"Stop Me If You've Heard This One"
The DC Futures Underground Fan Fiction group recognizes that DC Comics owns Batman and
all related characters. We do this for NO PROFIT, but rather a strong desire to peer into
the future of the DCU. All concepts, original characters, and stories are ours, though.
We're that creative.
Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Batman: DCF created by Erik Burnham
It was two o' clock in the afternoon. All of the people on the twentieth floor of Drake
Industries' headquarters had been sated by a big lunch. They were presently in the midst
of wheedling away the time until they could escape the confines of their office for the
glorious spring weather mother nature had decided to provide at last. "What am I
paying you people for?" Tim Drake cried. It wasn't in anger, or even irritation. It
was, as were most of the things he said, in jest. But it got folks a-hopping, that's for
sure. Tim smiled when he saw them jump. It felt good to be back in the offices -- no
matter how temporarily. This was a world he knew intimately, and as such, it always felt
like he was coming home the minute he passed through the doors twenty stories beneath him.
Granted, it took becoming part of a legend to drag him away from the safety blanket of
Drake Industries, but the trade had been worth it. Really, it had. Especially now, after
the events of the past few days. Tim felt great... he felt like he was finally starting to
earn the mantle of the Bat. Even though he'd had to spend that day and a half in
microsurgery to fix up the busted ribs and nose he'd got fighting 'Batman.' [See DOOM PATROL: DCF #6!] The smile
on his face must have been contagious; it seemed to be mirrored in every face he saw.
"Donna!" Tim said, "How long has it been?" "Seems like forever,
Mr. Drake." "Call me Tim. Is En in?" "No, sir, he's out for the day,
but..." "I told you to call me Tim, 'Ms. Olsen,'" Tim said, his smile
growing. He hated formalities. Besides, Mr. Drake, his father, Richard, had died months
ago. He was just Tim. "I missed him? Damn. Still, the day hasn't been a total loss...
And you look absolutely stunning today, Donna. Is that a new hairstyle I see?"
"Yes, sir, thank you for noticing." "And flattery doesn't work
either," Tim says, backing off. "I guess there IS nothing I can do to get you to
call me Tim!" You'd be surprised, Donna thought as Tim Drake left the offices as
quickly as he had come, laughing with some of his employees as though he were one of them.
Donna Olsen sighed. If only he were around a little more often... maybe then she wouldn't
think about him so much. It was her turn to smile like a Cheshire cat now. Fat chance.
- Sunlight streamed through the windows at Wayne Manor, holding the comatose Michael
Carter as a mother would hold her sleeping child.
- But this was a child that may never wake up... and the man seated next to Carter
- Clark had never felt so powerless.
- "Booster. This is... this is wrong. I don't know whether you can hear me or not,
but... I just wanted you to know I'm here."
- Clark looked out the window for a moment, watching a bird dart effortlessly from the
ground to her nest in the trees near the far end of Wayne Manor, a large beetle struggling
in her beak.
- "I'm sure he'd be relieved to hear that, Master Clark," Alfred said in a
comforting tone, his words free of sarcasm, genuinely sincere.
- Clark heard Alfred. Past that, he heard the machine that kept Booster alive. And past
that, he heard the air slide in and out of Booster's mouth. And past all of that, he heard
Booster's heart, pumping away as though it were nothing more than a simple machine itself.
- Clark paused to think... he had heard too much. Everything his ears took in screamed
'alive.' But his soul said no, the man is dead, there's nothing that can be done, and it's
an indignity and torture to keep his spirit trapped in a body that no longer serves him.
- Clark felt the pangs of a man whose faith is being tested. It would be so simple. One
flip of a switch, and Booster would be able to slip into oblivion and the great beyond,
the rewards of Heaven that this hero so richly deserved.
- One flip of a switch.
- But would freeing Booster's soul condemn his own? How often, in the past, had he himself
asked God for answers that did not come? How often had he been forced to trust in faith?
- And how often had he wished he could make the decision?
- Booster was a teammate, a friend, from the old days. They were simpler times. Maybe
that's why Booster chose to stay there instead of his own era. Maybe.
- One flip of a switch could set him free from all of the complexities of life. Send him
back to his family.
- Would that make Clark a hero, though, or a villain?
- Would it be right or wrong? Merciful and just, or cruel and unkind?
- Clark didn't know. He could only look out the window at the sunlight and the blossoming
of life that was the springtime.
- "I'm here, Booster," Clark said so softly it was nearly a whisper.
- Jeff Halloran was not a well-liked individual. In the scant few weeks since he'd joined
the GCPD, he'd managed to make enemies of just about everybody.
- "Perry, you misspelled three words on this report, you dick-brained..."
- Okay, so make that everybody.
- Jeff Halloran was a genius, and it was his cross to bear. He didn't like dealing with
people who were 'less' apt than he was. And they didn't like dealing with him. So far,
it'd been him against the world. He'd been through so many police departments in so many
cities, he had stopped unpacking between jobs.
- But he hadn't stopped smoking.
- "Excuse me, detective. This is a no-smoking building."
- "Of course it is," Halloran sneered, exhaling a thick cloud of smoke towards
Officer Perry. "I'm taking a walk."
- "Good riddance," Perry muttered.
- "Timothy Patrick Drake," the voice said. It came from nowhere. It was quiet,
but exploded inside Tim's head with the power of a raging storm.
- "Hello, there," Tim said. "I think you've got the volume on your ESPer
COM a little too loud." Tim smiled, thinking as many bright, cheery, and useless
things as possible. ESPer COMs were a pain in the ass. Telepathic walkie-talkies. Why
hadn't he thought to buy that company? Damn media loved them. Especially the papparazzi.
Smile, nod, get the hell outta dodge. That was the way to work it.
- "You misunderstand, Mr. Drake. This discussion is by no means an electronic
- "Oooh... time to translate for the rich dummy. C'mon, pal? Where you hiding? Take
your picture and move on, already. Here -- I'll make it easy for you: There was this
alien, see? And we hooked up and..."
- Tim shut up. Mid-sentence. Just like that.
- "You are going to do a little job for me, Mr. Drake. It'll be simple, even for a
'rich dummy.' All you have to do is..."
- Images flooded into Tim's mind.
- Kingston didn't look right. But then again, it wasn't Gotham. The air tasted wet as Paul
stepped off the jetliner.
- I should have stayed home.
- Looked like it was going to rain again.
- Should'a brought my overcoat.
- Thunder belched in the distance.
- I really should have stayed home.
- "Paul! Paul, is that you?"
- Too late.
- "Hey, Jon. How's things out west?"
