Disclaimer: Batman does not belong to me, nor does any character mentioned therein. Buffy: the Vampire Slayer does not belong to me, nor does any character mentioned therein. No shows mentioned belong to me. Copyright infringement is *not* intended.
Summary: 2nd in the Chess Series. “After it rains, the sky is blue. That’s Gotham now; the rain. So I have faith in a blue tomorrow,” Mercia said. Faith is believing without a reason to believe. BtVS x-over, AU.
Bruce carefully, softly, turned the pages, looking for the name of the author. He’d already checked the front an back covers, but they only had doodles on them. Something caught his eye, though.
“If people had seen what went on in my mind when I was nine, they would have put me in Arkham Asylum, and I would’ve been grateful for it. I can’t even begin to describe the maelstrom of my mind back then except to say that I was insane, non-functioning, and homicidal. If ever a mind reader was needed, it was back then. I couldn’t even open my mouth to get out the words. They wouldn’t slip past my lips; and I certainly tried to put voice to my swirling thoughts. I was never suicidal, but I made two suicide attempts… hoping. I was looking for the type of help that only a mind reader could give. Part of it was psychic. I’m a sensitive. I knew more about the world than I ever wanted to know. Maybe that’s why I’m so forgetful. I don’t want to remember.”
It was interesting reading.
“Excuse me, pardon me, ‘xcuse me.”
“Edward? Here, let me help you.” She took a deep breath. “Move it assholes! Yeah I’m talkin’ to you! Fuckin’ *move*! You heard me.” Several minutes of that and they were at the door to Wayne Enterprises.
“I – uh –”
“Didn’t think I had a dirty mouth? Most people don’t. Listen, Edward, sometimes you need to force the issue a bit. You can’t let them walk all over you.”
“I – thanks boss.”
“Let’s get to work,” she smiled.
He smiled back, heading to the elevator, but she was headed in another direction. She could hear the distant sounds from here; either it was a media circus or the aids were bothering Bruce again. They should realize that he was a busy man and just plop the f-ing paperwork on his desk; or better yet, Lucius’ desk; *he* was the CEO. Sadly, this was just another day at work; she was getting by day by day. The divorce papers hadn’t gone through just yet, but it was only a matter of time… and then she couldn’t lie to herself anymore. Mercia sighed, rushing forward. She was right; it was the aids.
“All right, people, back off. I have important business to speak to Mister Wayne about. If you need a signature talk to Mister Fox. He’s in his office.”
Knowing a department head when they saw one, the aids backed off; grumbling, of course. Bruce breathed a sigh of relief, dragging her into his office with a “do not disturb” look to his secretary, an otherwise useless young brunette thing.
“What is it?”
“Off the record, Mister Wayne?”
“Off the record,” he agreed.
“Do you want *these* off the record?” She held the schematics up.
“Yes,” he said simply.
They talked for a little while, friend to friend rather than boss to subordinate.
“Can you meet me for lunch?”
“Well Bruce, I do have an off-the-books project to work on…” she said teasingly. “Ask me later, okay? I have to make sure Lisa doesn’t blow anything up – she’s working with an unstable chemical compound – and I want to talk to Edward Nigma on some of his work; he’s got a good imagination and eye for inconsistencies. A bit shy, though. Oh, and you might want to do an inspection of Electronics.”
“Sure. I better get going on my paperwork, though.”
“Have a good day, sir,” she said as she opened the door.
The paperwork, stacked up, was in several piles as big as his fist – and this was only what had built up since late last night, after he’d gone home.
Bruce sighed. He needed to give himself a raise.
Bobby Whitman was having a bad day. Four cases of resisting arrest, one person throwing hot coffee at him, and a little girl, the daughter of a perp, biting him. No, he was not having a good morning; not at all.
Bruce Wayne was his idol, but Mercia Cross (who he heard was getting a divorce now)… he’d always had a bit of a crush. She knew everyone in the department by name, took a real interest in their lives, and was always willing to help out. Like Daniel Masters; he was struggling to raise five kids, and she had docked her own pay by half to give him money to help. He’d tried to refuse, of course, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. So Edward wasn’t worried at all when she pulled him into her office.
“Are you okay? You seem a bit off lately.”
“I’m fine, Dr. Cross, just working on that project.”
“Oh, yes; I wanted to talk to you about that. It’s good work, Edward; you have a damn fine imagination, which is what we need in this department. The only problem I can see is that it has potential for being a mind control device. You need to refine things so that’s not an option. Other than that, I can see Mister Wayne supporting this, but there are just too many questions right now. Why don’t you work on that alone for a while? Take a couple of days and bring it up with me then.”
