Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Substitute

Substitute

by Mara

Summary: “Lex stared at the two men in front of him, wondering if they were insane, or if he was.”

CONTINUITY: It’s in the same universe as a fic I wrote last year called “Old
Friends, Old Enemies…Same Thing.”
NOTES: This is a present for DebC on her birthday, 3/17/06 🙂

Lex stared at the two men in front of him, wondering if they were insane, or if
he was. He didn’t *feel* insane, but how could you tell? “You’re joking,” he
finally said, keeping an eye on the exits in case he needed to make a run for
it.

“No,” Dick said, arms crossed and brow furrowed. “I’d never joke about something
this important.”

Sitting down very carefully on the sofa behind him, Lex concentrated on getting
his head to stop spinning. “It’s ridiculous. You *can’t* be serious.”

“We are,” Alfred said, handing him a drink with that keen eye that had always
made him the sanest adult Lex had ever met.

Lex took a large sip of the drink, neither noticing nor caring what it was.
Unless Alfred had changed drastically, whatever it was would help. “I flew to
Gotham,” Lex said, “because you told me Bruce had been injured in the course of
his…duties. I assumed you wanted my help with something to do with Wayne
Enterprises.”

Frowning, Dick shook his head. “Why would we call the head of Lexcorp for that?”

“Well, I…” Lex trailed off, rubbing one temple. “That’s not important. In any
case, that’s why I came. But this…you’ve got a dozen metas you could ask.”

“No. They all have other obligations.” Dick shifted position, looking
uncomfortable. “It has to be you. We need you to masquerade as Batman until
Bruce is well.”

“But I’m not a superhero!” Lex couldn’t believe they were still discussing this.
Maybe this was a bad dream? He looked hopefully around for naked dancing men,
but they tragically failed to appear.

Alfred gave Lex the kind of look he’d given young Bruce and Lex when they’d
disappointed him by sneaking out after hours. “No excessive heroics would be
required. Simply the application of a certain amount of menace from a man of
approximately the right size in the suit. Master Richard and the others will
provide the action.”

Lex eyed Dick. “Why don’t *you* do it?”

“Because the absence of Nightwing would be noted. We can’t have that.”

“No. Absolutely not.” Lex crossed his legs, smoothing his pants absently. “I owe
Bruce a great deal, but this is too much. Get someone else to play dress up.”

* * * * *

Sitting by Bruce’s bedside hours later, Lex allowed himself a moment of fear at
seeing a man so *alive*, so *powerful*, reduced to this. The lines of pain in
Bruce’s face were obvious even in a drugged sleep, and Lex turned away to regain
his composure.

When he turned back, Bruce’s eyes were open. “I’m going to be fine, Lex.”

“You have bones broken in places I’ve never even *heard* of,” Lex said.
“Although that could simply be because I spent most of that anatomy class
planning to assassinate my father.”

“Was that what it was? I thought that was when you designed the mega-cannon.”

Frowning, Lex considered. “Perhaps you’re right.”

Bruce chuckled, trying to hide how much laughing hurt. “Thank you for coming,
Lex.”

Lex shrugged a shoulder. “You’d do the same for me. Although *I* wouldn’t ask
you to do anything nearly so insane.”

“Mmm. So?”

Lex scowled at him. “So, how in the world do you do it night after the night?
The suit’s like an oven. And it chafes.”

–end–

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