All night Hearing voices telling me that I should get some sleep Because tomorrow might be good. Somehow.“Unwell,” Matchbox Twenty
Bruce sat for several long moments in his chair, barely aware that he was still holding the telephone receiver to his ear.
“Mr. Wayne?” the voice on the other end asked, shocking Bruce back from his—nonexistent thoughts.
“Yes, I’m here,” he replied quickly. “The Salem Institute for 2009. Teddy would be—“ (he tried to do the math in his head and realized he wasn’t quite certain how hold Teddy was, although he roughly knew his birthday) “eleven or twelve?” he guessed.
“Eleven, Mr. Wayne,” the voice answered kindly. “I understand it’s a shock to most Mundanes when their children turn out to be magical. It’s customary for magical education to begin the September after a child’s eleventh birthday.”
“Yes,” Bruce said, loosening his tie because it was suddenly difficult to breathe. “Blackjack—Harry knows?—Of course he knows. We spoke about it this morning.”
“We’ll also send written confirmation by owl later this week. Since Mr. Lupin resides in a Mundane area, though, it is our custom to also confirm by telephone.”
“Thank you. How thoughtful. I’ll tell Blackjack when I see him for lunch.”
“Have a nice day, Mr. Wayne, and may it be magical,” the voice purred again, almost as if it were an inside joke or a catchphrase, and then hung up.
Bruce stared at the telephone for several long moments before Rachel’s clearing her throat brought him back to the present moment. He hung up the receiver, and looked over at her, blinking away his confusion.
The Salem Institute of Witchcraft. Magic. The Deathstick was a wand that Harry kept under his pillow every night. Teddy had a broom because he probably flew on it like the children on the sheets—and his hair—
He closed his eyes.
Harry had told Bruce that with him, he would have to believe the impossible, and given the evidence, he certainly did.
Bruce was a Muggle—“not special,” Teddy had said—what he had meant was not magical. As Batman he created smokescreens, acted invulnerable, pretended the supernatural to frighten petty criminals, but Harry and Teddy lived it in real life, and if it hadn’t been for the telephone call, Bruce never would have known until Harry had chosen to tell him. A thought trickled through his mind. There were laws against him being told unless he was married to Harry or Teddy’s official parent. If there were laws, there were governments, governments that operated without the greater world knowing about them, and if Harry put him down as Teddy’s co-guardian, then he must have signed some sort of legal document in their world for him to be told, although he doubted Harry realized that Salem would call him.
A smile touched his lips. Teddy was legally his and Harry’s child, although only perhaps according to an invisible government.
“Bruce,” Rachel whispered, coming forward and grasping his forearm, looking at him in concern with wide, dark eyes. “Are you all right?”
He pulled away from her immediately, not liking her overpowering perfume or how she was close enough for him to see her lips glistening. “I’m perfectly fine, Miss Dawes. Is that everything you needed?”
She sighed, “Bruce.”
“We’re no longer on a first name basis,” Bruce corrected her again, and sighed. He turned his attention back to the telephone and began smiling again. Teddy was his. “I’ve already missed a large portion of the board meeting and my family will be here at any time for lunch,” he prompted her.
“You never brought Blackjack around for dinner when I invited you,” she chided, trying to smile but failing. She slipped back into her chair, smoothing out her pinstriped skirt nervously as if she were trying to act as if they were still friends despite his constant assertions that their friendship was slipping away.
“I told you,” he said with a hint of frigidity in his voice. “Blackjack is an incredibly private person, and we have our son to look after now. He’s incredibly shy of strangers.”
Muggles, his mind prompted. Witches, too. Humans.
His eyes widened infinitesimally. Teddy was human, he was almost certain of it, but he believed he was descended from wolves. He had inherited his allergy of silver from his father, who belonged to a tribe of people who seem to have been persecuted, but they weren’t actually people. They were wolves. Werewolves. Teddy’s biological father was a werewolf and hadn’t wanted Teddy when he thought he would be a werewolf, too.
