Clowns and Pies

April 13, 2017:

Superman and Batman try to get a simple cup of coffee; Harley Quinn interrupts!

Gotham

Cup of Joe's cafe in Gotham

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

A pitch black night in Gotham like any other. Trashcan fires burn in the depths of alleyways muggers illuminated in the amber glow of the dieing fires as they're beaten down by the new generation of heroes. Discarded needles and burnt spoons float their way down currents of putrescent black water coated in the grime and smog of the city.

The skies are blotted out with a harsh rain, the darkness all encompassing despite it only being 4:30 in the afternoon. People run for shelter in every direction looking for a solace or salvation for themselves as blood mixes with water trailing down to the drains.

The new generation of heroes might have improved life here but it was always going to be east end, no matter how many heroes there were running the streets. In the center of it all, the depths of this pitch black section of hopeless city there's a light. An old staple of Gotham city since the cities founding, the neon sign shining out through the sheets of pitchblack rain that threaten to blot out every hope of tomorrow.

Cup of Joe's, a simple place, renovated back in the 1950's to what was for the time the height of style and fashion, after it was almost burned right to the ground. It's got the broad glass window looking over the darkness. Red and white checkered floors, and a mix of the old styling of its roots and the more modern diner experience.

Behind the bar Joe stands polishing a coffee cup. The mans 118 and still kicking around behind the bar. His hairs long since fallen out save for one or two hairs on the back of his head, but he's still got just as much life in him as he ever had. He whistles along with the beach boys playing on the radio, making the same motions he's made since he started working here at just 13 years old with his father.

Old black and white photographs hang along the walls of this well worn building. Soldiers and sports stars, heroes and actors all walks of life line the walls as that Jukebox has yet to give up the ghost.

A much younger man mops the floors, the whole place almost completely empty for the night with how fierce the weather has been. His own expression one of boredom as he works away, mopping back and fourth.

*

The door swings open, and a ghost walks in. Fortunately, the bar is empty. Fortune? Coincidence? Hard to say. Batman sheds shadows like some would shake out a jacket of water, cloak drawn forward, his cape hanging heavy from his shoulders.

"Joe," Batman says. He knows Joe. Saved the bar from burning down more than once. Joe is too old to be afraid of anything, of course. After a certain point, death looks as much like a ladder as Batman might.

He nods at an empty booth and walks towards it, boots ponderous and heavy. "I have a friend joining me," he tells Joe, in his low rasp. "He'll want some hot coffee. And pie, if there's any," Batman adds, before moving to the furthestmost booth in the cafe. Far from the back door, no window view, near the kitchen exit— and he sits facing the doors swinging inwards, folding his heavy, scarred gloves on the tabletop.

*

And it's true, Joe barely bats an eyelash when Batman walks through the door, even if the younger assistant is a bit terrified for a moment. "Always make sure to set some aside for my favorite customers, got some apple, key lime, and pecan hot and ready in the back." His voice raspy and worn down from a lifetime of hard living. He's not exactly the kind of person anyone let alone himself would expect to see still kicking round.

Shuffling over to the pot sat to one side Joe grabs it and a pair of cups, the younger man just meek as a mouse ducking down to get back to mopping the water off of the floor. "Hope your friend tips well" A light smile crossing his face as he lets out a light chuckle, as he moves to the table, pouring a pair of glasses up near the brim of fresh coffee. "Though I know you hero types always do." His expression is friendly behind those well worn eyes that have seen it all.

Outside near the sidewalk a lone figure descends from the darkness slowly but surely. Rain bounds off of his suit and hair, never stopping to soak in as the tip of a bright red boot touches down on the cold street. His cape is stark down behind him from the force of the rain as he begins walking right towards the front door.

*

Batman cocks his head. Before Superman gets near the door, he gestures subtly at Joe. "He's here," Batman remarks, before going still again. Perhaps that is the most surreal thing about Batman, even as Superman approaches— his ability to hold so perfectly still. It would take a Kryptonian to see the subtle motion of nostrils flaring with each breath, the pulse of capillaries in his exposed mask.

"Superman," Batman remarks, as his friend draws near. "I haven't ordered yet. I supposed you'd want some pie, and there is some available if you wish," he offers with a gravelled, absent tone that only someone familiar with him would identify as polite solicitousness.

