Three days later...
Mindy Macready awoke the instant Alfred Pennyworth pulled open the curtains of the bedroom she'd been given in Wayne Manor. The early afternoon sun shone brightly across the room and onto the admittedly very comfortable bed she'd been sleeping in.
Mindy blinked and stretched. "Morning."
"Morning?" Alfred questioned. "Young Madam, it is one o'clock in the afternoon. And, that is pushing it for a girl of your age. Usually only teenagers sleep in this late. Why even when Master Wayne was your age he was up practically at the crack of dawn." Alfred shook his head.
"It's the weekend," Mindy stated as blandly as she could, watching as Alfred picked up a tray from the sideboard and placed it on the bedside table. On it was the traditional Full English breakfast of sausages, bacon, fried eggs, black pudding, baked beans, hash browns and half a tomato; about the only thing missing was the fried mushrooms. Reaching out, she picked the large glass of orange juice, and drinking it down in a single gulp. "What?" Mindy asked, taking in Alfred's bemused expression.
"Nothing," Alfred replied with a slight smile as Mindy began to get into her breakfast. "I'm just glad that someone is eating their breakfast. Master Wayne refused to eat his this morning. Said all he wanted was a protein shake and a glass of orange juice."
Mindy had to smile at that. It was what both she and her dad used to have for breakfast, at least until he was killed and Marcus got temporary custody of her. Then breakfast had become cereal and milk. "That's what me and my dad used to have for breakfast."
"I'm sorry for what happened to your parents," Alfred's smile faded as he remembered what Master Wayne had been like after his parents had been murdered. Mindy thought he was going to say more, but he was cut off by the sound of knocking on the door.
Mindy paused in her eating to look at the door. "Come in," she said, mentally shaking her head wondering what was with their fucking over politeness. Maybe it was just the British style of upbringing Wayne had gotten from Alfred, or it might just have been the way her dad had changed from his time in prison. Silently, almost sadly, she wondered what her life would have been like if her dad hadn't been framed and sent to prison.
Bruce Wayne stuck his head through the doorway, his eyes carefully scanning the room before looking at her bed. "When you're done with breakfast, I was wondering if you could join me in the library. There's some things I need to talk to you about."
Mindy inwardly blanched at the request. The expression on Bruce's face was the same one Marcus had worn when he'd found the broken down pieces of an M-4 Carbine assault rifle hidden inside the large stuffed teddy bear he'd given her when she'd moved temporarily into his house. "Nothing to worry about," Alfred reassured her. "I think he just wants to talk about the YouTube video."
She sighed inwardly slightly more relieved. In all honesty, she wasn't too bothered if Bruce Wayne found out she was Hit-Girl. But, on the other hand she didn't want Alfred to figure it out; he had enough on his plate worrying about Bruce's personal war against Gotham's criminal underworld. "I'll be there after I'm up and dressed." Assuming I can find the library in this fucking museum of a house."
Bruce seemed to know what she was thinking. "Alfred will show you where it is." With that said, he closed the door presumably to go to the library.
Finishing her breakfast, she looked at Alfred. "Do you mind leaving the room, I'd like to get dressed."
"Of course," Alfred nodded, retrieving the breakfast tray.
In the library, Bruce Wayne sank back into his father's old easy chair, a laptop computer Alfred had acquired from Wayne Enterprises was in front of him on the chair's accompanying footstool. He was watching the YouTube footage of the adolescent vigilante known as Hit-Girl take out several of the late Frank D'Amico's thugs in an attempt to rescue the adult vigilantes known as Big Daddy and Kick-Ass; this was the fourth viewing.
He paused the footage just as Hit-Girl raised the gun at the camera. Leaning forward, he switched it over to full screen to study the larger image. Yes, he thought to himself. It is her. He resumed the playback.
"Show's over, motherfuckers!" The screen went blank as Hit-Girl fired her 9mm, but the playback continued, the sound coming from from mikes the thugs had apparently wired themselves with.
There was brief sound of soft footsteps, then he heard the now weak voice of Big Daddy. "I'm so proud of you, baby doll." Soft mournful music began to play in the background that some user had added to the footage. "Are you okay?"
"Uh huh," Hit-Girl replied softly. "Getting shot, Daddy, hurt a lot more than when you did it."
