Roleplaying Log: Resolutions
IC Details

While checking the mail at Shadowcrest, Zatanna Zatara gets a surprising message from Bruce Wayne, leading to an even more overdue discussion about the events that drove them apart a year ago, and paving the way to fixing what they broke.

Other Characters Referenced: Red Robin, The Winter Soldier, Nightwing, Wonder Girl, Batgirl, John Constantine, Giovanni Zatara, Fate (Khalid Nassour), Doctor Fate, Doctor Strange, Loki, The Titans
IC Date: January 16, 2019
IC Location: Wayne Manor, Gotham City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 17 Jan 2019 04:56
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Alfred Pennyworth (NPC'd by Batman)
Associated Plots

A letter appears at Shadowcrest.

Bruce Wayne has many means to track Zatanna down, could possibly even attempt to paper airplane it over her while she is out in Gotham, however, this is official. It's on Wayne Stationary (expensive, heavy stationary with monograms stamped into it, if there is even a question) and it only gives a date and time along with a simple written statement: If you wish to talk.

The date and time is now. And when Zatanna arrives, she'll find that Alfred is already waiting at the door. She barely has to knock before the consummate butler and watcher of Bruce Wayne is opening the solidly heavy front door. "Miss Zatanna," he greets in a familiar and relieved tone of voice. "It's so good to see you again. If I may take your coat? I have been instructed to guide you to the library. I believe you should be able to guide yourself from there?" There is a bit of dryness to his tone as he already starts to guide Zatanna toward the proper room. "Is there anything you require? A drink? Refreshment? Perhaps a heavy object with which may come in handy?"

Then, he smiles warmly at Zatanna and shuts the door behind him, shutting her alone in the library. There are still scorch marks near the ceiling that have not been painted over. Everything else, otherwise is filled with books. What is not there, though, is Bruce.

If you wish to talk.

She knows that Bruce Wayne is leagues and bounds more technologically savvy than her, but he must know - because he is who he is - that despite living in New York City most of the time that she still returns to Gotham for university classes and Shadowcrest to check the mail. The fact that the simple missive is written with his bold, masculine scrawl is at least indicative enough that despite millions of dollars of technology at his disposal, he can still do things the old fashioned way - her father, she knows, would appreciate the simplicity and elegance of it.

Truthfully, Zatanna can't help but wonder if this, too, was Fate. After her confrontation with Constantine a few days ago, she has been reflecting on the different rules the universe seems to have for people like her, Destiny's more direct instruments - the last few weeks have left her thinking of Bruce and Alfred more and more often, especially in the cusp of the New Year where renewals and new beginnings are emphasized. Now she is holding onto a piece of Wayne stationary, with his familiar script upon it.

She arrives at the appointed hour - she's never late, and neither is Alfred, giving off the impression that he has been monitoring the front door for her presence. But seeing the older man loosens whatever tension is present in her expression, brightening further when she steps in and, in her typical, unrestrained and affectionate way, throws her arms around the old butler and squeezes him.

"Oh, god," she breathes. "I missed you, Alfred."

She eases away, still smiling, though when he offers her a refreshment or heavy object, she can't help but laugh. "Happy New Year, and no, no it's alright. I know the way," she says, dispensing with her coat and following him towards the library. To her credit, there's no visible sign of apprehension on her features, nevermind that she knows precisely where it leads and where she's expected. When led into the space, she waits for the door to close before she takes a deep breath, and finds her way towards the clock, and into it.

Her steps echo as they trod upon the craggy outcroppings that lead towards the Bat Cave, her hands sliding into her pockets as she attempts to find her way. She had only managed to get to the very entryway of the actual site - she had been prevented from going any further due to the incident. But she can't help but feel relieved when she feels no magic at work in the cave's structure, unlike what had been there before. She's dressed casually, the way she often does whenever she visits the Manor - jeans and boots, though she's always stylish in her own right - her top is made of black lace, pulled over a tanktop. An Hermes scarf dyed a deep crimson is the only spot of color on her overall monchromatic palette, other than her eyes and mouth.

