1965-03-23 - Seriously, Why Do They Always Rob the Met?
Summary: Magik and Cypher help Batman with riddles
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
bruce-wayne illyana douglas 

So Doug has been… hellaciously busy, with his day job and his night job — but today he's taking a little time out of his schedule to reconnect with a friend. So he decided to buy Illyana lunch, and then go to the Met. And so far, the day's been restful, until they get to the statue of the Venus Italica.

…Which is gone.

In its place there's a sign. Doug squints, and, helpful chap that he is, reads it out loud.

"What is easy to get into, and difficult to get out of?"

"They always rob the Met," Illyana observes, grimacing faintly, eyes flicking this way and that. "Why not the Guggenheim? Or the Frick Collection?" She clucks her tongue in disgust. "Originality. American villains have none of it." She has agreed to going to lunch and the museum, but she is also slightly wary. In the last few months she's been hit on by both X'ian and Roberto, and she truly hopes Doug doesn't think this is a date.

From the dark of evening light far off in the horizon a pair of bright yellow headlights come into view. The lights belong to a pitch black vehicle speeding around the corner at blistering speeds far above the speed limit. The car is a sleek and stylish design of supercar, with red accent lines across it, and a large bat with wings spread to either side on the hood of the vehicle. On either door is a large yellow circle with a pitch black outline of a bat with wings spread in the center of it.

The Car takes the corner into a drift, skidding across the rain slicked road so much it seems about ready to slam into a light pole only to barely miss an impact. Rain hammers down onto the windshields which are little more then pitch black thickly riveted into place metal with a small pair of holes at eye level encased in glass. The passenger and driver side windows have received a similar treatment limiting its visibility a good deal.

Beneath all the hefty modifications that make it an intimidating speed demon of a car it's a Ford GT40, with its iconic sleek design still visible through the complete custom job that's been done around it. The car rapidly slows down as it comes further into view water sliding off its surface as it spins out at the last minute seemingly having completely lost control before sliding one circle after another only to slide right into a parking spot just in front of where the met once lay.

The driver-side door cracks open, and a figure steps out from within cloaked in shadow as the rain drips off of his cloak. He steps away from the car and slams the door shut every movement slow and deliberate as he makes his way over to the sign. He takes a pause along the way to dig into his pocket pulling out exact change for the parking meter, never turning his head instead turning his full body to face the meter. He slides in his change and finally walks right up to the two, in dead silence.

Doug puts his hands behind his back. "What's easy to get into… and difficult to get out of." Then he looks over at Illyana, and says, "Don't worry, Yana, this isn't a date." Because he is who he is, and his power does what it does. "I just wanted to catch up, is all. I didn't want you to go and think I didn't CARE anymore or something." He does what few mortal men on earth would dare to do — he gives the Demon Queen of Limbo a nudge. "This was all so much easier when we were fifteen. Then again, everything ELSE was a Vincent Price horror movie. What's easy to get into, and difficult to get out of…"

He looks up, at the guy in the bat suit approaching him, and he chokes.

"Trouble, Doug. It is easy to get into trouble, and hard to get out of it. My question remains. Why always the Met?" She regards Batman as he approaches. He could be straight out of Limbo, really — she imagines the demons would fall all over themselves for costumes like that. She makes a note to have some of them start making Batman costumes for each other. "We didn't do it," she informs the guy in the costume, her Russian accent present, but very faint.

"If I thought for a moment you had, we wouldn't be having this conversation." The man speaks slowly his voice as intimidating as the rest of him as he looks down towards the sign. He takes a long moments pause to check it over. The silence is so thick it can almost be cut like a knife. "Prison would be my guess." He states calmly something unnatural about his voice almost demonic as he speaks. Is he even human? Who knows.

Then he's reaching into the pouch of his utility belt and pulling something out. With one hand he begins disconnecting part of his mask with the other he pulls out a small replacement section and begins to switch one out for another. The process is slow, and doesn't reveal much of anything about his actual face thanks to the cloth mask underneath his rubber one.

