Chapter Six: Connections
There are a few quotes from Batman in this chapter.Author Notes:
I would like to thank alynambered for the recommendation. I would also like to thank everyone again for reviewing. You are all awesome!
We’re getting closer to the ending. If I’m right there should only be three to five chapters left. Scary thing is chapter five and chapter six were originally one chapter before I decided that it was getting too long. :) Forewarning, this has not been checked by a beta yet so please forgive the mistakes I missed. Anyways… Enjoy! Chapter Six: Connections
Would Elizabeth be alright, Red Robin pondered as he switched to radio silence. The pieces of the argument he overheard between her, Jeannie, or the doctor didn’t sound good. He peered through the window as Batman commanded the bat plane to circle once around the warehouse that the tracking signal was coming from. Nothing unusual stood out at the passing glance. It seemed quiet and dark, like it was supposed to since the ‘employees’ of T.H. Inc. had gone home for the night about two hours ago.
Red Robin narrowed his eyes in thought. Could Elizabeth handle the police on her own? It was unlikely that he would be able to get back to her before they came to visit. With her rate of healing…He frowned. Did Elizabeth know how to act? Could she manage without triggering suspicions? Her bruises already appeared to be several days old. He shook his head. Dr. Thompkins and Alfred could help should the matter require it.
“Done flirting, Drake?” Robin demanded while the bat plane landed on the rooftop opposite of their target.
“I wasn’t flirting.” Red Robin argued, glaring at the back of Robin’s head. ‘Mostly.’ He mentally added. “She was in a jammed and I provided assistance.”
“Delusional,” Robin muttered while turning to stared at Red Robin darkly, “if you believe that is the only service you’ve provided.”
Red Robin scowled. “What would you know? You’re what? Eleven now?”
“You’re not the only detective here.” Robin curtly reminded him.
“She’s awake.” Batman commented while climbing out of the plane. “You had confirmed your identity tonight. You should have waited.”
“I’m not going to apologize.” Red Robin replied stiffly as he followed Batman and Robin out of the Bat-plane. “I acted on what I believed was right.”
Batman ignored Red Robin’s last comment while kneeling at the edge of the building. “She’s not joining.”
Red Robin sighed. Trust Bruce to read between the lines as he eavesdropped on a private conversation. “Whether I give her a uniform and training or not, it won’t stop her from following the path.” He countered while he knelt beside Batman’s left side. He would’ve complained about the eavesdropping trait, but he was just as guilty about it. Then again, it never stopped him before…
“Then discourage her from it.” Batman refuted, pulling out a small handheld computer from a side pouch in his belt and scanned the information on the screen. “The signal hasn’t moved in the last few minutes. We’ll need to move quickly.”
He expected the conversation to be over, Red Robin noted, snorting in disbelief. “It shows just how little you know Liz, if you believe discouraging her would work.” He briefly smiled as he recalled the many times Elizabeth had defied him to search for the Joker or the few times he had spotted her following him on his patrols since the Joker had been lock away. Lecturing her didn’t work. Neither did tying her up. He hadn’t found a method that did
work and had a feeling that he never would. “It would only have the opposite effect.”
Red Robin shrugged as Batman glared at him. From the corner of his eyes he spotted Robin smirking at him from Batman’s other side. “Moving on…”
“We’ll discuss this further, later, before any more decisions are made.” Batman firmly stated.
“According to the construction records, when T.H Inc. bought this location they had the building completely reconstruction and had the basement filled in.” Red Robin stated as he ignored Batman’s previous statement.
“Obviously false.” Robin retorted while studying the information on the screen of the handheld computer in Batman’s possession. “The tracker shows that he is far enough below the surface for there to be two or three subbasements.” He glanced at Red Robin. “You used a very specific tracker for your woman. Don’t trust her?”
“Not why I place one on her.” Red Robin corrected, shrugging. “I knew she would go after the Joker, but she kept losing the general trackers that I would place on her.”
“You’re losing your touch.” Robin sneered. “Shameful.”
Red Robin snorted. “Like you would have done better.” He ignored Robin’s grumbled of ‘easily’ and pointed out the cameras on the lamp posts and the two locations on the upper walls by the front and back doors of the building. “Those are the official locations of the security cameras, but since this group loves to embrace their dark side…” He pointed out seven other likely locations among the walls, corners, and roof that other hidden cameras could be along the best route to enter the building.
Batman nodded in agreement. “The staircase was in southwest wing of the original designed.” He slipped the computer back into his belt and pulled out a grappling line while stating. “The current blueprint shows the area was converted into a closet, but the dimensions don’t match up correctly. They were clever in their alterations. You wouldn’t notice anything unless you were aware what to look for. The staircase is still there.”
“Agreed.” Red Robin stated as he pulled out his own grappling line. “The staircase is likely to be wired with a senor. The cameras will be easy to avoid, but once we’re in the sublevels they will know that we’re here.”
Batman gave him a slight, grim smile. “Then we better move fast.” He shot his line and swung from the building, landing quietly on the ground several moments later. Swiftly he made his way across the ground with Robin following closely at his heels.
Catching a shadowy movement out of the corner of his eyes, Red Robin turned around and scanned the area. Nothing. Had he imagined it? He could have sworn that there had been someone watching them. Had their cover already been compromised? Red Robin shook his head and shot his grappling line, quickly catching up with his companions.
Jeannie stared down, miserable, at the barely touched coffee in her hands as she slouched further in her chair in the lobby. She had chosen to remain behind when Alfred decided to return to Elizabeth’s room, beating Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock by several minutes. There was no doubt in her mind that he would be welcomed by her daughter whereas she would not. But why? She had only tried to do what was best for Elizabeth to keep her safe.
“Jeannie?” Joyce called out quietly as she crossed the lobby’s floor with David beside her. “What are you doing out here? Why aren’t you with Elizabeth?”
“She doesn’t want me there.” Jeannie replied, sourly, while she twisted the coffee cup around in her hands.
David blinked in surprise. “What?” He trailed of as Joyce rested a hand on his shoulder and gestured towards the door with her other. Briefly he looked back at her before nodding and continued his way towards Elizabeth’s room. Jeannie snorted in distained. It must be nice to have such a perfect little family. Why was Joyce granted it and not her?
Joyce looked at Jeannie in concern. “What gave you that impression?” Jeannie bit her lip, slightly panicked. Had she said that out loud? She barely withheld a sigh of relief when Joyce continued. “I’m fairly certain she wouldn’t mind you visiting her.”
Jeannie shook her head. “Not with what happened earlier. I think she rather talk to that boy
.” She stressed the last word while glancing up at Joyce and accused angrily. “You called him before me, didn’t you?”
“I did.” Joyce confirmed, resting her hands lightly on her legs.
“Why?” Jeannie demanded, a hurt tone coloring her voice. “I’m her mother!”
“You’re a stranger.” Joyce firmly countered while crossing her arms. “Tim’s not. Elizabeth would’ve wanted him contacted immediately.”
Jeannie glared at her. “She’s my daughter, Joyce. I gave birth to her!”
“You did.” Joyce conceded the point. “It’s the reason why I contacted you at all, but the fact remains that I didn’t have to do even that. You gave up all rights when you signed the adoption papers.”
Jeannie stood abruptly, nearly causing her coffee to spill. “I did that to protect her.”
“And it was the best thing you have done for her.” Joyce agreed, staring at Jeannie with serious brown eyes. “But it doesn’t give you the right to a role in her life that you haven’t partaken in since you’ve gave birth to her.”
“I…” Jeannie started to say before shaking her head in dismay.
Joyce’s eyes softened as she stepped forward, grabbed the coffee cup from Jeannie, placing it on the chair before pulling Jeannie into a hug. “It’s has to be hard for you, but you’ve got to let go of image of the little girl you gave birth to. Elizabeth is no longer her.”
Jeannie briefly struggled, weakly, but Joyce held her firm. “But…”
“No, Jeannie.” Joyce interrupted as she stepped back. “If you want any part of Elizabeth’s life, then you have to accept that I am her mother and always will be.”
Jeannie angrily glared at Joyce. “You would…”
“I never have and still wouldn’t.” Joyce sharply interrupted again. “You gave me the most precious person in my life. I chose to write to you about her and sent the pictures of her growing up at your request, because I would have wanted the same thing had our roles been reversed.” Joyce took a step towards her, reaching towards Jeannie’s tear streak face and stepped back as Jeannie waved her off.
“She won’t let me help her…” Jeannie bit her lip briefly while wiping the tears from her face. “I love her. I may not have been a part of her life, but I love her and she won’t let me take care of her when it’s finally in my ability to do so.”
“Elizabeth guards her heart.” Joyce explained, gesturing for Jeannie to reclaim her seat before taking the next chair. “I doubt she even realizes that she does. Regardless, there are a few that manages to slip past those barriers. To that end, they are the ones she will lean on when she is hurting and the ones most able to hurt her.”
“You’re one of them.” Jeannie stated flatly.
Joyce chuckled as she raised an eyebrow. “I wasn’t always.”
Jeannie’s eyes widened in shock. “What?”
“I made my fair share of mistakes with her.” Joyce smiled while staring at the wall lost in thought. “There were more than a few occasions that I didn’t know what the Hell I was doing or if I was even handling it correctly.” Joyce lightly winced. “I know there were times neither of us reacted well and we did hurt each other.”
“I never heard about any of this.” Jeannie accused.
Joyce snorted. “Nor will you.”
“But…” Jeannie began to argue.
“The matter is between Elizabeth and me.” Joyce interrupted. “The only reason I even mentioned it was to help you realized that, yes, you might have messed up and overstepped your bounds with Elizabeth, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance in developing a relationship with her.”
Jeannie briefly opened her mouth to protest before she closed it at the reproachful look in Joyce’s eyes. She stared down at her hands nervously picking at her sleeve for several moments before glancing back up. “You think so?”
Joyce placed a hand on top Jeannie’s. “I know so, but you got to remember that Elizabeth has her own mind and will not let anyone else run her life.” Joyce paused momentarily with a frown. “Not anymore. She will follow the path she believes in and damn the consequences.”
