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Winter's Child

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This story is No. 7 in the series "Hidden Secrets". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The world’s origin had been lost. Though similar to her past world’s it is vastly different. The return of power will have consequences. Can she handle the price or be lost in the hunt?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Buffy-CenteredLadyHealerFR18981,5991314127,4708 Apr 1229 Jul 14No

Chapter Five: Revealing Shadows

Disclaimer: There is a quote from the Batman comics in this chapter.

Author notes: Sorry it took so long to update. I’ve been pretty busy of late. Hopefully the wait is worth it. The next chapter shouldn’t take me as long to write. It’s roughly halfway done already. :)

I would like to thank cupquake and HeatherSin for the recommendations. I would also like to thank ConstanceTruggle and Eset whose reviews inspired a parts of different scenes in this chapter

Thanks to everyone who reviewed. You are all awesome and have been keeping my muse alive.

This chapter has not gone through a beta yet. Please forgive the mistakes. I was pretty tired when I edited this chapter so fair warning I probably missed more than usual.


Chapter Five: Revealing Shadows


Why? After finally becoming an active part of her daughter life, why did she have to nearly lose her? Jeannie mentally wailed as she rushed through the parking lot, yanking the sides of her beige jacket close as she approached the hospital’s doors. She wiped the tears failing from her eyes away with a shaky hand. She should’ve never delayed her trip to Gotham. Elizabeth wouldn’t have been in that alley at the time of the attack if she hadn’t.

Jeannie bit her lip angrily. Why did Joyce take so long in contacting her? Elizabeth was her baby! By the time she arrived from New York, visiting hours were over. If Elizabeth dies… She would never forgive them. Never. Jeannie yanked the doors opened roughly and stormed towards the help desk across the lobby.

Halfway across the room a tall, sandy-blond hair man collided into her from her right side, causing her to stumble to the floor. Quickly, the stranger knelt down next her. “I’m sorry, ma’am.” He said in a soft baritone voice as he offered a hand up. “I was just so relieved that my beloved will be well enough to be release soon that I failed to watch where I was going.”

Jeannie glared at the offered hand for several moments while she pressed her lips tightly together. She glanced up into the stranger’s sincere brown eyes and sighed before accepting the hand. “I wish, I could say the same.” She tugged the sleeve of her coat down. “My daughter is in a coma.”

He bowed his head slightly in sympathy. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He glanced back towards the patient ward briefly before he reached into his right pocket and pulled out a small, teardrop pendant suspended by a copper chain. “Here, take this. Perhaps it will change your tragedy around like it did for me.”

Jeannie’s eyes widened in shock as she stared at the pendant. “No.” She replied as she shook her head. “I couldn’t.”

“I insist.” He countered as he gently grabbed her right hand with his left hand, placed the pendant into her palm and closed her fingers over it. “The properties within this pendant were crafted especially to bring forward the strongest ability of healing and protection to aid the wearer.”

Slowly, Jeannie pulled her hand back and uncurled her fingers to stare at the stone. It was a beautiful dark green stone with mellow green and metallic sliver swirls intertwining together. In the center of the pendent outlined with deep blue with softer blue highlights lay a clear symbol in a shape of two half vertical arrow sharing the same shaft. The top arrow slanted downward on the left side while the bottom arrow slanted up from the right. She gradually glanced up and whispered. “But your wife?”

He smiled warmly at her. “Has already benefited from it and no longer needs it. She would want you to have it to aid your daughter.” He nodded to her once as he stepped towards the exit. “Now if you excuse me, I must be getting the car pulled around.”

“Wait!” Jeannie called after him. He paused briefly and glanced back. “Who are you?”

“Brandt.” He answered while he resumed his walking. “I’m Brandt Diethelm”

(((())))

What was the voltage in the stun gun that hit him? 100,000? Dick wondered as he slowly came to. It was definitely not less, judging by the persistent aches in his body. Now he knew what his opponents felt when he had to resort in using his own Taser on them. Who said turnabout was fair play?
Dick kept his eyes close and breathing even as he assessed his situation. He was lying on his back. There were no footsteps nor could he hear anyone else’s breathing. He was likely to be alone. Were they keeping tabs on him through a camera? Or was his guard highly trained, Dick wondered as he remembered the female attacker from his apartment.

He gave his wrists and ankles a subtle twist. He was unbound—their first mistake. Dick slowly opened his eyes and glanced around. The room was empty. He carefully studied the ceiling and walls. They were bare and had no obvious signs of cameras. It seemed odd for a highly trained group to not fully secure their prisoner, especially one they wanted to use for bait.

What was this group playing at? What was their end game? Dick slowly made his way to the door while checking his pockets in his jacket. Empty. He checked his other pockets. Also empty. They didn’t even leave him his cash. Perhaps, his captors were simply cocky. After all, the Bat family didn’t have their location and ‘Dick Grayson’ wasn’t a highly trained escapologist. He smiled as he lightly touched the necklace around his neck. Such an innocent looking item and no one had questioned it. That would be their second and most the costly mistake.

Dick frowned. This situation wasn’t sitting right with him. Where was the danger that Elizabeth’s vision implied? Dick turned the handle. Locked. He bent down and felt along the sole of his left shoe before pulling out small lock pick hidden inside. They failed to take away everything that could be helpful—their third mistake.
He injected the pick into the hole, twisting and turning the tool for several seconds until he heard the click of the door unlocking. Dick smiled. Cautiously, he opened the door and peered around it. No guards. Dick frowned. He was publicly known as an ex-cop, but they didn’t even bother with one guard. Now that was insulting.

Dick quietly moved through the corridors and froze as he turned around the corner. The red-headed women stared at him from the second doorway on the right. She frowned at him for several seconds before she stated coldly. “You should not be out of your room, Mr. Grayson.”

He smiled as he recognized the voice. She was the assassin that had knocked him out at his apartment. Dick subtly shifted his weight as he prepared himself for second round of their fight. He studied her movement. Her steps were light- footed, but confident. It reminded him of Cassandra. She was likely highly trained. It was too bad he had to handicap himself. It would make winning the fight difficult, but it would be disastrous for this group to discover that he was Nightwing. Hopefully, the basics would be enough to get out of this predicament. Dick shrugged. “I told you I was horrible bait.”

