Author's Note:Less than a month after all but promising I wouldn't write again about these characters, I found myself scribbling this little vignette, which takes place five years after the last chapter of Truth and Justice - The Third Year, and is nowhere near as plot heavy. It's just Bruce dealing with a little girl who is definitely a chip off the old Bat. You can probably enjoy it without knowing who Jordan's grandpa and mother are, so I'm not going to tell. You'll have to read Truth and Justice to find out.
Thanks, as always, to beta readers arg914 and The Five Foot Ninja.
As the bright-faced five-year-old swung her legs happily from the overlarge office chair, Jim McCarthy reached across the pile of papers and straightened his nameplate.
"My grandpa can make one of those with his eyes," the little girl informed him.
"One of what?" McCarthy asked the kindergartener. He felt a little irritated that she seemed wholly unintimidated by her first trip to the principal's office.
"He can make letters in things," she said. "He put my name on my wagon."
"With his eyes," the principal repeated. Most of his kindergartners were in the throes of one fantasy world or another. He wasn't particularly impressed by the child's revelation and was not certain he should pretend to be interested. He held fast to his grave face, the one reserved for children who had committed severe offenses. This innocuous-looking little girl, with her dancing blue eyes and shimmering waves of black hair certainly merited the look. McCarthy hadn't had to suspend a kindergartner in years.
His eyes moved to the clock in the right-hand corner of his computer monitor just as his secretary buzzed him.
"Mr. Wayne is here."
The child's feet swung faster in excited response to the announcement of her father's presence. McCarthy doubted her joy would endure beyond the first minute or two of conversation, once her parent was made aware of her behavior. "Send him in please."
The door to the principal's office opened inward and a strapping middle-aged man in an ebony polo shirt and crisp black jeans stepped into the small room. His frown moved from McCarthy to the tiny girl who was in the process of leaping from her chair.
"Daddy!" Bruce Wayne's daughter hugged his legs and he moved a large, faintly scarred hand to her curls.
"It's only the second week of September," he informed her. "And you're already sitting in the principal's office." As a flash of sullenness briefly clouded his daughter's eyes, Wayne looked up at McCarthy and stretched out a hand, leaning forward a little unnaturally so as not to wrest his legs from the arms of the little girl who had captured them. "We met a few days before Jordan's first day of school."
McCarthy nodded. "You were understandably concerned about whether Jordan would be safe attending a public school in light of your high-profile name," he said. "At this point I'm thinking –" He broke off and nodded to Jordan, who was still clutching her father's knees. "When we have conversations like this, we like for the student to have a seat in the Thinking Chair."
Wayne gazed solemnly at his daughter and lifted his chin toward the tall chair. She clambered obediently into it and started swinging her legs again.
The principal gestured toward a thickly cushioned chair in front of his desk and as the billionaire took a seat, he continued, "You had suggested the possibility of a bodyguard for Jordan. From what I've seen today, it's some of the other children who might need protection – from your daughter."
"What did you do?" Wayne asked the child with a sharp, quizzical look.
"I waited three strikes," Jordan replied. "And then Donny was out."
Wayne's face remained turned toward his daughter, but his eyes shifted to McCarthy.
"It appears a boy in her class –"
"Donny," Jordan repeated.
"We don't generally release other children's names," McCarthy said. "Jordan has said that while her class was waiting on the stairwell, on the way to gym, a little boy pushed her –"
"If it's a kid named Donny," Wayne said, his eyes darkening a bit, "My wife has spoken to Jordan's teacher about him twice."
"She told him to stop," Jordan added. "But he didn't. I counted to the third strike on the stairs."
"And what happened?" Wayne asked.
The principal held up his hand, silencing Jordan as she opened her mouth to answer.
"She hit him in the head," he said grimly.
Jordan elaborated guilelessly, "Elbow smash to the temple, Daddy."
The principal watched the muscles in the back of Wayne's jaw ripple. He seemed unable to respond for a moment, which was fine, as McCarthy hadn't yet finished.
"I'm afraid that's not where our story ends," he said. The billionaire turned toward him, frowning.
"A couple of fourth graders were moving past Jordan's class as the teacher was settling them down so they could move forward," McCarthy continued. "One of them saw Jordan hit Don – um, the little boy – with her elbow and grabbed her shoulders. She –" The principal blinked as if not quite believing the several accounts he had received about this aspect of the incident. "She did some kind of martial arts kick… and hit him in the head. And this boy… this fourth grader… he's three times Jordan's size."
