CATverse A/N: Guess what! We have our own domain name! You can now find us at the much easier to remember catverse. com! This story immediately follows 'Chapel of Lurve'.
A/N: I don't even remember who came up with this plotline anymore. The basic idea occurred during my birthday celebration with Captain and Al. The rest just sort of fell into place.
(In other words: don't blame me for it. Not my idea!! I didn't push for this, they did. Scold them.)
Also…staying with the Captain and Al the past few days has made getting their respective uh…'quirks' on paper much, much easier. If they say it in this fic, I can hear in in their voices in my head…or have already heard them say it aloud.
We're just too awesome. Really.
Nightwing was getting somewhat sick of the fact that every criminally inclined Tom, Dick and Harry was opting to move to Bludhaven. The influx of borrowed villains whose usual home bases were in cities under the watch of people like Superman, Wonder Woman and his own old mentor, was getting a little ridiculous. Already this week he'd faced off with Captain Cold, Clayface and that little mischief maker from the fifth dimension, whatever-his-name-was. It was almost like they thought that just because he was younger--a little less well established as a hero, even a little less famous--that he wasn't as terrible a threat as the big ticket members of the Justice League.
Sure, his city was a little smaller, and his reputation the same, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to kick their faces in for committing crimes in his city. Just because he'd only been in the game for a little over a year didn't make him any less competent as a crime fighter. Maybe, if the fact he was actually the boy wonder with a simple costume change, ever came to light, he'd be taken a little more seriously.
He had to wonder, as he pursued the tiny wind-up helicopter--which was actually laden with high explosives--whether or not he was ever going to get a proper rogues gallery of his own. If the likes of Toyman were taking up villainy in Bludhaven, the chances were starting to look a little slim. He hoped he wasn't going to be forced to pick up the other big time hero castoffs for the entirety of his career. It was getting exhausting.
Rain was pelting him as he leapt from rooftop to rooftop, utilizing every acrobatic trick in his considerably well developed arsenal, and he closed in on the helicopter rapidly. He could've easily caught it, he supposed, if he really wanted to, but he was more interested in finding out where it was headed. If it was up to something nefarious, he would disarm it instantly, but if it was headed back towards its owner, like he suspected, he would just keep pace with it.
The buildings started to thin out a bit--less leaping, more running--as he reached the industrial district, where skyscrapers gave way to fat, squat factory buildings and a few large outlet stores. Nightwing didn't even have to continue following the copter; when the giant jack in the box came into view--the neon sign beneath it reading 'Plaything Palace!'--it was rather obvious where it was headed.
At least the theme villains were predictable, which made his job much, much easier.
With a carefully calculated jump off the rooftop and the use of a grappling hook, he swung to the toy store's nearest skylight, somersaulted as he hit the roof and then stopped in a crouch, leaning over the glass and peering into the store.
Toyman, quite possibly--in Nightwing's opinion, anyway--one of the creepier looking villains on Superman's enemy list, was puttering around a large primary colored cannon of some kind. It almost looked like a bazooka--if the army allowed the paint to be applied by a six year old--but rather than a missile sticking out of one end, there was a complex laser array.
"A death ray. Great."
Shaking the water from his hair, he carefully opened the skylight after disabling the cheap security system that was in place. There were plenty of rafters to hunker down in and he carefully slid inside, choosing to observe for a few minutes before bounding into action. Closing the skylight again was a bit of a trial, but he managed and slunk along support beams until he was directly over Toyman's creation.
The small mechanical looking man didn't seem to notice his presence. Hopefully, he could keep it that way.
Toyman was muttering to himself as he continued adjusting various parts of the ray, small wind-up bears and Raggedy Ann dolls assisting him here and there. Each of the toys had a tiny, toy sized rocket strapped to their back, and though they looked very cute, there was no doubt that they were just as deadly as the villain himself.
"It's finished, my toys," Toyman said with glee, clapping his hands like an excited kindergartener. He reached for the ray to hoist it onto his shoulder, but a birdarang hurtled through the air and slammed into the metal case, burying itself in the steel and causing a few angry red sparks to blaze. Toyman didn't relinquish his hold on the weapon and hefting it with a grunt as he moved towards the source of the disruption, pulled the trigger. "Gate crasher! Get him!"