“So you did.” She took another three steps towards him. “Make it easy on yourself, Mr. Grayson, return to your room.”

“No thanks.” He replied as he darted forward and rolled sharply to the left as she moved to block him. He rose back to his feet and dodged her first punch. “It wasn’t to my taste. You’re free to it though.”

She kicked out at him and he dropped to the floor and countered with a sweep kick. For several minutes they traded attacks. The woman paused as Dick flipped over one of her attacks. “You’re persistent.”

“Never could hold still.” Dick replied as he took several steps back to evaluate the situation. So far he had done nothing that his years at the circus and his time as a cop couldn’t explain. He hadn’t needed to. He frowned. She was holding back. He was sure of it. Why?

She smiled at him. “You have potential.”

She was testing him. Why? What for? “Um… thanks, I think.” He ran forward and used the wall as leverage to flip over her, noticing briefly while he was above her the small orb pendant that rested around her neck. “But should I be worried?”

“Your potential is being wasted.” She answered him as she lashed out with a kick, forcing him to roll to avoid it. “I could hone your skill. Make it truly great.” The assassin pressed several more attacks and Dick dodge or block several of them while returning his own assaults. “I could convince them to spar you if you join us.”

Dick ducked another kick. “Nah, I’m happy with my girlfriend.” He hissed in pain as her followed up punch brushed against his ribs. He turned to soften the blow. She hit hard. A few of his ribs were either bruised or cracked with that one hit. But that hit shouldn’t have had that much force behind it at the angle she had landed with. This woman had increased strength.

“I’ll admit I have a slight weakness against red heads.” He dodged her punch. “And you are very beautiful.” He lashed out, landing a hit on her upper hip. “It makes your offer very tempting, really.” Dick rolled to the right to evade her next strike. “But I have no attention of landing in the dog house.” He quickly jumped back to avoid the assassin’s kick. “Again.” He traded a couple of blows. “Come to think about it…” He paused in his talking as he dodged several more strikes. Dick cocked his head to the side as he dunked her punch. “Getting kidnapped probably put me there anyways. Thanks...”

“Do you ever shut up?” She demanded as she lashed out at him with another punch.

Dick blocked her punch and swiftly hit her with a nerve strike, causing her to fall to the floor unconscious. “No.”

(((())))

“We should leave without him, father.” Red Robin heard Damian demand as he entered through the subbasement entrance of his lair. He paused for a brief moment as he glanced up towards the right in the direction of the communication and lab portions of his base. Damian was leaning against the railing with his arms crossed. Red Robin frowned as he spotted the katana strapped against Damian’s back underneath the cape of his Robin uniform. Bruce wasn’t going to allow him to take the sword on the mission, was he?

Again, Red Robin glanced at the upper railing. He couldn’t spot Bruce’s position, but he was positive that he was looking through the information on his computer. How long had Bruce been searching through his databases? Had he searched through the information on Elizabeth? Did he bypass his security measures or was he studying the information they had gathered on the current threat? Both were equally likely. The detour to Oracle after leaving Elizabeth had delayed him twenty minutes. The phone call to Alfred requesting that he and Dr. Thompkins visit Liz added additional five more minutes to the timeframe. It was more than enough time for Bruce to cover his tracks while prepping for the mission.

“He’s useless.” Damian continued, anger seeping into his tone. “It’s obvious that he doesn’t care about Grayson if he couldn’t pry himself away from his girlfriend.”

Tim quietly pulled his cowl of his uniform down as he waited nervously for Bruce’s reaction. Bruce had been too quiet when it came to the subject of Elizabeth. It was making it difficult to determine his opinions. Why was he remaining quiet? Bruce had never been hesitated to speak his mind about any of his past relationships. But Bruce had never been fully against any of his past relationships either. Was that the reason for his silence? Was there any hope of getting Bruce’s approval?

“We’ll wait a few more minutes.” Bruce answered.

Tim sighed as he heard the clicks of the computer’s keys being depressed. He wasn’t going to get the answer tonight. Bruce probably kept a watch on the monitors. He knew he was there. Tim walked up the stairs pausing once he was a few feet from them. “You’re not going to let him bring the sword, are you?”

“No.” Bruce replied as he pulled his cowl up. “Leave the sword, Damian.” He punched a couple more commands into the computer and map with a red blinking dot in the upper left portion appeared. “The—”

Damian scowled. “No.”

“Damian!” Batman growled as he turned his head towards him.

“No!” Damian yelled back as he took three angry steps towards Bruce. “I have done all that has been asked of me! I control aspects of my upbringing that neither of you could begin to understand! Yet I’m still treated like I’m to be monitored as a threat with some hidden agenda by both of you! Constantly criticizing everything I do! Down to the very weapons I choose to bring!”

Tim frowned in concern. What was triggering this anger? He looked at Damian again. Or was it hurt? He had heard this argument once before when Damian had discovered his hit list. But why was it coming back now? “Damian, that list… It just in terms of general planning… It doesn’t mean that I think that you’re going to turn around and stabbed us in the back.” He laid a hand gently on Damian’s shoulder. “Heck, even I have to admit, you have come a long way since we first met.”

Damian shoved Tim’s hand off. “It didn’t stop you from putting me on the list.”

Tim shrugged. “It didn’t stop me from putting Superman on the list either and Superman hadn’t tried to kill me the first time we met.”

Damian scowled at him. “It’s not fair. Grayson was the only one who understood….Or tried to.” He turned away from them and walked towards the railing. “I do one thing wrong and I’m lectured, but you’re late when we are planning to rescue Grayson and you don’t even get reprimanded. Why should you be so privileged? You’re not even his son!”

Tim shook his head when he spotted Bruce opening his mouth and signaled him to wait and allow him to take the lead. He followed Damian to the railing and leaned against it. “I wasn’t reprimanded, because I radioed ahead and informed Bruce that I was making a detour to Oracle to collect the materials needed for a secondary mission during our rescue. If it works, we should be able to finally get ahead of this group.”

Damian glanced at him out the corner of his eyes. “He doesn’t question you.”

“No. Damian, he does question me.” Tim replied thinking back on Bruce’s silence about Elizabeth. “He is just not always obvious about it.”

