September 03, 2016:

Rachel Dawes makes a suprise visit at Wayne Manor


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

One week. One week that Rachel Dawes has been back in Gotham. One week since she's started her job as an ADA here in the city she was born. One week, and she's already stressed out enough to make the drive to Wayne Manor. The house had always been a refuge for her, a magical place where she could pretend to be a princess alongside Bruce, who was the true prince of Gotham. And Bruce….would he even rember her?

Even if he didn't, Rachel needed to take her mind off of the shit sandwich of a case her boss had pawned off on her as a 'Welcome to Gotham' present. And even if the doors to Wayne Manor were going to be forever closed to her, at least the drive had been nice and relaxing. She pulled her Accura into the Manor's driveway, parking off to the side of the front entrance. As she stepped out, a wave of nostalgia hit her. She wasn't seeing the landscaping or ornimentations as they were, but as what she and Bruce pretended them to be when they played. Statues were giants to be run away from. A hedge, an impassible wall that they had to find a way around to get to the treasure. She smiled at the memories, then mae her way up to the front door, dressed in a casual blouse and pants combination instead of her more business-like day-to-day clothing. Taking a deep breath, she rings the doorbell. "Here goes nothing," she muttered.

There's a chime from the intercom at the door— 'We will be with you momentarily', comes a pre-recorded man's voice, stiffly British- all upper lip and poise. Sure enough, in the space of just a minute, the door swings open to reveal a rail-thin fellow somewhere between fifty and seventy, mostly bald and impeccably groomed in an evening jacket.

"Oh my. Miss Dawes," Alfred says, looking more than a little surprised. "What an unexpected pleasure! Do please come in," he says, stepping aside and gesturing grandly. "I take it Master Bruce is not aware of this meeting?" he says, with a knowing good humor in his eyes. "Probably a wise tactic. Shall I summon him, or would you prefer the element of surprise in your ambush?"

When Alfred appears, Rachel's face blooms into a smile. "I guess I kind of look like my mother now, don't I?" She's not sure if Alfred has seen the few brief interviews shes given so far to TV reporters. Bruce either hadn't or wasn't interested in making first contact. "It's very good to see you again, Alfred. And…no. Mr. Wayne is not expecting me. If he's available, I'd like to see him. But if not…" She looks around the entryway of the hall, smiling nostalgicly. "Just seeing the house and you have done me a world of good already." Another look around, and then she narrows her smile, looking rather sneaky. "Do you think an ambush would be called for?"

"Miss Dawes," Alfred chides her, a smile tugging at his mouth. "My first and foremost loyalty is to Master Bruce, and always shall be. It'd be gross violation of both his trust in me and my duties as the butler of this estate were I to allow you to ambush him in his north offices, where he is currently waiting for his evening repast."

There's a *bzzrt* from his pocket and Alfred checks his mobile phone. "Ah, Master Bruce is wondering who is here, and where lunch is. Regretfully, these new-fangled devices give me no end of trouble, and I'm going to be decidedly distracted for several minutes while I ready his meal."

He winks at Rachel and walks off, leaving Rachel to find her way around.

"Second stairs, left, third door on right," he voice calls back helpfully a few seconds after he's out of sight.

Rachel smiles wide, feeling like she's 8 years old again. Alfred was always the best co-conspirator. She winks back at him and makes her way up the stairs. She tries moving quietly, to surprise Bruce, avoiding the floorboards that she remembered as being squeaky. She reaches the north office, quietly taking a deep breath, then announces her presence. "Alfred says lunch is going to be a bit delayed." Rachel has a half-smile on her face as she leans against the door-frame, arms crossed in front of her. "Are you still hooked on peanut butter and strawberry jam for lunch? Or have you finally acknowledged the superiority of classic grape jam?"

Bruce's north offices are stereotypically masculine— dark leather, hardwoods, lots of glass and dramatic art on the walls. In truth, it had been his father's and grandfathers, and was one of the places he'd left unchanged after becoming the sole heir of the Wayne family fortune.

He looks up when Rachel enters, and- for a microsecond, so fast Rachel might miss it- his face goes completely blank, missing any emotion, and one hand shifts minutely towards the underside of his desk.

An instant later, shock floods his features, and he rises as other emotions struggle for dominance- surprise, a bit of trepidation, and overwhelming pleasure. "Rachel! What-" he laughs, abruptly. "I should have guessed when Alfred stopped responding to my texts," he says, wryly. "Strawberries still, though I imagine he's going to have some of those famous cucumber sandwiches made up, too. I take it you enlisted him into this?" He rises up and steps around his desk, in shirtsleeves and trousers. It's been years since they last saw one another, but Bruce Wayne is still as fit as he was in his 20s— maybe a few more lines on his face, but he carries himself with an easy bearing of a man who takes fitness seriously.

