|Luke knows Bruce has (onerule) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-08-23 22:54:00
|Entry tags:||batman, door: dc comics, john blake|
Who: Bruce/the Bat & John Blake
What: Introductions and some bonding.
Where: The Batcave.
When: Sometime before the villain madness.
Bruce had been away from Gotham for far too long, or so it seemed. The recent chaos with the memories and Brielle's husband had kept him occupied on the wrong side of the door, which meant that his city was neglected in the process-- but no more. He understood that Luke had his life, but he had a responsibility far greater than himself, and Batman had not yet become unnecessary. Gotham still needed him. There were countless threats, from the Joker to Crane to the Court of Owls and the Talons, and he wad still struggling to trust his supposed allies. The tension between himself and Damian was only worsened by the fact that they hadn't spoken since he'd returned. He was still to accustomed to working alone, the Bat, and it was a hard habit to break.
The missing members of the Court were still under his watch, and after ensuring that they remained as secure as he'd left them, he patrolled his usual routes and tracked leads on some of Arkham's must infamous, though his focus was admittedly on the Joker. He concerned him far more than the Riddler, or even Crane; the threat level simply wasn't the same. Dawn was a short ways off by the time he made it back to the Batcave, which was as empty as it always was. Alfred rarely came down on his own, and since Damian had left, there was no one else to use it; the fact that he'd intentionally made it more difficult to access by those who weren't familiar with this version didn't help. He and Stephanie were far from close, after all, and Jason never had reason to come here. The only difference was the half-finished flying machine under a tarp on a far platform; Bruce simply hadn't had the motivation to finish the Bat on his own.
He pulled of his cowl and began to remove his suit, piece by piece, as the technology within the cave responded to his presence by activating and turning on. Multiple screens displayed digital blueprints of Gotham, and he paused to study the layout of Gotham's sewers, which he'd admittedly been monitoring more closely since seeing the latest film. If Bane did arrive in his city, he wanted to know about it as soon as possible.
It only took a matter of days from when Micah had been released from the psych ward for Blake to convince him to take a trip through the door. It came on the heels of a promise of a quiet trip, reassurance that this would be as simple as anything else and that Micah had no reason to concern himself with the goings on. So the key was inserted and Micah stepped through the door, the can disappearing and the former Gotham City detective emerging on the other side. It wasn’t the city that the door opened to for him, but the tree-filled thick that guarded the entrance to the cave that Batman - no, Bruce Wayne - had left him coordinates to. It seemed only fitting for it to lead there, and even though he hadn’t made more than a couple of visits through the waterfall that guarded the entrance, Blake already felt familiar with the area. Each time it became a bit easier, and this time was no different as he emerged, dripping wet, on the other side of the waterfall.
At first, he was occupied with the state of his clothes, the hair that dripped in his face, and as he pushed a hand back through the dripping strands, he mused on some of the things he needed to bring to keep in here. Towels, for one. Changes of clothing. And it was as he wiped some of the water from his eyes that Blake got the feeling that he was not alone in the cave. Instantly on guard, he took a few quick steps to the right, finding the shadows and wishing he hadn’t had to turn in his side arm when he resigned from the force. Hopefully, whoever was in here with him meant no harm. Just someone else that Bruce had told about the place, perhaps.
“Who’s there?” Blake finally called out from the shadows, his voice strong and carrying no hint of the wariness that he was feeling.
Very few things could manage the difficult task of catching Bruce off guard, but somehow, this had become one of them. Silent alarms alerted him to a foreign presence before the stranger spoke, and he only allowed himself one brief second of genuine surprise before reacting. One swift press of a button and everything shut off, silenced, as the already gloomy lights in the cave dimmed further to give him cover. He was half in, half out of his kevlar, and he reached for his cowl and pulled it on silently as he unwittingly mirrored the intruder's movements and slipped into the shadows, far more comfortable in the dark than in the light.
