Bruce's hand closed upon a marker in the desk drawer. "Yellow highlighter, that's another color."
Stephanie held out her hand for it. "Sunshine color!" She kicked her feet as she lay on her stomach.
He stepped around the little girl and her coloring project on the floor and stopped at the television. Selina nodded and he turned off Summer Gleeson's recap of today's events before joining Selina on the couch again. She chuckled as she laid her head against his shoulder. "What?" he asked.
"You remember the first night at your mansion?"
"You showing off your legs as you flipped out the window?"
"Second night then, when you were flirting so badly. Remember what you asked me to do?"
"Stay with me and help me spend my money on Gotham." The corner of his mouth lifted. "I never saw that happening like this."
She snorted as he put his arm around her shoulders. "Who would? Did you finish Leslie's paperwork?"
He nodded. "I put it back in our bag while you napped."
A cheering--muted by four stories--shook the glass doors. It startled Montoya and her heavy-set partner who had been talking by the elevators. Stephanie dropped her pen and rolled upright. "What was that?"
"Everybody's cheering that Commissioner Gordon's back." Bruce uncurled from Selina and sat up straighter.
Gordon came up the elevator and dismissed Montoya and Bullock before entering the Mayor's office. "I have to put in a supply order with Wayne Enterprises."
"Give us a few weeks. I don't know where the employees are, I still have to get my shares back, and the current CEO was part of the terrorist organization that almost blew up the city."
Gordon grimaced. "The commander of the National Guard troops is on his way in as soon as they reopen Gotham Bridge. Do you want to be a part of that debriefing?"
"There's no reason why I would be. If they have questions about the reactor or how Miranda Tate ended up in charge of Wayne Enterprises, I'll be happy to answer them, but let them think of the questions first." Bruce glanced at Selina and steeled himself for what had to be asked. "What about her record?"
Selina rolled her eyes. He turned back to Gordon's twitching mustache. "Guess you didn't hear how Police Headquarters was destroyed. We may never get all the records straightened out." He headed into the kitchenette and returned drinking from a bottle of water. "But the FBI has jurisdiction over Congressman Gilly's kidnapping."
Selina rolled her eyes again. Bruce didn't even need to look. "He consented to everything," she said. "Why don't you question him without his wife present? Stop worrying about the feds and worry about Stephanie instead."
Bruce frowned. "Why?"
"We're not Child Protection Services."
Stephanie abandoned her drawing and went to Selina. "You want me to go away?"
She scooped the little girl onto her lap and hugged her. "No, I don't want Child Protection Services to take you away."
Gordon snorted. "What Child Protection Services? Every other government agency shut down to protect their workers. The few orphanages running are swamped. She's better off with you until her parents come forward."
"What if the Evermonds come?" Stephanie pressed against Selina and put her fingers into her mouth.
"We'll send them away and you'll stay with us," Bruce said as he peeked at her face. Stephanie nodded and he smiled.
"You might have some trouble getting to the Palisades. The National Guard is keeping Gotham locked down while we get the government and aid functioning again." Gordon finished his water.
"We're going to my penthouse as soon as our ride gets here."
"Assuming it isn't trashed?" Gordon asked.
"I installed really good locks."
Selina smirked. "Did you remember the keys this time?"
Blake knocked on the glass before Bruce responded. "Ready to go?"
Gordon smiled. "Take your family home, Bruce."
He had a family again. There were still gaping holes in the idea, but the ones his parents and Rachel had left had duller edges now. He could think of them as he greeted the police officers who wanted to shake his hand. The hole Alfred left--he jerked away from that one as Stephanie panicked and they concentrated on her distress. They finally loaded into the SUV. "Ready to go home?" he asked.
Blake slid behind the wheel. "I remember the penthouse was on Midtown."
"Cale Street, two blocks down from the Midtown Bridge."
"What's a penthouse?" Stephanie hugged her doll as she sat between Bruce and Selina on the back bench.
"It's the apartment at the top of the building," Selina answered.
