Two Superfriends Share a Pie

December 04, 2016:

Superman and Batfriend share pie. Discuss the future of a Justice League.

Wayne Manor

Stately Wayne Manor


NPCs: Alfred Pennyworth, Larry the UBER Driver

Mentions: Supergirl, Tim Drake, Wonder Woman


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

A silver 2011 Toyota Corolla rolls slowly up the wide manicured drive manicured drive towards the stately Wayne Manor. Taking a left at the end of the drive it maneuvers around the outer-edge of the circular before halting just at the front steps.

Inside the car a young driver bends forward over the wheel and looks the exterior of the country house over in amazement, "You sure you don't want me to wait and make sure you make it in, Mr. Kent?" Straightening against the fabric seat he puts a hand upon the passenger seat and turns partway around to regard his bespeckled passenger, "It don't look like anyone's home."

His passenger hunches his shoulders and squints through his thick glasses as if trying to assess things for himself, "No, that's okay Larry." He says, "I have a good feeling about this. Thanks for running me all the way out here." Clark Kent scooches forward then and reaches into his back pocket only to find himself restrained by a locked shoulder belt. He squirms forward a couple of times as if believing the second and third try will be different than the first before jerking his hand from beneath himself and undoing the belt, moving it awkwardly away.

Then he can get to his wallet and compliment the man for his time.

"Any time, Clark."

The door to the car opens and the passenger's exits. Closing the door. The man starts for the door and the car begins to roll away. Suddenly, "Wait!" Clark Kent runs awkwardly after the car with lanky strides, "Wait!" The car stops. Clark opens the door, reaching into the passenger compartment uttering, "Sorry." When he exits again he holds what appears to be a circular dish covered in foil.

Closing the door, Kent starts for the manor's front door again. Moment's later.


The door opens almost before the second chime is done, and Alfred Pennyworth— all five foot ten dour, prim British inches of him— gives Clark a courteous half-bow of greeting. "Mister Kent, how good to see you," Alfred remarks. "May I take your jacket and your…" His eyes flicker to Superman's burden. "Baked goods?" he offers, mustache quivering once.

With Clark in tow the butler brings him down a wing, up a set of stairs, and down a hallway. "Please wait here, sir," he tells Clark, before moving into an office and closing the door behind him. Clark would, naturally, hear every word— 'Clark Kent for you, sir. Is this a good time?' 'Of course. Please bring him in,' would reply Bruce's resonant baritone. Alfred returns, beckoning Clark, and holds the door open.

"Mister Clark for you, Master Wayne. And he's brought… pie."

"Very good, Alfred, thank you," Bruce remarks, already rising from his desk. "Please bring us a service for it. Coffee, Clark?" he inquires, turning his intense blue eyes onto Clark and offering the other man a firmly polite handshake as he closes the gap to the other man. Alfred steps off, and Bruce gives Clark a level look before inviting him to sit at the small round table in one corner of the massive study. On anyone else, it might be an expression that suggests irritation as being interrupted. Bruce just looks emotionless— no need for the facade of the Wayne scion with Clark Kent.

"Nice to see you," Bruce says— but with Batman's raspy gravel. His eyes dip to the pie, then up to Clark. "I take it your mother still thinks pie cures all ills."

The door opens to reveal Clark Kent. Hunched shoulders and stooping gait the man wears an outdated brown suit whose light creases make it evident it's probably on its second wear of the week. In stark contrast to the demure Pennyworth he seems a big lumbering clod, "Good to see you, Mr. Pennyworth."

He enters, "Uh, sure." While still holding the pie he tries to struggle out of his jacket using his shoulder and taking his sleeve with a free finger on the pie-bearing hand to get that arm free. The bulk coat then sort-of falls away and he shifts his baked good to the other hand.

At this point Alfred steps in and provides some gentlemanly assistance so it doesn't wind up on the floor.

Upon seeing Bruce through the open doorway he smiles and as he steps through the threshold his posture changes. His milquetoast mien seems to roll down from his shoulders which straighten and square. Plodding steps become smooth and even as he crosses the room to meet the man. He takes the man's hand in a firm shake, "Good to see you," he says with sincerity now easily balancing the pie in his other hand, "Thanks for making time for me I know how busy you are."

Releasing the man's hand he turns and nods attentively to Alfred, "Coffee would be great. Do you have any whipping cream?" He questions, "For the pie."

