"Alfred," Bruce opened a frequency to the manor as he strode down the Watchtower hallway, checking rooms as he went.
The butler answered almost immediately, "Yes sir."
"Kayla there?" Batman asked gruffly.
There was a pause, "I don't believe so sir. Are you meaning to say you lost her?"
Bruce didn't answer, "Seal off the Batcave. Don't go down there and don't let anyone out. Set it to allow incoming teleports only. Assume it's full of hostiles that are armed and dangerous. I don't care what or who you hear."
It was only Alfred's faith in Bruce that kept him from questioning the near order, "Of course sir, I'll see to immediately."
Batman cut the connection as he ran a critical eye over another room, not for the first time did he mentally curse genetic inheritance. More than that, he cursed Waller's love of playing with it.
The curse words rebounded in his brain at the voice behind him, just what he didn't need.
"Batman," Diana called. He grit his teeth.
He let his annoyance seep through, "What."
Wonder Woman didn't react, "What is going on?"
"Family matter, none of your business." He thought that might get her to back off.
It didn't. "It's League business Batman," she put the emphasis on his name, "Batgirl's actions reflect the actions of the League and in all honesty they look fairly incriminating. We need explanations Batman. We need to know what happened. We need to know why she attacked that man so that we can take the appropriate actions."
He maintained the rational Batman face, "Assume that Batgirl has effectively resigned from the League pre-emptive to your firing of her. Inform the press of this fact and that the League does not condone her actions and are investigating. That should help your credibility. Get Supergirl and Flash to join you on immediate damage control. If the three of you show up together it should cover all demographics." He kept walking.
"That doesn't answer my question Batman," she kept pace with him, "We need to know what happened?"
"No," he said, "You really don't."
"Yes," she pressed, "We do." Diana paused, "If the roles were reversed you wouldn't stop until I'd told you everything I knew."
"Diana," he growled, "You don't need to know. There's not going to be a League review or a disciplinary hearing, no case file on the matter. Batgirl resigns; it's not your problem. She's probably taken off already. Let me think."
She grabbed his arm, an almost unforgivable act of familiarity, "I don't care about the League review Br-Batman." She almost slipped, "I care about a clearly injured girl and all of the mysteries you've got swirling around with the bats in that cave. I've told you once and I'll tell you again until it gets through that thick cowl of yours, I just want to help. Something is clearly wrong and for this to happen so soon after Tim…"
Although she couldn't see them Diana knew that the cowled eyes had finally met hers.
"What happened?" she said softly.
Batman bent to the ground and dabbed his finger in an almost imperceptible spot on the floor, his glove came up with a small blood stain. He frowned. Finally Batman looked at her then set his jaw as though he didn't like the words, "I'm not sure."
Diana had to forcibly hold her jaw in place, "I beg your pardon."
"I have a theory," Batman started walking again, this time towards the teleporter, "but I don't spread theories. I spread facts."
Diana crossed her arms and leaned back where she was still standing, "I expect a phone call when you've got them."
"Don't count on it."
Batman teleported into the BatCave, still miffed that Kayla had managed to sneak by Mr Terrific and into the teleporter, while bleeding, with a torn up costume, with an empty belt and with cracked ribs.
He took one step into the Cave and knew that she was here. He would grant that she'd done a good job – no blood marks on the floor, everything in its place, even the desk chair on the same angle that he'd left it. The give-a-way was the bats; it took a subtle eye to notice but they were riled. Someone had been down here recently. In fact, someone was still down here, in the rafters, along the back wall. The bats weren't just aesthetic.
He ignored her. Batman strode across the Cave, sat in front of the computer and began reviewing the case files on Bane. He sat stone still absorbing the information in front of him, mentally preparing for the coming night's battle. He continued to ignore the girl crouched among the bats.
Batman could hear her moving, it took almost twenty minutes for her to reach her decision, to create a plan. He knew what she'd do but he was hoping that she wouldn't. She did.
Batgirl leapt from the rafters directly onto the emergency teleport button. She perched on the dash for a moment like a frog, wondering why she hadn't dematerialized. Batman didn't give her time, he shoved her off the console, "No feet." He growled. Then he resumed ignoring her.
Sprawled out on the ground she looked up at him, flabbergasted, "I beg your pardon."
"No feet on the equipment," he said without turning his head.
