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Thread: Gotham Deux (PG13/R) Completed

  1. #1
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    I wanted to get back to this fic. So since there's now a place on the board for this, I thought I can put up whatever I finished and see if I can pick up from there.

    AN: This story is the sequel of GOTHAM: For One Kiss, created especially for those who fell in love with the Bruce Wayne portrayed in that earlier story. If this is the first time you've encountered this fic, please read the first story first to better give you a handle on what's going on here.

    Rating: PG13/R

    GOTHAM DEUX


    i. Sun for Ice


    Sleek lines of clothes that encased a body ready to fall, perfect pearls that lined her neck and adorned her ears, a thin veil that separated her from the rest of the world, Chloe Luthor stepped forward and brought her immaculate linen handkerchief to her eyes, dabbing carefully at any stray tear that revealed weakness. The Smallville sun shone down, mocking her at the amount of brightness that it showered on a day such as this one. She reached out her hand and laid it on the cold, smooth surface of the titanium.

    Chloe took a deep breath, shuddering. It was so warm when inside her blood was ice. She looked neither to her left or to her right, focused only on the blue box in front of her. “Raise it.”

    There was a murmur of disapproval behind her, but she had never conformed to what others whispered. She did not need to limit herself to what other people believed. Chloe repeated, “Raise the glass.”

    One of the attendants stepped forward and removed the offending barrier. At the movement, Chloe stepped closer and looked down, running her eyes lovingly at the still figure lying there. She removed the glove from her hand and laid it on his cheek, stroking warmth back to the flaccid skin. “Honey,” she murmured, “will you wake up? It’s almost time and if you will, you have to do it now.”

    His eyelashes did not flicker. His chest did not rise. Chloe closed her eyes and waited to hear his voice. When there was no response, she nodded and looked back, memorized his face as he slept. She leaned over the coffin and stayed still, waiting to feel his breath against her cheek. None came. Finally, she pressed her lips to his forehead. She kissed both of his cheeks. She laid her lips on his.

    “Bye Lex,” she whispered, her entire face burning with the effort not to burst with her emotion. The weak she despised. She would never belong with the weak.

    She stepped back two steps and watched as the attendant replaced the glass on the coffin. She did not take her eyes away from his face as he was once more encased. Chloe Luthor stiffened her back when the blue titanium coffin was carefully raised and slid into the Luthor family vault reserved for him.

    Other wives would be crying hysterically, on their knees beating the ground or cursing the heavens with raised fists. Some wives would have fainted long before now. Chloe was not one of the common wives. Lex was too much a part of her. Instead she watched and waited, never losing her reserve, standing apart from the others. She was part of two and now she was only one.

    The vault was sealed, and still she stood alone. The funeral party, she could hear, was slowly breaking up. It was done. They had seen Lex Luthor’s body laid to its final rest. Chloe did not move from where she was, staring at the plaque that they would place just in front of the seal. Her husband’s name, the year when he was born, the year when he was murdered. She would forever see those words engraved and laid over with silver.

    She raised the hand that touched him last, still naked, and brought it over her face, inhaling the last of Lex that remained. She replaced the glove now.

    “Ma’am,” a timid voice said from behind her.

    Chloe did not turn around. She merely reached with her arms until her daughter was transferred to her embrace. The maid vanished into the background again as Chloe held Brianna, urging her to wave goodbye to her daddy. The child, too young and innocent to comprehend what they were doing in the grassy part of town, waved her little hand in the direction that Chloe pointed to.

    The baby turned to face Chloe and cradled her face in both hands. “Mama,” the baby said. Chloe smiled and allowed more tears to come now, when the people have gone away, back to their cozy homes that Lex’s company had enabled them to buy, back to their little families that Lex’s investment allowed them to support. It was safe to cry now. The display would only be between herself, Brianna and Lex.

    “I’m sorry, Chloe.”

    She sucked in her breath and held her daughter closer to her body. Chloe shook her head slightly, trying to convince herself that he was not here.

    “I know that I can say it a hundred times and it will not make a difference. But I really am sorry.”

    Chloe closed her eyes. “Please leave. I would like to be alone with my family.”

    Hesitance before the sound of his boots moving further away. Chloe waited until she believed she was truly alone before reaching on the ground for the flowers they had brought. Clutching the stems on one hand and supporting her daughter with the other, Chloe walked to the name inside the mausoleum that she would never let go.

    She handed the flowers to Brianna. “Baby, give it to daddy.”

    The child dropped the stems in front of the vault. “Bye bye, daddy. Love you, daddy.”

    And Chloe walked away, heavily. The sun beat down on her and she hated it. She hated the Kansas sun so much.


    edited to add in rating

  2. #2
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    ii. For the Love Of


    The scenes replayed over and over in the wide screen. Bruce Wayne studied the face clearly. It had been so long, but for the way his heart clenched at the sight of her tears it was as if she happened in his life only yesterday.

    “Zoom,” he commanded quietly.

