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There is Little Danger

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-From a plaque posted in an elevator near my house. It never fails to make me fear for my life.


"You're not hurt, are you?"

"N-no. You?"

"I'm fine."

The lights flickered, and then settled, half as bright as before. Clark shook the daze away and watched the only other passenger in the elevator car stand and move cautiously towards the door. He was tall and as attractive as a movie star, but there was real strength in his build, which showed when he pushed at the doors. They didn't budge, but Clark almost imagined that they might have under different circumstances.

The man gave up on the doors and settled on the emergency phone, back still to Clark.

He had introduced himself as "Bruce," rather unnecessarily, when they found themselves alone in the big, glass-backed elevator. He'd had a firm handshake and a winning smile that hadn't reached his eyes. He was Bruce Wayne and if Clark remembered correctly, he owned the hotel and everything in it, including the elevator that had lurched violently to a stop, sending both men to the floor. More to the point, he owned the city of Gotham. Clark knew his face from a million magazine covers and sensational news stories.

The billionaire was wearing a handsome watch to match his handsome three-piece suit. The gold timepiece ticked down the minutes to midnight.

It was New Year's Eve and Clark wished he had taken the stairs.

He looked around, located his glasses under his leg where they'd flown off, and slipped them back on. Unscratched, and for that he was grateful.

Bruce placed the phone he'd been cradling against his shoulder back inside the tiny compartment on the wall. He turned slowly to look at Clark and his shoulders were slumped ever so slightly.

"It's Clark, right?" he asked.

Clark nodded and came to his feet. He'd stayed on the ground, braced in the corner, since the THUD! WOMPH! that had sent the elevator swooshing down and then halting abruptly. The elevator car swayed with his movement, not extremely, but it was still disconcerting. According to the display above the doors, they were lodged between the 14th and 15th floors. Clark didn't like the survival odds on that figure.

Both men held still while the car settled. Clark looked sheepishly at Bruce who only shook his head as if to say, "No harm, no foul."

"The emergency phone is dead," Bruce said. Clark swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. Bruce's eyes stayed trained there for several seconds, then snapped back up to Clark's expression. Clark's blue eyes were wide, the pupils large. Combined with a suit so bad polyester wept, Clark was a tragic figure indeed.

Clark swallowed again. "So what do we do?"

"Well..." Bruce reached into his pocket and retrieved an expensive, shiny black mobile phone. When he lowered his head to look at it, a lock of hair fell fetchingly over one eye. He pushed it back with a strong, manicured hand. "I don't have a signal. You?"

Clark resigned himself to pulling out his basic flip phone. It was hardly a luxury item like Bruce's and he would have rather kept it hidden. Instead, he held it up, moved it from side to side, and eventually gave up. "Nothing. Sorry."

Bruce smiled a crooked smile. "It's not your fault. Don't apologize." He put his phone back into his perfectly creased slacks and then cautiously made his way towards Clark. "At least we have a nice view," he said once he stopped. Clark looked at him with a puzzled expression before turning as well. His shoulder brushed Bruce's as he made the turn and he couldn't stop the small "Sorry" that escaped.

He wasn't sure he imagined the chuckle Bruce made or not. When he glanced to his left, Bruce's face was still and unsmiling. He appeared to be looking out the glass back of the elevator with rapt attention. Clark joined him in taking in the nighttime view of Gotham.

The city was, undeniably, lovely at night. The sky was clear and the stars twinkled to some rhythm only the heavens knew. There was no snow on the ground, for once, but there was a damp heaviness to the air that promised a winter wonderland soon.

Towers strained upwards and stoplights glowed red and green for the season. And Gotham, well, yes…

Clark understood something about the city in that timeless moment, standing beside a stranger in a swaying elevator car. From the sublime and shining lights of thousands upon thousands of windows at the heart of the view, to the elegant tracery of her endless bridges stretching like fingers into the darkness—Gotham was a portrait of a city at the height of its greatness and beauty.

"I've never seen Gotham at night," Clark admitted. He saw Bruce turn to him and smile as a pale reflection in the glass, but he didn't turn to meet his eyes.

"And what do you think?"

"It's amazing. Nothing like Metropolis."

