12810/Not Older But Better

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Not Older But Better
Date of Scene: 11 October 2022
Location: Ballroom - Wayne Manor
Synopsis: Bruceday Party! ACTIVATE!
Cast of Characters: Bruce Wayne, Talia al Ghul, Phoebe Beacon, Alfred Pennyworth, Janet van Dyne, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Valeria Richards, Karen Starr, Stephanie Brown, Jason Todd, Tim Drake

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Throughout much of the year, this end of Wayne Manor is typically closed-off and covered in drop sheets. The largest private home in North America is not something that can be kept clean and dust-free without a small army of domestic servants, and as the Master of the House would not tolerate such a thing the home is instead mostly cordoned off while the extensive family live and work in the still-ample East Wing. One can be forgiven for finding Wayne Manor creepy for most of the year, as no small portion of it becomes a mausoleum lamenting a time long forgotten.

Not so for the birthday of Gotham's first citizen, however. The entire West Wing has been cleaned, with cleaners, decorators, and now caterers employed temporarily and placed under the supervision of the Manor's chief domestic. No longer drab and festooned in dust sheets, the Ballroom is an expansive and well-lit tribute to the Gilded Age that spawned it. Gothamites from all walks of life are in attendance, with the full might of the Gotham Philharmonic dominating a raised dais. Another table supports gifts for the Man of the Hour, while another appears to hold a series of boxes in varying sizes wrapped in blue paper with silver ribbon - each one addressed to a guest. An attendant by the table sports a clipboard, matching off the individual with their gift as they come to claim them.

As usual, Bruce Wayne is fashionably late.

Talia al Ghul has posed:
There's a woman here. Skin pale. Almost unnaturally slow. A slow, precise motion in her body. Each step calculated, subtle, and almost artificial. Pale skin contrasted by dark black eye shadow and blood black lipstick, a faint blush of cheeks. Dark hair pulled down to let flow along her back. A black dress more fitting to a funeral than a wedding, flowing over to fully conceal her feet beneath it, slow, steady steps calculated to make sure the dress did not expose even her ankles. Dark glossed nails holding a set of blood-black roses. A boquet.
    Fitting for a funeral. And so Talia Al Ghul would be at the party. Might as well take the event for all the pomp and circumstance it was due.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe was there to help celebrate and take some of the attention off Bruce. Tonight she was wearing a simple, orange V-neck cocktail dress with cap sleeves and a nice, swishy skirt, white gloves, and her hair drawn back with a matching hair wrap to keep everything under control because goodness help someone if they saw her natural hair. A black satin sash, tied in a bow at the back breaks up the orange on her figure, and is complimented by an onyx necklace and black mary jane heels. Simple and elegant and just flashy enough. She peers from around the corner, her eyes wide as she looks at all the partygoers, and then she takes a deep breath, and lets it out.

Alfred Pennyworth has posed:
Also as usual, Alfred is fashionably irritated with his employer's lack of anything approaching respect for social propriety. Particularly as he himself has been working hard all day to make this event come together. Decorators and caterers don't get their jobs done properly without oversight and organization, and say what you will, management IS hard work when done correctly.

The Wayne family butler had dressed up for the charity ball earlier in the week, where he was a guest. As he's actually working this event, he's gone full out with a white tie tuxedo, white waistcoat and black jacket with tails. Because SOMEONE has to treat these things with the formality they deserve.

When possible, he places himself near the entrance so he can greet Gotham's great and good in Bruce's absense. When not possible, he's darting about behind the scenes putting out one fire or another. No ACTUAL fires yet, fortunately.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet's security team stays behind at the gate while her sleek black-and-gold Rolls pulls up to the Grand Entrance. The driver dismounts and runs around the vehicle to get Janet's door for her, and offers a hand for her to dismount. The face of JVD Fashion is certainly true to her colors; a floor-length gown in black with a princess cut neckline, yellow rosettes decorating her shoulders and hips. The front panels are some gauzy, diaphonous material that put a lot of leg on display with each step, while yellow stripes on her abodmen and the flank of the dress create a splash of color that perfectly suits her warning-hazard yellow, pristine stiletto pumps. The inclusion of a modest bustle creates an almost literal wasp-like effect for the slender fashionista. Diamonds glitter against her wrists, tucked into black silk opera gloves, as well as at her neck and ears.

Janet steps out and waits patiently for her +1: the slender blonde still tucked in the vehicle on the passenger side. She certainly has no problem flashing a magazine-worthy grin at anyone who stops to look over her outfit in the meantime!

Damian Wayne has posed:
     The youngest Wayne had taken the opportunity to dress up in a wonderful suit, Tom Ford, with a green tie to match his eyes, and a white pocket square, his cufflinks were platinum, a single W ensconced in a circle. Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to socialite fashion.

  Though when it came to birthday celebrations, Damian had still thought the fighting tournament on his twelfth birthday on Infinity Island was the best.

  The young man idly thumbed at his phone, only putting it down to acknowledge Alfred as he walked into the grand hall, once he passed inspection. At least one of the boys had the sense to show up dressed to the nines.

Dick Grayson has posed:

    Dick and Stephanie arrive together, not that they have far to go since Bruce gave them the Lakehouse as an engagement present. They're dressed for a formal occasion, with Dick in a dark suit and Steph in a dress and heels. Both of them engage themselves in the part of any high-class party, the 'meet and greet', making sure to trade names and greetings with any and almost all the guests. Such is the life of a wealthy socialite.