"That's because, I used low-velocity rounds, child." Big Daddy laughed painfully. Though the image remained blank, Bruce could picture a painful smile on Big Daddy's face.
"You're the kindest daddy in the whole world," Hit-Girl said sadly.
"I just..." Big Daddy's voice trailed off. A moment later, he resumed. "I love you."
"I love you too, Daddy," Hit-Girl said tearfully. There was another moment of silence, then Hit-Girl spoke again for the last time before the playback came to an end. "Sleep tight, Daddy."
Behind him, he heard a tearful sob, "I didn't know that part got recorded," Mindy said, announcing her presence. He slowly swivelled round in the chair as he took in her casual appearance, blue jeans and pink flowery hooded top over what appeared to be a purplish t-shirt.
"How long were you standing there?" Bruce asked, feeling annoyed with himself for not noticing her presence behind him. It was a lapse that shouldn't have happened. His training with Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadow's had trained such lapses out of him. He took it as a sign to never completely let his guard down; not even here at home.
"Only a couple minutes," Mindy wiped her tears away. Knowing there was no point to hiding her alternate identity any longer. He'd been around her long enough over the past few days that he'd recognise her with the purple wig and her eye mask on; that along with the fact that Hit-Girl's voice was the same as her own made hiding it pointless. "I saw everything from the point my dad told me to go to Robin's Revenge."
"I'm sorry about your father," Bruce said indicating for her to take the easy chair facing him. "Do you mind, if I ask what happened?"
"We were set up," Mindy told him, taking the offered seat. "My dad, Kick-Ass and myself. Frank D'Amico's son, Chris, had disguised himself as a superhero and lured Kick-Ass into leading D'Amico's thugs to one of our safe houses and I got shot three times. I'd be dead if me and my dad weren't in character; my costume's lined with kevlar
Bruce winced. He didn't know what it was like to get shot at. But, he knew it hurt a lot and his respect for her went up several notches. "Go on,"
"After they thought they'd taken me out, I took Chris D'Amico's car – the douche had left the keys in the ignition – and proceeded to one of my father's backup safe houses and re-equipped myself for the rescue attempt. I was able to locate my dad and Kick-Ass at one the three warehouses owned by Frank D'Amico through his cell phone's GPS tracker." Mindy told him. "The rest you saw."
Bruce nodded. "Then, you and Kick-Ass went to to the D'Amico building and went after Frank D'Amico and personally took him out." Bruce watched her carefully. Mindy's expression barely changed, but as her eyes fractionally widened he knew he had guessed correctly. "So you got your revenge for your father's murder by becoming a murderer yourself."
"I'm not a fucking murderer," Mindy retorted angrily. "I didn't kill Frank D'Amico. It was Kick-Ass who fired the bazooka at him. If he hadn't, I'd be dead myself."
Bruce agreed, knowing she was telling the truth. Her anger at his accusation was proof enough of that. "No, you didn't kill Frank D'Amico, but your prior actions in the killing of his men empowered Kick-Ass to do so; that doesn't not make you a murderer. You," Bruce goaded her. "You're no better than Frank D'Amico."
"And," Mindy venomously asked. "Just what makes you think that?"
"The fact that I've been where you are now," Bruce said, allowing his voice to become softer. "My parents were murdered too, you know. I was eight when it happened..."
Mindy was shocked, she'd known something had happened to them, but she hadn't had the chance yet to find out what did happen. Mindy stayed quiet as Bruce told her of that fateful night. "So, why didn't you kill this Joe Chill?"
"Seven years ago, I was going to," Bruce admitted. "I was all set; I had the gun concealed in my right pocket of my overcoat, but one of Falcone's people got to him first – right outside the courthouse. I am glad I didn't though. If I had, I would have been no better than the man who did."
"So where'd you go for the past seven years?" Mindy asked, the anger gone from from her voice. "I mean, you basically up a disappeared."
Listening out in the corridor, Alfred was glad that Miss Macready and Master Wayne were opening up about their experiences. It horrified him no less to discover she was the girl in the video – he still couldn't believe that such a sweet looking girl as Mindy could be such a lethal killer, let alone a vigilante. He knew she'd be out there alongside Master Wayne when he actively began his grand plan; there'd probably be no way to stop her other than to knock her out. He just hoped that she could be taught that it wasn't necessary to kill every criminal in order to give justice to the people. That was something her father, biased by his feelings towards Frank D'Amico, had failed to teach her.
