Disclaimer: Same as before: I own nothing and I want nothing, except maybe a pat on the head, the honest views of my readers and the winning lottery numbers a day before hand. (That last one is unlikely, but one can only hope.)
A/N: I may, or may not have successfully gone back and changed all references to central casting thug #1 from Joey to Pauly with the intention of use in this chapter and another minor scene later on. If I missed any, please let me know.
A/N2: Okay, mark this day on your calendars as the first time I have pimped myself in any of my fics. Here goes (deep breath) Though I have a reasonable typing speed I tend to think things to death before I commit them to monitor. The over all effect is that I write slowly, however, (another deep breath) reviews, andmayberecommendations, might get me writing faster. (sigh, there I said it)
A/N3: Oh, and much props to my Beta reader who puts up with my crud and helps to make this all better than it might have been. Thanks a lot.
Chapter #7: Worst Case Scenario
Nightfall in Gotham was never a gentle thing. Even in the less gothic suburbs the towering edifices of concrete and steel that dominated the skyline cut out the light of the sun much sooner and much more dramatically than many people not native to the city would believe possible. In fact, many native Gothamites could be heard to jest that night-time may very with the seasons, but that sunset was always at 2:30 on the dot.
Paul Miller was a native of Gotham, but he never joked about the sunset. He hadn't grown up in the bad part of town; he'd grown up in the worst part of town. In an area known as The Barrens. A part of town where, sunset, sunrise, or full noon, the only way to survive was to keep your eyes down and hope not to be noticed.
He had gotten out as fast as he could; the only way he knew how. At the age of twelve he had started running errands for an old guy called Manny who worked so far down in the Penguin's organization that the old man wasn't even sure who was giving him his orders.
Manny liked to tell stories of his younger days; when he worked in New York or in Vegas before it had been taken over by the soulless big corporations. Nobody else listened, but Paul had been spellbound by the tales. Stories of cunning and betrayal with the occasional glimpse of courage, featuring men with names like Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Segal. It was those stories that showed the young Paul Miller what he wanted to be.
At the age of fourteen Paul was promoted to the position of lookout for the gang when they needed an extra set of eyes. He even got the drop on The Boy Wonder with a baseball bat once, and had used the opportunity to run away. Manny had laughed, ruffled his hair and told the story about how he had almost been caught by The Shadow in the late '40s, again. That was the first night Manny ever called him Pauly.
When he turned twenty-one, almost two years after Manny had been buried in one of the constant skirmishes between the Penguin organization and the Two Face mob, Pauly had gone out with his friends to get legally drunk for the first time. During the night Pauly let slip that one of his big ambitions was to earn his own 'tough guy' nick-name like Lucky, or Bugsie, or Pretty Boy. The next day his friends had started needling him about it, calling him 'Pauly No-name', or even 'Pauly No-body'. Pauly had laughed and even had a fake I.D. made with the name 'Pauly Nemo', but then Disney put out that stupid cartoon about a f&ing fish for God's sake and the whole thing came to an immediate stop.
A few years ago he had hooked up with the Maurine Stanton organization and had started to work his way up in the ranks, even to the point where he had been allowed to hand pick the guys he ran with. Things had been looking up until four days ago when he and his boys had been humiliated by a one-eyed cripple and three whores. Now Pauly could feel the respect he had worked so hard for slipping through his fingers.
That was about to change.
Looking out the windshield of the car he sat in, he watched one of the one-eyed pimp's girls strut down the sidewalk without a care in the world. He had to admit that she was a fine piece of talent with the innocent, girl-next-door look that a lot of guys went for. Pauly wasn't sure if he liked the hat though. It covered her eye-catching red hair and made her look like she was either Mary Tyler Moore, or from San 'Fruity'-Cisco. Not that any of that would matter when he and his boys were done.
He gave a nod and watched as the driver slowly caught up with the mark while Mike, the shooter, released the safety of his .22 and rolled down the back window. Pauly knew that a lot of the guys would have chosen a bigger gun for the hit, but higher caliber gunfire always gave him a headache. Besides, at this range, Mike never missed.