    The camera focuses on Chloe’s face, cropping her figure and blacking out everything in the background. Bruce slowly pulls himself out of his seat and walks over to the large screen, stopping in front of it and reaching out to the flat glass to trace the tear tracks. He only wished the warmth of his hand could brush away the wetness. In his ideal world, even this motion could erase the pain she so obviously felt. Mrs Luthor hid her feelings from world. This day, at Lex’s funeral, all her walls had crashed around her.

    There was one thing he could not grapple with enough to understand. He had been with Chloe, close enough to kiss her and enough to have fallen irrevocably for her. For Bruce, when he walks out at night alone, the memory of being with her was enough to light up his entire world. How could Lex Luthor still have descended into the hell he did? How was it possible for a man to give in to darkness when he had someone like Chloe by his side? For the millionth time he cursed the man for hiding so much from his wife.

    Bruce wondered how he could face himself in the mirror next time, after having seen her grief, and knowing that he himself had caused it.

    There was one more thing to do, and it was his only way of holding on to her now, so far away she had been since being reunited with Lex. Bruce picked up the phone to check with the only man he trusted to keep her safe when he could not.

    He waited for him to answer the phone. His young friend was always so busy that it took a long time for his calls to be answered. When he heard the click that indicated that it was picked up, Bruce’s senses adjusted easily to the noise. The recipient of the call was outside, and the conversation around him indicated a busy place.

    “I’ve seen the news coverage,” Bruce said quietly. “She looks—Well, we both know how she looks.”

    “Imagine what you’ve seen on your screen multiplied by a thousand, Bruce, because she hides her pain well.”

    “Clark, where is she now?”

    Clark sighed, and Bruce heard the disappointment and acceptance mixed along with it. “We don’t know.”

    “I thought you were keeping an eye on her,” Bruce replied, already thinking of where Chloe could have gone. He could not even hazard a guess. It had been so long since they were together. Bruce had left her to live her life when she decided to be with Lex.

    “She left on her plane last night without informing anyone. Even her father is anxious. She’s not in the state, Bruce.”

    “Who was with her?”

    “Brianna.” A pause at Bruce’s end of the line prompted Clark to explain further. He had forgotten that Bruce never did ask what Chloe’s daughter was called. Even if it had been mentioned once or twice in the news, Bruce had always been careful not to delve into that part of the Luthors’ life. Clark had always suspected that it had to do with hurt, although Bruce never would have admitted to it. “Their daughter,” Clark supplied.

    If Bruce acknowledged the new information, he did not betray it to Clark. Instead, the billionaire shifted the conversation into another topic. “I want you to look into it, Clark,” he said easily, assuming the role of leader so easily that Clark was reminded of their other jobs together. As an equable man, Clark had always allowed Bruce to take on the responsibility of head. It was a rule that complemented Bruce Wayne so well. “Just call me with any news.”

    “Where will you be at?”

    Bruce was already heading out of the entertainment room. “I’ll be in my office.”

    Clark could imagine his friend and ally looking out of the glass windows of the top floor of his building, looking down over the city he stood vanguard of. While Bruce secured the city, who would look after Bruce Wayne now? He pushed the niggling idea in his head and forced himself to remember that despite the last couple of years, Lex Luthor was still and would always remain one of his best friends.

    ~~

    His shoes had that distinct sound that screamed to everyone in the lobby that an expensively attired man was passing by. Bruce had never been bothered by it. In fact, he had been walking through the lobby everyday of his life that he pretty much ignored that fact. Still, the events that happened so quickly over the last week had brought home some memories that made him aware of everything around him.

    When he stepped into the elevator and reached for the top floor button, his memories, pushed to the back of his mind out of necessity, came rushing back to him. He remembered that one night when he saw the shivering young woman in inappropriate clothes just at the corner of the elevator. It had changed his life forever. Now he could not help but entertain thoughts of rekindling what was cut off so abruptly. And knowing his part in what had happened to her, he felt dirty and manipulative for even letting those thoughts pass through his head.

    Knowing that she had lost her husband, the man she had admitted to him will always come first in her heart, even when she had thought him dead, merely fueled a fire in his heart that he had been forced to cover up.

    Bruce walked briskly towards his office. It was after lunch now. He never arrived so late. This time was an exception though. He could not wait until tonight to view the clips of Lex Luthor’s funeral released earlier in the day. He found his secretary’s desk empty. His assistant must have concluded that he would not be coming in today.

    He pushed the door open and breathed the sterile scent of his office. His senses honed to such heights over the years, he stiffened at the stray whiff of sunshine in the air. Gotham never smelled like sunshine. His eyes sought out the golden head that shone in contrast to the blacks and grays of the room.

    At the same time that he found her, the woman turned around on the swiveling chair and smiled sadly at him from under the black gauze that hung from her small hat. Bruce stopped in his tracks and stared at her. She rose from her seat and took off the veil, tossing it on the desk. His eyes ran over her form. She wore black from head to foot, and it was a crime to him. She should never be in mourning again. The only relief were the pearls on her throat and on her ears. Lex Luthor’s diamond glared at him from a hand she revealed after pulling off her glove.

