"Is the camera on? Is it on?"
The camera was on, and was looking at a half-eaten turkey sandwich on a croissant. The shot rose to a purple-haired young woman, somewhere between a teenager and a twenty-something. She had winged eyeliner and a silver ring in her lower lip.
"Is that the good lens? Can you zoom?" She was frantically pointing toward something behind her and to the left. The camera moved focus, zoomed in though not by much. A figure was walking down the mostly-empty side-street they were on in what looked like a dress and a parka.
"It won't zoom enough, I didn't bring the long lens," complained the slightly-lispy woman behind the camera.
"I'll just call him over."
"Oh my god, Jessie, no, what if it isn't—"
"Mr. Wayne!" Jessie had bent half-over the metal fence surrounding the cafe table. The flowers on her sleeveless romper matched the color of her curls. "What happened to you?"
There was a jump cut. The shot had changed, steady on a tripod, both girls now visible, one purple and one pink. It was definitely Bruce Wayne in the ratty brown parka. Black hair in disarray looked gray at the tips where the light hit it too much, he had stubble and dark circles and bloodshot eyes. He was wearing a floral shower curtain as a toga.
"Nice outfit," Jessie said.
"Thanks," Bruce said, his voice a strained hiss barely audible. "Can you believe someone threw this out. Are you drinking that?" He pointed to an untouched glass of water sitting next to a latte, condensation dripping paths down its sides.
"You can have it," said the girl with the pink dreadlocks. He grabbed it without another word, and the girls exchanged meaningful glances with the camera and each other as he drank the whole thing. As his head tipped backward to finish it off, Jessie picked up her own full glass and set it closer to him. He set the one glass down, grabbed the other, and dumped it over his head. Jessie shrieked and recoiled as water went everywhere, Bruce scrubbing at his hair and his face. When his hands slid back his hair was under control, not that it helped.
"Thank you," he said again, no longer sounding like rusty pipes. "You are?" he asked, pointing.
"Right." He scratched at his stubble. "Crimefighting, roller derby, or both?"
"We're YouTubers," Danny explained.
"Aaah." Bruce nodded. "Thus the camera. Do you yell at video games or makeup."
"Do we yell at makeup?" Jessie repeated with a giggle.
"I know what I asked."
"We're an advice channel."
"JammyDanger!" Jessie said, and she and Danny both gave the camera a thumbs-up.
"So you yell at people."
"Basically," Jessie snorted.
"That's not a very intuitive name for an advice channel."
"We picked it before we knew what we were going to do with it," Danny admitted.
"Do you want to sit down?" Jessie offered.
"No. This thing is held together with sheer force of will. I sit and it'll just..." He made a gesture like curtains opening. "No one wants that."
"I'd be okay with that," Jessie said.
"Mr. Wayne," Danny asked, "why are you wearing a shower curtain?"
He looked them over. "You want a Bruce Wayne exclusive interview."
"Yes," Jessie said fiercely.
"... yeah, sure." She clapped gleefully as he scratched his stubble again. "Well, children—"
"—sometimes, when a man and his wingman love each other very much, the wingman will still bail, because he met a redhead and now he wants to grow Fabio hair."
"This is going in a weird direction," Danny said.
"It usually does," Bruce agreed apologetically. "Then the man makes a lot of questionable life choices, some of which are legal and most of which would probably turn out fine with a wingman. But he doesn't have a wingman, so instead he's waking up with no memory of the night before and his shit is missing, including his goddamn clothes, because he is apparently a fucking idiot who can no longer be trusted to leave the house without tripping over his own dick and hurting himself."
"You said that like you were mad at yourself, but your word choice kind of turned it into a brag," Danny pointed out.
"I know what I said."
"Did they steal your underwear?" Jessie asked in hushed tones.
"If they'd stolen my underwear I'd be calling the police." Bruce stuck his hands in the pockets of the parka, and froze. Slowly, he pulled his left hand out of his pocket.
He was holding a rat.
Jessie shrieked and nearly leapt over the back of her chair. Danny scooted hers away.
Bruce held the rat up enough that he could look it in the eye. It twitched its nose at him to sniff. "Hello Templeton." He set it gingerly on his shoulder, where it remained, surveying the scene.
"Where did you get a rat!"
"The dumpster, I assume."
