Fire in the Night
Roleplaying Log: Fire in the Night
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The Lance-Gordon-Bertinelli household goes up in flames.

Other Characters Referenced: Jim Gordon
IC Date: September 02, 2019
IC Location: Sherwood Florists, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Sep 2019 04:20
Rating & Warnings: Light R for language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The status quo has changed — no longer is it safe being a vigilante in Gotham City. There were already risks, but now it isn't just GCPD trying to manage the vigilantes. There's bounty hunters now on the streets of Gotham, waiting to ensnare a Bat or one of their allies for cold, hard — and probably dirty — cash.

So, tonight, Batgirl has decided to stay in. The cowl is upstairs, her suit and cape in their locked cases under the bed with all the rest of her gear. She's downstairs in the dining room in her Iron Man PJ pants and loose t-shirt. One foot is up on the chair's seat edge while the other leg is curled under her. She has her laptop open and she's scrolling through code with her glasses perched on her nose and red hair twisted back into a braid.

She glances at her phone as it buzzes on the table, picking it up before reporting, "Frank's got the burgers. He's headed back. Wants to know if we need anything else?" She glances toward Dinah.

* * *

"No." The words are curt and sharp, and it takes Dinah a moment to realize she said them aloud. She looks up at Barbara and winces. A hand passes over her face, expressing the fatigue that's settled into her shoulders. "Sorry. Ugh. No, but thanks for asking," she says, forcing herself into a more normal tone. Dinah looks at her textbook, then flips it shut with a little too much force.

And then for good measure, it's given a spiteful shove away as well. "Sorry. I didn't realize how much algebra I'd forgotten since high school. Really wishing I hadn't blown off pre-calc our senior year for pep practice," she admits. The blonde gets to her feet and shuffles over to the kitchen. Pink bunny slippers, blue jammy pants, and her black cami top suggest bedtime's not far off. The messy bun of her hair atop her head, held in place with a pencil, is just an indication her field of fucks is barren.

"Can you call your dad up tomorrow and ask if he's still got your old notebooks at the house?" she inquires. Dinah rounds the corner with a beer in hand and pops the top off with a flexing of her thumb. The bottlecap's caught and tossed in the trash, underhanded. "I don't think I can do this without something to fall back on. I keep getting stuck on these stupid story problems."

* * *

"Ketchup," Helena calls from where she's sitting cross-legged on the floor with the coffee table as her work surface. Almost every inch of it is covered with the lesson plans and papers waiting to be graded that she has to have complete and ready for her next class day. She's also slobbed out in 8-bit Avengers PJ pants and a dark grey t-shirt with "I used to be a people person but then people ruined it" printed on the front.

She still hasn't explained why she chose to make a hasty overnight jaunt to Metropolis instead of getting ahead on her schoolwork. But. Everything is better with tomatoes in some shape or form. All the tomatoes.

"Nah, not really, Red. But thanks for asking." She kind of secretly hopes that Frank thought to get a bucket of fries or maybe some onion rings, but she won't complain if he didn't.

* * *

Barbara just angles a smile toward her friend even while she types out a message back to Frank letting him know to know that they were good, but Helena keeps squawking about tomato-based condiments. The phone gets set beside her laptop, face down, and this lets her focus her attention on Dinah. She hooks an arm around her bent knee with her other hand types out a few simple commands. "Don't apologize. We're all on edge in our own ways." She has been avoiding the missed calls from the Gazette that want to get a daughter's perspective on Jim Gordon's forced leave of absence…

At the mention of her dad, Babs grimaces. "Yeah, I can… I mean, it isn't like he's doing anything right now but pace around the house like a caged puma." Then she squints, leaning over toward Dinah's textbooks. "Algebra, though? I could probably help…"

Just as Babs is untangling herself from the chair, there's the sound of breaking glass upstairs followed by thumps. One vodka bottle with a rag stuffed down deep into its neck, the end of that rag already burning, rolls out onto the landing of the stairs just before it explodes with glass and accelerant and flames.

