Bruce stopped about half way down the cave steps, not really sure what to do. Well, he knew what he should do—he should give both of his charges hell. He'd told them about instant messaging on his machine. His monitor was not for chatting with girls of questionable cuteness levels in seventy-two-point font the minute they thought he'd left the manor. Or listening to music, or watching videos, or any of the fifty thousand other nefarious things they insisted upon doing to his machine.
Dick was in his uniform, mask in hand. He seemed to be polishing one of the lenses while looking over the back of the tall chair, and Timothy's head at the messaging window. "Tell him how fast the Batmobile goes."
Tim pecked away for a moment, and there was a pause, then they both groaned in disappointment. "Zero to sixty in WHAT? And it's an SUV? And they have track lighting?"
Despite better judgment, and should break up the festivities, Bruce remained where he was; he was a tad bothered by the thought of something outclassing his vehicle.
Biting the side of his cheek, Dick looked every bit the young imp he'd been at the start of his career in crime fighting. He'd learned a long time ago that with Dick, that sort of mischievous look was a dangerous thing. "We've got a secret underground base," the twenty-something wonder pointed out casually.
"They have central air and heating in their underground base," Tim returned a moment later.
Dick leaned over the top of the chair, all of his discipline suddenly put into winning this technological posturing match. Thinking about it for a moment, he slapped the younger man's arm. "We've got a giant stuffed dinosaur."
There was a pause while Tim typed this new bit of bragging rights in. A moment later they both moaned, the younger man slamming his gloved hand down on the tabletop. "A living pterodactyl? In their underground secret base? That is SO not fair."
Spinning around in the chair, Tim pointed a finger at the screen. "That's it! I'm so done with this! I'm moving to Wales."
"Because they have better stuff?" Dick asked, equally deflated. "How can they have better stuff? Bruce is freakin' BATMAN. He has all the cool stuff because he's BATMAN. They haveta be making it up."
Tim shook his head. "I don't care about the stuff. I want a real dinosaur!"
Bruce transverse the remaining few steps, eyeing both of them critically. They watched him as he crossed the cave floor, and if he didn't know better, he'd say both of them were blushing, just a bit. "What did I say about my computer?" Before either could repeat, verbatim, his ruling on the use of his computer, he arched an eyebrow. "You don't want a pterodactyl anyway. You think we have problems with the bat droppings? Multiply that by a thousand and throw in bits of sheep wool and bones." Both of them made a face, and he was satisfied for the moment. "And no more pissing matches with Torchwood."
Sitting back in his borrowed swivel chair, Jack grinned in deep satisfaction. He gave the cluttered workstation's owner an enthusiastic high five. "Silence!" Jack declared. "At last!"
Gwen stood up from her workstation, shuffling some papers. "Everything ok over there, boys?" Tucking her long dark locks behind her ears, she waited for an explanation from her overzealous teammates.
About twenty feet away, Toshiko Sato turned in her chair, glancing over the heavy rim of her glasses at Owen and Jack, then over to the former PC. "Don't mind them. They enjoy fighting with teenagers on the Interpol messaging system over who has the coolest toys."
Giving Owen his chair back, Jack practically leapt to his feet. "Yeah, and do you want to know who has the best secret headquarters? Not UNIT. Not the JLA…not even the freakin' Batman. And do you want to know why?"
"Why would that be, sir?" Ianto asked drolly, as he straightened his silk purple tie. Tugging on his immaculate suit jacket, he paused outside of Jack's office, on the footbridge, curious to hear the answer.
Flashing his movie star perfect smile, Jack pointed at the ceiling forcefully. "Because I let you keep the freakin' dinosaur that produces its weight in crap every single day and rains down upon us random sheep parts at random-er intervals. But I let you people keep the dinosaur. Which also makes me…the best boss. Those poor, sad little kids don't even get to drive daddy's car."
Tosh didn't even turn around from her computer; she simply went back to her facts and figures. "I don't get to drive the car," she pointed out quietly.
Jack shook his hands above his head, ignoring the dig about the driving arrangements. "You don't get it, do you? We have a freakin' dinosaur."
Looking from Owen (who was grinning like he'd just eaten the canary) back to her boss, Gwen decided they were both nuts, and sat back down. "Right."
Reclaiming his chair, Owen pulled up to the monitor, preparing the close the window. "Oh shit." He grabbed Jack's arm, turning him around to see the message that just popped up. "How can he know where the Hub is?"
Jack sighed, head hitting his chest. "He's Batman."
Owen wonders if Jack wants a recruit from Gotham.
Owen sat back in his task chair, elbows on the arm rests, fingers steepled in front of him. He spun in the chair and caught the eye of his first in command. "Jack… how do you feel about a new recruit?"
Jack had been walking across the foot bridge in front of the base of the water tower, hands in pockets and a portfolio tucked under his arm. He stopped and turned around, looking at Owen's oversized monitor. "Are you talking to those Gotham kids again?"