"Bruce?" she calls, and her voice echoes strangely, too, once she's at the cave's proper.

Having been the surrogate grandfatherly/fatherly figure for young children, you would think that Alfred would be accustomed to surprise hugs. However, as is designated by his English blood, he freezes a bit when Zatanna tosses his arms around him. There is a stiffness to his posture that relaxes only slightly when she tells him how she missed him. Softly, he tells her, "I missed you too. As did Master Bruce, though you heard nothing from me."

Once released, he returns to proper butler form. "And a very Happy New Year to you as well. I will be sure to attend to you both shortly." And then he is gone and Zatanna is free to move through the clock and into the Batcave.

Her call echoes amongst the outcroppings of the cave. It may be strange to Zatanna, but Bruce is used to the echoes, the footfalls. He knows every inch of this cave and can tell by the steps who has entered. The bats that make their home here squeak and chitter a few times in protest.

Bruce stands at the bottom of the cave, dressed in a suit and apparently waiting for Zatanna. He did not dress up for her. Instead, he looks exactly as she is used to seeing him: as if he just came out of a board meeting somehow. Of course, now everything is different. That same Bruce Wayne stands in the Batcave and the circumstances of the last time she entered here lies over them..

"I wasn't sure if you would accept my invitation. However, I knew that if you did, you would be on time. There's not really seats down here to offer." As always, he is straight to business, to the chase. "But, here it is."

"Heard what?" she had told Alfred with a smile, before going on her way.

Honestly, she was expecting to see him in the Batsuit - she hasn't seen him for so long that even glimpsing him in a suit, with his face unmasked, is a surprise, with his black hair and blue eyes that remind her, constantly, of his two younger proteges who share the same coloring. This wouldn't be the first time that she has wondered whether the choice of adopted boys was deliberate, but then again, would that be a surprise, if he had only taken them in because he saw something of himself within each of them?

I wasn't sure if you would accept my invitation.

"I wasn't sure either," Zatanna admits, taking several steps until she joins him at the bottom of the cave. "But the last year has left me thinking more and more about the things that are important to me." Her thumb absently fiddles with the pocket of her jeans. "Ever since the Barnes trial, I've been wondering whether I ought to take the first step…that maybe if I could forgive Bucky, I could make amends with you. But considering everything, I thought that maybe you would have preferred letting things lie the way they were."

She doesn't even look around the Bat Cave with her usual incisive curiosity, though there is a glance; the majority of her focus is right on the man standing near her, ice-blue eyes lifting towards his expression. His secrets were never the reasons why she ended up here the first time. All she wanted to do was protect him and his family from whatever twisted magic was lurking around the grounds.

"Tim was encouraging," she says quietly. "When I asked his opinion whether I ought to try. He said that connections like ours are becoming rarer by the year."

The fact that she is equating him with the Winter Soldier is met with a raised eyebrow. "I was not an active agent who murdered people for decades, Zatanna. My actions were my own." His tone is flat at that, his statement filled with duplicity. He did not murder anyone - that is against all that he stands. However, his own actions were done without the shield of mind control. "I understand that what I did was…uncalled for." Understatement? "I'm sorry. What happened was not my intention. You stumbled onto something before I was ready to show it to you. I tend to prepare for everything when it comes to my enemies. When it comes to my friends? I have a few blind spots. What I did was wrong, but I did it because I thought it would protect not only you, but the people for which I am responsible."

As for Tim's intervention, he holds his tongue and instead simply nods. "Yes, that sounds like him."

There's a pause as he intakes how Zatanna wished to make amends with him but waited for him to make the move. There is a bit a shake of the head. "I thought that I would leave you to make your own choice and then realize I should outreach a choice that you could deny if you wished."

With an intake of his breath, he gestures toward the cave. There are Bats, a strange T-Rex, a large penny, lots of computers, cars and planes. "But, now, you are here. This is the Batcave. Care for the dime tour?"

