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Fic: Tiger Laying in Wait 1/2

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Title: Tiger Laying in Wait
Author: faithburke
Artist: geaugaart
Fandom: Batman Beyond/Grimm
Word Count:
Rating: Teen
Characters/Pairings: Dana Tan/Terry McGinnis, Bruce Wayne, Charlie Bigelow
Warnings: Some violence
Summary: Dana's always been a lot more perceptive than anyone realized, but it wasn't until she saw Charlie Bigelow's face turn into something out of a splicer's fantasy that it became a problem. Now there are suddenly people who want to kill her and people who are completely terrified of her, and her boyfriend's boss might be the only one with answers.




The room smelled of sweat and urine and weakness and it was turning Chris’s stomach. Jackie was a Grimm. Weakness wasn’t part of her vocabulary, shouldn’t ever be applied to his sister, but she was still lying on the bed and unable to move. She wouldn’t have been able to defend herself against a Fuchsbau or a Blutbad, let alone a Schakal. It wasn’t right. Jackie was completely helpless and dependent on him to protect her and care for her, and such a thing was wrong when it came to a Grimm.

The word had no doubt spread to the Wesen community by now. Chris could probably step outside and find any number of creatures hanging around, waiting for the right opportunity to earn a few accolades by killing a Grimm, no matter how badly injured she was. He wasn’t a fighter, not like Jackie, because he wasn’t a Grimm. He’d been the Giles to her Buffy for the past ten years and while he was competent in a fight Jackie was born for them. He would never be at the same level as his sister unless he became a Grimm, and that wouldn’t happen as long as she was alive.

Jackie had fallen asleep an hour ago, the lines of pain on her face smoothing a little with the help of hydrocodone. The catheter bag was about half-full and hanging on the bedpost, its tube snaking beneath the worn blankets on the bed. Chris had needed to fight the doctors tooth and nail to get her released, but the hospital was difficult to defend and he was sure that her healing would kick in once she was home. Instead she was slowly failing, her body shutting down without medical care, and taking care of her had quickly become a thankless chore.

He knelt down and placed a Colt 1911 within easy reach of her right hand, along with an extra clip nearby. She already had a knife under her pillow. His sister would go out fighting and the least he could do would be to provide the weapons necessary to make sure that happened. A Grimm should go out with her boots on.

Then he picked up his wallet and keys and walked out the door. Nature would take care of this problem. If his sister was strong enough to fight off the Wesen that came for her, then she was strong enough to recover. If she fell, the birthright would fall to him. No matter what happened, things would be better after this.

Chris was careful to not lock the door on his way out.

xxx

Dana had known that Charlie was trouble from the moment that Terry had introduced them, but convincing Terry of that fact was only partially accomplished with a stint in a juvenile detention facility. It was especially frustrating because the very things that set Terry apart from most of the people she knew (his willingness to see the good in people, to give second chances, to help others with little concern for his own well-being) were what made him such an easy target for Charlie. That dreg had been taking advantage of Terry since they were in middle school, and it wasn’t surprising that he’d tracked down her boyfriend as soon as he’d gotten out of prison.

She had not been expecting his face to morph into something more animal than human the instant he caught sight of her. Dana stepped back into Terry’s space for a moment, her boyfriend’s familiar warmth reminding her that she wouldn’t have to deal with Charlie alone, though she was somehow sure she would have to deal with the bastard. Charlie’s face turned back into something human, but his expression was still mean and angry and . . .hungry. It was a look she’d seen on the faces of a few splicers over the past couple of weeks, unique only because they’d been a lot more focused on her specifically than she was used to seeing. Typically they noticed Terry before anything, because Terry had learned back in juvie to move like a predator so you didn’t become prey. Most splicers registered him as a potential threat and kept eyes and focus on him rather than her, and Dana had been completely fine with that arrangement. She still wasn’t sure why it had started to change.

And just like in this moment, her reaction to such things was starting to change. After a second of startled reaction and a quick check for reassurance of backup, Dana was thinking of ways to force Charlie away from the both of them.

“So, Dana,” Charlie said, standing up and looming over the two of them. It wasn’t as intimidating as the man had thought it was back when they were kids and it was less so now. “I see you’re still hanging out with this twip. I don’t suppose I could persuade you into taking a step up the ladder? We both know you could do better.”

The outraged expression on Terry’s face would have been hilarious in any other situation. “I’m not interested. Not now, not ever,” Dana said before it could escalate. Terry could probably take him in a fight if he had to, but that would get messy and right now she would settle for being away until she could figure out what was going on. Splicers couldn’t hide what they were, and most of them didn’t want to hide. Dana was also fairly certain that Terry hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary.

Charlie had never really paid her much attention when they were kids. All of his focus had been on Terry, because Terry was the key to getting noticed by the higher levels of criminals. Dana had been unimportant in his schemes, but that had apparently changed sometime in the last few minutes. He wanted something from her now, and Charlie wasn’t the kind of guy that took no for an answer.