Jeannie raised an eyebrow. “You let her?”
Joyce shook her head, chuckling. “It’s not a matter of letting as it is about trusting.” She stood, holding out a hand to Jeannie. “Elizabeth is nearly a legal adult and more than capable of handling herself. I’ll always worry and do my best to be there for her, but I also have to remember to step back and trust her to know how to make her own way in life.”
Jeannie looked down at the ground for several seconds. “Do you really think she’ll give me another chance?”
Joyce smiled. “No time like the present to find out.”
Jeannie nodded and began to stand when she froze. “I forgot!” She exclaimed while digging through her pocket and pulling out the pendant that she was given earlier by Brandt Diethelm. She held it out towards Joyce. “Do you think she would like it?”
Joyce gasped lightly as she studied the pendant. “I’m sure she’ll love it. That had to be expensive.”
Jeannie smiled as she looped her arm through Joyce’s. “Funny you should mention that… It a bit of an interesting story on how I got it…”
“You didn’t steal it, did you?” Joyce teased as they walked through the corridors towards Elizabeth’s room.
“Joyce!” Jeannie exclaimed in shock before she groaned. “You are never going to let that go, are you? Once! I shoplifted once when we were teens!”
“And got busted.” Joyce countered with a smirk.
“Only because you made me returned them.” Jeannie muttered before halting as a thought hit her. “On second thought… Thank you, for raising my daughter. You always did have the better moral compass.”
Joyce shook her head. “You’re welcome, but you would have been fine.”
“Not so sure on that…” Jeannie countered. “I still need you to set me straight sometimes… If I hadn’t talk to you about Jack when I was pregnant… I would hate to discover what would have happened otherwise.”
Joyce frowned slightly before she nudged Jeannie to continue walking. “Enough of these depressing thoughts! Let us find out if Elizabeth likes her new necklace.”
Robin briefly glanced down at the unconscious assassin as he stepped over him to trail after his companions towards the exit of the second sublevel basement. Drake had been right. The moment they opened the basement door an alarmed had been triggered. Three alarms to be precise, they had managed to disarm the previous five. Robin sneered. This group was a paranoid lot.
Their masters had to be seething, Robin thought while stepping on the next ninja in his path. He scowled at Red Robin’s look of disapproval. Since entering the basement sublevels they had encountered over three dozen cannon-fodder ninjas. It was insulting. Where were the master minds? Where were the one responsible for taking Grayson? It couldn’t be these lackeys.
“Get ready.” Red Robin muttered as he gripped the exit handle. “This is where the fun starts.”
They were finally on the level that Grayson’s tracker stated he was on. “I was born ready, unlike you.” Robin scoffed as he ignored Red Robin’s frown and small shaking his head in exasperation. He fingered his sword briefly before lowering his hand. Not yet. They were not done with the lackeys.
Red Robin glanced at Batman as he tightened his gripped on the handle. At Batman’s nod he twisted the handle and yanked the door opened while he side-stepping out of the opening. Robin dunked as three throwing stars sailed through the doorway towards them, causing them to impale in the wall behind him. A quick glimpsed into the corridor before him showed dozen of ninjas waiting for them. He snorted. They should have sent a few dozen more if they wanted to stop them from rescuing Grayson.
He rushed after Batman to engaged fighting with the enemy. From the corner of his eye he spotted Red Robin guarding his left flank as he dodge a knife thrust. At the click of a gun, Robin rolled towards his left, ensuring he kept the cannon-fodder between him and gunman at the opposite end of the hallway.
Robin twisted around as he regained his footing and started a back-kicked to counter his previous opponent when Red Robin’s Bo staff slammed across the assassin’s head. “That was my opponent!” He snarled as he shifted his weight and kicked the legs out from underneath the next ninja before punching him unconscious. “Get your own!” Robin ordered while scanning the surrounding area. Half of their opponents were down. Batman was making his way back towards them. The gunman laid unmoving on the floor behind him.
“Then keep up.” Red Robin countered as he side stepped his opponent’s attack before smashing his fist into the ninja’s face. “I’m running out of assassins to pick from.”
Robin scowled as he threw one of his shuriken at the second gunman who was aiming at Batman. “I have been taking down five lackeys to every three that you managed to subdue.” He smirked while Batman knocked the gunman unconscious before slamming a back kick into the ninja’s stomach that was trying to rush him from behind. Robin quickly twisted and took the winded opponent down with a nerve strike. “So remind me, who is failing to keep up?”
Red Robin slammed his Bo staff into the stomach of the last opponent before knocking him out with a blow to the head. “You realize that Batman get an average of four opponents each time a dozen hits us, don’t you? Are you really going to suggest that he
is not keeping up?”
“Hardly.” Robin crossed his arms while they walked further down the corridor towards Batman’s position. “The cannon-fodder are not completely brainless despite first impressions. They obviously view him, correctly, as the larger threat and sought out easier targets.”
Red Robin chuckled. “So they viewed you as our cannon-fodder.” Robin glared at him, clenching his right hand in frustrated anger as Red Robin shrugged. “They did target you the most. And here I thought they had a death order on me.” Robin clenched his hand tighter. He must not strangle his father’s charity case. But how it was tempting…
“You’re plotting my death again, aren’t you?” Red Robin questioned as they picked up their pace to a run when they joined Batman at the corner.
“I need some entertainment.” Robin smirked. “Otherwise your presence would hardly count as a challenge.”
“It’s called going easy on you.” Red Robin snorted. “If you would recall, the moment I started trying, you lost.”
Robin scowled while they turned another corner. “You wish.”
“Boys…” Batman growled as they made their way towards the crossway before them. “Focus.”
“We are.” They countered in unison before glaring at each other again.
“Help!” Screamed a panic filled female voice from the left corridor. “Someone! Anyone! Please! He’s going to kill me!”
They stopped abruptly in the middle of the crossway and Robin looked briefly down the left hallway in the direction of the yell. He frowned. The cry of help came from the opposite direction of where Grayson was being held. He wanted to push onto the right, towards Grayson. He could be in serious danger. He glanced briefly at his companions. Red Robin was frowning while he edged towards the left.
Robin clenched his left hand. They wouldn’t abandon this girl. He frowned. Nor could he, but they couldn’t afford to pause in their rescue of Grayson either. “I’ll go.”
Batman shook his head. “It’s likely to be a trap.”
Robin glared at him. They still wouldn’t trust his judgments. “Or it could be one of the kidnapped girls. We cannot afford to bypass this opportunity to spare them the pain of being tortured to death.”
Red Robin took a step towards him. “He’s right.” Robin glanced sharply at him. Did he just agree with him against father? He snorted. It wouldn’t last, he decided as Red Robin continued. “Dick wouldn’t want us to forsake them in order to rescue him. I’ll go with Robin to rescue the girls, you can continue on to rescue Dick.”
“I don’t need a babysitter.” Robin reminded them with a scowl. Red Robin couldn’t be allowed to divert from the previous mission. Loathe as he was to admit it, Father and Grayson needed Red Robin more in this situation than him and Drake still needed to complete his second mission. He wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task if he helped the girl and he couldn’t fulfill it in Red Robin’s stead. He would rather die before he ever told him that. “Grayson is likely to be more heavily guarded and needs rescuing sooner or do you not believe your own woman’s visions? She predicted his death not mine.”
“I doubt it’s that simple.” Red Robin sighed while he glared back at him, annoyed. “Regardless, this group is highly skilled and extremely dangerous…”
“Do not credit me with same lack of skills as you.” Robin interrupted while he crossed his arms. “You were pathetic enough to nearly be killed by them. That will not occur with me.”
“And Dick?” Red Robin questioned quietly.
Robin hesitated before scowling again. “Grayson was exhausted and taken by surprise. That’s all. Otherwise he’s a decent enough fighter to survive an encounter with this trash.”
“It’s still dangerous.” Red Robin cautioned.
Robin spun on his heel and marched down the left corridor. “No more than Grandfather’s guild.”
As Robin continued to swiftly make his way down the hallway he heard Red Robin questioned Batman. “You’re allowing him to do this?”
“He’s right.” Batman replied quietly and Robin had to strain to hear his father’s next words. “He made the right call.” Robin smiled briefly in pride. Maybe, just maybe, his father was finally seeing him for he is and wanted to be.
Elizabeth glanced down at her left arm, tugging lightly at the bandage that Dr. Thompkins had wrapped around it twenty minutes ago to hide the rapidly healing bruises. It wouldn’t be until tomorrow morning when she would be allowed to be release from the hospital. Elizabeth frowned. It left her pretending that she was more wounded than she was. That wasn’t going to be easy—she still suck at undercover work.
Elizabeth sighed while she leaned back against the pillows with a sigh. What was she going to do? If she started to investigate any part of this mess, particularly her own shooting, she would end up breaking her promise to David. Ignoring the situation wasn’t an option, not when she was in the middle of it whether she liked it or not. Elizabeth frowned. She was going to have to resort to lying again, wasn’t she? She hated that.
The door creaked and she glanced up sharply as Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock entered the room. Elizabeth looked up at the ceiling as she barely withheld a groan. “It’s just going to be one of those days, isn’t it?” Apparently, Alfred hadn’t been kidding when he had informed her that the police would soon visit her. She sighed. “Is there something I can help you officers with?”
Commissioner Gordon paused slightly inside the doorframe. “We would like to ask you a few questions if you are up to it, Miss Winters.”
Elizabeth studied the two men standing in her hospital room. They seemed oddly layback, each of them standing by the door with their hands in their pockets. It contrasted with the intensity she saw in their eyes. She bit her lip. She had very few encounters with cops that she like, namely, one, but she didn’t see anger or disgust in their body langue. It gave her hope. “Does the commissioner always make house calls?”
“We’re a little short-handed at the moment.” He replied calmly.
She raised an eyebrow. “Not too many people willing to deal with a brat who happens to share blood with a nutcase?”
