Some Days
by Constance Eilonwy
eilonwy@earthlink.net
©2001

Nightwing and co. are the property of DC comics. Set sometime after Nightwing #50 and before the Eighty-page
giant.


"Some days take less, but most days take more
Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor...
Some days...it all adds up
And what you got is enough
Some days are better than others..." --U2


* * * * *

Even heroes have to do laundry.

Easily hefting an overflowing basket and drawstring bag filled with laundry, he bumped open the basement door
with his shoulder and made his way down the narrow stairs with a hair-raising disregard for the railing or the steep
angle of the stairs.

As he reached the basement level, the rhythmic swish-thump of the washing machines grew louder. He smiled to
himself; it was nice, doing laundry at an hour when another human soul might be awake to also partake in this most
basic of household rituals. Of course, the super locked up the laundry room at midnight so he had little choice.

Growing up, he never had to do laundry at all, but sometimes he did anyway, maybe proving a point, to others, or
himself.

He yawned, shifting the basket. Four o'clock in the afternoon might as well be six am to his internal clock.

He neared the door to the laundry room, and stilled. There was another sound besides the hum of the washers and
dryers.

"...no good, worthless piece of @$%*!" The voice, unmistakably accented, held a note of pure, white-hot rage that
made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.

Instinct took over. He dropped the basket and bag and hastily pushed the door open.

The super was on her knees by one of the washing machines. Tools lay scattered around her and there was an oily
streak down her cheek.

Immediately, his battle-ready muscles relaxed. His eyebrows went up as he leaned against the doorjamb, arms
folded.

"I've been called worse names, but I can't help wondering what I did to deserve that _this_ time."

Clancy looked up, registered his presence, swiped at the oily streak with the sleeve of her t-shirt, and abruptly turned
back to her task. In her other hand she wielded a wrench. "Oh, so it's you, Grayson."

Her tone was decidedly unfriendly. Dick watched the back of her overalls as her head and shoulders vanished into
the ominous space behind the dryer. His amused expression grew troubled. He ducked back out into the hall and
gathered up his laundry.

"Trouble with the machines, Clance?" he asked, trying to sound cheerful. He dropped the laundry basket to the table
in the middle of the low-ceilinged, dimly lit room with a heavy thud.

"Useless piece 'o crap, this thing is. An' we just got all new ones, too. Been down here for two hours tryin' to fix it."
Her arm tensed and she turned something. There was a hissing noise, and then a spray of water burst out like an
explosion, dousing her.

With a scream of rage to make a banshee cower, Clancy withdrew from the crack. "I'll smash it to pieces! I'll sell it
for scrap metal!" She banged the wrench against the side of the dryer with a deep, hollow _thump._

Dick didn't say anything right away. He could hear her breathing even over the machines, ragged and furious.
Finally, he grabbed up one of his dirty shirts, went across the basement room, and crouched beside her. "Here," he
said.

Glancing at him sideways, Clancy took the shirt and wiped her wet face. She shoved the shirt back at him, then
angrily combed her straight, short black hair away from her forehead with her fingers.

"Clancy..." he said, still crouching, while she knelt surrounded by water.

"What?" she said shortly, head snapping around to look at him.

"It's not just the dryer, is it? I mean, I suppose it's possible a household appliance could prompt a blood vendetta,
but that somehow doesn't seem like you. Especially since you're mechanically inclined. So...what's up?"

She stood up, brushing off her overalls, and eyed him almost suspiciously. "Sure you have the time, rookie boy?"
She sounded tired rather than annoyed.

He rose to his feet and tossed his soiled t-shirt in the general direction of the washing machine he'd picked. It fell
gracelessly over the change slot. "I know I've been busy, lately. But...I've got nothing better to do at the moment but
wait to add the fabric softener. Wanna talk?"

A silence stretched between them, broken by the swish-thump, swish-thump of the washing machines. The place
smelled of soap and musty basement.

Finally, she snorted with an edge of self-derision. "An' don't you go bein' apologetic, Dick Grayson. Sure an' don't
I know what kind of schedule you're keepin', between bartending and becoming a cop? I've been busy myself. Got
to take care of this heap, an' my classes..." She turned away and dropped the wrench into her tool basket. "...An' me
with a test in two more hours from now and I haven't memorized even half of all of it."

She put her palms behind her on the rickety wooden table and boosted herself up onto it. It was then he noticed the
stack of medical books piled on a metal folding chair. One was open and had a small greasy smear near the upper
right hand corner of the left hand page.

