A/N: I'm baaaaack!

So, after about 5 months of not writing or updating, I've finally gotten back into the swing of things. I decided to continue with the original story, flaws and all just because, even though it might not be the most realistic, I do enjoy writing it. I hope I haven't lost any of you in the long wait, and I also hope you enjoy the chapter!

Blood Money

Bruce had known the minute she had woken up. Even though he had been asleep himself, he had felt the very minor shift of the mattress. He kept his eyes closed, curious as to what would happen this time. In a matter of seconds, he had a warm body lying on top of his own.

He couldn't stop the smile from reaching his face as he opened his eyes.

"Good morning, handsome," Misty greeted, voice still rough with sleep in a way that made Bruce squirm slightly. Her grin was predatory when she felt the small movement but hid it by placing light feather kisses on his neck. Bruce moved his head to give her more access as he ran his hands up the bare skin of her back.

"Mmm…Good morning to you too." Even after spending the last three weeks waking up next to the woman, she still managed to surprise and satisfy him with her unique wake up calls. One thing that never changed though was her obsession with his scars. In the beginning, he had feared that they would cause a problem by giving away his other nightly activities, but weeks before, his worry proved to be pointless.

Bruce stiffened as Misty ran a sharp finger over a long scar just under his ribs. From his position he couldn't see her face, but he did see her eyebrows pull into a sharp dip. When she looked up there was clear concern displayed on his face. She conveyed all of her question without saying a word.

Trying to salvage any part of the night he could he gave his best playboy smile and said, "I've met a lot of interesting people…"

There was a pause where Misty seemed to consider his words before a slow smile graced her lips and her eyebrow raised. "I don't think I want to know." Bruce huffed a small sigh of relieve until he saw the mischievous look on her face, then he stopped breathing completely. "They're kinda hot…"

As a wet tongue ghosted over that same scar, he'd never been so thankful for being marked by the crazies of the city...the city that had become increasingly hard to protect when he had to sneak out of his own bed to do so. Especially when the thing in his bed was so appealing.

But to be fair, he did have a very beautiful distraction. Not that that's an excuse—

"Ow!" Bruce rubbed at the red spot forming on his throat from being bitten too hard. "What was that for?"

There was a pleased smirk on Misty's face. "You weren't paying attention. If I'm getting too boring for you, you could always find someone else to wake you up."

"Oh, but Misty, you do it so well."

Her eyes narrowed dangerously at his teasing tone. "Are you fucking with me? Because if you are…"

By now, Bruce was used to the slight mood changes, chalking it down to the makeup of the woman. He found that with the tenderest of emotion, he could gently ease her away from any ill feelings. That's what he was doing as he lightly cupped her face and pulled her down to make their lips just barely touch. "I mean it, Misty. There is no one I'd rather be with right now."

He could feel it when her lips turned up a little. "Yeah?"

"Definitely." He pulled her down the rest of the way to show her how true it was.

***TKS***

By the time they made it out of bed, it was early afternoon, but all Misty wanted to do was crawl back in. She used her long legs to dash to the heated tile of the bathroom. "Mind If I use your shower?"

Bruce looked up from his desk where he was checking his email. "Three weeks, Misty, and you still ask. Are you being polite or just paranoid?"

"A bit of both. Is that a yes?"

She watched him resist the urge to roll his eyes—a habit he seemed to pick up from her—and turn back to the screen. "Of course that's a 'yes'…if you let me join you."

"Sorry boss-man. Showers are for getting clean, not being dirty." With that, she stepped further into the bathroom and closed the door.

Misty didn't hesitate to step under the high pressure spray of the showerhead and reach for the body wash on the shelf thinking nothing of it until she began to scrub it into her body. The strong but not overpowering scent of cologne—Bruce—filled her nose. It wasn't the first time she'd used it, and even after Bruce offered to stock up on her usual toiletries she'd always shot the idea down. He probably though it was her way of not intruding or getting too comfortable in the manor, but honestly, she just liked the fact that, even when she left him, she could still be close. That, when she was in another boring meeting, all she had to do was shift to be able to notice the lingering sent of…

Okay, so maybe she was getting a little too attached.

