Seven years later:
Breathing slow and even, heart softly beating in her chest, Solitaire lowered herself into darkness. Its cold sullenness greeted her like an old friend as it brushed her cheek and made her feel welcome. As the not so young thief landed onto the floor, she unhooked herself.
Like a dog on a leash, a circular light traveled across the floor followed by a security guard with long red hair tied in a pony tail which glowed like fire in the moon light from a nearby window.
Standing perfectly still, Solitaire waited. The flashlight crawled onto her purple boot, glided up her leg, over her torso, and then shined in her green eyes. Before the security guard had a chance to react, Solitaire kicked the woman in the face, knocking her out.
Solitaire stepped over the unconscious figure. Quietly walking through the bank toward the vault, Solitaire's heart beat remained steady. Focusing on her target, by using her night vision goggles, the thief thought to herself. Only one hundred thousand to go and I'm out of this dammed city.
Kneeling in front of the steal vault, which shun bright in her night vision goggles, the thief removed them. Before placing the gadget onto the door that would open it with electric shocks, Alice thought she heard a noise. A shuffle, brush or tap, whatever it was, it was a noise. The singularity of it made Solitaire's heart begin to race. Is it him? No it couldn't be him. Not with Selina getting something to do with a cat diamond at the museum. He's busy. Then who is it?
Feeling her blood pulse through her veins, Alice thought again. I'm losing control. I need to calm down. Slight pressure was quickly applied to her shoulder. Then again. And again. Nearly jumping out of her skin, Solitaire whipped her head around.
A green glow stick pushed through the darkness and illuminated the scene.
Looking down at her was black leather cowl which covered the top half of the wearer's face; the nose was tipped and gave the appearance of a beak. Beak. Bird. Oh my god. A boyish smirk was played on his lips. A smirk Alice knew too well.
Every emotion Alice had kept in check rushed from her head and into her veins. It passed through her body and left her cold. His name slipped from her lips as everything went black.
Eyes fluttering open, Solitaire stared at the face above her. He looked down at her with the same blank expression. For a few moments they just looked at each other.
Studying her face, he had to hold back a cringe. That's what that crazy bastard did to her. I wish I could say I thought it would be worse. He continued to look at her. Solitaire's green eyes were fixed on his jaw. Maybe it's not that bad, however it's hard not to look at it.
It's him. He came back. Anger rose in her chest the memory of the night he left her flashed in her mind. Slamming her fist into his eye, Solitaire jumped to her feet. Running blindly through the dark, her head began to ache as she tried not to think about what just happened.
Crashing into a wall, Solitaire felt blood rush down her chin as she continued to run. Her head began to swim as moonlight guided her to the exit. Her heart thudded wildly in her chest as she kicked open the door. The night air whipped at her face as she raced to her motorcycle.
Her thoughts were scattered like the garbage which surrounded her, eyes wide with wonder, sweat dripped from her pores. Alice felt like a teenager again. But I will not break down like one.
Squaring her shoulders, Solitaire took several deep breathes. Her heart slowed to a steady beat as she climbed onto her bike, which was very similar to her lost vespa. The only difference was that the bike was black and the diamonds were purple.
The engine roared to life. Her head began to ache as she fought her next action. No, I will not give in. Speeding down the road, past cars and low life criminals, Alice licked the inside of her cheek and cursed as she realized she forgot the money.
The next morning:
Knuckles aching, muscles tensing, and eyes glaring onto the grey, worn punching bag, Solitaire coated the inside of her scar with another layer of saliva. One hundred thousand more. Only one more hundred thousand. No distractions. None. Loud knocking interrupted her from her work out.
Letting out a small growl of annoyance, Alice unraveled the bandages from her wrists as she walked to her front door. Her bare feet were silent against the stained carpet. Surrounding her was a weight set, a second hand full size bed, a kitchenette, along with a very small bathroom.
Twisting the rushed brass knob, Alice was greeted her Mentor, whose blue eyes were intense with thought. Her red trench coat was wrinkled and she wore black slacks and an un-tucked white blouse. "Alice, I'm so sorry."
"Why? What happen?" Asked Alice as Selina stepped aside.
As Selina walked in through the door, she spun on her heel and stared at Alice. "You don't know?