"Do you have any idea how many bones the human body has, Grayson? How many muscles? How many tendons?"
Her feet, covered in sturdy black ankle boots with rubber soles an inch thick, swung back and forth.

His eyes fixed on the boot soles for a moment. They looked so utilitarian. Like something he might wear on patrol.
Then he looked at her face. She looked away quickly.

"I just...I hope I can do it. I've wanted this for so long. An' that scholarship was more than I'd hoped for. I can't
mess this up."

"You won't, Clancy. You're good at the medical stuff. You're just having a bad day." His words sounded empty
even to his own ears. He wanted to offer some other comfort, a touch on the shoulder, a hug, and knew that coming
from him, that would be unwelcome to her.

"Not as bad as some," she said, voice strangely muffled. Her face was down.

"Clancy?"

The tell-tale twitch in her breathing gave it away. "Damn, Clancy, it's not school, either, is it? And while I may have
a big ego, it's not big enough for me to honestly think it's me...it's something else."

"You'd be right on a few accounts, Grayson," she said, her voice thickened with supressed tears. "You _do_ have a
big ego. And it is something else. John Law."

"John?" Dick said sharply. "Did something happen? Is he okay?"

"He's up at Rabe Memorial. He's okay, doctors say it's not too serious, they're just keeping him forty-eight hours
for observation in case of internal bleedin'."

"Internal...bleeding..." Dick leaned against the side of the table beside Clancy as if the strength had drained from his
legs. "Did he fall? Car accident?"

"He was jumped. In an alley a few blocks from here. There were five of them...police report says our Mr. Law put
up quite the fight. He's a scrapper. But he was outnumbered. They were after money. He didn't have much on him.
So they beat him. Those filthy buggers. They got away."

"A few blocks from here," Dick repeated slowly. He took a deep breath. "When?"

"Last night. You were on shift, an' I would'a told ya sooner, but you dragged in lookin' so knackered this mornin' I
thought I'd wait until you'd slept a bit. I was going ta come up and wake you after I was done here, before I left for
class."

Nothing happened for a heartbeat or so. Then Dick pushed himself away from the table, and deliberately walked
forward. He stood very still before the offending dryer for a moment. Then, with breathtaking suddenness and speed,
he let fly with a kick that left a dent in the side of the machine.

Still seated on the table, Clancy jumped in shock, and clutched the edges of the table to steady herself.

"Grayson..." she said slowly. "He's all right. He's comin' home day after tomorrow. He's _all right_."

"Yeah," he said thickly. "I know."

His face a blank mask of something unreachable, he walked around the table and mechanically threw his clothes into
the washing machine.

"I'm sorry...I'm sorry I didn't tell ya sooner..."

Dick paused, hand suspended over the washing machine holding a dirty sock. He turned to look at her. "No, that's
okay, Clancy. Thanks for telling me. And...I'm sorry about your test." He closed his eyes tightly, then opened them.
"Tell you what, before I go over to Rabe to see John, I'll prompt you on your memorizing while you fix that useless
hunk of junk."

Clancy jumped down from the table and began gathering her tools. "Sure an' you don't have to do that, Mr.
Grayson. I can manage just fine without..."

"Clancy," he said, a bit sharply.

She paused, kneeling by her toolbox. She didn't look at him.

"I want to help. If you'll let me. It's what friends do."

He held his breath. After a long moment, she stood up and picked up one of the medical books, handed it to him.
"Here. Page 216. I'll shout them out, you tell me if I miss anythin'." She let out a ragged sigh, and her face softened.
"Thanks. An' I guess I'm bein' a bit hard on myself. After all, I can't be everywhere at once now, can I?"

"No," he said, "no, you can't."

* * * * *

It was near eleven p.m. when he climbed the stairs to his apartment. Still plenty of time to suit up and patrol.

As he unlocked his door and stepped into the darkened apartment, he noticed the telltale blink on his computer
monitor, which he'd left on. Without turning on the lights, he dropped into the computer chair and hit a key. A
familiar face popped into view, her auburn hair pinned up loosely as she peered at him through her glasses.

"Evening, 20-something wonder," she said warmly.

"Babs," he said, putting his fingers on either side of the monitor as if he could hug her that way, "are you a welcome
face."

"What's wrong, Dick?" she said immediately, forehead creasing with worry.

"Bad week."

"Want to tell me about it?"

"A friend of mine got jumped in an alley. They beat him badly. He's in the hospital. While it happened, I was on my
rookie shift, except that ended up me being Nightwing when I shouldn't have. I almost blew my cover, and I wasn't
there to help my friend."

"Dick," she said, "you can't be..."