Damian snorted as he marched back towards the computer. “Whatever. We need to go rescue Grayson.”

“The locator signal is coming from the outer northwest parameter of your geological profile, Tim.” Bruce stated as he pointed to the screen. “The warehouse used to be an abandon building until a year ago when it was bought by T.H. Inc.”

“T.H. Inc.?” Tim repeated softly as he moved to stand in front of the computer towards Bruce’s left side. “It’s an old International Corporation isn’t it?” Quietly he typed a command into the computer. “I’m running a search to compile a list of businesses that were located within ten to twenty miles radius of the center point in similar previous cases.” He explained as he spotted Bruce’s raised eyebrow from the corner or his eye.

“The cases Elizabeth had brought.” Batman stated flatly.

Tim frowned as he punched a few more commands into the computer. “As well as a few other cases that my previous searches had discovered.”

Batman nodded as he conceded the point. He looked back at Damian and frowned as he stood. “If you must bring a melee weapon than grab a Bo staff or Escrima sticks.”

“Forget it, Father!” Damian scowled as he raised the hood attached to his cape over his head. “I’m bringing my sword. Perhaps you should worry less about my instincts and more about Drake’s inability of keeping a secret.”

“Damian!” Red Robin growled darkly in warning. “Not now!”

Batman paused midway between them and glanced briefly at each before he ordered quietly. “Explain.”

Red Robin shook his head. “The explanations can wait until after we rescue Dick.”

“Tim.” Batman started to say in a low, darkly controlled tone as he took a couple steps towards him. “I would like to hear the explanation now.”

Damian smirked at him while he made his way towards the Bat plane. “His girlfriend knows our identities.”

“She what?” Batman growled as he turned sharply towards Robin before he quickly shifted his attention back to Red Robin and demanded. “How did she come upon this information?”

Red Robin ignored Batman for a few seconds as he glared angrily at Robin’s back as he climbed into the cockpit of the bat plane with his sword still on his back. The little brat just had to use the diversion tactic of throwing the adopted sibling under the bus to get what he wanted, didn’t he? He was going to kill him. Red Robin turned towards Batman and barely withheld the wince at Batman’s stern look. “She figured it out a while ago.”

“I’m disappointed, Tim.” Batman stated quietly. “When we get back we will plan a way to make her doubt and then dismiss her conclusions.”

Red Robin sighed. “That won’t work.” He ran his right hand through his hair nervously. “I already confirmed my identity.”

“You what?” Batman questioned in disbelief. “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking…” Red Robin countered as he clenched his left hand into a fist. “That it would be better to teach and guide her than to watch her stumble on that path she already chosen like we all have before her and die because no one was willing to step up guide her like I was or Stephanie, Cassandra, Damian, Dick, Barbara, hell, even Jason!”

“Those situations were different.” Batman argued. “They could be trusted.”

Red Robin snorted. “Damian?” He glared up at him. “I know very well that you didn’t trust him at first when he was brought into the family.”

“There wasn’t a choice.” Batman replied, flatly. “He already knew and I had certain responsibilities towards him. We owe this girl nothing nor is she trust-worthy.”

Red Robin shook his head as he interrupted angrily. “You don’t know her and you’re not bothering to try.” He turned and started to march towards the bat plane.

“We are not done here!” Batman stated firmly.

Red Robin turned sharply on his heel back towards him. “Yes, we are! Dick needs our help. Liz’s vision warns us of his death if we don’t get there in time. I’m not willing to take the chance of arriving to late because you’re being to bull headed to let an argument go!”

“And all of it could be a carefully constructed trap.” Batman countered. “She’s is not a Meta, Tim. There are too many unknown variables. Her visions could easily be lies.”

Red Robin snorted. “Did you really think that the knowledge of her not being a Meta would surprise me?” He looked Batman in the eyes. “I’ve known for a while now.”

Several moments passed between them in tensed silence. “Your files on her?” Batman questioned quietly.

“Are not up to date. They haven’t been since I gained the pieces that connected everything together.” He answered as he crossed his arms. “I knew you would come snooping through my files once your investigations came to dead ends. Furthermore, I deleted some of my findings.”

“Why?”

“You’re being blind.” Red Robin shook his head. “You are the one who taught me to keep an open mind when investigating. To question everything even my own preconceptions, and yet, now, you’re going against the very principles that you taught me.” He sighed at Batman’s silence. “I get it, you know. I didn’t trust her at first either. With every dead end the more frustrating it became. Too many things conflicted with each other to allow the true picture to form.”

He took several steps forward until he was a foot away from Batman. “We have always trusted you, but now you need to trust me.”

Batman shook his head. “I have always…”

“No.” Red Robin interrupted. “You trusted me to do the right thing, maybe, but not necessarily my judgment. When it comes to Liz, throw out what you think you know. Throw out her blood connection to the Joker; it does not sway her actions. She will not allow herself to be defined by it. The only lie in her history is when she was label with schizophrenia. She does not have that condition though the doctors believe it to be true.”

“The psychological attack.” Batman stated.

“It’s more complicated than that. What happened to her then…. “ Red Robin shook his head and sighed. “I’m still gathering pieces together on that, but I know enough to know that the attacker didn’t mean it as an attack. But that is what outcome became. That event had changed Liz and caused for the conflicting pieces to appear. She has whole another history that’s not recorded on paper but flashes of its history and the results have appeared throughout different recorded media for the last year and a half.”

Batman remained silent for several moments as he studied him before questioning. “Her powers?”

“She had them for a long time. They just needed to be reawakened.” Red Robin smiled. “They’re not alien, not Meta, but mystical.” He shook his head again and turned back towards the bat plane. “Now, we have Dick to save. You want to understand Liz, you’ll just have to give her a chance and get to know her like I did.”

“I’ll pass on making out with her, thanks.” Batman replied dryly causing Red Robin to stumble in shock.

Red Robin glanced back at him with a small grin. “Appreciative. But perhaps you shouldn’t get to know her. I don’t think I’ll survive if you two start double teaming me.”

