Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Thomas/Martha (Martha does not appear in this chapter), Lucius Fox
Genres: AU, Challenge, Holiday
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: In a world where Bruce’s parents lived, he has carved out a accomplished life for himself and meets an equally-accomplished Clark for the first time.
Chapter Summary: Clark interviews the Heir Apparent of Wayne Enterprises for The Daily Planet.
Date Of Completion: November 27, 2009
Date Of Posting: December 15, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1853
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for Fic Prompt No. F 21: Write a story where Bruce Wayne's parents lived, where he never became Batman, and where he funnels all that passion and intelligence into something *else*. Clark can be Superman or not, as you wish for the 2009 World’s Finest Gift Exchange and for my 2009 DCU Fic/Art Glitter Winter Holidays Challenge. Prompts: Glitter, Garlands, Christmas Tree, Sparkling, Ornaments, Shining. Also written for saavikam77’s 2009 DCU Free_For_All Winter Holidays Challenge. Prompts: No. 10: Santa Claus/Sleigh/Reindeer and No. 14: Snow/Ice. :)
The entire series can be found here.
AUDIENCE WITH THE PRINCE
Bowed before the Prince,
Awed by his raiments
Of gold and silver.
The Prince waved his hand,
And bid him speak.
"Tales Of Spun Sugar
And Glittery Jewels"
Clark Kent pushed his glasses up his nose as he looked up at the impressive building known as Wayne Tower. The sky was gray on this cold December day with the promise of snow, but that was par-for-the-course in Gotham. He much preferred sunny Metropolis, but as one of the star reporters of The Daily Planet, he had to grab this story. Lois would be green with envy!
He entered the building, safely anonymous in his fedora and warm winter coat. Even with his picture published next to his byline, most people tended not to notice him. Frustrating in some ways, it worked perfectly for his profession in others.
The lobby was just as impressive, and not in the glass-and-chrome modern way that a Metropolis building like LutherCorp would exhibit. Here was old nineteenth-century solidity with a touch of the modern, like Gotham herself.
He shook his head in amusement at the use of the pronoun. When he had started thinking that way?
It was mildly busy at ten o’clock in the morning and he took the elevator up to the top floor. He presented his credentials to the middle-aged secretary, and the woman’s brown eyes crinkled as she said, “Oh, yes, Mr. Wayne has been expecting you, Mr. Kent. Let me announce you.”
Seconds later Melinda was escorting him into the office of the CEO of Wayne Enterprises.
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Kent,” said the distinguished-looking executive, graying at the temples, a handsome man with bright blue eyes and firm handshake.
“Thank you, Mr. Wayne. A pleasure to meet you, too.”
“Have a seat.”
The view of the city was magnificent from the wide windows, and Clark said, “My editor Perry White said he got in touch with you about the Enterprise Project.”
Thomas Wayne nodded. “Quite so. Ah, Lucius, come in.” He waved in an African-American man about his age. “This is Clark Kent of The Daily Planet. My true CEO, Lucius Fox.”
Lucius’ brown eyes twinkled as he shook my hand as Clark asked, “True CEO?”
“That’s right. Mr. Wayne is also Dr. Wayne, and spends most of his time at the hospital. We share CEO duties.”
“That’s right, I’m the figurehead and Lucius is the brains.”
Lucius seated himself and crossed his legs, relaxed and alert. Clark could sense the genuine respect and affection between the two men.
“Well, I guess we can get started by you telling me about the Enterprise Project.”
“In a nutshell, the project is aimed at contacting extraterrestrial life,” Lucius said.
Clark nodded, knowing that much already.
“We’re working with the Government, but essentially trying to keep this a civilian project,” Thomas added, his fingers steepled.
“And that is because…?”
“I’d prefer that we keep it within the realm of peaceful applications.”
Clark took a few notes, fascinated by the project. He had always been intrigued by the stars, feeling a yearning to travel among the twinkling points of light. He had gazed through his telescope many a night back in Smallville.
“We are sending out signals now, but so far haven’t received anything back,” Lucius said. “However, we are receiving data that is scientifically valuable.”
They talked about some of the specifics, then Thomas said, “The man in charge of the project is my son Bruce. Lucius will escort you to his office in the R&D wing. He can give you even more details.”
Thanking Thomas, I followed Lucius out of the office and down the hall to another elevator which took us down, down, down to the underground level.
Down here was more modern in design but still had that touch of the old-fashioned in the prints that lined the walls, extolling the virtues of Gotham in decades past. They looked like something the Chamber of Commerce would have put out.
A few white-coated people passed by, nodding to Lucius but ignoring Clark. Business as usual, Clark thought wryly.
“We won’t bother to go to Bruce’s office. He’s probably not there. I left him with a new idea, so he’ll be out in the labs.”
Clark was eager to meet Bruce Wayne. Heir apparent to the vast Wayne fortune, he enjoyed a party or two and was often in the gossip pages and on the TV shows and websites that tracked gorgeous rich young men, but he was making a name for himself as a scientist and inventor. He was active in the Wayne Foundation charities that his parents funded, and had recently adopted a young boy from the circus whose parents had been tragically killed in an accident.
Clark and Lucius entered a lab, the bright lights illuminating several scientists and technicians in white lab coats, and Bruce Wayne was in deep conversation with a young blond woman who wore glasses.