*

And the figure is indeed none other then the Man of Tomorrow: SUPERMAN. Walking with a confident stride the Man of Steel pauses, the bell ringing behind him as he sends a quick burst of hot air down himself instantly evaporating not just the water on his costume but the very water he'd tread in himself!

Making a confident stride Superman comes to a stop at the side of the table, a broad smile of pearlescent teeth. "Great to see you Batman." His own confidence and joy a stark contrast not just to the man on the other side of the table but from the city as a whole. A firm not he turns to the rather confused looking Joe. "I'll have a coffee, and apple if you've got it." The smile widening across his face for a moment, before returning back to normal.

"Like a walkin propaganda poster." Joe comments with a bit of a chuckle under his breath, before shuffling back behind the counter to grab that slice of pie. When he's half way there he does ask "Havin your usual Batman?"

*

"Thank you," Batman tells Joe, with a subtle nod. Few places enough Batman can get coffee relatively unmolested. Places like this, where the owner has his store bought and paid for, and thanks to carefully structured trusts and shell companies, the Wayne Estate Management Corps ends up covering most of his rent under the guise of 'tax breaks'.

Mostly it's because so few heroes reach retirement, that even Batman feels they shouldn't need to worry about rent.

Black coffee for Batman, and even though it's Joe and his shop, when the coffee arrives, Batman puts a few granules of a chemical isolant in it, and does a chemical analysis check. Just to be sure there's no toxins, or poisons, or god knows what other creative invention someone might slip into his drink.

He looks at Superman, lifting his gloves to block his lips, and whispers in a tone only a Kryptonian could hear.

"Are you settling into things adequately?" he inquires, examining Clark. "You seem in good spirits today."

*

Taking a seat across from the Caped Crusader SUPERMAN settles in fine, taking a sip of coffee without so much as a second glance. His own face softening even more as he gets that much needed kick of Caffeine. Unlike the native Superman, there's no cream, no sugar, just pure pitch black coffee.

As the mopping man scratches the back of his head before moving off to work on something new, and Joe walks off to fetch that slice of pie things here seem to settle somewhat. The outside world is a distant one as rain pelts the windows, sounds of traffic drowned out by the melodic thrumping.

With a bit of well practices ventriloquism aided by his super-breath Superman is able to pass a message right back to batman. "I had a slip, when I saw Powergirl get hit I… I lost control, for the first time in decades I lost control." He's even lifting up his coffee for a slip, a conversation only for the two of them. "I just saw her dieing, over and over, and I whited out, when I was back I was floating in orbit."

Finally he speaks up in a normal voice. "Business as usual, on my end had an excellent flight over." His mug of piping hot coffee set right back onto the table.

*

"You need to get that under control," Batman says, bluntly, his soft words not underscoring the hard point of his tone. "Emotions are going to run high at times. If people see you falling apart they'll suspect things are amiss. You're too important to too many people to indulge in that."

Weirdly, there's something almost sympathetic about Batman's tone. He knows all too well how hard it can be to hang onto some shred of humanity, but how important it is to be a symbol for so many others.

A beat passes. "Have you spoken to the younger Kara yet?" he inquires. "She had some issues a year ago she's still not completely overcome, I think. Trying to find a place for herself in the world. You and Power Girl leave some large shadows."

*

"I know." Said with a firm voice, yet not an angry or snappy one, more an accepting one. "There's always a need for a symbol. Flag, or man." Another long sip of the coffee.

There's a silence from him as a plate is brought out right to the table. The 'slice' of apple pie is practically a pie in and of itself with a mountain of whipped cream. Supermans eyes go wide for a moment. A quick blink before he just offers his thanks to Joe.

Joe's only there a moment before walking back to the bar, understanding a thing or two about not interrupting a conversation.

Looking back to Batman, Superman falls back into that calm conversational stride. "I've been meaning to have a few words with her, I can't imagine it's easy for her. I have to admit, there's been a lot more to sort out here then at home." Leaving it intentionally unclear which home, or here, he's referring to.

*

"A conversation best not left for long," Batman advises Superman— but he drops it readily enough. It's a difficult thing, speaking to teenagers, and something Batman clearly understands well enough.