“Don’t be like that,” Charlie said, taking a step towards her. “Come on baby, I’ve got a lot of time to make up. You grew up schway, Dana.”

“She said beat it, Charlie.” Terry’s shoulder brushed against hers as he stepped into her space. He was probably only one more comment from throwing punches, and in the old days before Wayne had taken him under his wing a fight would have been pretty much unavoidable by now. But Terry had changed a lot since them, and now he stepped back from Charlie and towards the door. Dana did the same, long-accustomed to paying attention to Terry’s body language and instincts, especially now that her own matched up with his completely. “Better yet, we will. See you around, Charlie.”

They went out the door together, ignoring Charlie and the parting shot about Dana being an uptight bitch, and they didn’t stop to talk until they were several blocks away. “So what was that?” Terry asked once they were a reasonable distance from Charlie. “I mean, you’ve never liked him-“

“With good reason,” Dana pointed out, interrupting before he could defend the dreg. “He’s the reason you went to juvie.”

Terry shrugged. “Like I was saying, you’ve never exactly been on each other’s Christmas lists, but that was something new. What gives?”

“I hate how Charlie uses you, and I hate how you let him use you,” she said. Dana was fairly proud of how evenly she said it. Charlie Bigelow was one of the subjects guaranteed to make her angry.

“Again, that’s nothing new. You’ve been saying that since we were twelve, usually with a bit more volume. What changed?”

She kept her attention on the people around them, trying to see if any of them were watching her the same way Charlie had done. “Did you notice anything different about him?” Terry had always seen more than people gave him credit for, and it had gotten stronger with his new job as Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard and assistant. Sometimes she wondered what his new boss was really teaching him.

“He was paying a lot more attention to you than he normally does, but that might be because you’re older now.” Terry was watching her now from the corner of his eye and she continued to watch the crowd, not meeting his eyes as he talked. “You’ve never confronted Charlie before now, either, but you were right there with me when he got started. You saw something that made your instincts flare up. What was it?”

Dana finally turned to meet Terry’s eyes. “He wasn’t human. He looked like a splicer for a second, but I don’t think anyone else saw it.”

She was expecting at least a little disbelief, possibly even a laugh from her boyfriend. Terry tended to be cynical when it came to things that couldn’t be explained through normal means. Instead, he was giving her a thoughtful look. It was oddly serious and very much something Dana wasn’t used to seeing on Terry’s face. “What did he look like, exactly, and when did you see it?”

“Like some sort of dog. A wolf, maybe, but sharper and meaner, and it just appeared on his face when he looked at me.” It had been more disturbing than most things you saw around Gotham because of the way it had appeared and disappeared. Splicers couldn’t hide what they were. Most of them didn’t want to hide, or they wouldn’t be splicers. That was the terrible and wonderful thing about living in this city; everyone knew that it was dangerous and full of psychopaths and no one tried to hide it.

Terry nodded. “Let’s go. We’re taking this to Mr. Wayne.”

If you lived in Gotham City, you knew the name of Bruce Wayne, and if you were at least a little more informed than the average Joker you knew what he looked like. That knowledge hadn’t quite prepared her for the sheer weight of his presence. He took Terry’s quiet explanation of what had happened without comment before turning to her. Dana was normally fairly good at reading people, but the man wasn’t giving her much. He trusted Terry, that much was clear, but he didn’t trust her. “Describe what you saw, Miss Tan, in as much detail as you can.”

She frowned as she pictured it, and when she finally started to speak she could feel her anger fading into something a little cooler and sharper. “Charlie looked like a splicer, but I was the only one who seemed to see it. The basic shape of his face was human, but his mouth and nose turned into a canine muzzle, there was a lot more hair than normal, and his teeth turned into fangs. Then it was gone and he just looked like Charlie Bigelow, professional sleaze.”

Mr. Wayne wasn’t exactly one for extraneous movement; Dana had a feeling that every single action the man took was deliberately calculated for maximum result compared to the effort employed. With that said, the old man had gone still when she finished talking. Terry noticed it as well and was standing between them. Dana wasn’t sure which one of them he was preparing to protect and she wondered if even he knew.

“I know someone who can help,” the old man finally said, leaning a little more heavily on his cane. “I’m not sure if he’ll come, but he should be able to tell you something. I have to make a few calls.”

He hobbled from the room, the dog following close behind. Terry stayed at her side, answering the question of who he had been protecting earlier. “What else have you seen?” he asked quietly. “This wasn’t the first thing you noticed.”