“I got plenty of volunteers.” Commissioner Gordon countered while taking several steps into the room with the detective closely following him and paused by the chair near her bed. “Turns out I needed them for other reasons.” He shrugged. “It worked out in the end. I have my best guarding the room. Some of them even volunteered for an extra shift or two. I figured about the only way short of ordering them to take some down time was to do some of the legwork myself.” He gestured to the chair. “May I?”
Translation: He didn’t trust several of his cops to not hurt or kill her and thus found things for them to do. Peachy. “Feel free.” Elizabeth muttered before she sighed. How naïve did he believed her to be? She turned her head towards him and raised an eyebrow. “What’s the what?”
Commissioner Gordon blinked in surprise confusion before he chuckled, amused. “That is a new one.”
Elizabeth smiled slightly while she reached down to pushed herself into a more comfortable position before she froze, wincing, as she recalled that she had be unable to do so originally when Tim had visited her the first time. How did Tim do this?
Commissioner Gordon quickly rose from his chair. “Are you all right?” He asked in concern.
Crap. He was observant. “I’m fine.” She replied with a grimace. “I just wanted to find a more comfortable sitting position and got reminded fairly quickly of why that not such a good idea.”
“Here kid.” Detective Bullock commented as he walked to the left side of the bed. “Let us help.” Gently the detective and the commissioner slipped a hand behind her back. “Which way?”
How should she play this? Elizabeth bit her lip briefly. She could easily shift her weight now even though she still felt the tinges of pain shooting through her left side. But she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that without a lot of pain. “Right.” She replied. “Maybe an inch or two, I think.”
They nodded as they help her shift a little towards the right and she pursed her lips together tightly with her head bowed a little. Keep it simple and stay calm, she ordered herself. Don’t over react. That would be more suspicious, right? Moments later, Detective Bullock removed his support and rearranged the pillows. “Better?”
Elizabeth nodded and gave him a slight smile as Commissioner Gordon reclaimed his seat. “Thanks.”
Detective Bullock fiddled with his tie briefly. “Don’t mention it. It the least I could do for David’s kid.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow as she teased, “You mean since you skip out on babysitting me when I was twelve?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Detective Bullock denied.
“I think I might be willing to pay to watch Harvey babysit anyone.” Commissioner Gordon chuckled, ignoring the dark look Detective Bullock sent in his direction while he focused his attention back to Elizabeth. “Are you ready to answer some questions?”
Elizabeth sighed. “Might as well get it over with.”
Commissioner Gordon nodded. “What do you remember about the attack?”
She stared at him for several moments before sighing and glancing down at her hands. “I was walking home from Tim’s…”
“Tim Drake?” Detective Bullock interrupted, frowning.
“Yes.” She confirmed slowly while glancing at Detective Bullock oddly. What did Tim do now? “We had a breakfast date, though it kind of got overrun by his brothers.” Elizabeth bit her lip, frustrated, as she barely prevented herself from shrugging. Seriously, how did Tim manage pretend he was wounded so well when he wasn’t hurt at all? “Bit of a letdown, but it was fun teasing Tim and his brother Damian on their ‘brotherly bonding.”
Detective Bullock frowned. “He didn’t walk you home?”
Where was the detective going with this, Elizabeth wondered as she narrowed her eyes. “Tim wanted to, but I turned him down.” Was Tim a suspect? How did he manage that?
“Go on, Miss Winters.” Commissioner Gordon encouraged while he gave Detective Bullock a looked that stated ‘enough’ as the detective opened his mouth to argue.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at the detective for a moment before she continued. “Anyways, after a while I noticed Collin was following me and darted into the next alley…” Elizabeth paused as she noticed the share glance between the officers. “What is it?”
“Collin Hunter was found dead earlier today.” Commissioner Gordon quietly replied. “The currant evidence suggests that he killed himself after attacking you.”
“What?” Elizabeth questioned as she stared at them in shock. Why had Tim not mentioned this? He was so landing himself inside the doghouse. “No…” She shook her head. “There is no way. He wanted me dead. He even had another’s help.”
“Wait a minute kid.” Detective Bullock interrupted. “There was a partner? You’re sure?”
Elizabeth glared at him. “Positive. Collin no longer had the gun when I was shot.”
Commissioner Gordon leaned forward. “Did you recognize him?”
Elizabeth shook her head and briefly clenched her hands. “No.”
Commissioner Gordon gently patted her right hand. “Take it easy. Don’t try to force the memory. Just take us through the event. Let it come to you.”
Elizabeth gave a small smile before taking a deep breath. “I heard the gunshot go off behind me…” She looked down at the blanket. “I had push Collin aside and threw myself into a roll. I wasn’t sure about the bullet’s aim, just figure lower was better…”
Elizabeth faded off as she started to lose herself inside her memory. She had seen the second shot coming while she came out of the roll. She threw herself to the side. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could continue to dodge bullets. It wasn’t exactly what she was trained for.
Out of the corner of her eye she had spotted Collin rising from where she had shoved him to. He glared at her angrily while he wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth. Smirking at her, he leaned against the wall. “You’re dead bitch.”
She shook her head, annoyed. They just never get the hint. She heard a slight click sound towards to her left and quickly moved a few feet to her right. A small dart sailed past her and she raised her right hand to catch the second dart aimed at her chest. Why did they change ammo?
Gas exploded out of the dart’s tip seconds later causing her to cough heavily as her eyes watered. Her vision blurred. Unable to make out her surroundings, Elizabeth forced her eyes to close and focused on controlling her breathing trying to hear where the next attack was coming from.
Again she heard the click sound, this time from her right. She rolled and faintly heard something go over her head at the same time as something imbedded in her neck. Damn, she mentally cursed while she yanked the needle out of her neck.
A few moments later she stumbled, trying to back out the alley’s opening. Her strength was fading fast. What had been in that dart? The sounds around her were muffled, almost like she was hearing it from underwater. She shook her head. It reminded her somewhat of the council drug only more potent and quicker acting.
She heard another shot go off and screamed as it tore through her collarbone. She collapsed to the ground. This couldn’t be it… She wasn’t ready… She forced her eyes opened and blurrily saw Collin grinning down at her. “I told you, you were going to die.” Collin raised his foot and she tried to lift her arms up to defend herself. They were too heavy. Barely, she managed to turn her face away and briefly spotted the partner as he went around the alley and collected the fallen darts and the last bullet while Collin brought his foot down again and again on her chest and arms.
She bit her lip hard to prevent the screams from leaving her lips, tasting the blood that was pooling into her mouth from the cut her teeth had made on her lip. Someone, please help her… Tim… Blackness started to creep around the edges of her vision as the partner ordered, “Enough Collin.”
“I’ll say when it is enough.” Collin snapped back and slammed the heel of his boot onto the bullet wound. She screamed and clenched her eyes shut.
“Not unless you want to be caught by the cops or leave evidence to her murder that point directly to you.” The partner countered. ”Now get up that ladder, go across the roof and down the other ladder. Wait for me at your apartment.”
Collin scoffed. “Why should I listen to you?”
“Because, I’ll be the only one preventing you from going to jail.” The partner countered. Elizabeth forced her eyes open and watched as the blurry form of the partner bent down while Collin started to climb the ladder. She stared at his hair while he filled a small container with her blood before gently wiping the blood from her face and neck. Was it blond or brown? Should it even matter? But they would need to know this if they were to find him again… if she lived… Please let her live. She didn’t want to die.
Why was he doing this? “Don’t worry, young chosen.” He told her softly and her eyes widened in alarm. “You will not die this day.” As he pocketed the container her world fell to darkness. The last thing she saw was him pulling out a cell phone.
“Elizabeth!” David voice cut threw her memory and she snapped her eyes open to look at him in shock. What was David doing on her bed? Why were his hands on her shoulders? “Snap out of it!”
“David?” She questioned hoarsely. She frowned as a tear drop landed on her hand. Slowly she raised her hand and wiped the rest of the tears from her face. “What?” She shook her head. “What are you doing here?” Did she say anything that she didn’t want revealed?
“I came to visit you, sweetheart.” He sighed in relief and gently pulled her into a hug. “You gave us a quite a scar.”
As David pulled back from the hug she spotted Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock standing behind him, looking at her with concern. “Are you all right, Miss Winters?” The commissioner asked.
Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Yeah.” She gripped the blankets tightly when she noticed her hands were still shaking. She frowned. Why was she reacting like this? This wasn’t the first time she came close to death. Hell, she had already died twice. “Bad memory.”
“I understand.” Commissioner Gordon commented. He paused a moment. “Would you like to continue this at another time?”
Did she? Elizabeth tightened her grip on the blankets and looked up into the commissioner’s kind eyes. “No. Let’s get this over with.”
Red Robin dunked as the assassin rushed at him with a hard punch. It had been roughly twenty minutes ago when they had split ways with Robin. He quickly twisted on his heel and slammed his own punched into his opponent jaw, sending him to the floor unconscious. It felt like hours ago. He winced as the ninja on his left landed a glancing blow to his ribs. He blocked the next attacked before countering with a high kick. Scary thing was he wasn’t sure who he should be more concerned about, Robin or the lackeys that were going to run into Robin. Was it wrong to be more concern about the lackeys? They really didn’t know what they were dealing with.
Red Robin grimaced as the ninja on his right landed a hard blow to his shoulder, forcing him to stumble a few steps back. That was going to bruise, he thought as he scanned the ninja’s appeal for the strange orb-like pendant that a tenth of the enemy possessed since they had entered the compound. He smiled briefly as he noted the surrounding ninja lacked the accessory.
The enemy seemed to be divided into two classes. He blocked the sword strike from his left with his Bo staff while he back-kicking the opponent trying to sneak attack him from behind. The lower class or the cannon-fodder, were the assassins without the pedants. Like Ra’s own cannon-fodder, they were numerous but weak. Red Robin slammed his Bo staff into the stomach of his opponent on his left and quickly followed up with smashing the other end of his staff over his head. The second group possessed the orb pendant. They had faster reflexes and hit as hard, if not harder, than Bane or Killer Croc. It seemed to be composed of mostly females. It gave a new meaning to hitting like a girl
, then again, so did several of his teammates from the Teen Titans.
