PART #: Part 9/12
ALL DISCLAIMERS etc in Part 1
Robin the First slept in my lap the entire journey to Gotham, which meant I had numb limbs when we landed and had to stomp around the plane a bit before I could actually walk well enough to be seen in public. As Bruce had expected, there were photographers waiting at the airport. This was a novel and unpleasant experience as we were hurriedly herded into the waiting car.
Alfred and I settled Willow in her room while Bruce and Dick checked for any 'business' that needed taking care of, and Tim called his dad wherever he was in the world.
In Willow's room I phoned Perry in Metropolis and asked him if there was anything I could do to make sure any photos taken today would not get published. He ordered me to leave it to him to take care of, and I have no doubt he will.
Then we checked for email. It took about five minutes to download all of Willow's email into her laptop. We checked for any messages for me.
"Yay! No new email for Buffy. That means little Robin and I can go and play outside," I smiled at the little sleeping spotty ball on the bed.
In Gotham less than twenty-four hours and disaster occurs. Does it follow me around or something? Why can't a puppy follow me home for once? Something harmless and cute... ok so that could be Dick...
"Just received a message from Oracle, Buffy. They need our help," Willow said.
So much for my holiday in Gotham. It's going to be work after all. I closed the door and walked back into the room. I took a seat beside her and waited for Oracle to continue.
"What are those?" I asked, pointing at an image on one quarter of the computer screen.
"We don't know what they are Buffy. Oracle has tried to match them and can't."
Giles looked up at my image from his seat in the shop in Sunnydale. He learned how to use this system fairly quickly despite his protests. "It almost looks like a Rusalka."
"A what?" Nightwing asked, his masked image shared the top half of the screen with Batman.
"A Russian water sprite. They use sexual energy to lure people to their deaths," Oracle said before Giles had even opened his mouth to speak, her image replacing the unidentified bogeyman of the week. "Just found them. But they don't seem to be quite the same do they Giles?"
From Gotham City I watched Giles as he pushed his glasses up his nose. "Uh... no. There could be any number of reasons they are different. My suggestion at this stage Batman is to try freezing them. That should contain them."
"Freeze of course," Batman said with the wonder of one who has suddenly made sense of a modern art painting. "Are these sprites malevolent?"
"More mischievous than malevolent but they can be extremely dangerous, and beguiling, even for you," Giles nodded to Batman's pixelated image.
"I saw that smirk Giles. Just be careful. All of you. They may not think Robin or Batgirl worth the effort so I would suggest giving them a major role."
"See you soon Buffy."
"Sure thing Nightwing." I tried not to giggle. All I had to do to join them was go downstairs.
"Batcave out." Nightwing and Batman disappeared.
"Oracle, what have you got for us?"
"Not much yet."
"I do," Willow said. "A scientist named Frieze ordered 15 litres of water from the Caspian Sea for comparison and experimental testing. He had it shipped to Gotham City a week ago."
"Where'd you find that?" Oracle asked, slightly jealous.
"I've had nearly five years of practice looking for obscure information exactly like this Oracle. I don't really know how I found it and if I did I'd probably be arrested for it, " Willow chuckled. "No offence but you're trained for criminal research..." Willow and Oracle began a quiet conversation as Giles bid us farewell to join Xander and Anya looking for a way to deal with the Rusalka, and I began to check the weapons in my bag.
My wristband buzzed and Batman's voice came through. "Buffy, be ready at ten o'clock for pick up."
"Uh... Ok Batman. I'd better go and grab some food from the kitchen and get ready... and stuff," I said to Willow who waved distractedly over her shoulder as I retreated from the room down the stairs to the caves. Alfred met me in the reception hall and followed me.
"There you are," Barbara said, looking at me from the BatComputer.
"Can you make sure Willow and the others in Sunnydale keep busy?"
"I don't think you have to worry about that. Hold on..." She muted her voice but left the screen open. I saw her speak quickly then return to me. "They're pretty busy. We have a surprise for you though."
"Miss?" Alfred said holding out some clothes to me. "Miss Barbara and I took the liberty."
I looked at him then at the redhead on the screen then at the offered clothing. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Probably. Go and put it on," she said excitedly.