"...everywhere at once. I know. I've heard that once already today." He dropped his feet to the floor and ran his
fingers through his hair. "I know that. But...I should have been there."

"How?" she said sharply. "How could you know? It's not enough you were already risking your life across town,
you have to beat yourself up about this?"

"It happened here, Babs. Three blocks from the apartment building where we all live."

"God, Dick...that...that doesn't matter. You're just one person."

"My street, Babs. My building. My friend."

"Who was it?" Babs reached for something off screen. "I can get into the hospital network, tell you their status..."

"I've already been to see him. It was John Law."

"Oh," she said softly. "I'm sorry."

"The thing is, he's so mad at himself...he feels weak and helpless. He says he hit a few of them and probably did
some damage, but they got him, and he can't forgive himself."

"Like you can't forgive yourself?" she said gently, catching her lower lip between her teeth and looking right at him
through the vid cam.

Silence. He didn't know how to answer that.

Babs shook her head. "It's your upbringing, I guess," she said, with a touch of bitterness.

"And if it happened to you, you'd feel the same way," he said matter-of-factly.

She stared at him. "Darn you," she said. "You're right. You going to be okay? Want to come down? I'll make soup."
She gave a lopsided smile.

He felt his guilt and misery melt a bit. "I'll take a raincheck. I'm going to suit up."

Her face fell. "Dick...don't. You look exhausted. You need sleep..."

"Please, Babs, I have to. I'll call you when I get in. You'll be up?"

"Yeah, lot of work to finish." He watched her roll away from the camera and stretch in her wheelchair.

"Thanks for the pep talk, gorgeous."

"Be careful, ok?"

"For you, always."

"For yourself."

He put his fingers to the screen, touching the image of her face. The screen flickered to black, and then a message
popped up: TRANSMISSION ENDED.

"I love you," he said softly.

* * * *


Bridget Clancy was having a very bad night.

She thought she'd squeaked through the test, barely. There could be no more like that one, though, no more
depending on gallant tenants who valiantly beat up unreliable broken appliances on her behalf and then drilled her
on the names of bones for an hour and twenty minutes.

Hurrying along the dark street, she shifted her heavy backpack full of medical books and stopped for a traffic light.
The wind picked up, stirring up a few pieces of trash into a swirling twister on the sidewalk, tugging at her hair.
She'd run to class in her dirty overalls, which was fine, they didn't care how you dressed, just how high your marks
were.

Hers weren't going to be high enough.

The light changed. She dashed across the street, then glanced at her watch when she reached the curb on the other
side. It was close to midnight.

John had fussed at her, when she left his hospital room at about 11:15. It had been after visiting hours, but Clancy
never paid much attention to rules like that when she felt someone needed her. He'd fussed about her walking home
alone through the mean streets of Bludhaven.

"I won't be with you to protect you, Bridget," he'd said, in complete seriousness, a horrible bruise covering one
weathered cheek. There were tubes connected to his arm and finally a nurse had chased her out.

"I can manage, John Law, an' you know it," she'd answered with a grin.

He was right. She was wrong.

She was three blocks from the building she called home, the building containing those she called her friends. They
were like her family. She took care of them, saw to it the warm water and heat worked. And they looked after her.
Mr. Amygdala who would pounce if he saw her pushing at something heavy, like a refrigerator, and then lift it
himself as if it were a mini-cooler. John Law, who often insisted on walking her through their questionable
neighborhood. Strange about Mr. Law, she always did feel safer when he walked with her. Not that she let herself
cave in to such fears when alone. If a gal did that in Bludhaven, she'd never go anywhere again. But he had that
effect on her. Funny, so did Dick, the few times they'd walked places together.

Precious few times, lately.

She bit back a sigh.

"You're a fool, Clancy, sure an' you are," she said aloud, and cringed, remembering...what made it worse was that
he had been so bloody nice about it, gallantly allowing her to save face, even when she could tell he knew the truth,
and that it made him miserable because he'd hurt her heart, even without meaning to.

Three blocks from home...

The shadows moved out of the alley, and surrounded her.

She cursed, deliberately, and slowly, under her breath.

There were five of them.

"All right, now," she said, making her voice cold and level. "You can mess with me if you so please, there's five big
hulkin' bruisers like you and only one of little me. But it'll cost you. I'll give you pain you'll feel for a week
afterwards. I'm a med student, y'know. I know exactly the effect of my boot in your groin, how much it will hurt,
how many blood vessels I can rupture, how long it will take until your girlfriend will find you useful again."

A few of them reacted, eyes and feet shifting uneasily.

Then, one of them laughed.

