Themyscira, seventeen years ago
So much to do. So much to consider.
Darkness had settled hours ago and the house was finally quiet. Though weary from a long day, Diana knew that sleep would be a difficult prize to claim, especially with everything in her mind that vied for her attention. She lay on her back, right in the middle of her spacious bed as she stared at the ceiling with troubled blue eyes. With one hand laying on her belly and the other arm curled around her head, she did her best to relax her body, hoping that her mind would soon follow. Her long black hair was pulled to one side and was flailed out on her pillow and bed. Her spacious bedroom was dimly lit in the warm blue glow offered by the full moon. There were not many furnishings, only the bed, desk across the room under the window and a wardrobe that was made of some dark wood. Two other pieces had joined them in recent weeks, though, and one was beside her bed, between it and the wall, and from here a sound came that had not been heard on this island for more than a thousand years, and the Princess of the Amazons sprang up from her bed in quick response to it.
"Shh," she soothed as she gently took the fussy baby girl from her white and red bassinette. Cradling the baby gently in her arms, she backed up and sat on the edge of her bed, her full attention on the squirming little girl she held. With a big smile, Diana wrapped the baby in her pink blanket and said in a low, slight voice, "I thought you were asleep, Little One. Are you hungry yet again?"
The baby did not cry, but she stared back at the Amazon Princess with trusting blue eyes. Not quite a month old, she knew her mother well on sight and by the sound of her voice, and being in her mother's arms always calmed her.
Raising her brow as she stared down at the baby, Diana insisted, "We need to sleep. That means both of us." When the baby smiled at her, she could not help but smile back. "You are going to be a horrible little scamp, aren't you?"
"Much like her mother," another woman said softly as she approached.
Diana looked over her shoulder to see her own mother, Queen Hippolyta striding silently around the bed, but her attention did not remain there long as it was reclaimed quickly by the child she held.
The Queen was wearing white sleeping attire much like her daughter's and her long black hair pulled over one shoulder and bound with three white ribbons. She sat gingerly beside Diana, slipping an arm around her shoulders as she asked in a low voice, "Is she fussy again tonight?"
"Afraid so," Diana confirmed. "Sometimes she sleeps well; sometimes she wants to be up all night."
Hippolyta smiled as she stared down at the baby in her daughter's arms. "Just like you were long ago. I'll bet she is just anxious for a name."
The Princess looked away and grumbled, "I know."
"You've had almost a year to think about it," Hippolyta pointed out. "Is it so hard a decision?"
Looking back to the baby, Diana declared, "I want her name to be perfect, one that will suit her well and have meaning for who she will be when she grows up."
"And who will she be? Another great hero like her mother?"
Diana loosed a deep breath and shook her head. "I hope not. I pray that her life will be full and rewarding but not fraught with conflict as mine has been."
Gently stroking her daughter's hair, the Queen pointed out, "That may be a matter of destiny. Both of her parents are heroes, after all, and both stubbornly defend what is just and good."
Closing her eyes, Diana grimly said, "I know, and I don't want that life for her." Looking back to the little girl she held, despair was in her eyes as she clenched teeth, and with a shake of her head she continued, "She should only know about the best of this world. She should know how loved she is, how
Mother, I just could not bear the thought of what would happen if my enemies ever found out about her."
"Or her father's enemies?" Hippolyta added.
"Or his," Diana confirmed just over a whisper.
"So you will never tell him about his daughter," the Queen concluded.
Her mouth tightening to a thin slit, the Amazon Princess hesitantly shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. "I want to. Hera knows how I want to, but
Mother, I am just so afraid of what could happen, what our enemies would do to her if they found out." She ran her fingers through the baby's soft, black hair. "She is so innocent, so
so sweet and perfect. It must be my vow to protect her first and always, my vow to her, to our people and to the Gods to keep her safe."
"Your vow to the Gods," Hippolyta said softly, absently. A sparkle lit her eyes as they cut to Diana, and she simply said, "Elissa."
Diana's eyes snapped to her.
"It is from the old language," the Queen explained, "Greek, from the land we came from."
"Elissa?" Diana breathed.
"It is an ancient name, one that means a commitment to the Gods. If that is your vow to her and to the Gods
" She raised her brow.
A little smile found Diana's mouth and she looked back down to the girl, to her daughter. "Elissa. Mother, it is beautiful, and it suits her so well!"
Hippolyta pulled the Princess to her, hugging her tightly. "Then my granddaughter is finally named?"
With a nod, Diana confirmed, "Yes. That shall be her name. It is perfect. She shall be my commitment to the Gods, to the world, to peace, and she shall have my absolute commitment. I will protect her with all I am, teach her all I know, and I shall give her as wonderful a life as you gave me."
Something solemn took the Queen's face as she stared at the innocent baby her daughter held. "And her father can never know about her? You will never tell him of his daughter?"
