If I smile and don’t believe Soon I know I’ll wake from this dream. Don’t try to fix me; I’m not broken. Hello, I am the lie living for you so you can hide. Don’t cry.“Hello,” Evanescence
Bruce barely cared that Rachel had discovered that he, in fact, was Batman as he went over fifty miles over the speed limit, determined to get back to the remains of Wayne Manor as quickly as possible so he could once again leave and return to Gotham General as himself. He’d managed to sneak into his penthouse in the city, he wasn’t quite certain why he owned it though now he was glad that he did, for a spare pair of clothes just before dawn, but he knew he couldn’t leave the tumbler for someone to find it no matter how desperately he wanted to return to Blackjack’s side. Henry, he reminded himself mentally. His name was Henry—something-or-other.
He grimaced at the thought of not knowing Blackjack’s full name. He knew he could run a search of everyone named Henry who had a certain income in England, but he still probably wouldn’t come that much closer to discovering exactly who Bl—Henry really was.
A light rain began to spatter against the window, but Bruce didn’t slow down, though he kept more of a distance from the cars he passed, not that there were many out on the road. The tumbler was designed for military use, and it could take a lot more than a little rain.
He didn’t bother to put away the batsuit, instead tossing the pieces carelessly away from him and dressing quickly again, rushing up through the secret passageway and into the ruins of the house. Bruce was thankful that the fire engines had long since left and smiled when he saw that the garage had been untouched by the fire. Keys were typically kept with the cars and only someone with the proper codes could access the garage and separate compartments—it was expensive, but ensured that Bruce didn’t lose his keys and was useful in this case considering most of his worldly possessions had burnt to the ground.
It didn’t matter, however. Blac—Henry—was safe and he knew from a quick call to Alfred that their private physician had already arrived and that the press was being held back. Alfred had also informed him that “Mr. Blackjack” had been given a private room given his relationship to Bruce, which made Bruce sigh out in relief. He didn’t like the thought of other patients or nurses gawking at Henry as he recovered. Henry, his Blackjack, also only deserved the best that money could buy and that Bruce could give, and Bruce was the Prince of Gotham for a reason.
Gunning the engine, Bruce tore out of the driveway and through the gates, not caring as reporters and camera crews clustered outside had to run from the car. They should have known better than to stand in front of an opening gate.
The drive back toward Gotham City was torturous to Bruce, and the lingering scent of smoke on his clothes from walking through the house put him on edge at the thought of Ducard trying to burn down the manor around him as Henry was detoxing and almost defenseless apart from the strange piece of wood that Ducard had proudly given him. Bruce was certain that there was a story behind that piece of wood and the name it had, but knowing that he would be facing even more questions—whether they were about Bruce’s alter ego or his fetish for dressing in armor if Henry knew nothing about Batman was yet to be seen—he knew he’d better wait to ask.
It also was not his place to question. He was wooing Henry, and so far doing a shoddy job of it given the kidnapping, detox, announcement to the press, having him stuck in a burning building and admitted to a hospital which was the last place Henry would want to be, keeping secrets about being Batman, and then probably murdering Henry’s long lost grandfather by the sounds of it. Henry didn’t owe him answers—didn’t even owe him his attention or friendship.
The thought made Bruce grind his teeth together and accelerate, knowing that all of the cops would be too busy dealing with the destruction of Wayne Tower and the escaped inmates of Arkham.
At least Bruce knew he wouldn’t have to return to work anytime soon, although he had purchased a majority share in his own company and would soon shake up the Board of Directors.
A smile twitched at the corner of his lips. He could easily do that during one of Henry’s naps—assuming that Henry was even speaking to him and agreed to stay at the penthouse for the rest of his detoxification. The half smile quickly turned into a grimace of aggravation at himself. He never seemed to do anything quite right when it was truly important to his future happiness.
He turned into the hospital parking lot and saw the reporters huddling outside the building rush toward him at the sight of his silver Lamborghini. It really was a bit flashy, he thought to himself with dry humor. At least the hospital staff would probably be alerted to his arrival before he made it to the doors.
