Gotham Tales: The Watcher
by C.W. Blaine
He sat upon the ledge of the old, dark building, his legs dangling over the side. He appeared to be relaxed, but Dick Grayson, the Teen Wonder known as Robin, was anything but that. His heart was hammering in his chest and he pulled his little yellow cape closer so as to block out some of the chill. Absent-minded for the briefest of moments, he wondered why in the world the Batman had chosen the little short pants and booties for him to wear with this costume. Even though he was wearing flesh-colored leggings, he was still cold. Wouldn't long pants and perhaps an even longer cape be more effective?
He pushed the thoughts away; they were considerations for another time. He was here on a mission and one did not fail any mission when one was apprenticing to the infamous Bat of Gotham City. He was young. He was proud. He was heroic.
He had his whole life ahead of him.
And all he could think about was the here and now.
As he was about to stand up and try to shake off the mid-November cold, the door opened to the townhouse he had been watching and a couple came walking out. He pulled his binoculars out and peered down at the man and woman as they moved towards a red sports car. The man was probably in his early twenties, tall with wavy blonde hair and movie star looks. His style of dress indicated money, but not nearly as much as Dick was accustomed to. The car was a newer Chevy model, one that Dick had been looking at himself to buy; only he was interested in a blue one.
The young man opened the passenger side door for his companion, a woman with fiery red hair and a smile that flashed in Robin's view through the binoculars. She laughed at something the man had said, but Robin had not been able to catch it since his back had been turned. He assumed it was some stupid rich-boy remark, meant to impress the simple-minded and simple-lifed.
He couldn't believe that this woman was actually falling for the act.
She got into the car and the man closed the door and walked around the back of the vehicle. Robin could tell from the man's stride and facial expression that he was thinking he was going to get lucky tonight.
Robin smiled. It was indeed his lucky night.
The man got in the car and Robin heard it start up. It wouldn't be able to go too far before he got to his Batcycle. He had to follow them.
That was his mission.
The car stopped in front of an expensive French restaurant and the man got out to hand his keys to the valet. Parking across the street, Robin watched the valet wait until the couple, arm in arm, were safely inside before he gunned the engine. The car lost traction and there was a cloud of smoke as rubber tried to melt asphalt. Robin noted carefully exactly where the car was parked and waited for the valet to return to the front of the restaurant.
Humming to himself, Robin grabbed the bag he had tied to the Batcycle and made his way through the shadows to the car. He looked it over, noting the expensive theft deterrent system and smiled. It would be child's play to get by it, but he thought he might be able to put it to use with some clever wiring. He glanced at his watch and set his brow to determined mode.
After getting into the car, he checked it over for anything potentially illegal, but found nothing. That was good for the driver, but slightly disappointed the young hero. It would be a lot easier to do what he was doing if he was 100% convinced that this was the evil wretch Robin wanted him to be. He shook his head and ducked down in the front seat as another valet brought in another car, this time a green BMW. The teenager behind the mask whistled as the car drove by, admiring the soft purr of the German car's engine.
Once the car had passed, Robin opened the bag and began placing the microphone/speakers in key points, as well as the other items he had liberated from the Batcave before coming out. Certainly, he could have cobbled these things together in the workshop of the Titans Tower, but he knew that the quality of the items being used by the Batman would be a 100 times better than anything he and Vic Stone, the hero known as Cyborg, could have created.
Ten minutes later, Robin was satisfied with the job and quietly exited the car. Before heading back to his Batcycle, he slipped a tracer underneath the front fender well. He had no idea where they would be heading next and he didn't want to lose them.
Robin made his way back to the Batcycle and stowed his bag. Again, he pulled out the binoculars and peered through the front window of the restaurant, trying to see if he could spot the couple. Well in the back, in a dark corner, he saw them, but was again unable to read their lips. Without trying, the wannabe playboy was thwarting his every effort to monitor him. "I've fought Trigon, Brother Blood, the Joker and Two-Face, and this jerk is making me look bad," Robin said to himself.
What would the Batman think when his partner couldn't keep one frat boy under surveillance?
He decided against any further action until the couple left for their next destination. Robin occupied his time by checking the monitoring equipment he had installed in the car. It checked out fine, but that was no surprise. He had gotten into the Batman's private stash.
Forty-five chilling minutes later, the couple exited and waited patiently as the valet ran to retrieve their ride. Robin double checked the fuel gauge on his motorbike and waited. The man was again making with the small talk, but this time Robin could make out the words.