Definitely, a fool.

It was like a signal. The leapt at her, and she had a vague impression of bad, spiky haircuts, earings, noserings, and
body odor before she swung her heavy backpack with all her might, hitting one of them in the shoulder. He grunted
and staggered back. One grabbed her from behind and she lowered her head and bit his hand hard. He screamed in
pain.

"Bitch," he snarled, and drew back his arm to strike.

She flinched, but before the blow fell, something fell out of the sky. A gloved hand shoved her out of the way, and
she was so astonished all she could do was stand clutching her bag, watching, open-mouthed as a dark-haired man
dressed in some outlandish black-and-dark-blue spandex body suit with a mask across the top half of his face
proceeded to methodically trash all five of her attackers. Barely would one move forward before he would fly
backwards from a boot to his stomach or an upper cut to his chin.

"Holy....saints..." she managed to say in a half-whisper when he finished. Stillness fell over the street and
somewhere a few blocks over a dog began to bark with a frantic quality that made her want to jump out of her boots.

The five muggers lay sprawled on the sidewalk almost artistically, bleeding.

Slowly, through the haze of her horrible day and John Law's bruises and her probable disastrously bad test score,
she felt a small smile of triumph tug at her mouth.

"Holy saints," she repeated. "Are there any more at home like you?"

A police siren sounded distantly, growing closer, and the man in spandex leapt into the shadow of the alley, and
vanished.

Bridget Clancy blinked several times and rubbed at her eyes with her fingers. She looked down at the fallen
muggers. One groaned faintly and started to push himself up. She kicked him in the chin and he sagged back and lay
still.

She laughed, disbelievingly, without hysteria, and sat down on the curb to wait for the police so she could give her
statement.

It had been a very bad day, but even bad days had their surprises.

* * * * *

"You were right, ya stubborn s.o.b.," Clancy said, seated on the edge of John Law's hospital bed.

"Ha!" he said, then instantly sobered. "Bridget, my dear, I would not in a thousand years want to see you hurt. But
maybe now this will make you admit that you take unnecessary chances. Next time, take a cab."

"Yeah, next time, take a cab," a voice said from the door.

Clancy looked up. "Dick!" She hopped up and down once on the bed. "You shoulda seen it, I could hardly believe
me own eyes."

"Mr. Grayson," John Law said paintively from his hospital bed, "Could you please convince someone around here
that I am perfectly all right and can go home now?"

"Seen what?" Dick said, dropping into a chair. Outside the windows, the sun was just setting over Bludhaven in a
furious scarlet display intensified by the smog. "And why does Clancy need to take a cab?"

"Same ones that got me," John Law said grimly. "Bastards."

"What?!" Dick sat up. "They attacked you? When? Are you okay?"

"Easy there, Mr. Grayson, don't be gettin' yourself in a knot."

"Tell him about it, Clancy," said John, his eyes gleaming for some reason. "I want to hear it again, anyhow."

"Well, there I was, mindin' my own business, walkin' home from visiting Mr. Law here, after my test, which,
thanks to you, will be a debacle instead of an earth-shattering disaster, when these bloody rude thugs step out of
nowhere and decide to rough me up."

"Tell him what you told them," John said, delight in his voice.

"Oh, ah..." Clancy coughed, embarrased. "I...threatened a crucial part of their anatomy, but they weren't having any
of it. But I'll tell you this, I would have given them hell if..."

"...and I bet you would, too," Dick said quietly.

"Tell him what happened next," said John.

"So one 'em grabs me, and I swung my bag, and hit one of 'em. Bag's got a lot of med books in it, really heavy. I
think I hurt him. I bit another one, but then they start draggin' me into the alley, and then this...person...dropped
from the sky, came out o' nowhere, dressed in the weirdest outfit, an' he beat all five of them silly."

"Weird outfit?" said Dick.

"Well, now, an' sure if it didn't look just splendid on him, but who goes about wearin' pajamas and a mask beatin'
up hoods? Except in Gotham, mind you, but this isn't Gotham, now, is it?"

"Yes!" John Law pounded his fist on the blanket. "There are still heroes left in this world, Miss Clancy, even in
Bludhaven. We've got our very own masked vigilante." He caught Dick's eye and winked.

Dick quickly looked away.

Clancy snorted. "Bit loose in the head, that sort, if you ask me. Can't he go about fightin' crime in something a bit
more sensible? But...but he did save me from a nasty bit of business, very likely." She looked down at the folds of
the blanket for a moment and swallowed hard.

Leaning forward in the chair, with his elbows propped on his knees, hands clasped, Dick said quietly, "I'm glad he
was there."

