By Jason Ashton (email@example.com )
Summary: Worried there will come a time when his flying off to save the world leaves Lois exposed to danger, Clark arranges for some "insurance." He introduces her to the Batman. But will Lois be entrusted with the Dark Knight's secret identity?
This fanfic takes place before the wedding. Mostly as here in New Zealand that particular season hasn't come out on TV yet, and I don't think it will until next year sometime.
Clark staggered slightly as he entered the main door. He had just enough strength to close the door behind him and make it to the couch. He groaned as the tough fabric of the couch rubbed his burns a little too hard. Lois heard the moan from the kitchen and came running.
"Clark? What the … !" He looked a mess. His cape was gone, as was a good quarter of his costume. The skin revealed was deformed with blisters and still held a greenish tinge. Lois dropped the towel she'd been holding and rushed over to him. "Oh my god. Are you all right?"
"Lois … I'll be fine … I just need a little rest, and a bit of sun."
"Who did this to you?"
"Another would-be Luthor. Stopped him. Had some kryptonite. Got rid of it." Clark took her hand and they reaffirmed their love silently for a moment. After a while Clark took her other hand and looked deeply into her eyes. "Lois … "
"I need you to meet someone."
"In a day or two, when I've recovered, there's someone you have to meet."
"Help … Life insurance."
"I don't know that I like this."
"I think it's for the best."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it though."
"True." Clark wrapped her tightly in his cloak and lifted off into the air.
"Tell me again why I have to be blindfolded?"
"He has a few secrets that he may wish to protect."
"There better be a story in this, Kent."
"Perhaps, but it may be one you can't print." He picked up speed and before long the wind put a stop to all conversation. For a timeless moment there was the rush of air before other sounds began to intrude. Birds were one of the first sounds Lois heard. The next shocked her with its unexpectedness. The chime of a doorbell. Moments later a door opened and a dry British voice spoke.
"Ah … Good evening."
"Good evening A … my friend. Are we too late?"
"Not at all, sir, I believe he is expecting you."
"He is??? But … "
"If you'll descend, sir, you can make the lady more comfortable."
"The same entrance?"
"Yes, sir, the precautions have been disarmed." There was a pause as they moved, Clark still carrying Lois. They entered a narrow area and the temperature dropped a few degrees. This soon opened out into a large area, filled with echoes and a restless sound. Clark gently put Lois on her feet and unfurled her. As the cloak fell away from around her she couldn't help but gasp at the sight.
She was underground, in a cave huge beyond belief. Its spiky ceiling towered overhead and branches disappeared into darkness on all sides. Powerful lights were strung from stalactites, illuminating the most bizarre scene she had ever seen. Stalagmites had been cleared from much of the floor and smooth concrete had been laid, creating the appearance of rooms without walls. To one side she could see familiar gym equipment, though far more than she had, and of better quality too. To another she could see what looked like a mad scientist's dream, huge benches filled with esoteric and unusual devices, surrounded on two sides by huge bookcases, filled to capacity. Before her was an open garage housing a nightmare's description of tanks in all shapes and sizes. All done in the blackest of shades. She turned and behind her, past Clark still dressed as Superman, was a technophile's dream. A huge console bearing four keyboards and other devices, topped with at least a dozen large screens, and one huge one in the centre. Currently displayed was a bewildering display of faces and text while a huge street map dominated the work station.
Lois turned to Clark and was caught by his bright uniform, so much brighter for all the shadows about. On all sides stalagmites rose up from the ground, adding to the eerie atmosphere. She opened her mouth to speak when the stalagmite nearest them suddenly moved. They both jumped.
"Welcome, Superman, Miss Lane." The shadow elongated, solidified and oozed out into the light. Darkness reluctantly dripping away to reveal the cloaked, cowled figure of an urban legend. Lois unconsciously gripped Clark's arm.
"Batman." Clark's voice was subdued. Their appearances clashed, light against dark. Lois sought to get closer to the light. Batman turned and glided towards the computer setup, gesturing for the two of them to follow.
"This is who you wanted me to meet?" Lois hissed as quietly as she could at Clark. "Why??"
"Well, because … "
"Because he believes I may be able to help you, Miss Lane. " Batman's dry gravelly voice cut across Clark's, echoing faintly about the cave. Lois looked at him, ten metres away and wondered how he had heard them. "And no, I don't have any of the unusual powers Superman has shown."
"So what can you do for me, that Superman can't."
"You intend to marry soon, Miss Lane. Are you truly prepared for the life ahead of you?"
"What do you mean by that? Clark and I are perfectly suited."
"Are you? Marriage can be difficult at the best of times."
"Just who the heck are you to talk about marriage? You're hardly an expert on the subject. Running around in tights all night. Committing all sorts of felonies in the name of justice. Half the police force want to lock you away and you scare a large proportion of the innocent." Batman's dry chuckle silenced her. It echoed eerily about the cave.
