Night of the Hornet
Chapter 2: Once and Future Hornet
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. I just want to play with them. I promise to play nice and put my toys back when I'm done.
Slash: In exposition. If you freak at this, don't read the paper. Also, maybe some language.
Another shitty day in Bludhaven. Traffic duty. Pissed off Sargent Geraci . Caught him 'forgetting' to Miranda a purp. Don't know why he wanted the punk to walk. Not yet. I will. This is supposed to be my punishment. Eight hours of red light/green light at Parkthorne and Bowline. Actually, I don't mind. It's a party compared to Bruce's version of endurance training, and it gives me a chance to watch. I've already figured out the new drop signals for our local drug runners. Identified two probable burglars entering the pawn shop with improbable goods. Discouraged a pack of kids who were checking out cars. A good days work.
Here's a shock. The repair guys actually showed. The usual late and slow, but in Bludhaven it's news if they come at all. Minor circuit short. I could have fixed it in 10 minutes. They'll be here for another hour. Hey, at least it's getting fixed. For now I get to sit on the tailgate and push buttons rather than stand in traffic doing my mime routine. The crew brought soda. Small blessings.
Holy.. Now that's something . The ever so interesting Mr. Lee. Walking this way. I haven't seen him since the ... burglary...at his 'garage'. Haven't heard much from the other side either. Oh, I got my ass chewed for busting Bromley's dick. 'Over-reacting'. But Sarge didn't have his heart in it. Enjoyed seeing the bastard sweat. Really hates what he calls 'those rich mothers'. He'd hate me too, but he thinks Bruce kicked me out cold. Might even sympathize except he also thinks I'm a tight-ass geek. Comes out about even.
"Officer Grayson." Not glancing at my tag. He knows my name.
"Mr. Lee" Two can play.
"I wonder you have not been by." He knows both my names. Now, that's a surprise. It must have showed. " Did I not say you should bring by your motorcycle? There is very much need of adjustment."
Come off it. This guys English is probably better than mine. What's the message? "How about I bring it by the garage tonight. I go off shift at 6:30, so say seven?"
"Excellent. I will have my tools ready."
Great. That could mean anything. As they say, you suit up and show up. And I've got four more hours to figure out which suit to wear.
In the end, I wear the blues.
Of course, I've got my tracker on, Oracle has my position, and Hellena is watching the neighborhood. Other than that, I trust him. So Richard Grayson rolled his Harley through the front door.
He was there. As expected. Wearing a flannel shirt and mechanics pants. Also expected. Maybe I was hoping for the Kato suit, but I didn't expect it. Then he did the one thing I didn't expect. He got out the timing light and reset the transmission.
It was a privilege to watch. Calling Ikano Kato a good mechanic is like saying Jean-Paul Valley prays a little. But I wasn't here for the show. I didn't delude myself that he was 'grateful' for anything I had done. Accepting, maybe. Pissed, probably. No way he thought I'd done more than repair my own fuck-up. I have a bit of Bruce in me. I wasn't going to apologize, and I sure as hell wasn't going to blink first, so I...... watched.
"You should watch your fuel." He was cleaning his hands, so I guess that part was done." It can be a problem when things are to rich".
More cryptic crap. Me? Claudia Bromley? Bruce? "But sometimes it gives you the power needed." Like either of us are talking bikes.
"That is the problem, is it not. Deciding what power is needed."
"Not if you know what it is you want done."
"True." He must have heard something in my voice, because he glanced up at the picture that wasn't there. "And sometimes, to accomplish your goals, you must rebuild your system. Much work, but necessary." Another pause, and then "Would you care for some tea?"
Thick mugs this time, but still the good stuff. If he was a mechanic I'd bring my work here for sure.
Last time. You wondered at this place. Why one with much to hide would risk this...display. It is ...a tomb, a shrine. In China we believe one must feed the dead. We must care for them, provide for them, give them in death the things they had in life. The things they valued, that they...loved."
"Then the Green Hornet is dead."
"Britt Reed is dead. "
"Isn't that the same thing?" Apparently not for some people. He didn't answer directly.
"Britt Reed was a great man."
No argument there. Oracle had a pretty full Green Hornet file. It was....impressive.
"Even great men have their weaknesses."
Maybe. Not that you could prove it from what I'd read. Man made Jay Garrick look lazy.
"I was his."
What! That got me. Ikano Kato wasn't my definition of weak. Serious confusion must have shown on my face.
"He was... more than my employer."
Duh. I should hope so. You don't exactly run an ad - help wanted, must risk life.
"More than...my friend."
Wait a minute. Put brain in gear. "You were lovers."
