30/30 - Late Night Double Feature
by Chicago and 'rith
Disclaimers and other information in "Opening Credits"
So he was early, standing in the living room of a three room apartment, and the urge he had had to appear in a vintage letterman's jacket struck him again. This place practically screamed 1950s; staid, utilitarian brown furniture, a linoleum tiled kitchen visible through an open door, a bakelite transistor radio next to a vintage lamp on the end table beside the sofa...
"It was cutting edge when I decorated," J'onn had excused wryly on one of their fleeting visits.
It did have a certain austere warmth, Bruce decided, walking around the small living room. It was tidy, and, he noted, running a finger along the top of a framed print, dust free. He was not quite sure how J'onn managed that trick, given how infrequently he stayed here.
His lips quirked as he noted the television set, color, at least, but still with two sets of knobs for VHF and UHF and not a remote to be seen. Correction. There was a remote for the VCR, the one item in the room that suggested there was life after 1970. Curious, Bruce peered behind the television, taking note of the array of converters and wires that trailed down to the VCR. Apparently J'onn's technological proficiency extended to primitive systems as well as to the semi-organic phantasmagoria of advanced Martian tech.
Although for all that, the VCR still blinked 12:00 in the Denver dusk.
Bruce resisted the urge to set it, opting instead to wander into the kitchen. It was small, but light and airy, with the fire escape running directly outside the window. There was an unwashed coffee cup in the single well sink and a pot, a plate and a fork in a dish drainer to the side. The range had a built in clock, also woefully inaccurate, with a timer, and the electric elements coiled over immaculately clean drip pans. A survey of the cupboards showed some cold cereal, a can of ground coffee, crackers, and several packages of Chocos. There were a few mismatched plates and plastic cups, a veritable testament of bachelorhood.
The squat refrigerator was equally bare, holding only a quart of recently purchased milk and a package of hot dogs with one frankfurter missing. Obviously for show, Bruce decided, given J'onn really did not have to eat. Bruce chuckled to himself. "John Jones, minimalist," he mused aloud, closing the refrigerator and migrating to the bedroom.
The furniture was no newer than it was anywhere else in the apartment, but the bedroom managed to convey a more contemporary feel. The bedspread and area rug looked newish, and a CD player sat atop the chest of drawers, a short row of CDs lined up beside it. Bruce cocked his head to read the titles, aware of the jingle of keys at the front door.
"Everything pass muster?" John Jones asked from the bedroom doorway, his low rumble colored with amusement.
Bruce glanced up and returned to his perusal. "Interesting collection," he remarked. He slid a CD from the row and held it up. "Break-dance Hits?"
"Paco," John answered quietly. "Vibe."
Bruce suddenly felt disrespectful.
John's voice began to shift registers as he crossed toward Bruce. "He left some tapes at headquarters, and his brother didn't want them." Slim arms slid around Bruce's waist, and he felt a kiss between his shoulder blades. "I replaced them with CDs a few years ago."
Bruce put the CD back in its place on the shelf and turned in the circle of what were now Alana's arms. He enfolded her, gently kissing her forehead. "So all of these-"
"Oh, some are my choices. And Gypsy sends me things from time to time, telling me I need to keep up to date. But yes, a lot of them fell to me from the Detroit days or the Task Force. And are you ready to go catch a movie?"
Bruce looked down at Alana, who leaned back and gave him a very deliberate 'change the subject' smile. "I still would be happier if we just burned the Young Justice list," Bruce stated.
"Cranky," she scolded, giving him a fond poke in the ribs. "Drive-ins are fun. And I still wish we could've taken the Batmobile."
"Alana," Bruce rumbled threateningly.
She laughed, pulling away from him. "Yeah, I know, urban legend, reputation, etc. etc. I just wanted to hear you growl. Besides," she added over her shoulder, heading back into the living room, "this way I get to drive."
Bruce lounged against the doorframe, watching as Alana picked up the mail she - John - had dropped on the phone table on the way in and began sorting through it. "I thought traditionally the man drives to these things."
Alana snorted and let a few envelopes drop into trash bin. Her slim body grew and bulked into John Jones. "Are you saying you want flaunt societal conventions?" the Denver PI asked with Alana's coy intonation.
Bruce raised his hand to his eyes and shook his head. "Remind me again why I'm dating you?"
"Because I'm cute," John replied, stepping forward and sidling in to kiss Bruce's cheek.
Bruce shuddered at the brush of five o'clock shadow. "Not that cute," he objected.