Nightwing dove out of the way, pitching from one rafter to another, avoiding the path of the shaft of glimmering aqua light for several minutes. The tiny toys that were the villain's minions started firing off their missiles and those were a little bit harder to dodge, as they continued slamming into the ceiling, blinding him and--occasionally--blowing up his footholds.
Avoiding both the ray and the rockets was growing increasingly difficult--especially since he hadn't ceased in hurling his own weapons at Toyman--until finally, Dick zigged when he should have zagged and dove right into the beam as he evaded a missile and landed on another rafter.
A brilliant flash of blue light flared, dazzling the hero to the point of blindness. As the ray took effect, Nightwing's limbs stiffened, his joints feeling like they'd completely disappeared, leaving him helpless and wooden. He felt something about himself changing, even as he struggled to move his paralyzed arms, but he couldn't put his finger on what, even as he lost his already precarious balance and plummeted to the ground, face first.
Everything went dark.
How long he lay on the ground, Dick didn't know. He was conscious, but still unable to move, and the fact that Toyman hadn't wandered by to gloat over his prone form was more than a little bit worrying.
He wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, though.
Nightwing was still vaguely aware of his body, but it was a drunken sort of awareness. He could still feel his arms and legs, but the ordinary sensations involved with them was greatly diminished. His nerves were deadened, it seemed, and his muscles were stiff. He couldn't even do so much as open his mouth to speak; how he was still breathing was a mystery. The only thing he could figure was that his internal organs weren't affected and for that, he was grateful.
He strained to turn over, but froze in his efforts when he heard footsteps approaching from his left. The footfalls were light and cautious--practiced, like someone who was used to sneaking around in the dark--but they stopped abruptly a few feet away and were followed by a somewhat overly dramatic gasp.
"Al!" a voice exclaimed in a stage whisper. "Aaaaal!"
The owner of the voice scurried over towards him and suddenly, Nightwing found himself being turned over onto his back. There was a young woman kneeling over him and she was looking at him oddly--not at all the way someone coming face to face with a paralyzed superhero should've. She was beaming at him.
More disturbing still was the fact that he seemed to be half her size…
He struggled to move and failed, so he had to settle for lying still as she poked him in the middle and giggled. Another face drifted into view, a second woman, roughly the same age as the first.
"Look what I found!" the one called Captain poked him again. It tickled a little bit. "Isn't he cute?"
"Since when do they make these?"
"Who cares? He's adorable!"
"Meh," Al answered with a light shrug. She immediately grew thoughtful. "But you know…Techie's birthday is tomorrow…"
Captain gasped and flapped her hands excitedly, shutting her eyes as she did so and releasing what could only be called a 'squee'. "You're so smart! He's perfect!"
And with that, she scooped him up in her arms as if he weighed no more than a feather and hugged him to her chest--a little more tightly than he thought was strictly necessary. "Okay, let's get out of here."
It was when his abductor walked past one of the funhouse mirrors and he caught sight of her reflection carrying a distinctly Nightwing shaped plush toy that he realized he was in serious trouble.
Nightwing spent the next twenty four hours in the dark. His captors (though he could hardly reason that they were at fault for their actions enough to be called 'captors'--for all they knew, he was an actual toy) had brought him to their place of residence (a warehouse, best he could tell) and then stuffed him in a gift box which was a bit too small for him. By his estimation, he was about three feet tall now, if not a little less than that, and the box they'd decided to cram him in was maybe twelve by twelve.
As such, his ankles had been forced to take up residence next to his ears.
However, he didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable, even though he was technically folded in half. As far as he could tell, he had no spine--or any other bones, for that matter--so being crammed into a far too small container wasn't all that bad, just a little odd.
