Hi guys! Sorry for the slow update. My mother and I had the Lasek eye surgery this past friday, and have been in recovery mode. Unlike my mother, I've been having a ruff time of it, as everyone reacts to the procedure differently. As my eyes continue to improve, I will update more often.
That being said, shout outs go to: AelitaOfTheWolves, Smokeydirtcat, and Guest! Amazing individuals all around! Free virtual batcookies! Chocolate chip this time!
Robin crept along the dark tunnels at the Batman's side, wrinkling his nose at the fetid smell of the musty old tunnel. Joker certainly must be getting desperate if he was hiding out in this section of the old crypts. One of Gotham's sewers emptied into it here!
Something bumped into his ankle and he froze.
His eyes darted down to where the sewer water washed around his shins. Black button eyes glared up at him, accompanied by an indignant squeak.
Batman glanced back, a small smile tugging at his lips.
He paused for a moment, watching his protégé slowly lift his foot out of the massive rat's way. The vermin gave one last squeak and swam off, tail flicking languidly behind it.
Robin came up beside him, and the dark knight cocked his head. "Problem?"
Robin snorted. "And people say New York rats are big and bold!" he hissed quietly. "I'd dearly love to hear what they'd say if they could see a Gotham city sewer rat!"
The dark knight nodded.
He'd been astounded the first time he'd seen some of the rats Gotham city produced, and had often thought the self same thing! The ones on the surface were about normal size, but get down in the crypts and sewers and even the canine rat catchers didn't want to mess with them!
Laughter rang down the tunnel ahead of them as the dynamic duo stepped up out of the sewer water and onto dry ground.
Joker wasn't too far away.
Signaling Robin to remain absolutely silent, Batman crept forward. He felt rather than heard Robin behind him as he moved. Robin had more than learned his lessons when it came to stealth. The boy was almost as good as the he was, and Batman had no doubt that Robin would someday surpass him.
The dark knight pushed his musing thoughts to one side, gazing through the white lenses of his cowl at the scene before him.
The tunnel they had come through opened up a couple feet ahead of them, emptying out into a sort of stone rotunda. Several tunnels opened up in the wall opposite them, leading away into the darkness and providing several avenues of escape for the rotunda's new tenants.
It was here that the joker had chosen to set up his new lair.
Various ratty pieces of furniture had been set up around the junk littered space. Given Harley's tidy tendencies, it surprised the duo that she would let this particular hideout get this cluttered.
Harley was at the table.
Judging from the bundle of soiled clothing, the wailing of the baby, and the smell wafting their way over the sewer stench, she appeared to be cleaning up a rather spectacular accident on Jordan's part!
Joker was sitting in a ratty, overstuffed armchair, a T.V. tray pulled up in his lap.
He appeared to be furiously trying to write something. His face was beginning to furrow with anger. The heroes weren't sure how long Jordan had been crying, but it didn't look like Joker would be able to take much more of it.
Harley finished cleaning the wailing infant and wrapped his tiny, nude body in a new sky blue blanket.
She gently laid him in a nearby cardboard box, cooing at him in an effort to quiet him, before returning to the table and dumping his soiled clothes and blanket in a bag. She neatly tied it off and negligently tossed it aside, throwing the used diaper in a nearby garbage can.
"Finished!" Joker leapt to his feet, brandishing the paper. "Harley! I need you to run this over to our dear friend Mayor Hill! I'm sure he's just dying to hear from us!"
Harley cast one last longing glance at Jordan before assuming her beaming smile and trotting over to him. "A-OK Mr. J!" She took the folded letter and was heading for one of the tunnels when Joker called her name again.
"Oh, and Harley?"
She stopped, cocking her head at him. "Yeah puddin'?"
Joker grinned. "Be creative when you give it to him."
Harley gave a happy squeak and darted away into the tunnels. Joker shook his head and returned to his seat, pointedly trying to ignore the wailing infant not more than fifteen feet away.
Whining and yipping quietly to themselves, the hyenas came to lay at his feet, flattening their ears against the baby's hi-pitched shrieks.
Batman's eyes narrowed, the incredible mind behind the mask analyzing the situation. After a long minute, his hand sought out Robin's in the darkness of the tunnel.
