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Chapter 4: He Knows About That, Too

 

Standing outside the formal manor entrance, Edward Nigma envisioned his signature image, the question mark, looming over the great house as he tried to make some sense of the previous minute and a half.  The butler had been standing in the foyer while Wayne “escorted” him to the door, and Eddie couldn’t quite make out if he was waiting to open it, formally and politely, like a proper butler for a departing guest, or if he was standing by to make sure the door was opened, lest Bruce force Eddie through it, leaving a splintery Nigma-shaped hole in the wood.  In that cyclone of churning uncertainty, Eddie wasn’t able to give the actual conversation his full attention.  But now, having lived to take the sweet, clean, non-manor air into his lungs once more, Eddie recalled the conversation quite clearly. 

Bruce Wayne (a.k.a.  Batman, but more significant in this case, Old Gotham blueblood and high society insider) had most definitely said Eddie had no need to bother Selina with those tawdry tales of Claudia Muffington, that there was no shortage of prospective confidants available, that every man on the North Shore had “been in the back of that cab”—including Harvey Dent!

The name was spoken just as that too-officious butler swung the door open, and Eddie’s concern that his head not make sudden violent contact with the heavy solid wood made it difficult to focus on anything else.  But he still managed to sputter out the obvious angle that Wayne was clearly overlooking: Harvey had been Claudia’s date at the start of the evening that ended in the back of that taxi.  Harvey was the one sitting next to her at the opera, Harvey was the one who checked her coat at the Iceberg.  It was Harvey’s date that Eddie had sex with.

And then, before the door virtually slammed in his face, Bruce Wayne—a.k.a.  Batman, but more significant in this case, Gotham blueblood and high society insider—said that “Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

Now that… was a riddle. 

“Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.” 

There was a time when “Who is Batman under that mask” was the greatest riddle ever known.  The conundrum nonpareil, the poser of posers, query of queries, puzzle of puzzles.  Since learning its answer, Eddie had been struggling with the anti-climax.  His efforts to resume theme crimes worthy of the One and Only Riddler had been, well, tepid.  He was beginning to fear the new question he was doomed to ponder for the rest of his days would be “How to continue doing what I do while knowing what I know?” 

But now… “Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

Hm.

 

Harvey Dent was a pessimist where love was concerned.  He assumed that no news was bad news.  Like the night of the Gotham Post party, he’d shared a cab home with Eddie and they talked of this and that.  Since then, they’d met for coffee a few times, and again they chatted: about sports, about crime, about the Gotham Post, about different sports, about the Iceberg, movies, and mutual friends, about politics, and finally, more sports.  They never touched on women.  Harvey had started to date Claudia Muffington, but since Eddie never mentioned any female except Ivy or Selina, Harvey guessed that no news was bad news.  There was nothing to tell, so he wouldn’t embarrass his friend by askingnor would he flaunt his growing involvement with Claudia. 

About that too Harvey had been prudently cynical.  Claudia was a knockout, but she was a twice-married, twice-divorced knockout.  The men in her circle who were her age (and his) were not the stuff of romance.  If they were still single, they were either gay or wanting a twenty-something trophy wife.  They were not looking for a gal like Claudia.  So Harvey realized that he was little more than an attractive convenience and would be discarded should a more attractive, more convenient specimen present himself…

The thing was, Edward Nigma did not strike him (from his admittedly heterosexual frame of reference) as a more attractive anything.  Harvey might not have the movie star looks he’d had as an up-and-coming D.A., but he still cut a damn fine figure.  He was a Harvard man and well-connected in Claudia’s world.  For the life of him he couldn’t see how Eddie, nice guy though he might be, could have pulled a Bruce Wayne and stolen Claudia off his arm that way.

Nevertheless, he wasn’t a stranger to the Vraags and Muffingtons of the world, and he recognized the maneuver with the cabs for what it was.  Both women lived in the east fifties; if there was any question of convenience determining who would cab with whom, they could have gone home together.  The only reason for asking where “Edward” lived was to juggle partners for the ride home.  The women had obviously come to an arrangement during that last trip to the powder room, and that meant either Penny was interested in him, or else Eddie would be doing the walk of shame down from Claudia’s condo at around seven a.m.

