Title: Coffee and Madness
Author: Caia
Recipient: Betty
Featured character: Plastic Man
Summary: Plas finally gets his coffee with Batman.
Rating: Quite clean, really. Minor slash content.
Spoilers/Canon: Takes place after JLA 65, before _Obsidian Age_.
Spoilers for various JLA v3 plotlines up through 65, particularly _Tower of Babel_ and JLA 50-54.
Email: caia@earthlink.net
LJ name: caia_comica

"Coffee? Companionship? Conversation? Croissants?" asked Plastic Man. Noticing the alliteration, he went with it, forming a large 'C'. The JLA had saved the world (again), no substantial injuries were outstanding (thankfully) and it was time to ask Batman out for coffee.

Plas had been doing so on and off since that first time, just after they'd had their identities split. Although the close he'd come to succeeding so far had been to obtain Batman's help with his son, he did seemed to be wearing the Dark Knight down slightly. Slightly. Plas was getting rather good at distinguishing various shades of grim.

Batman swung around to look at Plas, his cape swinging dramatically around him. Plas admired the effect, half-consciously taking notes for how better to duplicate it with his own flesh.

"Please?" said Plas, clasping his hands together exaggeratedly but trying to keep himself in roughly normal proportions. Batman didn't like 'silly,' after all. "Oh, all right, be like that. Dark, lonely, no coffee for your teammates...." He pulled his red suit around himself, like a cape.

"Yes," said Batman.

Plastic Man stretched to the ceiling and back in surprise. "Yes?! You said yes?!" He did his very best devil-in-a-parka imitation.

Batman nodded, majestically, and swept into the transporter. "If you come with me and behave. Coming? Or are you trying for a...colder...climate?" He smirked at Plas' attire. It was a very freeze-ray-and-hammer kinda smile.

"If you behave," said Plas, shivering.

"I always behave," said Batman, in the least reassuring way possible. "Are you coming?"

"Yes! Yes! Of course I'm coming!" he said, craning to look at the transporter settings. In case the bastard was offering coffee in, say, Antarctica. "Gotham?! The Forbidden City?! This is an honor!" He shaped his hands into a camera, his red costume became a t-shirt and shorts, and his goggles became sunglasses.

Batman snatched the camera. Plastic Man promptly reformed his hand and used it to shake Batman's, furiously--although Batman's own hand barely moved. Flexible arm joints were an advantage, here. "Discretion in my city," said Batman.

"Yes, yes, discretion," said Plastic Man, becoming in an instant one of the most suspicious-looking businessmen Batman had ever seen, and in one of the tackiest red suits. There were a number of reasons Batman had tapped Eel to impersonate the Joker. "I'll be just like any other Gothamite! Well, except you. Wouldn't want to infringe any trademarks."

Batman almost smiled. "A red Batman would be a pretty poor infringement." He activated the transporter.

"Low blow--" said Plastic Man blinked, and hastily bent away from the edge of a roof. "Yikes!" Batman took hold of Plas' arm, and attempted to do his blending-into-the-shadows trick with increasing amounts of Plastic Man wrapped around him.

Plastic Man, bright red and yellow and pink and stretched across the roof, did not blend very well. Batman sighed and pulled his cape around his teammate. "Follow my lead," he said, extending a line and swinging to the next building.

Plas swung around Batman's (totally ripped!) body, reminding himself not to push his luck. Upon finding himself in thin air, Plas took a good grip on Batman's (broad, muscular!) shoulders and allowed the rest of his body to billow out under Batman's cape. Fun, but not compromising! "Wheeeeeeee!"

"Quiet," growled Batman, and Plas could feel the growl though Bats' body. It was hot.

"Wheeeeeee," Plas whispered, as they vaulted to the next building.

"Shut up or you go back to New York," said Batman. Plas stuck his tongue out, very much behind Batman's back. "None of that, either," Batman growled.

"Eyes in the back of his head," Plas muttered, swiveling his own goggles round his head to get a better (if slightly dizzying) view of Gotham. And an even better view of Batman's cape. He clung tighter to Batman--not that falling down would harm him, but some of that stuff he did not want to fall in. Ick. He did not comment about the poor sanitation conditions of Batman's city. Plas had a lot of discretion, really. Any more discretion and he'd start going through Batman's utility belt. Actually...

