Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce/Dick, Patrick Regan, Donna Troy, Roy Harper, Stephanie Brown, Barbara Gordon
Genres: AU, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
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: Boys’ and girls’ nights out are enjoyed.
Date Of Completion: April 7, 2015
Date Of Posting: December 29, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1803
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.
OF PUBS ‘N’ BISTROS</center>
Sir Malcolm Bridges
English Literary Critic
The rain cleared and swept out to sea. Brilliant days followed, and it was autumn’s last burst of glory for 1907. The last of the harvest poured forth its bounty in the form of shiny, red apples, yellow, orange and green gourds, and fat, orange pumpkins.
Halloween approached, and everyone in Wayne Manor prepared for it. Alfred baked apple and pumpkin pies, making fresh ones as soon as the older ones were consumed. Dick rhapsodized about the flavor of pumpkin and conducted extra work-outs hard after eating pie every day.
Bruce and Dick decided on their costumes, and with Alfred’s help, came up with top-notch outfits, as Bruce said in satisfaction. Dick agreed, pleased with his costume.
“I can hardly wait for All Hallows’ Eve.”
“Soon, darling, soon,” Bruce said fondly.
Dick did a quick twirl across the parlor rug. “Can’t wait.” He grinned saucily.
Bruce rolled his eyes while Dick laughed. “I have to go into town. Would you like to accompany me?”
Dick nodded. “Let me get my work-out clothes. We have rehearsal this morning.”
Regan drove them into town, the horses’ hooves clip-clopping on the road. Once in town they made plans to leave for lunch and parted ways as Bruce went to the Wayne foundation Building and Dick to the Gotham Opera House.
“Whew, Jean-Paul sure gave us a work-out, huh?” Dick wiped his face with a towel.
“That’s for sure.” Donna wiped her neck. “What bee is in his bonnet?”
Dick grinned. “Who knows? If he’s not complaining about something, he’s not happy.”
She laughed. “Very true.”
“How’s your ankle?”
“Just about as good as new.” She flexed it.
“Good.” He stretched, arching his back. “Once we start the second half of the season, you’ll get more prominent roles because of better stamina.”
Donna sighed. “I hope so.”
Dick squeezed her shoulder. “I know so.”
She smiled. Roy came over and clapped Dick on the shoulder. “You ready for tonight?”
Donna raised an eyebrow. “What’s on for tonight?”
“Boys’ night out,” Roy said loftily.
Dick grinned. “You won’t miss anything. Just dark bars with lots of cigar smoke and chest-puffing.”
“You’re right, I won’t miss anything.”
Dick and Roy grinned.
“I don’t smoke.”
Roy regarded Dick skeptically. “You drink, dontcha?”
“You know I do.”
“Then you’ll fit right in.”
Roy approved of Dick’s outfit of tweed jacket and pants. He had warned his friend not to wear his usual flamboyant clothing.
“We want to blend in, and trust me, purple pants don’t cut it.”
Dick had made a face but he followed Roy’s advice, and now both walked down a dark side street in conventional tweed and corduroy, wearing bowler hats and brown kid gloves. Roy twirled a cane and Dick approved, using his own decorative cane to knock the pavement as he strolled.
“Ah, here’s where we start,” Roy said in satisfaction.
A very weathered sign swung in the wind, creaking as the faded words O’Malley’s Pub showed beneath a painted green shamrock. As Roy pulled the door open, a burst of raucous laughter tumbled out.
“Always something going on in an Irish pub,” Roy said with a wink.
Dick followed him into a dark interior. Smoke wreathed the denizens’ heads as mugs of ale were raised. A vigorous dart game was going on in the corner, and several men in a booth were lustily singing a bawdy song.
The walls were decorated with shamrocks and pictures of Ireland. One area featured framed political cartoons and an old piano was shoved up against one wall. Peanut shells littered the floor and crunched beneath their shoes as Roy led Dick to a corner booth as he signaled the grizzled bartender for two beers.
Dick slid into the booth as Roy did the same from the other end. It was a circular booth and Dick smiled as he soaked up the atmosphere. One of the bawdy singers staggered over to the piano and sat down, running his fingers over the keys.
“This place is certainly as advertised,” Dick said with a twinkle.
“Yes, a place for manly men,” said Roy as he thumped his chest.
The bartender brought over the beers. Dick tasted his and was satisfied.
“I don’t think lavender would fly here.” Roy took a long sip of his beer. The piano player began a tune, joined by the impromptu band of singers.
“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Dick observed the men here. They might be willing to spend money on a ticket to the ballet (though most would not be able to afford it) to impress a woman, but they would not tolerate flamboyant ballet dancers in the midst of their manly enclave.
Pretty narrow-minded attitude, but they’re not alone.
“Do you come here often?” Dick asked his companion.
“Occasionally.” Roy tipped his bowler over his eyes. “No one knows me except as the guy who shows up once in awhile.”
Dick could understand the desire for anonymity. One of the things he liked best about being Nightingale was the mask. He enjoyed the freedom it gave him like an actor upon the stage.
“So, how’s life at the Manor? Breakfast in bed every morning and pheasant-under-glass every night?”
Dick laughed. “No, we all have to come down to breakfast. And the pheasants only once a week, tops.”
