2019-05-27 - Time Changes All


In the aftermath of the Bloody Knight, Bruce reflects on the past and future.

Log Info:

Storyteller: {$storyteller}
Date: 2019-05-27
Location: Wayne Manor

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As the news played the next morning of Batman's exoneration, there was still the debate on-going. Who was Batman? Why wouldn't he show the world who he was. Surely he was an age now where he would be an example to younger heroes - didn't he have several of his own?

The vigilante had been a staple of New York and Staten Island since before 9/11. He had refused to register, and in fact, was one of the first members to leave the Avengers when it was brought up that they should register. The Fantastic Four had - Captain America had. So why couldn't Batman?

It would be entirely selfish if Bruce had admitted to himself that the reason that he kept his secret is because he never wanted it to be known that a billionaire playboy needed the anonymity to act as he wanted. At least, when he first started that was his reasoning. He was going to do what the police could not. He was going to stop crime before it could happen.

And at first, it had gone that way. Besides the usual criminals and mob connections, new threats had emerged. Batman had risen up to face them all. Enough that Ravencroft had more Staten Island criminals in it than any other borough of New York City.

Then he met his match. In more ways than one. Catwoman had taunted him - and even bested him on their first meeting. It was not going to be their last. As they fought and thwarted each other and got under each other's skin the only way the other knew how - something else happened. Bruce had found himself intrigued. And then infatuation. Even when he found out that Catwoman was Selina Kyle - it only increased his thoughts of her. She was much like him - except on the other side of the coin. She could be independently wealthy. She had found a certain thrill in what she did, but she never wanted to harm anyone. It was hard to say who fell for who first - but there was no denying that at some point, infatuation grew into love.

And then Selina broke the news to him. Bruce wouldn't have to adopt another ward - she was carrying his child. He had insisted that Selina should come stay with him at the Manor. He had proposed to her, of course, after all, the scandal of Bruce Wayne fathering a child out of wedlock would be a bigger scandal than all of the rumors of his wild parties and one-night stands. Something that Selina had quickly seen through - all the bluster for the bravery, someone had once said.

When Helena Martha Wayne was born, Bruce nearly decided to hang up the cowl, and seal up the Batcave. He could have a normal life. He and Selina, and Helena and Dick. And for a couple of months, he tried it. But the mission never stopped. It haunted and dogged him. And he had been gently urged to take up the cowl and cape once again.

Then came registration. The world wanted to know who was behind the mask. Batman never went on record - he never talked to the press, no matter how hard they had tried. But in private, to others? Batman was never going to show his face. What they see was what they got. A few figured it out. A precious handful of others were entrusted - Helena needed better role models. Natasha, Steve - they were made honorary members of the family, and by extension, Bucky. Barbara, when she made herself known as Batgirl - Bruce brought her into the circle of trust as well. And then Jason.

Jason was Bruce's attempt to expand the family, to keep up the legacy. Perhaps, selfishly, if there was a Robin, Helena would never want to take up the mantle. He would not have his daughter in harm's way, and he would still have a Robin. But then there was the trip to Bosnia. They had tracked a madman there - a madman that was trying to get diplomatic abilities that would allow him to do whatever he wanted under the guise of immunity. They couldn't let that happen. Bruce never imagined that he would leverage the truth of Jason's mother against his young ward - or what would happen next. Jason's death rocked Bruce's world. He became angry, more violent - Batman and Bruce Wayne were never further apart than they were in the days following Jason's funeral.

The Brooklyn Blitz was Bruce's wake up call. He did all he could to help - he had purposefully kept Selina out of the fight, knowing how dangerous it would be. When the Batwing was destroyed, Bruce's back was injured in the process. He plummeted to Earth, guiding the Wing into a crash in the East River - and the world had thought Batman had perished. It was a mere coincidence that five weeks later, Bruce Wayne would be injured in a car crash in Morraco where he was driving entirely too fast around a curve and flipped a half-a-million Euro automobile.

The next five years were nearly the end of Batman. Though his legacy lived on. Through Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, and Catwoman. He had hoped that his 'death' and that the Brooklyn Blitz would end the crime - that finally the world would unite against a bigger threat. And for a while, it did. Bruce was happy to sign checks and throw money at politicians that promised to end the debacle that was Registration. For a few years, all was seemingly going to work out. And then life returned to what it was. Those that would prey upon the helpless and forgotten were again out in force. Bruce's recovery was pushed up. He pushed past the pain and worked his way through the surgeries that had healed his back. The force of nature known as Helena Wayne pushed him to start training her, showing her the way of the others. Even as he had seen another Robin come in - Stephanie, and then Tim.

And everything would have stayed the same when Bruce retook to the streets. When the cowl came on again. When Batman returned. Then came the news of Steve's engagement to Bucky. He was surprised. Not that Steve was engaged. Not that it was to another man. But that Steve Rogers, the one person besides himself that always put the mission before himself was willing to do this. To take this step. It caused Bruce a pause. And it made him reconsider a lot of things. Helena had taken to the streets as Blackbird. She was finding relationships of her own.

Even Peter Parker had shown up to introduce someone to Selina - an emboldened step for a young possible beau. The world was changing - and it was showing Bruce that he didn't have to set aside his whole life to be the night that had so consumed him since his youth.

He stood in the study, looking up at the painting on the wall. Himself, as a child of five, standing in front of Martha as Thomas sits in the chair that he stands next to now, he let out a breath. "Mom. Dad. I'm not stopping the mission. I probably never will. But there comes a time where the objectives change. I've watched children grow up and learn in this home. Change, develop - become their own men and women. You'd be proud of them. But in all that; I have not allowed myself to grow or change. Even when the love of my life has done the same." he admits.

How much had Selina changed. From the fiercely independent young woman that he chased across rooftops, to a worried and concerned mother, to a mature young woman that was willing to do anything to make sure her child was taken care of - to a woman that was solid and reliable, and Bruce knew she would be there. But when the rumor came out that he had killed others. That he had crossed a line. Selina was the first one to his side. The first to remind him. The first to be ready to pick things up should he falter. She had done the same - haltingly, during the time he was healing. Now, she did it without question - without restraint.

Looking down into his hands, he opened the small box. Inside was a magnificent green emerald. It had been called the 'Cat's Eye' when it was on display the first time it came to Staten Island - and Selina had wanted to steal it. Bruce had thwarted her that night, the Cat's Eye had remained. Bruce had made some calls, and tracked down it's current owner. The amount that was asked was more than what it was worth - but Bruce negotiated it to something more reasonable.

Now it was set in a ring. It was brilliant, and beautiful. "It will bring out her eyes." It's something that she had said - and Bruce agreed. She did have the most beautiful green eyes. The diamonds set around it were just a bonus. He had made a decision. He was going to ask a question he hadn't asked her in years. And hopefully, this time.. she would say yes.

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