Time passed about as quickly as he thought it would and he mentally sang 'Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall' all the way through six times before the noise outside his prison grew above a dull hum. What had been murmurs, voices and footsteps blurring together to make a soup of sound, had become louder and clearer. It sounded like what had been just a few people--four or five at the most--had grown to about a dozen. The words being spoken by the group weren't all comprehensible, but 'birthday' kept coming up and eventually, the drone of incongruous voices gave way to an out of tune rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
And then, he was moving. Or, at the very least, the box he was in was moving and him along with it. "Open ours!"
He heard the ripping of wrapping paper, like someone was standing next to his ears and shredding a newspaper, and then light blinded him from overhead as the box top was removed.
There was a deep, somewhat cartoonishly exaggerated gasp and as he recovered from his moment of sightlessness, he found a bushy haired twenty something standing over him and grinning.
Her hand dropped into the box and grabbed him by the ankle, pulling him out of the box, knocking his head into the cardboard in the process. The birthday girl righted him and held him around the waist, continuing to grin like an insane asylum patient.
"He's so cute!" She pulled him forward, crushing his face into her cleavage and if he still possessed the ability to blush, he probably would've. When she let him come up for air, he felt a moment of panic at the sight of the party's attendees. Aside from the two women who'd kidnapped him from the toy store, there was Jonathan Crane, Edward Nygma, Jervis Tetch and half a dozen professional henchmen whose names he didn't know, all standing around with paper plates laden with half finished pieces of cake. "Thank you, guys."
Tetch swept his hat off and gestured at a small, blue package. "Open mine next?"
She didn't release Nightwing, instead choosing to carry him with her, tucked under her arm, and she tore open the blue box easily. "A tea set!"
Dick thought she pulled off 'surprised' rather convincingly, but not convincingly enough. He could tell she really wasn't, but he doubted anyone else would've picked up on it as well as he had.
"Thank you, Jervis." Techie grabbed the little Englishman and hugged him just as tightly as she had squeezed Nightwing. Given Jervis' height, he too was given a moment of being smothered by her cleavage, but he looked a little more thoughtful and a lot less embarrassed about it than he probably should've when she pulled back again.
Nygma's present was next--some highly expensive and undoubtedly stolen bauble in his signature green--and he too got a hug and a peck on the cheek, which caused him to turn a nice shade of mauve.
The Scarecrow was last and his package--small and book shaped--elicited a squeak from Techie and she hurled herself at him, showering his face with sloppy kisses. "Oh, thank you, Jonathan, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
He grunted and struggled to dislodge her arms from around him. "Get off me, woman, or the toxin is coming out."
She rolled her eyes and grabbed him by the chin, planting a proper kiss on him and then bounced away with her new acquisition, crushing it to her chest like it was the most precious thing she'd ever laid eyes on. The Scarecrow looked less than pleased and wiped his mouth, while the other rogues looked on, slightly gob smacked.
"There's one more," Captain said, pointing at a large box still on the table where the other presents had been lying.
Techie started for the gift, but Al stopped her, grabbing her by the arm. "No. Purple wrapping paper. We don't open that one."
The bushy haired woman shifted until one hand was resting on her hip. "He likes me, he wouldn't blow me up."
"He likes Harley, look what he does to her on a regular basis."
"He hasn't blown her up."
"Yet. Very important modifier there, 'yet'."
"Well, I want to open it."
"Fine. Let me get a few hundred yards away, huh?"
Al strode away and not surprisingly, the rest of the room's inhabitants followed, leaving Techie all alone by the package. From what Nightwing could tell, it was about two feet long and only a few inches deep, bright purple and tied with orange and aqua ribbons. Even if the cards attached to it hadn't been playing cards (a queen of hearts and a joker, which made Dick's gag reflex want to kick in), there wouldn't have been any doubt as to who it was from.
Gingerly, she pulled at the ribbons and they all fell away. She lay Nightwing on the table next to the box, and lifted the lid carefully, peeking inside.
A spray of confetti erupted from the box, but Nightwing saw Techie's eyes widen at the contents and she slammed the lid closed again, blushing furiously.
"Well?" The Captain called. "What is it?"
"Nothing!" Techie answered in a singsong voice.
"He sent you sex toys, didn't he?" Al asked without any regard for the sputtering sounds that came from the three male super villains in the room.