"I should be the one asking that question," he said, speaking with Batman's distinctive guttural growl rather than Bruce Wayne's voice. "Who are you, and why are you here?" How was also a viable question, but that could wait, and Bruce scanned the cave as he sought to pinpoint the intruder's location.
Blake could feel the tension in him rise as the lights were killed, another step taken back in an attempt to find some solid surface to press against, one less side of himself to guard with this unknown factor here with him. When the voice broke through the darkness, however, Blake could only stare in its direction in surprise. The man, the hero of Gotham, was supposed to be dead, everyone had said as such. “John Blake,” he finally called out, his voice firm and sure through the darkness, holding none of the anxiety that he was feeling. He could push that aside, put it away, deal with it later. For now, something else was more important. “And I’m here because I was given the coordinates to this location after Batman was killed.”
While Bruce hadn’t recognized the man’s voice, he did recognize his name. In a way, he supposed, he should have been expecting this, or at the very least prepared for it. Yet all his concern had gone towards Bane, and he had given little thought to John Blake appearing in Gotham. His presence was far preferable to that of the man who’d broken his back, of course, though he supposed this complicated matters. Gotham already had a Batman; it did not need another. “John Blake,” he repeated, stepping--albeit warily--out of the shadows and allowing some, just a few, of the lights to flicker back to life. “Still not preferential to Robin, it seems.” Even in a cowl and half-armor, the Bat was still very much recognizable as the Bat. He was younger than the one Blake had known, having come from before his downward spiral into retirement and seclusion. “I’m very much alive, as you can see,” he added. “I believe you’re eight years too early.” He hadn’t truly died, of course, but he didn’t mention that.
When the shadows started to give way to a visible form, Blake studied it for a long while, recognizing the figure for who he was, even if he was markedly different from his recent memory. As the other revealed himself, Blake did so as well, stepping out of the cloak of shadows to come forward, still dripping wet from his journey through the waterfall that masked the entrance to the cave. “You are the second person in a week to say that to me,” he remarked, a wry grin pulling at his lips. “Is there some conspiracy to get me to go by that name that I’m not aware of?” Drawing quiet, Blake closed the distance between them to only a handful of yards instead of dozens, one hand reaching up to give the back of his head a scratch as he tried to make heads and tails out of what was going on. “Eight years too early?” Blake echoed. “Perhaps you’re just behind schedule. Though-” There was a pause, and something in his expression that resembled relief. “It’s good to see you, sir. That you’re alright.”
While he did not lower his guard completely, the Bat was pleased that the other man had reciprocated by stepping forward as well. It showed that Blake didn't seek to hide anything. "No conspiracy," he said, studying the young man from behind the cowl, his gaze almost appraising, as this was the first time he'd seen him beyond a movie screen. There was something like relief, however, in the realization that he and Alfred were no longer the only ones from their world. Someone else now knew the Gotham he had. "It's a good name, though you'll find that it means something a little different here." He wondered how he was supposed to explain the concept of Robins, though he supposed focusing on one issue at a time would be the logical way to approach things. "If only it were as simple as being behind schedule," he said, with a hint of wryness in his tone. "Things are very different here, Mr. Blake." The prospect of being able to move on from Batman and leave his city in the hands of another still seemed impossible, and he simply couldn't imagine himself reaching that point. Being called 'sir' while in the suit was new, and he found it rather amusing. "Thank you. I intend to stay that way for the foreseeable future."
“A little different?” Blake echoed, staying where he was and making no further attempt to close the distance between them. “Robin is just a name. Why would it have any different meaning here than anywhere else?” But then the other man went on about the differences in how things were, Blake couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow in curiosity. “Different how?” he asked, needing clarification. “The basics seem the same, as this place was in the same place as I was given coordinates for,” he said a moment later, pushing a hand back through his damp hair. “And I don’t mean to impose, but you don’t have a towel or something, do you? That waterfall of yours?” Blake hooked a thumb in its direction. “Bit more of a shower than I was prepared for. And I’m sure we’d hate to document this meeting with a case of pneumonia, right?”