- "Complicated," Jon said, giving his cousin a pat on the back. "But it
doesn't sound half as complicated as what you've been going through. I'm sorry about your
- "Yeah, so am I. Thanks for the invite, Jon. I won't stay long, but..."
- "Stay as long as you can stand living in about this much space," Jon said,
holding his hands about three feet apart. Paul laughed. "You only think I'm
- "No, I believe you. It just sounds a lot like my old apartment. Maybe bigger."
- The two men laughed.
- "So how's Marc?"
- "He's... well, he's... he's Marc. What else can I tellya?"
- "Still? Is he ever gonna grow up?"
- "Nah. I think he likes being irresponsible and laid back. Good thing he didn't do
the cop thing. The pressure'd drive him nuts."
- "Probably. It didn't do so much for me, either. This us?"
- "Yep," Jon said, deactivating his car's alarm. "Hop in."
- "You sure you're not taking any bribes? I mean, I don't see any rust, but..."
- "Oh, shut up and get in." Jon said, laughing. "It's nice to see you
again, Paul. Reminds me of the kinda life we had back before the copshop swiped us
- "Those were the days."
- "They sure were. You want to go get a beer?"
- "Are you telling me you actually have some free time?"
- "Yep. I haven't taken a night off since... uh..."
- "When are you due back?"
- "About a half an hour. I have an interrogation with... uh... 'Pimp Daddy Wilson,'
if you can believe it. Lord, I wish I could get bombed. Just looking at this guy's
- "But you know what they say about drinking on duty."
- "I know, I know. I was just offering to buy ya one. Honest."
- "Oh, yeah? Well, I accept. You've got plenty of time to buy me one or two or
- "Don't push your luck."
- "We interrupt 'The Jerky Sizzler Show' to bring you this late-breaking
- The HDTV blared with special news music. Alfred sorely wished he could roll his eyes.
- "Oh, come now... they were about to break into some sort of vault..." Alfred
silenced himself. A large photo of Tim Drake was displayed prominently behind the
journalist. Alfred willed the digirec to record the broadcast.
- "Philanthropist Timothy Drake II is now wanted for questioning in the murder of
GCPD detective Jeff Halloran. He is considered to be the prime suspect in the
In NEW YORK:
- "What?!?" Guy Gardner yelps, sending beer flying through his nose.
- "...Several eyewitnesses claim to have seen the multibillionaire savagely murder
Detective Halloran on the streets of Gotham last night... One was quoted as saying, 'His
picture's on the InfoNets all the time. It was no mistaking him.'
- "It is not known at this time why Mr. Drake would attack Detective Halloran. The
only clue to the puzzle is a scarlet mark, shaped like the letter C, left on the forehead
of the deceased. Police Commissioner Mark Grayson had no comment at this time. We now
return you to the 'Jerky Sizzler Show,' already in progress."
- Mark Grayson sat in his office, wishing that he had the sense to take a vacation. A
rustle at the window snapped him back into reality. It was who he expected it to be... the
Batman, his cape rustling in the wind.
- "Well, well. I was wondering when you'd show up."
- "Drake did not murder your detective."
- "Is that so? Well, then. Maybe you'd like to tell me who did?" Grayson asked
as he pushed a button on his desk. A screen yawned to life on the wall -- a screen that
quite clearly showed Tim Drake talking with Detective Halloran, raising a VF 362 pistol,
and blowing the detective's midsection away. Tim then smeared the letter 'c' on Halloran's
forehead, using the deceased's own blood. The few streetwalkers out ran like mad.
- "So, who killed Halloran again? This is taped, my friend. Live and direct from
right out front. We had two dozen cops out there the minute that shot was fired. Drake was
gone, like he could just vanish into thin air. We booted this up minutes after the murder.
The screen don't lie. It was Drake."
- "And I tell you it wasn't. Don't you trust me, Commissioner?"
- "So be it."
- And with that, Batman disappeared. With Grayson looking right at him, the man in black
just... vanished. Into thin air.
- Wasn't New Coast City supposed to be lovely this time of year?
- "Tim? Tim, are you down here?"
- Clark illuminated the Batcave by stepping on to the cavern floor, activating the
- Clark could smell Tim from here. Whiskey, too. But he couldn't see him...
- "'Sup, Clarky? And why are you wearing my costume?"
- "Tim, where are you?"
- "Up here... I fell asleep..."
- Clark looked up, and there Tim was, hanging upside down in a pair of magno-straps, from
the ceiling of the cave. His breath stunk of liquor.
- "Tim, where were you last night?"
- "I don't know; I fell asleep."
- "When did you fall asleep?"
- "A looooong time ago, Clarky. A looong time ago. The suit looks good on you."
- It felt good to be coming home at last. Oh, so good... the smell of the city had
changed. But not much. It was just a little... dirtier. And that suited him fine.
- It was nice to be back... and he had some scores to settle.
- He chuckled at the cliche of his existence and his purpose... but he wouldn't have it
any other way.
- "Gotham City, your favorite son has returned."
- Detective Jon Isaacs sat at his desk with his head down. He was tired of working on
anything involving wacky-ass murders, he was tired of the Batman, he was tired of Gotham
City, and most of all, he was tired of being tired of things.
- With a long sigh, Isaacs sat up, only to be staring at one of the most gorgeous women he
had ever seen outside of a holozine.
- Black hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Tall. Gorgeous. Isaacs could have stared all day.
Instead, he asked:
- "You my new partner?"
- "Kylie Roarke," she said, extending her hand. Isaacs took it briefly. She
smelled like strawberries. "I must say, detective, I'm surprised."
- "At what?"
- "I was expecting some kind of a sexist comment or misogynistic confusion on your
part, given your reputation."
- "You watch too many noir vids, sweetheart. But if it'll make you feel any better,
we can start again. I could maybe mistake you for a stripper."
- "That's okay. But how did you know right off the bat I was your partner? I mean, I
could have been a million other things..."
- "Like a reporter, or a fed, or just some high-ranking technocrat, maybe a
- "Right. How could you have been sure I wasn't?"
- "Simple detection, sweetheart. I knew everything I needed to know about you the
second I looked at ya. You're dressed nice, very nice, if I might say so. That puts you
outta the league of the trash I usually deal with. You look like you're trying to impress
someone your first day on the job -- and I'm expecting a new partner. Your hands are
shaking. Technocrats have nerve stabilizers. So you're a bit nervous, thanks, how
flattering. Politicals don't come this low down the totem, they make you come to them.
Reporters talk more... And you sure ain't a fed with a Gotham shield peeking out yer
jacket. And just my luck, you're married, too."
- "How did you know that? I'm not wearing a ring..."
- "Yeah, but you were. Band marks are still on your finger. Let me guess, you and the
hubby have a little fight, or maybe you just wanted a little professional respect you
don't think extends to married women?"
