7: Gardening is Hard Work
Chapter Seven: Gardening is Hard Work
Richard entered Willow’s floor, still holding the scepter like it was going to bite him. He was a little angry at Bruce for not taking him along, and even more hurt by it. He knew that he should not be, but he was and that was that.
He could not shake the feeling that there was something else amiss, something he needed to warn Batman about, but with the scepter in his hands, he could not concentrate on anything else but that and that made him very uneasy. He dropped it on the couch, and backed away from it. The proximity was still too close for him to escape it. He knew that Willow had to use her magic to conceal the scepter and block the dark power radiating off of it before he would have any hope in pinpointing what his senses were trying to tell him. He had to hurry and find her so she could hurry and take care of the scepter. He may not know exactly what it was, but he knew that Bruce was in danger.
He found her still awake in the kitchen, reading a book at the table, while stirring something that bubbled in a bowl. When she realized he was there, she glanced up smiling.
“Hey, wonder boy,” she commented, setting the book aside. “What are you doing up?”
He explained to her that he had gone with Batman, about Kennedy and the Museum, and the scepter, Mr. Freeze, and now Kennedy’s obvious jail break.
“Kennedy is a clown?” She laughed, though it was full of bitterness. “She has really gone off the deep end. Couple that with her Potential Slayer powers, and I don’t know who is more dangerous: her, the Joker, or this Mr. Freeze. I really need to look into sealing her Slayer powers so she cannot use them to harm anyone. Getting her to sit still long enough is going to be a problem, though.” She sighed. “Where is the scepter?”
Richard led her back into the living room where the scepter was laying on the couch. The moment she stepped into the room, she could feel the dark power radiating off of it. “That is some wicked vibes.” Leaving it where it lay, she placed her hands over it, but not touching it, and began to chant. She did this for several minutes, and as she did so the power emanating from the scepter began to diminish until it finally lessened to the point of almost vanishing.
When Willow was through, she sat down in a chair and took a deep breath. “That took a lot out of me,” she commented.
Richard was not really paying attention. He heard her talking, but his mind was concentrated elsewhere.
He could see it as clear as if he were standing there watching it. He saw Batman entangled in thick, thorny vines being held upside down. The vines were twisting and the thorns were razor sharp, finding the weak spots in the Bat armor and digging their way in. He could hear laughter, a woman’s laughter, and he could see the blood running down the black armor as Batman struggled to get lose.
“No!” He screamed. Willow jumped to her feet.
“Richard, what is it?” She asked, kneeling down in the front of the boy and placing her hands on his shoulders.
“Bruce – Batman – he is in trouble. I have to get to him.” He broke free from her and ran to the elevator. Willow followed him, but by the time she made it to the elevator, it was already descending back down to the temporary Batcave. Turning, she ran back to the kitchen and to the phone. She needed to call Buffy. She would probably wake up the baby in doing so.
Buffy had just decided to go to bed, having found nothing on TV worth watching. All these channels and not a single thing on worth watching. Go figure.
The phone rang, but before she could answer it, Alfred got it. Not even a minute later, however, he was bringing the phone to her.
“It is Willow,” he told her, handing the phone over. “She says it is urgent.”
“Thanks, Alfred,” she said taking the phone. “Hey, Will!”
Willow dove head first into a short explanation at a breakneck speed of what was going on. Buffy listened, picking up the high points. Batman in trouble. Richard left to find him. Thanking her out of breath friend, she hung up the phone.
“Alfred, I have to go find Bruce. He is in trouble and Richard has gone to find him.”
“I will watch over Marti,” Alfred stated. Buffy pulled on her shoes and made for the elevator. “Take care, Mistress Wayne. All of you come home safe.”
“We will, Alfred,” she said smiling at him as the elevator doors closed.
Once at the bi-level, Buffy noticed that not only was the Tumbled gone but so was the motorcycle. She could only wonder at how Richard was riding the thing. He had to be way too short for it, didn’t he? Sighing, she went back up a floor to the parking garage. She would have to normal car it, and make sure she kept it out of sight once she made it to wherever it was she had to go.
Driving randomly and aimlessly through the streets of Gotham was not something that Buffy felt she had the time to do. According to what Willow had learned from Richard before he had taken off, Kennedy, who had tried to storm the museum with the skeletal Templers in tow, had been taken there after Richard had beaten her with a two by four. The Joker, or some of his flunkies, had blown up the front entrance to the police station and she had escaped. Batman had gone out to find her and the Joker.
