Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following characters in this story. Someday maybe, but for now, theyíre just on loan.
So far Iíve counted fifty-seven different ways I could break out if this place.
Who ever is running the show here, Warden something or other, has determined that Iím going to be a good little boy and lightened up security. No more twenty-four hour visual surveillance, no video feed in the cell either. Hell, they were even nice enough to move me to a cell in the upstairs wing of solitary. And since then I have found numerous ways to break out.
But I havenít. And when I ask myself why, the answerís surprisingly simple. Every way out of this place involves me killing someone. And the law has been laid down from on high. No killing.
Thatís part of the reason Iíve stuck around here anyway. I remember our little talk, me and the Bat. Iíd call him Bruce but Iím not really sure if thereís any of Bruce left, despite his heroics in front of my little girl in his cave.
But Iím getting off the point. He came and visited me right after I got locked up. He wanted to know about Alpha. I told him to go to hell. Then I asked about Cassandra, I reminded him of his speeches to me when Floyd was gunning for my keester. Iím afraid to know my own family. Yeah right. Sheís hurt but she cares. That one was rich. This is what I said to him, in case youíre not following. I had to remind him that the only reason I was sticking around this dump was for her.
Yeah, I know, my little girl is the only reason I do anything now a days. I figured back then I could have busted out of this joint and then holed up somewhere and waited for her to come and get me. Then maybe we could talk or something. But no, big scary Batman stood in my cell and told me she was still getting over everything, that she would come to me when she was ready. When it didnít hurt so much to see me, is what he said. For someone who never smiles I gotta tell you, that guy is a comedian.
And the really funny part, I believed him. So I stayed in the little cell like a caged rabbit and waited. And then I waited and waited and waited some more and Iíll be damned if one day I got woke up to the words ďYou have a visitor.Ē
I knew it was her as soon as I saw her. All prettied up in her reporter costume, made me wish I would have let her go out on Halloween. She looked so pretty, that is, right until her face screwed up with anger and she kicked in three solid inches of bullet proof glass. Come to think of it, she even looked pretty when she did that.
And she stayed looking pretty as she kicked me then knocked out every single guard on duty and then picked me up. I knew she wasnít gonna do anything when she pulled her hand back like she was gonna strike, donít ask me how I knew, a father just knows these things.
But then she laid down the law. I kill anyone and sheís gonna kill me. Said it right to my face, and know what, it was music to my ears. My little girl was all grown up. I never did figure out why she wanted to know her birthday. Maybe she wants a party or something, Iíll have to remember to send her a card or something this January.
Wow, now that I think about it January is coming up really soon. Hell, it almost Christmas, maybe I should get her something. Nah, Iíll wait till her birthday, itíll be more special if she knows I remembered.
Batmanís been back a few more times since our last exchange. He keeps asking me about Alpha, I keep telling him to go to hell. Then I ask him about Cassandra, and he always gives me the update. He was here two nights ago, cute story he told me, my little girl wants to be a detective. Good for her.
Someoneís opening my cell. Making a damn show out of it too, must be a new guy. I turn around to face... her.
The cell clicks again as she shuts it behind her. I can feel my eyes go wide, my breath catches in my neck. Cassandra, my little girl is standing in my cell. I donít know what to say.
ďHi.Ē I hear myself blurt out. I can feel my face pulling back into a really dopey grin.
ďHi.Ē She says and pulls her cape a little tighter around herself.
Sheís quiet, but she hasnít kicked me in the head yet, so Iím gonna take it as a good sign. Maybe she wants to talk. Maybe the big Bat sent her here to ask about Alpha. Figures, he knows I canít say no to a lady.
ďSo... Um, what can I do for you?Ē I say hesitantly. This is a mystery. She looks too worried to be here on regular bat-business.
She shrugs back her cape and I can see something in her hands. No way, there is no way in heaven that can be...
ďA Christmas Present.Ē She says quickly and steps forward, holding it in front of her. Damn I wish I had my camera. ďFor you.Ē She says.
Iím speechless. Iím more than speechless, Iím struck dumb. I canít move, thinking takes effort. There is no way this is happening, Iíve gotta be having a dream, thatís it, a dream. Iím back at home and I never framed Bruce Wayne and Iím drunk.
ďHere.Ē My little girl says and holds it a little farther from her body. Damnit Iím not dreaming. I do the only thing I can do.
ďThank you.Ē I say and take it from her. I watch as her arms instantly drop back into the cape. She cocks her head to the side and stares at me. I raise my eyebrows and stare back. With a deep sigh she pulls off her mask and looks at me. Sheís still as pretty as the day she threatened to kill me.
ďOpen?Ē She asks me quietly, her brown eyes shining. I can remember the last time her eyes shined like that. We were in London. I had to work out a contract and I took her with me. She must have been about seven at the time, and we were walking down the streets and she saw the little puzzle in the store window. It was simple really, just a picture of a rose, couldnít have been more than twenty-five pieces. And she looked at it and then looked back at me and her eyes were shining just like they are now. How could I say no? I can still remember when she put it together for the first time too. She looked so happy and proud and she pulled me over to the table and kept pointing to the puzzle then the picture on the box. My little girl had done it and she wanted her daddy to see, looking back on it I should have taped that too.
ďOpen it... please.Ē She says again, quieter if thatís even possible. I canít tell her no. I slowly peel of the paper and open the box. Reaching in, I take out the little wooden figure and cup it gently in my hands.
My little girl bought me a statue. Itís made of wood, cedar, from the looks of it. The statue is of two people, one is obviously very young, a little girl, she stands there in a little purple dress, her hair is long and straight and black. The other figure is much taller, but laying on his side his head pointed towards the girl in attention. His hair is a dark brown, almost black, he wears a white shirt and blue pants. Neither of their faces have been detailed so both the little girl and the man could be anyone. The statue my little gave me tells a story, The little girl is telling her daddy a story. Just like the time my little girl came and told me she finished her puzzle. And I walked to the table and laid down and watched her point to the puzzle then to the box then to herself. And I smiled at her and my little girl, my Cassandra came and gave me a hug.
ďLike it?Ē Cassandraís voice come storming into my thoughts. Bringing me back to the present, to my cell, with her. Her eyes are hopeful and scared. I can see the tears running down her face.
ďI love it.Ē I tell her and move to set it on my table. When I look back she is smiling softly, but there are still tears. ďOh Cassie come here.Ē I say and move to here opening my arms. I should have done this so long ago.
She accepts my embrace, my little girl, and throws her arms around me. I can feel her muscles through the suit and for a moment, they are drawn tight, but then relax and before I know it, my little girl is sobbing in my arms. And not knowing exactly what Iím doing I move my hands up to run through her hair and Iím sobbing too.
And thatís how we stay for several minutes in my cell. My little girl crying quietly in my arms, and me, crying my eyes out and holding her to me so tight, so she knows, Iíll never let her go again, Iíll never make her run. Itís a good long time before we dare to do anything else.
ďDoes this mean Iím forgiven?Ē I ask softly planting a kiss on top of her head.
ďNo.Ē She says from my shoulder where her head is resting.
Not yet. I know that. I still have work to do. Iím not forgiven yet, but still, standing here, in my cell, feeling my little girl in my arms, feeling her returning my hug, I can live with that.
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