Chicken Soup for the Stab Wounds

September 03, 2018:

After Barbara wakes up from her encounter with Red Hood, she confronts Bruce about it.

Wayne Manor

Rich people stuff.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Barbara descends into the Bat Cave, ill-dressed for such a dramatic staircase. Her sweats bear the logo of Gotham City University, and her loose-fitting t-shirt is a bit crumpled. Her red hair is done in a loose braid, and her forelocks are little wisps along her brow. Her house-slippers at least soften her footfalls as she makes her way down into the lair of the Bats.

She's tired and threadbare. The knife had pierced deep through her deltoid, managing to bypass bone. It was still a nasty wound, thanks to the twisting the Red Hood had put behind the blade. Her arm is pinned across her body to keep the muscles relaxed and to completely limit movement. She has various bruises, but the most dramatic is the one across her temple and jaw.

She is introspective as she finishes her descent, only looking up once she's stepped off the last step. "Bruce?" She calls, her soft voice carrying easily in the caves beneath Wayne Manor.

*

'Bruce?' The voice echoes and only the mild sound of actual bats returns Barbara's call.

At the bottom of the stairs, dusting off the keyboards and monitors, an impeccably dressed Alfred turns toward Barbara. At the moment, Bruce Wayne nor Batman is anywhere to be seen. Instead, pausing in his duties, he surveys the wellbeing of Barbara Gordon. "Ah, Mistress Barbara, it's good to see you awake. Master Bruce has requested you join him in the dining room when you felt ready. I'll be up shortly. Chicken soup, perhaps? Or some hot tea? You should have something soothing."

In the dining room, Bruce Wayne sits at the head of a long table. It's almost comically long for the amount of guests he generally has over, but it is what has always been there and so it remains. The paper is spread out, as is a cup of coffee on a nice silver tray. Some plates hold crumbs of what must have been whatever food he ate while waiting for her.

At hearing her approach, he glances upward. "Ah, you're awake. Did you find Alfred?"

*

Each time she's seen Alfred just mildly dusting all the high tech computers of the Bat Cave, she can't help but smile. It's absurdity is welcomed, and it relaxes her a bit. "Thanks, Alfred. Soup would be great." She turns and heads back the way she came, looking to the flutter of bats once before she disappears back into the manor.

Finding Bruce in the dining room, she bypasses the long table to claim a chair beside Bruce. She'll pull one up if she has to. She has never tolerated the table, having grown up where family dinners meant bumping elbows with her brother.

She nods. "Yes." Her tone is dry. "He's dusting." She reaches for the paper, not disturbing the page he's reading while she thumbs through the thin leafs for the lifestyle section, sliding it free from the layers so she can look over it.

It gives her something to do before she glances up to Bruce. "Alfred told dad that I was on a camping trip?" She gives him a bemused look. "Have we run out of cover stories?"

*

"I think it relaxes him," Bruce says of the absurdity of dusting a cave. "The other possibility is that he is a spy using his position to gather enough information on all of us to turn us in." His tone is completely even as he presents this possibility, no matter how absurd other people who know Alfred and how he is truly the caretaker of the Mansion.

Raising an eyebrow, he shakes his head. "It's a perfectly logical cover story. When your return with your injury, it will be due to a fall from climbing. You really oughtn't be so clumsy, Barbara." And while there is still a levity to his tone, there is certainly something more underneath it that sounds a bit more like chastising. She really should not be so clumsy as to be stabbed and concussed. Nevermind how many times he's returned in a similar state.

Folding the paper, he pours more coffee for himself and looks at her expectantly to tell him what happened.

*

"Must be the spy thing. It's the only thing that makes sense."

When Bruce explains the cover story, she snorts slightly — particularly at the misplaced chiding at her lack of grace. She sinks her cheek into her hand, looking over coverage of some muckity-muck party that she avoided attending thanks to being in New York. She can feel his eyes on her, so she exhales slowly before she looks up.

"Caught this kid robbing a convenience store. Secured him, put in a call to GCPD — the usual. I was on the roof when I heard a gunshot, and looked down to see this… man. His face was completely covered in a red hood. Like, completely." Her throat bobs a bit. "He shot the kid, in the head." She shifts uncertainly, mouth drawn into a thin line. "He baited me, I get that now. I went after him, and that's just what he wanted."