He sat up and cleared his throat. "So you think his outfit was weird?"

"Black and blue spandex, it looked like," she said, grinning. "Or maybe...what do they call it...kevlar. And he had a
mask, as if he were Zorro himself. I wonder who he is?" she said, turning to John. "I mean, that must be rather
dangerous, no gun or anythin', workin' all alone. Crazy."

"Maybe," Dick said.

A nurse came in and told Dick and Clancy they'd have to leave, that Mr. Law needed his rest. Mr. Law said
something acerbic and the nurse made a face and left.

John sighed. "Never a moment's peace around here. I'll be glad to be coming home tomorrow." He turned his head
on the pillow and stared out the window. "I wish...wish I could have taken them. I feel stupid that I couldn't. There
was a time..."

"John..." Dick said.

"Hm, son?"

"I...I'm sorry that happened to you."

"Why? Not your fault. All kinds of nut cases out there."

"Yeah, but...yeah. You're right. I'm glad you're okay."

The room darkened subtly. The sun was dying, almost gone.

"We'd better go," said Clancy. She bent over and gave John Law a quick kiss on the cheek. "You do what the nice
doctors tell ya, or be answerin' to me. I need you to be able to walk me home after dark."

"In the meantime," said Dick, "would you settle for me?"

"Hm." Clancy put her head to one side and placed her finger to her lips. "I suppose you'll do."

The two left together, side by side but not touching. As they headed down the hall Dick's voice drifted back towards
the hospital room: "You really thought his outfit was weird?"

* * * *

"So how was patrol?" Oracle's image appeared on the monitor. "You didn't say much last night. 'Hi, I'm alive,
goodnight.'"

"I did okay, Babs," he said, leaning back in his chair with his feet propped up on the desk. "I know I can't be there
every time...but I was there this time. The ones who jumped John Law tried to get Clancy."

"Oh, no," she said. The worry crease returned. "Is she okay?"

"Yes."

"Thanks to you, no doubt."

"Now the thugs will be in the hospital. And then the jail."

She grinned broadly. "That's my boy."

"Babs..." he began, fiddling with the cord of the mouse.

"Yeah?"

He lifted his eyes to her. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"For being there, when I needed someone."

She gave a small, secret smile, a titian-haired mona lisa. "Oracle is everywhere, remember?" Then, more soberly,
she said, "And so, the fight goes on."

"And on."

"Want a night off, adult wonder?"

The dim room of the brick-walled apartment seemed to brighten. "What exactly did you have in mind?"


* * * * *

Epilogue.

Low clouds swathed the three-quarter moon. On a tenement rooftop, a water tower hulked in silhouette like
throwbacks to an earlier time.

A movement stirred on one of the towers, and then a silhouetted figure appeared, crouched on the pointed roof. It
stopped there a moment, poised beneath the moon, and then dropped, darted to the edge of the building, and leapt,
arms out.

Nightwing dropped expertly into the alley three blocks from home. Four muggings stopped, one murderer caught,
one kitten rescued from a ledge. Not too shabby.

A movement caught his eye. Something swung back and forth in the breeze; something on the end of a string
dangling from the fire escape.

Immensely curious, he reached up and caught the object in a gloved hand, stopping its pendulum-like sway. With his
other hand he released the string from the rung of the fire escape.

It was wrapped tightly in paper, and clearly labeled in indelible black ink were the words FOR THE MASKED
ONE.

Eyebrows rising, he carefully unwrapped the paper. It was smudged and worn from exposure, but the writing was
still legible. A small, silver, metal object fell into his open palm, attached to the end of the string.

He moved closer to the street and read the note in the illumination of a streetlamp. The light caught the silver object,
making it gleam.

~You helped me in a dark spot, but I hope to never see you again, because if I do, it means that once more I am in
terror for my life and need saving. I do not like needing to be saved. I wanted to say thank you. Not only for me, but
for this neighborhood, and for Bludhaven. If ever a town needed a guardian, Bludhaven does.

You protect us, but I wonder, who protects you? So I've left you something.~

He held up the silver object. It was a small, coin-like pewter disk. One side was smooth. On the other was the raised
image of a knight with sword and shield challenging a sinuous dragon.

~It's a token of St. George, patron saint of soldiers and the one who slew that dragon and saved a village, so long
ago we've forgotten if it's true or not. I'd like to think it was. May he watch over you. -Bridget Clancy~

Dick fingered the disk with his gloved fingers, standing in the pool of light cast from the streetlamp.

And so the fight goes on.

"Thanks," he said.