Hatred curled in his stomach, ice running through his veins at the thought. Teddy was absolutely perfect the way he was, loveable, bright, affectionate—wolves showed dominance over their cubs or lesser wolves by biting their necks. Teddy had needed Harry to bite him to know that he was Harry’s cub. He nodded minutely to himself. If Teddy ever needed Bruce to bite him, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it. He’d have to go out and learn everything he could about wolves immediately, so he could better interact with his son, and know why Teddy acted the way he did. It wasn’t just cultural: it was what he was. He might not transform at the full moon, Bruce remembered that it had been the week before, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t still part wolf on some level.
“Children can get over it,” Rachel was saying, now fidgeting with the cuff of her sleeve and crossing her legs before promptly uncrossing them. “They just need more practice.”
“Teddy was poisoned by his grandmother and her close friends for years,” Bruce answered, betraying no emotion. His eyes narrowed at her. “You went through security, I hope, otherwise you need to be escorted out immediately.”
Rachel’s eyes widened at the thinly veiled threat. “Yes. I had to remove my earrings and bracelet. It’s not as if I could hide a weapon in them.”
Bruce immediately relaxed, realizing that he had gone tense at the thought of Rachel wearing something that could harm Teddy if she didn’t leave before he arrived. He would have his lawyer draw up a potential restraining order against her after calling “I believe in Harvey Dent” if he did not give his personal assurances she wouldn’t be dropping by unannounced again.
“What was it all about anyway?”
“My son was poisoned with silver,” he responded calmly. “I don’t wish for him to be harmed.”
Rachel’s hard stare softened minutely. “What a strange allergy,” she finally said, as if she could think of nothing else to add to the conversation. “Isn’t it difficult to enforce?”
“Not so far. It’s now company policy and as it’s a severe health risk to a member of my family, anyone disregarding the rules can be fired on the grounds of willfully trying to do Teddy harm. The lawyers have it all set up and it will be written into all future contracts at any of my businesses.”
“Bruce, you can’t protect him from the entire world.”
“I can try,” he answered honestly, and his gaze met her sad one for a brief moment. “Is there anything else, Miss Dawes?”
“Please don’t call me that,” she whispered to herself, desperation lacing her voice. A spark of defiance shot through her eyes when Bruce shifted noncommittally in his chair, and she pinned him with her stare. “Come to dinner next week. I’ll get rid of silver. I’m sure Blackjack would love—“
“You can’t cook,” Bruce reminded her kindly, seeing a spark of his childhood sweetheart in the strong woman across the desk from him. “You never could.”
“Take out then,” she added hastily. “There’s a great little place around the corner, and I can’t destroy ice cream for desert.” She shifted in her seat, showing her discomfort and then crossed her ankles, making Bruce’s eyes narrow.
Whenever Rachel crossed her ankles, she was hiding something or, worse, had a plan that she desperately wanted to go her way. She always did it when they were children and playing Jim Rummy. Bruce had refused to play cards with her since he was seven and for good reason.
“Blackjack and I are engaged, Rachel,” he said firmly. “Nothing is going to change that, and we now have a son together.”
Rachel tilted her chin upwards in defiance, silently defying his assertion. “I’m inviting you over for a meal, Bruce.”
“No, you’re going on a reconnaissance mission, probably in order to find a perceived weakness in our relationship or in my assertion that I did not murder Crane.”
“I—“ she began, but Bruce quickly cut her off.
“I have no problem with the second. I expect it from you now, though know that as soon as you walk out that door, my lawyer will be calling the District Attorney and issuing a formal complaint and probably filing for a restraining order.”
Rachel stilled, her jaw hardening and her lips thinning as they pressed together. “You can’t be serious.”
Something stirred in Bruce’s mind, something Harry might have said to him recently, but he pushed it away quickly, determined to hold his resolve. “I’m entirely serious. Going back to dinner, I know you’re a clever woman, Rachel. You’d find weaknesses in our relationship because a relationship is never perfect. It is still relatively new and we’re now responsible for a child who doesn’t fully know or trust me yet because his own grandmother was pouring silver down his throat when she knew it could kill him. However, my family will not be used as lab rats for whatever fantasy you might have built up in your head.” He paused and laughed to himself.
“What exactly is so hilarious?” she asked scornfully, pushing her hair behind her ear again.
“You. You are constantly accusing me of murder and yet you want to break up my engagement so you’d be free to take Blackjack’s place. You have to appreciate the irony.”
