“Please, we don’t want any trouble!”
The hardened vigilante shook his head as he tossed the key through the bars, sliding at her feet. He was almost tempted to accuse her of overacting, but as he glanced around, he realized that the rest of them were legitimately that scared – even the one that was chanting at him to defeat the goons was now huddled in the corner, ever since he approached their cell.
Still, Vicki seemed a bit too afraid for a journalist known for her fearlessness – considering that the second she heard that Commissioner Loeb was captured, she had led her team fearlessly into the prison full of escaped homicidal maniacs.
He fought a smirk from coming onto his face at the thought. She noticed, and her character almost faltered.
She learned far too much from him.
“Miss Vale,” he growled, and she almost chuckled at the formality of his tone, “free yourself from here as soon as I give you the all-clear, or until the GCPD comes in.”
She nodded shakily, and snatched the keycard from the floor. She glanced around to the people behind her. They were all staring at him in wonder, transfixed. She cleared her throat. Someone had to say it. “Th-thank you, Batman.”
He nodded, and only through the shadow of his cowl, did Vicki see a smirk shine through. “Stay out of trouble, Miss Vale,” he muttered, loud enough for the room to hear through the emergency alarms blaring throughout the prison, before moving to the broken elevator shaft.
Vicki moved her hair behind her ear as she lifted herself to a standing position. The man knew how to fluster her in ways she couldn’t imagine. Her boyfriend, the Batman.
She really hoped that name would catch on. She was the one who penned it, after all. When he was still a very fresh crime fighter in the streets, a mere rumor, he was being called all sorts of names in the paper from The Crow to the Batty Crusader. She was the first to get a picture of him with clarity – She took a side-picture of him on a gargoyle, from her balcony, and gave it a title – The Batman. She wouldn’t forget that story anytime soon – it was how she was first introduced to the Dark Knight.
He was looking forward, into the lifeless city, but she knew that he had noticed her long before she opened the balcony door. She made sure that her sheer nightgown caught his eye.
It was a brisk night out – the moon shown on the tall buildings and the magnificent skyscrapers, encompassing the entirety of Gotham in what seemed to be a bluish glow. It was spectacular.
Well, from this hotel’s balcony, anyway.
He was looking down into the streets, completely ignoring the beauty that was around him. She couldn’t blame him. Gotham was a cesspool of monsters and vicious thugs, attacking the innocent and victimizing the defenseless.
His costume gleamed in the moonlight, his figure still, and more than ever, she knew she was looking at this city’s beacon of light – the man who would shine in this city of darkness.
She sat in her chair on the balcony, completely ignoring her state of dress – or lack thereof. She crossed her legs demurely, and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her bare knees.
He really was impressive. He looked dressed and armed to take on the world – a breed of heroism that had never been seen before.
Her fingers itched. Before she knew what he was doing, she quickly got up and paced back into her apartment.
The Dark Knight chuckled into the sky. He knew exactly what she was going to do; it was something she had done before. Something he hadn’t seen in years.
He paused. Should he stay? It would certainly fit the M.O. that he was trying to mold – blend into the night, silent, and without pause – never let them get a second glance. He had frozen before. He had only meant to check on her, and then start patrolling the rest of the Diamond District. But now, she had not only gotten a picture, but she seemed intent on capturing every detail of him.
He took a deep breath.
Vicki slowly slid back the glass door and looked to her left. She gripped the door tightly.
He wasn’t there.
Her eyes instinctually went forward, and her feet took her to the edge of the balcony, afraid of what she would see. She was trying to avoid the thought of the dangers of a man sitting on an ancient figure, seventeen stories off the ground, but she should check anyway.
She glanced over the railing – the streets were as still as the night. She sighed heavily. She supposed she deserved that. She had run into the house, hoping he’d still be in the same place, much like a bird or a squirrel.
She leaned further out to observe the city, for at least a clue to where he was.
“Careful, Vicki.” The blonde practically jumped in fright as she spun around. His figure was as still as ever, his frown a permanent fixture, as he leaned forward on the gargoyle – on the other side of her balcony. “You wouldn’t want yourself to be the victim of the tabloids.”
She held her sketchpad tight in her hands as she instinctually held it over her generous bosom. She shook her head – she wasn’t in High School anymore!
“You know how to bring back old habits,” she muttered, before resting her eyes on the crusader. “No one can see me up here.”
The Batman just stared at her, and she almost blushed. Her light blue nightgown gave almost nothing to the imagination, and while she wasn’t shy about her body, she didn’t like to put it on display. She silently padded over to her chair again and sat comfortably, with her sketchpad in her hand. She flipped to a fresh page and grabbed her makeshift bookmark – a pencil – and wrote down the name that she planned to put in her next article, under the photograph now hanging in her personal photo darkroom.