    And when he found himself again, Bruce strode towards her and caught her in his arms, embracing her tightly and securely so that he would never let her go. Chloe’s arms rose to wrap around his shoulders. Into his ear, she murmured, “I saw it with my own eyes. He’s gone, Bruce. This time it’s for real. His last breath was against my lips.”

    His eyes darkened at her choked words. These were things he knew. He had seen her kiss the mangled face of her husband as he lay dying on the floor. He pulled away slowly and picked up her hand. “Chloe, what can I do to make the pain go away? Tell me. I’ll do anything.”

    She shook her head slowly, tearful eyes meeting his. “You can’t. Nothing can ever do that. But you can help me.”

    “What do you need?”

    “I want you to help me find his killer.” Slowly, his grip on her hand slackened. “I’m willing to spend everything that Lex left me to kill his murderer.”

    “Chloe, are you sure—“

    “Bruce, help me find and kill the Batman.”

  3. #3
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    iii. To Foster for Another

    The child's golden hair glowed even in the dim light of the study. She slept as silently as her mother did. Once upon a time, he added to himself after a quick glance to the far corner of the room confirmed his suspicions. Bruce leaned over the baby and took her in his arms. The little girl sought the comfortable curve of his body as she settled at once to the familiar yet unfamiliar form of a man carrying her. He idly wondered how often Lex Luthor took his daughter in his arms.

    Chloe sat still wrapped up in her world of words and glowing answers. He stopped a few feet away from her and waited to be noticed. Her eyes were glued to the screen in a way he had never seen them before. Bruce reminded himself that the year he was with her, she had been a different woman.

    She had been immortalized in his brain all these years like an Impressionist model, lights playing on shadows that hid behind the angles of her jaw, her cheeks, her nose as certainly as leaves of sun-dappled trees.

    When he closed his eyes, he could still see the multimedia collage at the back of his eyelids, of news clips and paparazzi videos catching every furtive movement, every private appearance. Always she had been there, perfectly coiffed, her lips curved into the perfect smile, or laughing and beaming at her husband or her baby. Always she had there, flawless and out of reach.

    Bruce Wayne adored every glimpse of the woman. But he had loved, and never stopped loving, the sad-eyed stranger who bled inside. He wondered if there was a certain sickness that would give a name to what he had become. Chloe, at this moment when she was intent on vengeance and still grieving inside, was more beautiful to him than all the times he had seen her content his the arms of another man. Was it only because that was the woman he had fallen in love with? Was it only that she had never been close enough to touch when she was complete? Why did he have Chloe Sullivan only when she was incapable of a smile?

    "Still up."

    Her eyes flickered to the man standing in front of her, intending to merely acknowledge his presence. Her eyes were captured by the sight of Brianna in the arms of a man who owned part of her heart. He threatened all the defenses that she prized. She forced her gaze away from that spot on his neck where Brianna had buried her nose.

    "Do you know what your husband had been up to the last year?"

    He saw her swallow visibly, her eyes lose focus from the screen. The interest for whatever article was up on her browser had long gone, at the same time that she realized he was present in the room. The forced disinterest that she had injected in her demeanor at the sight of her daughter easily curving into Bruce's body the way she used to with her own father evaporated almost imperceptibly.

    She had never been one to allow herself to be backed into a corner. He had never pushed her in any way then. It did not mean that he would not start now. "Do you, Mrs Luthor?"

    "Yes," she bit out.

    "And you stayed?" his voice rumbled. Brianna stirred in his arms. Before she could answer, Bruce shushed her and mumbled soft incomprehensible words while rubbing warm circles on the girl's back. Brianna sighed softly and tightened her arms around Bruce's neck, in her sleep pretending that she was not fatherless. Chloe's eyes softened for a moment, wanting to take her daughter. "I'll be right back."

    A few minutes later when he returned, the laptop was closed on the desk. The small light was still on, so he knew that she had not given up her task for the night. "Where did you put her?"

    "In the room I had aired for you." She nodded her thanks. "You knew, but you did not leave."

    "You don't understand, Bruce. When he was with Brianna, he was never different. He was beyond comparison. With us, he was the Lex I loved. He adored me."

    "He showed you a different man."

    "Will it give you peace to know that I will kill the Batman not for taking away Lex Luthor but for taking away a husband and a father? That should be fair enough, Bruce."

    "You're purposely blinding yourself then."

    Her eyes glittered with a strength she had been devoid of since leaving Kansas. "I will not rest until the man responsible for his death is as cold as Lex." And she broke her own heart with each word. Chloe squeezed his eyes tightly shut and she grabbed at the edge of the table, gripping the wood. A gasp escaped from her lips. The thought of his warm, pliant body, which laid beside hers for years, as cold as the snow that kissed her tears away when she hid from pain the first time she went to Gotham City, contracted her heart with an icy fist. Her grip slipped from the wood and she collapsed on her elbows, releasing a keening cry. She found herself helped into the chair by invisible hands. Her cheeks trembled and her eyes burned.

    "He's dead," a voice overhead stated firmly. It was Bruce's voice; Bruce's hands ushered her to her seat. "You know that. You know he's dead."

