1663: Love & Bullets – Chapter Three, Part OnePosted: January 22, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter Three
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS A REFERENCE TO DOMESTIC ABUSE. I’M WARNING YOU IN PART BECAUSE THE AUTHOR WASN’T CONISIDERATE ENOUGH TO DO SO.
Hello once again, patrons! I’m your guest host, BatJamags-
Let it go, man. I’m your guest host, BatJamags, and I’m here with everyone’s favorite nuisance-
GoodJamags: That’s me!
No, it’s the Door –
– but I guess you’re here too. Not that you’re not a nuisance, mind you. You’re just not anybody’s favorite. Anyway, we’re riffing Love & Bullets, a monumentally boring Batman fic.
GoodJamags: Last time, nothing happened.
No, really. They seriously just continued the same conversation from the first chapter without saying anything new. This time we’ve got a long one, so maybe something will actually fucking happen.
A/N: Hello m’dears! I hope the week has been good to you!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I was reading this awful fanfic, where there were just two people talking and talking about the same shit over and over, and the one guy’s narration just babbled on about how perfect the Sue was!
GoodJamags: Hey, that sounds familiar… I think I might’ve read it too!
Please, if you like this story, click the follow button. Also, reviews are deeply cherished!
“S/N?” The hell is that?
GoodJamags: It’s an acronym, but that’s not important right now.
Surely you can’t intend to keep making these Airplane! references.
GoodJamags: I do intend to do that, and don’t call me Shirley.
Just a quick note… I am going to continue using first person POV whenever I write a chapter that is from Dick’s POV.
No shit, really?
GoodJamags: Wait, look!
Up in the S/N!
GoodJamags: It’s an author!
It’s a story writer!
Both: It’s CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!
GoodJamags: I guess “S/N” must be Story Note.
Shouldn’t the regular author’s note be about the story?
GoodJamags: Or it could be the unnecessary have-a-nice-day-review-begging crap.
GoodJamags: You want one of those headdesking pillows?
Yeah, I think I’ll need one.
Otherwise, I will write this story in third person, like I do normally.
Not sure why this needed to be explained to us.
GoodJamags: Yeah… I tend to save my author’s notes for information that A: might help the reader envision the story, but B: can’t really be put in the narration without sounding awkward. Generally non-essential world-building stuff, like characters’ costumes and specific ages. I wouldn’t put it in a published novel, but just throwing it out there doesn’t hurt anything. It’s also good for any behind-the-scenes stuff that’s important. Plus, I put it at the bottom, like a footnote rather than a HEY READ THIS BORING STUFF BEFORE YOU GET TO THE CHAPTER.
Right. Anyway, there’s a line break here. Let’s hope some plot lies beyond.
“Gah! Only that man can twist me into all these damned little knots!
Well, if he can do that, you’ve got to be a pretty good contortionist to begin with. Maybe this is Ragdoll talking. GJ, show them who Ragdoll is.
I should’ve known you’d do that. The guy who wrote the lyrics for that video can’t even use “plural’s” properly!
GoodJamags: And for the record, Ragdoll’s an old Batman villain who’s a really good contortionist, and had a freakin’ psychotic kid who also called himself Ragdoll.
I mean, of all the things he could go and ask me, he has to go and pick the one question that he knows I won’t know how to answer!”
GoodJamags: Which is better: peanut butter or chocolate?
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have Reese’s.
Her statement, uttered in the annoyed tone of a female completely exasperated by a member of the male species, was further articulated by a long, drawn out sigh.
Well that’s a fuckin’ stupid way to phrase a thing. *Sigh*
GoodJamags: His statement, uttered in the annoyed tone of a male completely exasperated by a member of the bad fanfic species, was further articulated by a long, drawn out sigh.
Yet through it all, Alfred spoke not a word. He just sat there, calmly stirring a dollop of cream into his lazily steaming tea while allowing her the chance to vent the emotions that were bubbling around inside of her.
GoodJamags: Why is the tea being lazy? Or is the steam being lazy? In fact, what’s the word “lazily” doing in there?
Also, she’s apparently venting something that’s also bubbling. Are her emotions a gas or a liquid? Inquiring minds want to know!
They were seated at the small work table in the wonder that was the manor’s kitchen.
