A/N: Hi everyone! I've been out of the game for some time (just uninspired), but since summer started I rewatched the Dark Knight Trilogy and the Animated Series (with Conroy and Hamill) and I got the nutty idea of taking the two and blending them. This story is meant to be Nolan-verse, but I will be adding some characters from the cartoon that didn't show up in the films. I'll also be tweaking some of the storylines as I add these characters and my OCs. I ask that you please bear with me and suspend disbelief - after all, this is fan fiction. If you care to join me on this endeavor, I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. If you have something to share, please be constructive with your criticism. Without further ado, read on and please review!


Chapter One: Underestimated

"This is Vicki Vale reporting live from Gotham Central Hospital…"

The reporter's voice on the television drifted lazily through the air, along with the faint scent of pancakes. Three women darted around the small room, all of them calling out and talking at the same time.

"I can't find my textbook!"

"Oh, the pancakes!"

"Where did I put my stupid watch?!"

"Is anybody gonna take that last candy bar?"

"Um, yeah. I need my daily dose of sugar."

"Girls!" the clipped, elegant-sounding voice of the elder woman chided them, scowling as she turned off the stove in disappointment of her slightly burnt creations. "Oh, bother. Not again." Returning her attention to the fiasco of the candy bar, her lips stretched into a wry smile as she saw the two siblings split the treat down the middle. "That's more like it. Well, I'm afraid breakfast has gone to the dogs, dearies."

"Oh, it's not that bad, Becky," said the eldest sister, quickening her step as she bounced over to the stove top. Grabbing one of the cooler disks, she inspected it briefly before taking a bite out of it. "Works for me," she said around the mouthful.

"I'm gonna be late for class!" the younger sister gasped as she saw the time appear on the television, shutting the device off quickly before snatching her school bag and making off to the door.

"Hey!" the elder cried, making sure to kiss the sixty-something lady on the cheek. "I'll call you later."

"Good luck on your first day, Elisa!" the woman called as the young woman rushed out the door and shut it tight after her.

The two sisters barreled down the stairs of the dank, decrepit apartments, pausing only when they passed a familiar door, which acted as a barrier to the screaming, furious voices within. The two girls glanced at one another, brows furrowed, before the eldest raised her hand to knock. Before she even reached it, the door creaked open and a small figure emerged quickly. He shut the door behind him and glanced up to see their faces with his sad, blue-grey eyes. "Hi, Elisa. Hi, Brina," he said softly, wincing as the two voices continued to escalate in volume.

"Hey, Tim," the eldest, Elisa, smiled sadly, ruffling the boy's blonde hair.

"Hi," the other girl, Brina, responded sweetly, kissing the boy's forehead. "Ready for school?"

He nodded silently and allowed them to take him away. He did not glance back at the door, even as the sound of breaking glass pierced the air. He looked forward to his ride to school with his neighbors…it took his mind off things for a few hours.

Elisa's dark brown eyes darted as they reached the ground floor and she extended her hand towards the door. Keeping one hand on her pocket, where her Taser was sitting complacently, she scanned the filthy alleyway of the Narrows before motioning silently for the rest of her posse to follow. Even after living here for years, she was never accustomed or comfortable with the area. "Stay close," she murmured, as she always did whenever she left the building with her loved ones. Keeping her body erect, her eyes never stopping to check every inch of the area, she led the others out towards the streets. Their journey was always one of silence, vigilance of high priority. The memory of a fated night always flickered in the back of her mind whenever she passed Faden Street, just a block away from their apartment building. It was what made her eyes burn with anger, and drove her to this point in time.

The walk to the monorail always seemed to drag, even with the weak beams of sunlight trying to light up their path through the buildings and smog of the city. At last, when they were finally able to sit in the empty car, the trio allowed themselves to relax just a smidge. The electric train jolted to life and slowly sped over the river and towards the center of the city of Gotham.

"What's with the fancy clothes?" Tim asked, raising his gaze to Elisa's face.

"They're not that fancy-" she protested.

"She's finally starting work, Timmy!" Brina beamed, nudging her sister's arm as her brown eyes sparkled. "She's headed for the GCPD, they gave her the okay yesterday!"

"Really?" Tim asked, his face lighting up. "So you're an official cop?"

"That's detective to you," she winked, unable to contain her grin. She had studied and trained hard the past four years, and now that she had finally graduated, she was eager to get out there and make a difference. She felt her heart bursting within her chest as she was embraced by both child and sister, the two of them smiling at her with pride. "I'll tell you about my first day later, I promise. We can order Caesar's Pizza and watch those weird cartoons you like, Tim."