"I want to," Diana assured, "but I don't dare. She can never be like him, or like me. No, she will see beauty in the world, not its ugliness. She shall be warrior trained but she shall know compassion and mercy." She kissed the baby's forehead, then stroked her hair and smiled. "Warrior trained, yes, but when the time comes the world will see her as the beautiful and sweet angel she is now."
Patriarch's World, present day
Golden Angel slammed into the double doors back-first and exploded through them, not stopping until she hit the bookcase on the other side of the lavish meeting room. Crumpling to the floor, the small heroine was pummeled by books and decorations from the shattered shelf, and she took a few seconds to collect her wits before raising her dark, crystal blue eyes to the enemy who strode toward her, her brow low over them. With a little snarl on her mouth, she stood, her red gloved hands clenching her bare fingers into tight fists. Golden gauntlets encased her forearms and sparkled under the fluorescent lights of the meeting room. Her right shoulder was bare and a single strap held her red top in place, a top that left her midriff bare as well. Right across her chest was a symbol of the two worlds she came from, the golden image of a falcon but with the lower wings of a bat. Her long blue trousers were adorned with white stars down the outsides of the legs and met gold trimmed red boots that were nearly as high as her knees, and a pouch laden belt was buckled around her waist. Though her hair was worn in a pony tail that dropped to her lower back, many locks had stubbornly spilled over her gold tiara, one with a blue star right in the center, and she angrily combed them out of her line of vision. She was not a tall girl, slightly less than five foot six, and while generously built for a girl of only seventeen years and well muscled in arms, legs, shoulders and back, she was very lean and not heavy looking at all. At a look, one would never guess that this small, almost fragile looking heroine was endowed by her Amazon heritage with strength many times that of any mortal.
But her opponent was not just any mortal.
The nine men at the long, heavy conference table all sprang to their feet and looked to her as she squared off against her big opponent again. These were mostly fellows in their thirties and forties, but for the white haired man, the best dressed of them, who was at the far end of the table. They got but a glance from the beautiful little Amazon who had disrupted their meeting, but she had their full attention.
Raising a hand to the businessmen, she glared at the big woman who stormed into the room and ordered in a voice befitting a girl in her teen years, "Stay back. I've got this."
They all retreated, and all turned their eyes to the door as Golden Angel's opponent strode in with heavy steps. This was a huge woman, about six foot six and very broad shouldered. She had a thick jaw for a woman but attractive features otherwise with lovely dark amber eyes that had her brow held low over them. She wore ancient Roman style armor that was gold in color, Roman infantry sandals that had straps winding around her legs all the way to the knees and a short red skirt. Her arms were immensely thick, much thicker than most men and her legs were even thicker. This was a woman who had more a man's muscle tone and size, but her gender was given away by her generous bosom, her small waist and broad hips. Long red hair was restrained behind her by a big metal barrette that was gold and in the shape of a human skull, and nearly the size.
Stopping halfway to her tiny opponent, she pointed a thick finger at her and shouted, "Now you've made Herculeeta mad, little girl!"
Golden Angel's eyes narrowed and she growled back, "Do not call me that!" She charged with amazing speed and as her much larger opponent threw a crushing punch she ducked under her arm and delivered a solid blow to the big woman's solid belly, caving in the armor plate that she hit.
The big woman's elbow came back hard and slammed into Golden Angel right between the shoulders, sending her down to the floor.
Slow to push herself up, the little Amazon found her neck seized by her bigger foe and she was hoisted from the floor and slammed into that book case again. She rose quicker this time, but clumsily, clearly trying to get her wits about her.
The big woman tore the damaged armor plate from her belly and tossed it aside, then she held her fists before her, cracked her knuckles as she stood a few feet away, her eyes locked on those of her young opponent. "Oh, yeah. It's time for Herculeeta to bring some serious pain."
"Come and get it," the little Amazon challenged as she assumed her battle stance.
With a mighty yell, Herculeeta charged and swung her fist hard, intending to crush her little opponent once and for all.
Golden Angel darted aside and the big woman's big fist narrowly missed her, and when that fist slammed through the bookcase and into the concrete wall behind it, Angel kicked as hard as she could, slamming the top of her boot into the now unarmored belly of the big woman and doubling her over. Wasting no time, she followed up with a hard punch to the side of the woman's head, finally felling her with a loud, floor shaking thump. She backed away, her eyes on her downed foe as she drew in deep breaths.
"Okay," she said as if to herself. "One down." Her eyes widened as her big opponent pushed herself up and turned an infuriated glare on her. She backed away, into the conference table, and there she saw a large silver tray that had a pot of coffee, five white cups and a box of doughnuts on it. She picked up a cup and turned it upright, set it down on the tray, and then picked up the coffeepot. With a quick check to see Herculeeta clumsily getting to her feet, she looked over her shoulder to the men who were huddled on the other end and asked, "Is this decaff?"