“I’ve been getting strange looks for the past week or so whenever I see a splicer,” Dana said. “Sometimes it’s something like Charlie, but most of the time it’s actually fear. It’s like the sight of me makes them completely terrified.” She shrugged, trying not to show how much that had bothered her. Terry pulled her in close, apparently not falling for the act. He must be just as freaked out by this whole thing as she was, but all that showed was worry for her, and that was exactly why she’d stayed with him through juvenile detention and dozens of broken dates.

“We’ll figure it out together,” he promised. “You can handle dating me, you can handle anything.”

Dana laughed and kissed him. She’d missed this kind of thing. They’d both been so busy with work and school (Terry more than her, admittedly) that time spent together was a scarce commodity. Even with this new stress, it was nice to just spend some time with him. “I hope so. It’s really putting a crimp in my clubbing schedule.”

There was a sound in the hallway, too loud to be anything other than deliberate, and the two separated as Mr. Wayne came in and headed straight for the armchair. “He’ll be here within the hour. In the meantime, Terry and I have some work to do. If you don’t mind, Miss Tan, I’ll be needing your boyfriend to help file paperwork. The world doesn’t stop simply because you have a problem.”

Oddly enough, that bit of backward reassurance was almost as comforting as Terry’s more straightforward ones. Dana relaxed, sat down on the couch, and watched the two of them wrestle with paperwork while she waited.

xxx

There wasn’t any context for what it would feel like to become a Grimm, but Chris assumed that when Jackie died the mantle would fall to him. He was the closest relative, after all, and it had always followed the family line before. When he’d stepped back into the house after six hours, carrying some token bags of groceries from a store on the other side of town and Jackie’s prescriptions, Jackie was dead. Chris called the police, genuinely distraught over his sister’s death, and they’d promised to find the murderer. They wouldn’t, of course, but it was a nice thought. Chris wasn’t sure which of the Wesen had gotten the final blow in, though from the state of the bedroom she’d put up one hell of a fight. He wouldn’t have expected any less. He would need to keep his ear to the ground, because it would be impossible for a Wesen to kill a Grimm and not brag about it. Once this one slipped up Chris would track it down and kill it. It wouldn’t do to let the creatures think they could kill a Grimm and get away with it.

It took a week to clear things up and get Jackie safely cremated and her affairs put in order and Chris used that time to mourn his sister. He avoided contact with anyone that he knew was a Wesen, just in case they decided to push things before he was ready. He would need to train now that he’d taken up the family birthright and it would be a month or so before he would truly be ready for confrontation. In the meantime, he would use his connections and research tools to figure out who had been the one to kill Jackie. The last thing he needed was some Wesen figuring out that he’d left the door of their rental house unlocked on purpose.

xxx

Terry had always wanted to meet the first Robin, at least partially because of the way the Commissioner talked of him (and partly because of the way Bruce didn’t talk about him at all), but he wished it hadn’t happened like this. Grayson looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here and given the way things were going Terry wanted to oblige him.

Most people probably wouldn’t have noticed the split second of hesitation when Grayson caught sight of Dana, or the microexpression of fear that crossed his face in that moment, but those people hadn’t trained as Batman. Bruce took note of the fact but remained focused on the conversation he was having with the former Nightwing. Terry took a step closer to his girlfriend and remained wary. He hadn’t missed her split-second reaction either. She had seen something weird when she looked at the man, just like when she’d looked at Charlie earlier.

Eventually Grayson sat down in a chair across from Bruce’s usual spot and Dana settled onto the couch, leaving Terry with the choice of sitting down next to her or pacing the room. As much as he wanted to move, he chose the couch instead. No one needed the distraction of him wandering around right now.

Grayson took a deep breath and finally focused on Dana. He’d been avoiding looking at her since that first step into the room, which was something else both incarnations of Batman had noticed and not mentioned, beyond a shared look that the other room’s occupants didn’t notice. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on down to the last detail, but I can make a pretty good guess. Do you know what you are?”

Dana gave him an unimpressed look, eyebrows arching and mouth turned down a little. “I’m seventeen years old and I’m Chinese-American. I’m pretty sure I’m not a meta, though I know sometimes a person’s powers don’t emerge until they’re an adult and in a stressful situation. And I’ve been told I’m a very good dancer.”

“This is something that goes beyond metahuman. Something you should ask your family about, honestly. They could probably help you better than I could.”

“And how exactly am I going to bring this up to my dad? He’ll have me locked away somewhere before I can blink.” Dana shook her head and leaned forward. “Just tell me what’s going on, please. There’s no point in dragging this out.”

“Are you sure that there’s no family besides your father?” Grayson didn’t look nervous; he was probably too well-trained for that. But he was keeping a clear, cautious distance from Dana, and that spoke volumes.

“My mom died when I was little and Daddy cut off all communication with her side of the family, what little there was. Dad only had one brother and he died a few years ago. I used to talk with my cousin on that side on the net when we were kids, but I haven’t heard from him in months.”

Grayson gave a sharp nod. “You saw what I am.”