"I swear on a stack of Bibles, its true!" he exclaimed. "I told him, sell the damn stock before it falls, and he goes on and on about being a safe investor; I thought I was going to absolutely thrash him! This was a profit of $20,000 in one trade!"
"Goodness," the woman replied, tossing back a strand of hair that had fallen in her face. "I certainly hope you were able to take control of the situation."
The man laughed and pulled out a pipe. Robin decided he looked ridiculous lighting it up, trying to look ten years older. The woman seemed to enjoy the smell of the tobacco, though, and he made a mental note of it. "Darling," the man began between puffs, "that's what my family does, handle situations. I immediately had a personal conference with the senior partners of the brokerage.many of them owe favors to my father and mumsie.and had that joke of a stockbroker removed!" He then laughed, clouds of smoke rising with each chuckle.
The car arrived and they got in and headed towards downtown. Robin started the bike and moved out. He could stay back at least a mile and still listen to the conversation in the car, picking up the information he required about their destination and plans for later. As they headed closer to the nightlife district, he slowed down. It would take them a few minutes to find a parking garage and that would give him time to head to the rooftops.
He thought about calling it a night, that this was pointless. He was cold and a slight drizzle had started. He thought about the warmth of his bed back at the manor, with a hot cup of cocoa that Alfred would no doubt have ready for him.
Hell with it, he thought starting to head back.
But his conscience ate at him; he had started this and he would finish it. He owed to himself.
He was Robin.
Quitting wasn't what he did.
He overheard them in the car talking about going into the Black Lance, a club that catered to college kids. If they went in there, surveillance would be impossible and he wouldn't be able to achieve the night's mission goal. He thought quickly, as he had been trained to do by the Batman and quickly made his way to the back of the club.
Just as he guessed, there was one of the bouncers, engaging in conversation with an under aged girl and her friend, doubtless trying to barter for admission into the club. Robin dropped down behind him. The girls, startled, ran off like frightened rabbits. The bouncer, a burly man with bulging muscles turned to face the Teen Wonder.
"Rob! My man," the man said, holding up his hand.
Robin slapped it. "How ya doing, Joey? Still chasing the little girls?"
The man blushed slightly and stared down at his feet. "Aw, I wasn't gonna do anything with 'em, honest. I was trying to get a date with one of 'em's older sister."
Robin shook his head slightly. "Sure, Joey."
Joey looked up. "You ain't gonna beat me up again, are ya?"
"You working for the Penguin still?" Robin asked, trying to add a sinister edge to his voice.
"No way! You and da Batman convinced me to stay away from him. I got a real job now."
Robin nodded and then reached into his inside breast pocket. Joey backed away slightly, but then stopped and his face brightened when Robin pulled out several bills of U.S. currency. "I need you to do something for me Joey, and it's not illegal."
The man and the woman walked up to the door of the club, arm in arm. He had stowed the pipe and threw the loose end of his scarf around his neck. They approached the doorman, who dwarfed both of them with his immense size. "Be a good man and step out of the way," the man said to the bouncer.
Joey looked at him. "Can't come in. Club's full."
As Joey made the statement, two women in revealing dresses walked by and entered the club. "I see," the man said, reaching inside his jacket. He turned to smile at his date, who smiled back. When he turned back to Joey, he suddenly felt a vise-like grip on his hand. The young man went down on one knee.
"What? You pullin' a piece on me, skinny?" Joey asked, increasing the pressure on the hidden hand.
The young man tried to protest, but only managed to make a squeaking sound that made Robin, who was on a ledge just above them, think of a sheep getting an enema. Joey pushed the man back, causing him to fall on his rump. "You's better leave."
The woman helped the young man up, and Robin saw the slight glint of a tear in the man's eye. "It's okay, Sebastian," she said, brushing him off. "We can go to a movie or something."
The man, his pride obviously hurt, tried to push her off, but there was no strength in him. "See here," he whined. "Do you know who I am?"
Joey looked at him, carefully, and then shrugged. "Don't give a rat's ass."
The man stood up to his full height, still four inches shorter than Joey and began to speak. Joey punched him in the chest so that only exasperated air whistled through perfect teeth. For a second time, the man went down. The woman, infuriated, walked right up to Joey and put a finger in his face. "That was uncalled for!"
Joey smiled at her. "I thought he was gonna hit me, so I hit him first. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt the little fella."
