Disclaimer: Savant and Oracle belong to DC. I make no claims.
Set after Birds of Prey #70 and before #74. And if you don't read Birds of Prey, yeah, he really does act like this :-).
4.37am in Gotham City
I don't know what wakes me up, but I find myself somewhat disorientated when I do. The ceiling in this room is cracked and covered in peeling paint, which makes it completely unlike a room that I would choose of my own free will.
At first it occurs to me that I might have been kidnapped, but there are my clothes in a closet and my possessions on a nearby desk, so any potential kidnappers would have to be remarkably polite. Also, when I stand up and move around I find an icebox with the food I like to eat in it, and another bedroom with Creote snoring on a large bed. Clearly, and bafflingly, I am living here. Why would I... ah, wait a minute.
I have a sudden, relatively clear image of myself standing in this house while a voice that appears to come from nowhere talks about how it's my job to clear up this neighbourhood. Oracle. Of course. I'm here because Oracle has assigned a job to me as her version of a 'second chance'. She seems to think that I can't do it, which is of course absurd.
I thoroughly despise her choice of establishment, however. There is dirt everywhere, and cracks in the ceiling, and the light in the icebox doesn't work. Also, I'm fairly sure there are mice. You can hear them if you stand still and listen; they scuttle in the wall spaces and behind the doors in a way that's relatively alarming. Perhaps we need mousetraps. Or have I already bought some? I look hopefully behind a door, but there is a disappointing lack of mousetraps there. It appears we'll have to go shopping in the future. I frown to myself. Or could I go shopping now? What time is it, in any case?
I walk into the kitchen, and there's a clock on the wall that says 4.37. I wonder briefly whether this is 'am' or 'pm', but the fact that it's very dark seems to lean things in the 'am' direction. Unless there's a storm. I stop for a moment to listen, but there's no thunder and no rain and therefore not much chance of a storm. And there's even less chance of an eclipse, so 4.37am it is. Not quite dawn. Which does make me think. Shouldn't we be out patrolling? That's what 'cleaning up this neighbourhood' was supposed to involve, wasn't it? I'm almost annoyed enough about this to wake Creote up but then I spot a small-marker board with a day planner drawn on it hanging on the wall. It seems to divide up the day into segments, and apparently 4am-10am is sleep time.
Which explains things fairly well. I am, in fact, supposed to be asleep. I look up at the roster again. Night patrols finish at 4.00, it seems. The planner's a useful idea, I wonder who wrote it? Creote, no doubt. I wonder...
Then my thoughts trail off, because there's a scream. It's a muffled scream, which indicates that it's probably a few blocks away, but it's close enough to be in this neighbourhood. I assume this means that it's my responsibility, even though it is out of our patrolling time. I suppose I could pretend not to have heard it but... No. This is Oracle, after all. No doubt she'd find out about it some way. It would be fairly embarrassing to fail so early in the game.
I look to Creote's room but he shows no signs of having woken up. I could take him with me, but I'm sure I can deal with this myself. I take my coat and go for a walk.
Unfortunately it takes me some time to find my way to the incident. The cries get fainter, which is annoying because it makes things just that much harder to track. Still, I do arrive in time for a rough looking man to turn away from the prone figure of a woman, his hands dropping from her neck as he does so. It seems that he's just strangled her to death.
He strangled her to death. I feel a sudden stab of anger. That's... unacceptable. I'm looking after this neighbourhood. People don't get strangled to death in this neighbourhood. I'm exceptionally displeased.
I walk up to the mouth of the alley way and the man sees me. At first he seems to want to fight, which certainly seems like a good idea to me, but just as he comes up to me, he does a quick fake-out to the right, twists away from my arms and starts to run. I'm beyond annoyed at this point. People do not strangle people in my neighbourhood and then run away . That's... very, very intolerable. And so I run after him, and I'm actually going rather well, when suddenly and rudely I flash back to a voice that seems to come out of nowhere.
"No one is to be killed, or injured in any serious way". That's what the Oracle said. And there's a woman back in the alley way who is possibly not yet dead, and certainly in need of help. I grit my teeth in frustration, abandon my chase unsatisfied, and walk back. The conditions of this 'second chance' are very annoying indeed.
The woman is lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. There are bruises around her neck, but nothing vital appears to be broken, so I lay her out flat and check her breathing. There isn't any. Neither, it appears, is there any heartbeat. She's dead. This is ridiculous; we can't have failed already! I've only been here for... I'm not sure how long I've been here but I'm certain it isn't long. Not long at all, and already I have a dead body here and no way that... Oh, wait a second.
