Brainiac's android body stood in front of the computer terminal. His index finger of his right hand extended connecting with the computer terminal with his level 12 intellect then he began downloading information. Suddenly, on his ship's large screen appeared an image of Superman. The android's face smiled. This was something old, but also something new.
"Kal-El, son of Jor-El, so Krypton is not completely dead," he said. "I see that the sun yellow gives you remarkable abilities. I will need an ally if I am going to add you to my collection of cultures."
Brainiac walked over to his stasis tubes and gave the command for tube three to extend. Inside was the suspended body of Zor-El, brother of Jor-El. Before leaving the doomed planet of Krypton, Brainiac took a species sample with him. Due to his respect for the brilliant Jor-El, who was dead, he chose his brother, though it was a pale substitute. But now he could have Jor-el's son that would be a triumph.
Brainiac stared through the glass at the frozen body of Zor-El. His facial resemblance to Kal-El was remarkable.
"You will be my tool to capture Kal-El and add his uniqueness to my samples," Brainiac said. "But you need to be stronger, faster, and under my control. I believe cybernetic implants will make you the perfect slave. You'll be my cyber Krypton Ian. You will be unstoppable."
Next, he had his robot drone remove the stasis tube and bring it into another room. The drone placed the stasis tube on a medical bed, while Brainiac began writing a program. Suddenly, a bright yellow light came on above the bed.
"First, we must strengthen your body with yellow light radiation, infuse you with power, and then we will add cybernetics to your body. By the time we reach earth, you will be as powerful as Superman but without his weaknesses and with me in control of you," stated Brainiac.
Cool Jazz Club, Metropolis
Dressed in jeans, a black dress shirt, and a leather bomber jacket, Clark sat across from Zatanna, who was dressed in black leather. The club was almost filled. Clark blocked out the conversation, clinking of glasses and forks, and smells of alcohol, and focused completely on Zatanna. A jazz trio rifted on Nature Boy, which he allowed past his filter. Clark found the syncopated music soothing.
"I can't tell you the last time I went out on a Sunday night. Usually I'd be out patrolling the city or doing a duty shift for the league then I'd go home and catch up on work," said Clark.
"Sounds boring, Clark," remarked Zatanna. "Too boring a life can lead to burnout."
"So can't battling an indestructible doomsday creature," Clark admitted.
She took a sip of her drink, which was a Ti'Punch. Its fruity flavor made her wrinkle her nose. Clark was entranced by her facial expressions and tics. He stared at her face until Zatanna started to blush.
"I guess Superman and Clark Kent lived a boring life," he admitted.
"Then I'm glad you are taking time off from being you now who then," smiled Zatanna.
The smile, the pouty lips, Clark was falling in love. He reached over and placed his right hand on her left hand. Zatanna smiled. She was amazed at how warm his hands were. Of course his whole body was warmer than a normal human being. The sun was his source of power. She smiled at the thought of cuddling up close to his perfect body and sharing his warmth.
"Thank you, Zatanna," he said.
"For what, Clark?" she asked.
"You make me feel normal," he grinned. "No one has managed to do that for me since my parents growing up and Smallville. You make me feel human."
She blushed. Zatanna couldn't believe it herself, but she was in love with Superman.
"Clark, I…," she was interrupted.
"Hey, love, long time no see," the familiar voice of Constantine broke the moment. Zatanna turned her head to see the blonde hair man in his trademark trench coat and rumbled clothes. He offered her a wink and Clark a smirk. Zatanna contemplated a series of spells and curses.
"Mind if I sit a spell," he said as he sat down.
"Constantine, you're not wanted here," Zatanna said coldly. "Leave."
"Here I am checking out this boozer and glad to see a familiar face in the joint and now you have to act like a twat," he said.
Clark growled and Constantine smiled at him.
"Do I know you?" he asked.
"This is Clark Kent," said Zatanna.
Constantine was part of Justice League Dark, who handled the supernatural and occult. They kept to themselves and hardly ever associated with the Justice League, though they knew who was who. Zatanna was a member of Justice League Dark until she decided that the Justice League could use her.
"I thought you were just some tosser," said Constantine then he smirked in a self amused way. "I guess I was right."
Clark's eyes started to glow red, but Zatanna reached over and squeezed his hand with all her strength hoping he would feel it. His eyes returned to their normal blue. He looked at her and she gave him and understanding nod and smile.
"You aren't making the beast with one back with him, are you, Darling?" Constantine asked Zatanna. "Please, don't tell me that. Steele isn't soft and loving."
"Constantine, do you want me to curse you?" she asked.
"You wouldn't do that to me, love," he smiled. "I'm one of your favorite people. Think of the things that I thought you in this life."
"If you don't leave this table and this club right now then your wanker will fall off and you won't be able to put it back," she told him.
"Okay, I can tell when I'm not wanted," smiled Constantine.
He stood up to leave then he paused. He looked at Zatanna and his smirk grew. It wad more nasty then self amused.
