Orbits of Glass
AN: Thank you for all of you that have reviewed, faved, watched, and lurked waiting for me update. Thank you for waiting through two different computer deaths, intense studying for my job and 2011 which is going down as one of the worst years in my life. Finally, Thank you for reading this chapter.
Orbits of Glass Chapter Thirteen
He woke up in the same haze of confusion, reminiscent of the first time he gained consciousness in Amity Park. Last time he woke up in a rundown apartment after a ghost attack. This time he found a small sitting room, overstuffed chairs surrounding the perimeter and framed photographs creating bright splotches of color on the otherwise plain walls.
Robin shook his head, clearing the last clinging webs of sleep. He remembered helping the woman pick up her groceries and walking her back to the small apartment. He remembered helping her put things away in faded but clean cupboards, fresh vegetables in the fridge, a small glass of juice poured as a reward, then... nothing.
Scrubbing a hand through his messy hair, he surveyed the room again, not seeing his hostess or anyone else.
There was one difference, from that first experience in Amity. For the first time in nearly a month he felt like himself. He felt like Robin.
The crippling fear, the self-recrimination gone. The sadness remained behind but now more reminiscent of what he felt thinking of his parents. The suffocating grief was gone.
"Are you alright?" a quiet voice interrupted his thoughts. " You fell asleep before I could ask if you would like to stay for dinner. I didn't have the heart to wake you up."
He looked out, the sky all the warm shades of sunset, then back to the woman in the doorway.
"Sorry, Mrs. Nuodov. It's just a long couple of days. I should get going anyways."
"It's Patricia, dear. And you shouldn't feel sorry. I think a couple hours of peaceful rest is only the beginning of what I owe you."
"Still, I should be heading out," he apologized, not wanting to impose and feeling embarrassed that he passed out on the couch he had only meant to sit on for a minute or two.
"Thank you again for stopping those ghosts," she said again as she lead the way to the front door. He politely accepted her words, used to dealing with gratitude from people countless times over the years. The older woman waited as he pulled on his boots and borrowed sweatshirt before opening the door. She stopped just outside, thanking him one last time as he headed down the front stairs to the sidewalk.
"Oh, just one more thing before you go, Robin," she stressed his name. He stopped, hand still on the railing leading down the steps. He forced his feet to move, turning around as adrenalin surged.
He never told the woman his real name.
She stood in the shadow of the stoop, skirt twisting slightly with the wind, a smile creeping on to her face as her eyes began to change. They heated up, going from dark purple to a red that glowed in the shadow of the building.
"Think about this later, when this is all over. Why did I let you go? What made you so special when with a single breath I could have torn your soul from your body, cast the fragments to the wild and the wind. I could have without a second thought. What did I gain from letting you go."
She started to fade, body and plaited hair and bright skirt merging with the shadows, all remaining were the eyes. Like Cheshire Cat's grin from Alice, her eyes remained even after the rest of the woman turned to vapor and nothingness.
"Oh, and tell Danny the Witch Doctor said hello. I still have to repay him for the last time he captured me."
She winked and finished fading into nothing, leaving him alone on the deserted street outside the house where he spent the afternoon with a ghost, and probably not a friendly one with the last threat still hanging in the air.
A lone siren started it, heralding the beginning. Not long another joined it, then a third. The artificial screams broke across the entire city. He only move a couple steps from the building when a smaller noise, almost lost under the sirens, drew his attention. He turned towards the street, the direction the noise came from.
Frost crawled across the ground, spiralling out from the center of the street. The cold crackled and snapped, moving faster and faster past him. He turned back to the epicenter to see a shard of solid ice rise off the ground and fall back. Then... then the air above the ice started to glow.
Like light escaping a crack in a door, green mist crept out of the air into empty parking space between a beat up car and a locked moving van. The mist fell out, hitting the ground and falling into the empty spaces between the lines of frost.
