(Blackjack08) Part the Eighth

Taste me, Drink my soul, Show me all the things that I shouldn’t know When there’s a blue moon on the rise.

“Make Me Wanna Die,” The Pretty Reckless

Bruce smiled to himself as he exited the elevator a few days later at the interim offices of Wayne Enterprises.  Since the night when Harry had confronted him and then held the Deathstick to his throat—Bruce really needed to figure out what that piece of wood did, as not knowing frightened him especially as Harry wielded it as a trained warrior—Harry had become more affectionate and open.

The next day Harry had disappeared for a few hours (according to Alfred who merely informed him that “your fiancé went out shopping”) and returned with an old trunk and had several photographs put up around the apartment of a man who looked just like Harry and a woman with auburn hair and startling green eyes.

“My parents,” Harry had confessed when he caught Bruce staring.  “I hope this is all right, or do you want me to—?”

“No, this is perfect,” Bruce had reassured him quickly, wrapping an arm around Harry’s waist.  “This is your home, too, now.”

A day later and pictures of a younger Harry—barely older than seventeen—appeared while holding a baby lovingly in his arms.  Teddy, Bruce’s mind had quickly supplied, and by the tender look on Harry’s face whenever he glanced at one of the photographs, he knew he was right.  Occasionally there would be other people in these pictures, a boy with bright red hair and a girl with brushy brown curls—a girl with red hair that hung beside Harry’s shoulder, looking wistfully as he gave all his attention to his godson—a girl with strange earrings and a far off look in her eyes—a man with straggly black hair that looked like he had been starved for too many years.

“His godfather,” Alfred supplied when he caught Bruce returning to that particular photograph again and again.  “An ex-convict who was sent to prison without a trial.”

Bruce shivered.  “I don’t like the pattern that’s emerging,” he said quietly, knowing that Harry was in the next room, sorting through brightly colored robes which he had started wearing. 

“No,” Alfred answered.  “It’s distressing that it happened to both of them, under entirely different circumstances, it would seem.”

“Well, we will just have to make sure it doesn’t happen to Teddy,” Bruce finally answered, smiling at Alfred conspiratorially.  “I thought I’d suggest to Harry that we have him over for the summer holidays, if he likes the idea.”

“I couldn’t imagine anything he would prefer more, Master Wayne.”

Harry had, of course, been thrilled with the idea, and had launched himself in Bruce’s arms, before wrenching himself away again and muttering to himself about “an extra bed” and where to put it in the large open penthouse that was designed for a bachelor and not for a family.  He knew Harry would figure it out and had left for work with a smile on his face, which still remained over half an hour later despite the fact that he was sitting in on a board meeting.

“Mr. Wayne,” a pretty secretary—Cheryl, if he remembered correctly—called, and Bruce glanced over and then walked up to her.  If it had been only three months before, he would have shamelessly flirted with her, throwing out her number if she had given it to him because he didn’t mix business with alibis, but now he just smiled sweetly before waiting for her to tell him what she wanted.  “These have been forwarded from your old address, and I don’t know what to do with them anymore.”

She pulled out a bottom drawer and lifted a stack of letters, all addressed in a childish hand, which immediately caught Bruce’s eye.

“At first I thought they were a prank and was going to stop paying the postage—there aren’t any stamps on the letters—but they just keep on coming, and—well—if a child sent them and is looking for their father, it could be important.”

The letters—over a dozen—were laid out on the table in front of Bruce, and he looked at the address written clearly on the front of each one in a colorful ink, sometimes blue, sometimes green, other times in purple—“Daddy, Wayne Manor, Gotham.”  There was no return address.

His heart clenched.  Bruce remembered the first time he spoke to Harry, how he had said that Teddy was all that he had, and then later that Teddy was the child of his heart.  Clearly, Teddy felt the same way. 

“Thank you,” he said quickly, looking Cheryl in the eyes.  “Continue to pay the postage and call me immediately if another one arrives.”

She looked startled.  “Of course, Mr. Wayne,” she responded after a second, and Bruce reached out hesitantly to trace the letters that seemed to have been written with a fountain pen or even with a quill.  It was strange, as strange as the robes that Harry unpacked from his trunk, made of silver silks that were so soft Bruce could hardly believe that such material existed. 