"It seems very calm."
"I have been called a rat before. It's possible he senses me as one of his own. Do one of you have a cell phone I can use? Mine was in my pants, where I foolishly assumed it would be safe."
Danny pulled hers out of her purse and offered it to him. He took it, but stopped to look at the case instead of using it immediately. It was covered in glitter and three-dimensional roses and bows. He held it so that Danny and the camera could both see the focus of his interest.
"Did you make this yourself, Miss Dangerous."
"This is adorable. Good job." He offered his fist as his other hand dialed a number. Danny made a gleeful face at both Jessie and the camera as, carefully, she fistbumped Bruce Wayne. He held the phone to his ear as he waited for whoever he'd called to pick up. "Alfred. Yeah. Long story. Need a ride. No, bring the—not the Rolls, something I can mess up the upholstery in. I'm wearing a dumpster. Yeah. If you could bring pants that would be great. Any pants. I really don't care. Obviously not those, don't be deliberately obtuse. A spare phone, too. If I don't have pants why would I still have a phone. I borrowed this one. Danny Dangerous. No, she's from the internet. I'm at—" He paused to check the sign on the door, and sighed. "The Catscratch Café, apparently. Yeah. Don't start. Fine." He hung up, giving Danny back her phone.
"As long as we're waiting," Jessie said, "why don't you be a guest on our show?"
"I thought I was. Are you eating that?"
Danny pushed her french fries closer, and he immediately popped one into his mouth.
"I meant the advice part."
He swallowed his fry. "Am I supposed to ask you for advice."
"No, you'd be giving it."
"Do I look like I'm in any position to tell anyone how to live their lives." He fed a cold french fry to the rat on his shoulder.
"You could give good advice!" Jessie assured him. "We get a lot of girls who want help with their boyfriends."
"Dump him." He ate another fry.
"It's not always like that! You can't just dump a guy every time he's a little annoying."
"You can, and should."
"Maybe you could give people tips to be successful?" Danny suggested.
"Based on personal experience you should try being born a white billionaire with a Type A personality and a need for external validation that can never be satisfied because your parents are dead."
"I don't think most people can use that," Jessie said.
"I hope not."
"Do you have any advice," Jessie attempted, "for someone who wants to marry a billionaire?"
"That's a terrible idea. My first advice is don't."
"What about your second?"
"I can give you my mother's strategy."
"Is it romantic?"
"First, find a billionaire. Then be smarter than he is. Then, remind him that you're smarter than he is, repeatedly. Hit him with a sword sometimes for emphasis."
"And that works?"
"It worked at least once."
"Would it work on you?"
Bruce narrowed his eyes at nothing in particular. "... it might be."
"Mr. Wayne," Danny asked, "what do you think about the popular trend of books about billionaires who are into bondage?"
"You know," Jessie said, "like all the books about a sexy billionaire who likes to tie up his secretary and spank her."
"That sounds unethical. Are they arrested."
"So you're not into it?"
"I have multiple secretaries in multiple offices and most of them are elderly men."
"Do old men make good secretaries?"
"That depends. Do you need a secretary that can keep people busy by telling them stories about the Great Depression, until they give up and stop trying to show you presentations about new suppliers."
"What's that scar from?" Danny asked, pointing.
Bruce tried to look, but the scar in question was too close to his neck. He put a hand over it to try and determine which one it was. "I think that one's from a whip."
Jessie gasped. "You can't just say that and not give details."
Behind Bruce, a towncar pulled up to park at the sidewalk.
"Do you have any final messages for our audience before you go?" Danny asked.
Bruce grabbed one last french fry for the rat as his butler stepped around the car to open the back door. "Dump him. If you're a secretary and your boss tries to spank you, call my lawyer. Thanks for the drinks."
"I suppose you'll be keeping that," could faintly be heard in the background as Danny picked up the camera again to catch Bruce's retreat.
"His name is Templeton."
"Of course it is, sir."
"He likes french fries."
"I take it we'll be calling Rex again?"
Bruce's reply was lost as he got in the back of the car, Alfred's body shielding whatever effect this action may have had on Bruce's modesty. There was a jump cut to the window rolling down enough for a small wave as the car pulled away.
Everything after the subsequent jump cut was nothing but a high-pitched retelling of what had just happened, spanning another five minutes.