She looks up at him after a moment. "He knows you, Bruce. He told me that I needed to ask you about who he is."

*

The explanation of what happened on that rooftop brings Bruce's lips into a tight line. That is the only real change in expression that can be garnered from him. At the very least, the this has garnered some reaction from him and that generally means that it has effected him more than he wishes to allow others to see.

Another pull is taken from the coffee cup as Bruce mulls on what Barbara tells him. As opposed to explaining how it is he may know this man that baited her and that killed a kid whose only crime was robbing a convenience store, he redirects. "What did he say, exactly?" His demeanor is calm, but his question is pointed.

*

With her memory, the question is easily answered. She furrows her brow a bit as she recites: "Tell him his services are no longer needed in Gotham. You tell him the Red Hood's gonna clean up this town. The right way." She frowns, brow still heavy. "When I asked who he was, so we knew who to go after, he said I needed to ask you."

She rubs at the back of her neck with her good hand. "The knife has my name on it, etched into the blade. It's in evidence downstairs. He told me to keep it, and that he has others with 'my brothers' names on it. He's talking about Dick and Tim, isn't he?"

The thin line turns into a distinct frown as Barbara continues her story. Narrowing in on her question, Bruce nods. "Yes, he is." And if the man in the Red Hood has knives for the others, that means this is a problem that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Firmly, he warns, "I'll handle him. If you see him again, don't engage. I don't think he would kill you, but as you saw he does not prescribe to a method of restraint."

Of course, none of these are explanations, none of these explain who this man is and why he is after them. Of course, people are after Batman and his ilk all the time. Perhaps this Red Hood isn't much different.

*

Barbara looks at Bruce a bit bewildered when he offers his warning. "Bruce," she begins, paper now ignored. "Who is he?" She gestures out toward the city. "He's out for Bats, and he's out to use capital punishment for petty crimes like theft."

Her mouth thins to match his own frown. "He knew where to find me, Bruce… he knew my usual patrol. He was waiting for me. I know it. And if he does that to me, what about the others?"

Her voice is laced with honest worry, but there's something else there — a push for more information, more collaboration. His 'children' are getting old, and Babs is just another example of one of them seeking to be an equal — ish.

*

"There are quite a few people who are out for us, Barbara." Bruce gives her a bit of a look. "He's someone who may even have just cause to wish to harm me." While he understands the worry, he also adds firmly, "I have trained each of you to be able to withstand against people who would personally come after you. Dick knows that, as does Tim."

The coffee cup is place down again on the tray with a little more force than necessary. It's not much, it's not a smash. It's more like a clang of noise when he - The Batman - is used to making none. He's used to precisely placing things exactly where they need to be with an exact amount of force.

There's a pause as he measures his own reaction and what that means before he adds, "He's not after you, specifically. He's someone from my past and he is dangerous, but he is doing these things to provoke me."

Her mouth tightens a bit, but she recognizes when she's not going to get any further answers. She folds up the lifestyle section of the newspaper and spreads her hand along the crease; the fingers of her bound up arm twitches a bit as if trying to join her other hand in the gesture.

"And are you provoked?" The question has just the tiniest hint of petulance behind it. It's probably a question that Dick would ask, not Barbara. She must be trying to make-up for the lack of a Grayson at the table at the moment.

*

Even under the best circumstances, Bruce Wayne is tight lipped. Information is provided when he deems it best doled out and not before, not even to his own team. The question she asks, with just the right amount of pique is met with another, "I will handle it."

And, just at that moment, as any good Butler might do, Alfred enters with another silver tray. Upon it is a large bowl of chicken noodle soup - not Campbell's, but homemade. A mug of hot water with lemon and honey and a large glass of ice water sits alongside it. "Here you are, Mistress Barbara." Setting it down in front of her with nary a rattle, he stands and gives her a smile. "A good chicken soup is just the thing for a mild stabbing. It helps with the healing. Do be sure to drink all the broth."

*

Barbara looks dubiously at Bruce until the door opens and Alfred enters. The butler has a way about him that softens the Gordon, and she smiles warmly up at him as he sets down the bowl. His comment draws a warm laugh from her despite the state of her injuries, and she takes up the spoon. "The broth is my favorite part. Thanks, Alfred."

Alfred does a double-tap, soothing Barbara and giving Bruce a reprieve from further questioning. She drops it… for now.

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