#13 – Rhythm, Part 2

“You’d better run!”

A young man, perhaps seventeen years old, ran through the streets of Gotham City, gasping desperately for breath. He was being chased by four thugs, at least twice his size – they spotted him as he walked from his grandfather’s house to his parents’, only a block or two away. Worse yet, he dropped the inhaler he needed to treat his asthma…and he was quickly blacking out from lack of oxygen.

As he paused for a moment to try and catch his breath and regain his bearings, he felt something impact the side of his head, and shatter. His head throbbed, his left ear partially deaf now from the sound of glass exploding so close to him. He could feel blood running down his scalp, inducing another wave of panic – he picked himself up and began running again as he heard them approach slowly. They didn’t bother to run…they were waiting for him to tire out.

His original plan was to try and lose them through the neighborhood – but now, as he felt blood running down to his neck, he began to realize that these thugs were deadly serious. He needed to run home, where he would be safe…

“C’mere! We just wanna talk to you!”

The teen bit his lip to keep from crying as another bottle went flying past him. His breathing was extremely labored now, as he struggled to process oxygen in his constricted lungs. With every breath, his vision became peppered with tiny points of light, and the colors before him washed into darker shades of grey.

Just when he began to fear he wouldn’t make it, he let out a sigh of relief as he turned a corner and saw his home right in front of him. He let adrenaline flood into his blood stream, as he poured on the speed, trying to put as much space between him and the thugs as possible. He raced up the stairs to his front door, turning the doorknob quickly…

…But it was locked.

He could hear laughing behind him as he pounded on the door frantically. The laughing came closer, and closer…And a hot twinge of pain tore up his spine like a lightning strike. His mouth opened to scream, yet the sheer terror and agony of the moment took his voice away.

Another blow, this time to his shoulder. The thugs were all around him. His eyes widened in fear, as he found his voice and yelled as loudly as he could. His terrified screams, his cries of ‘help me’ into the darkness, echoed off of the surrounding buildings in futility.

The teen turned around just in time to see a steel baseball bat descending upon his head, closing his eyes just before the impact. He never felt the hit…his senses eluded him, even as he felt himself fall to the ground.

He remembered hearing thugs cheering, as their voices began to sound farther, and farther away. He remembered feeling a breeze as the door opened behind his immobilized body, and hearing his mother’s voice shriek ‘Dear God, no!’ into the night. He heard only her whispers, and her sobs…and he felt comforted, as the world slipped away gently into silence.
“What do we tell the press?”

The mayor of Gotham City sighed and leaned back in the plush, leather chair behind his office’s heavy polished wood desk. He rubbed his chin nervously, looking at his aide after several seconds of silence. “Why do we have to tell them anything?”

“Sir, the public is demanding to know what’s going on.” The aide leaned against the desk. His face showed apparent panic at the realization that his political future hung in the balance of the mayor’s re-election chances. “People are dying on the streets. They’re falling off of buildings…one was even found beaten to death.”

“He was an armed assassin.”

“But the fact remains, sir”, the aide continued, “The public is frightened. Either this…Batman has turned more dangerous, or we’ve got someone else out there–”

“Dammit, Rick!” The mayor stood quickly and shoved his aide aside. “You will not mention the Batman to the press! Do you hear me?”

“Y-Yes sir.” The aide stumbled, but regained his balance as his back met the wall behind him. “Th-then what should I tell them, sir?”

“Tell them–” A long pause dominated the conversation as the mayor leaned his palms against the back of his chair, staring across the room blankly as his mind tried to put a definite political spin on his thoughts. “Tell them that we have everything under control…and that Gotham’s finest are on the case.”
“Help! Help me, please!”

Batgirl ignored the man’s pleas as she sat on a narrow ledge, legs slightly crossed and dangling high above the street. The man hung upside down from a horizontal flagpole extending from the ledge a short distance away, swaying in the wind as only his shoelaces prevented him from plummeting to the concrete below.

