Steph was asleep on the couch when I got in, curled up in a ball with her hoodie stretched over her legs. I grabbed a blanket from the bed and threw it over her. I thought maybe I could catch some shuteye, too, once I'd scanned the documents to Barbara. Whatever Steph wanted to talk about could wait until she'd had some sleep.
Before opening comms with Barbara, I waited until I was in the loft.
"I heard you got Nate to County safely," Said Barbara, suppressing a yawn.
"I take it you haven't slept?" I said, knowing the answer.
"I'll sleep when Nate is safe," She said, "I've been waiting for you to check in. I got a match in the police database for the officer who took the phone."
"Great, who is it?"
"Officer Grant Cameron, I haven't had the pleasure, looks like he's fresh out of the academy."
"Cameron? Isn't there a Captain Cameron in the GCPD?"
"I was getting to that. It's his father."
"Sounds like he might be worth looking into."
"Already have. His record is about as clean as it gets. My dad has even vouched for him in internal investigations," She sighed, "Anyway, what did you find tonight?"
"Well, we might be one step closer to a breakthrough. I think we're looking for two killers," I began. I filled Barbara in on my theory and the information I'd gotten from Catwoman.
"I think you might be right, and whoever killed the third girl is putting Nate in the frame."
"Has anyone come forward with her identity? I hate talking about her like this," I said.
"Not yet, it's been a week since they found her, and she's still a Jane Doe. They posted an E-fit of her on the local news, too. Still nothing other than the witness from the park, but without the phone, that's useless."
"Maybe she's from out of town. We need to widen our search."
"I went over the CCTV from Olympus that you sent over. I still can't wrap my head around it."
"Really?" Steph said, making me jump, "His mom is sick, right?"
"Right?" I replied.
"So, maybe he needed the money for the hospital."
It was so simple, but it made sense. Mrs Duggan was never wealthy, and Nate's salary couldn't have been great.
"He was still waiting for his payout after the Arkham incident," Barb added, "So I guess he could have been a little strapped. He never said anything, though. "
"He wouldn't. Too proud," I said, remembering some of the times I'd offered to help him out and how much it offended him. There was an awkward silence. I was having a lot of those lately.
"We've run out of night," Barbara said, finally, "I'm going to head to the manor and check in on Alfred, then I'll go into work and see what I can dig up on this Cameron and check into any reports around this McGuire's pub."
"I'll speak to Emily and see if she knows anything about Nate's financial situation or his mom."
"Alright, speak soon."
I swivelled around in my chair to face Steph. She smiled at me and stretched, letting out a yawn.
"Hey," I said.
"Hey," She replied.
"What did you want to talk about?" I asked.
"You asked to come over?
"Oh, that? It was nothing, dude. I just… Wanted an update on the case," She said. I could tell she was lying, but I didn't want to pry any further. In all honesty, I was just happy she was there.
I woke up on the couch. I was sat upright with Steph's legs across my lap. She was laid on her side with her mouth wide open, snoring lightly. It felt like the first time I'd properly slept in ages, even if I'd only been down for a couple of hours.
I tried to move without waking her up, but she shot upright and glared at me with squinted eyes.
"Sorry, I gotta pee," I told her.
She rolled her tired eyes, "You'd better get up then."
I moved her legs and made my trip to the bathroom. When I'd finished, Steph was no longer on the sofa. She was standing in the kitchen with her head inside the refrigerator.
"You never have anything in your fridge, man," She sighed, "What do you eat? Or do you just live off protein powder?"
"Haven't we been through this before? Bring your own food next time."
I sat back on the couch and flicked on the TV, where GNN News was playing. Bruce's old flame, reporter Vicky Vale, stood on the courthouse steps with a microphone, her blond hair flailing in the wind, "That's right, it seems that, despite mounting opposition, Andrea Beaumont has overturned Jonathan Crane's Arkham convictions."
I felt my stomach drop, "Fantastic," I said sarcastically.
"The prisoners will be removed from Arkham and sent to Blackgate Prison, where they will await retrial," Vicky continued, "Some are being transported as early as today."
"How can someone look at a guy like Victor Zsasz or my dad and not think they're crazy?" Said Steph.