Quickly, he took out his cell phone and speed dialed the penthouse.  A moment later, and Alfred picked up.  He really needed to get Harry a cell phone so they wouldn’t have to constantly go through someone else, he thought momentarily, before his attention was called back to the letters in front of him.  “There are over a dozen letters written to ‘Daddy’ that have been forwarded from Wayne Manor,” he explained quickly.  “I think Teddy sent them.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line, and then Alfred answered quickly.  “Mr. Blackjack will be there within the half hour.

“Is he wearing those robes?” Bruce asked carefully, imagining the sensation Harry would cause entering the offices dressed like that. 

Yes.  Navy blue and silver, Master Wayne.”

“Thank you,” he said, hanging up a moment later.  He looked back at Cheryl, who was studiously pretending not to be listening.  “My fiancé will be here in half an hour for the letters,” he told her calmly, and she looked up at him with shocked, blue eyes.  “He’ll be wearing navy blue and silver robes, send him to the conference room immediately.”  He checked his watch.  There was still a little more than half an hour before the meeting, and he didn’t care if it was interrupted anyway.  Teddy was much more important than the board pretending to be important, and he wasn’t letting the letters out of his sight.  Carefully, he picked them up and put him in his inside pocket.

“Yes, Mr. Wayne,” she answered quickly.  “I’ll escort him myself.”

“Thank you, Cheryl,” he said distractedly before turning away again, walking briskly to his office, ignoring almost everyone who greeted him in passing.  As soon as he was in his office, he threw his briefcase into the corner and took out the letters, carefully placing them on his desk and looking at the postmark date of each.  They had all been sent from Sevenoaks except for one which was sent from a town called Ottery-St.-Catchpole, although it was clearly in the same hand.  He carefully organized them by date, the oldest on top, assuming that that was how they were meant to be read.  The first one, he noticed, was sent just two days before Wayne Manor was burnt to the ground.

He cursed himself.  He should have remembered to put a new return address on the gifts after that.  He had assumed that if there were a response they would either be addressed to him and would come to him or somehow have Harry’s full name on them—or even just “Uncle Harry.”  He hadn’t expected them to be written to “Daddy” with no other name. 

They could have been from anyone—a prankster, some child who had been lied to, a woman trying to get money out of him.  Before he had met Harry he would have possibly opened the first one in curiosity and then thrown the others out without a second glance.  Now, now they were precious. 

They represented a future with Harry, of a child running about the penthouse with a smile on his face and even a dog at his heels.  He had never been allowed a dog as a child, but as long as Harry permitted it, Bruce would spoil Teddy rotten.  He would have all the love that Harry and Bruce had never had as children—he would be theirs, if Harry would allow it, if Harry fell in love with him and married him, if he could only get the laws in New York changed faster. 

Turning over the first letter absently in his hand, he was startled to see that they weren’t in envelopes as he had originally thought, but in carefully folded paper—parchment, even, the material was so thick—and held together by a simple wax seal of red.  It was stamped with an old coat of arms that Bruce couldn’t make out.  Harry would know, he thought, although he wasn’t certain if Harry would confide in him.  There was so much of his past that was a mystery, this seal being just another piece of the puzzle.

Bruce flexed his right arm carefully.  Harry had had to sew it back together late last night as Bruce had been thrown up against barbed wire that had managed to tear his skin somehow through his armor.  Bruce was just thankful that his Tetnis shot was up to date.

He glanced at the clock on the wall and pressed his lips in a thin line.  The meeting was in fifteen minutes and Harry could be at Wayne Industries in a matter of minutes, if he had managed to talk a taxi driver into breaking traffic laws, which wasn’t difficult to do.  Picking up the letters reverently, Bruce put them back in his pocket and then grabbed his briefcase, walking out of his little used office.

He really needed to snag a picture of Harry for the desk.  It was too impersonal without one.