GoodJamags: No, no. This is Batman. Wonder Woman’s the one with the bracelets and the lasso.
You realize the fic’s not talking about Wonder Woman, right?
GoodJamags: We’ve been over this: Of course I do, I just say these things because it annoys you.
It was just after noon and the house echoed with a burning silence.
Echoes don’t burn, silence doesn’t burn, and silence doesn’t echo for that matter. Learn to science right.
GoodJamags: That’s not really bad science, it’s just a bad understanding of how anything works combined with a mixed metaphor.
Bruce was down in the Batcave (brooding over something or another),
Because Batman just kind of broods at random hours of the day for enough random reasons that keeping track of them is too difficult for the narrator.
GoodJamags: Actually, that is kind of in character.
Damian was in school (and likely sulking about it),
Because he’s a fucking spoiled-ass brat.
GoodJamags: I should introduce Damian Wayne, AKA the fourth/fifth Robin (there was one that doesn’t really “count,” you see). He’s Batman’s son by Talia Al Ghul, daughter of big-time Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul (big-time in terms of the scale of the threat he poses, he’s also fairly important meta-wise, but certainly not an A-lister).
GoodJamags: At age ten, Damian was the bestest assassin EVAR and tried to kill the previous Robins so that he could be Robin. Batman stopped him, but kept him around to keep him away from his villainous mother and grandfather. The kid was still spoiled, bratty, and murderous.
GoodJamags: Bruce “died,” Dick became Batman, and Dick took on Damian as Robin for some damn reason. Damian murdered a minor villain at some point (Might’ve been before he was Robin, I don’t know), and no one ever called him on it and he never faced any consequences for it. Anyway, as Robin, Damian continued to be spoiled and bratty (slightly less murderous) and for some reason people love him. Maybe I’m missing something.
GoodJamags: The kid was then brutally murdered in a manner that was way, way too violent, and I say that as someone who hates his guts. He got better and went back to being spoiled and bratty, though mostly non-murderous.
Tim didn’t live at the manor now that he was all grown up (and when that had happened she still didn’t know),
GoodJamags: You leave Tim alone!
Tim Drake is the third Robin. He’s a self-trained detective who figured out Batman’s identity and got to become the new Robin. He was cool: his family wasn’t dead (yet) (like pretty much everyone else in the bat-family’s was), he had a sense of humor, he was kind of a nerd, he took more after Batman’s detective aspects than his ass-kicking aspects, and he was generally a decent foil to the grittier bat-family members. Then his dad got murdered and he went all grim and angsty and became Batman’s own personal mini-me. He still never really bothered me, though.
Jason had left that morning in order to handle some business in New York for Bruce (much to his displeasure),
Whose displeasure? What business in New York? And why is Jason taking orders from Bruce? Doesn’t he mostly do his own thing?
GoodJamags: Jason Todd was the second Robin. Originally, he was a Dick Grayson clone (not literally – it’s kind of important to specify when you’re dealing with comic characters) with red hair. Then, continuity got rebooted, and he became a homeless orphan who Batman caught trying to steal the tires off the Batmobile.
GoodJamags: Bats took Jason in and trained him as Robin. Problem was that Jason was angry and wanted to kill bad guys, and might’ve actually done so at one point. Due to a set of circumstances which, contrary to what modern comics would have you believe, were not his fault, he was kidnapped by the Joker, beaten with a crowbar, and left for dead in a warehouse with a ticking time bomb.
GoodJamags: DC ran a poll as to whether Jason would die (since he was rather unpopular at the time), and the results said that he should kick the bucket. These results were skewed, though. DC got several hundred calls (it was a phone poll) from one number, and many younger readers thought the vote was about Dick, the original Robin.
GoodJamags: A few decades later, though, he came back to life. He showed up under the name Red Hood, and started killing criminals, with his main target being the Joker. Batman kind of stopped him, or at least talked him down in that moment, but he kept operating, and became kind of a fringe member of the bat-family.
and Dick was being kept company by Barbara (who’d decided to become his personal caretaker much to Raya’s chagrin).
Well, aren’t we jealous? And doesn’t Barbara have better things to do?
GoodJamags: *Insert Twilight joke here*
Oh, right. It’s my turn to do the long-winded character introduction, isn’t it?
Barbara Gordon is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. She was the first Batgirl except for the one who doesn’t count.