Flicking the car doors locked a moment later, he strode determinedly toward the hospital doors, ignoring the flashes as cameras went off and reporters screamed questions at him. He had no doubt that the large cameras he saw out of the corner of his eye were broadcasting live to several news stations. For once, he wished he didn’t make the news.
He pushed the front doors open savagely, just wanting to get to Henry as quickly as possible. Several people in the waiting room turned to stare at him and he went to the information desk, not caring if people were queuing already. “My fiancé is here,” he said sternly, brooking no questions. “Where is he?”
“Mr. Wayne,” the receptionist gasped, typing on his keyboard quickly. “He has a private room on the fourth floor—room 402.”
Bruce didn’t bother to thank him as he strode away, anxious to see Henry and hear directly from the doctor immediately about the state of his lungs and the smoke damage. He could only imagine how his detoxing body had been able to handle the stress of smoke inhalation, especially as he had been locked up in Arkham for years.
“How is he?” Bruce asked worriedly as soon as he entered the room, looking to Alfred who was sitting quietly at Henry’s bedside. The room was muted blues and grays, the lights off and dawn just peeking above the horizon. A Styrofoam cup of coffee was in Alfred’s hands.
“Sleeping, finally. He’s being ventilated and his mouth and lips are burned. I was told he began vomiting shortly after the Batman left, but the damage is not irreversible.”
“Thank God,” Bruce sighed, drawing up a chair on the other side of Henry’s bed and taking his hand in his own. “Oh, thank God.”
“Master Wayne?” Alfred questioned.
“His grandfather is dead,” he moaned, looking up at Alfred in the half-darkness. “He didn’t even know he had a grandfather, I think, until tonight—and then Ducard burned down the house and tried to take him. Blackjack was named for Ducard—Henry. His name is Henry.”
“Harry,” Alfred corrected quietly, not commenting on any other part of Bruce’s confession. “He’s called Harry.”
“Harry,” Bruce repeated wondrously, seizing the small fact and focusing on it. He looked over at his sleeping form, at the livid scar on his forehead and the mask over his face, giving him pure oxygen and pushing air into his singed lungs. “Harry.”
“I was most surprised to arrive shortly after the Batman left and learned that he had been identified as your fiancé, Master Wayne.”
“I was feeling possessive after the revelations about his grandfather,” Bruce admitted with a self-deprecating grin, although his eyes never left Henry’s—Harry’s—sleeping form. “I wanted to ensure that he got the best care possible and wasn’t hounded for information such as his name, which I still don’t seem to know. It didn’t even sound like his mother, Lily, even had the surname Ducard. Ducard made it sound like he had an affair with Blackjack’s grandmother.”
Alfred nodded solemnly, accepting everything that Bruce told him and not questioning who Ducard even was or how he came to enter the manor and why he would choose to burn it down with his own grandson still inside. “I must confess I don’t know the intricacies of Mr. Harry’s mother’s family. Few do, I imagine.”
The conversation fell silent between them again and Bruce just watched Harry in the growing light, taking in his high cheekbones that must be from his father, the hair which might have been another legacy from him as well. He didn’t look like a Dusan al Ghul to Bruce, but neither of them had heard the name until tonight. No, he was Harry, Blackjack, his future husband even if it took him ten years of wooing and putting every politician securely in his pocket. He wouldn’t have anyone claim that he was defiling Harry’s bed again when he was holding him in his sleep, loving him quietly as he trembled from his withdrawal.
He picked up Harry’s hand and kissed the back of it, noticing the strange white scars on it. Rubbing them with the pad of his thumb, he angled the hand toward the growing light and could just barely make out words that had been cut into his hand—I must not tell lies. His eyes flew up to Harry’s sleeping face in horror before turning to Alfred, who was drinking his coffee and looking at Bruce and Harry silently.
