The first time they meet, Bruce is in his mid-twenties and well-established as Gotham's Dark Knight. He's quite secure in his position as vigilante and doesn't care that he's not appreciated. He hasn't created Batman for the praise or the acclaim or the hero-worship.
To Bruce, there's nothing heroic in what he does.
It's what needs to be done and by now, he's learned that he's the only one capable of doing it. Gotham is his city, his home to protect, and he'll die to keep her safe, no matter the threat.
Batman is only human, but rumors to the contrary perpetuate none the less. He does nothing to prove them wrong because sometimes, a lie is more effective than the truth. In many cases, intimidation is a more effective means of curbing villainous activity. It's a good tactic, one that works for the black mire of Gotham's underbelly.
When the news of other superheroes begins to emerge across the globe, Batman does not count himself among them. They are different than him, unjaded by the truth of the world. Their cities are different, less gritty. None of them would survive Gotham's class of criminal.
None of them would know the first thing about protecting their cities without some sort of meta-human power.
Neither do they make an effort to contact Batman; he ignores their existence in return, save for acquiring datafiles on each so-called superhero and his or her associated villains. Such information is always useful.
Batman is content in his isolation. Gotham is his city and has no need for a secondary protector. She is fond of her winged shadow, for all that her people reject him. They are well matched, him and his city.
Unfortunately, there is one person on the entirety of Earth who sees those imaginary, implied boundaries and promptly flies right over them. Not even West has been so bold. But then, in all his research, Batman has never credited the boy in blue for having more muscles than brains.
Of all the newly sprung heroes, Batman scorns Superman the most, for setting himself up as a shining beacon of hope to Earth. For being the friendly, outgoing, and accepted martyr that he is.
Superman is a bright splash of color against Gotham's muted undertones. A jarring discoloration against gothic awnings and stormy clouds. He sticks out like a sore thumb, a flamingo amid ravens, more suited for the shining towers of Metropolis. Here, in Gotham's gutters, he does not belong.
Plainly put, he's a sanctimonious eyesore and Batman would like nothing more than to be rid of his super-powered newbie. One who relies on special powers rather than wit, who bubbles optimism as though he were a rainbow glass of champagne. He's Batman's opposite in every annoying manner. And just like an All-American Boy Scout, he's come to introduce himself to the neighbors. Because it's polite.
“Hi,” he says, ever so affably, waving at Batman as he drops down from above, coming into view. He hovers three feet above the rooftop, arms crossing over his barrel chest.
Batman would be startled, if he hadn't seen the bright spandex coming from miles away. News copters would be flocking their way soon, drawn by the exciting novelty of Superman coming to Gotham. Superman has no concept of stealth or subtlety.
He doesn't have time for this. “What do you want?” Batman asks, raising his binoculars to peer into the next building over, through thick glass where there's a priceless display of Egyptian artifacts in the historical museum. The kind of prey his newest villain – Catwoman – can't resist.
Superman, for his part, doesn't seem ruffled by Batman's less than polite response. “I thought we should meet.”
Internally, Batman scoffs. “Why?” he asks before logic can tell him why that's a bad idea. The last thing he needs is to encourage Superman.
The Kryptonian makes a noise, as though stumped. “... Because we're the good guys and we should stick together?”
A cookie-cutter answer from the world's favorite Boy Scout. Batman knows he shouldn't have asked. He bites back a sigh.
“We could help each other,” Superman continues. “We--”
From the corner of his eyes, Batman sees Superman blink as though the two-letter word was a big mystery. “Pardon?”
A shadow moves in the museum; Batman tucks away his binoculars, reaching for his grappling gun.
“No, I don't want to join your happy group of heroes,” Batman clarifies, for the sake of the slow, and places one foot on the ledge as he eyes the building across the way, looking for the best place to latch. “I'm not a team player.”
He pulls the trigger, the grapple shooting out at high speeds, familiar noise cutting off Superman's protest.
He doesn't have time to play with the boy in blue. Not today, not ever.
“No,” Bruce repeats firmly, using a touch of growl that is quite effective on most thugs and criminals. “Go back to Metropolis, Clark. You're not needed here.”
He leaps off the building with those closing words, wind whipping across his face and cape, unable to fight off his smirk.
Oh yes, he knows Superman's identity. He'd spent a week gathering that intel from the moment Superman first swooped down and snatched Lois Lane from falling off a building. It hadn't been too difficult to track a man wearing primary colors as he soars through the sky.
Batman knows all he needs to know and maybe that subtle threat will be enough to keep Superman out of Gotham. Maybe he'll think it wiser not to disturb the anti-social Dark Knight. Maybe he'll keep his choir boy attitude out of Batman's city. Maybe he'll learn that gleaming towers and dark underbellies have no need to mix.
Or maybe, Batman is the one who has a lesson to learn. Because Superman shows up again, a week later, persistent and undaunted, with a smile on his lips and a cheery wave.
Batman is forced to admit that being rid of Superman is not as easy as he first believed.