(Blackjack14) Part the Fourteenth

If there’s no one beside you When your soul embarks, Then I’ll follow you into the dark.

“I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” Death Cab for Cutie

Bruce awoke to the feel of a firm and familiar hand on his shoulder, squeezing it to wake him from him slumber.  He was confused for a minute.  He remembered slipping back to the penthouse earlier that morning, Alfred catching him trying to stitch himself up after a dog bit through his batsuit, and then having to pretend he was wide awake when Teddy hurled himself into bed a scant twenty minutes after he went to sleep.  Something else must have happened, his brain prodded him.  He was now waking up.

“Darling,” a soft voice teased near his ear, and he was instantly awake, looking into dark green eyes.

“Blackjack,” he breathed, happiness washing through him at the sight of his fiancé standing above him—in the main conference room at Wayne Enterprises.  “You’re home.”

“As promised,” Harry whispered, leaning down and pressing a soft kiss to his lips.  “It appears you were sleeping through a meeting and I passed several disgruntled board members on my way out.”

Bruce waved his hand, showing that they were unimportant.  “How was your trip?”

“Tiresome,” Harry murmured.  “Someone leaked it to the press that I would be there, and it seems like they’ve caught wind of it over here as well.  If I hear one more person call me Lord Black, I’ll—“ He stilled, as if realizing what he said, and tensed.

Bruce offered him a slow smile.  “Ah, that’s one of your mysterious titles,” he teased.  “Lord Black.”

“Yes,” Harry agreed carefully.  “I don’t like it that much though.  It belonged to my godfather—but it will be Teddy’s one day.  He’s a Black too, you know.”

Bruce nodded.  “You said your grandmother was a Black, right?” he asked, recalling Harry’s conversation with Lucius over half a year earlier.

“Yes,” Harry agreed.  “Dorea Black.  I never knew her.”

“And she married a Charlus.  What strange names you wizards seem to have—and Harry seems almost normal in comparison.”

“My mother was a Muggle-born,” Harry whispered, leaning down to kiss Bruce again.  “Blame her.”

Bruce leaned up and kissed Harry again.  “You know, you do strangely look like a Henry Ducard,” he mused quietly, looking at Harry apprehensively. 

Harry offered him a sad smile.  “At least I don’t look like a Dusan al Ghul,” he murmured.  “That would be a tragedy.”

“A tragedy indeed,” Bruce responded.  “Lord Black.”

“Mr. Wayne.”

“I’m marrying up in the world.”

“And to think, your heir will be titled.  What will the Americans think?”

“I have absolutely no idea,” Bruce answered with a laugh.  “Probably fall all over themselves for the privilege of meeting him.  He’ll have girls lined up around the block for him.”

“Hmm,” Harry murmured.  “I’m not certain a Muggle could handle marrying into our world and into his—people.  Teddy will always be lupine.  I don’t think he’ll ever consider himself human.”

“Yes,” Bruce agreed quietly.  “You know, he told me something interesting while you were away.”

“And that was?” Harry asked with a laugh, setting his cane on the table as he leaned forward again, his nose brushing Bruce’s.

“Your father—whose name has yet to be fully revealed—was a stag.”

Harry stilled for a moment, and then began to laugh.  “That he was.  He’s what is called an animagus—a wizard who develops the ability to transform into an animal.  They’re different from werewolves, of course.  They retain their human minds and can transform at will.  It’s also a learned skill and transformation, not a disease.  You have to be registered, but my father, well, he never quite did that.”

“A rule breaker,” Bruce teased, kissing Harry again happily.  “Somehow, I think his son inherited it just a little, Lord Black.”

“I’m never going to live that down,” Harry sighed, standing when they heard someone reenter the room. 

Bruce looked toward the door and saw a smirking Lucius Fox.  “The numbers are sound, Mr. Wayne.  The board is excited about the merger.”