(((()))

Dick paused briefly by the corner as he heard the soft footsteps of someone approaching from the opposite hallway. Carefully, he peered around the corner. A tall sandy blond hair man clothed in a deep blue dress shirt and jeans stopped by the door in the middle of the right wall. He looked around the hallway while he straightened his left cuff for several moments before he entered the doorway. As he started to shut the door he exclaimed in surprise. “Priest Baldwin! What do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

Quietly, Dick made his way to the door. He raised an eyebrow as he noted the doorway had been left opened a small crack. Convenient. As he knelt by the door he peered through the opening and spotted three males standing around a small table.

“New rituals shall be invoked with this year sacrifice.” Replied the man Dick assumed was the Priest as he placed his hands in the pockets of his plain dark brown robe. Dick frowned. This year sacrifice? Had Elizabeth been correct in her assumption concerning the Hunters of Twilight? All of that information gathered from one small cryptic clue from her visions? Dick smiled. They might make her a detective yet should she ever wake from her coma.

“New rituals? Surely those will take time. Will they be able to spare you from the Chosen’s side for that long?” Questioned the male he had followed. Again Dick frowned at the mention of the Chosen. Had he been wrong in assuming that Elizabeth was the Chosen? Or was this group behind Elizabeth’s attack? Were they already too late?

"That isn’t your concern Brandt! And you wonder why you haven’t been invited into the fold. The Chosen is here as well. Her care is insured.” The third occupant with dark brown bangs snapped. Dick frowned in worry. They had Elizabeth? He would have to rescue her before escaping. Dick cocked his head to the side as he tried to get a better view of the last member of the group. Why did he seemed so familiar?

“Enough Shadoway! You overstep your authority.” Priest Baldwin ordered. Dick raised an eyebrow. Wasn’t Shadoway the last name of one of Tim’s classmates? How manly levels in the city had this group infiltrate? “Your father has been too lenient with you. You seek the head chair but fail to follow the council’s dictates. The withhold kill order with your assassins has been rescinded. Your games are done.” Crap. Were the games what stopped them from killing Tim when they had the chance? Dick wondered. What was the purpose of the games? Dick shook his head. Tim better be careful. This group didn’t seem to like him much.

“You can’t do this!” Shadoway argued. “You’re not of the council!”

“No, but I am the Head Priest. My authority concerning the matters of the Chosen equals that of the leader of the council.” Priest Baldwin countered. Dick checked his surroundings again before returning his attention to the conversation in the room. Why did it feel like he was missing something?

“May I require what these new rituals are?” Brandt asked calmly.

“They will allow us to switch the source of our power.” Baldwin answered. Dick narrowed his eyes in thought. What was their power source and could it be destroyed?

“What?” Brandt and Nick questioned simultaneously.

“We will sacrifice the old Chosen along with the souls of Miss Winter and Mr. Drake-Wayne to summon and bind an old one to their bodies. The remaining essence that had been built up within the old Chosen will be tied to the new vessels allowing us to anchor our power without the chance of the power escaping through an unknown line.” Explained Priest Baldwin. Dick raised another eyebrow. The source was a living being? There was two Chosens, but they didn’t know that Elizabeth was one of them? Dick withheld a snort of disbelief as he shook his head. They wanted to sacrifice his little brother and his girlfriend. The amount trouble Tim managed to stumble upon without trying… And Elizabeth seemed to have the same knack. Would it be too difficult to convince them both to wear tracking devices while they date each other? Dick wondered slightly amused. Their luck seemed to only increase the level of danger and not cancel each other’s luck out.

Brandt turned sharply towards the priest and argued. “We have tried this before. It failed.”

Shadoway snorted. “Only because of the shield.” Again Dick raised an eyebrow. He didn’t believe there were referring to Tim so who was shield in this context?

Brandt shook his head. “The ritual times are off. It won’t take.”

“Which is why we must sacrifice the old Chosen as well,” Priest Baldwin interrupted, “before she fades anymore more or else the rituals will fail, forcing us to lose all our power rather than be set back by mere decades.”

“Is that wise?” Brandt questioned.

Priest Baldwin remained silent for several moments before he answered. “The Chosen’s fading has accelerated. The sacrifices may no longer be enough to sustain her.”

“What? How can this be?” Shadoway demanded.

“We are unsure.” Priest Baldwin replied. “The only conclusion that the council and the priesthood can agree on is that a potential has managed to escape our grasp.” Was that potential Elizabeth? Dick wondered.

Shadoway slammed his hand down onto the table. “That not possible! We monitor the essence; we know which child it chooses to bond with.”

“You’re saying that one escape? Surely not by detention, but that would mean… we were betrayed?” Brandt asked.

“I don’t believe it.” Shadoway snorted as he shook his head. “Long ago the majority of the potentials were killed till the smallest of handfuls were left in our control. In order for a new potential to exist one of the current potentials would have to give birth, thus, freeing a small portion of the dormant essence to bond with newly conceived child. There are no unaccounted births.”

“There was one.” Baldwin countered gravely.

Shadoway glared at the Priest as he questioned darkly. “What?”

Brandt stared at him for several moments. “Surely you don’t mean the Shield and the Chosen’s child. If that had any bearing on the line we would have seen it already.”

“Of course not, you fool.” Shadoway scoffed. “That was thousands of years ago. If the child was a potential we would have found it by now. The line is dead.”

Priest Baldwin shook his head. “That may not be true.”

“What?”

“Many of the Priest and those of the council believe that the new shield may very well be the heir and descendant of the old shield.” Priest Baldwin explained.

“This is the first time I heard of this.” Brandt commented, amused. He glanced towards the door and locked his gaze with Dick’s. “What an interesting theory. It’s also like history is trying to repeat itself.”

Swiftly Dick backed away from the door as Shadoway said flatly, “Now is not the time for your amusement, Brandt.” Had he been spotted? Dick wondered as he quietly pivoted on his right heel and move cautiously down the hallway. He paused a moment to glanced back at the door. But if he had been spotted than why had the alarms not been raised?

(((())))

Who had been helping Collins? How did he know to use a drug cocktail against her which effects had reminded her scarily of the Council’s in her past life? Elizabeth wondered as she stared at the ceiling, pushing through the tiredness that was slowly luring her back to sleep. She frowned, frustrated, with the lack of energy. It was her body way of healing, sure, but for weeks she had an abundant amount of excess energy to the point where it made it difficult to remain still. Several times, she nearly broke her promise to David and patrol anyways just to get rid of the extra energy since training alone wasn’t working.

