Bruce ignored the smaller men as they squabbled over scraps, while he watched Carlisle Cullen stare down at Gotham, through floor to ceiling polarized bulletproof glass. Carlisle smiled as the diffused sunlight danced in muted grays across his flawless face. Bruce couldn't help but think of his father's stories of his days at HMS with Carlisle's father.
Carlisle turned his amber eyes to look at Bruce, with that same smile still on his face.
"Your father was right," Carlisle's voice was musical as he slowly closed the distance. Bruce tilted his head, confused for a second.
"What do you mean?" Bruce asked, as Carlisle slid into the nearest leather-covered chair.
"He told my father that Gotham is unlike any city in the world," Carlisle let out a sigh as he relaxed into his chair.
"Ah, yes." Bruce sighed and nodded. "She is a beautiful city."
"Yes," Carlisle laughed softly. Movement caught Bruce's eye and turned his attention towards the door of the conference room. Cynthia closed it behind her making no sound. She moved with focused grace, and arrived at his side in seconds, but her sapphire eyes focused on Carlisle.
"Sir, your son is waiting for you in the lobby," Cynthia's clipped tone indicated that she is far from impressed with Carlisle's son. Bruce was immediately intrigued, by the way that Carlisle stiffened with surprise.
"I'm sorry, I must see to this," Carlisle said, looking distracted as he rose from the table.
"I understand. Family must come first," Bruce said as he stood. Carlisle looked at him, an open, pained expression on his face. Bruce didn't mean to highlight the death of his own family, but he could see the loss, reliving it in the grief in Carlisle's beautiful face.
"Bruce," Carlisle set a firm hand on his shoulder, a serious and simultaneously sympathetic look weighing down his gaze. "Your father would be very proud of what you've accomplished." Something in the way Carlisle said it, the depth of love in his expression, shook something deep within Bruce. Carlisle was merely the son of a man that knew his father, and yet Bruce felt as close to him as a brother.
"Thank you," Bruce said softly, as he placed his hand over Carlisle's cold skin. Shocked he pull away, as Carlisle withdrew his own hand and turned toward the door. Bruce felt the loss of his presence and the strange paternal connection that they had achieved in that awkward moment.
"I'll escort you," Bruce said, jogging to catch up. Carlisle stopped to give him a worried glance, but nodded.
"Thank you, that's very kind," Carlisle said, as he allowed Bruce to lead the way out of the conference room.
Kind is not the word; unheard of is close.
Bruce Wayne is a workaholic playboy, who rarely showed deference to anyone, least of all the sons of his father's old schoolmates. However, a Cullen has never set foot in Gotham and as Bruce led Carlisle to the elevators, he felt something strange bloom within his chest.
They took the express elevator, the trip blissfully short and silent. Once the doors opened, Bruce held them while Carlisle exited.
"I didn't know that you had a son." Bruce was making small talk, trying to draw out the moment, something he never does. Though distracted, Carlisle gave him an apologetic smile.
"He's been away," Carlisle explained as he scanned the lobby, his body tense and eyes narrowed, despite the casual tone of his voice. "Edward has been going through a difficult time, of late."
Bruce could have marked the exact moment when Carlisle saw his son. His face seemed to illuminate, as his eyes sparkled and his soft lips parted in a wide smile. Bruce felt pangs of jealousy reverberate within him at the sight of Carlisle's love and relief. The blond man rushed towards a dark haired youth draped over a hard plastic chair.
"Edward," Carlisle said as he wrapped the boy in his arms. Bruce watched the sullen, but equally beautiful, boy as he gave his father a half-hearted hug. Amber eyes unnervingly like his father's passed over Bruce, as if he were part of the building's architecture. He's amused that the most powerful man in Gotham doesn't even rate eye contact from this teenage boy. Bruce thought that he liked Edward Cullen already. "I'm sorry," Carlisle said as he turned back to Bruce, an arm still clinging to his son's shoulders. "Bruce Wayne, I would like to introduce you to my son, Edward."
"Nice to meet you, Edward," Bruce said with a smirk, as he extends his hand to the auburn-haired boy who was wearing a t-shirt clearly displaying Batman's emblem. The cheap street-made shirts had become popular since a pop singer had taken to wearing them. Edward's eyes danced between his father's face and Bruce's hand.
"Pleasure," Edward said as his cold flesh closed around Bruce's hand, with surprising strength.
The icy wind playfully tossed his cape around as he watched the city below. His patrol had been uneventful. He should be happy, but he'd wanted trouble tonight. He craved it, after seeing a happiness that he could never have.
Bruce had invited the Cullens to dinner, and Carlisle apologetically declined, saying that he had business with Edward. The spiky-haired boy had smiled at his father's lie, and Bruce had tried to not feel slighted, but it was hard to ignore the boy's arrogance.
He watched them climb into a waiting car, a rather formal looking butler holding an umbrella over them. Odd, there wasn't a cloud in the sky today. Carlisle was old fashioned. Bruce wondered if he cultivate his pale complexion, out of a strange sense of vanity. Though he could never imagine Carlisle as being vain. Not the man who'd just spent millions of dollars and months of his time to create a program to provide basic immunizations for children in Africa.
Carlisle Cullen was a doctor, not a businessman. His charitable foundation seemed to produce money from thin air, though every inch of it was clean. Carlisle Cullen was a good man and Bruce Wayne was sad to see him leave.
