Chapter 6 : Nightly Conversations
Streaks of tarnished sun hit the walls of the East Wing study as Alfred Pennyworth entered carrying a silver tray of tea. He peered at the shady figure crouched - gazing at the lightness of the quarter moon. Its gaze transfixed to the presence of the butler.
"Good evening, Master Wayne." He shifted his eyes to the table and saw the tray's lid hadn't been lifted. He withheld a disappointed sigh. "And I see haven't eaten any of the dinner I prepared for you..." He looked towards his master "What's going on sir?" He offered. "Why are you acting so stubborn?"
"Go away..." A bellowing growl answered as the inner calls of agony was creeping up his throat. "It's not safe to be up here while I'm turning, Alfred." Bruce warned, lips moving rapidly as he grumbled. "You should know that better than anyone." He felt the flaming swelter inside his veins. Scorching every fiber of his body.
Alfred remembered his fear and trepidation the first time he had seen his master transform under this curse. He had been fortunate to have reached through the beast and graze Bruce's mind. Since then he knew his master loathed himself and took extra precautions to avoid harming his loyal friend.
Bruce lifted his hands and looked at the claws and the blanket of somber fur that was forming on his knuckles.
"Where's Selina Kyle?"
"Down stairs cleaning up," Alfred affirmed. "I think she is starting to like living here. It's been a long time since we've heard a woman's voice echo through these halls."
Bruce's eyes fell as he thought about Rachel. "I can't see why she would? What's there to like about this place? The company?" He scoffed. "She might as well stay at the zoo and find herself on similar territory."
"You know that's not true, sir!" Alfred was disheartened by his comment.
"It is Alfred. Face it, I'm the animal and you're the zoo keeper, keeping me locked up and in line."
"You're the one that is keeping yourself locked up, sir." Alfred interjected vehemently. "For the past eight years. And we both know that Miss Kyle isn't a woman who would allow herself to be held against her will. She is here because she wants to be."
Bruce looked at Alfred over his shoulder. Curious.
"She is intrigued by you, Master Wayne. I can tell."
Bruce sighed loudly. "There is nothing..." He paused in his words. "How could she want to be here with me... when I look like this." His voice was sepulchral as he turned around slowly, showing his metallic-gold eyes showing a hint of orange, and sheen pearl fangs. His sideburns almost touched his chiseled rounded jawline. His ears were growing arrow sharp.
His throat released a distraught growl as he fell to his knees. Pounding his fists into the floor. "I'm tired of this Alfred!" He confessed in a fathomless snarling voice. "I cannot do this anymore! My body can't handle this pain. Why can't I just turn and be done with it." Tears were flowing down his cheeks as his sharp fangs dug deep into his bottom lip.
"What do you mean be done with it?" Alfred spoke in heartache. "You're still a man inside, Master Wayne. You need to look beyond this curse and see what life can offer."
"There is nothing out there for me, Alfred. I lost everything eight years ago when she was taken from me."
"We both loved Rachel, she would never want to see you give up like this. You're stronger than this. Deep down you know that is the truth that this old butler speaks. You think I doesn't hurt me to see the boy that I raised in these halls become a beast every night. When I hear your afflictions a piece of my soul breaks." Tears were forming in his eyes. "In two days the curse will have a different effect on you, and I will be at your side when it happens." He crouched down and placed a firm hand on his master's shoulder.
"I will never abandon you, Master Wayne no matter what you ultimately change into."
"Alfred... what have I become?" Bruce asked in a disheartened tone.
Alfred looked into his master's chasm stare. Feeling helpless but maintaining strength for him. "I don't know."
Bruce gulped down, giving a slight nod. "I think I do." He arose and moved back to the window. Eyes entranced by the moon. "Even men that are pure of heart can become a servants to the moon..." He growled, sliding his claws down the glass. He downcast his gaze and thought about Selina. "What will I do about Selina..." He trailed off. "What if she is the one to break this spell, Alfred?"
