Coming to Terms
The heart monitor beeped at a slow, steady pace. Nick lay unconscious in the bedroom he had been given when he first arrived at Wayne Manor. The IV bag was nearly drained and a blood bag was draining into Nick's arm. An elderly woman, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, walked into the bedroom and looked at the monitor. Glancing down to write on her papers, she took note of the fallen hero's vitals. Dr. Thompkins shook her head reading what the monitor said. Moving on, she took her stethoscope and placed it on her ears. As she placed the metal on the exposed scar on the chest, Nick's hand reached up on grabbed Dr. Thompkins's wrist.
"Who the hell are you?" Nick said sternly. His eyes were locked on the stranger's. Even in his weakened state, Nick's grip was like iron.
"Dr. Leslie Thompkins," she replied with equal sternness. "I've been Bruce's personal physician for years." Nick looked around and saw that he was back in his room at Wayne Manor. The morning sun was already in the sky. "Would you please let my wrist go so I can finish taking your vitals?" Satisfied he was safe, Nick let Dr. Thompkins hand go and she returned to his chest. "Try and ignore the pain and give me some deep breaths." Nick mentally braced himself and gave a deep breath. Pain shot from the wound in his side. It felt like acid had been poured on Nick's bare skin. It was a fight to keep himself from flinching, but Nick stayed still for the good doctor. Leslie listened as Nick took in air. "Again," she said moving her stethoscope. Nick complied and Leslie listened as her patient's lungs took in air.
"How deep is it?" Nick asked suddenly. Leslie looked at the young man dryly and took the buds out of her ears.
"You're lucky to be alive, Mr. Reese," she began.
"Nick," Nick interrupted.
"Nick," Dr. Thompkins continued. "The leather in your coat and armor kept Zsasz's knife from going deep enough into your liver. A couple more inches and your Hepatic Portal would have been severed." Nick let a chuckle go, but the laughing aggravated his wound.
"Lucky me," he said sarcastically. Dr. Thompkins crossed her arms and shook her head at the young man in front of her.
"Indeed you are," she started. "Alfred and I spent hours stitching you together and your heart stopped twice before we finished. Before Bruce got you to me, you lost 45% of your blood before we got a line into you. Not that you are likely to listen, but you should stay in bed for a week and take it easy for few more." Nick let out another laugh and Leslie just glared at him. Just as she was about to question Nick's mental stability, there came a knock on the door. It opened up to reveal a very worried, then very happy looking Barbara on the other side. Dressed in some casual wear, Barbara let a tear fall at what she saw. Unable to contain herself, Barbara ran over to him. Dr. Thompkins stopped her short of jumping on Nick. Struggling to restrain herself, the red head sat down on the bed and took Nick's hand. Based on the looks the two were giving each other, Leslie gathered her equipment and left the room.
"I thought you weren't going to make it," Barbara said as she helped Nick lay back down.
"Apparently, I almost did," Nick quipped with a smile. It soon faded as the memories began to him. Nick saw himself taking on Zsasz alone and felt the pain of Zsasz's knife cutting into his body. He saw them duel and fall through the sky-light. The walk up the stairs; Zsasz lighting the cigarette and putting it in Nick's mouth. Nick's eyes widened as he remembered what happened next. Barbara saw the mood change on Nick's face and tightened her grip on his hand.
"Nick, don't dwell on it," she said.
"Dwell?" Nick scoffed. "I put a knife in Zsasz's heart without a second thought. I killed him."
"Like I told you last night, you had no choice," Barbara reassured. "If you hadn't acted, he would have killed you. You did what you had to." Nick said nothing as he stared at the ceiling. His hands ran down the side of his torso to the bandages. Even through the gauze and the tape, Nick felt the lumps in his skin. He couldn't tell the exact amount but guessed 30. Barbara watched as another tear fell from Nick's eye. Barbara wiped the tear away with her finger and Nick took her hand again.
"I remember one more thing," he said. Barbara smiled and lay down with Nick. "This trip has been quite an experience." Barbara chuckled at the statement. They laid in silence staring at each other, and exchanging a few quick kisses on the lips. Suddenly, Barbara brought up her hand, and smacked Nick across his face as hard as she could. "OUCH," Nick yelled. "Way to ruin the moment!"
