Commitment (Part Five)
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters. Thanks to everyone for their support. Keep the reviews coming.
Things had not gone well. Oswald Cobblepot hated it when things didn't go his way. Sure he got to keep the money he had promised Crane but he'd probably lose it since those meddlesome teenagers were still able to foil his business arrangements. At the most, Scarecrow had only taken out Batgirl and Robin for a few days. At worst, someone might've tipped off the two crime-fighters that he was the one who had hired Crane to take them out.
"Stupid walking sack of straw," muttered Penguin as he stepped out onto his balcony and began checking his pockets for a lighter to go with his cigar. In the space of two seconds, Penguin felt his feet fly out from under him and suddenly realized that his night was only going to get worse.
"Did you think you could run from me?" asked the gravely voice. Penguin squawked helplessly as he hung upside down and face-to-face with the Batman.
"B-Batman," said Penguin, "My, what a surprise."
"Drop it, Cobblepot," sneered Batman, "I know you're the one who contracted Crane." Penguin's eyes bulged slightly and he was visibly agitated. Bad enough that Robin and Batgirl should find out but the Bat finding out was even worse.
"You can't prove it," said Penguin, trying not to sound nervous even though he clearly was.
"Listen to me," stated Batman, ignoring that Penguin was right. He didn't have to prove anything though. All he had to do was make Cobblepot squirm, spook the fat man into laying off his kids.
"I can have you for trespassing," replied Penguin, "Harassment, intimidation, lots of things."
"You're not listening," said Batman, "I let you get away with some things in Gotham because you give me information and because I'm getting soft in my old age. My kids won't make that kind of deal with you though. Don't give them any more of a reason to be all over you. Understand?"
"They can't touch me," boasted Penguin.
"I'm touching you right now," stated Batman grimly, "You take a shot at either of them again and you'll wind up in a hospital bed. Then I'll get my hands on you and, trust me, you don't want to know what will happen after that."
"Right," said Penguin nervously, "Understood. No problem here."
"Good," replied Batman as he unceremoniously dumped Penguin back onto the balcony and disappeared into the night.
"Stupid flying weasel," muttered Penguin sourly, "I need to have this place fumigated again."
Tim Drake groaned as sunlight hit his slowly opening eyes. His whole body ached and his brain felt like it had been hit by a truck. What day was it and where was he?
"Good morning, Master Timothy," said Alfred, "I was beginning to think I'd have to rouse you."
"Morning, Alfred," mumbled Tim as he stared at the clock and noticed the time, "Oh man, I'm late for school."
"You will not be going to school today," replied Alfred," Master Bruce phoned the establishment to report you would be out a few days. Nasty flu bug." At this point, Tim was inclined to agree. His muddled mind began piecing together the events prior to his blackout. Scarecrow, fear gas, Batgirl.
"Where's Cass?" asked Tim suddenly, "Is she okay?"
"Miss Cassandra is well," replied Alfred, steadying Tim as the Boy Wonder tried to jump out of bed and failed miserably, "Much the same as you, she has been enjoying a well-earned rest."
"How long were we out?" asked Tim skeptically.
"About a day or so," replied Alfred, "Master Bruce arrived on the scene moments after you blacked out. It took him a few moments to decipher the Scarecrow's notes but he eventually found the antidote."
"I . . . I need to see Cass," said Tim, "Before all this . . . because of all this . . . we had a fight. I was being stupid."
"Then I think you should consider yourself lucky she left you in the condition to apologize," replied Alfred, "Maybe that's a sign she already forgives you."
"I wanna tell her," explained Tim.
"She's currently occupying your couch," explained Alfred, "Perhaps you should wake her up while I get you two something to eat." Tim nodded and slowly got out of bed, moving into the living room of his apartment. He found Cass sleeping soundly on his couch. Tim took a few moments to admire her. She was very pretty, something he had always noticed. He remembered how he used to be intimidated by her, by the things she had been taught and the person she had been groomed to be. But in spite of all that, or maybe perhaps because of it somehow, Tim Drake had come to see the incredible person that was Cassandra Cain. It was at this point that Tim realized how much of an idiot he had really been. Sure he'd seen Cass do a lot of things he didn't think human beings were capable of but it didn't mean she wasn't any more or less of a human than he was. Tim knew her feelings were as important as his own and he didn't have a right to ignore them the way he had.
"Hey," said Tim as he watched Cass slowly open her eyes. The second her mind registered who it was, Cass sat up and gave Tim the biggest hug she'd ever given anyone.
"I thought . . .," explained Cass.
"Relax," whispered Tim, "I need to apologize, not you." It felt nice holding her. Tim's brain had somehow registered that earlier when he was tending to her but he couldn't fully appreciate it until now.
"I was an idiot," said Tim honestly as he looked into Cass's eyes, "It wasn't the fear gas either. It was me."
"I shouldn't . . . it wasn't the right time," said Cass, "You and Steph . . . that still must hurt."
"Cass, can you at least agree with me when I'm apologizing to you?" asked Tim with a smile. Cass blushed slightly and simply nodded.
"Maybe it was a bad time," relented Tim, "but I should've handled the situation differently. I am afraid, Cass. This whole thing has made me realize that I am afraid of a lot of things. Maybe it's time I did something to change that."
"So can we . . . are we together?" asked Cass.