He walks quickly towards her, stopping a pace away, and smiles with a wry, lopsided expression. "I'm not sure if I should be offering a hug or a handshake," he says, chuckling. "Been too long, Rachel."

"Well, my moving to the West Coast didn't help with keeping in touch," she admits with a smile. The space between them closes as Rachel steps forward, and she gives Brouce a light, friendly hug. She steps back, her lip curled up some and asks of the hug, "Awkward or okay?" After his answer, she stands back a bit and looks him over. "You look…fantastic." She's happy to see Bruce keeping himself well; considering the state he was in when the last saw each other, about a year after his parents' deaths. "Alfred look just like he did. The Manor…" She looks around, not quite sure what to make of the decor. "Well, it's not your father's study. But still, I'm expecting mom to come in her to clean and find us whispering behind a couch." She smiles, then dims the glow a bit. "How are you? Really? I…kept track of Gotham through news articles and everthing. But really, how are you doing?"

Bruce hugs Rachel back, his arms encircling her shoulders. He's put on a couple of pounds with the irrevocability of approaching his 40s, but he's still hale and strong, and lifts her onto her toes with the embrace.

"A bit awkward, but— mostly okay," Bruce grins, stepping back half a pace. "You look good, Rachel. Like you're living off sunshine and beach bums," he says, cocking a grin at her.

At the mention of his parents, his face grows a bit wistful and he gestures around vaguely. "I didn't change much," Bruce admits. "A few touches here and there, but.. this has always been my father's home. I'll probably stay this way until I'm long gone," he chuckles.

"Er, so— hungry?" he says, dismissing the bittersweet moment. "Alfred's on his way, I'm sure, and we can sit on the verandah or the sunroom to eat lunch. I need a break myself, anyway," he offers, drifting towards the door.

"I've been pretty well, thanks. Went through a bit of a wild phase a few years ago, but things are settling down and I'm working more than anything else— mostly directing Wayne Charities, when I'm not chairing the board for Wayne Enterprises. How about you? I heard you were gunning for the District Attorney position in LA County— what brought you back to Gotham?"

"I could stand a bite or two, she says with a smile. Rachel makes a mental note that there's still some mental wounds regarding Bruce's parents; and that's to be expected. She follows Bruce's guidance towards where to sit and gives him a half smile. "I heard about your wild phase," she says with a smirk. "I'll have you know that you were the only reason I ever clicked on TMZ links. Otherwise, I try to stay away from gossip. I'm a lawyer and I prefer facts, not wild speculation." The smirk fades, and she's back to her usual smile. "It was San Francisco, and it was just a rumor with no truth to it. I'm sure LA County wanted me, as well. Lots of cities and counties offered me the DA gig, but I couldn't take it." She takes a deep breath and looks out towards the city. "Gotham's the only city that I ever had my sights on for a career. And now that I have my foot in the door here, looks like my foot is going to get cut off."

"Ouch," Bruce says, wincing sympathetically. He makes it to the little deck overlooking the grounds and offers Rachel a seat and settles into his as well, sitting adjacent to her at the small table. Sure enough, Alfred's not far off and sets about laying out a tidy but pleasant looking spread— favorites for both of them, and some home-made cucumber-zest ice water.

"Thanks, Alfred. So Rachel," Bruce says, spreading a napkin on his thigh. "I take it you're already getting familiar with our unique mode of government here in Gotham?" he says, irony in his voice. "Bribes and coercion, Panama style? Everything running on cash, drugs, and the promises of favors?"

"Thank you," she says to Alred as the food is delivered. She takes a long drink of the water, not realizing how thirsty she was. "Mmmmm. Yes, I'm getting the idea of how things work," she says with a sigh. "That's why I came back here. I remember what Gotham was like back before…" Rachel pauses, rembering not to mention the Waynes. "Before, when we were kids," she corrects. "It can be that way again. I want to help make it that way. San Francisco, L.A., New York, Metorpolis…they can get any deent lawyer they want to be a DA or an ADA. GOtham *needs* good people. People wiling to fight and change things from within. Jim Gordon's a start, and a good one. But it can't just be him and the changes he makes in the GCPD." She smiles a bit, shrugging after taking a bite of a sandwich. "I guess you can take the girl out of Gotham, but you can't take Gotham out of the girl. So, I'm back. Back to fight for the Gotham I remember. And I don't think Wilkes likes that too much. I've been applying every time there was an opening in the DA's office for the last 10 years. I finally got the job, but I think Wilkes is trying to make me give up on my very first case."