Since he himself was maneuvered into sharing with Penny, Harvey had thought about making a move but decided against it.  Her name was a coin, after all, and that seemed like a bad omen.  So he dropped her at her front door, declined the offer to “come up for coffee,” and went home to his last Two-Face hideout in the Flick Theatre.  It was late enough that he wouldn’t need the drone of the television to get to sleep, but he turned it on anyway from habit.  Channel 5 had Law and Order reruns from midnight ‘til six, and he used it in his Two-Face days to torment his dark alter ego.  Since the healing, Harvey found he really didn’t care for the show.  It was a reminder of Two-Face, who hated the courtroom drama for obvious reasons.  Harvey felt he really didn’t need any reminders of Darth Duality, even a cursing, thwarted, unhappy Darth.  Beyond that, the show was just a little too accurate in its portrayal of the political underbelly of the D.A.’s office.  It reminded him of his own crusading days as an up and coming A.D.A.  He didn’t relish reminders of that either.  So he flicked the dials, and a happy fate delivered a much more enjoyable courtroom drama: Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, one of his all times favorites, just startingpure lucky coincidence.

George C.  Scott was just appearing on the screen as an entirely different kind of D.A.  when… when Harvey’s mouth dropped open in stunned shock.

A happy fate?

That was a formula of words that had never crossed his mind before.  Happy Fate?  Lucky coincidence?

Jumbo shrimp. 

He watched the whole movie, only half aware of the figures on the screen, and went to bed hoping he wouldn’t dream of a Jimmy Stewart Two-Face shooting up the Jekyll and Hyde club with a double-barrel shotgun. 

 

“What is the worst part about knowing Batman’s secret?” Eddie queried in his mind.  Answer: that disturbing awareness of his being a person.  The Riddler did not like seeing Batman as anything more than an adversary.  The worthiest adversary, but nothing more than that.  An all but disembodied intellect with the visage of a bat who existed to answer the Riddler’s challenges and challenge him in return. 

That. 
Was. 
It. 

The sudden emergence of a human being behind that mask who was anything more than life support for a brain was a horrific and discombobulating shock.

“Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

That wasn’t the life support for a crimefighting intellect talking; that was a man.  That was a man who once took a woman to a party or a nightclub, checked her coat, held her chair, and then saw her disappear out the door with Harvey Dent. 

“Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

It wasn’t a voice coldly stating the answer to a riddling clue before whizzing a batarang at your head; it was a voice declaring “Harvard Prick did it to me once, too.”

Hm.

Eddie knew that Bruce and Harvey had a history.  He knew they’d known each other and hung out socially before Harvey became Two-Face.  The details had never seemed important, but now… 

Hm. 

Harvey had been district attorney, after all, an ally of both Batman and the police.  No one ever held that against him once he became Two-Face; the rogues scarcely even thought about it.  Two-Face was such a vicious critter, it was easy to forget his disreputable past.  Eddie himself had forgotten, but now… “Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

Harvey Dent had been an ally of Batman. 
Harvey Dent had been buddies with Bruce Wayne. 
Bruce Wayne was Batman.… 

He needed to get to the bottom of this.
He needed to get to the bottom of this.
He needed to get to the bottom of this.

“Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.”

Could Harvey know the truth about Bruce Wayne and Batman? 

Hugo Strange knew, which was bad enough.  As Selina once predicted, Eddie had spent many a sleepless night wrestling with that ghastly notion.  Hugo Strange, an inferior intellect in every way imaginable, getting there first; it was inconceivable.  It was inconceivable that Hugo could learn the secret before the mighty Riddler, so Eddie had finally come to the conclusion that he hadn’t.  Hugo didn’t deduce anything, infer anything, or realize anything.  He didn’t know anything, he’d guessed.  He happened to guess right, but that was dumb luck and it simply didn’t count.  In deference to Bruce Wayne’s brilliant mind as much as Eddie’s own, that was the only rational way to look at it: Hugo didn’t count.  Hugo Strange’s theories about Bruce Wayne were just as groundless, psychotic, and weird as if Wayne wasn’t Batman at all, ergo, Hugo didn’t count. 