They all shook their heads.
"Good," she said as she poured a cup. Setting the pot down, she picked up the cup of steaming hot coffee and smelled it, smiling slightly as she observed, "Mmm
Rich Columbian." She looked up to her big opponent, who approached with apprehensive steps and her hands curled into tight fists.
Herculeeta stopped about two feet away, towering over her small foe as she suggested, "Grab you one of those doughnuts too, and enjoy it. It's gonna be your last meal."
Raising her brow, Golden Angel asked, "Want some coffee?" Without waiting for a response, she splashed the hot coffee into the big woman's face.
Covering her eyes with both hands, Herculeeta screamed as she stumbled backward.
And Golden Angel wasted no time in charging and ramming her shoulder into the big woman's belly, driving her back a few steps. She picked her up, then lunged forward and down, driving her opponent's shoulders and head as hard as she could into the tile floor and the room shook as she hit. Leaping on top of her, she raised her fists and pummeled the big woman in the head and face, striking as hard as she could.
Herculeeta struck back, her big fist slamming into her smaller opponent's side, her ribs, and Golden Angel cried out and lurched over. The brawl on the floor continued under the fearful, watchful eyes of the men across the room.
It ended suddenly after a hard uppercut to the big woman's chin, one that knocked her unconscious.
Staggering to her feet with her tiara dangling from the middle of her ponytail, Golden Angel stared down at her defeated foe, struggling to catch her breath for a second before she spat, "Hair pulling? Really?" When she turned toward the men who had witnessed her battle, her tiara fell from her hair and she looked down as it hit the floor. Retrieving it from the floor, she combed her hair back before putting it back in its place. "Everyone okay?" she asked.
They all nodded, and the white haired man stepped forward, striding slowly around the table. He never took his eyes from her as he slowly approached.
With four steps, Golden Angel had approached the table, looking to the box of doughnuts before turning her attention to the man who neared her, and innocently she asked, "Can I have one?" When he nodded, she offered, "Thank you," as she picked through and selected one.
A young blond woman wearing a red top with Wonder Woman's symbol across the front and blue jeans ran into the room and stopped halfway there as her eyes found the unconscious Herculeeta. This was a very attractive woman, a little older than Golden Angel and about the same height, though better muscled and slightly thicker in the body. She had silver colored gauntlets clamped around her forearms and a gold tiara on her brow that bore a red star in the center.
Golden Angel turned to her, chewing on a bite of the doughnut she had selected as she greeted with a full mouth, "What up, Wonder Girl?"
Setting her hands on her hips, Wonder Girl stared down at the big woman who slumbered on the floor and asked, "So, you got her, huh?"
"Yup," the little Amazon confirmed.
"What happened to observing and gathering information?" the blond woman asked.
Golden Angel finished her doughnut and shrugged. "I had a decision to make and
" When the blond woman raised her brow and shifted her eyes to her, she heaved a heavy breath and confessed, "Okay, she saw me."
"Red Robin's not going to like this," Wonder Girl warned.
Turning her eyes to the floor, Golden Angel nodded.
Titans headquarters, located inside a mountain that towered over a beach at the coastline, was not designed for comfort, but its inhabitants had made it so. A large, well lit sitting area with two big, comfortable couches flanked by three recliners with a third between the couches was as colorful and homey as any house would be. A big screen TV hung over a console that was both a remote computer station and gaming center. This day it was off as the young heroes who lived there were just getting settled in after a long day.
Wearing blue jeans and a dark red tee shirt, Red Robin was dressed for comfort, but still wore his mask as he stormed into the common area. Behind him were Superboy and Kid Flash, neither of whom seemed to be in a good mood. Superboy's attire never seemed to stray from his black tee shirt with the red 'S' symbol of Superman in the middle and his blue jeans. Kid Flash was appropriately dressed in shorts, sandals and a yellow button up shirt with a variety of floral patterns.
Behind them was Wonder Girl, still in her blue jeans and red top. She had abandoned her boots, leaving them in her quarters. Walking with her was Golden Angel, whose foul mood could easily be read on her expression. She had abandoned her crime-fighting attire altogether and only wore blue running shorts and a red tee shirt that read Chicks Rule! in big white letters. She was also barefoot and this only exaggerated her lack of stature among her colleagues.
Red Robin stopped behind one of the couches and laid his hands on the back, leaning on it as he angrily stared at the table in the middle of the room. When everyone caught up to him, he simply barked, "I don't care anymore. This is the third operation in less than a month you've screwed up!"
Golden Angel folded her arms and informed, "We got Herculeeta."
"We've got nothing on her," he snapped.
"She was attacking two people!" Golden Angel cried. "Did you want me to just let that go?"
"What happened to her not seeing you?" he demanded.