Rachel sighs, setting aside the sandwich and focusing on the water. "Weapons smuggling. Two enforcers for the Jade Fang tong; Donald 'Prawn Boy' Chu and Lee Tsang. Evidence so flimsy that it's translucent. Gordon didn't want to make the arrests, asked for more time to get more evidence, but Wilkes ordered him to pull the trigger on the arrests. And Wilkes made it very clear that he expects me to make lemonade out of fucking rotton lemons." There's a look of disgust on her face that turns to shock and embarassment when she realized that she left her mouth on autopilot. She's blushing furiously and looks at Bruce with embarassment. "Sorry. I…ummmm…picked up a few bad habits out west. I mostly keep it under control. Mostly…"

"I've only met Commissioner Gordon once or twice at fundraisers," Bruce admits. "Seems like a decent guy, but— I don't know," he says, reaching for a snack and taking a polite bite. "The local papers don't do him any favors. He uses that 'not enough' evidence line a /lot/," he tells Rachel. "And normally I'd be all in favor of a cop doing it by the book, but he seems to let a lot of fish through his net by stalling and waiting for 'special help' to show up." Bruce Wayne snorts disparagingly.

"Makes me wonder what our tax dollars are going towards. Still, Wilkes is a bit of a hardass but he sure doesn't strike me as the sort to take on favors under the table. Maybe he's testing you a bit?" Bruce inquires, lying through his teeth at Rachel without missing a beat.

Of her swearing, he politely makes no mention.

"I just think he's trying to haze the new girl," Rachel answers. "You know, make sure I understand my place. He's playing Alpha Male and expecting me to get in line to go running back to San Francisco. But he doesn't know who he's dealing with." There's a definant smile to Rachel's face; she's not going *anywhere* now that she's back home.

"But, enough about my problems, how about you? What's it like being the biggest industiralist in Gotham? And tell me about Wayne Charities. You skipped over the family business and went for the charity in your office. That tells me you're way more invested in the charity than Wayne Enterprises." Rachel Dawes, ace attorney at work.

"Oh, well-" Bruce chuckles, sipping his cucumber water. "Wayne Enterprises is pretty self-sustaining, and I'm smart enough to stay out of our industrial and manufacturing corporations. I hire smart people to run them, and I just show up and rally the troops once in a while. So for WE, I just… make the big calls. Stock sales, investment portfolio stuff, things like that."

"Wayne Charities, though— Father started that for Mom," he reminds Rachel. "Years and years ago, when he was pretending to be a broke medical student. So I keep that going in her name. It's civic investment, and I chair the board with full oversight. I think the Queen family has a seat, and a few other of the movers and shakers around Gotham and the tri-cities donate to it as well. We do things like renovate schools, improve parks… creating more places for people to enjoy the city. We recently revitalized an old skating rink that's been turned into a derby arena, and our next project is tenement housing for homeless to get them off the streets and into apartments."

Bruces explanation of the Charity brings a wistful smile to Rachel's face. "Sounds like we're both trying to fight for Gotham any way that we can. Sorry I'm a bit late getting into the ring, but I'm going to fight with everything I have. I promise you." She reaches over and puts her hand briefly on top of Bruce's, hoping to reassure him of her commitment to the city.

After Rachel takes her hand away, she brighten sup. "Oh! I almost forgot. I have a little surprise…." She reaches behind her hair and fiddles with the clasp of a gold chain. Once it's undone, she brings the chain forward and pulls it up from it's position underneath her bouse. At the bottom of the chain, wrapped in gold wire to allow it to hang like a pendant, is a darkened flint arrowhead. "Remember this?" She and Bruce had found the arrowhead together on the Manor grounds, and possession of it was one of the few things they had argued about before Martha had told Bruce to let Rachel have it. The next week, she died alongside her husband.

Bruce smiles and turns his fingers up, squeezing Rachel's. He's about to speak when she promises a surprise, and both his brows lift when she reaches back to remove an article of jewelry. He blinks twice at the arrowhead, and a grin crosses his lanternlike jaw, along with an easy laugh— a sound that seems to suggest he hasn't tried it on for size lately. "Geeze… that old arrowhead," he says, soft fondness in his voice. He cups it on his palm, holding it where he can inspect it in the light. "You know, for Christmas I got a very nice chemistry set, and I would have traded it in a heart beat for this," he says, with a wry recollection. "I think I mostly wanted it because /you/ found it— I was a territorial little brat sometimes," he admits with a smile. "I can't believe you had it all these years, I hadn't thought about it in ages."

