Jay has done her homework. In architectural terms the residential east wing of Wayne Manor is a mews, a stable converted to living space for people. The core of the manor is an old hotel built by the first American Waynes, who used the caves under the property as storage. Later generations turned the hotel's stone stables into a two story house and then built a hall that turned it into a wing of the main residence. And over generations the caves changed to a wine cellar, duelling salon, hide-hole for people escaping slavery, bomb shelter, grow-op, and private spa.
So when Bruce Wayne decided he needed a lair for his own illegal activities, all he really needed to do was brick up a couple of doors, hide them behind paint or wallpaper, and build a false wall over the entrance in the library.
Now Bruce meets Jaycee Perez Wayne Todd in the library. He nods towards the open door and in his real voice says "You take care of our guest downstairs." He clears his throat and both his face and voice lighten. "I'll head back to the ballroom and make sure our other guests are having fun."
"Sure." Jay taps her earphone. "Call if you need me."
An intruder in the batcave? The secret door in the library is a million and a half dollars worth of state-of-the-art security. One thing though, if this intruder was real trouble Bruce wouldn't be leaving it to Jay.
Jay's damaged leg isn't up to taking the narrow stairs yet. Making sure to lock the secret door behind her, for all the good that will do now, she takes the tiny elevator down. The intruder might not seem dangerous to Bruce but Jay still prepares her breathing and centres herself. When the elevator door opens she's ready for -
Well, not for a skinny girl in a black dress, sitting on the stairs, who jumps a bit when the elevator opens. She looks scared and lost.
"Hey," Jay greets her. The girl's hair is short, as dark as Jay's, and her make-up is expensive but kind of clumsily applied. "So how do you like the game room?"
She stares at Jay, then her eyes dart around the wings of the L-building over the cave. To the left is a compact field hospital, to the right a machinist shop and computer set-up that looks like the lair of a James Bond villain. Looking down through the windows is the cave with enough stockpiled hardware to fight WWIII. So maybe this girl isn't going to buy the games story.
"I was - I'm sorry. I - " She holds up her phone. "I found the good wifi."
Yep. Of course. "I fucking told him we needed a better router upstairs."
"I'm sorry!" She scrunches up her face like she's about to cry.
Not good. Jay tries desperately to figure out what to say. Something reassuring. "No no, it's - good. Fine. We can, uh. We can figure something out. We're good."
Fuck. Even Batman is better at reassuring than she is.
"Bruce must have asked, but how did you get through the security system upstairs?"
"I'm sorry! I thought it wasn't important! Like a courtesy lock?"
"It's just biometric. That stuff really isn't very good. Batman and Robin should have better security!"
Jay sighs. "Yes."
The girl's gaze darts between Jay's face and the brace on her leg. Jay notices that her eyes are green. "Did - " Her voice falls to a whisper. "Did the Joker do that?"
"Yeah. I don't want to talk about it. It's a bad memory."
"Okay." Still a whisper.
"I'm Jaycee Todd. What's your name?"
Looking away into the workshop the girl whispers something inaudible. Then she clears her throat and says "Timothy Drake."
Tim Drake? Shit, this kid lives in Bristol. She's a couple of years younger than Jay and hangs out at the same shopping centre, the one near the expensive private school. She wears the boys uniform and no makeup. No wonder she looks so fucking emo at the mall.
Bruce's voice, still in that weird happy idiot tone, comes over Jay's earpiece. "Our guest's parents are asking where their. Daughter. Is." Under the practiced fake cheer Bruce sounds angry. He's clearly biting off a different word.
Jay speaks into the pickup hidden in her necklace. "Call them pendejos and tell them we're in the game room."
"Sounds good. I'll have Alfred run interference with them. I'll join you soon. Out."
Jay turns her attention back to the girl. "Okay, Bruce will be back soon - "
"I'm sorry! I won't tell anyone! You two are heroes! And, um, no one will believe me anyway. Bruce Wayne is, you know. Bruce Wayne."
"Gotham's crazy sugardaddy?"
"Yeah! Um. Not in a bad way though." The girl turns her phone over in her hands. She swallows. "It was a mystery. I like mysteries. I could see there was a better router around here somewhere, but it was like in the basement or something, and the door upstairs wasn't really locked - "
"That lock is state of the art."
She shrugs. "There's a reason banks don't use biometrics."
"Shit," Jay mutters. "Alfred was right. Again. So Bruce told me I shouldn't assume things, but I saw the dress and makeup and I just thought, you know, girl?"
"I am." She swallows hard. "My parents don't usually let me dress properly. They told me not to embarrass them tonight. Am I in trouble?"
For a big man Bruce moves quietly. So when he says "No" because of course he is now on the stairs right behind Drake without either her or Jay noticing both girls jump.
"Jesus, Bruce! Don't do that! Do I look like Commissioner Gordon?!"
"Sorry." He doesn't sound remotely sorry, the smug fucker. "You're not in trouble. I'm just going to ask you not to tell anyone about this."
The girl nods. "Okay! What happens if I do? To me?"
"Nothing. My family moves to a tropical island and I move on to Plan H for Gotham."
"Being Batman wasn't even Plan B. Do people think I like being shot at?"
Drake almost giggles, a sound somewhere between a nervous chuckle and Bruce's stressed wheezy laugh. "Okay. I'm not going to tell anyone. I was just worried. Sorry."
"It's all right. But you should get back to the party. Tell your parents you were playing video games with Jay. We'll be up a few minutes later."
"Okay." She stands and for the first time Jay can see that she's not tall but she's got nice legs. She starts up the stairs.
"Miss Drake. If you need a place to stay, Wayne Manor has room. And we could obviously use help with our security."
Hands flapping, she starts to stammer.
"Hey, Ti - Tia?"
"... Tia's pretty."
"Well it fits. So are you."
The girl goes bright pink and giggles again, a much nicer sound that her earlier panicky laugh. "Th-tha - Um. Thanks."
"What Bruce says. It'd be good to have someone else my age around here."
Tia flaps her hands some more. She doesn't look upset exactly, she just can't seem to speak. She turns and runs up the stairs.
Yep. Jay sucks at reassuring.
Bruce stands next to Jay. He puts a hand on her shoulder. "Did you just call her 'aunty'?"
"What? No. Shit, I didn't even think of that. It's short for Timothea. It's nice."