"Jump spinning hook kick," Jordan declared proudly and looked expectantly at her father for a sign of approval. When no praise seemed forthcoming, she added defensively, "He grabbed me."
"He meant no harm," McCarthy said hastily. "He was merely trying to prevent Jordan from hitting the other boy again."
"I didn't kick him hard," Jordan said heatedly. Turning toward her father again, she explained, "I useded the flat of my foot, not the heel."
The oddness of this qualification alone made the principal question what life at Wayne Manor involved for the children of the once-infamous playboy. Jordan's parents had brought a younger child, a boy, along with them to her kindergarten orientation. McCarthy wondered if the toddler was a would-be ninja, too.
Wayne's face had gone blank; he did not seem to know what to say. Finally, he asked neutrally, "Are they OK? The boys my daughter beat up."
"Thankfully, yes," McCarthy replied. "The smaller boy's ear was a little red – the nurse gave him some ice. And the older boy was more startled than anything else."
Wayne turned toward his daughter. "So you did use the flat of your foot."
Jordan nodded happily and started toying with a silver bracelet that glistened from her left wrist. McCarthy supposed it matched the silver spoon she'd been born with. He did not like the billionaire's response; the confirmation of his daughter's use of self-control seemed too much like approval.
"Mr. Wayne –" McCarthy started.
"Mr. McCarthy, I'm very sorry," Wayne said quickly. "We're going to have to curtail Jordan's television viewing." He gave his daughter a stern look. "No more kung-fu movies."
As Jordan's eyes glittered in what McCarthy was almost positive was amusement, her father added, "And we'll see that there are… appropriate consequences for this behavior. Our family believes deeply in the practice of nonviolence."
"I appreciate that, Mr. Wayne," the principal said dubiously, adding that school policy still required him to suspend Jordan, for at least the rest of the day. Regardless of a student's age – or her father's wallet, he thought privately – the rules had to be applied uniformly.
Wayne assured him that he understood and asked if he could take his daughter home. As Jordan hopped from the chair, she asked, "Can we go to Friendly's?"
"Well, you have to be punished," her father replied tonelessly as McCarthy's eyes narrowed. "That would rule out ice cream sundaes."
Jordan's forehead crinkled, but she allowed Wayne's hand to engulf her tiny one. He gave it a quick squeeze and nodded toward the principal.
"I won't beat up any more kids," she promised. "If they don't push me three times."
"I don't think anyone here will ever push you again," McCarthy said wryly. "But if they push you five times, you can't hit them. You have to tell your teacher."
Wayne nodded. "No more elbow smashes," he agreed. Despite the gravity of his tone, McCarthy was sure he saw a brief glint of pride in Wayne's eyes. "Or," he waved his hand in a vague circle. "Jumping spinning whatever kicks."
"Hook," his daughter offered helpfully. She waved to the principal and led her father out of the small office. McCarthy watched the door close behind them and completed the incident report he had started on Jordan Ella Wayne, whose tenure at East Gotham Elementary, he was unpleasantly sure, was going to be more colorful than the average student's.
"You have whipped cream on your nose," Bruce informed his daughter, as she shoveled a spoonful of fudge-coated chocolate ice cream into her mouth. He leaned forward with a smile no one but Jordan could see – it was all in his eyes – and flicked the glob of white fluff off with his thumb.
"You could have some ice cream," she offered, watching him lean back against the padded booth and suck the whipped cream from his thumb.
He shook his head. "Daddy needs to stay in shape. Now what aren't we going to tell the principal – or your teacher?" he asked.
"That you took me to Friendly's," Jordan said eagerly, as though she was answering an extra-credit question. "And that I don't watch kung-fu movies 'cause I got you to teach me how to d'fend myself."
"And?" Bruce pressed.
"And if someone pushes me three times, I'm gonna hit 'em," she answered.
"Damn right," Bruce said. "But not hard," he added. He reached across the table to touch the shiny silver bangle encircling her thin wrist. "And never when you're not wearing this thing." After a moment of deliberation, he added, "And what aren't we going to tell Mommy?"
"That I got to eat ice cream without eating a healthy lunch," Jordan replied promptly.
Bruce assured his daughter that the mounds of melting ice cream were loaded with calcium, then tilted his head critically toward the lopsided, half-eaten sundae. "I don't think there were enough cherries on that thing."
"Cherries are fruit," his daughter agreed. "And fruit is healthy."
"Yes, it is," Bruce said, and lifted his hand to summon a nearby waitress.