Night of the Hornet
Chapter 3: Past and Present
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Don't own the car. And there's a bad name for people who make money from sex.
Slash: Yeh. But you've had two chapers to get used to it, so cope. Also, maybe some language.
Number one on the speed dial. ET phone home.
"Hi, Alfred. Bruce there? No, no rush. I'm calling from home. Have him give ma a call on the other line sometime tonight. I'll be up........ No, nothing just yet...... Tell him I got a line on that car I told him about....... Uh huh, the old one..... I had a talk with the owner. It might be on the market...Exactly......Think I should bring him home for dinner?.... Whoever's in town.....Yeh... Thanks Al. Bye."
So I'm paranoid. It's a public line. I know how easy the damn things are to tap. Encriped e-mail to Babs. She'll call me later, but she can start the search STAT. Swiss banks break easier during working hours. Tim next. I like the way he thinks - sideways. Link to Titan's tower. Look for anything in the data base. No luck. Send a message to Garrick and Scott. They were active back then. Ask John Law. Never mentioned the Hornet, but so. Lot's of things we don't talk about. Message to C. Kent. Press gossip and all the news not fit to print.
Bruce calls, or rather 'Batman'. There is a difference. He hates the fact I've been made, but it doesn't surprise him. We're talking Kato here. He hates the thought of murder, but that doesn't surprise him either. It's the motivation that really burns. Hits too close. Clark or Wally or whoever may think the understand greed, but they don't. They see it and they hear it and they fight it, but that's not the same thing. Bruce has to live with it every day of his life. With every one in his life. He actually has a file of ransom notes. Of bomb threat. Of threats period. Mostly just scams, but still....
It's a long conversation. He has the time. The thugs he's watching for must be running late. I don't mind. He helps me think. In the end, he's with me.
Then one more call.
As the man says. I love it when a plan comes together.
Wednesday night and I'm as nervous as a first date. What is the etiquette for conspiracy?
A knock at the door. I hurry over to answer it. Check the monitors. It's him.
"Good evening, Mr. Lee." I guess that's what I call him. He's in a suit. Tea is ready. I gesture him to a chair. Better to have him sitting. In about three seconds there could be one hell of a fight.
"Mr. Grayson." He looks at my kevlar. Hardly traveling clothes. "You are not ready to go?"
I smile and hand him a faded envelope. The will.
He says nothing, but the question is in his eyes.
"As you said, new resources. I'm no cat burglar. I called a professional."
This is where I learn if it's going to work. If we can work. I respect him. He's a legend. But if I wanted to side-kick I'd already have a gig.
He weighs the envelope in his hand like some ancient artifact. "How long do we have until they discover this missing."
"Approximately? Forever. " I dropped to the couch. "She had a good forger. I have a better one."
"Better?" Smart question. After all, at some point we will have to discredit that will. Best for our side if it's not too good.
"Flawless to the eye. Transfer signature. Perfect 40's fake. A good chemist could get it thrown out of court on the spot."
"And the testimony of your 'professional burglar'?"
"Deposed under seal and stored with the JLA." That I was proud of. John Jones was willing to help a fellow cop. Not that trail mattered as much for a forgery. We wanted the thing discredited. The trail for his valid copy would matter more... if it mattered. Cash was way down on the list of objectives.
"You have taken a great deal on yourself." No heat, but he's pissed. He hides it better than the Bat, or maybe I just don't read him as well, but hiring help doesn't fit with his one man crusade. Fine. Never saw the virtue of one man crusades. I'm a team player.
"I'm a pro. I use every tool that I can get." Make it clear. Screw this up and somebody's going to get killed. "I trust you. I respect you. Where you have the knowledge I'm willing to follow you." Here's the killer question. "Can you say the same to me?"
He's quiet. Good. I hate a quick answer. Usually means they're not thinking. "I have never worked with a 'professional'. Only the FBI agents, who I did not trust. With Bromley, who was not to be trusted." The memory hurt him. "I respect your reputation. I know I can not succeed without you. Therefore I must trust you, whether not that is my wish."
Fair enough. I had to trust him, or let a murderer sit at the height of power. "Let's take a ride. It's time to meet the team."
OK. I did it on purpose. Black Beauty's a legend, but this was the Batmobile. What else pulls up driverless at 70. It opened for me, than dropped the armor back down over everything but my drivers window. No reason to give away more than absolutely necessary. The road was empty. I kicked in the afterburners just over the city line. Mostly to show off. Trying to impress our 'guest'. Nice thing, being radar invisible. I kept one eye on Mr. Lee. He didn't talk. Too busy checking out the dashboard. A serious case of engineering fever. I made a note. When this was over, I had to introduce him to Earl non-professionally. Earl doesn't get many chances to talk shop.