"They're not weird! It's a superhero show. 'The Gray Ghost'."

"The art-style's a bit off, but whatever," Elisa teased. "You've got that math test today, don't you?"

He nodded. "I can do it."

"Of course you can," Brina grinned, only to grimace. "I wish I could say the same for my programming class."

"Don't be ridiculous, Brina. You just overanalyze. You could hack into a store's security system if you wanted," Elisa mumbled under her breath, smirking as Brina stuck out her tongue at her.

The college student rolled her eyes before tossing her coppery brown braid over her shoulder. "I would never dream of doing such a thing."

Tim giggled as they bantered. The eight-year-old boy wished he could stay with them permanently, as well as their British caretaker. He saw in them the family he did not have, and craved it more than anything. The girls had gotten the hint when they first moved to the Narrows and met the small boy, crying outside in the rain as his parents threw things around in their apartment above. He snuggled into Elisa's embrace, enjoying her warmth and the smell of mint before he had to leave.

Arriving at their destination, the trio disembarked the monorail to catch yet another ride on a bus. The entire time they waited, Elisa found herself strumming her fingers upon her knee. She caught the dirty look from Brina, reminding her to quit the obnoxious habit, and moved on to twirling a loose strand of her curly black hair that had fallen out of its bun. Catching a glimpse of her reflection in the window across from her, she could see her anxious face staring back. She wore her best grey slacks and had ironed her button-down blouse until Rebecca was certain she would burn a hole through it. Her mother's burgundy leather jacket gave her some comfort, though, which made her smile softly as she remembered her mother wearing the article of clothing.

"This is our stop," Brina announced, bringing Elisa out of her thoughts.

The three of them exited the vehicle and said their goodbyes, exchanging hugs and kisses before they split. Brina took Tim by the hand and strode off, ready to drop him off at his school before hurrying to Gotham University. Elisa watched them leave wistfully as a knot formed in her stomach. Though she was confident in her abilities and eager to start work, she couldn't help but feel anxious. She had heard a great deal about the Gotham police, not to mention worked with some of the officers, and they were anything but friendly. Still, as she straightened her jacket and threw her shoulders back, she knew she wouldn't be alone as she started her first day on the job.

As she walked along the sidewalk, self-consciously checking her hair and praying to God she didn't look like she had a bird's nest on her head, her shoulder bumped against another's, sending her tripping over her wedged shoes. Biting back a curse, she turned to face the stranger when she noticed a sleek, brown item on the floor. Kneeling down, she took the wallet in her hand and raised her face to speak when her eyes locked with a pair of dark, startling hazel orbs.

"Sorry," she immediately spoke, blushing as she realized she had been staring. She could already feel her face burning like the sun, and she probably looked like a tomato to boot. "I wasn't paying attention. Here, I think this is yours." She offered him the wallet, her heart racing as this handsome stranger placed his hand over hers, a half-hearted smile stretching on his lips.

"Thanks. Don't worry about it, I wasn't focused either," he answered, offering his free hand to help her up.

They stood awkwardly, smiling shyly before a thought snapped Elisa back to reality. "Oh! I'm going to be late!" she gasped, checking her wristwatch and grimacing as she saw the metal hands confirm her suspicion. "Excuse me," she added quickly, running off without a second glance at the man. Had she bothered to look back, she might have seen him quirk an eyebrow and cock his head at her, an amused grin growing wide on his usually stern face.

-B-

The inside of the slightly run-down building was bustling, with officers haggling with one another, phones ringing, and the smell of coffee strongly dominating the air. Elisa ignored all of it and headed straight for the Commissioner's office. Some of the officers, upon seeing her face, made a motion of welcome to her. She had been coming to visit for some time in the past year of her studies, and a few were fond of her, if not at least curious. She quickly waved or smiled to those that acknowledged her before arriving at the empty secretary's desk before the office. Her brows furrowed at the sight. Was the older gentleman away for the day? He was usually found typing away at his post or taking calls. Taking one quick sweep of the room, she decided to knock on the Commissioner's door anyway.

"Come in," she heard a smooth, male voice respond.

