When I woke up, people bending over me, a guilty looking little boy at my side, I couldn't help myself.
"I should've listened to Oprah," I sighed.
Dick frowned. "Huh?"
"She always says that 'listen to your inner voice' thing," I told him. "And my inner voice said I was crazy to move to Gotham City."
My eight-year-old charge grinned broadly. "Your inner voice is an idiot."
"Well, that too, " I said and nodded. For a little boy, Dick Grayson was actually pretty sensible. Of course, with his background, he didn't really have a choice.
Me, I'm sensible most of the time. The rest of the time, like now, not so much. It goes without saying that I am a person to whom strange things happen. My friends have often teased me about my peculiar luck. My luck, like you would imagine, is generally bad. Compared to me, Murphy had pocketfuls of four-leaf clovers.
Which is probably why I'm in Gotham City, lying on the sidewalk, hoping like hell nobody picked my pocket while I was out.
I groan and rub my forehead. This is not exactly what I had in mind for my brave new start. It is, however, precisely what I should have seen coming.
This is me we're talking about.
"Are you okay?" Dick asked, patting my hand.
"Oh, just fantastic," I said. "My leg hurts, my head hurts, I'm probably going to get fired, and I can't even kill you for it."
He snickered. "Why not?"
"You move too fast," I complained. "Plus, you've got the cute thing going. You'd be surprised how hard it is to murder a cute child."
A woman standing over me gasped, pressing a hand to her mouth.
Did I mention my leg hurts? Well, it does. It hurts like hell and I am not in the mood to be patient. Rolling my eyes, I try to glare at her at the same time. It probably looks ridiculous, but damn it that kind of stupidity should make it possible. "Yes, that's it," I snapped at her, "I'm perfectly serious. Really."
No wonder this town has a six-foot flying rodent running around. The people are gullible as all hell. Okay, maybe just her. This is Gotham, she had to be an isolated case. I did mention the part about it being Gotham City right? The town Sodom and Gomorrah were too upstanding to associate with.
Right. Just so we're clear.
Dick looked at me and grinned. "Good time for Bruce to be out of town, huh?"
Bless Mr. Wayne and his emergency trips to Metropolis. Though, between you and me, I don't think business is on his mind. There's this reporter, and well, I'm pretty sure that interview he gave in the study sounded more like...
Right. I'm not supposed to notice those kinds of things. Much.
"Surprisingly, yes," I nodded. "Gives me and Mr. Pennyworth time to ground you for life and cook up a good story."
His grin turned impish. God, in about ten years this kid was going to be a heartbreaker. Hell, he already is. I played the no-nonsense nanny, but this kid had me right where he wanted me.
Killer part was he knew it.
Well, some of the time. I shift my body, trying to find a more comfortable spot (I did mention the sidewalk, right? Because yeah, concrete) and groan. Seriously, my leg hurts. Dick moved closer, hand on my arm.
"Are you okay?"
I started to give him another flippant response, but stopped. He was staring at me, eyes wide, and yeah. "I'm fine," I said, smiling. "It's just -- " I looked around then, damn my leg, I leaned over to confide, "my butt is numb."
He stared at me, shocked, for a moment then started giggling. He was still giggling when a shadow fell over us both.
"Uh, hi?" I squeak.
The Batman loomed over me. Seriously. Loomed. Looooomed. I swear I'd confess to shooting Kennedy at this moment. I have no clue how the Joker and the rest of them stand it.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I squash the urge to confess to taking the leftover napkins from McDonalds. Seriously. Like the Batman's going to bust a woman with a sprained ankle for napkins.
He squinted at me, suspicious, and I bit my lip. He wouldn't, right? Because there's a call home I never want to make. Can't you hear me now?
"Hi, Mom, I'm uh, still in the US, and I kind of need bail money. I snitched napkins from McDonalds, sprained my ankle because of some guy named Two-Face, and got busted by a guy in a batsuit. How's the family?"
Considering she's the one who voluntold me I was going to do this, I should call her anyway. Spite will make you consider a lot of things and if I'm going down, she's coming with me.
"Are you all right, Miss?" The Batman asked.
God, please don't let me say something stupid. You know my mouth, it runs away with me and it runs far. Like to Vegas on a three-week bender far. Please don't let me say something stupid. This is the frigging Batman. He can crush me with his little toe. PLEASE.