“Indeed,” Bruce sighed, glancing at his fiancé and taking in his unruffled appearance, a hint of the strange lightning bolt scar on his forehead peaking from behind his dark hair.  “Run the numbers again.”

“You’re looking for something, then?” Lucius asked, coming up and sitting on the table.  “Hello again, my lord.”

“Mr. Fox,” Harry answered with a nod of his head. 

Bruce smiled at Harry affectionately.  “His profits have grown eight percent every year, like clockwork,” he stated, turning back to Lucius, who frowned slightly.

“You suspect some under the table revenue, or something illegal.”

“Yes,” Bruce answered.  “I haven’t had any proof of it, but—“

“Say no more,” Lucius answered.  “We’ll run the numbers again, and then call the merger off.”

“I’m glad I never went into business,” Harry sighed, looking between the two of them.  “All I have to do is manage my stock portfolio and let my CEOs do most of the work for me.”

“I do not doubt that you would be a very shrewd businessman like your grandfather,” Lucius complimented.  “Was there anything else, Mr. Wayne?”

“Yes,” Bruce answered, getting to his feet.  “I was wondering if you could look at my armor again.  I’ve had trouble moving my head.”

Lucius looked startled and glanced at Harry, who stared impassively back.

“My fiancé and I have no secrets from each other—apart from his full name and one of his titles,” Bruce answered the unasked question, and Lucius visibly relaxed. 

“A name means little,” Harry argued quietly, reaching up and running his fingers into Bruce’s hair just above one ear.  “Why do you need changes to your armor?  Were you injured?”

Bruce winced at Harry’s piercing stare.

“I think this is a matter between the two of you,” Lucius said with a twinkle of his eye.  “Mr. Wayne, your lordship, a pleasure as always.”

Bruce watched him go, knowing that Harry was staring at him. 

“Where were you hurt?” Harry asked, as soon as the door was closed. 

“My fingers were singed,” Bruce said first, showing his hand.  “Teddy had a nightmare and all the lights wouldn’t go out.  So.”

Harry picked up Bruce’s offered hand and kissed one of the singed fingertips.  “I have something for this back at the penthouse,” he murmured.  “Anything else?”

“I was bitten by a dog,” Bruce murmured.  “Crowbar to my back, but it’s just normal bruising.”

“It shouldn’t be normal,” Harry chided.  “You’re too important to me.”

“Important,” Bruce repeated, leaning down and wrapping his arms around Harry’s waist.  “Important.”

“Very,” Harry agreed.  “You’re mine now.  My—fiancé.  I want—“ he took a deep breath.  “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, not the shade of Luna, but you.”

“I’d like that,” Bruce said, kissing Harry deeply for the first time in about a week, happy to have Harry again in his arms.  Harry leaned in closer, arching his back so that he was pressed against Bruce, his hands grasping Bruce’s biceps firmly to show he had no intention of letting go.  When they finally pulled apart, they were both breathing heavily, staring into each other’s eyes.  “Let’s go out to dinner,” Bruce suggested.  “All three of us—as a family.”

“What about silver?” Harry questioned, a look of worry passing into his dark green eyes.  “We can’t know that—“

“I own a few restaurants,” Bruce responded, “and all of them are using stainless steel, occasionally plated with gold.  There’s nothing silver in them at all.  Teddy will be completely safe.”

“All right,” Harry murmured.  “Sounds nice.”

“And the Moscow ballet beforehand?” Bruce suggested cautiously.  “They’re in Gotham at the moment.  Sold out—but I could—do you even?” He blushed despite himself, causing Harry to laugh.

“I’ve never been to the ballet,” he mused, causing Bruce’s heart to sink a little.

“That’s fine.  We can just have dinner.”

“No,” Harry answered, leaning up and kissing Bruce’s lips gently.  “No, I think the ballet would be wonderful—and good for Teddy.  Culture is supposed to be good for children.  It helps them think creatively, not that Teddy needs that at the moment.”