- "Wow. You're certainly not what you seem."
- "Wrong, honey. I am exactly what I seem -- a forty-year old divorcee with a bum leg
who don't give two shits about anybody. That makes everyone -- including you -- equal in
my eyes, but it don't mean I like you."
- "I'm flattered."
- "Good for you, sweetheart, good for you. Now for your first day on the job, read
this disk. It's got all the dirt you could ever hope for on our boy Tim Drake...
psychological makeup, school records, the whole nine yards. With a little luck we can
maybe get some kind of clue as to the why he killed that sonofabitch Halloran the other
- "'Son of a bitch?' You call that respect for the dead?"
- "No, I call that about the kindest thing you can say about the prick. If I wasn't
so pissed that he was killed, I'd probably be relieved I don't gotta work with him
- "Are you always this... ascerbic?"
- "Yup. Have fun with that dossier, babe. I'm gonna go get something to eat."
- "You know Clark, it's gotta be nice, not being able to get bombed outta your
skull," Tim said, still feeling the hangover long after it should have passed.
- "It certainly makes drinking easier. Although I haven't done much since..."
Since that night in high school when I let Scottie drive drunk...
- "Since when, C?"
- "Since a long time ago, Tim. More lifetimes than I feel like thinking about right
now. But the question is, Tim, why did YOU get drunk? I'd have thought you'd have more
- "It was the..." Tim paused, confused. "It's personal, 'dad.' None of your
- Tim was dodging the question, and quite effectively. Clark found himself wishing for the
thousandth time that telepathy had been one of his gifts. Tim was hurting from something
enough to want to drink it away. And the look in his eyes was a frightening one. Tim's
blank stare reminded Clark of the look in Bruce's eyes whenever he forced himself to
relive the night his parents were killed, re-forging his dedication as the Dark Knight.
- Something was wrong. Very wrong. Could Tim have really killed the detective? The
evidence he had seen last night when he was masquerading as the Batman had seemed awfully
- The possibility had to be addressed. But not right now. Right now there was a man -- who
was barely more than a boy -- and he was in a lot of pain. Pain that he was keeping to
himself. Clark felt the pang of his paternal instincts. What could he do to help? And why
was everything so much more complicated nowadays?
- "Tim look, I..."
- "Master Tim," Alfred said, butting in. "I hate to interrupt you, but Mr.
Gardner is holding on line one."
- "Throw him the prerec."
- "I have. He's refused to disconnect, sir."
- "Fine, then," Tim sighed. "Patch him through."
- Guy Gardner's face filled the wall-sized monitor in the manor's sizeable den. From that
size, it was no mistake how upset he was.
- "What in the hell is going on down there?"
- "What're you talking about, Guy?" Tim asked, nonchalantly.
- "Okay, Timbo, I'm gonna say this -- and I'm only gonna say it once. I hear you
killed a cop. Now I want the truth from you. Did you?"
- "What are you talking about?"
- "Tim, look at me. I'm not an idiot, and I don't like people pissin' up my leg and
then tellin' me it's rain. Especially when it's a buddy that's doin' it."
- "Look, I..."
- "Did you kill the cop?"
- "I don't remember?"
- "You don't... what the hell are you talkin' about, don't remember?"
- "I was drunk, all right? Are we happy now, Mr. Gardner?"
- "Tim, look, I'm your pal. We go back, man. You backed me up; I'll back you up. But
if there's even a tiny possibility that you killed that cop, you have to tell me now,
- "I don't know! I DON'T KNOW, OKAY? I DON'T! Disconnect call."
- Gardner started to say something as his face blinked away from view. Whatever he was
saying was lost to the ages, and Tim stormed from the room.
- Gotham, Gotham, Gotham. Why ever did I leave you? Ah, yes. That's right, because I was
forced to. Forced to leave, forced to leave, and now I return for revenge.
- ...The ultimate cliche in this town. But cliches can be fun. They can be worthwhile.
They can fuel you, drive you.
- They can keep you warm at night with the fires of anger stoked in your
- Better watch it, I'm getting carried away. I'm starting to sound like something out of
- But what the hell, I think I can afford one fit of maniacal laughter before I hit the
- "AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA... cough, cough...."
- Bedtime. Goodnight, my sweet city. I'll see you in the morning.
- Kylie Roarke scanned through the mountain of information on Tim Drake. Born Timothy
Patrick Drake II, February 13, 2088 to Richard and Mary Drake. Genius-level IQ, attended
universities from age 13 to age 18. Left Gotham for a few years... showed up around the
world, generating a lot of press for himself wherever he went... even starred in a
- Kylie smiled. She remembered that movie. It was a particular favorite of the MetNet at
three in the morning. She'd seen it a good fifty times while suffering through insomnia.
- So all this basically threw Drake out as an attention hound. Not the kind of personality
that would benefit a murderer... At least, not a sane one.
- But what did Drake have to do with Halloran? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why would
someone go to all the trouble of killing a man for no reason? Especially a police officer?
It didn't make enough sense -- and Drake was too smart for such randomness.
- There were also the possibilities of blackmail, some kind of imposter, or brainwashing.
- Or, Drake was a real nut job who had created one hell of a masterful public persona to
- "How goes it, sweetheart?"
- "Contradictions on top of contradictions. Are you sure we don't have a less
complicated case to take care of first?"
- "Yep," Isaacs replied, handing his latest partner a cup of... well, it was
supposed to be coffee. "Besides, this is what makes ya famous. You notice anything
strange, there, in the report on Halloran?"
- "Haven't got to it yet. I was boning up on Drake."
- "Skip ahead. It's mighty interesting."
- "...Okay, I... wait a second. Halloran was killed with a VF 36?"
- "That's what Drakey was packin', yeah."
- "There is no way a gun that small could make such a big hole."
- "Give the lady a prize," Isaacs said as he tossed a disc to Roarke.
"Forensics rules it out completely. That blast came from a MAC 30 rifle."
- "So we're not even back to square one," Roarke said, scrunching her eyes.
"We're into the negatives, here. And I've wasted a lot of time reading this stuff on
- "Not so fast, sweetheart. What we got here is opportunity. Someone set Drake up,
but did it real sloppily. Either they don't care that we'd find out, or they think we're
so stupid that we won't."
- "Or they overlooked the forensics department."
- "Right. In any case, this killer may think they're getting away with something
right now... get sloppy again."
- "So how do we play it?"
- "We're going to Grayson. Intensify the search for Drake, get him in custody, see if
he knows anything that can help us. Worst thing we could do at the moment is let the real
killer know that we know Drake couldn't have killed Halloran."
- "Maybe he was still involved in some way."
