by Chicago

Interlude 2: Calling the Office

A low alarm sounded in the Batcave, drawing Batman's attention to the computer. He glanced at the timer which had frozen when the alarm went off and let his face assume a grimly satisfied smile for a split second. Twenty-seven hours, thirteen minutes and fifty-six seconds between log-ins.

The computer had automatically begun the rerouting sequence that brought the Oracle icon onto the giant screen, diverting her efforts to do any work. Batman sobered his expression as Barbara's smiling face replaced the Oracle mask.

"I might have figured you'd still be up," she remarked, sounding less peeved than she had last night when he'd kicked her off line.

"You're on vacation," he said pointedly.

"C'mon, Batman. Can't a girl call her best friend?"

Batman cocked his head slightly, a subtle gesture which brought gales of laughter from Barbara.

"I meant Dinah, but I guess you could be my friend, too," she teased.

Beneath his mask, Bruce Wayne's heart was smiling at the lightness of her tone. Outwardly, the Batman remained a picture of stoic reserve. "Dinah is on a mission," he reported, prepared for her outraged complaint.

"Oh, really, now?" Barbara asked. "You send her?" Her tone was suggestive.

Batman pretended not to notice. "Yes."

There was a moment's pause.

"You always were a great conversationalist," Barbara finally commented.

He remained silent, and she studied him speculatively over their video link.

"Thanks, by the way."

"For what?" Batman asked.

"This vacation idea. You were right."

Batman inclined his head slightly in acknowledgment.

"Did you send him?"

The question was unexpected. "I beg your pardon?"

"J'onn. Did you send him?"

"Barbara," he rumbled, "I don't have the authority to send J'onn anywhere."

"Fine. Did you set us up?"

"Barbara, if you are doing JLA business-"

"Never mind," she said, her tone simultaneously annoyed and amused. "He's been good company anyway. So you're really not going to let me call anyone, are you?"

"You're on vacation," Batman repeated.

Barbara sighed and shook her head, but it seemed nothing would erase her smile. "Fine. I'm on vacation. But I'll be back in Gotham tomorrow night, and I'm wresting all my controls back, thank you."

Batman again nodded, and at a gesture, Barbara's face winked off the screen. Batman leaned back in his chair and stared at the blank screen. "No," he said, "I didn't send him. But I knew he'd be in Denver. And I knew he'd find you."

He sat for another speculative moment, then straightened up decisively and tapped a few commands into the computer. As the music of Miles Davis filled the Cave, a faint smile graced his face, and Bruce Wayne returned to his work.

Continue To Chapter Five

Back To The Main Story Page