The Cavalry is Late
Roleplaying Log: The Cavalry is Late
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank arrives in Gotham to find Babs and Dinah have made it out of trouble on their own (for certain definitions of "made it out" and "on their own").

Other Characters Referenced: Black Canary, Alfred Pennyworth (obliquely), Huntress (obliquely), Scarlet Witch (unknowingly)
IC Date: July 01, 2019
IC Location: Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 Jul 2019 03:03
Rating & Warnings: R for Language
NPC & GM Credits: Unconscious Dinah by Babs
Associated Plots

It isn't safe down here for two vigilantes — one so obviously Batgirl. There are lots of criminal types down here — lots of bad, bad people — who would love to take a potshot at Batgirl and Black Canary. She got out of that outrageous costume with the razor-sharp sequins, the deadly heels, and what little remained of her cape. She will have to get a new headpiece made as the black, protective polymer has been coated in thick glitter that makes it shimmer and glint in the dingy lighting of the Gotham sewers; luckily, she can use the 3D printers at Stark's labs for that. She's otherwise in her dark violet suit and mustard yellow boots and knee-length cape. She has a mostly unconscious Dinah Lance under her arm, holding her up as best she can as she maneuvers the sewers, trying to avoid the deviants that are leaving the fight club. Some are having their own mini fight clubs, and she uses the distraction to duck down a length of sewer with Black Canary dragging along with her footsteps.

Gunfire echoes through the sewers. Probably from multiple places, but one of the sources is heavy — and relatively muted — a shotgun firing birdshot, not slugs or buckshot. There's some indistinct yelling, accompanying the shots, echoing through the tunnels. It's easy to track people who have seen someone wearing a glittery helmet, even if it takes asking a lot of people those few questions. The Punisher shed his hoodie two shots and a roll through the sludge of the sewers ago, and now stalks the dark tunnels in his skull-painted vest and a balaclava. He carries an assault rifle slung on his back and a pump-action shotgun in his arms, a flashlight — his second tonight — clenched between his teeth. He turns the corner, spotting the glitter and bringing the shotgun up, rage glittering in his dark eyes behind the blaze of the flashlight. "RED!" This close, the roaring word is easier to understand.

That sound of gunfire causes Babs to tuck closer to the walls of the sewers, hugging in Dinah who groans at the pressure around her body as the Batgirl does her best to make sure that her cape is nestled around them to guard against the bullets. Then she is looking up just as she spots the darting flashlight, and then her eyes widen as she then recognizes the vest. "Frank," she gasps aloud. Then she's pushing off against the sewer wall and stepping more into view with Dinah. She's standing there with a shadowy silhouette, the ears on her helmet glistening in the light. Then her eyes widen more, and she cries out, "Frank, DOWN!" This is just in time for one of those aggressive spectators to sweep a shaft of pipe at Frank's head.

The Punisher's already-wide eyes widen even further with the sound of Babs's voice, and he starts forward, only to react instinctively to her call. He drops into the semi-solid muck at his feet, rolling onto his back and bringing up the shotgun. The shot, when it roars into the darkness, doesn't target center mass or the man's face, but instead comes in low, tearing at his lower legs and sending him to the ground with a howl of pain. The Punisher draws back a foot and kicks out, slamming into the guy's face and shutting up the howling. He's slow to get up, but he does, groaning as the bruises under his vest complain, "Red." His eyes search the darkness, and he gathers his flashlight in the left hand, the beam flicking about.

Batgirl is gasping in breaths, holding tighter to Dinah who gives another groan. She darts a look over her shoulder, then over Frank's. Then she nods, and takes several steps forward before she appears to disappear, only for it to become apparent by the flash of his flashlight that she's gone down a corner. When he gets around that corner, she is setting down Dinah gently down on the floor of the corridor. At the far end of it is a ladder that leads up to a wide, circular doorway that opens up to more tunnels. She's lifting her eyes up to meet his.

The Punisher — Frank — hurries to the corner as Batgirl disappears, pulling up the bottom of his balaclava as he goes. His breath catches before the light catches her and Dinah alike, and he lets out a sigh that is almost lost in the shattered sounds of the sewers. He slings the shotgun as he closes with her, turning off the flashlight to plunge them into near darkness and tucking it away. Instead, his hands go to her jawline, "Red." Leaning forward, he presses his knit-wrapped brow to her forehead. "You okay? Blondie okay?" Sorry Dinah, there's definitely more emphasis on the former than the latter.

