|So Far From Where
Author: arina73 PM
Kaia Taftan was normal. Her job was normal, until it wasn't anymore. Nothing in Gotham is as it seems, until it has to be. Bruce Wayne/OC. Elements of BB, TDK and TDKR. Slow to start but going places. T for now.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Bruce W./Batman - Chapters: 7 - Words: 34,224 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 32 - Updated: 05-07-13 - Published: 07-31-12 - id: 8377838
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The slow pacing... I know :S Going to be merging parts Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Changing some of the ages, things like that, which generally go with blending stories. Let me know what you think!
Chapter One – Nature Boy
"… There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy
They say he'd wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea…"
– Nat King Cole
Kaia Taftan was not an especially unordinary looking person. The way she dressed, the way she behaved and conducted herself was small, quiet and unobtrusive. It was the way she had gone through life, sitting in the back of class, not speaking unless she had something to say, not moving unless she had something to do. She and Lou often joked that it was her combination of steely stubbornness and mouse-like background blending that got her stuck in her current position.
Even though they joked about it, Kaia did not feel 'stuck' in fact she had winded up exactly where she had wanted to be. She had stuck to Lou and that was where she had wanted to stay stuck. An internship for her final year in graduate school, where most of her time was spent observing and not participating was a dream come true for Kaia. If she had gained anything, other than a mother shaped chip on her shoulder, from her years as a gymnast was that she learned best by watching then figuring and working out the 'hows' and 'whys'. And she wanted to learn, even if it meant being largely ignored and living in a three floor walk-up in Old Town. 'At least it's not the Narrows…' she sighed, blowing a stray strand of brown hair out of her light brown eyes, rolling her shoulders and correcting her stance.
Lou had seen her though, once he had realized that she had followed him down, he really could not shake her. He had been the reason Kaia had applied for the internship, he had been her 'Svetlana Boguinskaia'. Needless to say when she had explained that as her reason for following both him and his career for as long as she had, Kaia had to elaborate. She informed him of her mother's obsession with the balletic, towering and powerful Russian gymnast, how her mother modeled her own failed gymnastics career after the woman and then how she had tried to do same with Kaia.
Kaia, herself, had always liked the less obvious power of Svetlana Khorkina's elegant and subtle movements… but that was where it ended, the movements, the expressions and the pushed smiles were all too much for Kaia. In any case, much to her mother's chagrin, Kaia preferred to follow old Louie in his field of expertise with an energetic fervor.
Lou had just raised a bemused salt and pepper eyebrow at her explanation and had let her stay. After getting thrown down into the pit, he had been desperate for company and Kaia's learning seemed to pay off when applied, which was useful in the department named 'Applied Sciences'. Kaia was aware that he had been quick to learn, through personal experience that once she had found her footing with a person and known them for a few days that she would open up and speak as comfortably as ever. However, whenever a new person entered the conversation or they left their private space Kaia would close up again, shut her tongue behind her teeth and find a wall to fade back into, not wanting to intrude where she felt she did not belong.
In the two years that Lucius had been down in the basement with only Kaia for company he had confessed to her that since the disappearance of the 'Crown Prince of Gotham' he had felt both out of place and in the best place possible. He felt that he had a name and legacy to uphold at Wayne Enterprises for the sake of Thomas and Martha Wayne and for Gotham itself, but he also felt as though he was as useless an ant fighting goliath from the bottom rung of the company's ladder. With Kaia's internship being in the last year of her two year graduate program, they had known one another for a total of three years but beginning with that confession they had only truly known one another for two years.
Now, almost at 25 Kaia was surrounded by technologies she could only have dreamed of working on, with one of the most gifted mentors on the planet and in the city that she could not make herself hate no matter what reason it gave her to despise it. 'My best friends are here too…' she thought to herself, as she straightened her posture and raised her arms up. Nona Milly, Mrs. Allen, 'Uncle' Eddie, Lou and small-talk with Caitlyn 'Who needs consistent friends under 50 anyway?' Mrs. Allen lived downstairs and smelt of meatloaf and peppermint candies.
The woman was wonderful, another reason why Kaia could not simply ride off the entire city as struggling test at civil society. Mrs. Allen had spent her entire life teaching girls not to be victims in a part of town that would have women become victims to pimps and thugs. Kaia was no fighter, and though Mrs. Allen tired the only lesson she could force the stubborn girl to learn was that the best way to get out of a fight where she was out-matched was to use the assailant's momentum against them, failing that the best option was to breathe and to run.