Robin smiled despite himself. He knew that hitting the man had been wrong, and he promised himself that he would talk to Joey about it at some later time. Of course, maybe Joey did think the man, Sebastian, was going to hit him.
The couple started to head down the sidewalk, back to the parking garage, and Robin climbed back up to the rooftop.
As he followed them, he found himself disliking the man more and more. He didn't understand why someone with so much money and time couldn't find better things to do. Bruce Wayne, for all of his pretending to be the social fop, was always generous with the funds at his disposal. Robin thought about how much good could be done if more people would use their money, like Bruce, to help promote social harmony and wellness.
But, some people were spoiled by their good fortune, such as this Sebastian, which always made missions like this easier. It wasn't the first time he had to do this, and it probably wouldn't be the last. He had to do it though, it was his personal quest. It was something he had sworn to do, to never waiver.
He kicked at some snow that had collected at the edge of the rooftop and snickered when he heard Sebastian cry out. He peered over the edge and saw that the woman was looking in his direction. Stupid! If the Batman had seen him do something so boneheaded, he would never hear the end of it. You had to stay to the shadows, let your ears do the seeing; let your eyes do the hearing.
Had the woman seen him? Was it over? Would he have to back off and head back to the manor a failure?
If she had seen him, she didn't say anything, as he was sure she would have. No doubt she would have pointed right at him and screamed.
He would continue watching.
The rest of the night ended up in with him trailing a mile behind them, listening in on their conversation, but gaining nothing useful. Around midnight, the car pulled back into the same spot it had started from and Robin hurried back to his vantage point.
The car was parked under a street lamp and he sat down to watch them as they continued in conversation. He removed the headset and sighed. He would go home soon.
So lost in his thoughts that he almost did not notice the woman's head disappear. What was she doing, he wondered briefly. Then a horrid thought entered his mind, as his youthful imagination painted a lustful picture for him to review. He stood up, determined to stop this right here. In public for God's sake!
A gloved hand reached for the batarang stored in the small of his back. The weapon came free and he stood at the ready, taking aim for the back windshield. Then the woman's head popped back up and he saw her holding up a purse.
He relaxed and was surprised to note that he was sweating, even in the cold. A trembling hand replaced the batarang and he wiped his forehead. He watched them intently and saw they were leaning close to each other.
Robin smiled and put the headset on and pulled out a small electronic device. He activated the device and waited until the two heads were nearly touching.
He pressed the first of two buttons.
Inside the car, a small transmitter emitted a digital recording that Robin had downloaded from the fart.com website. He remembered that the file had been called painfullylongandjuicy.wav. He saw the woman's head pop back.
He pressed the second button.
Inside the car, underneath the driver's side seat, a small pellet opened and the pungent smell of methane filled the vehicle. The woman was visibly coughing and waving her hand. The door on her side was flung open and she stumbled out into the cold night air. She was cursing the man, who was yelling that he hadn't done it. He then began accusing her.
She was in tears and wobbled towards her front door, which opened to reveal an older man with white hair, clad in a bathrobe. "Barbara! What is it, honey?" Jim Gordon asked of his daughter.
She ran past him and into the house. He looked out at the street and saw Sebastian pulling away. He shrugged and went back into the house, closing the door behind him.
A few rooftops away, the Dark Knight shook his head. He switched his cowl's lenses to starlight and watched as his partner did a little dance of joy.
The Batman sighed. He would have to get better locks on the chemistry lab he supposed.
Then, with the darkness shrouding him, he smiled.
Barbara Gordon locked herself in her room, despite her father's pleas. She took out a handkerchief and began wiping away the make-up that was running down her face from her tears. After a few minutes, when she heard her father retire to his room, she stopped crying.
She continued to clean her face and as the moments passed, her frown turned to a smile. "Fifth guy in two months. Little bastard is getting better."
She finally finished cleaning herself up and changed into her favorite pajamas. As she climbed into bed, her thoughts drifted to a certain young man with dark hair who set her pulse racing when he was near. So timid to speak to her, to share his feelings, he his behind a mask of bravado and childish pranks. She supposed he would grow out of it eventually and would maybe even talk to her like an adult.
But when he did, she decided, she would make him wait, possibly years. She would give no reason to him; no matter how sad those blues eyes appeared. Whenever she would feel weak and ready to give in, she would remind herself of his attempts to remove the other males from her love life.
As she drifted off to sleep, her mind wandered and she began to dream of charming trapeze artists and the batgirls they loved.
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This piece is © 2001 by C.W. Blaine.
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