She sat up, "That's it." She almost sounded angry, "that's all you have to say?"
Batman kept his eyes on the screen in front of him, "Clearly you had something else in mind."
Batgirl pushed herself to her feet and her cowl back simultaneously, "I'm feeling fairly open ended. Take your pick. You could try what happened Batgirl? Are you okay? What were you thinking? Do you know how this reflects on me? I warned you about the sword. Who was that guy? Why would you do that? Put a bandage on that. Take that Bat off right now. The League hates you. I hate you. What the HELL do you think you're doing? Get out you worthless piece of genetic goo!" Kayla's voice had risen as she posed Batman's hypothetical questions.
Bruce finally turned from the monitors but his face remained impassive, "So answer my questions."
"What?" She paused.
"Suppose I had said that." Batman stared, "what would you say?"
She stared back at him and then jumped right into it. "What happened? Freaking Three happened. Am I okay? No, no I am not. I've never been okay. I tricked myself into thinking I was but let's be honest I'm not okay. What was I thinking? I wasn't freaking thinking okay? I just followed my training and honestly I'd do it again. Yes I know how this reflects on you, awfully." Her eyes glowed, "I tried to break rule number two, thou shalt not kill." She returned to the hypothetical questions, "Yes I used the sword. I always carry the sword. I feel incomplete without it, what does that say about me? Who was that guy? Three. We established that. Why would I do it? Because I'm programmed to. Because he will kill me. Because he will kill you. Because he's evil. Because I'm too young to be dealing with this. Because I should be dead."
Batman finally took his cowl off. Kayla continued, working herself into a frenzy, "I'll put a bandage on it when I've got time to think about something other than fighting impulses. I can't take the Bat off. The League should hate me, I messed up a lot for them. You should hate me. You never should have let me in. I never should have come here. What do I think I'm doing. I don't know. I have no idea. I'm trying to kill as few people as possible. I'm reacting to a puzzle I can't even see. Worthless piece of genetic goo sounds about right. Get out? I'm trying to but you've locked me in this blasted cave. Let me go!" Batgirl's cowl bounced off Batman's chest.
"No." Batman picked up the cowl and placed it on the console beside his own.
"No what!" Batgirl's control was gone.
Batman stared at her, "No, I'm not letting you leave this cave."
"I'm dangerous." The words seemed to surprise Kayla despite coming from her mouth.
"Not to me," Batman threw in a calculated smirk, it came off perfectly audacious.
Kayla's anger grew a touch of Batman, "I was made to kill you." She growled, "I'm your contingency plan, everything about me from my face to my training was made to keep you in check. Super powered heroes got mini-supermen to deal with. You got me. They made a mini you as best they could, added everything they thought would make you go easy on me and trained me up so I wouldn't mind killing and that I'd know how. How to build a psychopath 101. Yes, I'm dangerous."
Bruce stood, "Prove it." He gestured for her to attack him.
She blinked, "I'm not going to kill you."
"You couldn't if you wanted to." He dared her.
Kayla sprang. He would concede that she was good but she wasn't that good. He would grant her a few things, she was fighting with broken ribs, she hadn't revealed her real face and she wasn't actually trying to kill him. Batman blocked a kick meant for his stomach and sent his palm slamming into her sternum. Kayla stumbled back slightly then recovered with a blow to his recently bruised collarbone. He parried. She kept coming.
Batman had to be impressed. Waller had trained her well. The combinations had no obvious pattern and flowed smoothly between fighting styles. Kendo, aikido, buno, bare-knuckle boxing, Wing chun, Sambo and Tegumi seemed slightly favoured; to the average person, even the average superhero, she was dangerous.
Yet to him she'd yet to land a significant blow. Bruce narrowed his eyes and upped the ante. He had yet to get her to break focus but Three's presence today had. She had gone for the kill. He was going to make her try the same here. Batman broke in with a quick shot to the temple, she blocked it but the move was enough to allow him to set the tempo of the blows.
Batman didn't give her time to think. He left her with only reaction. Finally one of his blows connected; he smashed her across the jaw with his forearm. The spikes caught her chin, slicing cleanly through the fake face and leaving a trail of blood in their wake. He didn't give her time to recover and smashed a haymaker into her shoulder; it would have downed the average fighter.