Opening the door, she saw three figures standing at the center of the room around the polished desk. She knew the tall, dark-skinned man to be Commissioner Loeb, who stared stoically at her as she shut the door after her. The second figure had a weathered, tired face, but kind eyes hidden behind a pair of large glasses, a moustache completing his look. This man offered her a small smile, to which she politely returned the gesture. The last figure made her feel slightly more at ease. The youthful face of her classmate and friend, John Blake, recently graduated patrol officer, watched her with teasing eyes and a half grin that she had come to know and love. He was considered a brother to her after all the years of studying and training they had been put through together.

"Good morning, gentlemen," she greeted them cordially, standing at attention. "Detective Elisa Montez, reporting for duty."

Loeb's mouth twitched, fighting back a smirk, before he shook his head and said, "At ease, Miss Montez. You're right on time." Taking a seat behind his desk, he motioned towards the other two men. "I was just introducing your colleague, Officer Blake, to Sergeant James Gordon."

"How do you do, sir?" she asked, offering her hand to the sergeant, who readily shook it.

"Nice to meet you," he greeted her kindly.

"Officer Blake will be working with Gordon and Detective Flass until he gets the hang of things," Loeb informed the group. "I'll have you out front at the desk, Miss Montez."

Elisa felt as though his words were a slap to the face as she listened, her face showing nothing, though her eyes began to fill with indignation. Quickly collecting herself, she stood a little straighter and said, "Excuse me for interrupting, sir, but I'm ready to get out there and do my best."

"Maybe," he answered coolly, lacing his fingers together and placing his hands atop his desk. "But I'm not sure just yet. Either way, we're in need of a secretary. Mr. Burl died last week, and with the other recruits that have already come in and been assigned with mentors, I feel that we're fully covered."

Her brows furrowing, she insisted evenly, "Sir, I'm not some token policewoman. I was trained just as much as the other recruits, even harder at times."

He glanced her over from top to bottom, taking in her barely passable five foot four height. "And now you'll get a chance to relax from your hard work…unless you don't want the job."

Gordon made eye contact with Blake, and could see the young man's anger at the Commissioner's decision. Thinking fast, he tried one last ditch effort before anyone could explode. "Why not let me take them both? I can manage."

"Thoughtful of you, Jim, but no. The young lady can stay at the desk or find another police station this close to her vicinity." With the note of finality in his voice, he leaned back in his chair and nodded. "Dismissed."

John Blake opened his mouth to protest just as Gordon and Elisa both shot him a quelling look. The three excused themselves and left, shutting the door after them. Gordon released a sigh as he felt the two rookies' frustration invisibly emancipating from their beings. "Sorry, kids. Once he's set his mind, there's no changing it."

"Ellie, I'm sorry-" John started, pausing as Elisa held up her hand and exhaled shortly.

"Don't you worry about me, Johnny," she smirked, nudging his ribs. "I'm going to prove that I can excel at whatever they throw at me, even if it is just…paperwork." She didn't bother to hide her grimace at the thought of answering nasty phone calls and pouring over countless files and requests. During her time at college, she had taken a part time job as a secretary to a doctor at Arkham Asylum, and hated every second of it. Still, at least she was equipped with the skills from that experience, and she was certain she would never have to worry about seeing those psychos again.

"Still…you were one of the top students in our class," her friend frowned.

"I have a feeling that I'd still be here if I was the president," she joked. She became stern as she remembered that Gordon was still in their midst. "Sorry, sir-"

"Don't apologize, Miss," Gordon shook his head, forming his own wry smile. "A lot of people go unappreciated and underestimated here."

The phone on the previously unoccupied desk blared loudly, startling them all from their conversation. Pouting at the electronic device, Elisa heaved a sigh and sat down. "You go on ahead. Have a good day, and be safe."

With empathetic eyes, the two males bid her goodbye before walking into the sea of people. Elisa picked up the phone and soon found herself taking a memo for Loeb from the Mayor. She thought he would never stop talking, arguing with her as though she herself were Loeb. "Yes, Mayor Garcia, I understand, and I'll get the message to the Commissioner right away…" The door to Loeb's office opened, causing her to turn her head and see him. She held up a slip of paper with the name "Mayor G" on it, making Loeb sigh and roll his eyes. He mumbled at her to put him on hold, which she gladly did after stubbornly excusing herself from the talkative man. Looking up to her boss, she suppressed a breath of relief. "He's adamant about talking to you, sir. It's about the drug rings spreading-"

"I know why he's calling," he snapped, making a sound of irritation as he glanced back at his own desk and saw that his phone was now beeping. He was not eager to get to Mayor Anthony Garcia's call. He had been hounding the commissioner for the past few weeks with the same issue, determined to get the drugs off the streets – at least, the cleaner, more elegant streets of Gotham – and it was giving Loeb a headache. "If I have to hear about 'wiping the streets clean' one more time-"

"Why not find a way to confront, or at the very least compromise, with Falcone and other mob bosses? Or find evidence to prosecute them?" Elisa suggested, her brows furrowed in suspicion at him. Everyone knew the mobs had their hands in everything, but she knew if you looked under a rock and dug deep enough, you could find the juicy worms. In order for that to happen, however, they would need morals and courage…something she saw that Loeb and most of the police here lacked as he gave her yet another dirty look.

