“Hey old man, are you getting this?” Bruce didn’t answer. He’d been suspiciously quiet for the last two days of his stake out, but he’d never gone completely off comms. Terry leaned over the edge of the roof he was hiding on. The Jokerz were still moving boxes into their hideout. He could spare a few minutes to check on things in the cave. If nothing else, moving away from his post should get the old man’s attention.
Terry crawled backwards across the roof, slowly. Every muscle tense with anticipation. Any moment now one of the Jokerz would spot him or Bruce would growl at him. The night wasn’t silent, Gotham never was. The wail of distant sirens and the buzz of bar hoppers didn’t change with his movements though. It wasn’t anything to worry about. Once he was on the far side of the building, he spread his arms, triggered his wings, and jumped.
The dirty pavement rushed up to meet him. He let it. Only firing his repulsors after he’d dropped twenty stories and the flames from his boots wouldn’t draw attention from any overly alert Jokerz.
He’d parked the Bat-wing, cloaked, a few blocks away. It only took a few (minuites to) get there. Landing on the roof, he pressed his fingers to the lock. There was a spark of static electricity when the bio-lock checked his readings, then the hood folded back.
Terry slid inside and closed the hood, returning the Bat-wing to its cloaked state. The red internal lights turned on as soon as the cockpit was fully sealed. A second later the screens lit up with a view of the surrounding area, making up for the fact that there were no windows to provide a direct line of site. “Bring up a visual of the cave,” he ordered the on-board computer.
The main view screen was covered in static, blocking out the view of the surrounding city. When the screen cleared he could see most of the cave. The camera was installed right above Bruce’s computer. There was no sign of him, which wasn’t normal. It was only eleven, way before the Old Man’s bedtime. “Hey, Bruce, you awake?"
He couldn’t see movement in the cave. Terry was about to shut the screen off and try again later, when a flash of light and movement from the door leading down the cave caught his eye. It couldn’t be Bruce though, the shape was wrong, too low to the ground.
Terry leaned in towards the screen. It took a moment, but then Ace scrambled into view. His long legs flailed as he ran across the tiled floor. At just over two years old Ace the forth was little more than a puppy. Still, he had been trained to be a bat-dog. So the fact that Terry could see him barking crazily at something that was just out of sight of the camera, under the console, was enough to send a chill up his spine.
“Patch me through to the Cave’s audio system.”
There was a burst of static, then the sound of barking filled the cockpit. “Ace, easy boy.”
The barking tapered off.
“That’s it. Calm down, boy.”
“Bruce!” he called one more time, just to make sure that Bruce wasn’t just holed up somewhere where he couldn’t hear the main comms. Ace started barking crazily again, but otherwise there was no reply.
Great. Bruce was going to kill him for abandoning the mission and wasting a week of their time, but there was no way he could stay on the stake out now. He wasn’t Bruce. Protecting his family was his first priority, Gotham came second.
“Calm down boy, okay? I’ll be back soon,” he said before flipping the switch to turn off the audio feed.
Terry powered the bat-wing up and pressing the control yoke forward as far as he dared. The Bat-wing shot forward, heading towards the manor, on the opposite side of Gotham.
It was a thirty minute flight if he wanted to avoid drawing the wrong sort of attention. The old man had been off comms for at least a half hour before that. That was too long if something was seriously wrong, he was going to have to call in back-up.
Bruce was going to kill him if he was over-reacting… Actually, he’d probably try to kill him even if he wasn’t over-reacting.
“Call Commissioner Gordon – Private Line.” The buzz of the phone ringing echoed loudly in the cock-pit. It only took one ring, before she picked up. “This better be good, Bruce. It’s my night off.”
“What’s going on, kid?”
“I can’t reach Bruce.”
There was a muted rustling on Gordon's end of the phone. “He’s probably just holed up with some project he doesn’t want you to know about.”
At times like these it was obvious she’d grown up working with Bruce. “That was my first thought as well, but I checked the Cave’s security feed. Something is driving the Mutt crazy.”
“You know he doesn’t want me butting in on his business.”
Terry jerked the yoke to the side to skirt around a car that was parked illegally in an alley. It was suspicious, probably a drug dealer, or some Kobra goon. Under normal circumstances he’d investigate, but not tonight. “I know, but I’d prefer he be alive to hate us.”
“Where is your helper? Bruce still won’t be happy with your interference, but at least you won’t piss him off by calling in old allies,” she said.
He straightened the bat-wing out and turned his attention back to their conversation. “She’s on an undercover mission. We’ve got information drops but by the time I would be able to contact her, I’d already be back at the Manor.”
“So you want me to use my GPD contacts to get to the manor quickly.”
“And bring the paramedics if you can.”
“That’s a lot to ask.”