"That's easy." Doug says, "They always pick the Met because with over 26,000 pieces of ancient Egyptian art…" He puts his hands in his pockets, "…It's their mummy's first choice." He beams at Illyana.

Then he looks up at the, uh, Bat-Man, and says "So somebody stole the Venus Italica, and replaced it with a riddle. Which… the answer is either trouble, or prison, or I was going to say a tar pit."

"The Venus Italica's from 1804," Illyana observes, taking a step back to gete out of Batman's way, but pointing at the little plaque describing the piece that isn't present. "And anyway, ancient Egyptian art isn't precisely the most rare. Or the most expensive." She clucks her tongue and sighs. "Next time we do what I want. Coney Island. Hot dogs."

It takes some doing and some time but eventually The Bat-Man has managed to switch out the eye section of his mask, and a quick tap on the side of his head causes the eyes to glow softly. A red light from each eyehole that's dim but visible as he takes a closer look, kneeling down. The old section of mask goes right back into the belt as he gets to work pulling out a small kit from his belt in order to dust for prints just in case, even though he already has a strong idea who did the stealing by the M.O. On display. He works quickly dusting for prints and collecting whatever he can find for later use. "Riddler." He finally says, coming back to a stand.

"Well excuse me, your highness, for my love of culture." Doug tilts his chin up. "Trouble… trouble… 1804. Trouble in 1804. Could 1804 be in reference to the year? What trouble happened in 1804?" He strokes his chin. "Napoleon became the emperor of France in 1804…"

He looks up at Batman and says, "Beg pardon? Yeah, the thief left us a riddle, so I guess that'd make him a riddler, what about it? 1804… Venus Italica… trouble."

"He means the villain is the Riddler," Illyana says with a sigh. "Wears lots of green printed with question marks?" To Batman she continues, "I'm sorry for my friend. He's very smart, but sometimes gets ahead of himself." To Doug once more. "Not tar pits in 1804? Bozhe moi." Very dry, very wry. A shake of her head. "We are in the way of the nice man with the pointy ears, Doug."

"If you were in my way I'd have asked you to leave." Batman says calmly, as he takes a few steps back, collecting a swab sample of something neither of them can see. It merely looks as if he's rolling a cotton swab across the floor for a moment before allowing it to set back into a small beaker and placing it into his belt. "I always find it fascinating to see the minds of young detectives at work." Every motion is overly deliberate only moving when absolutely necessary.

"Wait, so the crook is a guy in green pajamas with question marks on them? And he leaves clues for the Bat-Man? Maybe he should just take out a billboard with his location on it and the message 'Come kick my butt!'"

Doug begins to pace, and says, "I did graduate valedictorian out of our class of, er… seven. Actually that's not completely true, I was tied with Xi'an." Doug says, "But really I just get by with a little help from my friends. 1804… 13?" Doug frowns. "I hate this guy already."

"I don't know," says Illyana. "It's refreshing to have a villain who wants to get caught, even if he makes it a little harder to do. At least he's trying." She doesn't have much to contribute as to what relevance the numbers might have — and sort of doubts there's any — but lets Doug brainstorm.

Doug finally looks up at Illyana, and he says, "…What do you think, Yana, I'm stumped." He continues to pace. "Venus Italica… trouble… getting into and getting out of it…"

"I think he's getting into trouble, and he knows it. Stay tuned for further trouble," Illyana replies. "He is an art thief who leaves clues. This is not a very good one."

"Maybe it's not about the statue or the year at all, but just about the riddle. Trouble… trouble… getting into trouble. Getting out of trouble…" Doug rolls his eyes upward, and then he snaps his fingers. "Illyana, you're a genius." He takes off at a run, and skids to a halt where another piece of art should be, this one a piece of Inuit art, 'Dogs in trouble with a Caribou' — which is also gone. In its place there's an envelope, with a question mark on it.

"Don't touch it," Illyana calls after Doug. "Let Bat-guy handle it first!"