"You may be right, Miss Lane. But then I've seen more cases of family violence than your friend there has ever seen with his vision. A surprising and unfortunate number are from the very force that want to lock me up."
Lois shook her head. "You have a biased view of the world. Not surprising given the company you keep."
"Perhaps. Then again perhaps I have a more realistic view of the world than you and the boy scout here. Police, firemen and soldiers have the record for the worst marriages. The odds are against you."
"So? What has that to do with us. Clark and I are just reporters. We're ordinary people."
"You know better than that, Miss Lane, or you should before you marry. Clark Kent is anything but a normal person, and his activities as Superman put him in danger more often than not. He will always be a very tempting target."
Lois gaped at him. He knew Clark was Superman. She turned to the man beside her and glared daggers. CLARK!! You couldn't tell me but you could tell him!?!"
"Now, Lois …"
"Don't 'Now Lois' me. How could you trust him when you couldn't trust me?"
"He figured it out himself."
"And don't give me any … What was that?"
"It wasn't all that difficult, Miss Lane." The dark voice behind her reminded her where she was. "You only had to know where to look. A pair of glasses is scarcely a disguise, no matter how often you arrange for meetings between the two. I'm surprised more people haven't figured it out.."
Lois opened her mouth but nothing came out.
"I think that's enough Br … " Clark stopped at Batman's stare.
"However I think that Clark had another idea in bringing you here. That last attack with kryptonite scared him."
"Now hold on. Clark's not … "
"It's all right, Miss Lane. Clark would be a fool not to be scared."
"He's right, Lois. That last attack was rough. And it's not just that. How many times have events forced us apart when we need each other."
"What are you trying to say."
"It's just that, sometimes, we could use a little help. Come on Lois, even you have to admit that. Someone who knows who we are and our problems. Batman has a lot of resources behind him." Clark gestured to the vast array of equipment around them. "And a lot of contacts."
"Lot of good that does me if I have to fly blindfolded to find him."
"About that …. " Clark looked at Batman who stared back at him, his blank eye slits narrowing slightly. "I did ask you about this."
"And I neglected to answer."
"We'll be married soon. Secrets are hard enough when dating. "
"Blackmail is an ugly word, Clark. Miss Lane need not know to be able to contact me."
"Maybe but I'm hardly likely to trust you that way."
"Oh, Miss Lane? You trust numerous sources less … ethical than myself."
"That's debatable." Lois muttered. "Come on, Clark, if he doesn't want to tell me then he doesn't have to."
"Wait, Lois. Batman … Lois'll find out eventually, we are going to be married after all."
"But can she be trusted?"
"Can I be trusted? Like I reveal my sources too. Fine! If that's the way you want to play it I'll wait outsi … " She looked around. "In the next cave. When you boys decide to let me into the club come and get me."
"Very well … " Batman rolled his voice so that it reverberated about the cave. "We'll let you in on the secret Miss Lane. But you have to understand that this *is* a secret. No one must know, even if they be your best friend, or your closest relative. Too many know as it is."
"No one will hear from me." Lois turned and moved back to them. Batman retreated into the darkness.
"That is good." He turned to one side and pressed a button on the console. "Alfred, if you could serve a little refreshment. We'll be up shortly. Clark, if you could escort Miss Lane upstairs I will join you shortly." The darkness swallowed him whole. Clark turned to Lois as she raised her eyebrows.
"What is this? A stage show?"
"It's his way, Lois, just as I fly about … "
"Like a target for all to hit." The disembodied voice floated from no where in particular. "If you could change as you go up, Clark, it would be appreciated. " Lois and Clark looked at each other, and almost grinned.
Clark led the way to the stairs, pausing to whirl into normal clothes. They began to climb. The distance up surprised Lois, the cave had to be very deep underground. The temperature suddenly rose and the stairs ended in a blank wall. Lois was about to comment when a door appeared in the wall, opening outwards. A tall thin man, immaculately dressed held the door open for them.
"Good evening. Tonight's repast is served in the observatory, if you'll follow please."
"Alfred." They stepped out onto a ledge in a very large stairway. Lois turned and watched as the doorway, disguised as an ancient grandfather clock swung shut. She then gave her attention to the rest of the house. It was massive. The stairway alone was larger than her whole apartment. Antiques were littered everywhere, on the walls, in the corners, as furniture. Money almost dripped from every direction.
"Clark? Where the hell are we?" He grinned and took her hand.
"Lets follow Alfred."
"Clark." He half dragged her after the butler. They walked down the stairs, along a hall, through one huge room after another, up another stairway and finally into a glass topped room. A table rested in the centre, three chairs and cutlery. Alfred gestured to the chairs and went over to a small doorway to one side. They sat.
"So? What now, Clark?"
"Soup to start Miss Lane?" Alfred appeared at her elbow. "The Master will be with us shortly."
'Huh? Ah, yes … soup would be fine. Thank you." Alfred served them both. Just as they picked up their spoons someone entered the room. He walked lightly to the table and sat down.
