I own who I own, I don't own thems that I don't own. Sorry it's been so
long between parts. I'll try to be less of an evil psychopath in the
This is for brad who always believed in Jordy's verve.
That's the Way It Is
She'd gone to talk to him. His grandmother. She was talking to the man with
the gray face, and he was alone. He lay on the cold metal table, entirely
isolated within himself, agonizing over the things that ran through his
head. Without her helping him, causing him pain to keep the other thoughts
at bay, he was tormented and conflicted. The images that flashed behind his
eyes. he could make no sense without the pain. The lights, the explosions,
the feeling of weightlessness, a mother's warm arms. All of these thoughts
* * *
Donna had arrived to find Kyle sitting on the sofa in the near-darkness of
twilight, staring past the television to the white wall behind it. She'd
been ready to force him to his feet and shovel him out the door, until she
saw him entirely motionless and void. For a long time she'd not moved
herself, waiting for her friend to say something, but it never came.
Finally, she'd gone up behind the sofa and put her arms around him.
And they'd not moved in quite a long time. Finally, when the room had
slipped into total darkness, she felt his hand close over hers and rest
there. "I'm sorry," she told him. "Parents shouldn't outlive their
"This keeps. happening to me," Kyle whispered vacantly.
"Honey, you've had enough loss that even Bruce would not fault you for
never getting up from this chair again," Donna acknowledge. Crawling over
the back of the sofa, she curled next to him, holding him protectively.
"But I know Kyle Rayner always gets back up. Eventually."
"Maybe not this time," Kyle answered hoarsely.
She kissed his bristled cheek. "I hope this time too. I'm here to help you
Kyle buried his head against her shoulder, lost in emotion, but unable to
* * *
About fourty-five minutes after he'd begun digging, Icarus hit
cement. His shovel had connected with the slab over his grandfather's
coffin, scraping and grinding until he pulled the shovel away and began
kicking at the compacted dirt. A small panel slid up out of the earth and a
plasma display ignited, filling the hole with cold blue light.
"Holy shit," he whispered, despite himself. He should have figured
the Big Guy would have had something like this set up. Still, he had
foolishly expected this to be a cut-and dry exhumation.
"Voice identification: Family member zero-zero-eight," a voice
resembling the Cave's computer declared. "Access denied."
The display flashed an image of Bruce, several years younger than
Jimmy remembered him being. "James, it was my sincerest hope to never have
to deliver this message to you, but if it is playing, I see that a
situation has arose which you feel that your current course of action is
necessary. First let me express my admiration that you are willing to take
extreme measures. It's a characteristic that some colleagues from my
generation lack. I am glad that there are people coming of age that are
capable of this, and that you are one of mine." The image of Bruce
hesitated. "And second-We never saw eye to eye. I'm not sure why. Perhaps
you're too much your father's son. I wanted to direct you in some way, but
I feel like all I can do is curb your more destructive tendencies. That
being said-I can tell you but one thing. Whatever the problem is, address
it with him." Jimmy couldn't hold back the sneer. His father was the last
person he could talk to. "Whatever trouble you've gotten yourself into-or
created-he will get you out of. You don't need me, James. You never did.
I'm glad you thought highly enough of me to try something as foolish as
The screen died.
Anger seized his chest even as the tears started spilling out. One
knee dropped to the partially-covered cement and he ripped the helmet from
his head. He slammed the helmet into the dirt beside him as his other hand
smeared across his nose and eyes, clearing them dry. "Damnit," he muttered
to himself. It wasn't the answer he wanted from the old man.
Slowly gaining control of his breathing, Icarus stood. He grabbed
hold of his shovel and began scraping at the dirt around the coffin. When
the hell had he ever listened to the Bat? He hadn't done it when the old
man was alive, he probably shouldn't start now. Not when so much was at
* * *
Mara stopped her car behind the overloaded pickup truck parked on the
paved path in front of her grandfather's grave. Her mother had complained
to her over a week ago about a stockpiling of chemicals used in pit
resurrections somewhere in Gotham. At first she'd been so angry at her
mother's implication that she hadn't had the sense to think things through,
but now it made sense.
A lot of things had fallen into place for her after the wake. She'd
spent three hours going through video archives, her own records, and any
records she could possibly find of her brother's. They all lead to one
She got out and quietly made her way to the opening in the earth,
seeing the bushy red hair curling with sweat. She had no idea why, but she
knew her brother was doing this. "Jimmy!" she scolded as she stopped at the
edge. "What the hell do you think."
