PART #: Part 10/12


HelLex III–Frozen Felicitations-Part 10
by cHarley

Inside, we stood in the middle of a waterlogged pool hall, closed for renovations apparently. "Here endeth the tour of Bludhaven. Hotspot and dive."

"So no news here. The Rusalka have been and gone, drawn by the sexual energy here." I looked around again. "Or maybe not. They took something with them," I said moving across the room toward a wall that had been partially, violently dismantled. The remains of a small safe door lay bent and mangled on the floor. The safe itself was unharmed except for its bent hinges, and glaringly empty.

A groan and a thud followed by another thud, then another drew us into the back rooms. This place must have been a restaurant or something once. It's got a run down kitchen and one of those industrial freezers, apparently still in working order. Nightwing would be the first to enter he told me. I was given the assignment to open the door, taking cover behind it.

I opened the door and obediently stayed behind it.

He stealthily moved around the doorframe and into the freezer. "Jaz..." Nightwing grumbled as he approached the unhappy man bound in his own freezer, partially relaxing his posture. I peeked around the door and tried not to giggle at the mans abject unhappiness.

"I never thought I'd be glad for you costumed freaks. You gotta get me outta here. I think I have frostbite."

"What was in the safe?" I asked casually.

"Who are you?" he demanded of me.

"I don't think you are in any position to make demands," Nightwing said standing over Jaz who was still sitting bound on the freezer room floor.

"There weren't nothin' in the safe!" he shouted.

"Ok. We'll just go. I'm sure the police will be here soon..." I said as we walked away, leaving the freezer door open less than an inch.

"Jaz used to work for Mr. Freeze," Nightwing said as we walked away.

"It was a diamond! One of the last ones Freeze stole before you costumed nancies threw him back into Arkham!" Jaz screamed.

Nightwing and I exchanged a grin. "Aren't you on parole Jaz?" Nightwing asked as we re-entered the freezer.

"It ain't my fault," he moaned.

"So you've been an up-standing citizen except for concealing a stolen item?"

"Yeah," he glared at me.

"You tell that to the police when they get here." We left the freezer door open and put something heavy in its way to keep it from closing. Nightwing turned the thermostat off and we left the same way we arrived.

We met up with Batman outside an old fish-tinning factory. Apparently Bludhaven has a fishing history, or something. Anyway the point is this place is run down and icy. Literally. So we break in and there is Freeze in this funky space suit with a dome shaped helmet–didn't they go out of fashion at the turn of last century?–surrounded by the funky Rusalka.

Batman doesn't seem sure of what to do. We watched him try to freeze the Rusalka like Giles had suggested with one of Freeze's old ray guns when we first arrived but whatever Freeze did to them made them invulnerable to the cold.

Say it with me–Well duh!

Thinking, thinking... Rusalka... weaknesses. And you know the only one I can think of is that they crave sexual energy, use it to lure their prey. So if Freeze has modified them in some way, maybe a healthy dose of lust will restore them.

To say Batman and Robin were astonished when I grabbed Nightwing and kissed him would be an understatement. I think Cass was smirking but it's hard to tell with that full-face mask in the way.

I certainly got their attention but keeping my mind on the distraction I was trying to create was hard when all I wanted to do was hold the man I was kissing and lose myself in the sensation like Nightwing was.

His eyes opened and an eyebrow quirked when I began fumbling through the tiny pockets in his gauntlets looking for what I knew he had and what I wanted and needed.

Not that!!!

Ah found it! The little explosive pellet. I looked over his shoulder and saw the entranced Rusalka in the form I had seen in Giles books and on the computer. I took aim and launched the pellet.

It froze them where they stood, something we hadn't been able to accomplish while they were in Freeze's adapted form. I dodged around Nightwing and began to run at Mr. Freeze.

I don't like fighting these people. I don't understand their motives and thought patterns. With a vampire it's simple. They want blood. They find a body and suck it dry. Death is an extremely ishy and bad side effect. Not that I condone any of it but I understand it. With these people they all want something different. Some want to feel pain, others are trying to 'fix' something, some are in it for revenge and some are just in it for the chaos and don't have a pattern to their thoughts at all.

I get it, I just don't understand it and that's what makes it difficult. How do you effectively fight something if you don't understand it? In my experience, it isn't easy and it can get you injured or killed.

