Feels Like I'm Fiddling (While Rome is Burning Down)Fandom:
BtVS/The Dark Knight RisesCharacter(s):
John Blake, Sarah the OC SlayerRating:
Waiting is the worst part.Length:
Only the words are mine, and that’s probably up for philosophical debate.§§§
“According to the specs, there’s an alley right there,” Sarah murmured. She always murmured while working.“I don’t see it.”
Batman, however, liked to mutter.
“Look, Bats, are you going to trust me or what? IDK, maybe Buffy made you a little too independently minded.”
Batman muttered something too soft for even Sarah’s sensitive hearing, but she detected the sound of movement. “You looking, Bats?”
She got a grunt as a reply. Not exactly the chattiest guy at the best of times, John Blake became one those giant Easter Island statues when the mask came on. No wonder Buffy was always calling him Officer Crab-face or Detective Poopy Pants or Captain Sour.
A swipe of Sarah’s fingers across the modified mouse pad brought her onscreen map down to street level. There were cameras on this street—there were cameras all over Gotham, she’d been delighted to discover—some of which had survived the city’s occupation and the neglect of subsequent rebuilding. The downside of the Dent Act’s repeal was that most of the cameras were no longer being maintained. The upside was that it was more expensive to take them down and store them than it was to let rot away or become bird’s nests. No one watched them anymore; with Willow’s help it had been simple enough to hack and take the cameras over.
Sarah missed her sister slayers. The cave was dark and lonely when Batman was on patrol: mostly silent with insane bursts of noise that would have made little sense if not for her battle training. He’d come back, bruised, battered, physically tired and emotionally wrung out. She’d be sitting on her hands, raring to go. They’d run through the night’s activities during patch up time, and she’d berate him for breaking/bruising/tearing something that was already bruised/torn/broken. Sometimes, if he’d done something particularly stupid and unnecessarily life-threatening, she’d poke one of the bruises with a sharp finger—but only because she knew she was too fast for him to catch if he retaliated. Not that he would. John was too honorable to do anything while he was still half Bat-y.
The DA cameras were really something special, and not for the first time Sarah wondered who had paid for them as she pulled up the infrared. No way Gotham’s budget could have afforded them. “There’s a cold spot maybe three feet to your left, about where your alley should be.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “You’re welcome.”
At least he didn’t have to go to work the next morning. Sarah said a little prayer of thanks every morning for slayer recovery times. There just wasn’t enough coffee to make up for how little sleep she got after remote sidekicking, playing nurse, and then running through the gymnastics apparatus to burn off her adrenaline.
In an effort to, at least nominally, protect citizen privacy the DA cameras hadn’t been able to get close enough to actually show faces. Which Sarah and Willow had agreed was utterly asinine (Willow had actually said ‘asinine’, prompting a swirl of giggles on both sides of phone line that had made Sarah terribly homesick), and had promptly “fixed.” The city would have thanked them if they’d known.“Found it,”
“Well thank God,” Sarah muttered back. It had, so far, been a quiet night as things in the city went and she was ready for it to be over. She couldn’t shake the feeling, though, that the relative peace was a lie. Like thinking you were in a room alone while someone was hiding in the shadows—she could feel trouble but every time she went looking for it, it closed its eyes and hid its face.
“Any bad guys?” she murmured. “No, but I think I may have found the entrance to their lair.”
She waited a beat. “You did not just call it their lair.”
Bats chuffed, which was as close to laughter as he got while they were working.
“Dude, stop playing, get me some evidence, and let’s call it a night. I wanna check some things before sunrise.” Specifically his ribs, but she didn’t want to say that over the air. The line was secure as far as they knew, but they hadn’t had a chance to update it since John had taken the city back from the junior team Buffy had sent to protect Gotham in his stead. Unlike the GCPD, Bats the First had known how to hide things he didn’t want other people to see. The last time Sarah and Willow had discussed it, Willow had assured her that an upgrade would be more than doable…as soon as she had five minutes to spare. That had been weeks ago.“On it.”
“Good vigilante. Don’t you have homework due for tomorrow’s class?”
Another grunt. John had taken up geology to justify the spelunking grant Bruce Wayne’s estate had bequeathed him once its funds had been restored. Lucky him, most of his classes were online or late morning.
"Just a reminder," Sarah murmured. She looked over at the still-rings apparatus glowing dimly in a very dry corner of the cave, far from the real bats. They were John’s frequent friends, but she was acquainted with them, too. Strung up rather innocuously near them was a thick, dull line of gray. Her silken friends. They required more than pure upper body strength, but a dexterous creativity that spoke to the slayer within. Most of the gymnastics apparatus in the cave were geared to men’s skills, understandably, except for the silks which were unisex, and the uneven bars hiding in the back. When John had told her she should add a balance beam she’d hopped up on one end of his parallel bars, and done a cartwheeling dismount off the other."I’m all set here,"
he said suddenly.