She hadn't meant for it to happen of course, but Bruce was just so naturally comforting to her. He was also the perfect distraction from the buzzing, scary thoughts in her head.

Stepping out of the shower, Misty quickly dried off and dressed for the day. When she stepped back into the room, Alfred was holding up two neatly pressed suits for Bruce to choose from.

The old butler turned to her with a relieved smile. "Ms. Matthews! I'm sure you can help Master Bruce in deciding which suit he should wear tonight."

"Well…the black one is dark and sleek; while the grey is more formal and elegant. So it all depends on the occasion. What exactly is the occasion?"

While continuing to stare intently at the choices of clothing, Bruce answered, "Charity auction to raise money for a shelter to house the troubled kids of Gotham. Many of the high society bachelors are putting themselves up for auction for a date. Myself included. Aren't you coming?" He finally looked away from the problem at hand to give Misty a hopeful look.

"I wasn't invited," Bruce opened his mouth to speak only to be interrupted. "And before you decide to give me an invitation, I'm pretty sure you're not hosting it, and therefore have no right to do so." The billionaire cocked his head to the side, shocked by Misty's never-failing ability to read his mind.

Feeling quite proud, Misty gingerly began wandering about the large room in search of her purse and keys.

Gathering his wits, Bruce put on his best pleading face and said, "But it's for the children, Misty!"

"I'll write a check." She crossed Bruce to grab her car keys and purse.

"Would you like something to eat before you leave, Ms. Matthews?" Alfred asked.

Politely smiling at the man, Misty made her way to the door. "No, thank you, Alfred. I have a lunch date with some of the girls from the office." And then over her shoulder, "Wear the black."

As she walked to her car, Misty tried to bury the slowly growing jealousy at the thought of some rich snob getting their hands on Bruce.

***TKS***

"So…spill."

Misty looked up from her half eaten brownie in confusion. "Spill what?"

Laura just looked at her expectantly as Janice and Anna watched on curiously and a bit shyly. "Oh come on, Misty; we see the secret looks that pass between you and Mr. Wayne in the office. Obviously something is going on. So, what is it?"

The only thing that came out was a small choked sound.

She knew that she and Bruce sometimes got wrapped up in their so-called romance, but she hadn't known it was that obvious. People noticing could cause some major trouble for the both of them.

As if she read her mind, Laura leaned forward to look Misty in the face. "Hey, don't worry; we won't say anything. The only reason we noticed is because we kind of expected it when you first arrived. I just figured that, since we're such good guessers, we at least deserve to know some of the juicy details. Only between the four of us of course."

Misty sat back in her chair, arms crossed. She didn't really know if it was the right thing to trust them in keeping what would be the biggest news in the Gotham—and any other—gossip, and yet the part of her that was longing for the friendship told her it was perfectly fine and the right thing to do.

She watched in amusement as they all watched back eagerly. Smirking, Misty said, "Alright, what do you want to know?"

This brought forth an avalanche of squeals and questions having to do with first dates, kissing, and the standard 'how is he in bed'. She answered most of the questions, tactfully leaving the rest to the imagination. When all was said and done, they had all finished their food and were waiting on the check.

Laura and Annabelle were busy chatting about some reality show when Janice turned to Misty. "So, are you going to bid tonight?" That seemed to catch their attention and they all, once again, focused on Misty.

"Bid? Oh, you mean the auction? I'm not going."

That got overly-dramatic gasps from all three girls, but it was Anna who spoke up. "You're just going to let him go by himself, where all those women are going to have the chance to get there hands on him?" Janice and Laura nodded in agreement.

The jealousy flared up again, and Misty had to fight hard to keep it down. "Look guys, it's not as if I have some kind of right to him. Our relationship can't really be considered serious or anything…"

"Oh, trust me," Janice began. "Your relationship is much more than casual. Casual to Mr. Wayne is all of the models and dancers he only sees once. You refer to his butler by his first name. That's not casual."