His attention returns to Bruce when that bit of housekeeping is done and gives a homely shrug of his shoulders, "She's from a time when it nearly had to." He says, "In this case she wanted to make sure you knew how much we appreciated you keeping an eye on Kara. It's hard for me to give her space but I sleep a lot better knowing that you have your eye on her."
Setting the pie upon the round table he begins working the foil off.

Bruce invites Clark to find a seat, and once the business of removing the foil is done, he seats himself as well, flicking the front of his sports coat open with a practiced motion and sitting partially facing Clark, one leg crossing over the other.

"She needed a push," Batman explains. "That's all. She would have figured it out eventually." He looks down as the pie's uncapped and fresh aromas waft upwards. "That's a long time for someone with Kara's talent to be out of the rotation. I probably didn't win a lot of goodwill points from her," Batman acknowledges, the subtlest of amused smiles touching the corner of his mouth. It's gone as fast as it came. "Robin was having a similar crisis of faith. He got roughly the same advice."

Kent's fingers work around the edge of the pie pan uncrinkling the foil which he then lifts and casually balls between his hands. Shifting the foil into his left hand he takes the back of the chair with his right and concurrently pulls it out whilst giving a casual pitching movement with his other hand.

The foil moves into a lazy arc through the air disappearing behind the wide desk Bruce was seated at earlier. Then there is the sound of the metallic ball falling into the waste paper receptacle.

Clark sits and gives Batman subdued grin, "I'd be more surprised if you told me someone /was/ going to award you some goodwill points." Out of sheer habit he begins tucking his tie backward down the front of his shirt as if concerned he might spill something upon it.

Right hand goes to grip his glasses at their side and he pulls them to the tip of his nose and looks at the pie. The aroma of fresh pie suddenly intensifies.

"I hope that Robin has come back ground," Clark says earnestly, "Talent is one thing but that's a lot of time and training to turn your back on." Then he adds, "Sooner or later we all wind up stepping back and making sure we're doing what we're supposed to do.

"What about you?" Clark pulls the glasses back up his nose and gives the other man an interested look, "Anything going on other than the typical Wayne business in Gotham?"

"Things have been relatively quiet for a change," Batman says, shaking his head minutely. "No one's broken out of Arkham recently. Blackgate's new warden is doing an… acceptable job," he remarks. No surprise shows when Clark warms the baked pie up, though his nostrils flare a little as the scent of warming pumpkin floods the office.

As if summoned by the aroma, Alfred returns with a coffee and pie service for two. He serves coffee for both men, and sets cream and sugar for both. That minor task done, he slices the pie into eighths and sets a wedge on each plate. A dollop of cream— real, hand-made whipped cream, from a container— is added to each small server.

Task done, Alfred bows and retreats in silence. Batman reaches for a fork and cuts off a small bite, chewing it slowly, then shakes his head. "Tell Mrs. Kent I appreciate the gift," Batman tells Clark. "Alfred's a fair chef but your mother has a talent for baking."

He takes another polite bite, sips his coffee, and regards Clark levelly.
"I understand you're making some inquiries about getting the League out from under the thumb of the feds," he remarks.

Clark smiles a bit at the idea that things are 'quiet' seemingly genuinely pleased that things are going smoothly, "That's great!" He replies, "I hope that's given you a little time off." That final statement is almost parental - the vain hope that just by speaking to his concern for Bruce's workload that the Batman will have a moment of catharsis and take a night or two for himself.
This moment is interrupted by pie.

The mention of the League and the level look interrupts Clark's efforts smooth the hand whipped cream over the top of his pie. He's not so much surprised by the fact that Bruce was able to pick up on that but there is that readable moment where a man who can hear the clouds above them collide suddenly contemplates exactly how little he’s aware of how closely his friend keeps track of him.

"I struggle with that," Clark admits casually then, "part of me feels like I made a mistake in not standing up to the whole situation in the first place. We made a decision to suspend our independence because it felt better to work with the world governments. I honestly never expected them to come in and just take over." His endearing hope for a benevolent government can leave him a bit, short sighted.

"I'm honestly just worried about whatever we forgot about on the Watchtower," he admits, "Now that the Peak is up there it's a bit more difficult to just relocate it. Not without stepping on the hornet's nest."