"How did Power-Girl take it?" he inquires, dropping one hand down to take a sip of his coffee. He does so silently, ignoring the heat, but there's a little exhalation of satisfaction he can't quite suppress. No matter how far-flung travels might take someone, there's something to be said for a familiar cup of java, and Joe makes it -right-. Maybe it's the coffee, or the Gotham tap water, or maybe it's just the knowledge that it was a cup made with some care and safety in mind, rather than whatever milky mass-product Bruce Wayne might have his secretary fetch from Starkbucks.

*

Holding up the cup to his lips and taking a deep sip of the contents before grabbing a bite of pie Superman is somewhat reluctant to answer the question for just a moment. "With everything I've had to help with these last few weeks I just haven't had the time." He pauses for a second. "I'm going to make time, I have to, but between sewer monsters, and aliens in the south pacific, meteorites threatening to destroy the planet I'll admit I've had to struggle to keep up."

*

"The only thing more important than saving the world today is saving the world tomorrow," Batman tells Superman. Anyone else might feel lectured, but Batman's patient tone is one of supreme mentorship. Rare for anyone to get straight advice from Batman— it's usually a reprimand— but it's always good.

"There will always be something today. But we have to train the kids up to take over for us. You might have a few more decades in you, Superman," Batman says, a wry tone in his whisper. "I figure I've got about ten years left before my knees and shoulders decide retirement for me. That's optimistic," he adds.

*

Superman sighs for a moment, before letting out a light chuckle. "You never change Br- Batman." A somewhat nostalgic look crossing his face as he looks into the eyes of that cowl for a quick moment, remembering when the two of them had had almost the exact same conversation, a lifetime ago.

Superman places down his fork for a moment hands gripping the cup of coffee. "On the bright side at least you aren't a smoker." A reference that perhaps no one but him could really see. "I'll see what I can do about making absolutely certain they get exactly the training they need."

*

+MEET: Harley Quinn has arrived via +meet.

*

"Only when I drink," Batman says, with a subtle irony. He and Superman sit in a cafe— alone and empty, aside from the owner of the cafe working slowly behind a counter (the man must be a thousand years old) and the young man mopping tiles and trying not to gawk at Superman and Batman in a corner. Batman's side of the booth is partially protected by a wall, and the two are enjoying of all things a cup of coffee. Superman seems to be eating an apple pie.

*

It's cold and wet outside, as it always is in Gotham, with rain coming down in intermittent gusts of heavy sheets. Most people are going home after a long day, and few are inclined to duck into the diner. Maybe some recognize the superheroes lounging inside, while others are just in a hurry to get to their apartments and a clean pair of socks. For the moment, though, Superman and Batman have a moment of peace between them. Batman rises and heads to the counter, seeing Joe duck into the back, and retrieves a canister of coffee to start pouring himself a refill.

*

Why is Harley Quinn driving a semi? It's quite possible even she doesn't know. Then again, maybe she does. The trailer behind is filled with dolls, packaged and ready to go on the shelves of toy stores all over Gotham. A little bit of Joker venom for the kiddies. Start the insanity when they are young and they will turn into something special when they are older. Just hopefully not Hipsters. Which super villian had *that* bright idea?

The gears grind as she tries to shift, not exactly skilled with stickshift. She starts slowing down to make a turn when a very distinct red cape catches her eye. Oooooh! It has the power to grab one's attention, much like the red capes used on bulls in Mexico. "Oooooh! Who needs ta turn, when I can just … Let it go!" she asks herself as she opens the door of the semi and dives out, letting the truck continue to barrel its way for the cafe.

*

Superman sets on the bench seating enjoying a monster slice of pie, covered in whipped cream. He's got a smile on his face and has rather been enjoying the evening up till now. That small swirled clump of hair of his bobs lightly as he eats. Other then that small clump the rest of his hair is all perfectly held down in place despite the rain.

The door swings open, a man dressed in a grey trench-coat with hair of pure white. He ambles his way through the diner, and up to the counter. A retired senator returning to one of his old haunts.