It flared and Robing threw up an arm, protecting his eyes from the blinding flash. Eventually the light died and it was safe for him to drop the arm from his face. The empty space in front of him was no longer empty. Mist burned away, leaving a figure standing between the parked cars. Poisonous green, like the mist and the light that herald it's arrival, the figure stood. It's red eyes stared directly at him. Ten or so feet separated Robin from a ghost
He'd watched Danny fight that bird ghost... well, someone who possibly could or could not be the other boy. Either way, the fight he observed played out like many of the battles he won over the years. The creature in front of him should be a piece of cake... Though the second one may complicate things... so would the one on the left... and two more coming from the alley.
"I've had worse odds," Robin told the ghost standing squarely in front of him. He cracked his neck and smirked, projecting more confidence than he felt. Balling a fist, he lashed out at the nearest creature, aiming for the main body mass of something part Freddy Krueger and part The Blob and completely green.
His first real ghost fight had been easy (he didn't count his welcoming by the Spectra ghost a real battle). No effort required throwing around three possessed humans. This battle proved a little harder.
Futile, each hit, each kick never connected. Many times the creature he attacked would either move or contort it's body around the strike. Some didn't even do that. Milliseconds from contact the creature would fade and it was like striking at smoke. Colors rippled around his fist but never did the creature flinch, never did it reel from a hit.
The first one laughed off on the sidelines as the smaller, less developed ghosts circled and played with him. Robin felt a bead of sweat trickle down the side of his face, whether from exertion or stress he was unwilling to categorize.
Then one of the ghosts, the fat one with the face of a beaver or rat, swung an oversized arm, shooting pale blue light from its fingertips.
The light seemed brittle, weaker than the attacks he'd seen from previous fights. However, the blue beam still had enough kick to throw him into an already derelict building. Bricks crumbled under the force and he fell through the wall into an abandoned room. Laughter echoed outside as he pulled himself out of the debris and collapsed outside onto the sidewalk.
Robin coughed, dust filling the air around him, hiding his attackers for a few precious seconds. Undefeated, he pulled himself painfully to his feet, using a piece of rebar as leverage and as a cane. Once upright, he hefted the metal in his hand, testing the balance as the dust settle back to the pavement.
He smiled, grim and determined, as he took in the surrounding ghosts.
Then he attacked.
The pole in his hands whipped out faster than his fist had earlier, catching a too close ghost offguard. It flew through the air, crashing onto the middle of the street.
The other ghosts looked from the blob on the middle of the street and then back to Robin.
"Like I said, I've dealt with worse odds." Then he ran forward, filled with renewed determination.
He swung the rebar again and again, gaining more room. His fists didn't have any effect but the makeshift weapon in his hands might. He lashed out, quicker than his arms alone could move. Some solid hits tossed ghosts back, away from the main group. Other times the ghost would duck or phase out of the way, One ghost wasn't fast enough and he finally drew blood... or at least the ghost's equivalent. It gleamed a sickly green, like the majority of creatures surrounding him.
Most of the ghosts fell back at the sight. Robin wasn't sure exactly why, but almost ever strike connected after that, even when the ghosts faded like before. Even hit pushing them back and through other solid objects like parked cars and a blue mailbox. They seemed confused, the human they played with was now beating them.
Robin should have expected that his luck wouldn't last. After driving most of the ghosts back, one stepped forward. It's shapeless body had stumpy arms and very small eyes. The thing leaned in, its mouth opened too wide, showing off two rows of jaggedly sharp teeth. It bit the middle of the bar, almost-muscles contracting in its face and the bar separated into two pieces, green goo and saliva coating the ends.
He jerked back, dodging a snap at his arm. If that thing chewed through steel, he didn't want it any where near his body.
He struck out, first with the bar in his left hand, then the one in his right, driving the ghost back. The others sensed the crack in Robin's confidence, saw his damaged weapon. They pressed closer, causing the human to move back
"Duck!" Reacting, he crouched down, taking the opportunity to swipe at the stick-like legs off to his left.
A beam burned overhead, hitting a ghost rearing up behind him. Two more shots followed quickly, taking out a couple more too close and driving the whole group back and together against the moving van.
