RP for [livejournal.com profile] neverdecaf.

Nov. 21st, 2008 06:17 pm
whydowefall: (bruce me and my mask)
[personal profile] whydowefall
The trip to London had been successful. On both fronts--the Wayne Industries business dealings, which had been the cover story, and in locating the informant from whom Batman needed to collect evidence. Batman had come away with a hard drive full of incriminating documents that would bring down a weapons cartel using Gotham's ports; Wayne Industries--with Ianto's brilliant assistance in conducting some of the negotiations--came away poised to buy into some lucrative new biotech offerings.

All in all, things had gone well.

Right up until they were walking across the tarmac at three in the morning, to the jet, to fly home. They'd been jumped--four men, exceptionally skilled in hand-to-hand in a manner that was all too familiar to Bruce. League of Shadows ninjas. Ra's al Ghul's men, a few stragglers still loyal to him after all this time and after their master's death.

It was unfortunate that Bruce wasn't alone, but he couldn't allow that fact to stop him defending himself, and his assistant, who was a mere innocent bystander in all of this. It was possibly even more unfortunate for their attackers than it was for Bruce; the fact that they'd dared to come after him while he had an uninvolved party in tow infuriated him.

He made quick work of half the attackers, though at one point in the scuffle, he felt a knife blade tear through his coat, jacket, and shirt sleeve, gouging into his arm. With two men down, he spun on his heel, prepared to deal with the remaining two.

...Only to find them laid out on the pavement, neatly dealt with, at the feet of his inscrutable personal assistant.

The two of them stood there for a few long moments, gaping at one another.

"We should go," Bruce finally said. "Before someone gets here and finds this. I'd like to... avoid difficult questions, if at all possible."

Though he was sure there was going to be no avoiding the questions Ianto would have. Ianto, however, already was tugging at the back of Bruce's coat, peeling it off. "You're injured, sir, I need to see."

"It's fine."

Ianto stripped off Bruce's jacket and then tore the slash in his shirt sleeve open wider, to inspect the wound. "You need stitches, sir. But taking you to hospital... Well, sir, like you said--let's avoid difficult questions, shall we?"

Ianto stitched the gash himself, on the plane, in silence. He asked for no explanations, for which Bruce was grateful.

But he also offered none.

They'd both dozed off and on the rest of the way home, and endured an awkward drive back to the Tower in the back of the Bentley, neither of them sure what to say in front of Alfred. Or even what to say to one another.

Ianto hadn't asked for an explanation, but by now, Bruce felt he owed him one. And perhaps, he also held out the hope that if he offered one, Ianto might offer one in return. He at least needed to be sure he could rely on Ianto's discretion about what he'd seen, what the two of them had done.

Bruce had dismissed Alfred for the evening, and waited in the penthouse's living room, alone, ready to answer the door himself when Ianto arrived.

Date: 2008-11-23 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto knocks on the penthouse door and waits, expecting Alfred to answer.

He isn't at all sure how this meeting with Bruce is going to go. He expects to be asked to explain himself and he's spent a great deal of time since they've returned considering his options, thinking about the truth versus another cover story before deciding that he would have just wait and see.

Date: 2008-11-23 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce answers the door with a faint smile that he hopes is encouraging. "Ianto. Come in, please."

He steps back, holding the door open to allow the other man to enter. "Come on through to the living room. It's just you and me tonight; I thought that, ah, might give us a chance to talk in private. Can I get you anything?"

Date: 2008-11-24 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto's surprised that Bruce opens the door, but he doesn't let it register in his expression. "No, thank you sir, I'm fine."

He follows Bruce inside and into the living room. "How's your shoulder?"

Date: 2008-11-24 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
"Please, sit down."

Bruce lowers himself into one of the armchairs, and gestures for Ianto to take the seat opposite. There's something different about the way he carries himself tonight. His body language is a lot more relaxed, and open, but his eyes are very alert, sharper than Ianto's seen before. Bruce has dropped his "harmless idiot playboy" act--it seems pointless to continue that charade, after what Ianto saw in London. It has to be apparent to Ianto that his employer is far more than he initially presented himself to be, and Bruce doesn't wish to insult Ianto's intelligence or try his patience by playing that game any further.

He smiles a bit, rotating the shoulder in question. "It's doing really well. You did a great job with it. Thanks."