A number of times already she had cheated on that promise by ‘hunting’ for Red Robin. She had been careful not to involve herself into his cases the few times she had spotted him. She understood that though she could aid in the fights because of her skills, she could easily become a hindrance due to her lack of knowledge of his operation. That was rapidly changing and the weekly hunts throughout Gotham did help curve the excess energy to a tolerable level while allowing her to sharpen her skills. Tim, during his night job, was very difficult to track unseen. But why did all the extra energy disappear now? The drug?

Elizabeth shifted in her bed, frowning as she felt a mild stab of pain pulsing from her upper shoulder. The pain was less than it was a few hours ago. She glimpsed at her bandaged shoulder and down her left arm that used to be littered with dark bruises. The dark blues and blacks had faded to an ugly yellow-green. She bit her lip. Something wasn’t right. She healed fast, but this was too fast. Wasn’t it?

Elizabeth gripped the railing with one her hands and anchored herself onto her right elbow. Slowly she pushed up, and held her position, causing a dull throbbing pain to pulse through her body. She gritted her teeth and finished pulling herself into a sitting position. Again she frowned. Last time she had needed Tim’s help to find a semi comfortable position that was a cross between sitting and laying.

That had only been a few hours ago. Shouldn’t the drug she was injected with have decreased some of her slayer abilities? Yet, if she was right she was healing faster.

She looked towards the door at the sound of footsteps and glared angrily as a tall, partially bald doctor walked into her room while reading the chart in his left hands. She recognized him. Dr. Jameson, the doctor who first suggested that she had schizophrenia. “Don’t bother taking another step into my room. You’re not treating me.”

He looked up in surprise. “You’re awake.”

“Give the man a prize.” Elizabeth replied sarcastically. She crossed her arms carefully over her chest, using her right arm to hide most of her left. “Now, get out!”

“Now, Miss Winters,” Dr. Jameson lectured as he took a couple steps towards her, “you were hurt very badly…”

“No, really?” Elizabeth replied as she raised an eyebrow. “And here I thought I was on a vacation.”

The doctor paused briefly as he glared at her. “I need to do a checkup to ensure your recovery, Miss Winters. There is still a possibility of a relapse, though it is greatly reduced due to your awakening.”

“But it will not be done by you.” She countered.

“I’m your doctor and have been since you were a little girl.” He argued as he shook his head and took another step.

“Not anymore. You’re fired. My doctor is now Dr. Thompkins.”

Dr. Jameson sighed, irritated. “Stop being ridiculous. You’re still a minor. Your parents would’ve informed me of the switch of doctors.”

As he took another step towards her, Elizabeth darkly warned him. “Take another step and I’ll have you sued.”

He scoffed. “Empty threat, Miss Winters, the court would laugh it out and that is if you could find a cheap enough lawyer that would take on the Joker’s daughter as a client.”

She smirked at him. “Already have.”

“Elizabeth?” Jeannie questioned softly from the doorway of her hospital room.

Elizabeth grimaced as she turned her attention away from the doctor to look at her. “Hello Jeannie.”

“Oh thank god.” Jeannie exclaimed as she rushed passed the doctor and gently hugged her daughter. “You’re alright”

Elizabeth gently tugged on Jeannie’s arm. When Jeannie looked down at her she asked. “May I use your phone for a minute?”

“Umm, sure…” Jeannie answered as she pulled out of the hug and handed her cell phone to Elizabeth. “Why?”

“Calling for backup.” Elizabeth replied as she dialed Tim’s number. Her mother had the authority to call the doctor off completely, but Elizabeth wasn’t sure if Joyce would unless she remembered in time about her accelerated healing. With how worried her mother must be it wasn’t a chance she was willing to take. She glanced up at the doctor’s skeptic face as the phone rang. Elizabeth knew she would get Tim’s voicemail with him out rescuing Dick, but the action alone could be used to stall the doctor from examining her until help arrived. If she was right, then Tim had already notified Dr. Thompkins. But if she was lucky, this act alone might be enough to scare him off completely. It was time to discover how fast rumors flew.

“Hello?” Tim answered after the third ring. Elizabeth blinked in shock. Had he already finished rescuing Dick? How much training did he have?

“Miss Elizabeth’s health has yet to be determine, Ma’am.” The doctor countered testily from in front of them.

Jeannie glanced at the doctor in worry. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means, Ma’am, that Miss Winters here refuses to allow herself to be examined or tested to determine what further treatments may be needed to continue her recovery.”

“What?” Jeannie asked in confusion.

“I’m going to need the services…” Elizabeth trailed off as Jeannie demanded her attention.

“Elizabeth!” Jeannie looked at Elizabeth. “Why would?” Jeannie pressed her lips together for a few moments. “This is ridicules.” She turned her attention back to the doctor. “Doctor, you have my permission to examine her and do what is necessary for her health.”

“Excuse me?” Elizabeth questioned coldly, ignoring Tim’s rapid fired questions over the phone. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

“Your mother.” Jeannie stated matter-of-factly as she turned back towards her.

Elizabeth glared at her. “My mother is Joyce Winters.”

Jeannie shook her head. “I gave birth to you!”

“And then walked right out of my life!” Elizabeth argued back, tightly clenching the white hospital blanket with her right hand, angrily, as she desperately tried not to smash the cell phone in her left hand. So many people had abandoned her at one point or another in her past life. Hank. Angel. Giles. It wasn’t surprising that the pattern would continue in her current life. Who would be next? “You had no part in my raising! I never knew you until a few months ago!”

Jeannie took a step back. “I did that to protect you!”

“And that worked oh so well.” Elizabeth replied sarcastically before sighing at Jeannie hurt expression. “Look, I’m glad you tried to protect me from… him, but you didn’t raise me and I don’t know you. Maybe there was another way, maybe not. I don’t care. I’m happy with the family that I have, now. How large of a role you play in that life, I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out one day at a time. It’s not that I’m against getting to know you. Not yet. But I won’t let you make decisions for me. You don’t have that right anymore. Joyce: yes, David: currently, but you: no. You lost that right when you gave me up.”

