Wayne Manor was a monolith in Gotham's fickle aesthetics, remaining constant as the city planners constantly quarreled amongst themselves over whether the city should be a one great gothic cathedral, a cyberpunk landscape, a decaying urban jungle, or even a showcase for giant typewriters and abandoned circuses. Through it all, the manor maintained its stately dignity.
In October, jack o'lanterns sprung up, more to defuse the manor's intimidating veneer than to add to it. In December, Christmas lights rung the gates. And rarely, very rarely, the press was allowed onto the grounds. There, they would inevitably assemble around the east wing's patio like an army laying siege. And there, Bruce Wayne would make his formal public appearances, most often to dispel some paternity suit or another.
Today was an exception. Today, it had been three hundred and sixty-five days since the Eugenic Bomb…
Lois Lane looked at her notepad, eying her own prose. Could use punching up. Was she sure that Wayne Manor only changed in October and December? She thought she'd heard something about pink ribbons during Breast Cancer Awareness Week…
Lois, like a hundred other journalists, had convened on the manor like ducks on bread. Because when Bruce Wayne wanted to say something, he either leaked it like a normal genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, or he held a press conference. It was a press conference, which meant that he was letting people into his home. Or at least close to it. And for the notoriously private Wayne, who'd never even had his phone hacked, that meant it was something important.
Lois bet that Wayne was finally going to come out of the closet. Her husband had twenty dollars on the exact opposite. She loved Clark, but obviously gaydar wasn't one of his superpowers.
A sudden bustle from the gossip rags got her attention. Their cameras acted as a crude strobe light as Bruce Wayne strolled out from the depths of his manor. He was dressed casually for such a clotheshorse: penny loafers, khaki pants, and a magenta dress shirt (Lois knew it).
He went unerringly to the podium erected before the porch's balustrades. With an understated but firm gesture, he signaled for the roar of questions and flash photography to stop. And miraculously, it did.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming." To no one's surprise, the speaker system was calibrated perfectly, without even a hint of feedback. "I really wish I could just be out here announcing a new charity golf tournament—or even explaining away a photograph of me with a lampshade on my head."
He paused a half-second for some appreciative laughter, and cut it off just as it died down. Lois was always impressed by the way the man could work a room.
"But unfortunately, I'm out here on business. It was one year ago today that the Evilutionist set off his Eugenic Bomb, rendering a full ninety-nine percent of the population infertile. This week, you've already heard from some of the world's health organizations, its individual leadership, and the Justice League. But because there has also been a great deal of misinformation and rumormongering, let me take this opportunity to set the record straight for everyone within range of my voice."
He stopped to adjust his cufflinks, lips twitching as if he were trying to lessen his scowl, tone down his sudden seriousness. Lois watched carefully, tapping her pen. Her tape recorder would be catching everything. She only had to write down her impressions.
"There is no apparent cure for this sterility. Now, thankfully we were dealing with an overpopulation problem before the blast, so it will be some time before the effects of this tragedy change our way of life. But they will. All our technological sophistication is useless without people to run it. So, for that one percent of people who weren't affected, they need to start making babies. The traditional, monogamous method of reproduction is no longer conducive to the survival of our species. Traditional marriage is no longer viable.
"Polygamous marriage has now been legalized by every member nation of the UN. No one wants for there to be a breeding program, or to infringe in any way on the rights of those women who are still fertile. I realize how strange this sounds, and how much it goes against people's upbringing. Which is why so much of the Justice League, and other superhero bodies, have been leading the way in multiple marriages to demonstrate to the general public that such relationships can and must work for humanity to continue. I myself, as one of the One-Percent-Fertile, will be doing the same. I hope you all say to yourselves that if Bruce Wayne can settle down and get hitched, anyone can."
Lois was first to ask the obvious question, interrupting the laughter before it began. "So who's the lucky lady, Wayne?"
"Ladies. As I said, no one's a one-woman man anymore, not if they're fertile. Which brings me to why I really called you here today. No, much as I enjoy your company, it wasn't just to go over what you already know."
This time, Lois let him get his laughs.
"When the Eugenic Bomb went off, the Justice League and allies were fighting with the Secret Society of Supervillains within the Evilutionist's lair. As a result, virtually no superhero or supervillain on Earth was rendered infertile. For lack of a better term, that's breeding stock that can't be ignored. This morning, the UN passed a resolution offering blanket immunity for past crimes to any female supervillain who agrees to a child-rearing marriage."
The press exploded into questions, and Bruce just set his hands on the podium to wait it out. Meanwhile, Lois wrote in her notepad simply: Holy shit.
That would cover it until she could get to her laptop and write about ten thousand words.