"Good evening folks. Sorry I'm late." Lois had her spoon halfway to her mouth, forgotten, her mouth open in surprise. The voice was different, lighter, less melodramatic, less threatening, but it was the same person she had met below.
"B … B … Bruce Wayne???"
"Ah, I thought you'd recognise me. The media usually do. Thank you Alfred."
"But you're …. you're …"
"Rich? I suppose I am. It certainly helps pays the bills."
"And yet I do some washing by hand." Alfred commented as he placed rolls, freshly baked, on the table. Clark and Lois both looked at him, Bruce ignored him.
"So, now you know."
"Thank you, Bruce. It eases my mind to … "
"Excuse me, sir."
"The break in you were waiting for. The alarms you set have been triggered."
"Ah … That's unfortunate. I'll never get there in time now." He turned to Clark. "Since you're here … Corner of third and sixteenth, haberdashery shop. You'll find five to seven people breaking in, all wearing odd hats. Grab the short podgy one and knock the hats off the others. The police will probably turn up," He looked at his watch, "in seventeen minutes. There was trouble on the other side of town half an hour ago." Clark stood.
"Excuse me, Lois, Bruce. I won't be long." He changed and flew out the window Alfred opened for him, grabbing the city map from his hands as he went. Bruce turned back to his soup. Lois slowly put her spoon down and looked at him.
He was very impressive. Good looks, elegantly styled hair, manicured fingernails. His suit was of the finest quality and designed to hide most of his muscular bulk while showing off enough to prove that he worked out. His gestures were refined and cultured, reminding her of Lex Luthor though of far better quality. He looked just as every reporter had seen him. Handsome, rich and charming to a fault. For all her reporter instincts, only one question came to mind.
"Pardon Miss Lane?"
"Why? Why Batman?" He looked at her and suddenly she saw through the mask of Bruce Wayne. Alfred interrupted quietly as he cleared Bruce's plate.
"Angels on heaven and earth have asked the same question."
"Thank you Alfred." His eyes had changed. One moment he had been the charming playboy, not a care in the world, the next … The next his eyes held the torment of a thousand children, abandoned and alone. For one brief moment she could see a gaping fissure filled with sadness, loneliness, and injustice. "Why Miss Lane. Because evil exists. We are our own worst enemy."
She could see that the wound was the driving force behind his frightening determination. Half remembered stories came to mind, of a young millionaire orphaned at a very young age, of his subsequent world travels, and his generous foundation.
"But you do so much with the Wayne Foundation? You help so many people?"
"It is no good treating the long term effects of the disease Miss Lane, if you don't first, or at least simultaneously, treat the symptoms currently destroying the body." He turned his attention to the light meal Alfred placed in front of him. Lois felt as if a weight was lifted as his gaze left her. She shivered, and was surprised to find Clark standing beside her. Bruce raised an eyebrow.
"I dropped them off at the police station. I didn't want you to wait."
"Thank you." Bruce paused. "And thank you for helping with that sniper as well."
"How … ?" Clark looked puzzled. Bruce withdrew a miniature device from his ear and replaced it. Clark sat and together they finished an uneasy meal. Bruce escorted them to the ground floor afterwards, halting at the base of the great stairway.
"Miss Lane, you know how to contact me if you need help. If you do, never mention anything until I can provide a secure line. It was good to meet you and I hope you enjoy married life. I shall see you at the orphans ball in Metropolis, I believe you are attending. Goodnight." He shook their hands briefly and quickly disappeared up the stairs. Darkness swallowed him quickly and even his shadow disappeared from view. Batman's rough, gravelly voice floated about them from nowhere in particular. "The night is young."
Alfred showed them the rest of the way to the door.
"Miss Lane, Mr Kent. Thank you for visiting us."
"Thank you Alfred, for a lovely meal." Clark shook his hand.
"Yes, thank you Alfred." Lois smiled.
"Though its not my place to say, I think Master Bruce would welcome it if you chose to visit some other time. Though, during daylight hours would be better."
"I'll keep that in mind Alfred." Clark quickly changed clothes before they stepped outside. He picked Lois up and rose into the sky. They flew slowly for a bit before Clark turned to Lois.
"Well Lois? What do you think."
"I think that Bruce Wayne is one of the most frightening men I have ever met. And that includes Lex."
"He'll help though." Clark was serious. "Should you ever need it, he will help, to the very best of his ability. And that is more than most anyone else can do."
"I can see that. The question is would I want that help, from him. Still, as scary as he is, and as rich, I think he's also one of the loneliest people I've ever met as well." She snuggled closer to Clark. "Worse than you."
"A lot worse, Lois." Clark's voice was sad. "At least I have my parents, at least I have you."
"Oh? *You* have *me* do you?" She squirmed. "Not if you're careful buster."
"Lois! We're two hundred feet up." They looked at each other, and smiled softly, the wind ruffling their hair, the stars overhead. Together, they flew back home."