"Why not get me a coffee instead, Miss Montez. Dark roast, two packets of cream. On my desk in ten minutes."

Glaring back evenly at him as she arose from her seat, she let the corner of her mouth twitch upward for a second as she coolly nodded her head and responded tartly, "Yes, sir." Turning on her heel, she walked towards the coffee machine, narrowing her eyes at the appliance. He would get his dark roast coffee with two packets of cream when she returned, as well as a pinch of salt and a mountain of passive aggressiveness.

-B-

Brina picked up her cellphone as she left her first class, texting quickly as she made her way to the ladies' room. "How's work?" she wrote, pressing send before tugging the door open and entering the room.

The immediate response was an emoji that looked exasperated. "I'll tell you at home."

Brina bit her tongue at this, her stomach churning as her eyes began to prick with tears. She only hoped her sister wouldn't be in too foul of a mood when she got home and shared the bad news. Her hand shook as she stared balefully at the letter from Wayne Enterprises.


"Brina?"

She looked up from her textbook as she heard her name being called. She had just dropped Tim off at school when she received a text from Emilio Rodriguez, the head of Scholarships and Loans in Wayne Enterprises, asking her to come in that morning. Having checked in, she sat down and began studying until she heard her voice being called in a melancholy tone.

"Hi, Emilio," she greeted the middle-aged man warmly, her heart speeding as she caught sight of his apologetic face. "What's up?"

"I'm sorry, I know you've got class in a bit, it's just…" Heaving a sigh, he pulled an envelope out of his jacket and handed it over to her. He had helped her sister get through college, and seen what dedicated students these girls were. Seeing her reaction as she opened the envelope and began to read made his heart ache. It simply wasn't fair.

"…why are they taking away the scholarships?" Brina asked in a whisper, raising her eyes to him, now full of hot tears.

"It's the head of the company, Mr. Earle. He said it was a hindrance and wasn't showing huge signs of progression-"

"He doesn't want to spend his precious funds, I get it," she sniffled, fighting to regain her composure. Clenching her hand, she crushed the letter and shoved it into her saddlebag backpack. Looking at the man, she forced a smile as she wiped away her tears. "You can tell him 'thanks' for me and all the other college students who can't afford this education."

"Sabrina-" he pleaded softly.

"Thanks for everything, Emilio…I'm gonna start looking online to see if there's anything else available." With that, she walked away slowly, feeling as though a ton of lead had been placed on her shoulders.


Wiping her face clean of her new tears, Brina squeezed her eyes shut and inhaled deeply. Crying about it wasn't going to solve anything. "Breathe, Brina, breathe," she muttered softly. Grasping her bag, she entered an empty stall and lowered the lid so that she might sit. Opening her laptop – a beaten-up hand-me-down that was now their only form of internet access at the apartment – she tapped her mousepad to select a tab and began to type in a series of complex and intricate passcodes. If anything could take her mind off things, it was this.

Since she was ten, she had learned how to memorize equations, passwords, directions, and recipes. It was about the same time that she found herself drawn to computers and seeing how programs worked. By thirteen, she had learned that each system had weak points. Even if they could not afford the technology at home, she utilized whatever she had at school, from friends, and even the local library. It wasn't until Elisa gave her the old laptop that she finally was able to test her finesse and strengthen her curiosities. Thus her hope to study Computer Science was realized and she applied to Gotham University years later.

Waiting for the system to load, she flexed her fingers, her brows knitting together as the security footage of the east hallway appeared on her screen. She watched as the students walked past, oblivious to their every moment and word being captured on film. During her first semester, she was able to hack into the security system and caught sight of an assault on a young man who was beaten and taken away. She ripped the footage onto a hard drive and anonymously sent it to the university's security department, and the delinquents were apprehended shortly afterwards…only to be released weeks later. She was infuriated and decided if the law wasn't going to do anything about it, she would have to fight her own way. While she commended her sister and believed she could do great things, she believed that something drastic had to change before things got better.