"Grenade out!" a woman shouted. Robin dropped back to the sidewalk, arms covering his head. Something metal pinged ahead, the only warning before a blue light exploded from the group.
He cautiously looked up. The ghosts lay scattered, thrown by the blast.
Footsteps, reassuringly human footsteps, ran up and then hands were helping him girl who helped him up, who probably saved his life, looked maddenly familiar, black and purple hair pulled back into twin pigtails, eyes hidden by sunglasses.
"Are you okay..." his rescuer trailed off. Her hand reached out, fisting in his shirt so he couldn't move away. Then she pushed the glasses on her forehead. They sized each other up, recognition hitting them at about the same instant.
"Robin?" she asked, equally stunned. "What are you doing out here?"
Rustling interrupted her. They both looked to the side. The ghosts knocked back were moving, stumbling to their feet or equivalent. Some had even managed to hover slightly off the ground but they all looked incensed.
"Explanations later, escaping time now." She grabbed his hand, her other still hefting a large gun onto her shoulder. She pulled him away from the mob, past the car with even more dents, past the collapsed wall to a different car, a small black one parked crookedly, probably when she left it when she noticed the lone human up against a small mob of ghosts.
The car lurched into motion, engine straining. "Come on, baby," she whispered to the dash. They moved a little faster. Ahead the mob of ghosts moved out into the street, an undead blockade.
Sam cranked the wheel, tires squealing as they slid and made a one-eighty. The car careened ahead and away from the group. The whole vehicle jerked as light splashed against the back. It shuddered one last time and the barrage stopped.
There was a collective breath of relief, both of them glancing over their shoulders to see the ghosts being left in the dust. Robin turned back around in time to see something green, maybe a foot, slipped into view for a moment.
"Oh, you did not just jump on top of my car, you creep."
The car rocked again, this time with the accompanying sound of claws on metal.
"Grab the bag out of the footwell."
Rob looked down to see a green tote pressed up against his feet. He grabbed and pulled it onto his lap. Sam reached over, digging blindly inside it before pulling a metal object out.
"Use this," she ordered, thrusting a cylindrical object towards him. He took it, turning it a couple times before figuring out what the object was.
"A thermos?" Rob asked, questioning both his driver's choice in weapon and sanity. "And I'm supposed to use it for what? Inviting it to lunch?"
A fist smashed through the back window, cutting her off. Robin twisted in his seat, thumb naturally settling on a lone button. The ghost crawled through the shattered window, shards of glass stained with more green goo as it forced its way into the vehicle.
"Take off the top, aim it and Press the Button!"
Robin glanced down at the object, then looked back at the ghost. The thing locked eyes with him, red and angry. It snarled and pushed further inside. He gritted his teeth, pried the cap off, point the opening and pressed the button.
The thermos bucked in his hands, light swirling out the opening and immediately rushing back in, dragging the ghost with. Sam continued her encouragement, kept saying just a little longer, to hang on.
The light shut off on its own, leaving the back of the car illuminated only by weak sunlight, flickering streetlights, the ghost's blood glowing in the back. For a time only the sound of air rushing through the broken glass and the mournful sirens filled the Prius.
"You did good," Sam said, grabbing his shoulder, getting him to twist back the right way in his seat. He settled down, not relinquishing his grip on the object in his hands until Sam managed to tugged it away.
"What the… That... was gross," he laughed, wiping a layer of green slime from his cheek.
The car passed through the streets, empty of humans but the occasional cop car and one strange looking van. They turned onto a smaller street and passed through a large gate. They eventually pulled up to a huge house in a gated community, garage door opening automatically. The Prius looked a disaster next to trimmed hedges and the matching sports cars parked in the garage.
"What are we doing here?"
A fist tugged nervously at one of her pigtails, eyes glancing around before centering on him. "This is my house. Technically, my parents' house. I know you're aren't from around here but you're here, don't know what it means when ghosts start attacking en-mass. You're stuck here either way, might as well wait it out some place safe."