Again, Bruce did whatever mass hypnosis trick let him quiet down a crowd of curious reporters. In the silence, he said, "I believe in justice and I believe in the law. But these are the most pressing of extenuating circumstances. Most of these women are not evil, they've simply made the wrong choices. To some extent or another, they've all paid for them. Some would say they haven't paid enough. To that, I can only reply that I hope these women will take advantage of this opportunity to earn the second chance they've been given. And the women I'm marrying I believe intend to do just that. They've been referred to by other titles, but from now on, I'd prefer if they were known simply as Pamela and Harleen Wayne."
This time, even Bruce Wayne's crowd control couldn't contain the uproar.
Lois checked her phone. TMZ had gone live with the story already, with no more information than the big headline BRUCE WAYNE TO WED HARLEY QUINN AND POISON IVY. Other sites were following suit, the alerts filling up her inbox like a flood.
"No one has any questions?" Bruce asked wryly ten minutes later, when the noise had finally died down. "That's alright. I know what you're thinking. 'Brucie, why would a guy who could have any woman in the world—'"
(He nodded bashfully, eying Lois. Okay, so not gay.)
"—decide to marry two women who are so… ethically challenged?' Well, that's the reason right there. Pamela and Harleen are phenomenally intelligent, talented, beautiful, and passionate women. Due to the Joker and Jason Woodrue, two promising lives were derailed. I will use all my resources and abilities to help them reclaim the great futures that were stolen from them. It's my responsibility as a man of wealth and fertility. And I hope that others will follow my lead and allow some of these wonderful women, these so-called villainesses, into their lives. Try as I might, I can't handle them all on my own."
Everyone was a bit too stunned by the roller coaster ride to laugh, so Bruce ended his stand-up routine on a cold room. Lois didn't mind. She'd already filled the notepad with questions: When's the wedding? Whose idea was this, yours, Ivy's, or Harley's? How will you deal with Ivy's toxicity and/or pheromones? How soon will you wait before trying for kids?
And she'd already gauged the security system. She'd come back in an hour, break in, try to get an exclusive.
For now, she updated her schedule. She'd have to catch a later flight to Salt Lake City to cover the still-ongoing Mormon party. And Clark and Lana were supposed to meet her there, too. Lana was cooking. As wary as she'd been at the prospect of sharing her husband with a goddamn harem, the upside was that finally, someone in the house knew how to cook.
But her readers would have questions for Bruce Wayne. They deserved answers.
Not that she was convinced that Wayne wasn't gay. The man virtually collected hot teenage boys. What was up with that? And how could Lois get in on it?
That night, the Gotham Museum of Natural History shrieked at the moon and stars. The underpaid security guards bumbled along to the tune of the alarm like an ant hill with a bootprint in it.
Response time from the Gotham City Police Department was fifteen minutes. Batman was there in three, finding Catwoman sprawled on the rooftop beside the open skylight and spinning a slender artifact in her hand like a baton.
"The Statuette of Bast," Batman said gruffly, still pleased to be shaking off the high voice of his alter ego. "Thought that'd be a little cliché for you these days."
Catwoman pouted noncommittally. "Sentimental value, perhaps?"
"I also heard it was a fake."
"I heard that too." She set it down. "We do have some time to kill before the police arrive. You could make the usual pitch for me to change my wicked ways, see things in black and white—or you could explain why you're the meat in a psycho bitch sandwich. I mean, I've heard of the boyfriend and the best friend before, Bruce, but this takes the cake."
"Ivy and Quinn aren't your friends."
"Don't make me say frenemy. I hate using any word invented after 2004." Catwoman sat up. "Pretend I'm your butler. Explain to me how you're not insane."
"Those two would've jumped on the deal, found some wealthy patsy, then killed him for his money. If I'm the patsy, I can keep an eye on them."
"If they don't kill you. That part's kind of important."
"I wasn't lying at the press conference. Ivy and Quinn can be redeemed. It'll just take more work than I implied. But think of the good they can do if they were rehabilitated."
"They could give you a double blowjob." Catwoman's eyes flashed. "Or is that not the kind of good you're talking about, lover-boy?"
"I'll use every ethical method at my disposal to change them. But nothing will happen that they won't want."
"Kinky." Catwoman pulled down her goggles to look him in the eye. "But you're still not answering the real question."
Batman considered throwing Catwoman's jealousy in her face, but he knew it was only from years of partnership that she felt safe asking even this unspoken question. He stood there looking at her like she wasn't in black leather and he wasn't in body armor.
"Nothing would please me more than to ask you, but I know the answer would be no. You value your independence too much. You could never give it up."
"True enough. Still, it would've been nice to be asked. Especially if I got to keep the ring."
Catwoman cut him off. "The real question is, when's the wedding? More importantly, when's the bachelor party?"