Keeping an eye on this particular passage – this secluded one she found to be the most active with attacks and rape attempts – she decided to play vigilante and go out when help was needed. Her sister would have called her reckless if she knew. Brina was not afraid, however. She may not be a cop, but she had a few surprises up her sleeve.

Her eyes darted to a hunched figure on the screen being approached by two larger persons. Already, Brina was rising from her seat. The hallway was more or less deserted, with only two or three students sitting on the benches and minding their own business. Seeing the two males tower over the female, she typed in a quick code, shutting the camera off for the next five minutes. Security would find it extremely suspicious if it was any more than that time frame. Quickly, she snapped the laptop shut and shoved it into her bag before barreling out of the bathroom. Cutting across the Arts and Music building and making a left turn at the courtyard, she hurried as fast as he legs would let her. Already, as she slowed herself down as so not to be heard, she could hear their low, sinister hisses.

"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"

"Please… I just want to get to class-"

"I've seen you at the Biology Lab. She's into science, Bill."

"Maybe we should give her a private lesson on biology."

"Please-"

"Please what?" one of the bullies snickered, gasping as a boot-covered foot suddenly appeared between his parted legs and flew to make contact with his groin. As he toppled over, his friend spun around to see who the assailant was.

Brina had taken a moment to hide her belongings in one of the bushes before pulling up her scarf and hoodie to conceal her face and hair. With only her glaring brown eyes exposed, she demonstrated a flurry of movements as she flipped and kicked, jabbing them with her elbows in weak spots before they could react. With a final thrust of her foot, she watched as the second male crippled over and wheezed for breath. Looking up, she saw the girl standing there, gaping at her with wide eyes, her jaw loose.

"Don't just stand there! Go before they catch their breaths!" Brina insisted.

Her words seemed to snap the girl out of her stupor, sending her flying down the hallway past Brina and the thugs, but not before shouting, "Thanks!"

Brina didn't have time for 'thank yous', though. Running in the same direction as the victim, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure the two idiots were still down. Her heart pounding wildly within her chest, she skidded to make a turn back towards the row of bushes that held her bag. It was then that she nearly tripped over herself and came to a complete halt upon seeing her saddlebag being held aloft by a stranger.

The man was tall and handsome, with a chiseled face and a suit she was sure could pay her family's rent for at least a year. Something about him seemed familiar…hadn't she seen him on TV…?

"Looking for this?" he asked calmly, raising an eyebrow at her.

She said nothing, standing stock still as she waited for some kind of condescending or hostile remark from him. "Oh my gosh, I can't afford to go to jail! Elisa would kill me!" She fought to remain calm as she straightened herself and struggled to get the right words out of her mouth. "…I guess you're gonna report this, huh?" She winced, wanting to smack herself. "Great! Give him ideas! Point him in the right direction!"

"The ones who should be reported are those two," he said casually, nodding his head in the direction she had come from. He stretched out his arm and quietly beckoned with his eyes for her to retrieve the parcel. "Come on, I don't bite."

Slowly, she edged towards him and snatched the bag back. Raising an eyebrow at him, she cocked her head and asked, "Are you a professor or something?"

A chuckle escaped him as he shook his head. "Not exactly. I'm looking for the Office of Financial Aid. I'm trying to get in contact with some students."

"Financial Aid? That's south, past the courtyard to the OFA building," she directed him. "It's the only one with three floors."

"Thanks," he answered. A half grin showed on his lips as he said, "You can remove the scarf. I don't plan on turning you into the authorities."

"If it's all the same, I'll stay covered," she responded tartly. "You could be some sort of psychotic weirdo who wants to stalk me or a government agent bent on exposing my amazing double life."

The grin seemed to widen as he listened, amused by her sarcasm. "Fair enough. If you ever need anything, though, let me know."

"And…you are…?"

"Bruce Wayne."

Brina felt as though her eyes had popped out of their sockets and onto the pavement. "Wayne?! Like, Wayne Enterprises?"

"Yes…" he answered, giving her a quizzical look.

"Oh for the love of Pete, I'm an idiot," she whispered, covering her eyes. "Now I really don't have a chance…"

"Are you ok?" he asked, reaching for her. The sound of footsteps earning his attention, his head turned to catch sight of the two attackers she had kicked down earlier. Grabbing her arm, he yanked her down behind the bushes and shushed her when she began to protest.

Brina remained still and waited as she realized what he was doing. Waiting for the goons to pass, she glanced over at him and gave him an approving look. "You're pretty quick."

