Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Dick, Allie, Alicia
Series Notes: When Gotham falls to an epidemic, Batman and Robin need help to protect the city. All chapters can be found here.
Categories: Drama, Angst
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: With half the police force stricken, Batman and Robin have a busy night.
Date of Completion: April 1, 2007
Date of Posting: April 22, 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 1790
Author's Note: Once in awhile an original character will slip into the group up there in the Pairings/Characters line, so if you don't recognize the name, that' s probably why. :)
Don’t leave me.
Don’t grieve me.
‘Gotham’s citizens are doing their best to cope with the rash of influenza that has gripped the city for the past week. Hospitals are overflowing with the sickest of the victims while others remain home to sweat out the fever and care for loved ones stricken ill. The Gotham Police and Fire Departments are at half-strength. People are advised not to go out for recreational activities as this particular strain of flu is strong, contagious, and spreading quickly…’
Bruce grimly shut off the radio, he and Dick changing into costume. Dick affixed his cape around his neck and reached for his mask for the final touch. Before putting it on he looked at his lover.
“Looks like another crazy night.”
Bruce nodded as he picked up his cowl. “With the police force so riddled with officers out sick, we have to expect another busy patrol.” He slipped the cowl on and fixed it into place. “Though we might get lucky. This flu has spread so fast, even the criminal population has been affected.”
Dick pulled on his gloves. The strain of influenza that had invaded Gotham and the surrounding county hit its victims quickly and unexpectedly. One minute a victim felt fine, and the next minute he was literally flat on his back and suffering dizziness, nausea, respiratory problems, aching joints, and a myriad of other symptoms. He and Bruce seemed fine, and happily Alfred was included. He shuddered to think of their loyal butler and friend down with illness. The world was never quite right when Alfred was sick.
They finished dressing and attached their utility belts around their waists. As they were ready to step out of the changing room, Bruce grasped Dick’s arm and pulled him close. Their lips brushed, Dick smiling at the tingle that went through his body. It was a nice little ritual they had now before patrol. Parting, they headed for the Batmobile.
& & & & & &
Before they had been out an hour, Batman and Robin had foiled three attempted robberies and two attempted muggings. While a good number of the underbelly of Gotham was in their sickbeds, the remainder seemed determined to make up for their absence.
Neither of them spoke very much as they tackled one crime after another. The muggings had been close together. Very considerate of the scum, Robin thought. The robberies were easy jobs, small storefronts in a shabby part of town, but the sheer number kept them hopping. They made a few deliveries at the Gotham Police Department Headquarters of bound criminals, helping out the understaffed police force.
Robin didn’t mind the busy night. He liked the adrenaline rush, though he knew he would pay for it by the end of the evening. He felt in perfect health, which was doubly good since half the city was laid up.
They enjoyed a brief respite after their last delivery, then it was time to foil a mugging again. Shaking his head, Robin wondered if the whole city would be overrun with crime if given half a chance.
Of course, this is Gotham! What was I thinking?
The mugging was attempted by two thugs with knives against a woman and her teenage daughter. Both victims clung together in terror as the muggers advanced, lurid grins on their faces, and suddenly a bright blur of color swooped down, knocking the knife out of the first mugger’s hand, while a dark shape took care of the second. The mother gave a little cry as the first mugger swung at Robin, who easily sidestepped him and punched him in the stomach, toppling the thug over onto the gritty pavement.
Batman laid out his man with one punch. Robin turned to the women and smiled. “It’s all right now, ma’am.”
“Th…thank you, Robin!” stuttered the mother. “Alicia, are you all right?” Suddenly, the teenager swooned in her mother’s grip, eyes rolling back in her head. “Alicia!”
Batman was at the woman’s side in an instant. “I’ll take her to the hospital, ma’am. It’s only a few blocks from here. Robin, take this lady there.”
Robin nodded as Batman gently took the girl into a hold that he could maintain for a short distance. He was gone with the grappling hook, the mother anxiously watching.
“This way, ma’am.”
Robin escorted the woman to the Batmobile, easing her into the passenger seat as he hurried around to the driver’s side. The car was built for speed and power, not passengers, and there was only room for two. Robin tried to remember if anything un-Batlike was in the car, but he could only think of the box of tissues and plastic bag of hard candies.
All tropical flavors! he thought with a grin as he slid into the driver’s seat.
The woman pushed a strand of wheat-colored hair out of her hazel eyes. Her height was about 5’ 5” and she was slightly stocky. Her face looked younger than middle age, but maybe the girl with her hadn’t been her daughter.
“I’ll get you there pretty quick, ma’am,” Robin reassured her.
“My name’s Allie.”