"Besides," Anna added, "you can always use the charity as an excuse. Just say you're going to contribute to the cause. For the children," she finished.

At that, Misty chuckled, getting confused looks. "Bruce said something similar this morning."

Laura smiled as if she had just won something. "See. He wants you there; therefore you have to go."

Misty sat silently in thought, absently twirling the melting ice in her cup. She really didn't like the idea of Bruce being there by himself. If anything, she could at least watch and make sure that the winner was worthy and not just horny. There was one problem though…

"What exactly does one wear to a charity auction?"

***TKS***

What the hell am I doing? Misty thought as she walked into the hotel ballroom.

Following the advice of her friends, she had decided to go the casual approach, wearing black slacks and a blue halter-top that was both businessy and flirtatious. Clothing wasn't the problem though.

The room was crowded with people in the best suits and the most expensive dresses. It seemed that the auctions where already taking place as there were two men standing on the stage towards the back of the room, one with a microphone calling out numbers with dollar signs in front of them.

Misty watched for a minute as signs were lifted, indicting a bid. So far it seemed like a pretty calm ordeal. She did a quick sweep of the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Prince himself. Coming up short, she made her way to the bar on the side of the room.

The bartender was expertly mixing up drinks for two men at the end of the bar that were watching her with alcohol-hazed eyes and slightly lewd smiles.

"You would think that, at an event like this, they would at least try to stay sober," a voice from behind said with disbelief.

Startled, Misty turned around, coming face-to-face with a blonde man who seemed to have a good taste in suits. He looked familiar, and even more so when he smiled shyly, creating barely noticeable crinkles around his green eyes.

"Grant Morgan. I guess I'd be considered the host of this gathering." Misty shook his hand.

"Misty Matthews. I guess I'd be considered the loiterer of this gathering." Grant laughed, as they parted.

The bartender took the moment to speak up. "What can I get you, Mr. Morgan?"

"Just a soda, Chet. For you, Ms. Matthews?"

"I'll take the same. Thanks." As they were handed their drinks, she added, "And it's Misty. At least while I'm not working."

Grant smiled and leaned against the bar, blocking the drunken men's view. Taken by the gesture, Misty smiled genuinely at the man.

"So, Misty, would I be correct to assume that you are the young lady at Wayne Industries that everyone has been talking about?"

Feeling slightly annoyed with the subject she went back to scanning the room for Bruce and answered, "I guess you would be."

There was still no luck on the Bruce search.

Expecting to have to answer questions about Gotham's biggest star, Misty was surprised when he asked, "How do you like Gotham so far? I know it can be a bit of a culture shock for some."

"I love it here," she said, focusing her attention back on the man that won her over again. "I always have."

"Do you visit a lot?" He asked with real interest.

Misty smiled fondly. "I did with my dad as a kid. It's been a while though. It's good to be back."

"I know what you mean. I moved back a few years ago after college. Cambridge and Gotham are two different worlds," he laughed so boyishly that she wanted to ruffle his hair.

"Oh, so you're a Harvard boy!" Misty exclaimed teasingly, getting a bright blush that made him look a lot younger than he probably was.

"You caught onto that, huh?"

Before she could respond, the guy at the microphone announced the last bachelor. Finally, the search was over, and Bruce stepped on stage wearing his black tux.

"Looks like the auctions will be coming to an end soon. I should go make sure that everything is being handled properly." He shook her hand in parting. "See you around, Misty."

It was almost a question so Misty nodded her head and smiled, but as soon as he turned, her attention was fully on Bruce.

He stood there with all of the confidence in the world, giving the women below his best smile; they smiled back as if they had some personal relationship with him.

The bidding started low, in the mid hundreds, and made a steady climb to a thousand. Even though the eagerness was palpable, the women seemed to be cautious, only making small bids of a hundred more than the one before.