"Voice identification: Family member zero-zero-seven. Access denied."
"It figures you'd get a cool serial number," Jimmy grumbled angrily
from the shadows of the gaping hole in the earth.
"Martha Ann, I know you think." the recording began.
Before Bruce could say anything further, Jimmy angrily thrust the
spade of his shovel through the monitor, silencing it. "It's not important.
Go home, Mara."
"Who do you think you are, ordering me around?"
He ran his shovel along the trench he'd made around the coffin,
making it just a tad deeper. "I'm taking care of the problem. I took care
of Talia, didn't I?"
Turning on her mini mag-light, she saw what he was wearing, and the
helmet in the dirt beside him. "The way you took care--" Suddenly, she
"It's not what you think," her brother said calmly. "I can explain."
"You killed him," she said breathlessly. "Jimmy-oh my god." Her face
had gone slack and white.
He reached a gloved hand up to his sister helplessly. "Mara. I can
She looked down at his glove and suddenly her face grew very hard.
"The nano-technology. Came back as a krypto-braniac hybrid. The man in
black." Without preamble, she flung the flashlight at him with all of her
force. It was only his own training that prevented him from being beheaded.
Mara backed towards the truck, looking for more things to throw. She knew
he was involved with Darkseid. She knew he had connections to the Man in
Black. She had no idea the treachery and betrayal ran this deep. "I'll kill
The rockets in his uniform ignited, lifting Icarus easily out of the
hole. "Mara. Let me explain. I didn't mean."
"I defended you!" she screamed suddenly. "I covered your tracks!" She
regretted not having any of her equipment. A batarang to the head would
have suited the situation better-or better yet, one of the bat-shaped
razors that she'd spread like birdseeds in her youth. Her hand reached into
the back of the truck and wrapped around the first thing that wasn't tied
down, a liter beaker. Instead of throwing it at him, she smashed it against
the side of the truck. Grabbing hold of what was left of the base, she
slashed outward with it, catching the chest of his uniform, almost slicing
down to the chest.
Icarus grabbed her wrist and smacked the glass out of it. "Mara! I
didn't mean for him to die! God damnit! The last thing I wanted." His brow
creased with pain. "Mara, you have to believe me..." He let go of her arm
and stepped back away from her, knowing full well that she was reaching for
something else to use against him. "It's my fault, ok? It's my fault. I
didn't mean for any of this to happen. But it's my fault." He knelt on one
knee, almost as he had in the tomb. "I'm not opposed to letting you finish
the job," he continued, his voice twisting in pain. "But right now. you
have to let me stop this. You have to let grandpa stop this. He's the only
one who can."
"Jimmy," his sister answered, losing the fury in her voice. It had
gone to ice again, just as quickly. "What the hell do you think gives you
Jimmy looked guiltily at the ground. "It's bad. You don't know how--"
before he could finish his thought, he felt her fist connect with the side
of his head. It connected so hard it knocked him onto his side. Sliding his
hands beneath him and pushing himself up, he sighed. "I deserved that."
"You deserve a hell of a lot..." Mara stopped suddenly, swallowing.
"A lot..." Suddenly all the air rushed out of her chest.
He turned to look her in the eye, sensing something was wrong, and
got to his feet just in time to grab her arm as she lost balance. Her other
hand pressed against her
"Jimmy. help me."
* * *
"Well, what the hell was she running, Tim?" Barbara asked peevishly.
She looked away from her glowing monitors and massaged her temples, trying
to work away even some bit of the tensions.
In Gotham, Batman stopped pacing for just a moment. "I've been trying
to do a system recovery for the last fifteen minutes. From the IP addresses
that came back in the cache, I'm seeing a Titans archive IP and something
from the Watchtower, but I don't know what." Batman sat down in the chair
that he and Robin always seemed in contention for lately. "I'm going to
keep working this. Damnit. I knew I shouldn't have let her down here. By
the time I got back, she was gone."
"She's in NO condition--"
"Oracle, I know." Batman didn't say anything further. He continued to
pull up recovered files and logs. "This is one of yours. She ripped off one
of your searches." His eyes scanned the logs. "I know where she's at."
Batman forwarded the information, and he heard Oracle suck in a breath as
she saw the type of information Robin had been accessing-and attempting to
"Cant we have a manageable crisis?" Oracle asked, her voice echoing through
out the cave. But it was empty. Batman was already on his way.