Jeannie bit her lip. “Elizabeth…” She whispered hoarsely.

“No.” She snapped back. “Maybe later we can talk about this, but not now.” She raised the phone back to her ear. “I still have permission to use the Wayne lawyers, right?”

“Always.” Tim answered. “Liz, what is going on?” After a brief paused Tim continued. “Don’t answer that. It’ll tip your hand. Dr. Thompkins and Alfred should be there soon. They’ll back whatever play you’re going with, but I’ll stay on the line till then in case you need an enforcer.”

“Thanks, but…” Elizabeth started to quietly reply before Tim interrupted.

“Don’t try it, Liz, if you want into this life you got to trust me to be your partner and have your back.”

“Really?” She questioned back with a trace of humor lacing her tone.

There was a long paused over the phone before Tim questioned back. “You’re going twist anything I say to that question, aren’t you?”

Elizabeth smiled. “Maybe.”

Tim snorted. “I just wish…”

Elizabeth eyes widened as she quickly interrupted. “Evil word.”

There was a paused over the phone before Tim question doubtfully. “The word wish is evil?”

“Very.” She confirmed. “So no saying it.” After a brief moment of silence she interrupted Tim as he started speaking again. “And no saying in another langue either.”

“There a story behind this, isn’t there?”

“Yep.” She answered, popping the p.

Dr. Jameson snorted. “That is quite enough of your bluffing, Miss Winters.” He stepped towards
her. “It is important for you to be examined, especially after waking from a coma. There may be others side effects of the attack that can be corrected if caught in time.”

Elizabeth lowered the cell phone slightly from her ear, ignoring Tim’s question on the other side as she glared down at the blankets. “Like schizophrenia?” She questioned in a low, dark tone. She slowly looked up. “I remember you, you know, one of the few things that stick out during that time roughly a year ago. You were one of the doctors that diagnose me with schizophrenia and the loudest one.”

Dr. Jameson raised an eyebrow. “I stand by my diagnoses, Miss Winters. It was the most logical conclusion.”

“Right, logical conclusion…” Elizabeth repeated. “Coma girl just happens to wake up with that even though she showed no previous symptoms.”

He frowned angrily. “Now see here, Miss Winters…”

“Come near me and I’ll have the Wayne lawyers bring up a lawsuit against you.” Elizabeth threatened as the doctor stepped towards her.

“Elizabeth!” Jeannie exclaimed in shock.

“An empty threat at best, Miss Winters.” He replied. “You don’t have that kind of pull.”

“But Mr. Wayne does.” Dr. Leslie Thompkins countered as she barged into the room with Alfred slightly behind her. “Now, get away from my patient.”

He turned towards Dr. Thompkins shocked. “You can’t be serious.”

“I insure you, sir, we are quite serious.” Alfred stated as he passed him and stopped before Elizabeth. “May I, Miss Elizabeth?” He asked as he held his hand out for the phone. Elizabeth nodded and handed the phone over. “Thank you.” He told her before he began talking into the phone. “You were quite correct in your assessment, Master Wayne.”

“Setting the scene for your role, Alfred?” Elizabeth faintly heard Tim asked amused over the phone.

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. Master Wayne? Didn’t Alfred usually call Tim, Master Timothy or young master? She glanced back at the other two doctors facing off in front of her bed. Dr. Jameson’s face was rapidly paling. She glanced at Alfred again. What exactly was Alfred pulling?

“May I suggest, Master Wayne, that you add a suit against Dr. Jameson to the building case of harassment against young Miss Winters?” Alfred paused for several moments.

“Gladly.” Tim replied. “Now excuse me, Alfred, but I’ll need to go to radio silence in the next few minutes.”

“Indeed, I quiet agree with you, sir.” Alfred commented back. “The fondness the young master holds for her show great promise of gaining a new daughter in the family.”

Come again? Elizabeth thought in shock, barely managing to bite her lip in time to prevent the exclamation from leaving her mouth. They hadn’t even gone of their second date yet!

“I’ll tell Dick to hurry up and marry Barbara on your behalf.” Tim replied chuckling.

“Quite possible sir, however, the young Master did place an order for fabric for the young miss outfit. Your hope for grandchildren seems quite possible.” Alfred continued.

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow in amusement as she heard Tim complain faintly through the phone. “You’re going to get me in trouble. This is going to hit the papers by morning and it not my fault that Dick and Barbara keep dancing around the question.”

Elizabeth smiled as she commented “He’ll be in trouble if the coloring is either lime green or hot pink.”

“Enhanced hearing?” Elizabeth heard Tim questioned through the phone before he teased. “Why am I not surprise? But just for doubting my fashion sense, Wendy, expect hot pink.”

Elizabeth snorted. “While we are on a similar subject, he is banned on naming. We’ve already discovered his talents in that regard previously.”

“Grandchildren? Fabric for a dress?” Jeannie repeated slowly as she reached for the chair on her right. “Just how long have you been dating each other?”

“I’m not that bad.” Tim grumbled. During the brief pause, Elizabeth raised an eyebrow in disbelief and barely withheld laughing when Tim questioned disgruntledly. “She has an eyebrow raised, doesn’t she?”

Alfred smiled as he looked towards Elizabeth. “Indeed, Master Wayne, I shall see it done. Have a good evening sir.” Alfred replied before he hanged up the phone and walked to Jeannie, gently handing her the phone back. “Thank you, ma’am, for the use of the phone.

Jeannie gripped his hand desperately, “Is my baby getting married?”

“Not yet miss.” Alfred replied as he softly patted Jeannie’s hand. “But I do believe it is possible for that to change. They are very fond of each other and have been for quite some time.”

“But his previous engagement!” Jeannie argued.

“Nothing more than false rumor.” Alfred countered as he gently helped Jeannie to her feet. “I do believe a good cup of tea would do you some good, miss.”

“But talking about names? Outfits?” Jeannie protested as Alfred helped her to her feet.

“All references to a previous school assignment for their share class of Family Matters.” Alfred explained as he gently encouraged Jeannie towards the door. “They were assigned to take care of an electronic baby together and Miss Elizabeth was less than impressed with some of the young master choices.”

Dr. Jameson took several steps back. “She is dating the son of Bruce Wayne?” He asked, his voice strangely high pitched.