- "If he was, darlin', he'd have had the sense to stay a helluva lot farther away
from the crime scene, establish a rock-solid alibi. This whole thing smells wrong. And
besides, we let the killer know Drake's not being sought as a suspect, we might have a
madman looking to tie up loose ends, wind up with another stiff."
- "What a great first day at work," Roarke exhaled with all the sarcasm she
could muster after hours of reading.
- "Yeah, makes me long for the good old days. Uncomplicated murder, rape, robberies
and drugs... cut and dried. They just don't make 'em like that anymore."
- Tim Drake peered out at the city through the night lenses in his cowl. So many people,
so many possibilities.
- Who had framed him? Why couldn't he remember? And why had he been drinking? He HATED
whiskey! And he hadn't gotten drunk since... since, Lord, since he was a teenager. And the
hangover was still on a rampage through his brain like a twister through a trailer park.
- He was going to have to actually do some detective work, here. Terrific. Tim HATED
mysteries. He hated puzzles. They were either too easy or too hard.
- And here he was -- the Batman. The "World's Greatest Detective." At least,
that was a title that came with the cape. Maybe he should have taken on another identity.
Yeah. That would solve a problem or two. Who'd expect Sherlock Holmes when they met...
SHADOW KNIGHT! No, too cliched. THE DARK AVENGER! Oh, how lame... SPIDER-MA... no, wait,
stop that thought, spiders are icky.
- And he'd probably be taken even more seriously than he was now. Spiders were scarier
than bats, after all.
- No good, his mind kept circling back to the news feed Alfred had recorded. Tim Drake:
murderer. Irrevocable evidence.
- The only thing he knew was that he didn't do it. That means there was some hole,
somewhere. There was a way out of it. And that would mean... homework. He'd get to study
- "Help me! HELP!"
- He'd get to study up later. The enhanced audio receptors in his cowl alerted him to
trouble on the streets below.
- Another night, another mugging.
- Detection can wait for another few minutes; this looks like a job for The Dark Avenger.
- It was a standard scene, really, in the city of monsters. Naive victim is attacked by a
jonesing nitwit. Violence ensues, and currency changes hands. It's happened thousands of
times on the worn streets of Gotham, and it will happen thousands more.
- But not this one, folks. Oh, no. The Spid... um, BATMAN is on the job.
- "Excuse me," a gravelly voice whispers from the shadows, startling mugger and
victim alike. "I was wondering if you might tell me where you got that jacket. I've
been looking all over, and I'll just DIE if I don't get my hands on one."
- The mugger fired off two random shots at the sound of the voice.
- "Now, see," the voice continued, "that wasn't very nice. Ask a simple
question, get a simple salvo. That's just plain rude."
- A man garbed in black jumped and rolled out of the shadows, connecting his gloved fist
with the jaw of the mugger, who went down immediately. And easily. Too easily. The weight
was all wrong. That punch, which would have knocked a man down, knocked this one damn near
across the alley.
- "You can go about your business, pal. I'll take care of our friend here."
- The would-be victim nodded and ran -- a waning trail of urine following him out of the
alley. And... wait a minute, his belt was undone.
- Another look at the mugger gave Tim a shock. It was a woman... a butch woman, but a
- Oops again. It looked to be a little table-turning action that was interrupted here.
- "Maybe I should have let you rob the guy, lady," Tim said, scooping the woman
and her weapon up. Her weapon... it looked familiar. Very familiar.
- As a matter of fact, it looked like a lot like the weapon he had been holding in the
still Alfred had retrieved from police records. A helluva lot.
- Dammit, Tim thought. Subconscious detective work.
- He secured the gun in a spare compartment in his utility belt, shot a line into the air,
and carried the woman aloft... he would deposit her at a low-grade free hospital ten
minutes later, along with 100 creds and thirty dollars in bills that he secreted in her
jacket. Tradeoff for the sore jaw, a little apology for looking before he leapt.
- Now there was the matter of that gun...
- "Any luck in finding Drake?" Roarke asked Jon Isaacs as she walked into their
- "Nope. Pisses me off; we get this frame-up figured out, but we can't DO anything
about it 'cause we can't find the guy that was framed!"
- "Maybe he's scared. We're not exactly advertising his innocence."
- "I know, I know..." Isaacs sighed. "When did things get so damned
- "I don't think they were ever simple."
- "Kylie, my dear, you are going to make one damn fine cynic one day."
- "It's a VF 36," Tim said, his vis-scan complete. "Alfred, download
everything you can find on this type of firearm. I'm gonna go get something to eat."
Oh, man, my head's still ringing... "And maybe some painkillers..."
- "Yes, Master Tim. Accessing VF 36..." Tiny LEDs came to life as schematics,
photographs, and all kinds of other various information on the VF 36 handgun flew onto the
Bat-computer's screen, courtesy of Alfred T. ADM.
- "Homework, Alfred?"
- "Yes, Master Clark. We may have found..." Alfred allowed for a dramatic pause,
- "Really, now."
- "Yes. Master Tim found a gun similar to the one he allegedly used on the late
Detective Halloran. He's looking into it."
- "He calls it a hunch. I call it..."
- "Genius!" Clark answered.
- "Well, no, Master Clark. I was thinking more along the lines of 'lunacy.' What can
Master Tim hope to glean from studying any gun other than the exact one used?"
- "He can find out what the gun can do."
- "Alfred, I saw that recording; the shot that killed the detective took out half of
his torso. Can the gun Tim was holding -- or any similar gun -- do that?"
- "Accessing..." Alfred said, "...No, Master Clark. A shot from this gun
would most likely not have killed the detective straight off. He would have lived many
minutes longer, possibly long enough to have allowed someone to save his life. And he
would have had considerably more of his body in one piece."
- "I knew it!"
- "Your voice levels indicate relief, Master Clark. You obviously had your
- Clark would have stared Alfred in the eye, but he had no idea where to look.
- "Point taken, Alfred. Still, the police -- they're still looking for Tim. I find it
ludicrous that they haven't come to the same conclusion."
- "Your tone suggests a desire to call upon Gotham's finest."
- "You read me well, Alfred."
- "Don't you think Master Tim will become a bit skeptical of your so-called
retirement if you keep suiting up as the Batman and venturing hither and yon?"
- "Old habits die hard, Alfred. And I just can't resist the irony. Clark Kent,
Batman." Clark chuckled. "But it's still only a part-time gig. I haven't given
up on retirement just yet."
- "So you say, Master Clark. So you say. 'Your' costume is in your nook."
- Clark's nook was a small section of the cave that served as his home. He had tried
living in the manor above, but couldn't sleep with Booster's heartbeat introducing
intrusive thoughts to his mind at all hours. It wasn't as loud down here; Clark was
afforded some peace.