    As he passes one of the servers, he collects champagne flutes for himself and his fiancee, continuing to make his way through the crowd. It's not quick progress, since the ballroom is fairly packed with every socialite who could get their hands on an invitation to Bruce Wayne's birthday, even if it's just so they can name-drop to out do the other social climbers.

    A few get friendlier greetings when the crowd lets him get near people he actually likes or family members. Much like Bruce, he'd probably prefer a more private and much less crowded affair.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Deep beneath Wayne Manor, some several dozen feet below the party that swings overhead, sits Bruce Wayne.

The large, high-backed chair of the Bat-Computer is turned away from the screen and the Master of the House sits there with his batsuit peeled down and away from his chest to bundle just below his hips. A stainless steel tray of surgical tools partly-smeared in fresh blood rests at his elbow as he ties of the last of several stitches to his abdomen. He tosses the small scissors back onto the tray with a clatter, letting out a deep sigh and resting his head against the headrest.

Behind him, the Bat-Computer beeps a sharp alert to let him know he's missing the party. He hisses through his teeth, standing up and kicking out of the rest of the batsuit. Faintly limping across the room, he takes a labelless pill bottle from a cabinet and empties a couple tablets into his open palm. Swallowing them down and chasing it with a deep gulp from a water bottle, he takes the freshly-laundred Gieves & Hawkes suit from where it was laid out for him and disappears into the showers.

Valeria Richards has posed:
How is someone like Valeria Richards at an event like this. There's a couple factors. First, she has actually met the man of the hour. Second, she's dated inside the Bat Family previously. Third she's arm candy for one of the worlds greatest fashion designers and inspiration to female Heroes everywhere.

Janet Van Dyne.

Famous enough as she is herself, even she doesn't mind fan girling for Jan on the drive in. And get it out of her system so she's all cool as a cucumber on her entrance and exit from their ride.

That gives her a reason to dress up at least. A slinky Van Dynehalterdress in a pale powder blue, maximum backless. Ankle length with the left side slitted.

Letting one leg more freely, while some matching roman sandlem styled pumps cover her feet and a few inches if stiletto heel make the already taller blonde look towering and over six feet. The benefits of a superhero's figure and lifestyle and having a fashion designer as a mentor and close friend.

"You know next time I should configure a few of the Fantasticars to 'Stretcho Limo' mode and we can fly in like goddesses!" she says softly to Jan before they greet Alfred at the door.

Karen Starr has posed:
    A publicly known Avenger and member of the Justice League, it is odd for the woman known only as Power Girl to receive an invitation to Bruce Wayne's birthday. Normally, of course, she'd have received an RSVP as Karen Starr- but after her antics last year, it just makes sense that the... Overbearing woman was left off of the list this year.

    However, by a mixture of luck and temporary insanity, one Janet van Dyne has decided that the surliest Avenger needs a night of partying. It isn't that you can't object to Janet- more that you can repeatedly do so and she'll just reassert. It's a futile endeavor.

    This is why, as the other side of the car opens, a beset upon Power Girl forces her way out. Thankfully, Janet isn't a sportscar girl, and a six-foot three woman built like Kara Zor-L can actually exit the vehicle.

    The one thing upon which she wouldn't budge: She is here in uniform. Of course, it's hardly a battle worn variety. The white is pristine, the golden chain and pauldron polished to perfection, her half-cape flowing quietly in the wind as she joins Janet and they make their way inside.

    The gauntlets and boots, of course, are out of place among formalwear- but at the very least, they are as pristine as everything else.

    "Could've just flown here."

    A pause.

    "Should've just flown here."

Talia al Ghul has posed:
The pale woman in the dark dress catches sight of the youngest Wayne, and gives a pale smile over to him. One of approval over as she would fold her hands, one holding the boquet, the other resting along her hip. From a distance, she gives him a quiet, ever so formal curtsy before rising. Each move slow and calculated. Her outfit nowhere near as exquisite as most of the others here. So pale, leaving her almost in the background, unnoticed.
    She did promise her son that she wouldn't make any sort of disruption after all. She's also nowhere near the class and style of a Van Dyne original. But she's here to celebrate one year closer to that state of two meters underground that they all end in.
    Two silent snaps of a finger.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie Brown's spaghetti strap dress is deep blue, and made of a fabric that has a beautiful shimmer to it. It's gathered in tight about the torso before narrow, pleated skirts fall to the floor.

She has a large envelope for a card in one hand, the other curled around Dick's arm. The envelope is passed off to one of the servers to put on the table for gifts, and then she's taking a champagne flute to sip from as she and Dick make the rounds.

The days of nervousness for the blond in such a setting are mostly passed. She meets the eyes of the people they greet, knowing most of their names and for some even asking after parts of their lives whether kids or business. It has taken study to get to that point though, but Stephanie wants to reflect well on Dick.

"Big event this year," she comments to Dick during a momenta lone. "I guess too many years of the quiet gathering in the study needed something more public," she says, reaching up to brush something from Dick's jacket. Stephanie looks past Dick's shoulder and her eyes widen just a little. "Damian's mother is here," she comments softly. "I can see why, the past. She's quite stunning really."

Alfred Pennyworth has posed:
Alfred grants young Master Damian a brief nod of approval in passing, before he has to rush (well, more of a dignified power walk) away to intercept one of the servers walking his route in reverse. "IN through the south door, OUT through the north," he reminds the young man firmly as he grasps him by the shoulders and turns him smartly around.

He sighs, craning his neck a little to scan the room for anything else out of place. He spots Dick and Stephanie entering and favors them with a nod and smile from across the room. Talia gets a bit more of a calculating scan, but ultimately he seems to decide she's behaving, and hustles off to the kitchen, nominally to check up on things there, but also to take out his cell phone and send Bruce a text: 'Where the hell are you?'