A scream echoed off the wet bricks, making him stiffen with purpose. His mask slid into place, hiding the smile of selfish relief. Air rushed past him, whistling in his ears as he jumped down to land on the nearest fire escape. He shot his grapple toward the rooftop and waited to feel it secured in place before he tossed himself into the open air. It was as close to flying or dying that he'd ever get, for now.
"Please make him stop," a sharp screech of a woman's cry cut through the cold air, as Bruce ran across the slippery cement.
"What the – HEY!" A man's startled cry was cut off by a wet gurgling. A woman screamed. Bruce rounded the building and collides with a hysterical woman. She looked up into the face of Batman and screamed louder. He released her, stepping back and watched as she stumbled down the alley on broken heels. More wet sounds came from the alley behind him and Bruce quickly rounded the corner, to see two forms entangled in a strangely intimate embrace.
One figure turned to look at him, as the other fell lifeless to the ground. The dim streetlight made his pale skin glitter and his auburn hair sparkle. Blood covered him in a thick crimson coating, from below his nose to the waist band of his jeans. Something about the man looked familiar, but Bruce disregarded that thought as he moved toward the killer. Muscles tense, Bruce advanced, watching the movements of the killer, as he stood over the dead body.
"I knew you'd come," the killer smiled, white teeth shimmering as Bruce fought the urge to shudder. The voice, he knew this voice, though he'd only just met the boy this afternoon.
"Edward?" Bruce forgot to disguise his voice, the shock making him careless. Edward Cullen's smile grew impossibly wider and he stepped forward. Bruce stepped backward, despite himself, and Edward's smile disappeared.
"I thought that you'd understand," Edward's voice was soft as his haunting eyes lowered to the dirty street beneath their feet.
"Understand," Bruce felt revulsion ripple through him, though comprehension was still elusive. The man behind Edward was dead and the boy's face was covered in blood. There was a kind of sickening, stomach curdling logic to the evidence in front of him.
"Yes," Edward's voice was strained. "He was hurting her, and not just that. He'd planned to hurt her more," Edward wiped at his face with his arm. When his eyes raised to meet Bruce's, they were still frightening, despite the grief that filled them.
"You killed him." Bruce felt his hand shaking for the first time since that night outside the movie theater, with a mugger and his parents. Edward visibly flinched, though Bruce hadn't moved.
"You have to understand," Edward pleaded with a growl of frustration. "She was like them, like your parents. If I could have been there, I would have."
Bruce shook his head, the fantasy was so seductive. He'd succumbed to it many times over the years, in the private, dirty, dark places in his mind. Where he could indulge his anger and pain. Where he could stab, shoot and torture the skinny mugger that had killed his parents.
"It's wrong," Bruce hissed at the hopeful look on Edward's face. Johnathan Wayne was a healer, a compassionate, loving man. Bruce could never sully the memory of his father with something as foul as murder.
"It's necessary," Edward shook his head and pulled at his hair, his voice frantic. Bruce's instincts surged back to life, his weapons were in his hand in seconds and he was moving. The line extended as Bruce leapt toward the nearest wall, rising into the air on invisible wings with Edward's sad eyes on him. Another pop announced the launching of another grapple, the line encircling Edward's unmoving body. Bruce's feet touched down in front of Edward, once the line was tight, pinning the boy's arms to his sides.
"I'll get you help, Edward," Bruce said in a whisper. Edward's mournful eyes seemed to tug at something inside of Bruce's chest.
"There's no help for me," Edward's head bowed.
"Bruce," A familiar voice sounded behind him. Bruce had turned in a crouch, ready to face the new attacker. Carlisle Cullen looked at him, a grimace marring the beauty of his mouth. Bruce rose, somehow trusting that he was not in danger. "I'm so sorry. I thought that he'd changed." Carlisle moved around Bruce to face his son.
"Carlisle," Edward flinched from the loving touch of his father's hand on his forehead.
"This isn't the way, Edward." Carlisle breathed a sad sigh, as he slid his hand under the boy's chin to raise his head. "This is not the path to absolution."
"I can't change what I am," Edward shook his head.
"No, but you can change how you live," Carlisle's voice was strong as he stared into his son's eyes. A silent moment passed between them, and then Edward's head moved in a slight nod. Carlisle sighed in relief and turned. "Again, I'm sorry," he smiled as he walked toward Bruce.
"Stop," Bruce's hand went up, as his mind tried to wrap itself around what he'd witnessed. Carlisle's disappointed frown cut through him, but he couldn't allow this situation any closer to him. He wanted it gone. "I want you both out of my city, tonight."
"Edward, go on," Carlisle said, his amber eyes still fixed on Bruce. A sharp snapping sound pierced the air as Edward shrugged from steel cables that could hold a bull elephant. Bruce's mind flexed again as the boy jumped into the air and landed on a fire escape five stories above their heads. "Bruce," Carlisle said his name like it was an apology.
"How did you know?" Bruce touched his gloved hand to his mask, as he stared at the man that he thought he knew. Carlisle was closer, just a foot away, the sad smile still on his lips.
"You smell like your father," Carlisle said with a small shrug. "I didn't lie, he'd be very proud of you Bruce." Carlisle said before he joined his son.
Author's note: This was inspired by Original_Au, but I take full responsibility if it is poorly executed. Special thanks to Kimpy0464 for being my last minute beta.