John pouted, obligingly changing back into Alana, upon whom the pout had a definite appeal. "I'll never understand this whole gender thing. John's cute in his way."
Bruce leaned in to kiss Alana, giving a little nip to the protruding lower lip and making her giggle. "John is handsome," Bruce corrected, "but I prefer a few more curves." He let his hand trace down the side of her body to illustrate the point.
"Mmm, Mr. Wayne. Keep that up and we won't get to the movie."
"Too bad," Bruce breathed without any sense of regret, spanning the palm of one hand across the small of Alana's back as he nuzzled her neck.
Alana squirmed free and snatched up her car keys. She jingled them imperiously in Bruce's face. "I'm driving."
Bruce chuckled as he reached for her wrist, not entirely surprised when Alana eluded him and gave him a look of impatience. "Fine. You're driving."
"And... you've already had a date with Alana."
Bruce raised an eyebrow. "I have?"
"Remember, football, Kal doing landscaping-?"
"I don't think-"
"Something new. But not until we get to movie. I have Alana show up here often enough that no one will think twice about her coming out of the apartment -"
"But no one will notice me, eh?" Bruce commented.
Alana stuck her tongue out at him in a surprisingly un-J'onnlike gesture. "Shows what you know. Anyone who looks will think Alana and her cousin John are going out for the evening."
"Fine," Bruce sighed dramatically, "loan me a trench coat."
"Uh uhn," Alana denied, grabbing Bruce's hand and leading him to the bathroom. "Look," she ordered.
He obeyed, startled to see John Jones looking back at him from the mirror.
Alana tiptoed to rest her chin on his shoulder, meeting his eyes in the mirror. "Telepathic projection. Too much work to be more than a fun parlor trick, but-"
Bruce blinked, trying to force himself to see through the illusion.
"Don't," Alana protested. "You'll give us both a headache. I'll drop it once we're out of the neighborhood." She jingled her keys again. "Ready to go?"
Bruce gamely allowed her to lead him to the front door. "So what're we going to see, anyway?"
She shrugged, propelling him ahead of her and then locking up the apartment. "I haven't been by this week, but last week they were playing 'Chicago.""
"A document-?" Bruce began in confusion.
"Come on," Alana interrupted. "We need to pick up our pizza on the way."
Alana only shook her head and continued to pull him down the hall and to the garage.
It wasn't a documentary, that much was certain.
Maybe based on a true story, but...
"You like?" a breathy little voice asked, and Bruce glanced down to see that Alana had been replaced by a perfect replica of the woman on the giant screen. One of her hands slipped between his legs, and his body answered before he could
"J'onn," he protested half-heartedly.
The platinum-blonde temptress snuggling up to him in the bucket seat of the T-bird shifted her hand lazily, gazing up at him with half-lidded eyes. "Am I distracting you from the plot?"
Bruce swallowed hard as the sound of his zipper being pulled down found a lull after a musical number. "J'onn-"
Full lips pouted up at him. "My name is Roxie." Her hand tightened a little as one bare leg slipped over his thigh and brought her up to straddle his leg. "Don't you recognize me?" Bruce felt his eyes drifting down the décolletage of her silver, form-fitting dress. "Ummm-"
She smiled, taking up one of his hands and pressing it to her bosom. "Mmm, that's it, sugar."
With an effort, Bruce pulled his hand away. "No, J'onn," he said firmly. "Roxie Hart was a murderer. She broke the law. All the pretty packaging in the world won't make that attractive." He was proud of how his voice did not have the least tremor, relieved at the strong conviction in his tone that caused Roxie to sit back, if not to disappear.
She regarded him for a moment, long enough for him to start feeling nervous. He pointedly pulled his zipper back up, avoiding "Roxie's" eyes. "Not attractive?" she asked.
Bruce nodded forcefully. "Not at all."
Roxie raised an eyebrow, "Oh?" she said, and abruptly, Roxie was replaced by Talia al-Ghul.
Another shift, this time to Poison Ivy.
He squirmed as suddenly Catwoman was on his lap.
Bruce felt the blood surging through his body, could swear he could hear his heart beating, overriding the tap dancing piped into the car through the drive-in sound box. "Well," he sputtered, "maybe attractive in a purely... physical... but... but I would never..."
J'onn's Catwoman form cocked her head at him.
"I mean when I was younger... before I really..." Bruce chuckled nervously. "Hormones, you know, and -"
Catwoman blurred back into Roxie Hart, and Bruce realized his zipper was down again. Lipstick red lips pressed against his, silencing another attempt at explanation, and he moaned, half in protest and half in desire.
