Waking, part 23
Disclaimers in "part 0"
"Hm? Thanks, Amy," he replied, offering her a half-hearted version of the patented Grayson smile and wincing as he took a small sip of the scalding liquid.
"De nada," she answered, pulling her door shut and fastening her seatbelt. They remained silent as she started the engine and pulled the car out of the vacant lot where the relief station had been set up. "Who'd have thought they'd park one of those relief wagons into the Moores?" she remarked.
"Only took a global crisis," Grayson commented ironically, his eyes staring out his window.
She glanced at him as she turned down Ryedale. Her partner had seemed lost in thought all shift, although his eyes scanned the streets with perfect alertness. Not that there had been any action. The streets weren't quiet, but the only suspicious activity they'd investigated had proven more heartening than threatening. There'd been the group in the park, working to organize the community to make sure everyone had food in their pantries to see them through the three days of business closings mandated by the President. The graffiti artists they'd caught proved to be painting a mural for peace - a quick phone call to the owner of the building they were "defacing" had resulted in the same owner calling a friend at a hardware store to provide the youngsters with more paint. The known gang-bangers assembling in contested turf were negotiating the terms of their own local cease-fire. "Hey, copper," one had protested, "I don't wanna be feelin' the way I felt this mornin' again anytime soon."
She sighed; the silence was beginning to get to her. "Two hours left," she noted.
She saw Grayson's eyes flick to the dashboard clock. "Yeah," he said, an odd tension in his tone.
"You okay, Grayson?"
Now he actually looked at her. "Yeah. Just -"
"I know. Normally I'd count a six-hour shift as a blessing, but now I'm wishing Luthor had put it at four." It had been an odd decree, every law enforcement officer obliged to six hours a day during the recovery period. There'd been no grumbling - even among the cops whose vacations had been cancelled or the forces used to 24 on, 48 off.
"How about you?" Grayson asked.
"I'm hanging in. Any plans for after work?"
"Figured I'd head to Gotham," he answered, seeming to sense her desire for conversation. "Spend some time with my family."
She nodded. "I hear that. I figure me and Jim will take the kids for a picnic tomorrow before I gotta come back to work."
"That sounds nice. How're they doing?"
She snorted. "Better than the rest of us - or maybe just more normal than the rest of us. Had to take Justin to the ER this morning."
"Oh, no! Nothing serious, I take it."
"No - it would almost be funny. It was when - you know."
"Yeah," he said softly. No one was going to forget that horrible feeling of grief that had descended in the early hours of the day.
"Anyway, Emma thought me and Jim needed cheering up, so she put on a magic show. The final touch was supposed to be that she'd make a dime disappear and then reappear out of Justin's ear."
"And she really put the dime in his ear," Dick groaned in sudden understanding.
"Yep. God knows how she got it wedged in there, but it wasn't coming out."
"Hence the ER."
"Yeah. They were real nice about it - the place was pretty quiet by then. We actually had one of those Amazons take care of him."
"Really? I didn't think they'd stick one of them here."
"Guess they did. She was real nice, too - to me and Emma, anyway. She didn't have the time of day for Jim."
"I bet. But she was okay with Justin."
"I don't think kids qualify as men or something," Amy dismissed. "She had him calmed down and the dime out lickety split. But when she found out I was a cop she kinda sat and talked to me a bit."
"Oh, you know. This and that. She had this whole warrior idea, and I guess the cop thing fit in with it. She was interesting."
"I dunno. She was explaining about how her culture works without men. About her gods and where babies come from and-"
"Where do their babies come from?" Grayson interrupted.
"Sworn to secrecy, partner," Amy grinned. "But the god thing was interesting. She talked about them like they just sort of showed up from time to time, hung out with them. Can you imagine? 'I'm going to dinner with God, here, catch you later?'"
Grayson laughed a little. "That would be weird. Huh." His expression turned thoughtful.
"Nothing, I was just imagining." He glanced at the clock again. "Hey, Amy, you mind if we find a phone? I gotta make a call."
"We could get dispatch to patch over the radio," she suggested.
He actually blushed a little. "It's kind of - private."
"Ohhhh," she teased. "I see. Hold on, there's a public phone on Watson."
He lapsed again into silence, and she decided not to needle him. After a couple of turns, she pulled over. "Right there," she nodded.
"Got it. Back in a jif."
"I'm timing you," she shot back as he hopped out and shut the door behind him. She put the cruiser in park and settled back with a sigh, watching the evening sky darkening.
"No luck, Master Tim?" Alfred asked as he set a tray of sandwiches at Robin's elbow.
"No. And Green Lantern called in ten minutes ago. He did a sweep of Mars with the ring - no trace of them."
"Well, they are both rather adept at escaping detection," Alfred reassured, although Tim sensed that the reassurance was as much for himself as for Robin.
"It'd be easier if we could at least isolate an area of the planet surface - then we could get a team in there and-"
The ringing of a phone interrupted him. Alfred reached for the receiver. "Wayne Manor," he answered smoothly. "Oh, good evening, Master Dick."
Tim looked up from the computer.
"Yes, he's here. No, no further word, I'm afraid... Very well, sir."
Alfred mutely held the phone out to Tim. "Yes?" Tim said into the receiver.
"Hey, Tim. I was just talking to Amy and I had a thought."
"What do we know about the Martian gods?"
Tim glanced up at Alfred. "Martian gods? Hold on, I'll see what we've got. You're thinking that there's a link?"
"I'm not sure," Dick replied. "But Amy was explaining how the Amazon gods are so involved in their affairs, and its the first thing aside from the fact they've got no men that anyone's mentioned that makes them different from anyone else."
A list of files showed up on the monitor. "We've got a bunch of stuff on H'ronmeer, and one tiny file on the rest of them. So you think maybe when the rest of us were all whacked out, the Martian gods were respecting the Amazon gods' turf?"
"Maybe. Listen, I gotta go - I'm still on duty. I'll come up there as soon as I get off."
"I'll be here," Tim replied. "Bye."
He handed the phone back to Alfred and stared at the computer. After a moment, he asked, "Alfred, Batman has faced down gods before, right?"
Alfred only set his hand on Robin's shoulder.
He pulled his seatbelt on and rescued his half-cooled coffee from the dash, drinking a long swallow. She waited, watching him closely. "Partner?" she asked again.
He sighed. "I hope so."
She studied him a moment longer, than put the cruiser in drive. "Hour and a half," she said. "We'll make it."
If he heard her, he gave no indication. Instead, he stared steadily out the window, his eyes turned faintly skyward.