Dibney: If you were to ask most costumed heroes in today’s society if they would pick Batman or Nightwing, as a possible mantle to wear? Nine and nine tenths of them would say Batman. The Cowl is a Legend, regardless of how you slice it. In Gotham it’s known as a sometime Hero, sometime Vigilante. Half-Vampire Immortal Demon. Half Sherlock Holmes, Super Genius James Bond. Out in the world Batman is known on two fronts; He helped save the world from Paralax, and he helped save the world from Alien Invasion. He’s also known for causing Gotham to fall in to despotic criminal No Man’s Land, which it has only recently recovered. All of which translates simply in to Batman being the biggest known, unknown in the Meta-Community.
Making Batman something other than the ideal candidate for tagging along on this particular mission. Not so much a mission as it is a meeting, in fact. The sign on the door window says ‘Brave and Bold Detective Agency.’ The under-lable is that of Ralph Dibny and a second name that has recently been removed. To get there Black Canary and Nightwing had to come in through the front door. Why? Because the windows to this particular office have been triple bolted with security grating. Oh and there’s no fire-escape. Plus the roof access door has boards over it. On the outside and the inside. Even when breaking those, it would seem someone has piled so much stuff in the stairwell that you’d have to unpack it for a full day to make use of the stairs. Largely the whole building is nothing short of a massive fire hazard in waiting. You basically have no choice but to come in through the front door.
And then …. walk up the four flights of stairs to get to the ‘Detective Agency.’ Because the elevator hasn’t worked since before Dinah was even alive. One might wonder how this is indicative of getting business, but just as the costumed visitors near the door? It opens in a whoosh and slams with the force needed to break the window pane with the names on it. A woman with legs as long as Dinah’s strolls out, hand to her eyes, uncorking alligator tears that only look half as bad as the heaving cry escaping overly red lips. It’s only the sound of ‘…does that mean the check’s in the mail, Ma’am?’ That really cuts through the whole demonstration.
Of course one need not be particularly observant then to see the man blinking back at the two Costumed people in the hallway. Toothpick on his lips, tie mostly undone, with hair that saw a comb yesterday but not today. He’d be attractive, by any standards, if he didn’t look like he lived in the office they’re peering through a window at. Between the chiseled jawline and the piercing eyes, he’s a looker by just about any standard. Albeit a little run down.
The inner sanctum of this particular detective? Nothing like the one who accompanied Dinah in the first place. There’s not a computer in sight. The television in one corner of the office was also born before Dinah. The room has this odd combo-scent of cigarette, scotch, and bubblegum. Bubblicious Bubble Gum at that. With a hint of three day old popcorn. There’s a desk set right in the middle of the office, but it’s got stacks of files (all paper) higher than the horns on Batman’s cowl. A table to the left, with boxes of left-over pizza that is stacked in a progressive assortment of ‘Last Month’ to ‘Last Night.’ A couch over to the right, that’s got a visible impression of being well worn and if the pillow/sheet combo is any indication it has earned that reputation.
Dibny himself is busy clearing off the second of two chairs that were in front of the desk. He spares about three whole seconds on Dinah’s legs before carefully putting the pile in his hands back in to the chair. “Look. I studied that file long enough to know those fishnets anywhere. You look like a smart Dame, so lets skip the whole sweet-talking, scotch-drinking, fun night on the couch while Cuckwing cries in his Wheaties as you try to get intel out of me. The answer to your question, all of your questions, is ‘Classified.'”
Dinah: Let the record show, for judge, jury and the kids keeping score back at home: I’m still mad at Dick, but anyone who doesn’t think I can stuff down emotions when they’re inconvenient to what I want doesn’t know Dinah Lance very well. Queen of Emotional Constipation is I believe what I was called by someone once. I think they meant it as a bad thing, but that’s a badge I’ll proudly wear basically any day of the week. My only real debate was if Grayson sticking around after our Fun Time in my room was because he wasn’t 100% sure his tactics had worked and wanted to make very, very certain, or if he’s trying to make it up to me. Honestly, my money’s on the former because I think it’s pretty well established that I like to do the ‘alone’ thing. Truth is, it’s never as simple as either, and since he’s here I’m damn sure going to use him. He seemed pretty upset that I wasn’t before, after all.
“Golly. I guess it’s a good thing that wasn’t the play I made. Looks like someone beat me to it.”
It’d be hard to have done much more to rip this place out of some Noir novella, and the inconsolable damsel whose distress assumedly hasn’t been assuaged fits right on in. It’s a trick that only really works for those that don’t actually know me, even if I’m not entirely faking the act. Make that twice in the last day that going without playing pretend was the choice I’d made. Sure, I could have lied to Deathstroke, tried to trick him, what would have been the point? Those are the kind of cards that you save for emergencies, and some impassioned explanation of why I thought this second side trip to track down Dibney had done the trick. Better than expected, actually.
