By Marnie Rowe <email@example.com>
Submitted April 1999
Summary: What fun when our own awesome duo comes in contact with two other champions of truth and justice. Read to find out what can happen if protective safeguards are let down.
The usual disclaimers and everything else, the story is mine but everything else I borrowed.
Lois and Clark entered the newsroom arm in arm after an extended lunch. They had been on separate assignments in the morning so they had missed each other dreadfully. Lunch had been their way to rectify the situation.
Perry stuck his head out of his office to shout, "Lane, Kent, over here now!"
After giving the Chief a wave to show that they would be right there, Lois leaned over to mutter in her boyfriend's ear, "Whoa, he certainly is in a good mood. I wonder what we've done to catch it this time?"
Clark just smiled back at her, still amazed that this woman was with him after waiting for such a long time. It didn't matter where or what they were doing. As long as they could be together, he was happy.
The sickly sweet couple made their way over to the editor's office, to beard the lion in his den as it were. To Lois' surprise Perry was waiting with a huge grin on his face, only one piece of paper in evidence on his desk, the rest all piled in the chair beside him. He motioned them closer. Lois was trying to read what was on the desk upside down, but Perry was foiling her every attempt by placing his hands over it saying gruffly, "Lois just hold on, you'll find out what this is soon enough. Now sit, over there." Perry pointed to the settee in front of his desk.
As soon as they settled down Clark asked, "What's up, Chief?" and looked over to Perry as he started explaining.
"Okay, now this is what's happening. No, Lois, don't interrupt me. It seems that you two have attracted a great deal of the attention of some bigwigs in the journalism field. Now, as you know, the annual Excellence in Journalism Awards is being hosted in Gotham this year by a certain Bruce Wayne of Wayne Industries, and now Lois here it is." Perry handed her the paper from on his desk. It was an invitation to the Awards.
"you two are nominated all over the place and it wouldn't be right for you guys not to be there to receive your awards in person, so you are going, all expenses paid by the Planet, to Gotham. Where, if you know what's good for you, you'll get an exclusive for the Planet on the elusive Bruce Wayne, right?" This last bit was said with a forced growl, but Perry couldn't hold the threatening facade as he saw the excitement, never mind the total lack of anything resembling fear, in their faces.
Dropping all his pretenses as a waste of time he said, "Come here you two so an old hounddog can congratulate you properly." He came around his desk and gathered them up in a tight bear hug. Clark worried for a bit that Perry would find out his secret from the intensity of the embrace, but the older man eased off the pressure as soon as Lois grunted a little.
Now he dropped the other shoe. "Hrumph, now I know that you two would like to treat this as a trial honeymoon," Lois visibly bristled at Perry's dig, "but because the awards are newsworthy in their own right, and especially if you guys win, we have to have a photographer go with you. I've selected Jimmy as he's the only one that we can spare right now. The other thing I have to tell you is that because of the late notice to the nominees the only rooms that we could get are one with just a single and the other with twin singles. Sort it out among yourselves."
Then the man who was the closest thing to a surrogate father that Lois had turned to her and said in placating tone of voice, "Now Lois sweetheart, I know that you and Clark are not officially engaged, but honey, you two act more engaged than many a couple I have seen that are in fact engaged, so don't you go getting all bent out of shape on me, okay?"
Lois cast an exasperated look at the older man, but said nothing. Clark just smiled and thought with admiration, 'Wow, does Perry know how to work with Lois or what?' Then seeing that Perry was in demand as a copy boy hovered just out of hearing by the door, he took Lois' elbow and gently pulled her from the room. She was in a daze.
When they had reached her desk she sat down and gazed up at him with a starry look in her eyes. She would never ever get tired of people acknowledging or praising her work. Edging her keyboard over so that he could perch on her desk, Clark asked her indulgently, "So what has you more excited? The nomination, the chance to land an interview with the legendary Bruce Wayne or the fact that, except for Jimmy, there will be no-one who knows us around. You-know-who will have a short vacation, unless of course something really big happens. Other than that, we will have all that time to spend together, totally, utterly alone."
With this last sentence he had leaned over to make sure that nobody would hear, by chance, what he said, and Lois took full advantage of her opportunity making the last throaty words a fluttery kiss on her lips which turned into a real kiss as he finished. Just then James B. Olsen, known to his friends as Jimmy, walked up with his predictable timing, Lois groaned to Clark, "You could set a watch by him."
