Bruce felt the fatigue close in around him as he stepped out into the secretary’s lounge. Behind him the door closed as William Earle looked on to the youngest board member in the history of Wayne. The talk seemed longer to Bruce than it actually was yet it ended with a crisp handshake and a deceiving smile from the CEO. Bruce wasn’t yet ready to leave the skyscraper in the heart of the Diamond District of Gotham City. Minutes later, Bruce stepped into the office of the department head of Research and Development for Wayne Enterprise. Lucius Fox glanced away from his computer screen with a curious look in his eyes.
“Mr. Wayne?” he inquired as he adjusted his frameless glasses.
“Mr. Fox,” Bruce greeted with a grin as he walked into the office, far smaller and more cluttered than the luxury of Mr. Earle’s office, eleven floors above.
“Well, well, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Lucius inquired as he stood up from his chair.
“I was just meeting with Mr. Earle,” Bruce said.
“I see. I’m afraid I can’t offer you the same luxuries, except for this chair here,” Lucius said with an indication to the plain chair set against the wall.
“That’s fine, I won’t be staying long,” Bruce said with a wave. “I actually wanted to come down here and thank you again for the recent favor.”
“Ah,” Lucius grinned fondly. “I see you’ve put them to good use,” he said. “Well anytime that I can assist the Batman,” he added with a smirk. Bruce stared back. He knew it was only a matter of time before Fox made the connection but never knew exactly what would happen from there. Lucius laughed as he read Bruce’s mind. “Don’t worry, Mr. Wayne. You aren’t the only one that knows the value of discretion.”
Fox was a child in a candy shop on Christmas day. Deep in the dark caves below the grounds of Wayne Manor, there was far more for him to see than his last visit four months ago. The steel tables set against the cave wall displayed various sets of generic street clothes. One table even displayed the black folded old-world shinobi shozoku. He only briefly glanced over the uniform of an assassin of the shadows as he was immediately attracted to the left most tables. Rows of small, metal, bat-shaped shurikens, small pellets filled with a chemical mixture to ignite voluminous, instant smoke and of course, the creatively designed grapnel gun drew him to the table with wondrously curious eyes.
“Extraordinary, Bruce,” he said as he brought the ‘T’ shaped grapnel gun up for a closer look.
“Thought you’d like a personal tour,” Bruce said. He stood back near the metal walkway to the lift system of the cave. Fox laid the grapnel gun gently back on the table as his eyes were instantly attracted to the ominous, black figure standing on display in the far corner. Fox approached the black nomex, Kevlar suit as he adjusted his frameless glasses. He brushed his hand over the roughly woven texture of the stiff, yet flexible material. He looked even closer to the scuffed, patchwork on the chest and rubbed his chin. A subtle black patch of oval lay over a damaged surface of the suit, he could feel the divots under his fingers. “Glad to see the Kevlar holds up,” he said. “How’s your chest healing?” he inquired glancing back over his shoulder. Bruce stood with his arms crossed over his grey suit jacket.
“Still a bit tender. You can thank Sionis for that,” he said. Lucius chuckled as he turned back to the displayed suit.
“Good to know you take your mortality seriously,” he muttered. “So,” he sighed as he turned to his right and looked upon the lifeless, computer system set in the opposite corner of the landing. “The computer then?”
“I’m working on something and need the advanced database linking software operational,” Bruce explained.
“What is it you’re working on?” Lucius inquired enthusiastically. Bruce could see in the man’s gentle, brown eyes that he was excited, that was good, it meant he was committed, but Bruce still had his concerns.
“Lucius, don’t take this personally, but the less you know, the better.” Lucius hid his disappointment well.
“Fair enough,” he said solemnly. “I’ll have it up and running in a day. Then I’ll see to some other things for you,” he added with a smile and wink. Bruce smiled back. Fox was a good ally and at moments like this, the cave didn’t seem so cold and heartless.