Alfred took a deep breath. "There's a slight problem with 'the fine details'."
Batman gave his butler the terrifying stare which reduced criminals from the purse snatcher to the world-conqueror to quivering wrecks, but not phasing the gentleman's gentleman for an instant. "This isn't a ploy to try and teach me to iron my own suits again, is it?"
Alfred checked the time on the Computer. "Sir, the JLA meeting?"
Batman glanced at the terminal and muttered a very nasty word in an obscure language. He got up, adjusting his utility belt and cowl. "More trivialities ... "
"I scarcely feel that defending the planet against inhuman threats can be labelled as 'trivial', but you are the expert ... perhaps you can use the otherwise wasted time to ponder the important issue for today?"
Yes, thought Batman. How the hell can I get a date?
"Probably not, Kyle." A breath. "There's a ... dangerous situation tonight that I need to deal with the utmost tact and discretion. If I handle it incorrectly, my actions would jeopardise a long-standing alliance, maybe destroy it permanently."
"Whoa." Muttered Lantern. "I'll ... let you figure it out by yourself, okay? Sounds pretty serious. I mean, you're probably trying to save the world ... and the last time I ever did something like that was when I asked my best friend Susie Connor to the prom."
It was a testament to the awesome willpower of The Batman that he didn't swallow his own tongue right then and there.
Artemis leaned in closer. "He might appear honourable. What if he tries to ... 'put on the moves'?"
Diana suddenly had a vision of Batman, in full costume, asking her what was her sign, then moving out, John Travolta style, onto a disco floor.
The laughter which she suppressed nearly bent her double, Artemis watched her in confusion. "Diana?"
"Bruce, talk to me like that one more time, and I'll feed you your utility belt." This sweetly delivered remark took a full half-second to register, the realisation as effective as a crowbar between the eyebrows.
Diana sipped her coke, as she watched the expressionless face of the Dark Knight eating a Big Mac. "Did you know that there's a running pool as to when you're going to get an ulcer?"
"Clark scans me every meeting. Flash has been placing twenty dollars every month, Green Lantern has been thinking about it but his financial situation prevents excessive expenditure."
"So? He's rich, really sexy ... I mean, wouldn't you go out with him, if you were a girl?"
"Cassie ... never, ever, ask a guy that question, okay?"
Superboy made a 'zip it' gesture, making Cassie sit back, annoyed.
Alfred gave a wan smile, then placed three cookies onto a plate, adding a folded napkin, then pushing it across the counter. "Thank you madam. I have to warn you, it's rather..."
The redhead took two cookies off the plate, and shovelled them into her mouth without ceremony.
Artemis chewed twice, and swallowed. Her eyes took a glazed look as Alfred's creation, made with a specially imported butter, overwhelmed her taste buds and shut down half her higher brain functions.
Then she looked at him with a predator's gaze, making him feel slightly worried.
Barbara rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Perhaps we'd have a better chance of finding out tomorrow. All of us." Her tone brooked no deviation from her plan. "Strength in Unity, guys."
Tim shrugged. A plaintive voice came from the speaker. "Er...you'd probably be better at this, Babs..."
"My apartment, eight sharp. A second before and your pay-per-view bill is posted to every cop in Bludhaven, and all your neighbours in your building."
A brief pause. "Do ... do you want me to pick anything up before I get there?"
"Do you know why Bruce isn't doing this instead of me?"
The girl stopped, then drew a circle from the back of her head to her temple, using both hands. Then she drew a five-pointed star where her fingers met. Then she continued her minimalist gyrations.
Dick couldn't believe the news. "I'm covering for him so he can go on a date?"
Aquaman mouthed 'Tell me now' to Kyle. Green Lantern wordlessly opened up his copy of the Gazette, to see a smiling Diana and Bruce Wayne, a paparazzi shot from the entrance. Aquaman's jaw swung open like a drawbridge. His frantic face was torn between staring at the cover and giving Batman an evil glower. The Dark Knight surreptitiously checked his utility belt, making sure his weapons were all there.
"Bruce, remember when you refused to bend on four words in a letter to the Indian Prime Minister for three hours straight? That was an argument. You single-handedly made Clark go outside and bash his head against a crater wall."
"Ah." He smiled, faintly. "Is it wrong to feel proud about that?"