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Fic: By Any Other Name - Golem

Willy Watt was just as skeezy as Nelson, in his own way, but Terri had never cared for bullies and it wasn’t precisely his fault that he’d been smitten stupid by the vapid charms of Blade Andrews.  Daniel was a little more sympathetic than she was, probably because Willy had never so much as looked her way.  She was pretty sure that she intimidated the little geek.

The problem, of course, was that they couldn’t babysit the guy all day every day, and Willy somehow lost every tiny bit of logic when it came to Blade and Nelson.  You couldn’t protect a teenaged boy from hormonal stupidity and Willy couldn’t seem to stop eying Blade and verbally antagonizing Nelson.  The best either of them could do was to try to keep an eye on the three of them during school hours.

Terri couldn’t even begin to explain when she’d become the class defender.  She’d blame her job with Wayne, but even before then she’d never really liked bullies.  Daniel was more likely to simply avoid those people, unwilling to risk making it worse, but he had always been a little more naïve and gentle than Terri.  She’d learned pretty early that guys like Nelson didn’t stop until someone made them.

Neither one of them could help Willy once they were released out into the wilds of Gotham City, Daniel because of his study schedule and Terri needing to report for work, and she had to make an effort not to worry about it.  If the kid would just avoid the kinds of places where those two spent their time after school (most specifically the mall, clubs, and make-out point) there wouldn’t be a problem.

Terri had never really believed in that kind of luck and Willy showed an extreme lack of self-preservation instincts, but it wasn’t her problem.  She had more pressing matters to handle.   Most people weren’t taking the reappearance of Batman seriously, not yet, and she was spending a lot of time and effort on beating the new reality into the heads of the gangs, starting with the Jokerz.  They were the largest gang, and the ones that were most likely to engage in violence against random citizens.  The only real plus in dealing with them was how incredibly disorganized they all were.  There wasn’t a master plan when dealing with Jokerz, just pointless violence and the occasional skirmish with the T’s.  It made dealing with them a little simpler.

Batman was tying up the second set of clowns for the evening when the rasping voice of the boss in the cowl interrupted the proceedings.  “Giant robot three blocks down the street,” he said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Broke away from a construction site and started straight toward a shopping mall.  Take care of it.”

“On my way.”

It didn’t take long to get there and the robot was impossible to miss as it made its steady way in a beeline toward the crowded mall.  Shoppers, most of them teenagers who weren’t exactly burdened with street smarts, began shrieking and shoving and trying to get out of the way, but none of them were exactly organized in the effort and it turned into a snarled mess of panicked people.  It was a perfect recipe for possible disaster and it meant Batman would need to be especially careful in regards to crowd control.

The robot didn’t slow down as it moved, but it did turn.  Whoever was controlling it (and given that kind of focus, there had to be something calling the shots) knew exactly what he wanted, and what he wanted was apparently to destroy Nelson Nash’s car.  Terri took a moment to savor the horror on Nelson’s face from behind her mask before Batman moved into action to prevent the robot from following through on Nelson’s body.

Whoever was behind the robot, they had no real fighting skills and no sense of how to handle things with any kind of strategy.  It was a matter of less than a minute before Batman managed to trick the mind behind it all into punching the robot’s hand into a power conduit.

It made it to the ground without further casualties and Batman headed off, leaving the thing still sparking on the ground as the first emergency vehicles showed up.  The rest of the night was as routine as it got, with only a handful of assaults and muggings to spice up the evening, and Terri managed to get home at a decent hour and actually get some sleep.  She’d even talked her boss into letting her start later on Friday night so that she could go to the dance with Daniel, even though they hadn’t managed to narrow down the suspects on the robot hijacking.  It was a rare opportunity for boyfriend time and Terri intended to soak up every bit of it while she could.

Blade was playing some kind of mind game with Willy, the kind of thing that drove Terri nuts because it was pointless and cruel and fell directly into the kind of stereotypes she’d been avoiding for most of her life, and had decided to attend the dance with him instead of Nelson.  It was almost guaranteed to end in tears, but she would be dealing with that fallout after boyfriend time.

Of course, her life being the way it was meant that she didn’t get that luxury.  Nelson dumped the little nerd into the bay, said nerd turned out to have some sort of psychic link to the robot and predictably flipped out over the whole thing, and Terri ended up changing out of her leather pants and dressy top (her concession to it being a dress-up occasion) and into the suit that she’d stashed in the motorcycle.

It ended up with Willy being escorted into a police vehicle with his father looking at the smoking wreckage of the robot and looking strangely proud.  Terri rolled her eyes and went to change back into clothing.  She would never, ever understand men.