"That was for going off on your own," Barbara said sitting up. Nick looked at her with a look of sheer confusion.
"First, you kiss me, then you slap me?" he questioned.
"At first, I was happy you are alive, now I am so pissed at you, Nick," Barbara said turning her back. Nick thought about it for a moment and she was right. Suddenly, Barbara started crying and turned back to Nick. "What were you thinking?" Nick opened his mouth to answer, but the red head cut him off. "Don't tell me you were protecting us. We all knew the risks when we put on the costumes." Nick just sighed. He had no valid argument to justify going off on his own.
"You're right, Barbara," he said. "There is no excuse. I guess it was my pride for not getting the cannon sooner. And with Two-Face's death on my mind, I didn't want to risk your lives for my mistakes. Especially your life, Barbara." Barbara moved her hand again and Nick readied himself for another slap. To his surprise, Nick watched Barbara pull the sheet down, and run her hand along the bandages.
"Nick," Barbara started. "Don't ever do something like that again." Nick nodded his head just as a knock came at the door. Alfred entered the room carrying a tray with some water on it.
"How are you feeling, Master Reese?" he asked with his usual poise.
"You of all people should know, Alfred," Nick said. "I owe you and Dr. Thompkins my life." Alfred smiled as he offered a large pill to the wounded man. "Thank you, Alfred, for everything."
"Think nothing of it, Master Reese," he said. "Though you may wish you were dead when our visitor comes to see you. That is why I brought you this large pill, for the pain yet to come."
"Visitor?" Nick asked and noticed Barbara got a very worried look on her face. "Barbara?" Nick chimed with a little annoyance in his voice. His new girlfriend chuckled nervously.
"I may have called your sister…" she said sheepishly. Nick stared at her with wide eyes knowing full well the inferno that would soon unfold. Quickly, he took the pill and gulped it down with the water.
"You…called…Victoria?" Nick stuttered. Before Barbara could answer, the door flew open and small brunette stood with her hand firmly on the door. The woman was barely above 5'9", and she was wearing 6" heels. Barbara was amazed to see the scared look on Nick's face. How could a small woman who was no larger than 110lbs, intimidate a man like Nick? Bruce and Tim were standing behind Victoria, both equally uneasy. Victoria just stood there, her rage emanating like fire.
"Nice knowing you, Nick," Tim said to break the awkward silence. Victoria slowly turned her head and the young man backed down.
"Not helping, Master Tim," Alfred said collecting the tray and taking his leave. Once he left, the silence continued as Victoria took in the site of her wounded brother. After a moment, she turned to Bruce.
"Thank you, Bruce," she said. Bruce responded with a nod. "I'll honor your secret just as I honor Nick's." Nick and Barbara's eyes widened at Victoria's words knowing what she was talking about. "Would you excuse us, please?" Bruce silently closed the door and left the three in the room, alone. Barbara took this chance to try and calm the woman. She stood up and walked over to Victoria.
"You must be Victoria," she started extending her hand.
"I'll get to you in a moment," Victoria interrupted with calm rage. She didn't even turn to Barbara, but kept her eyes on Nick. Slowly, she walked up to the head of the bed. "Bruce told me everything, Nick. I swear you are going to put me in my grave," she started. "WHAT…in the name of all things good and holy were you thinking?" Nick looked at his sister to give an answer but was cut off again. "I asked you to come home, I asked you to let Batman handle it, and here you are. You could have been killed, Nick. You almost were…" Tears were starting to fall from Victoria's eyes as she continued her rant. "As if that wasn't bad enough, YOU WENT OUT ON YOUR OWN LAST NIGHT? Joker, Quinn, and…Zsasz! ZSASZ? Why, why would go alone?"
"I didn't want them risking their lives for my mistake," Nick answered. He sat up, ignoring the pain in his side and got out of bed. Nick towered of his sister, trying to show a position of power. "If I had gotten to Scapelli sooner, none of this would have happened." Victoria stood firm against her brother, and slapped him as hard as she could. Barbara recoiled at Victoria's action.