“Someone cut the words ‘I must not tell lies’ into the back of hand,” he whispered, disgust running through him at the thought of anyone doing that to Harry. The scars were smooth, precise, almost as if they had been carved by a blade at the end of a pen. Harry must have been strapped down somehow, his fingers gripped tightly and his hand unmoving for that type of horrible precision. “It’s barbaric. Do you think he…” He knew he shouldn’t say Crane’s name aloud, but he was the only person he knew who would torture and maim someone like this. The man had little morals, developing a hallucinogen that broke a person’s mind, conspiring to destroy Gotham, imprisoning and raping Harry for years and doping him so he couldn’t fight back. Bruce hadn’t read about it in Harry’s file, but perhaps even Crane didn’t have his limits.
“No,” Alfred whispered quietly in the waxing light, the Styrofoam cup set aside precisely on a small bedside table. “No. It wouldn’t have been him. I suspect it happened when he was still a child.”
Bruce’s jaw clenched. Who would torture a child in this way?
Leaning down, he kissed the scars tenderly again, feeling tears well up in his eyes for the first time in nearly a decade, and let them fall on the back of Harry’s hand, unashamed at the anguish that ripped through him at the horrors Harry had been forced to endure. He wondered if Harry had ever had a happy moment in his life. If anyone had cared enough before to kiss his scars and sit at his bedside, if he had a champion other than a grandfather who executed his conception with cold, calculating precision for the purpose of not destroying a festering society that he deemed worthy to continue.
He could only pray that Harry wouldn’t push him away before he could prove the extent of his devotion.
Kissing the hand one last time, he rested it back on the sheets and looked up at Harry’s face again, thankful that he was still deep in sleep. Not looking at Alfred, he lay his head next to Harry’s hand and breathed in his scent, trying to ignore the smell of antiseptic and hospital. This is where he was needed. He belonged at Harry’s side for the rest of his life and nowhere else.
Bruce awoke quietly to the feel of fingers brushing slowly through his hair, and he sighed in contentment. He allowed himself the luxury to drift in and out of sleep despite the odd angle of his neck as long as those fingers still moved languidly through his hair, pausing at his brow before beginning again.
The fingers stilled and Bruce became a little more aware of his surroundings and realized he was sitting in a chair, his head place against a warm body, a hand clasped gently in his own. A breathy laugh, barely audible, met his ears, making Bruce smile to himself gently at the thought of Blackjack—Harry, his mind supplied—being happy and being openly affectionate toward him even though they were locked up in their room.
Alfred’s voice filtered into his consciousness, melodic and rhythmic as if he were reading aloud from some book, “’So, did you stab Edward Cullen with a pencil or what?’” he read and Bruce’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
The fingers began to run through Bruce’s hair again.
“I know, sir,” Alfred was saying sympathetically. “However, this appears to be the current teenage view of a ‘vampire romance.’ It’s surprising what people get up to.”
The breathy laugh came again, quieter this time, and Bruce turned his head slightly and opened his eyes, blinking out the sun and taking in the sight of Harry sitting up slightly in bed, his dull eyes sparkling with amusement, and an oxygen mask over his mouth to help his breathing.
“Ah, Master Wayne,” Alfred said as he noticed that Bruce was now awake. “You’ve gone and slept the morning away. We were just about to wake you up for this hospital’s idea of lunch. However, given that they will probably hope for a generous donation from you, I don’t doubt that it will be brought in from somewhere.”
Bruce quirked a smile and slowly sat up, mourning the loss of Harry’s fingers as they slid from his hair. “Good morning,” he greeted, lifting Harry’s hand that he still clasped and kissing the back of it reverently. “Are you in much pain?”
Harry shrugged, his eyes lingering on his left hand which Bruce still hadn’t released as if he wasn’t certain what to make of Bruce’s open affection.
“Your physician has already been here this morning and remarked that Mr. Harry is doing quite well despite everything last night.” Harry started at the mention of his name and then quieted down again, looking away from Bruce and toward the wall.