Making his way to the conference room, he looked out the windows at Gotham sprawling beneath the tower, the sight of Wayne Tower reaching toward the heavens, dozens of workers crawling about it, restoring it to its former glory.  Bruce wouldn’t hear of any proposal of moving permanently to another building.  Wayne Tower was part of his father’s legacy, his grandfather’s, and their ancestral home had already been burnt to the ground, although Bruce fully intended to rebuild it so that Harry could have a home outside of Gotham and away from the busy bodies who knocked on their door at all times of the day, never giving them peace.  Bruce was nearly to the point where he intended to install a personal bodyguard just so Harry could get some peace, though Harry never complained.

“Mr. Wayne,” Lucius Fox greeted, calling Bruce from his thoughts.  “A pleasant morning.”

“Very pleasant,” Bruce agreed, thinking of the smile that would come to Harry’s face at seeing the letters.  “You might get to meet Blackjack.”

At the questioning look on Lucius’s face, Bruce smiled at him warmly.

“My fiancé.  Some of his letters were being forwarded here and then put in a drawer, and they’re rather important.”

Lucius Fox frowned.  “I’ll have someone look into it,” he promised.  “They should have been forwarded to you sooner.  May I see one of them?”

Carefully, Bruce pulled out the stack and showed the top one to Lucius, who stilled at the address heading.  “Yes.  An oversight like this won’t occur again, Mr. Wayne.  I only hope that the letters aren’t too urgent.”

“I hope not,” Bruce agreed.  “We’ll only know once Blackjack arrives, which should be as soon as he can arrive from home.”

“A father’s enthusiasm and love is something unmatched,” Lucius agreed.  “Your own father would drop everything if you had so much as a skinned knee,” he recollected with fondness.

Bruce looked up, startled.  “Really?”

“Oh, yes.  He was a devoted father and he would regale business partners with stories of your antics and adventures.  We all knew that Wayne Enterprises would always be second to him, but then again, Mr. Wayne, that is as it should be.”

“Yes,” Bruce agreed.  “I think so.”

The two friends entered the conference room, which had a few of the board members milling about, drinking cappuccinos provided, and Bruce took a seat near the end of the table.  He wasn’t an official member of the board, but instead liked to take an active interest in his company.

Bruce glanced up at the clock.  Harry should be there within another five minutes, which were ticking by far too slowly for Bruce’s liking as he stared at the clock.

One of the board members came up to him, hoping to talk to him about something unimportant, but Bruce shrugged him off.  He took out the letters again so that Harry could read them instantly and sat on the table, facing the door and watching as people entered and exited through it.  Finally, a flash of silver caught Bruce’s eye, and he stood up instantly as Blackjack rushed through the door, Cheryl right behind him.

In a whirl of silver and blue, Harry was standing beside him, a cane strangely in one hand which made Bruce look twice, and Bruce instantly held out the letters.  Harry took them gratefully, offering Bruce a smile as he sat down at the table, his cane leaning against his chair, and began opening the letters.

A few of the board members looked at Harry in confusion and bewilderment, their eyes lingering on the platinum toggles of the silk coat he was wearing and the ermine lined collar that allowed a tailored shirt of starched blue linen to poke out of it.  The outfit was exquisite and, with the cane, reminded Bruce of what a nobleman would wear several centuries earlier.  Still, Harry looked completely comfortable in the ensemble that showed off his wealth, as if it were completely normal for someone to walk around modern Gotham in such an outfit.

“Merlin,” Harry breathed out as he scanned the first letter, which was a folded up children’s drawing showing a boy with pink hair, holding the wolf Bruce remembered purchasing Teddy before he was completely in love with Harry.  The boy in the drawing was crying and it seemed like there was a pot, or cauldron even, of some silver liquid that he was being forced to drink.

Hurriedly, Harry pushed the letter aside and opened the second, his fingers trembling, and a second drawing was revealed, showing a boy this time with purple hair, holding the wolf, as he was with friends, a silver sword to his neck being wielded by a woman with a smile on her face.

“That’s not—normal,” Bruce said, and Harry looked up with tears in his dark green eyes.

“They both show silver, don’t they?” he whispered desperately, and Bruce nodded in confusion, thinking of the silver-filled cauldron and the silver sword.