“Perfect,” Bruce murmured.  “Leave everything to me, Lord Black.”

“Of course,” Harry responded quietly, their eyes locking intensely, causing Bruce to lose his breath momentarily.

He adored everything about the strong man in his arms, and the sparkle of sanity in his dark eyes drew him into Harry’s clutches more and more.  This man, who had lived through the near destruction of his society, who was bred to kill a single person, who loved and lost and then was imprisoned in Arkham for years upon years, who came out of detox to rescue his godson without a second thought, who still found it in his heart to love and want Bruce despite all the betrayal in his young life—Bruce didn’t deserve him, he never would.  Still, he loved and adored his Blackjack with all his heart, looking forward to the years they would spend together, loving each other and growing old as they watched their son grow into a man.  It was everything he had ever wanted but had never thought would ever really be his. 

Sometimes he thought his love was a type of insanity, the all-consuming emotion that had taken hold of him almost immediately, but then he realized he didn’t care.  As long as he had Harry and could love him, he would be happy—and if he was losing his mind, then he didn’t care at all.

“Swan Lake,” Harry said quietly to Teddy in the limousine that was taking them to the ballet, “is a Muggle story about an evil wizard who turns an innocent woman into a swan.”

“She’s an animagus, then?” Teddy asked, his bright yellow eyes looking at Harry curiously.  His hair was a turquoise which matched the set of turquoise and purple robes Harry had dressed him in, though this time with the cloak to fend off the cold.  Teddy looked like a small aristocrat in Bruce’s mind, and looked adorable next to Harry’s dashing ensemble of black and dark blue. 

“Yes and no.  Odette transforms into a swan during the day and into a woman again when the moon shines on her lake.  She’s kind of like a werewolf in that way.”

Teddy’s face scrunched up in confusion.  “Muggles are strange.”

“Yes,” Harry laughed, “but very clever.  Their imaginations are sometimes endless.  Look at Bruce, for instance.”

Bruce looked at them, startled.  “What about me?”

“You believe that a world without crime could exist,” Harry stated, “when it’s never happened before.  Imagination.  It’s everything.”

“Don’t kiss!” Teddy squeaked, looking between them as Bruce gazed lovingly at Harry.

“Not at all?” Bruce asked, laughing, and sweeping down to nudge his nose against Teddy’s.  “Not even like this?”

Teddy looked like he was thinking hard and then nodded solemnly.  “Only like that.  Not the other way,” he commanded.

“Well, then,” Bruce murmured, leaning forward and rubbing his nose slowly against Harry’s.  A shiver of desire ran through him, but he forced his body to calm, knowing that Harry wouldn’t be in their bed until much later that night.  “Lord Black.”

“Mr. Wayne,” Harry laughed, his eyes flickering down to Bruce’s lips and then back up to his eyes.  “Our son seems embarrassed by us.”

Teddy huffed and crossed his arms.

Bruce was surprised by the number of reporters in front of the opera house, and guided Harry and Teddy past them, his ears perking up when he heard a woman with strange glasses shout out “Lord Black” above the crowd, and wondered if some of the reporters were actually wizards.  Harry’s hand was firmly on Teddy’s shoulder so as not to lose him in the crush, and when they finally entered the building, Bruce breathed out a sigh of relief.  “We have a private box,” he informed Harry quietly, gesturing toward the stairs that led up to the next level.

“Just us?” Harry whispered, his eyes roving over the glittering elite of Gotham who were watching them curiously.  Harry had yet to make his debut into Gotham society and Bruce knew that the upper crust was anxious to meet the mysterious fiancé of the infamous Bruce Wayne.  There would be time for that soon enough, and tonight was a family occasion. 

Bruce’s parents had often taken him to the ballet and opera when he was a child and he had loved it, except for the night when his parents were shot in front of him.  He still remembered his terror at watching the demons dance like bats in Faustus, but Teddy wouldn’t have to worry about that, and they would wait in the lobby if they had to if either Teddy or Harry wished to leave early.