Dana’s eyes narrowed. “I saw something. I’m not sure what.”

Terry watched as Grayson’s face shifted, nose forming a beak and hair turning into feathers. It would have been a lot more unsettling a few years ago. A second later it went back to normal. “I’m a Steinadler. You’re a Grimm. And I am out of here. There you go, questions answered. Have a nice life, and I hope I never see you again.”

xxx

Most of the Wesen communities were based in port cities in the United States. Things moved a little more slowly and more like the old-world when it came to the monsters and the bulk of the immigration had only really started after the second World War when the Wesen bid for power had fallen flat. So far they seemed to stay in areas that allowed them easy escape from the country. It made them easier to avoid while Chris had been training, and it also made it easier to find a Wesen so he could practice his new skills when he decided he was ready. Any city that sheltered Wesen was bound to have a bar that mostly catered to that specific clientele, and it wasn’t hard to track down one such establishment once he’d picked up and moved to a place that had probably never heard of Jackie.

The research had always been left to Chris, not because Jackie was incapable but because she had better things to do. She’d been the one to scout out concentrations of Wesen and the one who had contacts in that world. Chris was the one who made sure they recorded everything that had been useful in her observations, to dig through the old books when they’d stumbled into something unknown, and to make up the various poisons and remedies that a Grimm usually needed. Jackie wouldn’t have wanted him anywhere close to a Wesen bar. She’d always been protective of him.

Now, though, he simply opened the doors to the place and walked inside. Chris wasn’t there to cause trouble, though he was ready for it should it happen. He simply wanted notice served that there was a new Grimm around, and to get a feel for what was happening. He didn’t have any real contacts in the Wesen world and he’d need to develop them, since his sister’s wouldn’t be any use to him.

Chris walked in with his shoulders back and his head held high, not spoiling for a fight but entirely ready to join in if someone else started one. It was the way his sister had always walked into a new place and he felt like he was honoring her memory by doing the same thing. He was going to be a fantastic Grimm, all due to his sister’s influence.

The first sign that something wasn’t quite right was the lack of reaction he received when he walked in. He knew from years of observing Jackie that a Wesen woging at the sight of a Grimm was mostly involuntary and almost instantaneous. Every once in a while she would meet someone in control enough to keep a lid on his true face, but that was truly the exception that proved the rule.

Not a single one of the Wesen in the bar showed their face, though a few were looking at him with predatory interest.

Something in his carefully laid out plan had gone wrong. His sister’s sacrifice hadn’t worked the way he’d hoped it would, and Chris left the bar as quickly as he could.

xxx

“What’s a Grimm?” she asked, standing up and moving to block the way out of the door. She couldn’t let this man leave until she’d gotten some answers. “And for that matter, what’s a Stein-whatever? Why aren’t you telling me what I need to know?”

“Both of you sit down,” Mr. Wayne said, the pleasant façade disappearing and something much harsher taking its place. “Dick, please tell her that much at least.”

The other man was shifting in place, clearly not wanting to sit down unless she did the same. “I can’t help, Bruce. You know I can’t. There’s nothing I can do.”

“I don’t understand,” Dana said, watching as the man turned toward the door. She was still blocking his path and wasn’t sure what she’d do if he decided to push matters. “What exactly is the problem here? Why won’t you help me? Can’t you at least tell me what in the world is going on?”

“The problem,” Grayson spat out, stepping to the side and never turning his back towards her even as he edged his way out of the room, “is that Grimms are the boogeymen of the world I grew up in. Your kind are the monsters under the beds of Wesen children everywhere. When I was a kid I had three basic forms of nightmares: my parents dying, Bruce dying, and a Grimm finding me and killing me. So no, I’m not going to help you learn how to do that. Forget it.” With that he made his way around her and left the room, moving so quickly and lightly that she only knew he left the house when the door closed behind him.

Dana turned towards Mr. Wayne. The old man had stood up from his chair and taken a step or two forward as if he wanted to follow Grayson before stalling out a meter or so away from her. Her heart was pounding and she could hear the sound of her own blood pulsing in her ears. “Is someone going to tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m showing her the Cave,” Terry said, standing up and walking to her side. He didn’t touch her, but just his presence at her side helped. Mr. Wayne turned to glare at him and her boyfriend glared right back. “You’re telling her everything she needs to know, and we’re going to figure out how to keep her alive. No more secrets, Bruce. Dana deserves to know the truth.”

With that announcement he stood up and started walking deeper into the house. Dana followed quickly behind him, catching up and reaching for his hand as he stepped into a comparatively small, neat room that probably stood as Wayne’s office. There was a portrait on the wall of a man and a woman, with a young, solemn boy standing between them, and the eyes of the boy were familiar. She could hear the very faint sound of Mr. Wayne’s cane striking the hardwood of the floor from behind her, Ace’s nails clicking in concert with the sound, as Terry stepped up to the tall Grandfather clock under the portrait. He opened the glass front with his free hand, reached inside the clock, and pulled a lever.