"Some information for you, love," he said. "Dr. Gotham is awake and planning his usual bag of devastation. You better let Bats know and stop the bugger before innocent people are dead and he's even more powerful."
Constantine walked away. Clark looked at Zatanna with concern.
"Who is Dr. Gotham?" he asked.
"A powerful warlock. He has one mode: world domination at all cost," she said. "I need to go to Gotham immediately."
"I'm going with you," he said.
"Clark, you don't have to come with me," she said. "Batman will be able to help me. This is magic we are dealing with. You don't do well with magic."
"I'm vulnerable to it just like everyone else, that's all," he said then smiled. "And some magic I'm more vulnerable to than some other magic."
Zatanna sighed and then said, "I will handle Batman. He's not going to like having you along for the ride. This is his city and he considers himself something of an expert on magic having studied with my father."
"I can handle Bruce, Zee," said Clark then his eyes turned red for a moment. "I could always burn his butt with my heat vision."
Zatanna laughed then said, "You can come along, but it mostly because I'm not ready to be separated from you. I've become addicted to you, Clark."
"Ditto, Zatanna," Clark grinned.
"So, should I transport us to Gotham City?" she asked.
"Can you take us to Bruce's Batcave?" asked Clark.
"No," she frowned. "He has spells and counterspells put on it so it can't be located or entered by magic."
Clark chuckled. Bruce's paranoia made sure that he always covered all the bases.
"I'll get us into the cave," he smiled.
Bruce sat at his main computer station reviewing information he had collected on drug trafficking in the city. This was one of his favorite pastimes playing detective. Even when his physical skills declined, his detective skills should remain sharp and allow him to stay in the game. He was looking for the main source, the primary supplier, so he could take it down and stop the flow. Suddenly, he sensed a presence in the cave and turned in his seat and pulled out an explosive batarang. Standing behind him were Clark and Zatanna.
"Good evening, Bruce," said Zatanna.
"Hey, Bruce," said Clark.
Bruce glared at the two of them then he put away his batarang. He couldn't believe that one, they were in his cave, and two, they were together. Zatanna and Clark was a couple. Bruce sighed at the thought of it. Zatanna was too wild for Clark and he was too boring for her.
"Why are you here?" he asked using his gruff Batman voice.
Clark was always amazed how that gruff, practiced voice had become Bruce's natural voice and the friendly Bruce Wayne voice was part of his mask. In many ways he and Bruce were opposites of each other. He was Kal-El, a Kryptonian pretending to be Clark Kent, a normal human being, while Bruce Wayne had in many ways become the false identity and Batman was his true identity.
"No, hello, or can I offer you a cup of coffee, Bruce?" said Zatanna.
"Why are you here?" he asked again.
"Dr. Gotham is awake and gaining power again. You know what that means, Bruce. We need to find him and put him back in a sleeping trance," said Zatanna.
"We'll need Dr. Fate's assistance this time. Fate can put him into a prison on the astral plane, which he'll never escape," said Bruce.
"I'll contact Fate," said Zatanna then she paused and smirked. "Do you mind meeting here or should we meet at a coffee shop?"
"Get him here, Zatanna, and do it right away," Bruce stated.
"Do you mind if I go upstairs to the mansion so that I can enter the astral plane?" asked Zatanna. "You know I can't do it down here."
"You know your way around here, Zee. Do what you have to do," Bruce said.
Zatanna moved over to Clark's side then she got up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. He returned the chaste kiss with a more heated one on the lips. When she stepped back, Zatanna was smiling.
"I'll be back soon," Zatanna told him.
"I'll be here," replied Clark.
Zatanna walked over to the elevator, got on, and disappeared. Clark turned to look at Bruce, who was staring at him.
"Really, Zatanna?" Bruce growled. "Isn't she a little young for you?"
"There is only a few years difference," said Clark.
"How about motional maturity?" growled Bruce.
"What is your problem, Bruce?" asked Clark.
"You really like to make my life more complicated than it needs to be, Clark," said Bruce.
"I'm falling in love with her," said Clark. "How does that effect you?"
Bruce shook his head. How could he explain to his friend that he worried about him? He worried that Clark would suffer setbacks in life and become more Kryptonian than human in order to deal with these setbacks. According to J'onn Kryptonians could be cold, distant, and beings who cared more for the intellect than emotions. That Superman scared him.
"Zatanna is," Bruce paused to choose his words well, "far less cautious about life than you. I don't want her carefree ways to rub off on you, Kent. I want you to stay serious an slightly our of place. Superman acts more human than human because Clark Kent is awkward and cares about humanity."
Clark stood there and grinned.
"Are you afraid that I'll start wearing all black and go into show business, Bruce?" asked Clark trying not to laugh.
"I'm afraid that you forget who you are and what your duties are. Superman is needed and I want my Superman to be cautious and contemplative and all too human," said Bruce.
"You don't want me to find too much enjoyment out of life," stated Clark.