Bruce squeezed his hand gently and was happy when Harry reluctantly turned to him, their eyes meeting briefly. “Nothing’s changed,” he assured Harry quietly. “And I can still call you ‘Blackjack’ if you want.”
Harry stared at him for a long moment, his eyes betraying nothing, and then looked away again. Bruce held in a sigh that wanted to escape his lips, but reminded himself just how much pain Harry must be in and everything that had happened in the last twelve hours. Looking over to Alfred, he noticed his sympathetic look, but steeled himself. He knew it would be difficult, Bruce reminded himself, and he wasn’t one to stop if he truly wanted something. Harry’s affection to him, despite his indifference now, showed that he was at least fond of him, which was helpful.
“What are you reading?” he asked Alfred, looking at the large black hardcover book in his hand.
“Twilight,” he answered and Bruce grimaced in confusion. “It’s a teen romance novel that is becoming very popular. It’s about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire. It doesn’t take much intellect to follow, and I’ve heard it’s engaging at least for its unremarkable dialogue.”
“Such as stabbing someone with a pencil,” Bruce remarked somberly.
A breathy laugh met his ears and he looked back at Harry to see him looking back at him.
“Exactly, sir,” Alfred answered, smiling. “I’ve even heard that the vampires sparkle in sunlight.”
Bruce openly laughed at the idea and just imagined how teenage girls would find it romantic and was happy when Harry’s soft laugh joined his.
Lunch indeed had been ordered in from one of Gotham’s more exclusive bistros and, as Harry’s lungs had healed enough, he was given a nasal oxygen feed and permitted to eat ice cream, which had been brought in from Cold Stone’s. Bruce was surprised that the hospital had such services for their high-end clients, but he’d never been a patient at one before, so he had little to compare it to. After eating half of it, Harry’s hands began shaking and Bruce had taken the bowl and carefully fed him, solicitous to his every need before going back to his own lunch.
The police didn’t turn up to get Bruce’s statement on the fire the night before until the late afternoon given the mayhem of the attack on Gotham. He was surprised to see Sergeant Gordon and fought to hold in a smile at recognizing the man.
Harry looked up at Gordon with large green eyes, sighing as he tried to take off his mask to speak, but Bruce stopped him with a hand to his arm. “He’s here to see me, I think,” he murmured reassuringly, and Harry looked up at him, his expression unreadable as he nodded his head in acceptance and turned back to Alfred who was still reading Twilight aloud.
“I’m so sorry about the delay,” Gordon said, taking out his notepad as they stepped into the hall and into a secluded little waiting room that was empty unlike the main one downstairs.
“Not at all. I heard what happened here in the city and was just thankful to be able to be at Harry’s side,” he assured the man, giving way a little to his exhaustion.
“Yes, you must have been very worried,” Gordon said kindly before the interview began in earnest, Bruce recounting waking up to find Ducard in the room, who he claimed he had met briefly on his travels, the subsequent argument about Harry, and then the fight and the purposely lit fire. He knew that given his somewhat public conversation with Harry the night before as Batman, that they were already probably aware of Harry’s grandfather’s character. “The Batman then was there and he got us out, and he took Harry here. He promised that he’d be all right while I looked for survivors in the wreckage. It’s all a bit of a blur, actually,” he said, giving a self-deprecating smile. “All I could think about was Harry and getting him to the hospital as quickly as possible, and it seemed like that—machine—he drives could go much faster than one of my cars.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Gordon said kindly, making a final note on the pad before hesitating. “What is your fiancé’s full name, Mr. Wayne?”
“I’m not certain,” Bruce admitted. “We met while I was abroad. We were both from wealthy families and didn’t want to invite the press into our travels. It was easier like that. I call him ‘Blackjack.’ I know his surname isn’t Ducard, though.”
Gordon hesitated, obviously having a small internal battle, before closing his notebook up. “That’s understandable, I suppose, Mr. Wayne,” he said, getting up and shaking Bruce’s hand wearily. “I’ll be in contact if there are any developments.”