There was a click and the clock swung open like a door, revealing a doorway that gaped into darkness. Mr. Wayne was right behind them now and he followed as Terry escorted her down a stone staircase and into a huge underground space. The sound of switches being flipped was a prelude to industrial lights coming on with a dull hum and Dana looked from the giant penny and dinosaur to the massive bank of computer and diagnostic equipment before settling on the costumes lined up against the wall. “Well,” she said. “I guess now I know why you kept running out on our dates.”

xxx

Something had obviously gone wrong, but Chris wasn’t sure exactly what that was. With Jackie dead he should have become the next Grimm, but after that little incident it was clear he wasn’t. Someone else had gotten the birthright that he had rightfully earned and it didn’t make sense. He was Jackie’s brother. There weren’t any other close relatives from his mother’s side, the Grimm side, and obviously no one was as close to her as he had been.

His sister’s abilities had gone to a person who didn’t deserve them and couldn’t possibly know how to handle them as well as Chris could handle them. He pressed lightly against the bruise that covered the right side of his face and hissed at the pain. As soon as his face had healed enough that he could open both of his eyes he would have to start tracing down to the family tree so that he could fix this problem right away.

xxx

Mr. Wayne’s explanation of what a Grimm was and what she could probably do was sketchy, but with all of the other bombshells that was probably for the best. Details could wait for later. For now all she wanted was the broad outline, and the old man seemed to understand that and prepare for it. He had a long list of contacts that he was planning on working through in the quest for more information when she was ready.

Explaining the other term that Grayson had used was just as brief and most of it went to breaking the news that things which had previously been the subject of fairy tales were real. She had the feeling that this particular subject would need a lot more in-depth study, but much like the concept of ‘Grimm’ the matter of ‘Wesen’ would need to be tabled until Dana had a moment to catch her breath. Mr. Wayne had ended the discussion by hooking up their tablets to the computer and starting file downloads.

Terry had been grinning immediately after revealing the Batcave to her, but his expression had quickly wavered under the onslaught of files that were appearing on the computer. “Enough with the background information right now. What are we going to do to protect Dana?”

She was a little insulted that simply protecting her was his knee-jerk reaction, but Mr. Wayne interrupted before she could say anything. “We can’t protect her,” the old man said, faded blue eyes angry. Dana wasn’t sure who he was angry with, though she could tell it wasn’t really aimed at either of them. “No one can protect her from the things that are coming. Killing a Grimm is the Wesen community’s version of killing Batman, even one that’s clearly brand new to the position. Every single one that wants to enhance its reputation will be coming after her.”

“Then you’re going to teach me how to protect myself,” Dana said. “I’m assuming there’s no way to stop being a Grimm and still stay alive?” The old man shook his head and Dana took a deep breath. She’d been expecting that. “Train me, then. I’ve already taken aikido and I’m a quick study. If you can’t protect me, teach me how to take care of myself.”

She had been expecting martial arts and grueling self-defense training in the back of her mind. What she got was homework, way more than she normally got when it came to school. Grayson had removed himself as a potential resource, at least for the time being, but Mr. Wayne had other contacts and apparently having an adopted son who was neck-deep in her new world meant that he’d gathered as much information as possible. The number of files about just ‘Grimms’ (something that sounded harsh and unfamiliar as an identity) were seriously frightening once they’d been downloaded onto her tablet. Terry simply gave her a weary smile when she’d looked up in disbelief and showed her his own list of things to be read. It included everything on her tablet and at least the same amount besides that had nothing to do with her current predicament.

Dana forced her attention to the tablet, pointedly not watching as Mr. Wayne dredged up every aspect of her background. She didn’t want to see her mother’s death up on that computer screen, especially since the man was barely pausing at firewalls into police and autopsy records. No one should have to look at photos from their mother’s autopsy. A glance out of the corner of her eye made her wonder if Terry hadn’t been so lucky. His father’s death had been suspicious enough to warrant an investigation, one that had never been officially solved.

“Were you aware that your mother had a sister?” Bruce asked, dragging her attention back from contemplations of her boyfriend.

“Aunt Anna,” Dana supplied promptly. “She died when I was six. I never met her. My dad didn’t like my mom’s family.”

“It’s likely that she was a Grimm as well, given how she died.” He didn’t go into the details, and Dana didn’t ask. Things were already a little overwhelming without adding in something like that. “Anna Halder had two children, a boy named Christopher and a girl named Jacqueline. Jacqueline died six weeks ago in a home invasion, but the circumstances are shaky at best. When did you start noticing the changes?”

“About then. I’ve always been able to read people pretty well, but the weird looks started about five or six weeks ago.”

Mr. Wayne raised one eyebrow, the expression somehow skeptical and completely neutral at the same time. “Really?”