Jimmy didn't notice this little aside and practically jumping in his good cheer crowed, "Hey guys, we get to go to Gotham, and the Planet's footing the bill. Cool, huh? Do you think we'll get a chance to see Batman in action?"
He was obviously very hyped up at the prospect, so he didn't hear what Lois murmured into Clark's ear. "Other than Jimmy, no-one will know who we are so we will be alone? Yeah right, and with that boy's timing we're doomed."
Clark stifled a guffaw, but he couldn't help grinning at Lois' acerbic comment. Jimmy noticed it and asked, "What's so funny C.K. ?"
Clark thought fast and though Lois came up with most of the excuses lately, he actually managed to find a good one. "Well, I was just thinking how provincial people are. You know, Superman is a fixture in Metropolis now so folks take him as a given. Batman, on the other hand, is a novelty who is so interesting. Even to people who have become blase about the hometown superhero that saves their lives on a fairly regular basis."
Jimmy got red in the face at this pointed observation and started sputtering, "Oh C.K., you know that isn't what I meant. Superman is just the greatest and no other guy in tights could replace him but…" Embarrassed by Jimmy praising the superhero to him, Clark cut him off. It was awkward to hear it from his friend who had no idea he was actually talking to the hero.
Clark said, "Yes Jimmy, I know what you meant, but I just couldn't resist. Watching you backtrack was too funny to miss, and yes, I wouldn't mind meeting up with the oh so mysterious man myself so you aren't the only one. Friends?"
Jimmy knew that he had terrible timing as far as his friends went and unabashedly nodded yes, knowing that they had just been funning with him in return for his many past indiscretions. Jimmy's good spirits restored, he walked away with a jaunty wave backwards to the amused couple.
Lois suddenly called out to Jimmy's retreating form, "Hey Jimmy, before you leave for the day, find one of us so that we can coordinate things, okay?" Jimmy turned and flashed Lois and Clark the okay sign to let them know that he heard and would obey.
Lois turned to her partner with a steely glint in her eye that Superman had nothing on and said, "So, you wouldn't mind meeting the Batty man either, huh? Probably to compare notes, right? Well, just you remember that you promised no gallivanting while we were there."
Then she relented as a playfully sly expression crossed her face and continued, "Well, I guess it wouldn't be so bad if you did meet up with him, provided that you peeked to find out who the man behind the mask is."
Knowing that he would do no such thing Clark exploded with, "Lo-is, you know I'll do nothing of the sort!" He sounded so shocked that Lois broke down and started giggling, and as he realized she was teasing, Clark grinned back saying wryly, "Well, seeing as I will be rooming with Jimmy, I won't have much of a chance to go off anyway, now will I?"
Lois sobered a bit and even though she had known what he would do, she asked, "Are you sure you won't mind? I mean I know we decided to wait but we could share the room. We are adults, you know."
His wry expression faded to such adoring tenderness as he replied, "No Lois, I don't think so. Around you I feel so out of control it's unbelievable. I'm just like a randy teenager all over again and you know what their hands are like." The last bit was accompanied by a lascivious leer over his glasses.
She giggled again loving the way that they could tease each other because they were still best friends, even though she had told him that she had to think over his proposal. Lois knew in her heart that there was no way she could say no to her partner, best-friend/boyfriend. But she still hadn't totally forgiven him for hiding the truth of who he was from her for two years and she knew that she couldn't say yes until that hurt was totally buried or gone. It was true that he hid absolutely nothing from her, now that she knew, and he had been trying to tell her, but the instinct to hide it was just too ingrained. Ah well, maybe a change of scenery would do them good.
Meanwhile, Clark was content to sit and gaze at Lois' face as he let his mind wander. They had just wrapped up the stories they had been working on and there was nothing new but glimmers on the horizon, so he let himself contemplate what might happen if he did encounter the Bat. Would he be able to not peek? He was after all, an investigative reporter, with all the curiosity of a detective. No, it wasn't something that he could do, he decided. It wasn't as if the man posed a danger to anyone honest and good, so he had no basis to pry. Also taking into account that Batman was supposed to be a great detective in his own right, Clark really didn't want to give the man any reason to look into what and who he was for that matter. ' Nothing was going to happen yet, so there's no reason to linger on supposes and maybes' Clark thought to himself in exasperation, then he turned to more practical matters.
