CHAPTER 1: I move in with a stoic billionaire
"And this is your room," Dad said, concluding the tour. Even though I've been to Wayne Manor lots of times, no one ever gave me a proper tour.
"Very gray," I tell him, stepping into the room. It was very big, very elegant, and very cold.
I was probably the first person to use the room in years. At least I had a nice view of grounds and a private balcony.
"Bruce isn't much for decorating. That was Alfred's thing," Dad said, fondly remembering the old butler. Alfred was probably the only reason we visited Wayne manor when I was a kid. Dad and Bruce have had a strained relationship since before I was born. This was the first time we'd been to Gotham since Alfred died.
"I'll have to change that then."
"Good luck with that. Bruce is a stubborn old man, set in his ways," Dad warned.
"Runs in the family," I muttered. Dad sighed.
"Why leave your only child with someone you don't get along with?" I start.
"Jamie, you know this was the only choice over juvie. I would keep you in New York with me if I could, but Bruce was decent enough to influence a good school here to accept you, even with your record. That's more than I could do."
"He couldn't use his influence on a school at home? Had to make me move 2 hours away from everyone I care about. I'm probably just another tax deduction."
Dad grabbed me gently by the arms, forcing me to look at him. I reluctantly met his eyes. Well, eye, since one was covered by an eye patch.
"For all of that man's fault's, taking in a kid who needs help is not one of them. He is doing this to help family, adopted or not. I know I'm not the best example for a relationship with him, but don't let my past ruin your future with your only known grandparent. If you can make it through this school year without getting expelled, you can come back to New York next year. Promise me you'll make an effort this time?" He more told me than asked.
"Fine. But I'm not going to be happy about it." I pouted. Yes, I know at 16 I knew better, but I didn't care.
"That's all I ask. But try to make some friends. Or try to find a new gym."
"Why? I have Anni, Ko and a gym at home. I don't need friends here," I stubbornly pointed out. He sighed again.
"Fine. But don't complain to me when you're bored because you refuse to make friends."
"I won't. I have this huge house to explore. I'm not going to be bored any time soon." I countered. "But if I do, I could always wander around Gotham looking for Batman." I joked, trying to lighten the mood. Yes I was mad that he was leaving me for 9 months, but I didn't want him to leave on bad terms. He didn't seem to like that joke.
"Don't go out alone. Gotham hasn't changed since I lived here. It's not safe. Even with Commissioner Gordon's new policies. Please don't go out alone." His serious tone and desperate look stopped me from making another joke.
"Okay. I promise not to."
"Thank you," He said in relief. Then he looked at his watch. "Better get going. Train leaves soon."
"Can I come to the station with you?" I asked hopefully. Despite how I acted, I really did love my Dad, and considering he's my only parent, I had kind of grown fond of him.
"And how would you get back here? You don't exactly know your way around Gotham." He pointed out.
"I'm pretty sure Bruce could spare his mysterious assistant for an hour so his granddaughter can say good-bye to her father." I countered. I wasn't ready to be left alone with the old man in this huge place just yet.
He sighed again. I swear that was his default reaction to anything I did. Lost my phone? Sigh. Got caught vandalizing the locker room? Sigh. Got in a fight at school? Sigh. Even when I got expelled that was his reaction. It's like nothing I did really surprised him. I think the only reason he wasn't harder on me is because I tended to have a logical justification for all my actions. Although I couldn't smooth talk my way out of being grounded for the summer. According to him, breaking someone's arm wasn't ever justified.
"Jamie, let's not make this more difficult."
Now it was my turn to sigh. "Fine I guess. But I'm really am going to miss you." I hugged him. I'll admit it, I was a full blown daddy's girl.
"I'm going to miss you too Little Bird." He returned the hug. He laughed when I made a face at the old nickname.
We went down stairs so he could say a rather strained good-bye to Bruce, and one last good-bye to me. Then he was gone and I was suddenly very aware that I knew nothing about Bruce.
I was essentially going to be living with a stranger. Yay me.
"So," I started timidly. The man might be old but he still scared the shit out of me. He looked at me. "Whats for dinner?" He gave me a calculating look and I stood very still.
"You can help yourself to the fridge. You seem competent enough to make your own food. I have something that needs my full attention, so your on your own tonight." He stated gruffly.
"Oh. Okay. Well I guess I'll see you tomorrow then." I said lamely to his retreating figure.
I found some food and retreated to my room for the night, deciding to work on some homework for advanced robotics. Apparently I had a whole summer of homework do in less than 2 weeks. Good thing I was a devoted student. And I really liked robotics.
About 2 hours later Dad called to tell me he made it home. As soon as I hung up with him, my phone rang again.
"JAMIE! I MISS YOU!" I had to hold my phone away from my ear.