“Just us,” Bruce responded, picking up Teddy and settling him in his arms when he noticed how easily it would be to lose him in the crowd.  “Wow, young man.  You certainly are part wolf—you weigh so much!”

Teddy laughed in his ear, hugging him around the neck and burying his nose into Bruce’s neck, inhaling deeply as if to memorize his scent. 

“It’s the superior wolf genes,” Harry commented as they ascended the stairs together. 

Teddy was absolutely enthralled with the ballet, his eyes tracing the prima ballerina across the stage whenever she appeared.  Harry and Bruce exchanged glances as he leaned forward and then began leaning out of the box all together over the balcony.  Bruce had to finally set Teddy on his lap so that he could hold him securely around the waist; neither he nor Harry wanted Teddy to fall over the edge.

During intermission, Teddy had been almost completely silent, staring at the curtains as if he expected them to open at almost any moment.  Bruce smiled at his son and, taking out a pen, wrote a quick note which he asked an usher to deliver to the prima ballerina.  Harry’s eyes laughed when he read it over his shoulder, showing his approval, and Bruce leaned forward and kissed his fiancé gently.  He knew that many of the patrons of the theater were looking at them curiously through their binoculars, but he didn’t care.  Also, Teddy was too preoccupied to care that his fathers were doing something embarrassing. 

When the curtain came back up for the second part of the performance, Bruce was almost startled, having been so wrapped up in Harry and his loving looks.

After the ballet, the three of them slipped out and were shown back stage, where a stuttering Teddy was introduced to Natascha, the prima ballerina, who cooed over him and happily gave Teddy her autograph, remarking on what a gentleman he already was.  Catching sight of Harry, though, she immediately stood and lowered herself into a low curtsey.

“I had heard that the famed Defeater had moved to America, but I had not thought to see him myself,” she explained with a smile.  “In Russia, they say your English dark lord vas more powerful and dangerous than Rasputin vas in his time.”

Harry smiled sadly and gallantly lifted the back of the prima ballerina’s hand to just beneath his lips without kissing it, Teddy’s wide eyes watching them.  “Well, he is fortunately gone now, so perhaps we’ll never fully know,” he answered diplomatically.

Natascha nodded regally and took her seat, smiling seductively once at Bruce and then Harry before wishing them a pleasant evening, Teddy stuttering a goodbye as Bruce led him out, not once thinking how beautiful the ballerina was. 

“They were flying—without brooms,” Teddy was nattering on, a bounce in his step, causing Bruce to smile.  “I didn’t know you could do that!”

“It’s called dancing,” Harry answered.  “Ballet, to be more specific.”

“Is it magic?”

“Of a kind, I suppose, but it’s one that Muggles can create if they work very hard.”

Teddy looked perplexed but accepted the answer, talking on and on about Odette and Odile and the evil sorcerer who had turned them into swans.  “The prince was silly,” he concluded.  “He should have known.”

“I think the sorcerer’s enchantment was something like the Polyjuice Potion,” Harry reasoned as they entered the limousine again for the short trip to the restaurant.  “The prince was unable to tell the difference.”

“He still should have known,” Teddy reasoned.  “The smell would be different.”

Bruce chuckled at his reasoning, wondering if any prince would think of smelling his beloved to tell whether or not she was the right woman or not.  Sadly, the prince in Cinderella hadn’t been that inventive, relying on a glass slipper to find her instead.

“It shows that wizards can hurt everyone,” Teddy finally concluded, clearly shocking Harry who stared at Teddy for several long moments.  “The princess never hurt him.  I never hurt anyone.

“Teddy,” Harry whispered, placing his fingers beneath Teddy’s chin and forcing him to look him in the eye.  “He was a bad sorcerer—like the people who hurt you—but there are good wizards and witches out there, too.  The pretty ballerina was a witch.  She was nice, wasn’t she?”

