[personal profile] brancher
Fandom: Batman, general
Pairing: Gen(!)
Summary: It would have been his secret life.



He remembers the pearls breaking.

In his memory, they come undone slowly, almost gently. Sometimes he remembers them not moving at all, just hanging in space: each one lustrous, pale, and perfect.

***

He used to play in her room when she was dressing. His mother had a whole room for her dresses, with a vanity and a tall lacquered cupboard with tiny drawers. The room smelled of her perfume, and it was Bruce's favorite place in the world.

The lights around the vanity were soft, and he'd sit on the floor and watch while she got ready: first the stockings, then her slip. He'd touch the hem, let the silk slide between two fingertips. She had a special chest for her jewelry, and she would let him rummage through it while she did her hair and makeup; but the pearls had their own velvet box.

If he was good, he'd be allowed to take them out, and clasp them around her neck. They were smooth and cool. He loved the soft sound they made, the weight of them in his hands.

***

Later, he won't be able to remember whether he actually wore the pearls, and whether his father caught him and yelled at him or perhaps beat him for it. It could easily have happened. There were other incidents. He just doesn't remember.

But the fact remains that he used to dress in her clothes. He did it when they were out: the slip, first, and then one of the dresses, the black velvet wrap. In the glow of the vanity lights, he pursed his lips and applied the gloss. It made him feel calm and safe, and almost beautiful.

If they had lived, it would have continued. There would have been stockings and garters, silk dresses, heels procured from a specialty shop, under a false name.

It would have been his secret life.

***

But they were killed.

After the funeral, their things were auctioned or sold or given away and all her dresses were taken away and the dressing room was empty. No one thought the boy would want any of her jewels, and so they were parceled out to female members of the family. He was left with nothing of hers.

When he was twenty-five, he made himself something else to wear; something that looked like a bat, something dark and sleek and brutal and masculine.

He feels good, wearing it. He feels powerful.

But not calm. Not safe.

And not beautiful.


-fin-
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