The one thing which made this man a little different from the others which Batgirl had encountered was that he wasn’t an average Gotham criminal. He was a Gotham City Police Officer. He was a rookie who made the gave mistake of shooting at Batgirl to as she walked the narrow ledge, trying to maintain her balance.

He was attempting to scare her into coming down, barking an order at her to do so as he fired the shot – but she was less than understanding of his motivation as she used a cable launcher to suddenly hoist him up to the flagpole against his will. Before he knew it, she was hanging on to the pole with her arm and both legs, using her hands to tie his shoelaces together over the top of the pole.

“Please let me down. I have a family–”

“Family?” Batgirl leaned closer to the officer, holding out one gloved hand within his reach. At first, he didn’t understand, until she waved two fingers in his direction. It dawned on him that she wanted to see pictures. He slowly slipped his wallet out of his shirt pocket, nearly dropping it before Batgirl snatched it as it began to fall.

She opened the wallet, looking at a couple of the photos quickly, and then placed it on the ledge beside her. This time as her hand extended, she gripped the officer’s wrist tightly, sliding his shoes along the flagpole until she had enough leverage to pull him up to the ledge without allowing herself to be pulled down.

Batgirl sat down and watched the officer pull himself up onto the ledge and slide away from the street until his back touched the building’s stone facade. His hands gripped the ledge tightly, until his knuckles turned white, and he had a look of apparent fear in his eyes. She laughed at him softly as she reached for the wallet, handing it back to him with two fingers.

“Nervous?” As he nodded in response, she noticed that for the second time, the officer seemed a little stunned that her voice sounded so soft, so normal. She guess that it struck him as unusual for someone who fought crime on the streets of Gotham City to be so soft-spoken.

“I…I’m sorry I took a shot at you. I was terrified, with all of those urban myths about you going around. But now that I’ve met you…you’re nothing at all like Batman.”

Batgirl nodded and stood up quickly on the ledge, looking down to adjust one of the cable launchers attached to her belt. She noticed the officer becoming more nervous as he suspected that she was preparing to leave.

“Hey, wait…How do I get down?”

Without speaking another word, Batgirl snapped the cable launcher off of her belt and fired it upward, tugging on it to test its security once the projectile at the other end had landed and gripped some surface above. She pressed the device into the palm of the officer, and gave him a quick two-fingered salute…

…Then, as he watched, she held the edges of her cape with her gloved hands, spreading it out to its full width, and simply stepped off of the edge of the building. By the time he leaned forward gently to try and see where she had landed…she was gone.
Cassandra sat on Bruce’s desk in the bat cave, still wearing her costume with the exception of the mask, which was neatly folded beside her. If there was one thing Bruce repeated to her many times, it was that her costume was extremely valuable and she needed to take care of it.

She twirled a white tulip between her fingers. It was now wrinkled and drooping since it had been delivered a day earlier. She stared sideways at the computer screen at the end of the desk as Bruce leaned back in his chair beside her, typing with blinding speed at the keyboard in front of him. He was searching orders for local florists.

“Bingo.” Bruce paused and leaned toward the screen, pointing at one line on the screen. He sighed as he realized that the ‘from’ phone number and address on the screen was obviously fake – but he was even more intrigued that the name was listed as simply, ‘Robert’.

“Didn’t Robert try to destroy your building?” Cassandra continued twirling the small flower, staring at it as if lost in thought. It was clear she was only giving Bruce half of her attention.

Bruce suddenly stiffened in his chair, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end as he turned around slowly to look at Cassandra. “What did you say?”

She dropped the tulip to Bruce’s desk and looked up, giving her full attention. She looked at Bruce, then at the computer screen. “You said an employee named Robert–”

“Yes. There may just be a connection–” Bruce began typing at his computer quickly – a search of all instances of the name ‘Robert’ in both police records and his own. As the computer ran through its records, Cassandra suddenly reached over and turned off the monitor. Bruce stared at her as if to demand a reason for her behavior.