"You've got to be when the paparazzi's always on your tail," he mumbled, checking the view over the bushes before helping her up. "Now, care to explain that reaction of yours?"

"You could just run away and never look back," a little voice within her said, but she knew it would only make her look childish. "What do you care if he thinks you're childish? He doesn't know who you are!" Still, she knew she had to face her problems if she wanted to set things right. That was what Elisa always told her. Tugging both scarf and hoodie down, she exposed her blushing face and mussed up braid. "Sabrina Montez," she introduced herself meekly, offering her hand. Much to her surprise and relief, he shook it heartily.

"Montez…I think your name was on my list, actually." Tugging his sleek, new phone from the inside of his dark jacket, he turned it on and tapped the screen before turning it to face her. "This is you, isn't it? A recipient of the Wayne Foundation Scholarship?"

"Was," she answered tiredly. Shaking her head, she resituated her bag on her shoulder. "I already got the news about it being canceled, you don't have to remind me."

"I'm afraid you're mistaken," he frowned. "I'm reinstating it."

Her head whipped around as she gawked at him. "Shut up!" she shouted, covering her mouth as soon as the words flew out. She frowned as he laughed. "I was called in this morning and told I wouldn't be on it-"

"Well, I've changed it back," he informed her.

"How do I even know you're the real Bruce Wayne?" she asked, squinting scrutinizingly at him. "He's been proclaimed dead for the past few years."

"I could show you my driver's license, birth certificate, social security card, vehicle registration, and I'm currently on every channel on the globe. Pick your poison."

She stared at him silently, making him wonder if she had gone into a wide-eyed comatose state until she smacked her forehead. "I'm an idiot."

He laughed out loud in spite of himself, making her watch him cautiously. "I doubt that. You're very quick and witty, and you know how to defend yourself. You're full of surprises."

"Well, that's what you get for having a sister as a cop and taking gymnastics for years," she shrugged, smirking teasingly before looking him in the eye, her face sober. Her eyes were filled with pain and pleading as she kept her voice soft and even. "Sir, I hate to sound…needy…but, please, if you're telling the truth, please let me know I can keep going to school. I need to learn, I want to. I really need this scholarship…and I don't want any more bad news for my family…so please tell me the truth."

Bruce reached over and grasped her shoulder, giving it a light squeeze as he looked in her eyes, all teasing gone out the window. Somehow, she felt like he was trying to probe her, looking for something inside of her. His sternness vanished just as quickly as he gave her his half smile once more and said, "Check your mail in the next couple of days for the confirmation letter. Trust me." Releasing her from his hold, he walked off, pausing for a moment to look over his shoulder at her. "Keep up the good work, Sabrina."

"It's Brina," she smiled, waving before running off in the opposite direction, fighting back the urge to squee in delight. "Yes! Thank you, God! Thank you, Mom, Dad! Things are finally looking up."

-B-

Evening could not come soon enough for Elisa.

The hours seemed to trudge on slowly, painfully, as she sat at her desk and took calls, made copies, organized reports, and got coffee for Commissioner Loeb. Thankfully, the latter job came to a halt after her third try. The first time she brought him his caffeinated drink she poured in a packet of salt along with a packet of sugar. "The mugs must not be clean," she insisted innocently. The second time he demanded his coffee, she poured in honey. "Are you sure the cream's not sweetened already?" she had suggested. The final straw was when she added three packets of cream. "It's the same amount I used last time," she had said sweetly.

Loeb had given her his infamous stink eye as she walked away. At the very least, she was certain she was off coffee duty unless he wanted another botched mug of the drink.

Elisa fought to keep her spirits up as she started her first day of work, but her coworkers were starting to grate on her nerves. She had spotted at least ten of her classmates from Gotham U, about six of them had come over to comment or gloat on how impressed they were to see one of their top colleagues put to work as a secretary. "At least I don't need a gun to compensate for anything and I don't waste my time rubbing myself in people's faces when there's work to be done," she would tell them sweetly as she batted her eyelashes and then turned back to her work.

Gathering the files stacked on her desk, she looked at her watch for the zillionth time that day, taking solace in the fact that John had already taken Brina and Tim home for her. She smiled as she imagined her little sister's blushing face around the officer. She only wished that she could have taken her family home as opposed to being trapped there in the station. Hefting the stack, she headed back to the file room, catching pieces of gossip as she passed other officers and detectives. The name she kept hearing the most that day was 'Bruce Wayne'.