“Why else do you think I’d stay with a boyfriend who continually runs out on our dates?” Dana asked, rolling her eyes in Terry’s direction and ignoring his protest. “I knew he didn’t want to miss them and that he believed that what he was doing was important, and I’ve always known that Terry was a good person underneath all the troublemaking and sleeping through class, same way I knew Charlie Bigelow was trouble from the beginning. Just because I like to have fun doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”

He turned back to his computer. “That could prove to be useful. Are the files all downloaded into your tablets?”

Terry stood up and stretched. “We’ve got our homework assignments, Bruce. Time to start work?”

The old man pushed up from his seat with a barely audible grunt of effort. “Upstairs to the gym. Let’s see what we’ve got to work with.”

xxx

His family had always been very careful to keep detailed family records. Chris could trace his family line back to the sixteenth century, although there was some obvious lack of detail the further out you went. Jackie had been his only sibling and the most recent Grimm. Their mother had been a Grimm before that and had lasted for almost twenty years, which was fairly significant. Most Grimms either died early on in their careers or lived as a Grimm for at least a decade before being taken out. Jackie had been a Grimm for eleven years before the Blutbad had broken her spine and effectively ended her life.

Their grandfather had been a Grimm for sixteen years before dying in the line of duty and passing the mantle on to Anna Halder, and he’d become a Grimm when his only sister died three years into the life. The only non-Grimm had been his mother’s sister, a woman named Jennifer that he’d never met who had died when he was a kid. Grimm families tended to be small so that they were easier to defend. He was going to have to start digging into records that the family hadn’t kept, or start going further up the family tree. Maybe someone had given birth to a bastard and hadn’t kept a record of it, or something along those lines. One way or another, it was going to be a bitch tracking down the new Grimm. The good news was that it should be a simple matter taking care of things once he had managed to find the person. Being this far from the trunk of the family tree meant that the new Grimm would have no clue about that particular heritage. The new Grimm should be relatively easy prey.

It wouldn’t take much to correct this mistake and get things back on track. He owed it to Jackie to make sure her sacrifice went towards a worthy goal.

xxx

This had been more like what she’d been expecting when she’d asked to train, though she wasn’t expecting it to hurt this much. Dana was on the swim team and she’d always believed that she was in good shape, but keeping up with Terry was a lot more difficult than she had been expecting, even with the new information about her boyfriend being Batman.

The only saving grace as he tested her training was the fact that she could read his body language a lot better than he could read hers. He wasn’t holding back, probably because of the little talk Wayne had given him while she had changed into a set of unisex gym clothes, and he didn’t telegraph his moves in any way that she could see, but she had always been able to read Terry and that kept him from completely wiping the floor with her, though she ended up on the mat more often than not.

“Decent foundation, at least,” Wayne had said after an hour or so had left her panting and drenched in sweat. Her boyfriend was barely breathing heavily and could probably have kept going for at least another hour. Dana was going to have to put in a lot of work to match that level of endurance and that would be a personal goal to work towards with all of the other things that were looming over her head. “Can you read everyone’s body language like that, or is it just Terry?”

The question was a little startling, since she hadn’t realized that he had noticed what she was doing. “Everyone’s, though I’m best at reading Terry. I’ve known him since we were kids.”

He nodded. “Cassandra was practiced at that particular method. I’ll see about getting her to come and oversee your training, or at least pulling out some things for you to see and work into your current style. Any gymnastics in your background?”

“I never got beyond cartwheels and forward rolls,” she confessed. It hadn’t been interesting to her, and her balance wasn’t the greatest. Swimming and piano had been more her style and those had been the lessons she’d worked on the most after six months of trying and failing to move past the most basic of gymnastic moves.

“We can work on the basics of that, at least. Terry can help you train on balance and agility. Weapons training?”

“My dad has a concealed carry permit and he taught me how to shoot his automatic. I know how to handle a gun, but that’s it.”

There was a flicker of something on the man’s face, distaste mixed with something else, before it smoothed over. “We’ll see if I can get someone to help with that as well. It will be a good opportunity to get Terry some formal training.”

“We done for today?” Terry asked, attention apparently caught between the two of them. He’d been having a hard time splitting his focus during the sparring session, another reason why she’d been able to read him so well. Dana had been right when she’d called Mr. Wayne a father-figure for Terry, even before she’d known about his real second job, and judging from the actions of the older man it went both ways. It was something she’d have to think about once this most recent crisis was over.

“Go home, the both of you,” Mr. Wayne said. “I have calls to make and work to do. I’ll call if I need you, Terry.”

Terry practically dragged her down the hall, barely pausing to grab her carefully folded clothing before showing her into a bedroom that was surprisingly dust-free despite the fact that it was clearly not used regularly. The bathroom attached to it was also clean and there were fresh towels hanging on the rack. “This is the room I use when I need to stay the night,” he said, in answer to a question she didn’t ask. “I’m going to run down to the laundry room and get a few more towels. This place never runs out of hot water, by the way, so enjoy the shower. I’ll take mine when you’re done.”