“Yeah, well. You are the police commissioner,” Terry joked.
“Fine, but you better hope that Bruce is sick, cause otherwise you’re going to be the one paying for this.”
“Understood.” It was better to owe Gordon a favor than to deal with the guilt if something happened to Bruce. “l should be back at the manor in just over twenty-five minutes.”
“I’ll be there in ten, and I’ll make sure that nobody sees anything they're not supposed to. As far as anyone needs to know you were in a meeting when you called Bruce for his opinion.”
“Close enough to the truth that he’ll be able to follow along with no prompting.”
“Exactly. I’ll call you back if this was a false alarm.”
“I’ll meet you at the hospital then.”
He was just about to cut off the connection, when she said. “Don’t forget to stash the uniform.”
Terry rolled his eyes. She’d never stop treating him as the delinquent kid he’d been when he’d first become Batman.
# # #
Terry pushed the control yoke forward, forcing an extra burst of speed from the Bat-wing . If any GPD cruisers picked up on the abnormally fast moving cloaked vehicle he’d be screwed. It would take him time he didn’t have to shake them, but so would driving slowly and carefully.
Nobody tried to pull him over though. He didn’t see a single cruiser, not even when he sped through one of the main airways. His wake caused the cars he sped past to shake and weave. There were a lot of angry motorist’s yelling after him, but no sign of any red and blues.
Gordon must have called in some favors. Terry was tempted to take advantage of the fact that he wasn’t being followed to recheck the camera in the Cave and make sure Gordon had gotten there, and the old man was fine. He gripped the yoke harder to remind himself not to give into the impulse. He was going 130 miles an hour. A few seconds of distraction could be disastrous even with the steering auto-correct on. An accident would only slow him down further, (.)
He’s only fifteen minutes out now anyway. He’ll find out what’s happening when he gets to the mansion. If he pushes a little harder on the yoke trying to eek out more speed it’s not like Bruce is around to complain.
He’s five minutes out when the comm buzzes. “Answer call.”
“Looks like you were right to call me,” Gordon said.
“He’s fine. I moved him out of the Cave before the Paramedics got here. He’s already complaining and trying to get them to let him stay at the house.”
He relaxed back into his seat and eased back on the yoke, slowing back down to a more reasonable speed. “You’ll make sure he goes with them?”
“Oh don’t worry, I might be a few years older than I was when I dealt with him regularly, but I can still handle Bruce.”
That was what Terry was worried about. Bruce was going to be pissed if Gordon tried to tell him what to do. Knowing Bruce, that would lead to him attempting to check himself out AMA. (against medical advice)
“Just get back to the Cave. I’ll stay with Bruce until you get there, so he doesn’t wander off.”
“Just get to the hospital before I strangle Bruce.”
# # #
Terry made it to the hospital in record time using one of the motorbikes Bruce had modified for undercover missions. Not the kind of ride Bruce Wayne’s personal assistant and heir would usually be caught driving but he wasn’t in the mood to call a driver, and as long as he didn’t drive too recklessly nobody should realize who he is.
By the time he pulls up in front of the hospital there are reporters everywhere. He should have expected that. Along with crime, Gotham seemed to live on rumors. The first reporter who managed to get an interview or picture of Gotham’s scion would have it made.
Luckily Martha Wayne Memorial Hospital was extremely protective of the man who had single handedly funded their founding. The staff would be much less likely to sell Bruce out than the staff of any other hospital in the city.
They hadn’t noticed Terry yet. With a bulky leather jacket and a helmet on, he wasn’t very recognizable. Something else to be grateful for. He kept driving until he reached the nearby parking deck. He found a parking spot on the third floor, on the side that faced the hospital.
There was a balcony on the hospital’s third floor, leading to the dining hall. It would be a good way to get into the hospital without having to deal with vultures waiting to take pictures of him. He could get into Bruce’s room directly, all it would take would be a call to Gordon to find out his room number. But too many questions would be asked if Terry McGinnis showed up inside Bruce’s hospital room without anybody seeing him get there.
The dining hall entrance provided a good compromise.
Terry used a grappling hook to bridge the twenty foot gap. It was only a few seconds before he could tuck the grapple into his suit coat and stride nonchalantly into the dining hall. It was three in the morning so it wasn’t like anybody paid attention to him. Even the lady who was manning the cafeteria line only glanced up at him before returning her attention (to) the (magazine) she was reading. Strange man appears in the dining hall? Just ignore it. This is Gotham after all, the best thing you can do is keep your head down and hope no villains get brought into the hospital on your shift. He was tempted to say hi to her anyway, just to see how she’d react, but decided against it.
The nurse manning the nurses’ station was a lot more aware. Terry was only a few steps out of the dining hall before she’s glared at him.