“There is.” Cassandra slid off of the counter, as she began carefully removing her costume gloves. “He was there when I was arrested.”

Bruce paused as he watched her removing her gloves for a second, a thought seemingly crossing his mind. His eyes seeming to give her a disapproving look, she instinctively stopped to wait for him to say something.

“Keep the gloves on, Cassandra. We may be going back out.”

Cassandra sighed and pulled at the base of her leather glove to tighten it against her fingers once again. The leather was rather cozy to wear outside where it was often cool and wet, but indoors it felt a little constricting. She wondered if Bruce felt the same way when in costume…then again, at the moment he still wore civilian clothing.

“Yes. An arrest report…for rape.” Bruce wheeled around abruptly, as his memory found instant recognition of the arrest report on the screen in front of him. This man named ‘Robert’ was released because he was assaulted during arrest…by a young woman with dark hair. A slight smile formed as he began to put all of the puzzle pieces together. This ‘Robert’ was the same man who had been on parole from a mental institution, attacked his therapist…and murdered a hotel clerk. “Interesting.”

Cassandra gave Bruce a questioning look. She wasn’t sure if he was about to laugh at her, or try and help her.

“This man, Cassandra, is a classic serial murderer profile. He behaves violently in general until he focuses on a subject. Then he channels all of his effort toward romancing the subject, and when he fails…he kills the subject.”

“Me?” Cassandra blinked twice and leaned against the counter to steady herself. She shook her head slowly…how could some total stranger have selected her as the focus of his insanity?

Then she remembered…the police station. The strange man who she had punched only an hour before her arrest walked right past her as she sat on a bench in the booking room. His eyes seemed…amused as he looked down at her. At first, she thought that it was simply someone who took pleasure in seeing her on the verge of being locked away. But looking back…it was much more. It was as if he were trying to assert power over her, emphasizing that he was free and she was not.

She shivered slightly as that look began to haunt her. She remembered seeing it three times – once before punching the man, once in the police station…and in an anonymous a pair of eyes which she could feel watching her as she left the station with Tim.

“We have to hit him first,” Bruce said.

His voice sounded more hushed, more calm…more emotionless. Cassandra knew at that moment that he was one step away from putting on that costume. While he still appeared to be Bruce Wayne, in every other way he was already Batman.

Cassandra sighed and began fidgeting with her mask as she patiently waited for Bruce to step into the next room and don his costume. It didn’t take long – while his costume was complex, he was well-practiced in putting it together. She looked down at her own leather costume, and wondered if Bruce knew how difficult it was to put on.

“What about Tim?” She watched Bruce cross the room in costume, and type something at his computer terminal. He didn’t respond right away – she began to think he was ignoring her on purpose. But just when she gave up on hearing a response, he finally spoke up.

“He will remain here and feed me data through a comm link.”

“Isn’t that Barbara’s–” Cassandra interrupted herself as Batman gave her one of those chilling looks. It was the kind of stare that cut through to her soul, and made enemies wish he would just kill them and get it over with. While she knew that the look was essentially just an expression of determination, it still frightened her a little…because she knew that at its core was the fact that Batman did not fear death.

Not another word was spoken as Cassandra slipped her mask on and quickly and silently slid into the passenger seat of the Batmobile. As Batman began driving toward Gotham City, he didn’t speak or even look over at the passenger side. But she could hear him breathing heavily – he was angry! As unlikely as it sounded, Bruce’s own feelings were driving Batman’s actions.

That was when it dawned on her as she stared at him, his eyes fixed on the road ahead, his breathing and posture indicating someone bent on revenge. Bruce was attempting to be protective. He was going after Robert as if he were a grieving family member, or her father…and there wasn’t a thing she could do to stop him.
“It’s a shame. A real shame.” Catwoman walked across the lobby of a building owned by Bruce Wayne – or at least by a company owned by him. The building was still closed to the public, as it had been severely damaged by fire, and a crime scene had been set up in the lobby.