...it was a really good thing that, at the next building, Batman stopped. "You can get off, now," he said, or possibly ordered. Plastic Man got off (eh. he wished!--got off Batman's back) and looked around. It was...a roof. A flat roof, with a door next to the chimney.

"A coffee shop for the 'swinging through the rooftops' demographic? My, Gotham's better equipped than I thought!" Plas did a minor 'urbane New Yorker' impression. "Just like home, except there they tend to fly. Or bounce."

"Follow me," said Batman, pulling a lock pick from his belt and slipping it into the lock.

"Nice technique," said Eel. In a second, the door slipped open and, as smoothly, Batman slipped in.

"Hey, hold up ahead!" said Plas. He rearranged himself--not into the too-familiar form of Eel O'Brian, crook, but into a casual parody of the Criminal. It was a pity stripes were so hard to create. Nonetheless, Batman gave him a dirty look. Plas grinned back. "Stealing our coffee, pardner?"

Batman's Look got grimmer and dirtier. Plas cowered; Eel O'Brien was, after all, nothing if not cowardly and superstitious. "I have an arrangement with the proprietor," said Batman. "Occasionally, it extends to cover guests."

"Ah, the price of doing business in Gotham!" said Eel. "You pay your taxes, you pay your protection money, and you have vigilantes climbing through the roof." He turned, briefly, into a city official with a begging bowl.

"You wanted your coffee,"

"All right, all right," Plas put the Eel persona away and (quite literally) zippered his lips.

"And we're here," Batman whispered, then slipped open another (locked) door.

The door led into the shadows of the back room of what was--Plastic Man hoped--a coffee shop. Plas was rather impressed by how well the location of the door would show off Batman's cape to full effect, as he emerged from the shadows. Not as impressive from behind, and Plas' own red and yellow? Spoiled the effect entirely.

So Plas peered out from behind Bats, scanned the room, and immediately asked, "Is this where we're going? Is anyone supposed to be here?"

"Wait," said Batman. Plas bounced up and down, impatiently but silently--control of his plasticity had a number of advantages. Sure enough, thirty seconds later, a middle-aged woman entered the room, wiping at the sweat on her face. "Mrs. Coleman," Batman said from the shadows.

She jumped, slightly. And then did another double take, upon seeing Plastic Man. Brightly-colored crimefighters, doubtless, were a rarity in her town. "How do you do?" said Plas, bowing and kissing the air above her hand. "I know, I know, I'm horribly violating Gotham dress code. But friend of the Batman is a friend of mine! Especially a lady friend!"

"...how do you do?" she said, then looked back at Batman.

"We need the back room. Private business," said Batman.

"...yes," said Mrs. Coleman. "I'll prepare it myself. Be a minute?"

"We can accompany you," said Batman.

"Can't let her out of your sight for a minute, eh?" asked Plastic Man, smarmily. Batman just glared in the way that had Plas thinking, briefly, of ice and hammers. He covered his reaction with an exaggerated cower and then put it out of his mind, in the place where Eel was.

"Come along here, then," said Mrs. Coleman. She led them through the door she'd come out of and past a room full of bubbling, simmering, hissing, coffee equipment. Plas paused and stretched into the room, nose twitching almost as if he were the other stretchy guy. Batman grabbed his elbow and pulled him along. He didn't resist too much.

She led them into a small room with a table and a window. It was, in fact, the sort of private room Eel O'Brian had been often enough in his time as a professional criminal, and now and again in his times posing at one. He wondered who Batman had busted from here, and which combination of gratitude and blackmail gave him the use of it. Also, how many other people he brought there.

While Mrs. Coleman set up the table and Batman practiced being grim, Plas craned out the window. He whistled. "Good set-up you have here. Nice view. Well. Nice is not the word, around here..." It was high-up, giving a good vantage of the street below but not so good a vantage of the room behind it. Well, provided one stayed within the window frame... Plas made the appropriate faces at, consecutively, a black sports car, a group of women in low-cut shirts, three teenage children with two middle-aged women, and a stray cat. No one looked up. "Ah, the streets of Gotham!"

"I assume you're enjoying the view," said Batman.

