Bruce blinked and the dimly lit room came into focus. The main fluorescent light in the drop-tile ceiling was off. The bunker's medical bay had a cement ceiling with recessed lighting. Light came from behind his head and a window to his left. He wasn't in the bunker.
Pain throbbed on his right below his ribs. Talia had stabbed him. An IV line was inserted and taped down on his right arm. A hand squeezed his left hand and he needed to flex his fingers for blood flow. He turned his head toward the window.
Selina sat next to the bed, blocking the orange light from the window. The light from the bed's headboard illuminated her compressed lips and sparking brown eyes. He smiled, "Selina."
She leaned over him and spoke in a low voice. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't claw your eyes out for lying to me."
He focused on her trembling lips. "The autopilot actually worked."
Her chest heaved. "Don't you ever do that to me again."
He started to tell her he wouldn't, but her lips pressed down on his. The IV line tweaked his arm, but he tangled his fingers into her hair and pulled her closer. Her mouth opened wider and he tasted peppermint.
She pulled back, pressed forward again, kissed him repeatedly, and pulled back again. "I have to tell the doctors you're awake."
He flexed his left fingers while he waited and listened to Blake's snoring. Selina returned with an older woman. "Hello, young man, I'm Dr. Thompkins. What's the last thing you remember?"
Bruce glanced at Selina who wore her new catsuit without her mask. He was in a hospital gown and something tight and hard wrapped around his low back. Selina smirked. "She knows who we are."
"And I have better things to do with my time than dealing with the news media, so consider me blissfully ignorant on the subject." Dr. Thompkins shone a pen light into his pupils.
"I landed the Bat's escape pod and got into the Bunker. I came in harder than I intended."
"Anything missing before that?" She moved around the bed and wrapped a blood pressure cuff to his left arm.
"Rescuing the police, fighting Bane, Talia al Ghul stabbing me, Selina rescuing me, chasing the bomb, setting the autopilot; is there something I shouldn't remember?"
"I forgot how much fun you Waynes were as patients," she said before removing the cuff. "Your pressure's still on the low side, but remaining steady. Temperature." He closed his mouth around the plastic-covered thermometer. She returned to his right side and lifted the sheet and gown to look at the incision. The skin surrounding the black thread wasn't inflamed. She took the thermometer. "Temperature's normal. We'll start your antibiotics and pain medication now." She made a note on a clipboard on the bedside table before pulling two bottles out of her scrub shirt's pocket.
"No pain killers," Bruce said.
"No journalists have ever mentioned your medical degree, Mr. Wayne." Dr. Thompkins frowned at him.
Selina squeezed his left hand. "Take it tonight and revisit if you need it tomorrow?"
Now that her worry-driven anger had receded, she looked as exhausted as she had in the underground cage. He didn't want to make that worse. "All right." He accepted the two different pills and swallowed them.
Dr. Thompkins nodded at his acquiescence. "Get more rest, both of you. And don't plan on getting out of here without answering my questions." She closed the door behind her.
"I think she means it," Selina said.
"As long as she's willing to let Bruce Wayne stay dead, she can ask whatever she wants."
"What do you mean?"
He twisted closer to the right guardrail on the bed. "Gotham has brought me nothing but pain. I just want a normal life with you. Is that what you want?"
She ran her fingers up his arm. "I want to be with you. Everything else, I'm adaptable."
"Good, then adapt yourself to this bed."
She shook her head as she dropped the left guardrail. "Neither one of us can--"
"Are you hurt?" he interrupted as his chest squeezed.
"Exhausted. You're the one who's hurt." She climbed onto the mattress and pulled a blanket over them.
He curled his left arm around her. "I appreciate how you put up with that." Her hand slid over his mouth. He kissed the palm, and it dropped off when her eyes closed. The pain killer pulled him into a doze. It wasn't a heavy dose, not like a morphine pump would have given him. The city was safe. He could sleep.
Whimpering and tugging on the blanket made him jerk his eyes open. A blonde little girl stood on the bedside stool and stopped pulling the blanket. "Catwoman sick too?"
"She's sleeping. Who are you?"
"Stephanie." She wiped her nose on her sleeve.
Selina's head jerked up. "Stephanie? What's wrong, sweetie?"
"Bad man pulled my legs and I woke up here."
"Nightmare?" Bruce blinked. He hated it when his brain felt this sluggish.
