|What: The Bat returns to Gotham after hearing about Barbara being stabbed by Jason.|
Oracle has been in touch with Batman while he's been out of the country on something very secret. She may have neglected to tell him Jason stabbed her, but no doubt Alfred ratted her out after one of the boys squealed. She's recovering well, but on bed-rest for another day or two so her body can better recover from the blood loss and trauma.
Needless to say, she's been miserable, mean, and cranky in a "grumpy of the 7 dwarves ain't got nothing on me" kind of way. Babs has had Tim with her most of today as she remotely directed him on repairs from the attack on the tower. Now they're relaxing and watching White Collar on her DVR in her room.
When the Batman disappears, he does completely. Alfred knew only that he was alive, Lucius was given very specific instructions, and Barbara was the sole individual to know enough of the details to keep everyone informed if the situation arrose that they needed to be.
Whatever took him out of the country has kept him below the radar. The Batsuit has hung in the armory like a shadow. Empty, quiet.
But Batman is well informed.
Tonight, the Batsuit is gone.
The shadow looms in the corner of one of the clock towers upper levels, though even he isn't good enough to by pass /all/ of the security measures.
"Barbara." It's quiet, spoken low as he steps out of the shadows with his cape draped down around his ankles as he crosses the floor towards where she's remanded to bed rest.
"I came as soon as I heard."
Babs in one of her moods? Nothing new. Tim has been a the good little helper all day and has been helping his big sister put the place back together, and taking the time to upgrade some of the security features, since he's gonna be in the walls all afternoon anyway.
He's sitting on a chair next to her bed, and double takes as Batman enters the room. "Apparently I missed a another spot." he mutters quietly before grinning a little. "Good to see you're alive, Batman." Tim offers up, glancing between the two. So many things to report. But that will come later. He leans back and crosses his arms over his chest, trying his best not to give Batman an angry look for disappearing.
"I'm fine, Bruce," is the first thing out of Babs' mouth. "Just a little blood loss and some stitches in my shoulder. No permanent nerve damage and the boys haven't really let me out of their sight since the incident." Thus why she didn't inform him. Her arm is in a sling to keep it immobile while the wound heals. "How did things go on your end, any luck?"
The empty white eyes of the cowl turn to regard the cross armed Tim for a moment, but his ears are directed towards Barbara's recount of why she didn't tell him herself. "I assumed." Nodding.
Looking back towards her, the cowl twists slowly, "I almost found him twice, once in Cairo, once in Nigeria. I abandoned the last trail when I heard what happened." He doesn't sound upset about the cold tails. Whoever the target is, if they're keeping out of Bruce's sights, must be good.
"I left clues that I am looking for him before I left Moscow. He'll find me."
Wait a second...Babs knew! And she didn't say anything! Nightwing and Robin have been pulling their hair out trying to figure out where Batman disappeared to, and Wheels here knew it all along. Tim does his best not to sulk, and nods in agreeement when Babs mentions not letting her out of her sight.
"Added the tower into our nightly partols until I could get her sercurity back up and cover the gaps Jason used to get in. Which I just finished today." he quips softly before going quiet and listening. Batman was looking for someone....who?
"He always does," Barbara agrees. She pushes her glasses up on her nose. "He hesitated at least a half dozen times, Bruce. He couldn't actually kill me. Jason is still in there somewhere. We just need the means to bring him back." She doesn't look at Robin. She feels marginally guilty for keeping him and Dick in the dark.
Bruce once more regards Tim, quietly considering something said. When he nods it's with his eyes back on Barbara, "I should have known he would try and do something like this. He's trying to get my attention, he wants me to know how angry he is. Simply telling me wouldn't be enough..."
The Bat never paces, not physically. He broods, but his eyes are clock working behind the white lenses. "I fought him in Selina's apartment. He made it clear there that he blames me for what happened." Dispassionate.
"It was necessary to keep you in the dark, Tim." It wouldn't take the world's greatest detective to see the discontent. "Ra's has spies in Gotham. He would have come here, he would have gone after you and Dick.. and someone had to deal with Jason while I was gone. If either of you knew why, you would have pulled your punches."
"Maybe now people will stop looking at the floor all guilty like and fill me in on what were fighting. I don't think I need to remind that my mask is my father's only protection. If this wacko will go after a woman in a wheelchair, what stops him from attacking a comatose man? I don't have your sentimental value to make him hesitate aginst me." Tim says a little darkly before hopping up off the couch.
Tim paces a few steps, then stops and turns again. "He threatened to destroy me."
"It's worse than that, Bruce. He wants you to avenge him; to kill the Joker," Barbara explains. "In his head, I don't think he feels he can be Jason again, until the people who loved him kill his murderer. He wants us do cross the line for him." She shakes her head. If anyone has a right to want Joker dead, it's her, but she won't sink to his level. She looks after Tim. "He was trying to corner Ra's out of the country, see if there's a way to shock the Laz Pit out of Jason and get his marbles back in a row."
Bruce watches Tim as he paces, "The mask will protect you from Jason, Tim." Convinced of that, he doesn't leave it yet. "Jason was murdered by the Joker several years ago. Somehow he's come back to life and I knew of only a handful of individuals who could accomplish that. Ra's Al Ghul and his Lazerus Pits. I've been hunting him down, trying to find a solution."
