Anyways, if you didn't see this one coming, raise your hand.
1. Backwards (then)
London, 1899, the tattered newspaper informed him, which meant either time-travel or a full-blown hallucination. Bruce hoped it was the latter, mostly because he knew Alfred and Lucius could deal with that. Though if he was actually when and where he appeared to be. . . .
Well. Clothes, safe storage for the suit, and then off to get instructions to a certain residence on Baker Street.
2. Contemporaneous (then)
“You don’t actually think someone is running around on rooftops while dressed up like a bat, do you?” Watson asked, voice full of doubt, one hand pressed unconsciously against a scar gained during one of Holmes’s more . . . sensational cases.
“I think that it is a more reasonable explanation, although without data I cannot speak with any certainty.” Holmes began packing his pipe with tobacco, a task long since mindless in its familiarity, and considered Watson’s question with more care. “There are certain areas of our fair city that the police dare not patrol with anything approaching thoroughness; too much crime, too few people with respect for the law. To force order upon those places would require an army—or two—and the process would be long and messy and called off before it was finished. But everyone fears something, and those who scoff at Scotland Yard may well tremble at the thought of a shadow with teeth and a sense of justice.”
“Justice. . . .” Watson echoed thoughtfully, and let his hand drop back down to the newspapers spread across the table. “Justice or vengeance?”
“I suspect we shall find out,” Holmes said, and struck a match.
3. Forwards (now)
Two hours later, Holmes was still seated in front of the viewing screen of the “computer”, and Watson found himself wondering if perhaps his friend had been somehow mesmerized by the thing. He said as much to Wayne, who looked startled for a moment and then laughed.
“Not by the computer, no, although perhaps by the information it stores. Heaven knows I’ve lost track of time more than once while trying to make sense of something.”
“More than a hundred times,” Wayne’s man Pennyworth muttered sotto voce as he passed by Watson. “I suspect that this is not entirely out of character for Mr. Holmes?” he added in a normal speaking tone.
“Not entirely,” Watson admitted.
4. Contemporaneous (now)
“Holmes.” Equally dry statements of fact, although one held perhaps just the faintest suggestion of relief. “I thought I told you to stay out of my city.” And far enough away from Batman to prevent any observations pointing towards Bruce Wayne. If an accountant could figure it out, Holmes could, given an incentive.
“You did. And I did, and would continue to do so if my hand had not been forced.” The minute twitch of his fingers suggested either a suppressed need for action or the desire to scrub down under hot water—both sentiments with which Bruce could sympathize. “Circumstances are such that I need an ally unattached to the police, one who is willing to . . . overlook certain laws if necessity requires it.” Overlook, bend, break, trample, if Bruce was reading his stance correctly.
“Am I correct in supposing that these circumstances are somehow related to why you’ve come to me and not Gordon, and alone?” The answer was going to be yes, Bruce could tell, and he really didn’t want it to be. He still hadn’t recovered from the last catastrophe, still bled out every night under the protection of armor and darkness.
And while Holmes by turns intrigued and infuriated him, Dr. Watson stood as a reminder that James Gordon was not the only good man left.
In the light of the street lamps, Holmes looked old and tired and gray, and nothing like himself. “Yes. They do.”
5. ...honestly, I haven’t the foggiest (but in my head this one’s labeled “Sherlock Holmes and Batman fight the Goa’uld”)
“Sir,” Featherweight said, and handed Bruce a tattered piece of folded paper, ducking out of the room again with that odd hand-flick that the younger soldiers had started using as a salute.
Soldiers. He hated to use that term to describe them, but that’s what they’d become. Everyone was one now, or dead, or a liability—some people just refused to understand that things weren’t the way they’d been before.
“Good news or bad?” his companion asked, not looking up from the hand-drawn maps he was sorting through almost absent-mindedly.
Bruce skimmed through the message, frowned, and reread it with more care. “Both,” he said eventually, and dropped the paper onto the card-table currently serving as his desk. “Holmes, how well do you trust your sources of information?”
“Very well.” Holmes straightened, looking over at him with something akin to amusement. “As long as they’re paid properly. Why?”
“Someone—name, occupation and affiliation unknown—is claiming that the Ringjacks have decided we’re no longer enough of a threat to warrant continued high security on this region’s flight base.”
“Hm.” Holmes picked his way across the map-strewn floor and bent to study the message. “The wearing along the creases is consistent with something that’s been passed from hand to hand over a considerable distance, but the rest of it—”
“The handwriting?” Bruce asked; although he had some knowledge of such things, Holmes far outstripped him.
“The penmanship, yes,” Holmes confirmed. “I cannot think of any reason for a human to form the letters so.”
“Nor I for the Ringjacks to not have had one of their pets to do it for them.” Bruce rubbed his thumb against the paper, half-expecting it to dissolve under his touch. “But whatever's going on, the unicorn stationary is an interesting touch.”