Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick, Alfred Pennyworth, Donna Troy, Matilda Corrigan, Selina Kyle
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: Rainy weather is the backdrop for relaxing pastimes.
Date Of Completion: March 4, 2015
Date Of Posting: November 4, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2400
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Submitted to my 2015 DCU Fic/Art Dick Grayson Diamond Anniversary Challenge. The entire series can be found here.
Autumn weather could be one of two things in Gotham: gorgeous days of blue skies and colorful trees worthy of a drive in the countryside or chaotic days of rain and wind, reminding the populace that harsher days were ahead as winter crept closer.
Rain swept the coast as the good citizens of Gotham struggled against the wind. Umbrellas were useless as they would snap inside-out and nearly fly out of people’s gloved hands. Leaves swirled madly about, plastering to walls and fences as the skies grew sullen.
Dick used the word ‘cozy’ for the Manor, laughing at the raised eyebrows of Bruce and Alfred. “Sure, this place looks like a haunted house from the outside, but we know better inside, hmm?” Both men merely shook their heads as Dick laughed again.
He spent some of his time exploring the Manor. The multitude of rooms and hidden nooks and crannies reminded him of Bruce: so many facets of hidden treasures! And he loved treasure hunting.
Dick went up to the highest floor, curious to see what wonders were up there. He found mostly bedrooms, but one room held the treasures he sought.
A rocking horse rested in one corner, painted in bright circus colors, and a train set was laid out on the floor. Picture books were neatly arranged in a bookcase with a top tilted on top. Dick smiled at the thought. Other toys were placed around the room or were presumably in the toybox located against one wall.
“It’s a playroom,” Dick murmured.
He was charmed by all the wonderful toys. As the rain drummed on the roof, he went to his knees and studied the train set. He was delighted to observe the incredible detail of each car, including the little red caboose.
It’s an electric train set. Must have been one of the first ones out. It probably cost a fortune.
He remembered the set of handcarved circus cars that his father had made for him. Lost in the fire that had burned their wagon during the night of the attack on their camp, he could still recall the vivid colors. His mother had done the painting.
He caressed the engine, wishing he still had that circus set. Wiping away his tears, he concentrated on the train. He plugged it in and was happy to see it chug along the track. Hills and trees formed a countryside that led to a picturesque town, complete with buildings and figures strolling, skating and running.
Dick played with the train for half an hour, read through the books and found a hoop and stick. He opened the toybox and found toy solders, stuffed animals and building blocks.
All of these toys are a part of Bruce.
He felt warmed by the thought. He imagined Bruce as a child playing with these toys. As he closed the lid of the toybox, he wondered if Thomas and Martha Wayne had ever arranged for playmates for their only child.
He never talks about childhood friends. Well, at least he had Oliver Queen when he was at Excelsior.
Dick took a book from the bookcase and picked up the teddy bear that was residing in the rocking chair. It was a well-loved bear with a red ribbon around its neck. He placed it on his lap as he sat down in the chair by the window. Presumably it had been put there as a convenience for an adult watching Bruce. A child-sized rocker was in the corner.
Dick gently rocked as he read through the adventures of Robin Hood, a favorite of his. He chose to dwell in the past on this rainy day. There would be time enough to deal with the future.
I’m not a meticulous planner like Bruce. I go where the wind takes me, where the road goes. Dick closed his eyes as he rocked. I don’t know if Bruce and I will remain together forever. Society is not kind to our sort of love, but I intend to enjoy whatever time we have. And who knows? We might get lucky.
He smiled as he continued to rock.
The rain pattered on the windows as the waves rolled restlessly in the ocean. Bruce read in the front parlor while Alfred made tea in the kitchen. Dick’s presence in the playroom was unknown, but they knew that he was in the house.
Bruce rested his book in his lap as he rubbed his eyes. He closed them to give them a rest. The novel was good but his mind was ready to return to the Gold Coast burglaries again.
He and Dick had gathered information but it had led to nowhere so far. Perhaps the thief had moved on. Not a satisfying conclusion, but someone else might catch him if he got careless.
Except for the dropped brooch, he hasn’t made any mistakes.