"Oh, just peachy, and you?" I said. And by said, I mean squeaked. Seriously squeaked. Three windows and a tail light shattered.
God? We need to talk later about that one. I mean, it could have been worse. I could've made a crack about checking the sidewalk stability, but still.
"Are you sure?"
Ha. Sure. Right. Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure I just shot my mouth off at Batman, I'm a perfect spectacle in front of half the city, and I am so going to get fired.
"She got knocked down," Dick said. "By Two-Face. We're just waiting for Alfred to come back with the car so we can go to the hospital."
Yeah, you heard it. We're waiting for Alfred. He's gone to get the car. All I need is the apocalypse to top this day off. Which in Gotham is entirely possible so cross your fingers.
"It's probably just a sprain," I squeak again. "I'm fine, really." Please, please go away. I don't do humiliation well at all and good God if this ended up in tomorrow's paper I will officially die. Seriously. DIE.
At least this wasn't Metropolis. I wore a dress to work today. The image of me, flying in Superman's arms, flashing half the East Coast seared itself into my brain. Thank God Batman was no telepath, that's an image I'd like to keep to myself.
He frowned. Oh God. If Batman turned out to be a telepath, I'd run home so fast the Flash would be jealous. "You shouldn't be lying on the sidewalk," he said instead.
"Well, I thought about the roof, but the ankle rules that one out." God, I hate my mouth. I wince. "Sorry."
Batman stared at me and I swear to God he grinned. It was there for a nanosecond tops, but it was a grin! I know my grins. And it was a familiar grin too.
I must've hit my head harder than I thought. How the hell would the Batman's grin look familiar. Yes. Definitely a concussion.
"I have a problem with my mouth," I explain with some chagrin. "My brain tends to leave it unattended, and -- "
"She's a smartass." Dick agreed. "Mouthed off at Two-Face."
"I did not!" I protest. Like I needed him telling the Batman that!
"Yeah you did!" He grinned. "It was awesome."
I groan. "No, no it was not. I could have gotten us killed." I look at Batman, fully expecting to be arrested for child endangerment. "Really, I didn't mouth off at him. I might've sniped a bit, but I'm Canadian. Our idea of a supervillain is the Hamburglar."
Yeah, there it was, he definitely grinned this time. "Consider yourself fortunate."
"Oh I do," I agree. Every time I get to deposit a pay cheque that is way too generous. I know Mr. Wayne's a billionaire and all, but geez. He is paying me way too much. I keep worrying he'll bankrupt the company.
I know, it's not rational, but with my luck at jobs? It's also not impossible. Seriously, you may think so, but I could tell stories.
"Really, Mr. Batman," I smile. "You can, uh, go catch Two-Face if you like. Or someone else." Anywhere that isn't looming over me. "We're good here. Lots of witnesses, nobody can mug me."
He looks amused. I think. Maybe he's just got indigestion. It would look the same on the Batman I think. "You mean twice?"
"Well, technically the first time wasn't actually a mugging." I look at Dick. "All valuables intact, right?"
He nodded. "Alfred took your purse back to the car."
"The poor man, he'll get back strain." I tend to carry like everything in my purse. Seriously. Cell phone, notebook, stories in progress. Aspiring writer-slash-nanny. I even cook if the occasional calls for it.
I just hope it doesn't call very loudly.
"He's got it covered," Dick assured. "Alfred's stronger than he looks."
Batman made a noise and I swear it was a laugh. Really. But it couldn't have been, right? If Batman laughs, that's like a sign of the apocalypse and I'm too young to run through the streets screaming in horror.
I'm being optimistic when I say that. I'd probably die five seconds in. I have the staying power of a gnat.
He bent over then, helping me up and leaning me against a car. "Stay here," he said.
"Ok," and I'm back to the squeaking. But since I just got manhandled by the Dark Knight? I earned that squeak. "Thanks."
"Stay with her," Batman said, looking at Dick.
"Duh." Dick rolled his eyes.
"DICK!" I gaped. "Apologize to the -- " He's gone. I groan and cover my face. "You just mouthed off at Batman."
"Yup," Dick looked gleeful. "Wasn't it sweet?"
"I am so going to get fired," I said. "I let you mouth off at the Dark Knight!"
"Nah," Dick wrapped an arm around my waist and grinned. "Bruce can't fire you, none of the other nannies lasted this long. They all quit after three days."
Gee, I can't imagine why.