It was another one of those stupid parties that Bruce Wayne continued to throw, to hide the fact that he really didn't care too much about the hobnob society around him. It had been exactly six months since Bruce had returned from Tibet and donned the cape and cowl to instill fear in the hearts of Gotham's underbelly. Pieces of him regretted it and the rest of him lived for it. This was what he had gone around the world to do – to learn. Being Batman and knowing that somehow he was making a difference made all the less positive things seem to disappear.
Like Rachel Dawes, his childhood friend. She believed in what Bruce was doing as Batman, but she didn't like the mask he wore daily, that covered the great man he truly was under the Kevlar and armor. She hated his act almost as much as he did. The fake smiles, the laughing through dull conversations and generally acting like a jackass. And until Bruce could drop the cowl for good and just be himself, he knew that Rachel would never accept him this way.
And yet she continued to show up to his parties, dressed the best she could afford, but always the most lovely he had ever seen her. She put a lot into how she looked, and Bruce suspected that it was to try and fit with the rest of his "friends". She denied it every time and soon Bruce just stopped asking; he accepted it and thanked her every time she came to support his "endeavors".
The event he was holding that evening was a fund raiser for the rebuilding parts of and better equipping Arkham Asylum. The idea was, of course, that once Bruce caught this nut job that had been running around Gotham for four months now – calling himself the Joker – that he would want Jim Gordon or Commissioner Loeb to lock him up where all criminally insane people should go. This was the third party he had held for this cause, it seemed a lot of people didn't quite care... but this time there seemed to be a bigger turn. Bruce suspected a lot of his pals had finally forgiven him for his outburst at his birthday party.
Rachel stood out on the balcony of the penthouse, holding a glass of champagne in one hand and looking out over the glamorous view the building provided. Gotham at night, lit by the neon lights of the city below them was almost as beautiful to look at as a clear night's sky. Bruce, his own champagne flute in hand, walked out to her side, glancing over her department store bought satin dress. She looked back at him as he approached, and smiled a little.
"Do you think it will work this time?" she asked, motioning to the party going on inside the room. "The last two times you barely raised one hundred thousand. I'm beginning to think it's a waste of time."
Bruce shrugged, a half heartened grin slipping across his lips. "I hope. There's three times as many attendees and more than half of them are some of Gotham's richest."
"Don't forget Malibu's richest as well," Rachel said, looking past Bruce, she motioned her glass at doors. Bruce furrowed his brow at her, turning at the waist to see just who she was talking about. Standing in the middle of the room, talking and laughing with many of Bruce's friends, was world known Tony Stark of Stark Industries. Briefly, his eyes caught Tony's and the man gave him a slight nod, raising his glass. Bruce turned back to Rachel.
"Did you invite him?" Rachel asked, concern thick in her voice.
"I don't even know him," Bruce replied. The reason Tony Stark was there was just as much a mystery to him as it obviously was to Rachel.
"Yet," came a voice from behind him, and Bruce turned once more this time coming face-to-face with Tony. He had out a hand and Bruce took it for a firm shake. "Tony Stark, you probably know who I am."
"Of course," Bruce said, but the truth was he had only heard bits about Tony since he'd been back. Six months was hardly a lot of time to catch up on the world he'd been away from for seven years. Bruce must have given it away in his tone, and Tony made a weird clicking noise with his tongue. He took a hold of Bruce's arm, turning to Rachel for a moment.
"Excuse me, Sweetheart, I'm gonna steal your boy here for minute," he said, warranting a rather annoyed look from Rachel, who folded her arms over her chest and watched as Tony lead Bruce into the penthouse. "You have no idea who I am, do you?"
Bruce cocked his head to the side. "I wouldn't go as far as saying I have 'no idea'," Bruce replied with a smug laugh. "It's that I just don't care."
Tony studied him for a moment. "You know, Brucie, I'm a very good judge of character and I'm getting the feeling that this 'I don't care' attitude isn't really you."
"You can't judge someone you just met."
"Can't I?" Tony asked, taking Bruce's flute from him and downing the golden liquid from it. Bruce looked at him, astonished. "What? I know for a fact you weren't going to drink it. You've had a total of three glasses all night and each one has ended up in a planter."
Bruce had a lot of things he wouldn't have minded saying to Tony, but decided against it. "Why are you here?"