Bruce listened to the rain as he pondered. It was not the most auspicious way to start his crimefighting career in America but he would accept it. The experience would prove invaluable, at any rate.
He thought uneasily of Selina. If only there was some way to get rid of her! She was far too clever for his own good, and combined with what she knew…
He shifted in his chair. It was a pity that she was so good at her job. He could not pressure Jean-Paul to get rid of her without arousing suspicion.
He picked up his book again, stymied by his dilemma but determined to figure something out.
Donna read in the parlor of her boardinghouse, relaxed and comfortable on the couch. She far preferred it to the horsehair sofa, which was hard and uncomfortable. How people sat on those things was beyond her.
She turned the page. This latest Jean Loring mystery was excellent. Her writing was less flowery than most popular authors. She seemed to understand that florid prose did not equal good description.
The fire crackled in the hearth, keeping the cold at bay. She had gone out for a walk earlier that morning, umbrella in hand, and it was a raw cold. When rain had hit her skin, it had stung.
As she turned another page, she thought of going to the kitchen for a snack when the doorknocker rapped against the front door. Mrs. Corrigan, a white-haired lady of considerable girth bustled out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.
“Here, now, if you’re a visitor, mind drippin’ over my clean floor! If a tradesman, back door for ya!” she nattered as she opened the door, holding onto her lace cap as the wind gusted in, bring the rain. “Ach! Come in, Miss!”
Donna snickered as she continued to read. She pitied anyone out in this weather for more than a few minutes. She glanced up and was astounded to see…
The prima ballerina handed her cloak to Mrs. Corrigan, who fussed as she said, “Go on into the parlor.” Her tone clearly indicated that she thought that Selina was crazy for visiting on a day like this one.
Donna stood. “Come on in!”
Selina plunked her umbrella in the stand reserved for that purpose. She swept into the parlor with regal grace, wearing a smoky midnight-blue dress with gray feathers lining the top of her bodice. A large sapphire choker adorned her white throat.
“What brings you out on a day like this?”
“Boredom. I couldn’t stand looking at the walls of my suite one more minute.”
Donna smiled while she thought the elegance of Selina’s suite would alleviate her boredom. She knew that the diva had rooms at the Gotham Arms Hotel, the fanciest establishment in town.
“I wanted to see your place. You spoke so highly of it.”
“Well, it’s not that fancy but here it is.” Donna swept out her hand while they sat on the couch.
Selina took in the tasselled furniture, the elaborate antimacassers, the curio cabinet jammed with geegaws, and the heavy brocade drapes. The wallpaper was patterned with gold-flocked fleurs de lis and pictures of stiff people in sepia tones.
“Typically Victorian,” Donna said with a rueful smile.
“Many houses still retain the old décor. It’s actually quite charming, in a way.”
“Even the stuffed bird?”
Selina laughed as she looked at the stuffed bluebird in the curio cabinet. “Poor birdie.”
Donna pointed toward the foyer. “I was just going to get a snack. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes, very much.”
“Be right back.”
Donna crossed the foyer to the kitchen, where Mrs. Corrigan was busy baking an apple pie. “Your guest gone already?” asked the landlady.
“No, she’s going to have tea with me.”
Mrs. Corrigan lifted an eyebrow. “Isn’t she that fancy ballerina you work with?”
“That’s right.” Donna brought out the teapot and measured out the tea.
“She seems rather grand to be sittin’ in me poor little parlor.”
“Oh, she’s just a dancer like the rest of us.” Donna put the kettle on.
“Maybe so, but she’s still a bit hoity-toity for this place.”
Donna bustled around to get the gingerbread cookies that the landlady had baked yesterday for her tenants. “She’s all right, considering she’s a star.”
The landlady’s sniff amused Donna. She waited for the kettle’s whistle and placed the teapot on a tray with yellow-rose-sprigged teacups, saucers, and plates. She put the plate of cookies on last and picked up the tray.
“You set a fine tea table, Mrs. Corrigan.”
“Off with ye, ye blarney tongue!” The Irishwoman flapped a dishtowel at Donna, who laughed.
“Here we go,” she said as she entered the parlor.
Selina was standing in front of the curio cabinet. “I appreciate all the fuss.”