Looking back up for a moment to grab another swig of coffee Superman speaks with a light hearted nostalgia. "This pie has got to be the second best pie I've ever had." The first of course being from Ma Kent, not that he would say that while in costume. "Hey Batman, you've got to tr"

As the speeding semi soars its way ahead at breakneck speeds SUPERMAN pauses mid sentence to look up at the commotion. Coming to a steady stand the Man Of Steel looks out through the thick rain towards the oncoming headlights. "Great Scott, if that semi doesn't slow down it's going to slam right through the diner!"

Leaping to action Superman soars through the still open door just moments before it can close, placing himself between the oncoming semi, and the historic diner. Arms outstretched before him the Man of Steel braces for SUDDEN IMPACT!

*

Batman flickers into motion, following the shadows that the oncoming truck drives away. He sails towards the young man mopping, who stares jaw-slacked into the headlights, a deer about to get hit by a car. Batman kicks off of him, knocking him hard to the ground. He'll have bruised bones, but he won't face a wave of shattering glass.

And without missing a beat, Batman flares his cloak in front of Joe and turns to position himself between the man and the oncoming threat, swinging his cloak wide in the moments as time slows down at the truck barrels towards the blur of blue and red intercepting it.

For a moment it's frozen— the janitor, Joe, Batman, Superman— Harley, rolling onto the cobbles.

Then the irresistable force hits the unnmovable object, and not for the first time, Batman finds himself instinctively -trusting- Superman to protect everyone in the room.

*

Rolling onto the street, Harley just sits there on the wet cement, propping her elbows on her knees to watch the show. She knows nothing bad is gonna happen. If it were just B-man, maybe some casualties. But Capes? Nah. He'll stop the truck and look all muscle-y while doing it. Now if only she had some popcorn.

As the truck hits Superman, it comes to a very sudden and complete stop. The trailer topples onto the street, opening up and spilling dolls all over the road. Joker will be upset about her wasting resources, but come on!! What self respecting psychopath is gonna turn down the chance to hit Superman with a Mac truck?

*

CRASH CRUNCH HONK BANG as the semi impacts the man of steel he finds himself pushed back across the slicked ground growing ever closer to the historic watering hole.

Just as it seems SUPERMAN is to be sent careening through the glass facade the truck stops with the Man of tomorrow pressed firmly against the glass.

It's all over in less then a second but it's the longest second that many have ever felt.

Rain pouring down even harder then before the door to the shop finally swings shut.

Silence for several seconds hits the streets, before superman LEAPS up atop the flipped over semi trailer. Cape fluttering in the harsh winds his eyes lock on the downed Harley Quinn, and he ZOOMS down to ground level, standing now just inches from the prone princess of painful pranks.

"Excuse me Miss, do you know why I pulled you over?" A light pause. "I'm going to need to see your license registration, and insurance."

*

"Dr. Quinzel."

Superman can move faster than the human eye, but Batman can move in the shadows between eyeblinks. Red boots land near Harley's toes— and heavy black greaves end up behind her shoulders, only crunching asphalt under heavy boots to make the point he's arrived.

Batman glowers down at Harleen, broken glass still clinging to his cloak. "Seems you're out of Arkham a bit early again," he tells the harlequin woman. "You're not off to a great start if this is how you're starting a life of freedom and participation."

*

Harley watches the almost carnage with glee. As Superman lands on top of the toppled trailer, dolls asking for their 'Momma' littered all over the rain drenched street, Harley thursts her fists in the air and cheers. "Woooooo! THAT WAS AWESOME!!!"

Getting up of the wet ground, Harley brushes off her butt while the Man of Steel flies over and asks for her documentation. "Don't got none," she tells him with a grin. And then the gravelly voice behind her. "B-man!!" she exclaims as she turns around.

"Yeah, Arkham really needs ta do somethin' about them rotatin' doors. Perhaps more government fundin'! Nah, that's a crazy idea!"

*

"Friend of yours?" Superman asks Batman, for a brief moment, turning to face him.

The dolls call their way out into the night, making their sounds and cries for all to hear. Windows open, lights turn on, people peak out from their slums to see what's going on.

Superman looks back towards Harley Quinn, yet another face he's never seen before. It's a strange world, if he didn't know any better he'd think this woman might be this worlds version of the Joker, but he'd already seen his handiwork in action.