This old school trash heap is pretty much right up my alley. No, really, it’s more or less what my place would probably look like, sans the smoke because that’s never been my vice, if I didn’t have an OCD roommate. Right down the low grade, but still effective against casual and not so casual intruders, security methods. Ten bucks says someone’s gotten the drop on him already and he doesn’t want it happening again, so all visitors are funneled in the way Dick and I had to arrive.
“What, these fishnets? You must be mistaken. These are new. Some kind of fancy filament to keep me from having to replace them every night.”
Among other things, step the rest of the way through the door that I’d pulled open, not skirting the shattered glass because it’s not going to puncture the soles of my boots, and I’m not sneaking up on anyone just now.
“So what I’m hearing is you’re not interested in easy way. That’s too bad. Expecting some other company, Ralph? Can I call you Ralph?”
Because if he’s clearing a second chair because he saw two of us coming up, he also already saw who was coming up, or at least that it was a pair of costumes.
Dibney: “Sweetheart, with you types there is no easy way and it’s not the nets that’re important, it’s the legs that wear ’em.”
Behind her is the former Boy Wonder. He’s in all his particular glory, looking like a svelte half-ninja half-adrenaline junkie. That’s who the second seat was going to be for. Right up until he saw the pair of them through the window. Something about the sight of them contrasted with whatever he’d seen or heard that tipped him off to their arrival. Apparently, he’d come to the conclusion that this might not be a social call. Go figure. Tipping his hand might seem suspicious, but it doesn’t seem at all like he cares one bit to play along with it.
“What? Nah. That Broad was just a client. Ex-client. Hired me t’ find her Husband. Didn’t like where I found ’em.” A moment is spared to glance over at the top folder, still laying open, on that mountain of other folders that covers the actual desk. “Ya do a good job in this City and all ya get is grief. That one? She ain’t payin the bill. Gonna spend the next couple years blamin’ the Detective for her Husband’s …inadequacies, instead of blaming the husband.”
“Got me a couple o’ those fancy filaments too. Stops me from havin t’ wear rubber suits. Alright, Doll. Can I call you Doll? Enough chit-chat. You an the Boy payin by the hour or want me t’ bill you lump sum? Lump requires a retainer…” Would you believe that the man they came here to see actually takes a step away from his pile of abused folders to start rolling up his sleeves? He’s starting to loosen up the tie when his eyes cut to Nightwing again. “…chargin double, if junior’s in. Not normally in on the funny stuff, but… like I said, read ya file.”
Dinah: “That’s pretty subjective, yeah? Some folks like a challenge. Maybe it’s a rare day where I’m in a great mood…”
I can’t really argue. I mean. I can, and I will, but he’s not without a salient point right there. After all, I carried on just fine for a long time with regular old fishnets, and made a whole lot of trouble for the people who opposed me without any tech to speak of at all. This situation could be read a number of ways, and I usually do read them a number of ways just to be prepared. Preparation is what lets you eke an edge out on someone you otherwise shouldn’t be able to beat. He doesn’t need that second chair anymore, and so clearly isn’t going to be inviting us to sit down now. Either someone else is coming or he was expecting us, and that means either he saw us come in, in which case he wouldn’t have bothered, or someone told him we were coming. There’s any number of little ‘birds’ that someone could blame for that, and sometimes? The simplest, most obvious answer is actually your answer.
“Anything except blaming yourself, right? People these days.”
The side-eye that Nightwing’s getting right now is a lot more about heading off a comment from the peanut gallery rather than any kind of nod towards this particular situation. I can’t help but wonder if those filaments of his are new, and if they’d come part in parcel with whatever his payment was for his stint as Oliver Queen. Maybe he’s still working for them, because I don’t think you ever get to really stop, and the whole building reads like someone who’s not exactly cool with his particular boogey men creeping up on him again.
“Whatever floats your boat, stretch. Oooh, there’s a retainer option? I’m going to need some more details on that before I make a decision.”
Tapping a black polished forefinger against my lips, blonde head’s cocked to the side in consideration. I do find it somewhat hilarious that he’s referring to the Boy in repeated diminutive terms, when The Boy is older than me but I have to assume he’s just trying to get a rise.
“I’m kind of particular, and there’s some qualities I get kind of picky about. Like doing what I say, with or without restraints and debateably excessive force, open honesty and trust in compromising situations… like ya said. You read my file.”
Dibney: “Yeah, no. With a side of nooooo. You, the royal you that encompasses all of you Gotham types, haven’t had a great day in a long time. Like maybe the day before birth, but probably not even then. Add that to your time in Star City and you ain’t seen the right side of a good day, much less a great day, maybe ever.”
Sleeves rolled up. Dibny is ready for a good hard days work. The only thing missing is… “It’s America. We only blame ourselves, if there’s a benefit to it. And then we deny that we ever did it, as soon as we’re suckin up the dividends.”
“Floats. My. Eh. Boat? Egads, was that an plastic man joke? Because if that’s the level of banter I can expect from you, I’m going to have to have a serious talk about the people who keep Nowhere’s personality profiles. You got like full marks for witty reparte. A plastic man joke is just phoning it in, Lady. Patrick can’t carry my shorties. That’s like comparing Boy Blunder back there to Bats. Sure he’s got all the tools, but he thinks too small. It’s like comparing Mozart to Post Malone.”