Robin raised his eyebrows in surprise at the feel of his mentors hand clasping his own. Said hand quickly resettled itself on his wrist and understanding dawned as the boy wonder felt his mentor tap his finger against the more sensitive skin of his inner wrist.
A small smile lit the boy wonders face as he decoded the taps and holds of the Batman's finger into morse code, and from there into the corresponding message.
Get Harley and call police
Robin squeezed his mentors wrist, letting him know he'd understood the message before slipping through the shadows along the edge of the rotunda and darting down the same tunnel Harley had taken.
Batman remained where he was, silently eyeing the situation.
It was perfectly within his capabilities to take down the hyenas and jump the Joker. But if anything went wrong… If he miscalculated, or if Joker managed to evade his grasp it would put Jordan at an incredible risk!
That settled it.
He silently slipped into the shadows edging the rotunda and crept around the edge of it. Jordan was his priority. If the Joker got away, so be it. He would catch the maniac another day.
One of the hyenas snuffled loudly and Batman froze. After a long minute, the animal flopped over against his brother, head lolling lazily to one side.
The caped crusader began moving again.
The hyena's were the biggest threat now. If they sounded the alarm before he got close enough to Jordan, it could make his life very difficult, and Jordan's life very dangerous.
It took a good five minutes before he reached the other side of the rotunda. Jordan never once ceased his pitiful wailing.
Batman took a deep breath and stepped into the light.
The soles of his shoes barely made a whisper on the cobblestone floor as he crept toward the cardboard box and it's noisy contents.
It was only when he found himself peering in at the crying baby that he realized a new difficulty.
How to get Jordan to quiet down so Joker wouldn't notice when Batman carried him out? His costume wasn't exactly the most child friendly of outfits!
It was designed to scare people after all!
Keeping his eyes fixed on the drowsy Joker and the hyenas at his feet, the caped crusader gently picked up the squalling baby.
He cast a silent simultaneous prayer of thanks and a curse at the world at large, grateful that Dick had been past this stage when he came to live with Bruce, but wishing he had come younger so that Batman would know what to do now!
He cradled the baby against his shoulder, bouncing him the way he'd seen several young mothers do.
Jordan merely waved his tiny fists in the air and cried all the harder.
Across the room, Joker irritably stirred in his arm chair. He'd almost managed to drift off when the brat got a bee up his bonnet. If the little tyke didn't shut up soon, he was going to go over there and duct tape his mouth shut!
Ok, the bouncing didn't work.
Batman ceased jostling the babe and tried patting Jordan's back, nuzzling the bare skin of his face against the baby's temple. That got more of a result. He redoubled his efforts, tensing every time one of those hyenas stirred.
A thought suddenly occurred to the dark knight.
Catching the forefinger of his right glove in his mouth, he hurriedly pulled it off and tucked it in his belt. Praying Jordan hadn't started teething yet, he slipped his pointer finger into the baby's mouth in lieu of a pacifier.
Jordan gave a startled little hiccup, fussing a little at the suddenness of it all, but immediately began to quiet down. Joker and Batman both heaved quiet sighs of relief, not daring to do anything louder and run the risk of setting Jordan off again.
"Finally." Joker muttered.
My sentiments exactly. Batman thought, silently backing away towards the shadows.
He hadn't gone more than a couple steps when the hyenas noses shot up into the air, heads swiveling and ears pricking forward to catch the Batman in their gaze.
The two were on their feet in a millisecond, yipping and laughing to draw their masters attention.
Batman didn't waste any more time. Throwing caution to the winds, the dark knight turned and bolted down one of the tunnels, not particularly caring which one he took.
He could hear the Joker yelling and screaming angrily back in the rotunda. Much closer behind him, he could hear the panting and laughter of the hyenas, their blunt nails clicking against the cobblestone floor of the crypt.
An old wooden door was flung open ahead of him, releasing a group of ten massive thugs into the tunnel. One of them spotted him and yelled, raising the alarm.
Sliding several feet on the damp cobblestones before coming to a halt, the dark knight turned and bolted down a dark side passage. Glancing back, he was gratified to see Bud and Lou skidding out of control as they tried to slow down, knocking over the Joker's thugs like bowling pins.
The tunnel suddenly bottlenecked, forcing the dark knight to turn sideways and shuffle through.
