Title: Conversion Rates

Author: Karen
LJ: odditycollector
Summary: When Lucius Fox is hired by Wayne Enterprises, the Gazette's headline reads "Gotham's Golden Son joined by the Man With the Midas Touch!"
For marcelo!

Lucius meets Bruce in Europe. He's surprised when the other man introduces himself; Lucius has heard every opinion Gotham has about Bruce Wayne. It's tragic what had happened to the parents, of course, but the young heir turned out to be a disappointment. He's a well known playboy. He's a fool. He's happy enough to spend the money Wayne Enterprises sends to his accounts, but he carefully avoids any semblance of responsibility toward the company that bears his name.

When he knew nothing of the man but posed society pictures, Lucius had an easy enough time buying into the reputation, but it seems ridiculous now. Bruce's body language speaks of power, and his eyes are intelligent, and his expression is hardened with purpose.

When the conversation turns towards the people of Gotham, Bruce says only, "We must help the ones who can't do it themselves," and stares into the night.

And then Lucius surprises them both by asking to take control of his company. It would mean leaving his current project - a transportation company he'd saved from bankruptcy - but: "We could accomplish something together. Do a lot of good."

Bruce hesitates. Lucius has lived in the business world long enough to know you don't hand off the running of a billion dollar corporation to a strange man met on the streets of a strange city, but this feels right. "Think about it," Lucius says, before Bruce can find the voice to refuse. "Call me when you come back home. The offer is a standing one."

Bruce considers him, and Lucius wonders again how so many people got the impression he was harmless. "It's a big world," Bruce says. "You're so certain I'll return to Gotham?"


Lucius had, after all.

When Lucius is hired by Wayne Enterprises, the Gazette's headline reads Gotham's Golden Son joined by the Man With the Midas Touch! It's a good picture, underneath: Lucius and Bruce shaking hands with Wayne Towers glinting silver behind them.

The paper is spread over the kitchen table, and Nancy laughs as she reads it. "They make it sound like a superhero teamup," she says.

"Don't worry," says Lucius. "I don't intend to trade the suits for spandex anytime soon."

She winks at him. "Too bad."

He takes a sip of coffee. "Well," he says. "I suppose I could talk to Bruce about the dress code."

Lucius is officially second in command of the company, but Bruce's erratic schedule means that Wayne Enterprises might as well be fully his own. He does good work, like he always does good work. The company has gone up several times its worth since he's been on, which is how the investors judge his usefulness. The youth centres and job opportunities and better housing the company provides have marked a significant decrease in Gotham crime, which is how Lucius does.

The newspapers attribute the drop in the crime rate to the Batman, of course, but Batman just represents the fear of going too deep into the shadows, least there is something terrible waiting. No one steps into the darkness if they have another direction to go. It's Wayne Enterprises that represents hope.

Lucius tells this to Bruce one night. The two of them are in Lucius' top floor office, staring out at the city below. There's a small party in the boardroom, to commemorate the acquisition of a new tech company with potential, and Bruce is sitting on the edge of Lucius' desk, avoiding it. He's wearing an immaculately pressed suit, but he's letting the Bruce Wayne, Millionaire Playboy persona ruffle around the edges.

"Like the stick and the carrot?" Bruce says in a voice slightly higher than his own. "I think I've heard that story, once." He grins at Lucius, but it's sharp. "If I recall, the donkey eats the carrot."

The Batsignal lights up the night, and Bruce thanks Lucius for the moment of quiet and heads back in the direction of the party. Lucius remains behind, looking at the sky.

When Lucius goes home, he leaves the office light on behind him.