GoodJamags: There are a lot of bat-sidekicks who don’t count, aren’t there?
Shut up, I’m rambling. Originally, “Batgirl” was not particularly well-named, since she was a grown woman with a college degree in Library Science, and tended not to work with Batman and Robin, but to go off and do her own thing. By the eighties, she’d “retired” (read: the writers stopped using her) as Batgirl.
Then, the Killing Joke came along. It was mainly an origin story for the Joker, but it also had a “present-day” plot line. The Joker shot Barbara (permanently paralyzing her from the waist down), kidnapped her, and tortured her. The big problem here (which even the author said he regretted writing that way) is that the story doesn’t really approach Barbara as a character instead of a plot device, so she’s basically just fodder for the Joker’s gambit to drive her father insane.
Later in the eighties, in the pages of the original Suicide Squad series (which was a lot better than the movie, or so I’m told), Barbara reappeared under the name of Oracle. She was using her computer skills to be a sort of mission control for the superhero community, and she was awesome. She even had her own team, the Birds of Prey, which really sounds more like a group of henchmen for the Penguin, especially since the Birds of Prey never even called themselves that in the comics. Regardless, I’ve heard they were awesome as well, though I’m not too familiar with them.
Then the 2011 reboot showed up. One of the reboot’s big obsessions was making DC more diverse. Well, I can think of three disabled superheroes in all of comics, and two of them are Marvel (Professor X and Daredevil, who are both only disabled as a gimmick to make their powers more interesting). Guess who got her legs back because “diversity?” And guess who took back the Batgirl name when one of her successors had been Asian in the name of “diversity?” Barbara. Then, she proceeded to have some flashback or reference to the Killing Joke every half-second, because the writers can’t make up their minds whether she’s moved on or not.
So basically, fuck the reboot.
GoodJamags: Right. Can we move on with the stupid fic now?
You’re the one who started infodumping. Oh, and the thing the Sue’s bitching about is that Barbara is one of Dick’s main love interests.
Barbara occupying Dick was, at least, allowing her and Alfred the time to have one of their infamous heart-to-heart chats over mugs of tea (Earl Grey for him and chai black peppermint for her).
GoodJamags: Crap, now I want a peppermint chai.
I know, right? But why is Earl Grey italicized?
GoodJamags: And what’s so infamous about the heart-to-hearts?
And why is she so tight with the main bat-family? Where does she come from? Who the hell is she?
Raya could freely admit that she was in desperate need of this, especially after the disaster Dick had turned their lives into by asking her to marry him.
Actually, lady, you did that when you inserted yourself into his canon.
GoodJamags: Actually, it’s stated pretty clearly that he inserted himself into-
Don’t even finish that.
She turned imploring eyes upon Alfred, silently beseeching him for his quiet comfort and wisdom as she gave voice to the insecurities rumbling around inside her these past seven days.
PURPLE ALERT! PURPLE ALERT! All hands report to battle stations!
GoodJamags: Filters online!
Large Warship the Owl: Hoo!
Kane: Magical countermeasures in place!
Chief McCarthy: Returning fire!
Supercilious: LO, FOR I HAVE ACQUIRED SNACKS!
Oh, thanks. *Grabs some chips*
“It’s not like he wants to actually marry me or anything…”
GoodJamags: “It’s just my suefluence!”
Those eyes (sparkling with warmth and the right amount of sympathy)
Now let them simmer for about a half an hour.
Kane: Sounds delicious.
Get the fuck out.
turned to her. “And why do you believe that Master Richard does not wish to marry you?”
GoodJamags: Pretty sure Alfred calls him Master Dick, though I suppose I can understand avoiding that particular expression.
Shame smothered annoyance.
Shame was arrested, tried for murder in the first degree, and sentenced to life in prison.
She looked away, mumbled, “‘Cause,” in a monotone.
GoodJamags: Well, that’s real mature.
*Muttering* More like real manure.
GoodJamags: Speaking of immaturity…
Alfred just sniffed. A clear sign he was not accepting that as an answer.
Damn right, Alfred! You call her on her bullshit!
Not like the butler was hesitant about pointing that fact out, oh no. He had no problem whatsoever in scolding an errant Bat-brat.