Once the fire had been extinguished, police found the body of a well-known foreign assassin tucked away in a dark corner of the lobby, lying in a pool of his own blood. A deep red streak led from that point to the center of the lobby, causing investigators to conclude that he had been dragged into the corner to prevent him from being discovered right away. Only that same investigation remained open, as there were no witnesses or fingerprints, and the cameras in the lobby had been destroyed.

“And I thought I would be able to fight him one day. Too bad.” Catwoman had a single purpose in mind as she scoured the lobby – keeping her own trail cold. She knew that she had been in the building during the fire to loot offices upstairs of important information. To her, it seemed like victimless crime – rescue paperwork on the verge of destruction, and demand a premium for its return. But now, she was in danger of having a murder rap pinned on her. All it would take was one strand of hair.

Unlike during her usual excursions, stealth was required. If she were detected somehow while trying to destroy evidence in a crime scene…a murder rap would become more of a likelihood than a possibility. She kneeled down as she spotted a shape cut in the plaster of the ceiling above, behind one of the cameras. It looked like the corner of one of Batman’s wing toys.

“Hmm.” She looked around the room quickly, finally spotting a chair sitting behind the security desk. It was a rolling chair, but easy enough to balance on as she moved it under the part of the ceiling she spotted a moment ago, she easily stood on the chair, keeping her balance as she looked closer.

Catwoman smiled to herself as she stared up at the ceiling, shaking her head slowly. She remembered that the last time she was there, Batman was nowhere in the building – and he would never be sloppy enough to leave a mark behind. That means it had to be…

“Poor, poor Batgirl,” she whispered to herself as she carefully removed a knife from behind her belt. She reached up and chipped away more plaster, converting the bat-wing shaped cut in the ceiling into a simple-looking chip in the plaster. Her free hand caught the plaster chunk, slipping it carefully into a backpack she carried with her. Any dropped plaster would look like tampering.

Careful to push the chair exactly to the spot she found it, Catwoman headed out of the lobby quickly. As she made her way quickly to the exit, she paused and glanced backward, shuddering a little as she imagined that five and a half foot young woman in a costume murdering an armed assassin practically in an open, public place. She smiled to herself…the girl had potential.

“You owe me one, Batgirl.”
Batgirl clung to the passenger seat of the Batmobile as she watched Batman careen through the damp streets of Gotham City at dangerous speeds. Of course, it wasn’t the speed which bothered Batgirl – it was the fact that she sensed that he was out of control, reckless. She worried that he cared little for his own life at that moment…and consequently, was putting hers in danger.

She wanted nothing more to ask Batman to allow her to drive – only she knew he would simply ignore her, as if she were a bothersome temporary passenger in the Batmobile, rather than someone who he worked with daily. So she did the only thing she could – lean back, keep the seat belt on, and hope the tough shell of the Batmobile would protect her.

“A kid died today. A young man only a few years younger than you.”

Batgirl bit her lip and looked over at Batman. Now she understood why he had been in such a mood all day. He tended to take Gotham City crime personally, as if it somehow reflected on his abilities as Batman.

Batman glanced at Batgirl for a moment, his emotionless eyes hiding everything she knew that he felt. “He was killed right in front of his house. His mother had to watch him die.”

“Just like you.” Batgirl looked at Batman again – he seemed to pause as their gazes met across the car. An awkward silence filled several seconds, as Batman seemingly shuddered at Batgirl’s all-too-true assessment of how he felt.

“Yes.” Batman seemed to retain perfect control of his demeanor and voice as he replied…yet somehow, Batgirl could sense a little sadness in his response. “There is some similarity.”

More silence filled the car as Batman seemed to concentrate fully on driving. He stared straight ahead, both hands on the steering wheel. Only Batgirl noticed that the car seemed to be moving noticeably faster. The brakes suddenly locked as Batman tore into an alley and stopped the car abruptly. The canopy opened briefly, and he stepped out.