I opened the shields the minute the blast doors locked. Let him get the full effect of the tube. Caught the mag fields and grabbed the hydraulic lift. Double rotation just for the fun of it. It's the circus in me. Always go for the show.
Batman was waiting. Right by the opened door. No comment on my driving, at least not in front of 'company'. Just offered Mr. Lee a hand, then stepped back. I reset the car and pulled up the access ramp before joining the party in the main cave. Robin was at the console, Oracle in icon on the main screen. The new Batgirl up by the roofline, almost out of sight. Even Azarel, who I'd rather not have seen. No chance he'd pass up a chance at homicide, even second hand.
I wasn't kidding myself. Murder one with a name at the other end. Plus apparently three dead Feds that went down with Reed. Premeditation, laying in wait, terrorism, and forty million bucks. That could spell lethal injection in any state. If Bromley went down she was going to go down hard. Which meant the stakes on our side were just as high.
No Huntress, but I could call if I needed her. She just didn't deal well with the Bat. No Cat, but I didn't expect her. She might help out, but she's not about to come in. Alfred somewhere on the monitor, just in case our visitor turn into Amazo or something. What passes for welcome here in our 'Cave,Sweet Cave'. Impressive, if not exactly warm.
"Kato." That's Bat for welcome. Well, as least I know what to call him.
I watch him watch the cave. He's impressed, not overawed. A good showing, but no more than he expects.
"Batman." That nod again. The meeting of Masters. "I appreciate your hospitality."
" You're after a murderer." That's Bat for 'how can I help you'.
"Miss Claudia Bromley. I believe she killed Britt Reed, and other men. I know she benefited from his death."
"I want her disgraced. I would prefer to see her arrested and tried. Ideally I would wish to see her dead."
That got the Bat. The growl was back full force. "I do not kill."
"I do not ask you to. Murder I could do myself, at any time. I had no need to wait these many years. " Kato wasn't growling, he was teaching, and that was spookier. "Her mere death would be purposeless."
I figured that was enough philosophy. At least if we wanted to make this work.
"OK people." I smile at Robin " Time to get to work." I'm lucky. Bruce loves me, so sometimes I can take charge. As long as I keep it light. He turned, but he didn't interfere. "Let's start easy. We've got the Bromley will. It's a certified phony. We've got the Kato copy of the real thing, but provenance will be a bitch to prove. The ideal would be to have someone find the Stanton copy, if she didn't drop it into the fireplace. Any ideas? Robin?"
"The house. She moved into Reed's place. You know who can check it out, if he tells her where to look."
"Discreetly. We cannot afford to warn our quarry." The Bat was back in command.
"Like smoke. You know." Robin cast a hopeful look at our visitor. It wasn't often he got to bring in his crew on something major.
"There is a safe in the library. Another, better hidden, is in the bedroom. She will have changed the combinations. A small hollow space is under the seventh stair on the main staircase. Another under the sixth stair in the back. There is also a short passage from the library to the side parlor, and a longer tunnel leaving from the underground garage. Those had electric codes. If not maintained, the batteries will be long dead."
"Not a problem. We don't want it moved." A glance at Robin. He had his job.
"Which leaves the rest of us looking for evidence." Like I said. He lets me push - a little.
"Oracle. The FBI report."
"Skimpy for a case with three dead Feds. Not to mention America's Least Wanted. Maybe they really did have a nuke down there."
A glance at Kato. Oh,shit. Another nod. I was getting damn tired of those things. But I guess it answered the question.
"Who owns the mine?"
Not off subject. I love the way that man thinks.
"The claim's listed to Argente Metals, but it's in lapse."
Score one. By tomorrow morning it would belong to some obscure Wayne subsidiary. Probably would have for the last ten years.
"This means you have a plan?"
Of course he did. The Bat always has a plan.
Batgirl and Azeral took off on patrol. Hopefully together. He'll listen to her. They were here mostly for the show. Strength in numbers. The Bat version of putting out the good china. I could do without the Angel, but Batman gave his word. Bruce hired him. He's here as long as he stays this side of deadly force. If I was a mugger, I think I'd stay home tonight.
The rest was slogging. The joy of detective work. The 'drunk driver' who killed Frank Scanlon was never caught. No evidence. Seems Frank's car rolled and burned. Hard to even identify the body. Just like the fire that took out Michael Incorvaia aka 'Mikey the Ink". That much damage leaves damn little evidence. Nowadays, the coroner might take a look at it, but fifty years ago they were out of luck. Miss Lenore "Casey" Case, Britt Reeds personal secretary, checked out in another auto accident. Six months after his death. Seems she'd started drinking. Been fired. If I had to work for the Bromley bitch I'd drink too. Not much left once her car went off McNider Bridge.