Bruce gave a slow nod. It was like the sun ducking behind a cloud when Bruce looked away from him, so extremely did Clark feel the heat of the other man's gaze. "You're right," Bruce said evenly. "Nothing like it. Gotham's older. A little...broken."

Clark felt the truth of those words and rolled them around in his mind for a minute. Bruce's words made Metropolis seem like an infant: immature, maybe a little spoiled by technology and progress. Gotham in comparison was older and wiser, but bitter. Gotham was a stately grandfather shaking its fist at the world. Clark suddenly realized that the two cities, side by side, would make a great story.

He'd pitch it to Perry if he ever got out of this elevator.

"Do you think we'll be here for a while?" he said.

Bruce's reflection nodded at him. "Probably. Did you have plans?"

"I'm covering the party in the ballroom." He paused then amended, "Well, I was supposed to be covering the party in the ballroom."

Bruce's voice was smooth and rich. "If it makes you feel any better, it's a boring party. Every year, it's a boring party."

Clark felt his mouth draw up into a toothy smile, couldn't seem to stop it. "That does make me feel better." And Bruce's reflection in the glass smiled as well and Clark felt, suddenly—quite unaccountably—glad he hadn't taken the stairs after all.

Bruce surprised him by turning away from the view and sliding down the leftmost wall. He stretched his long legs out in front of him and tilted his head back to look up at Clark. "We might as well get comfortable. Maintenance or Security will figure it out eventually, if they haven't already." When Clark looked skeptical, he added, "Really. There's nothing to do but wait."

Clark took one last look at the breathtaking view and then joined Bruce on the floor. Later he would question why he didn't take the opposite wall, why he sat down right beside Bruce. At the time, it had seemed natural. Later, after days of bagels and coffees and time to think, he would be able to frame the moment with the clarity of hindsight. Getting caught in the elevator with Bruce could have been nothing, one of those events with so little importance that they fade months or even days after they occur. But sitting next to him, feeling the heat coming off of him and the weight of his gaze; hearing his even breathing, the rustle of his clothing as he shifted—those things made the moment indelible.

When Clark turned to Bruce, he saw on the other man's face the flash of something. It was a softness to his blue eyes, a considering lift to his eyebrows. Clark didn't know what Bruce saw when he looked at him, but he wanted to find out.

"What time is it?" Clark asked.

A quick glance at his watch. "Nine-oh-eight," Bruce said.

Clark groaned and rubbed heavily at his face, knocking his glasses askew. "Well, we're definitely missing the party," he complained. He imagined all the expensive champagne in fine crystal and slow dancing to holiday favorites going on 14 and a half floors below. His mind conjured up a scene of elegant ladies and gentlemen swaying together romantically. It would have been a terribly tame story, but he could have played to the Gotham celebrity romance angle and spiced it up a little. Suddenly, something occurred to him.

"Oh, no," Clark said.

"What?" asked Bruce.

When Clark answered, his voice was mumbling embarrassment. "Lydia Fairbanks," he said.

Bruce's eyebrow lifted. "Yes? What about her?"

"Well, I mean," Clark tried and pretended that his cheeks weren't turning red. "She must be here."

"She is," Bruce said evenly. "She's probably danced every dance and toasted every toast," he added and there was something like a smile in his voice, but Clark couldn't be certain.

Clark quickly grabbed his cell phone again and held it up high. "If I can get a signal, maybe…" he began and almost jumped out of his skin when Bruce placed a cool hand on his wrist and pushed his arm back down.

"It's not that big of a deal, Clark," Bruce said and Clark almost jumped again at the sound of his name from those lips, in that voice. "She probably hasn't even noticed I'm gone. And, to be honest, I forgot about her until you said her name."

"Well," Clark said but never finished. He didn't know what to say to that and Bruce's hand was still on his wrist.

"We're not…serious. Not at all. Don't believe everything you read in the papers," Bruce said and actually smiled. It reached his eyes and was the most transformative thing Clark had seen in a long time. He was a different person when he smiled genuinely.

Clark blinked at him slowly. "I have to: I work for the Planet."

"Ah," Bruce said and removed his hand from Clark to scratch his chin. "That does put us in a difficult spot. You write the news—"

"And you are the news," Clark finished. They shared a quiet laugh at that and then fell silent. It was suddenly clear how little there was by way of the usual, commonplace noises people ignore everyday. There was no chatter of nearby conversations, no real hum of electronics outside of that from the weak lights on the ceiling.

