8: We Need A Bigger Nut House
Note: Sorry it took me so long to update. I had five days to do the final edit on my best friend’s book before it went to the publisher. And now her book is #1 on Amazon’s zombie book list for Halloween. YAY!!!
As per usual, I own nothing. Batman belongs to DC, created by the brilliant Bob Kane, and Warner Brothers. Buffy was created by Joss Whedon (Awesome director of the Avengers) and whoever else lays claim to that 'verse.
Chapter Eight: We Need a Bigger Nut House
Buffy took the car and Richard followed her home on the motorcycle. She kept glancing up at him in the rearview mirror. For an 8 year old kid, he managed the machine well. They took side roads and avoided all traffic until they got to the Penthouse. Buffy went to the parking garage as the boy took the secret entrance to the sub-level.
Batman had stayed behind to wait for the police to come and get the plant lady. Buffy only left after he had swore that he was all right. She knew there was a chance he had a few cracked ribs, but they couldn’t just leave the woman here to regain consciousness and disappear. He would stay and make sure she did not get away before the cops arrived and then he would be home.
Kennedy – Harley, had been gone when Buffy had gone back to find her.
When the elevator stopped, Richard was in it, and he and Buffy rode up to the Penthouse together.
“You did really good tonight,” she told him, bending down the short distance to kiss the top of his head. “Very good. I’m proud of you. I wish you didn’t have to worry about stuff like this, but I am glad you can take care of yourself since you do.”
Richard was silent for a few moments. “I have been giving it some thought. You know, on the ride back here.”
“Thought to what?”
“About my name. I need a really cool name.” He smiled up at her. “And I have found one.”
“Oh, you have, have you?” Buffy asked, curious. “And what cool name have you come up with?”
Bruce returned home nearly an hour later. With the explosion at the police station, their response time had been slow. Most of the jail was still functional so they had had a place for the woman.
He took off the armor, slowly. His ribs were definitely busted. He was bruised severally on both sides and it hurt to breathe. Even once he was out of the armor, he had to take it slowly to the elevator. The pain was so intense; he thought he would pass out.
When he arrived at the top floor, Buffy, Richard, and Alfred were waiting for him. He had barely been able to get a pair of jeans on. Trying to put on a shirt had been too much trouble and would have caused him too much pain, so the ugly red and purple bruises were visible for all to see.
“Richard, go get the ointment out of the bathroom. The one your Aunt Willow made.” Buffy rushed over and helped him sit down on the couch as Richard rushed upstairs and Alfred to the kitchen.
“Plants did this?” Alfred asked. He had a glass of water in his hand which he helped Bruce drink. Richard ran halfway down the stairs and then jumped over the side, landing perfectly. He handed the bottle of thick orange liquid to Buffy.
“Yeah. Some crazy woman who could control them.” She opened the jar. Its scent kinda reminded her of menthol and gummy bears, which was not a very good combination. But it worked and that was all that mattered.
Buffy began messaging the ointment into his ribs. It began to work almost instantly. The bruises began to fade and as the ointment absorbed into his skin, reaching the damaged ribs, Bruce began to breathe a little better and easier.
“Remind me to give Willow a raise,” Bruce commented, taking a deep breath and smiling because there was very little pain when he did so.
“You don’t pay her,” Buffy said with a laugh.
“Then she is now on the payroll.” He echoed her laugh, amazed at the quickness and effectiveness of the remedy.
“We should rest while we can,” Richard said with an air of gloom that made Buffy shiver. “Things are only going to get worse from here on out.” He hugged everyone good night and then went to his room.
“I love that boy,” Alfred began. “But sometimes he bloody scares me.”
Buffy and Bruce shared his sentiment. Sometimes.
The next morning, rather early considering the night he had had, Bruce took Richard with him to Wayne Enterprises once again. This time, however, they bypassed Bruce’s luxury office and went straight to Lucius.
“Stage one,” Lucius announced motioning to a table, “since I will have to make a new one after every growth spurt.”
Richard followed Bruce to the table and even standing on tiptoe, he could not see over it well enough. Richard was a little smaller than most boys his age. Giles had stated that it might have been because of malnourishment sometime in his earlier life. Though the circus was a well known one, times had been rough for them at one time or another. Gypsies did not like to except help from those outside of the clan unless it was in dire emergency. If they hit a rough patch, they would suffer through it on their own by any means necessary. Bruce picked the boy up and sat him on the table.
“How do you like it?” He asked the boy. Lucius stood back, proud of his handy work.
“I like it,” Richard answered with a great amount of enthusiasm. The smile on his face should have split his head in half. “It’s perfect.”
“I know this is none of my business,” Willow stated as she watched Buffy change Marti’s diaper. The baby had a strange way of looking around as if she knew exactly what was going on and what was being said. “But, isn’t Richard a little too young to be crime slash demon fighting? He isn’t even nine years old yet.”