Red Robin turned sharply on his right heel at the sound of a gun being reloaded and cocked. The gunman in the latest batch of opponents was pointed the gun straight at him and had a clear shot. Move! He ordered himself as he threw himself into a roll towards the left. Two bullets sailed overhead, impacting two of the assassins behind him, their bodies falling to the floor unmoving. Apparently, sharpshooter want-to-be got tired of missing Batman and decided to go bird hunting instead. Just what he needed…
He side-stepped the ninja rushing him from behind and quickly shifted his position to place his opponent in the gunman’s line of sight. He smirked lightly as the shooter growled of frustration. Red Robin pulled a birdarang from his belt while glimpsing at the assassins that had fell to the previous shots. The closest was already dead due to a bullet to the upper chest, but the other was shot in the lower torso and was still alive. Barely. He frowned. Unless the ninja received medical attention soon he would die. He shook his head. Nothing he could do.
Red Robin bashed his staff over the head of the ninja before him and started to twist his wrist in preparation to throw the birdarang when he paused, spotting the Batarang sailing through the air from the other side and impaling into the shooter’s hand. The gunman cursed as he dropped his gun and spun around just in time to accept a hard punch in the face by Batman.
“Go!” Batman ordered as he dodged a knife thrust from the assassin on his right. “I have this.”
Red Robin nodded before he roughly pushed through the door on his right side. Quickly, he slammed his staff into the guard standing inside the room by the door’s left side. The first scanned of the room showed two assassins standing in the middle of the room, one male, the other female. The redheaded woman twisted sharply on her heel to face him. He bit back a groan upon spotting the orb pendant around her neck. This wasn’t going to be pleasant.
His eyes widened momentarily in surprised as he spotted Nick Shadoway standing in front of a bound Dick with a sword held at his neck in his left hand. How long had Shadoway been part of this group? Red Robin frowned while tightening his grip on the birdarang in his right hand. Shadoway’s background check hadn’t raised any suspicion the first time he glanced through it when he had searched for other possible problems aimed at Elizabeth during the Joker situation. Apparently, he should have dug deeper.
"I'll spare him..." Nick stated while turning partially towards him, "if you give me the identity and the location of the Chosen."
Liz... What exactly did this group had plan for her? Red Robin thought worriedly as he glared darkly at Nick. Neither choice was an option. He wouldn’t give up Elizabeth for Dick any more than he would sacrifice Dick for Elizabeth. He looked past Nick to study Dick. His wrists were cuffed to the wall and his chin was resting against his chest. Except for the swallow cut on his neck caused by Nick's sword there were no obvious wounds. Hopefully, there were no serious injuries he wasn't seeing.
"I'm to trust your word when you failed to honor it before?" Red Robin scoffed, playing for time as he studied his surrounding again. The two assassins in the middle of the room had split directions, likely trying to corner him with a pincher maneuver. Good overall tactic if your opponent is dumb enough to get caught. Why did the villains always seemed to believe that placing a member of the Bat Clan between a rock and a hard place was smart?
Nick frowned. "I’ve never gave my word to you before."
"Were you not the one who ordered the lackeys to deliver a threat to me?" Red Robin questioned as he scanned the room again. The two approaching assassins were only five feet away from him. Nick and Dick were twice the distance. He tightened his grip on his birdarang. It was possible he could force Nick to drop the sword before he managed to kill Dick. It was a high gamble with a three percent success rate. “Deliver the Chosen or a person would die after twenty-four hours. Then again.… Perhaps I’m just speaking to another lackey, which could make your word just as worthless."
The move would buy him at most fifteen seconds. Red Robin glanced to his right; the red-headed woman was three feet away. The orb signified that she was likely at high skill with the strength that could easy rival eight times the average human with reflexes three times faster. She would likely intercept him in ten seconds. Red Robin studied the male assassin to his left. The dark haired ninja took his signals from the woman and lacked the orb pendant, likely due to being of lower rank. It would take the male assassin twenty seconds to intercept him if he chose to act. It left him plenty of time to find another delaying tactic if required. But if he engaged the woman before Dick was free or received backup then Dick’s life would be forfeit. He needed another opening.
“Wait.” Nick ordered the assassins and they stopped in their approach. “I will hear him out, for now.” He glared angrily at Red Robin. “It was I who gave the order. I’m no one’s lackey.”
Red Robin suppressed a smirk. Nick Shadoway had a high level of pride. It gave him a new angle to play. “Eileen Haris died within seven hours of the threat. Your word is worthless. I’m surprised your assassins are willing to follow one such as you. When are you planning of stabbing them in the back? ”
“Don’t try to twist the situation. It won’t work.” Nick spat. “That girl had been in our clutches for weeks, Shield. Your failings must eat you.”
“This coming from an over glorified scout.” Red Robin snorted as he scanned the room again for other options and froze as he spotted Dick’s hands slowly struggling with the cuffs. How long had he been awake?
Nick scowled. “You’re not worth the effort of breaking. Kill…”
“Nick Shadoway,” Red Robin interrupted, smirking at his shock expression, “transferred from Cleveland Height High School a year ago where two of the students, Emily Johnson and Robert Nelson, were sacrificed four year previous by the Hunters of Twilight.” He was going to have to thank Liz for the case information after this was over. He glanced behind Nick and briefly watched as Dick slowly slipped his hand out of the cuff after dislocating his thumb.
“Impossible.” Nick whispered and Red Robin winced faintly as he pushed the sword harder against Dick’s neck, causing a fresh blood trail to flow from the cut. “The tracks were too well covered. The letters have yet to be delivered to the new sacrifices … there is no way you should have been able to connect the pieces...”
“I know more than you could image.” Red Robin replied while Dick slipped his other hand free. He shrugged while switching out his regular birdarang for one of his special designed versions. “I knew to come here, didn’t I?”
Nick glared. “You won’t save…”
Nick cut off breathlessly as Dick kicked him hard in the stomach. “Why do bad guys always feel the need to monologue?” He muttered while stumbling back to use the wall for support.
Red Robin threw the specialized birdarang, or gooperang as Batgirl would call it, at Nick hitting him hard in the sword arm. Nick cursed, grabbing the gooperang moments before green goo like substance exploded from it and wrapped around him.
Quickly, Red Robin dodged the first attack from the female ninja while he kicked the second assassin hard in the stomach. The red-headed woman paused in her second assault and cocked her head to the side as she studied him. She smiled. “You might be as much fun as him…” With a smirk she threw two throwing stars at Dick’s chest, “If a little less irritating.”
“Everyone a critic.” Dick muttered as he threw himself to the floor, causing the stars to impale into the wall behind him. “You’re a little too fond of those. Sure we can talk it out?”
“I could think of something better.” She countered as she kicked at Red Robin’s shoulder.
“Happily taken! I told you this already! I don’t want to be put into the dog house.” Dick fired back as he knocked Nick unconscious. Glancing up he yelled. “Behind you Red Robin!”
Red Robin twisted his left wrist and slammed the Bo staff behind him into the lower torso of his opponent while he dunked the kick aimed at him. “Too late for that!” He commented while he quickly balanced on his hands and smashed both his feet into the mid-section of the female assassin.
He reached into his belt and grabbed the last gooperang and threw it at the woman and cursed as she dodged it. He rolled to his right while she rushed him with another attack. He smirked briefly as he spotted Dick catching the gooperang, twisted his wrist sharply, and sent it back flying towards the woman. The gooperang exploded moments away from her back, causing the green goo like substance to wrap around her and force her to fall to the floor.
Red Robin winced as the male assassin landed a blow to his ribs. He really wasn’t sure how much more abuse his ribs could handle tonight before they cracked or broke. As he dodged the next attack he flicked a small pellet from his left belt pouch towards the woman. Moments later, a powerful sleeping gas released from the pellet and knocked the woman unconscious.
Twisting around Red Robin blocked his opponent next attack with his Bo staff and quickly swept his feet from underneath him before following up with a nerve strike to take him out. He glanced up towards Dick and glared lightly as he watched Batman help Dick up to his feet. “You could have helped.”
“You had everything well in hand.” Batman countered.
He shook his head while he met them on the other side of the room. It was going be one of the nights. He caught Dick as he stumbled and asked in concern. “Are you alright?”
“Dandy, just drugged.” Dick replied as he continued to walk towards the room exit.
“Will you be alright on your own?” Red Robin questioned as he aided Dick across the room while Batman quietly gliding past them and peered out the door.
“It’s clear. We need to move.” Batman ordered before slipping out of the room.
“Right behind you, boss.” Dick stated before he raised an eyebrow at Red Robin. “Got somewhere you need to be?”
“In a matter of speaking…” He replied as they stopped by the door. “Oracle did assigned bit of a task to be completed after rescuing your hide.”
Dick snorted. “Something tells me that you plan at least half of that task.”
Red Robin shrugged while he smirked. “It might have gone down that way before she hijacked it.”
Dick chuckled. “That’s my girl.” He glanced at Red Robin from the corner of his eyes. “Got a plan?”
“Always.” He answered with a smirk. With his left hand he unclipped a small black bag from beneath his cape and handed it to Dick. “Figured you would want this.”
Dick peaked inside the bag before looking back at Red Robin with a small grin. “My favorite kind of present. The cameras?”
“Have already taken out by an e-m pulse.”
Dick gripped the bag harder as he shrugged Red Robin off. “Go.” He ordered as he stumbled for a few steps. “No.” Dick commanded as Red Robin reached for him again. He took a deep breath and straightened his posture while he reached into the bag. “I’m fine. Now go! We can’t afford to stay here much longer. Get your task done while you can!” Quickly he started to change into his Nightwing uniform. After he placed the mask on he glanced at Red Robin who had paused at his side again. “Seriously, mother-henning is not your style.” Dick gestured at Batman when he stepped back into the doorway with his arms crossed. “I already got the secret expert at it watching me like a hawk. Now go get your task done so we can get back to our girls. I rather not dig myself further into the doghouse, thanks.”