To see what had been his own initial confusion mirrored in Blake was somewhat of a relief, as he had grown tired of everyone knowing each other save for him. In this Gotham, the Bat was the outsider, while the others came from largely similar timelines, and he waited patiently as the other man worked through his questions. He chose the easiest one first, which was a request for a towel, and while his expression remained deadpan there was a flash of something like amusement in his eyes. “You’ll get used to it,” he said, “but until then, yes, I have towels.” He turned, pulling off the cowl as he did so--as there was no reason to wear it, really--and the lights flickered back to life as he moved. “The basics are the same, yes, but there are other versions of Gotham, primarily from the comic books. Our source is the recent trilogy of films. There are many people here who come from a place where there was a different Batman, and different villains. You and Alfred are the only ones I know. The others I’ve learned about through secondhand knowledge.” He paused a moment to let that sink in, before tossing the man a towel with reflexes that clearly indicated he hadn’t yet passed his prime. Now, beneath the lights and without the cowl, it was even more evident that this Bruce Wayne was not the one from eight years in the future.
“Used to being a drowned rat every time I visit?” Blake sounded dubious as he caught the towel that was tossed his way, rubbing it over his hair as he took another step towards the man he had known, in a way, for most of his life. The news of their ‘source’ was something that would take some time to sink in and digest, but for the moment, he appeared unaffected by this bit of information. The handful of feet that separated them now, and the lights that shone overhead gave him his first good look of the man since stepping through the door. This Bruce was clearly someone he knew, but not the one he had seen recently. Younger, in his prime, closer to Blake’s age than the other man had been. It was strange to see him in this light, nostalgia kicking in as he draped the towel over his shoulders. “Tell me about what you meant when you said about Robin being more than a name.”
Bruce shook his head, far more at ease with the other man than he had initially been. There was still a certain level of apprehension, of course, and being from his world was not enough to earn Blake his implicit trust, but from what he’d seen he was a good man, and Gordon trusted him. With him, Gordon’s opinion--his Gordon, at least--went a long way. “You’re exaggerating.” The only hint of the man he would become was a slight, nearly imperceptible limp in his right leg, but it had not progressed to the point of needing a cane just yet. He still had time for that. He did wonder what Blake would do now, since Gotham was not in need of a new Batman, but he supposed the man could carve out his own space in the city, perhaps come up with a name of his own. “In the comic books, Robin was the name of my sidekick,” he said, deadpan. “I’m not sure where it originated from, but there was more than one. The current one, my son, Damian, no longer wishes to carry the name, so I suppose at present there is no Robin in Gotham.” A brief flicker of a smile crossed his features. “Save for you.”
“But not by much,” Blake countered to Bruce’s declaration that he was exaggerating. “I’d ask if you had any inclination for a drier entrance, but somehow, I think I already know the answer to that.” As Bruce explained the concept of Robin to him, Blake settled on a nearby chair, rubbing the towel over his head again and mostly drying his dark hair with that final swipe. “Your sidekick.” There was no hiding the smirk that came to his lips with that, the mere thought that Batman, of all people, would need a sidekick amusing. “So no Robin other than me,” Blake mused aloud. “You realise I had every intention on taking up where you left off until these timelines got confused, right? Not that I would know where to start, but I’d do my best.” He paused, leaning back in the chair as he gave Bruce a long look. “I want to help you. But this is your show, sir. If you don’t need help, say the word, and I’ll find some other way to help Gotham. But if you need me, well...” His shoulders shrugged up as he trailed off, leaving it unsaid.