"So," Bruce asked, coming to the point. "Why do you want to help me?"
"Because evil wins when good people do nothing." Mindy said meaningfully. "Because you were fucking right about what you said on the plane. People do need to be reminded that where they live, whether it be New York or here in Gotham City, doesn't belong to the criminals or corrupt."
"I understand," Bruce said after a moment of thought. The way Mindy had said it was fairly simple, but it's meaning was quite clear. She intended to bring fear to those who would prey on the fearful, but she also had to learn that she couldn't be judge, jury and executioner – that was the way of the League of Shadows. "Alfred," he called out after a moment.
"Master Wayne," Alfred said, coming into the library. "You called?"
"I need you to book a couple of flights; commercial from Gotham to Chicago, then Chicago to New York." Bruce informed him. "And I'll need to borrow some cash to use as bribes. Mindy will becoming with me."
"I see you've recruited Mindy into your grand plan," Alfred said with mock annoyance.
"I doubt we could stop her," Bruce told him as Mindy rolled her eyes. "Better she join me on my terms. That way she wont be leaving a trail of corpses the police could trace right back us."
"I don't kill every crook I come across," Mindy stated defensively. "There were two survivors from my assault on the D'Amico Building."
Alfred shook his head. "Bit overcomplicated. It'd be simpler to go by train."
"What do you mean?" Bruce asked as frown of confusion passed across his features. Beside him, Mindy's face lit up.
"Trains" Mindy answered for Alfred. "Don't require identification."
"Neither do domestic flights." Bruce told her.
"That's only true for private jets now." Mindy corrected him, the sadness and anger was quite clear in her voice. "Just after you disappeared, Nine-Eleven happened. On September Eleventh, 2001 four American Airlines planes were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists. Two of them were flown into the World Trade Center, destroying the twin towers while the third was crashed into the Pentagon. Ever since, identification has been required to board any plane no matter the destination, be it domestic or international."
"You said four planes were hijacked?" Bruce asked quietly thinking of the massive loss of life.
"Yeah. It crashed just outside West Chester in Pennsylvania. No one is quite sure exactly what happened, but it is widely suspected that the passengers and cabin crew stormed the cockpit; attempting to wrest control of the plane from the hijackers. In the panic, the plane went down."
"It was one of the worst tragedies in recent history," Alfred told him. "So, as I said, it would be easier to go by train. It's only a ninety minute trip and it arrives in Grand Central Station, which as you know, and Mindy can reiterate, is in the heart of New York."
Bruce told her, explaining the research he'd begun to do on Ra's al Ghul and his League of Shadows. "There's an auction taking place at the Olympus Gallery in New York on Monday morning. A Mister Canally is selling parchments along with an accompanying translation that supposedly contains information on Ra's al Ghul. I intend to acquire those parchments."
At six thirty-five the next morning, Bruce and Mindy were walking through Grand Central Station, New York. Bruce could remember loving railway stations and airports as a child when he and his parents had passed through them while on vacations, en route to places like London, Paris, Hong Kong, the Caribbean Islands; it was a different destination every year, and all of them fascinating to a young boy. But this station now... maybe his travels over the past seven years had changed his taste in aesthetics, or maybe it was the years he'd lived since his childhood. Whatever the reason, he found Grand Central Station, despite its beauty, at siseven-forty in the morning to be depressing. Beside him, Mindy didn't seem at all bothered, she like their fellow passengers was trudging along with her small backpack with her head bowed, seemingly to be studying her pink Nike sneakers.
It's early, he thought to himself. Maybe the place gets better later in the day.
He had to admit he wasn't exactly feeling that perky himself. If there was anything he'd learnt about himself at Ra's al Ghul's monastery, it was that he was not a morning person. It wasn't a character trait like many believed, but of the body's own temporal rhythms. However, he had learnt that willpower, applied at the right moment, could best lethargy. Still, it didn't help that there was almost no public information on Ra's al Ghul or the League of Shadows. It was almost, he was quickly learning, as if they didn't want people to know they existed.
"Don't draw attention to yourself," Mindy hissed at him. "People are beginning to look."