Red Robin snorted as he swiftly made his way to the door. “Good luck there.” He paused briefly by the doorframe and ignored Batman’s frown as he smiled back at Dick. “She woke up.”
Nightwing smiled back. “Good! I owe her a thank you!”
The room was dark and bare, Robin noted as he quietly entered the room. There were only two other occupants, a young girl with dirty chestnut hair and a tall sandy-brown male around in late thirties if he wasn’t mistaken. The girl, Safia Morgan if Drake’s profiles were correct, looked up at him with wide frightened eyes while she crept down the room, against the wall from the man. “Please,” she mouthed, “help me!”
“This is not your concern, child. Her life has already been forfeited.” The man stated without turning around. “Leave while you can.” He stepped towards her, raising the sword in his right hand.
Robin threw one of his shuriken while he entered deeper into the room. He frowned as the man side-step out of the way of the weapon at the last moment. The man sighed, turning towards him. “You don’t know what you are getting yourself involved with. Don’t make your death a necessary sacrifice as well.”
Robin scowled as he unsheathed his sword. “I won’t let you harm her.”
“The damage has already been done.” The man shrugged. “I was only intending to make her passing a quick and fairly painless one compared to the one that awaits her.”
“At the risk of upsetting your masters?” Robin mocked as he pulled Morgan behind him.
The man smirked at him. “They care not for these girls. Whether they die now or later matters not.” He glanced over Robin’s shoulder and studied the girl. “But I owe her ancestor a debt. I was unable to prevent neither her capture nor her death, but I will ensure that her passing is quick.”
“I’ll stop you.” Robin hissed as he lashed out with his sword towards the man’s neck.
The man blocked with his own sword while he shook his head. “You’re a few centuries too young to succeed in that.” He calmly blocked another attack. “Nor do you have the mind of your brethren that would allow you predict my plans and set out to counter my actions in advance.”
“You’re deluded.” Robin growled as he continued to press his assault. Again and again he tried different angles of attack and each time they were countered.
The man side-stepped the next strike and sighed as he heard Morgan couched violently. “There is no time to waste in schooling you.” He dunked the next slash and threw he sword at the girl.
“No!” Robin shouted in horror as he quickly clutched a shuriken from his belt and started the wrist motion needed to throw it. If he could knock the sword off course…
The man grabbed Robin’s wrist harshly and twisted his arm behind his back, forcing the shuriken to the floor. “No, child, this death will be less painful for her.”
“I could have gotten her to safety.” Robin snarled as the sword pierced the girl’s chest. He slammed his heel into the man’s shin while flipping his grip on his sword around to shove the blade backwards.
The man smirked as he jumped backwards, releasing Robin in the progress. “My beloved would have like you. She’s fond of that move as well.” He watched while Robin rushed to the fallen girl’s side. “The poison they had injected her with would have killed her far more slowly and painfully.”
“Robin…” The girl whispered weakly as Robin knelt next to her before she coughed severely, blood seeping from her mouth. “The pendant….” Again she coughed. “Needs to be true or she’ll be trap…” Slowly Morgan’s green eyes began to close. “Tell… her partner…to make…”
“I would listen to her words, little one.” The man stated. “She gets visions like her ancestor. If it wasn’t for his vision then we would be facing a much worse threat now.”
Robin clenched his sword angrily while he turned back towards the man. “Why kill her to repay the debt? I could’ve gotten her to the hospital.”
“The poison has no cure.” He stated calmly as he clasped his hands behind him.
Robin rushed at him, his sword raised in one hand and smoke pellets in the other. “I’ll kill you!”
The man shook his head amused as he dodged the first strike. “Your grandfather, child, is not strong enough to beat me. What make you think you can?”
“You’re wrong to underestimate me.” Robin growled while pitching the pellets to the ground, causing smoke to fill the room and obscuring what little visibility was left.
The man caught the shuriken hurled from his right side while side-stepping the attack from his left before he slammed a hard kick into Robin’s hip. “Let the schooling begin.”
This place had too many rooms, Red Robin concluded as he rushed down another corridor. He needed to find the main operation room. With all the activity on this level it should be around here somewhere.
He turned another corner and frowned. Why hadn’t he been attack again? The back was covered by Batman and Nightwing but they should have attacked him from other directions by now. Was he heading straight into a trap, he wondered as remembered the brief shadow moment he caught glimpse of before they had entered the compound.
It didn’t matter, Red Robin decided as he poked his head through another door and smiled when he spotted the computer system set-up in the back of the room. He maneuvered around the table and chairs before injecting a flash drive into the computer and quickly typed several commands into the computer. No one needed to know how many rooms he had to check before he found the correct one. “Oracle” He called over the com. “I have the program downloading.”
“Great.” She replied. “Now sit back while I get full access to their system.”
“Bet I could get there first.” Red Robin challenged as he continued to punch in a few more commands.
Oracle snorted. “In your dreams, Wonder Jr.”
Suddenly the door to his right slammed opened and he turned sharply on his heel with his Bo staff raised partially in defense. A ninja crashed unmoving into the ground before him. He glanced towards the doorway and raised an eyebrow in surprised as he spotted Black Bat taking a guarding position by the entrance. “Weren’t you in Hong Kong?”
“Oracle.” She simply stated while she dunked underneath a sword strike before delivering two quick punches to her attacker, rendering him unconscious.
“I sent for her once things were beginning to hit the ceiling.” Oracle explained through the com. “I figured we are going to need a few more hands-on-deck than usual. She’s been in town for a while now.”
Red Robin shook his head. “You assigned me a watcher.” At least he had the answer for the shadow movement now. “I’m not that bad off.”
“They nearly killed you once already.” Oracle countered firmly. Was anyone going to let him live that down? “They are gunning for you. If your ego is bruise then take it up with Batman.”
“Noted.” He replied absentmindedly while he watched Black Bat take down another two ninjas. He shook his head, amused, while turning back to the computer. Cassandra Cain aka Black Bat was one of the best fighters in the world and apparently this batch of ninjas weren’t at the level needed to take her down. Had she faced any of the assassins that possessed the orb pendent yet? “She came at your request, though, not Batman’s.” Red Robin stated as he glanced out of the corner of his eyes as he heard the sound of three more bodies hitting the floor. He still found her eerie.
“Once you suggested this plan I had requested her to guard your back in order to give us the necessary time to complete the hacking.” Oracle confirmed.
Red Robin typed in several different commands into the computer as he studied the screen before him. “Let me guess, you activated my homing signal for her to follow.”
“You need to stop messing with my systems. “He replied while he quickly punched in a few different commands.
“I’ll be happy to give that privilege to your girlfriend once she learns the tricks to the trade.” Oracle commented back. “Though if the stories I been hearing from Nightwing are accurate, then she already has a great head start.”
“Oracle!” He exclaimed, embarrassed at the double meaning. He could feel the blush creeping over his cheeks. Forget about his enemies, his family was bound to kill him first! “At least do me the favor and tell me you kept Batgirl stationed at Gotham University. The last thing I need is for my girlfriend to meet my ex so soon after we started dating.”
“About that…” There were a few moments of silence and he barely withheld a groan when Oracle added. “Good luck?”
“Gee, thanks…” He muttered with a sigh. He just couldn’t catch a break could he?
“By the way, Wonder Jr., you lost.” Oracle replied with a slight chuckle. “Backdoor has been established. Now, get out of there.”
Red Robin waited a moment for the program to finish running before he yanked the flash drive out and pocketed it back into his belt. “Yes, Mom.”
“Nightwing has been a horrible influence on you.”
They had certainly overstayed their welcome, Nightwing decided as he skidded around the corner of the hallway towards Robin’s homing signal with Batman following at his heels. Free from captivity for less than fifteen minutes and already his supplies was halfway gone after being attacked by a few dozen assassins. The other members had to be out or nearly out of their supplies by now.
And what exactly were in the orbs pendants that made some of the ninjas so different from their companions? Nightwing shoved the orb pendants he grabbed off his last opponent into one of his secret pockets in his uniform. He dunked the punch from the assassin in front of him before slamming his own into his stomach as Batman knock him out with a nerve strike.
Nightwing crashed through the door on the left, eyes widening in horror as he spotted the dead female teen by the door. He surveyed the room quickly, before he glared at Brandt whom smiled at him from his standing position above a still Robin. Nightwing fingered a Batarang and growled darkly, “Get away from him.”
Brandt shrugged before giving him a mocking bow. “As you wish, young knight.” Slowly, he backed towards the edge of the room. Crossing his arms causally across his chest, Brandt smiled again at him while Batman gathered Robin into his arms. “It looks like I was wrong about your upcoming demise, young knight. Give my heir my compliments. He planned this day well.”
Nightwing slowly followed Batman towards the exit of the room while carefully keeping Brandt in his sight. “I won’t let anything happen to them.”
Brandt shrugged again, unconcerned. “By all means, young knight, try. I haven’t gotten this old nor this far by being careless enough to not ensure a few back up plans.”
Nightwing frowned. What was he up to? “Your plans will mean nothing without them.”
“Nightwing, we’re leaving!” Batman ordered before he activated his com. “Red Robin, Black Bat fall back and return to base.”
“You’re not the one who can stop it.” Brandt countered, shaking his head. “My heir might be able to if he is able to prevent the final piece from being delivered. If he hasn’t, then what I want will come to pass regardless of what is done to prevent it.”
Nightwing halted in the doorway. “What piece?” Nightwing demanded while taking a step towards Brandt again.
Brandt smirked. “The youngest knows.”
Nightwing took another step into the room and paused as Batman hollered from down the corridor and through the com. “Nightwing! Now!”