"She only saw me after I came in and flattened her," Elissa spat. "What did you want me to do, Tim, allow her to hurt or kill someone?"
He pushed off of the couch and wheeled around, storming right up to her as he shouted, "We only got one of them, and now the rest know we're on to them and that's going to complicate things. This was the last time, Angel. I don't need someone on my team who can't follow the plan!"
About five inches shorter than him, she set her hands on her hips and glared up at him. "We also have to think on our feet out there! That and I was kind of under the impression we were supposed to protect people!"
"How about protecting them a little more quietly," he suggested with venom in his words. "If you couldn't take her then you should have called for back-up."
"I did take her!" she pointed out, taking a half step toward him. "You want me to show you how?"
Superboy stepped between them from one side, Wonder Girl from the other.
"Look, guys," Superboy cut in as he nudged Golden Angel back a step, "we don't need to come to blows here. It's over with, okay?"
As Wonder Girl nudged him back a step as well, Red Robin growled, "We didn't have any problems like this before she showed up. In fact, everything was running smoothly."
"Well," Kid Flash corrected, "as smoothly as can be expected with this bunch. Look guys, let's just go to our corners and cool off for a while."
Robin and Angel glared at each other for long seconds, and finally she wheeled around and stormed toward her quarters.
Golden Angel's quarters were in disarray. Clothing littered the floor, her desk was a mess, the bed was unmade and a bath towel hung over the back of the chair that was pushed into the desk. The closet door was open and inside the closet was littered with items that did not quite make the laundry basket. Shelves on the wall by the desk and door were also cluttered and disorganized.
This was just how she kept things.
As the door slid shut behind her, she threw herself onto her bed and rolled over on her back, staring angrily at the ceiling for a time as she tried to allow herself to calm down. She vented a few deep breaths to relieve her anger, but she was a little too agitated for this to work. Here she lay for about a half an hour. Things just were not going well and she felt like the new kid who was just too easy to blame.
When someone knocked on the door, she knew that it was Wonder Girl, and she heaved a heavy sigh. Really wanting to be alone, she did not want to answer, but a second knock prompted her to call out, "It's unlocked, Cassie."
The door slid open and Wonder Girl padded in, her eyes on her little Amazon friend as she neared.
Golden Angel turned her head away, feeling that she was near tears.
Ever so gently, Wonder Girl sat on the bed beside her. She was unable to speak, even though they both knew there was much to say.
Drawing a deep breath, Golden Angel guessed, "So I've been voted off the island, huh?"
Wonder Girl turned her eyes down and nodded, confirming, "Yeah." There was a pause, and finally she looked back to her friend and suggested, "Take some time off. Go home for a while and
"Get my head on straight?" Angel grumbled.
"Nobody wanted it to be this way," Cassandra informed. "The team has to come first. I mean, everyone likes you"
"Except Tim," Golden Angel interrupted.
"Elissa, Tim's just that way. He can be really abrasive sometimes, especially when we're on a mission. I guess Batman really rubbed off on him."
Golden Angel finally turned her head and looked to the blonde Amazon girl. "He's resentful because Batman's my father. That's it. He thinks I'm trying to push him aside or something."
Looking away, Wonder Girl softly admitted, "I don't know."
Elissa sat up, anger in her words as she said, "Yes you do. He hasn't liked me since I was brought here and he's looked for any excuse to get rid of me."
"It isn't that, Elissa," Wonder Girl informed. She finally looked to the smaller Amazon and continued with harsher words, "You seem to think the rules here don't apply to you. You jump in and start a brawl when we're supposed to be quietly observing, and then it's never your fault when the mission fails. It's happened three times in less than a month and I've tried"
"So now it's all my fault?" Golden Angel barked. "I guess it hasn't occurred to anybody that I don't need some stuck-up little butthead telling me my job! I did just fine before!"
"You weren't part of a team before!" Cassandra loudly countered.
Elissa stared back quietly, then looked away from her.
"Everything must be coordinated," Wonder Girl said with an authoritative tone. Standing from the bed, she set her hands on her hips and continued, "That means we have a leader, someone who coordinates the mission, and like it or not Red Robin was that leader on those three missions you botched up for us." Her hair flailed as she wheeled around to leave. "When you go crying to Batman and Wonder Woman, see if you can tell them what really happened here."
Golden Angel watched her leave, and watched the door for a moment even after it closed. Slowly, she turned her eyes down, then she slowly raised a hand to her eyes as the cruel truth began to finally sink in.
Later, in the subterranean garage of the Titan's lair, Elissa strapped her packed duffel bag onto the back of her big red and white motorcycle. She had changed into black boots, tight fitting blue jeans with holes worn into the thighs and the same red tee shirt beneath a leather jacket that was unzipped and open. She turned to take one last look at the vehicles they would use in their missions, the other motorcycle that belonged to Tim, and her eyes found Red Robin standing a few feet away.
