Air of December, part 3

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0"

"This one," Alana decided, grabbing hold of Bruce's hand and pulling him through the bustling sidewalk traffic into an elegant boutique. Bruce smiled fondly, half bewildered at the enthusiasm with which J'onn had plunged into the Christmas madness of Metropolis. He had made his way alone into the crowds the previous evening, insisting that Bruce sleep, but at 6 am, a bright eyed Alana had hauled Bruce from bed to join her in the quest for the last few presents.

Now the objective was clearly a dress for Gypsy, and Bruce was having to work to keep from thinking about J'onn's expression when he discovered that he would be able to deliver the gift in person at the Manor. Thus far, J'onn had shown no sign that he knew about the surprise - had in fact over breakfast been trying to decide when he should leave for Egypt in the overnight hours.

The sales staff at the little boutique were decidedly overworked - no one noticed the entrance of Gotham's favorite son.

"You're not in Gotham," Alana tiptoed to whisper to him, planting a light kiss on his cheek.

"Reading my thoughts again," Bruce rumbled, amused.

Alana snorted. "Projecting a little peeved rich boy again," she teased. "C'mon."

Alana lead Bruce to a wall rack, her eyes obviously caught by a display which raised Bruce's eyebrow. "That's a little -"

Alana had already plucked out the appropriate size of dress, and she gave Bruce a surprised look. "A little-?" she prompted.

Bruce shifted. "Well, there's not much there, is there?"

Alana lifted the dress to inspect the panels of mesh and the strategic appliqués. "You don't think she'll like it?"

"You'd know better than I would," Bruce confessed, "but - are you sure you want her wearing that?"

"There's something wrong with it? It seems like the right the style for the Cairo clubs."

"That?"

"Bruce, you're going to have to explain."

"It's just - I know I wouldn't want Cassandra running around in something like that."

"Well, of course not," Alana said matter of factly. "Cassandra wouldn't want to wear something like this. It's not black."

Bruce studied Alana's face, trying to decide if he was witnessing a moment of Martian obliviousness or he was showing his age. "Kids are really wearing stuff that... revealing?"

"Well, Gypsy's not exactly a kid, and - Bruce? Am I missing something really obvious?"

Ah, Martian obliviousness. Bruce caught Alana by the arm and steered her toward the dressing rooms at the back of the store. "Miss?" he said to the attendant.

"Hold on- OH!" The young woman's eyes went wide. "Bruce Wayne?" she squeaked.

Bruce smiled reassuringly. "My friend just wanted to try on this dress."

"Of course, right this way," the attendant hastened, leading them past the line for the crowded dressing area to a half-hidden door. "I'm so sorry we didn't see you. It's just been so busy and -"

"That's quite all right," Bruce forgave, watching as Alana's eyes widened at the dressing studio they were led to. So I can still surprise you? he teased mentally.

You have to ask? J'onn sent back as Alana's hand tightened on his arm.

"I hope this is okay," the attendant was rambling, and Bruce just smiled more pleasantly.

"Perfect. You don't mind leaving us alone for a few minutes?"

The attendant glanced at Alana as if noticing her for the first time and blushed faintly. "Um, of course not. I mean-- um... just come out when you're done."

Bruce watched the attendant back out, then looked down at Alana's faintly disapproving face. "That's not going to help your efforts to convince the press that Alana is just a friend."

"Go try on the dress," Bruce ordered.

"But it's not for me-"

"Just do it."

Alana stared into his eyes for a long moment, then shrugged. "Incomprehensible," she muttered as she slipped back behind a screen.

"I thought that was part of what you loved about humans," Bruce threw back, settling into the "boyfriend" chair.

"Part of what keeps me humble in face of the mysteries of the universe," Alana corrected. "I don't know if that counts as love."

"You wound me."

"Yes, I know, I am so-" Alana stepped out from the screen, her words trailing off as she felt Bruce's eyes on her. A blush darkened her skin endearingly as she caught Bruce's untempered reaction to the way the dress draped on her form. "Oh," she said.

Bruce stood and crossed to his lover, leaning down to kiss her hungrily. He stepped back and smiled at her flushed and flustered expression. "Like I said, don't you think it's kind of revealing?"

Alana brought a hand to her cheek and dropped her eyes. "Um, yeah, maybe."

Bruce hugged Alana to him. "You don't have to put her in frumpy clothes, but maybe a little more conservative," he suggested, running his hands over the barely there fabric that draped over Alana's backside. "Although I think maybe I like how this looks on you," he murmured.

A hand brushed across the front of his trousers. "I noticed. But I still need to find something for Gypsy."

Bruce withdrew with a sigh. "Okay. And then?"

Alana smiled, a hint of wickedness replacing her earlier embarrassment. Her eyes traveled pointedly over his body. "And then you can take me home."

Bruce grinned and returned to the boyfriend chair, deciding Christmas shopping wasn't such a bad way to spend his time.

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