Bruce Wayne (came_to_win) wrote in gotham_lights,
Bruce Wayne

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Early morning, 11/29

(Open to anyone who wants in, really...)

Bruce Wayne was awake before the sunlight even began to filter through the blinds. He had gotten a few hours' sound sleep after the party, and then awoke to make a brief round of the mansion and make sure all was well. There were one or two cars still parked in the cul-de-sac at the front of the Manor, which came as no surprise - certainly a trustee or two had needed a designated driver.

Better safe than sorry, Bruce had thought. And that very folk saying had led his steps back up to his own room, where he paused in the doorway, quietly, to look over to where Selina Kyle still lay asleep on her side of the bed.

A silent sigh escaped Bruce's lips, and he smiled briefly at the way her hair scattered over the pillows. Then his eyes strayed to the dress draped over the chaise in the corner, and his mind wandered back to the party - and to the reason he'd steered her away from it.

Max Shreck, alive.

It was the sort of thought he wasn't even going to attempt to process properly without a cup of coffee, even if he wasn't tired. Resisting the urge go pad over and kiss Selina's cheek - and therefore risk waking her, Bruce turned back towards the hallway, carefully shutting the door behind him before making his way down to the tiny, narrow stairwell that led into the back of the kitchen. Alfred was either still asleep, or elsewhere, so Bruce took the liberty of turning on the small radio on the counter before he went about the motions of fixing himself a cup of coffee.

Alfred usually had the radio tuned in to a small classical station out of Metropolis, or the news band. This morning, the lively yet somehow droning voice of the morning newscaster issued forth quietly from the speakers.

"... And now,this just in from Gotham Heights. A repair junker from the Gotham Harbor Preservation Project has just called in to 911, regarding what appears to be a dead body found amid the morning's first refuse dredge. Police have no official statement at the moment..."

Instantly, Bruce flipped off both coffeemaker and radio. Pulling a blank recipe card from the wooden box near the spice rack, he picked up a pen from the counter and scribbled off a quick note, depositing it in the clean, empty carafe.

Alfred -
We'll get Dunkin' Donuts. Apologies to Ms. Kyle.
- Bruce & Dick
PS. Call me if either of you want bagels brought back or something.

Formalities out of the way, Bruce retraced his steps quickly and quietly back up to the second floor, hesitating only a moment before knocking on his ward's door. Dick really isn't going to like this ...
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Silence followed for a long moment, followed by the faint stirring of sheets and pillows and an incoherent noise. As Dick raised his head from his pillow to shoot a glance at the clock on his nightstand, he considered not even bothering to get up. It was too early for this and while, once he’d been up and about for awhile, he was sure he wouldn’t be tired, sleep still had him in its grip. And at the moment, there was nothing that seemed to want to help him crowbar Morpheus off his eyelids. Just as he was about to drop himself back onto the pillow face-first, however, something occurred to him. Several somethings, actually, and none of them seemed to point to anything as pleasant as Alfred asking him if he wanted something to eat.

Another incomprehensible, sleepy moan and then he pushed himself into a sitting position, wincing briefly at the sliver of sunlight that had forced its way into his darkened room through a sliver of unclosed curtain space. Making a face that signaled to no one in particular that he was awake and coming, he weaved out of the way of the errant sunbeam and slid off the bed. And then, silently – thanks to the dress socks he was still wearing, along with most of his suit from the night before – he padded over to the door.

Pulling it open he peered out into the hallway and when he spotted Bruce, whatever lingering grogginess that was still hanging around was immediately dispelled. Something was wrong – more wrong than Max Shreck being at the party last night, more wrong than anything had been in a long time. He could almost taste it.

And it was with that in mind that he offered his mentor a frown that was somewhere between concerned and determined.

"What's up?"
And when Bruce spoke, it was in a tone he rarely used on the Manor grounds.

"Come on. I'll explain."

Without another word, he turned and led the way briskly toward a large grandfather clock at one side of the hall.
His frown deepening almost imperceivably, Dick paused only long enough to close his door behind him before following. Without realizing it, he mirrored the tone of Bruce's voice with his actions, step becoming a long, confident stride. Silently, he watched as Bruce set the broken clock to a familiar time - although the signifigance of said time remained a mystery to him - and still without words, he followed Bruce down the stairs behind said clock after it slid away.