* * *

"Oh fuck!" Dinah's articulation is loud and not terribly helpful, but she's moving with reflexes honed by years of surviving on the streets. She seizes a heavy rug with both hands and starts trying to beat the fire down with it. Alcohol fires are, however, incredibly hot and difficult to stop even with proper firefighting gear. Molotov cocktails are brutally effective and cheap to make. The fire dims for just a moment but then the antique rug catches and the accelerant, more oxygenated by Dinah's actions, explodes again as it mists in the air. She cries out and staggers back; the fine hairs on her bare arms are singed and her face and arms are reddened with a flash burn. Fire dances up the leg of her pants and she swats at it twice, equally ineffectually, then drops to the ground and starts rolling back and forth to try and squelch it.

"Kitchen!" she screams at Helena, and points at the rusted old fire extinguisher tucked behind the pantry door.

* * *

Helena sits up and frowns faintly trying to figure out what she just heard when the molotov cocktail explodes. With the explosion having happened behind her back, she gets knocked forward into the coffee table — her face hitting her laptop — so she's too stunned for a second to respond in a manner similar to Dinah.

A shake of her head clears the cobwebs enough for her to catch Dinah's scream at her, and she scrambles gracelessly to her feet and into the kitchen, ripping the manky old extinguisher up from its resting place. How the… oh. She pulls the lock pin free and aims the extinguisher at Dinah's legs first.

Please work, you antiquated piece of junk…

* * *

Frank is in the van when his phone chimes again with Barbara's reassurances that he has all the food they need. He checks it at a stoplight, because he lives dangerously. He snorts amusement, thumbing awkwardly, 'Plenty of ketchup.' He tosses the phone back into the passenger's seat and pulls away from the stoplight, moving around a slow-moving, low-slung car with all the art deco style of Gotham. The kindling blaze in the Lance house doesn't light up the Gotham skyline enough to draw his attention — yet — so his driving remains sane and reasonable — he doesn't want to get pulled over by a cop, even if most of his gear is tucked away neatly between the armor and the exterior walls of the van.

* * *

The second floor of the Lance house is sudden ablaze as the fire crawls across the rugs and floors, latching onto the walls and grabbing hold on all the comfortable accents that the Lances have used to soften their house. The front window explodes open with a shower of glass as first a brick goes flying through it, and then another Molotov cocktail to bounce across the couch and then onto Helena's neatly arranged piles. The paper catches quick, and then the coffee table.

Barbara is already out of her seat, forgetting her laptop and phone in favor of trying to get to Dinah. She grabs her friend, hauling her back from the flames that have caught the carpeting that softens the hardwood of the stairs. "Dinah!" She looks up the stairs to see the billows of smoke that fill that hallway at the top of the stairs.

* * *

For once, Dinah's utterly at a loss. Bricks. Molotovs. Her house aflame. She can see billowing smoke and the dancing lights of fire upstairs. She twists her fingers in her hair and cries out in pain at the blisters she didn't realize she had.

"Nonononononononoooo!" She staggers to her feet and starts trying to run back and forth. One slipper's lost, abandoned, and the flames consume it with a sickly crackle and the scent of burning plastic faux-fur joining the melange of unpleasant odors in the air.

She tries to twist out of Barbara's grasp, to grab something, anything she can get her hands on. More things fall from her grip as Barbara tugs her backwards, and she replaces them with other mementos and items. Whatever's handy as she's hauled away from the leaping fire, as if she would stand and fight the flames with her bare hands given her druthers. Even with Barbara's fitness training, Dinah's more than a handful to manage under even footing. With her family home burning down, she's nearly out of her mind with grief and the insane strength that panic provides.

* * *

"Shit!" She drops the extinguisher when it does nothing, and ducks away again when a brick and second incendiary comes in through a different window, and RIGHT into her work papers. "Damnit!" But, seeing Babs struggling to keep a hold of Dinah, she knows what's more important and rushes over to help.

"Out through the kitchen," she tells the redhead a bit breathlessly. There's really very little chance of them getting ahead of this, especially if there are more bottles of gasoline waiting to be lobbed.

* * *

It doesn't take long for the flames to make their mark on the skyline of the neighborhood, however, painting the cloud cover and the buildings around a fierce and crackling orange. Frank frowns at first, leaning forward in his seat to look up and try to spot where the blaze is — and then his eyes widen, and he slams his foot down on the accelerator. His bumper crunches against that of another car, and he leaves scared and angry shouts behind as he plows toward the Lance house. The phone is left on the seat. No sense jostling the elbow of the people who might be there.