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason Todd arrives solo. How else would he arrive? Despite some murmurs of public sightings with one compaion or other of the female persuasion, who could actually put up with the mercurial prodigal? Better still: Who would want to?

Offering a quiet nod to Alfred he slips inside the one place in Gotham he rarely sees any more, carrying a small package. He is wearing a dark gray tuxedo with a crimson bow tie and cumberbund.

He moves into the ballroom, crossing over to deposit the gift on the table. Looking around, he offers nods to Dick, Steph and Phoebe before setting off to find a server and something to drink. Being back in the Manor was feeling like a drinking occasion already.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet waits patiently for Valeria to dismount the vehicle and for Power-Girl to come around the other side. "Peej, if you eat from my minibar, you don't get to complain about the drive," she tells the towering Kryptonian. She swats her arm affectionately as Karen draws up. "It'll be fun! See, Val's going to have fun. Get in there, mingle meet some people, and-- well, I'd say 'leave no girl behind' but I can't drag your ass out of here if you drink the entire scotch fountain," she reminds Peej. She turns to Val and flashes an electrifying grin, forming a silent 'Yaaay!' at the delegate from the Baxter Building.

"C'mon! Let's step out," she adds, and starts towards the door. Three paces on she looks back and lifts a hand up at the two blondes. "But, like, spread out a bit, I'm not walking past the photographers with you two towering over me," she says, and resumes a photo-ready strut up the red carpet and into the Grand Entrance of the Wayne estate.

Damian Wayne has posed:
     There was a moment of pause at the sight of his own mother amongst the crowd, and Damian takes a moment to adjust his tie, giving his mother a wink back. A silent acknowledgement of her, at least until Bruce shows up to see her, he'd take a seat at the bar, waiting like a sniper to see his reaction. Even then, Stephanie's reaction made him laugh internally just a bit.

  So, there he'd be, watching the crowd, taking a moment to talk to those socialites that came to see him, though not many had much to say to an eighteen year old, thankfully.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
A shower taken and the suit properly donned, Bruce pauses to review himself in the mirror. He pulls the jacket away from his side to check the shirt he wears - he's not bleeding through it. That's a good sign. He's clean shaven. His hair is in place. Slight bags under the eyes but nobody is going to question that. Blood on his lip. He frowns, wiping it away with a towel which he then tosses onto the floor.

Prepared, he heads towards the elevator.

A short while later, he slips out through one of the doors to the former servants quarters. Strolling up through the garden on his own, he finds himself stepping onto the carpet alongside Janet just as she dismisses her tall companions for ehr photo opportunity. One hand in his pocket, he sports a charming half-smile as he offers a wave to the cameras. He doesn't pause to answer questions beyond shallow platitudes about getting older and feeling lucky, blessed, charmed or all of the above.

He favors his injured side in such a way that the limp is barely perceptible - certainly not noticable enough for anyone taking his photo or shouting questions at him to comment on it. Inside, he steps up behind Damian and vaguely jabs him with the elbow of the hand tucked into his pocket. He's already looking past him at Talia, speaking out of the side of his mouth without letting the smile fade even if it doesn't reach his voice.

"Your doing?"

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Well I have my forefield generator and wrist compurter in my clutch!" Val pats the little thing slung over a shoulder and checked in. "If we have to we can totally contain and move a big passed out blonde. I could move Jen if we needed too." she adds and giggles.

Jason hets a finger gun aimed at him by the supergenius much like you'd expect a bro to snappoint at someone else.

"Jan you could just size change. You don't have to be any height you don't want to be. besides. Having us on your arms is like so power and baller! Own it!" she encourages while rocking her own part of the entrance with Jan and Karen.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Is it a faux pas to attend an event wearing a suit designed by one of the party guests? Given the complexities of high society, there's probably a very firm yes or no answer to that. And Tim could find out easily enough, it's just not in his particular wheelhouse to know offhand. His mother would've known.

    Either way, though, it doesn't really matter. The choice is predicated primarily upon the shirt rather than the suit itself; the Mandarin-style collar means no tie, and after a run-in with Victor Zsasz that thankfully didn't end with his throat slit (but did result in some pretty fantastic bruising on his neck) Tim's aiming for comfort. As much comfort as one can be in a suit, even one as well-made as everything is from JVD Fashion's newest collection.

    With the suit jacket buttoned, the predominant color is black, which slims Tim's figure slightly. There are a few gold accents thanks to the buckle on his shoes and watch (Ferragamo and Omega Chronograph, respectively) and some detailing on his shirt, but aside for the splash of red at his throat he is as nearly dressed for a funeral as Talia.

    Except for his socks, which are also red.

    His mood's considerably lighter, though. As much as these big parties are social obligations, there are enough people here that Tim actually likes to make it worth the random upper crusters trying to stick their nose into the Wayne family business.

Talia al Ghul has posed:
    THe man of the hour has arrived at his own party. Having family has softened him a great deal. Talia gives a brighter smile to Damian and blows a soft kiss at her son back. Then over at Stephanie's comment she makes a show of taking two fingers up to her lips to showcase a quiet titter. She's here, and she's doing to behave, but she's going to enjoy herself in the process. Talia does have her own sense of humor after all.
    Or maybe she's here to drive some of thsoe present to an early grave. The shadow of a smile grows ever greater as Bruce moves towards Damian. Then Talia is going to approach the two, over with her boquet of blood red roses. Upon her approach, she would give a low flourish, a formal, stiff curtsy.. And wait for acknowledgement to approach the two directly.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe slips through the gathering crowd, largely alone until the demure rags-to-riches story finds herself at the bar as well, giving a polite smile to some of the social crowd who stop to say hello. Mostly it hasn't made it very far that she can talk again, and so few people actually know any asign. Milk that as *long* as possible, Phoebe!