“Yes.” Dr. Tompkins answered with her arms crossed over her chest. “And he does not take kindly to those who mess with his family. I doubt you’ll prove to be an exception.”

“I didn’t do anything.” He argued as he took several more steps back.
Dr. Thompkins raised an eyebrow. “You failed to listen to her when she told you that she didn’t want you to do anything. Without a patient consent you cannot do anything as long she is in conscious stable condition.”

Frantically, he waved his hands. “I was just trying to help.”

Dr. Thompkins remained silent for several moments before she ordered. “Leave.” With a jerky nod, Dr. Jameson fled the room. Dr. Thompkins turned towards Elizabeth with a warm smile as the door closed. “Now let’s find out what we need to heal and what we need to cover up, shall we?”

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “I’ll be happy with just getting out of here.”

Dr. Thompkins shook her head, amused, before grabbing the chart by the foot of the bed and reading through the material. “We’ll see what can be arranged once I have determine whether Tim was correct in his assumption in your accelerated healing.”

“I take it my word alone won’t be enough?” Elizabeth questioned with a slight winced.

“Not remotely.” She replied as she flipped another page before replacing the chart down. “I’m far to use to those who lie to me about their health because they think they are in fine enough to continue their activities.”

Somehow, this was Tim’s fault, Elizabeth decided as Dr. Thompkins checked her stats. Was it too late to throw him back into the doghouse?

(((()))

Dick paused after he climbed the second set of stairs. How many levels did this place have? Had he even managed to get out of the subbasement levels, yet? Dick wondered as he poked his head out of the door. The hallway was empty except for two well-built guards at the end. Dick frowned. That was different. Why would they guard that door and not any of the others?

Dick quietly made his way through the corridor while the guards continued to talk to each other. Were they guarding the kidnapped girls or was this room where the old Chosen was? Dick shrugged as he stopped slightly next to the guards. “I’m looking for some missing girls. They wouldn’t happen to be in there, would they?”
Dick smirked as he dunked the punched from the closest guard, rolled and back kicked the radio out of the hands of the other guard. Once the radio hit the floor, Dick kicked it across the hallway towards the staircase. “Let’s not bring more to the party.”

For several minutes, Dick dodge or parry several different attacks from the two guards before he used the wall as leverage and back-flipped over the attack of the taller guard and slammed his heel into the temple of the second, forcing him to fall to the ground unconscious.

Dick sidestepped the angry punch of the remaining guard and smiled. “You know if you would tell me where the exit is, I would get out of your hair.” He paused briefly as he blocked the next attacked. “Well, after I rescue the person you’re holding hostage.” Dick cocked his head to the side as he studied his opponent. His opponent was scowling with anger and his forms were tensed. “How come I didn’t get a guard?”

The guard pulled a dagger from the sheath on his back and growled. “You’ll be dead.”

Dick winced as the daggered nicked his arm as he dodged the swipe of the dagger. “Ok, I can see where I’m not welcome.” He dunked under the swing and kicked hard at the guard’s kneecapped. “That had to hurt.” He muttered as he heard the bones cracked and the guard yelled in pain as he collapsed onto his other knee.

Dick quickly avoided the next dagger strike and countered with a nerve strike, knocking the last guard out. He glanced around the hallway. Where were the other members of this group? He frowned. It was unlikely for a highly trained group to a have a security that was this bad. Something wasn’t adding up. There should have realized that he was no longer in his room and sounded the alarm. Yet they didn’t. Why?

He shook his head and twisted the door handle, frowning as it refused to budge. Dick swiftly pick open the lock and entered the room. Laying there on a simple cot in the center of the room was a young woman dressed in a simple white robe. He quickly brushed her dark braided hair aside and checked her pulse. It was slow and slightly weak. He frowned as he noticed the shackles that bounded her wrists. Who was this woman? Her appearance didn’t match any of the missing Meta. Could this be the old Chosen that this group spoke of? What were they doing to her?

For several minutes he tried to pick the lock that bound her but it refuse to release. Dick frowned again as he took a closer look at the shackles. Several different runic markings were etched into the metal. Magic was used to bind her. Was it really for the use of a power source? Why? Was this the fate that would await Elizabeth if this group got ahold of her?

A brief sound behind him warned Dick too late as a dart hit the back of his neck. He yanked the dart out while he twisted around sharply to face his attacker. “You’re Brandt.”

“I am.” Brandt confirmed as he placed the gun away in the holster on his back. “The drug is fast
acting, but it won’t kill you.” He took a few steps forward and paused as Dick tense for an attack. “I’ll leave that to others.” Brandt gestured to the woman behind Dick. “I’m sure you have guess, Mr. Grayson, but she is the old chosen, the source to the Hunter’s power.”

“What is your angle in this?” Dick demanded before he closed his eyes and took a deep breath to force the darkness way. Brandt hadn’t been kidding when he said the drug was fast acting. Already he could feel the effects. Dick bit the inside of his cheek. Hoping, the pain would aid him in focusing on the words Brandt was saying.

“If something was to happen to her or her bonds” Brandt continued as he calmly walked around him to the other side of the woman. Damn, Dick mentally cursed as he realized that he had missed bits of the conversation. Dick stumbled as another black out hit him, barely preventing himself from falling to his knees. “Then the majority of their powers would be lost.”

Dick’s vision blurred as he watched Brandt softly traced the woman’s cheeks before taking a container of reddish black substance. Blood? Dick wondered as he forced himself to pay attention to the words Brandt was saying. “They have guarded her. Made sure to keep the potentials controlled and contained. Allowing very few to ….”

The words faded as Dick dropped to his knees. He clenched his hands and glanced up. Dick glared at Brandt as he looked down at him with amusement. Brandt smiled and took a small brush from his pocket and dipped it into the liquid. “The hunter’s understood enough to know that there is power in life and in death.”
What was the purpose of the liquid? Dick wondered as he pushed through another bout of darkness, mentally cursing as he missed more of the dialogue. “Merge the essence of their sacrifices with the Chosen.” Brandt paused as he finished writing runes onto the right cuff. Dick narrowed his eyes in attempt to focus his vision. They weren’t the same as the runes etched into the metal. He shook his head. No, they were, but they were reversed. Why were they reversed? What was their purpose?

