Henri Ducard (purgingflame) wrote in gotham_lights,
Henri Ducard

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Gotham Hilton, Allie's Suite - 1:45 pm - November 30th

As things went, Allie Rigby had the market cornered on clichés. As she sat near the plate-glass window of her suite, barefoot, painting her toenails neon orange, she looked out the window, out and down on the city spread before her, and came up with two of them.

The first: Life is sweet.

The second: There's such thing as too much of a good thing.

Sure, the suite kicked ass. And it really, really rocked getting breakfast in bathtub whenever you felt like it (today it had been around 10 a.m). But as posh as things had become for her over the course of her new life and training with the mysterious Henri Ducard, they were also becoming plain.

Eggs benedict for breakfast? Ho hum. Kahlua in the minibar? Boring. Even the huge bed was becoming a little too huge, the carpet a little too plush, the suite a little too spacious. So, she'd set her sights on the classifieds, and dropped a resume off at Gotham Studios that afternoon. After being given the old "don't call us, we'll call you" - Another cliché, she'd thought - she had turned back to the hotel. Now it was a matter of waiting.

At the risk of adding another cliché to the morning's list, Allie hated waiting. Especially when it concerned news about something as perfect as a possible makeup artist position. So she'd done the first thing that came to mind to keep her mind off it - she gave herself a makeover.

Her resources were limited, given what she'd been able to cram into her backpack, but she had made do. A box of temporary dye in the bathroom sink and a hair dryer later, she pulled her now-brunette hair up into two pigtails, and rifled through her bag. A pair of faded but unripped blue jeans, a black patterned tank top, and a lavender men's dress shirt served as a good enough base to build from. Allie had then lifted out her jewelry bag and selected a pair of green and black earrings, an oversized string of brightly colored beads, and a purple snap bracelet. Now she'd reached the fun part - the makeup.

Even though the persona she was building was her mental image of the perfect, quirky yet likeable makeup artist, she kept her own facial decoration minimal. A thin layer of blue lipstick to turn her own lips the same lavender hue as her shirt, some mascara and blush. And of course, nail polish. She'd done her fingers lavender to match, but when it came to toes, Allie decided, it was time to get creative.

She was putting a second coat of traffic-cone orange on her left big toe when someone knocked at her door.

And outside her door stood her mysterious benefactor.

Why, exactly, he'd come to her room, even he himself wasn't certain - it wasn't as though he had a specific task for her. In fact, he really didn't have a specific task for any of his men. Unless, of course, you counted keeping your head down and your ears open an official assignment, which he didn't. But Ducard was keen on keeping a lid on things, at least until he'd gotten a read on this Batman character he'd heard about.

And as he stood outside her door, it occurred to him slowly and almost pleasantly exactly why he was here. Because he'd done all he could for all intents and purposes of getting the Batman's attention, and he had nothing else to do. Because Allie could be counted on to make life interesting, if a little annoying, when there was nothing more specific to occupy his time. Because Allie had taken and interest in things he found interesting - such at the tea he had offered her the other night.

Because, as much as he hated to admit it, there were times where he missed teaching, missed human contact in general. And this was one of those times.

Offering no one in particular a small, self-amused smile, he continued to wait outside the door, having no intention of simply entering as he usually did. After all, it was still early, and perhaps the girl wasn't decent yet. Or perhaps she was still asleep.

"It's open, Mr. D," she called out, after a moment's pause.

Smile widening in pleasant surprise, Ducard stepped inside, closing the door behind him. "Very astute, Miss Rigby. May I ask how you knew it was me?"

Oh, sure there was the obvious - he was usually the only one who bothered to come to her door, preferring League contact with non-members to be minimal. But he couldn't help but hope she'd known for some other reason.

Allie looked up from her toenails and pointed the polish brush at him, like a teacher at a lecture. "Well, your footsteps are a little uneven because you don't have your cane with you. Even if you do fake that, but that's not here or there. And you didn't say who it was or call out my name when you knocked, like room service or the other guys."

He nodded, finding himself once more pleasantly surprised. Good. All his lessons with her weren't going to waste after all.

"Well done," he said, feeling need to congratulate her again. In seven centuries of life, he'd learned that positive reinforcement worked best, even with men who would slit their own mother's throat for a good enough reason. Even with men like his.

Rounding the bed with no attempts at his usual gait, since she had called him on faking the need for the cane, he leaned against the desk there, opposite her. "And you're right about my faking the need for the cane ... to a certain extent." A pause, and then, "If you can tell me why I say to a certain extent, I'll be truly impressed."

Allie paused, thinking. "If I could hear it hit the floor again, I might be able to make a better guess. But you do have a reason for it. I've just never been in a situation where I'd need to know ..." She blinked. "... It's a weapon, isn't it."

"Yes," he agreed with another nod. "It's a sword cane."

Immediately, Allie's eyes widened. "... That is so cool. Can I see next time you've got it on you?"

And for some reason, Ducard couldn't stop himself from offering a small chuckle. "I don't see why not, Miss Rigby."

"Awesome." She slipped the polish brush back into the bottle, and wiggled her toes to dry them, turning her head to look out the window once more. Slowly, the Studio position crept back into her consciousness, and she tried not to frown, to give her mind away to him.

Regardless, however, he managed to read her flawlessly. Whether this had something to do with her actual expression, just how much time he had over her, or what she was wearing, though, was anyone's guess. Either way, he said nothing immediately, simply choosing to give her a long, thoughtful look before speaking.

