By Adrian Tullberg.

"You want me to what?"

"I said, I wanted you to ..."

"I just wanted to confirm ..." Bruce sat ... or collapsed, into the chair in his study, looking at the speakerphone. "It's a little sudden ..."

"I know ..."

"Why ..."


"Just ... why will do for the moment."

A short breath echoed through the study. "I just ... I get the feeling I'm missing out on something. When I hear my friends talk about it ... and I smile, and nod at the right times, and stay absolutely quiet until there's a change in topic ..."

"You want a conversation piece?"

"A frame of reference. An experience." Bruce could see her characteristic pursing of lips when she was thinking of something that was distressing her "A connection."

"What about ..."

"Things aren't going that ... things aren't going with Trevor."

"Threaten him."

"I was told that impedes performance."

"I was told that a large percentage of your admirers would find that a positive boost to their performance."

"Do I have to threaten you?"

Bruce looked down at the desk "Well ..."

"Do I have to make you? Tell me Bruce, is it necessary to make you come to me? To force you? To ... correct you if you disappoint me?"

Bruce unloosened his tie a fraction. "I wouldn't say ..."

"Do you want to disappoint me? "

"No. No I wouldn't."

"We'll talk later." The sharp tone of the line disconnecting brought Bruce to the reality of the world around him.

It wasn't this hot in January, was it?

Slumping back, he noticed Alfred giving him his impassive, professional gaze. Bruce opened his mouth ...

"Master Bruce, you're on your own." The butler left the flustered master of the manor in his room ...

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