"Weird…I thought he was dead," she mused silently as she slipped each manila folder into the appropriate cabinets. She glanced around the room, making sure that nothing more had to be set into place as her eyes fell upon another file cabinet. Pursing her lips, she checked over her shoulder before walking over and tugging the drawer open. Her fingers pushed the files up until she found the one she was looking for. Falcone's name was scribbled at the tab, but already she could see that the file was slim. If they did have any dirt on the man, it wouldn't be found here. She took a gander at it anyways and at least got a look at his history. Heaving a tired sigh, she set the file back into place, her mind wandering back to the name 'Wayne'. Curiosity took hold as she decided to pull up his file when the door opened, making her straighten at once.

"Oh please, dear God, don't let it be Loeb asking for another cup of coffee!" she mentally screamed. Her concerns vanished as she saw a handsome man enter the room, his black hair disheveled, his green eyes narrowed in search. They widened upon seeing her, however, causing him to smile brightly. "Good evening," he greeted her, shutting the door behind him.

"Good evening," she responded back politely, shutting the file cabinet. "I can look up this Wayne character later." "Can I help you with something?"

"Ah, just looking for files from ten years ago on the Maroni case," he responded, running his hand through his hair.

"Sure. It's filing cabinet F8, second drawer from the top," she instructed him.

He nodded, making his way towards said cabinet when he stopped short and turned to face her. "Sorry, where are my manners?" he chuckled, offering his hand. "Trent Montgomery, I work in the DA's office."

"Elisa Montez," she responded, adding afterwards, "Detective."

"Detective Montez, huh? It's a pleasure," he grinned. "I guess I'll be seeing you out there."

"I doubt it," she said, her mouth twisted into a forced smile. "I'm a glorified secretary is all."

He frowned at this. "First day on the job?"

"How can you tell?" she sighed. Shrugging it off, she tried smiling again, this time with hope in her eyes. "But hey, I'm not one to quit. I can handle whatever they throw at me."

"Good," he smirked. "I thought I'd have to give you a push in the right direction. A positive attitude can change everything."

"I'll keep that in mind," she laughed lightly. "Well, it was nice meeting you."

"Likewise, Detective," he winked, watching her as she left the room.

Elisa power-walked away, eager to get home. Already the sky was darkening, and while she knew she could handle herself out there, she preferred not to travel in the darkness. Grabbing her purse, she clocked out and hurried out the door, never stopping as she kept her thoughts trained on her passage home. She wondered if Brina had gotten her answers for the exam review, or if Tim had passed his math test, if John enjoyed working with Sergeant Gordon, and what Rebecca had made for dinner. She avoided thinking about returning to work the next morning, however, still vastly disappointed in her boss. He was nothing but a self-righteous bully in her opinion. All day, she fought to think of something kind about him, and he seemed to squash that notion no matter how hard she tried.

"Tomorrow's another day," she sighed, though she had a feeling it would be just as bad, if not worse than today.

"…just shut up and hand it over!"

Elisa stopped in her tracks, her ears catching fragments of a hissed sentence. She was just a few blocks away from the bus stop, and was certain she had time to spare. Even though these were the supposed 'cleaner' parts of Gotham, she knew there was corruption everywhere. What she didn't expect, upon further investigation, was peering past the side of an office complex and staring into the crammed, dark space between two buildings to see two men being held up by another man in rugged clothes, the stench of sweat, alcohol, and filth emancipating from his being. She could see his hands shook as he held the gun towards his victims, who stood stock still and seemed to show no emotion.

"Listen, put the gun down and you won't get hurt-" a familiar voice spoke, making her brows furrow. She felt as though she had heard it before, but as she saw the drug addict snap at him and take another step forward, she knew she didn't have time to think.

Slinking forth, she slipped her purse strap off and wrapped each side around each hand. Remembering her training, she held her breath and swiftly threw the worn leather strip around the man's neck, cutting off his air supply as she crossed her arms and tightened her hold. As expected, the criminal gasped for air and, in a panic, dropped his weapon, his hands going for his throat automatically. Twisting him around so that he was now facing the streets, she wrapped her leg around his and pulled it back, sending the two onto their knees. Moving quickly, her mind racing, she grasped her purse strap with both hands as he continued to suffocate before finding the weak spot on his neck and pressing hard. Immediately, he was out, limp on the floor. She loosened her hold on him a smidge, waiting to make sure he wasn't faking and checked his breathing. At last, she wriggled her purse free of the culprit and grimaced at the smell. "I'm spraying you down," she muttered to her purse affectionately.