Roy laughed, too. “I bet you have plans for Halloween.”
Dick nodded. “We’ve got invitations to the Ellery Townsend masquerade ball.”
“Wow! That’s one of the big social events of the season, I hear.”
“Should be interesting.” Dick took another sip of beer. “The costumes and settings are usually creative. The rich ones’ money can come up with grandeur, but the people are often crashing bores.”
Roy signaled for fresh beers and soda bread. “Does that include our oh-so-generous benefactor?”
“Bruce can be a bit stuffy at times.” Dick smiled his thanks as the bartender brought over the food and drinks. “He’s a lot less pompous than the rest of his set, though.”
“Good to hear.” Roy split off a hunk of bread. “Good for you, too.”
“Oh, yes.” Dick sampled the bread and nodded approvingly. “It’s much easier to be the houseguest of an interesting man than a bore.”
“I’d say so,” Roy said in amusement. “Do you think our prima ballerina will stay on with us?”
“So far I’d say yes.” Dick pulled apart his bread into bite-size chunks. “Selina hasn’t indicated to me any desire to move on.”
“She’s a talent, all right. She made a big splash in Boston, I hear.”
“I heard that, too." Dick took a sip of beer. “She would do well in Europe.”
“Well, if we lose her, it’ll be for the bright lights of New York.”
“You’re probably right.” Dick propped his chin on his hand. “She’s certainly as talented as you say.”
Roy leaned back. “She’s an interesting woman.”
“I agree with you about that.”
They both sighed, appreciative of feminine beauty, and a raucous burst of laughter accompanied the piano.
“So, what are your costumes to be?” asked Roy.
Dick smiled enigmatically.
“To us, ladies.”
Stephanie and Donna clinked glasses with Barbara’s as they drank their wine in the charming little bistro that Stephanie had recommended. It was a little on the bohemian side, allowing three unescorted women inside and ordering alcohol. It was definitely not an ice cream parlor or tearoom, offering sarsaparilla and herbal tea.
Barbara was impressed. Apparently her spunky librarian associate had hidden facets. She filed away that observation for the future.
“So, what’s it like to dance?” Stephanie asked Donna. “Is it fun or a lot of work?”
“Both.” Donna took a bite of her green beans. She had chosen steak and au gratin potatoes sprinkled with red pepper flakes. “Your feet take a beating.”
“Ouch.” Stephanie scooped up some creamy mashed potatoes. “It must be worth it to you, though.”
“Oh, yes, it is. You can only survive rehearsals if you love to dance.”
“That dreamy Dick Grayson is a patron,” Stephanie sighed.
“A patron? Oh, you mean of the library.”
“Yes. ‘Customers’ isn’t quite right, as most of our services are free.” She ate an asparagus spear as she cut a piece of pork loin.
Barbara was happy with her haddock and French fries. Here in Gotham, fish was fresh off the docks. She added a touch of vinegar to her fries and coleslaw.
“Vinegar?” Donna raised an eyebrow.
Barbara smiled. “A little something I picked up in Canada. Here, try one.”
Donna accepted a fry and her eyes widened. “That is good. Are you Canadian, Miss Gordon?”
“No, I had a fellowship for the University of Toronto as part of their foreign exchange program. And you might as well call me Barbara now that we’re bistro buddies. And you ate my French fry!”
Emboldened, Donna took another fry with her fork while Stephanie giggled.
“Did you get your library degree in Toronto?” asked Donna after munching on the vinegar-laced fry with satisfaction.
“I did. Toronto’s a beautiful city. Very cosmopolitan.”
“And French-Canadian gentlemen of note?” Donna wiggled her eyebrow.
Barbara laughed. “They’re mostly in Montreal. They do have wonderful culture in Toronto, including a world-class museum and a ballet company.”
“So it’s not all moose and beavers?”
Barbara chuckled. “No. They do have handsome Canadian Mounties in red serge all over the place.”
“Do they always get their man?” Donna asked slyly.
“I expect they do.” Barbara ate a piece of haddock with a gleam in her eye.
Stephanie knew something was up. She rolled her eyes and declared, “Loose women.”
Barbara patted Stephanie's arm. "You're part of us now."
“Cheers!” Stephanie raised her wineglass and her companions clinked it again.
They chattered amiably and Stephanie left to visit the ladies’ room.
“Bruce Wayne is a definite playboy, but did you know that he and Selina Kyle enjoyed a whirlwind romance in Boston when he was an undergraduate at Harvard?”
“Who dumped whom?”
“That I don’t know. It’ll require further research. Has she mentioned knowing Wayne before?”
Donna shook her head. “Not a word.”
“Well, maybe she isn’t the kiss-and-tell type.”
“Maybe.” Donna sipped her wine. “Keep digging, especially on Selina.”
Barbara briefly wondered if her new friend was gathering information for less-than-honorable purposes. She had been following stories on the ballet company since Dick Grayson had joined, and if Donna had not injured her foot, she might have given Selina competition for the lead roles in the productions.
As Stephanie returned, Barbara filed away her thoughts. She liked Donna, but ambition was a powerful thing.
“Dick Grayson is definitely a dreamboat,” Donna was saying to Stephanie.
Definitely keep an eye on Donna Troy.