"Something's bothering you," he stated finally, a fair idea of what it was - she looked as if she was going to do something on her on time as opposed to his - already. If she wanted to talk about it, however, that was her decision because surely, whatever she intended to do wouldn't endanger his operation and that was all he'd need to pry about.

She sighed. Briefly, a smile flickered across her face. I should've known better than to try to pull one over on him, she thought wryly. "Yeah. ... Well ... More like I hope it won't bother you."

His response was a mild one. "Oh?"

"Yeah. .... I saw an ad in the paper for something." She bit her lip, took a deep breath - might as well plunge in. "Gotham Studios needs a part-time makeup artist. And I figure, sure, I don't have any experience outside college ... but it's at least worth a shot. Maybe."

"I see," he answered, an eyebrow shrug the only betrayal of emotion - of interest - on his face. "Well, honestly, Miss Rigby it doesn't bother me. If you get the job? Consider it experience which I cannot offer you. And if not?"

A shrug.

She brightened considerably in relief. "Then you get to spend even more quality time with yours truly, and I get to hear more nifty stuff."

He met her expression with a small smile of his own. "Exactly." A pause. "Though, considering our conversations when we first met, it seems this job would mean a great deal to you. ... So I sincerely hope you get it."

And at this, Allie blinked, her smile fading into quiet, genuine surprise for a moment before slowly returning. ".... Thanks, Mr. D," she said quietly.

Ducard shrugged, a wordless you're welcome, and then, "I assume you've already turned in a resume? Or at least an application?"

She nodded. "Yeah, I dropped it off today. ... They didn't seem too thrilled."

"I wouldn't worry too much about it," he assured her, "most places of employment don't. They consider it their duty to be rude to all possible applicants because you are, of course, not one of them."

No sooner had he spoken than the telephone rang. Allie blinked. "Um. .... You mind if I get that?"

"Not at all."

"Okay." She hesitated a moment, before picking up the phone. "Allie Rigby..."

"Yeah, hi," the voice on the other end of the line started, and even before she said so, Allie could tell it was the annoying-voiced, gum-popping secretary from Gotham Studios. "This is Lisa O'Neil from Gotham Studios. The head of our make-up department liked your resume and wanted to set up an interview."

Allie's eyes widened once more, and she reminded herself quickly to breathe, letting her excitement show through her eyes, instead of her voice. "Oh, that's great news. Thank you. I didn't think I'd be hearing from you so soon. ... When would you like me to come in?"

"How's tomorrow - " the sound of pages being flipped in a date book and then - "two o'clock?"

She paused. "Let me check my date book." Covering the receiver with one hand, she nodded toward the phone. "Can I go back at two tomorrow? Please?"

Her mentor chuckled silently, the motion shaking his shoulders, before nodding.

Uncovering the phone, she grinned. "Lisa? ... Yeah, that sounds perfect. Anything more I should bring?"

"Mmnope. Don't think so."

"Alright then ... see you tomorrow?"

"Two o'clock," the woman agreed with an almost audible nod. "See you then." And then she hung up.

"Oh my god," Allie squealed, before the receiver even reached the cradle. "I have an interview."

"Yes, you do," Ducard answered, infinitely amused with how hyper she was. "I trust you have something to wear."

Allie's already-manic grin grew even wider, and something sparked in the corners of her eyes. "... Yeah," she said, slowly, letting out a slow, quiet giggle. "As a matter of fact ... I think I do."

"Good." Pushing away from the desk, he offered her a tiny, almost knowing smile. "Then perhaps I should leave you to prepare."

"I don't have to get started until tomorrow morning, Mr. D," Allie replied, blinking. "If you wanted to tell me something, or whatever, I've got time."

He shrugged. "If you were so inclined, I could give you a lesson in medicine, since I noticed you took an interest in my collection the other day."

"Really? Now?" She hopped down from her chair and sat, cross-legged, on the floor in front of him.

Another shrug. "Unless you had a better time in mind for it."

Allie laughed, idly twisting one of her pigtails around her hand. "No, now's good."

"I'm glad you agree," he shot back, smiling. "If you'd like to come to my room, then, so I don't have to haul everything in here?"

"You keep inviting me over to your place, Mr. D," she winked, getting to her feet with a grin, "and the lesser ninjas are gonna talk."

"I'm sure, Miss Rigby." Ducard chuckled, offering an amused eyeroll before moving towards the door. "Regardless of the 'less ninjas', however, if you'd follow me ... ?"

"Silly Mr. D," Allie grinned. "Whatcha think I've been doing for the past week?"


With that, he lead the way out of the room and down the hall to his own room, and in that instant, he allowed himself a moment to recall the real reason he'd come to see Allie. He'd put the ad in the paper for Gotham Studios for Allie to find, and he'd been the one that set up the interview - he was, after all, owed favors by half the people who worked for them. And the other half? Well, they'd been easy enough to convince with a little money.

As for why he'd kept the issue from mind, to the point where even he had to think hard about it? Simple force of habit. He'd learned long ago to put things out of mind until a time where he wanted or needed to recall them, and it was a useful skill. It kept him from giving himself away through expression or speech and it kept him from having to lie.

And he no more wanted to lie to Allie - or to any, for that matter - than he wanted her to find out he'd been the one who'd placed the ad. After all, if she found out, she'd resent him and he had no want for that. He simply had a want for her to do what he wanted of her and do it well, and this job would provide that. And if it would make her happy as well?

Icing on the cake.

For the second time today, he offered no one in particular a smile, and a second later as they stepped in the door of his suite, his reasons had conveniently slipped his mind again.
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