Young Mr. Blake still had much to learn, it seemed, and not just about the Batcave and its entrances. Yet, if the movie was any indication, he would be more than capable of holding his own against Gotham’s other inhabitants. “If a little water bothers you, Mr. Blake, you have quite a bit of work ahead of you,” he said mildly, making a mental note to inform Alfred of the newcomer’s arrival. Based on how welcoming he was to those from other worlds, surely a familiar--or somewhat familiar--face would be a welcome change. He leaned against one of the consoles, almost mollified by Blake’s reaction to the prospect of a sidekick. In his Gotham, a child dressed up in green and red calling themselves ‘Robin’ would never stand a chance against the worst of the city’s criminals, and no one would take Batman seriously if he worked with such a character. “A sidekick,” he echoed with a sigh. “Can you imagine it? I would be the laughingstock of Gotham with a sidekick.” There was a hint of something like amusement in his voice, but he sobered when the other man mentioned picking up where he’d left off. He was, of course, relieved that there would not be some sort of power struggle; Batman was his, regardless of the comic books. He had created the symbol, the legend, and no one would take it upon themselves without his permission. It was bad enough that Stephanie Brown ran around calling herself Batgirl. “Yes, I know,” he said gravely. “Gotham doesn’t need another Batman, but it needs good people. People like yourself. I won’t refuse your help if you’re willing.” It was a significant step for him; normally, Bruce would have refused, content to work alone. But things were different here, and he was beginning to learn that, despite being a solitary creature, no one here was going to leave him be no matter how much he insisted. Fighting it was a waste of time and effort.
The mental image of the infamous Batman being followed around by a sidekick made Blake shake his head, his lips curved in a smile. “People would either love you or laugh at you for it,” he commented, the smile fading slightly into something more serious as Bruce went on. It was something of a comfort to know that their worlds were similar, of the same making, giving them some common ground to stand on. He wouldn’t deign to do anything without permission because he had the utmost respect for the man known as Batman. Similar fabric, he believed, something he wouldn’t necessarily give voice to a second time. He had spoke his mind once to the man, and that was enough.
“Of course I’m willing,” Blake said, pushing up to his feet, leaving the towel hanging over the back of the chair he had occupied. “When I joined the police department, I vowed to protect the city. I may no longer be part of that organization, but that doesn’t mean I intend to forsake that vow.” There was nothing other than sincerity in his voice, a firmness in his belief that was absolutely unwavering, steady as a rock.
“Them loving me for whatever reason would be a change from the usual,” he remarked dryly. While things were different in this Gotham, and Batman was not hunted as a murderer as he’d been in his own world, opinions were mixed on the caped crusader. He was certainly no Superman, loved by almost everyone. With Damian, Stephanie, Jason, and even Tim determined to follow in his footsteps, so to speak, with or without his permission, Bruce found himself pleased by the fact that Blake asked him first before doing anything impulsive. Yes, Gotham belonged to its citizens, but until they were prepared to take control of it themselves, it was Batman’s duty to safeguard it. There was something of himself he saw in the young man, more so than any of the others, but he did not see the need to remark upon it; they both knew, and words were unnecessary.
He nodded, seemingly satisfied, and regarded the man before him almost thoughtfully. “If you’re prepared to work outside of the police force, then you should begin to think about making a name for yourself. The others have.” If Blake intended on wearing a mask, and following in the footsteps of Gotham’s heroes, he would need to distinguish himself; otherwise, they would never take him seriously.
“But does being loved for what you do for Gotham honestly matter?” Blake asked openly. People didn’t always love the things that were needed, that kept the world running, but the people who sacrificed so much to protect, to help, they didn’t do it necessarily out of being adored. They did it because they wanted to, because someone had to step up and do what had to be done. It was a lonely life, Blake could tell, but it was a choice that one made and could blame no one else on.
The mention of taking on a name for himself had Blake pausing, glancing towards Bruce for a long while before he looked down towards the ground. “Robin is too close to who I am, even if only a handful of people know that’s my name.” Another pause, his brows furrowing together as he thought. He wasn’t an outlandish person by his very nature, so nothing sharp and witty was coming to him. But the mention of Robin had him thinking. “Nightbird?” he asked, and then he shook his head, grabbing the towel he had abandoned on the back of the chair and shaking it out. “That hardly sounds fearsome.”