Being careful, Bruce took a glance round himself. She was right, he'd just counted at least four people glancing them over. Taking Mindy's lead, he hunched his back slightly and bowed his head; doing everything possible to make it seem like he was fighting his way through a ferocious wind. Should have brought an attaché case, he silently cursed himself. That way I'd look as if I was dragging a burden of demand, like everyone else here. As it was, he was travelling light today with nothing but the clothes on his back and a wallet full of cash. Given that he hadn't yet announced to the world at large that he was not dead, he didn't have any credit cards and couldn't even access his own bank accounts, he was effectively living off of Alfred.
He and Mindy were standing in line for nearly twenty minutes before they were able to get in one of New York's famous yellow taxicabs; it was another sign that he hadn't yet readjusted to being the son of a wealthy family; a wealthy son would have had a private limousine waiting for him. "Olympus Gallery, Madison Avenue," he instructed the driver. The cab pulled away to merge into a line of vehicles, all crawling their way northward through Manhattan.
It was only after the cab turned onto Madison Avenue that Bruce actually started taking a passive interest in the surroundings, comparing them to Gotham City. On average, the buildings here were taller, but they also lacked the oppressive cavernous quality that characterised parts of Gotham's inner city. Here, sunlight actually managed to reach the ground thanks to the wider streets.
Ten minutes later, the cab pulled up outside a brownstone house, that dated back at least to the mid-eighteen hundreds. Silently, Bruce wondered, if one of his great grandfather's friends had built it. Mindy nudged him, pulling him out of his reverie. He paid the fare and they climbed the steps to the front doors. A brass plaque above the doorbell was etched with the words: OLYMPUS GALLERY.
Once inside, they were greeted by an attractive brunette in a pant-suit who handed him a catalogue printed on parchment. "Will your daughter be joining you in the auction room?"
"Yes," Bruce didn't correct her. The woman glanced Mindy over, drawing a frown from the young girl, assessing her attire. Mindy on this occasion wasn't going with her usual tomboy fashion sense; instead she'd opted for semi-casual exchanging her purple t-shirt and hooded to combination for a black short sleeved bottun-up blouse in addition to ditching her pigtails so that her blonde hair hung down her to just past the small of her back giving her the more mature appearance of a young teenage girl a couple years older than she actually was.
"This way." She'd apparently passed the assessment as the woman just harrumphed then led them down the hallway to a long, wide chamber that Bruce and Mindy could see was converted from a number of smaller rooms. The woman didn't recognise him, for which he was eminently thankful, but unsurprised at. Thomas Wayne had discouraged the paparazzi from taking photos of his family. He actually thought the last photos of him to actually get published were taken when he was eleven or twelve before he'd even reached full growth, not to mention before his features were hardened by his travels. He no longer looked like that angelic adolescent. When it came down to it, he'd been more worried about Mindy possibly being recognised from camera footage of her entry into the D'Amico building – she had said she'd destroyed the on-site recordings, but there was always the chance they might have had off-site backups – and had wanted to colour her hair to match his own and give an impression of them being related. At least the woman had thought they'd been related anyway.
The room itself was quite crowded with a wide diversity of smartly dressed men and women, most of whom were murmuring quietly to companions. Looking to the head of the room, Mindy saw that there was a raised platform and reading desk, flanked on either side by various expensive and ancient artefacts; mostly paintings and statues. There were some other stuff up there as well, but she couldn't see anything that looked like ancient documents. The subtle shake of Bruce's head told her he couldn't see them either. "They might be keeping them out of sight," she quietly suggested.
Bruce silently nodded. The brunette offered to get the two some refreshments. He asked for coffee and hot chocolate. She reappeared a minute later with the requested drinks in exquisite china cups. She told them there were more artefacts in the smaller peripheral rooms. "You might want to examine them after the auction."
"Thank you," Bruce said both for the coffee and the advice; she gave him a well rehearsed smile in return.
As she turned away, he heard Mindy curse quietly. "No marshmallows!"
At the head of the room, a tall skeletal man with thin horn-rimmed glasses and thinning brown hair ascended the platform to take his place behind the reading desk and offered them welcome.
He tapped the microphone, wincing at the sound of feedback that whined its way round the room. His eyes glanced to the statues as if they might have shattered suddenly. "Before we begin," he began. "I have some regrettable news to make. On page eleven of your catalogue..." there was the sound of paper rustling as the patrons turned to the relevant page, "...you will see an item offered by a Mister James Cavally, a series of parchments accompanied by his uncle's translation of said parchment. Unfortunately we are not able to offer this item today.