GoodJamags: I feel like the fic is desperately struggling against its own plot. First the Sue argues against latching onto the canon character in a more permanent fashion, and then Alfred and the narrator team up in calling her on her crap.
“That is not an answer to my question, young lady,” he stated firmly, “and you know it.”
He fixed her then with what Dick and the rest of the family termed as his look. Raya felt herself squirming beneath the weight of that disapproving glare.
See, this is a good read.
“Now,” he spoke quietly, and all the more effective because of it. “I will ask you again. Why do you believe that Master Richard does not wish to marry you?”
GoodJamags: Alfred’s my new favorite character in this fic. He’s in character, and not taking anyone’s crap.
The mug swam before her eyes.
GoodJamags: Where did this random swimming mug come from?
Pockets and doors that she’d barely been keeping shut these last few months were starting to shiver and shake.
GoodJamags: Now her pockets and doors are shaking around? Seriously, what the heck’s going on here?!
Metamorons, I think.
Every insecurity she had was rushing to the forefront.
The forefront of what?
GoodJamags: *Points* That.
Every doubt was arming itself for an attack.
GoodJamags: Unfortunately, the doubts underestimated the strength of the defenses they were up against, and they were forced to retreat.
And all of it was being fueled by every word her father had ever spoken to her.
Oh, great. Brace for clichés, everyone.
Every instance of him telling her she didn’t “measure up”, that she was a “mistake” he’d “love to rid” himself “of”, that she’d never “amount to anything” because she was “a pathetic female” played over and over in her head.
And there we go. I see the author’s gone with Generic Backstory #3: Abusive Parents.
GoodJamags: #1 is Dead Parents, and #2 is MISTEERYUS.
“Well,” she said slowly. “I’m not Barbara for one thing. And we both know he loves Barbara. Always has, always will.”
Well, glad we cleared that up! Let’s go, everyone.
GoodJamags: Hey, wait, what about Kory and Helena?
Dammit, GJ, don’t prolong this!
Alfred was silent for all of thirty seconds.
GoodJamags: That is a really long pause.
“No, you are not Miss Barbara. And yes he does care for her,” he finally said gently. “But that does not mean Master Richard loves you any less. Or that he does not desire to marry you. Now tell me,” he continued in that soft spoken way he had, “what the real reason is for why you cannot accept his proposal.”
Alfred, you’re drifting away from being my favorite character here very quickly, and that’s going to make the Sue my favorite. Don’t do this to me, man.
No fooling you, Alfred.
GoodJamags: Always a true statement. Unless you’re talking about some other guy named Alfred.
Ah, but she should have known that he wouldn’t accept that her sole reason for why she couldn’t agree to marry Dick was because she wasn’t Barbara. Not only had he spent almost two decades helping to raise both her and Dick (and Jason, Tim, Cassandra
Your turn to do the infodump.
GoodJamags: Cassandra Cain is the second/third/fourth Batgirl (there are not one but two Batgirls who don’t count). She was raised by the League of Assassins, the organization Ra’s Al Ghul runs, though at a lower level than Damian. She was the child of Lady Shiva, an independent assassin and the best martial artist in the DC universe, and David Cain, one of the League’s assassins.
GoodJamags: Cass was never taught to speak or to interact with other human beings. Instead, she learned (mostly from her mother) to read body language and anticipate what opponents are going to do, sometimes before they know themselves. She was also trained to be an even better martial artist than her mother (or at least comparable) and to be tough enough to tank bullets without flinching.
GoodJamags: She received her first assignment when she was eight years old. She killed a man, but was able to see the fear in his face when he died. In other words, she was eight, and vicariously experienced death as an adult understands it. Naturally, this proved somewhat (for certain value of “somewhat”) traumatizing, and she ran away from the League of Assassins and swore never to kill again.
GoodJamags: Eventually, she showed up in Gotham and started fighting bad guys. Barbara gave Cass her blessing as the new Batgirl, and Bruce took her in as his ward, since she didn’t have anywhere else to go. There was a brief period where she went through a stupid face-heel turn which was executed poorly enough that the sheer negative reaction has DC terrified of using the character. She’s recently showed up again under a new identity (“Orphan” – blech), but hasn’t done much.
Cass is the sort of character who could be a Mary Sue, but was saved by good writing.
and Damian respectively), but he’d spent nearly that (plus some) raising the man who’d chosen to be a father to them.