Batgirl is standing slowly as Frank crosses to her, and then they are in darkness. Her breath catches in her chest when he touches her, and he cannot see the bruise he caresses or the way the closeness of their breath stings her broken nose. She reaches up to touch the skull gently, and then she relaxes a bit. "I'm okay," she promises him. Then she glances down to Dinah, and she grimaces. "She'll be okay. I just choked her out and gave her a mild concussion. It could have been worse." Those words are quiet. Then there's the sounds of footsteps in the watery corridor they had just stepped out of, and so Batgirl grabs the Punisher to tug him in closer to the wall, letting the darkness envelop them. There's shouts, calls, someone asking about who the fuck was shooting down here.

"You…" Frank shakes his head, letting that fall away. She's told him she's fine. He believes her. That doesn't mean he doesn't still want to protect her. The footsteps slosh nearer, and The Punisher reaches up between them, grasping a grenade at his waist. But she's pulling him into the darkness with her, and he freezes, his head turned out toward the noise. His nostrils flare, taking in the stink of the sewers as he does his best to vent his anger, to dump it out into the dark tunnel so that it doesn't eat him alive. Slowly, his hand looses from the ridged orb, and he nods, fingers touching her waist for just a heartbeat before he leans in, graveling, "I'll get her. Can you climb? The van's a couple blocks away."

"Long story," Batgirl murmurs once the footsteps move away. Then she looks up at him in this close darkness, and her hand reaches to touch his knit-covered cheek. Her gloves protect her scratched up hands, but she would give everything to touch his skin beneath their two barriers. Then she closes her eyes, leaning her forehead into his. Then she nods slowly against his forehead. "Yes, I can climb." Then she steps back, letting him lead the way toward the van.

Frank presses his brow back against hers, letting out a breath of relief and letting some more of the nearly-three-hours of rage and worry built up inside him bleed away. "Go on up. I'll be right behind you." He has his own aches and pains, but he steps forward to haul Dinah up to her feet, "Sorry, Blondie." Because he can't climb a ladder carrying her gently. Ducking down with a grimace of pain, he puts his shoulder into Dinah's gut and hefts her up, climbing after Babs one-handed, slowly, painstakingly. When they get up to the surface, he pauses for a moment, breathing hard, then looks over to Batgirl, frowning as he does, "What the fuck happened to your mask?" Even as he asks, he gestures toward one end of the alley and shifts Dinah across both of his shoulders in a fireman's carry, made awkward by the two weapons slung on his shoulder.

With Frank taking care of Dinah, Babs can relax beneath the purple leather and cape. She breathes out a soft sigh that lets her feel all her pains — the kicks and punches and slashes of knives and swords. She leads to the surface, and when they are out in the art deco light of Gotham downtown. She is quick to move into the closest shadow, huddling up near the alley that he gestures to. She shakes her head. "Costuming," she grimaces. "I was nabbed to participate in some kind of twisted fight night… razor-edged sequins, crimped cape, heels… glitter. Hell's Bell." She spots the van, and heads toward it. "You still got that bag in the back?" The one she tucked away that has a change of her clothes.

Frank leans his shoulder and Dinah's legs against the wall of the alley a moment, catching his breath, recovering, and staggering after Babs in the direction of his van. He's got the keyfob on him, and he growls, "GAARD," the subtle tones of his rasping voice identifying him and unlocking the doors as Barbara reaches it. "Cost — " he shakes his head, and once one of them gets the back doors open, he hefts Dinah into the back of the van, "Razor-edged — Hell's — Never mind. Yeah, behind the passenger seat." Probably a good thing that Dinah's unconscious, since there are only the two front bucket seats in the van. He steps close to Batgirl then, searching her features and wincing just a little at the sight of the fan of blood beneath her nose. But he evidently doesn't have any more complaints, because he reaches up to touch her glitter-bombed mask and her hair with his fingers (he's going to regret that, because he's going to be finding glitter on his clothes for weeks), "Sorry it took me so long." There's a pause, "Why the hell do you smell like coconut?"