And as they descended the stairs, it occured to him again to ask what was wrong, but he didn't. Bruce said he'd explain, and Dick didn't doubt that. And even if he had, he'd learned that when Bruce got like this - when Bruce became Batman - there was no sense in asking him anything until he was good and ready to give it.
Once the clock had slid back into place, their way lit only by dim blue tracklighting under the rise of the steps, Bruce spoke again. "Sorry to wake you up - I thought you'd want to come."

So saying, he stepped down off the staircase and onto a dais with a narrow walkway that led down to the main platforms of the Batcave. The reconstruction since Riddler and Two-Face's attacks a month ago were coming along moderately - money was certainly not an issue, however, hiring contractors to rebuild things was completely out of the question. The Manor's three inhabitants had been doing what they could, on their own. The pace was something Bruce was thoroughly unhappy with, but was learning to work around. And so, as he made his way across the walkway, Bruce took stock.

Several of the side chambers were still in disarray, and many of Batman's tools and computers had been destroyed, Only the most basic of the computer systems were back up and running, and he had managed to retool the essential gadgets. Replacing the costumes that Riddler had incinerated was out of the question - he had found those new prototypes to be slightly overdone, anyways, so the Dark Knight had brought a few older suits out of storage.

The Batmobile, however, had been his first priority to replace, and he had rebuilt it back up from the previous design. It had taken several long hours in coveralls, but Bruce had finally made the finishing touches a week ago, save for a few bells and whistles. However, the morning's excursion would hardly be frought with high-speed chases and dangerous scenarios (he hoped), so it didn't seem much of a problem.

Stepping towards one of the two small antechambers that served as walk-in closets for he and his protege, Bruce spoke again. "There's been a murder in the harbor." Turning his attentions toward the computer console, he deepened his voice just slightly, using the tone that would get its attention. "Radio on."

As Bruce Wayne stepped into the chamber, the console flickered, and then the band of the Gotham City police radio echoed throughout the cave.
And where Dick would have expected one voice, this was an all-out assault. There was, of course, the dispatch officer issuing police codes - only a handful of which he understood. But even if he was well versed in code and lingo, it would be hard to understand, because every now and then, the dispatchers voice would cut out to make way for an officer asking for directions. Or the paramedics saying they were on their way to pronounce. And so on and so forth. Whether this riot of sound was an indication of the state of the police force so early in the morning, or a result of the repairs was anyone's guess. But it was clear from Dick's face that neither option seemed preferable to him.

Frowning, he peered at nothing in particular as he struggled to work out what was going on, and was pleased to hear a code that meant something he understood. Radio silence. A pause followed, and then the dispatcher continued where she had left off, spouting codes and directions and the like for all who happened to be listening. And almost immediately, Dick caught another code he was familiar with.

The dispatcher was reporting there was a possible homicide and that all available units - and the coroner - should report as soon as possible.

"We're gonna go check it out then," he answered, moving for the closet that contained Robin's wardrobe.
For a few minutes, the only sound in the Batcave was the almost organized cacophony of the police radio. And from the codes alone, Batman - for he had become so the moment the cowl reached his hands - had already figured out several things, which he pieced together as he slipped into his suit. As he tugged his gloves on and stepped out onto the platform, he pressed the button on his utility belt which served as an auto-start for the Batmobile, and waited semi-patiently for his partner to join him. Time was of the essence if they wanted to glean any of their own opinions from the scene. However, Batman decided, it didn't matter too much how long Robin took. There were still plenty of clues that could be found after the crews had departed, and anything that they couldn't find there could be easily obtained from a meeting with Commissioner Gordon, later on.
Robin, however, didn't take much more time at all, stepping out into the cave a second later, a hand pressed to the space between his eyes to ensure the spirit gum would hold his mask there. And once he was sure it would, a hand fell to his own belt, hitting the switch that would start up his own ride. Said switch had been a pain to install, but it clearly worked, as the sleek red and black motorcycle on the platform beside the Batmobile sprung to life immediately.