Not sure it counts as “raising” once the guy’s an adult, and Bruce’s parents died when he was eight. That makes one decade, not two plus some.
Alfred knew the members of this family the best. And he should. This man was uncle, second father, and mom all in one.
GoodJamags: Yep, that’s pretty much it. Now stop expositing and move the plot forward!
That’s why she’d come to him over her uncle Jim.
Well, fuck. There we are. The Sue is (presumably) Barbara’s cousin, unless this is a non-Gordon Jim, but I can’t think of who else it could be. Because of course she has to be related to a canon character.
Like she managed to get the family’s baby bird,
GoodJamags: Sues and Stus of a feather flock together and all that.
Alfred just tended to get her. He knew when she was hedging and not telling the whole truth.
And it’s not like she’s that great of a liar anyway. Her tea mug starts swimming whenever she thinks about marriage!
“I’m not good enough for him, Alfred.” She flinched as the damning words tripped off her tongue. Yet they were the most honest words she’d spoken all week. “I will never be good enough for him. That’s why I can’t marry him.”
Damn right. This fic’s riffing itself! Again!
GoodJamags: Alright, I think I’ve counted three instances up to this point, so…
What do you need us for? count: 4
She lifted ravaged eyes to his.
GoodJamags: Geez, who ravaged her eyes?
“He deserves someone who is not broken inside. He deserves someone who can love him openly, and without any hesitation or reserve on their part. He deserves someone who isn’t going to be afraid of talking marriage and babies and buying a house with a white picket fence.”
Marriage doesn’t necessarily mean babies, a house, or a white picket fence.
GoodJamags: Yeah, our parents don’t even have a fence!
Not the point.
“Oh, my dear girl,” the butler said sadly. “Is that why you won’t say yes to that boy’s proposal? Because you don’t believe you are good enough for him?”
GoodJamags: Well, that is what she just said.
Now look what you’ve done. Now I’ll have to use the new anti-DRD energy shield!
*DRD agents teleport in using a teleporter, headshot BadJamags in the head, and teleport out using a teleporter*
*Respawns dressed in something appropriately embarrassing*
WHY DO THEY ONLY SHOOT ME?!
She nodded, sniffling once and despising herself for the weakness. He reached over to set one of his hands upon hers.
“You have always been good enough for Master Richard,” he told her softly. “You have been good enough for him from the moment that you two met.”
GoodJamags: Which was… *Checks wiki* Never.
“I’ve never told him about what happened the night that my mother died.”
Ooh, we’ve got a mix of #1 and #3. Betcha Daddy killed Mommy.
She sniffled again. “Once he hears the truth about what happened that night, he’ll change his mind. He’ll see why we cannot get married. He’ll see that the ledger of my life is full of red. And he’ll realize he deserves something-someone,” she corrected. “Who is not as tainted and dirty as me.”
GoodJamags: Maybe baby killed Mommy?
I really don’t like the “tainted and dirty” talk, because I think the author’s implying something they shouldn’t be implying.
Nothing much ever surprised Alfred. Yet she could tell by the slight widening of his eyes that she’d managed to catch him off guard.
Alfred: My God… your backstory is so generically trajek!
“You have never told Master Richard about what happened the night your mother was murdered?” When she shook her head he asked, “Why not?”
Sue: Because it gives me an excuse to angst!
Why have I never shared my darkest secret with him? she silently replied. Because I love him. And because I want to protect him from something ugly. Aloud though she said, “I’ve never told Bruce about what happened, either.”
GoodJamags: What does that have to do with it? Bats probably already knows!
“And how many times have you wanted to tell Master Bruce the truth?” The question was phrased in his normal cool, crisp tone, but there was an echo of the warmth flavoring his words that took the reproach out of them. “You need to unburden your heart by sharing your deepest, darkest pain with someone. Should it not be something you share with the two men who love you the most?”
Please tell me this conversation doesn’t go on for another two chapters.
“I did tell someone.” She saw one peppery eyebrow lift in silent bid for an explanation. “I told Jason.”
GoodJamags: I’m sure Jason’s very sensitive.
On that note, I’m gonna bail, here. See you guys next time for the second half of this boring-ass chapter. Put that hyphen where you please.
What do you need us for? count: 4