Fandom: Batman Begins
Character/relationship: Bruce Wayne/Batman
Theme number: #15 - Secrets
Disclaimer/claimer: I don't own any of these characters. All belongs to WB and Bob Kane and DC comics and David Goyer/Christopher Nolan. I make no money off of this.
Summary: Secrets and stuff.
He talks to Rachel as Bruce Wayne one day, in the lobby of his hotel. It's a casual meeting, all fake smiles, fake questions, fake polite laughs.
She looks beautiful, even with her hair tied up into a severe, crime-fighting bun and thick-framed glasses on her face, and Bruce wants to pretend that there isn't anything they aren't saying because this is a public place, and that there are no things between them that aren't meant to be said in public places.
He gives her a hug and a peck on the cheek before leaving, and the small, sad smile on his face as he walks away is real.
Lucius is always, always smiling, and today is no different. Bruce always wonders where he gets that from, whether it's like Bruce's smile, stop looking at me, I'm harmless.
There's a pattern to these meetings. Lucius has a customary greeting ("What is it today, Mr. Wayne?"), and Bruce has become quite fond of coming up with more and more ridiculous things to respond with ("Do you have anything that could extinguish the sun, just for a moment? I'm not talking about anything major, here. A few seconds should be fine.").
But something's different today. Bruce's smile feels more forced, less honest today, and the jokes don't seem quite as funny. Lucius doesn't quite seem to enjoy the runaround as much as usual.
The dance is playing itself out, he thinks.
Maybe it is, but it would be nice if they could still pretend just for a little longer.
When people ask Bruce about the split lip, he grins haplessly and says, "Polo." He did learn it after all.
Alfred is one of the best liars Bruce has ever known, and Bruce has spent a lot of time around liars.
Today, he's lying about Bruce's recent absence from "work", apologizing for Bruce's sudden "cold", though Bruce doubts that there's anything but relief in voice at the other end. He knows he's looked at as more of an annoyance than an asset, and that frees up days like these, where he can stay home and do some real work.
After he is done speaking on the phone, Alfred turns to Bruce and says, wry humor in his voice, "Mr. James sends his best wishes for your health."
Bruce nods. He will have to fake a cough a few days later, and probably take the afternoon off, just to complete the illusion. It probably should bother him, the way the lies seem to accumulate, build on top of one another, but it doesn't.
He's not quite sure what that means.
He sits on top of the manor and watches the sun set. It's beautiful from here, but he itches to be higher up, amongst Gotham's skyscrapers. It would be more beautiful there.
It's late autumn, and bare branches of the trees look like cracks in the orange-pink-yellow of the sky.
The stars are brightest where day meets night in the sky. It makes Bruce think of his father, who took him onto the roof one night with a book of constellations, because it was something fathers did, even though he had forgotten most of his astronomy from high school, and Bruce could name more of the stars than he could.
Bruce wonders if his father had secrets, things that he could not tell the world, whether he learned to lie as well as Bruce did. Bruce sometimes wonders what would have happened if his father had been in his place, whether or not he would have made the same choices.
The only conclusion he ever reaches is no, and the thought weighs heavy on his mind.
But he is not his father, and seven years was long enough for him to run from a ghost.
Turning, he walks back inside to prepare for another night on Gotham's rooftops.
Gordon never asks Batman who he is underneath, though they have spent months working together. A lesser man may have asked to know, demanded to know, but Gordon is not a lesser man, and he understands that knowing is irrelevant.
Tonight, they meet, an hour before dawn to look over what they've both discovered about the Riddler case, and while not overwhelmingly useful, it is helpful.
"Good night," Gordon says after they finish, turned away as Batman disappears into the darkness once more. "I hope you have a good day, too."
It gives Batman pause, to think over the Gordon's reasons for not asking. Maybe he doesn't care. Maybe thinks that he lives like this, as Batman, all the time.
Maybe he just understands that some secrets are not meant to be told.