Unable to contain himself, the Torchwood second-in-command grinned evilly. "One of 'em wants to defect. I figure that'd be a wounding blow to Daddy-Dearest."
Gwen Cooper had been leaning against Toshiko's desk. They'd been having a quiet, guilty gab about shoes until she'd overheard Owen's fantastic plan to one-up the original dark and scary master of black ops. And do so by snatching one of his young and impressionable partners right out from beneath him. She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Don't we have real work to be doing, gentlemen?"
Owen's already caricature-like lips pulled back still further on his over-defined face. "Weren't you talking about the latest style in Ugs? As in UGLIES?"
Toshiko turned back to her work and started clicking furiously through something unimportant. Gwen Cooper, former police constable and one-time lover of the odious man held her ground. "Yeah. Shoes. For a Cardiff winter. To keep my feet warm whilst I spend all my spare time traipsing through freezing puddles chasing aliens. At least I'm talking about something responsible. Not to mention PRACTICAL. Recruiting children into secret organizations? Not so much."
Owen made a face, but Jack at least conceded the point. "Yeah. We have way too much sexual harassment in the office. Not to mention office romance," he looked poignantly at Owen, then Gwen. "And random alien-bad-guy shagging." He tried to glare at Toshiko, but she was still overly invested in her work. "Make sure it's the older, hotter one that wants to join our legion of the damned."
"Which one's the older one? I can't keep 'em straight." Owen started typing again.
Jack flashed that famous movie star grin. "God, lets hope they're not straight. I keep forgetting how backward this century is." He shook his head. "Which one are you talking to?"
"Robin," his second in command reported. "Is that the hot one you're so keen on?"
His shoulders slumped and he ignored Gwen's annoyed glare. "Does Robin sound like name of a five-ten, one-seventy-five burning package of man-flesh to you?"
"Good point. Should I tell the kid to get lost?"
Leaning against the railing, Jack thought about it. "Naw. I wanna find out why we're so freakin' awesome that he's willing to leave Gotham City and move to some place where the Justice League can't protect him?"
The clack of Owen's keyboard echoed over the sounds of running water in the secret underground base for a moment. Eventually, he stopped and cleared his throat. "Because we have a dinosaur." Another long message popped up on the screen. "And track lighting, a cool car, central heating and, I quote, 'hot alien women.' Oh yeah, and Batman is 'mean to him.'"
Letting out something between a groan, a moan and a sigh, Jack folded his arms across his chest. "How do you shut down a plea like that? Really? I mean, it's just too pathetic to deal with."
Owen started clacking away. "I can shut down a plea like that really easily. The last thing I need is Daddy-Bat on my arse because we convinced his innocent little birdy to switch secret organizations. I mean—I'm crazy. But I'm not stupid."
Jack winced. "Don't be too mean. He just needs a lay. However, since the Bat knows where the hub is, we are NOT going to procure for him the means of ridding himself of the burden of his virginity. But see if Nightwing's around. We can compare car specs. I want to be sure our headlights are better than theirs."
Marching back to her own workstation, Gwen's trainers slagged against the grill flooring. "I will never understand you two. Do you want to shag the older one, or outdo their car?"
"Can't a man have both?" Jack asked. Owen just shrugged indifferently.
Suddenly, Gwen had a thought. "So, what did he do to you?"
Jack arched an eyebrow. "Who do to what?"
"What did the Batman do to Jack Harkness? It has to be something. The male pissing match I can almost see, but the rest of it…?"
Trying to play at ignorance, Jack headed back toward his office. "Is it so wrong that I want a completely fit, and not to mention flexible world-class detective to join our Torchwood staff? I think he'd be a valuable asset to our organization." He opened his office door. "And it'd really chafe daddy's cowl." With one last toothy grin, he closed the door behind him.
Toshiko and Gwen both glared at Owen. "Well?"
Owen hesitated. "Well, I didn't tell you…but during the last world-ending crisis thingy, he got turned down for a shag by his dark-lordi-ness."
Tosh tried to swallow down the laugh but it popped out anyways. "Someone in the universe was able to turn down the Jack Harkness charm?"
Jack's door flew open and he popped his head out. "Superman wasn't able to!"
Rubbing her hands over her face, Gwen groaned. "You didn't."
Grinning, Jack leaned against the doorway. "No, but he did offer me some pie. For him, that's almost a threesome. The man loves his pie."
Stopping her boss from going any further Gwen held up a hand. "I don't want to know."
"But he makes really good pie!"
Owen's chair creaked as he rocked it slightly. "So Superman makes pie. What's with the Batman fixation?"
"It's not a fixation," Jack protested from the opposite end of the Hub. "I'd have bought him dinner first!"
Gwen put her hands on her hips. "Not what I mean, Jack."
The head of Torchwood Three looked away with a sheepishness they'd never seen from the brash American. "Well, it's a matter of…pride, really." He gave the smile of a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar just as dinner was being put on the table. "Wonder Woman said the Bat was better."