"Miss you too, Ko. But you saw me yesterday before I left."
"So! I can't miss my best friend?" I could hear the pout in her voice.
"You have Anni there." I reminded her. Kohana and Anni were my two best and oldest friends.
"But she's visiting her dad. And I'm booorred!" she whined.
"Wait, I thought she wasn't going to do that after her last visit?" I asked, confused. Anni's father was an inmate at the New York State prison. He had been there for eight years, after it was discovered he was part of a human trafficking gang. It came as a shock to all of us, because he was such a good man. I remember calling him "Dad" growing up and him and my Dad being pretty decent friends.
"Well you know Anni, always quick to forgive and see the light in people." Ko pointed out.
"True. So what do you really want? You never just call to call."
" I'm offended! I would nev- Okay fine! I got my class schedule today. Did you ever have Mr. Makarios for genetics?"
So that was what she wanted. To know if she could slack off in class or not.
"Ko, you're going to have to try in school at some point." I told her. Ko was one of those people who succeeded without actually trying. She says its because she's Japanese and Japan is better at education.
"I know. But why should I try any harder than I have to?" She reasoned. I rolled my eyes at that.
"Fine. Don't tell me. I'll just ask Anni."
"You do that." I gave her no sympathy.
"You're a terrible friend. At least Anni didn't leave me."
"Now thats just mean. You know I didn't have a choice." I joke.
"J, you always have a choice. You could have choose to ignored the comment. Anni did." She said seriously.
"But like you said, Anni always sees the light in people. Even when there isn't any there." I sighed. I preferred her when she was more lighthearted.
"But you didn't have to break Roc's arm."
"So everyone keeps telling me." I grumbled. We were silent for a few minutes.
"Well I better go. Sobo needs me." Ko said breaking the silence. We both knew that her grandmother hadn't called her, but neither of us were ever good at resolving a fight. That was more of Anni's specialty, Not that we fought often.
"Bye." I said, and hung up. I sighed and got back to my homework.
Around midnight, I decided to get a snack. I made my way down to the elaborate kitchen. Why one old man needed so much space was beyond me. While I was making myself a sandwich, I noticed a light down the hallway. I made my way down the hall to the study. I peaked inside, wondering if Bruce was a being of the night like myself. I didn't see him, but noticed Ace, his dog, lying in a corner near an old grandfather clock. Ace looked up at me as I approached. I had nothing against dogs, but Ace was huge and I wasn't exactly sure if he liked me. Kinda like his owner. I decided to try my luck with the dog, because it would be nice if someone in this huge place liked me.
"Hey boy," I called gently and walked slowly towards him. He picked his head up. I stopped and we just stared at each other for a minute. Then his tail started to wag making big a thump thump noise.
"Shhh!" I told him, not sure if Bruce was asleep whenever he was. Ace gave me a look. For a dog, he was very expressive. I decided to give up on the slow approach and just come and sit by the dog. I hesitantly put my hand out to pet him and he sniffed it. I couldn't help but hold my breath until he finally nudged my hand with his nose. I sighed in relief and started petting him.
As we sat there, I contemplated how odd my grandfather is. The man took in 3 boys and raised them (with help from Alfred. Dad always made sure I knew that.) Then one day just cut ties with them. At least that was what Dad made it seem like every time I asked. Dad never gave me a straight answer as to why Bruce stopped talking to the boys. Bruce didn't seem like the person to have any close relationships in the first place, so I didn't understand what drove him to become the guardian to Dad and my uncles in the first place. Bruce was a sore subject for Dad so I never really pushed for answers. And if Bruce hadn't scared me so much, I might have gotten enough courage to ask him. He seemed like a direct kind of guy.
I sat there petting Ace, lost in thought for awhile before I finally drifted to sleep.
"Jamie," A voice woke me up awhile later. I opened my eyes to see Bruce standing in front of me. Ace got up and I just slid down to the floor. Bruce raised an eyebrow at me. I groaned and sat up.
"What time is it?" I asked sleepily. He glanced at the grandfather clock.
"Time for you to go to your bed." He stated simply.
"Have you been awake this whole time?" I inquired, standing up and stretching.
"Dang. And I thought I stayed up late." He gave a slight smile at that. We walked up the stairs in silence.
"Well goodnight Bru-" I stopped. I didn't really know what to call him. In my mind I called him Gramps since he was my only grandparent and when I talked about him I called him Bruce. But I never really knew what to call him to his face. He either didn't notice or ignored my abrupt stop.
"Goodnight." he said and continued in the opposite direction down the hall. I was kind of disappointed when Ace followed him. I went back to my room and continued my homework until I fell asleep again.
I promise the chapters will get longer, just hang in there. Feedback is always accepted and very much welcomed!