For Bruce, there was no hesitation. Being loved had never been a factor in what he did, not once, and if it had, he would not gave taken the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes. "No," he said simply. "It doesn't." Adoration was never his intention. He existed to be what Gotham needed, not a hero who was praised and lauded in the streets. Even gratitude was unnecessary. Batman needed to be above all of that, and he was, regardless of the cost for living such a life.
No, Robin wouldn't do, not here. Blake needed something of his own, not a name with history and baggage attached. He nodded when the other man dismissed it as an option, wordless agreement, and watched as he struggled to come up with something else. Batman had come rather easily to him, but there was meaning behind the name, significance, born of a childhood fear and a desire to twist it around into something he could use. "Nightbird," he repeated thoughtfully. "Fearsome is not a requirement. A name is only what you make of it, and it does fit the theme. Even better, no one has had it before you."
Bruce’s agreement at not using Robin didn’t escape Blake, catching the nod out of the corner of his eye as he gave the towel another shake, folding it together, corner to corner, before laying it back down on the back of the chair, something to keep his hands busy, anything to not appear idle. He didn’t look up again until he heard Bruce repeat the name he had thrown out, looking over towards the other man for a long moment, something serious in those brown eyes, something else that was looking for approval. “I wouldn’t want to wear someone else’s name,” Blake said as he gave a nod, turning to face Bruce, hands clasped behind his back, at ease with his defenses down. “Maybe it’ll work. I’ll think on it. Make sure it fits.” He paused, giving a glance towards where the pieces of Batman’s outfit sat. “Mind me asking what catalog you order those things out of? I’ve a closet full of policeman blues and cheap suits. Unless you think that might work.” He felt like a student in need of a mentor, and it was a role that Blake felt no shame in. The only way someone learned was by talking with someone who knew, and Bruce? He knew.
While Blake was not the first in this new Gotham to seek his approval, he was certainly the first to do so without doing something stupidly reckless and nearly getting themselves killed in the process. The young man didn't strike him as the sort to act out intentionally, however, and he instead possessed a sort of maturity that Bruce could admire and even respect. "Of course. Take as much time as you need. There's no rush," he remarked mildly. Gotham's criminals would still be there, obviously. He followed Blake's gaze to the Batsuit with a twinge of amusement, and he shook his head at the mention of a catalog-- a joke, of course. Bruce had a sense of humor, it just wasn't a very good one. "They're one of a kind. Not the sort catalogs would carry. Cheap suits and policeman blues may work for visual effect, but you'll need something with more protection. I'll take care of it." He did wonder what the other man would have done in his absence, without his assistance, though part of him felt certain that Blake was resourceful enough, and determined enough, to figure something out.
It felt like the beginning of something, that thrill one got when first opening a long-anticipated book. Blake couldn’t help the wry grin that pulled and tugged at his lips as he glanced down towards the ground for a brief moment, looking up seconds later with a short nod of his head. “Thanks,” Blake said after a moment, and with a couple of long strides, he approached the other man, one hand stuck out towards him, his gaze earnest. “For not kicking me out and for giving me a chance. I appreciate the opportunity to work with someone like you, and to help protect the city. It means a lot to me, sir, more than I could likely put into words.”
Bruce regarded the young man’s outstretched hand for a moment, somewhat caught off guard by his earnest expression and the sincerity in his voice. He’d once told Alfred that he wanted to inspire people, and yet viewing the impact his influence had firsthand was something else entirely. “You don’t have to thank me,” he said, shaking Blake’s hand with a firm, steady grip. “Gotham needs more people like you, Mr. Blake. You’ll have your chance and more.” In the face of all the other obstacles he faced, including those from alternate worlds, he was, at least, pleased that he had found an ally in John Blake... and perhaps a kindred spirit as well.