Stifling a smile at the thought of his ride - his baby - he moved over to and straddled it effortlessly, revving the throttle as a sign that he was ready and willing to go.
Batman nodded, opening the hatch that would let him into the driver's seat. "With luck," he deadpanned, "we'll miss morning rush hour. ... Turn your commlink on. There are some things you should hear about on the way."
Still wordless, Batman's partner planted his feet on the ground for a moment to keep the bike steady as he leaned back to open a practically invisible compartment near the back of the bike. Pulling out what appeared to be an amped up hands-free cellphone wire - sans wiring for it to plug into something, he slid it over his head. And then, punching another button on his belt, he offered Bruce an almost anxious thumbs up, as if to say, "Ok, it's on. Let's go."
Batman merely nodded before sliding into the driver's seat of the Batmobile. However, as he turned it around on the platform to drive out of the cave and onto the heavily wooded lane that shielded it from public access, the Dark Knight couldn't help but allow himself a fraction of a smile. Wake him up at the crack of dawn after a party and he's still excited to go ...

He still wasn't sure, though, just how good a sign it was.
And if Bruce was aware of his protégé’s motives to rush off to the scene of the crime, he might actually be proud somehow. Mostly, because for once, Robin wasn’t interested in kicking ass and taking names – a truth partly due to the fact that they were going to a crime scene, and there was no ass to kick. Instead, the younger man’s rush was due to the fact that someone was dead, and he knew he wasn’t as good a detective as Batman was. So, the sooner they got there, he figured, the better chance he’d have at getting a handle on what was going on before the press showed up, or the coroners carted off the body. Yeah, sure, he knew he wouldn’t have to go it alone – his mentor would be right there alongside him – but still. He wanted to get there, he wanted to find out what happened, and he wanted to do it now.

Which probably explained the way he drove.

Not that Robin’s speed and weaving were any different or any more reckless than usual, and as always, he kept a sharp eye for any pedestrians who might accidentally step out into the street as he raced along it. But driving habits normal or otherwise, there was definitely a sense of urgency to the way he drove, the way he hunkered down over the handlebars, chest almost touching the engine.

“So, what’s up?” he asked finally, as he and Batman roared through the streets of Gotham, taking as many side roads and short-cuts as possible to ensure they avoided traffic. “You said there were some things I should hear?”
A moment's radio silence, and then, Batman spoke.

"A death's been reported, and they've sent the coroner. So far there haven't been any clarifying codes ... any variations on a 20 or a 30, particularly. So either it's suicide ... or it's an abnormal homicide."

With that in mind, he pushed the accelerator on the Batmobile a bit more. If it was suicide, they could afford to let the coroner take the DB away before they arrived. But if it was abnormal homicide, they had all the more reason to put the proverbial pedal to the metal.

Not only that, but there was the Preservation Project itself to consider. Ever since the Gotham Civil Preservation Society had brought the motion before the board to restore the harbor, clean up the pollution and turn it into a park, it had been met with opposition - mostly from those who felt the monies could be put to better use. There was always the possibility that the body could be connected to the Project ... and that always made things more complicated.

Either way, the two vigilantes would most likely have their hands full once they arrived, homicide or no.
"Either way, not good for us," Robin answered, a frown poisoning his features.

Even without knowing much about the Preservation Project - except for maybe the fact that it existed in the first place - he knew he was right. Mostly, because from what he'd seen thus far as one of Gotham's two protectors, suicide usually translated eventually to abnormal homicide - like Fred Stickley. And yeah, sure, maybe he hadn't been around for that one, directly, but still. He'd helped to put the guy who did it away. It counted.

Swerving to narrowly avoid a rain-filled pothole he'd nearly missed in his reverie, he pushed the bike a little harder to keep up with his partner's car. "Gordon there yet?"
Commissioner James Gordon stood by the coroner's van, a look of dark foreboding writ on his gaunt face. He was trying to simultaneously deal with the M.E. (a short, bespectacled man whose emotional sensitivities left something to the imagination) and a member of the Gotham Civil Preservation Society. The latter man -- a James Henry Whitmore -- was complaining audibly about financial repercussions the discovery would prompt:

"You don't understand," the man whined, shooting a glance to the Rolex at his wrist, as if Gordon were impressing unduly on his time, "we're going to lose funding. Can you imagine what the financiers are going to say when they find out your department pulled a stiff from the Harbor? For Chrisstakes, we were going to put a water fountain in!"