Bruce looked out the window at the city glowing in the setting sun's light. The details revealed the work remaining: broken windows, empty streets, over-flowing garbage bins, and non-functioning light signals. Bruce glanced away from the window. Selina stared out hers with a blank expression.
Blake found an empty parking space in the garage of the apartment building between two beaten and burnt car remains. "I hope the arsonists have moved on. I'd like to return this car from the guy I commandeered it from."
Selina smirked. "I want details." Blake shook his head as he unloaded the suitcases.
Stephanie held Bruce's hand when Blake and Selina refused to let him carry anything. He led the way through the abandoned cars to the elevator up to the apartment floors. The electricity still worked and it opened for them. He pressed the button for the top floor and leaned his eye into the security camera above the buttons. A green light flashed and a panel next to the camera slid open revealing a numeric keypad. He typed in the code and the elevator lifted as the keypad closed.
"Didn't look like anyone had tampered with that," Selina said.
"As long as the power stays on tonight, I can set up entry codes for you two."
"The power's been stable in Midtown and Uptown," Blake said, "along with gas and water. Downtown got the worse with the explosions, so more blackouts. How did you let people in for parties?"
"Scan the bar code included on their invitations or call up if they neglected to bring one. The only time it didn't work was when we had police officers escort the guests for the Dent fundraiser." Bruce's lips twisted in distaste. "A dirty cop pretended to have been taken hostage."
The elevator opened on the first floor of the penthouse. The last of the sunlight streamed through the walls of glass, but most of it fell on the covered patio and kitchen beyond the open fireplace.
Stephanie darted out of the elevator first; turned; and stared at the dust cloth-covered furniture, the curved staircase, and the helicopter pad outside. "Who lives here?"
"We do," Bruce said. He stopped at the fireplace and knelt down to turn on the natural gas. The pilot light ignited and flames danced around the ceramic logs in the waist-high pit. Selina folded the white dust cloth off the orange rectangular couches surrounding the fireplace.
"But it's huge! For just us?" Stephanie spun around again.
Bruce straightened and looked at his penthouse. It was bigger than Selina's walk-up. She smirked at him. It was probably closer in square-footage to St. Swithin's' Boys Home, but four people didn't compare to the children the boys home sheltered. Blake gave Bruce a lopsided smile. Bruce cleared his throat. "I'll go check on the electricity."
The electrical panel was hidden in the hallway behind the kitchen that also held the elevator to the second floor. He turned it on, set the thermostat, and opened the water main. He returned to the kitchen where Selina unpacked the MREs and bottled water onto the dining bar. Stephanie pressed against the glass wall to look down at the street. Blake uncovered the seats and the television at the other end of the penthouse.
Bruce turned on the water faucet at the sink before Selina brushed up against him. "Your ego okay?"
"I didn't know I needed to have the glib playboy out so soon."
"Don't, that'll just confuse the poor kid. Where's the dining room?"
He pointed to the stool along the counter. "I ate out often while living here."
"To see and be seen, poor you. So what's upstairs, all the bedrooms?"
"And the study and the gym."
She nodded as Blake sat down at the end of the dining bar and slumped over his elbow on the counter. His brown eyes closed involuntarily. Selina opened an MRE and started heating the contents. Bruce moved around her. "John?"
He jerked his head off his hand and blinked at Bruce. "What now?"
"Eater supper, pick a bedroom, and go to sleep."
He twisted on the stool and looked at the twilight descending on the city. "You don't need me on the night shift?"
"Not tonight. The ones who might have tried something are locked up and the National Guard will back up Gordon. Besides, how effective would you be as exhausted as you are?"
Blake smirked as Selina set a plate and warming entrée in front of him. "Setting the Tumbler on automatic and napping not a viable option?"
"Trust me; the seats aren't comfortable enough for that." Bruce reached for the glasses while Selina opened another MRE.
"In that case, thanks for the night off. Are you okay with kids saying the darndest things?" Blake nodded his head at Stephanie.
"I'm more worried that she'll be the only kindergartner in the city who knows what mass consumption is."
"Nah," Blake said as he opened the heater bag. "Kids know what it is even if they don't know what to call it."
"She'll be fine," Selina said.
