Bruce frowned as he ended the last call. Cassandra stopped sniffing the take-out bag on her lap. "Wrong?"
He smiled despite the tickle of unease in his stomach. "Selina's phone keeps going to voice mail. It's nothing," he added.
She hopped out first after he parked the car under the drop shed, and carried the food inside. He shut the door as she ran upstairs shouting, "Selina food!"
Selina didn't shout back.
The tickle turned into scratching as he climbed the stairs. Cassandra put the take-out on the kitchen counter and darted to the tower. "Selina?" The scratching pressed into clawing when Cassandra called out again.
He turned to their bedroom. Her laptop, her phone, a piece of paper, and her strand of pearls lay on the duvet. He sat on the bed and touched the necklace. The cool, spherical gems rolled under his fingers. It was not around Selina's neck.
A whimper turned his head to the door. Cassandra stared at the pearls and inched closer. "Selina leave?"
He read the written excuse out loud with a lead tongue. Her brown eyes filled with tears. "What?" She grabbed and shook the paper. "What?"
"It means Selina left us."
"No! Selina happy. Liar!" She ripped up the paper before dashing into the dressing room. "Selina clothes here." She stomped back when Bruce didn't move. "Selina happy."
He closed his fist around the pearls. "I thought she was happy too."
"Body no lie!" Cassandra stomped her foot. "Selina happy. Me happy." She chocked, but her eyes continued leaking.
"Selina was happy in Hong Kong." The admission tasted like warehouse ash. He never should have approached her.
"No!" She squeezed his fist. "Selina no happy Hong Kong. Selina happy here!"
Her distress punched through his internal scolding for daring to seize too much for himself. "Selina was happy this morning."
He went to the dressing room. Selina's suitcase was gone along with her catsuit, but most of her clothing still hung in the wardrobe. "She took the catsuit. Either she's going to steal--"
"Steal make Bruce sad," Cassandra said with a sniffle.
"Or she's expecting trouble. Trouble she didn't want us involved in." That made sense with her note. "Something happened while we were gone. Where's her phone?"
Cassandra released his hand and ran back to the bedroom. He dropped the necklace into the pocket of his jacket, the same one with the purchase he foolishly made earlier. She handed him the cell phone. He sat on the bed and she watched over his arm. He scrolled past his three calls. A number he didn't recognize called Selina around ten o'clock. "That's a Gotham area code."
"Gotham call?" Cassandra clutched his thigh.
"You have reached the voice mail of Jen Robinson. Please leave a message after the tone."
He hung up without leaving one. "It's a number for Jen Robinson. Selina lived with a Jen in Gotham."
"She didn't seem capable of causing big trouble when I met her." Bruce thought back to the young blonde woman who posed as a prostitute to pick pockets. "She may be in trouble though." He twisted to grab Selina's laptop. A quick search confirmed his fear. "Selina bought a ticket to Gotham."
Cassandra's fingers dug into his thigh. "Selina go Gotham?"
And she didn't expect to come back. He hoped that was the reason she left the pearls behind, and not that he shoved her away. "We're going to Gotham too. Pack a bag for a couple of days."
They didn't run into any problems chartering a private plane to Gotham, though their arrival would be a couple of hours behind Selina's. Cassandra curled up in the oversized seat and slept. He didn't want to turn on the provided television and wake her up, so he closed his eyes as well.
Bruce found himself in Gotham, but instead of the graffiti-covered alley, it was the bottom half of one of the city's double-decker streets next to a crumpled truck. The cold bit his skin exposed by the cowl.
Selina wore her black catsuit that emphasized her curves so enticingly. Her brown eyes behind her mask brimmed with unshed tears. "I guess we're both suckers." She seized his armored head and pulled him into a kiss.
He pulled her hips closer. She wrapped an arm around his shoulders and opened her mouth wider. Pain flared on his left side. He looked down at her black-gloved hand on the knife hilt, but her face was sad, not like Talia's satisfied smirk.
"I can't," she whispered before letting him go. He fell to his knees and watched her climb into the Bat. She didn't know about his software patch to fix the autopilot. The Bat's engine drowned out his yell. She would die instead of him.
His eyes flew open with a gasp. Damn, he preferred the bats. He leaned back against the leather seat and focused on calming his heart. A whimper drew his attention to the seat facing his.
Cassandra's fists batted at unseen foes. Her face twisted, but she kept her lips pressed together. She hunched up her shoulders and protected her head with her arm. He crouched next to her seat. He never reacted well when someone shook him out of a nightmare, so he reached out with his voice. "Cassandra. It's okay. It's only a dream. Wake up, Cassandra."
Her eyes jumped open and scanned for danger. She wrapped her arms around Bruce's neck. He carried her back to his seat, and rubbed her back as she quivered against his chest. He remembered his father doing the same to him many years ago. "You're safe now, Cassandra. It was just a bad dream."
"Stupid," she muttered into his shirt.
"It's not. Everyone feels fear. It keeps you alive."
"I fear not getting to Selina in time to save her."
"Me too." They sat in the semi-dark cabin for a few minutes. Cassandra let go of his neck. "Watch Gotham?"
"Okay." He turned the satellite television onto GCN.
Vicky Vale stood outside Police Headquarters. "For those of you just tuning in, an attempt was made on Commissioner Gordon's life last night and the vigilante known as Nightwing was shot."
Bruce went still and Cassandra keened.
"The Police Department has issued the following statement: Commissioner Gordon is fine and is taking protective precautions. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the dedicated hot line at the number shown on the bottom of the screen. They made no comments on Nightwing's condition, but GCN's source at Gotham General Hospital said the bullet was non-lethal."
He took a deep breath. Provided their information was correct, Blake was fine.
"But if you were counting on this event to reveal the identity under Nightwing's mask, prepare to be disappointed. A masked female broke Nightwing out of Gotham General."
"Selina?" Cassandra asked.
He shook his head. "Her plane is landing about now."
"GCN has received video footage showing Batgirl in action."
The screen shifted to a pixilated video, but the hospital corridor and the two armored figures walking down it were recognizable. Blake had opted for a domino mask without a cape, but the young woman wore a cape and cowl like Batman's only her bat symbol was gold stretched across her chest. Her red hair covered Blake's arm slung over her shoulders. She steered Blake, whose other arm was in a sling, through the stairwell door.
Cassandra twisted to see his face. "Batman father?"
"I don't know." He didn't have a red-headed daughter, but she wore a Lucius Fox designed suit. Cassandra turned back to the screen and leaned against his chest.