"He did not give me sex toys!" Techie's blush deepened and Al cackled with demented glee.
"He sent you lingerie!"
"He…" Techie picked up Nightwing and buried her face in his plush back before answering meekly. "Yes."
If Nightwing had been able to join in the hearty laughter, he might have.
The party wound down and the guests departed, leaving only the girls and Crane. Nightwing got a front row seat for the festivities and their eventual dying down, as he'd been set on the couch like an ornamental pillow and once the Scarecrow's lair was empty, the occupants got rather quiet. The Captain, Al and Techie plopped on the sofa, each with a book, and Crane retired to his (Dick had to assume) bedroom. Techie curled up with the new book that her employer had given her (The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe) and decided that her birthday plush made a nice place to rest her head.
Nightwing couldn't really feel much of the pressure that must've come with being laid on, so he didn't really mind. No matter how he was positioned, it wasn't particularly uncomfortable, even though he knew at certain points he was surely bent in ways that no human being who wasn't a circus contortionist would've been able to manage. He just hoped whenever the ray's effects wore off (and they always wore off--eventually) he wouldn't have sustained permanent damage to his back.
The three Hench girls stayed on the couch for several hours, just reading, and if he hadn't been lying in such a way that he could see the pages of Techie's book, Dick might've gotten bored enough to resume singing inside his head to pass the time. Finally, sometime after midnight, Al poked each of her companions sleepily and went off to bed. The Captain stretched leisurely, almost winding up in Techie's lap as she did so, and with a yawn, also excused herself.
Another few hours passed, some of them spent reading, some spent watching television, but Nightwing could instinctively tell that the woman with her arms wrapped around him was getting a little bit anxious. She kept casting her eyes towards the purple box--which had been piled with the other unwrapped presents--and chewing her bottom lip, brows knit together.
Ultimately, she got up from the couch and approached the box like it held a particularly fascinating, but very poisonous snake. She leaned over, picked it up, and started for her bedroom, leaving the crime fighter cum plushie all by his lonesome on the sofa.
Now that he was alone again, he attempted movement once more and found to his great surprise that he could wiggle a little bit. He tried wriggling his toes and fingers, and though he could feel them moving with just as much vigor as he was putting into the effort, the actual movement wasn't very impressive. It certainly wasn't enough progress to have a go at escaping, but it was a good sign. Toyman's toy-ray was starting to wear off a bit, which meant that it wouldn't be too long before it wore off completely.
The sound of Techie's bedroom door slamming shut caused him to go still. He heard the pattering of bare feet as she rounded the sofa and plopped down next to him again. He tried to turn his head but couldn't, so he didn't get to see her until she pulled him back into her lap, facing her.
His eyes felt like they might leave their sockets…if plushie eyes even had sockets.
The Joker certainly had…interesting taste in underwear. The sheer purple bed jacket overlaid a purple, green and gold playing card suit printed negligee which was absurdly low cut. Even though the hem was knee length, the overall effect was immodest without actually showing much skin. Techie sighed and ruffled Nightwing's yarn hair.
"It's…very Joker," she muttered under her breath, adjusting the jacket a little. "I just hope Harley never finds out he gave me this."
A yawn stretched her lips and she flopped back on the couch, wrapping her arms around Nightwing again. She pulled the blanket that had been lying on the couch up until it was under her chin and rolled over with her back to the television, crushing Dick between the back of the couch and her body.
She fell asleep in a few minutes and for the first time since his transformation, Dick started to feel a little drowsy. He supposed it must've had to do with the effects of the ray wearing off; when he was closer to being a toy than being human, he hadn't gotten hungry or sleepy, but now he was starting to feel very weary.
For the first--and probably last--time in his career as a crime fighter, Nightwing fell asleep in the arms of a convicted felon.
Coming out of sleep the next morning was an odd experience. Nightwing had a few moments of not knowing--or particularly caring--where he was. Breathing was a tiny bit difficult, since his chest was pinned between one solid surface and another, but he shifted his arms a little, pulling the body in front of him into a more comfortable position and his lungs inflated easier. It was nice and comfortable and he slipped back into sleep for a few seconds before he realized that there was a leg thrown over his hip, arms thrown around his shoulders and his chin was nestled in someone's cleavage.