She didn't really notice though because at some point, Bruce seemed to notice her standing there watching, and his face lit up. The moment they made eye contact, there was a silent competition going to see whose expression would break first. The bidders were forgotten for the moment as the sort-of couple played their game. It went on long enough for the number to reach four thousand and ended when Bruce rolled his eyes sneakily at the slow bidding, making her face crack into a grin.

There was something about their private moment that had Misty feeling as if he shouldn't be up there at all or at least that she should have the right to fight for him too. She hadn't planned on doing anything—it was better to keep her cool and let the girls have their fun— but when Bruce looked at her again, this time with the genuine smile she only saw in private and a wink that seemed to tell her that she was the only one who got to see the real Bruce, she couldn't help herself.

"Oh, come on," she grumbled to herself, and then louder with the wave of a hand, "Forty thousand for the man in black."

All eyes turned to Misty, most of them with pure venom.

The caller, stood there shocked for a split second before he gathered himself. "Forty thousand for the dashing mystery woman in the back! Going once, going twice…well, it looks like you've just won yourself a date Ms..?"

"Matthews," Bruce finished for him. "Misty Matthews."

There were claps, the majority belonging to the men, as the women continued to glare and wish that they hadn't been so scared about seeming too eager by making a higher bid. She didn't care though; she was too focused on the proud look on Bruce's face.

***TKS***

It didn't take him long at all to find her at her place by the bar.

"First you show up and then you bid? You are just full of surprises, Misty!" Bruce exclaimed by way of greeting.

"Well, you know me; I like to keep people on their toes."

He smirked and filled the space Grant had left not too long ago. "You sure are good at it." There was a hint of something much more personal in their conversation than an outsider could detect. "So, how much of a date do you think forty thousand should get you?"

"I don't want a date, Bruce."

The shocked look on his face would have been funny if there hadn't been hurt mixed in with it. "What do you mean you don't want a date?"

She just smirked though and said, "It's for the children, remember, Bruce?"

The emotion quickly changed when he could tell she was joking. Instead of shocked and hurt he was serious and open. "Let me take you out, Misty. Please? I want to."

The show their faces were putting on must have been an amusing one because immediately, Misty's mirrored her partner's.

"I did just make myself the target of over half of the women in Gotham …"

Bruce casted a sly look at the staring women and chuckled. "How about we figure out the details somewhere less…crowded?"

"Sounds good to me," she murmured, captivated by just how incredibly attractive he was right now.

"Let me just tell the host I'm leaving."

Misty watched him walk away, feeling just a bit lightheaded at how sincere he had been. Everyday she spent with him, she became more attached. The thought that she would be leaving him after all of this was over left her with an empty feeling. If she were so naïve, she would try to plan a way to be able to stay, but that was one thing Misty was not. When all was said and done, Bruce wouldn't have time for her because he would be too busy trying to put his city back together, and that wasn't even considering him finding out that she was the one who helped it become broken.

The sound of shattering glass broke her thoughts. Gasps filled the room followed by screams of terror.

Instantly, Shadow responded, and even before she saw the men enter the room, she was trying to make her way out to her car where she had a spare suit hidden in the faux-bottom of her suitcase. The only problem was that those not frozen were trying to find the quickest way out too.

It was chaos trying to move through the crowds, but finally everyone stopped moving. Misty didn't even worry about why until she heard the laugh.

"You have got to be kidding me!" She huffed to herself. Slowly she turned around, revealing the last person she ever wanted to see.

"Well…hello ladies and gentlemen!" He paused to look around at all of the shocked faces. "I know what you're thinking… 'A repeat performance?', but no. No, we're just here for your money," he cackled. "Oh, and I thought that maybe you were, uh, in need of another willing bachelor." Joker fixed his collar as if primping, laughter filling the large room.

A small woman in a dress that could probably be enough funds for two new buildings was sobbing softly, drawing his attention to her. She gave a pathetic squeak when the clown looked at her and went paler than a ghost as he went closer and grasped her chin.