Superman stands in a heroic pose, moving a single hand behind his back to pull out a simple pair of handcuffs from his cape. Where the man keeps all this stuff is anyone's guess but he's not nearly as prepared as the Caped Crusader.

*

"Dr. Harleen Quinzel," Batman explains to Superman, in his low gravel. He stares down at Harley with an expression of -supreme- disapproval, arms folded across his chest, and a grimace that could stop a charging bull.

"Formerly of Arkham. Deranged sociopathy manifesting as hybristophilia. Romantically entangled with a deranged lunatic we only know as 'The Joker'. He's insane. She approves," he tells Superman.

"She's also contortionist and double-jointed," he advises Superman. "You'll need thumbscrews to go with the handcuffs— and if those aren't pick-proof, I wouldn't bother."

*

Harley grins and waves to the people that are opening their windows for a look down into the street below. "Hi there! Hey! Just a couple of capes draggin' off a poor helpless me to the loony bin. Again! Nothin' ta see." She certainly is a cheerful little lunatic. Downright bubbly.

As Batman gives the rundown of some of her insanities to Superman, Harley blushes and waves a hand in dismissal. "You say the sweetest things, B-man. You know, when ya talk like that, it's a real suprise that some girl hasn't just snatched you up ta call her own."

She looks over her shoulder at Supes, batting her eyes coquettishly. "Don't listen ta him. You can tie me up anytime."

*

"Maybe Arkhams just not the right place for her then, she needs to be reformed and reintroduced to society the proper way." Superman starts after a long silence listening to the other two. "I know of a few institutions that would be more then capable, we could get her real help from good people." There's a definitive optimism in his voice as he speaks, an authority backing him.

He places the cuffs back into that little pocket in his cape. You never know when they might come in handy, well usually when making an arrest, but with this world he never could tell. "If that doesn't work I hear they have excellent prisons in Siberia."

*

"Hmm. Siberia?" Batman inquires, musedly. He looks down at Harley. "Russia has a certain appeal," he growls, thoughtfully. "Goulash and rabbit three times a day. Your own private toilet with four other girls in the same cell, and your own litle pickaxe to break up the ice. Showers once a month, whether you want one or not. Delousing powder. Russian pop music." He glowers at Harley, the amusement leaving his tone.

"What'll it be, Dr. Quinzel? Back to Arkham without any fuss, or does my caped friend here give you a free trip to the tundra?"

*

"Ohhhh! Siberia!" Harley jumps up and hops into Superman's arms, draping her arms about his neck and resting her head on his massive chest. "I'm ready ta fly the friendly skies, cutie patootie!!" she says before sticking her tongue out at Batman. "I think this guy's optimism might do some good things for ya, B! You know a good support group of friends is vital when a person suffers from depression like yourself. Go out! Make friends! Wear a colour that ain`t black!"

As Batman describes the Siberian prisons, Harley seems distracted by Superman's pectoral muscles, drawing on them. "You know, you ain't usually my type. I prefer my guys tall and lanky, but I wouldn't kick ya outta bed fer eatin' crackers. Unless Crackers was my dog, cause that's just way beyond my sorta crazy."

*

Superman catches her without a problem, just holding her in place for the moment as he gives a slight nod of the head. "Siberia it is." Looking over towards Bruce for a quick moment he starts to lift off the ground. His expression is a bit more serious. "Alright Batman, make the call, I'll have her on their doorstep within the hour."

His expression is still a rather heroic one but it's very clear he's dead serious about the trip, even as he starts to float several feat off the ground. "If anything happens while I'm in transit you know how to reach me, I'll be taking her to" He lists off not just the name of the prison but the phone-number for the call. The prison itself is one of the highest security prisons in all of siberia, known for its horrific conditions and cruel treatment of prisoners. Of course where Superman is from it was one of the nicer prisons in Siberia, excellent food.

*

"Of course, Superman." Batman blinks behind his mask, once at the suggestion. But he doesn't argue with the Man of Steel— mostly because if there's one thing a criminal like Harley would pick up on, it's dissension in the ranks.

So he watches Superman take off with Harleen in his arms, though once they're out of earshot, Batman sends Superman a message with a different location in mind. A mental recovery center, instead of one of the harshest of gulags for political dissidents.

Even Batman isn't that cruel.

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