    Chloe turned her head aside in a futile attempt to banish the images of a beautiful man's decay. No matter the direction, the picture remained. She moaned. "Make it stop!"

    He knew that she did not even see him. With everything she saw under those closed eyes, she broke. "Then open your eyes," he commanded. "Open your eyes, Chloe." She did, to meet pools of such dark blue. "Hold my gaze. Don't let go."

    Neither blinked nor looked away. He was well-versed with the horrific images in her mind right at that moment. He had had his share of those pictures as a young kid. Bruce forced her attention to him.

    "You knew that he was funding experiments that caused children to sicken and die within days, Chloe. You stayed beside him. Does that make you as much of a murderer as Lex, Mrs Luthor?"

    Chloe snapped out of the enforced trance. She tore her arms away from his grip and stood up. "You have no call to say that!" She took a deep breath and warded him away when he stepped towards her. "Lex," she sobbed. "Bri. They were my life, Bruce. Lex committed these crimes outside my home. Let him be tried behind me."

    "What happened to you?"

    She released a soft laugh together with the sob. "You never really knew me," she reminded him.

    "I loved you. I can't not have known you." His words were always quiet. Why then were they always stronger?

    "Bruce, you are too old to be naïve." She smiled sadly. "I loved my husband beyond," her breath caught. "I loved Lex," Chloe stated simply. "And there you stand telling me atrocities that another man did. Not my Lex. I will maintain that. Now tell me if to you, I really knew him."

    "Chloe-"

    "I will kill the Batman."

    "Is that more important than your daughter?"

    "I need to do this, Bruce. I need this closure. I cannot be the mother she needs me to be until I put this behind me. My husband's killer has to die."

    It was safe to step towards her now. Bruce walked slowly and stopped the distance of an arm away. "And in the meantime you put Brianna on hold."

    "Never in my heart though."

    "You did not come to me to kill the Batman for you," he said as it dawned on him. "You came to me for Brianna, to be with her while you pursued this on your own."

    "Did you really expect me to sit in your Gothic mansion while you hunted the night for the villain?"

    He smiled briefly. "You did say I am naïve."

    "I'm a Luthor, Bruce. I fight my own battles."

    "So you do," he murmured. "All these years and you chose me."

    "I could think of no one who had as much love to give as you, Bruce."

    Bruce walked over to the laptop and turned it off. "I had a glimpse once, of a woman who could. But she flew to Kansas and gave all her love away."

    "Not all. Never all."

    "Good. Now go to your room. The dead can wait. You have a living beauty lonely for her mom."

    tbc

  4. #4
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    iv. Genuine Pretenses


    Spending the next few days with the beautiful baby was an experience he would treasure forever. He had been a little uncertain about taking on responsibility for such a young life. Although Chloe remained in the gothic mansion with them, he had agreed to assume the role of the girl’s guardian while the mother traced clues to track down the man who killed her husband. Yet by the time Brianna fluttered the thick dark gold eyelashes that framed her pretty eyes, Bruce Wayne accepted that he had a dangerous weakness for the Sullivan girls. He seemed to fall in love with them within moments of meeting them.

    Before they came into his life, he spent his days locked up in his office and his nights attending charity balls. While people saw it as altruism, Bruce had always seen the numerous causes that he supported as his way of intermingling with people whom he had shut himself off from since the time his parents were killed. He preferred to stay away from his house because despite the length of time that had passed since his own tragedy, the mansion was his reminder of every pleasant moment that he spent with his mother and father. In his lonely life, he could not afford happy memories to show him what a contrast his life was today.

    For the past week, Bruce found himself eager to close deals even though he knew that dragging out conferences would put the contractor on the edge enough to offer low prices that would enable Wayne Enterprises to triple its profits for each project. Instead of staying there late reviewing the quarterly reports and looking over new proposals, Bruce left the office at precisely five o’clock and headed home to see if Chloe had taken a break from her investigation long enough to have a bite to eat. He would pass by Brianna’s playroom, his old one when he was a kid, aired and stocked with plenty of new toys, to see if the girl was yet bored or tired from being left in the same room all day.

    Today, Bruce had pushed away his computer and risen from his seat in the middle of a conversation with his assistant. The office had become a silent cave to him. Somehow, a room was not quite a comfortable without the hysterical giggling of a three-year-old. The smile that teased his lips as he dismissed the man did not go unnoticed. His assistant may have wondered what caused the CEO to suddenly decide that workday was over, but since he had his own life to live and for the first time he was receiving a half-day without filing for it himself, he only left Bruce to make his calls.

    He arrived home around ten in the morning and made his way up the flight of stairs to stop before the door of the playroom. Bruce pushed the door open to reveal Brianna sitting at the center staring at the dollhouse that he had bought for her. The intricate Victorian was bigger than she was, and was full of miniature furniture and residents. Alfred knelt beside the girl, murmuring soft words which the girl did not seem to heed.

    “Brianna,” Bruce said softly. The girl did not turn around.