"Nightwing put the bad man in jail. He won't hurt you ever again." Selina sat up. "I'll lay down with her."
"There's room enough, if she's not afraid of me."
"Batman hurts bad people. Am I bad?" She put her fingers into her mouth.
Selina pulled the trembling child into the bed and cradled her against her chest. "There is nothing bad about you. You are a good, brave girl."
Bruce tugged the blanket around them. "I missed a lot while I was out."
"Next time, don't try to blow yourself up and you won't miss anything."
He yawned rather than respond to that.
Rebuilding Gotham City: Day 2
A chirping alarm would not stop. Selina groaned and rolled her face toward the pillow. A small hand patted her shoulder. "Phone," Stephanie said brightly.
"I can't find it."
Selina groaned again, seized Stephanie, and rolled out of the hospital bed. Blake snorted with laughter. "Why did we bother getting more cots if you all end up in Bruce's bed?"
She passed Stephanie to him. "Feed her while I find the phone."
"It's on your belt." Blake set Stephanie onto her feet. "What do you want for breakfast?"
The door shut and she found her belt on the third cot. The communicator chirped again, but who would be calling it when they were all here? "Hello?"
"Are you all right?" Lucius Fox asked.
"Lucius? Sorry, we're okay. It was a rough night." Bruce opened his eyes while she sat on the stool. "What's up this early?" she asked.
"I thought you'd want the test results as soon as it was done. I'm sorry if I woke you up."
Her stomach dropped out of her body. "The test is done? I thought it took longer." She also thought she kept her voice normal, but Bruce frowned at her.
"I didn't have a backlog of tests to get through," Fox said.
"I never planned for you to go straight to work with your arm--"
"Ms. Kyle, my arm is fine, the people who sheltered in my apartment fed me, and I slept while the machines did the work. Now, do you want the results or not?"
She took a deep breath. "Tell me."
Bruce patted down the guardrail and frowned harder at what he didn't find.
"The hair sample you gave me is not the father of your baby."
She clutched the seat of the stool so she didn't fall over with the wave of dizziness that hit her and squeezed the communicator tighter. "How… how accurate is the test?"
"Ninety-nine percent, but I'm sure we can find a sample of Bruce's DNA if you want--"
"That's not necessary. It really isn't." She tightened her grip on the stool. Her head didn't feel like it was attached to her body right now.
Bruce tried to sit up, but the back brace didn't let him.
Fox took a deep breath. "Ms. Kyle, I know you haven't had time to really plan for the future, but Bruce's will didn't make any provisions for children."
That returned her to her body with a jolt. "Lucius Fox, I don't care--"
"I know, I know. But Alfred and I won't deny Bruce's child their birthright. Please factor that in." His voice sounded weary.
Bruce found the Velcro latches for the back brace and tore them open.
She needed to get off this call before he hurt himself. "I haven't had time to think about anything yet. I won't leave Gotham without talking plans over with you, okay?"
"Fair enough. Stay safe. No more chasing after bad men with nothing but a bullwhip."
"Okay, good-bye." She hung the communicator back on her belt.
Bruce gave up on sitting up and reached for her. "What's going on? What test did you need Fox to run? Are you going to pass out?"
"I don't think so." She shifted back to the bed and took his hand. "Calm down because we both can't freak out at the same time and I got dibs." Bruce took a deep breath and his agitation bled away. That was unnerving on top of everything else, so she spilled it all out. "I asked Fox to run a paternity test. You're going to be a father, Bruce."
His hazel eyes blinked. "You let me put you in the battle and you're pregnant!"
She rolled her eyes. "That's the first thing you think of? Besides, I put myself in the battle. You want to bitch Bane didn't blow your head off?" She crossed her arms.
He laid his hand on her stomach that had barely bulged yet. "You could have told me."
"And give you one more thing to worry about? I'm a bad girl, not a mean girl." And that reasoning sounded glib to her ears too.
"My bad girl is having a baby. We're having a baby." He chuckled instead of lashing out like she expected. "Have you been checked out yet?"
"Haven't had a chance."
"That moves up the chain of priorities."
"You want a baby?"
"It was something I never let myself want." He tugged her until she perched over him. His eyes narrowed. "Do you want it?"
"I want yours. Oh yeah, I actually got that." She grinned as relief pushed through the last of the worry in her gut and broke it into tiny pieces.
His hand cupped the back of her head and pulled her down for a kiss. He tucked her into a hug when they broke apart. "Lucius knows I'm the father?"