Richard had one advantage over her in this situation: the motorcycle he had taken could track the Tumbler via a homing beacon. Maybe. Just maybe…
“Willow, can you use the computer in the sub-level to track Batman’s car?” She asked as she sat a block from the police station. It was chaos all around the place.
“Yes, I should be able to. Give me a few.”
Buffy waited patiently, with an impatient tapping of her foot and a nervous gnawing of a fingernail, which was really gross, but she couldn’t help it. This was her husband, and though she knew the Batman could take care of himself, that didn’t make it any easier, especially if Richard had had a strong enough sense of something being wrong that he had taken a motorcycle too big for him out to find the Bat. She just wished the boy had come and gotten her first before taking off.
Her cell phone rang, and she picked it up without looking at the screen. “Will?”
“It’s me,” Richard’s voice, sounding very small and far away. “Ruh Anna, you need to come to the Botanical Gardens. Batman is in trouble.”
“Richard, sweetheart, are you alright?” She asked, starting the car and making a u-turn. Yes, it was only a block from the police station, but they were too busy to notice – she hoped.
“I am fine,” the boy told her. “I am in the rafters above the gardens. There is some woman here and I think she can control the plants. You have to hurry.”
“Okay, sweetie, I am on my way as fast as I can,” she told him, dodging cars and racing through yellow lights. She really hoped that all police were too busy with the aftermath of the explosion to be watching for crazed drivers.
“And Kennedy is here also.”
Oh yeah. Kennedy was so going to get a beat down when Buffy got there.
Wayne Botanical Gardens was all the way up on the north side of town. With a bridge closed off, Buffy could have ran it and made it faster than she drove. Nearly thirty minutes later, she pulled up outside of the Gardens. Willow had already called and confirmed that the Tumbler and the motorcycle were there.
Getting inside took a little bit of Slayer strength, but Buffy managed. Though she was still a Slayer, her powers had lessened somewhat since being pregnant and giving birth to Marti. Willow and Giles, flying as blind as she was since a Slayer had never gotten pregnant and given birth before, surmised that some of her power had passed onto her daughter in order to protect the child. It made sense, but she hoped it would not hamper her in a fight with Kennedy.
Her Slayer senses were not going haywire, so she knew that there were no demons or vampires here. She would have to be careful, because that meant she was fighting humans, and she could not kill humans. Except for Kennedy. Kennedy was different.
It didn’t take her long to find trouble. In fact, trouble found her.
It was a last minute reaction. Buffy ducked just as Kennedy swung at her. She felt the air from the punch, could see the fist fly by her face. Buffy came back up, threw herself into a summersault, putting a good five feet between herself and the Potential. When she got a good look at Kennedy, she could not help but burst out laughing.
“What have you done to yourself?” She managed to ask. She was laughing so hard, there were tears in her eyes. “You look ridiculous!”
Kennedy curled up her fists and stomped her foot. “Stop it! Just stop it! I don’t have to take this from you! The Joker says I look pretty and that is all that matters!”
“Well, he is as mad as they come, so you should really not trust his judgment. Seriously, Kennedy, what possessed you to wear those tights with that skirt?”
Kennedy screamed in frustration. “My name is Harlequin. Har-le-quin! Not Kennedy. Don’t ever call me that again!”
Laughing or not, Buffy dodged the next attack easy. Kennedy, or Harlequin, was throwing punches at her like she was a five year old. She kept her eyes closed and swung away. She had obviously forgotten her Slayer training.
“Listen, Harley, just tell me where the Bat is and I’ll let you go. You haven’t looked in a mirror lately, have you? You need to redo your makeup. It looks like a drunk clown did you over.” Buffy was still laughing, dodging the unreasonable punches easily. She ducked around a tree of some kind, and heard the satisfying crunch as Harley hit it full on with her fist. The Potential cursed rather expertly. At least she could do something right.
She was just getting madder and madder with ever sentence Buffy said. “I am not going to tell you where your precious Batman is. You are going to have to fight me and then I still might not tell –“
Buffy clocked her a good one. Harley went down like a limp noodle.
Buffy nudged her with her toe just to make sure. She didn’t have anything to tie her up with and doubted she could find anything here strong enough to do so, so she decided to leave her where she was. She was sure she could find her later on if she had to.
Buffy went deeper into the gardens, her Slayer hearing detecting a sound she did not like at all. It was as if something very large was moving around. She thought of Mort and what Richard had said about him coming from the earth. She hoped she did not meet him here.
