The bats screeched from far above, the woosh of their wings as they moved from place to place at random increments complimented the clicking of computer keys and the beeps, and bings as the computer responded to his users inquiry. Alfred approached Bruce, in full bat gear, from behind, tray of coffee in hand. It was just the beginning of the night for Batman. As always The Batman was the first to work. From what the butler could make out, the dark knight had already pulled up police reports, both public and confidential. It would appear that this night his attention had shifted some. The name 'Fischer' appeared in nearly every new file he pulled up. From the newest reports on the young girls most recent adventures, the medical reports he from her hospital visits the last few days, all the way back to her birth and prior. Thorough as ever, his researched followed all the way back to before she was born.
'Already building a profile, sir?" The older man asked as he set the mug down beside Bruce as he scrolled through the many files. He knew the mans obsession with creating a profile for everyone he ran into. It was a bit scary how the his mind worked..
"Trying to find out what happened." Bruce said, more just to think aloud than to answer. "Harold Fischer, 45, a widower. His wife, Cathleen died 6 years ago. Three children , Fenella, 18, Kerra, 17, Danielle, 14. He was a small business owner, till he got into debts he couldn't pay off. Lost the business 8 years ago, lost his house a year later... Presumably living on the streets since then. At least he was till a couple days ago." A dead guy can't really be living on the streets now could he? "It would appear, his gambling and boozing habits that had gotten him in trouble in the first place hasn't stopped." He paused, bringing up the medical file he'd gotten on Danielle by hacking into the hospital files. There was a picture of her attached fore police records. She'd been drugged with the new substance, barely survived the fever it'd caused. More disturbing than the fresh scrapes and bruises were the old they'd reported. Bruises from days before, deep cuts that had barely healed, some that had shown obvious sign of being infected.. "Robin said she'd told him the man that he was leading her into the alley was her father. Before being ambushed in the warehouse he'd heard them talking about how his 'payment' had gotten away. I think he traded for for his debt Alfred.
"Oh Dear!" Alfred look to the picture Bruce was staring at, a pang of sympathy and pity as he look at her droopy, drug hazed eyes staring back at him. "Do you think she knows..."
"She followed him Alfred. She shouldn't have even been able to walk after what she'd been through, but she followed him down to the warehouse. She was looking for answers, she wanted to know why." He understood that all too well, the need to know why someone would do something so...evil... But for it to have been her own father, he couldn't begin to imagine the pain of it. "Unfortunately I think she found them."
The cave fell silent for a few moments. Bruce shuffled some files around on the computer, arranging a few police files with sketches of two women. Her sisters. They'd been reported missing, not by their father but by the friends they'd made in the slums, the concerned citizens that had noticed them missing from their usual begging spots, kind citizens that had tried to help the girls when possible... He was nearly certain he knew what had become of them already. The streets of Gotham were mean, even meaner when there was no one looking out for you. He doubted he would find them alive, if he could find them at all.
His mind flashed back to the look she gave him when he'd spoken with her in her room. She'd gone from fearing him to defiance. She was confident in her words. 'They'll come for me!' The conviction in her voice. Was she trying to convince him, or herself? It appeared, the thought of her sisters return was the one thing that held her to sanity, gave her reason. He wasn't sure he could tell her she'd likely never see them again.
His ears picked up the sound of Tim approaching in full uniform. Calmly he shuffled the files on the large screen again, hiding all file of the Fischer family he'd dredged up and replacing them with police files of the most current drug problem he seemed to be having in his city.
Robin stretched , one arm up in the air as the other reached around reached around, pulling at it as he bent to one side, then the next. The night was early, and if anything from the last few were an indication, it wouldn't come to an end quickly. Taking a look to the monitor he groaned internally. Research! Great! He'd rather throw himself at the baddies, risking life and limb than sit by some screen, analyzing more fragmented 90% diluted or metabolized chemicals of the drug trying to find out what it did, how it did it or perhaps where it was coming from, or even trying to track down different leads, different cargo coming and going from the city. At least dodging bullets gave him a rush! Had he dared showed it outwardly... well he learned long ago never to show those types of feelings around the Batman. "More research, boss?"
"Take the night off."
Tims eyes went wide under his mask, mouth dropped a bit. Though Alfred didn't sport such a dumbfounded look, he did look questioningly to their resident dark knight. "Huh?"
"Take the night off. You've been working hard lately. You should rest." Tims eyes continued to gawk behind his mask, then they narrowed.
"You're not going out on your own are you!" He accused. There'd been plenty of close calls. Even though he was adopted, Bruce had become closer to him than his own father ever had been. Of course he wouldn't get a say if the man had wanted to go out alone, but he could put up a fight none the less. He didn't like letting the boss man going on big missions alone.
Batman swiveled the chair around, difficult as it was Tim had learned through the years to read the body language he could from the man. He could see his face was relaxed under the cowl, his shoulders weren't so tense. The man had read his concern. "Go. I'll call you if anything comes up."
Robin stood there for a moment more, locking eyes with the bat and attempting to make it clear he would not be a happy camper if he didn't keep his word. He nodded, slowly stepping away back towards the mansion.