- Even if he was living in the Batcave.
- A strange shiver ran up Clark's spine as he appropriated a specially fitted replica of
the black and red outfit made famous by Tim Drake, the Batman of 2112. It was creepy, like
Bruce was whispering 'Gotcha, Clark' in his shadow-carved voice, and then laughing at some
dark punch line Clark would never get.
- Clark caught himself zoning out as he looked at the small computer that had been set up
for him. It had taken a while to get used to the, well, the fanciness of it all, but Clark
was a fast learner. And he had much to write. It was an escape from the troubles he could
never allow to burden him... the loss of his wife, his life, his memory...
- Writing eased it. Well, writing and exercise.
- "Booga booga," Clark said, pulling off his glasses and appropriating the mask
of the Batman.
- It would appear my use of Mr. Drake was a monumental waste of time. The police obviously
don't think him enough of a threat to truly call out the dogs.
- Pity. I was hoping for another trial of the century. I'd heard that there was a lawyer
named Cochrane practicing law in the area. Heh heh heh. Ah, I've spent too much time in
the history bins.
- The problem is, I've gotten a little lax in my time away. The sloppy frame-up was too
elaborate a game... and there wasn't nearly enough of a buzz about it; even the
TabloidNets dropped it in favor of the latest 'aliens fixed the sporting event' story.
Drake was basically considered a puppet. This is sad. I was hoping for at least SOME
distraction whilst I carried out part two, dammit.
- But I shall adapt. I'm good enough and smart enough, after all. I can do this. I went to
- No need to find another puppet, necessarily. I'll just go out and about, see what turns
- "I see your five and raise you seven." Officer David 'Kung Fu Fighter' Lee was
having a good night. He was kicking ass and talking names.
- Who ever thought a desk job could be so damn much fun? And profitable? Just grab some
fellas, pull out a deck o' cards, and clean up.
- The night shift was God's gift to...
- "Shame on you, Officer Lee. Gambling. Tsk. It's always a shame when a public
servant mislays the trust of those he serves."
- "Uh... you guys hear that?"
- "What's that, Kung Fu? The sound of our coin in your pocket?" Fred Gollan
laughed, glancing at his cards.
- "Heh... no."
- "This is God, David. They can't hear me. You believe in God, don't you?"
- "This ain't funny. One of you guys buy an ESPer COM on me?" Dave Lee asked,
only to be answered with smirks all 'round.
- "No technological gimmicks, David. This is God. And I'm not happy with you, David.
I'm not happy with you at all."
- "Why not?"
- "Why not what, Kung Fu?" Gollan asked, staring intently at his cards.
"You gonna go?"
- "Because of what you're about to do."
- "And what am I gonna..."
- Dave Lee drew his gun and shot Fred Gollan... And Rudy Drytz... And Bill Undermall...
And Jeanne Goulde... and then himself.
- Oh, my mistake! I forgot the piece de resistance. Ah, well -- I can do it myself... say,
nice hand, Officer! No wonder you were so preoccupied. You'd have won the pot for sure.
- At any rate, I know I'm no calligrapher, but I'm fairly sure this will get everyone's
attention... my, what a stroke of luck, running into this sly little gambling ring. I was
afraid I'd find only one or two...
- Oh, look at this, David! A head shot. This is unfortunate. Ah, well... I suppose I can
use the walls.
- Yes. This works out quite nicely.
- Ah, what a night. All this exertion really has worked up quite an appetite. I do believe
I could use a sandwich...
- "This did NOT happen," Mark Grayson said to everyone within earshot as the
bodies of the fallen officers were cleared up. "You don't say word one about this to
anyone, understand?" I need an antacid, Grayson thought. Or maybe some nerve
stabilizers... I'm getting too old for this.
- "What about me, Commissioner?" a smiling voice asked from the shadows beyond
the window. "Don't keep me in the dark."
- "I'm in no mood for puns at the moment."
- "Neither am I, oddly enough. That must have been a reflex," the Batman said,
stepping into the building. "Tim Drake didn't kill your man."
- "We know. We figured it out."
- "You... you did?"
- "Forensics. The gun that Drake had couldn't have done the damage. Come on, we're
not stupid around here."
- "I... see. So there are no charges against Drake, then?"
- "He's still wanted for questioning. His psychological profile and every other bit
of data suggests that he doesn't have anything to do with this, but one never knows for
- "Right. So what do you have here?"
- "More of the same."
- "Care to shell out a detail or two?"
- "Not really."
- "Oh, come on. I've been a good boy."
- "More letters."
- "And those letters were..."
- "Insignificant insignificant or insignificant go away?"
- "Insignificant go away."
- "Come on, commish! You know I don't go out that easily!"
- "Maybe you should tell him, sir. He is a detective, right?" a sweet voice said
from behind the commissioner.
- "Detective Roarke! How long have you been standing there?" Mark Grayson asked,
feeling his face flush red.
- "Almost the entire time. You didn't notice?"
- "Well, I..." That damned blushing increased.
- "I don't know about Marky here," Batman said. "but I sure should have
picked you up sooner, Ms... Roarke, wasn't it?"
- "Kylie," the detective said, offering her hand, which the Batman took.
- "Kylie, then. Who has an excellent point, Marky. My rep as a detective..."
- "Belonged to your predecessor," the commissioner finished.
- "Touche. But maybe I'm just a Sherlock waiting to happen."
- Mark Grayson silenced himself. He was tired. He was angry. And he was not in the mood
for more juvenile antics. The best way to get rid of some people is to give them what they
want, as seemed to be the case here. He would tell this man, who was obviously no
detective, and then he'd be able to go about his business, maybe REALLY get the damn crime
- "There were five officers. Four of them had letters on their foreheads. The last,
Officer Lee, the apparent shooter, had a head wound; no face left. There was a letter on
the wall, however."
- "And those letters were..."
- "A, L, D, N, and H."
- "I'd say you're about to have two more murders, commissioner." The Batman said
this quickly and solemnly. Grayson was momentarily taken aback.
- "What do you mean?"
- "Simple word puzzle, Marky. I used to play them a lot when I was a kid. Good for
- "The point."
- "It wasn't long ago that you got rid of a detective... back around the time we had
the smiley-themed serial killings. Take another look at the letters you got, Marky. C. H.
A. N. D. L. There's no E, and no R either, but the spelling is close enough. Chandler was
his name, right?"
- "Y... yes." Grayson had been completely floored.