And the silence Bruce and Clark shared wasn't an awkward one like maybe it should have been. Rather, it was a peaceful, easy quiet. Bruce's breathing was even and slow and Clark felt calm listening to it somehow.

"Well, Clark: tell me about you," Bruce said after long minutes spent that way. And then he yawned with a surprised look on his face as if he hadn't expected it at all. When Bruce yawned, he looked suddenly much younger. He blinked rapidly as if clearing away sleepiness and gave Clark an apologetic smirk.

"There's not much to tell," Clark said.

"Oh, I doubt that," Bruce said firmly. "I doubt that very much."

So Clark talked. He talked about the farm, how winter settled like a blanket and never seemed to budge until right around April when you walked outside and suddenly had to strip off a sweater or two. He talked about his mother who baked compulsively from November to January and expected her son and husband to keep up. He talked about the awful Christmas pageants at the church and how the baby picked to play Jesus always ended up being the baby with an ear infection who cried and cried through the whole play.

Talking about it all brought it back, made him a little homesick for Kansas and her endless stretches of snow-covered fields; for skies filled with more stars than he could ever hope to count and plumes of smoke drifting upwards from houses half a day's walk away, the nearest neighbors around.

Bruce was silent for long after Clark ran out of words. Then he told Clark that he must be one hell of a writer. And Clark knew he was good, but it didn't lessen the glow of pride he felt right then.

"Now you," Clark said. "Tell me about you."

Bruce talked about the mansion where he grew up, how you barely noticed the seasons outside because everything inside seemed so timeless and larger than life. He talked about opening the door to the grounds and being shocked when he realized that it must have been snowing for days without his noticing. The mansion, he said, had a way of pulling you far away from the rest of the world, of cushioning you from everything but itself. He spoke of walking through the corridors, checking out each window to follow the progress of the groundskeepers as they cleared away every sidewalk, every stairway.

Clark could imagine it, as if Bruce's slowing, tiring voice had woven a spell on him, spinning visions of a lonely childhood before him like a magic mirror.

"It sounds…beautiful," he said, instead of lonely, which is what he meant.

"It was," Bruce answered then admitted, "I don't normally talk about this." Clark imagined there was an appropriate response to that somewhere in the universe, but he was at a loss as to what it was. He was all at once flattered and uncertain, nervous and more at peace than he'd been in a long time.

He let the statement go without comment and Bruce didn't seem to mind. And Clark watched him shift from just a little worn out to barely awake over the next hour. Bruce kept up with the conversation, which flew from big business to blockbusters and everything in between, but each minute made his voice sound a little softer, his eyes droop a little more

And then the comfortable silence returned, only broken by Bruce yawning more and more as the minutes ticked by.

Ten minutes later, he was asleep on Clark's shoulder, shivering slightly. Clark carefully worked his way out of his jacket and draped it over Bruce's torso. It was a poor, makeshift, half blanket, but it would do, Clark decided.

Bruce curled in closer at some point and Clark alternated between gazing at the pristine Gotham night, and gazing at Bruce's face gone soft and innocent with sleep. He wondered about the electricians and engineers, the rescue crews. Had they already pinpointed the problem? The thought that they should take their time crept in like a thief, and he knew he was supposed to want to get downstairs and do his job, but he didn't feel too guilty.

Bruce let out a sleepy murmur that could have been anything and Clark smiled and leaned in to him. The snow started to fall and Gotham was a winter vision, like something from a fairytale. And Bruce…

Bruce was more than that, and Clark wondered if he'd ever tire of looking at him.


Bruce woke with a surprised start and blinked in confusion at the elevator.

"You fell asleep," Clark said just to have something to say. Bruce was a warm, solid weight against his arm. His hair was a little less perfect, his face imprinted with the pattern of wrinkles at Clark's shoulder.

When he rubbed at his eyes and cheeks, the jacket around his shoulders slipped off. He grabbed at it, then frowned before looking between it and Clark as understanding dawned.

"Yours?" he asked.

"You were shivering," Clark answered.

Bruce didn't reply at first. He looked away to the corner farthest from Clark as if some great mystery just beyond his understand had its answer hidden there. "Thank you," he said at last, head swiveling back to Clark. There was a look on Bruce's face like he didn't know whether to keep the jacket or give it back. "It smells like you," he added.