“I hope you don’t plan on drawing me,” he spoke gruffly, and she looked up innocently at him.
“I thought you changed positions so I could get your good side? Not to mention the lighting is so much better there, and the moon is right behind you. It’s a beautiful shot. Almost intentionally beautiful.”
That shut him up. And she began sketching. She thought about drawing the gargoyle first, but reconsidered; the man obviously had patience, but she didn’t want to test it. He looked quite comfortable on the almost-artifact, so she paid more attention to detail throughout – his stillness astounded her, and though she knew he was that immobile before, she felt honored that he would continue. Only his head glanced around, still patrolling. It was just as well – she didn’t plan on getting much detail of his face. She made a note to blur the photo a bit before she released it – she’d keep the original.
“I want to thank you,” she muttered, edging in some of the finer details. “For checking on me. I don’t know if you think you feel obligated to or something, but I still wanted to thank you.”
He said nothing, so she continued. “My opinion doesn’t matter in this, I know… but I don’t like this. What you’re doing. Every night. Putting yourself in danger like this. Cleaning up this city. The police aren’t exactly doing a hell of a job, but to see someone you…”
She paused, and cleared her throat, resting her pencil on the pad and putting it down to her side. When she drew, she tended to talk too much. She looked up, and for the first time, his eyes were focused right on hers. His intense, blue eyes cut through her deep, and she shuddered.
“But I know why you do it,” she whispered, her breath shallow. “I know why you feel that this was your call. I know that if you didn’t you’d feel incomplete. This city is hell incarnate, and you’re the only thing giving anyone hope. That’s why I took the picture. No ulterior motives. Not a tabloid. Just proof; proof of hope. Knowing that there is someone out there that can make us feel safe.”
She sat unblinking, as her own blue eyes shined, looking at the man she once loved, and dared to love again. “I’ve never felt safer when you were around, Bruce. Thank you for giving Gotham that comfort.”
She gulped when he didn’t respond. Either he knew she had already worked it out, or… that wasn’t Bruce. Still, she wasn’t the most daring journalist in Gotham for nothing, and this was so much more than a hunch. “I support you. I’ve always supported you, baby. Knowing Alfred, I don’t think you’ve been hearing that enough, but what you’re doing is right and fantastic, and… dangerous. So dangerous, it hurts me. I’ve never been with anyone before or after you, and I don’t think I can, so… don’t do anything stupid.”
She couldn’t have finished in a lamer way. She blushed and looked away, feeling awkward. She had said her peace.
She didn’t hear the cowl-and-caped crusader land softly next to her. She jumped as something landed in her lap. She only saw the pointed ears before she twisted her head sharply at the source.
“I promise,” Bruce Wayne murmured, his face sincere. He covered her delicate hand with his large, gloved left hand. His smile was captivating, his face, in her eyes, as handsome as it always was.
She looked down at his hand, then back to his unmasked visage. She used her other hand to reach out, and neither flinched when her hand touched his cheek. Her fingers traced the stubble on his beard, before ending at the fringe on the back of his neck. She had never smiled so brightly.
She exhaled as she found herself kissing him; her euphoria clouding her mind in a haze of wonder, tears clouding her eyes. His hand matched hers as she felt his fingers brush the back of her head.
They had a lot to catch up on.
Vicki’s face heated as she remembered their reunion. He hadn’t gotten much patrolling done that night.
She tied her hair back into her bun; Looks like his newest gadget wasn’t going to be much use to her right now. The heavy duty elastic band, built for snapping bars together with the flick of her finger, would have been a great tool to use for this situation.
The GCPD, headed by Gordon and Bullock, had come and gone, not giving her and her team a second glance. She assumed they would come back for them after the threat was apprehended. Whether they were going for the man that had broken in and kidnapped Loeb, or the hero trying to stop him, they didn’t care. Hopefully they’d get their priorities straight and go for Black Mask first.
She carefully moved the card towards the front of the cell and waved it slowly until she heard a click. She pocketed the card – Bruce hadn’t found a reason to use the Prison’s master security keycard until now, and she’d rather not reveal to everyone that she possessed it. She surreptitiously glanced around for cameras, and minutely frowned when she saw one in the corner.
She pointed towards the door. “Time to get out of here. Our news camera’s broken, and I’m out of audio cassettes. We’ll work with what we have in the morning.”
“In the morning?” her cameraman repeated, knowing her penchant for publishing as soon as possible.
“If you want to stay up all night, that’s your choice,” She said, holding the door open for them. “I just ran into Batman, and I’ll be damned if I don’t see him again tonight. I’m not typing one word of this story until I get all of it. Pulitzers don’t go to cliffhangers.”
Something told her this was going to be a long night. But first, a visit to the security room. Someone had to wipe that footage.