Authors Note: Well, at long last I have gotten to this story. This has not been beta read so I hope that there isn't too many grammatical errors. Hope you enjoy the chapter too. Don't hesitate to let me know how I wrote Bruce, it was a challenge.
Batman sighed heavily as he dismounted his bike, removing the headpiece of the Batman outfit. The Batmobile had gone torn up a little bit, again, in Batman's last engagement with the Joker and so he was back to using the bike again. Thankfully, Wayne Manor had been successfully rebuilt and so they were back where they belonged. It was something Alfred was certainly happy about. A penthouse in the city hadn't really agreed with him. Bruce didn't know if it had been the heights or if it had just been the older man's love of Wayne Manor. Either way, they were back in the Manor and Alfred certainly seemed happier. That was one less thing for him to worry about, and one less speech on responsibility and not antagonising enemies from Alfred. If only everything else was as simple he thought as he ran his fingers through his hair.
It was good to be able to use the 'Batcave' as it had been dubbed, instead of having to make use of the city. At least on the outskirts, he could pretend that life was normal. There was very little evidence of the corruption, poverty and insanity that possessed Gotham City. If he so wished, he could close his eyes and lie to himself for a few hours. He could not do that anymore though, not with the woman who he had sequestered in the Library upstairs. Batman had brought her here, and she was waiting for Bruce Wayne. So Bruce Wayne she would have to see, and soon. No matter her circumstances, he could not forget who she was. Harley Quinn, sidekick and effectively punching bag to the Joker, even though she liked to fancy herself his girlfriend. The Joker cared about no one but himself, and sometimes he didn't even seem to care about anything other than anarchy and chaos. Alfred had been right when he said that some men just wanted to watch the world burn. The Joker was one of these men, and he was hell bent on bringing everyone down with him.
He peeled off the Batman suit, replacing it in the case he had set aside for it. He shut the doors and reached for the tailored suit Alfred had left stretched out on the table. He slipped the suit on and checked his reflection out in the mirror, tweaking the fabric here and there. He had to look perfect, simply because it was expected of him. He was Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy who some might suspect literally slept on money.
Bruce took a deep breath and looked himself in the eye in the mirror. He had been avoiding doing it before. For personal reasons, and perhaps for his own sanity, he had wanted to keep Bruce Wayne and Batman separate from each other. Matters were far less complicated that way. It could not be like that for much longer though, and Bruce had a feeling in his gut that the woman in his house now was heralding the arrival of the day when two would become one.
"Harley Quinn is upstairs. This is Harley Quinn, even though you are going to call her Doctor Quinzell. This isn't a chance to turn her, and bring her back to her senses. She's too far gone for that" Bruce said, using, almost without realising it, the deep rasping voice of Batman. It was important that he remembered that one fact. The Joker was adept at ruining people, and changing the very fundamentals of their personality, effectively destroying the core being of any individual he so wished. Bruce only needed to look at what he had done to Harvey Dent, and now Harley Quinn. In those two there was the best and the brightest and now look at where they were, all because of a highly intelligent madman.
"She is a dangerous criminal, she's insane. Obsessed and willing to do anything for her obsession." He paused, a confused look passing across his reflections face as a realisation danced into his mind.
"Or she was, she left him, for this baby. She's doing right by the baby now, not right by The Joker. That's a step in the right direction. If I show her what life can be like, then perhaps she might start doing right by herself too" Bruce Wayne spoke with his own voice now, slowly getting more and more excited. There was no answer from his reflection. There wasn't going to be, it was just a reflection after all. It was a mirror he was looking at, not Batman. He was Bruce Wayne looking at Bruce Wayne.
He sighed heavily and headed over to the elevator that would take him upstairs to the main part of the Manor. He shut the doors and pressed the button, staring out through the bars to look at the bat cave in all its wonder as he ascended in the elevator. Upstairs waited Alfred, loyal and willing to help as always, and their new houseguest Harley Quinn. If only his life could go back to those uncomplicated days. Somehow though, a part of his mind argued, it would always have ended up this way. Batman and all that the character entailed, was not just a construct, it was a destiny. It was Bruce Wayne's destiny, and his calling. Perhaps Harley Quinn was just about to find her own calling in motherhood. If so, there could be a chance to save both her and her child, and not just in the physical sense, from the Joker's machinations and warped nature. If he could see the potential there within her eyes, then both Bruce Wayne and Batman would try their best to bring her back.
Bruce pressed the singular button on the elevator and the doors shut as the box juddered into action and began the less than smooth ascent up to the main Manor. After the fire that had burned down the Manor, Bruce had specified that the rebuilding was to allow the 'secret elevator' to emerge in the kitchen, behind a decorative mirror. There was a false panelled wall beside it that could easily open and could be slipped in and out of with ease. The mirror looked as though it were just a simple mirror to whomsoever was in the kitchen, but to Bruce from his perspective as the elevator smoothly and quietly came to a halt, he could see whoever was in the kitchen. Thankfully, nobody was there and so Bruce quickly and quietly slid out of the small cubby area the design plan had afforded him. With practised ease, he slid the wall panelling back into place behind him. He straightened his suit jacket and turned around, ready to make his way up to the Library where Harley Quinn was waiting for him. At least, that had been the plan. As he turned round he was met by Alfred.