I took the offered clothes and boots and followed Alfred's directions to the shower and change rooms in the cave. The costume fit perfectly, moulding like skin. I felt indecently under clothed. The black belt that accompanied the outfit sat on my hips, with space for a couple of stakes beside the little pouches I decided could hold small bottles of holy water or something more fun from Batman's chemistry lab. I took a moment to look in the mirror before emerging.
"*This* is how you accessorise a romper suit," Barbara said as Alfred handed me a leather holster of some sort.
"What is it?" I said looking at it from various angles.
"A leg holster for your crossbow. There's another for the bolts for it. Oh and I'd better take this opportunity to warn you about a man named Roy Harper. He's also known as the Titan Arsenal. He likes weapons, which explains the name, and anything in a skirt. He will take whatever you throw at him and he isn't exaggerating when he says no one has better aim than him. But I think you could give him a run for his money and he'll just take that as a challenge. If you beat him, he'll probably consider it foreplay."
"Miss Barbara!" Alfred exclaimed, humorously outraged.
"You know Roy."
He seemed to consider this for a moment before speaking. "She speaks the truth Miss Buffy. Roy has an infamous reputation but his daughter is a redeeming feature."
"He has a daughter?" I asked as I put the holster on.
"Her name is Lian. She's the daughter of Roy and a woman named Jade, also known as the assassin Cheshire. We don't talk about her but Roy has been good with Lian and she's a smart kid. She knows what's going on."
"Oh. Did I get this right?" I asked standing upright and looking at the giant amused green eyes.
Barbara grinned. "You certainly did. Don't forget the other one. I can't wait for Huntress to meet you." Her grin turned wicked.
Alfred handed me my crossbow, a gift from Bruce after he accidentally broke mine in Metropolis. "Huntress?" I asked curiously.
Any reply was cut off by Batman's return. He stepped out of the car and just stared at me. "Did I do bad?"
He smiled. Batman smiled! I was scared.
"Welcome to the family," he said quietly, though his voice seemed to rumble through the caves.
"I'm going with Nightstalker at the moment. It was either that or Slayer Lass..." I shrugged trying not to giggle hysterically. Batman nodded his approval.
"Are you gonna wear a mask? I honestly don't think you'll need one. In that outfit no one will be looking at your face," Robin chuckled. Trust the teenage boy to check me out.
Nightwings motorcycle pulled into the cave alongside the Batmobile. When he saw me he tried to take his helmet off quickly and get off his 'cycle at the same time. He succeeded in stumbling off the bike and dropping the helmet on the ground. "That's a... Wow!
"Let's find something for the utility belt..." Batman offered, shaking his head good-naturedly at Nightwing's behaviour.
"Cool!" Chemistry lab. I 'ooh'd and 'ahh'd over a few of the bits and pieces I knew and a few I didn't but that looked impressive.
"Hold out your hands," Batman ordered and I was a good girl and obeyed. A few marble like balls were placed in my hands, then some sort of pellet-y type things. "Those explode on impact making a bright flash and smoke. Can be used as a diversion," he said pointing at the marble things. "Those also explode on impact. Smoke and tear gas."
"Ooo," I crooned. He gave me some other bits and pieces before picking up one of the line grapple hook firing thingy's. I'll be damned before I know the technical name. Suffice to say I was given a couple and a couple of manual lines. I arranged the things into pouches and onto hooks on the belt. "Ta daaaaaaaaaa!" I said, striking a pose in front of the computer to show Babs.
She laughed and said, "Lovely. See, I told you we knew how to accessorise a romper suit."
I chuckled. "Ready now... except I don't know how I'm travelling," I said to Batman.
"I can take you in the Redbird," Robin suggested.
"Or she could ride with me," Nightwing suggested.
And that was how I found myself hurtling toward the last known location of the mutated Rusalka. It was cold and the wind whipping past at a speed I don't think I want to know does not help me warm up.
Babs repeated the name of the last place the Rusalka were seen and the direction they had left in. Batman, Robin and Batgirl followed the direction they had gone, Nightwing and I went were they had been, looking for clues or whatever.
This outfit just feels weird. I'm basically hunting right? So why am I wearing spandex and a mask?
We climbed to the roof of The 8 Ball, a pool hall in Gotham's seedy sister city called Bludhaven, and entered the establishment through a skylight. I don't know why we couldn't just knock on the door and demand entrance.