“Yes,” Teddy whispered grudgingly.  “She signed my program for me.”

“Exactly,” Harry reasoned.  “She’s a good witch.  There can be good witches and wizards.  I’m good, aren’t I?”

“You’re my daddy!” Teddy cried desperately, throwing himself closer to Harry and wrapping his small arms around Harry’s waist.  “My daddy.  I wish you were my real father,” he whispered desperately, tears coming to his eyes.

“Oh, Teddy,” Harry sighed, stroking his turquoise hair gently, his eyes catching Bruce’s and belying his sadness.  “I know.  You are my real son.  Everything but blood.”

“I’m a Black,” Teddy whispered desperately, turning tear-filled eyes up to Harry.  “I’m a Black, too.  My grandmother was one, and so was yours.  You’re my real dad, then.  We’re the same.  We’re Marauders.”

“Yes,” Harry agreed quietly, hugging Teddy close to him.  “Yes, we’re the last of the Marauders, and you are and always have been my son.  I swear it.  My little Teddy.  I’ve wanted you since the moment Remus told me Tonks was expecting you.”

Teddy shivered in Harry’s embrace, and Harry just hugged him closer. 

“My Teddy,” he repeated, soothingly, running his hand through turquoise hair.  “My Teddy.”

“I want to be a Black,” Teddy finally whispered, looking up at Harry with glassy yellow eyes and glancing at Bruce.  “Please.  Everyone knows the name Lupin—they poison me—but if my name was Black—if I was really your son—please.  My grandmother’s a Black,” he tried to plead breathlessly, and Harry hugged him closer, leaning down and nipping his slightly exposed neck gently. 

“Of course,” he responded, leaning down and biting Teddy’s exposed and arched neck more firmly.  “I would be proud and honored to give you the name Black.”

“I’m a pureblood,” Teddy whimpered, leaning closer and smelling Harry’s neck.  “I am.  All four of my grandparents—even though he—Remus—was a werewolf.  I deserve the name more than anyone.  I’m a pureblood.”

Harry stilled and then carefully disengaged himself from Teddy, looking into Teddy’s frightened eyes.

“Moonlet,” he murmured, causing the little boy to relax.  “I don’t care if you’re a pureblood.  Blood means nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I would love you if you were a Squib, if you were a Muggle, a half-blood.  I would love you if you were a full werewolf and bit me.  I love you no matter what,” he emphasized. 

Teddy sniffled and slowly nodded, looking over at Bruce with worry in his eyes.

“Teddy Black,” Bruce said, smiling, holding out his arms. 

Immediately, Teddy shuffled out of Harry’s embrace and into Bruce’s, baring his neck.  Glancing over Teddy to Harry, Bruce gently bit his son’s neck, careful not to break the skin or leave much of a mark.

“You’re not mad?” Teddy asked, and Bruce shook his head, breathing in Teddy’s scent deeply.

“Why would I be mad?”

“That I want to be Teddy Black—and not Teddy Wayne.”

“Oh, Teddy,” Bruce sighed.  “I could never be mad about that.  As long as you let me love you and be your other father, I am happy.  You don’t need to take my name for me to know you love me.”

“I love you,” Teddy whispered.  “I do, Papa.  You’re a bat.”

Bruce couldn’t help but laugh, catching Harry’s startled expression.  “That’s right.  I’m a bat.  A wolf, a bat, and a stag.  What a strange family we make.”

Harry laughed as the limousine came to a stop in front of the restaurant, and the door opened for them, Harry exiting first, cane in hand.  Bruce hugged Teddy tightly once more before handing him out to Harry.  Teddy quickly set his feet on the ground, unfolding himself and adjusting his cloak around him, mimicking Harry just slightly, bringing a smile to Bruce’s lips.

The restaurant was buzzing with activity when they entered, Harry walking slightly ahead with Teddy’s hand firmly clasped in his, as people turned to look at them. 