Bruce watched him go. When was was out of earshot Alfred spoke. "You shouldn't make Master Timothy worry so. He cares deeply for you."
"I know." That thread of emotion, that love he held for the young man in his care sent his mind turning. Had Tim gone missing, He'd stop at nothing to find him. He was sure that Danielle and her sister (if alive) were feeling the same way. Turning back to the computer he began searching in detail through every file he could find on the drug or members they'd found in or around the warehouse. If Fischer had sold his youngest to them, perhaps he'd done the same of his other girls. Finding the ring leader could lead him to answers not only about his drug problem but Danielle's sisters as well.
Tim walked the hall towards his room in his civies. Bats may have given him the day off but his body clock was far from letting him sleep. His night should just be beginning. He'd have a lot of pent up energy to burn up before he'd be able to sleep. His eyes drifted to the ornate oak wood that was their newest residence doorway. His ears picked up the scuffle of bare feet against hardwood floors beyond the door, the skit of fabric against skin and fabric once again as she sat once more. She was up. She'd slept the whole day, it was no wonder she'd be up now.
A small smile came to his face as he moved to the door, knocking softly before opening it. Peeking his head in he made sure to put on his friendliest expression. His eyes, well adjusted to the dark, found her quickly, contrasted against the moonlight shining through the window as she sat on the window seat. She curled into herself a bit, knees to her chest as she watched him open the door. He didn't move quickly, he dared not shut the door behind him. He came from the streets too. Rule 1 in survival. Never get corner. Leaving the door opened would make him seem less threatening, give her a means of escape... well other than jumping out a second floor window. He was sure Bruce would be pissed if he had to explain why he'd scared her into that one. "Hey. He said softly.
"What do you want." She demanded, cold, defensive.
"You slept through dinner. Bruce figured it'd be best if you got some rest. I was wondering if you were hungry. I'm sure alfred wouldn't mind..."
"Not hungry." She cut off sharply.
OK... He looked to the side, thinking for a second. "I never took you for that tour I promised. I could still show you all the rooms if you wanted! We may loose some selling points being that it's not bright and sunny, but hey, you're already living here!" He joked. She wasn't glaring at him, but she didn't move either. "The garden's beautiful at night..." He tried to pull one of the smiles he'd seen Dick use so many times, the one that made all the girls swoon. The one that made Barb go from trying to hit him to smiling...
She looked lost for a moment, eyes softening as she went from his extended hand to his eyes. Timidly she reached for his hand, pulling back a few times as if his touch would burn her, through it all he didn't move, didn't flinch, reassuring her. Something in him lifted when her fingertips finally brushed his palm and he lightly grasped her hand.
She slipped from the padded seat by the window. Her pink nightgown swished down when she stood, her bare toes sticking out from under its hem. A grin hit his face. Knowing Alfred to be as ocd as he was, he knew the entirety of the outfit, slippers and robe wouldn't be far. Glancing to the bed he spotted the matching robe across the foot, two slip on, soled slippers on the floor. Holding up a finger to tell her he'd be right back he ran over to collect them.
Coming back he placed the slippers on the floor before holding the robe open for her like he'd seen Alfred and Bruce do for women. Slowly she slipped her arms into the silk fabric, at which point he helped her slip into the slippers, holding her steady as she put in one foot at a time. Taking her hand she gave her a mischievous look before raising his finger to his lips in a 'shh'ing gesture. Poking his head from the door he looked both ways before quickly tiptoeing it out into the hallway, dragging her behind him. They padded down the steps, him more silently than her. Front door was too obvious. He headed for one of the back doors. He gasped and shoved her back into a dark corner covering her mouth and bringing his finger to his lips again as Alfred walked past. Once the elderly butler had walked past, he slipped them out.
The cool breeze felt good on her face, blowing the hair from her face. The moon was bright above, illuminating the blooms among the bushes and hedges that created a maze just above waist height. Once outside he slowed his pace to a leisurely stroll. He beamed at her when he could see that she had visibly relaxed. Her shoulders weren't so tense, her hand wasn't giving his a death grip anymore. He chalked it up the the heavy scent of the roses ad exotic flowers. Alfred would kill him if he knew but he plucked a rose from it's bush, handing it to her as they strolled along...
In the cave a silent alarm was triggered. Batman looked to the signal. 'perimeter breach'. Clicking the alarm and bringing the video feed to the large screen of the bat computer he paused to see Tim leading Danielle by the hand through the gardens behind the manor. Though outwardly his expression didn't change, a small smile was trying to tug at his lips.
"Master Timothy has sure taken a liking to her hasn't he?" Alfred said as he prepared a cup for Bruce. "I fear what might happen if he were to have an accomplice for his more childish antics.."
Bruce took the cup from Alfred when offered and couldn't help the chuckle that rolled out his lips as he looked to Alfred, the smile finally winning over the scowl in his face. They both laughed as they watched the pair stroll on into the night, imagining all the pranks Tim could pull with a partner and all the mess they'd have to clean up.
AN- Wow.. it's been a while.. I almost abandoned this story... but a few reviews brought me back. Thank you to those who reveiwed.