Rachel leaned back and stared at him for several long moments, and Bruce held her gaze, knowing that this was the last time they would meet as anything more than strangers.
“You don’t have a chance,” Bruce finally said into the unearthly quiet. “You haven’t for a very long time, Rachel.”
She started at the cool calmness in his voice, as if she had expected him to say something else or just not speak at all.
“I loved you,” she said brokenly, for once showing just how vulnerable she was even if just for a moment. “I still do.”
Bruce shook his head. “You love the idea of me. You love the little boy who would have gone to the end of the world for you and back, but that boy hasn’t been around since his parents were shot mercilessly in an alley.”
“Is that why you did it?” Rachel asked, her voice firm and showing her earlier resolve, although her eyes still shone with sadness. She was no longer speaking with her heart, Bruce realized, but her head. A woman such as Rachel could be deadly if she could completely separate them when a situation called for it. “Is that why you killed Crane, because you weren’t able to kill Chill?”
“I didn’t,” Bruce whispered, his voice tinged with coldness again, any warmth he had felt for Rachel slipping away again. “Don’t make me ruin your career just to get you to stop this witch hunt.” The irony of the words were not lost on him.
“Are you threatening me?”
“No, Miss Dawes, I’m reminding you that my lawyer is calling your boss about this visit and a restraining order may be filed against you within the day, and that you really don’t want any more of those phone calls to be placed, especially when the former D.A. had to personally call me and apologize for your behavior the day after Crane was found.”
They both knew it was completely true. Bruce was a powerful man, and she already had a black mark on her record, albeit with a former D.A., but it wouldn’t have gone away. Now she had willingly repeated the mistake and it would not look good for her. Bruce could easily make it so that when she was fired she would never be hired in the business world, no one would want to hire a woman who went after a powerful man with absolutely no evidence and only with a vendetta. She could be ruined and hounded out of Gotham and possibly the entire East Coast. She’d be practicing law out of a shack in Idaho by the time Bruce was done with her—unless he wanted to be cruel and get her license revoked. He probably didn’t even have to try. At the rate she was going, it was going to be taken from her anyway, and he really didn’t want that to happen.
A flash of pink caught Bruce’s eyes and he looked past Rachel. A large smile spread across his face as he saw Teddy rushing forward, holding a small basket between his hands, which probably held the kneazle-cat (was a kneazle even a cat?).
Laughing, Bruce got to his feet and just before Teddy could run into the glass wall—Bruce hoped his son would have the sense to stop first, but he had quite a bit of momentum going—and opened the door so he could rush forward.
“Papa Bruce, Papa Bruce!” Teddy babbled happily, looking up with wide blue eyes and holding out his basket. “Look at my familiar!”
Inside the basket was a small bundle of black and ginger fur that was curled in on itself, sleeping despite Teddy’s rushing.
“Teddy,” Harry called out, coming through the door and leaning up to kiss Bruce lightly. “Bruce is clearly in a meeting.”
The little boy, just noticing that someone was in the room, quickly became withdrawn and quiet, stepping behind Harry and clutching the basket tightly to his chest as if expecting Rachel to jump out and harm his new cat.
Rachel had turned in her seat, and was taking in the new arrivals with curious eyes and a small frown on her face, her gaze lingering on Teddy’s bubblegum pink hair with palpable disapproval.
“Miss Dawes was just leaving,” Bruce assured Teddy, reaching around Harry and ruffling Teddy’s hair before running his thumbs down to nudge his nose. Teddy leaned into the affection immediately, nudging back.
Standing and smoothing out her skirt, Rachel picked up her briefcase and forced a smile onto her face that didn’t reach her eyes. “Mr. Wayne,” she said in parting before sweeping out of the room. Bruce didn’t watch her go, instead shutting the door.
“Is she always that—frosty?” Harry asked carefully as Teddy came around him, setting the kitten down on a spare chair and jumping at Bruce.
Bruce laughed as he tried to balance Teddy’s weight as he suddenly had a squirming seven year old in his arms, and leaned forward to nudge their noses together. “Only recently. I actually have to call my lawyer about her before we go out for Teddy’s first non-canine hotdog.”