"Fuck," Mindy said quietly. Around her there were several forced coughs. She blushed a deep red in colour. She hadn't been quiet enough.
"Why not?" Someone near the front asked.
She froze in her seat. She knew that voice.
"What is it?" Bruce asked, noting Mindy's reaction."Do you recognise that voice?"
She lowered her voice even more. "That was fucking Chris D'Amico?"
Bruce looked to where Mindy was pointedly looking. The person sitting there was definitely young, possibly in his late teens or early twenties with dark hair. He was sitting beside an older tall male with greying mousey hair. He frowned realising there was something familiar about the back of that particular head.
"I regret to say," the auctioneer explained. "That Mister Cavally perished in a plane crash last night and the items in the catalogue were destroyed with him. Naturally, we wish to convey our deepest sympathies to his friends and family on his unexpected death. Now, if there are no further questions we shall begin the auction with lot number seven..."
Bruce was pretty sure he was not interested in any of the oil paintings of sunsets, or the statues of nymphs or anything else the Olympus Gallery was selling. He began to get up, but stopped when Mindy put her hand on his thigh and gave subtle shake of her head. "You should stay," she said in sotto-voce. "It's too coincidental that the guy with the Ra's al Ghul and League of Shadows information should die right before it was supposed to go on auction."
Which means, Bruce mentally finished. That it might actually have some useful information in it.
So it was, that Bruce and Mindy sat, utterly bored, for the next hour until the auction finished. Near the end, he bought one of the marble nymph statues and a reproduction of an Andy Warhol print entitled Guns that Mindy said she "..simply had to have." He thought it might ingratiate himself to the auctioneer if he took the ugly thing off his hands.
He had no idea what he'd do with the thing; it was too big to be a paperweight...
When it was over and the other patrons had finally left, still murmuring to themselves, Bruce took it upon himself to pay for his two purchases and approached the auctioneer with Mindy beside him acting pretty smug with herself at getting him to both stay and buy that Warhol print. God, he suddenly thought. Please don't tell me she actually likes that print. He introduced himself.
"I'm Wesley Carter," the auctioneer said, shaking Bruce's hand and giving a Mindy a genuine smile. "We don't get many young people at these things; at least not as young as yourself. Too interested in computer games..." He turned to Bruce. "I must congratulate you on your fine purchases. Though I must say you have very contrasting tastes."
Bruce knew what he was talking about. "My daughter wanted the reproduction. At least it wasn't that expensive, and she has promised to pay me back. The other item will occupy a place of honour," Bruce mentally added: At the bottom of Lake Michigan. "I wonder if we might have a word in private."
Carter's expression turned serious as he scrutinised both his visitors. Clearly he approved of what he was seeing. He undoubtedly recognised the casual clothing Bruce and Mindy were wearing had cost a few thousand dollars each. Anyone who could afford such clothing could also afford to buy expensive artwork. "If you'll come with me, Mister..."
"Williams," Bruce stated as Mindy rolled her eyes. "Bruce Williams."
Bruce and Mindy followed Carter up a steep winding staircase to the second floor where the auctioneer maintained a small office. Bruce thought it might have originally been a maids or servants room. Settling into a pair of easy chairs, Bruce explained precisely what he wanted.
"Let me be certain I've understood you correctly," Carter stated Bruce had finished. "You're asking if there's any way to learn of the contents of Mister Cavally's uncle's translation."
As Carter spoke, Mndy watched his eyes dart down and to the left. The movement was brief, but it was unmistakable.
"That's exactly what my father asked."
Carter nodded. "Well, Mister Cavally was a very cautious person. That's why he insisted on bringing the documents here personally. But, I couldn't offer them to my clientèle without some prior knowledge of their contents. They are very discerning customers and would immediately notice if I didn't know what they were about. So, I had Mister Cavally photograph both the original parchment and the accompanying translation then forward the prints to me last week."
Again, Mindy watched Carter's eyes drop down and to the left.
"I can't tell you how glad we are to hear that," Bruce said carefully. "I'd like to purchase those copies."
"I'm sorry," Carter said without hesitation. "That's out of the question."
"You can set the price," Mindy said, giving her most endearing smile.
"Mister Williams," Carter said, directing his response to Bruce. "I'd love to be be able to accommodate you, but until I hear from Mister Cavally's lawyers there is nothing I can do."