He only made it another few feet down the hall before she yelled, “What do you think you’re doing up here. No visitors allowed.”
He raised his hands up and inched forward. “I’m sorry ma'am, I’m here to check on my employer. If you could just let me past.”
“Let me guess, you work for Bruce Wayne and you just have to see him right now.” She crossed her arms and glared harder.
That was actually a very good description of what he was there for. Though given the fact that she had said it first, it probably wasn’t a good idea to use that reason without some proof that he was allowed in to see Bruce.
Apparently he’d taken too long to say something. The nurse snapped, “If you don’t get out of here now. I’m going to call security and have them toss you out with the rest of the reporters.”
“Sorry, you took me by surprise. I am actually here to see Bruce, but I swear that I’m not a reporter.”
He moved slowly towards her, reaching into his jacket to retrieve his Wayne company ID.
Her hand inched to towards the intercom. She most likely expected him to draw a gun or pull out a camera or something.
So he’d have to be extra careful. He pulled the wallet that held his ID out slowly, so she could see what he was doing.
She stopped trying to reach the intercom and held out her hand for the wallet. He made sure to move slowly as he approached and handed her the wallet.
She looked at it for a few moments before handing it back. “Thank you for your patience Mr. McGuiness, but I’m afraid that these aren’t visiting hours. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
Okay, so he was apparently going to have to get to Bruce’s room the hard way then.
“I’ll be taking him up to Mr. Wayne’s room myself.”
Terry suppressed the urge to jump. He hadn’t noticed the Commissioner coming up from behind the nursing station.
“It’s fine Melinda. I’ll vouch for him.”
The nurse gave him an even dirtier look than she’d given him back when she’d thought he was some sort of creep or reporter. He hadn’t thought that was possible. Still, she stepped aside and let him go with Gordon.
“What’s with her?”
“Melinda’s mother worked with Bruce and I back in the day.”
“Then why is she so fragged at me?”
“Her mother got caught in the crossfire more than once.”He followed her into the elevator. She hit the button for floor seven, the celebrity floor. “I asked her to work tonight’s shift because I trusted her to keep people from asking any questions they shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean she appreciates getting dragged into Bruce’s business again.”
Terry couldn’t really argue with that. “So what did they figure was wrong with the old man?”
“Mild heart attack.”
“He’s been good about taking his meds lately. You have any idea why they’re not working anymore?”
Gordon shrugged, “The pills only work if he gets checked out when he’s supposed to. The doctors said he was supposed to come in months ago, so they could recalibrate the dosage. I told them to contact Mr. Wayne’s personal assistant with the appointment information next time.”
“Thanks, though I might have to call you as back-up, when it comes time to drag him to the doctor. He’s worse than Ace when it’s time for a doctor’s visit.”
“He hasn’t been checking up on me nearly as much as usual.”
He could see her lip quirk in the reflection of the elevator doors. “I remember. Used to be I had to get Dick to help me drag him to the doctors. It’ll be just like old times.”
“Yeah.” Terry bit back a comment about her hatred of old times. Gordon had already gone above and beyond just helping him with Bruce tonight. No need to push her further.
The door opened with a ding. “He’s in room 715. I trust you can make sure that he stays until he’s released tomorrow?”
“You’re not coming with me?”
“I’ve got a husband waiting for me at home. I think I’ve wasted enough of my night cleaning up Bruce’s messes. Don’t you?”
“Sorry for the trouble.”
“Don’t worry about it kid, just try to keep a better eye on him, okay?”
He nodded and stepped out of the elevator, heading to Bruce’s room.
The elevator door shut behind him.
# # #
“I heard you were being stupid and refused to get yourself checked out for chest pains,” Terry said as he entered the room.
Bruce was his usual self, scowling at the TV from his bed. “You wasted a week of work just because you got scared.”
“You didn’t answer the comm and the Mutt was worried.”
“You should have stuck to the mission.” Bruce crossed his arms and firmed his jaw, glaring harder at the TV as a report about the Jokerz game came on. “We’ll have to start the whole opp again.”
Now he was just being overly dramatic. “The opp can wait for one night. It won’t be the end of the world.” Terry dragged a chair over next to the bed, so he could put his feet up on the mattress.”Besides I’ve got better things to do tonight.”
“Like what, watch an old man sleep?”
“Exactly.” He re-situated himself so that he could lean his head against the back of the chair. “Or sleep. Whatever.”
Bruce snorted, but he also muted the TV, and hit the switch to dim the lights. “Fine, I can tell you’re not going to be reasonable.”
Which was as close to acceptance as Terry was ever going to get. Still, he’d take it. Gotham could survive on its own for one night. He had more important things to do tonight. Like watch the old man sleep.
# # #