Babs looks over her shoulder toward Frank when he tries to catch his breath, and she looks to be dithering between helping and leading the way to the van. As Frank tries to reconcile everything she just said, a tight and mirthless smile blossoms into place. "Gotham." Then she is turning as if to get into the rear of the van with Dinah, only to have Frank step up to her to look her over. There's that fan of blood, and even hints of bruises along the side of her jaw, but she otherwise looks unharmed — but that's the mysterious nature of changing costumes. He can't see the wounds beneath the intact suit. She flinches back as he touches his hair, warning, "Glitter." But it's mostly too late. Then she shakes her head with a little smile that isn't quite so mirthless. "It's okay." But the follow-up question causes her to sigh. "Long story," she repeats. Then she looks up to meet his dark eyes. "Let me get changed and then I can walk you through it." Her hand lifts to curl across his cheek and jawline again, and then she leans in to press a light kiss to the space between his eyes. "Thank you… for coming for me." Then she steps back so she can climb into the van and get out of the purple and into her street clothes.

"Fucking Gotham," Frank agrees heartily. He blinks at the warning about the Glitter, then just shakes his head, shrugging the threat off even as he's brushing his fingers against the side of his pants and infecting them too. His eyes close as her lips press into his brow, but they open again quickly as he glances around, tucking the shotgun, carbine, and grenades into a crate in the back. "Red, I'm always gonna come for you." Then he's closing the door so that Babs can change. Stepping around to the driver's side door, he looks up and down the alley again, then strips off his vest and hauls himself into the van. Apparently he doesn't figure Babs will mind if she's still changing in the back while he's up front. He sets vest and balaclava behind the seat, takes a moment to breathe against the ache in his ribs and the bruises and minor cuts scattered across his limbs and cheek. Reaching up, he adjusts the rear-view mirror so that he can study her face in the back, then starts the van and pulls out, "You need me to look at anything? Or you want to go to your SAS guy?"

Babs opens her mouth to explain the pandemic nature of glitter, but it's too late. He's already wiped his hand on his pants. So, she settles into a complacent smile, and speaks nothing of it again. Instead, she's turning toward him with one foot on the bumper to haul herself in, and she looks up at him. He means it. There's a comfort there, but a worry — how far will he go to get to her? The question lingers as she gets herself in, and checks over Dinah once more before she settles the woman down comfortably. Then she is unzipping her jacket, shrugging out of it to reveal the black tank top beneath. She's bruised and cut and she winces when she moves her elbow to full extension. Then she's rolling up out of her tank top, still kneeling on the back of the van floor. There's a heavy contusion across her middle, coloring the scar tissue of her shrapnel wound. She holds there for a second, getting her balance when the van starts moving. "No. Nothing that I can't handle. It's all minor cuts and bruises. Dinah throws a mean right hook though." She rubs at her cheek where Dinah's knuckles connected. Then she is pulling on one of her softened, loose t-shirt. She gets off her boots next, and then pants, and she's so thankful she packed sweats, because those are going on and she's not even going to care she looks like a Freshman in college — flipflops and all.

She might have thought that it was hyperbole when Frank said he would burn the world down to get her back if she were captured. Frank knows it wasn't. As he drives through the Gotham traffic, he glances up into the rear-view mirror here and there, catching sight of the contusion but not commenting on it. "I coulda told you that, and she's never even hit me." He doesn't seem to be going anywhere yet, just taking turns somewhat at random throughout downtown, "Okay. So someone snatched both you and Dinah. You check on Tell yet? The other Birds?" He grunts to himself, quiet chastisement, "Should've called Tell on my way down." There's no road-rage now, just calm obedience of the traffic laws — after all, he's got a rather illegal armory and some telling costuming in the back. "Think it's safe to go back to your place, or you want to go to the Belfry or a safehouse?"