* * *
Batman walked around the gravesite, quickly taking stock of the situation.
"They were here, and it hasn't been long." The dust in the grave hadn't
even settled, and was still catching in the beam of the small flashlight
laying in the hole. He'd probably be sick from the act of desecration
later. "Whoever HE is, he's tall, heavy. Probably digging the grave for--"
"Tim, she's at STAR Labs," Oracle suddenly interrupted. "You're never going
to guess who brought her in."
* * *
The Flash leaned against the wall, unusually tired. "Dick."
"I won't believe she was trying to raise Bruce." Nightwing said,
folding his arms over his chest.
"What the hell business does The Man In Black have raising Bruce? If
he killed Kyle's son, why raise Bruce?"
Nightwing folded his arms across his blue and black chest emblem,
frowning at the closed door of the cramped waiting room. "Why save her? Why
bring her here?" Dick felt like he knew the answer, somewhere, deep down.
"Maybe you should get back out there," he told his friend, feeling
"And do what? I want this guy as bad as you do-but you said it
yourself. We're doing all we can."
"How many times have we been here lately? God. It isn't fair."
"It isn't," Wally agreed, not sure what else to say.
"She's broken two bones in her entire life. The longest she was ever
out of commission was a week and a half once. and that was Roy's fault for
letting her get taken over by alien technology anyways."
Flash squeezed his friend's shoulder. "Yeah, Roy was like the worst
babysitter," he said lightly. "She's strong. She'll make it through this.
She'll make it through Jordy."
" I know," Dick answered quietly. "It's just not right." They were
still waiting to see her, or at least hear about her condition. He was
waiting, he should say. He wasn't quite sure what Wally was there for.
There were holes that she had to fill in for them. He had some bad
suspicions he wanted to put aside. And even if he could not-he needed a
motive. That's what had been missing from this whole thing, the first piece
of information that Bruce had taught him to look for.
The meta specialist opened the door to the waiting room, looking a
bit haggard. "She had a boy," the heavyset man informed them. "She's
unconscious. He's 8 weeks premature-which we're pretty good with here. Most
metas are premature now days. It's the energy signature fluctuation that
we're worried about."
Nightwing and Flash looked at each other. "Energy fluctuation?"
"We can't get a fix on any genetic anomalies that would be creating the
Tightening his jaw, Nightwing swallowed any emotion he had toward the
situation. "His chances?"
"None, if we can't stabilize him. If we can. normal preemie procedure
Nightwing nodded ascent. "Odds of stabilization?"
"It'd take more time before we even understand what we're dealing
* * *
"Hey," Jimmy whispered.
Mara's eyes fluttered. "He was sick when they took him out."
Jimmy nodded understanding. "He was. He still is." He failed to
mention that the tiny white child was doing worse every minute. Jimmy had
been watching, and he didn't like what he saw. "Everything's going to be
alright," he promised.
"It hasn't been alright for a long time," Mara whispered, closing her
eyes. "If I lose him."
"You wont," he promised. The back of his fingers brushed her cheek
sympathetically, until she pulled her cheek away. She still held him
responsible, he knew. He noticed the chain around her neck and pulled it
from beneath the canvas hospital gown before she could try to pull away
further. It was Jordy's ring, hanging cold and lifeless around her neck.
Suddenly the Plinko chip lit the $10,000 slot.
He ripped the chain from her neck before she could do anything about
it. "I know how to help him, Mara. I know you have no reason to. but trust
me on this." And with Bat-like proficiency, he was gone.
* * *
Icarus could hear the voices of Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner drifting
towards him from the apartment's living room. As quiet as humanly possible,
he opened the heavy wooden cupboard at the far end of the bedroom. The
emerald lantern inside glowed with intensity as he moved the ring in his
hand closer to it. He didn't want to be wearing this reminder of Jordy on
his finger, but he knew it was the only way he could charge it. He wished
he could have done this with Jordy's lantern in Gotham, but cave security
had been in lock-down mode since the family had uncovered Mara's connection
to 'the man in black' this evening.
Pressing his best friend's ring into the battery, he waited what he assumed
was an appropriate amount of time for a Green Lantern to say the oath, then
pulled away, ripping it off of his finger.
"What the hell do you think you're doing? Jordy's ring--" He grabbed
Icarus' arm, but was repelled almost instantly and hurled towards the
bedroom wall with brute force.