"Based on what?" Blake asked.
"She's a Gothamite. We are survivors."
"Can't argue with that," Bruce said.
Supper was quiet; it had been a long day for everyone. Bruce swept the MRE debris into the garbage and loaded the dishwasher. Selina watched him for any signs of pain. Once the kitchen was clean, he led them around the corner to a second elevator that only traveled between the two penthouse floors. They went down a small hallway on the second floor that ended in a bedroom that spanned the entire end of the building with a king-sized bed in the left corner and a television sitting area on the right. "This is the master bedroom," Bruce said.
"Who had the thing against doors and curtains, you or your decorator?" Selina asked.
"It's one-way glass," Bruce said.
"Yeah." Blake dropped Bruce's duffle bag and parked Selina's suitcase next to it. "I'll take a bedroom at the other end of the hall. With a door."
"On the right, across from the study, I'll show you." Bruce moved out the door and Blake followed him.
Selina shook her head. Stephanie pulled the dust cloths covering the modern chairs around the television. "Come on, let's find you a bedroom."
"I get my own bedroom?" Stephanie caught Selina's hand. "I can sleep on one of the couches."
"You didn't have a bed at the Evermonds?"
"They usually had people sleeping from Mr. Evermonds' medicine. The couch was better and I could hide in the closet."
One of them needed to pay the Evermonds a visit, and it looked like it would fall on Nightwing. Selina had to convince Blake he needed the bullwhip. "You get to have your very own bedroom with us." She opened the first door on the right and flicked on the left and flicked on the lights. "This isn't it."
Stephanie peered around Selina's legs at the large mat in the center of the room surrounded by free weights and high-end isolation exercise machines. "What is it?"
"It's a gym, where you exercise." Selina turned off the lights and shut the door.
"Do I need to exercise?"
"Maybe when you're older. Right now, you should play, but not in there. There's stuff in there that can hurt you." Selina opened the next door on the right. She didn't think it was originally supposed to be a bedroom since another hallway ran between the room's windows and the outer glass wall. But there was a queen-size bed and a wall of wardrobe cabinets in it now.
Stephanie's eyes widened. "All mine?"
"All yours." Selina opened the other door on the far right wall and found a bathroom of white marble and aqua-green glass tiles and fully stocked with soap, shampoo, conditioner, and towels. She decided not to think about how much it cost to keep this skyscraper mansion ready to occupy at a second's notice.
"Where will you sleep?"
"In that huge open bedroom with Bruce." She started filling the tub large enough for Stephanie to swim in. The little girl looked lost. "If you have a nightmare, you run to me, okay? Bruce won't care."
Selina finally got Stephanie into bed wrapped in a tied-to-make-it-smaller T-shirt from Bruce's closet after a bubble bath and blow drying her blonde hair. Few lights in the neighboring buildings shone against the black night and matched Selina's trepidation as she headed to the master bedroom. Their first night alone without a common enemy. Time enough for what she did to sink in. Her dragging feet crossed the threshold into the huge master suite.
The opaque glass panels dividing the bed from the rest of the room glowed from the bedside lamps Bruce had on. Bruises dotted his uncovered arms. Bruce set down his tablet with a smile. "You're wet. Come here and let me make you wetter."
"What part of no strenuous activity don't you understand?" She pulled off her wet black blouse. Now where was the bathroom to hang it up in?
Bruce swung out of the bed wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. "It won't rupture my sutures to give you an orgasm." He took her blouse and tossed it over one of the dividers where it hung and dripped. "It sounded like a good celebration to me."
She refused to walk around the issue for eight years. "You want to celebrate my lying to you."
The smile dropped off his lips, but he didn't look angry. "Did you not tell me you're pregnant because you thought I'd reject you or because of Bane?"
"Bane. I know you wouldn't reject your child. But sidelining me when they didn't consider me a threat," she clenched her fist. "And damned if you didn't try to do it again without knowing! If I hadn't decided not to listen to you...." She trailed off, feeling exposed under his serious gaze.
"I'm not about to apologize for trying to protect you," he said. "And I don't expect one from you for doing the same thing." He touched her hair. "It doesn't suit you."