His raised eyebrow has Zatanna watching him for a moment, before realization sinks in, having not provided him with an adequate context to make the comparison. "I more meant what Bucky did to me, Bruce, and me forgiving him for it," she contributes; the act of drugging her, too, before strapping her to a chair and ripping her soul out, leaving her with just a week of life. "I should have explained it better, I keep forgetting that…" Both of them have exiled one another from their lives well before that happened. "…a lot has happened since….this." She gestures between herself and him.

But as Bruce continues on, she nods. "I know," she says. "It was wrong, but I didn't think it wasn't completely understandable, either. I know that you have a family to protect…I just thought that with my relationship with you and Dick and Tim, you wouldn't have any doubts that I'd be on your side. Still, I could understand that also, not leaving that to chance." Her expression gentles. "That hasn't changed, despite everything. I hope you know I'll always be in your family's corner."

Her devotion holds, at the very least. Strong enough to keep her upright, and strong enough to forgive.

With his gesture, she looks around and…how the hell did she miss the giant T-rex? "Sure." She flashes him a small smile. "I hope you won't be surprised if I ask questions, though you're definitely not obligated to answer. Like…that." She points at the T-rex. "That's not real, is it? I mean, I've seen Jurassic Park and I'm really not discounting the possibility that you somehow pulled a page out of Crichton's book. And the penny? What's that about?"

She falls a step next to him, following his lead.

"Your relationship with my wards is why I acted like I did." Bruce starts down a randomly lit walkway. "You're a smart woman and as soon as you saw the common denominator I knew that you would put things together. Even if you had an inkling, I did not wish to be the catalyst. I wanted you to find out because they told you, not because of who I am. That is not fair to either of them." And, also, that is not how he runs his outfit.

There's a smile as she says she'll always be in his family's corner. "Thank you. I would hope." And possibly he has contingencies against her should she turn against them. It's hard to tell with Batman, even when he is showing Zatanna around as Bruce Wayne.

"The T-Rex is an animatronic. I won him after fighting on Dinosaur Island. Think of it like I got a rare item Jurassic Park." As for the penny? He gives a smile and shrugs. "That's a longer story. Stick around, you'll find it out."

After a moment, he asks, "How have you been?"

"In many ways, what happened between you and me was what prompted Tim to tell me," Zatanna tells him, walking side-by-side with him as a random walkway lights up - as if by magic. "And Dick wasn't even aware of our situation when he did. You should know that your boys made their choices in that regard, at least…you didn't take it away from them. For a time, I even thought that Tim was paying Red Robin to watch me, but I never knew they were the same person until he made the decision." Her hands return to her pockets as she moves with the casual, easy stride of a woman whose confidence comes naturally to her - perhaps through her experience as a performer. Though to someone as perceptive, and observant, as Bruce, he'd be able to tell that the signs of her hesitation remain - it will fade over time, but the air around her is akin to a slapped puppy learning how to trust the hand that's extended to her again.

Should he have contingencies, there's no worry there - especially with what happened at Titans Island, should the worst happen, she would want him to use them. But his smile is one that she returns as they keep walking.

"…there's a dinosaur island? Don't tell me it's located near Costa Rica, too," she quips. She's clearly intrigued about the penny, though, and she gives him a smirk. "I think I will," she tells him. "You're not getting rid of me so easy now, Bruce."

How have you been?

The cheerful expression fades a touch. "Well…a lot's happened since we fell out," she tells him. "HYDRA stole my soul for a time to power their utopia machine, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Tim assisted me with resurrecting a crucial witness against the Brujeria - the Argentinian death cult determined to usher in the Primordial Darkness to erase everything - with the Blood of Isis that I managed to procure from the Scarlet Women. They're sort of modern-day priestesses well attuned to some very ancient creation magic, traditionally what old lore considers a feminine purview. The Demonic Invasion a few months ago had a few agents of the elder gods fight the Titans - one of them managed to break Daddy's seal over the rest of my potential. I managed to keep them at bay, but I'm presently looking for someone who'll guide me to control it better…a few people have made contact to help, but I'm trying to figure out who to trust."