That's when he saw it, in the moment before connection, a look he'd seen only once before and never on her face. Eyebrows dropped, pupils dilated and jaw set. Chaotic focus. She came at him, no longer bothering to block the blows. Indifferent. The haymaker connected. Kayla Wayne dropped to the ground, collapsing with the blow. Batman expected a pop-up body slam. She surprised him, using his own momentum to get under his feet and send him stumbling over her.
He tried not to step on her.
Six chose that moment to pop-up, when he was directly on top of her. Her cracked shoulder caught him in the groin, using both of their body weights to send him tumbling to the ground. She was on top of him, wailing on his face with only one arm, the other severely dislocated.
He let her. This was a point he needed to make.
Finally he saw her hand creep toward her back, unconsciously towards her sword. All according to Waller's training. He snapped upwards sending her flying, then moving quickly he reversed their positions. He snatched the sword from its harness and slammed it into the Batcave floor. With years of practised ease he then cuffed her to it.
Then he stepped back. Ideally he wondered how parenting textbooks would classify his particular style. He crossed his arms and stared at her.
She stared back, breathing heavily.
He watched her vitals. Her pupils were still dilated. Batman stood strong and looked down on her, "What happened."
It wasn't a question. It was a command.
She started to talk. He could almost hear her thoughts…
Tim was worried about me. That was sweet of him, with all Bird boy's been through he should be worried about nothing but himself. I worry about him. He's still not entirely free of the Joker's influence. I worry that he never will be.
My fingers slip as I try to hook the cape onto the armour. That's what you get for trying to dress while running to the teleporter and trying to drink a coffee. Too bad. I need the coffee.
It wouldn't be so strange I suppose if Tim couldn't rid Joker entirely, after all Barbara still deals with the Joker's influence on her life every day. He may have just taken her legs but the psychological damage of that… Jason didn't live through the Joker's play on his life. I suppose Dick was the only one of them who got out of the Joker unscathed. He'll bounce back. I wonder which villain will do me in. I'm pretty sure I know though.
I slip the cowl over my hair as I hop into the teleporter. Sometimes it feels so heavy.
I'm one of the last to arrive. It's one of the disadvantages of not having superpowers. I have more gear to look after. I try to find a friendly face in the crowd, I don't really know most of these people. Huntress catches my eye, she's crazy yes but the good kind of crazy. My kind of crazy. I'm not under any delusions. Honestly it's a miracle I'm as sane as I am.
Wonder Woman catches my eye. Even while keeping an ear on Superman's briefing I can't help it. She intrigues me. I'd love to talk to here. But you don't just go up to Wonder Woman and start chatting, well, not unless you're Kayla Wayne. She doesn't really have boundaries. But here I'm just Batgirl. Still Wonder Woman is amazing. She'd have to be. I know that Dad likes her even though he won't admit it. Batman doesn't really like just anybody. If he just kind of liked her he'd just sleep with her already. I mean I love him and all but he's a bit of a man-slut. Falling in love with like everyone. Wonder Woman is different to him, thus intriguing.
She looks worried though. I've got the benefit over most of us in that I know all about the random League attacks. Dad briefed me. This should be interesting.
I'm on Superman's squad. Of course I am. I always seem to be. I'd bet my backstory that Dad told him to keep an eye on me. To keep me safe. Blech. I can never decide if that's sweet or irritating. Both I suppose. It's ironic. If they knew who I really was… don't think that. You never know where Martians may be.
It's a pretty standard fight actually. Sure there are more bad guys running about but nothing that freaks me out. I've wandered a little farther than I'd like but Huntress and Booster Gold are nearby so I'm not worried. It's actually kind of fun. That's awful but I like smashing a couple of heads together. I'm good at it. If only Two could see me know, she'd… no I take that back. Keep Two dead please.
When Beetle's voice comes through the comm my stomach sinks. Superman's down. There's something more going down here. Of course there is. It was stupid of me to get cocky. But that's my track record, over confident. Sometimes I'm such a waste of space. I'm supposed to be the resident Bat. Use your head Kayla. Stop being such a Six.
I have to contribute. I activate my mic even as a I dodge Clayface. I'm surprised to see him here. Dad will want to know about this one. "It's got to be relatively near him or it wouldn't work. There's no way they could afford a big chunk." I say. Clayface tries to catch my feet and I grunt, "Yeah okay buddy, like I'm going to stay still." I grunt again remembering my mike is on. I try to sound Batmany, "try moving him away, and see if it gets better."
