The Boss's Daughter
Renee watched as Cris organized his paperwork with a brutal efficiency. He was strangely protective of the files on his desk; he liked his bureaucracy to run smoothly, so as not to get in the way of the "real job." He had a system of colored folders that she wasn't allowed to touch. It's one of the many, many things that made him one of the most difficult people she's ever had to work with.
As Cris was tearing through his no longer neat piles and resorting them again, he caught her watching and raised a sarcastic eyebrow. "Am I bothering you?"
Renee shifted in her seat and tried to look blase. "No, not at all."
"Someone stole an envelope off my desk. It's not here."
This didn't sound good at all. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. I'm been looking for the last 20 minutes. You saw me." Cris seemed extraordinarily wound up about this, and he swore under his breath. She wondered if she should worry.
"Evidence?" she asked.
"No." He glowered at her, and shuffled some papers around. "Tickets to the Knights game."
Cris continued searching his desk like a madman.
Renee tried not to laugh. "Maybe Batman stole them."
Cris looked like he was considering the possibility.
"Or, you know, Tommy," Renee amended.
"Huh. Good idea," he said, despite the fact that she hadn't actually suggested anything. Cris shot out of his chair. "Let's go talk to him."
"Tommy's not here."
He paused, then turned. "So we should go interrogate Batman then?"
Renee stood up. "Sorry, partner. I'm meeting a friend for lunch, and I'm late."
"You're *ditching* me?" he said with mock indignation, but he seemed to have calmed down a bit, and that was good at least. Maybe an invitation to lunch would distract him.
"You can come."
Cris smiled. "Anyone I know?"
"Jim Gordon's daughter?" Cris glanced at her curiously. "I didn't know you two were friends."
"She used to help us out with cases sometimes, and I ran into her the other day." Renee paused. "It's a little weird, actually."
Cris frowned. "How so?"
"We've never really spent any time together. Not one on one, at least." Renee shrugged, pulling her coat on. "I've always seen her at the station, or at official functions. A few times over at Jim Gordon's house.
"Plus, I used to..." Renee trailed off.
Cris looked at her over the tops of his glasses. "What?"
They had reached the point where it's hard *not* to tell him things. And that's very, very annoying. Renee sighed. "You're going to give me a hard time about this."
"I make no promises."
He was honest at least. Renee took a deep breath. "I used to have a little crush on her."
He grinned and leaned against the desk. "You had a *crush* on the boss's daughter?"
Renee groaned and rubbed her face. "Just a *little* one."
Cris laughed and grabbed his coat off the rack.
Cris offered to drive, and Renee spent most of the ride staring out the window in silence, feeling increasingly anxious about lunch. She shouldn't have brought up the crush thing. That was a bad idea. It wasn't until they were almost to the restaurant that Cris asked her.
"Is that why--"
"No," Renee cut him off sharply.
"You don't even know what I was going to ask."
This is a conversation that she really doesn't want to have, but she can't see any way to get out of it now. "Is that why I never told Jim Gordon about me?"
Cris was silent and didn't look at her.
"It's *not*." This was not something she wanted to talk about. Renee shrugged helplessly and gazed out the window as they pulled up to the restaurant. "I admit... it didn't help."
She meant it as a joke, but he didn't smile.
Cris parked in a small spot in front of the restaurant and turned off the engine. "You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," Renee said, and opened the car door. "I'm fine. Let's go in."
"Sorry about this guy." Renee jerked her head to the side, indicating Cris. "He follows me everywhere."
"Not at all," Barbara replied, laughing. "The more the merrier."
Renee relaxed and sat down next to Babs, and Cris took the seat next to her. Barbara looked beautiful in her powder blue shirt and khaki pants, and Renee hadn't realized how nervous she'd been about this lunch until now. Then Babs pushed her hair behind her ear and smiled, and Renee felt all right again.
"So what's good here?" Cris asked.
"The pizza," Babs said firmly.
"We could share one," Renee suggested. It was a suggestion she'd soon regret, as Cris and Barbara agreed on pineapple as an essential topping.
"So I hear you're working as a software engineer now?" Cris asked.
"I'm working as an independent consultant," Babs replied. "I've been doing some work on WayneCorp's financial systems."
"Yeah," Barbara grinned. "It's a pretty good gig."
Renee picked the pineapple off her pizza and thought about that for a moment. "So, do you know Bruce Wayne, then?"
"Not really," Babs said. "I've had to work with him a little. He's kind of a jerk."
"Did you know he sent his lawyer to represent me?"
Babs shook her head, and seemed bewildered by the question.
"Why do you think he would do that?"
Barbara looked at her helplessly. "I have no idea."
Barbara bit her lip absently, and Renee remembered how she used to daydream about kissing Barbara, and the old images came flying back. She imagined Babs sprawled out on her bed, looking up at her with swollen lips and messy hair, as she ran her fingers up Barbara's soft stomach and pulled Barbara's T-shirt off over her head.
Barbara was touching her hand.
"You know, you should call my dad," Babs said. "I think he'd really like to hear from you."
"That's what I've been telling her," Cris chimed in.
"Ah, you're ganging up on me now. I see how it is."
"You are eternally paranoid, Renee," Cris told her, and then winked at Barbara, who snorted.
"Seriously, Renee," Babs tried again. "You should call him."
Renee was distracted by the fact that Barbara's hand was still resting on her own. She looked up to meet Barbara's eyes. "Okay, I will."
"Thanks." Babs squeezed her hand. "I really appreciate it."
And then it occurred to Renee that this wasn't, actually, about her.
"Is everything all right with your dad?" Renee asked.
"Yeah..." Babs said. "I think he's a little lonely. Since his retirement, he hasn't been spending a lot of time around people. He's just sort of cut off. I mean, his best friend is Batman."
"Now there's a guy who knows how to have a good time," Cris said.
Barbara laughed. "Yeah, Dad said Batman invited him to a Knights game
this weekend. But I'm pretty sure he was joking."
Reference images taken from GOTHAM CENTRAL #7 and #10.
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