He tapped Lois on the hand and told her, "Well, I guess I'll go down and get the travel vouchers. We'll have to travel by plane because of Jimmy." He wasn't impressed. Clark had found that he almost had a phobia of flying in a plane. Lois made sympathetic noises but wasn't really paying attention because she was mentally packing what she would need for the trip.
There was a light knock on the door that Clark shared with Jimmy. He was just finishing up knotting his tie as he walked over and opened the door. Clark froze, Lois stood in the hall wearing one of the most gorgeous creations that he had ever seen her in, and it took his breath away. Lois was sheathed in a shimmering silk dress that was made up of two layers, the underdress was burgundy satin and you could clearly see it through the overdress which was only an iridescent web, a shade lighter. To finish the look, she was wearing a belt made of large flat golden links low on her hips with one end hanging down like a girdle, giving the dress a medieval air.
Clark was brought out of his stupor by hearing Jimmy's hushed, "Wow, Lois, who knew?"
The lady in question made as if to cuff the insolent young man upside the head and with a laugh he ducked, then with the mood shattered, the easy camaraderie that they all shared resurfaced.
"Well, then, are we off?" Lois asked her double escort with a smile, her eyes dancing with joy by the power she held over the man who loved her and that she loved with all her heart in return. Clark answered by holding out his arm so that she could tuck her hand into the crook of his arm, Jimmy bounding along behind them as they made their way to the elevator.
The hall that Bruce Wayne had picked for the Awards was the most beautiful one that Clark had ever seen, and he had seen quite a few in both his globe trotting days as well as in his Superman persona. The huge great doors opened into a room paneled with rich wood, the cathedral ceiling was accented with some old fashioned chandeliers that would have looked right at home in the days of gas lighting. There were discreet exits around the room for emergency reasons, but they had been camouflaged so well that they did not detract from the setting at all.
Bruce Wayne was greeting the guests at the door. He looked rather startled when Clark shook his hand. Clark worried that he may have misjudged the pressure and ended the handshake quicker than usual. Lois pulled him away before he could see if anything could be done to ease the awkward moment. Because he could think of nothing else, he pulled down his glasses a bit to x-ray Bruce's hand over his shoulder, but unintentionally caught sight of a briefcase behind Mr. Wayne and its contents. It was monogrammed with B.W. and what had given Clark the surprise was in a false bottom under the papers you'd expect any business man to carry, it held a Batman suit with the full utility belt. He let Lois pull him along, trusting her not to let him hurt anyone by bumping into them, and just thought, 'Wow, I know that I said that I wanted to meet the man but what a bit of luck! That I figure out who he is, the first time that I talk to anyone my first time in Gotham as Clark Kent.'
Lois had caught sight of an old rival and was in the process of trying to rub his nose in her success. Clark came back to himself to hear the tail end of her last question, "Has anyone ever succeeded in getting the Bat in an exclusive?"
The man looked at her with a mixture of envy and hatred. His reply was a sneering, "What, Lois, you already tired of talking to Superman, and now you're ready for another superhero?" The man's tone was definitely suggestive.
Clark saw the imminent explosion and defused it with a quick quip before he steered Lois away from the man. But she still managed to toss over her shoulder, "What, Claude, are you jealous of my success? Upset that you didn't wait to steal my story until Superman showed up?" At the name Clark understood her antagonism toward the fellow, but he still wasn't about to let her drag them into a mud slinging fight, not here, anyway.
Lois still hadn't really settled when he stopped them by the refreshment table, but she let him get her a cup of punch and a little piece of rich chocolate cake. Jimmy, whom they had lost at the door, came up with another young photographer in tow.
"Hey Lois, C.K., meet Peter Parker. He's the guy who always gets those fantastic shots of Spiderman in action. When I told him I was with you guys, he wanted to meet ya." Peter was a good looking young man with brown hair and eyes, and when Clark saw how Lois was eyeing Peter, he acknowledged the guy had a good physique. He kept in shape, anyhow. Parker had an open, friendly face, and on him, it seemed to be more than skin deep.
"Yeah, Spidey shots are my claim to fame, but you guys have met and talked to Superman! I'd really like to get some photos of him in action. The other thing I would like to do is ask him some questions. Like what he thought makes the big difference for him here on earth. You see I am a scientist, really. The pics are just something I do so that I can pursue my dream, genetics, and what causes differences in the people of different races and…"
Clark held his hands up as if to ward off the torrent that spilled from the man, and said, "Whoa! Well, listen, next time we talk to him we'll let him know to look you up in New York. That way you can question him to your hearts content, if he wants you to, all right?" Clark said it with a smile so the young man wouldn't take any offense. All of a sudden his head took on the tilt that Lois knew meant that Superman could be useful, and made excuses to Jimmy and Peter not noticing the young man seemed preoccupied himself.