Nightwing winced and Brandt chuckled. “Go, young knight. I’m not the enemy you think I am or I would not have share the information I did. I knew there was a chance of your rescue after all, small as it was.” Brandt leaned against the wall. “By the time you get to the young chosen it should already be too late. At that point my chosen fate will be secure, the link reversed. The new chosen and shield’s fate, however, will depend on their own actions and their bond. Has the young shield strengthened it yet?”
Nightwing frowned as he dunked out of the room to follow Batman. What bond was he talking about? Strengthened how? Did Tim know about this?
Elizabeth barely withheld a groan when she spotted Jeannie outside the door as Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock left. Not what she needed. David gently squeezed her shoulder. “Something tells me that this conversation is going to be strictly girl talk. I should go for a coffee.”
“Or you could stay.” Elizabeth suggested, hopefully.
David chuckled. “It won’t be so bad. You’ll see. Beside, you’ll have your mother in your corner. She is a fierce enough opponent on her own. You two together…” David faked a shudder. “I would hate to be on the opposing side of that.” He patted her shoulder one last time before he left the room, kissing Joyce softly on the cheek as he passed.
“Sweetheart, how are you doing?” Joyce asked as she pulled a nervous looking Jeannie into the room.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. Her mom was behind the second meeting with Jeannie today. “I’m peachy with a side of keen even. I’m completely ready to leave the hospital. Wheelchair or no wheelchair. Really.” Great, she was babbling now… You would think she would have left that annoying trait in her past life, but no….
Joyce gently hugged her daughter and whispered quietly into her ear. “Be nice, she’s trying. Be patient with her fumbled mistakes.”
“No promises.” She whispered back. “She’s not allowed to take your spot. Not even remotely.”
“She’s quite aware of that now.” Joyce stated softly as she pulled out of the hug before tucking a lock of hair behind Elizabeth’s ear. “You had us worried. I think Alfred had to practically pry Tim away from your side in order for Tim to get any rest himself.” Joyce smirked. “I think he’s a keeper.”
Elizabeth blushed briefly before she smiled fondly. “He just might be.”
Jeannie shifted nervously before she took a step towards the door. “Maybe I should come back another…”
“Come here, Jeannie.” Joyce interrupted as she held a hand out to her.
Jeannie bit her lip and offered Elizabeth a weak smile. “But…”
“She’ll understand.” Joyce stated calmly while sending Elizabeth a warning look. “We all make mistakes.”
Elizabeth winced. She knew that look well. She gave them a tight smile. “Yeah, that we do. We’ll just have to take it one day at a time and respect each other boundaries while we get to know each other.”
Jeannie slowly nodded. “I won’t make the same mistakes twice, I promise.” Timidly, she walked towards Elizabeth and sat in the chair next to the bed. “It just…” She gripped her hands lightly. “I always viewed you as my little girl…” Jeannie hastily raised her hands when she spotted Elizabeth narrowing her eyes while opening her mouth to speak. “Please!” She pleaded. “Let me explain! I’m not trying to force my view on you. I’m just trying to explain.”
Several moments of tense silence passed as Jeannie and Elizabeth starred at each other. Softly, Joyce squeezed Elizabeth’s right shoulder and Elizabeth gave Jeannie a tight nod to continue. Jeannie sighed in relief. “I always held that image. Seeing you hurt and refusing help… I just reacted…” Jeannie gripped the sleeves of her coat tightly. “It’s no excuse. I overstepped my boundaries. I don’t have the right to make those calls… Maybe if I had been more of a part in your life I would’ve…” Jeannie shook her head. “In my anger and worry I forgot that. I’m sorry.”
Elizabeth bit her lip while she studied Jeannie. She seemed sincere. She glanced at Joyce and resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at her as Joyce raised an eyebrow in expectation. Elizabeth sighed before reaching out and carefully laid a hand on Jeannie’s tightly clenched hands. “Like I said, one day at a time.”
“Forgive me?” Jeannie asked quietly.
Elizabeth nodded lightly. “For now.”
“Thank you.” Jeannie whispered, before she reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a pendant. “I’m not sure if you’ll like it, but I was told that it would promote healing and protection. With everything that happened…. It seemed like a good thing to have.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened in surprise as she carefully took the pendent from Jeannie and studied it. “It’s gorgeous.” She gently fingered the rune. It was the symbol from her slayer dreams, but it was reversed. What did this mean?
“Do you like it?” Jeannie asked hopefully.
Elizabeth bit her lip as she starred at the pendant. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? She forced a smile. The dream connection aside… “I love it. It had to cost you a fortune, though. You really didn’t have to.”
Jeannie smiled secretly, “I wanted to and it really didn’t cost me that much really.”
Elizabeth snorted. “Sure…”
“Elizabeth…” Joyce scolded with a smile.
“May I?” Jeannie asked as she gestured towards the necklace.
Elizabeth began to shrug before she froze as she remembered that she not supposed to do that without pain. How does Tim do this? “Sure.”
Jeannie gently took the necklace from Elizabeth and hooked it around her neck as Joyce held her hair out of the way. She took a step back after releasing the necklace. “I’m really glad that you’re okay.”
“So am I.” Elizabeth replied softly.
“Is it all right if I visit tomorrow?” Jeannie asked.
“You’re leaving already?” Elizabeth questioned in surprise.
Jeannie nodded. “I think I should let you and…”Jeannie paused a moment before continuing, “your mother to have some bonding time together. May I?”
Elizabeth smiled. “Yeah, but I might not be here.”
Jeannie and Joyce’s eyes widened in surprise. “But your wounds…” Jeannie protested.
“The doctor believes that I’ll be able to go home tomorrow provided that I do little else but bed rest until she gives the okay. She understands my dislike of hospitals. Honestly, if I wasn’t to be release tomorrow I would try to escape on my own which probably just hurt me more.”
“She’s not kidding either.” Joyce commented while sending a stern look at Elizabeth. “I got plenty of examples.”
“I really don’t like the idea…” Jeannie shook her head. “But I can still visit, right?”
“Yes, you can still visit.” Elizabeth confirmed.
“Thank you.” Jeannie replied as she gently hugged Elizabeth before leaving.
Elizabeth waited for the door to shut behind Jeannie before glancing at Joyce and stating flatly. “Being an adult sucks.”
Joyce chuckled while she claimed the empty seat. “I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks mom.” Elizabeth smiled.
Joyce leaned forward and gripped Elizabeth’s right hand. “How badly wounded are you?”
Elizabeth shrugged. “I could walk out of here now with little trouble. It’s one of the reasons why Dr. Thompkins is releasing me tomorrow. We can’t hide the rate of healing much longer without raising questions from the other doctors and nurses. Right now, the only reason why they are staying away is fear of Mr. Wayne wraith.”
Joyce raised an eyebrow. “And why would they fear that?”
“Ummm…” Elizabeth paused while picking at the blankets on her bed. “Alfred may have hinted at a serious relationship between Tim and I. Possibility of an engagement?”
“Only you.” Joyce chuckled as she shook her head. “Which reminds me… How did your date go?”
Elizabeth smirked as she teased. “Well, you’re not a grandmother yet.”
What were the Hunter’s and Brandt objectives, Nightwing wondered while resting copilot seat in the Bat Plane. He watched as Batman carried Robin to one of the two stretchers waiting for them on the platform below next to Alfred and Dr. Thompkins. Part of the group wanted to sacrifice Elizabeth and Tim for power. Power for what? Conquer the world? Then there was Brandt who seemed to being playing both sides in order to free the captured woman and was willing to sacrifice anyone to achieve it.
How many more sides were there to this case? Dick frowned as he turned the container of blood that Brandt had stuffed in his pocket during his capture around in his hands. What were the connections? Why did they pick Elizabeth and Tim as their sacrifices out of the billions of people living in this world? Was there a reason or was it just a random chance? Dick shook his head. He doubted it. He had to be missing something.
“Want some help up?” Tim asked from above him. He glanced up into his younger brother’s worried blue eyes, the cowl of his uniform already pulled down.
Dick shook his head before pulling his mask off. “I’m fine. Just thinking.”
“You nearly died.” Tim countered as he knelt down and offered a hand. “I think we have plenty of evidence against fine.”
Dick chuckled. “Brat.” He tossed the blood container to Tim. “We need to find out whose blood that is. Brandt, your assassin master-mind, was using it to write a reversal of runic markings on a captured woman’s shackles.”
Tim frowned as he studied the container. “Infiltration? He didn’t sound fond of this group when he talked to me over the phone that one time.”
Dick nodded as he slowly pushed himself up, wincing as the sharp pain pierced through his rib cage. His ribs were either badly bruised or cracked, but then, so was half of his body. “Sounds like it, but he’s certainly no friend of ours either. He’s planning on sacrificing you and the new ‘chosen’ to free her.” And also preceded to than counter that very move by giving pieces away in how to save them, Dick mentally added as he carefully studied Tim while lifting himself out of the plane. Tim had frowned in worry, not concern confusion, when he said chosen, but real worry with a little bit of fear woven in. “The Chosen is Elizabeth, isn’t it?”
Slowly, Tim nodded. “I think so.”
“We need to talk.” Dick told Tim as he met his gaze with a serious look. “I think Brandt is the only one in the Hunters that knows Elizabeth is the Chosen, but the Hunters are targeting both Elizabeth and you for sacrifices.”
“I suspected as much.” Tim replied quietly as he climbed down the ladder to the platform below
Dick glanced at Tim from the corner of his eyes. “We have got to start comparing notes if we are going to come out on top of this. No more secrets.”
Tim shook his head. “They’re not my secrets to share.”
“Tim….” Dick paused briefly before he placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder and turned him around. “Do you want to save her or not?”
Tim glared at him. “You know I do.”
“Then trust me.” Dick frowned as Tim turned his face away from him. What could he used to get Tim to open up about Elizabeth’s secrets? How did Elizabeth fit in all this? According to Brandt all the possible potentials for the Chosen line are accounted for…. Except for the child the old Shield and Chosen had together. That child was brought to a different reality. Elizabeth’s psychological attack took place in a different reality… Was it the same reality? Was the two bleeding together somehow? “Elizabeth’s psychological attack wasn’t really a psychological attack, was it?”