As if in illustration it's exactly how I managed to get myself frozen by Mr. Freeze at our first meeting, from the tips of my toes to my upper torso. It was so cold and I went numb quickly. I heard Nightwings warning but I was already reacting and I don't retreat so I kept going. Just as I prepared to launch myself at him was when I realised I was in range of his freeze-gun. They gathered around ice-block me and I watched, angered, as Mr. Freeze escaped, though felt some pride in knowing he escaped alone, without his hench-wenches.

"STOP! All of you. Batman, Mr Freeze is getting away. I don't need all of you here."

He got the hint and took Batgirl with him. Nightwing and Robin retrieved flares from their utility belts and used them to melt the ice around my feet so they could move me.

Robin spoke quickly to Oracle and within what seemed like a very short time, a vehicle arrived and a tall thin man all in black got out and opened the back. I realised it was Alfred.

Somehow they got me into the van and took me back to the cave, mostly frozen up to my chest as I was.

There they finished defrosting me before telling me to strip and get into the bath provided, which I did. Immersed in lovely warm water up to my chin I was interrupted by tapping at the door.

"Miss," Alfred called, "We need to be sure you don't have frostbite. I'm..."

"No man is coming through that door. Not you, not Batman, not even my dad!"

"I'm calling Leslie," I heard Dick say before footsteps moved away. I was alone for a time when another knock sounded. "Alfred," I said warningly.

"I prefer Barbara, she prefers Cassandra but if you insist I'm sure one of us can be Alfred," Babs said as she wheeled through the doorway, Cassandra following with a smile and a wave. "So you had a run-in with dear old Victor and now you're being a difficult patient. Sounds like typical Bat behaviour to me," she diagnosed. "We're here to check your extremities for frostbite and to check the rest of you for signs of hypothermia."

"Dick called us because Dr. Leslie was busy and you'd said no man..."

"I know what I said Cassandra. I could have checked myself..."

"Against company policy," Cass interrupted. She poked her tongue out in response to my own poked out tongue.

So my feet and hands were prodded, my breathing was checked and I was giving a preliminary all clear.

I dressed in the clothes I had arrived at the cave in hours ago and walked out into the cave proper. Bruce opened his mouth but I spoke first. "Spare me the lecture Bruce. I know I did bad and I don't need to be reminded. Babs, what have you got on Freeze? Can you get it ready for me to access from my laptop?"

"Sure, but be warned. It's a big file," she said wheeling over to the computer.

"No problems and thanks." I walked away.

Bruce followed me. "Buffy... This isn't a lecture. We didn't prepare you properly..."

"No Bruce. I didn't prepare *myself* properly. I could have had Oracle brief me. I could have asked any of you. You can't blame yourself any more than I can blame me. I know better than to go into a fight badly prepared."

"That was some smart thinking though."

"What was?" I sighed, stopping half way up the stairs to look at him.

"Kissing Dick to get their attention."

I blushed. "Rusalka react to sexual energy and I just assumed they would revert if..."

He chuckled. "I don't think I wanna know anymore."

"Probably a good idea," I smiled.

"Are you feeling better?"

"I'll be fine by morning. Just a bit wasted right now."

"Dick will take you to Dr. Thompkins tomorrow."

"I won't need..."

"Company policy," Tim said as he walked past.

I scowled at Bruce and trudged back down the stairs. "Fine, but now you've depressed me and I have to raid the kitchen for something chocolaty." Bruce led the way. "Thank you Alfred."

"For what Miss?"

"For saving my butt," I smiled.

"I only drove the van Miss."

"The van that brought me to where I could be defrosted. Just be gracious and say 'you're welcome'," I giggled.

"You're welcome Miss," he said putting a plate of chocolate chip cookies in front of me.

"You are the best Alfred. How do you know exactly what I want?"

"Years of practice," he said dryly.

"Years I am grateful for." I think I downed three cookies in one breath. "Hey there Robin the First. Did you have fun harassing Alfred?" I picked up the spotty bundle and nursed him in my lap.

"He's less trouble than the original Robin," Alfred said with a small, fond smile for the puppy.

"Hey, I resemble that innuendo," Dick said entering the kitchen smiling.

"Oh there you are Buffy," Willow exclaimed sliding on socked feet into the kitchen. "Oracle said you were... Oh hey everyone," she stopped suddenly.

"Yeah, I'm fine, and they all know where I was so it's ok."

"Oh good," she smiled, relieved.

"Well I'm done," I said. "Time to let the Slayer healing do its thing while I sleep. See you all in the morning."

Goodnights were exchanged and Willow, Robin the First and I slowly climbed the stairs to our rooms.

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