    Alfred rose to his feet and walked over towards him. “Master Bruce, what are you doing home at this hour? Was there anything you needed?”

    Bruce shook his head at the old man. He reached out to pat the butler’s arm. “I thought that I could use some company. What is wrong with Brianna?”

    The old man appeared concerned as he glanced back at the blonde girl who was still quietly regarding the playhouse. “I have no idea, Master Bruce. She opened the present while I retrieved her breakfast from the kitchen. When I arrived, she was like this.”

    Bruce’s gaze remained on the girl, who reached into one of the rooms in the house to draw out one of the dolls. He turned to Alfred and requested, “Would you give us a moment?”

    Left alone with Chloe’s daughter, Bruce made his way silently to the dollhouse. He tugged at his pants to sit on the floor, his legs folded beneath him. He did not care about the crease of the suit. He kept his eyes focused on the normally vivacious child who seemed absorbed with the doll in her hands, with the dollhouse in front of her.

    “Brianna, how would you like to go to the park with me?”

    She frowned down at the miniature man she held, and glanced up at the room where miniatures of a child and woman sat in front of the table. A lovely lower lip thrust out.

    “Don’t you think you deserve to run in the park? We’ll buy cheesedogs and Coke.” He extended his hand, waiting to see if she would even recognize his presence. “Come on, Brianna. We’ll find your sweater in your closet. It’s pretty cold outside. We don’t want you to get sick.”

    Deep blue eyes turned to him, and Bruce braced himself at the intensity of her sad gaze. The girl blinked and held the doll out to him, “No daddy.”

    Bruce took a deep breath and returned the miniature man to the room. His action caused the girl to shake her head fiercely. “It’s supposed to go here, Bri.”

    “No,” she protested. “Just mommy and Bri.”

    “Is this daddy?” The girl nodded. He could understand that for a young child, Lex’s loss could be taken either as something that merely happened or as a great tragedy. Someone as young as Brianna could take the death of her father to mean that Lex had left them, and easily recover. Despite the fact that children could deal with loss more easily than adults, he did not want her to grow up thinking that she was left by her father. He slipped in to the solution that he himself had to turn to at the time, which was to think of Alfred as a father. But he had been older than Brianna and he could never fully trade the image of his parents with substitutes. The three-year-old was another issue though. “Can I be this doll?”

    Her bright eyes convinced him that it worked. She took the doll from him and replaced it beside the miniature of the little girl. “Me, mommy and you.”

    “That’s right, Brianna.”

    “Come to the park?” He nodded. “Can mommy come?”

    He took the girl’s hand and rose to his feet. Hand in hand, they left the playroom and proceeded to the small study that Chloe had been using as her office. “Let’s see, shall we?”

    When they arrived outside the study, Brianna knocked on the door before he could even open it. The door swung open to reveal Chloe, with rings under her eyes and eyeglasses pushed up on her head. “Hey!” she greeted breathlessly. Her eyes were drawn down to where her daughter was staring up at her excitedly. “How are you, baby?” Chloe picked Brianna up and peppered kisses all over the little girl’s face.

    “When did you start wearing eyeglasses?” were the first words to come from his mouth. She looked adorable with them, so unlike the chic and sophisticated images of her taken through the years. Dressed in casual clothes and without a trace of makeup on, she looked even more like the Chloe he had fallen in love with, before her role as Mrs. Luthor required her to watch everything that she wore and said in public. He had spent those years while she was married concerned with the thought that only Lex Luthor saw her free and beautiful the way he remembered.

    Chloe’s hand flew to her head self-consciously. She pulled off the glasses and smiled. “This is just for reading. What brings you home so early?”

    “Have you eaten?”

    “I had a sandwich,” she informed him. When he appeared as though he would disapprove, she held up a hushing hand. “It was a very large one, with meat and vegetables. Ask Alfred if you don’t believe me.”

    He stared at her for the longest moment. When she started to fidget with Brianna in her arms, Bruce nodded. “I believe you.”

    “Come to park, mommy!” Brianna grabbed her cheeks and turned her face to hers. The girl smiled brightly in invitation. “Come with us!”

    Chloe smiled back tiredly. “Oh baby girl, I can’t. Mommy’s working.”

    Bruce regarded her with hooded eyes. He watched as the girl tried to convince her mother a few more times before finally deciding that as many refusals would be detrimental to the child’s self-confidence. “Looks like mommy can’t join us. Let’s go and leave your mom to her research, Brianna.”

    The girl did not show an ounce of disappointment and somehow, for a mother who had never had to share her baby with anyone other than her husband, seeing Brianna come to Bruce caused a sinking feeling in her heart. She kissed the small girl on her forehead. “Have fun, Bri.”

    “All right. You should take a rest,” he told her. “We’ll just drop by her room for her sweater and coat and then we’ll pass by here again to tell you that we’re leaving.”

    Bruce handed the girl a light blue sweater and a green scarf, the items of clothing made in material that was probably more expensive that the entire wardrobe of other kids. “Okay, Brianna. Since you’re going to be a big girl soon, you can dress yourself up and meet me at the study, okay? I have to talk to your mommy and ask her if I can buy you ice cream too.”

