Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom: DC comicsverse. Year 34 of the Fearful Symmetry AU, page here: http://www.offpanel.net/kerithwyn/Symmetry.html.
Notations: M/M slash [Bruce/Harvey], nonexplicit. Innuendo.
Disclaimer: These characters, property of DC Comics. These words, mine.
Based on ideas generated in chat with Domenika Marzione. Thanks to Chicago for a helping hand and Smitty for beta.
Bruce watches from across the room as Harvey works the crowd.
He and Harvey established the protocol for these events a long time ago. They stick to casual conversation, no more physical contact than a brief handshake, and distinctly separate socialization patterns. As much as Bruce could be said to socialize, at any rate. His presence here is obligated; Wayne Enterprises is, of course, a major contributor to any number of charitable organizations. Lucius Fox handles the PR end, but it would have been a major faux pas for Bruce Wayne to not make a token appearance at the very minimum. Particularly in regard to this event, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Gotham's orphaned children.
Even those attendees accustomed to his most abrasive personality traits are casting sympathetic glances toward him tonight. No one here has forgotten the Wayne murders, and though most are wise enough not to mention it outright within Bruce's hearing, he knows what they're thinking. The cold, aloof Bruce Wayne, orphaned by a cruel act of fate, abandoning his usual disdain to actually show some human emotion for the poor children who share his misfortune....
True enough, as far as any of them outside of Harvey could understand the truth. But all of this is merely show. His *money* is easy, unearned. The real fight takes place on the streets every night, the never-ending battle against petty evils and casual injustices. *That* is where he has earned their deference, even if none of them know it.
But even their misplaced consideration would serve his ends. Harvey has taught him that: to take what is given, even if for misguided reasons, and use it for his own gain. So Bruce smiles wanly at the crowd and nods at all the speeches and looks pensive at the right moments, and collects the bits of news and gossip dropped in unguarded moments and ill-advised confidences.
And he watches Harvey.
Harvey knows he's watching. Harvey always knows. Harvey *revels* in the knowledge of Bruce's attention even as he greets and shmoozes and generally endears himself to the movers and shakers of Gotham. This is a performance for Bruce's benefit as much as a genuine exercise of Harvey's own public relations as Gotham's beloved DA. The public he works so endlessly and selflessly to keep safe adores Harvey, and he strives just as tirelessly to maintain that adoration. Harvey always claims that the fact Bruce is watching, understanding all of the deeper intentions behind the performance, adds to *his* enjoyment of the entire affair.
Now Harvey is talking to--Bruce's eyes narrow before he catches himself. Harvey is talking to an altogether too-handsome young man who looks barely out of his teens, nodding seriously to the man's enthusiastic gestures. Bruce shifts to get a better view, taking an automatic catalog. Black hair, blue eyes visible even from this distance, well proportioned, and...vaguely familiar. Someone's son? No, he knows all the scions of Gotham society on sight. Certainly no one he's met in person. He'd have remembered that face.
Harvey glances up, catches his eye, and waves him over. Bruce makes his way through the crowd, noticing--no doubt as Harvey intended--as Harvey drops a hand to touch the boy's back and turns him to face Bruce.
"Bruce, this is Richard Grayson. Dick, meet Bruce Wayne."
Bruce raises an eyebrow at the nickname, and both Harvey and the young man grin. "I've heard it all before," 'Dick' says cheerfully, and then more seriously, "It's an honor, Mr. Wayne."
Bruce shakes his proffered hand, noting the distinctive calluses. "I feel as if I should know you, but I'm certain we've never met."
"You *do* watch television, don't you?" Harvey puts in, the teasing in his voice directed as much at Dick as at Bruce. His hand is still on Dick's back. "This young man helped the USA win the silver at the World Championship and is going to bring home the gold next Olympics. Rings, that's your specialty, right?"
Before Dick can answer, Bruce snaps his fingers as memory clicks into place. "Gymnastics, that's right. Very impressive performance." Of course. That explains the toned body beneath the casual suit--off the rack and not really of the same caliber as the rest of the crowd's attire. But then, he supposes, Olympic athletes compete for the love of the game, not money. At least in theory.
"Thanks," Dick says to Bruce, and shifts slightly to face them both so that Harvey's hand has to fall away as he answers. "Rings, yeah. I'm not too bad on the parallel bars, either."
"What brings you to Gotham, Mr. Grayson?" Bruce asks, not giving Harvey the satisfaction of a second glance.
"Well...your foundation, honestly," Dick says with an almost-painful earnestness. "I've been involved with a lot of kids' charities, but no one's got a better record than the Wayne Foundation."
Bruce frowns at the patent untruth. "I appreciate the compliment, but that's hardly true. Factually speaking, LexCorp donates--"
Dick winces and then blushes a little under Bruce's gaze. "Okay, that was a line. But honestly, I'd love to work with you. You've...already done so much for me. You and Mr. Dent."
"Eleven years ago," Harvey puts in, quietly, before Bruce can ask. "The Flying Graysons."
*Now* he remembers everything. The famous acrobatic husband-and-wife team was murdered in full sight of a Gotham audience, and the boy left behind. Both he and Harvey had worked that case, Batman tracking down Tony Zucco and gathering all the necessary evidence, Harvey prosecuting to the full extent of the law. Zucco ended up with a life sentence in Blackgate, no chance of parole.