He was watching her with blank eyes and his arms folded.
She stared back at him, then turned back to her labors and pulled the strap hard one more time. "Well, it looks like you're finally getting what you want. I'm out of here."
"What makes you think I want this?" he countered.
Elissa wheeled back around to face him. "Oh, come on, Tim. You've wanted me out of here since we first met." She turned back to her motorcycle and slipped the key into the ignition. "You're getting what you want so just leave me alone."
He grabbed her arm and spun her back toward him. "Maybe if you'd take just a minute to quit feeling sorry for yourself you'd see the big picture. This is a team and if only one member doesn't pull her weight then the whole thing falls apart, missions fail and someone can get hurt or killed. We're out there doing what we need to and you go charging in like some glory seeking newbie and wreck everything we've worked for."
She jerked her arm from his grip and spat back, "Situations change and plans become useless!"
"You changed those situations," he pointed out, "just like you did today."
"She was going to hurt those guys!" Elissa cried. "What did you expect me to do?"
"I expect you to do your job. You can protect people without jeopardizing the rest of us!" He looked away and vented a hard breath. "Look, Angel, you're good at what you do. Really good. You just need to get your head in the game and work on being part of a team."
Folding her arms, she narrowed her eyes as she pointed out, "I guess I'm just too much like my father."
"Batman knows how to be part of a team," Tim countered. "He also knows how to make a plan work and how to look out for his team mates." He turned around and walked away from her, saying as he did, "Call me when you grow up and can do that."
She watched him leave the garage and kept her eyes on the door for a moment even after it slid shut. His stinging words would not leave her. He was right, and that was painful.
Turning back to her bike, she picked up the helmet and just stared at it for long seconds before gingerly sliding it over her head.
She stopped at a gas station just outside of Gotham City to refuel her thirsty bike, and while she filled the tank, her cell phone rang and she reached behind her with her free hand to retrieve it. Opening it with her thumb, she looked down at the caller ID and a little smile found her lips as she put it to her ear and greeted, "Hey, girlfriend! What's up?"
"I am so tired," Stacy's voice complained from the other end.
"Oh, come on. Terrance working you that hard?"
"Um, yeah! When we're not working we have these all night parties to go to, then it's wardrobe checks, dealing with twiggy little supermodels and then runway rehearsals
Oh my God!"
Elissa laughed. "Yeah, sounds like fun."
"He never sleeps!" Stacy cried.
"I know somebody like that," Elissa assured. "So how's Paris?"
"Oh, it's great! Walter flew in to spend some time with me and Terrance is going to give me some time tomorrow to spend with him. We're going to do the whole tourist thing."
"Sweet." The pump shut off and Elissa put the nozzle back. "So when are you coming home?"
"First of next month if everything goes as planned. I can't wait to see you and have some girl time, but I guess you're going to be pretty busy with the Titans, huh?"
She turned her eyes down and admitted, "No, not really. I'll be free when you come home."
Stacy shouted with her hand over her phone, "Okay, I'm coming!" She said in a regular tone, "Hey, roomie, I got to go."
Elissa nodded and said, "Yeah, okay. Find some time to enjoy Paris and I'll see you next month."
"Sooner if I can talk you into coming out here. It's great!"
With a little smile, Elissa assured, "I'll try, okay? Catch you later, BFF."
"Take care, BFF. And be careful with your job!"
Slowly closing the phone, Elissa finally started to realize how much she missed her little roommate. She slipped the phone back into its pouch and climbed aboard her motorcycle, and she felt the weight of a very heavy heart as she started it.
Not even an hour later she found herself in the city, cruising along as she had on the highway and passing car after car on her way toward the coast. The chirp of a siren behind her prompted her to check her mirror and she found a police cruiser in close pursuit. Checking her speedometer, she mumbled, "Oh, crud," as she realized why.
Pulling over at the next opportunity, which turned out to be on the side of the road at a busy sidewalk, she cut off the bike and pulled her helmet off, combing a hand through her hair as she laid it on the fuel tank. She looked to her left as the officer, who was a big man in a black uniform, strode up beside her and opened his ticket book, looking down at it through his dark sunglasses.
With an arched brow and a pitiful look, Elissa timidly greeted, "Hi."
"Ma'am," he said with a dry voice, "may I see your license and registration?"
Her brow shot up and she asked, "My what?"
An hour later she found herself in Gotham City's police station, huddled in a chair beside a cluttered desk. Her many infractions did not warrant sitting in a jail cell, but they did warrant her motorcycle being impounded and her being detained. Granted a phone call, she only knew of one person to call, and she prayed her mother would not find out.
Some time ago the officer who had been processing her had taken her information, what little she had to offer, and walked off, assuring that he would be back for her. He had not returned for a while.