Gordon frowned around the rim of his coffee cup. "Mr. Whitmore, what the GCPS does or doesn't do isn't the concern of my department." He negotiated a glance over Whitmore's shoulder, hearing the rumble of the motorcycle and Batmobile duo. He leaned back: "I'm trying to solve a crime."

Whitmore was insistent: "Commissioner, really..." But Gordon had already pushed past the man, shoving the half-empty cup of coffee into a gloved hand in some sort of apologetic gesture -- half-hearted, but still there. He advanced over the treacherous embankment, muddying one of his knees in the process, until he came to stand beneath the great scaffolding of the bridge. He raised a hand in greeting.
He kept to the bridge's shadows. True, there was no need for so much secrecy around the Commissioner, but the other two - one Batman recognized as the ME, and one Bruce Wayne recognized from the GCPS - were another story entirely. One glimpse of Batman, and they'd most likely overreact to some extent. So, with that in mind, he spoke, his voice low.

"Commissioner. I trust you know at least a few more things than our scanners did en route."
Gordon has to glance around the architecture to locate the source of the deep, foreboding voice. At first he directs his answer to the abyss, then, after pinpointing the eave under which Batman and Robin crouched, he made it more pointed.

"ME just finished ID'ing the body." He consults the steno pad in his hand. "A Dr. Jason Woodrue. ID was still in his wallet -- no money taken, so we can rule out a snatch-and-grab scenario." He glances back along the waterfront: the ME was now bagging the body in a thick vinyl shroud, his back to their cloistered meeting. Whitmore was yammering heatedly on his cellular telephone, the chunky device spewing out a return assault of verbal intensity.

Gordon looks back to the pair. "Body's been in the water less than eight hours. ME ran some on-site tests that gave us the time. Funny thing is," he says, removing his tri-square cap and scratching his head, "the amount of damage done to the face suggests a longer submersion. We're not sure if that's just the cocktail of the Harbor or other outside factors. We ordered a tox screen. I'll have it to you by mid-day."
Mid-day, Batman thought, and let the shadows cover his frown of disapproval. The sun was hardly up, and Gordon was talking mid-day? The computer in the Batcave could run tox screens faster than the morgue lab techs.

The Dark Knight's eyes darted to the body bag. "Woodrue," he echoed. "Well, if it wasn't suicide, whoever did it wanted us to know who he was."

We've got to find a way to get a look at that body, he decided. A diversion of some sort would suffice. But can I tell Robin without Jim hearing, before they take Woodrue's body away...?
"Or they're really sloppy," Jim admits, turning his attention to the proceedings below. Whitmore had finished his cell phone conversation and was now arguing heatedly with the ME. Gordon caatches snippits of the exchange: "Taxpayers have a right to..." "Take this up with the board" "Sorry, but my hands are tied".

"This doesn't read like the scene of a hardened criminal. Any seasoned Gothamite knows that these waters are patrolled on a daily basis by the barges. There's heavy traffic on the bridge into the Narrows. Either they're an exhibitionist and wanted us to find this guy, or they've never seen an episode of NYPD Blue."

He turns back to the Batman, shaggy brows raised. "What're you going to do?"
"That depends on what we find, Commissioner," Batman replied, tilting his head just slightly to indicate the open harbor, one of the docks tied with boats, hobby and commercial alike. "After all, you can't mark off an entire harbor. People come and go here. If someone dumped him off a boat, that boat..." He paused, hesitating slightly in thought. "... it could be gone by now."
Robin, meanwhile, had followed the entire exchange between Batman and Gordon and had come to the same conclusion. Mid-day wasn't good enough, not when he and Batman had a supercomputer at home that he was pretty sure could do it in at least half that time. But he also got the feeling that the ME wasn't going to let him or his partner walk up to the body and go, "Yo. Can I get a look at that?" Not when most of Gotham still had mixed opinions on the Caped Crusaders. Which meant one thing.