“It’s not made of cats, either, is it?” Teddy asked worriedly, looking down at the sleeping kitten.
“No, no cats,” Bruce said laughing, setting Teddy back on the floor again. “It’s a proper sausage, albeit American.”
Teddy didn’t look convinced but instead slipped out of Bruce’s arms and went back to his cat, staring at it lovingly and petting it as it slept.
“I hope nothing’s wrong,” Harry asked in concern, coming up and smiling when Bruce slipped his arm around Harry’s waist.
“She’s trying to operate outside of the law and it’s becoming a nuisance,” he answered cautiously, not wanting to bring up bad memories of Crane. “I just want to make the hassle go away.”
Harry looked up at him knowingly, his dark eyes narrowing behind his glasses. “It isn’t about—that night, is it?”
Bruce tensed for a moment and then forced himself to relax, remembering his promise to be entire honest with Harry. “Unfortunately—“
Harry stiffened in his embrace, but Bruce leaned down and kissed him softly.
“She’s just guessing and my alibi is airtight,” he whispered, not wanting to disturb Teddy who was now at the window, pointing things out to the kitten that was sleepily rubbing its nose with its paw. “I was with you after all. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“And if there is? I couldn’t bear to lose you now,” Harry admitted quietly, a soft blush creeping across his cheeks as he leaned up and claimed Bruce’s lips.
“It’s airtight, Blackjack,” Bruce reminded him when Harry finally pulled away from the perfect kiss. “The District Attorney’s office has already had to formally apologize once for her accusations, and I’m going to see about getting a restraining order against her so that she can’t bother us about this again. There is nothing to worry about, Blackjack.”
“All right,” Harry said, pulling away. “Make your call.”
It took less than five minutes for Bruce to explain everything to his lawyer and arrange for all evidence—which consisted of Alfred’s sworn statement that he was at home at Wayne Manor and the security tapes of all exits except the batcave—to be transferred to him, and Bruce breathed out a sigh of relief, saddened slightly that he and Rachel would never be close friends again after this. He admired her tenacity and her conviction of what was right and wrong, but he would not allow her to put him behind bars for killing his fiancé’s captor and rapist. He knew that it was what any man would do for his family, and Harry, his Blackjack, had been his family since perhaps the first time he whispered out in the dark, something capturing Bruce and never letting him go.
He wondered who else had known of Harry being locked up, making the anonymous calls, but pushed it from his mind. He might never know, he decided, but he was glad that Harry had a guardian angel of some sort.
According to Teddy, his kneazle (“Half kneazle, half cat,” Harry corrected in a whisper. “You need a license for a full kneazle as they can be a bit dangerous. I didn’t want you or Alfred being mauled for being Muggles when the kneazle came of age”) was only a few weeks old, and no one but Teddy could pet her because they needed to “bond properly.” Bruce could only assume that a kneazle was some sort of magical animal and that the petting rule was entirely serious. He briefly thought of the myth of witches having cat familiars, and decided it must be part of that, and if Teddy needed to properly bond with the kneazle, then Bruce would make sure it happened.
That night, after Bruce and Harry had tucked Teddy to bed, Bruce drew Harry into his arms and held him tightly in bed, breathing in his scent and assuring himself that Harry really was in his arms and wanting him.
“Shh,” Harry whispered, brushing Bruce’s hair away from his eyes. “I’m here. It’s fine. You’re safe.”
Bruce shook his head and buried his face in the crook of Harry’s neck, and was happy when Harry’s grasp around him tightened. “I can’t protect you,” Bruce admitted quietly in the darkness. “From magic. It’s the one thing I can’t protect you or Teddy from.”
Harry stilled for a moment and then clutched Bruce tighter to him, one hand coming up beneath his shirt and pressing against his skin, a beacon of warmth and security. “How did you know?” he whispered, his voice careful.
“Salem Institute of Witchcraft called to confirm that Teddy was on their list for 2009,” Bruce admitted freely, not pulling away but leaving a lingering kiss on Harry’s neck. “It was less than half an hour before you arrived for lunch. Everything makes so much sense now, if magic is real and you and Teddy are witches.”
Harry laughed quietly. “We’re called wizards,” he informed him. “A woman is a witch.”