“He wants to help,” Buffy said, proud of herself. She was really getting a hang of this mothering thing. “The only way we are going to keep him from it is if we hog tie him every night, and there is no guarantee there. He can get out of every single knot Bruce and I can tie in a matter of seconds. Seconds. Not minutes. At least this way, Bruce will know where he is and he is protected by a lot more than a t-shirt. He will have armor of his own.”
Willow nodded. She would place magical protection on the boy’s armor, just like she did Bruce’s. After last night, she needed to find a spell of protection against crushing apparently. She was sure there was one, but she had never used it before.
“Okay. When they get everything situated down in the sub-level, I will go down there and do my magic thing,” Willow said.
There it was again! For the past two days, Willow had been having these strange flashes on the edge of her vision. She could not understand what it was or why it was happening, but it was happening. It felt as if someone was trying to contact her…
“That’s good.” Buffy placed Marti in the crib, and then sighed, turning toward her friend. “Listen, I know it is not the ideal situation. You are right: Richard is just a child, but I can’t be out there with Bruce all the time. And child or not, Richard is the only backup he has now. With everything going crazier like it is, I feel better that he is not alone out there. Richard may be young, but he has a power to him. You know this as well as I do. Now I will worry about them both, but at least I will know they are together.”
“I understand,” Willow stated, hugging her friend. “Besides, you are the Slayer and I am part of your Scooby Gang. When has life ever been ‘normal’ for us?”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Buffy commented, and she and Willow laughed at her choice of words.
Harlequin skipped merrily down the service tunnel that led to the secret lair of the Joker and his new found pals. Her jaw was a little sore, and she hated being knocked out, but it was all for a good cause. Or a bad one, considering what side you were on. All in all, everything had worked out as planned.
Truth be told, she enjoyed her new life. So much freedom. And not having to worry about that pesky Slayer code, or whatever it was. She could fight and kill who she wanted to. He didn’t care what she did, just as long as she did her job. It was a wondrous feeling, being so free.
She skipped down the corridor, humming to herself, her smile ridiculously wide.
The smile faded, her humming ceased, and she stopped as if frozen in place.
The inner sanctum was in shambles.
All of her the Joker’s minions, the Clown Capers, were lying on the floor amongst the rubble, twisted and bent at such odd angles. Electricity crackled from broken machinery, glass crunched underneath her feet, blood was everywhere.
The Joker was nowhere to be found.
“Joker!” She called, stepping over bodies, ignoring the destruction. “Where are you?”
She felt the hand on her shoulder, and she began to turn, but the hand shot around her, the arm pressing against her throat, snapping her head back, and cutting off her air supply. The Joker was rough sometimes, but never like this. This was not him!
“Sorry, my dear,” the strange though menacing voice whispered in her ear. She could not see it as her head was being forced up and back, but she felt the blade pierce her back and slide through her spine and out her front. She couldn’t breathe enough to even whimper in her death throws. “From now on, this little club is under new management.” Kennedy began to kick in panic, but the man held her tightly, almost comfortingly.
The blade was yanked free and Harlequin/Kennedy’s body fell lifeless to the floor. The man reached into his coat pocket and produced a clean white handkerchief which he used to clean the blood off the blade.
“It is a shame you Slayers die so easily,” he spoke to the still body, a grim half smile on his face. “You, my dear, are number seventeen.” He tossed the blood soaked fabric down. It landed on the back of Kennedy’s head. “I hate uneven numbers.”
On the far side of Gotham, the spell holding the Riddler released him suddenly. He fell flat on the floor, landing on his back with a loud groan. All around him, hanging from the ceiling, were slabs of meat.
“They- I can’t believe this! They put me in a bloody freezer. Oh, the nerve of some people!” He got his feet, and dusted off his jacket as best he could. “Well, I will show them. Mark my words; they will regret treating me, The Riddler, this way.”
He found his cane and his hat nearby. He placed the hat on his head and twirled his cane around. He walked through the hanging slabs of meat, avoiding touching any of it as much as possible. When he came to the door, he smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.
The smile vanished when he realized that the door only opened from the outside.
Willow had just finished the final spell on Richard’s armor, when the lights returned, only this time they were not in her peripheral vision and were kind of insistent on blinding her. She sat down, hoping that the spell would pass.
It did, but then something else happened she had not been expecting.
“So sorry, love,” the voice said in her head. “I apologize for having to do this to you, but this is the only spell I know and you are the most powerful person, who doesn’t want to kill me – I hope – that I could contact.”
“Who are you?” Willow asked also in her head. She knew the voice. She just couldn’t place it.
“It’s me, dear,” the voice stated, a little perturbed. “The Riddler.”
Another Note: Yes, I skipped Robin. I liked Robin, but everytime I think of him I see the bright red, greeen and yellow and that just does not fit into the Nolan version of Batman. Nightwing, yes. Robin, no.