"That's twice you've helped me today."

Spinning around, Elisa registered the fact that there were two people watching her. All the tension and frustration she had felt moments ago, released into those seemingly never-ending seconds of actions, seemed to dissipate. She hadn't realized how upset she was until she was finally able to use her skills.

"Twice?" she echoed, her brows furrowed as she peered into the darkness. Her eyes widened as the figures revealed themselves to her. One was a stately, dignified gentleman with snow white hair and eyes filled with amazement. The other was the handsome stranger who had bumped into her that morning. "Oh! It's you," she exclaimed, a light laugh escaping her. She shrugged and offered a kind smile. "Technically, I think I was the one who caused you to drop your wallet this morning."

He grinned back at her, taking several more steps towards the young woman. "Thanks for your help…you must be an officer."

"Well, no…I mean, yes…ugh," she groaned, shaking her head.

"Sorry?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Never mind, it's complicated," she waved it off. "Listen, you should go before he comes to." She nodded at the assailant before looking back at the elder. "Does he always attract this much trouble?"

"You have no idea," the man responded, his Cockney accent and teasing smile making her grin. "Thank you very much, Miss."

"Don't worry about it," she replied, waving at the two of them before taking off.

"Wait!" the stranger called, making her look over her shoulder. He watched, bemused, as she glared and blew at a loose strand of hair that had fallen out during the tussle. "I never got your name."

Smiling beautifully, she winked and answered back, "I never gave it." Waggling her fingers at him, she walked away and back to the sidewalk.

Behind her, the two men watched on as she vanished calmly into the night. The elder glanced over to the young man and noticed that his eyes were trained pensively at the young woman, a hint of a smile lingering on his mouth. "Resourceful and cheeky, that one," he noted. "You don't suppose she's with the police department?"

Giving the man a knowing look, the charming stranger replied, "I intend to find out."

-B-

"Honey, I'm home," Elisa called out, entering her apartment at last to her great relief. The smell of minestrone soup permeated the air, making her mouth water. She could hear the television from the front door, as well as the creaking of the floor as sets of feet moved to greet her.

"Elisa!" Tim cried, throwing his arms around her as he rested his head upon her stomach. "Guess what?" he beamed, lifting his face to her as she played with his hair. "I passed my test!"

"Tim, I'm so proud!" she gushed, pressing her lips to his forehead. "You little genius!"

Brina came in shortly afterwards, glowing as she walked in with Rebecca, who was sipping her tea happily. "So, how was work?" Her smile fell from her face as she saw Elisa's mouth twist into a fake smile before scowling. "That bad, huh?"

"Where do I begin?" Elisa threw her purse to the floor and trudged to the table, plopping down into one of the chairs and resting her head on her arms. "I'm the GCPD's new secretary."

"What?!" Rebecca and Tim exclaimed, their voices blending in a harmonious cacophony of shock and anger. Brina frowned, remembering how John had told her in whispers on the monorail ride to the Narrows as so not to upset Tim's chipper mood.

"Surely the Commissioner doesn't think you're meant to just sit there and make calls-" Rebecca protested.

"I had to make coffee for him three times today…and I botched them all on purpose just to get a jab at him," she responded, resting her cheek in her hand.

"That jerk," Brina huffed, crossing her arms and tapping her foot on the floor. "I'd like to give him a piece of my mind!"

"I'd rather you didn't." Working an encouraging smile onto her face, she insisted, "Don't you worry about me, I'll show them what I'm made of…" Her last few words drifted off and vanished in midair as her eyes moved towards the TV, becoming large as the reporter appeared and began to speak. Behind her was a picture of the stranger she had run into twice that day.

"Vicki Vale on another update. Recently returned Prince of Gotham, Bruce Wayne, has made a point to reinstate all scholarships and internships available through the Wayne Foundation today, stating that 'education is one of the biggest pillars of this city that supports our future'. He was seen strolling through Gotham's finest areas and may possibly make an appearance sometime soon at the upcoming charity events this month. Latest gossip and news on Gotham's long-lost prince will be posted right here. That's all for me, back to you, Kevin."

"Elisa? Are you ok?" Tim asked as he watched the girl smack her own face and cover her eyes.

"Ellie?" Brina questioned, raising an eyebrow accusingly.

Rebecca said nothing, glancing from the screen to the young woman.

"What happened?" the younger sister insisted.

"…I am so dead."