“I’m so sorry,” Harry said, snuggling closer to Bruce. “I was going to tell you myself over the weekend. I made you Teddy’s other legal guardian, so I could finally tell you. I didn’t know Salem would call.”
“They said—the witch said,” Bruce corrected, “that it’s a courtesy for those who live in the Muggle world. She seemed to know I was a Muggle.”
“All part of the form,” Harry informed him, pulling away so that they could look into each other’s eyes in the darkness. He leaned forward and kissed Bruce gently. “Most parents do it when their children are born—unless the student is Muggle-born—but since we moved here, I’m a bit late.”
Bruce smiled. “We’re parents, Blackjack,” he said happily.
Then Harry was on top of him, his lips claiming Bruce’s desperately and longingly, full of promise of their future together as a family, with truths now out in the open for the first time. Bruce arched up against Harry, loving the weight of another body above him—of Harry above him, kissing him, wanting him. He moaned as Harry’s hand slid against his stomach before, after a moment of hesitation, Harry slipped it under his t-shirt so that it rested against the tight muscles of Bruce’s abdomen.
Cautiously, Bruce slid his hands so that they were gripping Harry’s waist through his sleep shirt, opening his legs so that Harry could rest between them, and he allowed Harry to kiss him, having the dominance of the kiss as he explored Bruce’s mouth wantonly, his tongue sliding against Bruce’s tongue and eliciting several gasps from Bruce, which Harry then quickly swallowed.
“I love you, Blackjack,” Bruce whispered as Harry broke the kiss, their noses meeting for a moment in the familiar nudge they used with Teddy. “So much.”
Harry didn’t answer, but Bruce didn’t need him to, knowing that Harry loving him like this was enough for now, that they were a family, and that if Harry’s desperation was any kind of sign, he was never going to let Bruce go. Hard lips were once again against Bruce’s, and Bruce opened his mouth invitingly, gently flicking out his tongue against Harry and delighting in the soft gasp that wracked Harry’s body.
Want and need coursed through Bruce at this, knowing that Harry was in his arms and loving him, but he forced himself to reign back any physical manifestation of it, not wanting to frighten Harry. This was enough for now, forever if it needed to be—knowing that Harry desired him and was falling in love with him and wanting him just as much as Bruce craved him.
Harry shifted against Bruce barely and Bruce could feel Harry’s arousal pressed briefly against his thigh before Harry quickly began to pull away from him, his lips abandoning his own as Harry swore under his breath, turning his face away in shame.
“Don’t go,” Bruce pleaded, loosening his arms in case Harry became frightened, but willing him to stay in his embrace.
Harry shook his head, but remained, carefully arranging himself on top of Bruce so that he could no longer feel Harry’s hardened member.
“Don’t go, Blackjack. My Blackjack,” Bruce repeated, running his hand through the back of Harry’s messy hair until Harry relaxed against him. “There, now. You’re safe. I love you.”
Harry’s breath hitched in his throat and he pulled away again, his dark gaze meeting Bruce’s in the night. “I would never hurt you,” he promised solemnly. He reached up and cupped Bruce’s cheek, looking into his eyes searchingly. “Never.”
“I know,” Bruce said, his voice husky and confused. “I know you would never hurt me.”
“But I am—my body—“ Harry began hesitantly, looking away in shame, and Bruce drew him down against his chest again, kissing the top of his head.
“If you made love to me, Blackjack, you would never hurt me,” Bruce said calmly and firmly. “I know you wouldn’t. Wanting to make love to me is not the same as what—happened to you before.”
Harry shook his head. “It’s horrible,” he whispered, his voice cracking. “It was worse than anything that’s ever happened to me, and I’ve been hit with all three Unforgivables.” His body began to shake and Bruce realized that he was crying.
“Hey,” Bruce whispered desperately, his heart breaking. “I’m here. I’m here, my darling.” Carefully he rolled them onto their sides and partially disentangled himself from Harry, leaning down and kissing the tears away from Harry’s cheeks. “I’m here. He will never hurt you again,” he swore. “He can never come for you.”
“I know,” Harry whispered. “I know.”
Still, Harry continued to weep, and all Bruce could do was kiss his shivering lips and hold him until finally Harry cried himself to sleep.