After a moment, she glances over towards Bruce. "Some point last year, Daddy finally got word to me through John. He's trying to prevent a dangerous entity from entering our world, but in the doing, said entity cursed him. He can't occupy the same space as me, or hear my voice directly, or we'll both die. It's largely the reason why he's been staying away from Earth, though occasionally he'll stop by, if he really needs it. There's a way to contact him, but I believe he gave it to John, in case you ever need to talk to him."

Her shoulders lift. "It's been a rough few months." She's no longer seeing John Constantine, though she doesn't know that Bruce knows that. "But…this helps. It does. I'm glad you called me here." She inclines her head towards him. "You? How's everything with you? Anything I can help with?"

As Bruce walks Zatanna down the walkway, he doesn't glance about. This is all old news for him. Though, in the general way that he holds himself, it's rather clear this place is familiar to him. More than that, it's comforting. It's possible this is more home than Wayne Manor. This tour is as overt as Bruce ever gets in trying to make amends and invite his old friend back into his life. He is not concealing, he is actively inviting. From Bruce Wayne it's a rare occurrence.

"There's an island for everything." Bruce's response is entirely deadpan, however the slight smirk toward his shorter companion shows he's joking. While Bruce is not a lighthearted person, he does tell a joke every now and again.

The long list of things that has happened to Zatanna in the years that spanned their falling out is met with a stoic expression. Maybe he knew all of this already, maybe he just has a very good poker face, or maybe Batman simply cannot be surprised by the weirdness of the world any more. What he latches onto in her recounting is her unsurety of who to trust. "Who do you have under consideration?" he asks. At the very least he could run background checks on them, if he doesn't already know they are untrustworthy.

Bruce stops on the platform when Zatanna reveals where her father has been all this time. Turning toward her, he frowns. "I'm sorry." It's brief, but sincere. If anyone knows something about the loss of parents it is Bruce Wayne. "We'll find a way to remove the curse." From him, it is not simply a platitude.

As for him calling her here, he nods. "It went on too long. I should have sent a message awhile ago. I've been told I have issues with coping." Again, that dryness. "Or at least, that is what Alfred tells me at breakfast."

There's an island for everything.

"I didn't think so until I heard about Themyscira a few years back," Zatanna quips back, grinning faintly at Bruce.

But when asked as to who she is considering, she sighs. "There's a few," she tells Batman, sliding her hands in her pockets. "For a while, I was so desperate I even considered going to Massachusetts to knock on a certain tower there." The Tower of Fate. "But after how many times Nabu tried to get a Zatara as a new host body, I figured I wasn't that desperate to actually do it. Not that it was an option anyway - the Helm of Fate has a new possessor, though he's not much older than me. His name's Khalid Nassour - from what he tells me, he doesn't really have a full scope as to what he has, so I'm going to try and introduce him to Doctor Stephen Strange, another old friend of my dad's, to act as a guide. You know what it's like, Bruce…a community like that, everyone at least knows of one another. Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief also came knocking, though he introduced himself to me sometime the last year - I ran into him in the secret esoteric library under Studio 54."

Though when Bruce addresses the trouble regarding her father, she can't help but smile. "Thanks, Bruce. I appreciate it. That's definitely something I wanted to do myself but…turns out I can't."

She stops with him on the platform, inclining her head at him; there's actually a laugh, when he tells her that he has issues coping. "I figured if there was anyone around who'd keep you honest, it'd be Alfred," she tells him.

It may not be obvious, but she does notice that he refrains from answering her as to how he is and whether there's anything she can help with. She doesn't press it, but: "You've always been generous with your aid…but if there's anything at all I can return the favor, with my unique skillset or whatever, you can always drop me a line."

"I didn't realize an Island filled with Amazonian women would interest you so." Bruce's own reply is measured and quick.

There is a moment of alarm, hearing that Zatanna briefly considered the Tower of Fate, though that only makes itself known from the slight tensing of his shoulders. He knows exactly what might have happened there and that Nabu could be walking around in a Zatanna body now. Hearing that he has found a new host makes him relax just a smidge until he gives her a long suffering look at the idea of taking Loki on as a mentor. It's not hard at all to wonder what he thinks of that idea.

