"You told him." It was not a question.
Amanda Waller smiled. "Bruce. How good to see you again. Why don't you come have a cup of tea?"
He hesitated for a moment, and then hobbled over to the armchair across from her. He was so old. So was she, of course, but it was still a shock to that once-powerful body leaning on that black stick for support, so devastated by the ravages of time.
Amanda studied her own withered hand as she poured the tea. It wouldn't be much longer now, for either of them. There was only so much that modern medicine could do.
"Thank you," Bruce acknowledged gruffly as she handed him the delicate porcelain teacup. He took a sip, and then returned abruptly to his earlier point. "How long ago was Terry here?"
"About two weeks ago," Amanda said. At Bruce's curt nod, she raised her eyebrows. "Has he been that obvious about it?"
"He tries not to be, but he looks at me differently now." Bruce shifted uncomfortably, and Amanda did not miss the tiniest hint of a catch in his voice.
She swallowed. "I'm sorry," she told him honestly. This was the apology that she would not, could not offer to Terry—how did you tell someone you were sorry they were ever conceived?—but she could give it to Bruce. Had to give it Bruce.
He didn't meet her eyes at first, but when he did, she was struck by the brilliance of his eyes. Out of his craggy, decrepit face they shone, with pain, yes, but life and hope, as well as something she daringly labeled love. "Don't be sorry," he said hoarsely. "You don't know…"
All the good he's done? But she did, and Bruce would know as well as she did that she continually kept tabs on Terry.
What he means to me, Amanda finished, and swallowed. She supposed in a way she had taken a lonely, loveless old man and given him a son. But it still didn't excuse what she had done, the way she had played God with so many lives, not only Terry's and Bruce', but the McGinnis, as well, Warren and Mary—she still wondered from time to time if she was responsible for their divorce—and Matt.
Matt, the "leftover" child, the one whom, if her plans had been carried out, would never have been born at all. She smiled. "I hear Nightwing's doing quite well in Blüdhaven these days."
"Robins," Bruce grunted, shaking his head. "They meet a pretty girl and the next thing you know , they're unmanageable." But there was no bitterness in his voice. "He and Flamebird will have to scramble if they want to beat Terry and Dana to the altar."
Amanda smiled. "Did Terry finally propose? Excellent. I had no idea he would take my advice to heart so decisively."
"He didn't waste much time about it," Bruce admitted, and his gruff tone could not hide the fact that he was pleased. "It was one of the things that tipped me off." He was quiet for a while and then said, "There's a future now. A future I had never thought to see."
Amanda smiled. "One day, this city will see your great-great-grandchildren fly through the night."
Bruce grunted. "I suppose I should thank you for that."
Amanda shook her head. "Don't. What I did…" She swallowed. "Sometimes it's hard to forgive myself for it. Did you know I tried to have Terry's parents killed?"
Bruce's jaw tightened, but he nodded. "Andrea refused, didn't she?"
Amanda was startled. "World's Greatest Detective," she sighed.
"Still, if it wasn't for Terry…"
Amanda interrupted, shaking her head. "I can't take the credit for Terry. It would have been so easy for things to have gone differently. What if he had become a criminal, a murderous psychopath, even?" Amanda eyes him critically. "Genes aren't destiny, you know, and after all, in a different world…"
Bruce acknowledged the hit with a nod, but noted, "Terry would never have become a Justice Lord."
"No," Amanda agreed. "He would have become an integral part of Gotham's criminal underworld, at least if Charlie Bigelow had gotten his way." She let out a long breath. "There were so many things I couldn't see, could never have planned for. If not for Warren McGinnis, Dana Tan…" her voice trailed off, "…and the grace of God."
"The grace of God?" Bruce echoed skeptically. "After everything you've seen, how can you believe that?"
"After everything I've seen, I have no choice but to believe it," Amanda said firmly. She folded her hands in her lap. "The grace of God is all I have left, Bruce."
Bruce's eyes narrowed. "Trying to squeak into heaven past St. Peter's watchful eye?" he asked sardonically. "Do you think you've done enough good to pay for your crimes?"
Amanda smiled. "No, Bruce, I don't." She sighed. "Redemption isn't something that comes naturally to your vocabulary, is it? Or forgiveness, for that matter?"
"In my experience, it rarely works out."
"Human forgiveness," Amanda assured him. "Just a shadow of what a loving God offers."
"You don't believe God is loving?" Amanda asked.
"If there is a God," Bruce said stiffly, "then he's either sadistic or he doesn't care. A loving God wouldn't—" He broke off suddenly.
"Wouldn't allow your parents to die?" Amanda probed gently. "Or Terry's father?" Bruce didn't answer. "Can't you see that you've saved so many lives…done so much good? How many times did you save Jim Gordon's life? Isn't his life as precious as your father's?"
"I couldn't save him from the cancer," Bruce said bluntly. His voice was tight with pain when he spat, "And what about Tim? Whose lives were saved because the Joker stole away his sanity and his future?"
"We can't understand," Amanda tried softly. "His ways are inscrutable…"
"I've never accepted that from anyone," Bruce said, shaking his head. "Why should God be an exception?" There was a long silence, and then Bruce burst out, "It's such a twisted world. So dark and ugly."
"But so beautiful at the same time." Amanda sighed. "I wish you could see it." She smiled sadly. "I'll keep praying for you, Bruce." At his eloquent, startled look, she said, "Oh yes, I pray for you, Bruce Wayne. I covet your soul for the Kingdom of God." Her eyes twinkled. "I think you could put the fear of God into even the Devil's heart."
A grim smile flitted briefly over his decrepit face. He drained the last of the tea from his cup, and put it down with a clink. "Thank you for the tea," he said stiffly, rising to his feet.
"Wait. Before you go, Bruce, if you would, I'd like your forgiveness."
Bruce studied her for a moment, his expression inscrutable. "Do you really believe God will forgive you for what you've done?" he asked finally.
"Yes," she said softly.
Bruce turned away. "Then who am I to withhold forgiveness that God has already granted?"
"Who indeed?" Amanda murmured, watching him walk away. "Go with God, Bruce."
Before the door shut, he glanced back at her, the grim smile lighting his face again. "Or the Devil."