"And, when will that be?" Bruce asked.
Carter glanced at a calendar he had pinned up on the wall. "Could be about two to three months."
"Did we mention you could set your own price?" Bruce said, reminding Carter of Mindy's suggestion.
"You did," Carter said straight faced. "And, did I mention that it was out of the question?"
Bruce and Mindy rose, extending their hands. "Sorry to have taken up your time," Bruce said.
"No trouble at all, Mister Williams," Carter said pleasantly. "No trouble at all."
They shook, and Bruce told him they could find their own way down. They descended the stairs, and on their way towards the exit noticed an unmarked door.
Mindy glanced around, noting that nobody was within sight. A quick glance up at the ceiling told both of them there was one CCTV camera, but it was focused on the entryway into the auction hall they'd been in earlier. "We're clear," she said.
He opened the door, and discovered a flight of steps that led down into the cellar.
Ooh-kaaay... the two of them thought.
They quickly closed the door and left. Taking a quick look round the block, they noted the positioning of everything from fire hydrants to store front awnings. Satisfied with their reconnoitre, Bruce told her it was time to tool up. "Forget Forty-Seventh Street and East Avenue," Mindy told him after he explained his plans. She hailed a cab. "I'm taking you to Safe house C."
Getting in the cab with Bruce she told the driver: "175 Columbia Heights."
Twenty minutes later, the cab stopped in front of a renovated mid-nineteenth century low-rise apartment complex. After paying the fare, Bruce and Mindy descended the steps that led to the doorway. The gold numbers affixed to the top of the front door identified the building as: 175 Columbia Heights.
Reaching into her backpack, Mindy pulled out a set of a keys and opened the door. "No doorman,"
Bruce nodded as he stepped inside, allowing Mindy to take the lead since she was familiar with this particular building. She didn't, Bruce noticed, use the elevator. Instead choosing to use the stairs. "Top floor?" Bruce asked.
"Top floor," Mindy confirmed.
When Bruce stepped into the apartment, he very nearly let out an audible gasp. Damon Macready had turned an inexpensive apartment into an armoury. About the only parts that were still as the interior designers had intended were the oakwood effect laminate floor and the kitchen area just inside the entry foyer. The walls of the living area were lined from floor to ceiling with every possible weapon he could think of. Everything from 9mm hand guns to assault rifles, various bladed weapons like knives, bō staffs modified with blades on either end to shaken – frequently, but incorrectly thanks to Hollywood, called throwing stars. There were even a few bazooka and a very authentic looking Soviet-era RPG-7.
There was almost no furniture. Just a large office desk in the centre of the living area with a pair of shut down white high end Queen Industries QMac computers and a drawing easel off to the side. He paused as his eyes tracked across the far corners of the room and the middle of the far wall between the two blind covered windows wwere each occupied by a mannequin.
The left hand mannequin, was dressed simply in what appeared to be a green wetsuit with yellow piping and a yellow utility belt. The right hand mannequin was smaller, about the same size as Mindy, dressed in Hit-Girl's suit; essentially child-sized purplish motorcycle leathers that Bruce knew from Mindy were lined with kevlar to resist bullets, the purple tartan skirt with pink utility belt and hanging from the back, a dark purple cape. It's head wore a purple wig and a black strip of cloth across over the eyes.
Taking the place of honour, was the centre mannequin dressed entirely in a close fitting black neoprene bodysuit to which large pieces of hardened black body armour were attached to the torso area – particularly the vulnerable chest and abdomen areas – with smaller pieces around the arms, shoulders and legs. Like the Hit-Girl costume, it also featured a dark cape; in this case a longer black one and a utility belt that was almost identical to the utility belt of the green Kick-Ass costume. Unlike the other two costumes, this suit featured a hardened identity concealing cowl rather than a simple mask.
Behind him, Mindy quietly closed the apartment door with a soft snick. "You like?"
Bruce nodded towards the centre mannequin. "It's very crude in design, but it is very similar to what the members of the League of Shadows wore in Ra's al Ghul's monastery."
"Think you can use it?" she asked, coming up to stand next to him, a hopeful look in her eyes.
"At least 'till I design my own," he said as he approached the centre mannequin. "But I do need to make a slight modification" Grasping the buckle of the utility belt, he removed the two capitol letters. "I'm not Big Daddy."