    She catches Talia, though, and she shifts back behind some of the decor and plants, dark eyes wide, watching, and she quietly wall-flowers. Upper crust gatherings weren't so muuch her thing, but it was easy enough to explain the nerves away as 'poor little rich girl' syndrome.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie Brown takes a sip of her champagne, watching as more people arrive. Jason Todd's arrival gets a smile from her that includes a bit of twinkle of blue eyes, as if she's giving approval that he showed up in a tuxedo. Rather than a t-shirt with a tuxedo image upon it. Which she'd joke with him directly if he was near enough to speak to without raising her voice.

"There's the birthday boy," she comments to Bruce as he comes in. Stephanie's eyes back to Dick and moves her hand to rest on the curl of his arm. "Shall we go over and say hello to your brothers?" she asks. "Tim's here now as well."

Damian Wayne has posed:
     Damian's eyes only widened as he sat upon his barstool perch, jabbed by the only man that could have snuck up behind him. A moment after he asks his question before he answers, in that time calculating exactly what he should do, fess up to allowing her there? Or feign not knowing? "She only asked for my blessing. I presume you haven't seen her for that long as well." He says, still looking towards the crowd and not to Bruce himself, smiling and talking behind that smile. He gives a nod towards Talia as the lady in black curtseys to the pair.

  "Happy Birthday."

Karen Starr has posed:
    There is a roll of her eyes at Janet as she's commanded to spread out. "Alcohol doesn't work on me, and I don't do well with orders." Noting this, though, Karen trudgles unmerrily onward, the least ladylike at the party. It is incredible, for those in the know- all two of them, both named Wayne by birth- how different Power Girl and Karen Starr are. In a sense, it is the perfect disguise.

    Every movement from Power Girl just oozes the key word: Power. Confidence. No crowd can stop her, and her target is immediately the furthest ring- finding Alfred to be the most palatable, for the moment, she makes her way over to the aged- but not infirm- head of household.

    Idly, she takes a moment- and scans the crowd. Not just with her eyes- but also with her hearing. Of course, she can't miss the way Bruce seems to ever so slightly favor one side. That gets her attention- but she'll deal with it later. Contractually, she's obliged to offer to be in Gotham more often. For now, though, she folds her arms and takes position beside Alfred.

    "I feel like the first thing you have to do at a Wayne party is apologize to you, Alfred. You have my sympathies."

Bruce Wayne has posed:
"Hnh," Bruce offers in response to Damian, a grunt that conveys nothing to those not familiar with the man but everything to those in his confidence. Good or bad? Proud or disappointed? Well, that's anybody's guess.

He watches Talia approach, not doing much more than stand there as she does. He lets her remain a little after the curtsey, seeming for a second as though he might simply turn and walk away, before he gestures her closer with his free hand.

"I'd heard you came back to Gotham," he tells her.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet's an experienced hand at this sort of thing. When Bruce pops up next to her there's a moment's surprise-- but Janet's been on every kind of runway there is, and knows how to work a photographer by giving them the best angles and the best lighting. She stops twice with a pose-ready set of her shoulders, and stops at the top of the walkway to wait for Val and Power-Girl to catch up like it was her idea from the start.

"It's not an *order*, honey, it was just a request. You're just too eye-catching!" she calls after the towering blonde. Janet rolls her eyes with a tolerant smile and hooks elbows with Valeria once the two close the distance. "Do you know what a bitch it is to make pumps that work with Pym Particles?" she inquires with a raised brow. "And the sizing is never consistent. There's a reason my suits are made of unstable molecules."

Janet glances at the table and steps away from it, though she marks it for her ever-present personal assistant (never more than a gesture away from the Wasp's presence).

"Okay, Val, let's have a see of who is who," she murmurs to her blonde companion, and relieves a passing waiter of two champagne flutes, offering one to Val. "I think I see all of the Wayne boys around. At least, all the ones I've met," she says, nose wrinkling.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason Todd scores a drink at the bar and catches sight of Bruce as he turns. Taking a sip of liquid courage, he saunters over. Not stopping to wait his turn despite otherss surely cued up for their chances, he nods, "Happy birthday Bruce." There is no undercurrent to his tone and the smile is more genuine than he has shown in a long time. Still, he doesn't linger. A nod to the youngest Wayne brothers, "Damian" and he slips away.

As he makes his way over to to ensure the wall remains standing, he greets Talia loud enough others may overhear.

"Talia." He pauses, "I.. enjoyed having you over. We should do it again." A slightly self conscious smile is offered before he is on his way to pay a visit to the Wallflowering Phoebe. "Hey. How're you doing?" he asks to check up on her.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Since Steph has a firm hold on his arm, Dick leads her through the press over towards Bruce and Damian. He nods at her suggestion "Yeah, I'd rather spend some time around them then the various social climbers.

    Moving through the crowd, he heads for Bruce and Damian, figuring that Tim and Jason will probably make their way over to the man of the hour as well. Once he's close enough to speak without having to shout, he addresses Bruce first. "Happy Birthday." He looks around with a quiet chuckle, adding "I see even you couldn't avoid the kind of events society expects from you. I have to imagine you're hating every moment of it. If you stay around the family, you might get a few less people looking for a photo op."