Clark felt his face heat. "I'm sorry."

"That's not a bad thing. Stop apologizing, Clark." His voice was rough with sleep, absolutely charming. He handed the Jacket to Clark and Clark bit his tongue to stop himself from saying, "Go ahead and keep it," because that was not a normal thing for a guy to say to a stranger he'd just met no matter how right it felt to do so.

Clark slipped back into the jacket just to have something to do.

"You didn't get cold?" Bruce asked. Without pausing he added, "Did you sleep?"

Clark shook his head. "I tend to run a little hot."

Bruce made a small, choked sound that Clark couldn't interpret. "And I, uh, didn't sleep," Clark finished to cover the awkwardness. "I'm not really tired."

Bruce opened his mouth as if he might say something to that, but then just licked his lips and fell silent instead. When he finally spoke, it was to say, "I'm sorry for falling asleep on you."

Clark's face split into a wide grin. "Stop apologizing, Bruce," he said and was rewarded with a smile from Bruce in return.

"Touché," said Bruce, who tipped an imaginary hat to Clark.

Clark's grin went impossibly wider, brighter and suddenly it was like something was on a precipice, ready to tilt. He looked at his hands, cleared his throat, and tested his voice.

"This hasn't been, you know, bad," Clark said and was thankful that Bruce ignored how his voice came out a little like a nervous croak.

Bruce took his time forming an answer and Clark's neck felt torn between wanting to let him give in and look at Bruce, and trying to save face by keeping his eyes trained on his hands.

"Yes. It has been nice. We should get stuck in elevators together more often."

Clark opened his mouth to speak and then never got to.

His head swiveled and then his jaw dropped.

The first fireworks launched into the air like rockets. They flashed and sparked and bathed the world in color. At that moment, Gotham was more beautiful than any place Clark had ever seen. He got to his feet, heedless of the sway of the elevator car. "Wow," he said softly. A clock tower somewhere chimed cheerfully. Dozens of fireworks made a wreath in the air that drifted down lazily, but more screamed up and burst into life before the last sparks could die.

Clark laughed and then, unthinkingly, he held down a hand to Bruce.

"Come here. You've got to see this," he said. It felt so natural when Bruce took his hand and pulled himself to his feet that Clark kept holding on. He even gave Bruce's hand a squeeze and didn't think it odd that Bruce squeezed back. Finally it caught up with him and Clark let go of the hand with a "Sorry," that just made Bruce shake his head.

"Really: stop apologizing."

They stood side by side and watched the spectacle, the lights illuminating the city in greens, reds, blues, and whites.

"It's beautiful," Bruce said quietly.

"It's midnight," Clark said. His voice came out soft as well, as if he feared anything too loud would ruin a moment that had somehow become precious.

Bruce looked at his watch. "So it is. Happy New Year," he said, whispering just like Clark had.

Clark turned to him with the idea of catching his profile and was surprised to see that Bruce was already looking at him. His eyes were as gentle as his voice had been, his mouth parted slightly.

Clark took a fortifying breath. "Happy New Year to you, too, Bruce," he said at last. He didn't know what to do when Bruce stepped closer. They were almost the same height and Clark realized that this was going to be different from his experiences with small ladies from Smallville and Metropolis. Whatever this was, yes, it was going to be different.

Bruce reached up and gently took Clark's glasses off his face. Clark let him. His heart sped and his throat felt dry. Bruce slid the glasses into the breast pocket of Clark's shirt.

"It's tradition," he said, one inch from Clark's mouth.

"Yes," Clark said. "Tradition."

The silence this time was because Bruce's lips were soft and testing against his. Clark exhaled shakily when Bruce's hand came to rest against his jaw. It was still warm from being tucked under Clark's jacket and that made Clark smile into the kiss. He stepped closer, let his hands slide around Bruce, took over a little bit by tilting his head down, using his height. Bruce let him; let his mouth go where Clark wanted it.

Clark didn't know what cliché to start with. The kiss felt so good he thought all at once of champagne bubbles and starbursts—all the terrible things terrible writers fall back on to explain an extraordinary moment. He thought of rainbows and, yes, well, fireworks; of sunrises and flying.

And the way Bruce moaned and angled his head made him wonder if Bruce was having the same kinds of thoughts.