"Know what? What's going on?" asked Alice. Panic rose in her chest and her heart rate began to accelerate. Calm down. It can't be that bad. Gazing at Selina, the back of Alice's head began to warm up. Maybe it can. "What?"
Like she was coaching her again, Selina became serious. "Alice, you're a grown woman and I expect you to accept this as such." Selina looked her protégé dead in the eyes. "There was a robbery at Gotham National Bank this morning. Something was stolen, however it wasn't money. The funny thing is, is that it was a safety deposit box. Your safety deposit box."
Lip twitching, Alice prayed she has misheard her mentor. "What?"
Selina stepped forward and she placed her hands firmly on Alice's shoulders. "Someone stole your safety deposit box. Now don't do anything irrational."
"Don't do anything irrational?" shouted Alice as she roughly shrugged out of Selina's grasp. "That was my ticket out of here! Away from this city and away from him!"
"I know that!" yelled Selina. Her tone of voice lowered. "I know what you've been through. There's another thing you should know. The Joker broke out of Arkham last night as well."
Feeling her breakfast rise into her throat, Alice ran past Selina to her small bathroom. She fought back tears as she emptied the contents of her stomach into the toilet. No. No. No.
"Alice calm down. Everything will be okay. I know you're hurt, but you have to promise me you won't go after him. Just focus on getting your money back and I'll make up the difference. Then you can go. Get as far away as you can from here."
Resting her head on the side of the lid, Alice felt her heart beat in her palms. "I don't know if I can."
"Alice he will hurt you again. Just get your money back and leave," explained Selina as she placed her hands onto Alice's shoulders again. "Promise me."
Staring into her mentor's stern, blue eyes, Alice limply nodded. "I won't go after him." Not unless he goes after me first. Exhaling deeply, Alice stood. "What time is it?" Walking over to her kitchenette, Alice saw the green letters glowing one forty five.
"The bank did call; they said you needed to get down there as soon as possible to assess what went missing and why your safety deposit box was the only one that went missing," said Selina. "I told them you were out of town. Someone is out to get you or knows that you keep all of your money in a safety deposit box. We need to be careful about this."
Rinsing out her mouth with cold water, Alice walked to her bed. On top of the black comforter, a gift from her mentor as a hint that it was time for Alice to get her own place; was her costume. Lifting it up to the light, she heard her mentor's voice.
"Alice it's the middle of the day. Wait, did you go out last night?" Eye brows furrowed in suspicion, Selina asked, "How much did you get?"
Massaging the fabric between her thumb and index finger, Alice closed her eyes. "None."
"None? What do you mean none?"
"I didn't get any money. Nothing." Confessed Alice as she turned to face her mentor.
"Why not?" Taking a step forward, Selina crossed her now bare arms over her chest.
Swallowing the excess saliva which had gathered in her mouth, Alice thought about lying. But she'll know and she always been achingly honest with me. And if I can't trust her, then who can I trust? "I had a run in with a cape last night."
"But Batman was with... dealing with me," said Selina as she placed her hands on her hips. "And Batgirl hasn't been seen in awhile. I think she didn't want to do this anymore after Night Wing left. So that leaves..." Her voice trailed off as realization. Looking at her protégé, Selina slightly shook her head. Alice had sat on her bed and clasped her hands onto her knee. "Alice, remember what he did. Don't fall into this again. The last time he almost killed you."
"I know it did. I haven't forgotten!" Pointing to her cheek, Alice's face twitched. Looking away, she whispered, "I'll never forget."
"I know you won't and I'm not asking you to forget anything. I'm just warning you that history may repeat itself if you let it," explained Selina leaning forward slightly.
"I won't let it. Don't worry," replied Alice as she looked at the clock on the stove again. One fifty five. "What am I supposed to do until tonight?"
"I don't know. Just try to relax, okay? And promise me you won't do anything stupid," said Selina as she pulled on her coat.
"I promise," said Alice as she ran her fingers through her pixie cut. The damp tips poked her brow and temples as she tilted her head. "I really do promise. It's just... nothing. Thanks for everything Selina."
Giving once last look at her protégé, Selina nodded. "Alright then, see you." The door softly closed behind her as she walked out of the loft.
