Nightwing Gets The Punchline

November 18, 2014: Nightwing responds to Oracles message to contact her ASAP to be told Robin and The Joker. The meeting with Oracle, is tense.

Clocktower - Gotham

A locally famous landmark, the Gotham Clock Tower is located in the Central Business District. Tours haven't run in years, though, since the building was bought out by a group of bird-lovers known as the Nightingale Society. Still, it's a well-known part of the Downtown skyline. From the outside it looks unused, but the clock is clearly maintained as it still runs on time, and now and again people can be seen coming and going. The bottom floor looks mostly disused, with a long hallway ending in a bookshelf full of coffee table books about birds. To either side of the hall are sparsely furnished rooms. The walls show illustrations of local Gotham feathery sorts, and charts on bird migrations. Cabinets store various bits of bird-watching equipment.

The doors to the stairs require a key card to access, probably to deter vandalism. The upper floors are only accessible by a secret elevator. The doorways to access it them the stairs have been bricked over and drywalled. On the living quarters floor, each door requires a keycard and voice recognition, except for the door to the training facility at the end of the hall, which requires palm, optical, and voice recognition. The top floor, however, is the most secure of all.

The pale glow of the four massive translucent clock-faces dominate the four compass points of the lair, casting everything in a warm light by night, and cool light by day. the natural brick walls of the buildings exterior are left visible on one wall while the others are painted a pristine white. The ceilings have recessed and track lighting, and the floors are smooth pale wood. There is a lounge area and even a kitchen, as well as other facilities here. The insulation around the top floor is meant to keep scanners and eavesdropping equipment from being able to image what's inside.

Mainframes and back-up generators line most of the walls in rooms of clear glass kept from overheating with with high-tech coolant systems. In front of one clock face is an enormous computer system laid out on a long, custom desk, lower than average, just the right height for Oracle's wheelchair. There is a command chair for use when needed, which slides on rails along the length of the desk. A huge bank of monitors are arrayed in a horseshoe shape around the desk, with the ability to form one large picture or individual smaller ones.



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== Follow on from Punchline ==

As May takes off with Robin in her charge, Oracle sends out encoded messages to Batman and Nightwing informing them that Robin is down and asking them to contact her ASAP. The red head is very concerned about the turn of events, it's just what she and Nightwing had discussed not so many days ago.

However, all she do now is wait: To discuss next steps with May; and the for the Bats to get in touch. Tea always helps the waiting and Babs is in the Kitchen on the top floor of the Clocktower brewing herself a cup of Lavendar tea, enjoying the aroma as the boiling water is poured over the infusor. She looks lost in thought as she does this…

Unfortunately, Dick Grayson is in class when he got the message so was unable to respond but once he was out, he decided to return the message on his way over. The phone is pretty much ringing as he pulls up to the Clocktower on his bike. Using the 'public' entrance, as he's not in his evening-clothes, he enters the code to get up to the tower even as he waits for the line to pick up.

The phone ringing has Babs frowning… she checks the caller information, which confirms that it's Dick Grayson… the video feeds from the entry to building tells her that the man himself is on the way up.

Answering the call "I'll make tea, see you in a couple of seconds, we can talk in person when you get here". The woman can be direct sometimes… particularly when she's worried. She pulls out a mug, starts the jug boiling again and turns to face the main entry.

The fact that he got an encoded message has him worried enough. Once he gets into the room, he pretty much beelines it right over to Babs. "I'm sorry, I was in class…no cellphone use allowed. What happened? Is everything all right?" He glances over at the monitors as if that will help clue him in.

"Tea or Coffee, Dick. The waters hot." Babs asks as she waves away the explanation. "It's fine, it's why I sent the encoded message, I knew you'd get as soon as you could. And you're here… so it worked" Running her hand through her hair, she hesistates. "Let me finish making your drink and I'll get to crux of the matter."

"Coffee, but I can make it," Dick moves over to make good on his offer. "If it's that important, I think it's best if you just start right in." It also won't kill him if he doesn't get the coffee. Glancing over his shoulder, he points out, "You're stalling. Why?"

"I'm not stalling… you're going to want the drink, trust me" Babs offers a small smile as finishes making the coffee. "Take the mug then, milk and creamer is in the fridge, it should be in date."

As she moves back to her desk, she starts explaining "Robins down, he ran into The Joker and it went bad, really quickly. I didn't have anyone to send to help him… I had to get help from outside the Bats to save him." Holding a hand up to forestall any protests "I know you would have gone but you were in class and that's all there is to say on that…" Looking at Dick over her shoulder "This is what happened"

Babs pulls up video footage that she's stitched together from the video feed from Robins suit and the CCTV cameras and shows in graphic detail with sound, exactly what Robin endured (and she had to watch) at the hands of The Joker. The whole video is only minutes long, a bit of careful editing has seen to that. "That's the edited summary, but you get the gist."

Shaking her head, she sighs "Batman said we were stretched thin the other day, and we are. This proves it."

There's a sideways glance at Babs before Dick adds some milk to his coffee before moving to sit on the couch. He starts to protest as soon as she mentions getting help outside of their crew and he is, indeed, stopped by the hand. Blue eyes then go to the monitor as he watches what happened.

"I should have left class. Some things are far more important…" is murmured before he asks, "Where was Batman anyways then? And why was Robin…" there's a shake of his head, "He's trying to get himself killed." He does, indeed take a sip of coffee before asking the next question, "Where is he?"

"And your phone was off, remember" Babs chides softly. "Batman was otherwise engaged, as I said, we're spread thin." Rubbing her forehead, she takes a minute "I called in Agent May from SHIELD, Batman won't like it, but she was the only one with the resources to get there, and damn quick I might add, and extract him. It seems it's her forte. She's taking him to one their facilities, out of Gotham." Another pause as she takes a mouthful of tea "Out of Gotham, I think is a really good idea" she murmurs.