Bruce's hands were warm now where they stroked his jaw, his neck. Clark's hands roamed freely over Bruce's chest, his hips, his back. At one point, he lifted one to card his fingers through Bruce's black, black hair to satisfy his curiosity. It was softer even than he had imagined, so he did it again.

It seemed like some magical coincidence that Bruce's lips parted just as Clark was thinking he wanted a taste. Perhaps Bruce had been thinking about sucking on his tongue at the same time. The idea made Clark slide a knee forward, just enough to feel what he wanted to feel. Bruce gasped and broke the kiss even as his hips jerked.

"Clark," he said hoarsely.

"Yeah," Clark agreed.

The kiss was a little less sweet and a little more like foreplay after that and for a brief moment Clark wondered at the logistics of doing this in an elevator. They stopped again just to catch their breath, but it was maybe a lost cause. They were gasping and it sounded loud in the small space, even over the fireworks and the muted hum of "Auld Lang Syne" from far below.

Clark took the break to plant kisses across Bruce's jaw and neck, to nose at the short, soft hairs near his ear, to trace his tongue along his earlobe. Bruce smelled like some expensive cologne, like clean and good and Clark loved how he tasted.

Bruce reacted beautifully, tilted his head to give Clark more access and gave encouraging little noises. Then he turned his head and claimed Clark's mouth again. He teased Clark with a series of broken kisses, and in between each one, he tried to speak.

"We can't," he began and dipped his tongue into Clark's mouth teasingly, "do this here."

"Mmm," Clark agreed and tried to catch Bruce's face to hold him still and prolong the kiss, but Bruce was determined to speak and kiss at the same time.

"But…if you don't mind…"

"Mmm, hmmm?"

"If it's not too forward…"


"I want…" Bruce tried. "I want you…" and then he just stopped as if out of steam.

Clark let him end the kiss with a last lingering slide of tongue because his heart was suddenly beating twice as fast and also, somehow, lodged in his throat.

Bruce took a deep breath, licked his lips nervously, and then caught one of Clark's hands in both of his. He brought it to his lips and kissed it reverently. Once, then again like he adored…Clark. Like he adored Clark.

"Would you…that is…I have my car here and…" he trailed off.

Clark blurted, "And?" to prompt him, hasten along this thing he knew would be good—great even—and his nerves were vibrating in anticipation.

Bruce took one more deep breath.

"Clark, will you come ho—" Bruce tried, just as the emergency phone rang. Bruce turned and looked at it with a comically surprised expression. "It's working," he said and made no move towards it. Clark couldn't imagine taking his arms off Bruce.

The phone kept ringing. Bruce looked back at Clark, swayed a little closer to his lips.

The phone seemed to ring louder.

"Damn," Bruce hissed and broke away.

It all happened so fast that it took a few seconds for Clark to register how empty his arms felt without Bruce.

When Bruce lifted the cradle, it was with unnecessary force. "Yes. No, we're okay. Just two," was Bruce's half of the conversation. "To the whole building? I see. That explains a lot. How long? I see. Yes. Thank you."

He placed the phone back on the cradle and turned to Clark.

"That was the emergency response team. There's no power to the building. We're on backup generators. It seems a tree near a transformer got weighed down with ice and it snapped and crashed into it. Half the grid is out."

"How long till they get to us?" asked Clark.

"They should be here—" Bruce began just as something went CLANG. They turned to the door where what was obviously a crowbar was wiggling its way through. Bruce said something that sounded like, "Are you kidding me?" under his breath.

And Clark felt like cursing, but instead he said, "They have really bad timing."

Bruce gave him a hot, pointed look and then said nothing as the doors slowly inched their way open. A firefighter with concerned eyes shone a bright flashlight into the elevator. Three more crowded in behind him. It was bizarre to be staring at the carpeting of floor 15 and the chandeliered ceiling of floor 14 all at the same time. The firefighters were just heads looking up at them from below.

"Are you two okay?" one of them cried.

"Fine," Clark called back.

The man nodded and then started a brief, static-filled radio conversation while another firefighter signaled for Bruce and Clark to come forward. In the hallway, the emergency lighting on the floor was very weak and most of the light came from the flashlights of the firefighters and the odd police officer.