"I'm not apologizing, but you don't like lying."
"But I lied too," he said. "I never had a chance to test the software patch on the autopilot. I thought it would hurt less than if I had said I was coming back and it failed."
"Great, we're already treating each other shitty. At least you have the excuse of getting better at being selfish."
"For all the good it did us." He shook his head. "So let's learn from this mess." Selina raised her eyebrows. "No secrets, no thinking what is best for the other, trust we always have each other's back, and let this go."
"You trust me that much?"
Something inside her fluttered loose and warmed her with the smoldering look he gave her. "With my life. In fact--"
She cut him off with a kiss and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I want you to get me wet now."
He caressed her hips. "We're having a baby," he murmured against her lips. "And how did you get your jeans wet too?"
"Stephanie figured her bathtub doubled as a swimming pool." Selina stepped out of them and her panties as Bruce tugged them down. She unclasped her bra while he tossed them over the next divider. "Do you have one around here?"
"Wayne Manor does." He crawled over her as she lay back on the mattress. "If she needs one, we can install one on the patio."
She pulled down his head and kissed him. "In December?"
"We can close in the patio."
His lips moved down her neck. She skimmed her hands up his arms and over his shoulders, careful not to press on his bruises. He traced over her collarbone. Her fingers combed through his thick hair. His breath warmed her skin as it shivered in his wake.
She lost all thoughts of renovation projects and considerations for the other inhabitants as Bruce parted her thighs with his gentle hands. "Yes, please." She canted her hips toward his mouth.
He drew patterns on her inner thighs before dropping a soft kiss there. "I've missed how you taste."
"You're the one who-oh!" She forgot the complaint about no bedroom in the bunker when his tongue slid along her folds and flicked her clit. Actually, it was an inspired way to forestall an argument and she planned on using the technique on him as soon as he was medically cleared. He stroked her with his fingertips and she levitated.
He coaxed out her orgasm and milked it until her brain dissolved from the sensation. The first thing she recognized as her senses returned was feather-soft kisses below her navel. Next was Bruce's heartbeat against her thigh. Her fingers were still wrapped in his hair and the heat from his scalp warmed them. Tears sprang to her eyes and she couldn't stop them from falling.
She let go of Bruce's hair and wiped her wet temples. Stop, stop! Before he notices! She pressed the heels of her hands down on her eyes. Her breathing tore out of her mouth.
"Selina?" Bruce lifted himself off her legs. "Did I hurt you?"
She rocked her head against the pillow. Her screwed-up reactions weren't his fault. And she was letting the autopilot go, damn it. She rolled away as he settled on the mattress, but his strong arms wrapped around her.
He tugged her to his chest and pinned her there. "You're safe. We're all safe. Let it go."
She was stronger than this, stronger than what she had done, stronger than what she had seen and felt. She pressed her lips together and closed her teeth down on her sob.
His hand massaged the back of her neck. "It's okay. You know I won't spoil your tough girl image."
She started to laugh at his call back to their teasing banter from a lifetime ago. The laughter morphed into a sob. He continued to rub her tense muscles with a croon under his breath. No judgment, no horror, no bewilderment. "You're safe," he whispered. "Do what you need to."
Her arms wrapped around his chest, high above his stitches, and squeezed until she felt his even breathing. The sobs shoved out of her. They shook both their bodies but Bruce's hands stroked her neck and shoulders.
The sobs finally ended, but he hummed under his breath. She eased one arm free and wiped her face. "I didn't expect that," she said.
"It's probably better than my repress everything until I have nightmares." He eased his arms back but kept his hands on her skin.
She remembered the awful yells when he was unconscious but had blamed them on his pain. "You have nightmares every night?"
"Regularly, not every night unless something else is going on." His cheek muscles moved under her hand as he smiled. "Don't worry. I've had them for years and know how to keep them quiet."
"Don't hide from me."
"I won't." He sealed it with a kiss. "How do you feel?"
Exhausted and numb, but it was a good numb unlike getting drunk to forget. "Ask me in the morning." She settled against his chest and his heart beat under her ear.