Billionaire Bruce Wayne was well known for his considerable philanthropy to all of Gotham's local charities.
He was invited to chair a fundraiser for Gotham's school system to ensure that all of Gotham's children have ample school supplies and textbooks as the new school year approaches.
He couldn't find any of his usual plus ones worthy of the event, so he asked his friend Jim to set him up with his daughter Barbara for the evening.
Bruce had heard that Barbara had a reputation of being somewhat cold, or perhaps she just hadn't found anyone to warm her up yet.
Bruce remembered Barbara as a teenager before she left to complete her education.
She was quiet and shy, but clever, never pretending to be stupid simply to satisfy someone's ego.
Perhaps that's where her cold reputation came from.
Bruce himself didn't like being kissed up to by simpering idiots, so perhaps Barbara's reputation was undeserved.
He would judge her for himself.
He called for her at exactly seven.
When she opened her apartment door he was greeted by a true vision in a strapless blue satin gown.
He had to keep himself from letting his chin drop from surprise.
He was right, in the proper clothing, she was stunning.
"You look lovely tonight, Barbara."
"Why, thank you, Bruce. Not bad yourself, by the way."
She gave him an appreciative look and smiled at him, saying she just needed her wrap and purse to leave.
He certainly wasn't hard on the eyes in her opinion, it was just his womanizing reputation she disliked.
As she locked the door behind them, she stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek.
She didn't act cold. Either that or she promised to be on her best behavior and would owe her father big time.
As he opened the car door, her eyes took everything in.
She wasn't accustomed to luxury and complimented his car.
He offered her a drink as Alfred drove them to their destination.
"It's a special occasion, why not?" She smiled and agreed to a glass of champagne.
Bruce toasted to a successful fundraiser and an enjoyable evening together.
Barbara actually colored slightly. "You don't have to flatter me, Bruce, I know everything."
He hoped that it was only Jim's help that she was referring to.
"Know what? Did I offend you somehow?"
"I know that my dad set this up, this is just another pity date," she frowned.
"Let me be crystal clear, Barbara. I don't do pity dates. If you're here with me tonight, it was my choice. Your father might have suggested this, but I actually wanted to see you again."
"Again? We've never seen each other socially," she answered, flustered.
"We actually have, but you were a bit younger then. You were on your father's arm at a party at my home. I was very impressed when you disappeared from the ballroom only to turn up reading alone in the library, you were buried in a book that was many levels above your school grade. I saw a lot of potential in you."
"That must have been shortly after my mother left us. I was in a fog for a long time, and books were my retreat. I still rarely go anywhere without my e-reader. I suppose, in that case, I guess I shouldn't be so critical. I feel as though I'm always last on anyone's list as arm candy."
"What makes you think you can't be arm candy? You look enchanting tonight, and using your brain is never a deficit, Barbara." He beamed.
"That's not exactly the reaction I expected from Gotham's most notorious bachelor. You've absolutely surprised me, I thought you preferred brainless bimbos to brainy girls."
He expected she'd say something like that. It was meant to be a barb, but she was merely being honest.
"That's just a ruse. I always feel afraid that I'll disappoint a real lady, and most women that go out with me only want a piece of my fortune. It's easier just acting as though I'm a cad. I don't like being used, or hurting others, it's much easier on them that way."
"It may be easier, but it's far from honest. I guess I might be guilty of being untrue to my own nature for a similar reason, except they want to curry favor with my dad instead of seeking any of my non-existent riches. Maybe I'm too jaded from growing up as a detective's daughter."
He genuinely smiled at that.
She had the same sharp and realistic personality as her father.
He admired her honesty.
And despite her own thoughts on the matter, he found that she was very attractive, enough that he needed to cross his legs.
When they had arrived at their destination, Alfred opened the car door for them to a huge gathering of reporters and photographers on the red carpet.
"Hey, Mister Wayne, who's your gorgeous date?"
"Is she a movie star or a model?"
"What's your name, Miss?"
"Hey! Over here!"
"What's her name? Who is she?"
The flashes were momentarily blinding Barbara, but Bruce held her securely by the arm, ushering her past the ravenous hordes of paparazzi.
"So this is usual for you? How do you do it? And why did they take me for an actress or model, anyway, I'm just so plain."
"You really have no idea that you're beautiful, do you? You have it all, Barbara. A brain and loveliness that can't be bought."
He gently squeezed her arm.
As they passed a mirrored wall he stopped and said, "This is exactly how you look, take a moment and really look at yourself."
She looked at Bruce, then at the two of them as shown in the mirrored wall.
She no longer was that skinny kid from years ago, she was a beautiful swan tonight.
She never really looked at herself critically until now.
No wonder the reporters thought she was someone famous on the rise.
She blushed with her hand to her face, a little embarrassed, but also oddly empowered.
"That's not really me, it can't be! It must be a trick mirror, though you look exactly as you do. I guess I've still got my old skinny teenage figure still in my head," she answered in a surprised whisper.
"That is very much you, Barbara. Believe it, you're gorgeous, and I've always known that under those practical clothes you wear there was a hidden beauty waiting to emerge."
"Thank you, Bruce, really... thank you."
He put his arm through hers and escorted her in.