Roxie leaned back and studied him, her expression thoughtful.
He met her eyes, his chest heaving for air.
Her fingers traced over his lips, and after a moment she reached down to rezip his trousers.
He shuddered slightly at the contact.
"It... troubles you... that this type of woman... excites you."
He continued to focus on getting his breathing under control, focusing...
"Don't," Alana whispered, brushing her hand against his cheek and drawing attention to the fact that J'onn had once again changed forms. "This doesn't need the Bat." She placed a chaste kiss on his forehead and shifted off his lap, sliding back to her own seat, negotiating awkwardly over the gear shift.
He reached over to catch her hand, and his voice caught a little as he said, "Damn bucket seats."
Alana laughed lightly. "Yeah, I miss my old Impala, too."
"Impala?" Bruce gaped. "Please tell me you're making that up."
"It was a good car - four on the floor, wide bench seats, handled the mountain roads..."
"An Impala," Bruce repeated flatly, feeling his body relaxing, his mind latching with relief onto this new, playful discussion.
"Well, it's not like John Jones can afford a new Jaguar," Alana pointed out. "And for the amount of time I spend rescuing my car from impound lots-"
Bruce gave her an appalled look. "J'onn! Impound lots?"
Alana shrugged, leaning across the gap between the seats to rest her head on Bruce's shoulder. "Lot of weird tow zones in Denver. In a lot of cities, actually. Hard to keep straight. Plus when the world is ending its not like you can take a break to feed your meter."
Bruce snorted, reaching to rest his arm across Alana's shoulders. "Fine. But the way you drive? You should have something better than an Impala. Better than this T-bird, too. Where did you learn to drive like that, anyway?"
Alana smiled. "I like to drive," she said smugly, and Bruce realized that she - that J'onn - meant it, and had meant it for 50 years, and likely had tried every stretch of unpatrolled road in the world.
He squeezed her closer. "You never mentioned-"
"How often do we ever go driving together?"
Not very, Bruce conceded. His eyes drifted back to the screen, caught by the 'razzle-dazzle' of a film he was finding increasingly morally repugnant. "Maybe we should go driving more often," he suggested.
"The Batmobile?" Alana asked, hope bleeding into her tone.
Bruce hesitated in surprise; it had never occurred to him that J'onn might want to drive-
A kiss on his cheek interrupted his thought, and J'onn's mental voice stated, Who doesn't want to drive the Batmobile?
Bruce could not help himself; he began to laugh. An image - from his own imagination or a suggestion from J'onn? - popped into his head of the Martian Manhunter in a high powered convertible and wearing aviator sunglasses, and he laughed harder. It was a rare belly laugh, rusty from disuse and tinged with relief as the awkward tension of "Roxie's" appeal finally dissipated. He could feel Alana - J'onn - curling into the warmth of that laughter. They were once again snuggled together in his bucket seat when he finally stopped laughing.
"I think I've lost the thread of the movie," Bruce confessed, wrapping his arms more securely around his lover.
"You're expected to at a drive-in," Alana explained, her voice muffled against his chest. The warmth of her body against his felt... comfortable. Not erotic, just pleasant.
"Hmm. That's why one of the kids thought it would be an ideal date, isn't it?"
"Semi-sanctioned parking," Alana acknowledged.
"Please tell me it wasn't Robin's idea."
"Bruce, you know better," Alana reprimanded. "But he is going to be so jealous."
"Wha- Alana-" Bruce screwed up his face, trying to fathom what Alana was trying to say.
"Because I get to drive the Batmobile," she explained.
"You are going to let me, right?" Alana leaned back and studied him with pleading eyes.
He sighed. "I am going to learn to resist that look," he promised.
"I can drive it, right?"
He drew her back to his chest. "You can drive it." He kissed her hair.
"Tonight?" she asked.
"Don't push it," he cautioned, and he could feel her grin.
"Fair enough. Later, then."
"Later," he agreed. A reprise of an earlier song began, playing over the sound box, and he realized with a start that he *knew* the song. The first phrases were played and he realized he was half-unconsciously tapping out the two beat pause. Alana lifted her head and grinned.
"Sounds like your night life," she remarked, listening to the lyrics.
"You want to go?"
Bruce considered for a moment, looking at the screen. "After this song."
"And I get to drive the Batmobile?"
An impressive line of scantily clad women began an elaborate dance. "If I get to pick tomorrow's date."
Alana climbed back over to the driver's seat. "You have got a deal."
Fifteen minutes later, they were heading back to J'onn's apartment, and Bruce realized he was looking forward to the night's second feature.