“I’ll do that, Dr. Cross.”
She smiled sadly.
“I’m afraid it’s Dr. Edgerton again.”
Mister Wayne wasn’t so kind in his criticisms.
“Too many questions, Nigma.”
“Too many questions,” he mocked. “I’ll show you too many questions.”
The manager of the department fired him. He worked under Dr. Edgerton, and *she* wouldn’t have fired him, but that was okay. Everything would be just fine. With his new machine he could take in any knowledge and get a job anywhere.
Now he wondered what he should do. He’d acted completely on impulse.
There were wires trailing down whatever it was on his head, wires to a machine, and he was tied to a swivel chair. Now he was thinking clearly enough, he could see that Edward Nygma was wearing something similar, though untied.
“Nygma, you press that button and –”
“What? I’m fired?” He flipped the switch, then after a few moments said, “More power.”
While the other man was now senseless, unaware, Edward was invigorated. The glimmer of twisted genius in his eyes had somehow been enhanced. Anyone who this manager, had ever met, who had ever made an impression on him in any way, was now racing through Edward’s mind. You could see him flipping through personalities like one would flip through TV stations. It was… disturbing.
“Wayne was right! It *is* mind manipulation! You’re going to a mental institution for the rest of your God damned life, d’you hear me? But first and foremost you’re fired, you crazy son of a bitch! Fired!!!”
Cackling insanely, Nygma kicked out at the chair the man was tied to. The chair rolled quickly along the slick floor, the manager cussing up a storm and unknowing of the true danger that he was in. The manager suddenly crashed straight through the window at the end of the corridor. He screamed… and jerked to a stop. Nygma moved forward quickly, a look of concern on his face. The manager was left dangling only by the thin wire attached to his headband, and was breathing shakily. Surely Nigma hadn’t meant for this to happen – he looked terrified – and the near fatality had shocked some sense…
He barely had time to realize that Nigma was unconcerned for him, but was rather concerned for his headband, as it began to leave his head.
“Darling. Baby. You’re fired. Or should I say: terminated.” The headband was *ripped* off, and the manager fell with barely any time for him to scream. Soon, after all, he was quite dead.
Edward Nigma strolled away with a machine and box of things in hand.
“Bruce,” Mercia said softly, “I’ve finished it.”
“Thank you,” he said simply, but it was more than sincere.
Suddenly she was all business.
“Now I fixed some flaws that I saw in the previous Batmobile and added improvements that came to mind. For instance, an extra bullet proof casing for the gas tank, so that the car can’t be blown up that way. I’ve made sure all the important pieces underneath are coated in it too; it’s quite lightweight. I’ve also made it more aerodynamic; you’ll get greater heights for jumps. Likewise, I’ve added a few more weapons to your arsenal on the suit. I noticed you went for movement over armor, and that’s fine, but I thought in that case that you could use more firepower. I’ve added several knives and throwing knives that look like a part of the armor; it’s still lightweight and flexible, but there’s less chance of being without a weapon. I also… this is my lucky switch knife.”
Mercy handed it over gently. It was nothing special to look at, except that it was exceptionally sharp, but it obviously had great sentimental meaning to her. He raised an eyebrow in question.
“I spent a lot of my childhood on the streets of Gotham rather than spend my time at the orphanage. Even once I was adopted… this has seen me through some tough scrapes.”
He flipped it open, testing the blade.
“Good, solid work,” he said with a slight smile.
“I… might have updated it a bit for you. With Trinium coating,” she said sheepishly, quickly changing the subject. “Oh! I added some paralyzing agents to your utility belt; you can dip your knives in that if you need to. They wear off after an hour, though, so… well, be careful. I don’t care if Batman comes home; I care that Bruce does.”
“Thank you, Mercy, this is… you’ve gone above and beyond.”
“Like I said,” she told him softly, “I want Bruce to come home.”
Xander was playing Friday night poker with some of the guys from the site; after work he wasn’t the boss, and he didn’t care if the guys bitched about him. With them was an old retired buddy, Samuel Edgerton, and Tara’s cop friend, Bobby Whitman. It was a good night for Xander. For once he wasn’t losing out to Samuel. He needed the money in his bank account if he was going to help Dawnie out with college. She was eighteen now, in her second year at Gotham University as an English Major. She wanted to be a writer, apparently, and all the more power to her. Still, it wasn’t cheap, even if she had a job to help with the money. So, he was winning, and it was a good night.
“Come on, Harvey,” Bruce said urgently. “Where are you striking next?”
“I’ll find a land where light is shadow and freaks are kings,” the video feed said.
“Yes, but what does that *mean*?”