They needed a distraction.

A frown settling in the corners of his lips, he let his eyes wander, using his periferal vision to scan his surroundings, not daring to move his head. Not when Gordon was almost as sharp as Batman was, and when he didn't know how the Comissioner would take to him slinking off to cause a distraction.

Dirt, boat, bridge ...

Wait a minute. Boat? That looked promising. And apparently Batman thought so too, because as he snapped back to reality, he caught the end of the Dark Knight's statement. And his hesitation. Bruce hesitated - Batman didn't. So, apparently the Dark Knight had had the same idea he had.

Eyes flickering to Gordon and then to the ME and Whitmore aguring behind him, he frowned just a bit more. Could he pull it off without someone noticing? Maybe. The shadows of the bridge were good cover and, now that he thought about it, the sun was slowly rising in such a way that anyone looking for him would have to squint.

Damn, Batman'd chosen a good hiding spot - he needed to learn how to do that. But that, he decided, was a thought for a later date, and moving slowly and with practiced grace, he inched in the direction of the boat.

So far, so good, he told himself, a ghost of a grim smile twitching the corners of his lips upwards.

A second later, he was at the boat, and a second after that, a quick black object - Robin's hand - darted out of the shadows to untie the boat. And silently, Dick thanked one of his fellow performers for teaching him to tie and untie knots - there had been an escape artist act at the circus at one point - and no one for noticing. Or at least it seemed to him that they hadn't noticed.

Slinking back to his spot, near-invisible behind the Batman, he hoped someone would notice the boat was drifting away. ... Maybe he'd speed the process along.

"Uh, guys? Speaking of boats ..."
Gordon's head jerks to attention like a gazelle in the presence of a predator. He swivels a look over his shoulder in time to see a boat (one of the smaller vessels: a double-masted affair with the name Huntress II plated in gold relief upon the stern) come free of its moorings and begin a tranquil drift into the center of the harbor.

Gordon immediately turns and books it down the rocky gully, sliding most of the way on his rear. He waves his hands above his head, calling all arms present to secure the boat. The ME looks up, startled to see the prow of graze past the ruddy protrusion of his knobbed nose. Even Whitmore looks confused. The SOC guys clammor to get a grip on the rope, which is slowly slipping off the bank and into the black water.

Only Dr. Woodrue gives little attention to the fracas that's slowly unfolding.
The corner of Batman's mouth quirked up in a tiny smile. Robin's getting a little better at his stealth.

Now, however, was the time for the big guns, as far as stealth was concerned. Quickly, Batman sprinted out from beneath the bridge, feet falling almost silently upon the moist shore and the pilings of the docks. Any other sound would be muffled by the commotion at the dock.

Kneeling beside the bodybag, Batman gave Woodrue's body a very brief glance. The bag had been dropped in a haste to save the boat - the property of the living being more valuable than the honor of the dead, apparently - and one arm had fallen free onto the ground. The former Dr. Woodrue's forearm had a noticably-sized patch of skin missing - most likely due to some sort of impact in the water.

Reaching into one of the pouches of his utility belt, Batman withdrew a small pair of tweezers and a plastic vial. Quickly but carefully, he pulled a small piece of skin from one of the ragged edges on the cadaver's forearm. No apologies seemed needed, mental or otherwise - after all, if what he'd collected led to some sort of answer, it would be more than enough apology on its own.

Tucking the vial back into his belt, Batman sprinted back toward the shadowed seclusion of the bridge, just in time to watch a besotted Commissioner Gordon help secure the Huntress II back to the dock.

"Nice teamwork," he says quietly, glancing over at his partner.
Trying for modesty, the younger of the two heroes offered a small shrug, but the satisfied grin creeping across his features spoke to the contrary. And realizing almost immediately that he had failed, he cleared his throat minutely, forcing a more serious expression onto his face.

"Time to split?" he ventured, knowing that it was Batman's way to go, get what he needed, and disppeared before anyone even realized he was gone.
The Dark Knight nodded. "We've got what we came for." And without another word, he turned and made his way out further beneath the bridge, to where the Batmobile had been parked.