They were back out on the street within half an hour, the trip from the manor house to the city going past in a rush of wind and blurry backgrounds and drying hair still damp from their respective showers. Terry drove past their usual haunts without being asked and stopped at a coffee shop that wasn’t too far from the police station. Neither one of them spoke until they’d sat down at a booth and ordered coffee and food. Lunch had been interrupted by Charlie and it was past dinner time now. Dana was surprised at how hungry she was right now, although she probably shouldn’t be. An hour of sparring with Terry had been one of the most exhausting workouts she’d ever had and now her body desperately needed fuel.

“The night you had me drive out there, just after your father died,” Dana said, her hands cradling the mug. “That was the first night, wasn’t it?”

“I figured out who the old man used to be the night Dad died,” Terry replied. “Stole the suit the night you dropped me off. He made the job offer the next day.”

“You solved your dad’s murder, didn’t you?” It explained something about him, afterwards. There’d been a burden on his shoulders, but it didn’t seem to hurt as badly as it should have.

“I’ve known since the night I stole the suit. That was why I went to the old man in the first place. There was never enough to take to the cops and no way to make the charges stick, but karma caught up to people responsible in a big way.”

“And did karma have a bat-shaped helper?”

“Maybe.” He smiled, the expression sharper than his usual smiles around her. Dana supposed that she was probably looking at Batman in that moment. She filed away that observation for later and changed the subject.

“So, you’ve been working as Gotham City’s most famous urban legend all this time and you didn’t think to tell me? I wouldn’t have given you half as much trouble about missing dates if you’d just told me the truth.”

“I was worried that it would put you in danger. The old man’s got a stack of stories that all end badly.” He shrugged, a faint smile on his face despite the circumstances. “A quick word of warning, though, Max knows and she’s been nagging me for a month about telling you.”

She raised her eyebrows and tried to keep her temper in check. “You told Max?”

“She figured it out,” Terry protested. “I didn’t tell her, and I don’t want her to know, but there’s no taking that knowledge back without a high-grade psychic and none of the good ones would be willing to do it. I don’t think she realizes just how serious the whole thing is, how much work is involved and how dangerous it is. Honestly, part of the reason I’ve held back from telling you everything was how much she was pushing.”

“I’ll let it slide,” she said. There would be a conversation with Max on the subject in her near future. “So Mr. Wayne knows, obviously, and Max, and now me. Anyone else?”

He fidgeted in his seat. “The original Batgirl. But I’m not giving you her identity right now. That should be her choice.”

“All right.” Dana took a sip of her coffee, made a face at the bitterness, and reached for the sugar. “How bad is this training going to get?”

“It’s going to be bad,” Terry said. “He expects you to put in as much work as he would for anything, and he’s kind of obsessed and a perfectionist. You’ll come out of it with the best training you’ll ever get if you stick it out, though. Wayne expects the best out of everyone he works with, and he gives it in return.”

“As long as I survive I’ll have the best training, you mean. I’m not sure about that at the moment.”

“You’ll survive. He’s the best for a reason. He might take a few months to be satisfied that you know what you’re doing, but Bruce knows exactly how far to push and when to stop.”

“How long did he train you?”

“My training was all on the job. Technically I’m still being trained.”

Dana narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m not sure I can give up two years of my life to training.”

“Dana, you’re giving up the rest of your life to training. That’s the way it works. You never stop training, because if you stop something will get you.” He smiled again, though this time it was a little bitter. “Welcome to the life. Now you know why I put off dragging you into it.”

“Yeah, well, too bad my family did instead.”

“At least you won’t be working two full-time jobs and going to school at the same time. That’s the reason I sleep through math class. It’s the only time I have.”

Dana shook her head and laughed. “You didn’t really need to be there anyway. You and I both know you could just take the book home and figure it out better than the teacher ever could. Too bad that doesn’t work for history class.”

“I pay attention in history,” he said, laughter in his eyes if nowhere else. “It’s not my fault all of the presidents were boring.”

“Tell it to Ms. Pierce. And let me know before you do, so I can sell tickets.”

xxx

He’d traced the lineage back four more generations without any leads and was ready to give up on the books. His family had never been very big, with only two or three children in every generation, and those were all dead ends. The only family member who hadn’t died as a Grimm in all that time was his mother’s sister, so the answer either had to do with her, or one of the men somewhere along the line had seeded an illegitimate offspring and neglected the usual follow-up. For the sake of his own sanity he was going to follow the thread of Jennifer Halder a little better.