And then she was looking upon a sight that she could not believe. In the center of the gardens, the plants had grown huge. Not just huge, but literally monstrous. It was as if they were alive. Well, she knew plants were alive, but these were like moving and doing stuff that normal plants should not be doing. Case in point: a cluster of vines, a few nearly four inches thick, with huge thorns on them, were currently curling and twisting their way around her husband as if to crush him.
And standing off to the side, laughing like a madwoman, was a chick she had never seen before. She had bright red hair, and she looked like she was wearing leaves and flowers, the foliage covering every part of her body.
“Hey!” Buffy yelled, stepping out into the area. “Stop that! Right now!”
The woman turned to her and smiled wickedly. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Queen of the Slayers, also known as Mrs. Bruce Wayne. He’s a little busy playing in my garden at the moment.”
Buffy saw movement. Actually, she saw several movements. There were vines slowly making their way toward her that she had to keep an eye on. Evidently this woman, whoever she was, was controlling them somehow. The second movement was coming from above. Richard had taken one of Batman’s grappling guns and was slowly propelling down toward the woman who had no idea that he was there.
The vines around the Batman tightened; Buffy could hear the armor he wore creaking in protest. She could also hear him straining to breath. She had to do something and fast, and not get herself caught in the process. She had to keep the woman’s attention fixed on her.
“Listen, whoever you are, you are making a big mistake here. You know that I am a Slayer, so you should know what I am capable of. I am going to snap all your little vines in half and then I am going to find the biggest one and beat you with it.” The vines were getting closer. One shot up at her and she ducked to the side, grabbing it as it went past, and yanked with all her might. It tore free from the others and she tossed to the ground behind her. It writhed a little bit, as if in agony, and then went still.
“No!” The woman cried, her face distorting in anger. “How dare you! How dare you destroy my babies?”
Buffy could hear the vines getting tighter around Batman. It was a pure struggle for him to breath now. His face was red and his eyes were rolling back into his head. She risked a glance at the boy and then made a mad dash toward Batman. The vines snapped at her, some hitting her with enough force to bruise, a few even tripping her, but she batted them away, tore them apart when she had to, but she kept going.
The woman was screaming, her arms thrown wide, throwing all she had at the Slayer. Then she froze, and turned around and looked up.
Just in time to get both of Richard’s feet square in her chest. She fell down and when she did the vines stopped throwing themselves at Buffy and loosened their hold on the Batman.
Buffy reached him. She grabbed what she could jump up and reach, which was the cape and yanked as hard as she could. The vines gave a little, dropping him down at least two feet, allowing her to reach the vines wrapped around his chest. Frantically, she ripped them to pieces, tearing him free. Across from her to her right, Richard did an amazing roundhouse kick, catching the woman in the face, and sending her spinning back to the ground. At that moment, the vines went limp, and Buffy managed to catch Batman before he fell to the ground head first. She wrapped her arms and legs around him, dove to the side, and rolled him onto the ground onto his back. Richard kicked the woman again, and this time she lay still.
“Bruce! Baby!” She sat up next to him, and pulled the cowl off of his head. His color was returning to normal and he was sucking in deep breaths, coughing, and clutching at his ribs. “Are you hurt?”
Richard knelt down on his other side, opposite Buffy, his eyes wide with concern. “Ruh Baba?”
Bruce managed to sit up, nodding that he was all right, still unable to speak. He drew in a deep breath and winced.
“First ice. Now plants.” He managed to croak out a few minutes later, glancing over at the strange woman who was still unconscious. “Is it something in the water? What is going on?”
Buffy just hugged him and then helped him to his feet. “I don’t know, but whatever it is, we need to put a stop to it. This is carbon dated ubersuckage.”
Bruce wasn’t sure he knew what that meant, but he had to agree with it. Richard thought it was funny. “How did you get here anyway?” He asked the boy. Richard was carrying his cowl and didn’t seem to mind Bruce putting his hand on top of his head to help him keep his balance. Buffy put her arms around her husband to help him walk.
“The motorcycle.” The boy answered with a shrug and a nice amount of reluctance.
“That’s it,” Bruce stated, his voice getting stronger. He made it sound as if Richard was going to get so grounded, at least that is what Buffy thought. “I am going to tell Lucius to put a rush job on his latest invention. You, my boy, are getting a suit and a mask, and I don’t want to hear another word about it.”