That nervous crawl in her stomach only seemed to get worse and worse as she was made to wait.
He finally returned and sat down, his eyes on the paperwork he had brought with him. This was a big man with thinning hair and a bushy mustache. His shirt was dingy and he wore brown trousers that were held up by suspenders, and a shoulder holster for his gun. His old brown jacket was laid on the back of his chair and he leaned back against it as he put on his reading glasses to look over the papers in front of him.
"Okay, he finally said, "Miss Prince. No driver's license, no ID, no registration, no inspection on the bike, no Social Security number
" He pulled his glasses off and looked to her. "You want to tell me your real name?"
"Elissa," she replied. "Elissa Prince. I already told you."
"Yeah," he drawled. "Well, Elissa Prince, you were clocked going twenty over the speed limit and driving without a license on a bike that's not registered in this state, or at all. So where did you get the bike?"
"It's my Mom's," she answered timidly.
He raised his brow. "Your Mom's."
"Elissa!" someone called.
They both looked to see a very well groomed and very proper looking white haired man in a black suit approaching them. He was wearing an English driving hat and had driver's gloves in his hand. A thin salt and pepper mustache was on his lip and he held his eyebrows high as he approached them with long and dignified steps.
As he reached them, he held a small black purse to her and informed in an English accent, "I noticed that you left the house without this again and somehow I knew it would get you into trouble this time." Shaking his head, he looked to the officer and declared, "Sometimes this younger generation needs to be watched so closely."
Elissa hesitantly took the purse, her eyes on the strapping, thin gentleman who stood before her.
The officer looked to her and asked, "Your ID in there, Miss?"
She glanced at him, then looked to the purse and opened it. Finding a pink leather wallet inside, she retrieved it and was about to fearfully open it and look, but the gentleman took it from her and offered it to the officer.
"I say," the English gentleman said as he shook his head, "you would forget to dress yourself in the morning if not reminded."
The officer took a driver's license from the wallet and looked it over, then he cut his eyes to her and handed the license and wallet back to her. "Okay, Miss. That takes care of that problem. Now we just have to clear up the issue of your mother's bike."
The gentleman sighed and turned his eyes to the ceiling. "You took your mother's motorcycle? Elissa, don't you remember our talk?"
"I guess not," she mumbled.
He shook his head again and looked to the officer. "I trust it has been impounded."
"Very well," the gentleman sighed. "I'll send for it in the morning and take care of all of the necessary fines." He looked to Elissa and shook his finger at her. "You have a good scolding coming, young lady. Now come along. We should retrieve your belongings and get you home."
"She says she's seventeen," the officer informed. "I'm afraid I can only release her to a family member."
"Oh," the gentleman said, "not to worry. My name is Alfred Pennyworth and I am the girl's uncle."
Raising his chin, the officer declared, "Oh! You work for Bruce Wayne, don't you?"
Elissa's eyes widened.
Alfred confirmed, "Why yes I do. I've worked for the Wayne family for many years now."
Nodding, the officer assured, "No problem then. I'll process the bike and have it ready to pick up by morning."
"You have my thanks, my good man," Alfred offered. "Come along, Elissa. Let's get you home. I have to be back in time to prepare Master Wayne's lunch."
As she stood, the officer, barked, "Hey, kid!"
She looked to him with frightened eyes.
Pointing a finger at her, he ordered, "You stay out of trouble."
Nodding, Elissa assured, "Yes sir. I will."
Down on the street, a long black car awaited them right outside of the police station. Elissa carried her duffel bag over her shoulder and Alfred led the way to the car. Arriving there, he pushed a button on the key and the trunk lid swung up, and he turned and took the duffel bag from her.
As he laid the bag in the trunk and closed the lid, he looked to her with a little smile and asked, "Are you hungry, Miss Elissa?"
She turned her eyes down and nodded.
As he walked by her, he patted her shoulder and assured, "I'll have lunch ready shortly after we arrive at the mansion."
"Thank you," she offered timidly as he opened the back door for her.
She removed her jacket and folded it over her arm, and as she slid in she froze as her eyes met the blue eyes of Bruce Wayne, and he did not look happy. When the door closed, she suddenly felt trapped.
Settling herself gingerly on the bench seat as far away from him as possible, and pressed up against the door, she turned her eyes to the floorboard and laid her jacket across her lap.
The engine started and the car lurched forward. It was a very smooth ride and the inside of the car smelled like fine tooled leather. In fact, the seats were leather, a dark tan in color marbled in a light brown. The deep carpet on the floorboard was red, as was much of the trim in the car. Ahead of them and beneath the window that looked into the front seat was a glossy wood console with a few hatches in it, speakers mounted on the ends and in the middle and what appeared to be drawers underneath with gold colored round handles.
The quiet in the car was unnerving and she timidly cut her eyes to him.
