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Title: It Smoldered
Part: 5/8
Author: Aravis Tarkheena
Pairing: Tim/Tam
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Not sure yet. Nothing crazy.
Disclaimer: Not mine, everyone's legal
Chapter Length: 1,500w
Author's Notes: Written for the Women Love Fest. I picked Tam. ~<3 You get a ~1k chapter each day for the next week. Also for my Ducati table for dcu_freeforall. Prompt: 5 snow
Summary: Tam finds a clue. Tim needs a clue. Bath mats are destroyed, but Prince William remains happy throughout.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Part Five

Viltech's head corporate lawyer droned on at Tam and Tim, oblivious to the nervous energy and tension that seemed to roil through Tam in waves as she sat before him. Trying to seem innocuous, Tam secretly made plans to bring down the company he represented.

No wonder Tim seemed so stressed all the time. Tam wasn't sure how much longer she could take the pressure of playing it cool through this meeting. Glancing over at Tim, Tam tried to ask him how much longer this would take with her eyes.

Tim didn't look at her. He seemed as cool and composed as he did every day at work. It would have been infuriating if Tam wasn't sure Tim did things like this all the time. He had to be sneaky or he would be--

Tam didn't let herself finish that train of thought. All she could see in her minds eye was scattered pieces of the melted Ducati all over Tim's garage floor. She didn't even want to imagine what the burned areas on Damian's skin looked like. She had seen what that stuff had done to Tim's suit.

Swallowing hard, Tam tried to return her focus to the task at hand. Tim needed her, and Tam Fox never balked when things got rough.

Pulling important looking documents from his file folders, the lawyer set them down in front of Tam, explaining a couple of clauses to them.

Tam fought down the urge to fidget.

Clarissa Vilta had left them to the lawyer’s tender mercies about an hour ago. Ostensibly, she was off checking the buildings security measures, now that her employees had left for the night. Tam was pretty sure that wasn't at all what Vilta was up to.

Oracle had postulated, quietly over the communicators, that she was probably getting the labs ready for the second shift workers. The people who got the 'Bat Repellant' ready for distribution. Oracle was watching the ally ways near the back of the buildings for trucks. She hoped to be able to ID them, and use their GPS units to determine where they were making shipments and to whom.

“You two ready to get to work?” Oracle asked them breezily.

Tam narrowly overcame the urge to tell Oracle that they had been ready about fifty minutes ago. Luckily for everyone involved, Tim must have given Oracle the hand signal that indicated 'yes', because seconds later the lawyer's phone rang.

Pulling it out of his pocket, the man checked the read out. He quickly excused himself and hurried from the room.

“Let's go,” Tim said, standing up and facing Tam.

“Alright,” Tam said, “I was careful to pay attention on the way back to the conference room. It should be easy to retrace my steps this time around.”

It was, in fact, not easy to retrace her steps. Everything in this place looked the same to Tam. The corridors, door frames, and empty windows were so bland and unexceptional that Tam quickly found herself walking in circles again.

“Don't you have a map of the building on file, or something?” Tim asked Oracle impatiently when they took their fifth wrong turn.

“Sorry Twenty-something Wonder,” Oracle said, “The building is too new. None of the paper work had gone all the way through the system yet. Can't find anything on file.”

“How new is this place, anyway?” Tam asked.

“Oh about six weeks,” Oracle replied. “Around the time the Bat Repellent rumors started making the circuit around town, in fact.”

Tim hummed contemplatively as he thought about that.

They turned another corner and Tam sighed in relief.

“There's the conference room,” Tam said. “I can find my way from here for sure.”

Tim gave her a dubious look. Oracle must have seen the look, because the rest of the way to the lab, Oracle spent the entire time telling Tam about an escalating prank war between Tim and his brother Jason.

“It started when Jason stole Tim's Ducati just before this huge snow storm was about to hit,” Oracle explained in an electronic voice that sounded almost giddy to Tam. “So Tim was stranded in the snowstorm in a really bad area of Gotham. None of the trains were running and the snow was so thick, none of the vehicles could get out to him. So Tim holes up until the snow's cleared. Then he tracks Jay down on foot. When he finds him, Jay's fast asleep in bed in his undies.”

Tam looked over at Tim, who seemed grim.

“He looked very warm,” Tim added bitterly.

“And you were very cold,” Tam said.

“Snow storm,” Tim reminded her.

“Anyway,” Oracle went on, “Tim naturally goes to steal back his Duc, but at the same time, he liberates all of Jason's pants in the process.”