His lips thin a bit as they press together in thought, "If I did anything I'd want to make sure we learned from our mistakes." Then he gives Bruce a level look of his own, "And I'd want to feel like it's not aliens and Amazons meddling out of boredom. I'd want to make sure mankind saw

"Government brings bureaucracy. Bureaucracy makes bureaucrats, and a bureaucrat is concerned with nothing as much as ensuring they have a career," Batman says, in those same level tones. "Every bureaucrat you hire will generate three more if you give them money and a flimsy pretext for doing so. Government is mostly just a trillion dollar pyramid scheme."

He sips more coffee, one elbow resting on the table— mostly facing Superman, comfortably relaxed in that not-at-all relaxed way that only Batman can sit.

He considers Superman's words over the quick clink and whisper of liquid. "As much as Themyscira doesn't want to admit it, they /are/ humanity," Batman points out. "They've got the same DNA as the rest of us."

"The question was never whether or not the League is worth it. The record there speaks for itself. Humanity could never have stepped up to handle some of the threats that have come looking for us. The problem is— always has been— that the League stopped bothering to consult with humanity for too long. Too many years with superhumans flying across the sky, smashing city blocks while they save cities. It doesn't matter how many lives you save, at some point people are going to feel resent. No matter how irrational that is."

"That's not fair," Clark responds candidly, "You can't paint with entire concept of governance with one broad brush. There's corruption and waste in any social system but that doesn't mean that the social system itself is inherently corrupt or completely wasteful."

Looking away then sinks his fork into the pie scooping a bit up and then to his mouth. This gives him a second to consider the next part. His brow furrows.

"Maybe your right," he says but doesn't seem fully convinced, "Still. I feel like it was by opening our doors that we allowed the opportunity for the League to be dismantled. I don't disagree that five people around a table making decisions on world matters probably isn't the best way to stay grounded but on the hand," clearly thinking out loud he stops, "So how would you organize it, then? How do we keep our humanity but also not let the bureaucrats take us over?"

"I wouldn't. This is why I work alone," Batman tells Clark, in those same dry tones. "I'm a free-market capitalist. People don't know what they want. I'll keep doing my job until someone better comes along. It might be one of the trainees. It may be someone from outside. I'll possibly die or be too injured to work, and someone else will rise up to fill the need for safety in Gotham."

"If you want to make it work again, you have to offer the world something it needs. Demonstrate that five people can make a bigger difference than one again. People are wholly irrational and emotional animals. You can use that against them. The League's problem wasn't necessarily that it was too big. It was that we," he admits, "though we were above public relations. We thought the math supported us. People don't think in terms of math. We can prevent all of New York from falling into rubble, but if we level the Empire State building in the process, people are only going to see that gap where the building was and remember that it was knocked down by a superhero."

"Consumers don't know what they want until you give it to them. But they know what they hate."

Clark's brows pique at the word 'alone', "You may value your independence but you won't be able to convince /me/ that the people you work with are just trainees, assistants, or pawns." He says in a manner that is clear but not confrontational. Superman would never share his mother's pie with a man he thought adopted children simply to orchestrate some greater agenda.

"Bruce," Clark says leaning forward and putting his wrists upon the table, "I always appreciate your candor. You're right," he admits, "my detractors feed upon the fact that I rarely take questions. I've been fortunate that somehow Superman has become a household name and so it's rarely been advantageous to take a partisan stance against me."
"I need to be better about not relying on puff pieces to be my standard of communication. "Going backward then he drums his fingertips light at the edge of the table, "And with a League it's even more important."
"I honestly like what the League is currently. Having it encompass so many people from so many walks of life creates a real opportunity to do exactly what you suggest," he shrugs as if some weight just shifted off of his shoulders, "Thank you."

Batman rolls one shoulder negligently at Superman. It's clear he thinks little of the effort expended, but it's polite to acknowledge a thank you.

Which is a big statement from Batman. Most people wouldn't even get the gentle acknowledgement.

He purses his lips, weighing his next words. "The League's roster needs to continue to integrate as many humans— or at least heroes of Earth— as possible. Superman looks human until people see him shaking off bullets on the nine o'clock news. Then they remember he's an alien doing them a 'favor'. Keeping more humans in the lead, in the papers, will help people realize the League is by and for humanity, instead of above it."

"The Watchtower probably isn't the best idea, ever," he adds, a beat later. "Leave it to the government to justify the expense to the people. Keep the team Earthbound."

He reaches for the pie, signalling an end to the conversation, and takes a bite, then looks back at Clark.

"I understand your father's corn crops were a bit sparse this year. Have you talked to him about Wayne-Agri's new recombinent corn strand?"

Batman really DOES keep a close eye on his friends!

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