- "Right. Okay, so the killer he pissed off by, I dunno, stealing his revenge, he
escaped. A few weeks later, boom -- more themed killings... complete coincidence without
the puzzle. It's a message. My bet is he also was controlling Drake through some new form
of ESPer COM or something, I..." Batman's voice trailed off. "I don't suppose
you have any Tylaprin? Painkillers? My head is killing me."
- "Not on me."
- "How about you, Ms. Roarke?"
- "Painkillers? Tylaprin, something?"
- "Um, no, thanks."
- "I mean do you have any?"
- "Oh. Oh! No."
- "Damn. Teaches me to go thinking so hard." The Batman's mask stretched as
though he were smiling. "Let me know if there's anything else I can help you
with," he said, stepping back towards the window.
- "Batman, wait!" Roarke said, causing the man in black to pause.
- "How did you figure it out?" Roarke finished after an uncomfortable pause.
- "I don't know," the dark knight replied. "It just occurred to me."
- And with that he was gone, into the night.
- Mark Grayson wasn't in his office for five seconds before a noise interrupted him.
- "What is it now?" Grayson asked.
- "Why, commissioner," a voice thundered from inside his head, "surely you
don't expect me to spoil it!"
- The pain was horrendous. It tasted like the distinct flavors of sand and copper were
mingling together in his mouth, while his brain flashed hot and cold as though it were
some kind... some kind of... something. His mind was on fire, perhaps the worst time to
attempt to dredge up a pert comparison to the pain in his mind.
- "Do you like that?" the voice, the familiar voice, thundered once more,
cutting through and adding to the pain in unimaginable ways. "It's something new I've
- Mark Grayson was on his knees now, struggling to lift his head, tears falling freely,
playing their part as the rain in this storm of agony.
- Slowly, or maybe it took an eternity, Grayson's head rose through the torture to see a
curious specimen of a man... an albino... an albino with a thick shock of white hair and
terrible glowing red eyes. And some sort of mark on his face... it looked like... a...
- "W...who... who are..."
- "Well, that's just the ultimate question, isn't it? Who am I, who are you... who
are we all? Who is anyone? To truly understand the machinations of the universe this
question must be answered, but it seldom can be. Do you know why?"
- Grayson answered with a painful grunt as a new wave of pain racked his body.
- "Not quite, no. It can't be answered because most of the time we don't WANT it
answered. Many times, in fact, more often than not, we do not like who we truly know
ourselves to be and push that knowledge back in favor of a more socially acceptable
facsimile that can be presented in good conscience to the world at large. Wouldn't you
- More pain. Grayson could feel his heart skipping beats, trying to make up for the
adrenaline that was being produced... and that hurt, too. Everything hurt, from the air he
was breathing to the light he could see when he was able to pry his eyes open to the hum
of the personal computer behind him.
- "Yes, you see, we all have pain. We all have secrets, we all have ignominious
little Edward Hydes to go with our more estimable Henry Jekylls... our yin, our yang. You,
for instance. You have that side that you show to no one, don't you? That side that
terrifies and enrages you, while at the same time tempts and stimulates you, am I right?
The side of Mark Grayson that no one ever sees, because he's careful to lock in a little
box and keep it hidden away? Perhaps you enjoyed killing someone once, and are afraid
you'll do so again. Maybe you've sampled illegal pleasures... maybe you've swayed from
your duties on occasion. Maybe you just like to smoke in bed.
- "I myself, well, I like to kill, Mark. I enjoy it. I enjoy it more when there's an
irony to the situation, or a statement to be made... I mean, there's not too much of a
point in killing if there's no point you can make with the death, am I right? Of course I
am. And I'm explaining this all to you, I'm taking the time to explain this all to you,
Mark, because I plan on killing you next."
- Tim Drake sat in the Batmobile, staring out at the blanket of darkness that covered the
sprawling urban nightmare known to the world as Gotham City. And even though he couldn't
see any stars, he still felt like making a wish...
- ...A wish that the past few days had never happened, hell, a wish that the past few
MONTHS had never happened. A wish that he hadn't become Batman. A wish that all of this
would go away. He didn't have the chops for this! It worked out for a while. Everyone
loved him... well, almost everyone. And then he hit a snag. He felt like he couldn't do
anything right... like the walls of the world were caving in on him because he wasn't who
he was pretending to be... He wasn't the unstoppable dark knight, the world's greatest
detective, a caped crusader, an invincible force of justice from the shadows of a concrete
- He just wasn't.
- All the good he'd done, all of the things he'd managed to accomplish, were on accident.
His skills came and went, mostly because they were all freak coincidences.
- Batman wasn't needed in Gotham City. Why would he be? He couldn't even clear his own
name. The cops managed to do that all by themselves... he was just a high-profile PR case
for the city... something he could do just as well without a mask.
- But that was playing down what he did do; what he did manage to pull off... he'd managed
to save a man's sanity... and help give him his life back. As a matter of fact, that
seemed to be a stunt he'd pulled more than once with time-lost heroes. Maybe that was his
place in the universe? To sit tight in the Batcave until, say, Wonder Woman fell out of a
black hole and into his lap...?
- He'd saved people. Nothing on a grand scale, but the thanks that shone from the eyes of
the people he'd rescued... it made him feel right. Satisfied. And he'd beaten that Batman
imposter, too. Surely that was a reason to go on, he was improving in his identity.
- But he shouldn't be. The doppelganger said that he was everything Bruce Wayne was. There
is no way that Tim could have lasted that long with Bruce Wayne.
- No way. Tim rubbed his eyes, sighing... and then put his head in his hands.
- "What's wrong, Timothy? Is my boy a little grumpy?" a comforting voice asked,
floating in the air.
- "Who's there?" Tim asked, in the voice of the Batman... followed by a wheeze
of shock as the air rippled before him, and Richard Drake's smiling visage greeted the
mask of the Bat.
- "Pop?" Tim breathed, scarcely whispering.
- Clark Kent had been making his way across to Gotham City by leaps and bounds, covering a
little more than an eighth of a mile per jaunt, when a wave of nausea hit him, throwing
him off course. The tree that he hit splintered and cracked as though it had been hit by a
rogue bolt of lightning... with the accompanying thunderclap provided by the sound of
- Quickly, Clark peeled back the mask of the Batman as the nausea he had felt before
prompted him to vomit. This was by far the worst pain he'd encountered since his... since
his... death? Since his first battle with the monster... Doomsday. Funny how some memories
come back to you, Clark mused as he vomited anew, vomited blood.
- "It's a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Mr. Kent," a booming voice
said, filling the air.
- "Who?" Clark asked weakly.
- "It doesn't matter who I am. What matters is the little playsuit you're wearing,
sir. I didn't think that black was quite your style."
- "All they had in my size," Clark said before the nausea once again took
control of his system.
