Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Augustus Sandstone, Vicki Vale, Joe Cavendish, Bruce/Dick, Alfred Pennyworth
Continuity: DC Comics
Genres: AU, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
Warnings (this chapter): None
General Summary: A series of daring robberies on Gotham City’s Gold Coast catches the attention of the Raven and the Nightingale.
Chapter Summary: Bruce Wayne makes his triumphant return to Gotham City.
Date Of Completion: August 31, 2014
Date Of Posting: June 9, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1242
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Submitted for my 2015 DCU Fic/Art Dick Grayson Diamond Anniversary Challenge. The entire series can be found here.
RETURN OF THE PRINCE
September 6, 1907
Excerpt from the play,
The Prince Of Broadway,
George J. Kohan
Vicki Vale clutched her ostrich-feathered hat as a gust of wind blew in off Gotham Harbor. The dock was crowded with people waiting for the arrival of the Queen Mary, fresh out of Southampton, England. The cream of Gotham High Society had turned out, befeathered and bejeweled and chattering as they exchanged gossip about Newport, Bar Harbor, and Fifth Avenue, as well as their own city’s Gold Coast. Dockworkers went about their tasks, bemused by the band tuning up three feet away from the edge of the pier and the brass-buttoned policemen with their handlebar mustaches keeping an eye on both the crowd and the gaggle of politicians led by Mayor Augustus Sandstone that stood in a place of prominence.
Alas, Vicki was not one of the young socialite women so eagerly pushed by their socially-ambitious mothers to come down to these docks on a crisp September day. Instead, she was just one of the ink-stained wretches from The Gotham Gazette and other newspapers sent by news-hungry editors to chronicle the triumphant return of the Prince of Gotham, Bruce Wayne, after over a year in Europe on the Grand Tour.
“Hey, watch your elbow!” complained Vicki as she was jostled.
“Sorry, Vickster,” apologized Joe Cavendish, a reporter from The Gotham Trumpet. Like any self-respecting American city at the turn of the new century, Gotham boasted several more dailies and smaller papers as the news business thrived. “Imagine all this folderall for one spoiled rich fop.”
“You know better than that, Joe.” Vicki looked at the handsome, brown-haired man dressed in his stiff collar and cheap, light-brown suit. “Without that ‘fop’, as you call him, we wouldn’t have half the copy we usually get.”
“I suppose,” Joe grumbled. “He’s front-page news and not just the purview of the society pages.”
“Doesn’t hurt that you were on the society beat not so long ago, eh?”
Vicki proudly lifted her head, her red hair glinting in the sunlight. “I’m with the hard news boys now.”
“Good, because I hear that Lois Lane is trying to out-Bly Nellie Bly.”
Vicki sniffed at the mention of her Daily Planet rival, currently traveling around the world in a hot-air balloon and filing dispatches from exotic places such as New Delhi, Toyko, and Manila. “It’s been done already.”
Joe grinned. He peered out at the harbor. The water sparkled like diamonds as a brilliant blue sky stretched out to the horizon.
“I hear that the Prince had a thing for one of the prima ballerinas over there, a Russian who’s cousin to the Czar.”
“I heard that, too. He followed the troupe all over the Continent.”
“I saw her picture in the paper. Nice-looking dish.”
“I was more partial to her co-star.” Vicki dug a small pair of opera glasses from her purse and scanned the horizon.
“Some guy with an English name?”
“Could be American. Looked very good in tights.”
Joe snorted. “Dancing ballet’s okay for women, but what kind of life is that for a grown man?”
“Just another way of being on the stage like Barrymore.”
“I doubt Barrymore goes leaping around the stage in a pink tutu. Ow!”
Joe rubbed his ribs where Vicki had jabbed him with a sharp elbow. She pointed to the horizon.
“The Queen Mary’s on her way!”
Once the great ship was close to the harbor, it steamed into port and grew larger and larger, a miracle of modern engineering. The tall smokestacks belched out smoke like a Pittsburgh factory on the shores of the Allegheny, the sleek lines of the steamship truly epitomizing the progress of the new century.
The band struck up a John Philip Sousa march as people waved and shouted. Many were there to greet friends and loved ones but counted themselves among the curious to see the Prince of Gotham.
“Wonder if he’ll stumble down the gangplank?” shouted Joe over the din of the music.
“Why, just because he tipples now and again?” Vicki shouted back. She took out her Brownie camera.
“Tipples? He’s been known to soak up bourbon like a sponge. The Iceberg Lounge is kept afloat by Wayne imbibing.”
“They must’ve sunk this past year, then.” Vicki scanned the passengers waving from the railing of the ship.
Joe signaled his cameraman, who set up by the edge of the crowd. He had a bulky camera with powder tray and hoped to get a usable photograph. Photography had advanced to the point of subjects no longer needing to stand stiffly for long minutes, but they still had to pose at least for a few minutes. He hoped that his subjects would cooperate.
The docking took several minutes, but finally the gangplank was lowered and the passengers disembarked. Happy reunions took place all along the pier, and toward the end of the flow of passengers was Bruce Wayne.
Vicki recognized Alfred, Bruce’s butler and manservant, and she also recognized the stunning young man next to him, dressed in a dark-green suit, bright yellow vest, and red ascot. A diamond glittered from the ascot. He wore a green cloak with gold lining.
“Oh, my,” Vicki said. This was news.
“He brought the ballet dancer!” Joe exclaimed.
“Oh, Bruce, you madcap heir.” Vicki snapped some photos with the Brownie.
Bruce obligingly posed for pictures, and Major Sandstone stepped forward to greet Bruce. Reporters started shouting questions.
“Hey, Bruce, how’s it feel to be back in America after over a year away?”
“Did you say hi to the Queen?”
“Are you going out on the town?”
“Did you break Natasha Romanoff’s heart?”
“Who’s the young gentleman with you and Mr. Pennyworth?”
Bruce laughingly held up a hand. The band and reporters quieted. “Gentlemen, let me catch my breath!” The questions subsided and Bruce smiled charmingly. “I’m very glad to be back home in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I plan to have a Porterhouse steak with a mess of hash browns and apple pie for dessert first thing.” The reporters laughed. “We stopped off in England on the way home and Alfred visited his family while Mr. Grayson and I watched the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and saw the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.”
“Mr. Grayson, aren’t you a ballet dancer like Miss Romanoff?”
Dick’s smile was dazzling. “Yes, I am. I have always wanted to visit the United States. There is much to see in your wonderful country.”
Vicki noticed that he spoke flawless English without the trace of an accent. Richard Grayson was a very intriguing young man.
“Can you tell us about your trip?” asked another reporter.
“The Grand Tour was…grand.” Laughter. “I might write a book, publish some photos. Now, gentlemen, it’s been a long voyage and I’m eager to see my home again.”
Bruce waved cavalierly at the disgruntled mayor, who had not had a chance to deliver his speech. He, Dick, and Alfred walked to a waiting carriage, the driver cracking his whip after they had boarded. Alfred had already arranged for their considerable luggage to be delivered to the Manor
“Well, you’re right, Wayne always gives good copy,” Joe said.
Vicki smirked and put away her camera. She had a story to write and some digging to do in the newspaper morgue.