"Oh, yes!" Plas returned to his 'tourist' guise. "Quaint! Fascinating! Urban decay at its finest!"

Finally Mrs. Coleman said, "What would you gentlemen like to order?" Plas could see the pleasure she took in calling them 'gentlemen' and was sure Batman could as well. Plastic Man played the part, transforming into a businessman with rather more discrete shades and a suit that would qualify as conservative, if it weren't bright red. He even held out a seat for Batman, though Batman sat across from him, leaving Plas to take it himself. Plastic Man frowned in a way that strove for both 'dignified' and 'exaggerated.' "No one appreciates a gentleman anymore..."

"Gentlemen are a dying breed," said Batman. And, to Mrs. Coleman, "A large coffee, black."

"The usual?" asked Mrs. Coleman.

"The usual indeed," said Plas, doing his best cape and ears. "Daaaaaarrrrrrrkkkkk coffee for the Dark Knight."

"And for you?" asked Batman.

Plastic Man thought quickly. He didn't want to look bad in front of Batman. Well, not any more so than he already did. Oh, hell with it. "Mocha latte with extra whipped cream." Why betray a perfectly frivolous reputation over coffee, after all? "And a plate of cheese danish for the table."

"Figures," said Batman.

"Hey, I have an image, too!"

Mrs. Coleman left. Batman seemed...decidedly disinclined to make conversation, as always. It was up to Plas to save the day, or the date, as the case may be. "Hey, thank you for helping with Luke," he said. Not Plas' best hour, but as their team-ups went, well. Possibly a better conversation-starter than 'Hey, what about that time my alter ego beat yours up and threatened him--you--with a gun?' Possibly. With Batman, one never knew. "I've been actually visiting him lately."

"You're welcome. Controlling dangerous metahumans is part of my job."

"...he's a kid, Bats." Plas bit his tongue on the other tirade, about people who treat their teammates as dangerous metahumans.

"...and it's always nice to help my teammates fulfill their parental responsibilities."

"Ouch," said Plas. He sipped at his coffee. "Mmmm, meltingly hot. Not to mention sweet, caffiney goodness. Want a sip? Liven up that boring dark stuff?"

Bats gave him a your-coffee-is-radioactive-and-probably-because-you-touched-it look.

"Aw, c'mon," Plas gave him puppy-dog eyes, quite literally. "You won't have to worry about your image. I won't tell anyone!" He zipped his lips and extended the cup.


"Awwwwwwwww! I'm devastated," Plas' puppy-dog expression became decidedly forlorn. Large plastic tears formed at the corner of his eyes. Batman almost grinned. "Well, more for me then!" Plas returned to his usual form and slurped.

Batman sedately sipped his coffee. "However. If you're not going to eat all that danish by yourself...."

"Oh, no! Go ahead! Be my guest!" Plas extended the platter, formally, as a butler properly attired in bright red. Possibly more practice on the color-changes would be a good plan, especially if he was going to spend more time in Gotham...

Batman took a danish, and bit in. Plas took one himself, so as not to stare too much at his victory.

The second both mouths were full, a enormous metallic clamor broke out from the street.

"...this wouldn't happen to be normal for Gotham? Rough town and all that?" Plas asked hopefully, his mouth half-full.

"Normal, perhaps. But not...desirable," said Batman, gliding over to the window. Plas extended his head to look, too.

"Oh shit!" said Plastic Man. "Well, at least this qualifies as a real date between superheroes now that we've been interrupted by giant...evil robots?"

"They're not from around here," said Batman. He turned to look at Plastic Man accusingly.

"I didn't bring them!" he said, using his best innocent expression (it was positively angelic, if a trifle red).

"Really," said Batman.

One of the robots--there were three, about ten feet tall, vaguely humanoid, stomping heavily down the street and producing sounds in so doing that indicated their construction might not be altogether sound--chose that moment to pick up a young woman (though not a terribly attractive one) and ask, "Where--Plastic--Man?"

Batman looked at Plas. Plas cringed. "Still! Not my fault! You have so many more rogues than I do, is it my fault we get interrupted by one of the ones that wants to kill me?"

"Do you know these robots?" asked Batman, opening the window and swinging out.