It’s pretty easy to see that the digs at Nightwing are having an effect. ‘Easy’ to a life-long detective, that’s been doing this whole thing as long as Black Canary’s namesake. He has tells, like anyone else. They’re just disguised behind moving out of a direct line of fire that would stop him from attacking, if anything happens. Attacking. If that’s what Nightwing is thinking about then it means those jabs are having an impact. Which means he thinks there’s a chance that some comment, something that Dibney says is going to cause the fight. Nightwing’s stance suggests it is inevitable, so Dibney’s response is to assume a more defensive posture. Dinah’s seen it before. After all it looks a lot like a certain old school Boxer’s posture.
“Excessive Force and Restraints? Sounds like my second marriage. Maybe the third. Tell you what. You can hum a few bars and I’ll fake it. But you’re paying the mortgage and keepin the lost puppy in the divorce. Deal?”
Dinah: “I did visit Metropolis a couple weeks back. That’s gotta count for at least part of a glimpse at one. You know. Enough to actually know what I’m missing, instead of the deluded Stockholm Syndrome.”
I can’t even take credit for the last bit. It’s Tim’s foundling’s favorite thing to say about Gotham City, or at least about the Narrows though I have to imagine she means the whole thing. We had half a conversation about her plans to GTFO as quickly as she could, and by that I mean I decided we weren’t working hard enough if she had time to tell me about stuff I really wasn’t actually asking her about. It may have been fairly effective, but I think maybe I might owe her a Dinah Lance version of an apology at some point down the line, because while I’m definitely a hard ass, there’s a few sessions in hindsight that I maybe took a little too hard. For reasons I don’t actually want to do the mental gymnastics to examine just now.
“Ooh, little sensitive about something? Because jabs at a nom de plume is kind of beneath me.” It had actually been meant as a saying but hey, if he’s going to own it and keep feeding me tidbits more power to him. And I haven’t used Nightwing’s name like an insult once. Today. Yet. So it’s not even a lie. Also, the irony. Guess that means they really don’t know who’s under the cowl, or at least that Ralph isn’t high enough on the totem pole to get updates like that. “…now you’re just talking gibberish and I can only work with what you give me here.”
Who the hell is Post Malone? None of what he’s saying is phasing me, I actually have pushed my hands into the pockets of my leather jacket, which are nice and satin and comfy, thank you Red Robin. I don’t need to look over my shoulder to be aware that Dick’s moving, or to feel the tension shift. It’s just one of those things that you either can do, or learn to do, in a fight. I don’t act like I’ve actually noticed until Dibney’s going a step further into readiness prep, then there’s an exaggerated look from him, to Nightwing, and then back.
“Are you trying to Wildcat me? Your leading foot it way too far forward. Also lacks a little bit of the Drunk, Yes or No? Mystique. How did anyone not notice that was you in Star City?”
Because no one that really knew Oliver was there to spot the fake? Oh, wait. I’m not one of those self-blaming martyr types. I’m more has to be made to eat crow, and then pretends like she wanted it all along girls. Do I want to follow suit and start prepping for an assault? Oh, sure. I’ve been robbed of good targets to vent my spleen on left and right, lately. But we kick this guy’s ass and then what? He still doesn’t give me what I want, we give NOWHERE one more black mark to wave under their ‘just cause’ flag, and I’m still not any closer to putting things right.
“You really trade in one unappreciative client that dumps you for a city full of them that don’t even pay? My files made me think I was dealing with someone smarter than that, but clearly your people and my people need to have an accurate information swap.”
Dibney: “They don’t really call it Stockholms, when it’s the whole city. That’s a pandemic. At that point they just call it buggered too all fookin shiz. English term, I don’t claim it really.”
If there’s one thing Dibs doesn’t respond to? The one about his fighting stance is it. Nothing. Not even a smirk. Nothing at all like the running jokes on Plastic Man or the diatribe on the Bat-people. That goes to speak to whether or not his fighting style means anything to him. Alternatively, she’s wrong about it and he’s poker facing her. Either way Dibs is on to the thing she said that did bother him.
“I’ve been Ollie so many times over the years, that most of his girlfriends couldn’t tell the difference. I remember this one down on her luck, freshly kicked out of Gotham, blonde dame. Let me tell you. The only thing worse than her down trodden daddy issues, was her over-inflated sense of self-importance that was directly in defiance of her complete lack of self worth. That one. Threw herself at anything that looked her direction and drank herself in to a pity party about it to save you the need to kicking her out of Olliver’s bed.”
Is that a sweet smile? You betcha. Dibs told her that he could banter all she wanted. He can also rise to or play down to the line of chatter. This? Just like her, is simple and straight forward. A shot across the bow. “Just because that was a little low, even for me, I’m gonna do you a favor and tell you one thing.”