Then Harry was ripping open a third letter, which held a picture that had the word Daddy coming out of a boy’s throat—this time his hair was blond—as a woman reading him bedtime stories was injecting him with something.

“Silver again,” Harry whispered.  “She’s poisoning him with silver.”

The fourth and fifth letters were ripped open, then the first ten were sprawled across the table, each showing a new scene of the little boy with the wolf somehow in peril with silver.  Most of the time the woman from the second and the third picture, with long brown hair and gray eyes, was giving it to him, but sometimes it was other children or what seemed to be other children’s mothers.  Once even it was a woman with red hair wearing a pink dress, making Harry’s tears dry up in anger.

“I need a telephone,” he announced to the shocked boardroom, who had watched at his and Bruce’s reactions as each picture was opened.  “Bruce, I need a phone.”

Bruce whipped his out and opened it, handing it to Harry who looked at it for a long moment as if he wasn’t sure what it was, before he quickly dialed a number that was too short to be an actual telephone number.  Carefully, he put the device to his ear, his eyes locked on Bruce, as he reached out with a hand for support, which Bruce immediately gave him.

“Two-five-six-nine-seven-eight-alpha-nine,” he quickly recited, probably at a prompting at the other end, and then after several more tense seconds, he relaxed.  “Yes, I need to order an extraction from a volatile situation for my godson.”  There was another pause, as several of the board members shifted, knowing that whatever was happening was important although the meeting should have begun several minutes before.  Lucius Fox sat in his chair, his fingers crossed, as his eyes surveyed the pictures with practiced and knowing eyes.  “Yes, I have full custody according to his parents’ will.  It should be on file with the London branch.  Yes.”  Another pause.  “His grandmother is poisoning him, as well as family friends, it seems.  Any measures can be taken.  I don’t care who you have to wound or kill, as long as you get him out unharmed,” he stressed. 

“What the,” one of the men said in a horrified whisper, but at a sharp glance from Lucius, he held his tongue.

“The Grange in Sevenoaks,” Harry was now saying.  “He’s fond of a wolf stuffed animal and bring any of his clothes you can, but they’re easily replaceable.  No silver can be used as he has a fatal allergy to it.  He’ll probably be sickly if not comatose.  Yes.  No.  Yes.”  Harry glanced up at Bruce.

“I’m at the current headquarters of Wayne Industries in Gotham, but if he needs to be transported to the hospital in Gotham, then I’ll meet him there.”  Another pause.  “Yes, well, I’ll deal with that if it comes to it.  I have full diplomatic immunity in most of Europe and I have definite proof that he’s being willfully poisoned by those who know his heritage, including his maternal grandmother.  It also seems to be a long-term strategy, and if they want to kick up anything in court, they’ll remember exactly who they’re dealing with and what I am capable of, Griphook.”

Harry glanced up at Bruce again, worry flashing through his dark green eyes. 

“If there are complaints, cite Paragraph 342, paragraph c, subset 12.  As Teddy’s legal guardian and as he is the heir of all my titles and lands, I am able to take any means necessary to ensure his safety and avenge his honor before he reaches his majority.  He’s seven, Griphook—and,” a smirk crossed his face.  “I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Oh, and could you arrange political asylum for him in America?  Drop my name and they’ll give you whatever you want.  Yes.  Thank you.  I look forward to it.  May your gold shine and flow.  Goodbye.”

He clicked the phone shut and looked up at Bruce. 

“Teddy will be here by the end of the day, probably airlifted,” he whispered.  “This building has a flat roof, right?”

Bruce smiled down at him kindly.  “Yes, Blackjack.  It should be fine.”

Harry deflated at the words, as if he needed to hear it from someone.  “Thank you.”  He glanced around.  “And I sincerely apologize for disturbing your meeting like a madman.”

He bowed formally to Lucius who was at the head of the table who, surprisingly, stood and bowed in return. 

“Not at all, your lordship.  I had the privilege of meeting your grandfather—Charlus, I believe—and your lovely grandmother.  I was saddened when I heard of their deaths.  An IRA attack, if I am correct.”

