Arrow: Redemption is a play-by-post RPG based upon the CW show Arrow. Here at Redemption, we allow canons from the show, canons from DC comics, and original characters all with one exception: Each character must be rooted in realism. If you'd like to know more, click here.
It had been a long day for Bruce. He had just left a long, tedious meeting and hadn't even gotten to see the man he was looking for. Apparently Oliver Queen was too busy, but it didn't really matter at the moment. He pinched the bridge of his nose. A headache was coming on, but he'd just have to push through it. He'd endured much worse as the dark knight detective, Batman.
He had another task at hand, and after asking around a bit, he got one name. Laurel Lance. Lance, wasn't that the last name of one of the city's hero detectives? He wondered if there was a relation there. A little digging would answer that question, but now wasn't the time for that. He had to get help for his friend, and that friend wouldn't accept help from Bruce because of who he was.
He entered the building and walked through to reception. Stopping at the desk the lovely young secretary asked if she could help him. He put on that winning smile and answered. "That would be great. I'm looking for Ms. Lance. I understand she's the one to come to when you have a friend in need of help."
The secretary nodded. "Up the elevator to the third floor. You'll find her there. She'll be the one getting all the attention."
He noted a bit of jealousy in her tone, but left it alone. He nodded his thank you and went to the elevator. It opened up into a busy, busy room. Apparently the holiday season was always like this, regardless of what city you found yourself in. Bruce walked around, his blue eyes surveying the room, looking for the woman 'getting all the attention.'
He smiled when he saw a beautiful woman carrying a rather large stack of papers in her arms. "Ms. Lance? Need a hand with that?" he offered, hoping he hadn't gotten the wrong woman.
For Laurel, it was one of those days where she kept looking at the clock and time passed in an obscene way, so that 3:45p rolled around, she felt like she hadn't gotten near enough accomplished for it to be so late in the day. Looked like it was going to be another shift into the evening.
She was slightly annoyed with herself that she had chosen the skirt ensemble today instead of the dress pants she had laid out this morning. Her blouse, while cute, with the ruffles and periwinkle hue, kept getting snagged on things. Largely, she was a positive person. That was one reason why people enjoyed working with her. She had such a deep passion for this profession that she loved being here, despite how crazy it was. Plus, her worst day here was better than her best day at any other job. It was hard to fake or convey that kind of drive.
It was easy to put off family and friends when she had to work late. It was harder, however, to ignore someone who needed help in some way. Laurel spotted the guy as soon as he entered the working area. He stood out, if for his attire alone. She didn't place his face, but felt like she ought to. It wasn't until he approached her that she really gave him a second thought.
She juggled her hold a little bit, flashed him a smile, shaking her head. "I'm good, thanks. And I'm her. Is there something I can help you with, Mr..." Another shift, papers somewhat precarious but settled enough and her hand appeared and was offered. He was attractive with certain qualities that seemed vaguely familiar. The more practical side of her squashed that thought. She wasn't really one to get involved with clients, or potential clients.
Bruce could see immediately why she got so much attention. She was beautiful, not in the supermodel sense, but in the down to earth, real person sense. She seemed like the type that a good man would want to settle down with one day. He lost himself in her green eyes, and her smile was intoxicating.
Of course, that was partially a ruse, though. Bruce had sized her up already. He noted a couple of snags in her blouse and the slight discomfort she showed walking in those heels. He also noticed the small papercut on her left hand and the strand of hair she blew out of her face. She'd had a long day, he could relate there.
On top of all that he'd noticed the looks that he'd gotten as he walked up to her. Some of the people in the office immediately knew who he was. The reactions were all different. Was he here to buy the place? Was he here to donate to their funds? What was Bruce Wayne doing in Starling City? Doesn't he own Gotham City? All ridiculous notions. He was here to get help for a friend.
He shook her extended hand quickly so that she could let go and get those papers under control. He looked away for an instant, shaking his head, putting on that absent minded charm. "I'm sorry. I'm Bruce Wayne. It's my understanding that if you need any help in this city you're the one to come to." He hesitated for a moment. "Busy day?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.
He smiled weakly with the question. "If there's a better time? I can come back."
He looked around the room again, and many sets of eyes were still on them. She would probably notice this as well. He'd already sized up how sharp she was too.
She got the papers under control and only then started noticing the slightly lingering looks that she was getting from everyone. Immediately she stood a little straighter, eyes flickering from his face, to his suit and back again. Despite the long day, Laurel was rarely off of her game. Her job was her passion and with the stares that everyone was giving this guy, her interest was somewhat renewed.
"I'm sorry. I'm Bruce Wayne. It's my understanding that if you need any help in this city you're the one to come to." He hesitated for a moment. "Busy day?"
The name clicked in her mind. Instantly snippets of news articles and TV snapshots brought the face in front of her into more focus. No wonder some of the glances her way bore some jealousy. She already had a rocky past with one billionaire playboy, getting the attention of a second wouldn't win her any popularity contests among the office's bachelorettes. Not that she would shed any tears there. While the recognition bloomed in her eyes, no other aspect of her thoughts played across her face.