They're following my idea. Huh, maybe I do have some Batman leading chops on me. I start to reverse direction, heading back to the core group. If Superman is out I want to know what's going on over there. Booster's already gone and Huntress backs up with me. Suddenly the few remaining villains hightail it away. Helena and I exchange glances and burst into a run.
A few blocks later we see the four boys with their backs to Superman and Fire. They're taking punishment. Huntress can't help herself. She has to shout some cornball line. But honestly, she's fun to fight with, makes you feel spunky. I use the opportunity to throw a few Batarangs. I'm not the best shot but whatever, good enough. Although the nearby crowd makes me nervous. We need to get them out there pronto. I notice Dr Cyber get a little too close to the crowd for comfort and slip in to block him.
I check the crowd for old people and kids, basically anyone who book it out of there. My legs become lead when I see him. Three, just standing there in the crowd. Worst of all, he's grinning, not pleasantly, and right at me.
He knows it's me.
I can feel the change happen. My eyes narrow, I know from experience that my pupils are dilating. I objectively know that I should stop. That this side, Waller's side, One's side, the trained killer side is dangerous. But I also know that Three has only one side and it will kill me if I don't kill him first.
So I don't hesitate. I abandon Dr Cyber. Whatever is happening here to Superman has to be because of Three. There's Kryptonite involved, Three should be on his knees. But he's not. He knew it was coming. Somehow he prepared.
I don't think he expects me to be this audacious. I ignore the crowd and punch him right in the nose. It gives an extremely satisfying, albeit unexpected crack, as it breaks. So the Kryptonite is effecting him but not enough to incapacitate him. This may be my only chance.
I go for a kill shot, straight to the neck. He has the good sense to roll out of the way. I don't know how limited his powers are from the Kryptonite. I don't want to give him any opportunity. I go for him again. I crowd gets in my way. I feel arms trying to pull me back.
I react. I shove them out of my way as easily as the training dummies. They cascade backward, I should care but I don't. There's just him. If I finish him then I'm safe. I'm free.
He's grinning at me again. There's Kryptonite around the he has the sheer gall to mock me. He knows I can lip read and his mouth forms the simple word, "Hello." Then he winks.
I still have enough sense to pull him out of the crowd. He gets right in my ear as I do so, "So Six, seen Jess and Eddie yet? They were just dying to see you again."
I can't help it, I shout at him, "They were good." It's all I can think to sum them up. They were good people, good as he'll never be, as I'll never be.
If I'd had any doubt that he'd killed my siblings it dries up as I see red. Three does nothing to defend himself as I pull out the sword. He's seen me fight with it dozens of times. He knows I'm good. He finally takes off down the block, I go after him.
We leave the crowd and heroes far behind.
Finally he talks freely. I round a corner and arm straight into an arm of steel. I feel my ribs crack as I flip over it, ruined by my own momentum. I find my feet. Keeping the sword in front of me.
We fight as we hadn't since our last training session. When it was do or die. The last time I killed. My brain has time to process nothing. Everything is reaction. His powers. I'm horribly outmatched without Kryptonite. We both know it. Still he seems weaker, sometimes I draw blood. Must be latent effects. I don't feel the pain as much as I should. I chalk it up to adrenaline.
"So Six," he's almost casual as we spar, "how've you been hiding your face? The face rec scans didn't pick anything up." I say nothing. Dad's facial mask worked. He continues, "We could have just picked you up somewhere but no, you get all sneaky. Now I've got to go the trouble of ripping that stupid Bat cowl off your face to see what's underneath." My blood runs cold.
Of course he notices. Stupid super-senses. He grins again, "Maybe while I'm at it I'll finish off Batman himself. You've probably strapped yourself to his secret ID too right? Made him vulnerable sis," he mocks, "It's all your fault when I turn him inside out. I'll get the little human sidekicks too. You should be impressed though, Waller didn't squeal. Now you will."
He reaches for the cowl and I move just in time. Only a small section rips off. He tosses it aside like it's nothing. "You should have told him the truth Six. Now your lies will kill him. Or," he ponders, "you never should have involved them in the first place."
He advances, "You know this is inevitable. You can't avoid your destiny. Our destiny. We are who we are."