Selina knew, but that was also a very different (THIEF LEFT TO SACK) kettle of catfish.  He didn’t know how exactly Catwoman had learned Batman’s identity, but he could guess that it wasn’t an intellectual achievement.  However it happened, Eddie could live with it.  There was a lot he didn’t like about Bruce and Selina being together, but he could honestly say that Catwoman knowing the secret before him did not enter into it.

But Harvey?  That would be a blow.  Harv was a stand-up guy and Two-Face was one serious Rogue, but it would still be a blow. 

And yet, much as his ego looked on this possibility as the grisly innards of a reptile it might have to chew and swallow at some point in the future, the better part of his mind was intrigued rather than repulsed. 

“Harvey has extensive knowledge of that, too.” 

If he did know—if Harvey knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman—it would be the answer to the great riddle Eddie now faced.  Two-Face never seemed to have a problem trying to kill Batman.  He would shoot at the Bat with a double-barrel shotgun, slice at him with a double-edged razor, stab him with a two-headed dagger, and chain him to twenty-two pounds of double-star explosive.  And Harvey still hung out with Selina. 

Why couldn’t Eddie have that?  Why indeed?  THAT was the riddle for the new millennium: Why indeed? 

If Harvey knew, then Harvey knew!  If he had the answer to “Who is Batman under that mask?” then he had the answer to “How do you eradicate the filthy bat-pest knowing it’s the love of Selina’s life under that mask?”

He had to find out the truth. 

He had to. 

He HAD to!

 

Super-hearing, that’s what the human race called it.  To Superman, it was nothing more than his Kryptonian senses detecting frequencies that human ears could not.  Same with Super-vision.  There was nothing special about it; it was just the way his body worked. 

Detecting the problem with Nightwing, on the other hand, that was the kind of thing Clark would call a super sense if he was inclined to toss the prefix around.  It went beyond simply noticing what your eyes and ears put in front of you...  Although, now that he stopped to think about it, no, it didn’t.  It amounted to exactly that: noticing the minute shift in the timbre of the voice that reflected a subtle rise in tension on a given word or syllable, catching the faint clench of a facial muscle or a slightly ragged expel of breath...  Bruce once called him a walking polygraph machine, and Clark had to admit that honing this skill had been a boon to both of his jobs, since criminals and interviewees both had a remarkable habit of lying.  But none of it was “super” because he could see and hear what no one else could.  His father would do the very same thing, taking in what his regular human senses told him about you and then declaring: “Something sure has you tied in a jumble, Clark.”

While he didn’t use the phrase ‘tied in a jumble’ with Nightwing, he did drop Robin off first in Brentwood, and then, rather than immediately returning to Bristol, he asked if ‘Wing would like to go for a beer.  A few minutes later, Clark Kent and Dick Grayson walked into a near-empty bar in a Brentwood strip mall and ordered a pitcher of a Bludhaven microbrew.

“I’m sure that’s not what either of you were expecting when you went to the manor this morning,” Clark began casually.  “What were you there for?”

“Oh y’know, the usual, paying a visit,” Dick said lightly.

Clark applied one of Lois’s best interviewing techniques: saying nothing after a question was answered.  He waited patiently, calmly expecting that there was more to follow, while Dick studied the television above the bar for a minute.  It was a golf tournament, with a small Breaking News window in the corner, looping footage of the launch pad fire and Superman, Nightwing, and Robin’s appearance there. 

“Okay, that’s a lie,” Dick said abruptly, then took a long sip of beer.  “What I was doing at the manor was making a big mistake.  It was dumb bringing Tim, and truth be told, it was probably a dumb mistake going to see Selina in the first place.  She just seemed like the best option available.”

“Oh?” Clark offered, just to break up the silent “expecting more” routine without actually putting a new question on the table.

“You and Bruce are tight,” Dick continued after another long, thoughtful sip.  “Does he seem okay to you, or does it, I don’t know, feel like maybe he’s kinda falling back on old ways?”