His cape suddenly tightened around his hips and waist, stopping him dead in his tracks. Batman glared down at the black material, trying to get it un-snagged.
His cape was a great tool in a fight, making the enemy misjudge the actual location of his body and thus shoot the cape, but it was times like these that he seriously considered a new costume design!
The snarling cackle of the hyenas nearby informed him that he'd just run out of time.
He flung himself forward and out of the bottleneck, the loud ripping sound music to his ears as he bolted down the passage at top speed once again.
Jordan was beginning to fuss again, and given the circumstances Batman couldn't blame him!
He suddenly slid to a halt, a growl of frustration rumbling in his throat. The tunnel ahead of him had caved in! A massive pile of rubble sloped down from the ceiling to the floor, ending no more than a few feet from the toes of his boots.
A hole in the ceiling caught his eye, probably caused by the cave in. He could see sky, and the buildings of Gotham through it! His hand instinctively brushed aside his cape to get at his belt and the grappling hook that would get him and Jordan out of here, only to brush against empty air.
He whipped around to stare back down the passage.
His belt must've been caught along with his cape! When he'd torn free, the belt must have broken free as well!
He debated going back for it, but the excited yells of the thugs as they discovered his belt and the torn part of his cape quickly put an end to that idea.
If he didn't have Jordan it would be another story…
He backed away from the tunnel, moving closer to the rock pile. He knew from experience that he had the advantage on uneven ground, and the Batman intended to use it.
He resettled Jordan in his left arm and brought the fabric of what cape remained forward to cover the infant, offering what little protection he could.
This wasn't going to end well…
The dark knight's head snapped up.
Gazing down at him through the hole in the ceiling was none of than JJ, the son of the joker!
The boy had his head hanging down through the hole, irritably brushing his hair back again and again as it continuously fell forward into his eyes.
The caped crusader made a split second decision. "JJ." He growled, stepping forward and down off the rock pile to position himself under the hole. "Take Jordan."
Blue gray eyes widened in surprise as they watched the Batman hold up the baby to him, but after a moment JJ nodded. Laying down on his stomach, the teen scooted forward until his upper body was hanging through the hole, his arms reaching for the blue swaddled bundle.
Jordan was crying in earnest now, kicking and squirming as he was lifted up. The blanket had fallen away and he was cold and hungry.
He had every right to be upset.
"I…I can't quite reach!" JJ panted, his fingers just brushing Jordan's blanket. They could both hear boots thudding in the passageway.
Time was running out!
"Catch!" The dark knight ordered. He suddenly leapt up, shoving the screaming newborn into a startled JJ's hands.
The young clown scrambled to grab him, only just barely managing it!
"Got him?" Batman asked from below. JJ nodded, cradling Jordan to his chest. "Good. Stay near the building that houses the entrance to this place. I sent Robin after your mother and to get the police. He should return soon."
JJ nodded again, carefully easing himself and his new charge back up and out of the hole. "Got it. But what about you?"
Batman had already turned to face the tunnel as the hyenas came barreling excitedly out of it. "Go!" He dropped into a fighting stance, bracing himself for their onslaught.
But it never came.
"Bud! Lou! Back off!" JJ yelled from his spot above the action.
The two hyenas did a cartoon skid stop, staring around in confusion in an effort to figure out where their young master was.
"Go back to Pops boys!" JJ called again. Reluctantly, the hyenas obeyed.
"Thanks." Batman growled, his eyes never leaving the passage in front of him.
"You're welcome." JJ answered grimly, watching as his father's henchmen poured into the room. "Unfortunately these guys aren't as well trained as the hyenas. Good luck Batman." He turned and darted away from the hole, lost to the Batman's sight.
Praying that he had made the right decision, Batman glared at the incoming thugs.
There were more of them than had originally piled through that doorway. His eyes narrowed even further when he spotted one of them wearing his utility belt around his chest like a bandolier.
Oook, now it was personal…!
See? See? SEE? I told you! I told you we should've left well enough alone and just let the Bat do our work for us!
JJ rolled his eyes, wrapping Jordan more snugly in the blanket. Now, now, let's not be lazy. He thought back at Mini me.
What's wrong with lazy? Mini me wanted to know. Look what being industrious did for us! We're out on the street and saddled with the mayors bouncing baby brat!