He pauses, to make the statement that follows all the more pointed.

"You're a man of unexpected talents, Ianto. As I suppose I must be, to you, too."

Date: 2008-11-24 12:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto watches Bruce, amused at the change he sees in him. He realises now that there is much, much more to his boss than what he first realised and he's impressed.

He nods. "It certainly turned out to be an interesting trip."

Date: 2008-11-24 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
"Yeah. That it did."

Bruce watches Ianto for a few moments, weighing his options. It's probably poor tactics to reveal his hand first, but it's as he was thinking earlier--he owes the man an explanation, at least. Now that Ianto's caught a glimpse of that part of his life, there's no taking it back, no pretending it didn't happen. Ianto's been loyal, and Bruce feels he deserves the opportunity to at least understand what happened.

He also hopes maybe Ianto will offer something of an explanation in return.

"When I was away, all those years--the seven years I was gone before I returned to Gotham, ah, a year or so ago," he begins, settling back in his chair, his eyes bright as he meets Ianto's gaze, "I wasn't just aimlessly wandering the world. I was... studying, I suppose is as good a word for it as any. I spent a lot of time learning about crime, about the criminal mind."

He folds his hands in front of himself, steepling his fingers. "I'm sure you're aware of what happened to my parents. It changed me, profoundly. I grew up wanting to avenge what had been done to them, to this city... to me." Bruce's eyes flicker for just in instant; it's a moment of rare honesty and candor. "I had an opportunity, before I left Gotham. But at the last moment, it was taken from me. It left me empty. Frustrated."

He shrugs. "I left. I went all over the world, learning, observing, studying. I still wanted that chance at vengeance. I wanted to find another way to get it. It wasn't until very near the end of those seven years that I came to see vengeance for what it is--nothing. Emptiness. The opposite of deliverance, which is what this city needs. What I needed, though I'm not sure if I'll ever find it."

There's another pause. Bruce stops short of laying all his cards out on the table; he wants to gauge Ianto's reaction, his level of comfort with what's being revealed. As much as he wants to keep his assistant's trust, and feels the man warrants the truth, there's no sense giving up his biggest secret if what's been presented to Ianto so far is only going to make him turn away.

"The men who attacked us in London--they're part of a group I trained with, at the very end of my travels. There were certain expectations of me at the end of that training, that I would serve, carry on their work. But it came at too high a price. We had a falling out. I'm afraid the bad blood continues, even though I'd hoped it was all behind me now. I don't have words for how completely infuriated I was to be attacked like that when I wasn't alone. I owe you an apology, for getting you dragged into that. I hope you don't hold it against me."

Date: 2008-11-24 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Inwardly, as Bruce speaks Ianto feels the pieces of the puzzle fitting into place. He'd long thought there was more to the rumours about Bruce than what met the eye, but he had never imagined anything like this.

"There's no need to apologise, sir," he answers. "In my experience, if someone wants to kill you they'll pay little heed to whom you're with at the time. I don't see that there's anything for me to hold against you at all. And this case I think perhaps it was lucky that it was me you were with. If anything, at least I understand the importance of discretion."

Date: 2008-11-24 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce leans forward a bit suddenly, his eyes almost boring into Ianto's.

"I'm glad you see things that way. I'm glad I can count on your discretion. I can't help wondering... how far would it go? What if that wasn't the end of the story, Ianto? I'll be honest... I hate to lose you. What I could tell you could very well lead to that. I'd be entrusting you with a very big secret. But at the same time, you're invaluable to me. Whatever it is about you that you're either not ready or not willing to discuss... it saved my ass back there. How far can I trust you?"

Date: 2008-11-24 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto meets Bruce's eyes, his gaze unwavering. "I'm not generally in the habit of this, but given the situation, as a means of demonstrating how far each of us can trust the other, perhaps a mutual sharing of information?" He leans forward. "What I have to say I don't want anyone else to know about and obviously, you feel the same about your secret."

Date: 2008-11-24 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce nods, eyes fixed on Ianto's face. He's skilled at reading people, and even past Ianto's usual inscrutability, Bruce can sense he's sincere. Ianto's both willing to trust and to be trusted.

He draws in a breath, bringing his interlaced fingers up to his mouth for a moment as he decides the best way to approach this revelation. Then he shrugs, sitting up straight.