"Now, there's no need to be afraid, cupcake. We can settle this like the adults we are. Just think of it as, uh, charity."

With a small flick of his fingers, he had his masked goons spreading out all over the room holding out bags like a kid would on Halloween. Their drawn on smiles were more frightening than any festive costume Misty had seen though.

Hoping that it wasn't too late, she started to move slowly towards the open double doors. She had only gotten a few steps away from her original place at the bar when Joker's eyes flashed towards her.

For a moment, Misty forgot she wasn't Shadow because she could have sworn there was a flash of recognition, but just like that, it was gone.

Joker began making his way around the room, looking closely at jewelry and ties that would most likely be taken away from their owners soon. "You know, you people fascinate me. You claim to be doing this for the sake of the cute little kiddies without homes 'oh, let's give our hard-earned money to those less fortunate than us'," he mocked in a high pitched voice. "But have you ever thought that maybe it would mean more if you didn't show up wearing enough money to feed them all a four-course meal?" He looked around as if for confirmation. "No? Didn't think so."

It didn't go unnoticed to Misty that he was getting closer and closer to her, but there was nothing she could do at this point. Just as they were about to come face-to-face, a man—the first bachelor she saw being auctioned—spoke up, drawing the madman's attention to him.

"You won't get away with this, Joker. We caught you once, and we can do it again."

Clearly the only thing the guy has going for him is his looks…

"Ha! You sound so sure of yourself that I almost believed you there for a moment, but ya see, I think I might have someone who could help me get out of this one…" Misty's heart stopped as he looked directly at her. "Isn't that right, gorgeous?"

Defiance started her heart up again. "Sorry darling, but I don't associate with lunatics."

His laughter was so shrill and filled with irony, that she almost winced.

"How about we change that, hmm?" Before she knew it, Misty was being hugged from behind, a familiar knife at her throat. The Joker's gloved hand was tight enough that she knew she would have bruises in the morning and not the fun kind.

She was sure there were screams at her capture, but she heard them from far away. Again, Misty was being shoved into the back of her own mind, being replaced with something more frightening and definitely more pissed off.

Pictures began flashing rapidly in her mind; pictures of pain and violently red blood flowing from open wounds, but not just anyone's pain. She wanted the Joker's pain.

The press of the sharp knife became the only thing she was aware of, and for the first time, Misty willingly gave into the darkness that filled her mind.

As soon as she did, any struggle in her went away, and she leaned all of her weight on the man behind her. Barely moving her lips so the only one that would notice was her capturer, she whispered, "Wanna play?"

There was a startled laugh that soon turned to one of great pleasure as Joker began to produce some kind of rope to tie her hands with. "Well, as fun as this has been, I think it's time for us to depart…fashionably of course."

As he bid his farewell, Joker moved them towards the doors that lead to the back alley. With one last majestic wave, he pushed them out into the cold but heavy Gotham night.

Before she could even take a proper survey of her surroundings, Misty was being thrown into the back of a horribly spray painted van followed by the Joker.

"Yeah, this getaway car definitely won't attract attention…" Misty muttered. The van lurched forward as they took off.

One of the masked clowns huffed irritably. "Want me to shut her up, Boss?"

"No, no. She entertains me."

Misty stayed quiet. If she had been in her right mind, she would be worrying about things like whether or not her identity was safe and just what Joker planned to do with her, but she wasn't. Really all she cared about right now was the excitement and beating the clown at his own game.

She almost laughed as she saw a pocket knife lying on the floor, presumably coming from one of the two men in the back with her when the van first took off. Waiting for just the right moment, the captive grabbed for the weapon with her bound hands as the van turned a sharp corner. Immediately she began working on the ropes tying her hands.

"Good God! Who's driving this thing? What, are you too cheap to buy your guys glasses, Joker? Shitty employer you are."