With the rush of energy from the ring, he hadn't been paying attention to
his surroundings. Bruce wouldn't have let Kyle get the jump on him. Donna
would be here in a moment if he didn't make a quick exit. He backed
silently towards the window, preparing to ignite the rockets in his suit.
"I'm not letting you out of here," Kyle said with authority. His
costume wrapped around him, and his ring sparked. "Not with that." A green
force field cordoned off the room, blocking access to a window escape.
Icarus stole a glance at the window, seeing Troia on the other side.
Kyle's ring field was the only thing separating him from an urban battle
with two JLA-Class powerhouses. He needed to end this quick.
"This isn't for me," Icarus reiterated, sending off two flash grenades. He
hoped it would cause the Green Lantern to lose his concentration, and
release the field. It had worked on Jordan often enough in his youth.
Kyle's eyes narrowed with disdain at the failed attack. "You're
going to have to do better than that." Two large blades pealed out of the
field and jabbed at Icarus. He dodged, believing they were as sharp as they
"KYLE!" Donna called from outside. "Kyle. I know you're angry." There
was a tone in her voice that wasn't so much as pleading, but attempting to
convince both of them of what the correct course should be.
Knowing he needed to cut it short, Icarus did something that he knew
would tip his hand. Built into the suit were two micro-generators that
could ignite on command. Dodging one more slice of Kyle's daggers and
broadswords, Icarus fired away.
The first was a blinding flash emanating from his entire costume that
was only barely canceled out by the electronic imaging skin of the helmet.
Pulling the same trick twice, the second time to greater effect was enough
to unbalance Kyle Rayner enough for him to follow up with his next feat:
another force field, this time golden light that surrounded Green Lantern
and cut him off from temporarily effecting further harm.
Dropping the imaging device that created the field that could only
be disrupted by a Kryptonite-focused laser (he'd tried this trick with his
sister just a year before), he prepared for the impact that came a moment
later as Troia barreled into him with all of her might.
"Give me the ring!" she ordered, almost punching him with no-holds-
barred superhuman strength.
He pulled away at the last second and barely had enough forethought
and agility to depress the small rise at the edge of his right glove.
Another flash of light pulsed, this time an energy blast the equivalent of
what he'd used previously to pulverize Ra's Al Ghoul's head. There was a
deep amount of regret, but she was near-invincible, and all but her clothes
What he wasn't counting on was the concussion blasting her through
the window and wall of Kyle's bedroom and forcing her out onto the street,
and a heart beat later, gravity pulled her downward. He dove out the window
after her, rockets coming to life and barely effecting a save. He managed
to snag hold of her waist and slow then stop her descent just before she
hit the pavement.
Not wishing to wait until Kyle found a way out of his current
predicament, Icarus set his opponent on the ground and shot skyward,
directing himself immediately to the STAR Labs Meta Unit on the southern
tip of the city.
* * *
Icarus stripped the glove from his hand then took the silver green
lantern ring out of the pouch on his boot. Quietly, he slid his fingers
into the incubator, careful of the tiny IVs and ventilator tubing
surrounding the small child. His skin was bone white, and he appeared to
be, for the most part, hairless.
At first, Icarus wasn't sure what he needed to do with the ring, but
touching it gently to the boy's thin arm, he knew he'd done all he needed
to. The ring burst from tarnished silver to glowing emerald and tendrils of
energy snaked around the child.
Jimmy knew he didn't have a lot of time. It wouldn't be long before
the obstructed security cameras would be found out. Sure that he'd done all
he could for the boy, and also certain after a quick glance at a blipping
monitor, that his vitals were growing stronger each second that passed, he
left. It wouldn't do for him to be seen here, there'd been a Titan on guard
and present since his sister had been brought in last night.
Slipping back out of the STAR complex, Jimmy paused on the roof,
contemplating just how he'd managed to destroy not only his own life, but
probably the world as well.
He didn't know how she'd done it, but somehow Granny Goodness had
constructed a machine that had only been a figment of his imagination for
many years. Somehow she'd found something with enough energy to operate it
as well. He didn't know if such a thing existed-something powerful enough
to create enough magnetic energy to flip the magnetism of the planet's
poles. This would cause all kinds of horrible solar radiation to get
through, effectively frying exactly one half of the Earth's surface. Or
Apokolyps. Whatever she got to first.