She took Clark aside and asked in a whisper that only he could hear, "What is it?"
"A tanker ship is on fire down at the docks. They're not sure that the fire department will get there on time." He looked at her with a plea in his eyes, silently asking if she thought that he should go.
Lois simply said, "Then, what are you waiting for? Go!"
He smiled and paused long enough to give her a lingering kiss. He then made his way out the hidden exit that Lois had placed them near, out to the alley behind the hall. Lois heard the whoosh as he took to the air and shook her head thinking to herself that you could dress him up and take him anywhere but keeping him there was something else entirely.
Peter Parker barely noticed what Lois said because just then his Spider sense went bonkers telling him that something was happening close by. He didn't really know what he said to lose the exuberant Jimmy, but it worked, so cursing the day that the radioactive spider had bit him at the lab, he made his way to the exit just beyond Lois and Clark, out to the alley behind the hall. He quickly shed his shoes and went up the wall to finish changing, webbing his clothes and camera to the alley wall. Then trigging his web-shooters, he was off to save the little shop down the street from the guys who were trying to extort protection money. After the brief scuffle, it didn't take Spidey long to web the gangsters up and comfort the shop-owner. Old man Lacey was in shock, and needed to be calmed before calling the police to come and pick up the trash.
Back in the alley behind the hall, Peter was just finishing getting dressed while he waited for a break in the traffic by his entryway. He saw that his instamatic camera had gotten some pics while he was away. Pulling the pics from the back, he encountered something that he wasn't really prepared for that made him nearly drop his camera. The main subject on film was Clark Kent coming out of the hall with his shirt half open, the famous symbol plainly visible and then the next shot was of Superman taking off. Whoa?! C.K. was Superman. Then no wonder he and Lois got all those exclusives! Oh, who was he to talk, he made his living taking pictures of himself. Then seeing Bruce Wayne approached by an elderly man who pulled him to the corner door which Peter was trying to use as an unobtrusive entrance, he sighed and looked at his next picture where Clark was standing in front of the door straightening his tie. Well, Peter thought, Clark is already back. Whatever it was that Superman went to take care of didn't take him long.
Since his Spidey sense was still going strong, Peter knew it wasn't safe to come out yet. Tuning his hearing to try to single out what the old man was finding so important to drag the host away from his own party, that's when Peter got the second shock of his life.
The old man was saying to Bruce Wayne, "Master Bruce, the bat signal is lit up. The Commissioner never lights it without it being an emergency, would you be responding to it?"
And then to cement it Bruce said, "Alfred, thank you. I will be making a quiet exit. You do know what to say if anyone asks about my whereabouts, right?" Alfred just gave a long suffering sigh and handed Bruce the briefcase he had been holding. Bruce gave the old man a fond smile and left. Peter backed up and began to strip off his tux again, thinking that Spidey may be useful.
Soon after returning to the party, Clark heard something in the back. Looking over to where he heard the sound, he saw Bruce Wayne with an elderly gentleman who then handed Bruce the briefcase with the astonishing contents. Thinking that someone might need him, Clark looked over his glasses, trying to see what was going on and saw Peter Parker pulling his mask back into place. Parker was Spiderman? Wow, he was rolling in the secret identities tonight. How many superheroes used their alter-egos to get an edge in the real world, anyway? Well, in Bruce's case it was probably the other way around, he thought to himself. Since he hadn't checked back in with Lois yet he decided to follow Bruce and the web-slinger to see what was up. Maybe it was something that he would be able to help with. The party wasn't going anywhere until Bruce returned, anyway. Nothing was going to be given out without the host there, right?
By the time he made it back outside, Bruce was long gone and Peter was just about to leave his range of sight. Quickly Clark spun into his suit, keeping the web-slinger just in his sights as he followed. Clark soon found that he didn't really need to follow Spiderman, the Bat Signal was lit up, and Clark knew why the other two had left the party. Going at his own pace, knowing where everyone was headed, he reached the rooftop adjacent from the police H.Q. a little ahead of Batman. Settling himself down for a little bit of constructive eavesdropping, Clark's thoughts began to wander.