Talia al Ghul has posed:
A low, calculated scan is given to the room by Talia. Paying passing attention to those paying passing attention to her. And appreciation of all of those in Van Dyne originals. Ah, a woman could want for nice things. A smile is given to Damian once more. "Yes, I came to check up on things." By 'things' she meant Damian. "And to wish you a happy birthday." Then she goes to take out the boquet of blood black roses, and takes ou ta small set of sheers.
    Snip, snip. The heads are cut off the roses, then two stems are handed over. One to Damian, one to Bruce.
    Talia does have a sense of humor, it seems.
    There is just a moment where any of those that could read body language would see in her voice a very, very whispered adn held back 'beloved' that does not so much as go beyond a half breath of it.
    Jason's approach gives her an escape from it before her steel as an Al Ghul whimpers a bit too much. "Yes, I'm.. Sorry it took so long for me to come."
    Distraction welcomed. A third snip, a third stem handed to Jason.

Alfred Pennyworth has posed:
Alfred returns to the main hall just in time to spot Bruce coming in by way of the front entrance. While his arrival is a relief, the look he gives him is more exasperated than anything, eyes narrowing in slight disapproval - especially as he follows his gaze to Talia and sees her Up To Something. He doesn't know what it is yet, but he's sure of it.

Unlike most, he DOES notice the limp, though, and the disapproval... doesn't wane, but is accompanied by moderate concern. Obviously nothing life-threatening, or he wouldn't be mingling, but it does indicate that he was out running along rooftops when he, Alfred, SPECIFICALLY requested that he, Bruce, take a single day off from patrol so as to avoid precisely this complication.

As Alfred takes a step to rejoin the flow of humanity, he spots another anomaly huddled up behind one of the potted plants, and adjusts his course slightly so as to come up next to Phoebe. "I know it's a bit much," he speaks to her out the side of his mouth as his eyes continue to sweep the crowd. "Might I suggest the chocolate rum truffles? Just the thing to fortify the nerves."

He nods... up, at Power Girl as she approaches. "Nothing less than my duty, Miss, but I do appreciate the sentiment." Him, intimidated by a super? Not likely. "I'll hold it in reserve for when things go off the rails," he remarks dryly.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie Brown follows Dick, her heels clicking only softly and the shimmering blue of her dress making soft swishes until they reach the others and stop. Stephanie gives Damian a grin which is just a little bit goofy, as if to downplay the whole high society thing for just a second or two. Though of the brothers, Damian probably has adapted to it as well as anyone but maybe Dick.

"Happy Birthday, Bruce," she offers at a moment that won't interrupt anyone else. He gets a soft smile along with the well-wishing from the young blond woman.

Stephanie glances towards Talia again briefly, then back to Bruce. Is she reading haptics? Damn straight she is. She doesn't really know Talia, but had avidly read the file on the woman. Who could pass that one up once Damian had come along?

Valeria Richards has posed:
"I can imagine the cleanups during his college days. How many keggers must have been thrown here in like the eighties or whenever?" Valeria ponders with a giggle.

"You wanna see someone balk at an order, you should see my Uncle Doom. Man gets extra third person!" Val states and mmms as she grabs a champagne flute when she canand looks around.

"I think most of the whos are family. And yes I made sure my own dress was treated with unstable molecules!" two rings adorn each of her middle fingers as well. The right phrase and hand gestures able to go from slinky sexy dress to clingy and sexy bodysuit in a second. But that's just preparedness.

"Think we can get Alfred there doing head stand beer bongs by the end of the night?" she suggests with a quiter tone and giggle.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe gives a small smile to Jason as Phoebe hides in the greenery, and she gives an awkward smile.

    "I suppose wishing an urgent call would come up to give me an out from this party is too much to ask for, since he might want to follow me out?" she replies to Jason, and she breathes out. "Just nerves." she affirms to Jason, "I feel like I'm underdressed with Van Dyne about." she comments quietly.

    And Alfred comes up as well, and Phoebe gives a feeble smile. "It won't have the effect... but I can see Bruce might need some fortification." she pauses, and then adds "Or the Jaws of Life."

    And the magician and healer draws back a little bit as Power Girl approaches, eyes going wide as she *firmly* keeps her gloved hands down, nestled one in one another.

    "... I should check on Bruce." she announces abruptly, and she hops on her heels a moment, nearly tripping over herself, and tip-tapping towards Bruce and Talia.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet almost burbles a laugh into her champagne. "Alfred? Not likely. But he's sweet, really," Janet assures Val. "Treat him nicely if you talk to him. I get the sense he's not just Bruce's devoted butler. He means a lot to this family."

Janet is keeping a half an eye on the tableu unfolding near Bruce, and her brow furrows at Talia. The behavior is... odd? It's setting alarm bells off in Janet's head. "What on earth are they doing?" she murmurs at Val. "Deadheading roses? I'd say that's some cringey middleschool goth thing, but they're all taking her very seriously. ...and I'd bet she's not just an 'old friend' of Bruce's," she adds in that same low voice that's imperceptible for anyone outside of arm's reach. "Ooh, there's Tim, let's see if I can make introductions before he gets ensnared by... all that." She makes an effort to catch Tim's eye, and to wave him over with a brilliant smile.

Bruce Wayne has posed:
Bruce doesn't offer an immediate reply to Talia, though he does turn his head slightly when Jason approaches. Despite the conversation and content, he never lets down the mask of affability that he's had on since the red carpet. Even if none of it reaches his voice, the casual observer would only see him making nice with family and friends. Talia's words, however, followed by Jason prompt him to simply grunt in reply and then step away.