Afterward, Bruce had written this boy a sizeable check for his future education and forgotten about him.
Bruce can see by the look in Dick's eyes that he's remembering the night at the circus too clearly. An odd thought, that this boy might share some of the same nightmares.
For the first time in a long while, he finds himself without easy words and realizes that he's been reduced to parroting what others have said to *him.* "I. uh. That was a terrible tragedy."
Dick simply nods, his gaze catching Bruce's just for a moment with the acknowledgement of their mutual experience. Not sympathy or its hated brother pity, but straightforward recognition between survivors.
Harvey sees it too, and cuts back in smoothly. "Yes. But Dick's done admirably well for himself since then."
"I've been lucky," Dick says, shrugging slightly. "A lot of kids don't get the kind of opportunities I've had."
"Opportunities you've *earned,*" Harvey murmurs, with entirely too much familiarity.
Dick shrugs again, smiling easily. "I guess. I-- well, it's fair to say that gymnastics saved my life, really. I had the chance to keep doing what I loved. I want to make sure that other kids in similar situations don't get chewed up by the system."
"You have a specific proposal in mind, I assume?" Bruce says, coolly dismissive by reflex because of course *he* doesn't handle these things, Lucius manages such dealings for him. It wouldn't do for Bruce Wayne to be seen actually displaying an interest, particularly to an overly pretty boy in a cheap suit. Except that the tiny hurt that flares in the young man's quite extraordinarily blue eyes catches him off guard, and he can't leave it at that. "I'd...be happy to hear it."
"There!" Harvey crows with triumph. "I told you he was an easy mark."
"Shut up, Harv," Bruce growls before he can stop himself, and to his chagrin he hears a touch of the Bat in it. He hasn't made a mistake like that in a long time. Dick hears it too, and his posture turns slightly defensive. He was a carny boy; he obviously knows a predator when he hears one. But Bruce's ire isn't aimed at *him.* "Call my office and ask for Lucius Fox. He'll set up a meeting."
"That's great." The bubbling enthusiasm is back immediately, inescapably charming. "Really, Mr. Wayne, I haven't forgotten what you did for me. I just want the chance to give something back."
Bruce finds himself wondering, vaguely, just how far that gratitude extends...and then he catches the smirking expression in Harvey's eyes and knows he's been caught in precisely the way Harvey intended. As usual. It's challenge and temptation all in one oblivious package and Harvey just can't help provoking him even though he knows Bruce has no interest in this game, not on any level that counts. "Call my office," he repeats, cutting the boy's gratitude short.
"Thank you, sir," Dick says, all business, and Bruce suddenly wonders how much of that charm is an act. Olympic fame is fleeting and the canniest competitors parlay their celebrity into more lucrative ends *before* the thrill of victory fades. It doesn't matter; if Richard Grayson wants to use the foundation toward some specific end, the foundation can use him in return. That's how the world works.
"All right," Harvey declares, "if that's settled, there are some other people I think you should meet." His hand returns to Dick's back and Harvey begins to guide him away with no more than a nod in Bruce's direction. "This way, Dick."
Dick glances back once as they go, enough wry and confidential understanding in his expression to suggest that yes, he is aware of Harvey's too-solicitous attention and no, he isn't inclined to protest as long as Harvey leads him where he wants to go. Unquestionably smarter than the plain manners and eagerness indicate, Bruce thinks with amusement, and stops watching.
It isn't until a few days later that he and Harvey have any chance to discuss the event, although "discussion" is very definitely the second priority of the evening. Harvey is still sweaty and languid after their exertions when he says, "So what did you think of Dick?"
This time the smirk is on his mouth as well as in his eyes, and the double entendre really is too crude to require comment. Bruce waits for the inevitable follow-up.
"I like him," Harvey says reflectively. "He has a really fabulous ass."
He only expresses sentiments like this to make Bruce jealous. There isn't, truly, anything for Bruce to be jealous *about.* But it's a pretense they both enjoy.
"He also has a girlfriend," Bruce says, and bites back a laugh as Harvey sits bolt upright in bed, eyes wide.
"You *investigated!*" he howls, starting to shake with disbelieving laughter.
"Routine background check for the company," Bruce starts, but gives it up as Harvey's glee becomes a cackle of triumph. "Please. He's nearly young enough to be my *son.*"
"You always were precocious," Harvey chuckles, "but yeah, he does look like you, a little. Sure there isn't something you forgot to tell me?"
There really isn't that much resemblance beyond hair and eye color, but again, Harvey's goading doesn't require an answer.
Harvey grins and shifts a little closer. "C'mon, Bruce. Tell me you didn't have a moment thinking I was going to throw you over for a younger model."
There's teasing, and then there's sheer absurdity, and Harvey's just crossed the line. In an instant he's got Harvey pinned down and there's no doubt whatsoever that's exactly where Harvey wanted to be all along. "There *is* no younger model," the Bat's voice rumbles through Bruce's mouth.
Harvey breathes deep, his body arching up against the fierce hold of the Bat. "No," he gasps as Bruce's teeth find his nipple, "I don't suppose there is."
You can trust me not to drink
And not to sleep around
And if you don't expect too much from me
You might not be let down
(Hey Jealousy, Gin Blossoms)
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