"To donate to your cause. And I was in town and heard about this swanky little get together you were throwing and thought, 'what better time to introduce myself to dear Bruce-boy'. And so, here I am." Tony smiled at him, a sweet little grin that made Bruce uncomfortable. Why would Tony Stark be 'in town'.
"You came for free booze?"
"And women. There's always so many drunk women at these things just dying for a good time," Tony said, gesturing to a few of the younger women, a couple Bruce had brought in himself (as he always did).
"Yeah, those two are with me," Bruce said about the two models making out in the corner. Tony raised an eyebrow at Bruce.
"Oh? Then why were you outside talking to the boring broad?" Tony hitched a thumb back towards the balcony and Bruce quickly stole a glance at Rachel who didn't look pleased.
"Rachel is my best friend..." Bruce began but Tony was shaking his head.
"You are screwing her though, right?" Tony asked. Bruce shook his head. "Then why are you bothering?" A small smile slipped onto Tony's lips and he bumped his shoulder into Bruce's. "Oh lighten up. This was exactly what I was talking about. The whole schmoozing and women thing isn't you."
Bruce only shrugged. So, Tony Stark could pick up on him and call him on his actions; the act didn't seem to slip by anyone else and that's what mattered. Tony was looking over the two models again, biting his lip. A waiter walked by with a tray of champagne and he pulled two flutes off and handed one to Bruce.
"So, since you aren't really interested in those two, can I...?" Tony asked, gesturing in the least crude way possible for what he was suggesting. Bruce actually smiled at that, bringing a hand to his face to try and cover it. "I saw that."
Bruce shook his head. "You didn't see anything."
Tony pushed a finger into Bruce chest, getting a little too close for Bruce's comfort. "No... I saw that smile. It was the first genuine smile I've seen on your face all night. You don't even smile at your gal pal like that," Tony paused and smiled more thoroughly. "You like me. I'm growing on you. Admit it."
"There is nothing to admit. I find you obnoxious and utterly annoying and you're observations are completely off target," Bruce said, plastering a fake smile on his face this time as he nodded at the people walking by.
Tony patted Bruce on the shoulder. "You can convince yourself that all you want. But, you'll know, someday, that I was right." Tony started to walk away from Bruce, his fingers slipping from the soft fabric of his suit. "Thanks for the company, by the way, Brucie. I'll be sure to get them a ride home later."
Bruce watched as Tony approached the two girls, an arm around each one, looking back only to wink at Bruce. Rachel came up to Bruce's side, tapping her toe. Bruce turned to her, seeing the annoyance on her face.
"What did the famous Tony Stark want?"
Bruce opened his mouth to speak, but when the answer he was looking for didn't come out, he stopped himself. What did Tony Stark want? The conversation had been fruitless and if Bruce didn't know any better, he'd have sworn it was just an excuse for Tony to meet Bruce and plant a seed.
"Bruce?" Rachel questioned, her voice growing more irritable.
"Business," Bruce said, lying to her.
"Hm," she said, "it seems he took your 'dates'."
Bruce shrugged. "You and I both know they'd both just end up drunk by the end of the evening and being driven home by Alfred."
"I bet," Rachel retorted. She crossed her arms and glared at Bruce for a moment. "I'm going to go home, Bruce. I hope the rest of your fund raiser goes well." Bruce turned to kiss her on the cheek, but she had already turned on her heels and was retrieving her jacket from the coat check. Bruce slid his hands into his pockets, not bothering to follow her. They'd had similar fall outs before; she'd come around in a few days.
"Bruce!" Tony said as he came back around with the two models, both giggling. "Stevie here has asked that you join us. I'm not opposed if you're down?" Tony grinned at him, looking at Bruce for some kind of emotion. That wasn't Bruce's thing, however, and he slowly shook his head.
"Not tonight, Stevie. I'm afraid I have to play host for a while longer and it looks as if you three are already set to go," Bruce took the blond's hand and kissed it, smiling at her with his biggest, most stunning smile. Tony ushered the girls forward to the lift.
"That's too bad, Wayne," he said giving Bruce a once over. He then pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and placed into Bruce's hand as he shook it. "I hope you raise enough tonight to get this city what it needs." And he was gone, leading with the girls down to the parking garage.
Bruce opened his palm and looked at the folded up check sitting there. He unfolded it and looked at the amount: one million dollars. Bruce slid the check into his pocket, trying to catch his breath. A man like Tony Stark was conceited and down right full of himself, but his heart was in the right place. Maybe Bruce had misjudged him. Bruce shrugged, maybe the man had grown on him a little.