Doug stands there, and he says, "I wasn't gonna touch anything!" He's pointedly shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. "Thank you for calling me smart, by the way. I think you're absolutely terrifying, in an endearing sort of known you forever way. And when I say you'll feed me to your demons, I'm almost completely joking."

"Absolutely terrifying is what I aim for," Illyana replies, walking across the hall to regard the absent dog print. "The demons know you're off limits, Doug. Unless you start calling me 'Illy' again." She feels some sense of dislocated deja vu, somehow — as though she should be a redhead and Doug wearing an ascot.

Doug would look pretty good in an ascot! Though he's maybe a little stocky for it. He tilts his head, and says "So you should come by the club sometime. I know, I know, the name — but I guess I wanted something a little counter-culture, a little avant-garde, something a *tiny* bit outrageous. Every good night spot should be just a little bit scandalous. But it's all part of my plan."

"Is your plan to collect the insurance when enraged mutant haters throw molotovs through the windows in the middle of the night?" she asks, with a raised brow, leaning in to inspect the plaque. "Because that seems like a good plan. Rhode Island School of Design will not be happy with the Met."

"That's why I put it in a basement off a back alley. I knew there were going to be some risks, and I know there's almost certainly going to be violence." Doug says, "But the world is changing, and we don't survive by hoping they don't notice us. Because believe me, there are guys out there who're going to come looking anyway. I guess…" He shrugs his shoulders and holds his hands out, "I don't know. If I have to die… I'm not afraid."

Illyana does not look away from the plaque describing the painting. Native artwork. 1928. And so on and so forth. "Some days," she says, "for a smart person, you are truly an idiot."

"I know that you only say that because you love me and don't want anything to happen to me." Doug says, the corners of his mouth turning up. "Because in addition to being the Demon Queen of Limbo, you're also the queen of negative reinforcement!"

"Fear is a healthy response, it tells you something is wrong, and allows you to adjust course accordingly." Batman finally speaks up having spent some time photographing evidence and taking his time to allow the young mutant his time in the spotlight figureing out the clues. "Don't avoid being afraid, instead acknoledge that fear." He makes his way over to the envelope and with gloved hands first checks for fingerprints, "Take hold of it, and drag it out into the light." before taking a photograph with a camera from his Utility belt to show the conditioning of it before opening and the placement before moving. "Understand your fear, and then in spite of that fear cary on with what you know to be right." It's strange actually how heavily the man is documenting every little detail. More like a cop or a detective then your standard vigilante. Finally once everything is noted and photographed he opens the letter, and reads it out loud after unfolding it in front of himself.

'How do you make the number one disappear?'

"Negative reinforcement would be letting you get eaten by demons," says Illyana drily. She steps away from the wall as Batman approaches, moving back toward Doug. "You should become his sidekick," she tells Doug, the corner of her mouth quirking upward. "I'm sure he can make use of your skills."

Doug stands there, frozen-faced. Finally he says "…Of course it's gone. I don't get it. Is he making fun of us?"

"Learn to look past the obvious." Batman comments Setting the letter back down before photographing it, still seeing the world with a UV tinge as he looks about. "Sometimes even the most simplistic of riddles hides a much deeper meaning beneath the surface he adds." Already having worked it out in his mind. "Riddler would never leave a clue that couldn't be solved, he delights in the challenge the creation of these puzzles, and then their being solved is what drives him to commit these crimes in the first place." He pauses. "That in mind think."

Doug digests this, and then says, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. What kind of janked-up criminal leaves clues on purpose?"

"The kind with a deep rooted psychosis" Batman responds plainly. "He derives the same pleasure from his riddles being cracked that others would find from solving a crossword or drinking themselves under the table." He looks down towards the younger man. "Derangement drives men to great lengths, but right now there are people counting on you." He pauses. "In this moment you have your chance to crack this case open."

Doug thinks about that, and then he exhales, slowly. "…Okay. But if we're gonna crack this, I'm gonna need a cup of coffee and a pad of paper, and someplace to sit."

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