"That's all this is about," I explained, "Beaumont just wants Zsasz executed, plain and simple. She doesn't care about the consequences."
"Who else is likely to get moved?"
"I'm not sure," I said, unlocking my phone, "I'll see if there's anything online."
I swiped through an article and began to read a list of names, "Notable Arkham admissions overseen by Dr Crane include Garfield Lynns aka Firefly, Arnold Wesker aka The Ventriloquist…."
"Bruce and Barbara fought him a couple of years back. He had a dummy called Scarface that ran a miniature criminal empire."
"It's Gotham City. Of course, I'm not kidding."
"Alright, who else?"
"Let's see, Jervis Tetch - The Mad Hatter. And…"
"What is it?"
"Arthur Brown," I said. There was no point keeping it from her.
Steph leaned over my shoulder and started reading the list, so I stopped calling out the names. I scanned the list some more. A few names, including Julian Day - the Calendar Man, and Pamela Isley - Poison Ivy, stood out.
There were no guarantees that all of these people would be removed from Arkham, but throwing any of them back into a regular prison could mean chaos.
"Alright, I've read enough," I said, locking my phone, "I'm going to call Emily and go see Zeus."
"It's morning. Is that a good idea?"
"I might be able to catch him off guard."
Zeus lived in a penthouse suite in a building a few blocks from the Casino. The place was more secure than Gotham Central, but thankfully I wasn't planning to break in. I pulled up across the street on my motorcycle and pretended to be checking the tyres while scoping out the entrance to the building's underground parking lot.
It occurred to me that I didn't know what Zeus drove, but at a guess, a man with cash and ego like that probably wasn't ever behind the wheel. More likely, he sat in the back of a Rolls or a stretch limo while someone drove him around, whatever made him feel important.
I guess I couldn't talk. Alfred drove Bruce and me around all the time back in the day. In our defence, we were playing a part - doing what was expected of people in our position.
I held my phone up in front of my helmet and used the voice activation to call Emily.
"Hey, Dick, you're up early," Emily said.
"Sorry, I didn't wake you, did I?" I asked.
"No, I've been up a couple of hours. I'm going to take a few things to the hospital for Nate's mom. "
"That's why I called, actually,"
"You want to come with me?"
I felt a pang of guilt, "I can't right now. But let me know how she's doing when you get there. "
"I will. What is it then?"
"Do you know anything about Mrs D's finances?"
"I just wanted to know how she was paying for her treatment. I want to help with it if I can."
"Her insurance wasn't covering the treatments, so Nate was covering the costs," Emily explained, "He was pretty cagey about it, to be honest."
"Well, if anyone mentions any bills, just give them my number. It's the least I can do," I said.
"Will do. I'll call you later."
She hung up the phone. It looked like Steph could be right about Nate's motivations. God damned hospital bills, another one of those luxuries I take for granted.
"Nightwing, it's Batgirl," Barbara's voice said suddenly in my ear, "You there?"
"I'm here", I replied.
"I'm at the mansion with Leslie," She explained.
"Leslie? Is everything OK?"
"It looks like Alfred has a chest infection. Leslie is going to be checking in on him, she says he'll be alright, but he's on bed rest for the time being. Thought I'd better fill you in."
"Is she sure?" I said, a little panicked. Alfred looked frail the last time I'd seen him, and he was definitely overdoing it.
"She'll keep us posted if there's anything to worry about. I have to get to work."
Zeus never came out of his apartment, which in and of itself was a little odd. So I headed back to the apartment after reporting in with Barb again.
I returned with time to spare, which meant I could probably get my head down for another few hours. I didn't feel like I'd learned anything new, but at least I knew why Nate might have been taking money from Zeus.
I expected to find Steph asleep on the couch again. I figured I'd order some pizzas to surprise her with and maybe see if she wanted to talk about what was bothering her.
The door was locked when I got to it, so she must have stepped out.
A voice came from behind me that I hadn't expected to hear as I turned the key, "Great timing, as usual, Grayson. I was about to leave."
I turned around slowly, I'd done a pretty good job of putting her out of my mind, but a sudden flood of guilt, pain, happiness and a thousand other emotions hit me all at once. I'd resolved myself to the idea that I might never even see her again, but there she was, Melissa Daggett, in the flesh.