"Pleasure to meet you Mr. Wayne. No time like the present. Follow me." Laurel didn't have her own office, but she did have free reign to use one of their little meeting rooms. She walked by her desk on the way, setting the stack of papers down and grabbing a pad and pen. When they were inside the room, she shut the door. The room was simply furnished. She motioned to one of the two chairs. "Would you like to have seat? I'm not sure how I'll be able to help -you-, but you have my attention."
If he sat, she did. Pad balanced and pen poised, he did have her attention. It wasn't his money that commanded respect from her, not at all. Laurel knew better than most that just because you had money, it didn't mean that you were a respectable person. Laurel treated all of her clients the same. She was exceedingly professional in her job and would treat Mr. Wayne just like Roy Harper.
Bruce followed her into the room and nodded as she motioned to the chairs. He sat down in one of them and crossed his lower left leg over his right knee. He waited for her to sit down before he started.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate this Ms. Lance," he said as she got comfortable. He knew she would keep up the utmost of professionalism, but that didn't matter all that much to him right now. "And please, just call me Bruce."
He looked around the room quickly, not much as far as decorations, simple efficient. He liked it. He thought to model a few of his offices the same way. But back to the task at hand. He looked the woman right in the eye, keeping perfect eye contact through his next words.
"My friend's name is Arnold Wesker, I'm sure you've heard the name. He had a go of it on the wrong side of the law a while back. He was called the Ventriloquist." He waited to see if there was any spark of memory from the woman.
"Well after rehabbing, I offered him a job at Wayne Enterprises, but after some time, and a stressful time in his life, he relapsed and took on his old persona again. The Batman, someone else who has some issues, brought him in and back into rehab. He's just been released, but he won't accept his job back because he feels he's let me down. I've told him he hasn't, but he wants to relocate, get away from all that sent him into his alternate personality, you know? I was thinking that maybe you here could help him find a job, stay on the straight and narrow. He really is a good guy, deep down in his heart. Just a bit misguided, and needs a little help."
He sat back in the chair, waiting for her reply, still keeping perfect eye contact.
As Bruce spoke, she started writing. She would only pause here and there to look down at what she wrote. When he asked her about knowing The Ventriloquist she squinted her eyes a little as she thought, lips pressing together. Finally, a small picture materialized in her mind. It wasn’t something she knew well, but she had definitely heard –something-.
”Vaguely. Interesting friend.” There was no judgment in her tone, it was merely an observation. He could bet that after this little meeting, she would know everything there was to know on the man.
Laurel was expecting many things, but Bruce Wayne asking her to help a friend of his out of some self-perpetuated “tough luck” wasn’t one of them. She noted his Batman reference in the back of her mind for later analysis. When he was finished, she put her pen down and sat back. This business meeting had suddenly taken a slightly different turn. She thought about Roy and how she had helped him with Oliver. Was this some-how connected? Perhaps, Roy let it slip. She wouldn't in any way utilize her connection with Oliver again. This was something different. Someone who would need a little more observation.
Like most lawyers, Laurel had a secret stash of “favors” that she saved up whenever possible. These varied widely. It wasn’t like she didn’t owe favors. It was how the profession worked. You help someone out and someone was more inclined to help you when you needed it. In the grand scheme of favors, this one seemed relatively small. However, a man who had blown his second chance wasn’t a good investment. On the other hand, Bruce Wayne owing you a favor wasn’t a bad deal at all.
”That’s an interesting request Mr. Wa- Bruce…” A small smile before she continued. ”I do try to help where I can. I don’t love investing my time in someone who doesn’t deserve it. I spend the vast majority of my day sorting through those that do and don’t.” It wasn’t to sound arrogant or like some sort of godly figure, it was the truth. She wanted to make a difference, not spend her time on people who wouldn’t appreciate it. ”Why do you think a change in scenery will be enough, given that he’s spent his second-chance already?”
Bruce noted that there was no judgement in her tone. He appreciated that. Arnold was a good man at heart, just misguided. A change of scenery was just the perfect thing to help in Bruce's mind. He had heard multiple times during the course of his time in the city that Laurel was the one to ask about this. Now he understood exactly why. She took everything subjectively. There was no immediate decision or jumping to conclusions with her. He liked that.
He smiled back when she slipped up, calling him Mr. Wayne, then correcting herself and smiling. He nodded that it was okay. "I do understand your point, Ms. Lance, but Arnold isn't a lost cause like a lot of these criminals. He's misguided, a little bit unsure of who he is really. I figure maybe that's why he let this scarface persona take him over. I think he just needs that 'change of scenery' and someone who can spend the time with him to really help him. In Gotham they jump to judgement because of his past. There should be some amount of anonymity for him here, and maybe that could help." He finished his statement with a shrug.
There was no way he would put the people of Starling City in harm's way. He truly believed that Arnold could reform from his past ways. The Batman would be watching though, just to be sure, there could be no question there.