"He's not a brat, he's just having a really bad day." JJ answered. Mini me snorted. "No really." JJ answered aloud. "You'd be a little cranky too if my parents kidnapped you! He's tired, and probably hungry to."
Great. So there's absolutely no chance of him shutting up anytime soon, is there?
Not much. JJ admitted.
He laid the baby on the cement, shedding his backpack and digging into it. They were on the roof of one of the buildings opposite his father's hideout, waiting for the police to show.
What are you doing with that hammock? Mini me wanted to know.
The heir to the clown prince of crime ignored him, tying his hammock to the legs of the buildings water tower. He tested it to make sure it would stay, then grabbed his sleeping bag and the baby.
Unfurling the camping gear, he wrapped himself and Jordan in it and climbed up into the hammock.
I said, what are you doing? Mini me yelled.
"Trying to get him to calm down." JJ answered.
He flipped one leg over the side of the hammock, starting the net swinging. "Let's see if Rick and Danny's gift can help us out." He cuddled Jordan close, quietly cooing to him in an effort to sooth him.
You kidding? That kid was crying when your parents brought him home, and he's been crying ever since! That kid's like Captain Ahab! Always wailing! He'll never stop!
As if to prove Mini me wrong, Jordan began to quiet.
Gurgling softly to himself, he curled closer to his teenage protector, his eyelids beginning to droop. Within a few minutes the exhausted infant was sound asleep.
JJ grinned. You were saying? I think your Captain Ahab just became Rip Van Winkle.
Jerk…Mini me grumbled.
Robin darted down the tunnels, frantically searching for his mentor. He could hear the G.C.P.D. in the tunnels behind him, calling to each other as they searched the crypt for the Joker and his men.
The yip of the hyenas drew his attention to a small side passage. The boy wonder slowed. Drawing a small pen light from his belt, he cautiously made his way down the tunnel.
He'd had to many run ins with these particular hyenas, often in the dark.
Two sets of eyes suddenly gleamed green in the beam of his flashlight, making the boy wonder backpedal in fright.
The hyenas blinked, squirming at the sudden ray of light in their eyes, but they didn't come any closer.
Robin suddenly grinned.
The passage ahead of him narrowed into a bottleneck, and from the looks of things, Bud and Lou had tried to go through it at the exact same time!
The two hyenas were wedged in tight, shoulder to shoulder in the confined space.
Cackling, Robin cart wheeled across the broad shoulders and sloping backs of the hyenas, his slender frame having no difficulty in the narrow passage.
The hyenas yipped irritably at him, not in the least bit amused by his use of their backs as a spring board.
Robin ignored them, running down the passage. He found his mentor at the end of it, clipping a pair of bat cuffs on the last of the fifteen downed thugs.
Completely ignoring the usual Batman and Robin protocol, the twelve year old darted forward to give his mentor a quick hug, separating before the police could see the rare display of affection.
The hyenas started yipping angrily, startling one of the Gotham City police officers that had been following Robin, and making him dance back several steps.
The officer swore explosively. "I hate those things! Creepiest animals on the face of the planet!"
His partner laughed, peering over the hyenas with his flashlight. He could clearly see the dynamic duo and their prisoners on the other side. "Yeah, I have to agree with you on that one. Call the paddy wagon, we got a group to go. And give the zoo a call. Tell them they can have their hyenas back."
They other cop snorted, grabbing his radio. "Yeah, at least until Joker wants his dogs back. Then the hyena exhibit will go on hiatus again!"
He clicked a button on his radio. "Yeah, dispatch this is Riley. We need Gotham Zoo or animal control to come make a pick up. We've got Joker and Harley's hyenas…"
Robin felt a large, heavy hand come to rest on his shoulder. He glanced back at his mentor curiously.
Batman gave a slight nod toward the hole in the ceiling. "Find JJ." He ordered quietly. "He has Jordan."
Robin nodded, already pulling a grappling hook from his belt. "Got it. He won't have gone far. What about you?"
The dark knight's eyes narrowed, and he turned toward the passageway. "The Joker and I have unfinished business."
And there it is! Yeah, that's enough typing for one night. Going to go to bed now and sleep for the next nine hours!
Review! Many writer reviews make happy readers...or is it the other way around...?
Until next time...