“All of them?” Tam asked, almost horrified.

“I was very thorough,” Tim confirmed solemnly.

“In the middle of the winter?”

“Just after a snow storm,” Tim added.

“I can't believe you did that,” Tam said, unable to control her laughter.

“You do not mess with a man's bike. It was a lesson Jason needed to learn,” Tim explained.

“I had to overnight Jay a new pair of jeans,” Oracle went on, clearly laughing on the other end of the communicator.

“You had a marshmallow sandwich just before all this went down, didn't you?” Tam asked him mischievously.

Tim didn't answer, he just looked smug and enigmatic.

Tam was still fighting down giggles when they made it to the laboratory they were looking for. Gesturing at the door, Tam nodded to Tim.

Tim eyed the device positioned near the door's nob. It looked like a reader for a key card to Tam. Pulling a blank key card from his pocket, Tim examined the door frame.

“Ready?” he said to Oracle.

“Yep,” Oracle replied, “Do it slowly Timbo.”

Tim swiped the card slowly. It took four tries before the lock clicked open for them.

“Give me a minute to clear the security records,” Oracle ordered, and they waited.

When Oracle gave the all clear, Tim pulled on a pair of thin gloves before he pushed open the door, and slipped inside. Tam was hot on his heels. They both paused as the smell hit them, Tim frowned brows furrowed.

“I should have brought re-breathers,” he muttered, then turned to Tam. “Be sure not to touch anything.”

Tam nodded and worked on breathing through her nose. Tim made his way through the lab, speaking with Oracle in low tones. He moved through he room with a swift grace, taking samples from various bags and pieces of equipment. He tucked them into tiny metal boxes with coated interiors.

“I'd like to find some of the finished product,” Tim said. “I doubt they store it in here, though. That wouldn't be particularly safe.”

“Where do you think it would be?” Tam asked.

“A warehouse, maybe,” Tim theorized. “They would need special containment precautions. I wish I knew what they store it in. Then Hiro and I might be able to make up a suit that's resistant.”

“You guys haven't found anything yet?” Tam asked.

“Alfred's been doing some experimenting. However, without a direct sample we can't be sure any of our results will be trustworthy. Hiro's trying to reverse engineer the stuff from samples from the Duc, but it doesn't seem to match up with the samples from Damian's uniform.”

“What does that mean?” Tam asked.

“It means they're probably changing the formula little by little with each batch they sell. So long as it has the same results, none of their buyers would ask any questions,” Tim explained.

“It also means it's going to be more difficult to find a material resistant to the substance. We'd have to be sure it's resistant to all incarnations of it. We can never be sure we have samples of all the different formulas,” Oracle put in grimly.

“We have to stop it at the source, then track down all the past buyers to neutralize this threat,” Tim said. “So we can destroy it all.”

Tam nodded as Tim began to examine a series of cabinets lined up against one wall. Picking the locks to the cabinets, Tim photographed and verbally cataloged the contents to Oracle. He worked quickly and thoroughly.

Tam hung back, watching as Tim worked. His face was serious, lined with thought and focus. He seemed almost a stranger to her then, distant and aloof. He moved so fluidly from one task to another that it was almost a surprise to seem him come to an abrupt stop just after he pulled the doors to a cabinet open.

The smell hit Tam a few seconds later, thick and choking.

Burnt rubber and rotten eggs, stronger than it had been ambient in the air around them.

Tam wrinkled her nose as she fought down the urge to gag. Eyes watering, Tam came up behind Tim to look inside the of fixture.

The unit was filled with shelves at various heights. All the them were filled with tiny canisters, about the size of film cases. They were made of what looked like a metal material. Each one was labeled with a time and date in neat blocky numbers.

As Tam looked closer, she noticed that each of the canisters were in different stages of decay. The older ones, near the top of the case, were already starting to melt in on themselves as the corrosive substance inside ate at the material of the containers.

Tam nodded to the case as she spoke to Tim, “I think you found your samples, Ninja Boy. But they're sure as hell not coming home in my car.”

Part Six - In which Tam defends her instincts and Tim, ummm I forget what Tim does. Probably some Tim things. I wrote this almost a week ago now...


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
Late reply is late, fell asleep last night before commenting - sorry!

And the plot thickens as they find their samples and I agree with Tam. No putting those in the car. She likes her car.

Sep. 15th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
No worries. ALMOST DONE POSTING THIS FIC! This is the most often I've posted in, like YEARS. I'm having fun though. <333

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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