He immediately jerked awake, blinking rapidly as the past thirty six hours rushed back to him.
The effects of Toyman's device had clearly worn off and he was fully human again.
He grimaced as Techie moved against him, trying to get comfortable. He tried to press his spine into the back of the couch and ignored his body's immediate cave-man-esque response to the movement. He was very fully human again.
He had to get out of here…
With the hand that wasn't pinned under the woman in his arms, he carefully lifted her leg and pushed it off himself. He then moved to her arms, trying to pry them from around his neck.
She grumbled in her sleep and resisted, flinging her leg around his waist again.
"Stop tryin' to get away," she mumbled, tightening her grip even more. "Slippery bast--"
She yawned suddenly and opened bleary eyes. He could see as the dark orbs went from foggy and half asleep to sharp and very awake.
He couldn't help himself. He smirked.
She screamed but didn't seem to have sufficient control over her motor skills to let him go and skitter backwards off the couch.
It didn't matter, because the moment that she shattered the silence with her screech, three doors crashed open and the Captain, Al and Crane all converged on the couch, each with a bludgeoning weapon in hand; a lead pipe, a shovel and a golf club, respectively.
Nightwing's reflexes were a little dulled--he suspected from some lingering aftereffects of Toyman's weapon--but he shoved Techie out into the floor where she landed with a squeak and flipped off the couch as the golf club descended on the place where his head had been lying. The shovel was swung at him next, but he dodged it and then the pipe, which the Captain aimed at his knees. He flung a birdarang at Crane and the older man lacked the speed to dodge it in time. It hit him squarely on the head and he went down, clutching the newly made cut in his forehead. The thump was enough to make him lose consciousness shortly after he went down.
The Captain and Al looked furious. They dove at him and swung their weapons with all their might. He took advantage of their unthinking zeal and threw two bolas, tripping them and tying their ankles easily. They landed face first at his feet, but didn't stop trying to strike him.
By this point, Techie finally regained her senses and hurled herself at him too. As he was fending her off--working his way slyly towards the exit--the other two were working at the bolas; pretty soon, he'd be going up against a trio again and, while under ordinary circumstances he was perfectly confident in his ability to take out a few henchgirls, his muscles were still a little bit sluggish. Thankfully, with his surreptitious retreat from the common room towards the door, there was about fifteen feet between him and the other two women.
"What's the big idea, breakin' in and climbing in bed with me?" she shrieked, swinging her fist at his face clumsily.
"I don't remember having a choice in the matter," he replied, dodging easily and grabbing her other hand, stopping it in mid-flight towards his left eye. "You were cuddling me."
"Let me go!" She twisted in his grip, sneering and taking another swing with her free hand.
The knee to the groin was more than a little unpleasant, but he recovered relatively quickly. At least, he didn't drop to the floor in agony like she'd obviously been expecting him to. She kneed him again and looked perturbed that he wasn't writhing on the ground.
"Armored underpants?" she asked angrily.
He shrugged. "Catwoman likes to hit below the belt."
"Knew there was a reason I liked her." She punched him again, this time managing a glancing blow off his shoulder. He grabbed her other wrist, holding her arms immobile.
"Is this supposed to be the part where we trade themed verbal barbs that border on flirtation?" she asked, struggling to free herself.
"Why, is that what you want?"
"I woke up with my legs around your waist, I think it's required by law. Or the Hero/Villain handbook, at any rate." She tried to kick him in the chest but the space between them wasn't large enough.
"Huh. Haven't read that handbook. It probably wouldn't have covered proper etiquette in cases of transformation into a stuffed toy, anyway."
"Flying by the seat of your pants?" she asked, leaning in until their faces were a mere inch away from each other.
"It's the only way to travel," he replied.
She kicked him in the shin and the force of the hit was enough to make him loosen his grip on one of her wrists. She took advantage of it and twisted until her hand was free. With the flat of her palm, she jabbed upwards at his face, slamming her hand into his nose.