“Wildcat learned Rope-a-Dope from Muhammed Ali. Which… is what I’m doing. You’ve got about a minute, maybe two, before they’re here and by my math? You’re going to need at least five, to even tickle me proper. Leaving you at least fifteen short of even getting me to tell you my name, rank and serial number. And you haven’t even asked the first good question.”
“I hate doing the whole Clint Eastwood thing, but.. yeesh.. your generation sucks. Fuckin Millenials.”
Dinah: “Maybe you should. Probably not anyone to contradict you here.”
I’m being downright cheerful. Sunny even, in direct contrast to the way the rest of my week’s been going. Or maybe in spite of. But maybe that’s got something to do with the oddly reassuring feel of the no longer cool metal recording device in that jacket pocket along with my balled fists. Bingo. Thanks again to Tim for making it just bulky enough to be protective, and deceptive. I’ve got a short fuse, as Dick got to see yesterday but already fully well knew about, and that’s why he’s probably still surprised his nose isn’t broken. I’ve made a relatively long career, and reputation, for speaking my feelings with blunt force. But you know what I’m even better at, and even more dogged about? Not giving someone the satisfaction of my emotions, good or bad, if I don’t want them to have them. And I don’t want this motherfucker to have them.
So of all the possible reactions that both of them are expecting to explode out of me, in this all too casual and relaxed posture that I’m in, an eye roll so dramatic that it lolls my head back on my shoulders for a moment with a groan that I’ve been told by Spoiler indicates ‘can’t even’ levels of annoyance or disbelief, is probably not close to one of them.
“Okay Boomer, don’t flatter yourself.”
Even if it would probably have gotten someone punched another day, depending on how well they knew me, but a heated response? Proof. Also, I’ve never had to throw myself at anything with legs in literally my entire life. Blue eyes settle down from out of my skull in time to pull my gaze back onto Dibney.
“Oh, please. That, while maybe Wednesday evenings kind of fun, wouldn’t have been worth the effort. I was kind of curious if you’d take the chance of doing what you actually loved again, but… never made it to the table, did it? Mysteries for another time. But thanks sweetheart. You’ve been a real peach.”
The toss of my blonde head oozes dismissive/you’re not worth my time, and I strut a thousand times better than the last woman through that door. With better legs.
“Don’t need good questions when the other guy can’t help himself.”
Dibney: “Dollface, I didn’t dump the city for a client that doesn’t pay. Queen pays better than anyone I know. Especially now.”
Is that it? Dibny is left puzzling over what has been said and how Dinah would have garnered anything about what was said in all of that. Dinah is making an exit, which leaves only Nightwing and Ralph Dibny looking at one another for a couple small moments. It ends when Dick shakes his head and turns to follow the Blonde out. He’s about to clear the doorway when Dibny speaks out…
“Hrm. It was the jab about being someone in Star City wasn’t it? But neither of us said who I was or wasn’t in Star City. She got nothing.”
Nightwing barely rolls his shoulders in a shrug at the Elongated Man behind him as he files out. “She wasn’t here for a confession for the courts, Ralph. Just confirmation. She’ll be back for that confession later.”
If Ralph Dibny has anything else to say? Neither Canary or Nightwing are going to hear it. They have started to trek down the stairs to the lobby and then the door to the sidewalk. It’s about there that the two of them will hear, more so than see, the line of black sedans that pull up out front. Agents of the Federal persuasion file out of the vehicles with a sense of dramatic purpose like an episode of the X-Files. It might be impressive, even intimidating, if not for it all being outdone by the woman who steps out of the lead car. Prompting a low whistle from Dick Grayson.
“… holy swizzle sticks Canary, I thought that SUV was a low-rider…” But no, it wasn’t. It was merely the vehicle that Agent Nowhere was being driven to the scene in. It doesn’t take a detective of Grayson’s calibre to deduce the sheer body masse that would be required to drop the suspension like that. “You take guy to all the best place. A little wine, some music, touch of dancing… with a side of hulked out super soldier. Covered all the basics. This might get you to second base, if you know… we don’t end up in a blacksite prison…”
Dinah: The way out is, while the same as it had been on the way in, taken with a fair bit more speed to it. If he knew we were coming, and is clearly still on the payroll, it’d be idiocy to think that he’s the only one who knew that, and while I’d like to put it up for debate in most circumstances whether or not we’d done anything today to get us into trouble? Don’t think anyone else is going to be doing a whole lot of listening. NOWHERE’s very much a questions later or not at all sort of crew.
God. I really want to punch someone. It’s been days since I punched anyone.
“Man. You know you’ve arrived when they send this amount of overkill for a humble vigilante and a piece of ass.”
There’s a pause, before I continue talking out of the side of my mouth. Dramatic effect, or because I was doing some mental counts, and dramatically lowering the statistical probability of bailing out of this without having to resort to violence. Which would be fine on most days but…
“Second one’s you, by the way. I don’t remember you complaining this much. And to be fair, we were headed for one anyway, so maybe they’re just doing us a favor by providing the transport.”