A few other rather convenient accidents. Seems Bromley knew a lot of bad drivers.
Oracle hacked us Bromley's 'Kato' files. Nothing much there. Just a lot of it. To much for any 'missing person'. You had to give her credit for trying. A few other interesting bits. Mostly dirt on other political types. Whoever said knowledge is power had this chick in mind.
Give Kato credit for memory. His was like the Bat's. Permanent. He knew all the subsidiaries, even the quiet ones. He knew her agents, public and otherwise. He had the numbers for the bank accounts, even some of the hidden ones. They poorly hidden ones. The well hidden ones, of course, had vanished with him.
By three we had about all we were going to get. Robin took off for school. He'd finish up from there. We'd hear back when his 'friend' had something. A few possible calls to wait on.
I knock out a rough report. Route it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Martian encryption. Just in case. With the two wills in hand he could give her a pretty rough time. Not jail her, but end her political career. Metro stuff, not headline. Lois will get the story if things go well. For now - the truth is out there.
Despite the 'dungeon' image, the bedrooms in the Cave are perfectly comfortable. Not as nice as the house, but comfortable. After all, we spend enough time there. No one goes upstairs when there are 'guests'. I showed Mr. Kato to the best guest room. The one with the most discreet alarm on the door. Like I said, I trust him but. I set the phones and main computer to signal in Bruce's room, then joined him. He was already undressed and half asleep. God, he looks good. I don't get home often enough. I'd love a shower but it will wait. He won't. He moves over for me. I slide into warm arms, and comfort, and joy, and peace.
I'm tired, but as he kisses my back I decide I'm not that tired. I roll over, kissing him back and reveling in the dance of hard muscle and bone that is my bliss. His thick hair is damp from the cowl as I run my fingers through it, seeking to hold it - seeking to hold him as his lips wander away in search of richer spoils.
He will exhaust me tonight. I took control in the cave, so he will pay me back here. My punishment, or my reward? I have never known, I doubt that Bruce could know. It ceases to matter as his lips land on one nipple, nipping and teasing.
I slide my fingers down his back, circling each point of spine and rubbing the sensitive bump where once the vertebrae was broken. Ghod! That brings a shiver harder then the touch of his tongue entering my navel. I could have lost him, and lost him while we were apart. Never again. Whatever our battles, I vow, never again that darkness.
I reach lower, gripping the hard curves of his ass, pulling him closer. Half lust, have remembered loss. I need this man. He resists until I curl one finger around the sac of his swollen balls, stroking lightly the flesh I can barely reach. That beings a moan, and his return to higher terrain. I cherish his lips, but I need far more tonight.
We are back, side by side, mixing kisses with nibbles with licks. His hand is on my cock, and mine on his, and we have been apart too long for such teasing. I reach up. No need to look. I know this bed better then my own.
A cold plastic chill against my shaft as I slip the lube into his palm. He knows it's meaning. To tired for gymnastics. I simply roll over into the pillows, giving his lips a path they follow from cheek to ear to nape. Long fingers circle my center. A foretaste of bliss. A flash of pleasure as the first enters, brushing against sensitive flesh. Another finger. Swift and easy. It has not been too long.
One firm hand on my hip to steady me, another callused palm wrapped around my cock to pleasure me. A sharp bite on the neck as he enters me. The long slow drives that lure me back, eager for impalement. I cum too swiftly, control overridden by the double extasy of cock and palm. But here too he is with me, spilling within me as our mingled shouts reach the night air. He falls beside me, and we tangle in arms and legs and kisses now soft with repletion.
I really do not get home often enough.
Morning comes early. I groan as I pull on my jeans and one of Bruces ratty T-shirts. Alfred stocks mine, but I always end up stealing from Bruce . And his are always rags. Make something of it.
I never did get the shower. I'll dress at the station but it's not the same. My wheels are back in Bludhaven, so I borrow the Vincent Black-Knight and hit the road. It's a good ride, and the cold air clears my head.
It's hard bringing a stranger into the Cave. It's not that I'm jealous. It's just, well.... So maybe I am jealous. Not directly. Not like that. But....well...professionally, I guess. Nineteen to thirty-two is thirteen years. I can't seem to work with Bruce for thirteen days without getting snappy. That's probably 'cause the Bat is impossible. He bugs Clark. He makes Arthur crazy. Wally just avoids him. But me? I love the guy. I don't want to avoid him. I want to be with him. At least, when I'm somewhere else that's what I want. I want to work with him. He's a master at our craft. Genius at work. Constant inspiration. Half the time I want to club him harder than the crooks. I love him. He drives me nuts.
End Chapter Three
KKR - 2003