It's when he turns away that he sees Phoebe approaching, fiving her that same friendly smile that Bat-Family know to be fake.

"Having a good time?" he asks in a raised register, the Bruce Wayne voice, before he lowers it and speaks in a hushed mutter: "What's wrong?"

Damian Wayne has posed:
     Damian takes the offered stem, and places it in his mouth, saying through his teeth. "Mother."

  He raises his eyebrows twice at Stephanie, at least aknowledging the Talia in the room. Of course, his eyes matched his mother's, and looking at the two the resemblances to Damian might be uncanny, especially with him right there in between them. It was as good a time as any to slip off that barstool and button up his jacket, trying his best to mingle in with the crowd, now that Bruce was here there'd be so many more eyes on the Birthday Boy instead of him.

Tim Drake has posed:
    "Keep it up and someone will eventually notice," is what Tim says as he swings by the potted plant arrangement currently concealing one Phoebe Beacon. Case in point: he's the third person to come pester her. Though the average party-goer won't be as observant as either Jason or Alfred. "They're like sharks," he continues, sotto voce. "They smell blood in the water and it's all over. But I have it on good authority that you punch these sorts of people in the mouth for breakfast."

    He has a champagne flute in one hand because he's 21 years old and he can do that now, even if it's mostly for show. This of course puts him in perfect range to hear what Jason says to Talia. Cue Eyebrows that are so significant in their shock that they absolutely deserve the capital letter. And then he's off to start working the circuit to get himself closer to the Man of the Hour, rather than Phoebe's direct pathing.

    He'll get there eventually, anyway. Side-stepping an old man with a cane, Tim makes a quick sweep of the party with his gaze and then, seeing her looking towards him, puts himself on a direct intercept course with Janet. And he only has to dodge a handful of politicians, two CEOs, and at least one well-meaning (but sadly under-qualified for this assignment) reporter for the Gotham newspaper. "Ms. van Dyne," he says once he's made it into her orbit. "I didn't realize you were Bruce's plus-one tonight." There's a quick, conspiratorial flash of a smile to accompany the joke.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe had given a sort of how-did-you-KNOW expression to Tim as she's surrounded by family at the potted plants, "At least most of them don't know I'm not mute anymore. Little favors." she replies to Tim, but she gives him a little shoulder-bump in passing as she tip-taps her way to Bruce, and she gives him the same dazzling smile she gives others when she's trying to be Normal.

    "Well, everyone else is wishing you a Happy Birthday, I figured I should do the same." Her brows knit a moment, her lips pursing as she looks up to Bruce, "You know. In spite of the fact I live here." she states, adjusting her glasses a moment before she looks up to him. "I should be asking /you/ that question -- Alfred, Jason and Tim forced me out of hiding behind the palm trees." she whispers lowly.

Talia al Ghul has posed:
The moment passes and Bruce moves away from her. That's far easier for her emotionally. Or at least on her face. The mask of steel returns, and Talia gives a final curtsy over to him, moving to almost fade away and leaving Damian to his sniper's position. Disengaging while Bruce went to talk to Phoebe. She had made her gift. And those few moments of composure were desperately needed to reform herself. Or maybe it was just an act for anyone watching closely that had read about her; it was always hard to tell.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason Todd did no such thing as to force Phoebe from behind the plants. He went to join her and offer support. Alfred and Tim threw her into public.

As that happens, Jason offers greeting again, "Alfred. Tim." He smiles, then sips at his drink. "Nice turn out. Everyone loves the man." Or hopes to get something from him, more probably he figures.

"Time for a refill" he hesitates a moment, looking to Alfred, "I'm on good behavior." For once he appears to agree it's not the time or place to stir family trouble. He then slides over to the bar for another drink.

Valeria Richards has posed:
"Sometimes Jan, I have no clue with people. And I've read probably everything on human anthroplolgy and psychology." Valeria ponders. "Alfred looks at everyone like a dad. Or Grampa considering ages." she ponders and looks to Talia. Admittedly valeria is also checking the woman out. "Bad breakup maybe. The Waynes probably have better luck staying out of the tabloids than I do. Paparazzi probably can't stil still without getting mugged for their cameras in Gotham. Not that bad a town now that I think of it." she aays with a giggle. The tribulations of the minor celebrity daughter.

Alfred Pennyworth has posed:
Tim is wrong though, Alfred thinks. THEY - Tim, Phoebe,all of them - are the sharks. The guests are more like the remoras desperate to latch onto the sharks. All it would take is a quick bite at the right time, and... well, no one stuck around to hear his words of wisdom, so he keeps them to himself. He raises a hand and snaps his fingers to get the attention of one of the caterers, then points at the caviar bowl which is getting noticeably low. Honestly, it's like they need him to do their jobs for them.

"See that you remain so, Mr. Todd," he replies mildly, the words authoritarian, but softened by a wink. He can hardly fault someone for needing a drink to get through an affair like this. He's looking forward to relaxing with a glass of wine himself, at the end of the night.

Alfred is one of the apparently few people who DON'T try to approach Bruce; he just keeps an eye on him from afar. It's been a long time since the young scoundrel needed a chaperone for these things.

Dick Grayson has posed:
    Dick chuckles at Phoebe's statement, replying "You know, if we got a lot more trees in here, we'd all have places to hide in." Looking over to Bruce, he adds "You should talk to Alfred about some good shrubbery in here, it might make these parties a bit more bearable if you can just quietly back into one when you needed some rest from the endless socializing."

