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He Has Her Eyes

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Jack drinks first.

 

It is not about him, of course, the way so many aspects of his life have been. No, Jack goes first because he is smarter than most people realize, he is braver than he may appear, and he is of that old breed of men who believe that the spouse's safety is above their own.

 

There is another part of him, a long-dormant instinct in the back of his brain, that flares awake in the aftermath of the Obeah Man's speech. Something in the motives, something in the manner...it doesn't take a genius to figure out the water's a trap.

 

So Jack dies.

 

Janet doesn't.

 

*****

 

Janet Drake is transported to Gotham General where she is in a coma for six months. She attends her husband's funeral in a wheelchair, surrounded by grieving friends and family, and her guilt-stricken rescuer. Bruce Wayne makes all of the arrangements to keep Janet well-cared for in her unconscious state. Janet has the best medical personnel and treatments in the US, and when she awakens, the best therapists money can buy.

 

She comes home to the mansion in Bristol, the one Bruce specifically purchased to allow Tim convenient access to the Manor, and has a housekeeper and a live-in nurse to care for her every need. Tim is a dutiful son, always attentive to her desires, and as constant a presence as he can be around his school schedule and responsibilities for Mr. Wayne.

 

In theory, Janet has nothing to worry about.

 

In practice, it is another matter entirely.

 

Unlike Jack, who practiced willful ignorance with great determination, Janet is both too smart not to notice and too impulsive to play it safe. She is aware of her son's bruises, his unexplained absences, his frequent lethargy from nights spent running rooftops and beating up gang-bangers. There is a suspicious gap of time that he alleges to have spent in another state, but Janet is quite certain was actually spent in another country. (Europe, somewhere. She can see it in his mannerisms, hear it in his voice.)

 

She doesn't shy away from cornering Tim at inopportune moments and questioning him about his...activities. It becomes so frequent that Tim actively begins to avoid her whenever possible, or at least keeps the nurse or housekeeper present when he is with her. This pushes her to keep tabs on Bruce, on Alfred Pennyworth, on anyone known to associate with Bruce outside of business hours. There are many of them; Janet does her research with the same determination that Tim uses to keep her from finding out.

 

It is not the discovery of Tim's Robin gear, stashed hastily at the bottom of his closet, that forces her hand. Instead, she marches straight into the Manor one fine morning and discovers her son, all fifteen years and gangly teenage limbs, pale and exhausted and covered in bandages, convalescing in one of Bruce Wayne's guest rooms.

 

The fallout is magnificent. Janet carries no weapon, but she's never needed one. Her words are sharp enough, each carefully calculated and flung from her arsenal with the precision of a foreign-game hunter. By the end of the day, secrets have been wrenched unwillingly from tight-lipped mouths, promises have been extracted like pulling teeth, and Janet is begrudgingly issued a comm-link to the Cave. It is not the ability to monitor Tim's patrols that she asked for, but it is enough for now.

 

She's always been infinitely better at negotiating than Jack was.

 

Which is probably how she finds herself in Nanda Parbat two years later, overlooking a squad of black-clad ninja as they lower her husband's coffin into the Pit.