Just before they reached the point of no return, Pauly saw the red-head stop at the head of an alley and turn to look into the darkness. A second later he saw her lips move as if she was talking to someone in the shadows.
The same survival instinct that had told him to run away after hitting Robin in the back with a bat so many years ago began to race up his spine. Without looking away he reached out to touch the driver's arm.
"Once more around the block, Tommy."
With a nod the wheel-man drove by, gradually accelerating up to the speed limit.
Passing by the alley, Pauly caught a glimpse of a cape and a pointy-eared cowl.
He cursed under his breath as a chance for pay-back and a little more of his hard earned respect slipped through his fingers.
Someday Violet would figure out how Rona was stacking the deck, and then, there would be pay-back.
After three days of research and going over crime reports, three jittery and impatient, slayers were beginning to drive Xander insane. After considering the situation long and hard for roughly four minutes he decided that a patrol in a relatively vampire and demon light city was just what the doctor ordered. If nothing else it would give the hyperactive slayers a chance to work off some of the energy they had built up over the past few days. What followed was nearly an hour of wheedling, cajoling and begging on the parts of Violet and Rona to patrol alone. Faith as the senior slayer, and more importantly the watcher's wife, stepped in and agreed with the girls that they would be fine. Outnumbered three slayers to one normal man, and not being as dumb as he played at times, Xander agreed to the patrol, but only after Faith delivered the ultimate threat of a night on the couch to the original Scoobie if he didn't do something to make the girls shut the hell up.
After the decision had been made the two younger women had patiently sat through speech #5 'When in Doubt, Call For Backup' and speech #14 'An Idiot With a Gun is Just as Dangerous as an Idiot With Fangs'. The group then picked out patrol routes and went through their customary weapon checks.
A snag was hit when, as an afterthought, the kitchen was checked for post-slayage munchies.
Looking right into Violet's eyes, Xander had smirked and pulled out a deck of cards to determine who would walk the two blocks to the store to pick up ice cream for everyone. With a quick shuffle, he (as always) flipped over the jack of hearts. Next had been Faith who (as always) drew the queen of spades. Then had been Vi's turn and she had drawn the seven of diamonds, followed by Rona's pulling of the eight of diamonds.
With Xander and Faith it was almost funny the way that neither of them even pretended to not be cheating, but Rona always drawing one card higher than Vi…every time…
Someday the red-head would figure out how her sister slayer was cheating and then there would be pay-back. Lots of pay-back. And lots and lots of…
Her train of thought was interrupted as she walked past an alley and caught something with the corner of her eye. Several feet back from the street, in shadows far to dark for any normal person to see through, a man crouched, dressed in a form-fitting body-suit and a cape.
Putting the lessons she had learned from the two senior members of her team to use, Violet Knowles gave a half smirk and tilted her head slightly.
"Nice outfit. Did it come with a pair of fuzzy handcuffs?"
The figure loomed out of the shadows as a car passed on the mostly deserted street.
"We need to talk," The words seemed to growl out from the surrounding shadows.
"Well, I need to get to the store to grab some ice-cream. Can I grab you something, or do you want to come with?"
After a moment of silence she shrugged and continued on her way. Entering the store the red-headed slayer moved past several aisles to the freezer section. Taking a quick look behind her to make sure she hadn't been followed, she let the breath she had been holding and nearly collapsed against the freezer door as she finally let her knees go weak.
"Note to self," She whispered to herself. "No more trying to act like Faith. Only Faith is allowed to act like Faith. Holy shit. That was freaking Batman!"
Bruce Wayne was not happy.
He was honest enough with himself to admit that he had brooded throughout the entire flight back to Gotham, and brooding lead to circular thinking and circular thinking lead to nowhere.
In his own defense, the answers he had gained in Cleveland had painted a frightening picture in his mind. The conversation he had had Kennedy DeVries, Principal Wood and the young metta-powered girl who was quit possibly under their control, convinced him that The Watcher's Council, after years, perhaps centuries, of controlling events from behind the scenes were preparing to move out of the shadows. It had taken disturbingly little time with his laptop during the flight to discover that students of The Council's strategically placed 'schools' had spread to nearly every major city on the globe.