Peter/Spiderman seemed to be a lot like Clark/Superman. He wanted to live a normal life, but he couldn't stand by and watch when he could do something to help, so in comes the costume. This was not really how Batman/Bruce seemed to think or operate. With him it was almost like the Batman was the man and Bruce was the foil to fool people so he could get things done as he couldn't in the suit. Did it have something to do with innate abilities, the fact that Peter and himself had these special abilities and Bruce did everything with techno-gadgetry? Maybe they could talk about it later but for now he tuned into what was being said on the next roof.
"Commissioner, what seems to be the problem?" Batman asked the silvery maned older man, a man who felt the responsibilities of his job seriously. It was obviously tiring Gordon out, he wouldn't ask his men to do anything that he wouldn't and at his age he should be delegating a lot more than he did.
"Sorry, Batman, but I felt that you should know about the breakout that we just had at Arkham. The whole west wing has been depopulated. Some of the inmates died as the security was breached and we did manage to retrieve some of the ones who weren't the targets but…"
Gordon's voice trailed off as someone inside the beehive of a police station yelled for him. The second time they yelled he shouted back, "One moment. Okay?"
Clearing his throat he turned back to Batman and continued, "Now, the ones that have managed to stay out are Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, the Joker and Two-face. The break out seemed to target mainly the Joker and Ms. Quinn, the other two being something of a bonus. Anyway, we lost them right at the start so we just concentrated on putting the rest of the lowlifes back behind bars. That's just about done, but we still can't find hide nor hair of the quartet."
Another shout from inside headquarters made Gordon excuse himself. Batman just stood on the roof staring up at the bat signal, deep in thought. He had been a bit more distracted by the awards ceremony than he had realized, or maybe it was who had shown up to the ceremony that had distracted him. It matter which way; he had slipped up. That was the bottom line.
Clark had heard about the Joker and his sidekick, Harley Quinn. He thought that he might have heard or read something about Poison Ivy but Two face? That did not ring any bells at all to him, but maybe he could get filled in. Clark floated over to where Batman was. As he did he saw that Spidey was heading over, too. Clark grinned as he sank down to the roof, making sure that he made some noise so that Batty would know that he was there. He needn't have bothered, Batman already knew that they were there.
Bruce acknowledged both of them with a small smile and asked simply, "Did you hear it all or do either of you need a recap?"
Clark could see the chagrined body language of Spidey, and just grinned even wider as he replied, "Not for me thanks. I got here before you did, Batman."
"But how? I left before…" Clark sobered as he heard what Batman had started to say. Did he know? Well, this was probably the best time to ask so he did.
"I've got a confession, I know who you both are." Clark watched both of their faces at his disclosure, well, what he could see of their faces anyway without peeking.
"Well, I guess I should tell you that I know who you two are in real life, too, and if we've, well make that I, figured stuff out I think that it would be no problem for Batman, the great Dark Detective, to as well." As he was speaking Peter had reached up and pulled off his mask, sensing that they were safe from discovery.
Bruce followed suit a moment later and Clark cracked, "Should I put my glasses on, or is it a given?"
They all laughed, and Peter said, "Well, I must admit that I have never heard about any of this before. What is Arkham, anyway, and why were these folks given the hospitality suites?"
Bruce answered both questions in addition to the logical next ones, "Well, the Joker was a habitual criminal who fell into a chemical vat, with the unexpected result of not death, but a rictus-like grin and a radical difference in coloration. Not that it did anything for the man's lack of human decency except that maybe he comes up with more and more depraved things to act out to fuel his sick sense of humor. Now his accomplice, Harley Quinn the clown, was a psychiatrist who dealt with the criminally insane and something sent her over the edge. I don't yet know what. She attached herself to the Joker's retinue and serves him out of love, or her sick and twisted version of it, anyway."
Bruce paused for a bit to gather his thoughts and continued, "Okay. Next up is Poison Ivy, real nice to look at but I wouldn't want to date her. Ivy is an eco-freak whose ideas aren't all bad, too much of a militant about everything though. She was a research botanist working under another scientist, a man she loved. Then one night at the lab that they shared she was caught in an accident of his making. He left her for lost, not even searching or reporting that she was there. Considering she had just helped him steal a rare herb from Egypt on show at the museum out of her love for him, this betrayal turned her into a rabid man-hater. Her lipsticks are venomous and she exudes pheromones of her own brewing that turn many a strong man to putty, or maybe more accurately puppy. Rich men are her prime targets." Bruce paused with a wry grin, to let them realize that he was talking from experience. "As a result of the lab accident and that man poisoning her, Ivy is also totally immune to any form of toxin.