His mother had only mentioned her sister once, just before she died, and she’d done it in a way that was more curse than anything. Apparently Jennifer hadn’t ever liked the idea of being a Grimm and the life they lived to support that calling and had left when she was sixteen, disappearing in the crowd of people that made up Gotham City so thoroughly that no one had seen or heard of her until word came that she’d died in a commuter train accident nine years later. It had been an especially boring death for a Grimm and to his knowledge his mother hadn’t even visited her grave.

Maybe her death hadn’t exactly gone the way it was reported, though. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d seen someone fake her own death as a means of escape, and Chris could see that as an option if his aunt had really been trying to disappear. The trail was sixteen years cold, but tracking had always been one of his specialties and he thought he was up to the challenge. It looked like he was packing up and headed for Gotham City.

xxx

Training was hellish, exactly as Terry had predicted. Dana went with Terry up to Wayne Manor after school on the first day, expecting to have a slow, easy day for her first training session. Instead she had an hour of practicing her balance, which didn’t sound bad until you realized that it meant staying upright on the balance beam the entire time, walking back and forth without sitting or crouching. When she fell (which she did, of course, several times) she climbed back up immediately and without help. It was surprisingly exhausting, even if all she did was stand or walk slowly. Terry looked sympathetic when he glanced up from the mountains of data-work that his boss had him working through. “You ever have to do this?” she asked after yet another tumble onto the mat below. Dana had never been so very aware of how many small movements her body made just to stand in one place.

“He didn’t get a beam,” Wayne said, eyes on the computer screen. “Look at the pole behind you. That’s what you get when you’re ready. Terry, is that charity paperwork filed yet?”

“Just finishing,” Terry said. “I’ll head out on patrol after.”

Wayne shook his head. “No, I want you in for a while longer. You can both train for a while. I’ll monitor the city. If something happens, I’ll send you out.”

“Any particular reason?”

“You’ve been sloppy with some of your moves because you’re distracted. Helping to train Dana should help improve your discipline.”

“And I’m still leaving myself open on my left side,” Terry sighed, standing up and heading towards the small changing room in the Cave. It sounded like an old joke between the two of them, another part of their obviously complicated relationship. It went far beyond employer and employee, but she hadn’t been able to precisely define it yet. That would take time and effort on Dana’s part.

“Come down off the beam and get some water,” Bruce said, and Dana didn’t need to hear it twice. She’d polished off half of the bottle before Terry came back in shorts and a T-shirt and she had to set it aside. “Start with Kairi Tanaka’s beginner’s level,” he instructed, standing up with the cane in his hand.

Dana mirrored Terry’s actions as he executed each move, slowly at first and then picking up speed once she’d seen them all once. Wayne circled and watched, his cane finding a shin or forearm every once in a while with a reminder about precision. The blows weren’t particularly harsh, but neither were they gentle, and it was incentive enough to pay attention to what she did. Terry received just as many as she did, she was pleased to notice, although it was possible his boss was holding him to higher standards.

It was hard to tell if it was because of her heritage or because Terry was a good teacher, but after an hour and a half Wayne called a halt to their work. Her legs were trembling a little, though not as badly as they should have been given her earlier balancing practice, and Dana sat down carefully when Terry did the same. “Better,” the old man said. “Clean up and I’ll go over what I’ve found.”

By the time she’d gone upstairs, showered, and changed back into her street clothing Terry had used the shower in the cave and was in the kitchen putting together a meal. “We’re eating up here. Want to help out?”

Dana wasn’t a particularly good cook, but she didn’t have to be most of the time; she and her dad mostly relied on take-out like the majority of Gotham City dwellers. It had been a pleasant surprise, discovering that Terry was good in the kitchen shortly after they started dating. Mr. Wayne apparently made use of that particular talent on occasion as well, since the kitchen was stocked with the types of ingredients that Terry favored when he was cooking and since Terry knew where everything was without searching.

“What do you need?”

“Set out plates and silverware? They’re in the cabinet to the left of the sink, utensils in the drawer below that, napkins in the next drawer down. We’re just waiting on the rice now.”

She stacked the plates together carefully. “Where am I going with this?” she asked, and Terry glanced over from his task.

“In here. Bruce never uses the dining room. The place is creepy as all get out, and I’m not sure it’s been used since he stopped having society things up here. We eat in the kitchen, or we eat in the Cave.” Terry smirked. “Be glad it’s not the Cave. The bats might add something to the creepiness factor, but they can kill any sort of craving for food.”

Mr. Wayne came into the room a moment later, which ended any light-hearted flirting, and sat down at the table with a sigh of effort. “Cassandra will be here tomorrow. She wants to start immediately, so I’d get a good night’s sleep if I were you two.”

“I’ve never met Cassandra,” Terry said, setting a dish of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables on the counter. It smelled fantastic and Dana felt her mouth water a little. “Do you mind telling us a little bit about her?”

Bruce smiled. “Oh no, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. You’ll have to see for yourself tomorrow.”

Part 2