Tim glanced sharply back at him and studied his face. Dick forced himself to stay impassive during the scrutiny. “What do you know?”
What did he know? Dick wondered briefly before Brant’s words echoed in his mind. Left his child in that world where she would remain safe…Possessed a different line of chosen warriors…before the rituals, the situation… linking the old Chosen with the new… Dick frowned. Two worlds…. It seemed so far fetch, but Elizabeth had been in both worlds… But how? Regardless, she possessed knowledge and experiences that she couldn’t be explained in this life time. Not in the regular way if her history record was anything to go by. “Her memories, her experience, her powers… They’re not from this lifetime. They from before, aren’t they?”
Bingo, Dick thought as Tim’s eyes widened in shock. “When did you figure it out?”
Dick shrugged. “Fairly recently.” No need to let his younger brother know that it was mostly a wild guess pulled together due to some odd conversations that he wasn’t even five percent certain were accurate.
“Master Dick, it’s good to have you home sir.” Alfred stated as he stop behind Tim. “Perhaps a check-up would be advisable?”
Dick smiled, shaking his head. “I’m fine, Alfred. Focus on Damian. He got hit pretty hard.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Dr. Thompson informed him while crossing her arms. “Damian will be fine after some rest. His only injuries are a minor concussion, several bruises and cuts, but luckily no fractures or breaks.”
“Mmmm, good to hear…” Dick raised his hands in surrender at the Leslie’s exasperated look. “I’ll allow myself to be examined after I finish talking to Tim.” Dick glanced around and frowned. “Where did Bruce go?”
“I dare say he went to visit Miss Elizabeth.” Alfred replied while he wheeled the empty stretcher back towards the med area of Tim’s lair.
Tim’s eyes widened briefly in horror as quickly he stepped towards the exited before Dick grabbed his arm forced him to stop. “Dick, he knows that Elizabeth knows…. I got to…”
“Let them handle it.” Dick interrupted.
“But…” Tim protested as he tried to yank his arm out of Dick’s grasp.
Dick shook his head, ignoring Tim’s glare. “Look, I know Bruce isn’t happy about Elizabeth, but the only way he is going to accept her, truly accept her, is if she proves herself to him. Let her have a chance to do that.”
Tim frowned. “He won’t give her a fair chance. He’s being too bull headed.”
“I know.” Dick conceded. “I’ve been nagging him for weeks about giving her a chance.” He smiled at Tim’s surprise look. “I’m in your corner, Tim, but there is only so much we can do. It’s her turn now. Something tells me that she can handle it.”
“Really?” Tim questioned quietly.
Dick snorted as he walked towards the crime lab portion of the lair. “Seriously, she doesn’t remind you of anyone?”
“Kind of why I’m worried.” Tim countered with a slight smile.
Dick chuckled as he stopped in front of the computer. “We need to see if we can discover whose blood Brandt used.”
“If the person is in any databases, we should be able to pull up a match.” Tim replied while he opened the container of blood and placed a couple of drops onto a slide before running a computer scan.
Dick nodded as he leaned against the wall. “Spill. What connections have you made already?”
Tim shook his head. “Not until I talk to Liz, Dick.”
“No.” Tim interrupted as he glanced up at Dick. “I have theories and some facts, Dick, not enough. I need to talk to Liz. I think she has more of the pieces. We can talk afterwards and put the puzzle together.”
Dick sighed. “Then we’ll talk to Elizabeth together, because I have some new information as well.”
Tim turned to face him, curiously. “What is it?”
Dick raised an eyebrow and mimicked Tim. “Not until we talk to Liz!”
“Dick…” Tim growled.
Dick smirked at him. “See how annoying that is?”
“Really?” Tim questioned as he turned back towards the computer. “You’re going to play it that way?”
Dick crossed his arms. “Better believe it.”
“Dick…” At the tone of fear in Tim’s voice, Dick straightened up quickly and leaned over Tim’s shoulder to read the information on screen. “It’s Liz’s blood.”
Dick laid a comforting hand on Tim’s shoulder. “Brandt is our shooter, but is also the one that told you to protect her.”
Tim nodded. “He informed me to trust no one else with her protection.”
“We need to get her into a safe house.” Dick stated as he slowly squeezed Tim’s shoulder.
Tim snorted. “I’ll let you be the one to escort her.”
“And where are you going to be? She’s your girlfriend!” Dick questioned, frowning.
“Staying out of hitting range.” Tim chuckled. “Liz is not as easily surprised anymore and hits a heck a lot harder. Not to mention I just got out of the dog house. I don’t really want to dig myself back in yet.”
“Brat.” Dick said flatly before smirking. “You haven’t figured how to keep her in a safe house yet, have you? Has she figured out that you have a notebook filled with ideas?”
‘You’re being blind. 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.’
Tim’s words repeated in his mind as Bruce stared at the closed door of Elizabeth’s hospital room, conflicted on his beliefs of its occupant.
Was Tim right? Was he being too harsh of a judge because of his view of the Joker coloring his assessment of the daughter? Bruce frowned. No. Perhaps, that would be true if she had been a regular teen, but there was too much conflicting information to give her an open chance. He would not risk his family. Yet, if it was not for her actions and ‘visions’ he might have lost Dick this night. Was it a set-up? The more he looked at the angles, the more it seemed unlikely.
Bruce briefly clenched his right hand, allowing a small outlet for his frustration. All the searches had come to dead ends and he was no closer to the answer. Answers that Tim chose to keep secret. It proved that she had Tim’s loyalty. If he pushed this then he would lose Tim.
“Mr. Wayne.” Jim Gordon greeted as he stopped beside him.
Bruce smiled warmly at him. “Commissioner Gordon, how are you?”
“I’m been better.” Jim replied while gesturing towards the door with a nod. “They won’t stop you from entering if you’re pondering a visit.”
“Her mother is visiting her. It’s best that I wait.” Bruce shook his head “It’ll be a small miracle if I have a chance to talk to her before Tim arrives.”
“Not too happy with his choice, I take it.” Jim commented with a knowing smile.
“I can understand.” Jim responded as he placed his hands into his pockets. “It tough letting them go their own way… If it’s any consolation he has taken a lot after you during your absent.”
“I noticed.” Bruce stated before falling silent for several minutes. It was moments like this that confirmed his belief on how much Jim Gordon knew about his family. Never confirmed, not because he wasn’t willing—he knew he could trust Jim and had offered to lower cowl before, but Jim turned him down, wanting to have the possibility deniability to protect them. “I’m used to worry about that.”
“I bet. She is different.” Jim commented. “Very guarded, but then she has it pretty rough.”
Bruce raised an eyebrow at him. “Where are you going with this?”
“There is a matter that Tim had brought to my detective’s attention. “ He replied. “Perhaps you can help shed some light on it. According to Harvey, Tim was pretty tight lipped.”
“If I can.” Bruce offered.
“He seems to believe that Miss Winters was attacked previous, which in turn, caused the schizophrenia symptoms. He didn’t happen to mention anything else to you, did he?”
The psychological attack? Bruce narrowed his eyes briefly before he shrugged. “There was slight mention of car accident; perhaps it can provide you with some clues.” What was Tim up to?
“No accident, huh?” Jim sighed. “The poor girl just can’t catch a break.” Jim glimpsed at the closed door before glancing back at Bruce. “They might just be what each other needs.”
Bruce looked sharply at him. “I’m surprised to hear you say that.”
“I remember the stories that David used to tell us about her when he had a chance to visit some of us.” Jim smiled at Bruce. “Between that and meeting her now…” He shook his head. “I don’t see him in her.”
“Should that change?”
“I guess we find out then.” Jim commented over his shoulder as he walked towards the exit.
“Master Bruce,” Alfred greeted gently as he stopped by his side. “I just got done talking to Leslie, Master Damian and Master Dick shall both be fine with a couple days rest. Though I’m afraid that the later,” Alfred gestured behind him towards where Dick and Tim were talking with David Winters. “Refuse to listen to the reasonable advice.”
Bruce smiled in amusement at the slight aspiration in Alfred’s voice. “I’m sure a certain redhead could change his opinion on that.”
Alfred returned the smile. “Indeed.”
Bruce glanced back at Elizabeth’s room. “What do you think about Elizabeth Winters?”
Alfred raised an eyebrow as he calmly clasped his hands behind his back. “I think she is a good match for the young master.”
“But do you trust her?” Bruce questioned.
Alfred starred quietly at him for several moments. “What I see, Master Bruce, when I am in the young miss’s company is a young lady who had suffered a great deal. Yet despite the hardship she has been through, has found the strength and courage to rise above the pain.” He paused briefly before adding lightly. “Not unlike a few others I have helped raised.”
Bruce shook his head. Trust Alfred to know what he was really asking about. “She nearly crossed the line.”
Alfred looked at him, amused. “So has nearly everyone in our family, Master Bruce, including Master Dick and yourself, particularly, when it concerned the Joker.” Alfred glanced briefly at the closed door before returning his attention back to Bruce. “Master Jason and Master Damian have both crossed the line, yet, I highly doubt that would prevent you from helping them should they require it.”
Bruce gave a slight nod, conceding the point to Alfred. “How can I trust her with Tim?”
Bruce glanced sharply at Alfred. “What?”
“You trust Tim with her.” Alfred interrupted, smiling warmly at him. “It’s natural to worry about your children, Master Bruce. I would be worried if you didn’t, even if, your way is a little unorthodox. But you have raised them well.”
“What if it’s not enough?” Bruce asked.
“How are they expected to find love, if they are not allowed to take the risk?” Alfred questioned back. “Perhaps, rather than investigating her, something which has gave you nothing but frustration; you should get to know the young miss.” Slowly, Alfred pulled a plain looking book from the small side bag he carried. “This book was the one which both the young master and Mr. Winters read to her while she was unconscious. Mr. Winters kindly allowed me to borrow it. It was one of many that she has been studying from.” He held the book out to Bruce as he continued. “Perhaps it can show you who she has so greatly reminded me of.”