"He thinks you're dead, but he said he and Alfred didn't want to deny the baby's birthright." Her arms tightened around his chest and felt him breathe. "Rich people don't have out-of-wedlock babies like the rest of us either?"
The room's door opened before he responded and he let her go. Selina sat up. Dr. Thompkins carried in a tray of food. "I'm surprised to find you two awake." She set the tray on a rolling bedside table.
"I slept for eight years. I think I'm all slept out."
Dr. Thompkins put the thermometer into his mouth. "You are so much like Thomas, it's uncanny." Bruce's eyebrows shot up as she checked his stitches. "Still looks good and no fever. How does your back feel?"
"It feels fine." Dr. Thompkins pulled the remote control for the bed out of a holder in the headboard and shifted the bed so Bruce sat up. He tugged the brace from behind his back. "You knew my father?"
She nodded. "We worked together at Gotham General before you were born. He and Martha helped me set up this clinic. Course Bill Earle cut off the funding about a month after they died." She shook her head and pushed the tray of food over Bruce's lap.
"Sorry, but I don't remember you."
"You were busy with school and I was busy securing funding. You hardly needed an old lady troubling you with her problems and memories."
Bruce frowned, "You could have come to me, after I set up the Foundation."
"You concentrated the Wayne Foundation on other projects. Rebuilding Gotham General helped more people than just my clinic. Now eat your soup and take your antibiotic." She set that pill in a plastic cup on the tray and turned to the door.
"How soon can I get up?"
"Young man, don't you think you've earned a rest after yesterday?"
"I'm not unappreciative, Dr. Thompkins, but I need to know."
The older woman huffed. "None of your vital organs were hit by the knife, but you still needed internal and external sutures to stop the bleeding. So no strenuous activity like sex for a month. This run of antibiotics lasts a week, provided no infection sets in. You're lucky. Your scar tissue kept it from being much worse."
Bruce swallowed the antibiotic. "I don't have to use a bed pan, good." Selina hid her smile at his smirk.
Dr. Thompkins crossed her arms. "Where's Alfred Pennyworth?"
His face fell. "He left me. I don't know where he went."
Selina squeezed his hand. "Finding him is still on the agenda." He returned the squeeze.
At this rate, Bruce would never eat, Selina thought. He looked straight ahead. "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. I couldn't do that as Bruce Wayne. A flesh and blood man can be ignored or stopped. But a symbol is incorruptible, everlasting."
"Until you blew him up," Selina said.
Before Bruce responded, Dr. Thompkins spoke. "That is how you chose to honor your parents, your family name? By pushing your body past its limits beating up criminals?"
"Gotham is safe now."
Blake opened the door for him and Stephanie, who now had a Cabbage Patch doll with yellow yarn hair. "It would be safer if the police had bullets," he said.
Bruce focused on him. "What happened?"
"You cannot go out and fight! Your body will never heal!" Dr. Thompkins threw up her hands.
"Bruce, I'd rather not string you up like a piñata again," Selina said. Bruce squeezed her hand.
The door opened again. "Is there an emergency in here?" Dr. Thorne pushed his head inside.
Dr. Thompkins turned to him. "Matthew, will you explain to Mr. Wayne how he will kill himself?"
"Trying to go heli-skiing again, Mr. Wayne?"
Bruce's surprised eyebrows dropped down as he smirked. "That's the last thing on my mind. Which one of you specializes in obstetrics?"
"That's Aunt Leslie's department. Mr. Fox--?"
"Apparently is a workaholic." Selina slid off the hospital bed. "And don't you boys think you're making a battle plan without my input."
"This way, dear." Dr. Thompkins led Selina down a long hallway to a small examination room mostly taken up by a boxy machine. "So you decided to keep the baby." Selina blinked at her. "You're not the first ambivalent mother I've treated, young lady."
"Bruce is the father, not the sick fuck who raped me."
Dr. Thompkins stopped in the center of the tiny room, trapping Selina between the machine and the examination table. "You and Bruce? Thomas and Martha will have a grandchild?" Selina nodded. "And he won't give up this violence for his child!"
"I get it. I really do," Selina said to the doctor's dubious expression. "But if Gotham needs him, he will swoop in. You think wearing a cape or not changes that?"
"There are other methods to help besides one's fists."
"Of course, that's why we need to check the bun in my oven so I can get back and remind him of that."