Mrs. Allen's most attentive student lived was a few years older than Kaia and lived in the third floor apartment above her, with Caitlyn. Kaia had never had the best of luck with making light conversation, especially with her own peers but she would try to be pleasant to Caitlyn, who gave Kaia no reason to be so eager to run away. Caitlyn, who with her zoned out stare and absent-minded conversation gave the impression of a lost kitten that would likely sharpen it claws on a person's new clothes while they weren't looking.
She was sweet, though attracting all sorts of trouble with her openness, often times Kaia would be on the verge of stepping out into the hall to interrupt whatever ruckus Caitlyn's latest date would be making, when the younger girl's protective roommate, Mrs. Allen's favourite student, would invariably step in and quell the scuffling.
'Ah well… no need to be a hero' Kaia sucked in breath, grinning 'this is going to work…' she heard a swish and thud as she released her breath, squealing in glee and happy dancing in her bare feet to a tune of her own creation, something along the lines of "Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Who rules? I do!"
"I take it your project is a success?" she heard the chuckle in Lucius Fox's deep voice behind her. "I admit, that champion soundtrack is better than ear-splitting stuff you insist is music."
"Lou!" she ran to the fatherly older man, ignoring his quip about her music and squeezing him in brief hug "You saw! It worked!" she pulled back holding the metal bow she had been working on for the past four months.
In the bright lights of the sprawling basement of Wayne Tower, Kaia had fixed all manner of electronic prototypes and chemical technology. Between she and Lucius, Kaia was convinced every failed piece of military technology could be made functional, though considering what the technology was capable of she was not entirely sure that any of the would-be weapons had a place out in the real world.
The bow was a case and point. Alone it was a plain old metal bow, but if made to work as it was intended to, it was a stealthy compactable weapon with about as many compartments as a Swiss army knife and an arsenal of alterable arrows to match. At first Lucius teased her for the amount of time and energy she was pouring into a weapon which was literally as ancient as bow and arrow technology. But Kaia silenced his teasing when she pointed out that some higher-up in the government had thought that the weapon was worth putting into production and that another someone thought that the more advanced prototype of the weapons was worth stealing. And that though bugs remained in the second prototype, that other someone might suss them out and accomplish who knows what with the mothballed project. "How would you feel if we could have figured all there is to know about the function of this weapon but just chose not to before it was too late?"
With that Kaia began her work, tinkering away. 'It's a bow! How difficult can a bow be!' she would often find herself gritting her teeth in frustration. She had worked out how to get the bow to a compact size for the thigh holster that it was designed for fast enough and with relative ease... it was getting the alignment of the string right with each consecutive pull from the holster. At first she had thought it was her posture but Lou had quickly corrected any problems on that front.
"My little girl was given a ultimatum by my wife being an archer or an equestrian…"
"Clearly the bow and arrow are the cooler path…" Kaia had smiled, as Lucius had demonstrated the correct stance and hold for her.
"They may have been" he had smiled wistfully, as he handed the bow back to Kaia "But eventually they were not very useful for the everyday Gotham lawyer…" he had tugged her elbow up higher, though what he had said had made Kaia had turn to face the older man.
"Your daughter's a lawyer in Gotham?" They had spoken about their families before, Lucius had said his wife had moved across the country when they had separated years ago, and when he had initially mentioned that his daughter was a lawyer Kaia had assumed that he meant that his daughter had pursued the career outside of Gotham. The fact that he mentioned Gotham now, must have meant he wanted Kaia to be aware of a personal something because being a lawyer in Gotham city meant one of two things… "What kind?" she had asked, mentally adding 'Corrupt or a crusading Dent?'
"She was a criminal prosecutor…"
"Was…" that had hit her like a sack of bricks to the stomach. 'Forgot the third type… an offshoot of being a Dent…'
"She'd have been thirty-five… my wife couldn't handle living here anymore… and I…" his shiny brown eyes looked up at the lighted ceiling "couldn't leave…" he had scoffed, "when I think of starting at Wayne, of the future I had seen for myself and my family, for the Wayne family even… for this city, ah" he had hissed scuffing his shoes against the grey concrete floor "suppose the city's still here…"
Kaia had looked at the man who had taped himself together in all of these years, the tall man who had suddenly appeared so small, "Lou…" that was the first time she had hugged him. "I'm here with your city." They had both known that she had meant they had crossed the line that they had seen nearing on the horizon for some time, she had meant that they were family.
Now as she hugged him four months later he shared her excitement and took her joy as his own, as a parent would.
"Our project" she had corrected him. "Now to keep the more interesting arrows from going all crazy when we shoot them…" Kaia turned on her heel her light brown eyes moving first to the target in the distance and moving to peer at the string of the bow.