“Wait here.”

Batgirl reluctantly complied as the canopy closed behind him. She watched him walk quickly into the darkness ahead…but something about the way they had arrived at that destination bothered her. It was almost as if Batman had some other agenda, something he didn’t want her to be a part of. She couldn’t remember him mentioning an alley at any point before they left the cave.

She grabbed the remote control for the Batmobile, and opened the canopy, stepping out of the car silently. The canopy closed by itself as soon as she left the car, and she tapped the security arm button to raise its shielding as she headed into the alley.

As she silently walked into the alley, she spotted Batman standing in its center, looking down at the ground. He stood frozen, frowning, as if he were lost in unpleasant thoughts. In his hands he held a damp popcorn box from a nearby movie theater – it had been discarded in the alley. But the strangest part was that he seemed to be staring at it in an almost sentimental manner.

“I watched it happen, right in front of my eyes…” He didn’t even face her, raise his eyes, or move at all as he spoke. It seemed to Batgirl as if he were almost afraid to move, lest it give away his true feelings – and she guessed that while it would be an honest Bruce Wayne, it would be far out of character for Batman. “…and I still see it, today. Every time I enter a dark room, I see and hear it.”

Batgirl’s eyes widened as a powerful thought occurred to her. Bruce essentially lived alone in Wayne Manor. If not on the streets at night as Batman, he would sit each night in his large, dark home alone, remembering what had happened to his parents and fuming – and that would quickly drive him to insanity or drink. Being Batman was his way of dealing with it, of feeling like he was doing something about it…or to feel like no one in this world would have power over him, ever again.

She walked over to Batman slowly, taking the popcorn box from his hands and discarding it quickly. He gave her a somewhat threatening look…but she ignored it as she took his hand and began walking backwards toward the car. She was surprised that he followed…only once they were safely in the car, he simply sat behind the wheel, staring into the alley.

“It’s okay, you know.” Batgirl paused as Batman turned to look at her slowly. She removed her mask, staring into Batman’s cold-looking eyes with her own soft brown ones. She echoed his borderline threatening look with one of compassion, and caring. “It’s okay to cry.”
“Do you think Bruce is torturing Cassandra again?” Tim stood next to one of the windows in the library of Wayne Manor, one hand holding back the curtain as he looked outside.

Barbara glanced at Tim quickly, smiling as she gently placed the book she was reading in her lap. “It’s just eating you up, isn’t it?”

Tim gave her a confused look. “What is?”

“Being left behind, with no information on what they’re up to.” Barbara laughed softly as she leaned her chin on her palm, staring across the room at Tim. “I see you staring out the window, pacing around the room–”

“All right, all right. I get the point.” Tim sighed and walked over to one of the large chairs and settled into it noisily enough to almost seem like a protest. “Barbara–”


Tim sat up in the chair and leaned toward Barbara, pausing for a moment as if to collect his thoughts. “Do you think Cassandra might have killed her parents on purpose? Or that assassin?”

Barbara’s smile disappeared as she blinked twice from surprise at Tim’s question. “Tim…why would you ask such a question?”

“I dunno.” Tim leaned back and scratch his head, suddenly ashamed by his own questions. “It’s just that…it seems like she takes it all too well. Like it’s too easy for her. Frankly…that scares me.”

“I know what you mean.” Barbara paused for a few seconds, tapping her chin as she thought to herself. “Problem is…she’s living the kind of life where it’s okay to kill. Kind of like a soldier in battle. She’s becoming desensitized.”

Tim visibly shuddered as Barbara spoke, taking a few seconds to finally speak. “Isn’t that…a bad thing?”

She shook her head slowly. “Not necessarily. Men have come home from Vietnam after wiping out whole platoons, and gone on to become schoolteachers, businessmen…the point is, they recover from it. I think Cassandra’s sweet nature will keep her centered.”

