The Apprentice, part 2

The Apprentice, part 2

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0"

Bored. Batgirl rolled the word around in her brain, wondering if it fit her present state of mind. She shot off another jumpline, sailing easily to the next building. Robin sometimes complained of being bored. Nightwing - Nightwing got bored if he had to sit still for more than three seconds without a good reason.

She thought about that. Nightwing bored was more like restless. She wasn't restless.

She made an easy jump across a narrow alley, slipping soundlessly through the rooftop shadows to her next patrol spot. She hadn't had a bust on this corner for a week and a half, which was a sign that the criminals had timed their routes again. She would mention it to Batman.

Sometimes Oracle was bored. That was what she called it when nothing was happening when she was fully on duty. And really, there was nothing happening on this patrol. Still, the word didn't seem quite right.

She scanned the street below with careful eyes. Old Morley was camped in his usual doorway, too stubborn to go to a shelter. She didn't bother him.

A few apartment lights were on, and through one window she could see a father holding a baby to his shoulder, pacing soothingly in the night. A car drove by, en route somewhere.

The streets were interesting, the different kinds of being alive she saw on them at night.

Interesting. That meant not bored, she decided. So what was the word she was looking for?

Satisfied all was quiet, she flitted down the block, leaping the gaps between buildings with easy strides until she reached a point where she needed a line. A hint of a grin appeared under her mask as she leapt first, launching the anchoring jumpline only after she was airborne. Batman had frowned at her when he first saw her doing it and hadn't been entirely happy when she explained that Nightwing had shown her, but he had not insisted that she not do it.

Nightwing had laughed, called her a "fellow thrill-junkie." She wasn't quite sure what that meant, but she loved the brief feeling of free fall, the lightning fast quality it demanded of her reflexes. And she liked that Batman still frowned sometimes at it.

Her line caught as surely as it always did, carrying her up to a higher rooftop. She was moving toward a part of town with more highrises and fewer old brownstones. The streets were busier, and-

"Batgirl, what's your situation?" Oracle's voice suddenly intruded.

"Patrol. Quiet," Batgirl answered.

A sigh came over the line. "Listen, keep to your southern patrol route for a bit, okay? Spoiler is ignoring a return order."

"Need me fetch her?"

"I hope not, but she's not listening very well. Just hang tight."

"Okay," Batgirl agreed. She shifted her next jump to curve further south than she had initially planned, settling in on a rooftop water tank to watch a new intersection.

After a few minutes, Barbara was back. "Batgirl, I've got Spoiler in pursuit on Clearwood and 39th."

Batgirl launched a new jumpline without hesitation. "Description?" she asked.

She heard the click that indicated that Spoiler had been brought onto the same channel. "Spoiler," Oracle's voice was saying, "can you give a description of your bogey so Batgirl can cut him off?"

There was a long-ish pause, and Batgirl hit the next rooftop at a dead run, crossing it in seven long strides before launching another line to a higher building.

"Spoiler! Come on, Spoiler, we need information."

A whisper sounded over the line: "No." Batgirl rolled onto the next roof, letting her body's momentum carry her back onto her feet and launch her again.

"Spoiler! Spoiler, talk to me. What's wrong? I need -"

"No," Spoiler said again. "I can't -"

Batgirl caught a glimpse of a figure in Robin's color's dashing across the rooftops at the same moment she saw Spoiler swinging toward a multistory warehouse.

Spoiler was all wrong, stiff, her body language screaming fright. The arc of her swing had flattened, would not clear the warehouse roof. Batgirl tucked her body and redirected her swing.

"Batgirl, get over there now!" Barbara ordered as Batgirl tumbled onto the rooftop. The crash of glass sounded below her, and she felt a surge of relief that it was glass and not the thud of body against brick.

"Spoiler. Spoiler! Batgirl-"

"She went through window," Batgirl reported. "Skylight above broken. I going down."

"Did you see the bogey? Or what happened? Can you see Spoiler?"

Batgirl rigged some decel and upsailed down to the top floor of the warehouse. Her eyes picked up Spoiler's form lying in a broken heap, blood beginning to pool around her. She dropped the final feet to the floor and sprinted to the other girl's side. "Bleeding," she reported to Oracle, pressing her hand against Spoiler's upper arm to pinch the artery there. Her other hand slipped beneath Spoiler's cowl to feel the reassuring pulse. "Broken arm. Bone sticking out."

"Hold tight, Batgirl. Can you stabilize her while I send transport?"

Batgirl reached into her belt and pulled out a small tourniquet kit. "Not sure. Setting tourniquet."

"I've got Batman en route, ETA 3 minutes. Transport will be there in five point six seven." Barbara's voice was steady, calming, as Batgirl began carefully checking Spoiler for other injuries. There were cuts in the costume, but only the most superficial of scratches to the skin from the glass. Pushing the mask back revealed a purple welt in the middle of Stephanie's forehead.

"Understood," Batgirl replied. "She hit her head."

"We'll have her to Leslie soon. What happened? Did someone-"

"Du Bois," Batgirl interrupted.

A sharp intake of breath sounded over the line. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Batgirl replied grimly, recalling the movement of the figure across the rooftops. "He's back."

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