"God Damn you, Nick," she said. Nick ignored his cheek and stood firm as well. "So you risk your own life and take on 3 psychos? Explain to me how that makes sense." Nick just stood there. "I didn't think so…"
Suddenly, Victoria grabbed her brother in a hug and cried into the scar on his chest. Barbara took a much needed breath now that the tension was broken. Nick wrapped his arms around Victoria and the two stood in an embrace for a moment. Victoria broke the hug first and looked at the bandages on her brother. She thought about asking him to stop being the Black Bandit, but knew she'd never win that argument. "Got a new scar," she joked.
"Chicks dig scars," Nick chuckled motioning to Barbara. Victoria scoffed at her brother.
"Get back into bed, before I finish you off myself," she started. "I need a very tall and very strong drink."
"You're not the only one," Barbara said. "Mind if I join you?"
"You and I need to talk anyway," Victoria responded. She hugged her brother and made for the door, watching as Barbara went over and kissed Nick. The two women went into the hallway and closed the door. Together, they made their way down the hall.
"So," Victoria began awkwardly. "You and my brother?" Barbara gave a nervous smile knowing it was her turn to face the firing squad.
"Yea," she answered.
"A little sudden isn't it?" Victoria asked.
"Maybe, but love has a way of doing that," Barbara said. Victoria stopped in her tracks and held her arm across Barbara to stop her.
"Did you just use the 'L' word?" she asked. Barbara nodded and Victoria rolled her eyes. "How can you use that word, you only met him a few days ago."
"It just snuck up on me, and him," Barbara said. Victoria got a look on her face like she was getting a headache. "It all started…"
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I need a drink right now," Victoria said. "My emotions need some downtime. So can you hold the explanation until there is some liquor in me?" Barbara nodded and led the woman downstairs and through Wayne Manor. Entering the kitchen, the two ran into Alfred making coffee.
"Alfred, would you bring us some drinks, please?" Barbara asked.
"Of course, Miss Gordon," he started. "What would you like?"
"Victoria?" Barbara asked.
"Whiskey, and please bring the bottle," she answered crossing her arms and wiping her hand over her face. Alfred nodded and left the two alone. Victoria took a seat at the table where Barbara shared coffee with Nick a couple nights earlier. The brunette buried her face in her hands, trying to make sense of everything. Barbara retrieved two glasses from the cabinet and went to the freezer. "No, ice, Barbara," Victoria said. "I need to feel the bite."
"You too?" Barbara responded joining Victoria at the table. "Are you ok?"
"No, Barbara!" Victoria snapped. "I was woken up in the middle of the night by a stranger's phone call to tell me my brother may be dying. I hop on the company plane and fly, a nervous wreck, worried I am going to go and retrieve his body. On top of that, I find out that a man I respect is actually a masked vigilante and the woman claiming to love my brother, does the same reckless acts Nick does. Finally, my brother chose to knock you all out and go it alone against 3 of the most dangerous people in Gotham City. This is too much for me right now." Alfred took this moment to join the women with a bottle of whiskey. Victoria took the bottle when it was offered and poured herself a triple shot. She downed it in one gulp, flinching as her mouth and throat burned. Barbara took the bottle and poured herself a drink and another for Victoria. Barbara took a sip of the liquor as Victoria swirled it in her glass. "So," Victoria started with a sniffle. "How'd you meet my brother?"
Victoria listened as Barbara told her about the last few days. Being shot and saved by Nick, the warehouse, interrogating Scapelli, Two-Face's death, the Joker, and Zsasz. Victoria listened intently taking a few nips from her drink. Barbara then told Victoria about their date, Nick telling her about his past, and how close they truly got. Though she left out details of when they slept together, Victoria already knew what had happened.
"Touching story, Barbara," Victoria began pushing her glass away. "But you haven't given me any real proof that you are different from the other women who have entered Nick's life." Barbara looked at her empty glass and understood Victoria's position.
"I know you are suspicious, I would be too," she began. "But, I am different. Nick saved my life and risked his own to make sure I was safe. His bravery is what got my eye. He's sarcastic jokes and over the top personality charmed me. And he treated me with respect. It's all the qualities I ever wanted, so it's only natural I fell for him." Victoria looked Barbara dead in the eyes.
"Would you do the same?" she asked.