“Yes, thank you,” Bruce replied kindly, happy that that duty was done at that he could go back to Harry’s room and just curl up that night around his hand again, knowing that Harry was safe for now and healing. He ran his hand through his hair and grimaced. He should also probably find a shower before he went to sleep if he wanted to wake up to Harry running his fingers through it the next day.
He returned to find that Alfred was still reading Twilight quietly, but Harry didn’t seem to be paying attention. Instead, he was staring at Rachel who had taken up Bruce’s chair, which she had dragged a little way away from the bed. Bruce glanced at the clock and noticed that it was after five, the official workday, though he had assumed that as Assistant District Attorney, Rachel would have been stuck at the office given everything that had happened the night before.
Then again, Rachel’s sense of right and wrong and justice and her sheer tenacity could easily bring her here when his fiancé was injured and could barely speak. He sighed, leaning against the side of the door.
“Rachel,” he greeted tiredly, causing Alfred to stop reading and quietly put the book aside.
“Bruce,” she said with a sad smile. “I heard about what happened. I’m so sorry.”
He stilled for a moment, shocked perhaps because of his emotional exhaustion, and then nodded. “I never realized a house could burn down that quickly,” he admitted, thinking of the horror of the previous evening, of carrying Harry in his arms and not being certain if they would both make it out before the manor would collapse around them. Bruce glanced at Harry, who looked back at him guiltily as if it had been his fault, and he quickly strode forward to Alfred’s side of the bed, picking up Harry’s nearest hand and kissing it in reassurance.
Harry seemed to relax at the movement and turned back toward Rachel who was blinking at the display of affection. “Was it an accident?” she asked after several moments.
Alfred moved up behind Bruce and set a spare chair down. Smiling in thanks, Bruce sat, never relinquishing Harry’s hand. Glancing at Harry, he saw a minute nod of permission. “Blackjack’s grandfather actually. He somehow managed to break in. I suppose we’ll never really know how he did it as the surveillance tapes were destroyed with the fire.”
Rachel bit her lip and looked at Harry for a long moment before glancing back at Bruce. Her eyes betrayed her thoughts of wondering whether it was safe for Bruce to be romantically involved with a family that wouldn’t hesitate to burn down a house for whatever reason. Fortunately, she was tactful enough not to voice them.
They sat in silence for several long minutes and Bruce noticed that Harry was nodding off into a light sleep.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” Rachel finally whispered when Harry was clearly asleep and Alfred had left the room to put in their orders for dinner. “Last night. In the slum.”
Bruce glanced at Harry and reached out tentatively, brushing his hair away from the angry scar on his forehead that perplexed him. It should have begun healing a little, he knew, if he had gained it sometime in Arkham.
“Bruce,” Rachel whispered and he looked up at her unwillingly.
“Finders Keepers,” he replied, remembering their childhood. “I’m sorry, but I think the arrowhead got lost in the fire last night.”
“I don’t care about the arrowhead, Bruce. I care,” she lingered over the word as if she had wanted to say something else, “I care about you—and whether you’re putting your life in danger.”
Bruce furrowed his eyebrows at her, hoping he looked confused enough. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I survived the fire, Rachel, no worse for wear.” He only wished the same could be said about Harry and that they could be at his penthouse right now instead of the private floor of the hospital.
Looking at the closed door anxiously, Rachel asked, “You’re not the Batman?”
Forcing a small chuckle from his throat, he shook his head. “No. I saw him last night, though. He somehow got to the Manor as it was burning and took Blackjack here. He must have known that the fire was premeditated and deliberate.”
Rachel sighed, leaning back. She looked at him searchingly for several long moments, but Bruce had returned his primary attention to Harry. “All right,” she finally said, resigned. “Somehow I thought you were more than the man you’ve been these past few months.”
Picking up her bag, she slipped from the room, not looking back at him or saying goodbye, Bruce watching her with dark eyes. When he turned back, Harry’s eyes were open and looking right at him, fully awake.