As for Two-face, he used to be a friend of mine named Harvey Dent, a good man but he had a secret. He had a second fully formed personality, one that wasn't very nice. In an accident a few years back Harv got caught in an explosion. It blew away half his face and let his other side come to the forefront. Presto! Two-face was born. Funny thing about the combined effect of the two personalities, it made him a gambler. He has a two-headed coin, one side is scarred and the other pristine, depending on which side comes up your fate is sealed by the personality reflected by the side of the coin. On the other hand, he can't make up his mind if he can't find the coin after he's called the stakes; might be useful to us, eh?"
"Well, that was more thorough than I expected for a briefing," Clark said and at a loss to do anything else, offered, "You two want an air lift back to the hall?" Peter's face brightened. Here was something fun! Not that he didn't know how to be serious when it was called for, but he also knew that all crime-fight, no fun was a bad thing. Pulling his mask back on he asked, "How are we going to do this?"
Clark smiled as he replied, "Well, I could hover and let you two use your toys to get a grip, but I thought that you guys might like to feel what it's actually like to fly?"
Now it was Bruce's turn to light up, decidedly odd looking on the Batman that boyish grin. He had flown many ways but never without the mechanics ruining the peace of the flight.
It was clear to Clark that his second suggestion had captured their fancy so he explained, "All you have to do is hold my hands. My aura will support and protect you. Ready?" He held his hands out to Peter and Bruce. When they had taken them Clark began to lift off slowly gaining speed with altitude until they were all streaking back to the hall.
Back in the alley, after they had all become mundane people again, Peter commented, "Wow, what a rush!"
Bruce only said, "Yes."
Both earthbound heroes still in awe of the flight entered the hall again. This time Lois had been on the lookout for Clark, and, as soon as she spotted him, rushed over. Grabbing his arm in a vise like grip, Lois smiled prettily as she steered him to a quiet place where she could grill him about his long absence, unheard by anyone.
"So, where did you get to?" she hissed at him.
Clark knew that she was pissed. He had been gone much longer than he usually was whenever he did his disappearing act. He meant to tell the other two that Lois knew about him but it had slipped his mind, and now what the hell was he supposed to say? Lois knew when he was lying, and it wasn't his place to tell her about his friends' other sides. Aha! Clark could tell her about the breakout at Arkham. That would get him a bonus, for the story, anyway.
"Lois, there was a breakout at the asylum here for the criminally insane, Arkham. They managed to keep most of the inmates inside, including a body-count, but four escaped. The Joker, his sidekick Harley Quinn, her best-friend Poison Ivy and another guy called Two-face. When I ran into Batman, he explained."
Clark had been watching Lois' face and the anger had faded to be replaced by her work face. Then at his mention of Batty it had softened. She had known that he wanted to meet the other crime-fighter. He was forgiven and he hadn't broken his friends' confidences. All was right with the world, Clark felt.
He felt too soon. As he finished giving Lois the bio's on the crooks, the sound system was cranked on and a hideous cackle sounded over it. Then the words, "Hello all, Joker here. I, we thought, actually, that all you stuffed shirts must be bored. So here we are to lighten up this bash, well your pockets mainly, and provide us with entertainment at the same time."
The voice coming over changed to something more than menacing with a maniacal undertone, but scarier for all that. "Just follow directions and you might not get hurt, right?"
Clark had looked over to Lois telling her with his eyes that he had to do something. Not knowing if they were being observed she made shooing motions in close to her body. Clark shooed. He moved into the crowd looking for Bruce and Peter. It would be nice to work with someone, but without the disadvantage of worrying about stepping on toes. This was Bruce's turf, so Clark thought that it was Bruce's call on how to work this. He ran into them sooner than he thought that he would and then Bruce led them over to a service exit.
Peter and Bruce had stayed together after Lois had dragged Clark away, watching from a distance as she took on the classic 'I'm Listening, and it Better Be Good' pose. Bruce said in an aside to Peter, "What do you want to bet that she knows?"
Peter grinned, enjoying the fellowship between them and replied flippantly, "Never bet on a sure thing Bruce. You should know that!"
Bruce grinned back and Peter loved the way that whole platoons of photographers were glaring in his direction, not having any idea that the reason that he was so friendly with Bruce was for something totally unrelated to the awards.
They both looked over to where Clark was explaining, with his hands mainly, to Lois the cause of his absence. Peter was struck by a thought, "Hey, do you think that he'll tell her who we are?"