"You're not moving to Cardiff." Batman closed down the messaging program that was taking up three-fouths of his fifty-two inch monitor.
"Because I'm Batman." The 'and I say so' was simply implied.
Timmy the pathetic Boy Wonder put out the pouting Bo-Bo lip. "But they like me there! And they have a dinosaur!"
Nightwing, who happened to be the former Boy Wonder and current sane and rational party (or so he liked to think of himself) put a hand on his sorta-brother's shoulder. "They just want you because the head of Torchwood is trying to get back at Batman."
"That's not true! He said he liked me!" The frown Tim was sporting bordered on a super-pout.
"Seriously. It's the only reason they try to recruit me every other month." Nightwing brushed his chin with a gloved hand. "Well, and my complete and utter hotness. But that can't be helped."
Tim's eyes darkened and the pout drained out of the lad rather quickly. "I'm cute," he said in all seriousness.
"You're also under-aged," Batman pointed out tersely without ever looking back at his two charges. "What do I keep telling you? If you ignore Torchwood, they'll go away."
"Yeah, well…they have a live dinosaur! And central heating! And track lighting! And a water fall!" Tim's mouth closed, however, when he saw the way Nightwing was frowning. Kind of like he ought to shut up if he wanted to continue living "What?" Tim whispered.
Nightwing leaned closer to the Boy Wonder's ear. "Just let it go. It's a sensitive subject with Bruce." He was about ready to drop it, hoping the matter was resolved, but Tim almost opened his mouth to ask another stupid question. He got a little closer to Tim's ear, suddenly practically smashed up against it. He whispered something as quietly as humanly possible.
Tim's head snapped up in surprise. "Wonder Woman said Jack was better?"
Tosh gets the last laugh.
Toshiko Sato had been walking across the underground base, minding her own business, unbuttoning her knee-length leather coat as she went. Her heels clacked against the cement floor in a steady rhythm, then across the metal grill. She stopped suddenly in front of Owen's work station. "What are you doing?"
Owen turned in his swivel chair, elbow on the armrest, chin in his hand. "I've been thinking about Batman."
Rolling her eyes, she loosened her scarf. "I thought that was Jack's job."
"I don't fancy a quick shag, if that's what you're implying." Owen sat up straight, pointing a finger at her emphatically. "Actually, I think Jack doesn't either. At least he won't if my calculations are correct. I think Batman has a very tiny dick."
Gwen leaned over one of the rail on the upper tier, a stack of folders in her arms. "He's been staring at that map all morning. At first, he was so excited, I thought he found the Holy Grail, hiding in the sewers of an American city. But, no. It just turns out that due to street length, width and turning angles, Batman has a small penis."
Perking up at that, Owen started waving both hands emphatically, gesturing at her and at the map filling the screen, crosshatched all over with streets all close together and at odd intersections. "Yeah, you see, look. This city is far too compact, with too many turns that're at forty-five degrees or less, to merit a car that can go as fast as the Batman's car. It's also longer than is mathematically practical on such narrow streets. He also has more toys and gadgets than…than…US, and he doesn't even use all of them. He just has them to–to look cool. And the car! Don't get me started about the car again. Therefore, the Batman is compensating."
Toshiko walked away, sighing. "We're sitting in Cardiff, on an active rift in space and time with debris coming through at near-perfect forty-five minute intervals, and what are you worried about? Batman's penis."
"Well, I'm tired of getting shit from him and his."
Turning on her monitor, Tosh turned back around with wide eyes. "And you're going to do this by mathematically proving to the intelligence community that Batman is…compensating?"
Gwen dumped the folders on her desk, repositioning the stack so that it didn't topple over, then walked over with her hands on her hips. "Owen, we have a backlog here."
Jumping to his feet, the medic waved both hands. "You don't get it, do you! Batman has a small penis! Do you know what this means?"
Taking a hand off of her hips, Gwen clacked a few keys on the keyboard, zooming out on the street display of Gotham City. Just outside the city limits, the dense concentration of streets was gone. The layout was virtually clear of lines going through it. "Or Batman lives in the suburbs."
"Or Batman lives in the-" Owen stopped, turning around to look at the screen. He started slaming buttons, zooming in and out repeatedly. "No no no no no no no!"
Quietly, Toshiko turned back to her desk, trying to hide her smile.
"Tosh, do you think this is funny?" Owen was about ready to pop a blood vessel. "My world is ending."
Slinking into her chair, Toshiko bit her lips.
Gwen quietly went over to her friend's workstation and nudged her shoulder. "Well?"
Tosh's cheeks were exceptionally rosy red. "Batman doesn't have a small penis," she said quietly, then bit down on her lips again, trying not to giggle.
Eyes going wide, Gwen turned around so Owen couldn't see them as he writhed and moaned in his own private hell. "You didn't."
Smoothing out part of her shirt, Toshiko tried to look as innocent as possible. "I'm just saying. Batman has a perfectly nice…penis."
Gwen turned back to Owen, who was slamming his head against the table.
Both women laughed.