"Risk my life for him?" Barbara asked. Victoria nodded at her. "In a heartbeat," Barbara instantly said. Victoria sat in silence for a moment before getting up and bringing her glass to the sink and rinsing it out. Barbara followed suit nervously.
"My first conversation with you," Victoria began with angry look on her face. "You said hello on the phone, after you slept with my brother a couple days after meeting him; strike one." Barbara started to get nervous. Victoria turned to her and leaned against the granite counter and continued. "My brother nearly died while he was partnered up with you; strike two." Barbara started to cringe know she was about to lose any trust she could hope of earning. "Anything else you want to tell me about the last few days?" Barbara shook her head. "You got two points against you, sister. However..." Barbara began to relax with that word. "I always asked my brother if he would risk his life for the women he dated. Its how I always made sure he didn't fall for any gold diggers."
"I guess his actions answered your question," Barbara said relaxing.
"Don't get cute, Barbara," Victoria rebutted. "Nick did risk his life for you, so there must be something he sees in you. Let's just say, for now, I reserve judgment. Did he call you his girlfriend?" Barbara nodded and Victoria cocked an eyebrow. To Barbara's relief, Victoria extended her hand and she took it in a handshake.
"Are we ok?" Barbara asked.
"For now," Victoria said walking out of the kitchen with Barbara in tow. "But if you are serious about my brother, don't plan on children."
"Why not?" Barbara asked.
"I'm still pissed at him and it's possible I am going to rip his balls off," Victoria said. Barbara laughed as the two walked into the hallway and back into the main room. To their shock, they saw Nick standing in the main room with Bruce. "Nick, what the hell are you doing out of bed?" Victoria called.
"The Deltaware merger is tomorrow," he said adjusting his pants so they were off his wound.
"Nick, you should get back to bed and rest," Barbara added with a hint of concern.
"Nothing doing," Nick said. "I set up the merger with Jack and I am going to see it through." Victoria crossed her arms to keep herself from smacking her brother again.
"You know damn well I can handle the Deltaware merger, Nick," Victoria said.
"I know you can," he replied. "But I've been away from the office too long. I don't want the Board to think I abandoned them." Just as Nick finished, a chauffer came down the stairs with Alfred carrying the bags of clothes Nick had bought. Victoria and Barbara waited until they were outside to continue.
"What about your equipment, Nick?" Barbara asked.
"I'll have it shipped to the Reese estate," Bruce said. "It'll be there by the time you get home from Los Angeles." Victoria let out a grunt in defeat, knowing her stubborn brother had made up his mind.
"I'll be in the car," Victoria said storming to the door. Before she left she turned to the three. "Thanks again for everything, Bruce. I owe you one." Bruce smiled at her and Victoria turned to Barbara. "You know the possible?" Barbara nodded at her. "It's definite." With that final statement, Victoria left Wayne Manor. Nick looked at Barbara and got worried with the "you're in trouble" smirk she had on. He turned to Bruce and extended his hand to him.
"Any loose ends to tie up?" he asked as Bruce shook Nick's hand.
"Joker and his gang are back in custody," he started. "The cannon is destroyed and back in military hands, and Commissioner Gordon is ensuring your blood stains on the roof are being destroyed."
"Zsasz and Two-Face?" Nick added.
"They'll both be cremated and spread in the Atlantic," Bruce answered. He watched as the mood on Nick's face went somber. Bruce put his hand on Nick's shoulder to comfort the young man. "Two-Face wasn't killed by you. The Joker always knew whether or not he would kill him. And Zsasz was a lost cause."
"Bruce is right, Nick," Barbara continued. "Like Daddy said, he was wanted, dead or alive."
"Still doesn't ease my conscience," Nick said. Bruce stepped up and got directly in the young man's face.
"It was your survival instincts," he began. Nick looked into Bruce's eyes and listened. "I can't begin to understand what you are going through. I've stared death down a few times, but never like you. You were critically injured and barely conscious. You acted to keep yourself alive. I've never been in a situation that dire. For all I know, I am capable of killing as well." It took both Nick and Barbara a moment to take in what Bruce said. "Just give it time. Take care of yourself, Nick."
"Thanks, Bruce," he answered. Bruce left the Barbara and Nick alone in the room. Barbara crossed her arms in front of her and looked at Nick.