Shit shit shit.
“Unless you’ve got some magic in all that spandex though, I guess this is our cue to try to find.. or make… a back door. You’re probably too pretty for prison.”
Dick: “Arrived? Batman got the entire Suicide Squad. This is like three black sedans and a freak from GLOW. I’d call this a Bollywood arrival, tops.”
Both of us can do the Math here pretty easily, but where she’s trying to ascertain the odds of us escaping without violence I’m working on the angles of attack. That’s the difference between us in a nutshell in this particular moment. Not always, but definitely right now. On your average day, I’d call it a victory to talk our way out of something and she’d be the one to kick your teeth in first and ask questions afterward. It’s the opposite right now. All of which is born from our Agenda at the moment. Canary wants to get out of town with what she’s gotten. I’ve got more reasons than that, at stake here.
“That’s because you’re mentally blocking out the tidy green-whitey days to save yourself from the undeniable hotness of this ass in those shorts. Alternatively the trauma of those memories. Because I complain. A lot. About. Everything.” Batman doesn’t Complain, but oh-you-bet-your-buckies, I’m going to let you know all about the situation. “Don’t you think for one moment that I missed the fact that I was going in to situations like these with a whole lot of Yellow, Red and Green in my costume. While my partner was a silent, shadow seeking ninja. I was modern day clickbait. The distraction.”
“I was your legs. With a better ass. While Batman was the rest of you.”
“By the way. Mostly the reason I talk so much, is because it stops the bad guys from monologuing. God that’s obnoxious.”
NOWHERE: Oddly there isn’t much of that going on. The people logging out of the transports are all wearing suits, but it’s doubtful that Nightwing or Canary mistake them for anything but what they are. The only difference between Gotham Goons and these guys? They all have badges and are legalized deputies of an actual Law Enforcement Agency.
While your average Gotham Baddie would be right now speaking some vague threat, these guys aren’t even doing the casual law enforcement proclamation of ‘Come out with your Hands Up.’ To make matters even worse, once Dick’s stopped talking he points Canary to the rooftop where actual S.W.A.T. type sharpshooters are repelling from Helicopters to take up crossfire positions.
Agent Nowhere doesn’t even do them the courtesy of letting them work it out. She’s just stalking right toward Ralph Dibny’s building, as if she knows the only exit of use if the front door. Her version of ‘Come out with your hands up?’ is….
“We doing this the easy way or the hard way?”
Dinah: “Little bit before my time, old man. Also I’m sticking a pin in that Batman is All of Us thing for later discussion.”
By the time I got brought into the Cave, Dick had gotten too big for his britches, or hot pants in this case, and Bruce was on to the next Robin that I tormented like only an overly confident teenage girl can. Doesn’t mean I don’t know though. After all, it hadn’t taken a whole lot of alterations to make my Sexy Robin Halloween costume last year. As for the odds? Yeah, they’re basically zero from what I know about our new dance partner, and that’s before you factor in the rest of these shmucks who only have to wait for an opportune angle to pick us off. If I were going at this solo, my approach would be a whole hell of a lot different. It’s a whole lot easier to get a whole lot more ballsy when it’s only you with the repercussions and a nothing to lose attitude. I had this whole plan to do things differently, to try to at least go about it from sort of of sneaky high ground.
“What’s obnoxious is that she actually asked that question.”
Our only choice on the way in was the front door, but that’s when we were trying to come in sly and subtle. That ship’s sailed. Hard way gives us a lot more options, like making our own new doors. After that conversation with Dibney I won’t even feel a little bit bad about it either.
“Admittedly used to working with a different partner here, so forgive a gal some assumptions but maybe you oughta point me at either a good punch spot for a sewer exit or the least likely wall to bring the building down on our heads. Her head’s fine. Our hair’s too good, though.”
I know fully well there’s some great sewer systems. Isn’t my first time in Star City, after all. Whether there’s one here, under this particular building is another story.
Dick: “Before your time? Like I didn’t see your Bedroom walls, with the Hotpants all over them, when we did Recon on you, before you got adopted. You’re what Spoiler calls ‘Dorbs’ right now. Totally dorbs. She actually says that. When you’re not looking.”
Me? In the span of a couple heart beats, during which the monster woman has approached us and asked that soul-crushing question ( Maybe topping all the worst monologues ever. Not to mention one-upping Dinah’s to Dibny, all at once. ) I’ve gone from playfully bantering to looking at Dinah like she’s grown a third eye.
“Why. In the Hell. Would I know where a sewer exi… did you just… holyshit… did you just …” Yeah. I’m actually ignoring the predicament we’re in for one very hot minute. Because. “You just assumed because one Robin is an anal retentive, overly educated, paranoid, hyper-intelligence, plan-upon-plan-upon-plan freak, that we’re all like that. All Robins are -NOT- created equal. We each have our own unique traits. We bring something different to the table. That was extremely presumptuous of you. You’re a Robinist. That’s what you are you. Just put us all in a box and stick us in the corner. Well, Nightwing doesn’t go in to a corner, Canary. No one puts Nightwing in a Corner. No one.”