Regarding Barbara, "He thinks the only way to 'save' Gotham is to kill the corruption that has infected it. He's wrong. He's become part of the corruption..." Even in that cold tone, there's the smallest hint... just a bare whisper.. of guilt.
It's so rare, even small as it is, even quiet as it's vocalized, it's probably like a mega horn.
"The mask has already failed to protect me from Jason. I was sitting in a diner with Babs and Richard when he threatened me. If he hasn't figured out who I am by now, then he wasn't trained by you." Tim remarks, stopping his pacing to turn and lean agianst the wall.
"And this Ra's Al Ghul guy managed to avoid you?" Tim asks, whistling slightly in awe. "So how to we handle Jason? It's not like we can throw him in Arkham. Not with what he knows, and not to mention thats where most of his hit list is at. I've beefed up our patrols there as well."
"We know that, Bruce, but Jason's not in his right mind, or his left mind, or even in the same zipcode as his mind," Barbara points out. "It's like that one part of his brain is overriding his personality somehow. If he was a computer, I'd say he'd been infected with a virus, the sort that takes over your web browser and only lets you surf to a specific site." She nods to Tim. "He knows Canary, Spoiler, and Dragnet are working for me now too. He approached Spoiler beforehand. Tried to recruit her."
Bruce shakes his head, "The Lazurus Pit would have worn off by now. It lasts only a few hours, if that.. Unless he's been using it for years, like Ra's. A lot of this isn't insanity. He was always violent." Brushing his shoulders down so that the edges of his cape fall back over his chest like a drape.
"I want to say Ra's is involved, but I don't think that's the case either. He's bitter, angry, and feels betrayed. Maybe on some level he's seperated himself from sanity, but if we don't find a solution to the underlying problem, one that he comes to on his own, we'll be fighting small fires without dealing with the inferno."
Nodding, Bruce says of Ra's, "He's not as good as he thinks he is, but he's better than some."
"He's also tried to recruit one of the Amazons. A woman named Troia." Tim adds to the end of Oracle's list. Tim crosses his arms over his chest and studies his mentor for a moment. "And don't let her fool you." he says, motioning towards Babs' wounded arm. "She would have bled out if we hadn't arrived as fast as we did. He might have been toying with her, but he might have known it was only a matter of time anyway. One isn't usually playful with a knife."
"To be fair, Tim. I pulled the knife out myself. It was pinning me to the couch. If I had left it where it was, I wouldn't have bled out," Babs admits. She rubs at her forehead with her free hand. "This is a mess any way you look at it. He was like my brother. I can't put him down like a rabid dog. We have to find a way to fix this."
Bruce doesn't vocalize his thoughts on Jason. Regardless of how he might speak /to/ his protiges, they're family, all of them. Dick would probably say he's cruel, Jason would definately say he's abusive, but Bruce only knows one way to be.
"I'll find a way to fix him." Matter of factly. He owes Jason that, he owes it to all of them. He puts them in the way of the bullets and then frowns when they get shot. This is a mess that, at its heart, is his fault.
If he'd killed Joker when he crippled Barbara.. or killed a hundred others. Behind the cowl, Bruce narrows his eyes and towards towards the window, cape fluttering out away from his ankles.
"It seems to me like I'm the only one of us who can face him without getting sentimental." Tim comments dryly. "Even your voice is cracking when you talk about him." the teen says to Batman. Tim is rarely one to miss the details.
"But whatever we do, can we please stop leaving each other in the dark over this?"
"You didn't know him Tim. For us, this is deeply personal," Barbara murmurs. "But I agree. After the attack on the tower, Jason stepped up this little war. We can't leave anyone in the dark."
"I'm fine." Batman says flatly in reply to Tim, "I have never let my personal opinions on a situation cloud my judgement on what needed to be done now. I do not believe in the silver lining, you should know that." Over his shoulder, first to his partner, then to Barbara.
"Agreed." Not even begrudgingly, not trusting people got them into this position. "Tim, since you have the least emotional investment, this is your project. Jason has organized hoods beneath him, I want you to find out which sections of Gotham they're controlling and press on them..." A sign of overt trust in his newest bird.
Tim nods his assent, and looks between the two for a moment. "I'll see what I can dig up." he offers quietly, before turning and heading for the door. "Call me Babs, if you need anything else done." He offers, his voice kind of distant as he ponders.
"Saturday I'm off the stupid bed rest and can fend for myself," Babs calls after Tim. Two more days and maybe she'll stop being angry all the time. "What do you want me to do?" she asks the Bat.
Bruce stops and glances back to Barbara, "Follow the money trails. Joker's loose, Jason will go after him. I need to know where the clown is before Jason does." To prevent him doing something that cannot be undone. He seems fairly well convinced he /will/ do it.
The irony of that isn't lost on him either. Batman, protecting the Joker, from Jason Todd. It would be funny, if Bruce ever laughed.
He doesn't start now.
"And to get better."
Tim pauses to look back from the darkness on the other side of the door way, and can't help but grin. Off to college, news about his dad, breaking up, new contacts and heroes will all have to wait. Gotham is in trouble...again. Tim sighs and heads for the elevator. He'll have to ask Babs to borrow the DvD's when she's in a better mood too. Now that she's got him hooked on the show.