"I kind of figured I would be taking care of you for a couple weeks," she started.
"Mmm," Nick said. "My own sexy nurse." Barbara laughed as Nick pulled her into an embrace and Barbara wrapped her arms around his neck. "You can always come with me." Barbara just shook her head in disappointment.
"I have class the morning, I can't," she said. "And you need to rest up as much as possible." Barbara broke the embrace and scurried into Bruce's study. She came back with a pad and pen. Quickly, she wrote her number and address down for Nick and gave it to him. "Call me when you get to LA?" Nick chuckled and took the number and pad from Barbara. Quickly, he also wrote down his number and address for her.
"This is my personal cell number, its always on," Nick started. "And feel free to drop by the house anytime if you want to check up on me. Or check me out, whichever you want." Barbara smiled as she took the number and hugged Nick again.
"Is this a fake number?" she joked. Nick laughed and pulled Barbara close. The two shared another chaste, but passionate kiss. After a moment, the two broke it.
"I love you too, Barbara," Nick said. "Sorry I didn't get to return it last night." Barbara smiled and placed another kiss on Nick's lips. Together, they walked to the door and Nick opened it. "Going to head home?"
"Yea," Barbara said. "I need a long bubble bath to relax." She slid her hands into her back pocket and felt something in there. "Oh," she said pulling out Nick's Zippo. "Don't forget this." Nick smiled and took the lighter. In the light of the sun, he could see it was stained with his own dried blood. With a smirk, Nick tossed it in the air and caught.
"My lucky lighter, thanks, Babe," he said slipping it into his pocket. The two shared a final kiss before Nick started towards the car outside. "See you very soon," he called. Barbara smiled and gave a final wave as she watched Nick carefully get into the car. She stayed at the door and watched as Nick drove away with his sister.
An hour later, Barbara was back at her apartment. She sighed as she entered the door and threw her purse and keys onto her couch. After locking the door, she went straight to the bathroom and turned the water on. She got it to the right temperature and threw some bubble bath in. Removing her jeans and tank top, Barbara checked her stitches. She saw a pink line down the middle of the wound indicating it was healing. Quickly, stretching out by shooting her arms up, Barbara removed her bra and panties. Just as she was about to turn of the water, the phone rang. Wrapping a towel around her body, Barbara went to answer the phone.
"Hello?" she said rushing back into the bathroom to turn off the water.
"Hello, Pumpkin," Commissioner Gordon said on the other side of the line.
"Daddy, how are you?" Barbara answered joyfully.
"I'm ok, are you just getting up?" he asked.
"Uh, yea," Barbara lied. "I was out late last night and I had a date Friday night. I'm going to take a bath to relax before I get ready for class tomorrow."
"I read about that date of yours in the paper," Jim said. "Nick Reese huh? How did my little girl manage a date with him?"
"I just ran into him," Barbara said testing the water.
"Really? Where?" Gordon asked.
"Completely random encounter, Daddy," Barbara answered.
"Did you have fun?" he asked.
"Yes, Daddy," Barbara replied. "He took me out to dinner at the Iceberg Lounge. We danced a little there and we talked for a couple hours. After we went to Dancer's Eden, had a couple drinks and then our date ended."
"Well as long as you had fun, Pumpkin," Jim said.
"I did, Daddy," Barbara said. Gordon paused on the other side of the line, trying to find the words for his next question.
"Is there…" he began. "Anything else you want to tell me?" Barbara thought about it for a moment. Was he trying to figure out if she slept with Nick?
"No, not really, Daddy," she said. On the other side of the line, Gordon sighed to himself, but didn't pry.
"I only ask because I worry about you, Barbara," he said. "You may be an adult, but you are still my little girl."
"I know, Daddy," she replied removing her towel. "Can I call you back later; I'm getting in the tub."
"Sure, Pumpkin," Jim said. "Love you, Barbara."
"I love you too, Daddy," Barbara said. The two hung up and Commissioner Gordon put his phone down on the receiver. Leaning back in his chair, Gordon lit his pipe.
"She can tell me when she is ready," he said to himself.