“Also. Sewer Access is always nearest the mainline, which would run from that door over there. Marked ‘Restroom’. Shutit. Not one goddamn word.”
NOWHERE: Agent Nowhere jerks a thumb over her shoulder at the door behind her. “You two clowns think I brought air support, but now sewer support? I don’t normally do this, but you’re clearly special. Speshul. So, let’s try this again. If you come peacefully there’s donuts, if not.. there’s still donuts. Just the kind you get through a straw.”
Canary: “It’s probably totes dorbs…aaaand I’m going to punch her even harder than usual when we get back…”
Because I fully believe that it is, in fact, a thing she says and it’s going to be something that must be done on principal if nothing else. There’s creative with the English language and then there’s just outright butchering it. Even worse is that it stuck enough for me to just automatically, in bantering and can’t help it mode, do it myself.
In any other moment, or situation, I’d be smirking my smuggest, most self-satisfied expression as Nightwing doth protest too much. Robins might all have different particular strengths, but they’re all Bruce Wayne’s freaking kids. And if they didn’t have all those proclivities beforehand they got drilled into them. They also all have Alfred in their ears. I may not use the tech, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a vague idea about how it works, mostly thanks to the repeated, frustrated conversations where someone tried to get me to utilize the stuff. Tim is definitely the MOST of all those particular…qualities… Dick’s just rattled off but eventually his rant gets to where we’re headed and I’m not kidding anyone. I was smirking despite the situation.
“Well, gosh, now I kind of want to have made someone trounce through shit for nothing. And donuts.”
Smirk’s a lot more questioning eyebrow now, I may not be telegraphing quite so hard as Dibney and his fucking rope-a-dope (which was also not right either), but my seemingly relaxed posture is me an instant away from motion. I assume he’s got reads on at least some, if maybe not all the anal retentive sources, and a vague idea of if we’re angling at snowball’s chance, or none, and what he’s willing to go in for here. I hadn’t really been kidding about the headed for the blacksite anyway comment. That’s not a choice I want to make for Dick, though.
Dick: “It’s so totes dorbs that it hurts me on the inside right now,” shooting a glance from Dinah to the tall woman with the dour attitude. “I’m not sure what bothers me most right now, BC. The fact that she’s being so smug about this or that you are.”
So this is what the feels like. Man, I’m heard that phrase before but it really hits home when you’re the one standing in front of what seems like an impossible situation. With a very imposing figure doling out your choices for life expectancy standing about ten feet in front of you. As we’ve covered before, I’m not Bruce, so I’ve never been the biggest bat in the room but I’m normally the one people are running from. Not the other way around.
It’s a good thing, though, that Dinah brought me along. (Like she had a choice.) Because while I’m not the most technological advanced Robin, I do have some skill to be brought to the table. Which includes a lifetime spent next to Bruce in compromising situations, by every who’s who of villains Gotham City had to offer. Each one thinking they had the drop on us and each one thinking they had all the bases covered. None of which succeeded, because we were always a step ahead. As luck would have it? We’re nearly three steps ahead here.
Dinah and I were about to leave, peacefully at that, when all these folks showed up. I was only marginally behind her when Agent Nowhere showed up and in the time she’s spent making her offer, with us bantering for time, I’ve closed that gap. For once the touch of my hand going to the small of Canary’s back is not some sort of flirting effect. It’s to guide her, when she too finds herself unable to see because I’d dropped a couple smoke pellets at our feet. She doesn’t wear the tech, she won’t hear Alfred’s directions in her ear, so she’s got to be directed a different way. Staying close also means less opportunity for life fire to hit us if they open fire.
The moment that the smoke fills the immediate space around us, I’m taking Canary -back- the way we came. Not to the sewers, not to the roof. Back towards Dibny’s office. For what it’s worth, Ralph Dibny is not hiding. He’s standing at the window watching the proceedings with a nervous sort of appraisal. Unlike when we were here seconds ago, he’s broke out a cigarette to calm his nerves. Which does a whole lot of nothing for him, once we come bouncing back in to that beat up office of his.
“It was a setup from the star. There’s no way out.”
“God you’re an idiot, I can’t even be bothered to waste some of my good material on you.” I don’t need to face Dinah to talk to her, nor do I need to see her face to tell that she’s going hate this idea. She will however appreciate me bouncing a escrima stick off of Dibny’s face. Even if she doesn’t know why I’ve done it, until she sees where the cigarette from his lips falls. In to that big stack of flammable paper he’d been shuffling around. “You’ve been working on leaping tall buildings with those vocal chords of your’s? Out the window. Don’t look back.”
“Step one: Blow the window. Step two: Sonic flight at least a two block distance from the scene, then escape on foot. You’re sporting the new suit from Tim, so it’ll mask your meta-signature once you’re not using it anymore. Step three: Get to your bike and get out of here.”