She looked around as he started the engine. Obviously worried sick, she was using the Batmobile as a distraction, touching the dashboard tentatively. She looked down and saw the bag of candies and smiled. “Who has the sweet tooth?”
Robin laughed. “Batman claims it’s me, but he filches from that bag more than once throughout the night.”
He nudged the Batmobile out of the alley and swung in the direction of the hospital. He noticed her clutching a tissue in her hand, the tension tight in her fingers.
“Does Alicia like hard candy, too?”
“Oh, yes.” Allie’s careworn face brightened. “She likes the flavors you have here, tropical.”
Robin slowed down for a stray cat walking across the road. “I’m sure she’ll be fine. This flu just hits people hard all of a sudden. She’s young and strong.”
The smile slipped off Allie’s face. “We…we don’t have health insurance, Robin.”
“The hospital can’t turn you away.” Robin shifted, the engine powerful under his hands. “Besides, during this crisis, the Wayne Foundation is underwriting as many of the uninsured patients as they can.”
“God bless Bruce Wayne.”
Robin knew that Bruce wanted to do more, but even the Wayne billions couldn’t fix the country’s screwed-up health care system by itself. At least they could help out during this crisis.
“He’s a good man, yes.”
Robin turned into the emergency parking lot of Gotham General, parking the Batmobile and hurrying around to the passenger side, helping Allie out. She was shaky as she allowed Robin to escort her inside.
The emergency was crowded with weary and sick people, who stirred with interest as they saw the Teen Wonder. Robin and Allie went up to the information desk but before Robin could open his mouth the nurse behind the desk said, “The girl’s being taken care of, ma’am. The Bat’s hanging around in the shadows somewhere, kid.”
The woman was stocky, capable hands sorting through the mass of files on the desk. If this were another era, she would have had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Confidence radiated off her with the ease of long practice. Robin immediately knew they were in good hands.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
She snorted but quirked a smile as she called the next patient.
Robin escorted Allie to a seat, deciding to stay for a little while before seeking out Batman. He felt a tug on his cape and looked down.
A little girl of about three stared up at him with the biggest blue eyes he had ever seen. Her blond hair was mussed and her clothes were shabby but clean. Her tiny hand still held his cape.
“Hi, Angel.” He looked around for the kid’s caregiver. A young woman sheepishly hurried over.
“I’m sorry, Robin, Angeline is a little fussy. We’re waiting to hear about her papa.”
“That’s okay, Miss.” Robin scooped up the little girl, who squealed in delight. “She’s a doll.” He let her play with his collar, looking at her mother. “Is her father in because of the flu?” The woman nodded. “How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine. Angeline is still healthy, too, thank God.”
“Good.” Robin laughed as the girl flipped his cape up. “You like my cape, don’t you, Angel?”
“Pretty!” she cooed.
People were smiling all around them, and Robin carefully handed the girl over to her mother. He leaned down and said to Allie, “I have to go and find Batman.”
She nodded and Robin walked toward the cubicles. Most of the emergency room and the cubicle area were brightly lit, but there were shadows. It was from that darkness that Batman emerged. Long ago Robin had ceased to be startled at this ninja-esque feat. He could do it himself with the proper concentration, but his costume was better-suited to the light.
“How’s the mother?” Batman asked.
“Doing all right.” Robin glanced down at the line of cubicles. “How’s Alicia doing?”
“The doctors have things under control.” Batman cocked his head. “We need to get back on patrol.”
Robin nodded. “I’ll go out the front and meet you at the Batmobile.”
Batman melted back into the shadows again and Robin returned to the emergency room. He smiled at the people waiting for help and worrying about loved ones. Allie brightened a little as he approached. He leaned down and touched her lightly on the shoulder. “Batman and I have to return to our patrol, but you’re in good hands here. Alicia is being taken care of.”
Allie grasped his other hand. “Thank you, Robin. And tell Batman thank you for everything, including watching over my little girl.”
Robin nodded, gently disengaging, and walked out, wishing he could do more but knowing he was helping by being out on the streets.
He slid into the passenger side of the Batmobile, conveyed Allie’s thanks, and he and Batman were out on the streets again. He thought of all those sick people in the emergency room, many without health insurance, and how Bruce had helped them through the Foundation. Batman had stayed with Alicia until Robin had brought her mother, watching over her with the genuine concern that was so well-hidden from the world.
Not hidden from Robin.
As Batman parked the vehicle in an alley, Robin looked around, saw they were alone, and gave him a quick kiss.
“What was that for?” Batman asked, amusement clearly in his tone.
Robin flashed a brilliant smile. “Just for being you.” He was out of the car and flying up to the rooftops before Batman could respond.