    This is, of course, said too quietly for the hangars-on nearby to hear. They are the ones he's hoping to hide from now and then, it's better if they don't know that he's plotting to escape them. Honestly, he's adjusted better to the high society life then he like to believe, probably through Alfred's tutelage. It doesn't mean he has to like it, but he can fake it with the best.

    "Might as well do the rounds Bruce, you know they won't go away until they've had their thirty seconds of fame with you."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
"Maybe a Homer Simpson hedge," Stephanie comments. Knowing not everyone is going to get the reference still popular in meme form. But a few probably will.

She steals a glance around the ball room. Quite the crowd that showed up. She finds herself wondering how many conversations end up resulting in business deals. How much money will end up changing hands, and the people impacted, by the party.

She turns back and looks over to Dick. "Reminds me, you need to talk to Alfred about something from the gala," she says. There's just a bit of mischief in the twinkle in her eyes as she tells him.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
"Well you're about to get a crash course in flirting," Janet murmurs to Valeria from behind her champagne flute, low enough to be just between the two of them. When Tim pops up Janet fixes him with a megawatt smile, holding her flute aside and resting her fingertips on Tim's arm. "I should have asked which of the other Wayne boys was unaccompanied," she chivvies him, and elevates the last half-inch allowed by her platforms to offer her cheek to Tim. "Val, this charming man is Tim Drake," she says. Fingers smoothly hook into Tim's forearm to make an escape more difficult. "And Tim-- Valeria Richards. She's Sue and Reed's daughter," she clarifies. There can only be ONE such notable with that pedigree, after all.

Janet brushes her fingertips down the front lapel of Tim's jacket, and mostly manages to make it look like she's just fretting at the fit. "Tim, you and Bruce, I swear. I fit you for a jacket, the next week your chest is an inch bigger. What on Earth is he feeding you boys?" she inquires, fond exasperation in her voice.

Damian Wayne has posed:
     Master Damian managed to snag a champagne flute from someone who was not looking, rather easy when it came to things, the deft hand of an assassin and all.

  Taking that same flute, now half empty, away from most of the family, and towards the other guests. "Oh, no. I plan on MIT, my grades and body of work speak for themselves, but this last year at Happy Harbor is dedicated to my own curiosities, while counting towards my last credits for the diploma." He answers a couple of Gotham's well-to-do. Making chit-chat, it wasn't the worst thing in the world, for him.

Valeria Richards has posed:
Val is happy to let Jan teach how to be a good socialite. The blonde doesn't howveer let Jan know whether or not she's actually met Tim or the others of the Bat Family. "Tim, any more time on the bench press you'll have a bigger chest than Superman." she states. "I don't think he's the jealous type though so more pecs will not go unappreciated by anyone other than Jan's tailor." she states playfully. "Totally should invest in more unstable molecule suits." she adds playfully.

This is where she finally lets Jan in on things. "I dated his brother last year..." she indicates Jason. "I've met most of the family here already. There's been some family collaborations in the past. Richardses consulting for Wayne Enterprises a few times." she keeps the exact details vague. Not a time to talk shop.

Tim Drake has posed:
    "Odds are at least one of us will be," Tim replies easily, his eyes shifting to the side for a subtle check on where the other aforementioned Wayne boys are. Well, aside for the engaged one. He dips in for a quick peck to Janet's cheek, and then a less-familiar (or maybe more familiar?) nod tValeria!of greeting to Val. "Oh, we've met before!"

    It's less than the brief acquaintance than how Tim makes it sound initially. And the more direct connection between the Reeds and the Waynes is left unsaid, at least until Valeria reveals the past romance, and he bites the inside of his cheek. "I can point you towards where he's hiding if you promise to let me watch the drama unfold," he says in that way that's both imitating salicious whispers while also being, you know, totally audible to people around him.

    He's playing a little fast and loose, even though his own champagne flute's barely touched. It's mostly an accessory; Tim's not a big drinker, what with his aversion to things like frat parties and other social engagements with his peers (who aren't also costumed heroes).

    At Janet's somewhat-subtle adjustment to his shirt-front, Tim makes a show of looking down at himself and then back up. "As much as I love Alfred's cooking, I don't actually live here at the Manor any more. My partner's responsible for meal-prep anyway." For a brief, fuzzy moment, he looks off into the distance. "I suppose I should know what I'm eating, but it's nice to free up the executive functioning for other tasks. Like what I should be wearing to these sorts of things."

    Cue appropriate moment to step back and do a quick spin on his heel. "Thank you for the suit, by the way. Despite the compliments it really does fit perfectly."

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Satisfied that Bruce isn't about to fall over, Phoebe begins to make the rounds, the latest Wayne Spare Heir making her approach behind Tim. She almost hums the JAws theme to herself, the young woman in orange (unlike all the other Waynes who favor dark colors), there's the tip-tap of heels as Tim spins, and she ducks a moment, used to the motion of working in close quarters.

    "Anything that can make Tim dance should be something I could get into." the young woman gives a pleasant smile, looking to Janet and Valeria.

    "I suppose as the lady of the house I'm supposed to ask if everyone's enjoying themselves. In case Alfred hasn't." she offers as charming a smile as she can under very stressful circumstances.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet throws her fingers up in the air and stares at the ceiling as if begging intercession. "Well good, that made it all super easy," Janet remarks to the duo. She huffs once as if in exasperation-- but one couldn't possibly miss the amused smile she tries to hide in her champagne flute.