Bruce shook his head, "No, I don't think so. It's not his place to say anything. Besides, if she does figure it out, do you think that she'd print any of it? After knowing Clark?"
Peter didn't get a chance to answer, his spidey-sense went wild and he told Bruce, "I think that the breakout just broke in! Let's get Clark." But finding that they had strolled a fair distance they heard the laughter and the Joker's little speech before they found the third hero in the crowd, but it had given Batman time to come up with a workable strategy. Pulling them into a service entrance he outlined what should happen, giving them their assignments as they all changed. The three heroes went their separate ways to play their parts.
Lois watched Clark blend into the crowd. Then as the lights on the dais flared to life, she turned to examine the figures that appeared on the stage. They were very close. She hadn't realized how close she and Clark had been to the stage. 'Whew, I thought we had some characters in Metropolis, but they seem almost normal compared to these!'
The Joker had stepped up to the mike and was giving people instructions on how to relieve themselves of their valuables, the whole time tossing and catching what Lois thought might be one of his deadly laughing gas bombs. Up the bomb went and down and up and down and up, and it didn't come down. Wha? Lois looked up to see if it was caught on something and was surprised to see the friendly neighborhood Spiderman. Whoa, she thought, he's a little outside his regular stomping grounds. He was sitting on a line he had attached to the ceiling, where he had caught the bomb at the apex of its arc.
Cocking his head he asked, "Can you guys come out and play?" He sounded so much like a little boy asking his pals out to the park that Lois couldn't help but giggle.
Unfortunately, that giggle drew the attention of Joker's assistant, Harley Quinn. Doing a handspring off the dais she landed in front of Lois. Leaning forward, Harley snarled into Lois' face, "You don't ever laugh at Mr. Jay unless he wants you to, unnerstand?"
Lois backed away, as if in fear. When she had enough clearance to get in a solid uppercut, she let fly and knocked Quinn out cold. Lois looked down at the woman and said, "Get out of my face lady! Nobody tells me when or when NOT to laugh! Got it?!"
As she was talking, a line of webbing came down and cocooned the unconscious form. Lois heard Spiderman say, "Way to go, Ms. Lane!" Huh? How did the wallcrawler know who she was?
The Joker was dancing around on the stage in a rage. Who was this woman who dared to hit his darling and where the heck was Batman? And why was Spiderman here? Why wouldn't Two-face do anything? And where the hell was Ivy??? God, what was Gotham coming to with all this nonsense? And to top it all, no-one was being cooperative in giving over their goodies.
What the Joker didn't know was that Superman had taken Ivy out right at the beginning, as she had been following her own agenda out in the crowd. Now she was in police custody. Two-face had been Spidey's first target; actually the coin that Two-face tossed so religiously. Now the man with the dual personality was in a quandary, he had no way to decide how to do anything.
Now Batman made his appearance, sweeping down from the chandeliers. He carried with him a straight-jacket and the Joker almost ran to meet him crying, "Oh thank God, I think that is mine?" Grabbing the straight-jacket from Batman, he started to put it on. "I don't know but I think that this was a bad dream, and you can take me back so that I can wake up, right? I'd really like to wake up!"
Batman didn't say anything. He just turned the Joker around and fastened the arms. Then he looked up to Spiderman and, obliging the web-slinger, roped all three of the criminals together, attaching the tether to the rafters. Superman came in then and picked up the bundle, gave a grin and wave and went to deliver the crooks to the authorities.
A huge wave of voices rose as the doors shut behind the man in blue and red. Then the lights went out, the uproar quieted as they were plunged into complete darkness. It wasn't long before you could hear the hum of power returning and the lights flickered a bit as they came back on, Lois saw a very suspicious grouping at the side door as she looked around. Walking over to the three men it clicked in her head why she thought the grouping was suspicious. So, when she reached them and their conversation stopped abruptly, she was ready to step into the awkward silence with a simple sentence, "I know you know."
Clark was the first to recover from this statement and checking to see if they could be overheard asked, "You know what, Lois?"
She just smiled sweetly, and by that smile Clark knew what her next words were going to be. "Oh, just who everyone is in their skivvies, their long underwear if you know what I mean, that's all."
Bruce stepped into the conversation at this point and quietly asked if this could be continued later. It was agreed that the three would be his guests at Wayne Manor after the Awards were over with.
