Eleven years today (sadly counting the last four, throughout which I have been here only in spirit), so I figured it'd be a good time to post something. Came back from con_txt all newly determined to revisit fic again and started by opening old files. So this, then, is one of those things that I actually wrote in 2008, based on conversations had in 2004. This is how I roll: slowly.

Short fic for the Fearful Symmetry Bruce/Harvey 'verse, set a few months after they begin their partnership. Sparked by hoarded conversation with both Carmen and Chicago.

Fearful Symmetry drabble:
Year 22: Negotiation

by 'rith

"Of course you’ll sleep with them," Harvey says without a second thought. Or at least, a second thought that he's willing to voice to Bruce. "Gotham's finest gold diggers have made careers of gossip and 'Bruce Wayne, eunuch' is not something you want on your public résumé."

"Because I'm so well-loved otherwise?" Bruce retorts, obstinate, as if he doesn't understand that this isn't an argument at all but one conversation in two voices.

As always.

But if Bruce wants to draw it out, well, that's entertaining too. "Because if you're not doing *them,* so ready and willing, it raises the question: What *do* you do?"

That earns him a blank stare. Bruce has never been much of a music buff. "--and anyway, seriously, I can't believe you're objecting. If you're gonna do the playboy thing anyway, why not get something out of it?"

"That's not the 'something' I want."

"Yes, well, you can't always get what you want," and he can't help sing-songing it this time. Even Bruce gets that one, and he rolls his eyes. But Harvey's bored with this now. "Just close your eyes and think of Gotham. Or revenge, maybe, if you remember I'm not spending my nights alone either."

He knows it's a mistake even as he says it. He and Gilda have always had an understanding, but the situation is still new to Bruce and his convoluted sense of ethics. He's upset now, though Harvey doubts anyone else could see it in the slight tension in his jaw and his shoulders. It's more alarming how much Harvey—who has built his career and his life on being aggressive and uncompromising--finds that tension disquiets him as well.

Bruce isn't, after all, the only one who's still adjusting.

“This is the price we agreed to pay,” he says, more gently now, and not a hint of mockery in his tone. The jokes are easy; the reality involves a constant, careful mask of deception over every aspect of both of their lives. It’s nearly unthinkable, what they’re planning: remaking Gotham from the street all the way up through the highest levels of the local government. Batman’s initial efforts had already become so much more effective with the backing of the DA’s office and the police. The mob was slowly losing its grip on the city, the unaffiliated local criminal element was collectively looking over its shoulder, and even in the short time since their partnership began Harvey can see the start of a new Gotham, a transformed Gotham, a city of law.

“Only what’s necessary,” Bruce finally says, and Harvey knows this declaration is both true and irrelevant. There’s nothing they won’t do to make Gotham safe, to make order from chaos. If Bruce is so stubborn that he would make even *this* into a duty, well, that’s the hair shirt he’s choosing to wear.

If Bruce wants to consider Harvey the source of all his comfort and joy, Harvey can’t be upset about that either.

{500 words}

Don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do
Subtle innuendos follow
Must be something inside
-- Adam Ant, "Goody Two Shoes"

But if you try sometimes, you just might find
you get what you need
--The Rolling Stones, "You Can’t Always Get What You Want"

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