Disclaimers: All belongs to DC.
Summary: Is he supposed to be one of the idiots who call him
Milieu: Some vague sort of toonverse -- though it could
probably be read as comicsverse, too.
Ratings Note: Mostly harmless.
Acknowledgments: To Jack, Betty, and Sarah for audiencing
and helping me make this better.
Bruce always says his name -- these days -- like there are
about five extra a's and a handful of h's to soften the effect.
It's broad and loud and annoying as hell, because it's an
act, and because it still cracks him up.
It's probably meant to.
Bruce does a good job of nearly knocking over two
waitresses and a busboy -- that may or may not be an act,
the waitresses were too busy staring and whispering to
get out of the way of the busboy, and with the black and
white uniforms, they all look a little like --
Harvey shakes it off and slips his book into his briefcase.
Bruce is a juggernaut of social obligation. His own fault
for not just ordering in and eating at his desk again.
"Ah, good man. Thought I'd have to try to wrestle it out of
your hands, ha ha. The nurses at Gotham General aren't
*nearly* as beautiful as they'd like you to believe."
Harvey gives Bruce a look. He'd once seen the man send
their school's champion wrestler -- the one who might've
made it to the Olympics if it wasn't for that pesky date-rape
habit -- home sniffling with two wrenched shoulders. But
he can't say that --
"What *are* you looking so gloomy about?"
-- because that's not how this ever plays. Harvey shakes his
head. He also can't say, 'same as ever. What the *hell*
happened to you?' He'd tried that.
"Aw, Harv, it isn't anything about *work*, is it?"
"What can I do for you, Bruce?" Am I supposed to be one
of the idiots who call you 'Brucie' now?
For a second -- just one -- Harvey wonders if some part
of himself said that out loud while he wasn't paying
There's just this one little *flash* of Bruce -- the real one --
in the man's eyes, and --
"Well, you're *you*, Harv. Which means you can do a *lot*."
And then it's gone, just like that. Harvey sighs and shakes
his head again. "If this is about another citation for one of
your buddies which needs to be erased before it makes it
into the society pages, Bruce --"
"Aw, it's nothing like that, I promise. It's just... well, it's
about the Billings-Gregory twins," Bruce says, looking a little
like a puppy which has either just pissed on your carpet or
was about to.
Which -- context would help. "Who?"
"*You* know them, Harv. Emma and Ellie -- we met them
in Aspen last Christmas."
He wasn't *in* Aspen... that's not gonna get him anywhere.
Harvey waves a hand. "Okay, what's with the twins?"
"Well, I kind of made a whoopsie."
Dog, meet carpet. Carpet -- Harvey doesn't scrub a hand
over his face. "A 'whoopsie.'"
"See, I *thought* it was Ellie I'd invited over for drinks
tonight, but it turns out it was Emma, but now Ellie *thinks*
it was her... you see the problem."
He really doesn't. Translating Brucie to English requires a
lot more liquor than Harvey can drink before noon. Certainly
more than *none*, but -- "You want us to double *date*?"
"Harv, Harv, come on, now, we're not talking about sock
hops and, and..." Bruce waves a hand like he's trying to
shoo off a swarm of peasants.
Did peasants swarm?
"-- *malteds*, or something. I'm talking about --"
"The Billings-Gregory twins."
"*Exactly*," Bruce says, and his eyebrows go up and his
smile gets *loose*, and the fact that Bruce *isn't* sketching
out exaggerated hourglass curves in the air is actually a little
hard to take.
Harvey hates it when Bruce is just *almost* perfect at this
thing he does, this game he's playing with Harvey's damned
mind, and why doesn't he --
Why won't he just --
"Bruce, why *me*?"
"The Billings-*Gregory* twins, Harv! Did all that studying
make you injure something *important*?"
And now Bruce's eyebrows are telling another kind of story.
It's a story about potentially impotent associate District
Attorneys and the babbling idiots who drive them to
"You're my best *friend*, Harv! Who else would I ask?"
Why is he *doing* this to himself? "Bruce, I can't. I've
And he was about to reach for his briefcase, just in case
*saying* the word 'work' wasn't enough to penetrate
through his friend's brand new thick skull. Hell, he was
*reaching* for it, but now he isn't.
Now, his hand's flat to the table and Bruce is covering it
with his own --
("I don't know, Harvey. It just seems like there should be a
way to *make* your hands graceful, deft... *talented*. My
father's hands... I don't know.")
-- and that's not it. It's that flash, that moment --
"Look at it this way, Harvey -- they *live* together. They
probably already know about my little --"
Bruce laughs, and it's just a sound this time, quiet and low,
rueful like he's being honest, even though -- especially
("Can't give you *all* my secrets, Harvey. Then you'll find
Jesus. "You know you're going to be alone tonight. And
you're inviting me over to save you from the crushing ennui
of your obscenely pampered existence."
Bruce takes his hand away, 'straightening' his tie in a way
that leaves it elegantly off-center. "Well, if you're going to
be *mean* about it, Harv --"
"What time?" And why do you really want me there?
"Oh, I told the girls... what *did* I tell the girls?" The frown
on Bruce's face is exaggerated enough to draw his eyebrows
down a little. They look perfect enough to have been
It's just Bruce. Brucie. "I'll head over after work, Bruce."
"That's great, Harv. I *knew* I could count on you."
And then there are the shoulder-clasps and the hand-shakes
and a flash --
Jesus. They just got their picture taken by some roving
papparazzo. And it probably looks like a damned
"Ha ha, better hope they got your good side, Harv. The
fashionistas are *brutal*."
"Bruce, Jesus, my boss doesn't need to see my face in the --"
"Oops, gotta run, buddy." Bruce actually gives him one of
those little finger-gun salutes.
Harvey waves back, and checks around for a waitress close
enough to fill his coffee. Caffeine just might get him back in
gear enough to try and find a way to spin this for the man
who's *already* convinced Harvey wants his job.
The fact that he's right --
He sighs to himself and drags some actual work from his
No matter how much muck he has to crawl through this
afternoon, he can at least count on having a nice long
evening of Bruce being infuriating, Alfred being a little
intimidating, and stately Wayne Manor doing its best to
devour the brain right out of his head until it can spit out
someone just as fucked-up as...
("I think there's something everyone -- *everyone*, Harvey --
can do to make things better. We just have to find it.")
As the man who apparently intends to get him elected next
And that -- that's the way the game is played, apparently.
Harvey snorts and drinks his coffee.