He smiled as he sat back. He could fully understand her hesitance, and her point of view as well. He had seen too many criminals rehabilitate just to go right back to their former ways. He didn't believe that Arnold would be one of them. "I believe that Arnie can be saved. All he needs is a good push in the right direction."
Laurel listened to his explanation. From what she could remember reading of Bruce Wayne, even though he was generous with his money (in the donation aspect) he wasn’t necessarily a bleeding heart. After he spoke, she was silent. Not deliberately so. As in, trying to force some sort of response from him. She was thinking. Pen tapped lightly against the edge of her paper. She believed that Bruce believed the man could change. How many times could she see herself in his eyes? Laurel liked to see the best in people, the potential. For her, that was the easy part.
It wasn’t that she was gullible, or that she liked to have the wool pulled over her eyes, quite the contrary. After interacting with someone, hearing them tell their story, she could see the person they –wanted- to be. And she always wanted to help them get there. It didn’t always work. Some people couldn’t battle their demons hard enough and they slipped. But for others, that shining moment was never immediate. It was always a year later, or two years later, when she met up with that person again and saw them start to break out of their shell, saw them as the person that they always wanted to be. That was her shining moment.
She tended to trust her instincts. They rarely (except in the case of another billionaire playboy) led her astray. She had talked herself into this whole thing before she really recognized making the conscious decision. A quirk of a smile was her only first tell that she was committed to the idea. For her, once she settled on something, she dove in completely. As she found the words to convey this to Bruce, she was already working out the semantics in her head.
She adjusted herself in her seat, sitting up a little straighter. ”He’ll be on a six month probation.” Six months was usually long enough to weed those out that weren’t serious. ”I’ve got a nice couple that he can stay with until he gets on his feet. The husband is an ex-cop and doesn’t take any shit. They like helping people out like this.” That will be favor number one. ”And, I’m giving myself an out. Once I read up on his complete history, I can still back out. This will be a soft yes until then.” Laurel dealt with people, but she also dealt in facts. She doubted that Bruce was skimming over the truth at all, but just in case she found something that really rubbed her the wrong way, she wanted to have that caveat.
She smiled, her demeanor softening from the cut-throat lawyer to the lawyer that you wanted on your side, fighting for you. She held out her hand to shake. ”I’ll have a firm answer for you…say, middle of the week, Wednesday?”
"I understand your position, and your hesitance," he said to break that silence. "How could I not? He was a criminal, and did some really bad things. But I believe that Arnold can change for the better, and be a valuable member of society."
It wasn't that he expected her to be gullible or one to have the 'wool pulled over her eyes'. Quite the opposite really, he'd already sized her up. He'd seen just how intelligent, respectable and genuine in her want to help people. He had also seen Arnold fall back into his old patterns before. He wanted better for the man. He may have been the ventriloquist, but he was hardly a hardened criminal. Just as he'd said, Arnold was misguided, and with the proper guidance, could be a good man once again.
He nodded along, smiling as she started telling him what she would do. He easily found what she was saying to be acceptable. He'd had a feeling coming to her was the right move. So far he had been proven right. All of her terms, when she finished, he found fair. "Of course," he nodded, still smiling. "Wednesday would be great." He took a business card out of his pocket and handed it to her.
Now there was only one thing left. How could he repay her for helping out his friend? He wasn't too sure of how she'd take this idea, and others did cross his mind, donations to her office and such, but this would be much more of a better time for both of them. And who knows, maybe he'd donate to the place anyway. It could use a little sprucing up. "Thank you for your help, Ms. Lance. But let me thank you in my way? How about dinner? Tonight? Your favorite restaurant?"
She didn’t expect him to have any problem with her terms. If his motives were genuine, what she was asking wasn’t too much. She took the business card he offered with a nod of her head. It was placed upon the desk. She stood up, in preparation to show him out, anticipating their business was done. There was something in his manner that spoke of unfinished business. She paused.
"Thank you for your help, Ms. Lance. But let me thank you in my way? How about dinner? Tonight? Your favorite restaurant?"]
Her lips parted slightly, as though she knew she was suppose to respond, but a response wasn’t at the ready. Being poised in social situations was something she was proud of. It didn’t take her long to recover, but it was obvious that he had caught her off-guard. ”A thanks isn’t necessary but I’ll take you up on your offer anyway.” A smile. ”I can meet you at The Top Hat at 7p?” The Top Hat was a nice and modest Italian restaurant.
Bruce was a little bit of a hard read. She wasn’t sure if this was a thin veil for a date or if he was completely genuine in his offer of thanks. Either could work as an excuse. For now, Laurel would think of it as a business date. She was far removed from the blushing girl she was five years ago. A handsome, successful guy asking her out, whatever the reason, could be met with confidence instead of timidity.
She wished that her own motives for this dinner were to expand her professional social networking but the truth was that as independent as she was, she missed going out on dates. She missed the social aspect of being connected with someone. Work had been so hectic lately and whatever she had with Tommy was few and far between. So, she would enjoy tonight for what it was.