She felt Lou's hand clap proudly on her shoulder "You really have that scientific drive… nothing's ever finished…"
Kaia sighed as she responded to the mocking tone in his voice "Not 'til you or the gods says so…"
The rest of the week was a series of failed attempts to get the arrows to work. Kaia had gone home that weekend and locked herself in her one bedroom apartment and on a diet of two-minute noodles she drawn configurations that she thought may work. Normally she would have felt slothful for not exercising at least once in a weekend but she was so excited and lighted up with ideas that she let herself off the hook.
Mondays were funny days for work. Lucius always hated Monday mornings, Kaia always had sneaking suspicion that it had to do with the fact that she had Monday mornings off and he disliked being so alone in a hole in the ground.
But Monday morning Kaia had an appointment she could not break, one that Lucius understood and as her technical supervisor allowed her to have.
It was her day to visit her Nona Milly, in the Gotham home for the Elderly, just by the constantly overflowing city hospital, Gotham General. Her mother's mother, the sweetest old lady in the world, who had suffered a stroke and was not only left paralyzed but could no longer tell what was happening around her. Kaia would have visited more often if she could have, but visiting hours fell directly into her scheduled work time and weekend visits were not allowed, as funding for staff was so low that there was not enough to keep the wards safe and functional on weekends. Kaia could not fault that rationale especially with the severely understaffed, underpaid and overworked employees wanting to have time to themselves or to spend with their own families.
'At least there are Mondays' Nona Milly had good days, sometimes Kaia would see a flicker of recognition in the older woman's grey eyes, when she would move close to wipe the dribble off of the older woman's gaunt chin. Sometimes the bedridden woman could clasp a pencil in her hands and write the wobbly letters the beginning of a word. Now and then it would read 'Sch…' or 'Boy…' if the latter Kaia would scoff and shake her head at the once lively women, seeing the fun-loving part of what remained of the beautiful woman. 'Still beautiful' Kaia would smile lovingly, combing her Nona's grey and silver streaked hair.
When it was the first word scribbled out it would make Kaia's heart clench, she would know that her Nona Milly had forgotten about her last visit, that she had lost all the years of speeding through her schooling, all of the updates, all of the passions and stories that they had shared. "School is going well" she would reply, trying to keep her grin from wavering "your investment's paying off…" Kaia would hope that the old news would comfort her Nona, even if it was just for a brief moment. The older woman had given every cent she had to Kaia for her schooling, it hadn't been enough the rest came from Kaia's father.
When Kaia was 20, her Nona had suffered her stroke, it turned out that Kaia's father, an Edward Taftan had felt some guilt for knocking up her mother, then stepping out. She had to be 21 to collect, as a result Kaia had to rely on student loans, for that year, refusing to use her Nona Milly's money on anything other than the older woman's medical care. If Kaia had it her way she would have taken care of her Nona herself, but it simply was not practical. Mr. Taftan's money was enough for her to finish schooling thanks to the fact that she stretched it enough and put it high interest account and worked some grocery store shift work, done some gymnastics' training at the rec centre and repaired a few electronics 'those few hundreds and percent's helped'.
She left her Nona with a kiss and an "I love you" by 11 a.m. usually, taking the train to Wayne Tower and getting the best hot chocolate in the world from 'Uncle' Eddie, whose coffee shop was located on the path from the Gotham General to the train platform.
'Uncle' Eddie was what everyone, even people older than him, called the obese Ukrainian man, who always had something greasy on his apron. It was the smell of the hot chocolate that had drawn her in the first time, it had reminded her of the smell of her Nona's hot chocolate, some spice they both used… Kaia had worked up the courage to ask 'Uncle' Eddie for the recipe on her first visit.
"If I tell you now, how will I be sure you come back?" he had asked in his thick accent, laughing a jolly sort of laugh "This is not good business…"
In the following three visits Kaia's timid voice was gone. 'Uncle' Eddie had worked his way in, on those first mornings where she had time to spare Kaia would sit and enjoy the experience watching 'Uncle' Eddie work and talk "You see my boy? Ysef!" he would yell back towards the window behind the counter that looked into the kitchen, a shaky boy with a tuft of blond hair would peer out "You see…" 'Uncle' Eddie would frown and tsk as though it were self-explanatory. "Hopeless, will he marry? No. Will he give his mother a grandchild? No. You have a nice boy, huh?" he had wiggled his lined brow, as Kaia blushed, nervously 'Please don't set me up with…' "Not to worry, my boy is not for a good girl like you." The older man had chuckled, nodding knowingly.