Sometimes I think that if I say it enough I'll believe it, "I'm not." He shrugs and reaches again for the cowl. I finally get a proper slice in, my blade flies across his chest and his blood spurts all over me. That must have been some kryptonite. I don't know what he did but my own chest suddenly flashes with pain.
I persevere. He's grappling with the cowl, trying to rip it off without taking my head with it. Superhero problems. I go for the gut when I feel it in my neck. A dart. Three looks over my shoulder, I pray he kills whomever it is quickly. I fall to the ground as the drugs take effect, twisting to see whom I accidently killed. Huntress, my gut twists. Then I hear Three, "Well I'll catch you later Batgirl." He leaves. I feel like my shock is written across my face, too drugged to control it. Then I see Zatanna on Huntress' heels. I let myself breath. He was still vulnerable to magic.
I catch their faces and I know it's over for me. I've crossed the line. I'm done. I can't explain because they can't know. I'm a danger to my family. I've got to run. If Three's going to find me I need to be far away. Somewhere with no connection to Bruce or Alfred or Tim. Then black.
As she told her story Kayla's breath had calmed, her jaw released. She was back. Bruce sat stoically while she spoke, silent.
"That's why you have to let me go," Kayla finished, "he's looking for me and he won't stop. I'll go somewhere far away and we can kill each other. I can't stay here."
Batman watched her, "He won't find you."
"Suppose he does," Kayla said, she wasn't even trying to remove the handcuffs from her fight with Bruce. "Suppose he comes here and starts a fight. My training will kick in, you know it will, I'll kill you Bruce. I won't want to but I will. Suppose they get me back on program. Who knows who he's working for. There's some creepy stuff out there. Cadmus has ways. They'll turn me into a weapon and then I'll kill you like I was designed to."
The Batman expression was clear on Bruce's face, "Don't flatter yourself Kayla, as we just saw here, you wouldn't be able to kill me. Not on your own."
"Fine!" Kayla said, "So I'm not that good but my point still stands. I could do damage. I'm supposed to."
Bruce's face was finally kind as he tossed her the cuff key, "You're more than that Kayla. I trust you. You're not supposed to do anything, when push comes to shove, you're my daughter." Bruce's voice was firm, "we don't do anything that we're supposed to."
Kayla's face showed her confliction, "I… I appreciate the sentiment but… I mean… let's put all that aside. You know I can't stay here. I… You… we can't take the chance that Three will find me here. Maybe you'll be fine and I don't care but, Dad. What about Tim and Alfred?" She let the question hang. "Don't ask me to risk them."
Bruce broke eye contact first.
"You know he'll kill them." Kayla pressed, "He's your son. You can't risk one for the other. I can't stay and put everyone else in danger. You can't ask that of me. I messed up. It's my problem. I need to go. I can't stay around you." She grabbed the edge of the fake face mask and pulled it off by the cuts from Bruce's armour. "You can't save me and endanger everyone else."
He stared at her, at her real face, the genetically chosen one.
"Please…" she begged, "if something happened… let me go."
Batman put the cowl back on and stood, "Which car is your favourite?"
"Whaa-?" One look from Batman silenced the question, "the Aston Martin One-77"
Batman gave her a look, "Second favourite."
"Convertible yellow corvette," she said staring at him.
He nodded and hit a few buttons on the dash. A huge crashing noise filled the manor and echoes around the cave. A quick peek at the screens showed the beloved yellow corvette smashed into the wall of the garage as the apparently spring loaded floor settled back into place.
Kayla threw her hands in the air, "I need to leave! Not get some weird kind of punishment."
"This isn't punishment," Batman started pulling up files all over the computer, "this is a compromise. You can't stay here but I need to keep an eye on you where you'll be safe. Provided someone upholds their promise of a favour you're getting the best scenario I can set up."
Mixed it up and tried some in story train of thought, I hope that wasn't too confusing for you guys. Also I want to apologize for how long this story is getting. If I was starting from the beginning I definitely would have structred it differently but c'est la vie, learning curve! I still can't believe this is still my first story. I count maybe sixish chapters until we catch up with the future text and then I need to wrap that up. Soooooo this is going to be pretty long... Thanks so much for sticking with me though, I really do appreciate your thoughts and comments. They help me as a writer. I know there's a lot for everyone to remember so I'm always happy to answer questions if you leave them in the review I'll PM you.
Also the person who owes Bats a favour, that was mentioned a looooong time ago in this story