“Oooh, that look says you’re not used to being saved. If it makes it any better for you? This is going to hurt Dibny a lot more than it’s going to hurt me,” which she can probably guess why, as I’ve barely even recovered my baton, before I’m scooping up Detective Dibny to throw him over my shoulder. “Villain 1 oh 1. They think they’re the Heroes of this story. So we’ve got to make our capture the lesser of potential outcomes.”
Unconcious Dibny isn’t holding himself quite together, so I’m more.. Gathering him up, than anything and putting him partially through the broke window of that door. This is taking time and in that time the people on the outside of this building are looking for shots. So I’m avoiding the external windows, but I’m using that little bit of time we have to position Dibny between Agent Nowhere and us. All the while that cigarette is starting to catch on fire.
“She’ll save him. The ones outside we can avoid or deal with. Stop looking at me like that. You have to learn how criminals think to bring them down, BC. Adapt. Overcome. Out the window, right now. Go faster than a speeding bullet. I’m right behind you, but the first shots are going to be aimed at you.”
Dinah: “I’m sure it’s hard not being the biggest ego in the room. Actually, I wouldn’t know…”
Does the sudden cloaking of the building’s dubious lobby take me by surprise? No, if anything I keep to myself the stray thought of ‘yeesh, what took you so long?’ Probably waiting for something else to fall into place, so that the domino could tick over at just the right moment to bring us cascading to the best possible result. Look, I’m a mouthy, arrogant bitch a lot of the time but I’m also observant. In another life, much like Dibs up there, maybe I could have actually made a living out of the whole detective thing. Maybe if I’d gotten my start anywhere but Gotham I would have. My maneuvering is usually reserved for a physical fight, and the scenery surrounding it. I don’t have to Big Picture it if I’ve got a Bat with me. He’d asked why I didn’t trust him, and even if that was at least partially a baited ruse and not actual concern, this is my own personal. Private testament to the fact that I do.
All I needed was the cue.
I almost miss the best part in all of this, due to the epic eye roll that I’ve done in response to Ralph. Who is literally standing next to a way out. No kidding it’s a setup, the real question is which of the potentials can we really point fingers at for setting it up in the first place. Or who didn’t mind talking about it where a big blue bird could hear them doing it. Fortunately for me, I have really great reflexes and situational awareness so the motion of that baton being launched by Nightwing was more than enough to draw my eye just where it needed to be.
No. I’m not used to being saved. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes at the other man this time, as I round the desk and square up to the window. There’s no alarm over the fire, I mean, that seems like karmic justice just a little bit to me. Also maybe this is why Tim gets after me about the clutter at my place, or would if any got to accumulate anymore. Even I had nothing on Ralph Dibney though, I hadn’t been in a place long enough to let it get like this. It takes very little effort to take out the glass, and surrounding pane. Without, I might add, demolishing any of the rest of the wall because I’m good like that. Though the place is about to be engulfed in flames so maybe it didn’t really matter, but there’s a single short screech of concussive force.
“Gosh, it’s almost like you’ve spent your entire life figuring this stuff out…”
The urge to save my ass may override the need to argue with him, but it doesn’t at all stop a healthy dose of sass. If that’s missing, it’s when you know the shit has really, truly hit the fan. I wait until I’m actually ready to jump to plant the thick sole of a boot on the frame, because I’m not about to make myself anymore of the target that I didn’t need told I would be.
“Nn-nn, partner. Doesn’t count as saving when you’re doing your job.”
I don’t wait for a rebuttal after my wink, before I let momentum, and that foot on the edge of the hole, boost me hard out and a little bit up. Only a little bit though, have to hit the top of that arc first for a couple reasons. One, if they’re going to start shooting I want it to start in the instant of an opening, so that when I start screaming not only is it going to propel me in the direction I actually want to go, but it hopefully will do some of the work of keeping me from getting myself shot. I know how this works in theory, more than in practice. I actually spent a lot of time learning about my sonics, both from Grandma and science nerds, but knowing how it ought to go is very different from doing a thing outside of very limited practical experience.
So it’s probably a good thing that I’m an instinctual doer more than a plodding thinker. Otherwise I’d be doing a lot more ‘fuckfuckfuck’ rather than screaming. And consequently flying.
Dick: “Truth is, I am not sure that Dibny was the real enemy here,” all this talk about ego and figuring things out aside, I don’t like this whole setup because it all stinks of something even more foul than just his part in Oliver Queen’s situation. “If he was actually working for them, really on their team? He wouldn’t be here. Not like this. He seemed to be protecting himself against something just like this.”
We don’t have a lot of time to talk right now, because things are heating up. Through the broken window I can -hear- the footsteps of the woman we’re avoiding, as she advances. Outside we know from seeing them arrive that there are people on the streets and on the rooftops. We also know, because Agent Nowhere has a big mouth, that there are people in the sewer. We also know that Dibny was aware of us, before he actually saw us. Given that this place has no operable security system, nor does Dibny have powers which would lend themselves to granting him that information -and- Alfred traced no electronic communication from this building out of it. My deductions leave me believing that Dibny is not entirely to blame here, which was reinforced by how he said he’s taken Oliver’s place in the past.