Babs winces through pulling up those sweats. Then when Frank comes to a stop light, she scrambles into the passenger seat, plopping down harder than she intended — and she winces. Then she leans her head back into the headrest, and her eyes search the streets quietly until Frank tries his hand at putting this all together. She blinks over at him, and then back to Dinah. "Uh, no." She offers a slightly tight smile. "They just grabbed me. Dinah was definitely there voluntarily." She rolls her eyes slightly aside. "It is kind of her scene… except for the crazy costuming. Fishnets are really as crazy as Dinah gets." Then she looks out the passenger window, tracking the traffic. "My guess is Tell is just fine. But… back home should be okay." She flickers her gaze over passing cars before she looks back to Frank. "I was on a rooftop, and there was this… flash of red. Must have been a metahuman — it didn't look like tech. It was a woman, but she was hard to track, and my memories are… blurry." Which is unlike Babs who normally has memory so crisp and exact that she can remember every scuff on the floor in Frank's warehouse. "I came to in some kind of green room, and all my gear was gone and I was in that crazy costume. Beat up a few mooks who were guarding the door, and I followed the noise out… right into the freak fighting cage."

Frank glances over as Babs drops her way wincingly into the passenger seat, his brows drawing together in a frown. But he draws in a breath and turns his eyes forward again as he listens to her story. He's clearly still keyed up enough that he keeps glancing into his mirrors regularly, and out the windows, checking for any tails or other suspicious activity. "And here I thought you were the adrenaline junkie." When she okays home, Frank turns toward Cobble Hill, but the description of the attack causes him to frown, "your memories are blurry." Shifting in his seat, he frowns over at her. He knows that she can handle the physical abuse, but the mental strain of having her perfect memory fucked with…. "They didn't take your mask though." There's a moment's thought, "Wait, lemme guess. Gotham."

Babs smiles ruefully at Frank. "Dinah and I have more than a few things in common." Then she rests her head back against the headrest again. It bobbles back and forth a bit as she relaxes, letting all her aching muscles clue her in to just how beaten up she is. Beaten up, but not dead. That's something. She looks out her window again as they turn toward Cobble Hill. "I'll do some meditating, see if I can shake loose the memories." Though Scarlet Witch is pretty good at what she does. She rubs slightly under her nose, wincing as she forgets its damaged. She leans her head back again. "Yeah… which means whoever grabbed me respects the mask." She grimaces then. "We're dealing with someone who knows the Bats, and respects them…" Which isn't always a good thing.

"So it's someone that knows Gotham. Probably someone from Gotham." In this case, not the abductor, but the person who requested the Bat-collection. Frank's scowl deepens, "They put you in a van. Disabled your tracker. GAARD spotted the van before they disabled the tracker. Apparently following it from there was pretty easy." For an advanced AI. Frank just drove while GAARD did all that work. "There's an illegal server farm and probably a gnarly slumlord operation — or maybe human trafficking — in that area too." But he shakes that off, grunting sourly, "Need to teach whoever did this that they can't do it again." He pauses a moment, "After you get right again." And himself too. With his rage fading into something duller, he's probably not going to be dealing with any huge mooks any time soon without his firearms, not with the badly bruised ribs.

There's something in Frank's voice that sits uneasily in Babs. She looks at him with an aside glance, and her frown settles into place. "Not until we know about who they are. These fight nights are not new." She looks back out at the city as they continue toward the house. "We don't make any assumptions until we know for sure." Then her voice takes on a more pointed edge. "We don't make any moves until we know for sure." Then she glances back over into the back of the van again, checking Dinah. Her lips tighten a bit as she thinks. "Maybe GAARD can help narrow in on where this all went down. I was in some basement — a big basement."

Frank cuts a glance over to her, then turns into the neighborhood that hosts Sherwood Florists and the Lance home. "I already got fucked going off bad intel once." Back in Afghanistan. But she knows about that one. "You know me, Red." There's a pause in the wake of the slightly-hurt words, "And you can run over her records. After you take a break." He stops at an intersection, turning toward her despite the little wince. He studies her for a long moment, and then shakes his head, "Because you're going to take a day or two off, Red."

The slightly-hurt words are answered with a frown his way, and she tucks a bit of red, glitter-bombed hair behind her ear. Then, slowly, she nods at his studied words. "Alright. I'll take a break." She sounds hesitant, but she also knows that Frank has the power to stop her from going headfirst into this. His worry is enough to stall her, and she rests her head back into the headrest. "Alright." Then she closes her eyes, and her whole body lets go for a moment. She melts, sinking into the bucket seat. Her blurred memories flicker and break with their alien imprecision. She can't see the redhead's face, can't track it. It's like that part of her memory is just fragmented.