He was still staring at her. Dressed in a silk business suit that was a navy blue, he had his legs crossed and his hands clasping that knee. Black shoes were perfectly polished. His hair was perfectly groomed.
Forcing a little smile, she waggled her fingers at him and greeted in a meek voice, "Hi."
His eyes narrowed slightly.
She cringed and drew her shoulders up. "I, uh
I guess you talked to Tim already."
"Yes," his deep, authoritative voice confirmed. "You mind telling me what happened?"
Turning her eyes down to her lap, she shrugged and confessed, "I guess I don't work and play well with others."
"That sounds about right," he agreed. "Three missions in less than a month, Angel. That team had a perfect operating record until about three weeks ago."
Her mouth slowly tightened to a thin slit.
"Why did you come to Gotham?" he asked.
She took a while to answer, then shrugged and replied in a whisper, "I don't know."
"I don't accept that answer," he informed coldly. "Now tell me why you came to Gotham."
Reaching down for the deepest truth, she finally, slowly turned her attention to him and confessed, "I
" She drew a deep breath. "I want to know my father."
Bruce's expression did not change, but he raised his chin slightly.
"I want to know you," she repeated. "I'm
I'm part of you and
" She looked out the window. "I know, it sounds childish and corny, but I just want to know my father."
Silence consumed the inside of the car and only the drone of the engine could be heard.
He shattered that silence with, "It doesn't sound childish or corny."
She slowly turned her attention back to him. His expression was no longer so hard and she swore she saw the hint of a smile there.
"I really thought you wanted to join up with the Titans and continue working," he told her.
"That was Mom's idea," she corrected. "I want to join the Justice League, but all I hear is I'm not ready."
"Judging from the last month, you aren't."
That stung and she turned her eyes down again.
"Do you want to be?" he asked.
With a little nod, she softly confirmed, "Yes sir."
Bruce shifted in his seat, turning slightly toward her. "What kind of a commitment are you willing to make?"
"I don't know," she replied.
"I don't accept that answer," he barked with a harsh tone. "What kind of commitment are you willing to make?"
She slowly turned her gaze on him again and answered, "Whatever commitment I need to, I guess. Do you intend to teach me some stuff?"
"Do you want to learn?" he countered. When she nodded, he nodded back and said, "Then I'll teach you. But first, I want to know you." He finished with a wink.
A little smile curled her mouth. "I want to know you, too."
A half hour later they arrived at Wayne Manor and Elissa's attention was fixed on the huge house as they drew closer. Once in a while her gaze would drift to the scenery, the statuary, the groves of tall trees, but for the most part she was mesmerized by that house.
As the car slowed to a stop in front of the huge mansion, she had her hands pressed against the window and her gaze fixed upward, and a little smile on her face. "Wow," she breathed. "That has got to be the biggest house ever!"
Bruce opened the door and began to step out, pausing to say, "It's got a pretty impressive basement, too."
Elissa had her duffel bag slung over her shoulder when they entered and she froze in the cavernous foyer, turning her eyes up to the grand ceiling and the elaborate woodwork and carvings and chandeliers above her, the huge arched window and the two gargoyles perched on its ledge.
Alfred walked past her and her father, who had stopped a few steps beyond and looked back at her, and he informed as he strode into the house, "I'll have lunch prepared within the hour, Master Bruce."
"Thank you, Alfred," Bruce offered, his eyes still on his daughter.
Striding forward with slow steps, Elissa turned circles as she looked around her at the amazing antiques, the woodwork and paintings, the huge staircase that swept up toward the open second level
She followed him up the staircase where more antiques and paintings and suits of armor waited. Even the ceiling was ornate and finely crafted.
When she paused at the top of the stairs, he cleared his throat and asked, "You coming?"
"This place is totally awesome!" she declared dreamily. She finally looked to him with wide eyes. "You live here? Seriously?"
Bruce nodded. "Yes, seriously. Come on. I'm going to give you the southeast room with a great view of the ocean. There are also some wonderful sunrises from there."
All of the doors appeared to be nine or ten feet tall and made of some kind of dark hardwood, and he opened one and strode in.
The room he led her into had a huge canopied bed on one wall, two matching antique dressers that looked like they were crafted of oak, an antique wardrobe on the opposite wall from the bed, a door on that wall that appeared to go to a private bath, a door on the other side that opened into a huge walk-in closet. Right between the two tall windows, each at least six feet high and about three wide, was an old oak roll top desk with a high back and very comfortable looking leather chair pushed into position. Light was offered not only by the windows, but by two crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. About forty feet wide and almost twenty deep, this room was huge! Two ornate rugs were on the floor, one in the middle of the room and one under the bed. The nightstand had an old looking, very pretty lamp on it, and on the other side of the bed there was an identical nightstand with an identical lamp. An old chest was at the foot of the bed, one that was ornately carved with brass that trimmed it and heavy brass locks that kept it closed.