Green eyes are raised to meet the Blue ones "Robin," she says quietly "Was doing his job. I'm not sure he was trying to get himself killed but certainly I'm worried about his mindset, but he did nothing wrong… I've replayed everything, The Joker hit him hard."

Dick glowers into his coffee as he listens. "I guess I'm somewhat relieved that he didn't invite this onto himself, but…it doesn't make me feel any better about it." He wasn't there to help. Batman wasn't there to help. "We can't be everywhere, it's true…but…" He put the cup down on the coffee table maybe a little too hard as the drink sloshes over, "Dammit, this shouldn't have happened!"

Standing, he scrubs a hand over his mouth, "How is he? Is he going to be all right? We should get him away from SHIELD as soon as possible."

Babs raises an eyebrow as Dick spills the coffee "There's a cloth in the kitchen to mop that up with." she says mildly. A small smile appears "Shouldn't have happened… We're spread thin and Tim" a sigh "has been chafing at the bit for weeks… it was going to happen sooner or later, we both saw it."

Her tea gets some consideration, while she thinks on the next answer "He's not well, but he's alive and that says something. I'm waiting for May to contact me with an update. And I may disagree about getting him away from SHIELD asap." the hand goes up again "hear me out first. I've worked with May in the field, she's good. Robin also got to meet her in person after being put in hospital, she cared enough to actually check him over whilst we all spoke. I want to talk to her, tonight, and work out a plan of action. Anything I've tried has failed and honestly, when he finally makes his decision he has to be able to trust that someone is on his side. That's you and I… " a small wry smile twists her lips "Let SHIELD be the bad guys, forcing him to recouperate… Trust me to handle this. I will bring him home as soon as I can."

Dick storms over to get the dishtowel before he storms back. The towel is dropped on the puddle of coffee before he turns to Babs, "It's not about being spread thin. What, you want there to be more of us? So that the secret gets inevitably spilled about who we are and we're all imprisoned for vigilantism, assault, breaking and entering, stalking…would you like me to go on?" Says the soon-to-be-cop.

Her wry smile isn't returned. Instead, his expression goes almost flat for a moment, "What about the mask? Are they going to leave it on? Treat him anonymously? Not run fingerprints through a system to get his identity? Do you seriously trust them in that regards?"

"You are in my home, Dick, control your temper. I've had just about as much as I can take from today." Babs tone is low and controlled. "For the record, the Bats are doing such a great job, there are other groups now working the town… What.Does.That.Tell.You… " the tone might be controlled, but it should be obvious that Babs is working up to a right temper now "I trust May right now… Seriously, Dick, SHIELD has enough data on Robin to have already to have done that. And yet they haven't… just think on that." Turning away, back to her screens Babs falls silent.

"Are you so sure they haven't?" Dick does push his temper back down — he's had a great deal of practice stuffing his feelings away somewhere. Frustrations are taken out on the bad guys…not the good guys. Most of the time. "It tells me a lot of things…and I'm not saying that we aren't spread thin. But I also know that, as you said, we aren't the only ones working the town." He's met more than a few.

A deep breath is taken in and let out before he continues, trying to be calmer, "I know you may trust this May, but please also look at it from my side as well. I'm fine with them being the 'bad guys' in forcing him to recover, but is it going to do any good with the fear and anxiety that he's going to be discovered? How is that going to help him, exactly? How is that going to help this phase he's in?"

"You don't think I see it from your point of view; You don't think I've considered the ramifications?" Babs tone is cool. "You have no idea how much work I put into developing relationships with these type of people to protect each and everyone of us and Gotham." There's a level of bitterness creeping into her tone, Babs is offended.

And then the tone changes, to one of resignation "You and Batman are aware of the situation, you were advised as soon as it happened and I'm trying to handle it, without burning bridges. You either trust me to do this or you don't… it's that's simple. As I've said, as soon as I know more, you and Batman will be the first to know."

All of this has been said to her screens.

Nightwing sits back down, "I know you've considered it. I know how much work you put into all of this. I'm sorry. I'm just…worried for Tim and I don't trust SHIELD." In that, he's like Batman…he's very slow to trust others with thi secret.

"Let me help you. This is a lot. While I know you -can- handle it, the least I can do is do whatever I can to help."

Babs blows out a very long breath but doesn't turn. "I'm worried about Tim, a lot, on so many levels." she says quietly "The help is appreciated, when I know the next step. It's a delicate dance, this one. There's nothing to be done yet but when I know, we'll talk."

Rubbing her forehead, her shoulders held tense, Babs waits for a short while before continuing. "I'm fighting the urge to speed up to whereever they're going to be by his side… he shouldn't have to endure this alone, I of all people, know that. But how can Oracle do that… and what right would Babs Gordon have to be there?"

"I am too. I…I hope he starts to listen," but that's neither here nor there right now. Retrieving his coffee, Dick sips at what's left of it, "Nightwing can go. I'll still be reachable in case anything comes up," unless they block the signal, "But I can go."

Turning back towards Dick, Babs is still not happy but calmer. "Like that doesn't bite, Dick…" she shakes her head. "But yes, Nightwing can go providing he controls his temper." The green eyes fix on Dick with meaning "It's a waiting game for the next hour or so, I'll be in touch when the next piece is played. You should go patrol…"

The coffee is finished and both the mug and the dishtowel are taken to the kitchen area. "He'll control his temper. I may kill Tim hen he's recovered, but for now, he'll control his temper." A hand scrubs through his hair, "Call me when you know where he is…let them know I'll be coming over then to sit with him. Please."

Now is probably not the best time to mention that he still knows he owes her a coffee…and a dinner.

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