“I believe in Harvey Dent!” Teddy cried happily as he caught sight of Dent and Rachel sitting at a table, pulling Harry along. 

Bruce grimaced slightly but then plastered on a smile as he came up behind his family, looking into Rachel’s dark eyes as she completely ignored a babbling Teddy, who was talking to Dent enthusiastically.

“I have your autograph in my book,” Teddy ended proudly, looking at Dent who was laughing at his enthusiasm.

“I know and I remember.  Your father, I recall, loves you very much.”

“Yes,” Teddy agreed, looking at Harry adoringly and then at Bruce.  “I have two, you know, but I have Daddy’s name.  He’s Lord Black, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know,” Dent said, smiling up at Harry.

“He doesn’t like being famous,” Teddy responded knowledgably, seeming to have forgotten for a moment that he was generally afraid of humans in general. 

“Well, as we’re all friends, why don’t we put two tables together?” Bruce suggested.

“Oh, I don’t think they allow—“ Dent began to say apologetically, but Bruce just smirked at him.

“Nonsense, I own the place.”  He signaled to the maitre d’ and then eyed Rachel’s bracelet.  “That’s not silver, is it?”

She blushed. 

“Right, well, Teddy will sit next to Mr. Dent, then, if that’s all right?”

Teddy, however, was eyeing Rachel suspiciously, having her squirm slightly in her seat from the intensity of his glare.

The chairs were quickly brought up and Harry sat protectively next to Teddy, running a hand through his hair.  “No one’s going to hurt you,” he murmured, and Teddy nodded slowly, quickly telling Dent about his latest autograph and how the ballerina knew his Daddy and even bowed to him.

Bruce couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Well, Mr. Wayne,” Rachel finally began.  “I’ve heard that the Batman has been out again.  What do you think of that?”

Teddy instantly quieted and looked at her in shock, glancing suspiciously between her and Bruce.  Bruce offered him a reassuring smile. 

“I don’t really keep up with his antics, whoever he is,” he answered.

“It makes me wonder about him sometimes,” Dent put in, calling attention to himself.  “He can’t want to do this forever, surely.  He must be looking for someone to take up his mantle.  He might have a family, a life outside of being the Batman.”

“You admire him,” Harry said, startled.  “I must admit I was surprised when I moved here with Teddy and realized there was a masked vigilante roaming the streets at night.”

“Yes,” Dent answered truthfully.  “Gotham is proud of an ordinary citizen standing up for what’s right.”

“Of course,” Harry agreed, “and the Batman from what I can tell is an upstanding man who has moral standards.  But what about the copycats who dress up as bats and wield guns?  Surely that isn’t safe.”

Rachel looked at him shrewdly, but Harry ignored her, instead looking to Dent.

“No, unfortunately it isn’t,” Dent replied somberly.

“I think, speaking as a relative outsider, that Gotham needs an appointed official as its hero.  The Batman has done wonders, but I agree, an elected official should take up responsibility and clean up the city.”

“The only question is,” Bruce responded, “is who will take up that mantle?” His eyes pierced Dent, taking the measure of the man.  “Could it be you, Mr. Dent?”

“Possibly,” the man admitted.  “I certainly have a love for Gotham and wish to see the Batman’s work continued.  Our city needs to be cleaned up for future generations,” he added, smiling down at Teddy.

“Well, I’m sold,” Bruce replied, “and I’m going to throw you a fundraiser.”

Harry turned to him, smiling, hope shining out of his dark green eyes.

“That’s nice of you, Bruce, but I’m not up for reelection for another three years.”

“No, you don’t understand,” Bruce replied, his gaze hard, “one fundraiser with my pals, you’ll never need another set.”

Teddy deflated.  “I hate parties,” he announced.  “They always slip silver into the food.”

“Not this one,” Bruce replied, reaching across the table and tweaking Teddy’s nose.  “You’ll be long in bed and that will never happen again.  Not while your father and I are here.”

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