“Can you image, Mr. Grayson” Brandt questioned as he looked down at the woman again, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear, “the power that has built up within her, merging constantly…”
Again, Dick shook his head as he tried to push himself off the floor, only to fall harder after raising an inch. He glanced up as Brandt started his runic writing on the other cuff. “…bonded with her at conception. How much power that is after several thousand years? The spells keep her young, healthy, but she remains in constant pain.”

Dick’s eyes widened in horror. They hadn’t switch between chosen before? This woman had been put through torture for how long without end? All that for power… And in all that time no one choose to do anything about it?

Brandt words slowly pierced through the drugged induced haze. “…allows a portion of that power to be wielded by hand-picked members of the guild. It takes some of the burden, the price, of off of her. I doubt it gives her any relief.”

No, he doubted it did. Dick mentally agreed as his arms began to give out on him. He took a couple deep breaths, trying to hold onto consciousness. What was Brandt angle? Was he trying to help this woman in some twisted way or was he helping to keep her trapped?

“After thousands of years, the army is almost complete.” Brandt stated as he capped the container and knelt next to Dick, placing it inside his jean pockets. Was he going to frame him? Seriously?

As Brandt started to raised, Dick grabbed his arm. Brandt shook his head as he continued to talk, waiting for the hold to loosen. “…take down the League. But she is fading and a new Chosen now exist. It’s a situation that has baffled…”

Elizabeth? Dick thought. This was what they wanted her for. They couldn’t let that happen. No one deserved this fate. Would it destroy Tim if he lost her this way?

“…passed down through potentials and marked each with a special seal to prevent the…”Brandt smirked as he pulled out of Dick’s gripped and turned to the other side of the cot. “Except they don’t have all the potentials…”

He was missing way too much of the information because of the black outs this drug was causing him to have, Dick decided, as he watched as Brandt tenderly trace the woman’s jaw again. “They assumed that the first child of the old shield and Chosen…” Who descendant they believed was Tim. Dick thought as the next black out forced him to support himself on his elbows. How does his little brother get into these messes? “…birth, a portion of the dormant essence within finds another newly conceived child and bonds with them. But a child born from an already active Chosen… the essence has already bonded…”

Dick shook his head… Speaking of messes…How did Elizabeth get involved in this? He wondered as Brandt pulled out another container from his pocket. What was he doing now? “…essence are much stronger, at least I believe so. There has only been the one case, after all.” Dick took a deep breath. If those two survive the dating progress, maybe they should think about not having kids. He would hate see what their luck would be.

“The shield knew what fate the council had in….” Brandt continued to ignore Dick presence as he pulled out a small pendent, dripping with the same reddish black liquid he used earlier. “…failed his wife, but their child, he never…” Dick closed his eyes briefly as Brandt gathered the pendent in his right hand. “….researching where the demons had come from. A world…”

“….defeated the demons, at least” Dick shook his head as he forced his eyes opened again. He glanced at Brandt. How did he know all of this history? Both side of the history? Was he the descendant? “…council in that world did not take the paths of one in this world….”

Dick’s head dropped towards his chest as he closed his eyes for a moment. What was he missing? “…left his child in that world so she would remain safe….” Think Grayson! He ordered himself. What were the other pieces they already discovered?

“…from ever being called as the Chosen.” Dick force his eyes opened and watched with blurry vision as Brandt slipped the pendant’s orb into the woman’s mouth. “…possessed a different line of chosen warriors, unlikely to jump lines…”

Different worlds? Dick frowned as he struggled to rise. Didn’t the attack on Elizabeth a year ago throw her mind into another world in some format? He sluggishly shook his head, trying to clear the haze that was filling his mind. It had been a psychological attack, wasn’t it? But what if it wasn’t? “He left his daughter…” What secrets had Tim discover about Elizabeth that he was remaining silent about? “…family with the means to…”
Dick dropped closer to the ground. “…save his wife. A task he failed…” Damn it, focus, he ordered himself, frustrated at fighting the drug effects which were forcing him to continually miss portions of Brandt’s words. This guy knew more details about the shield and the family that he had with this woman than whole assassin’s group. He was sure of it. But how? Family history passed down?

“…done was for nothing. Every time…” Dick bit his check hard; using the small jolt of energy the action caused to look back at Brandt as he gently threaded his hand gently through the stray pieces of the woman’s hair. “…to conquer the world he had managed to sabotage…” The action didn’t fit. The words were too sure. The actions were too affectionate to be a descendant that had infiltrated the guild in order to free or avenge this woman.

“…the shield had managed to smuggle a newborn potential…” Brandt continued his explanation as he left the woman’s side. “…child died within the first year…” As Dick black out again, he started to breath heavier. “.…no other potentials. Which begs the question, how is there a new Chosen?”

Brandt stopped in front of Dick. “…line to shift, allowing the spells loopholes…” Dick clenched his hand again. Brandt reminded him of someone that Tim had told him about. Who? “Before the rituals, the situation…” Brandt talked as though he had lived through the ages, Dick observed. “….linking the old Chosen with the new. The…”
He had just missed something important, didn’t he? Dick wondered as his vision continued to darken. “….connection isn’t a bad thing. It’ll allows me to free her.”

But if he had live through the ages he would have to be immortal, Dick thought as Brandt next words penetrated the fog around his mind. “I’ll have to sacrifice my heir, you, and the new Chosen to achieve it, but it is a worthy cause to die for.”

Heir… The word bounced around in Dick’s mind. He weakly shook his head again as he fell the rest of the way to the floor. “It was not my original intention to sacrifice you, young knight, but your memory will be remembered in honor.” Dick’s eyes snapped up in alarmed as the pieces came together. Young knight… He knew their identities. The connections to the Chosen… Immortal… He was the master mind of the assassin tournaments. He was the person who claimed Tim as his heir. As darkness swallowed him, Dick prayed that Tim would be careful. Things just got a lot more dangerous.

(((()))

Author notes 2 Btw, I put this out here just because the person I bounced ideas off of, flat out asked me… No, Elizabeth/Buffy is not the blood descendent. Have fun with the new clues! Till next time.

-Lady Healer
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