* * *

Dinah is trying to twist out of Babs's grip, and so the redhead just redoubles it. She grabs Dinah hard at her shoulder, and Helena's words are met with quick nods. "Di! We need to go…" Her throat tightens even as smoke begins to fill the house. The redhead starts to lead — or yank — the blonde toward the kitchen. In her mind, she knows that her gear is upstairs, that her phone is on the kitchen table, and her laptop with it. There's another explosion as a cocktail bursts from its pressurized contents and the flames roar up to consume that comfy chair that they all take turns reading in.

Ahead of Helena, the kitchen is clear, and so Babs does all she can to herd Dinah toward Helena so they can safely get out even while the house roars with flames behind and above them. In the front lawn, the house and garage both burn and there's no immediate sign of who might be responsible.

* * *

It takes some doing. Not that Dinah's actively fighting— it's just instinct. Trying to save something, anything. With Helena /and/ Barbara dragging her along, there's no real resistance Dinah can offer. And no reason for it. Reason drives her, forces her to accept that the house is afire and the only priority is to *get out*.

But still she backpedal reflexively, struggling, forcing herself to move until they're well clear of the burning conflagration and out the old farm entrance to the kitchen's back door.

Dazed, disoriented, suffering from burns— Dinah doesn't even have the presence of mind to look for assailants in the bushes. A numb shock grips her features and she stares at the few items clutched in her hands, an old framed photo of some long-dead relative and what looks like a tiny flower vase that was surely bought at a flea market for a quarter.

* * *

Pulling Dinah clear wasn't as difficult as she'd suspected, but in a way that's even worse. Watching the flames growing higher in and around the old house, Helena is possibly almost as upset as the blonde. She's had a home completely yanked out from under her in this town before. It doesn't hurt any less the second time.

"I swear to God, Babs, I'm gonna find out who's done this, and you will NOT stop me from giving them Colombian neckties and throwing them on the steps of the GCPD."

* * *

The Punisher van jumps the curb and tears up the lawn as Frank arrives at speed. The e-brake is already pulled, which does even worse for the lawn, but allows Frank to come out of the door as the van is still rocking to a stop. Somewhere along the drive he got a pistol, and now he holds it low at his side, looking around frantically for the trio of women who live in the house. "Babs! BABS!" He starts toward the blaze, having to hold up one hand to shield his face as it gets hotter and more intense, "Dinah! Helena! Babs!" Despite the heat, he's headed for the front steps.

* * *

The three women just manage to get out onto the lawn outside the house. It has taken no time at all for the house to be a beacon in the night. Barbara is holding tightly to Dinah's wrist as they stand there in the dew-soft grass. She looks down at the flower, and she touches the edge of Dinah's fingers. She tries to grasp the woman's hand, flower pressed between their hands. She lifts her eyes to stare at the burning house, and Helena's words tighten her lips into a hard frown. "I know."

Then she hears the familiar roars and bellows, and she squeezes Dinah's wrist just as she starts to turn toward it. "Frank! We're here! We're okay!" She starts to loosen Dinah's hand so she can try to flag down Frank as he prepares to run into the burning house.

The flames light-up the dark lawn, and something glints in the grass — it looks like a photograph in a simple metal frame.

* * *

Dinah staggers twice. The flames roar higher and higher as the old house goes up. It's a good old house. It was built to last. The antique furniture doggedly resists the flames. But nothing can fight that much accelerant, deployed so quickly and efficiently in all the right places. Windows explode from the panes and drive them furthur back. Dinah staggers with an expression of utterly stunned grief, turning to stare at the house and only moving again when prompted. Once they're a sufficiently safe distance away, Dinah's legs finally give up and she just drops heavily onto the sidewalk. She ignore her bare, blistered feet, reddened skin, clothing slightly singed, hair burned, stinking of smoke and burning household goods.

She just sits, and slumps, and stares at the conflagration as it consumes the property; spreading to the outbuildings, to the old barn of the florist shop, to the auto repair shed on the edge of the premises. The whole lot burns like tinder, clearly well prepared by someone with a vendetta in mind.

Tears will come later, surely. But for Dinah, stunned shock has rendered her into something akin to mute catatonia as her home is consumed by the vengeful flames.

* * *

Helena stumbles along with Babs and Dinah, honestly a bit too shocked herself to have the presence of mind to call out to Frank as well. She follows and sinks to sit next to the blonde with a bit of a wince. Even so, she looks around to make sure no one's appearing out of somewhere to try and accost them while they — especially Dinah — are at a severe disadvantage.