Who ever took my money will pay. Rewrapping her wrists, Alice continued her previous excursive.
Gut pushed forward, the balding man heard his back crack. A tired groan escaped his lips as he grabbed his worn leather suitcase. Throwing on his coat, he slumped out his office doors.
The smell of exhaust, the only sign that the police were there to investigate the disappearance of one safety deposit box, filled his nostrils and caused him to sneeze. The noise echoed around him, making his nervous because he had unintentionally drawn attention to himself.
Keys catching the light from the street lamp as he removed them from his pocket, the man looked from side to side. Fumbling to find his car key, the sweat from his palm made them fall to the hard concrete with a clatter. Heart racing as he bent over to pick them up, the oxygen was pushed from his windpipe as his large stomach pressed against his chest.
When his back straightened with another crack, he stumbled backward.
Standing on the hood of his blue hummer was a figure in a black leotard. His eyes were level with her calf as her foot pushed onto his chest and sent him sprawling to the ground. Jumping off the car, the yellow light making her scar look deeper on her skin, Solitaire glared at him.
Using his elbows to slide away from the thief, his mouth was agape in shock. Dirt accumulated on his coat as he asked, "Wha- what did I do?"
Sinking down to his level, she balled the fabric of his white shirt into her fist. Leaning her head to that their noses were barely touching, she hissed, "Who stole safely deposit box number 17623?"
"I- I don't know. It was after hours, I wasn't here," explained the man as his eyes flashed to the right.
Immediately knowing he was lying, Solitaire lifted him and slammed him into the hood of his hummer. "Don't lie to me. Now, who stole safety deposit box number 17623?"
The man leaned up to her a bit. He whispered, "I can't say. He'll kill me if I do."
Pulling a small pistol from her belt, Solitaire held it to the man's head. The tip of the barrel brushed the sweat which had formed on his temple. "And what makes you think I won't kill you right now if you don't tell me?"
"Please don't. I've got a wife and kids. He'll kill me, please don't," the man begged as his tears mixed with his sweat.
"I will kill you if you don't tell me something," said Solitaire as she pressed the gun onto the side of his head.
"Okay, okay. In my front coat pocket he gave me a letter to give to the owner of that safety deposit box," said the man as he closed his eyes.
"Who?" hissed Solitaire through gritted teeth, her grip tightening on the fabric.
"The Joker," replied the man.
Throwing the man off the roof, she let go of him and then knocked him out with the handle of her gun.
Crouching down, Solitaire bit her knuckle to stop from crying out. No. Why can't he just leave me alone? How did he know I was keeping my money in a safety deposit box? As more questions rushed through her thoughts, Solitaire reached into the man's coat.
Her heart sank as her gloved fingers wrapped around a squared, slim object. Like a claw machine, she slowly lifted it out and placed it on her other hand. On top of a green envelope, in purple, curved ink was Acey. Ripping it open, Solitaire felt bile rise in her throat.
You have been able to hide from me for seven long, tedious years. While you hid, you have managed to scrape together less than a million dollars and a less than meaningful imprint as a villain in this city. Or anywhere else.
I, your own father, don't even know what you are calling yourself now.
Do you still hid because you know once I find you, that I will kill you for going behind my back, the person who you are half of, to go be with bird boy?
How wrong you are. I don't want to kill you. I want to talk to you. However, if you disagree with any of my demands I will kill you. But you've known that all your life, haven't you?
If you want your money back, which I'm sure you do, you will come home. I'm not sure how long this money will sustain your mother, who I have to thank for telling me you sleep on Cat Woman's couch, and I. Hurry Home Acey.
Ta- ta for now.
Betrayal burned in her stomach, anger rose in her chest, and tears sprang in her eyes. Blinking them away, Solitaire straightened her back. Moving to run to her motorcycle, something crashed against the back of her head. Before being knocked out, Solitaire heard her mentor's voice.
"I'm sorry," whispered Cat Woman as she grabbed Alice's wrists and dragged her to her car.
I'm back! I'm sorry for the wait; however I really wanted this last part to be good. I will be updating again in a few weeks. Thank you so much for sticking with me. Don't worry, I'm not gone yet.
Also, Happy Birthday to me!
Your Faithful Author,