- "Ah, I see your young friend's flippant attitude seems to be rubbing off on you. Or
is this new outlook a byproduct of those conversations with the robot?"
- Clark was silent. Who could know these all of these things, let alone that he was Clark
Kent? Something wasn't adding up.
- "I'm sure at this moment you're using that fine journalistic mind of yours, trying
to put together some kind of logic that explains what's happening here. It won't work, Mr.
Kent. You truly have no idea what you're dealing with."
- "H-heard that line before..."
- "No doubt you have, sir... perhaps during your heyday, yes? Well, I hate to inform
you of this, but your heyday is over. You don't belong on the front lines anymore, Kent.
Your powers have decreased, you have no true understanding of the politics of this era,
you have no true purpose. You are a relic. My point, quite simply, is get out of the
- "I have a responsibility," Clark managed, before the pangs of nausea combined
with the gut-wrenching crush of dry heaves racked his body. Blood dribbled from his lip.
- "Your only responsibility is to be a sensible old man and retire as an old man
would. It's plain to see you're not in peak form. Be a man. Quit while you're ahead, or be
- "I've heard enough," Clark said, attempting to stand. The nausea was leaving.
His strength was returning.
- "You've not heard the least of it," the booming voice replied, accompanying
the sentence with a thunderous punch that knocked Clark a good ten feet back.
- And the nausea returned, in full force.
- "You'd do well to heed my words, Kent," the man said, in Clark's field of
vision for the first time. He was tall, dressed head to toe in black. He looked like a
- "How... how do you know my name?" Clark asked, as dizziness blurred his
- "Nothing," the man said, lifting off into the sky, "escapes
- That was the last thing Clark heard as the world faded to black.
- "W...why?" Grayson wheezed through his teeth.
- "Why am I killing you, or why am I explaining all this to you?" the albino
replied, taking a seat. "Let's take that one step at a time. I'm killing you, Mark,
because, quite frankly, it seems like a good idea. You're a high-profile member of the
police force. You're even pseudo rich, although not quite there, correct?"
- Grayson whimpered.
- "Right. And my little murder spree -- which, surprisingly, your darkly-garbed
friend seemed to unravel quite well -- needs a high-profile ending. You get two whole
letters all to yourself, Mark. And then, when Chandler shows his face again, he'll get to
wear a smile -- a true smile -- for the first time in years. And if he doesn't, well, I'll
just have to start in on his family."
- "You... you're... Wight?"
- "Yes, of course I am. Whom else did you expect? Unfortunately, the same...
happenstance that gave me these delightful abilities also brought upon me a countenance
that calls hither to the memory of the Joker... however, if I hear anyone call me that, I
shall remove vital organs through their ear.
- "I see your brow furrowing, Mark. It could be the pain that's doing it -- after
all, I'm telepathically ordering every nerve cell that you possess to go off in alarm --
but I think you're curious. You are curious, correct? Of course you are, I can spot these
things a mile away. But have no fear, for in the manner of the classic cinema villain, I
shall elucidate on my carefully laid plans before I allow you to perish. Theatric, yes, of
course -- but then, I always wanted to be an actor."
- Grayson coughed, a mass of phlegm and blood erupting from his mouth.
- "Hmmm," Wight mused. "It doesn't look as though you're faring too well
with this 'exercise.' Perhaps I should hurry my story along." Wight cleared his
throat. "My abilities run far beyond hypnosis and manipulation now, as I'm sure
you're aware. I have gained masterful telepathic abilities. They are a real treat to play
with, another thing I'm certain you've noticed." Wight smiled as Grayson grunted
- "When I leapt out of the window -- and I'm sorry I did, after all, suicide is not
an answer -- I disappeared. I fell into... well, somewhere else. The particulars of what
happened there are quite private, I assure you... but the long and short of it is this: I
gained these wonderful little abilities with which I may extract my revenge upon the
miserable little bastard who stole my vengeance in the first place. It's a bizarre cycle,
no? At any rate, I needed a flamboyant and instantly recognizable patsy to begin my little
plan. I happened upon Mr. Drake, and felt the pangs of genius within me. I invaded his
mind, and got him to the point of the scene... but the little bastard just wouldn't do the
job! Luckily, I had foreseen this possibility and set myself up with a sniper as well.
Maybe your officers will find him one day. Maybe not, it doesn't really matter. The
publicity over Drake's supposed homicidal act was great for all of five minutes. I
underestimated the perceptions of this man, the fickle nature of the media, and indeed,
the intelligence of Gotham's finest. These things happen, I'm afraid. So I took the
liberty of retiring the officers below... now, I'm certain that that would have been
hushed up, but NOT after you yourself are murdered. How can such a prominent figure be
swept under the rug?"
- "I think you're over... overestimating... my..."
- "No sir, I don't. Look at it this way; it will guarantee you a place in
- "Pop, how can you be... you're dead, I mean..." Tim stammered, his bravado
- "Shush, Timothy..." the ghostly countenance of Richard Drake replied...
flickering like a bad light. "Shush. I see you've made yourself into what I couldn't.
Well done, son."
- "Dad, I'm not..."
- "Timothy, look what you've done, for just one moment, will you? You've brought hope
to this city... for the first time in years! And there are others in the world who are
inspired by you... what of that? You've saved lives, son. You've helped people."
- "I didn't do that much, Pop... I just..."
- "Dammit, Timothy! Quit putting yourself down! You did -- and are doing -- things
that no one else could do in your place... not in the same way, anyway. You're unique,
son. Special. Don't focus on your weaknesses; focus on your strengths. Focus on them and
exploit them. The rest will come in time."
- "But Pop... I... I..." Tim stammered, feeling his eyes mist up. "I miss
you, Pop... I mean, I... why did you have to leave me with all of this...?"
- "Because, son... just... because. I have to go, Timothy..."
- "Pop, wait..." Tim said, ignoring the intense pain that was flowing through
his head. "Don't go."
- "I have to, Timothy. My work here is done. Yours is not. Goodbye, son."
- And with that, Richard Drake disappeared, leaving Tim with a tear rolling down his cheek
and moistening the black mask of the Bat.
- "Return to police headquarters," Tim commanded the Batmobile, which rose
silently off the rooftop on which it rested, turning towards the center of Gotham.
- Meanwhile, back in the Batcave, Alfred disconnected his interlink with the Batmobile.
- "I hope you're all right, Master Tim," Alfred said to no one in particular,
his voice morphing from the lower tones of Richard Drake to the more familiar English
accent that had manifested by default. "Godspeed."
- Clark Kent awoke in the same pile of moss that he had lay in when he lost consciousness
for the first time that he could remember. Of course, there were quite a few things that
he couldn't remember, but that was beside the point.