She notices the glint of something nearby in the grass, but doesn't really feel like bothering to stand up again to get it.

* * *

Frank gets a boot on the front step to the porch, and then his head whips over, hearing Barbara's voice. His shoulders sag with relief as he backs quickly away from the blaze and comes around toward the three. Safing the pistol and shoving it into the back of his pants in a most unsafe fashion that he would chastise himself for roundly under most circumstances, he looks the trio over, his own features reddened from the heat. There's something missing. And then he stops, looking back to the house, "Shit. Alaska." Ducking down, he grabs for a more sizeable rock from the edge of the yard, hurling it up toward Barbara's bedroom window. The house is a loss anyhow, but if the cat is upstairs, at least it should have a way out.

* * *

Barbara's eyes widen at Frank's realization, and she looks up helplessly toward the house just as Frank hurls a rock at the window into Barbara's room. He must have heard his name, because here streaks the cat right at Frank's ankles. He barrels into Frank full force and then twists himself behind the man to instead hide behind Dinah's legs where he crouches down with a low noise in the back of his throat. He's a bit singed, too. Barbara's shoulders sag, and then she's looking back at the other women. "Come on… we should get onto the street where we can be seen."

As an after thought, Babs steps forward to grab the photograph off the ground, assuming that Dinah had been carrying it. She looks down at it and blinks. "Di…" Her words falter for a second before she just barely gets out, "It's our dads." She turns the photograph around to show young Jim Gordon and Larry Lance with even younger Dinah and Barbara at some police function. Dinah and Babs have X's over their faces.

* * *

Dinah's more or less out of it. Staring at everything. At nothing. The firefighting crews screaming up. Has it been less than five minutes since the blaze started? Gotham's police are corrupt as hell but the firefighters tend to be honorable people. Hard working. A crowd gathers to goggle and stare, windows in the apartment building across the street slamming open to stare at the spectacle of the Lance estate burning up. Some cry protest at the noise. Others just stare.

Dinah's head pans to the photograph. It takes her a few seconds to process it. "Oh. Okay." Her tone's laconic and lacking inflection. Here's something she understands. With a mechanical stiffness she gets to her feet— burns, blisters, blonde hair singed— and steps over to Frank. His gun's pulled out of his waistband and Dinah steps away, checking to make sure it's loaded and a round's in the chamber. "I'll be back after I fix this."

And she starts a dogged stride east, face set like grim death and the gun held low in her right hand.

Single slipper and pajamas and all.

* * *

Helena's attention is almost entirely on Dinah until Frank does something incomprehensible… until she also remembers the cat. She's barely seen the creature since she moved in so hadn't thought to look for her before getting out of the house. But, the floofball appears quickly enough thank goodness.

She's just barely started to process that the cat is safe when Babs shows Honda the picture in the frame and the blonde goes all John Wick. She scrambles to her (bare) feet and chases after her friend. "Hey, wait!"

* * *

Frank is assaulted by a large cat in an extra-large (extra-singed) floof. He staggers a moment as his ankles are thumped into, but then he's shaking his head in relief, looking around as the sirens wail closer and firefighters spill out. "Shit." Starting over to Barbara, to look at the picture or to embrace her, he pauses as the entirely unsecured pistol is plucked right out of his waistband. "Goddamn it, Dinah." Goddamn it, Frank. He's caught between the Dinah and Babs for a moment, reaching out for the redhead's forearm and squeezing lightly, then turning to follow Helena after the blonde, "You know who did this?" Uh… he might not be such a great brake either.

* * *

"Wh-what. Dinah! Wait!" Barbara's gaze cuts toward Frank as she grabs him at the waist and then she's pushing past the man after Dinah. She reaches for her, trying to catch the woman at the elbow as she marches across the sidewalk. "No! We have no idea what that means, Di. Come on! You need to put that gun away." The cops will be here soon! That goes unspoken, but obviously laced in her words.

Indeed, the firefighters have arrived and are swift in their intentions to get hooked up to the nearest hydrant and begin to do their job. They don't look their way yet asking some of the gawkers if anyone is still inside.

"Dinah! You need to stop!"

* * *

Dinah's arm is grabbed. Without missing a beat it twists in a half-circle to break Barbara's grip and Dinah twists her friend's thumb in a painful control hold. She only lets it go after a couple of paces make it clear she's not going to be stopped with a 'come along' gesture.