“Bruce,” Lucius said, and the young man turned.
Clark stifled a gasp. He’d seen pictures of the Prince of Gotham, but seeing him in the flesh was stunning. Midnight-blue eyes were lively and intelligent in a handsome face framed by raven-black hair. Broad shoulders filled out the lab coat, and it was obvious that Wayne spent time in the gym.
“This is Clark Kent…”
“…of The Daily Planet. What a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Kent. I always read your stories.”
His handshake was firm and his smile genuine. Clark’s heart did a flip-flop.
He wasn’t open about being gay, and this god before him was making him dizzy. He hadn’t seen any mention of the Prince going out on dates with men, so he was resigned to Wayne being heterosexual, but a guy could dream, couldn’t he?
As long as Clark could remember, he hadn’t quite fit in.
He quickly turned on his professional manner and said, “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wayne. Mr. Fox says you’re in charge of the Enterprise Project, and that’s what I’m here to find out more about.”
“Excellent. Thanks, Lucius.”
Lucius waved as he left, telling Clark, “You’re in good hands now,” and Bruce introduced the blond as Eve Stanton, the lab tech nodding her acknowledgment.
“Get on that right away, will you, Eve?”
Bruce turned his full attention on Clark. Clark almost wished for the blond to come back. How could he survive the undivided attention of this gorgeous man?
“So, I assume Dad and Lucius informed you of the basics of the project.” At Clark’s nod Bruce said, “I’ll show you the prototype.”
Bruce was wearing a lightly-scented cologne, sinfully expensive, Clark guessed, and his pants and shirt were of the highest quality under his lab coat, and were those Gucci loafers?
He felt terribly self-conscious about his suit, bought off the rack, and shoes that while shined, were not new or expensive. At least his coat was fairly fashionable, and his fedora seemed to suit him. He nervously pushed up his glasses.
He forgot his nervousness as he saw the gleaming silver prototype of the probe that was already sending signals out toward space.
“We hope to have one ready to go into space by next year,” Bruce said proudly. Clark had automatically begun to think of him as ‘Bruce’, presumptuous or not.
“That’s…wow!” Bruce grinned. “This is a fantastic project, Mr. Wayne.”
“Are you a star-gazer, Mr. Kent?”
Clark grinned, too. “Oh, yes! I would go out to the backyard and look through my telescope, even on cold winter nights. That’s when the sky was clearest.”
“You must have been able to see quite a few stars. You come from Kansas…Smallville, correct?”
“Why, yes.” Clark was amazed that this busy, important man had bothered to research him. He realized that this was a man for whom detail was important. “My mom and dad have a farm outside of town.”
“I envy you. I had a good vantage point from the Manor, but the lights from the city cut down on what I could see.”
Clark was surprised that this self-confident man could be envious of him about anything, but he said, “Well, Mr. Wayne, it was a great spot for star-gazing, to be sure. It took me awhile to get used to the skies over Metropolis.”
“Call me Bruce.”
Startled, Clark smiled. He noticed that Bruce appeared startled, too, but said, “Call me Clark.”
They exchanged smiles.
Bruce gave Clark some technical data, but Clark knew that he wasn’t getting it all. He hadn’t expected to, given the fierce rivalry that Wayne Enterprises had with LuthorCorp and Queen Enterprises for projects like this. All three of the heirs apparent had gone to school together at Excelsior, an exclusive prep school, and knew each other well. Clark had met Lex Luthor, and the man was intense and ambitious, and Oliver Queen was rumored to be the same despite his party boy ways.
“Do you believe in alien life out there, Clark?” Bruce asked as they walked around to the other side of the observation room, viewing the prototype from another angle.
“I do. There are just too many stars and planets and galaxies for there not to be. Pretty arrogant of man to believe we’re all that’s out there.”
Bruce smiled. “Even though the only signs of life we’ve had so far have been UFOs and little green men?”
Clark laughed. “And always appearing to people out in the country, like Smallville.”
“You’ve had sightings there?”
“Yes, periodically we get strange lights in the sky, and we had a meteor shower years ago.” He clamped down on a stab of sadness.
Bruce cocked his head. “Are you all right?”
Clark nodded. “I…the meteor shower did extensive damage.”
Bruce studied him for a moment, then said, “I’m sorry to hear that. I remember reading about that shower. No rocketships among the meteors?”
Clark smiled a little. “No.” He changed the subject. “Has the Government given you any trouble about this project? Your father mentioned his desire to keep it under civilian control.”
“We can do so, because we have the money to finance the project. Dad isn’t anti-military, recognizing that we need a strong military for our defense, but he knows the types that make a career in that field, and some of them want to apply everything to military purposes. Dad and Mom believe that we should explore non-military solutions to problems, too.”
“I’d like to get a little deeper into that…”
Bruce briefly rested a hand on Clark’s arm. “You can, but right now I have a meeting. However, if you’d like to wait, I can take you to lunch.”
“I’d like that.”
The fact that he liked the idea for more than his story purposes remained his secret.
“Good. I’ll have Eve escort you back to Dad’s outer office and you can wait there. I’ll be along in about a half hour.”
Clark watched the Prince of Gotham return to his research, and hoped he wouldn’t make a fool of himself over lunch.