- He didn't want to move, choosing instead to allow the sensation to impress itself upon
his psyche. He would not forget this any time soon, as he watched the hazy gray sky
unfold, revealing no stars to him.
- Slowly, Clark Kent rose, using every ounce of stamina that he still possessed to stay
steady. Whatever came next, Clark was sure of one thing; this 'Justice,' (why did that
name sound so familiar?) was out of his league. Clark smiled at the unintentional pun, but
then frowned when he realized that the mysterious man in black was right. Clark didn't
know enough about this world to be interfering.
- "Be careful what you wish for," Clark mumbled as he began the long trek back
to Wayne Manor.
- "Well, commissioner, I'm sure that you're about ready to perish. I am correct in
this assumption, am I not?"
- "G-go to ... hell..."
- "I'll take that as a yes, then. Oh, but before I do away with you, I'm sure you're
wondering why Drake hasn't come forward yet... simple enough, and you must know how I love
to show off my work! I implanted a latent suggestion in his head. It's buried deep, but
I'd liken it to a ticking bomb -- when he finally comes to terms with it, he'll kill
- "Allow me one more moment of explanation, then. I can't specifically read minds,
Mark. No, nothing specific... but I can pick up stray thoughts, and control responses...
think of it like this, Mark; I ordered Drake's worst nightmare to unfold before him.
Shameful that I'll never know what they are, but we can't expect all the breaks in this
life, now, can we?"
- Mark Grayson's face was dirty with the tears that could not be penned up by the most
powerful of men. His insides felt as thought they were about to tear into eight separate
directions at any moment now.
- Mark Grayson was an old man; a man kept passively young by a drug called Ambrosia that
he had the foolishness to get addicted to in his early forties. He weaned off it by the
time he turned sixty, but there was enough in his system at that point to keep him at a
relatively active physical age. Instead of complaining about it, Mark used it as just
another tool. A tool for justice, for the good of mankind. Something like that. It was the
height of pretentiousness to think such thoughts, but Mark couldn't help it in his
delirium. He should have been dead long ago... but stubbornness -- and Ambrosia -- kept
him amongst the land of the living.
- And this... thing, this... Joker was going to take him out of it.
- "Excuse me, do you have an appointment?" Grayson recognized the voice
immediately. If there was one man on the entire EARTH that he wanted there less at this
- The Joker, Wight, was amused. "Well, look what we have here," he said, in low,
even tones. "The infamous Batman. How did you come to conclude that I would be here?
Perhaps I underestimated your reputation?"
- "I came back to apologize to the commissioner for my earlier attitude, and again
offer my help," Batman said, easing into the room. "Right now, I'm thinking I've
found the elusive serial killer I've been hearing about."
- Wight bowed. "Indeed you have, sir. Forgive me for not introducing myself; I am
Jeremy Wight. Pleased to make your acquaintance; I'll be sure to kill you momentarily, if
you'd be so good as to wait."
- "Look like a Joker-wannabe to me, Wight," the Batman said, a smile in his
voice. The remark had its intended effect, as Wight's red eyes flared.
- "I assure you, sir, that I am in no way affiliated with that historic
- "Is that why you have the white skin thing goin'? And what is that on your face?
Looks like a spade... gee, whiz. I guess I don't see anything to make a comparison off of,
- Wight's countenance went from calm to a sea of rage in less time than it takes for a man
to draw a breath. "You have no respect for your superiors, sir."
- "My superiors? Please. What I see here is some suped-up nutjob picking on an old
man. No offense, commissioner. Give me a break."
- "Give you a break? I'll break your limbs!" Wight shrieked, running towards
Batman, hands outstretched. We'll call that mistake #1. Batman gabbed Wight by his spindly
neck and hurtled him into a wall.
- "Hey, if you don't say how can anyone move that fast, I won't say how could anyone
with mental powers be so stupid as to try a physical attack!"
- "Who said anything about mental powers?"
- "You did, Joker boy. Not long before I dropped in." Ah, the joy of enhanced
- "Fine, you want me to use my abilities? I shall!"
- "Watch out, Jokey. Your dialogue is steadily slipping into the cliched..."
- "DIE!" Wight screamed.
- "See what I mean?" Batman replied, trying to put on a good face through the
raging headache he was barely enduring. He had heard the snippit of conversation
pertaining to him. He realized that this headache could just be the end of him... but
there was no way he'd let this whack job take someone else, a good man, down, too. Gotham
shouldn't have to lose such a dedicated officer. It wouldn't.
- That's when a wave of pain gripped Tim's body. The same thing that Grayson must have
been going through. Had to give the old man credit; he's been going through this for a
long time... and is still breathing. But Tim had something that Grayson didn't. Two
- Fancy gadgets and no aversion to fighting dirty.
- Through the mask of pain, Tim reached into a compartment in the back of his utility
belt... and pulled out a small device Tim liked to call the knockout special; a miniature,
mostly non-lethal explosive that basically delivered a 100lb of force 'punch.' Tim threw
one, nailing Wight square in the abdomen.
- The thin man doubled over in pain, while Tim's decreased. Even his headache lessened
- Batman crossed the length of the room and began to pummel the smaller man.
- For the pain he brought to so many.
- For the pain he tried to bring.
- For the inescapable headache.
- For bad fashion sense.
- For close to three minutes Tim pounded Wight. When the albino finally fell under the
screen of unconsciousness, Tim beat him some more, swelling the thin man's eyes shut and
breaking a good share of bones.
- And then Tim stopped. He tied the 'Joker' with a stylon cord and left a little note that
warned of the psycho's ESPER status. And then Tim hit Grayson's personal alarm. He was
ready to leave.
- "Are you all right, sir?" Tim asked as he prepared to exit the window.
- "...F...fine..." Grayson moaned.
- Tim smiled, and was on his way. It was over.
- "This is Billie Asynger, CCN InfoNet. After a week-long battle in Gotham Mercy
General, Commissioner of police Mark Allan Grayson has passed away of heart failure at 87.
Gotham mourns the passing of this great man. We speak now with his chosen replacement, new
Commissioner Jon Isaacs..."
- "I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not the right man for this job, no matter
who tells you different. The right man's lyin' on a slab right now... but he picked me,
and I'll do him proud, or I'll die tryin'." Isaacs was silent for a moment, staring
at some spot on the ground before him; finally, at the urging of the reporter, Jon Isaacs
said one more thing: "And in case he's able to hear this somewhere; Sir, we won't be
even close to as good without you."
- Jon Isaacs saluted the holocam. A tear was visible in the corner of his eye.
- The city was quiet that night, as was appropriate, in respect for her fallen son.
- Rest in peace, Mark Grayson. You deserve it.