"Only time will tell, the key to a woman's heart is just be yourself."
Bruce grunted. "Is that a joke?"
"No sir. It's hope. You see yourself as this beast all the time. I think she sees more inside you..." He arose. "You need to gain her trust."
"How?" Bruce crossed his arms.
Alfred looked over his appearance. "Well you can start by cleaning up, and stop being self-absorbed." He instructed.
The thirty-eight year old billionaire gave a quick flash of the eyes.
"Be considerate to her needs. Courteous in front of her. And above all learn to control that stubborn temper. Keep that in mind you should have her in your arms by the next full moon." Alfred smirked.
"I need to know if she can be trusted before I can make any moves." Bruce implied.
Alfred shook his head. "Why do I even bother?"
"Do you like her Alfred?"
"Indeed. I do. She is different than most of the women you've spent a few nights with. She's got fire inside that body of hers."
Bruce fluttered his eyes. "Alfred, I'm surprised. I thought you didn't pay attention..."
"Well I was just trying to get a point across." He blushed. "What about you?"
"Me?" Bruce gestured. "She is bitchy and doesn't give a damn about anything. Aside from that, she makes me laugh."
"So there is hope.." Alfred whispered as he advanced to the doorway. "Good night, Master Wayne."
Bruce scratched his beard. "Clean up?" He began deducing.
Downstairs, the crafty Selina Kyle looked at her reflection in a mirror as her mind was suffering from the compulsion towards discovering the hidden secrets that dwelt inside the hollow form of Bruce Wayne. She found it inconvenient to be stuck in a mindless stare with her milk chocolate eyes when she should be looking for the truth hidden within the walls of the manor.
Annoyance was rigging inside. She side-eyed the faint glow from the upper level east side. "The East Wing," she muttered. She moved closer to the stairs, hand grasping the railing. "So many details with that man," Selina whispered as her lips parted. "I bet your..."
Alfred entered her view. "Miss Kyle?" He looked baffled to see her standing there. "I trust that you're finished in the kitchen."
"Dishes are done. Dried. And I even chipped a nail." She lifted her dainty finger.
Alfred gave a slight smile. "I think we better call it a night. Remember - right to your room. Master Wayne's wishes are not to be disturbed."
Selina's chin lifted, gazing at the nebulous gloom. "What's he hiding up there?"
Alfred felt his pulse reaching the high point. "How about I fix us a spot of tea? Since you're not ready to call it a night. We can engage in a conversation if you're up to it?"
"You're asking me to sit with you in the kitchen while having a cup of tea?" There was hint of bitterness in her tone. She had distanced herself from friendly gestures since the age of reasoning.
"If you wouldn't mind. It sometimes gets lonely around here."
"Funny I was thinking the same thing." She turned her attention back to the top of the stairs. "Why isn't Mr. Wayne joining us? It's not like he has anything better to do."
"Understand Master Wayne-"
"Is the stuck up loner..." She interjected in a sour voice. "I'm used to men that are kiss asses."
Alfred released a small chuckle. "You are a complex woman, Miss Kyle."
"Well in that case I will share tea with you in the kitchen."
"Very good." Alfred paced down the hall as he headed to the kitchen. Selina took her time gathering her thoughts and questions that sparked her interest about Bruce Wayne. She recalled those hurtful things that she spat at him during their time in the dining room. Cold hearted things that were just used to regain her own satisfaction from her bitter driven lifestyle. "Why does he disappear at sundown? Hide upstairs? Why the old man's cane?" She was figuring out the details. "How did he know so much about my past?" She thought to herself.
Leaning on the ledge of the stairs, peering down with lonely eyes, a bare-chested Bruce Wayne stood there motionless as her high heels clicked on the floor. He had listened to the whole conversation in the shadows. "Am I depressing to look at?" His throat burned as his tongue ran across his fangs.
"A self-centered, cold-hearted beast. That's what she called me. She'll never understand what I've lost. I'm no longer a free man in this world. Not even a man anymore. Just a solemn form that is waiting for the end to come. The dawn to embrace."