“That’s what you went to ask Selina about?  You’re a married man, Dick, doesn’t that seem a little intrusiv—”

“I know,” Dick admitted, “I’m not sure what I was going to ask or say to her.  I just couldn’t think who else to…  Bruce has been really pouring it on lately, and I’m pretty concerned about it.  That’s why I wanted to see her.” 

He sighed. 

“But I hadn’t worked out what to say or how to approach it, and then I went and brought Tim along.  Between us, boy did we bungle it.”

Clark didn’t mention the fragment of the conversation he’d overheard.  Instead he sipped his own drink.

“Why didn’t you go to Bruce directly?” he asked finally.

“Because he played me,” Dick announced.  “Again.  Like the psycho control freak all over again.” 

He explained briefly about the Be-My-Own-Man-Protocol as he saw it, and Clark laughed.  Then he took several sips of beer and laughed again.  Dick looked put out.

“Do you think the kids are overreacting to the stricter guidelines and new procedures?” Clark asked reasonably.

“Well, yeah, I do,” Dick admitted.  “Like, even now, Tim doesn’t get why I went to see Selina.  All he sees is the new protocols and he wants to complain.  He’s not even considering—”

“So, you do think they’re overreacting,” Clark interrupted.  He almost never cut in while another person was speaking, but he could see that Dick was getting worked up, and letting him stray from the subject would accomplish nothing. 

“Yes,” Dick said curtly.

“So do I,” Clark said confidentially.  “It’s a natural reaction when new rules are imposed, particularly with young people.”

“Yes,” Dick repeated.

“So we agree,” he nodded.  Then he drank his beer as if he’d made his point.  After a moment, he spoke again as if on a completely new subject.  “When we work together, Bruce treats me as an equal.”

There was a long pause as Dick glanced at the television screen, still looping the footage of Superman hovering next to the space shuttle, and pulling out the cargo bay with one hand. 

“I would imagine so,” he said slowly.

“Do you think that’s why I agree with you about the kids overreacting?” Clark asked reasonably.

Dick expelled a short breath, like a balloon deflating.

“No,” he admitted.

“Do you think it’s just possible that there’s no connection in your case either?”

“You can’t tell me he’s not capable of that kind of manipulation,” Dick insisted.

“Yes, I’m sure he is,” Clark admitted.  “I’m capable of having started that fire on the launch pad just to get away from that house before I became permanently indentured to Selina’s wildlife refuge.  Doesn’t mean that’s what I did.”

It was Dick’s turn to laugh, and he drained his glass.

“Point,” he declared, and reached for his wallet.  “I guess I do have to talk to Bruce man-to-man.  Find out for sure.”

Looking down at the table, he saw that Clark had already picked up the check and was counting out bills from his own wallet.

“You do realize,” Dick sighed, “that if you’re right, I’ve become as paranoid as he is.”

Clark froze, mid-count, and looked searchingly at Dick. 

“Yes, I suppose you have,” he said warmly.  “So on the way back, I’d like to put a hypothetical before you, involving Catwoman and tigers, and see if you can explain to me why nobody sees this the way I do.”

 

Bruce mounted the stairs to the upper floor of the manor in the same mental state in which he’d once swung towards Selina Kyle’s balcony.  Those first visits to her apartment after patrol, Psychobat screaming in his head to just turn around and go home, the night’s work was finished and nothing good could come of seeing her this way, informally and unofficially.  Sooner or later, he would let his guard down, and then what?  A little more and a little more, before long it would become a habit.  Before he knew it, he’d be facing Catwoman on some rooftop with a loot bag full of other people’s valuables, and his resolve would waver.  He’d drop his defenses when he shouldn’t, and wind up plummeting down to the street—possibly discovering too late that she’d sabotaged his grapnel launcher too. 

It was many years since Psychobat’s misgivings about Catwoman had changed, faded, and finally dissolved to nothing.  But the sensation Bruce felt now was still hauntingly familiar: his body moving automatically along a familiar path to Selina, tuning out the Bat’s dark warnings in his mind.  He knew in his heart that as much as Psychobat was completely right, he was completely wrong as well… and so, slowly and deliberately, Bruce would close that door in his mind where the hate and suspicion burned like a fire.