"You sure? I can’t get a scan of the interior with these cameras.""Yeah, I’m good. How’s the street look?"
"Disgustingly clear. Where are all the bad guys? At the Bad Guys Ball? You should have been invited."
Batman chuffed. Sarah smiled. "I’m coming in,"
He was encouraging her to study Thai, which no one spoke...at...home... Hmm... "Batman, you remembered to look up, right?"
He swore. Sarah ripped her headphones off just in time. Gunfire reverberated through the cave sending bats that had come home for the night into the air.
"They’re firing at you?!" she shrieked, part of her realizing how stupid that sounded. "Are you kidding me?!" But she was no less incredulous. "Get out of there!""Working on it."
Hopping out of her chair, she paced, following the fight by sound alone. There were at least five, maybe more, but only three guns. After almost three months she could distinguish between type and number of guns, even when they were the same make.
So far the odds were in Batman’s favor. Which was great because the only other way out was through a skylight.
There was a loud pop and a heavy grunt. He’d been shot. Center mass, probably. But not too close. She could tell: he was disarming his opponent.
One gun down, two to— Two guns down, one to go. Some smart guy kicked Bats the chest. Another heavy grunt. Maybe the shot had been closer than she’d thought.
Scuffling? Falling backwards or going backwards. Lots of swearing. There was always lots of swearing. Even Bats sometimes. If God was nearly as vengeful as people liked to think, surely Batman’s fights would be over sooner from all the name-in-vain taking. Sometimes she wished He would.
Sarah jumped when someone was thrown across the room...into boxes? It was always boxes, so she was going to vote boxes. Gotham had a claustrophobic sunken road system and a monopoly on packing crates.
Anyway, one definitely down. Four to go. Maybe.
She hated waiting. She hated waiting and listening as another shot was fired—close this time; he hissed. Gunman real close. She can hear him spitting while he swore. Then he was down. Unconscious probably.
Only three to go. No guns left.
One ran: only two to go.
Someone tried breaking something over Batman’s head. The high pitched whine it caused set the bats off again. Sarah wasn’t too pleased either. The only saving grace was that her headphones were still lying on the console. Blowing out her eardrums once had been all she’d needed to never do that again, thanks.
More crashing. A growled, "Where’s the drop-off? Who sent you?"
She heard the peculiar hum of arcing electricity. Huh?
Batman made a strange sound. But so did his attacker. She’d have to ask him later."Who sent you?!"***
The bats were settled in for the morning when their third cousin twice removed came leaping through the waterfall. The sight never failed to thrill Sarah, watching it from the other side. It didn’t hurt that the prowler purred like the world’s biggest cat.
Bouncing from foot to foot she waited for Batman to emerge. Halfway across the dripping catwalk, he tossed the cowl at her. She caught it and set it down. She was waiting at the foot of the catwalk by the time he was there, finally limping, finally hurt, but still somewhere halfway between Batman and John.
Sarah offered him her shoulder and he took it. "How bad was that shot that made it through?"
"Flesh wound." Together they made it to the medical area. "Shot to the chest hurts more."
Sarah shook her head. "Your freakin’ ribs. What do bad guys have against ribs? Out of the suit and then I can check you out and wrap you up and..." She shook her head. "Everything. I’m guessing the flesh wound is going to need stitches?" But she was already trying to figure out where he’d been hit.
"Hmm?" She looked up at him, really seeing how his hair, in need of a trim if he was going to stick to the cop-chic he seemed to like, was plastered to his skull and the dark circles under his eyes. Mouth quirked, she said, "I’m thinking you’re not getting your homework in by midnight."
He snorted. "Sun’s coming up." Pulling her into a fierce and fast one-armed hug, he sighed. "So I’m going to flunk out of college. So what."
Any other night Sarah would have punched him, but it wasn’t even night anymore. "Think you’ll be okay for dinner with Gordon tonight?" she asked as she helped him up onto the medical bed. "I want to have it at his place. He’s got more room than either of us."
"Sure. Did you check with him first?"
, I did. Jeez—Hey!" She ducked back as he tried to ruffle her short hair.
Grinning, he let her help him peel out of the top of the suit. "Oh, that’s ugly," he murmured.
Sarah glanced up at him, but he was poking at the bruise forming below his sternum, between the tape on his sides.
Sighing heavily, he let his shoulders slump, exhaustion already rolling over him in a wave. He was all John, now. Maybe Batman would be there in the morning when he woke up, but right now...
"Thanks, Sarah. I know how hard it must be to sit behind and wait."
Rolling her eyes, Sarah pushed him upright so she could examine him. "I keep telling you and Buffy, it’s not like I was in the field a whole lot before. Like this is different."