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Christmas Present

Part Four ( Hope)

by Darklady

Disclaimer: Don't own any characters...and so on

Rated: L for Leftovers

PPS: Anyone who doubts the bit about the food. I am a member of a historical group. We were asked to do a 'charity' demo for a 'World Hunger' dinner. Long story short, the CAKE cost more than my car ( and I don't drive a junker ) and they used whole cheese and Virginia hams for TABLE DECORATIONS on the buffet. With no plans to salvage them afterwards. Lets just say it solved MY hunger for a month. Not to mention the roast duck.

It was a better evening that I had expected.

I followed a suspected burglar and ended up taking down a good sized meth lab. Which justifies Ragman taking the night off. Drugs are more my game anyway.

Meth labs are flammable, and toxic, but the worst part about them is the smell. Very distinctive. Most 'chemists' try to disguise it by keeping animals. Goats or pigs usually. Which gives the labs another distinctive smell.

They also tend to be heavily guarded.

From my perspective it wasn't one of Batman's more spectacular performances. Compared to eternal damnation, I lost something of the fear factor. The mooks seemed almost glad to just be arrested.

The cops were delighted with the bust. I wasn't so thrilled. In the middle of stopping the 'boss' I landed straight in a pile of shit. Broke the fall, but oh the smell. At least I landed on top.

Fortunately, the situation was serious enough that no one had time to notice. Except the boss, of course. And from now on he'll have his own problems to worry about. But I noticed. All the way back to Gotham. Even a rough shower at Ragman's lair could only do so much.

Worse yet, Alfred would notice. And nothing would distract him from commenting.

I decided to drop by my office first. At 5 am the building should be all but deserted, and I had some effective soaps in my bathroom. And another suit. And shoes. The uniform could be autoclaved. As for Matches' unfortunate outfit; I'd find a dumpster for it.

Which was fine - until I walked out of the bathroom to find a woman in my office.

My first thought is threat, but despite what Dick says I never over react.

Very few villains are dancing to gospel music. Pushing a vacuum cleaner. While eating a chicken leg. Wearing a 'Janitor Johnny" T-shirt.

OK. Janitorial services. A bit early for this floor, but not a problem.

"Bobby, is that you?" She neither changed the music or turned around. " Don't you dare go stealing Mr. Fox's booze. Not on my shift!"

I glanced down. Shirt and pants. Acceptable if not exactly the height of fashion.

"Not Bobby, I'm afraid. But I do promise not to make a run on the bar." Although, now that I think of it, a snack might be good. Somehow I didn't have much appetite on the drive back.

"Who are you. What are you doing in here. This is MR WAYNES office, I'll have you know.."

Nice to know the name gets some respect.

"And I'm Bruce Wayne."

That got her to turn around. Which means we both got a good look at each other. Black, female, maybe twenty-five, 110 pounds max. With a face that showed her opinion of me.

"Lord, man, what have you been up to?" You shouldn't say up like this if it takes you that hard."

Well, that would trash Bruce Wayne's reputation. If he had one.

"Just in from a .. business trip. Don't let me disturb you."

I checked my mini-frig. Nothing. Damn. I had hoped the caterer had left some snacks. At least there was still some protein drink.

"You hungry?" She pointed the chicken bone in my direction."That stuffs no good for a body."

"I couldn't take...."

"Here. I got plenty."

She reached into her cart and pulled out another foil wrapped chicken leg.

"Good party tonight. Interactive Tolerating or some such. All those rich folk to busy talking to eat. I got the chicken and the shrimp."

I took a bite. It was excellent. My apology to the chef.

"Quite some party then."

'Yep. Good time of year for parties. I got one last night and two tomorrow. The Gotham Ladies League Luncheon and the Civic Spirit Dinner Dance. Lobster on the menu. And those fancy ladies never touch their food. Here." She handed me another package. "I got rolls too."

What does one say? "You sure I can't offer you something?"

"Got any soda in there? I'd do the vending machine, but it's a long walk. And 'sides, a dollar a bottle is just plain evil."

"No soda , I'm afraid. But I have some orange juice."

"That'll do."

I poured her a glass, and took another for myself.

Memo: Discuss price with Trent. He leases the space, but I don't want my people robbed.

"So for a caterer? During the day? And also here?" I wonder if that's where Alfred developed his Tupperware habits?

"Well, only for the season. 'Cause of their being busy. And 'cause of while it don't pay so well the food is real good. But come New Year I won't be needing the other job. My Preston, he'll be back from boot camp - he's my babies daddy - and we'll be getting married. That gets us base housing. So then I'll do fine with just this one job."

I stepped aside as she dusted past me. She rinsed her glass in the sink, and mine after it. Then set them both in the dishwasher.

"That's why I was after yelling at you. It's a good job for me, and I don't want Bobby messing things up. Not that he's not a good worker, but sometimes he just don't think. If you know what I mean. But its nothin' bad. Just the season."

"So you...enjoy the Holidays."

"Heaven yes. This year 'specially. Mama's doing fine and my little Lyle, he's about old enough for Santa. I got his picture taken down at Gotham Plaza. Sent it to his daddy."

She paused in dumping the trash can into her cart.

"We are truly blessed. Here with our homes and our families. Not like those poor war orphans on the news."

She snatched the empty juice can off the counter where I had left it. Apparently that belonged in recyclables.

"Say, if you ain't hung over, you think I could turn back on the vacuum. I got a schedule here. If you're not going to use the phone."

"No problem. I can see you have things well in hand."

Still not the End

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