"Alfred, don't sneak up on me like that. I didn't hear you coming." Bruce said the first sentence rather sharply, and so his tone became more apologetic at the end. Alfred simply nodded his head, he understood that Bruce had experienced a momentary fright.
"Master Wayne, Miss Quinzell tried to escape from the Manor and slipped down the stairs. Thankfully, both she and her baby seem to be well enough." Alfred reported, his tone slightly more clipped than usual. He did not approve of Harley Quinn residing in Wayne Manor, lest she discover the true identity of Batman. He was not going to come out and say it straight though, not after how clear Bruce had made himself that this was important. She wasn't just Harley Quinn anymore, and she wouldn't be for the next eight to nine months.
"Where is she Alfred?" Bruce questioned, slightly alarmed that such an event had occurred. He would never have thought she would have tried to escape, not after having come to Batman seeking protection for her baby. He could not understand why she would have jeopardised that and her baby, who she was trying to save from the Joker, by trying to escape Wayne Manor.
"In the Gallery, attempting to appreciate the art I assume." Alfred said his tone and words' clearly betraying the fact that he thought the true appreciation of art was beyond an individual in her position and of her mind. Nobody knew if Harley Quinn liked art, or even if Harleen Quinzell herself had.
"Thank you Alfred." Bruce said, clapping the older man on the shoulder as he went past. Alfred was not just a Butler as everyone assumed; he was a friend, the only friend that Bruce Wayne really had left. Bruce left the kitchen and headed up the stairs into the Main Hall. From there he continued upwards till he reached the first floor. The doorway on the right opened up onto the large Main Gallery, filled with portraits. It was always a place of sadness for Bruce as he gazed upon the paintings and remembered that the originals had been destroyed. It was within the Gallery that he did indeed find Harley Quinn, gazing at a landscape painting of a woman and a child, sitting at the bottom of a tree, taking shelter from the storm raging all around them. It did not surprise Bruce that she was fascinated with that particular painting above all the others, for truly she was. The expression on her face was finally opened and her emotions were clear to see. It was such an accurate representation in art of her own position at this time in her life. The Manor, Batman and Bruce himself would be the tree, attempting to shelter her and her child from the storm that was the Joker. Bruce only hoped that they would be able to protect her.
"Miss Quinzell." Bruce announced his presence by coughing and speaking her name into the otherwise empty Gallery. She jumped a little and spun round to face him properly.
"The name is Quinn now Wayne, Harley Quinn. I aint Harleen no more." Harley said simply and with a large amount of emphasis and scorn on the name 'Harleen'. Whatever was about to transpire in the next short while, it was going to take a lot of time and effort, that much he could tell.
"My apologies, Miss Quinn. The Batman has asked a favour of me concerning you and your current situation. I am more than willing to oblige, for I owe him a great many things. However, there are some ground rules I wish to lay down." Bruce started, attempting to be as formal as possible for as long as possible.
"I do not wish for you to attempt to escape. You were brought here for your own protection, which you asked for. An escape attempt would hurt you and your child more than it would hurt me. I assume that your presence here is because you wish for your child to be given the chance to take first breath." Bruce said, trying to avoid being so harsh. He had to admit though that her escape attempt had angered him considerably.
"I didn't expect to be brought here of all places. I was thinking something more you know, smaller, out of the way. Wayne Manor is an obvious place to stash me." Harley replied, obviously by way of explanation for her escape attempt. Bruce was very surprised to find that there was actually logic within her words. Clearly, Harleen was still alive and active, as much as Harley would try to deny it. It would seem then that the Joker had not destroyed the girl before, merely created another in her image to take her place and supress her. Maternal instinct and the factoring in of another life that could not defend itself appeared to be bringing her out of the darkness and bondage she was sure to have been in.
"How is it an obvious place?" Bruce asked, curious to see if there was any further logic to be found within Harley Quinn.
"No offence to ya, but you're the most well-known guy in Gotham, and you've been charitable recently. This is the first place he would look." Harley explained, and impressed Bruce once more. He could see her point for perhaps the first time during their associations.
"No, one of the most obvious places would be with Pamela Isely. The next would perhaps be Gotham PD, as you yourself had suggested. Any hiding place in the City. Why would The Joker even consider Wayne Manor? You have no connection with me after all." Bruce countered, presenting his points clearly and quickly so she could understand as soon as possible that Wayne Manor was the safest place for her. There was silence between them for a few brief moments that seemed to last a lifetime before she sighed heavily and slumped her shoulders a little.
"I guess you're right." She said dejectedly, transferring her gaze to the painting again. Bruce came up to stand beside her, crossing the space between them in a few short steps. They both examined the painting, Bruce with his hands folded behind his back, Harley with hers clasped together as though in prayer. As far as he knew, she was not a religious person, so he had to wonder as to why her hands had found themselves in that particular position with those connotations.
"A storm is going to be coming Wayne. Joker will want to find me, and he'll tear Gotham apart when he can't." She paused and turned her body fully to face him. Bruce looked into her eyes as she spoke, and was surprised with what he found within them. He would never have expected gratitude.
"You better be up to the challenge." She remarked, sighing heavily again, this time placing her hands on her belly.
"We will keep you and your child safe Miss Quinn. I promise you that." He said with determination and conviction.
"Hey, call me Harley." She said in reply, smiling wryly. This was certainly going to be an interesting chapter in Bruce Wayne's life.