Disclaimer: Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, and Bruce Wayne belong to DC, not me.

Rating: R (adult situations)


Synopsis: This is a present-day sequel to SKH's "Best Girl, First Girl, Only Girl" done with her permission.

Feedback: Any shape, manner, or form is fine.


Please do not archive without permission.


Acknowledgments: Obviously this story could not exist without the excellent work of SKH's "Best Girl." Thank you so much, Sarah, for allowing me to play in your yard. Thanks also to Smitty for being a sounding board, and the Supreme Court of Bludhaven (i.e. Charlene) for legal advice. Special, special thanks go to supreme beta-reader and Location Girl, Chicago.


Author's note: As of this time, "Best Girl" isn't archived anywhere except on the Nightwing mailing list, but I think you can still understand this story without having read the earlier one.


This story is dedicated to my very good friend, Pam. Happy belated birthday!


*** Part 1 ***

Very early Thursday morning


Bing bong

"Babs! Does your computer have to let you know you've got mail in the bedroom?!?" Dick Grayson asked plaintively. He managed to hold Barbara still as she tried to get out from under him.

"Dick! Let me up -- I need to get that! It could be important!"

Recognizing an obsessive personality when he saw one, Dick abandoned trying to persuade Barbara Gordon with words and went back to his earlier occupation of kissing her breathless. When they finally came up for air, he gave her his best smile. She melted.

"I guess...if it were really urgent they would have called me ..."

Dick refused to allow himself to gloat over his victory; instead he devoted himself to making sure she didn't regret her choice.


****

As Dick watched Barbara retrieve her email, he was surprised to see her normal look of concentration turn to a look of disgust. "What'cha got, Babs? Someone sending you dirty jokes or something?" He walked over to see what she was looking at. He was even more surprised and a little hurt when she immediately shut down the program.

"Aren't you on-duty soon or something, Grayson?"

"Not until later. What's wrong, Babs?"

"What do you mean, what's wrong? Nothing's wrong."

"Uh huh. What was in the email, Babs?"

She glared at him, but wearily realized he wasn't going to leave until she told him. She motioned for him to sit down next to her.

"A few days ago, Bruce called to ask me a favor. One of his business friends, Harrison Palmer, had come to him because his electronics company was in severe money straits. Palmer told Bruce that the company was sound, but that some failed research projects had drained money faster than they had anticipated. He asked Bruce if he would consider investing in the company to give them the cash they needed to regain their footing. Bruce said he would look into it and get back to him. That's where I come in."

"I would've thought Lucius would research something like that?"

"That's what I said, but Bruce thought it was odd that a normally profitable company would suddenly experience a reversal like that, so he wanted me to investigate it. After doing some digging, I began to agree with Bruce. It turns out most of the money hemorrhaging is coming from their Chicago branch, specifically from the research department being run by one Gary Thompson. He buried the losses in several accounting hidey-holes, but they all point toward him. What I couldn't figure out was why?"

"It's not just greed?"

"This guy married into one of the wealthiest families in Chicago; his net worth is in the millions of dollars. He's a major stockholder in the company. Why would he steal from himself?" Babs began fiddling with her pencil. "So I had some of my people do a little local digging." Her mouth twisted slightly in an expression of distaste, "It turns out Mrs. Thompson controls the purse strings in the family, and she's the jealous sort."

"An affair?"

"You got it. I did some more checking, and Thompson has been pulling out about $400,000 per month. It doesn't go into his wife's account or any other account I could track down for him. So I had him followed and discovered who he was meeting up with." Barbara reopened her email and showed Dick the picture that her operative had transmitted. She waited for Dick's reaction.

"Hmm. She looks kinda familiar. Oh, I remember -- that's Jennifer Hill, the Mayor's former wife!" He beamed at Barbara with the triumph of a schoolboy answering a difficult question.

"Right."

"So ...?"

"So?"

"So what's got you so upset?"

Barbara just stared at Dick in astonishment. He stared back at her, clearly puzzled.

"Dick, that's Jennifer Hill!"

"Yeah I know. We've established that. She's blackmailing Thompson." Then it seemed to hit him, "Oh! You're going to have to let Bruce know about this aren't you? Oh man," his voice trailed off as he started thinking hard about the whole situation. "Listen, don't tell Bruce anything about her yet. Maybe if we work it right, we can get her out of the picture without his having to know." He sat deep in thought, working out a possible plan, when it occcurred to him that Barbara hadn't responded to his last statement. "Babs?"

She just stared at him in shock. After a few more seconds she found her voice. "That's the woman who practically forced herself on you when you were only sixteen years old and who accused you of being in a...a sexual relationship with Bruce, and all you can say is, 'don't tell Bruce'?!?"

"Well, Bruce was pretty upset by the whole thing, and I don't want to have him reminded of it."

"But what about you? Aren't you upset?"

"By Jennifer Hill? You've got to be kidding, Babs! Why would I be upset about that?"

"Dick, this is me you're talking to! I was there remember? I remember how upset you were, and I can't believe it doesn't still bother you!"

"Ahhh!" he replied in a tone of dawning comprehension. "You were trying to protect me!" He leaned over and planted a kiss on her nose. "I appreciate your concern, sweetheart, but it's really not necessary." He put a finger against her mouth when she would have protested. "I'm serious, Babs. Jennifer Hill was neither the first, nor the worst experience of...that sort I went through growing up."

"But why were you so upset? You can't sit there and tell me you weren't, Grayson!"

"Oh I was upset, Babs. If you'll recall though, I was mainly worried what Bruce would think of everything. I was afraid he'd be upset with me for handling the situation badly. As far as Jen Hill was concerned, I was just embarrassed that she caught me, and then embarrassed that you had to rescue me."

Babs suddenly paled as she remembered his earlier comment. "You mean there were worse things that happened to you? What happened? Why didn't you ever say anything?"

Dick's expression became exasperated. "I didn't say anything because I handled it, Babs! As I told Bruce, it would be pretty pathetic of me to have to run to him every time someone looked at me cross-eyed. I handled it; I survived it; it's over and done with. And as far as what happened," his voice trailed off as the memories caused his expression to harden and his eyes to turn cold, "let's just say it was unpleasant, and leave it at that."