Rachel smiles, pleased that he remembered and had some affection for the artifact. "I wore it every day after…after that night." There's no need to clarify what night she means. "At first, I used an old shoestring. For my 16th birthday, mom had it wrapped with the wire and got me a proper chain for it. I never take it off except to swim. It's been a reminder of Gotham and everyone here, right next to my heart." Mushy? Maybe. But she's sincere in her sentiment of what the arrowhead means for her. She looks at Bruce, slightly hesitant. "Would you…would you like to have it? I'm back in Gotham now, and maybe…I don't know. Maybe you'd like something from when we were kids?" She hold the chain and pendant out, offering them to him. She doesn't really want to let them go, but if Bruce needs them more than she does, she'll part with them.

Bruce looks a bit stunned at the offer, and for a moment it's clear he's searching for the proper response to such a generous gift. His cobalt eyes flicker up to Rachel, then he smiles at her and shakes his head minutely. He unfolds her hand and piles the arrowhead and chain in her palm, and gently closes her fingers over it.

"I've got a lifetime of memories of being a kid here, Rachel," he says. He gestures vaguely at the grounds. "Every rock in the garden was a safe place from lava, remember? And I see that chip in the marble from that year we tried indoor sledding every time I go upstairs. Alfred still keeps the candies on the top shelf in the pantry," he says, with a laugh.

"I'd rather you keep it— honestly. It's a little piece of Wayne Manor that can travel with you anywhere you go," he says, eyes crinkling up as he smiles at her, fingers still collapsed around her hand gently.

The touch of Bruce's hand sends a shiver down Rachel's spine and a warm feeling to fill her. She nods and takes the chain back. "Okay," she says with a gentle smile. "Although, I'd still like to come back here from time to time and get re-acquainted with my partner in crime?" The question is hopeful, but she's still not sure if Bruce would be interested. While he's deciding, Rachel puts the chain back and reached behind her neck, fiddling with getting the clasp to work. She grumbles as she just can't make it click…

"I'm pretty boring these days, Rachel," Bruce chuckles. He rises from his seat and leans around her, nimble fingers picking up the locket's clasp and working to get it looped and locked in place. "But you're always welcome here." He gets the locket in place— and does Rachel imagine he brushes the nape of her neck once, before sitting back down?

"I'd like you to meet the boys, too," he says, smiling at her. "A few years ago I realized I was rattling around this big house without anyone around. I've adopted a few kids and they've come up here as my wards. Dick's the oldest, and he's out of state on a project right now— but Tim's here," he says, nodding vaguely towards the west wing, where his personal rooms are. "And because you can't have one boy without him makings some friends, there might be one or two others who come around I'd like to introduce you to. If you want, I mean— there's no pressure," he tells her, hastily.

Luckily, Bruce can't see Rachel's slight blush as he's behind her securing the necklace. When he returns to his seat, she nods at him and has her cheeks under control. "Bruce Wayne? Family man?" Rachel teases him a bit, but she gives him a wink. "I read about them. And I think it's amazing what you've done. I'd enjoy meeting them. I mean, if you have something going on for me to come to. I mean, you don't have to go out of your way or anything. Just…if you happen to need a…a date or…well, not a 'date' date, but just…" She's trying to get her thoughts straightened out as she's stumbling over her words. A deep breath, then, "If you need a +1 to something and they're going as well, I'd love to meet them." There. That should be sufficiently vague and non-aggressive enough.

"Er… yeah," Bruce says, a bit puzzled as Rachel walks back the 'date' to 'cordial introduction'. Is that a flash of disappointment in his eyes?

"Well, they're… good kids," he says, with a tolerant smile. "Dick's charismatic and very confident, and Tim wants to be a forensic expert someday. I'd love for them to meet you, too," he says, trying to assuage any of worry that he'd just being her around to show off the kids. "I mean, if you want. It doesn't have to be an event or anything," he clarifies. "Maybe dinner here, some night. If you're comfortable with that. We can always eat in town, too, I have a standing table at Le Cirque if you're interested in some good French cuisine."

Rachel brightens up as maybe she didn't fudge things up as badly as she thought. "Dinner sounds wonderful," she replies. "But…maybe in Gotham, if you were wanting to do that soon. I'm going to be putting in a lot of work trying to magically make ham appear for this ham sandwich case. So, I don't think I'm going to have the time to drive out here. But an hour or so for dinner? I can make time for that." She sighs, her shoulders sluming a bit. "Those punks are probably going to walk. I'm going to go down swinging, but they're probably going to walk unless Gordon can get me a miracle."

"Oh— no, Rachel, don't even worry about that. I'll meet you in Gotham, after all— my offices are right downtown," Bruce reminds Rachel, hurriedly. "If you really need to clear the city for a bit, though, I can send a company helicopter to pick you up and fly you here. That's no trouble at all," he says.

He reaches out and squeezes Rachel's hand again, smiling reassuringly. "Don't worry, Rachel. I'm sure you'll find a way to nail those sleazebags to the wall."

It's Bruce's voice, but this time, Batman's the one making the promise.

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