"I'm the Batman."

Apparently candor and a complete lack of beating about the bush win the day. Or so Bruce hopes, waiting for Ianto's reaction.

Date: 2008-11-24 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
The only visible reactions that Ianto has to Bruce's news is a slight quirk of an eyebrow and an intake of breath that is louder than usual. He didn't know what he'd expected Bruce to say, but it certainly wasn't that.

"Well, sir, when I think about it, I guess that explains a lot of things," he says after a few moments of silence have passed. "But you should be congratulated on your excellent cover, I don't think I ever would have guessed."

Date: 2008-11-24 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce can't help but smile a bit at that. "Thank you. Pretending to be a moron certainly does have its uses." He relaxes a little again, leaning back as he adds, "And I worried every day you'd notice. At the very least I figured you'd have me figured out after London. I suppose it's good to know I can fool even those who have to work with me, day in, day out."

He regards the other man thoughtfully for a few seconds, unclasping his fingers so he can rub his chin. "I guess the next question is, knowing that, do you still want to stay on board?"

Date: 2008-11-24 06:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto nods. "That will depend on how you feel about wanting me to stay on board after you hear what I have to say."

"In London, before I moved to Gotham, I wasn't a personal assistant. I've really never had a normal job like that before at all," he says. "I was-- well, technically I still am-- an officer of her Majesty's Secret Service."

Date: 2008-11-24 06:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce's eyebrows go up in surprise. "You're what?" he asks, blinking. "Well. Ah. Sorry. It's not that I have a problem with it, or you. Far from it, Ianto. I just wasn't expecting that."

His hands come together again, and he presses them lightly to his lips, thinking, his gaze drifting for a moment. A British intelligence officer. That certainly made some things make a hell of a lot more sense. His brow furrowed slightly, and he cast a questioning glance over at Ianto.

"Okay. I have to ask. I assume there was a vetting process? How the hell did I manage to pass muster?"

Date: 2008-11-24 06:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto can't help but smile at that. "Sir, don't be offended, but I haven't had you vetted. I mean, I've thought about it, but I thought it would probably be better if I left it. So, I'm sure you'll understand how important it is that no one knows that I've told you, just in case."

Date: 2008-11-24 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
"That's a relief," Bruce replies. "I'm sure I can withstand the scrutiny of the press, the local authorites, and so forth, but the intelligence-gathering community with the full backing of an entire government? That might get a bit difficult. So, please, don't apologize. And I won't betray your confidence. You have my word on that, Ianto."

There's another thoughtful silence, and then Bruce asks, "So what was your specific talent, in the service? What did you do?"

Date: 2008-11-24 07:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
"And you have my word on your secret too, sir." Ianto leans back in his seat, more relaxed now that he's managed to share his secret with Bruce.

"I was with the counter-terrorism unit," he answers. "I don't know about specific talent, but I used to like being in the field on operations."

Date: 2008-11-24 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce nods, impressed. "Counter-terrorism. We could've used you a year and a half ago, when Crane set loose that fear gas. Weaponized hallucinogenic toxins," he explains. "Remind me to get you inoculated, just in case."

He's weighing options again, studying his assistant carefully. "I could always use some backup," he offers, almost cautiously. "It might not exactly be being in the field, but it might be damn close. Are you interested?"

Date: 2008-11-24 07:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neverdecaf.livejournal.com
Ianto doesn't really know what to say to that. The point of him coming here to Gotham was to get away from the service and all the reminders of Lisa that inevitably came from working on the grid. If he was completely honest with himself, he was missing the parts of his old job that had attracted him to it in the first place. Saying yes to Bruce might be good for him.

"I think I'd like that," he says. "Thank you."

Date: 2008-11-24 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] why-dowefall.livejournal.com
Bruce nods, smiling. "Great. It's not something we have to settle right this minute. We can take some time for it. I can show you what I do, what I have at my disposal, how it all works. We can figure out how you'd best fit."

He waits for a couple of beats, and then his smile widens. "Don't worry, though. I promise I won't make you wear a cape or any kind of costume. Unless you're into that kind of thing, and then who would I be to argue?" he asks, deadpan, though his eyes are gleaming a bit mischeviously.

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Bruce Wayne

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