Joker was too busy catching his balance to notice that she had gotten her hands free. When he turned to her, he was all smiles. "Oh, we're going to have fun with you."

Taking that as her cue—and one of the biggest risks of her life—Misty brought the knife into view pointing directly at her stomach. "Not if I'm dead."

Misty tried desperately to take back control of her body. This wasn't what she had wanted when she had given up the reigns to whatever the hell it was that seemed to haunt her. She had wanted a way out; one that didn't involve a dramatic form of self-mutilation. The hold on her body, however, was too strong, and she was forced to just watch as the knife was swiftly brought down hard towards her body.

She expected pain along with blood and lots of it. So she was surprised when neither came and there was another hand on the knife, but this time trying to pull it away.

There was an ironic struggle going on as Misty continued to try to stab herself and the Joker was trying to stop her.

"What the hell are you doing?" He growled

Misty's body smirked and spoke in victory. "Winning."

In one quick move, she kicked up, sending the Joker to the back of the van and maneuvered the door open and flung herself out onto the street.

The impact on the concrete should have hurt—and it did slightly—but she brushed it away in favor of jumping at the opportunity to take over again.

While she regained her sense of self, Misty watched the van disappear as it turned a corner.

"Son of a bitch," she growled in anger. It was one thing to have him mess with her life as Shadow, but it was completely another for him to interfere with Misty's.

Too caught up in her rage, she didn't notice the sound of tires screeching to a stop. She did, however, look over to see a black boot approaching her place on the ground.

"Are you okay?" Batman's deep voice sounded even more powerful to Misty than it did as Shadow. She didn't have to fake her astonishment as she looked up, mouth agape.

"Oh my god, you're…I can't believe—" Misty grasped the hand offered to her as she stood. She laughed at her lack of finesse and apologized. "I'm sorry! I'm just a bit star struck. You're Batman," she informed him.

"Are you okay, Ms. Matthews?" he repeated, this time with more caution, as if she might have hit her head too hard.

Misty giggled. "You know my name?" Batman stood motionless and equally silent. Sobering up, "Right, yeah, I'm fine. Those guys were just…well, I guess you can't make friends with everyone." Again she laughed with no response.

She took a minute to really look at the hero in front of her. Even knowing that it was Bruce under the cowl, Misty still felt as if she were meeting this man for the first time. She was aware that she was acting a bit like a teenaged girl who just met her idol, but really it wasn't much different.

Batman's courage was what had inspired her to take on the responsibility of Shadow. Shadow was strong because he proved that someone like her could exist, but right now she was Misty. And truth be told, Misty did have kind of a small crush on the Dark Knight.

Which is why she found herself blushing slightly.

"I am making a complete fool of myself right now. I should probably head back," she pointed in the general direction of the hotel. "Wouldn't want them sending out a search party. Thanks for, ya know, checking on me..? I'll just—"

She gave an airy wave and began walking towards the sidewalk.

"I can't let you go alone. Joker could decide to turn around." He seemed to have aimed for emotionless, but Misty could sense the undertones of a worried Bruce. Though that wasn't really shocking because Bruce had never seen her act so air-headed before. She was sure she would be laughing about tonight once she passed the shock.

"What are you going to do? Walk me there?" She chuckled before she saw him shift slightly, indicating the black monster of a vehicle behind him. "Oh. Oh, you mean you want to…"

She didn't even get to finish speaking before he walked over to his car—bat-car, Shadow provided—and opened the top.

Cautiously, Misty stepped forward. "You're sure?"

Batman extended his hand to her, and she took that as a yes. Delicately, she was handled as she found her way in. Before they took off, Misty spoke, "You know, despite being kidnapped by a man wearing more makeup than I would even buy, this night has been pretty kickass."

Misty could have sworn that there had been a smirk, but then she was being thrown back into the seat and onto the Gotham streets.

A/N: I'm not sure when the next time I'll be updating is, but I will try to make the in between time shorter :D

Also, you know the drill: reviews are love, and I love love!

*edited by midnightwings96