"Strange sounds like the most capable of those you've mentioned. From what I know of him, he is an insufferable asshole, but I am sure you could learn a lot from him." He says this without the least bit of irony in his voice. "If you'd like, I can look into other mentors for you."

As for the situation with her father, he shakes his head. "You can still do quite a bit. You, of all people, should know there are loop holes. Much like him getting word to you through Constantine. There is work to be done and we will see it through."

While it may not have been obvious, Bruce certainly picks up on her bringing up her desire to help him a second time. Giving her something of a smile, he starts walking down the platform again. The lights flicker on and off with them as they go. "There is some magic being tossed about by the Whisper Gang. It involves Constantine looking into things."

"Only in passing. I heard Themyscira's almost as old as the world, there's magic there that's as ancient as anything," Zatanna tells Bruce freely. "Plus Wonder Girl found her way back to the Titans recently so I guess the location's pushed a little forward in my more conscious brain."

His long-suffering look regarding Loki has her smiling faintly and giving him a faint shrug. "He's old as dirt, too, though from what I hear about Asgardians, he's actually relatively young? Anyway I figured it was also a good way to figure out what he's been up to, also. It wouldn't be the first time a member of my family chose to deal with a questionable and dangerous person to prevent something from getting worse. I recognize I'm definitely not my father, though." It was the reason why Giovanni Zatara had been forced to deal with Ra's al-Ghul cordially, back in the days before Bruce was even Batman - it was either him, or Obeah Man, and having Ra's and the latter commiserate with one another would have been disastrous.

Admittedly she had only been there by accident, hiding in her father's office while poking at his things. It would only be years after that she would meet Tim Drake and find out that Obeah Man had killed his mother in a sacrificial ritual, and anyone with close ties with the family knows that Bruce and Ra's have an interesting history in turn. Fate really does work in mysterious ways.

"The Doc's been in the business a couple of decades before Daddy," she tells Bruce. "So I can only imagine how eccentric he's gotten over the years, but he did me a favor recently. If you can think of any other candidates, though, that would be great."

She follows once he starts moving, though the mention of the Whisper Gang has her blinking once. "What, really? I didn't think…Gotham has very old magical bones, but the troubles that usually plague it are very corporeal. Plus I heard there's…some armistice going on among the gangs? Tim probably knows more, but he hasn't mentioned anything to me."

It involves Constantine looking into things.

She sighs. "Well, that can't be helped - if your family's involved, and he's attached himself to Barbara. I know Gotham better than he does, though, I can look into it also."

"Loki is more than dangerous and questionable. He's…" Bruce gives Zatanna a look. How can he explain how much he disdains Loki. "…chaotic." There, that makes the most sense. To a man of order and rules and secrets, the very idea of a God of Mischief rubs him the wrong way.

Pushing away from his dislike of Loki, a hand reaches out toward Zatanna before it quickly retracts and he runs it through his hair. They are not quite at the point where he feels comfortable putting a hand on her shoulder just yet. Passing it off as if nothing happened, he tells her, "There is nothing wrong with not being your father. You're an adept magician in your own right. Do what you think is right."

Her surprise about the Whisper Gang is met with a nod. "Yes, that is why we are all taken aback. I know most of those who have done more than dabbled in the arcane. From what I have been told, this is more than dabbling." The armistice causes his face to crease for a moment. "That armistice is a cover for something. If you have word of it, I would appreciate a heads up. I have only inklings and leads."

Whether things can or cannot be helped, he shrugs his shoulders. Somehow, they have made it back to the computer center. The platform never looked like it curved or deviated. Perhaps there is magic within the Batcave. Or darkness will play tricks on a person's perception.

"You'll always have a place with me."

"That he is," Zatanna says softly, regarding Loki. Bruce's disdain is as obvious as the giant penny in the cave, but it's the reason behind it that makes her smile somewhat ruefully. Some things, it seems, remain constant.