The door to the suite was open, and Bruce put his hand on the doorframe rather than knocking on it.  Selina was playing with Nutmeg, but it took her only a second to notice him.  He gave Nutmeg’s ball a light, careless kick, as if he didn’t see it.  It went rolling out the door, and the cat chased after it.

“Well?” Selina asked curiously.

He said nothing but went on studying her.

“I’ll remind you that we now have six tigers, if you need to dispose of a body,” she said with a naughty grin.

Still, he said nothing.

“Bruce!  Come on, I have to know.  What happened?”

“Nothing much,” he said at last, echoing her earlier answer about Tim.  “I let him know his options for a confidant aren’t as limited as he seems to think.  He can talk to any of a number of men who have been maneuvered into taxis and limos over the years by Muffy, Penny, Binky, Bunny, and the rest of them.  Ergo, he can leave you alone.”

“Thanks,” Selina grinned.  “I will admit that hearing sordid details of Eddie’s sex life isn’t exactly what I think of when the dog bites or the bee stings.”

“You might have mentioned his ‘new black’ theory after the opera, by the way.”

“Well, you might have mentioned Clark was coming to offer me tigers,” she replied casually. 

Behind that closed door in Bruce’s mind, Psychobat’s indignation burned a little hotter than before.  The implied comparison between Clark—that would be Superman’s secret identity, which he had revealed to her because he was bringing her fully and openly into all areas of his life—and “Eddie,” her little pet name for The Riddler, the criminal who she invited into his house… And then, a cold afterthought freezing over that burning indignation: He had invited a criminal into his house first.  He brought Catwoman into his house in the first place, freely and willingly.  Just like he’d put that gold bar in the safe in the first place.

“It’s completely wrong,” Bruce announced sourly, shutting out the hideous thoughts in a brusque return to the subject.  “His theory.  Rogues are the new black?  Only Nigma’s ego could come up with that.”

“You don’t buy it?” Selina asked curiously.  “You must admit, there’s a pattern.  There’s you and me, there’s—”

“Yes, Kitten, exactly.  There’s you and me.  Look at the other Rogues in question.  Two-Face and Riddler aren’t random Batman adversaries, they’re your friends.  Claudia might have honestly looked at Harvey initially as a single, straight, Harvard man with a presentable wardrobe who can order off a wine list.  But I know these women.  It doesn’t take them long to notice who only gets a smile in the receiving line and whose table I’ll stop at and chat for ten minutes, who gets a simple invitation to the winter ball and who’s invited to the dinner before and the after party later.”

“I don’t understand, you’re saying—”

“That Harvey and Nigma are a way to get close to you—and by extension, get close to me.  That’s why Claudia ‘traded up’ when she saw Nigma sitting with you at the opera.  That’s what social climbers do.”

Selina laughed.

“Okay, I think there’s just a touch of ego in your theory too, Stud, but we’ll let that go because it does make more sense.  But we are not telling Eddie that you’re the reason he just got laid for the first time in twenty months.”

“I have no intention of telling Nigma anything.  I wanted him out of the house; I told him as much as was necessary to accomplish that.  Beyond that, he can keep his theory.  It’s not my place or in anything approaching my interest to help Edward Nigma with his love life.”

“It’s not exactly help.  Just letting him know a fairly important piece of information about what’s going on.  First holding back on Clark and the tigers, now this.”

“They have nothing to do with each other,” Bruce insisted angrily.  “Why do you keep linking them?”

“It just seems like something’s going on with you lately,” Selina said, ignoring the anger.  “And I’d like to know what it is.”

Bruce sighed.

“Selina, the Catitat is yours, entirely yours.  It’s your special place, and now that I’m paying for it, I wasn’t about to come around a week later asking favors for the League.”