Back at Barbara's apartment, she tied her hair in a bun and slowly slid into the tub. Inch by inch, she entered bubbly water. Once in up to her neck and lying down, she let out an orgasmic sigh at the bliss she was in. The emotional roller coaster she had been on in the last few days began to melt away. Slowly, she closed her eyes and let her mind and body relax.
"Did you tell your Father yet?" a voice called from behind. Batgirl snapped out of her memory and stood up from the ledge she was sitting on. However, this building wasn't in downtown Gotham. It was in the city of Newark, the Black Bandit's territory. In the light of the full moon, her new bat-suit was clearly visible. The cowl now covered her entire face and her eye slits were blanked out. Her cape was longer and all the yellow from her old costume has been replaced with deep gray. Leather had been strategically placed on her torso, legs and arms for more protection. And Batgirl's boots now had 3" heels and came up to her knees. Behind her, stood the Black Bandit. Like Batgirl, his costume had changed too. His trench had thicker patches of leather strategically placed to protect him. The Bandit's boot toes and heels were steel covered and studs had been added to his knuckles. Lastly, the Bandit's mask no longer exposed his eyes and mouth. His face was completely covered in black. "I asked if you've told your Father yet?" the Bandit asked again.
"I'll never get used to that new mask, Bandit," Batgirl said sitting down on the ledge. "It looks creepy."
"Creepy? I was hoping for intimidating, but creepy works," Black Bandit joked. He sat down and joined Batgirl, enjoying the fact that tonight was a slow night.
"You are such a smart ass," Batgirl retorted turning back to the city.
"Better to be a smart ass than a dumb shit," the Bandit continued to joke. Batgirl let out a sigh and laughed along with the Bandit. He looked out among the city and his mind wandered a little. "I noticed you were spaced out a little. What were you thinking about?" Batgirl turned to the man she had fallen for and took his hand in her own.
"I was thinking about our first few days together," she said in a caring tone. Though Batgirl couldn't see it, the Black Bandit was smiling under his mask.
"Do you believe that was 9 months ago already?" he asked. Batgirl shook her head. "Best 9 months of my life," the Bandit continued. "Which brings me back: did you tell your Father yet?"
"No, not yet," Batgirl relented.
"What are you waiting for, the day of the wedding?" Bandit joked. He put his arm around Batgirl and she started to laugh. "That's what I wanted to hear."
"I know I have to tell him," she said. "But I have to do that in person. It's not everyday I tell Daddy I am getting married."
"Well, why didn't you just say so?" Bandit said half annoyed. "How about this? We'll fly back to Gotham in the morning and you can tell 'Dad' over lunch." Batgirl grabbed the Bandit and pulled him into a deep hug. He flinched as he felt something and pushed back a little. "What is on your chest?" he asked. Batgirl fumbled with the lump in her fingers and smiled.
"I am not going to risk damaging my 3 karat best friend punching someone," she joked.
"Please don't, I had it custom made for you," Bandit said. Batgirl playfully punched the Black Bandit in the arm. Suddenly, a sound of shattering glass caught the two vigilante's attention. Over the ledge of their vantage point, they saw an electronic store being broken into. "Back to work," the Bandit chimed. Before he leapt over the ledge, the Bandit had a quick question to ask. "Have you noticed business is slow since you moved up here?"
"What can I say?" Batgirl chimed as she fired her grappling hook. "I'm the intimidating one, and you are just plain creepy in the new outfit." With a laugh, Batgirl took off swinging away.
"God I love that woman," the Bandit said firing his own grappling hook. Together they sprang into action. As they did, a local newspaper was blown around revealing its headline: Bats & Bandits.
A/N: Wow, after two years of work, rewrites, and delays, my first fic is complete. That's right, this was the first fic I started writing. You'd be surprised how confusing these multi-chapters stories can get. But Bat's & Bandits is complete. I may revisit these characters in the future but for now I shall turn to my other works in progress.
To update the fans of my Deadliest Warrior series, I am going to wait another few weeks before I start it. Currently I am still deciding whether or not to feature Aang himself, or Korra. If you could give me some feedback, I would appreciate it. But that is the main hold-up. I will not be waiting to see if there is a format change in season 4 of Deadliest Warrior.
Well that's all for now readers. Click the review button and leave me some love. This is Whysoserious1985, signing off for now. Peace.