Bruce nodded slowly towards Alfred as he took the book. The title read: The Basics of Detective and Forensics Studies.
This couldn’t be of the good, Elizabeth thought as Bruce Wayne entered the room as her mother left. For several moments they stared at each other in silence before she irritably questioned. “Do you want a mirror to practice your glare feast or are we actually going to talk?”
Bruce clasped his hands behind his back. “What’s your game?”
“Don’t have one.” Elizabeth replied as she crossed her arms, ignoring the twinge of pain and refused to act more wounded than she was. There would be no point with him, would there? “Want to make with the explainy of why you have a pole up your ass?”
“I’m not blind to you.” Bruce stated quietly as he took few quiet, menacing steps towards her. The shadows around the room seemed to almost wrap around him. “Your schemes will come to nothing.”
Elizabeth frowned briefly. How did he manage that trick? It was seriously creepy, but very cool. She so wanted to learn it. It was similar to the trick she knew, but different somehow. Did Tim know it? She glared at him darkly. “You don’t know me.” And when was everyone going to understand that two plus two doesn’t equal five? Especially is she was entered into the equation? Elizabeth barely prevented herself from groaning. She was beginning to think in math terms… Tim was a bad, bad influence.
“I do know.” Bruce countered, calmly, as he stopped by the foot of her bed. “Your actions speak for themselves.”
Elizabeth titled her head to the side as she studied him for a moment before snorting. “Your view is skewed. You paint me with the same paintbrush you do with my nutcase of a sperm donor.” Again, she glared at him. “Newsflash! I’m not him and never will be.”
Bruce smirked. “I know.”
Elizabeth blinked in surprise. “Come again?” She narrowed her eyes as Bruce raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re testing me.”
Bruce nodded. “I am.”
“Jerk.” She muttered darkly underneath her breath. “Seriously, is the cloak and dagger stuff necessary?”
Slowly, Bruce back up and leaned against the doorframe. “You would do the same if the safety of your mother and step-father was in question.”
Elizabeth nodded firmly. “I would.” She matched his gaze with her own, mentally cursing. He was harder to read than Tim, much harder. His face gave away nothing of his intentions away. The only thing she was certain of was that he wasn’t done testing her. Small wisps of admiration stirred in her heart. It was easy to see were Tim learned his skills from.
Bruce crossed his arms while stating offhandedly. “No doubt you would do the same if your other family needed you as well.” Elizabeth raised an eyebrow in challenge and he smirked again as he rose to meet it. “It would be the family consisting of your sister Dawn and your friends Willow and Xander.” He paused again to study her reaction to his words. She glared at him, trying her best not to respond to his words. How much did he really know and how much was guess work? Did he even believe it or did he want to check if she did? Did Tim tell him anything? “The attack that placed you in Mercy Mental Hospital wasn’t schizophrenia.”
“Give yourself a gold star. It only took you how long to realize this?” Elizabeth snorted. “So much for being ‘the best detective in the world.’”
Bruce raised another eyebrow and she glared at him, annoyed at his calm. He smirked again. “The powers came back with you.”
Elizabeth returned the smirk. “Wrong.” He stared at her and she could almost see the thoughts passing through his head, evaluating whether her answer was truthful and rearranging the pieces he had.
“You’re not a meta.” He stated.
Elizabeth shrugged. “Never claimed I was.”
There was a moment of tense silence as they studied each other. “The powers are mystically in nature.”
“Likely.” Elizabeth agreed.
Bruce narrowed his eyes again as he accused. “You know how you came about them.”
Bruce took two quiet steps toward her again. “Tim?”
“Knows.” She replied as she studied his stance. It seemed normal enough. Elizabeth doubted anyone else would see pass his regular act, but she could, barely. She could perceive the warrior within. There was an aura of strength that clung to him like a second skin and a darkness which lurked deep in his blue eyes. Something, she knew all too well.
“I don’t trust you.” He told her in a low dark voice. She had no doubt that it was the tone he often used when he patrolled the night. She matched his gaze with her own. Pretenses were over. Masks were dropped and Dark Knight met Slayer.
Several minutes past before Elizabeth answered. “I know.”
“This will be your only chance. You will not earn another.” Bruce warned her firmly.
Elizabeth smiled. “I know.”
“There will be rules.” He crossed his arms again. “You will not break them.”
Elizabeth snorted. “And you said you knew me.”
Bruce glared at her for several moments. As he opened his mouth to replied, Joyce burst through the room with a cry. “Elizabeth!”
“Mom?” Elizabeth asked in concern as she twisted in her bed to turn towards her mother as Joyce approached her bedside, ignoring the flare of pain. “What’s wrong?”
“We have to get you out.” Joyce replied as she yanked the bed sheets down. She frowned upon spotting the hospital gown and frantically searched the room for other clothing. “Somewhere safe. Somewhere hidden.”
“Whoa. Mom! Slow down.” Elizabeth pleaded as she caught her mother’s wrists and gently pulled her toward her. “What are you talking about?”
“A threat was delivered a few minutes ago.” Dick answered while he entered the room. He paused briefly by Bruce to hand him one of the pieces of paper before handing her the other.
Elizabeth quickly scanned the paper below. It read: Dear Joyce Winters,
We offer our condolences on the soon to-be-loss of your daughter. Though the loss of such a bright soul is painful, take heart, for her death shall not be in vain. The time nears for the call of the sacrifices in three day hence. Use the time left with your daughter well.
The Hunters of Twilight
Elizabeth frowned and clenched the paper angrily in her fist. She glanced at Dick. “Are they the same that…” She trailed off, gesturing towards him.
He nodded. “They are.”
She looked back at Bruce. “Who is the other letter for?”
Bruce glanced at her, coolly. “That is none of your concern.” She glared back at him darkly.
“Bruce…” Dick interrupted. “Perhaps we should tell her.”
Bruce shook his head while turning back towards the door. “We can have the police or one of the Batman Inc. agents arrange a safe shelter that you may stay at until this matter is resolved.”
Dick groaned. “Sure, ignore me. That will go well.”
Elizabeth growled as she reached behind her and grabbed a pillow and hurled it at the back of Bruce’s head, ignoring the pain spiking through her body as she did. She smiled tightly as the pillow hit him firmly in the back of the head and turned towards Dick. “Who?”
“Me.” Tim answered, entering the room.
Dick shrugged as Bruce’s glared at Tim. “She would have figured it out anyways.”
“I was unable to follow them.” Tim informed Dick.
Joyce sent Tim a reproachful look. “You shouldn’t have gone after them in the first place.”
“She right.” Dick commented as he nodded sagely. “I should have been the one to rush after them.”
Joyce glared at him. “Not what I meant.”
Dick pulled Tim in front of him and Tim raised an eyebrow as he adjusted his crutches. “Really?”
“She’s your soon-to-be mother-in-law.” Dick shrugged.
Tim groaned. “Alfred just had to tell you that conversation did he? Seriously we haven’t even been on our second date yet!”
“What can I say, the press loves you.” Dick countered with a snicker.
“I’m coming.” Elizabeth interrupted, pushing herself off the bed and forced herself to stand.
“Whoa!” Tim and Dick exclaimed together as they rushed towards her side to support her. “Sure that wise?” Dick questioned.
Bruce spun around. “You’re not getting involved.”
“Too little, too late.” She snapped back. “I’m already involved.”
“Um, Liz, maybe we should discuss this when you’re not in a hospital.” Tim quietly suggested. She glared at him briefly before raising an eyebrow. “I’m serious. You nearly died and will you please get back on the bed?” Tim wrapped his arms around her waist and tugged her back toward the bed. “We’re not going to do anything more tonight, Liz. It can wait until morning.”
“She does have a point.” Dick commented while he watched as Tim slowly able to calm Elizabeth. “But I have to agree with Tim, you really shouldn’t be out of bed yet.”
“You would only be a liability.” Bruce growled.
Elizabeth snorted while she crossed her arms. “You don’t know me nearly as well as you pretend to if you believe that.” She ignored Tim as he rested his forehead into the crook of her neck to groan in despair.
Bruce glanced at Joyce briefly before opening his mouth to state something when Joyce interrupted, amused. “Don’t look at me. Once Elizabeth makes up her mind there is very little that can change it.”
“Don’t I know it.” Tim muttered and Elizabeth pinched him in the side.
He winced. “Careful, I’m a little sore there.”
“You’re hurt?” Elizabeth questioned in worry.
Tim briefly shook his head. “I’m fine, but a few of heavy hitters liked using my ribs as target practice.”
After Joyce encouraged her to return to the bed, Elizabeth pointed to Tim and stated. “He’s joining me in bed.” She blushed as everyone stared at her for several seconds. “That so sounded better in my head.”
“What, Liz?” Tim chuckled slightly before he teased. “Don’t want me the other way?”
Elizabeth smirked. “Don’t make promises you’re not willing to back, wonder boy.” Slowly she leaned up and kissed him slightly underneath the ear before she whispered, “Unless you’re ready to advance this relationship to some bedroom fun.”
Tim blushed. “Um, no?”
Elizabeth pulled back, laughing. “You don’t sound so sure about that.”
Joyce chuckled, amuse, at the couple before she turned back to Bruce and chose to ignore how he was glaring at Elizabeth. “However, when it comes to protecting those she cares for, there is not a chance in Hell in changing her mind in protecting them.”
“You can say that again.” Elizabeth muttered as she tried to lift Tim’s shirt to check for injuries, ignoring Dick’s chuckling and slapping Tim’s hands away when he tried to pull his shirt down.
Joyce smiled at Elizabeth warmly before she crossed her arms. “Furthermore, Tim has become quite dear to my family and I would be damn before I stand aside and let something happen to him without a fight.”
Tim glanced at Joyce with eyes slightly wide in shock. “Um… I’m touch really, but I’ll be fine, really. No need to go to extreme on my behalf.”
Bruce glared at them and Dick snickered amused.