Elissa dropped her duffel bag as her eyes swept the room once more.
Bruce stood beside her, and after a moment he asked, "Is this okay?"
"This is my room?" she breathed.
"If you want it," he replied, "and for however long you decide to stay. The bathroom is right over there. I've had it modernized and it has a whirlpool bathtub and separate shower, a vanity and everything you should"
She wheeled around and threw her arms around him, burying her face in his chest as she said, "Thank you!"
Hesitantly, he slipped his arms around her and hugged her back. "It's no problem. Alfred will make sure you have fresh towels and he'll turn your bed back when you're ready to go to sleep."
She nodded, still holding onto him.
"Why don't you freshen up," he suggested. "Alfred will have lunch ready in about an hour."
"Okay," she whispered, still holding on to him. "Thank you, Daddy."
The words touched him as none ever had and he hugged her a little tighter. With a little kiss on the top of her head, he whispered back, "You're welcome, Angel."
Lunch was all she expected and more, and Bruce was amazed at how much this petite but muscular girl could eat!
The dining table was more than twenty feet long and crafted of darkly stained oak. The ten chairs that surrounded it were crafted of the same oak and ornately carved on the high backs. They had leather seats and leather backrests, deep cushions and were very solidly built.
Bruce sat on one end of the table, closest to the door where the kitchen was. He had changed from his suit and now wore khaki slacks and a black tee shirt. Elissa, seated cross legged in the chair to his right, wore black shorts and a red tee shirt that had Batman's symbol across her chest. The shirt fit her very tightly and her bosom stretched the bat symbol quite a bit out of form.
Resting his cheek in his palm, Bruce asked, "So let me get this straight."
She pushed her now empty plate away from her and took a drink from her crystal glass, her eyes fixed on his.
He continued, "You got taken in for speeding, no registration and no driver's license."
Elissa nodded and set her glass back down. "Yeah. The speeding part is something I just got careless on. The driver's license thing
Who knew you needed a license just to drive one of those? I mean, come on! They should let the public know about these things!"
He shook his head.
"So what do you want to do today?" she asked.
"I have a watch with the League this evening," he replied.
Her eyes lit up and she asked, "Oh, can I come?"
"I'm afraid not, Angel," was his answer, "not this time. Getting you to the watchtower is going to take more than just a trip there. The senior members of the Justice League all have to agree that you're ready."
The sides of her mouth drooped and she slammed her chin into her palm, looking down to her empty plate as she grumbled, "Oh."
"Want to see the Bat Cave instead?" he asked.
Her eyes snapped to him, and her lips curled up into a big grin.
"This is totally awesome!" she declared as they stepped from the elevator and into the cavern below the mansion.
Lights had come on as they entered the cave and everything in there was illuminated. There was a workbench of some kind to the left, glass display cases to the right, beyond them were racks of equipment and tools. To the far right, and across a wide stone and concrete bridge that spanned a small subterranean pond was a huge computer console that had one big screen right in the center and above the main work station with two smaller screens on each side that were controlled by four more work stations. It also had other ports for all kinds of input devices, lights all over it and three black leather chairs waiting in front of it, the tallest of which was at the center console. The whole apparatus was about nine feet tall and was black and covered with a variety of lights, some of which blinked on and off as hard drives activated and rested and data was processed.
Looking beyond it, Elissa saw something she recognized, a huge, fast looking car with a jet exhaust at the back and the form of a jet fighter. With a long nose, it was black and dark gray in color and had a fighter's canopy over the cockpit, and she smiled as she saw it. Parked in the center of a huge turntable, it was facing a tunnel that looked like it headed to the outside. There was so much to see, and yet she knew there was no way to see it all at once. Bruce stopped beside her and folded his arms. "This is where I do most of my work. I also conduct quite a bit of League business and research down here. There are more rooms and I have a training center back on the other side of the elevator."
"How big is this place?" she asked almost dreamily as she scanned the cavern.
"It winds under most of the estate," he answered. "I'll give you the fifty cent tour, then I want to do some sparring with you."
She cut her eyes to him. "Sparring? With me? Daddy, I'm little but I'm still an Amazon."
He patted her shoulder. "I'll try not to hurt you."
With a big smile, she folded her arms and said, "Yeah, right."
"I have to report to the Watchtower about midnight and I'm likely to be up there until tomorrow evening. Do you think you can occupy yourself while I'm gone?"
She looked up to him again. "I'll figure out something to do. Can we spend some time together until then?"
He slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her to him. "I'm going to spend every minute with you until I have to leave."
She wrapped her arms around him and smiled as she laid her head on his chest. "Cool. Can we go out and fight bad guys tomorrow night?"
Bruce took long seconds to answer, but finally he squeezed her to him and replied, "I'd like that, Angel."