"We are friend, Clark, but I worry about you…"
"Because of my powers," interrupted Clark. "Besides Kryptonite you have other contingencies planned or are planning on how to take me down. An artificial red sun was one them, but that didn't work out. Zatanna can create a small one, but she won't create one for you, will she?"
"I guess that answers the question how you two are having sex," snapped Bruce.
"Under a red sun, Bruce, a Kryptonian is weakened but he is not weak. Think stronger than Bane," growled Clark.
"I'm not your enemy, Clark," countered Bruce.
"And you're not my conscience either," said Clark.
"This conversation isn't going as I intended," admitted Bruce.
"No shit," spat Clark.
The doors to the elevator opened and Zatanna stepped off. She stopped and looked at Bruce then Clark.
"Okay, there is a lot of testosterone in the air," she remarked.
"We were just having a disagreement," stated Bruce.
Clark laughed ironically. He looked over at Zatanna and then smiled. She returned the smile.
"Bruce and I have our differences of opinion. Now is Fate coming?" asked Clark.
"He'll meet us in the park by the bridge over the manmade lake," said Zatanna.
Bruce looked at Clark and shook his head then said, "You can't go as Clark Kent."
"I won't wear my Superman armor," said Clark.
"I might have something for you," said Bruce.
He stood up and said, "Follow me."
Clark and Bruce disappeared into Bruce's armory. Zatanna sat down on the now empty chair. It was warm from Bruce, but not even close to the warmth given off by Clark. She smiled. Once upon a time she had a crush on the brooding Batman, but those days were over. She preferred Clark and his Smallville charm now.
They exited the armory. Clark was wearing an all black snugly fitting armor with one of Nigthwing's masks. He had no utility belt with toys. Zatanna giggled.
"I look foolish don't I?" he said.
"No, Clark, you look fine," said Zatanna.
"I don't think I've ever seen him look better," smirked Bruce.
"What do we call him?" asked Zatanna.
"I was thinking Batboy," said Bruce.
"I don't think so," Clark replied with glowing red eyes.
"Oh, I got it," grinned Zatanna, "We should call him Buttman."
Both Clark and Bruce glared at her.
"Well, he does have a nice butt," she said.
"Nightshade," growled Batman. "If you end up in the newspaper, you'll be called Nightshade."
"I like that one," smiled Clark.
"I prefer Buttman," laughed Zatanna.
Gotham Liberty Park
The battle with Dr. Gotham was worse than Clark anticipated. The warlock was a madman and everything he did was magic, which was a point of contention for him. He animated trees and turned them into soldiers. Bruce and he fought off the tree soldiers. Clark turned them in wood chips, while Bruce used his explosive batarangs on them. When the police showed up, he turned them into zombies. He told Bruce to assist Zatanna and Dr. Fate, while he handled the zombies. Clark had no intention of letting the Gotham Police get injured in this battle. He had more than one way to subdue them.
Using a combination of speed and strength, he managed to pacify the fifteen riot police that had shown up. Mainly he tore apart their police vehicles and bound them together with strips of metal from the cars like a chain then he staked the chain to the ground so they couldn't go anywhere. The police were safe for now,
He turned to check the battle with Dr. Gotham. Bruce was about to come up behind the Warlock, but was stopped by a lighting bolt that sent him flying away. Clark ran over at half speed and caught him. He gently place him on the ground.
"You okay?" he asked Bruce.
"Been better. My suit is designed to handle electricity, but that still hurt," Bruce said. "Gotham is out of control. He is even more insane this time."
"What can I do to stop him?" asked Clark.
"Stay out of his reach," Bruce said, "he'd kill you, Clark. This is not your battle. Let Fate and Zatanna handle him. They are strong enough to deal with Gotham."
"There has to be something I can do," said Clark.
Bruce noticed that Clark's eyes were trained on Zatanna. He was worried about her. Bruce suppressed a smile. Clark really was his friend. To see him falling in love was a concern, but it was also nice too see.
Both men's attention was refocused on Dr. Gotham, who grabbed a lightning bold out of the sky and threw it at Zatanna. She absorbed the power, but not without a great deal of effort. As she pulsated with electricity, Gotham pulled another lighting bolt out of the sky, but this time he turned it into a steel representation of the bolt. He threw the deadly javelin at Zatanna.
Without thinking Clark reacted. He sped in front of her and took the lighting javelin in his chest. Instead of bouncing off him, though, it went through his chest, through part of his heart, and out the other side. It was an object of magic. He was vulnerable to it.
Clark felt his head spin and his chest seize up as he needed more air than he could take into his system. Zatanna grabbed him and help him. Clark coughed up blood. She stared into his cerulean eyes, as her violet eyes filled with tears.
"I love you," he said softly then coughed up more blood before he started to pass out.
Before consciousness had completely left him, he saw pain and anger overwhelm Zatanna. Her whole body began to glow with magical power. She placed him down on the ground. Clark suddenly felt sorry for Dr. Gotham because he knew that she was going to kick his ass. It was just then that a dark abyss opened in front of him and he dove into it.