    The girl skipped in delight as she took the clothes. Bruce made his way back to the study and knocked briskly. Chloe had made it clear to him that she did not want her presence in the house to make a difference in his coming and going. In fact, she had insisted that she be allowed to stay in a hotel instead. He was the one who told her that she had to stay with him, the one who went out of his way to give her privacy.

    When she did not open the door as quickly as she did earlier, he slowly turned the knob and peeked inside. The glowing computer screen once more lit her face. This time, the glow was reflected on her sleeping visage. Bruce walked over slowly towards her, careful not to startle her. When he reached her side, he shook her gently. “Chloe, no sleeping on the chair.”

    She woke up slowly and peeked at him from still half-closed eyes. “Are you and Brianna leaving?”

    “In a while. Will you go to bed?”

    “I think I should.”

    Bruce nodded in approval. “I’ll take you to your room and pick up your daughter. The two of you are such a handful,” he said with overwhelming affection.

    “Of course,” she replied sleepily. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”

    He escorted her, still stumbling, to her bedroom and helped her settle into bed. When she drifted off to sleep easily, he pulled the covers over her. Soon, he would have to send some clues in her investigation her way to make certain that she would have enough feeling of accomplishment to voluntarily rest before exhaustion forced her. Bruce leaned down and took a deep breath, allowing his senses to be satisfied with her scent. He pondered for the longest moment before pressing his lips on her cheek. “I think I do, Chloe. And I can’t wait.”

  5. #5
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    v. Anything She Wanted


    She was beautiful. Bruce imagined that that was exactly how Chloe Sullivan must have looked as a toddler. Brianna ran around the park wrapped in the clothes they had picked for her. She was glowing under the sun that was almost never present. He gloried in the thought that for once, Gotham was bright because this girl was there.

    Brianna crushed the grass beneath her boots. When she ventured to the portion that was supposed to be off limits, Bruce allowed her. He would pay for the replacement of the patches of blue grass that the girl would ruin in her delight about being free to run. Bruce understood how it must have felt for the girl, cooped up inside four thick walls, surrounded by security since birth. This was an experience that Brianna had never had, perhaps would never have had she grown up behind her father’s shadow.

    She whirled around in circles, laughing and waving at him. He suspected that the girl did it to make sure that she had not been abandoned there. The frequent calls to his attention her way of making certain that she knew exactly the direction where she was going to run should she need Bruce again.

    “We have a problem.”

    Bruce did not need to turn to see who it was. “I realize that.”

    “Bruce,” Clark continued, not at all offended by the coldness in which Bruce held himself apart from him, “I know this woman. I loved this woman before either you or Lex did. She will find out eventually, especially when what she’s looking for is right under her nose.”

    “Maybe that’s in my favor. I would be the last man that Chloe would suspect.”

    Clark sighed deeply and looked in the direction that Bruce was looking. His lips curved in a faint smile. Over the last few years, as Lex drew further away from him, he had missed this child. One look at her, in the hospital, and he knew that he would adore Brianna because of how much of her mother she bore in her face, in her smile. “I want to hold her.”

    “No,” came the quick answer. “She’s a smart girl. She will tell her mother that she had seen you.”

    “She’s three, Bruce,” Clark reasoned.

    “She’s got both Chloe’s and Lex Luthor’s genes.”

    Because Bruce’s point was valid and strong, Clark remained standing behind Bruce, away from anyone’s prying eyes. He had loved Lex like a brother despite his retreat into the darkness. Clark could not help but feel a tinge of loathing towards Bruce for what had happened. “You did not need to kill him Bruce.” And it all came down to that, feelings he did not really want to voice but had been killing him since it happened.

    “You know as well as I do that we had to,” came the quiet answer.

    Perhaps his bitterness lay on the fact that after everything that had happened, Chloe chose to run to this man whom she knew for six months while she turned away from him. One thing he would never commit the grave mistake in saying, was that often he wondered if Bruce did not do it because of Chloe. There were limits he still followed. Maybe he would always suspect that part of the ‘accident’ was that Bruce had always wanted her. He would never voice it though. “How do feel holding that girl in your arms knowing you were the one responsible for her father’s death?”

    A long pause. But then that had always been the case when you spoke to a man as taciturn as Bruce Wayne. “Good. Brianna will not grow up exposed to her father’s crimes.”

    “You killed a man, Bruce,” Clark said. It seemed to him that in this case, Bruce Wayne had suddenly forgotten the code that they have been following since they decided to fight crime. Bring the criminals to justice. Save the victims. But you never kill a human bring, no matter how disgusting the record, no matter how evil he was perceived. You never kill.

    The blue eyes that turned to him were still cold when they turned to Clark Kent. “I know that, Clark. Every time I see Chloe crying, when she thinks she’s alone, I remember. That has not escaped my nightmares. But it was something that had to be done. I am sorry I killed a man, Clark. But at the same time, I’m proud I had the strength to do that.”