“She’s so difficult to understand.” Tim laughed a little as he leaned back in his chair again. “She gives Bruce a hard time. But I think she genuinely cares about him.”

“Bruce knows that, Tim. He trusts her. If he didn’t–” Barbara quickly rolled her wheelchair across the room, heading toward the kitchen. “–he never would have brought her here.”
The usual customers of a small pub near downtown Gotham City came to the place every day to get away from their dreary lives. They came to sit in darkness, where no one would recognize them, and quietly drown their sorrows in waves after wave of alcohol. Their only objective was to allow the drink, darkness, and hypnotic music to numb their senses until they were barely aware of who or where they were.

But this night, a few of them found a reason to remain sober – to permanently rejoin reality – in the very place they came to hide from it. It was the night that their small, unassuming pub was graced by the presence of someone who none of them even expected to see in person – the Joker.

Everyone froze as he stood in the doorway of the pub, his white face and permanent smile spreading fear through the eyes of everyone present. He didn’t speak a word even as he almost politely tipped his hat to the bartender, who immediately dropped a bottle of whiskey in response.

His footsteps echoed loudly in the small room, even louder now that the CD which had been playing music came to an end – the bartender was too frozen by fear to change it – and slight gasps could be heard as Joker, followed closely by two henchmen dressed in purple, stopped at each table to look at its occupant.

The footsteps suddenly stopped as Joker stood over a table in the back, where a man sat, quietly drinking a beer. As the two henchmen walked around the table and surrounded the man, a few people quickly dashed for the exit, never to return – but Joker paid them no attention as he calmly sat down across the table and leaned back, grinning at the man as if he had something on his mind.

“That must be a good beer,” Joker finally said after several seconds of silence. “Oh, bartender?”

He suddenly pulled a gun out from under his jacket, firing two shots toward the bar. Two bottles of liquor shattered, and the mirror behind the bar collapsed. The terrified bartender hopped over the bar and raced for the exit, abandoning the bar in short order.

Joker laughed, waving his gun in an exaggerated gesture as he spoke – which frightened the few customers which were still left. “And people wonder why the restaurant business is going to hell.”

“What do you want?” The man seemed either courageous or stupid as he interrupted the Joker with an impatient question.

“Robert, Robert, Robert…” Joker stood and gave an exaggerated sigh as he ignored a few more customers who made a run for the exit. “It’s not about what I want. It’s about what you want…something that’s mine.”

Robert shook his head slowly, still seemingly unimpressed by the Joker. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re nuts.”

“That,” Joker said as he leaned over the table, “From a man who slings insults at Gotham’s most dangerous man?”

Robert scoffed. “What are you going to do? Kill me?”

“No, no, no. I’m not a killer. I’m an artist.” Joker picked up a knife on Robert’s table, examining his reflection on one side of the steel blade. “All great art requires suffering. Suffering from which sweet death is a merciful release. I’ve suffered, Robert. Have you?”

“Is this supposed to frighten me?” Robert almost laughed as he took another sip of beer.

“No, it’s supposed to educate you.”

Joker slammed the knife point-first between Robert’s knuckle and the base of his middle finger. As Robert screamed in pain, and the remaining customers in the place squirmed and retreated low into their seats, Joker kept twisting the knife.

“That’s supposed to frighten you.” He held Robert’s severed middle finger in front of him, waving it tauntingly before his eyes. “Don’t be sad, Robert, you got what you wanted…to give me the finger.”

Joker began laughing loudly as he headed toward the front door, his two henchmen in tow. As he did, he paused to drop the severed finger into a woman’s drink next to the door. She screamed, but he paid no attention as he continued laughing. And then…he was gone.

The customers of the pub began to slowly emerge from their hiding places, each of them looking to the back of the place, to a table stained in blood. The man Joker called Robert sat there, crying and muttering to himself, trying as best as he could to bandage his hand with his napkin.

“Help me–,” he whispered in a barely audible voice as he stood and began stumbling toward the other customers. “Somebody…help me.”
“We’re too late.”