For a moment Harry looked startled before his features smoothed out in understanding a moment later.  “Yes.  My parents died in a similar attack just a few years later.  We unfortunately had land in Ireland, beautiful though it is.”

“My condolences,” Lucius answered carefully and Harry nodded once.  “And forgive me,” he continued, coming around the table and holding out his hand, “Lucius Fox, CEO of Wayne Enterprises.”

“Just Harry,” Harry answered carefully.  “Bruce still doesn’t know either of my titles.”

“I was only aware of the one,” Lucius responded carefully.

“I received one through my grandmother’s line.  Her family was older and wealthier than my grandfather’s, so it supersedes it.”

“I didn’t even know you had titles,” Bruce said later over lunch, the pictures carefully folded back up and tucked away in a drawer in Bruce’s desk.  Harry couldn’t bear looking at the horror in them, and Bruce hadn’t wanted to torment him any longer. 

Harry shrugged.  “I don’t really bother with them,” he answered truthfully.  “I dress to my station, of course, but that’s just because I had nothing as a child but too large hand-me-downs.”

“Just Harry, then,” Bruce answered with a smile, which Harry answered sadly, his eyes looking out anxiously through the window.

“He has to arrive from England,” Bruce reminded him carefully.

“Yes, of course,” Harry answered.  “I would have had him treated there and then flown over, but if this has been going on for long, then I can’t trust anyone in that country.  Gods, but the pictures show what looks to be a conspiracy—and for what?  To catch my attention?”

“Do you know anyone else in the drawings apart from the grandmother?”

“Andromeda Tonks,” Harry answered.  “Teddy’s mother’s mother.  After everything—the war,” he admitted in little above a whisper, “she begged me to let her keep Teddy.  I couldn’t stay in England, not after everything that had happened.  I was hounded in the streets; it was a nightmare.  I came back to see Teddy,” he admitted hurriedly, his green eyes meeting Bruce’s.  “I always came back until—“

“Arkham,” Bruce added. 

“Why so serious?” Harry said to himself, confusing Bruce although he didn’t ask.  “Merlin, one of the pictures showed my ex-girlfriend—my best mate’s little sister—giving it to Teddy.  She didn’t love me enough to follow me, saying that now that we were free, we should enjoy life in England, but she poisoned the only good thing in my life.  He’s just a little boy.” 

“And he will be safe very soon,” Bruce promised, setting down his bottle of Evian water and coming around the desk, kneeling at Harry’s feet and placing his head in Harry’s lap.  “He’s safe and we will love him.  He’ll get better, Harry.  I swear.”

They spent the rest of the day in Bruce’s office, ignoring the people who glanced in through the glass walls to get a look at Bruce’s famous fiancé.  Bruce only broke the companionable silence when he called Alfred and had him order and set up a makeshift room for Teddy in the open living area as well as remove anything made from silver.  Harry suggested that that they put up pictures of magic—“Every boy likes magic,” he admitted with a smile—and Alfred promised that everything would be to “Master Harry’s satisfaction.”  The change in how Alfred addressed Harry brought a smile to Bruce’s face.

“His hair color changes often,” Harry warned at three in the afternoon as he sat in a chair, staring out the window.  “It defies explanation, but I thought I should warn you.”

“Like in the pictures?”

Harry only nodded.

At half past four, there was finally a rumble in the skies, and Harry glanced up toward the ceiling before sprinting out of his chair, running out the door and toward the stairs near the elevators.  People were lining the windows, looking up and pointing at the helicopter, and Bruce realized that the conversation from the conference room must have gotten around to everyone.  A moment later and he was running up the stairs behind Harry and then they were on the roof, watching as the helicopter came closer.

Catching Harry around the waist so he wouldn’t get too close too soon, Bruce bent them down to avoid the waves of air that were being displaced.  Men dressed in strange robes jumped out of the helicopter and a stretcher was carefully carried to the rooftop as the helicopter’s engines were cut off.  Breaking away, Harry rushed forward toward the limp form of a boy with lilac hair, and Bruce could only stare, mesmerized at the sight of the boy he was determined would one day be their child.

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