“Hey, it’s the least I can do for the lady who freed me from the torturous corset.”
Selina laughed. She followed Donna to the small table in the corner as Donna arranged the tea set. Both women settled into chairs and drank the delicious hot tea.
“Ah, Darjeeling.” Selina sipped delicately.
“The very best. We have Ceylon tea, also.”
“Mmm, tea is so civilized, don’t you think?”
“I do.” Donna offered the plate of iced gingerbread cookies. “Try one.”
Selina took one and bit into it. “Mmm, very good.” She cocked her head. “Yours?”
“No, Mrs. Corrigan’s. She’s quite the baker. Great cook, too.”
“You know, this isn’t a bad little place.”
Donna smiled. “It’ll do.” The comment was unconsciously condescending, but she doubted that Selina meant anything about it. She sounded sincere, in fact.
They chatted about the weather, Selina declaring, “Gloomy Gotham seems to be a fitting appellation with all this rain!”
“We’ve had some great weather, too.”
“Yes, the East Coast gives all sorts of weather. When I danced with the Boston Ballet Company, we had rain, snow, freezing cold, intense heat…”
“Sounds like Gotham,” Donna grinned.
Selina’s green eyes sparkled. “Very true.”
“How did you enjoy your time in Boston?”
“Very much. It’s a fascinating city, keenly interested in the arts. The ballet was a huge draw.”
“I’ll bet you had plenty of admirers.”
“Oh, definitely.” Selina’s smile was sly. “They came from the finest families in the city, and from without. The young men from Harvard were all quality.”
Donna knew the type: privileged, arrogant and wild. They were free spenders but not one in the theater was a candidate for marriage for these sons of wealth.
Have a good time and dump ‘em.
She suddenly remembered that Bruce Wayne was a graduate of Harvard and also remembered Roy’s concerns.
If Dick is sleeping with our benefactor, will Wayne dump him when he’s done with him?
“Of course, some of them are pretenders.”
“Oh, yes.” Donna had no idea what Selina was talking about. She hoped she could catch up.
“No young man wants such a…predilection…known.”
“I know that some of those dandies preferred their fellows’ company.”
“Ah, yes.” Donna stirred her tea.
“Of course, in our profession, inverts are common, but the general public isn’t as forgiving.”
“Any of those scions would be ruined if their true proclivities were known.”
That was true. Dick would endure contempt and backlash but he would also continue as a great dancer. Bruce Wayne would be ruined.
Let’s hope they’re discreet.
Dick living with Bruce would not arouse suspicion. If he was female, tongues would wag, but people of the same sex living together drew no comment. Inversion was so out of most people’s minds that they could barely conceive of it. ‘Boston marriages’ were clever covers as people could not wrap their minds around the thought of two women of the same sex enjoying a commitment as their opposite-sex brethren did, for instance.
“Well, let’s hope that gentlemen and ladies keep such knowledge to themselves.” Donna shook her head.
“Yes.” Selina delicately sipped her tea.
Donna nearly sighed. This was a strange conversation.
Or maybe just two women chatting over tea.
They spoke about events in the ballet world and Donna found herself relaxing. Selina could be quite the charmer when she wanted to be.
Dick slipped silently down the stairs and into the library. He didn’t want to talk to anyone right now. The mood was just too perfect to break it up with talk. He watched the rain pour down outside the windows, strong gusts of wind bending the trees in a macabre dance.
Appropriate, I suppose, since it’s close to Halloween.
He was so excited about his first Halloween in America. Alfred had promised pumpkin pies in addition to the pumpkin muffins and breads he had already baked. Dick was addicted to the taste of pumpkin, to Bruce’s amusement.
He rested his shoulder against the ancient grandfather clock. The movement caused the weights to make a jangling noise. He moved away and swore as he stumbled, knocking it again when the back popped away from the wall.
There was an opening in the wall. Dick could smell mustiness as he noticed a stone step. Curiosity burning, he entered the tunnel, touching the cold stone walls. There was condensation on the stones. Despite the darkness he was sure-footed as he descended, but suddenly he stepped on a loose pebble. There was nothing to grab onto as he pitched forward headfirst into the abyss.