He didn’t add that he’d put her name on that checking account so he wouldn’t have to see, hear about, touch, or think of those gold bars again.  Gold bars he’d offered “for the Catitat” as a plausible incentive to lead her to uncover his Ivy predicament.  Gold bars, one of which had been hidden in that safe.  He didn’t need the reminder that she had been inside that safe, so when she mentioned paying taxes on the Catitat, he’d blurted “use the checkbook” to make the whole subject go away… 

“Whereas with Nigma,” he continued, “I will repeat that it is not my place to help the man out with his private life.  I wanted him out of the house.  I achieved that.  If you find it necessary to inform him that these socialites are throwing themselves at him in order to get close to you and therefore me, that’s not my concern.  I would only ask that you not ask him to tea in the drawing room to do it.”

“Is this because I brought him to the opera?” Selina asked suddenly.

“What?” Bruce exclaimed.  Here he was trying to explain how Clark and Riddler were in no way comparable and that his behavior in relation to either in no way constituted a pattern.  What did the opera have to do with anything?

“It just seems like you’re a lot pissier than usual,” Selina said simply.  “The opera house is special for us.  I wondered if maybe you’re upset that I asked him to go in your place.”

“Or maybe you’re upset that I didn’t go with you?” Bruce asked shrewdly. 

“I’ve never been a ‘Muffy’ that way,” Selina replied defensively. 

“And I’ve never treated you like a Muffy,” Bruce said firmly.  “Remember the tiger bites?  It was a real mission, Selina, not a, a plausible excuse.”

“I never asked if it was.  It didn’t even occur to me to—”

“I wasn’t avoiding the opera,” Bruce insisted.

Nutmeg trotted back into the room and, rather than respond to Bruce, Selina picked up the cat and stroked her chin.

“I wasn’t avoiding the opera, I wasn’t avoiding our special place, I wasn’t avoiding you,” Bruce repeated.

“Okay,” Selina said quietly.

While no crimefighter, she was fairly sure denying something (twice) that you hadn’t even been accused of was as good as a confession.

 

Harvey didn’t have a nightmare about Two-Face, but he did sleep in until two and then stared malevolently at the clock with that chance thought “Happy Fate” echoing in his head.  Harvey was a pessimist.  He was happy, more than not, that the healing had removed Two-Face from his life, but the idea that his life had actually turned around, that his luck had turned, that he was no longer “Fate’s Bitch” as Selina once declared, it was strangely terrifying.  If the Worst wasn’t lurking around the corner to splash his face with acid, then what was?  If Devastation wasn’t getting out of a double-decker bus even now, double checking the address on a little slip of paper, and preparing to knock twice on his door, then—

Knock Knock

Harvey felt the air tighten his lungs. 

Knock Knock Knock

Okay.  Well.  Three knocks were better than two.

“Harvey, are you home?” asked a more resplendent and beautiful voice than any heard the night before at the opera. 

“Nigma, is that you?” he called, moving to the door. 

“SPRIER US,” came the typically riddling reply.  “Surprise, that is,” Eddie added once the door was open.  “Not interrupting anything, am I?  I mean, if you’ve got company—”

“No, we’re quite alone,” Harvey answered, stepping aside to usher his friend in. 

Eddie raised a sharp eyebrow, and Harvey winced, realizing he’d relapsed into the plural. 

“Oh, that’s nothing,” he said with a dismissive gesture.  “I just got up.”

After the obligatory round of “You’re sure it’s not a bad time?,” “No really, I insist,” and finally an offer and acceptance of coffee, they settled down at Harvey’s kitchen table, and Eddie looked around for a conversation starter.

“This place would’ve made quite the base for Two-Face,” he observed.  “Lots of room.  Hardest part devising a decent bat-trap, so many spaces in the city are so cramped.  That’s fine if you’re content to drop him through a trapdoor as soon as he steps inside, but I like to make him wander a little bit.”

“The theatre isn’t for sale,” Harvey said flatly.

“Oh, I wasn’t asking.  Just making chit-chat,” Eddie said lightly.  “Chit-chat, CAT HITCH, you know.  Devising a good bat-trap isn’t as easy as people think.  What did you always find the hardest part?”

“Keeping Darth from going ‘two out of three’ when the coin flip didn’t go his way,” Harvey said acidly.  “Eddie, look, I think I know why you’re here.”