"There are some habits I would've preferred that you hadn't picked up from the old man," she said, dancing out of his grasp. "Selina Kyle I ain't."
"You're a little more like her than you think," he answered, wiping the blood from his face.
"Techie! Out of the way!"
Both Nightwing and Techie turned to see Al and the Captain, manning a bazooka and aiming it squarely at the hero's head.
"I believe that's my exit cue." She smiled and saluted him, running towards her friends but outside the line of fire.
"I always was rotten at goodbyes!" she called. "FIRE!"
He vaulted out of the way as the trigger was pulled.
The expected explosion never came, instead, a 'poink' sound was followed by a shower of confetti and a bright orange flag with the word 'KABOOM!' written on it in stark white letters.
"Dammit!" Techie exclaimed. "Trust Harley Quinn to give us a bum bazooka!"
Nightwing chuckled for a second, until Al shouted, "Plan B!" and pulled a grenade.
"Al, are you crazy?!"
"Jury's still out on that one!" she shouted, lobbing the explosive at Nightwing with every ounce of strength she could muster.
He dove, covering his ears, just as the grenade hit the ground with a metallic tinkling clatter.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding! Does no one make functional weapons in this city anymore?!"
Nightwing had to smirk. He stood, hands on his hips, but before he could speak, the front door burst inwards.
"Roll out the red carpet, the party's heeeeeere!"
Harley Quinn and the Joker, with an entourage of no less than five henchmen, stood in the doorway. Nightwing started backing away, towards the girls, and found Techie closing the distance as well.
"Oh God, he found me," she gulped.
"Hey look, Mister J.!" Harley pointed at Nightwing. "The Bat brat beat us to the punch!"
"Some people have no sense of style," the Joker replied, bringing up one gloved hand and studying his fingertips. "Only one gatecrasher per party. Otherwise, it's just tacky."
He shifted his attention from Nightwing to the woman who was starting to cower behind him a little. "And how's the birthday girl? Hmmm?"
"Boss, her birthday was yesterday," Harley said innocently.
That statement earned her a smack in the chops. "I'm fashionably late, you twit."
"Right, right," Harley answered, her fingers in her mouth, making sure her teeth were all in their proper places.
"The Joker is in our lair, the Joker is in our lair, the Joker is in our lair," Techie gibbered anxiously. "This has never happened before, what do we do?"
"Quick!" The Captain called. "Distract him!"
"What?" Techie spun on her heel and stared at her commanding officer. "How?"
"Use your breasts!" The Captain brought her hands up in front of her chest, fingers curled as though she were holding bowling balls.
"Those aren't the solution to every problem, Captain!"
"You said there's no problem that a little jiggle can't fix. So jiggle!" The Captain started bouncing to illustrate.
"I am not going to jiggle for the Joker!"
"Aw, pooh," the Joker sulked, "Why not?"
"She…uh…not in front of the enemy!" Al improvised. Techie looked at her like her head had just spontaneously caught fire.
"Oh, yes, him. We'll have to do something about bird boy," Joker said thoughtfully.
"What'dya want we should do to the chicken wing, boss?"
"Ventilate him!" The Joker threw his head back and cackled with wild abandon and the henchmen stepped forward, Tommy guns at the ready.
The clown prince put his hands around his mouth and shouted at Techie, "You might want to move, doll! You wouldn't want holes in your nice new frock!"
"Doll?" Harley narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Techie and drew her popgun. She looked like she might just be looking for an excuse to 'accidentally' shoot what she clearly thought was competition.
Nightwing pulled his grappling gun from his belt and fired it through the skylight. "That's my exit cue."
"No, wait!" Techie grabbed him by the arm. "Take me with you! For the love of God, arrest me!"
"Sorry, I can't bring myself to break up a good love triangle when I see it," he shouted, lifting off the ground as the henches started firing . "Call me a hopeless romantic!"
"Oh, I'll call you something, alright!" she screamed after him, shaking her fist.
He hoisted himself through the skylight amidst the gunfire and peeped back down again. "Just so long as you call me!"