His tortured face turned cold in repulsion as he turned away. "She'll never get close to me." He dejected, feeling discouraged by the shame he carried. He used to be the charming Casanova of Gotham that women swooned over. The pleasuring 'wolf' that drove the best sports cars from Italy, wore tailor made Armani suits and owned five hotels and restaurants. What Selina told him about how the people of Gotham gossiped about him was degrading to his soul. He narrowed his eyes at the claws. He inwardly cringed.
"Eight inch nails?" He laughed with a cynical chuckle. Claws dug into the plaster, leaving marks. He pulled away and entered the room, closing the door behind him.
He lapsed back into the position that his body was previously. Crouched down into the desk, looking at the moonlight. His pupils captured every shaft of light as he released a dispirited sigh.
Inside the kitchen, Selina sat at the table, legs crossed as Alfred handed her a cup of warm tea. She studied the older man like a book. Every hardened emotion that he kept locked inside those pale wintery eyes that had witnessed so much pain throughout his lifetime.
She had seen that look before. It was familiar to her memory. Mesmerized by the patience that his breath released as a hand pulled out an oak chair.
"I wasn't sure what you took in your tea. So I just made it black." He said carefully, keeping his guard up with her.
"Black is what I prefer." She answered.
Selina narrowed her friendless gaze into the liquid as steam arose to her chin. She said nothing at first, her collections of thoughts gathering into the depths of her mind mostly about what she thought before. Her brow had grown weary. Why was she starting to care about Bruce Wayne? He was a rich idiotic brat. Then again... Maybe that was just the mask that he wore to hide away the pain that he kept imbedded within that heated gaze. Those butterscotch forest green eyes that would stare directly at her.
"Alfred," her crimson lips curled. "What is with him?" Those were the only words she could come up with at the moment. "Why does he choose to isolate himself from the outside world?" She asked, not making eye contact. "People are starting to wonder what's up the billionaire shut in? The news columns are making up bashing stories about his current state. Saying that he got into a car accident and became disfigured."
"Let them believe in what they want. You know the truth. You've seen his face." Alfred said, sipping the tea. "Master Wayne is just going through a stage in his life right now. He's suffered a great deal of loss."
Selina's eyes arched. "I didn't know that part."
"All the picture frames that you dusted. Those were the loved ones that he lost."
She recalled looking at the row of photos in the study. Images of strangers that were unknown to her eyes trapped under the glass as if they were frozen in a granite stone of a graveyard. The one photo that sparked her interest was of a young woman with dazzling blue eyes and curly locks, wearing a red dress and looking blissful. That heightened her interest.
"Who was that woman in the picture?"
Alfred was stricken with grief for a moment. "That would be Miss Rachel Dawes. Master Wayne's childhood best friend. She died eight years ago." There was dolor in his voice. "They were very close."
"So why doesn't he move on? Walk the streets and meet someone?"
Alfred shrugged his shoulders. "He just hasn't met the right one to tame his heart."
"Maybe he would if he gets off his **," she arose from the table. "Thanks for the tea." She gave one last look at the butler before leaving the kitchen. "All he needs is a little push."
Alfred smirked in agreement.
Selina mounted the stairs... cursing under her breath as she mumbled words while eyes looking downward at her feet.
A pair moonlit eyes, hidden behind the crack of the doorway found themselves locked on the young woman standing in front of the guest bedroom door, staring into the shadows that formed around her like a blanket of blackness. He could tell that something was eating away at her soul by her distant expression as she undid her bun, letting her thick ginger brown hair fall to her shoulders. She lifted her thigh and pulled off the Parda shoes.
Bruce drifted into a deep trance of her enticing beauty. Studying her shady allure intently.
She swiped her brow.
"Lazy dolt, she released with heated emotions and walked inside the bedroom.
"Sweet dreams, Miss Kyle..." A dying growl breathed as the door closed.