"Tim, the suit does look fabulous on you. And if you want to take me for a spin on the dance floor, I--" she breaks off with a friendly-if-uncertain puzzlement when Phoebe joins them. Janet's eyes lift and flicker. "So, Selina is--" she focuses a suddenly laserlike attention on Phoebe and smiles again, with a certain wary alertness. She is suddenly taking Phoebe Very Seriously. "So nice of you to inquire. Janet van Dyne," she says, and flicks the folds of her gown aside with an effortlessly graceful little curtsey. "You're... Ms. Beacon, isn't it?" she asks, and glances at Val and Tim for confirmation.


Jason Todd has posed:
Jason Todd gathers his second drink and swings around through the crowd as he takes a sip. He slows as he moves up near Tim and Phoebe nd the others. An easy smile crosses his features. "Always the one looking out for the rest of us. Someone other than Alfred has to I guess." He offers a wink to Phoebe before following up, "Yes. I'd enjoy seeing Tim dance as well." There's a bit of a look there for a moment.

As he smiles once more he offers another greeting, "Val. You look great. Nice to see you." It's probably more formal sounding despite the casual wording.

Valeria Richards has posed:
Having chosen a softer shade of what would normally be a family wide shade of blue. Valeria can appreciate the splasj of color that comes from Phoebe's orange. "Hi I'm Valeria. Always nice to meet someone new to the Wayne family. Hope they aren't giving you too much grief?" she asks playfully.

"Jan, my family practically knows everyone. Almost so you know it's nice to actually meet them and in social circumstances. Business meetings are so boring." she declaires. And this is from a scientist that spends ours watching progress bars on computer screens to track builds and software compiliations along with other experiments.

"I'm always looking great. Comes with awesome mentors." The blonde says and smiles to Jan. "You know, if Tim dances great. You're gonna have to have a dance off, show him which brother is better on the floor!" she challenges her former boyfriend playfully.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    "Selina is not present tonight, so I'm stepping in--" Phoebe states breezily, navigating her own vocal faux-pas "a poor replacement for certain. I don't have the grace - social or physical." she gives a small smile in apology, and presses her hands down, culding them in place. "You need no introduction, Madam van Dyne, you're the only one to outshine the man of the hour today. And a pleasure to meet you, Valeria--" Phoebe replies to the Richards.

    "Phoebe, please. I know I'm a poor stand-in for a proper hostess." she holds her hands out a moment, but she dips her head in response and looks like she might try to set herself on fire with her mind.

    "Oh, no, I've known Tim for some time. He helped mentor me through my last two years of highschool. Between college and my volunteer work I'm not home a lot." she gives her best Normal Person smile, and then looks over to Jason.

    "I'm not sure if dancing is going to be a thing, I heard everyone got out-shone at the Children's Works gala."

Tim Drake has posed:
    As Phoebe comes in close, Tim swivels to make the angle of his body more accommodating. More people in the circle. Which is good because Jason's not far behind!

    "I did the usual dance courses when I was younger," he points out as people express doubts to his ability. "Though the Drake family ballroom never held a candle to this place." He gives a subtle touch to Phoebe's back in support, a quick press of his palm through the fabric of her dress, before he's stepping away so that he can set aside his champagne flute and offer Janet his hand.

    There's no doubt the way he looks back over his shoulder at both of the other Wayne adoptees amidst the mingling with a challenge in his eyes, though.

Janet van Dyne has posed:
Janet's face freezes. Just for a beat. "Oh, please! It's MISS van Dyne," Janet assures Phoebe, and lays a reassuring hand on Phoebe's arm. She doesn't even leave claw marks when it lifts. "I'm sure there hasn't been a Madame van Dyne since my family landed at Portsmouth."

Which is a pretty profound flex in New England society-- lots of them have money, but very few families-- the Waynes and van Dynes included-- were among the first aristocrats on these friendly shores.

She takes a sip of her champagne, and 'mms!' hastily at the invitation from Tim. The wineglass is set aside and she gulps the mouthful down. "Lead on, good sir," she bids him, and walks out onto the dance floor on his hand with an absolutely regal grace.

Once they're settled she puts a hand on Tim's arm, and glances back over his shoulder at Jason and Phoeve. "I hope you've got the skills to back that up, honey, otherwise-- best you find something to hang on to." She lifts a brow at Tim and tosses her head back with a well-practiced grace, and holds her gown aside with her right hand so their legs aren't tangled.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason Todd smiles at Val an then Janet, "Sorry, ma'am, it has been well established that Tim and Dick are the men in this menagerie who inherted Bruce's dance moves. I've got three left feet." He steps back, a wink to Phoebe and he fades back into the crowd to find an out of the way place to drink alone. With nobody else.

Phoebe Beacon has posed:
    Phoebe looks mortified. She fumbles an apology to Janet, and then turns to Jason -- who abandons her. Val's moved off, Tim is dancing with *Miss* van Dyne, and Phoebe exhales, adn then satisfied that she has utterly failed fully for the evening, just... goes to find the fastest exit outside. She needed a roof to mope on.

Tim Drake has posed:
    And there goes Phoebe and Jason. Tim's lips purse for a moment but he's well-practiced enough to slap on a good facsimile of a PR face, and puts aside whatever concerns he may have for the time being. They'll have to wait at least the length of a dance.

    Since the orchestra -- pardon, the Gotham Philharmonic -- is already mid-song, there's a moment of pause at the outside of the dance floor before an opening presents itself and Tim sweeps Janet forward into place and into step along with the other pairs. "I know the steps but I don't think I can promise you anything more than a respectably average time," he defers.

    And then, hey, look, they're dancing! Too bad Jason is off drinking on his own and Phoebe is roof-moping, otherwise they could, like, snap pictures or something.