Three had been hired as interpreters inside The United Nations.
And worst of all, the young woman that could likely be his daughter was a member of The Council and had spent the most part of the last three and a half years recruiting young girls to be the Watchers' agents.
If his mood could be described as dark during the flight, it only worsened when he saw the figure standing beside his car as he stepped out of the hanger.
Amanda Waller was a sturdily built woman. She wore her harshly conservative suit with uncompromising, nearly military, precision, her iron grey hair pulled back into a tight hard bun and her posture set in a pose that radiated efficiency.
Bruce knew that beneath the exterior was a woman that was a caring and compassionate mother and grandmother, but that her position in the government demanded that she be a hard, and sometimes, ruthless person.
Amanda Waller was very good at her job.
"Director Waller," The butler returned the greeting with a nod.
The former Dark Knight's eyes narrowed slightly in irritation.
With a slight nod of her head she motioned Alfred to the front of the car and then opened the back door of the limousine.
"We need to talk."
Bruce let silence settle over the car as it pulled away from his personal hangar. Intently he watched the woman who had been both foe and ally in the time that he had known her, first as a founding member of CADMUS then as a liaison for the League. After the limousine passed the last of the airport gates he finally asked what he wanted to know.
"Why are you here, Amanda?"
"Damage control," She snapped in response. "Do you have any idea how much panic your little trip to Cleveland has caused?"
Director Waller glared into the billionaire's unreadable eyes for a moment before she continued.
"Of course you don't," She finally sighed. "We've known that The Watcher's Council and The Justice League would eventually bump into each other. It's been inevitable for the last three and a half years, but this is definitely a worst case scenario."
"Do you remember the scene in 'Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid' when they try to rob the train? Well the other members of the Council call Alexander and Faith's group 'The Wild Bunch' for a reason and the last thing the world needs is the two of them butting heads with the Batman."
Violet Knowles shouldered open the front door of the town home, her arms filled with bags of ice-cream, and headed through the living room towards the kitchen.
"Hey, everybody," The red-head called out. "Look what followed me home. Can I keep him?"
"No," Rona bantered, not bothering to look up from the TV show she was watching. "You can't even take care of Xander and he's house broken."
"Hey," Floated out from the kitchen.
"That's not fair," Vi quipped, moving into the kitchen. "I take him out for walks almost every night."
"Yeah," The dark skinned beauty responded looking up. "But when was the last time you…fed…him?" She trailed off as she watched the dark figure melt in from the night. "Shit, Check it out."
A second latter Faith sauntered out through the kitchen door. The elder slayer paused for a moment in surprise and then a predatory grin crossed her face.
"Nice outfit, Bats. Did it come with a ball-gag?" Getting no response other than a growl and a fairly affective glare, she turned her head and called for the last member of the team. "Yo, X. We got guest."
Moving into the room, Xander took in the cape, the cowl and the form-fitting body-suit and a huge grin crossed his face.
"Nice outfit. Did it come with…?" He started only to be interrupted by Violet's voice coming from the kitchen.
"We already did that bit."
"Did you get the fu…?"
"…Fuzzy handcuffs? Yeah, that was me."
"Why are you here?" Batman growled.
"House-sitting," Xander answered as an aside. "What about the ball…"
Faith raised her hand with a shrug. "That was me, just now. Tell ya what, if we run into the Flash, you can have first crack at him."
"Oh, come on," The one-eyed man whined, waving his hand up and down towards the approaching vigilantly.
The Dark Slayer's smirk broadened as she tilted her head in thought. "Okay, point; you can have the first two shots."
"Why are you here," Growled the Dark Knight again.
"I've always wanted to visit Gotham," The original Scooby responded, turning to face the hero. "It's kinda like the set of a Tim Burton film, but more Goth-y."
"I think you mean 'gothic'," Rona helped.
With a surge of motion the Dark Knight grabbed the one-eyed man by his shirt and slammed him up and against the wall.
"Why are you in Gotham!?"
END CHAPTER #7