That got his attention.
"You are not surprised."
"Mr. Kato..or Lee.. I've been in this business since I was nine years old. There are about a dozen reasons why we follow someone in this game, and half of them are being crazy about the guy." Yeah. And the other half is plain being crazy, but that didn't seem like a diplomatic thing to say. Back to the point.
"Fifty years is a long time for Claudia Bromley to hold a grudge just because you slept with her fiance."
"There was no engagement."
Woo. My bad. That's not what the book said but ... why pick a fight. "Fifty years is still a long time. Why would Bromly start looking for you now?"
"Start?" That surprised him. My mistake. "The woman has been hunting me every day since 1949."
"It is, as you say, a long time to hold a grudge. But it is as nothing when you hold on to money." He drank deeply, then filled his cup again. I must tell the story if you are to understand. You know how Britt died?" A question, but not much of one. At least he assumed I wasn't an idiot.
"Mine shaft explosion, in Nevada, officially after art smugglers. Officially mine gas. Rumors that it was actually the trigger to an atomic device."
A deeper nod. So I wasn't an idiot. He seemed overly reassured for my ego. Go on.
"Afterwards, Ed Lowry broke the story.The FBI confirmed most of it. So did Claudia Bromley. Back then she was the D.A. Just before she ran for Congress. Threw one hell of a funeral, cast herself as chief mourner, and...oh, shit. That where the bit about fiance comes in. It was in his will. She inherited everything."
Suddenly, every bad thing fell into place.
"The will was fake."
Now the nod was becoming serious.
"And you know it"
"And you could prove it".
Jackpot! His face had the same non-expression that Bruce got back in my training days when I had really nailed it."Let me guess. Your names's in the real thing."
"Britt was a good man. He believed in good men. In Frank Scanlon, when he was D.A., and after Frank's death in his good friend Claudia. She was ambitious. Britt knew that but... he trusted her."
"I have one copy of the real will. She had the other. That night, in the hospital, she came to me. She wanted the other copy. The one she knew I had. She had read it. She knew about us. He was dead, and she was threatening to destroy all that was left. His name. His reputation. I could not allow that. I took the proof and... I ran. "
"Leaving her with the cash, but with a hell of a problem if you ever show up."
I thought about that for a while. It made sense, except for two really huge questions. I had to ask.
Question one: "Lowry wrote that the Hornet had retired. That he came back for the one case. Bromley couldn't have know he would. She couldn't predict his death. How good of a forgery could a D.A. come up with on short notice? Where would she find a forger she could trust? How could she know it would do her any good? "
"I have wondered... if she had perhaps more foresight than one should. Six months before a certain 'Micky the Ink" was released due to foolish errors in prosecution. Made, of course, by a new hire. Before they could recharge he had.... an accident. A gas explosion. Sad, but they happened in tenements."
"How good was this Micky?"
"He was minor, but apparently good enough. As long as there was no suspicion."
Question two: " Why not just call her on it? Forty mill buys a lot of respectable. So she outs you. That sucks. I'd hate it myself. But compared to what you two were up to? Half the country thought that you were hit men or racketeers. Being queer is hardly a felony."
"In 1949 it was. Along with miscegenation and statutory rape."
"What a... Britt Reed was 32 when he died."
"He was nineteen when we met. So handsome that still marvel that....but that is not to the point."
"The point being that Bromley would have charged. Then win or lose gone for 'undue influence' to overturn the will. Get her cut from whoever's next in line. Nasty. So you become her ghost. Also nasty. But now your talking to me, so something has changed..."
"I talk to you because everything has changed. The world had changed." He paced. He actually paced. "Your computer age makes it hard for a man to hide. That first has changed. If she has DNA evidence perhaps still she can find me. Every day that change will favor her. The second is that time has changed. As you say, love is no longer a felony. A jury might even prove sympathetic to a 'widower'. Last, my resources have changed. I have long had wealth. I had not considered that I might find allies." Then, suddenly, he was still.
"I would not act merely to enrich myself, but if there was a chance to avenge his death: that is worth the risk of all the world."
"Will you help me?"
This could get ugly fast. Screw could, will. But the bitch killed one of us. She goes down. The only answer is "You have a plan?"
He does. It's good. Tricky, but good. A few minor glitches but nothing I'll point out now. Step one is to head back to Central City and get our hands on the fake will. If it still exists. Because it won't for long once Bromley figures out we're hunting her. I'm working vice tomorrow , so we agree to meet at my place the night after. That should give me time to take care of things. Starting tonight, I have some phone calls to make. But first, I have to see a man about a car.
End Chapter Two
KKR - 2003