Author's Note: Mr. Freeze, Nora Fries, Batman, Robin, and all the rest of them belong to DC and not me. This story takes place between the events of the movie 'Sub-Zero' and the episode 'Cold Comfort'. Enjoy!
We're all familiar with the tragedy of being you
It's hard to show you any sympathy when all you do
Is beg for pain
Baby, someone is crazy, and it's you - Jonathan Coulton, 'Someone Is Crazy'
In a case that could herald a new era in cryogenic medicine, Nora Fries has been revived from her frozen state and has undergone a vital organ transplant. Nora Fries is the wife of the late Victor Fries, who was killed two weeks ago when an offshore drilling platform exploded and collapsed into the ocean. The transplant operation, funded by the Waynetech Corporation under the auspices of its CEO Mr. Bruce Wayne, was today declared a resounding success by Dr. Lyle Johnston, chief surgeon at Gotham General Hospital. Mrs. Fries is reported to be resting in stable condition. Ironically, the cryogenic technology invented by Nora's husband, which tragically transformed him into the criminal Mr. Freeze, was credited by Dr. Johnston as having saved her life. It's a shame Victor Fries will never know. - Excerpt from 'Gotham Live' broadcast
There's a saying among the vigilantes of Gotham City: Never assume anything.
This, of course, isn't true in all situations. Some things are constant in Gotham. One can safely assume that the Riddler will turn in clues to his next crime like a schoolboy tattling on himself. One can safely assume that a stray batarang that ends up embedded in a tree will spark Poison Ivy's rage. And everyone knows that the Joker will do his best to kill as many people as possible every time he escapes from Arkham Asylum. (Assuming, of course, that he bothers to escape before the killing spree begins.) Rogues can be predictable like that.
But it is important to note that rogues were predictable in another way: in lethal situations, they stayed alive. They were harder to kill than cockroaches. So while the media blithely reported the death of Victor Fries, Batman and his subordinates kept his file open and active.
In some respects, crimefighting was generally easier in the wintertime. Criminals hated the cold weather just as much as anyone else, so they tended to lurk inside in easy-to-bug hideouts and even-easier-to-infiltrate restaurants and bars.
Lurking inside definitely had its good points, Robin thought miserably as he crouched on a snowy warehouse rooftop. Pants had their good points too. Real pants, not red spandex leggings. Thick pants, maybe with a layer of mylar on the inside, good pants that would keep out the -20 degree wind that was currently whistling around Robin's ankles. He yanked the cape even tighter around himself and tried to tuck it in around his feet like a blanket.
"Anything?" Batman dropped silently down next to him.
Robin looked enviously for a moment at Batman. That big, warm, solid, warm, sturdy and above all else warm Batsuit danced through his thoughts. "Nothing." Which was true enough for the moment. The penny-ante criminals inside had been talking their heads off, true, but they hadn't said anything in the two most important categories of information that there were: Stuff We Didn't Know and Stuff We Already Knew But Didn't Know You Knew About. Instead, they'd focused on their own important topics, like "That Goddamn Blizzard" and "Why Batman Sucks".
Batman stuck out his hand. "Let me see the headphones." Robin savored one last moment of warmth on his ears before he yanked the oversized headphones off and passed them over. "We've got better headphones than this," Batman remarked before settling them on his head.
"Better. Not bigger."
Batman eyed his newest protegé and inwardly smiled as he watched him cupping his ears for warmth. "There are warmer costumes, too."
"Now he tells me," Robin groused, standing up and stretching. "Mind if I go home and change?"
The wind whipped across the rooftop, picking up a spray of snow and dotting the two crimefighters in white. Batman ignored it. "Be quick."
"It's not like I'll miss much!" Robin said cheerfully as he dusted the snow off of his cape.
"Or so you assume. They're planning something, and I'll find out what," Batman promised darkly. "Probably while you're in the Batcave. The nice, warm Batcave..." he trailed off as Robin vaulted the gap between the roofs and handsprung away into the darkness. A door slamming reverberated in the headphones, and Batman closed his eyes to better focus on the crackly voices coming into his ears.
"Hey, Sic! How ya been?" Sic. A short form of Icicle, one of Fries' henchmen. Batman nodded as 'Sic' spoke, matching voices with Batman's memory of him.
"Don't call me that." Batman's ears echoed with a thump as Icicle sat down in a cheap wooden chair, and a creak as he leaned back in it.
"So what's the news with Freeze?"
"Don't ask me. How should I know? Pass the coffee."
Static crackled as Batman raised an eyebrow beneath the mask. Icicle wasn't with Freeze anymore?
The other thugs in the room were equally baffled. "Whaddaya mean? You're his head guy!"
"Not anymore!" A slurp of coffee. "Crazy bastard told us all to get out and not come back."
"But ain't he still got that busted leg? Don't he need even one of you errand-boys anymore?" one of the other men in the room asked snidely.
The henchman formerly known as Icicle must have chosen to ignore the taunt. A smart move, since the taunter was Jimmy 'Red-Hot' Wells, known for having a killing temper. "Nah, his leg's fine now. Healed great." Icicle slurped more coffee. "What I don't get is how he's gonna make a comeback when he don't have any help!"
"Maybe he don't want your kind of help anymore. Maybe he's lookin' for a little..." There was a pause where Red-Hot had obviously drawn an hourglass shape in the air. "...companionship."
"You really don't get it, do you?" Icicle snapped. "What would Freeze want with a henchwench? It's not like he could do anything with one!"
True, Batman mused.
It was at that point that Red-Hot introduced Icicle to his fist, whereupon Icicle repaid his gesture with a mug full of hot coffee to the face. Batman allowed the group to beat each other up for a few more minutes before he swooped down and secured the lot of them.
Still, he had to wonder - What was Freeze doing back in Gotham without his henchmen?