DCOU: Dark Knight in Wonderland
A Batman fanfiction
By H.R.C. Stanley
"It has been said that fear is the oldest and most strongest emotion of mankind, and that fear of the unknown is the oldest and most strongest kind of fear. And rightfully so, for fear is also, in a way, a disease that infects all it touches. It lurks in every dark shadow, waits around every corner. It can be in a million places at once, on the path ahead, yet somehow always behind you. Fear hides in every decision each of we make, questioning our each and every moves. And yet, we feed it, we let it thrive. We're the parents of our own fears. Every instinct tells us we can do nothing in the face of what terrifies us. But that's what fear is... instinct. We run because that's our nature. Better to run away and live to fight another day, or as the old saying may go. But if we run, the disease feeds and grows stronger. Better to run towards your fear; better still to face it. Stare it in the eye, make it blink, and watch it shrink. However, for every virus, there's an antidote, for every disease, there's a cure. Now, I may be a man with a substantial amount of wealth and and the willpower to spend it wisely, and I may be fashionably late time and time again, but I'm cut out to be the carrier of a disease. Neither am I afraid to make choices or go into dark places. True courage and being brave isn't about having no fear at all, it's about facing and conquering your fears so you can become a better and stronger person, mentally, emotionally and physically... thank you," the smiling Bruce Wayne delivered a grandiose speech before a stunned audience before they rose up into a standing ovation.
Location: Somewhere in Gotham City
"A decent speech, Mr Wayne," one of the attendants complimented the man, with a shake of hands. "I wish I could share your sentiments, but considering the economy and the low crime rate, I don't feel any fear at all." They both let out a shared chuckle. "Although we can definitely appreciate how much jobs and opportunities Wayne Industries have opened up and provided over years, especially in the technology market."
"We aim to please and even create more, sir," Bruce nodded. "I trust we'll have your support on our agreement to purchase with the UK, Australia, and Japan, among other countries?"
"Absolutely," the attendant assured. "Just let me know what I can do to grease the wheels. Perhaps we can call on the phone sometime next week, and we'll chat some more later."
And with that, the attendant turned and walked away to mingle with the other guests, with Bruce left to his own devices.
"Bruce," his ears caught a rather familiar female voice. Turning his head, he spotted the pale face and long bright red hair of a woman in a muted maroon modest dress.
"Ah Kate, there you are," Bruce recognised. "about time you turned up, little bit late."
"Renee keeps me busy sometimes," Kate huffed.
"Sure she does... and Uncle?" he asked.
"Father had to decline," she folded her arms. "He has his hands full at the moment."
"He always has his hands full," he rolled his eyes.
"This is a charitable event, right?" another female voice, slightly lighter than that of Kate's, immediately took hold of their attention. "And doesn't charity usually begin and end with a smile?"
Bruce and Kate turned their heads to see behind them stood another attendant, a dark-skinned woman, donned in a white long-sleeved thigh-deep dress, with gold disc-shaped earrings, black hair tied in a long ponytail, and bright green eyes.
"Yeah," Kate took a momentary lapse to answer the question. "And you are?"
"Jaina Hudson," the young woman introduced herself. "But please feel free to call me 'Jai', my friends do. I'm one of your major guests, am I not, Mr. Wayne?"
"Ah, of course," Bruce replied.
"Was I interrupting anything?" the woman, identified as Jai, asked.
"Ah don't worry, you're not interrupting anything major. In fact, now that you mentioned, the name 'Hudson' does ring a bell. You wouldn't happen to be related to a Mr. Thomas Hudson by any chance?"
"Not just related, he's my father, he was made into a diplomatic attache to Mumbai. It was there she met and married my mother, who's a Bollywood actress."
"Right, I knew and actually even met him when I was very young and my father was still alive, taking me along on his business trips," Bruce put two and two together, recollecting a very faint and distance memory. "He was always full of surprises, evening marrying your mother. Here we call it 'outpunting coverage'. In a nice way, obviously."
"Flattery can get you anywhere and everywhere," Jai said as her eyes glimpsed over to Bruce's cousin, observing her androgynous curves.
"So which of us are you flirting with exactly?" Kate crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.
"Take a guess, perhaps?" Jai lightly shrugged. "Anyways, I'm familiar with the vernacular. I attended school in this city cine I was nine years old. But just so you know, my parents got the better end of that deal. So let me ask, do either of you think you can outpunt me?"
"Not sure what you mean by that exactly," Bruce stroked his chin.
"I'll let you think about it while I circulate with the other guests here," Jai said.
"Yeah well, maybe we should talk some time later, another time perhaps," Bruce chuckled briefly.
"Well then, if either of you can catch me..." Jai nodded teasingly before turning away, walking off and disappearing to the crowd.
The two stood still for a while before looking at each other with mixed expressions.
"You sure have a fling with women, Bruce," Kate remarked. "At least I try and keep to a monogamous relationship."
"Each to their own," Bruce smirked.
Some more time had passed as the two also mingled with their fellow guests for a while, a few more handshakes and glasses of martini. Soon enough, Bruce took a quick look at his watch; the big hand inched toward 12, while the little hand aimed at 10. With that, he walked over to his cousin, still in conversation with another guest, and swiftly tapped at her shoulder.
"We better get going," he said closely. "It's getting late."
"Very well then," she exhaled.
They walked side-by-side down the stairs through the bright, vibrant and elaborate hall until they reached the tall and wide spread wooden doors and spotted a rather familiar ageing butler next to the open door of a glistening black limousine.
"Any trouble at all, Master Bruce and Miss Kane?" the butler asked with a clear and stern English accent.
"None for now, Alfred," Bruce replied. "No doubt your mind's alive with such possibilities."
To be continued...