One by one the firefighters helped them out, and then it was a blur as they were checked over by EMTs and asked what seemed like a million questions.

Clark looked over his shoulder at Bruce who looked disgruntled with a thermometer being held up to his ear. He caught Clark's eye and rolled his eyes and shrugged as if to say, "Can you believe our luck?"

Clark shook his head slowly. "What can you do?"

Quite suddenly the hallway was flooded with partygoers and guests of the hotel who were all being told they had to get their things and go someplace warm. They poured from the stairway in evening gowns and tuxedoes.

From one second to the next, Clark couldn't see Bruce. He stood on tiptoe to look over the heads of the crowd, to try to spot him, but it was no use. A firefighter was telling him over and over that he had to head up to his room, get his things and exit as quickly and safely as possible.

The crowds of people were moving back to the stairs now, and none of them had blue eyes like lapis lazuli and a smile like the sun once you tricked it to come out and shine. None of them were Bruce.

At last Clark stopped fighting the tide and let himself be herded to the stairwell. He was given ten minutes to get his stuff from his room and go.

He didn't see Bruce again.

The urge to go looking for him was strong, to loiter outside the hotel in the cold until he saw him again. When he scolded himself for it, told himself it was just a kiss with a stranger, he ignored himself every time. It wasn't just a kiss. He hadn't been just any stranger.

Clark huddled down in his taxi and gave the directions to the airport. He'd try for a standby and go home.

The airport in Gotham was like any other airport he had ever been in, but buzzing with holiday travelers. He was glad he'd traveled light—the runaround through check-in and security seemed speedier than normal.

Then he was at his gate, handing over his ticket and shuffling forward. He couldn't shake the regret, the feeling that tonight in the elevator with Bruce had been an opportunity for something wonderful that he'd let slip through his fingers. He could still feel the perfect pressure of Bruce's lips on his. Bruce's mouth had been warmth and passion and Clark…

Clark felt more alone than he had in a long time.

He wedged himself into his coach seat, struggled with the belt, and was grateful that he at least had the window. It gave him something to look at, something to take his mind off regret. The snow was still coming down, but the snowcapped airport couldn't touch the view of Gotham from that elevator.

He got jostled a bit when someone filled the seat beside him.

"I'm sorry," said a smooth, polished voice.

Clark's head spun so fast he thought he might get whiplash. Bruce was grinning at him with a smile that brought light to his eyes, made them dance with mischief. Clark blinked a few times as if trying to banish the mirage of Bruce Wayne in his nice suit sitting beside him. When Bruce didn't disappear, Clark just stared at him.

A flight attendant asked him to buckle in, which he did and all the while Clark kept gawking.

"How—?" he croaked out at last.

"I pulled some strings," Bruce answered.

"Big strings?"

Bruce pulled a face as he thought. "Mmm…medium sized strings. Strings I was glad to pull."

"I couldn't find you," Clark said.

"Luckily I found you," was Bruce's answer and Clark found himself at a loss for words once again. He looked at Bruce and Bruce looked back and nothing—not even the mandatory safety video—distracted them from it.

The plane taxied forward, the lights in the cabin flickered and the contents of the overhead compartments shifted.

"Have you been to Metropolis before?" Clark asked at last.

"Many times, but never for pleasure."

"There's a first time for everything."

"I agree. For example, today I got stuck in an elevator for the first time," Bruce said and raised an eyebrow.

Clark schooled his features. "How was that?"

"Very nice. I recommend it."

Bruce twisted, just enough, and placed his hand atop Clark's on the armrest. Minutes passed that way. The plane came to a slow stop and then the captain's voice crackled over the intercom.

"This is your captain speaking. We've got ice on the runway. They're clearing it off and we should be airborne within the next hour. Until then, sit tight and thank you for flying with us."

The passengers burst into groans and complaints. Dozens of cell phones chimed as they were turned back on and one-sided, vitriol-filled conversations started in every seat. Bruce and Clark alone didn't seem to mind. Clark's smile wouldn't go away and Bruce seemed to be having the same problem.

"You know," Clark said and leaned in closer to Bruce, "I love flying."

Bruce leaned right back. "Do you? Please, tell me more."

It was New Year's Day on an ice-slicked runway at an airport in Gotham. Inside the airplane—which was going nowhere fast—two men decided that there was no place else they'd rather be.

~The End~