"I might have seen them maybe somewhere before awhile ago--" said Plastic Man, sheepishly. He launched out the window and bounced into action. As a large rubber sheep. Hey, why not? "Hey, robots!" he yelled. "Baaaaaa!"

"Plastic--Man!" said robot #1. Each robot was clearly labeled with a big red number, so it was clear which was which.

"Plastic--Man?" said robot #2.

"Plastic--Ma-*crash*" said robot #3, which had just been hit by a batarang. Several pieces of metal fell off its chest, and the wounded robot emitted a terrible beeping. "BEEEEEEEP!--Batman--BEEEEEEEP!"

"Bat--Man!" said robot #2, swiveling around in minor panic.

"Batman?" said robot #1.

"Hey, I thought you wanted me!" said Plas. With rubber tears, wounded to the quick, he advanced on robots #1 and #2.

Robot #2 swiveled back around. This would have worked better without the grappling hook, or the hold Plas had on its other leg.

"Hey, my robot!" said Plas, on one end of the tug-a-war. Robot #2, caught in the middle, fired. Batman used robot #3 as a shield, incidentally getting the wounded robot entangled the line attached to robot #2.

"BEEEEEEEEEEEEP! STOP THAT! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!" said robot #3. If its robot face were more advanced it would be glaring; as it was, its beeps were an astounding display of sophisticated vocal communication. Even Batman flinched, before adjusting something in his cowl. Plas formed giant, ostentatious, earplugs. They helped somewhat.

Batman yelled something, than threw another batarang almost right at Plas. Plas ducked and yelled back. With a crash, the batarang grazed robot #1. "Okay, maybe not aiming at me," Plas said, totally drowned out by the din. He extended another limb, wrapping it around the offending robot. The beeps were deafening. Manifesting several screwdrivers, Plas worked feverishly to defeat the restrained robots' goddamned beeping.

And then the cavalry arrived. Suddenly, a red Batarang glanced off robot #2. A second large, green gag formed over much of robots #1 and #3, then a red streak pummeled robot #2 at superspeed.

The two deafened heroes looked up. "What are you doing here? All of you?!" asked Batman. The Justice League, most of the Bat family, and several Titans, JSA members, and assorted heroes tried to look innocent. Batman glared. Plastic Man, for once actually the innocent one, enjoyed this immensely.

"...justpassingthrough!" said Wally.

"Looking for an art job!" said Kyle.

"Woozy Winks was looking for Plastic Man," said Robin, calmly picking up the red...birdarang?

"Wow! A bird-arang?" said Plas, looking over from his position wrapped around several robots (and pieces of robot). Hey, some bat-related equipment he could impersonate!

"Yes," said Robin, and looked back at Batman.

"And this involves bringing in every metahuman on the eastern seaboard how?!" asked Batman.

Anything further he might have said was drowned out, at least from Plas' point of view, by Woozy Winks, slightly behind the other visitors. He ran up, panting, "Are you okay? Did Batman hurt you? Oh man, robots!"

Robot #3 managed a final, piteous beep as Woozy clutched at his friend. "Wooze, I'm fine!" said Plas. He unwound from the robots to take hold of his sidekick. "Go home!"

"That goes for all of you," said Batman. "I don't. Care. what business you have in Gotham. Get out of my town and out of my sight." He turned toward the robots, cape swinging round him. The assembled heroes, in various states of fright, chagrin, and subdued chatter, scattered. Robin sighed and began to escort Woozy out of the city.

Soon, the scene was deserted (to all appearances) save for the robots and Batman. "Plastic Man," Batman said. "Out."

"But it's so cozy in here!" Plas' head emerged from Batman's utility belt. "And your workout hasn't slackened a bit. Wow...!"

"Out!" said Batman. But he almost grinned.

"Not without my goodnight kiss," said Plas, emerging fully. He planted a--really quite chaste--kiss on Batman's cheek, below the cowl. Batman let him.

"Good night!" said Batman firmly.

"Till next time!" Plastic Man said, as he bounded away. "Maybe more a more intimate get-together...."

"Good. Night," said Batman, but Plastic Man could have sworn he grinned.

With a huge smile on his own face, Plas returned to New York and Woozy.

Batman turned to consider the pieces of robot.