He’s not out of the blame though, because he has also clearly sold out. His hands are dirty, not to say that every single one of us has clean hands, but that alleviates me from feeling much guilt over what I’m planning here. I’ve got just enough time to spare an eyeroll for Dinah though, “Yeah, yeah. Conveniently now we’re partners. Stopping us from being even. Grumble. Grumble.”
Blowing out the window the way she does is impressive. Taking the glass, the frame that holds those security grates, yet not damaging the wall speaks to Dinah’s legit skills with her meta-human power. Back in the day she would have taken the whole wall down with it. Even recently in Gotham she’s not demonstrated her skills, but now I have a pretty clear picture that she held back out of respect for Bruce’s no-meta rules. Even after he was gone.
Once she takes flight, I count the shots. One. Two. Three. Four. Equaling the number of sharpshooters we saw on the roof. They’re all training on Dinah, who’s employing a skill that no one even knows she has. Except for those of us she trusted with the information (or those of us who spied on her while she was getting lessons). Three of the shots are off wide, but the fourth is good enough that she’d have taken a hit if not for the fact that she’s moving far faster than the bullet itself. I’m not able to even perceive whether it knicks her or misses her, but because of Dinah’s surprise I’ll have the opportunity to ask her later. Those snipers are trailing her for another round of shots, which is good because that leaves them not aiming at me.
Agent Nowhere is tugging Ralph out of the doorway, which I’d used him to gum it up. He’s unconcious and she’s having to work him like a child tries to work with play dough. To her credit she’s doing it faster than I’d planned for, but to Dinah’s credit she took -all- of the attention from outside with that display. Leaving me to bound out the same window behind her, tossing a set of flash-bangs from my belt at the guys on the ground.
Between the sonic boom in the air, the flash-bangs on the ground and a rapidly spreading fire in Dibny’s office? There’s not a lot to keep us from making an escape to our bikes a block over. True to my estimate, Agent Nowhere is one of the people who believes their side to be the Heroes. She isn’t giving chase, because she actually is making an effort to save silly-putty Dibny. More importantly to me? Dinah got the confirmation she wanted and we got out of there without either of us being taken down.
Dinah: Of course Dibney wasn’t the real enemy. It might not have saved him from a punch in the spleen on any other day of the week, but there’s levels of blame. If I were to be very, very generous I could just assume he’d done it because he didn’t have a choice. That doesn’t exactly mesh with what Dick had told me, and what information I had, but there’s a whole lot of other factors at play and I’m neither naive, or innocent enough, to not at least think about them. Black and white is the purview of people with enough power to draw a stark, smudge proof line. If my grandmother wasn’t who she was, and had I not been born where I was and used the restraint I have with flexing my sonic muscle? I might have had to deal with all of this bullshit a whole lot sooner than now.
I already did. I just don’t remember it. But the timeline I’ve reconstructed places it before NOWHERE could possibly have had a reason to knuckle me under except opportunity and want. Maybe Dibney happened to be getting paid to do something that he was being asked to do by the government. But chances are the hard way, easy way discussion wasn’t just for Dick and Me. Now, you want to get into the chessboard tactic semantics with a side of paranoia and self-importance? Was this all an elaborate way to get me to put my foot even more out of line? Is this all a trap that benefits them by getting someone even more on their side in a position of power (as much ‘power’ as the Mayor of Star City can be said to have, anyway). Maybe it’s all just a little convenient.
I never like leaving a man behind. Even one that is fully capable of watching his own ass. I still go, though. It’s difficult to fully watch what’s going on around me, and I can already see this is going to need practice despite being something I’ve got very limited opportunity or place to do, because I have to keep the force waves coming out of my throat aimed downwards, so that I stay up. There’s no sudden pain, so clearly they’ve missed me. By quite a bit, though I don’t actually witness it, but a moving target is a lot easier when you’re prepared for where it’s going. I scream harder. Pushing myself higher into the air, modulating it downwards to sink erratically as I arc away from Dibney’s smoking building.
Guess it’s a good thing I’d been pushing my lung power in duration, after what Conner Luthor had told me, but at this pace a few blocks isn’t difficult. Trans-Pacific? Not so much. The problem will mostly come as I reach my target, and I realize I do have to land. It gets tricky as I have to contend with buildings, and the other pieces that make up a city, the car alarms that start squealing in my wake making it even more obvious where I’ve gone. It was a possibility, which is why I hadn’t aimed towards where we’d stashed the bikes. I cut off the sonics just a hair sooner than I probably should have, leaving me with a slightly bigger drop to the ground than I’d really wanted. It’s only Black Canary swagger, and a whole lot of knowing how to roll with punches, that keeps that from being more of a disaster. There’s a solid ‘whumf’ of the rest of the air I’d been holding being forced out, before I’m tumbling up to my feet again and already in motion. Doubling back and sprinting through alleys until I can make it to the transport.
Then it’s time to GTFO of Dodge. Or Star.