"But what does that mean?" he asked, closing the car door and following her.
As they talked, they made their way through the garage and something too fancy to be called a mudroom before they entered a kitchen, not as huge as the one in Wayne Manor but just as tastefully decorated.
Inside the room huddled three or four people around a television. They all turned as they approached but only the woman wearing a dress and pearls rushed over.
"Sammy-kins! Are you alright? We were so worried when the sirens went off. I am so glad you are safe at home," the blond woman gushed, manicured fingers resting on Sam's shoulders, one of the few places not splattered with ectoplasm.
"I'm fine, Mom," Sam sighed as she slipped out of the woman's grasp.
"Leave the girl alone, Pamela," someone scolded from behind. Everyone turned to the newcomer. Robin felt his lips twitch as an older woman, grey hair pulled up into a bun and sporting a Pink Floyd t-shirt partially covered by a knit sweater, pulled up on a motorized scooter. "I'm just glad you are unhurt, honey. You're friends are up in your room getting the equipment set up."
"Thanks, Bobeshi." Sam gingerly leaned over and kissed the woman on the cheek, avoiding dripping goo on her. She straightened up and motioned Rob to follow.
The woman on the scooter led them up a large ramp to the second floor. Sam moved ahead and opened up a large door on the left side of the hallway. She held it open, first letting their guide pass first, then motioning him to enter.
Rob only made it a step or two before he had to stop, staring at the room and wondering if Sam was the secret lovechild of Raven and Cyborg.
A stereo thumped softly in the background as he cautiously entered. Out of reflex he noted the workbenches, the tools, the goth inspired furnishings all pushed to one side. He finally settled on the long row of monitors filling the gap between the workspace and the jumbled furniture. Carefully he stepped over cables that snaked across the floor as he followed Sam. The old woman just motored over them, pulling up to a free monitor off to the side.
He looked back and forth, some screens showing city maps, most likely Amity Park. Some looked to be hooked into webcams, people staring out of the screens or looking down or away, eyes occasionally flicking back up.
He could see one boy off to the side, skin lighter than Cyborgs and wearing a red hat, looking back and forth between three screens alone.
"Welcome to the Ghost Patrol Auxiliary HQ," she announced, arms indicating the people, the computers, the monitors Robin took time noting.
"GAP for short," someone on one of the screens shouted.
"We are not the Gap. We will never be the Gap. The Gap is pure evil," she hissed out.
Everyone else laughed, the goth just crossing her arms. "Like I was saying, during a ghost invasion there's no better place to be. I know I was happy to be here during the last one."
"I don't know if we should be happy or not that it isn't slugs invading this time."
"I'm tempted to say this is better than the slugs," Sam replied to the statement, looking up with a smile.
Robin looked up as well and blinked. On the high ceiling, above their heads and barely illuminated by the sunset and the monitors paced the human-like ghost from before, the Danny-clone.
Currently the ghost paced back and forth, feet firmly planted on the ceiling.
Sam chuckled next to Rob. "That's Phantom. We banish him up to the ceiling the minute he started to pace. When he walks through the wires, he disrupts our communication links. And he always forgets to look where he's walking when he's worried.
"You found him," the ghost said looking up, or down depending on your point of view. "Danny and Val called us. They were worried."
"I've had better days," he mused, wiping more goo from his shirt.
"Hey, shut it! Police scanner!" The kid in the red hat yelled out, interrupting everything. They all stopped moving. Sam hit a button on the stereo sitting on a workbench. In the quiet came the static of a radio.
"I don't think it's a ghost, whatever it is. Normal traps didn't work. I need some senior hunters over here now."
A sudden burst of coughing drown out the rest of the transmission. Every occupant in the room looked up to see Phantom curled in on himself, feet still planted on the ceiling. He jerked, coughing again. Blue smoke curled around his fist, lungs heaving. Robin turned to Sam, mouth opening to question her on what was happening.
"What did you do?" a voice, a new voice, asked from the doorway. "The barrier is breaking."