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"Master Bruce, forgive me, Master Dick is on the line."
The lights didn't wake him, nor did Alfred's voice. It took his shoulder actually being shaken to do the trick. "Would you take a message?" Bruce was in bed for the first time in three days, he was tired, he was sore, he was in a bad mood and the light hurt his eyes.
"I really think you should take this, sir. He wishes to speak to Batman."
F'God'ssake. This had better be good. He semi sat up, the covers falling down to below his navel. "Yes?"
"Yeah, hi, it's me."
"I'm sitting here talking with Harvey and he thought it would be a good idea to call you. He says that since he hasn't seen either of us for a while he'd like to get together, all three of us."
"Um-hmm. We sort of bumped into one another a couple of days ago and he's been telling me how much he misses you. I've told him how busy you are—right Harvey?—but he's just not going to take no for an answer." Bruce heard the tension in Dick's voice.
"Where would he like to meet up?"
"Harvey, you were talking about Batman coming here, right? 'Think you can make it?"
"How long have you two been talking?" Bruce sat up straighter, fully awake and wishing he had more information; he hadn't even heard that Harvey was out of Arkham; according to his reports every prisoner was in their cells and accounted for. Unless he missed something but that never happened—he was Batman. Lack of sleep wasn't ever an acceptable excuse but it might be a factor and why wasn't he informed that Dick was missing? Not acceptable.
"A while now, right Harvey? Maybe three days, having a great visit and really having a good talk but..."
Dick's voice stopped abruptly replaced by the sound of something, someone being punched, sounds of grunting and pain. "'Enough niceties. 'You want to see your old partner, get your ass to pier 37 at the yacht basin in twenty minutes. Alone. No cops, no reporters, no JLA or anyone else. Alone."
"Rogers Yacht Basin?"
The line was dead.
Twelve minutes later he pulled up to the basin, left the car at the entrance and ran the rest of the way, staying in the shadows as he approached pier thirty-seven. It was empty, no boat, nothing anchored, no people, nothing. Unless he was being hidden, Dick wasn't here, assuming that he wasn't floating...
Going closer he saw it, hidden behind a piling, a small package on the dock. Closer—it was about the size of a shoe box, wrapped in some fabric, maybe part of an old blanket. Closer. He scanned the area both with his naked eyes and night vision, nothing, no one. Taking a chance he carefully nudged the package with a long gaff he'd lifted off a gear chest.
An edge of paper showed under the fabric.
Slowly, carefully he maneuvered it clear and dragged it closer.
He used the long pole to turn it over, examine it then pulled it close enough to touch. It seemed harmless though he kept his gloves in place. Opening the envelope he pulled the single folded page out and made out the message in the low light.
'Cat and mouse. I play, you play and we see who claims the prize. Your move.'
There was a photo of Dick—Nightwing—tied and in obvious distress. Blood, probably dried blood was smeared on his face, his mask was gone. He'd been beaten though it didn't look too bad, at least not yet. There was nothing to indicate where he was being held, at least at first look. The picture was a close up, little of the background showing and what he could see looked like as generic a painted white sheet-rocked wall as could be found. The light was over bright or perhaps the picture was overexposed and showed the shadows around Dick's eyes, stress and exhaustion clearly visible.
A copy of today's Gotham Gazette, date clearly visible, was next to Dick; the picture wasn't too old.
Picking up the box he opened it easily. Inside were Nightwing's gloves, utility pockets empty.
Underneath was another note.
'Round one to me.'
There was nothing else. Over the next couple of hours he made the initial search; his check showed no fingerprints or DNA. The security cameras which might have picked up someone making the package drop were disabled. If there had been any witnesses, he was unable to find them.
Picking up the phone he hit Gordon's number on speed dial, it was answered within the first ring. Have you had any...?"
The Commissioner interrupted, "A package was just brought to my office a couple of minutes ago. Do you me to wait until you get here to open it?"
"I'll see you in five minutes."
In fact it was less than three and a half minutes later that Batman was standing in the office. "Has anyone done anything with this yet?" It was another shoe box sized package, wrapped in brown shipping paper and addressed to 'Commissioner James Gordon, c/o Gotham Police Headquarters, Gotham City—Personal and Private'
"It's been x-rayed, nothing suspicious or dangerous showed and it's been tested for foreign substances; it's clear on all the initial findings. I suggest that we take it down to the munitions lab and open this behind a shield, just in case."
Batman didn't really think that was necessary but declined to argue, there was no point in being fool hardy and antagonizing Jim. A couple of minutes later they were in the second sub-basement, standing behind a thick pane of acrylic, the package being opened by robot manipulation. There was another note inside the outer wrapping which they brought out, opened and, 'I feel terrible that anyone would worry about Nightwing. He's unharmed, fed and comfortable. He'll be home soon.'
Batman and Gordon exchanged a look. This was the sane side of Two Face but that could change in the bat of an eye.
"What's in the box?"
Gordon gave a nod to one of the technicians to open the box. Inside were two escrima sticks.
Batman nodded, picking them up without smearing any prints which might have been on them and pointed to a discoloration on the end of one. "This is blood."
The stick was handed over to forensics, checked for fingerprints (there were none) and the blood—yes, it was blood—was typed. Dick's. He'd check further, check for a DNA match but Batman was sure it would just confirm what they both knew.
Dick, Nightwing, was being held by Harvey Dent, AKA Two-Face, he was is serious danger and needed help to get free.
Batman, The Titans and the JLA now had a new priority.