"Nope," she says, and gives Babs' wrist a little shove away from her as she releases the judo grip. "Someone came after the Dads. That's cop-killers. I'm gonna go find out who it is, and they're gonna give this Glock a blowjob." The gun is wiggled above her shoulder demonstratively, then dropped to her side again.

She looks to Helena. "Hurry up if you're coming. I'm stealing your spare bike," she tells Helena. "Either you give me the keys or I'm boosting it."

* * *

Helena huffs out a sigh of annoyance, but doesn't reach out to grab Dinah the way Babs did. "Damnit, Honda, stop for a minute. You're in your PJs, you've only got one shoe, and you're covered in burns. And I think you at least need to talk to the fire department so they know that everyone got out." She's trying for logic, be afraid!

Despite her seemingly logical arguments to Dinah, her honestly terrified eyes flick toward Babs.

* * *

Frank is a couple of steps behind the trio of women, and he turns away from their path, heading instead to the open door of the still-running van 'parked' up on the lawn. Leaning in the door, he smacks the center of the steering wheel to give a momentary bleat of the horn. And then he looks back to the trio, "Babs, get Alaska. Dinah, get in the van. Helena, tell the firefighters everyone's out but there's some diving gear in the garage and upstairs and they shouldn't go there." Because as far as he knows, that's where the crime-fighting gear is. "We can figure out what the fuck is going on on the way, yeah?" On the way where is, of course, the question.

* * *

Barbara's about to give into her own instincts as she's caught up in a hold, but Dinah lets her go so fast and shoves her back that she stumbles. Her eyes widen briefly, and then she's shaking her head as she steps forward after Dinah again. "Dinah! You don't even know who did this!" She's looking after Helena at her own words of encouragement. She looks back to Dinah. "We need to regroup, remember that right now, we're civilians. Our dads are going to be losing it the second there's any news that the house got hit. We need to play this out so maybe we can find out who did this."

Then the Punisher is giving orders, and Barbara actually blinks at him. She hesitates just a moment before she's scooping up Alaska who gives a low growling meow before hooking his claws into her shirt so he can anchor himself and look over her shoulder at the burning house. She glances over toward Helena briefly, but fixes her gaze on Dinah more expectantly.

* * *

Dinah and Babs round up with each other as the redhead starts assailing her with a more heated focus. And Helena's yelling at her to slow down with eyes filled with fear; Frank starts tossing orders out like the Marine he is, telling the women to go this way and that.

Dinah looks back at Barbara, face stony and silent for a long few moments. Finally, her masque breaks with the most subtle tremor of her lower lip. Blue eyes reflect a deeper sheen of the orange flames licking up the side of her home.

"They burned it up," she whispers with a throat full of emotion.

* * *

Helena blinks and looks at Frank in open surprise. But honestly, having someone give SOME sort of coherent direction helps considerably. Nodding to the man mutely, she looks at Dinah and Babs again briefly before heading toward the firefighters around the front of the house. She looks for one that appears to be in charge, and hopefully she can get their attention.

Once she has someone's attention, she does as Frank instructed, letting the firefighters know that the occupants of the house (including pets) are all out and safe, but to avoid parts of of the house due to, uh, diving gear. Yeah.

* * *

Frank hasn't done the Marine officer thing before around any of these women. Honestly, it's almost worth it for the reactions. He might even enjoy them if he wasn't adjacent to a scene of horror. Instead, he nods his thanks to Helena — she'll get a verbal thanks later too — and then turns to watch the Babs-Dinah standoff. Dinah whispers to Babs under the roar of flames, and then Frank does the exact opposite thing from barking orders, he steps forward quietly and reaches out to take Alaska from Barbara so that she can comfort her best friend.

* * *

"I know." The words are choked as she looks at Dinah. She reaches to touch Dinah's shoulder gently and then down to grasp her hand. "I know, and we won't let that go without retribution, but we need a target, Di." She glances aside toward Helena and Frank before she starts to guide Dinah back toward the van. She watches Helena go tell the firefighters that everyone's out. She still has Alaska curled in one arm, the giant Burmese looking nonplussed at everything going on around him. Then Frank has the cat, and she can drag Dinah into a full hug, her arms coming around her to squeeze all the life she can into that embrace.

She holds onto the back of Dinah's head with her eyes closed. "We will get them, Dinah. I promise."

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