Lois and Clark were sitting cuddling on the sofa in front of the fireplace, Bruce was beside them in the armchair, and Peter was hanging out on the mantle. Bruce brought up what they had all been wanting to know. "So, Lois how did you figure it all out. Actually, I want to know how any of you figured it out."
Peter laughed, bringing him to the center of attention, seeing this he decided to go first. "Well, for me it was all dumb luck. I found out about Clark here because of my habit of leaving my camera on motion-sensor. He triggered it when he came out of the hall into the alley."
Lois laughed at Clark's face, saying in an aside to him, "you should have left it to the fire department, eh?"
"Then I found out about you from you." Now it was Bruce who looked chagrined. "I was in the back waiting to come in again without attracting too much attention from a minor to-do, when Alfred dragged you right in front of my hidey-door and you talked about that whole bat-signal thingy. That's how I figured everything out, it was nothing but pure dumb luck."
Clark smiled at Peter's tone, guessing that the young man thought that how Clark had figured it out was due to his investigative skills when it was only dumb luck for him, too. Clark decided that it was his turn, "Well, guess I should say that I dug and figured it out but, would you guys believe that I found out about each of you by sheer dumb luck myself, including a little x-ray vision?"
Peter couldn't help but be elated that he wasn't the only one who the dumb luck gods were favoring and depressed because that's all there was to it. Then he just couldn't help but laugh as Bruce admitted, "Pure dumb luck for me, too."
Lois started to giggle again but got herself under control enough to say, "Not for me. I happened to use the brain I was born with."
Then she looked up to Clark silently cueing him to finish. Stealing a kiss before saying anymore, he did. "Bruce looked real funny when he greeted me and I thought that I hadn't controlled my strength well enough, so while Lois was dragging me away, I shot a quick peek over my shoulder to see if I had damaged his hand, and I saw the briefcase."
Bruce smiled and said, "That explains a bit. I had just seen on the sensors, security," he clarified at the confused looks that were shot his way, "that Clark's skin was too dense to be that of a native so I knew then who he was. That is the same way that I knew about Parker here, too."
Peter was confused. He didn't think that his physiology was any different from anybody else's. Bruce followed Peter's thoughts and chuckled, "No, it was your web-shooters. I scan for any type of alloy in my systems to be totally sure, y'know. So there I was knowing from the minute you two walked in the door, pure dumb luck, that I didn't trust anyone with that prototype otherwise it would have been someone else, and I don't think that I will sell those after all."
This definitely eased Clark's worries. Lois turned and snuggled deeper into Clark's embrace. It still wasn't her turn, after all. Using her elbow, she reminded Clark that he hadn't finished.
He cleared his throat, "Well, Lois reminds me that I have more to tell. Well, not to long after I got back from putting out a fire at the docks, I heard a noise from the back, but I couldn't go over because Alfred and Bruce were standing right there. So again it was the x-ray vision. I looked behind the wall just as Alfred handed Bruce his briefcase and saw Peter pulling his mask on. It was a case of looking in the right places at the right times. I swear I never would have peeked under your masks. It just worked out that it wasn't ever necessary."
Both the other men nodded, as if saying 'we know that you wouldn't have.' Clark never would have and it reassured him that they didn't think that he would. He was hoping that they all could be friends.
Now they were all looking at Lois. As Clark had finished she had sat up.
Now she stood and moved to the center. Looking between the Bat and Spider, she told them, "You guys learn from this You gave yourselves away to me. Peter, you shouldn't have known my name when you were in costume, easy mistake to make, but hey?"
Lois turned to Bruce smiled and said, "You really didn't give anything away, but I knew from the huddled conference that you had something to hide, and I guessed when I saw whose company you were keeping. Then you confirmed everything in my mind when you evaded that shrill socialite, no way unless you had extensive training in the martial arts. Besides it was way too much like the way I've heard how the Batman can just disappear." Then seeing their faces in comical studies of dismay and stunned disbelief she couldn't help herself any longer, she broke into gales of giggles.
Alfred walked in at that moment and said with his dry English humor, "Well sirs, that was the most well thought out piece of female logic that I have ever been privileged to hear." This earned the older man a venomous look from Lois but appreciative ones from the menfolk of the room. They knew when to concede to the master.
P.S. Hope you liked it, my first real stab at writing since high school. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org P.P.S. I like to thank my sister for going through this story and editing, even though it's something that she wouldn't normally touch with a ten foot pole and to my oldest friend, who likes anything that I write as long as it keeps her interested.