Eddie blanched.  How could Harvey know?  He couldn’t know.  He’d only got as far as bat-traps, he didn’t even make the transition from CAT HITCH to Selina…

“About Muffy,” Harvey was saying.

…CAT HITCH to Selina, how nice Selina looked at the opera, and that would lead to their being in Bruce’s box, which introduced Bruce Wayne as a subject and Bruce and Selina as a couple, and—Muffy?   Muffy?  Oh yes, Muffy…  “What do you call ivory lace with little rosebuds?” Eddie murmured absently, reverting to a riddling format instinctively, although there was no answer to his query.

“As you probably guessed,” Harvey said with a gruff cough, “it was very casual.  We had five, six dates since the Post party.  Two ships that pass, that’s all.  Still, it was awfully good of you to come by this morning.”

“Y-yes,” Eddie said, grasping at the excuse.  “That’s exactly why I came by this morning, to make sure we were okay, because I had gone home with Muffy, and Muffy had been with you.”

“Right,” Harvey said, slightly confused by the formal recitation. 

“Well, good,” Eddie said with a gamely nod.  How was he going to get the conversation back to bats, cats, Selina and Wayne?

“You know the love story is a tacked on complication in that opera last night,” he said, tossing out the first thought that came to mind.  “Original story was just about the crime.  Hermann.  Obsession.  Guess that was too straightforward for everybody, so they toss in this girl, make it a love story that really just gets in the way of everything.”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it,” Harvey admitted. 

“You don’t find it gets in the way?” Eddie asked petulantly.

“To tell the truth, I wasn’t really paying attention.  I’m not into opera.  I had a transistor radio in my pocket.  Knights were playing.”

“Well take my word for it, the HE TRY TO SOLVE love story messes up everything.”

“More coffee?” Harvey suggested.

“Selina looked good,” Eddie noted as Harvey got up to get the coffee pot. 

“She always does,” Harvey agreed.

“She always looks good but not that good.  That was special.  The dress, the hair, the creamy shoulders, that was… unprecedented.  Wayne’s a lucky bastard.”

Eddie watched closely for a reaction, but Harvey just poured coffee into the mugs without saying a word.

“He had to work,” Eddie tried again.  “That’s why he couldn’t go last night.  Business trip.”

“Busy man, it happens,” Harvey said lightly.

“Yes, I suppose.”  The words came out sour and disapproving, and although Eddie detested Bruce Wayne more and more by the minute, it was his frustration with the Harvey situation which caused that marked undercurrent of bitterness in his tone.  He had to be subtle, just in case Harvey didn’t know.  And the most casual approaches to “Bruce Wayne” as a topic of conversation were the opera and the Gotham Post party.  Eddie had hoped to avoid the party, seeing as Harvey met Claudia there and any talk of the costumes was bound to evoke her gloriously leafy rendition of Poison Ivy.  There had to be some way to hint about Wayne without getting near Claudia—although, the crashing afterthought sounded in his head, it was obviously a little late to worry about getting near Claudia.  It was like leaving the riddle after robbing the concert hall.  But the opera talk was getting them nowhere.  There was no other choice if Eddie wanted to get some answers.

“I’d have to say the last time I saw Selina looking that good was that Post shindig.  Of course, she always looks her best in the purple, wouldn’t you say?  No wonder Bats goes tripping over his cape.”

“I, eh, never thought about it,” Harvey said cautiously.

“Never thought about it?  Harvey, every man not yet decrepit has thought about it.”

“Some thinking I left to Darth,” Harvey murmured uncomfortably.

“Wayne dressing as Bats to match her, though, must say I thought that was a stumble.  Bruce Wayne made a silly-looking excuse for a Batman, don’t you think?”

“I didn’t notice,” Harvey demurred, drinking his coffee uncomfortably.

“I’m just saying it takes a special kind of man to match a woman like Selina.  Some ordinary Joe isn’t gonna make the cut.”

“Bruce is hardly what I’d call an ordinary Joe,” Harvey said loyally.

“You don’t say,” Eddie said darkly.

To be continued...

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