She's still mulling over the God of Mischief and what he could be up to - it enables Bruce to pass his near-miss off unnoticed, though when she looks up a him at the mention of her father, and her own abilities as a magician, he gets one of those brilliant, unfettered grins. Not the kind that she shows when the cameras are pointed at her direction, but a genuine expression that speaks of both history and knowledge of the man that the sentiment comes from. He might as well be telling her that she's got the makings of an Olympic gold medalist.

"I appreciate the vote of confidence very much," she tells him honestly, a faintly embarrassed air around her despite the lack of a blush. "And I will."

With other business pressing in however, she listens and the idea that gang members have been more than dabbling has her expression creasing faintly in concern. "It's most likely that they've got a practitioner in league with them, someone to guide them with that - there's no way they'd be able to do anything advanced without the help and if they didn't, we'd be seeing signs of the consequences by now. The entire tri-cities area is still recovering from the demonic invasion a few months ago, rips and tears in the veil are still healing. Whoever's behind it on the Whisper Gang's side has to know that…it might be the only reason why we haven't seen anything bigger. Reality's still in the middle of stabilizing itself. It's just a guess, though…I'll know more once I actually start looking."

As for the more street-level stuff…

To her credit, she does listen with interest, her brows furrowing faintly. "If I find anything bigger, I'll definitely let you know. That does remind me…" She reaches out into her back pocket and digs into it, pulling out her smartphone and holding it up to him. "During the Jennings Gala, when the Hellraisers attacked it….I took out the cameras so Tim and the rest of the Titans could suit up and do what they can with the attackers, but I had my phone flying around taking a video of the entire thing, if you think it will help keep an eye on things here." She offers it to him, so he could upload the footage in the Batcomputer.

"Honestly, I wouldn't have even thought of it if I didn't spend so much time with you and your own."

The last thing he tells her strikes a chord - it has been rough the last few weeks, and while Tim has been instrumental in helping her keep it together, her other reconciliations have been doing much to mend what has been broken inside of herself. After her conversation with Peter and now this, she is reminded of the things that make a connection truly last - the unwavering willingness to extend a hand, especially after things collapse. But like bridges and buildings that have suffered outward calamities, these can be rebuilt.

She feels heat sting under her lashes, hating herself somewhat for having cried so many times in the last few weeks, but she needs this too. It was always her way, to experience things fiercely, to purge things hard, so she can move forward better and stronger than she had been before. "And you'll always have one with me," she tells him with a smile. "I missed being your friend, Bruce."

Bruce moves toward the chair he generally sits in while in the Batcave while he listens to Zatanna. It's not a conscious move so much as one that is instinctual. Taking the phone from Zatanna, he quickly uploads the footage to his computer.

"If the Whisper Gang truly has any sort of magical talent, yes, I'd think they would. Unless they don't." Giving her a look, he seems to now think that Zatanna will be looking into it.

He hands the phone back and then gestures to where Alfred has left tea and some other food they both may find appealing. There are small sandwiches, some bags of potato chips and also a cheese plate for the more civilized. Bruce partakes of none of it.

In what is either a very pointed way of letting Zatanna feel her emotions without an audience, or a way of Bruce Wayne not seeing another person feel emotions, he turns back toward his screens. "I missed you, too, Zatanna." Despite him not looking at her, his words are somehow transparently sincere.

"That's the thing. I don't think they ever have, though you would have a better knowledge-base on that than I would," Zatanna tells Bruce. "If they do now, it's probably a more recent development."

But when the man turns to his screens, she can't help but smile, reaching out so she could rest a hand on gently on his shoulder once he's seated (he's too tall for her to do it with any ease otherwise) and give him a grateful squeeze there. "You're going to hurt Alfred's feelings if you don't have some of his tea sandwiches," she tells him simply - her fit of emotion seems to have passed quickly, or at least she's able to keep from embarrassing herself by bawling in front of Gotham's favorite son.

Alfred's probably used to it, but she did promise the old butler a while ago that she would do what she can to look after his charge, also. Moving to the offerings with that energetic step, she throws the next words over her shoulder as she goes:

"I'll fix us a couple of plates."

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