I fumble in my coat pocket for the communicator Oracle gave me and attach it to my ear.
She replies almost immediately, sounding tired but vigilant. If she gets any rest, it isn't at this time of the morning. "Savant? What's wrong?"
"Do you know Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation?"
Instantly her voice is alert. "Don't you?"
"I suppose I could have learned, I just never really saw the need until..."
"Never mind!" Her voice cuts in sharply, already taking charge of the situation. She tends to do that instinctively. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure. Someone tried to strangle this woman. She's not breathing but her windpipe isn't crushed. It occurred to me that..."
Again she stops me. In anyone else I would find that trait annoying, but somehow with her... "Is her airway clear? Tilt her head to the side to clear it."
"Yes. And right."
"Does she have a pulse?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Right. Lay her on her back and tilt her head back."
I do so. "Yes?"
"Cover her nose and seal your mouth over hers. Give her five full breaths, checking in between each one that her chest is rising."
"Done. Nothing's changed."
"I said that!"
"Find the point where the ribs join at the bottom of the sternum. Place two fingers above this, then position both your hands on top of each other at that point. Compress her chest fifteen times, up to about a third of the depth of her chest. Count them off for me."
I pause and scowl at this. "I hardly think I'm going to lose count."
"Count them off for me."
She's all business now. No talking to her when she's like that. I sigh. "One, two, three, four, I, assume, you've, called, an, ambulance, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen."
"It's on the way. Any signs of life?"
"No breathing, no pulse."
"Tilt her head back again, give two breaths this time, just as you did it before. Keep alternating between two breaths and fifteen compressions until the ambulance is there or she starts to breath."
"And do you want me to count those as well?"
"I'm doing it!" Honestly, she's acting as if I'm not even trying. This is very irritating. And where is the...?
Ah, there it is. "I can hear the siren."
"Good. Keep it up until they take over."
I sigh and continue. Fifteen compressions, check to see if it's worked, two breaths, check again, fifteen compressions... Despite myself, I'm quite getting into the rhythm of it all. There's something rather stirring in having someone's life in your hands, in knowing that their only chance lies in you. I do hope she survives. It would be such a waste of effort if she didn't.
I'm so absorbed in what I'm doing, I only notice the arrival of the ambulance when it screeches to a halt at the mouth of the alley and several men tumble out and come running. I let them take over almost reluctantly. I certainly hope they know what they're doing with her.
"They've taken over. They are putting some kind of breathing device on her."
The sigh is almost imperceptible, but I hear it. "Right. Thank goodness."
I watch them shuffle around her body and carefully transfer her to a stretcher. "She could still die."
"She could, yes, but she has a chance."
"That's good." I frown into the dawn's first light. "If she does die..."
This time the sigh is completely audible. "I won't count it as an infraction. And it's reassuring to see your motives in doing this are as selfless as usual."
"That's unfair! I mean, obviously I want her to recover."
"I really wish it were that obvious, Savant."
Fuming, I stare at the paramedics as they load the woman into the ambulance. Ridiculous! I spend all this time saving this person's life, and there's not a word of praise from my benevolent jailer. I really wonder why exactly I'm doing this...
I blink at the ambulance driver. "Yes?"
"Do you want to ride along? Are you a relative?"
How to answer that? "No. I'm..." I'm the person who's going to be cleaning up this district. I'm her saviour. I'm a hero...
...no, Oracle wouldn't like that.
"I'm just a passer-by. No one special."
The driver nods. "Right. There's a police car coming if you want to give them some details. Sorry, they take a notoriously long time to get to this district."
And he's off. Not even a thankyou from him, either. Irritated, I put a hand up to the communicator. "I'm going back to my delightful home, if you've no need of me."
Oracle sounds thoughtful. "Very well." And then: "Good job."
She logs off.
Good job. Suddenly I feel a lot better.
Back to my appallingly hideous home. Perhaps I'll get mousetraps on the way home. I'm fairly sure we had need of them. Or did I already buy them? I wonder where Creote is? Isn't he supposed to come with me on parole? Or perhaps we were taking it in turns; or perhaps he's just asleep. It does look as though it's early in the morning, after all. I'd better go and see what he's doing. I yawn and start walking.
I wonder what the time is?