This isn't New York, the car behind doesn't honk its horn when they linger at the stop sign. It isn't Metropolis, where they'd just wait either. Instead, they swerve out and around the Van, ripping through the intersection. Frank scowls over at them, then turns his frown back to Barbara for a moment longer, "Good." He pulls away from the stop sign, and then adds in, "Thanks, Red. We'll go all-in after you've gotten some rest and some food." He's already bargained himself down from 'a day or two,' recognizing the reality of who he's talking to most likely. Taking one hand from the wheel, he reaches over to squeeze her shoulder, "I was worried as hell about you, Babs." He glances over to her, the weight of his worry clear in his dark eyes. "You and Dinah."

There's a little quirk of a smile at Frank's reaction to the classic Gotham driving. Then she closes her eyes again, just listening to his voice. When the van stops at the stop sign, her eyes drift open and over to his just as his hand settles on her shoulder. She meets his steadiness with her own, and then she lifts a hand to squeeze lightly at his forearm just below his elbow. "I know. You came for me, and if there had been something worse coming down, I know you would have done everything to get me out. But we're safe now, Frank." For now. "Really."

"Yeah." Frank doesn't sound totally convinced, but at least mostly. He draws his hand back toward the wheel, stopping to squeeze her hand briefly on the way, then pulls past and backs into the driveway behind Sherwood Florists, "Glad I was here to at least give you guys a ride home." His gaze flickers about the area as he settles the van doors just short of the garage, "So I know I told you I'd let you know before I game into Gotham loaded for bear." Which he didn't do. Mostly because he couldn't, but he still didn't do it. He shuts the van off, then really turns toward Babs, studying her in the pale glow of the streetlights.

The ride home comment has Barbara opening her eyes again to look over at him. "You're more than just a ride home, Frank. You were a contingency." She takes in a breath, lips pressing together. "I don't know who was spectating, but there may have been innocent people in that crowd. Lowlifes, but innocents. Rubber bullets, sandbag rounds." She doesn't mean to sound like she's chastising him, but she is a little. She's laying out the rules like she has before, giving him the restrictions, the guidelines. She might notice that she's telling him everything he already knows, while also laying down a clear line in the sand. "If you have to go there, Frank, make sure it's the last resort." Now she's looking at him, blue eyes dark in the streetlight glow.

Frank nods, accepting the reassurance. The chastising causes him to grunt, then admit, "I'm out. Figured birdshot was the best I could do from a Wal-mart." He pauses, considering, "Don't think any of them are likely to die." Bracing his left hand on the wheel, he reaches across to touch her shoulder, his heavy hand flattening on her deltoid, the curl of his fingers gentle, "I know your rules for Gotham, Red. And I'll hold 'em as best as I can." Says the man who took at least two rounds to the bulletproof vest while dishing out birdshot injuries — bloody as they are, usually non-lethal - in return. His brows furrow, but he doesn't say more, instead unbuckling his seatbelt and leaning over to press a feather-light kiss to her brow.

It takes her just a moment to decide that, that is all that needs to be said. Instead, she's leaning her forehead into his lips and her eyes flutter shut as she enjoys the soft kiss. Then she nods slightly. "Let's get Dinah inside and on the couch. Then I need a shower, and probably some first aid." Now she undoes her own seatbelt and achingly gets herself out of her seat and onto the pavement. She moves around the van to collect her gear, and she looks over Dinah who is just starting to bob her head with a slight groan.

"Thought you said you could handle it." Now, with the three of them back at the Birdcage, Frank can actually relax enough to make the teasing joke. He gets out, heads around back, and hefts up Dinah's compact form in his arms, cradling her against his chest, "Alright. You got doors." Once the van doors are closed behind them, he calls quietly, "GAARD, lock it up."

"I can, but why do it by myself?" Babs quips back easily. Then she's back into stride, keeping herself ahead of him to make sure she can get the doors so they can get Dinah safely to bed.

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