

 

“Damn it, Clark. You can’t die on me, not now.”

 

Though he managed to keep the despair out of his voice, he was at a total loss. The wound was bleeding profusely, the color was fading from Clark’s skin, and he didn’t know the first thing about Kryptonian physiology.

 

Bruce tore off his own cape and pressed it hard against the wound. With his other hand he activated a button on his utility belt which would call the plane to their coordinates. If he was going to save Clark, he would need to start by getting him out of there. It was nighttime on their side of the world, but maybe if he got Clark to a place with sunlight, his body would heal itself. The plane was fast, but he didn’t know if it could fly around the world in time. And even then, with the way the wound was bleeding the damage might just be too much…

 

“Bruce…” Clark muttered hoarsely.

 

“Yes, I’m right here. The plane is coming. Just hang on.”

 

“Bruce… the Fortress…”

 

“Your Fortress?” Clark had mentioned it in passing before, but Bruce had never been there.

 

“Yes…has… Kryptonian technology… will heal me.”

 

Bruce continued to press his cape against the wound until his belt beeped at him, telling him that the plane had arrived and was hovering outside the building.

 

“Hang on. I’m going to get you out of here. We just need to make it to the plane.”

 

But the question was, how?

 

Bruce was strong, but Clark was a heavy man, especially now that he was mostly dead weight. Bruce could feel the fear rising up in him as he glanced around the room, desperate for something, anything.

 

There.

 

Lex Luthor’s ridiculous leather console chair. It had wheels.

 

He smiled grimly, thinking of how Luthor would feel to know that a symbol of his massive ego had been used to save Superman’s life.

 

Batman jumped up and wheeled the chair over to his fallen partner.

 

“Clark,” he said, his voice pulling the man back into consciousness, “I’m going to get you to the plane, but I need your help.

 

Clark coughed and nodded, trying to help Bruce pull him into the chair as much as he could.

 

Bruce’s muscles throbbed painfully, pushed close to their limit.

 

But the pain didn’t matter; they had managed to get Clark into the chair.

 

He took a deep breath and then began pushing the chair. Everything was a blur as he found the elevator, found the exit, called the plane to land beside them.

 

His arms ached, but he had to get Clark into the plane. He was just thankful he had designed it to be so low to the ground. He felt the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He felt the depth of his feelings for Clark, his belief in him and everything he was. He hoped that somehow, it would be enough.

 

Clark would not die. Not now, not like this. Not if he had anything to do with it.

 

He pushed and pulled until his arms felt like they might come out of their sockets. But it was all worth it to have Clark secure in the passenger seat, still breathing.

 

Clark was beginning to shiver and break into a cold sweat, but he managed to pull himself together enough to give Bruce the coordinates he needed. Bruce entered them and set the plane on autopilot. Quickly, he radioed the Metropolis PD, giving them a tip to find Luthor.

 

Then he smoothed Clark’s sweat-dampened hair back from his brow and whispered, “We’re almost there, just hang on,” over and over again like a mantra.


Onward to Part 2

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October 2011

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