The Dark Knight Rises: Weapon of the Shadows

Chapter Fifteen

Blake looked at his assignment. Cassandra glared back. He could handle one hostile kid; he grew up surrounded by hostile kids. Her glare transferred to his wounded arm like she remembered a way to make it worse. He smiled. She scowled. "I'm sorry for talking bad about Selina," he said.

Cassandra crossed her arms. "You no like Selina."

"I don't trust her."

"Bad liar."

Man, how would Father Reilly handle this? "I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings. I didn't know she was taking care of you."

"Selina loves us." She scowled, pouted, and her brown eyes welled up.

"Don't cry anymore, please! Bruce will find her before anything bad happens." He inhaled. "Let's get out of here. Are you hungry?"

She wiped her nose on her yellow t-shirt's long sleeve. It rode up her forearm and he saw she wore a black layer under it. "Hungry."

Cassandra didn't complain about the distance to the bus stop or lag behind. They got off at a cheap pizzeria. "How much pizza do you want?" She pointed to the picture of a large slice. Blake ordered two with drinks and they found a table by the door.

She chewed and stared at the rack of tourist brochures. Blake didn't know what to do with her now. It was too late to let her play with the kids at Wayne House. Plus Father Reilly would ask what happened to Blake's arm. Maybe a movie? But if Babs or Bruce needed back-up that wouldn't work.

She leaned her chair to the side, plucked a brochure from the center of the rack, and set the chair quietly on the floor again. She looked it over as she sipped her soda. "Go there." She held out the glossy cardstock.

Did he need to explain closing times? The brochure was for the Iceberg Lounge. "I can't. And Bruce would kill me."

"Bruce no kill." She bit her slice before picking the brochure off the table.

"It's a figure of speech; he'd be really mad at me if I took you somewhere kids can't go."

Cassandra set down her pizza. "Bruce not mad, worried. Me worried."

"Don't." He had to say something to keep the tears away. "Bruce has been doing this for years. He'll stop this Cain."

She pinched a slice of pepperoni off the bed of cheese and chewed it with a frown. So she wasn't happy, but he'd take it over tears. He didn't rush her to finish her food and twilight deepened over the city by the time they left.

Blake took a different route back to the bunker, so Cassandra saw a different part of the city. His left arm wrenched. He stopped and looked back. She released his forearm, and pointed in the store window. "Want."

It was a boutique toy store. If a toy would keep her happy and fit his budget, he was all for it. Her finger singled out a mannequin wearing a child's Batman costume early for Halloween. "I don't know." She tilted a puzzled face at him. "I don't think Bruce would like it."

She scowled at his kneecaps, and he asked himself how many blows would it take for her to break them. Her scowl eased into a smirk as she looked up. "Take yours."

"Nice try, but you won't fit in mine."

"Make fit." She crossed her arms, planted her feet onto the sidewalk, and bored her eyes into his.

Bruce wouldn't like his adopted kid running around in a Batsuit, but he didn't kill. Blake didn't know what Lucius Fox might do to him if he had to bring a ruined suit for him to fix. He sighed and opened the store door.

Cassandra hugged the package all the way back to the bunker. She went into the medical bay, and brought out a suture kit and a pair of bandage shears. She set everything on the floor next to the cabinet without a suit. They needed another cabinet for Babs' suit in here. The little girl dumped the plastic bag into the floor and examined the black rubber mask. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Make fit." Her nose wrinkled at the flimsy cape. She grabbed the shears.

If personalizing it made her happy, he was not about to complain. "Okay, have fun." He sat at the desk and stared at the computer searches. Elva Barr had checked into a room at the Plaza. Must be Selina Kyle's latest alias; maybe he should go over there? He turned the computer chair around.

Cassandra sewed a square of black fabric over the open bottom of the cowl with the suture string. Whatever was going on, both Kyle and Bruce wanted Cassandra away from it. He better keep her here. He turned back to the monitors. David Cain's record from INTERPOL was still up, so he read that. This guy's career read worse than Bane's. What was Bruce and Kyle caught up in? Blake massaged his forehead. "Your father is--"

Cassandra stepped beside him holding the costume belt. She snapped the working case pocket shut. "Bad." She patted Blake's thigh. "Me know." She put the belt around her waist and frowned before heading back to her craft pile.

He watched her cut the padded top half of the costume jumpsuit away from the unpadded legs. "So why does Selina want to see your father?"

"Selina fight Father. Selina no win." She pulled off her yellow T-shirt. She wore a black catsuit suspiciously similar to Selina's underneath.

He swiveled back to the monitors. "Why does she want to fight him?"

"Me target. Selina stop Father." Her voice muffled as she pulled something over her head.

"Your father wants to kill you?" He swiveled around again.

Cassandra twisted in the Batsuit shirt. "Want me back. Me no go back. Selina fight Father and me free." She sat and pulled off her black high-top sneakers. "Selina no win."

Blake scowled at the man's photograph. Bruce had said he was trying to keep Kyle from killing herself, and Cassandra was certain David Cain would. "But why attack Commissioner Gordon? He doesn't know anything about you."


"Right, he's an assassin. You sure he's not out for revenge for Bane or Talia al Ghul?"

"Father no like Talia."

He rubbed his forehead. How much evil had Cain exposed this little girl to? And he thought what he had lived through was bad, just needing sexual abuse to make it worse. "My birth family wasn't much to brag about either. You're lucky you found Bruce and Selina."

"Me know." Blake looked down. Cassandra used the costume's gold belt to tuck the foam-padded shirt against her black catsuit. "Me save them." She pressed on the side of his neck and dug her fingers into his uninjured forearm.

His body slumped out of the chair and against a tiny but sturdy body. He couldn't stop it as sedation took hold of him.

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