    “We fight for truth and justice,” Clark recited, in a way that he realized afterwards could sound irritating to someone who had a burden as heavy as Bruce. Still, he continued, “A real hero does not take justice into his own hands.”

    “Spare me adages I’ve already heard. That’s why you are the hero and I’m the avenger.”

    “Just take care, Bruce. No matter how much you’ve honed yourself avenging the wronged in this city, you will never compare to a woman bent on revenge.” Clark’s hand closed over Bruce’s upper arm, squeezing tightly in a silent show of support. “And I know you would not hurt Chloe, even if she were holding the barrel of a gun to your temple.”

    The golden little girl bounced up and down as she decided she wanted to pluck one of Gotham’s rare flowers from a vine just beyond her reach. Bruce smiled, knowing that within seconds he would there with her, lifting her up just enough to reach the highest and brightest flower of the bunch. “I’ll protect them both even from myself,” he confirmed. Without saying goodbye, he strode to aid Brianna.

    They returned to the mansion with a bright yellow flower tucked into her ear, and another flower woven into the crown of his own hair. He had never appeared sillier before, yet he had never been happier either. Bruce carried the tired girl who was now drooling the shoulder of his immaculate shoulder. He opened the door to the bedroom to check on Chloe, only to find it empty.

    He swung the door open to the study and was greeted by brilliant eyes and a relieved smile. “You’re not asleep.”

    “I found something!” she breathed excitedly. Bruce steeled himself for the news. “The commissioner of the city uses a signal to call Batman. I know where it is. And it’s the perfect way to lure the bastard into a trap.”

    “I see.”

    “Bruce, don’t you see!” When her voice rose an octave, she forced it down. “I can finally put this behind me. It’s going to be over soon, Bruce.” She walked over to the man who held her daughter as if she were his. “Can you look after Brianna for me? One last night, Bruce. And then I can be her mother again.”

    In her eyes, he saw the triumph and the hope, the relief and the trepidation. It was not as if he could ever deny her anything. His free hand cupped her cheek. At least before that final meeting that she would plan, he could do what he had always dreamed of doing. He leaned down and gently covered her lips with his. “For you, Chloe, anything you want.”

  6. #6
    NS Full Member drina's Avatar
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    I have always loved this sequel, and i hope that u would have a new part out soon.

  7. #7
    Storyteller
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    vi. End of All


    It was magnificent. The bat signal cut through the smog and remained fast in place on the sky. Chloe could almost hear the sound of Batman’s wings taking him to the rooftop.

    What a fateful night to end the story. Chloe Luthor was about to show the dark avenger her brand of justice. And then this will end. Brianna will live the way all beautiful little girls deserved to. Her daughter would have a parent who would give her full attention and all the love the world had to give. Chloe would find peace. Everything would be forgotten.

    On a cold, dark Gotham night that started this chapter. On a cold dark Gotham night would the storybook close.

    Her eyes drifted shut and she remained standing, listening for every change and shift in the wind. The way you prepared yourself for a bat is to blind yourself and focus on the sounds. There was a muffled thud from several yards away. Chloe heard the footsteps coming towards her. They stopped, and now she felt the warmth of another body in her vicinity.

    She opened her eyes to face the masked man. Her eyes clouded and instead of the words she had prepared for, Chloe could only curl her hands into fists and pound on his unyielding body. The Batman barely made a sound as she spent her energy hitting him with all that she could give.

    “Why don’t you fight?” she gasped when she was spent. “You are so good at fighting, Batman. Why won’t you fight?”

    Slowly, he closed his hands over her wrists and held her arms together. “Is that what you want?” he asked calmly.

    “I want you dead,” she spat out viciously.

    “You have a gun,” he pointed out. “Use it.”

    She narrowed her eyes and fumbled for the gun in her bag. Chloe leveled the gun, pointing the barrel to his forehead, right between the eyes.

    He waited still as the night. “Kill me.”

    Her finger latched on to the trigger and started to press. It was easy. Lex had stood behind her, kissed her temple and counted in her ear. ‘One. Two. Three.’ She knew how to use the weapon because her husband gave her the lessons. The gun shook in her hands. She trembled until she thought the heavy gun would drop and by chance let off a shot.

    His large gloved hand closed over the gun. He told her, “You searched for me not because you want to kill me. You want me to kill you, don’t you?” Chloe did not answer. “What about your daughter?”

    “She’s with a beautiful man who would love her much more than I can,” she answered.

    “How can you say that? She’s your baby.”

    Chloe closed her eyes. Her arms were starting to weaken. Were his hand not holding the gun, she would have surely released it. “You took away my heart,” she informed him very faintly. “I can’t love anymore. I don’t know how because you’ve killed every bit of feeling I had when you killed my husband.”

    The dark knight stepped close, not pushing her arms down. He stepped closer until the barrel was pressed tightly against his skin. “You are more than Lex Luthor’s wife,” he said firmly. “Go back to who you were before.”

    The eyes, the voice, the words. Everything she recognized and denied until that moment. Chloe lowered the gun and with her free arm, pushed away the mask. “I didn’t want to believe until now.”