"Slow," replied Tim, "We need to go slow with this. I know that you already know how I feel about you, Cass, but not everyone can read people the way you can. I need to read myself and that takes time."
"You talk . . . too much," replied Cass as she gently put a finger to his lips, "You never have to . . . not with me." She simply rested against him after that, enjoying the simple comfort of being with him and being alive.
"What happened . . . to Scarecrow?" asked Cass suddenly.
"Master Bruce took care of it," assured Alfred as he came in from the kitchen, "He personally delivered Dr. Crane to the GCPD. Apparently he was wanted in connection to a homicide before he left Gotham."
"Good," said Cass simply. She hated to think that someone else got hurt because she wasn't around. It was good to know that everything had been taken care of.
"Breakfast is ready," informed Alfred, "I'm afraid I'll have to leave you two here. I am, of course, needed back home."
"You sure you can't stay?" asked Tim.
"No, I believe things here are well enough in hand," replied Alfred. He glanced at Cass, tossing her a knowing gaze that he was sure she could read.
"We'll . . . we'll be okay," assured Cass with a nod, "Everything is okay." Alfred nodded.
"We should eat," said Cass as Alfred left, "I'm starving."
"I'll be back," assured Tim with a smile, "Stay with me, okay?"
"Always," replied Cass simply as Tim got up and moved into the kitchen. Cass lingered, idly running her fingers along the couch's arm and absently glancing at the darkened television set. She felt . . . different somehow. It was as if things were suddenly right and nothing could be wrong again. Everything moved together without any gaps. Everything was perfect.
"So I had this idea," said Tim as he came back in with breakfast and set the plates and silverware on the coffee table.
"Tell," said Cass.
"Well, actually it was your idea," explained Tim, "Do you remember it?" Cass shook her head. When she tried to remember the events of that night, everything got blurry and jumbled up inside her head.
"You bought me a very nice movie," prompted Tim, "Weren't we going to watch it together?" Cass blushed and nodded silently.
"What about . . . school?" asked Cass.
"Apparently I have the flu," said Tim, "Isn't that lucky?" Cass rolled her eyes as Tim went into his room and returned with his new copy of The Maltese Falcon.
"Tim . . . thanks," said Cass as she took a bit of her pancakes, "Thanks for . . . for everything." Tim smiled.
"It's nothing you don't do for me," he told Cass as he began clicking the remote and attempting to eat at the same time.
"So, good movie?" asked Cass.
"A classic," assured Tim as he put an arm around her shoulder and let the movie begin to play. It had been a long time since he had seen the heroic exploits of Sam Spade, the last time had been with Steph. He didn't dwell on that now, on the fact that she was gone. He felt Cass put her head on his shoulder and sighed. Life for Tim Drake was good for a change. Tim absently glanced over at the other end of the couch and blinked. Was that Steph standing over by the end of the couch? Tim vaguely remembered that she had been there that night but he had dismissed it as a hallucination caused by the fear gas. But she was here now too and she was smiling at him. Tim blinked again and she was gone.
"Something . . . wrong?" asked Cass as she unconsciously registered Tim's slight bewilderment.
"No," assured Tim as he turned his attention back to Humphrey Bogart, "No, nothing's wrong. Not anymore."
Jonathan Crane had always marveled at how devious the criminal mind could be when it tried. Take his escape from police custody a few minutes ago for example. He had been tied up and deposited back in Gotham on the police department's doorstep. But the Batman and the police failed to think of something. Scarecrow had numerous tricks at his disposal. Indeed, upon regaining consciousness he had quickly formulated a plan. As he struggled against his bindings, Crane had been slipping out small capsules of fear gas that he kept in the folds of his costume as well as loosening his bindings. It was late in the night and not many of Gotham's finest had stayed around for his grand arrival. Scarecrow took it to his advantage. The second the officers had arrived, Crane had managed to use both capsules on them. While they were disoriented, Scarecrow had freed himself completely and had managed to gas them to where they'd be dead by morning.
"Thank you, boys," said Scarecrow as he tipped his hat to the two terror-stricken men, "Also, if by chance you happen to run into Robin or Batgirl in the next few, and for you final, hours then do please thank them too." He felt renewed at this point, as if this latest clash with the Bat-clan had somehow reinvigorated his spirits. He had been so close, so very close, to victory. Had he not been trapped within the tormenting confines of his depression, he would've been able to think clearer and probably would've won.
"I know their secrets," said Scarecrow to himself, "I know what haunts them. Next time, I will end them." He knew that, of course, there would be a next time. He had to make them pay, all of them. No one humiliated Jonathan Crane, not anymore. So he would show them, show them the true nature of the fear that poisoned their souls. But that, he decided, would be reserved for a later date. For now, Scarecrow was quite content to simply haunt the streets of Gotham. He would return to the limelight, of course, but he needed time. Yes, and there was so much time to be had. He had his entire life to teach these fools, teach them to fear him. No longer was he worried about being forgotten. No, he would make them remember him. He was committed now, focused on his mission like never before. Scarecrow laughed to himself. He had been truly stupid. What cause did he have to be depressed? None whatsoever. After all, who could ever be afraid of a silly, little thing like commitment?
(Author's Note): Hope everyone enjoyed this story. Even though it's finished, I'm considering writing a sequel so only time will tell. Until then, I'm sure you'll see my name attached to some other TimxCass fic. Take care.