Batman looked at Batgirl momentarily as they stood atop a building, hiding in the darkness as they looked down upon a small pub across the street. Parked in front of the place were an ambulance and a police car. The ambulance began driving away, sirens blaring – meaning that Batman and Batgirl had already missed a chance to identify its passenger right away. The two officers remained inside, writing a report on what had happened.

“Enough distraction. Let’s go.”

Batgirl nodded and followed Batman’s cable launcher with her own, aiming carefully at some overhead power lines – a dangerous feat, but possible only as long as she kept her gloves on and didn’t allow herself to touch the ground and the steel cable itself at the same time.

It allowed for easy, unencumbered transportation from the commercial district into a small urban residential development nearby, one which contained a home that made the news yesterday…after a seventeen year old teen was murdered right in front of his own door.

As Batman landed atop a small apartment building on a corner, Batgirl was a little confused. It wasn’t like him to outright seek revenge. But as she looked down the street quickly, she started to understand…she recognized that neighborhood.

She reached into her belt and removed a small stainless steel chain with a Star of David at the end of it, dangling it in front of her own eyes. She remember the old man who handed it to her – given to her as a gift of gratitude, even friendship. She remembered the neighborhood clearly now…she had been there before, trying to stop white supremacists from preying on its older Jewish residents.

Batgirl smiled at Batman as she began to put it all together. As crime fighters, the two of them had to keep up on the neighborhoods they had been active in previously – otherwise the criminals just come right back. They must remain persistent, giving criminals little chance to regain a foothold. Criminals must always be made to live in fear.

“Wait here.”

By the time Batgirl found a voice to protest, Batman had already vanished off of the edge of the building. She found that more frustrating than an argument – she wouldn’t even have a chance to do anything except obey, because now he depended on her to remain in place.

She sighed and turned around, forcing herself to be content instead to wander the roof until he returned. If he returned. Her mind wandered for a moment, wondering how long she should wait before determining that he wasn’t coming back, either on purpose or otherwise. Then again, she knew that she was the most vulnerable of the two, as she was forced to remain in place while keeping it secure…

Batgirl sighed again. Her mind was running away with frivolous thoughts. Batman would simply run some reconnaissance, and return almost immediately. He always–

She jumped suddenly as she heard the door to the roof burst open suddenly. Light poured onto the roof from the now open stairway from below, stunning her eyes for a moment…yet she still managed to see three shadows appear. She could tell that two of them were armed.

“I never thought a bat could be so breathtaking,” The center shadow announced loudly, “Beautiful bat…may I have this dance?”

Batgirl began backing up toward the edge of the roof slowly, hoping not to startle either of the two armed men enough to fire their weapons. But there would be no such luck. She cringed as she watched both men level what appeared to be short rifles at her over their arms…and two loud snaps filled the air as one.

She nearly fell backwards as she felt two impacts, one on each arm. A quick gasp came from her as she felt the stinging pain of her skin being punctured, and she looked down to see just how badly she had been hit.

But those weren’t bullets…she started to feel dizzy as the two men approached her quickly. She wanted to fight them off…but her muscles simply would not react. Her knees buckled, nearly sending her tumbling to the ground, but the two men caught her and lifted her off of her feet.

The night started to seem darker as she was brought before the third man. He leaned forward, to examine her closer with his pasty white face…it was Joker! Batgirl tried to squirm away, but once again her own muscles and limbs failed her.

“Now, now…Why would you fear my friendly face?” Joker turned to his two henchmen waved quickly. “Get her into the car, quick. Before the bat returns.”

Batgirl fought for consciousness as long as she could, as the world began to fade from her grasp. As she was placed in the back seat of Joker’s bright purple car, she continued to struggle to keep her eyes open. The last thing she saw was a shadow atop one of the buildings as the car drove away.

She hoped it wasn’t a hallucination…as her senses slipped away from her, that image was the one thing she clung to for hope.



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