"The only thing I can't figure," Nightwing said behind him, "is if
you're so arrogant you got this lazy, or if you want to be caught."
Icarus turned, trying to maintain his composure. "Who's going to
catch me? You?" he let out a hollow laugh. "You're out muscled." The
rockets on his boots launched and he shot twenty feet into the air, out of
his father's reach.
"That's it," Nightwing said loudly. "RUN. Hide behind your inventions
settling this like a man."
Icarus lowered about ten feet before cutting the rockets. He tucked
and spun, hitting the ground rolling then popping to his feet. He tore the
helmet off of his face and glared at his father from about thirty feet
away. "Is this what you wanted?" he asked as he began unloading weapons
from his gloves.
"Jimmy, I never wanted ANY of this," Nightwing told the young man
He began to edge in a circular motion around his son. "You just up and
became someone I don't know."
"I'm who I've always been," the young man announced, also taking a
combative position. "It's not my fault if you never knew who I was." Jimmy
began closing the distance between them as the circle became tighter and
"All I know is that I woke up one morning and my son became the
person we used to fight AGAINST. My only question is. WHY."
Jimmy's fist shot out, and nearly connected. Nightwing stayed only a
microsecond ahead of his pupil. His leg snapped up with incredible speed,
catching his father in the side.
The air rushed out of Nightwing's lungs and the older man lurched and
spun once to keep his balance. He put more distance between them, not
anxious to make the same mistake twice. "You have strength enhancers in
that uniform, don't you."
"I said you were out-muscled. And out-classed, and out-gunned."
Icarus paused, letting the space between them grow.
"I can definitely say it's arrogance," Nightwing said with a frown.
He dove forward, covering the distance between them with little effort.
Icarus leapt up and over, but Nightwing anticipated the move. As soon
as his feet hit the ground, he changed directions, flipping backwards and
catching Icarus in the back with both of his feet, midflight. Icarus barely
recovered, and stumbled heavily before catching his footing. "I don't want
it to be like this. Just pointing out how it is. And none of this is how
you think it is," he called out, lunging out one more time for his father.
He missed, but then again, he hadn't been trying too hard. "There's a lot
going on here. A lot you don't know."
Nightwing easily dodged the boy. "Here's a new one, Jimmy. How's
about TELLING me!"
"You wouldn't understand," Jimmy grumbled. "You never understood."
Jimmy pounded his chest, a barely controlled rage creasing his
forehead. "ME! I was ALWAYS the sidekick, I was ALWAYS someone's gopher,
someone's researcher, someone's developer. I was always, and will always
be, at least in your eyes. LESS."
Nightwing halted his defensive movement. "So you kill your best
friend, nearly kill your sister and try to bring back your grandfather from
the dead? Excuse me if I don't understand! NONE of us thought less of you
for ANYTHING. EVER. You have my word on that."
"I never meant for anything to happen to Jordy," the young man said
painfully. "And. and without me, the baby would be dead. And you know it."
"You think that makes up--"
"I KNOW it doesn't! I thought I was doing the right thing, and I
wasn't. I thought I was smarter than the game, and I wasn't."
"Smarter than WHAT game?"
"Remember that binder you guys found? The one with all the. doomsday
devices in it?" Jimmy asked quietly.
Nightwing's eyes narrowed. Fire seemed to be building behind them,
fire that came from the dawn of understanding.
"I never destroyed it like you said to," Jimmy whispered. "I thought I
could play at ruling the world."
"You thought you could play at."
It happened so fast, Jimmy never knew what happened next. There was pain,
it was dark, and there was oblivion on the other side.
* * *
Somewhere beyond the haze, he could hear his grandmother. "Do you
understand better now, my boy?" she asked him.
"I understand, Granny," he acknowledged. Slowly his vision began to clear,
and she pulled the large metal helmet-like device from his face. "They
stole me from you," he said. He remembered when he used to live there, in
the castle. He remembered his grandfather, and the games they used to have.
There were other memories too, being snatched from here by the man in the
red and yellow cape. There'd been other things, pain and death. Painful
things that had been inflicted upon him, lies that had been fostered by
those people. His enemy. She had taken away his child, and was hiding it
from him. She would pay.
"When do I get my revenge?" he asked his dear grandmother, the woman who
had labored to remove the cobwebs from his eyes.
The older woman stroked the tired young man's ashen green forehead. "Soon,
my child. Very, very soon."
To Be Continued