    Bruce Wayne, stripped of anonymity, did not bother to deny. “When you were with me?” he asked.

    “I was half the woman I was. I cannot live like this.”

    “I’m in love with you.” To his own ears, he sounded defeated.

    Chloe held up the gun on her palm again, with the barrel facing outwards. She did not look at him, only at the silver weapon. “Then you know what I want you to do.”

    Bruce took the gun.

    The bat signal flickered on the sky, mystical in the way that it shone against no opaque wall yet managed to stay so solid. Gotham in the nighttime the same as Gotham at any other hour. On the rooftop, two people stood stiffly as they gazed at each other.

    The gun was lifted.

    A shot rang out.


    ~~


    Chloe had never been more exhausted in her entire life. She walked through the Gothic manor, discarding her gloves where they fell. She unbuttoned her jacket and shrugged it off. Chloe pulled the pins out of her hair and allowed the blonde locks to curl in abandon.

    There was only one destination at that particular moment. She opened the door to her daughter’s room and looked in on her princess. Chloe sat down on the bed and touched her daughter’s cheek.

    Brianna came awake at the unfamiliar contact. Her eyes opened and she smiled brightly at her mother, reminding Chloe that she had once been just like Brianna. How long it had been. “You’re back, mommy!”

    “Yes, sweetheart,” Chloe replied. “Mommy’s back.”

    Chloe lay beside her daughter that night. While Brianna dozed, she spent her last hours in the city staring out into the darkness. The sun rose outside and the television in the room turned on automatically for the morning news. Chloe did not bother to look. The voice of the anchorwoman barely made a difference to her.

    “A shocking morning to Gotham City and the rest of America. Before morning, the dark vigilante, the Batman, was found dead at the rooftop of the governor’s office. More astounding news as the Batman was revealed to be the city’s foremost businessman Bruce Wayne. Police are now investigating the apparent suicide of the crimefighter.”

    Carefully extricating her arm out from under her daughter, Chloe sat up on the bed and picked up a bright yellow band from the table. She tucked the hair away from her face with it. Slowly, she rose, careful not to wake Brianna. There were tickets to book and people to call. She was going home.

    Within hours, Chloe had her daughter seated beside her aboard a commercial flight to Kansas. No one was waiting in the Smallville manor but a host of servants who would substitute for family. Brianna would grow used to the Kansas sun again. She would play in a field that had once been infested with meteor rocks and someday, maybe in a year or two, she would encounter a meteor mutant. It was all part of Smallville. Perhaps an incident like it would bring Brianna closer to Chloe’s husband. For Chloe, she would come home to a cold bed and a hundred rooms of memories. She had a million moments with Lex that she would never get back. She was coming home to the cold forbidding sanctuary situated in the middle of Kansas in the summer.

    She turned up the volume of the earphones to hear the movie playing. Chloe hoped the dialogue would drown out the last vestiges of the tape she had found in her bag.

    Chloe, I leave my home tonight with the sole purpose of bringing you back. I have never stopped loving you. Everyday I see you grow lonelier I blame myself for what I had done.

    Now my only goal is to make you happy. I will do anything if it means ending your pain. I will be completely satisfied with whatever I have to do as long as I put closure on this chapter of your life.

    I see the end of this as either of two things. One, you forgive me and find in your heart that you love me as much as you did Luthor. Two, we find ourselves at an impasse that I will end in the only way I know how. The truth is, even now, I cannot see how the light would penetrate the clouds. Gotham is a dark city and we are in a dark world. I understand how deeply you loved Lex, and I cannot blame you for your consuming need to face your husband’s killer. Love makes us do the most insane things. I know. I leave to face you prepared for anything.

    Give Brianna my undying love.


    She turned the volume at full blast, drowning out the voice that could not be drowned. Chloe released the tears she had not cried since her husband’s funeral. Finally, it was safe to cry.


    end

  8. #8
    NS Senior Member Senior Member Béatrice's Avatar
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    :crygreenOOR Bruce!!

  9. #9
    scifichick774
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    :crygreen: :crygreen: :crygreen: :crygreen:

    My poor Bruce.

    :crygreen: :crygreen: :crygreen: :crygreen:

  10. #10
    Yes, I am that Fabulous Senior Member tigerbaby's Avatar
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    Actually I like this ending. I wasn't a fan of having Bruce and Chloe together anyway for this fic. I was really upset when Lex died but I'm glad that Chloe got closure. With vengeance keeping her strong, I'm glad that she is now able to cry and take that first step towards healing.

    When I first started reading it I wasn't sure where you were taking it and if you were going to have them together how you were going to reconcile the fact that she would now possibly be in love with her husband's killer and her guilt for feeling that way when if it wasn't for him, Lex would still be alive. I'm glad you didn't though.

    As for Bruce, while I believe that he is stronger than to take the easy way out, it's interesting that you've made him so enamored and that he loves her so deeply that he would do anything to make her happy. To please her, to make one woman happy, he will in a way doom the rest of the world or at least Gotham.

    Wonderful job Catheryne.

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