It was a good thing too, as two years later, Ysef and a girl who had blushed beet red at the counter whenever the boy would appear at the window, were happily married. Over the five years since Nona Milly's incident 'Uncle' Eddie had become a Monday staple, he had told her that investing was a risk, but that there was a lot of money to make or loose and that high interest savings, if left untouched was more of a guarantee but much slower and smaller. "Up to you though…" he had said, when she had turned 21"only you know what you have to loose…" with that she had thought of her Nona Milly, her education, her crappy apartment, the promise she had made to herself when she had last argued with her mother.
All these years later, 'Uncle' Eddie still hadn't given up his secret and Kaia showed up every Monday, since finishing school she was usually in a rush. The only change was that she asked for two large hot chocolates, at first she'd been ribbed by 'Uncle' Eddie about a potential man, until she revealed Lou's age and status as a mentor and recently addicted hot chocolate consumer. 'Uncle' Eddie had shaken his head "No good. No good little girl."
This particular Monday she had prattled on to Nona Milly about her project, and was bouncing on her feet to get to work. She felt excitement buzz around her, so much so she was sure that the entire world around his was vibrating with the same electric current.
She and Lucius were the only people who ever took the second ride on side elevator down to the basement, after going up to the top floor of Wayne Tower, from the moment the she arrived to the building all she wanted to do was discuss the plans with Lou.
The doors pinged, opening to the blazingly lit room, she could hear Lucius' voice around the other side of the huge central pillar of the basement.
"A bit young for dementia huh Lou?" she called with grinned, walking towards Lucius' suddenly silenced voice. "You won't believe the designs. Maybe I'm tooting my own horn but they're pretty freaking awesome!"
"Kaia?" He called back.
"No the ghost of Christmas past, I got your hot choc…" Kaia stopped short, tightening her grip on the Styrofoam cups in her hands, dangerously enough to threaten the plastic lids popping off. Standing there next to Lucius, was a handsome dark-haired man, in a handsome suit with a damnably handsome smirk on his lips.
"I- I-" Kaia looked between Lucius and the handsome man. Her heart pounded in her chest, this was not the way she met new people, this was the self that she let some people see, 'How am I meant to fade into the wallpaper now?' the look on Lou's face spoke volumes, he understood the way her mind worked, but before he could intervene. Kaia's mind convinced her mouth she that she had to say something to rectify the situation 'Figure it out as you go…' that apparently was a badly idea, she opened her mouth as though she were about to speak, effectively cutting Lucius off before he could say anything, however no sound came out. She coughed.
"Kaia, this is Bruce Wayne" Lucius finally spoke up. "Mr. Wayne this is Kaia Taftan, one of the brightest minds in Gotham today."
'Oh! Introductions!…'Kaia moved herself out of her stupor, taking a few steps toward the two men, she held out her right hand "I… oh…" she realized that Lucius' hot chocolate was still in her hand, "um, 'Uncle' Eddie's hot chocolate" she looked from the drink up to Lucius, "it's the best" then a social manner occurred to her "I would offer you some," speaking apologetically, looking back to the handsome hazel-eyed man "I mean do you want some Mr…" she lamely held out the cup in her hand towards the amused looking man, her eyes widened as the pieces of the past moments in her whirring mind clicked into place " Mr. W- Wayne?" she turned back to Lucius, "as in?…" she breathed, conveying what she meant and asking 'the dead one?' with her dismayed look to Lucius, who silently and slowly nodded his head.
"The name above the door." The handsome man's, smooth handsome voice snapped her focus back.
"R- right…" she cleared her throat "Mr. Wayne" she held out her hand, realizing that the cup was still there "Oh…" Kaia blushed, handing the drink to Lucius, as Bruce stood hands clasped before him his bottom lip bit between his teeth as he clearly tried to contain his entertained smiling, if not laughter at the scattered woman. Before she could disjointedly offer again Bruce took her small hand in his large one and greeted her.
"I look forward to working with you and your bright mind." He smiled, speaking slowly and clearly.
Her brown eyes ran over her his grinning face 'Is making fun of me?' the look in his penetrating hazel gaze was difficult to read "Yes well, being bright pays the bills… still thank goodness I have no names to keep lit over buildings, let alone doorways…" she turned her face back to Lucius. "Lou, I'll be working on the bow if you need me." Kaia was about to stride away, when she realized the warm hold that continued to engulf her hand. 'Have I lost all sense in that appendage?' she raised her eyes up to meet Bruce Wayne's 'Have I lost all my manners, I insulted him for no reason. I should…' "It was nice to have met you." She tried not to mumble as she pulled her hand out his grasp.
Kaia gave a stumped looking Lucius a quick smile before turning on her toes and zooming out of there as fast as she could.
But not before she heard the smooth voice scoff "Lou?"
To which her still fuzzy mind could not help but reply 'Bruce Wayne?'
Hope you like it so far!