Author: Reichenbach PM
(maraverse) It's the end of the world. For real this time, you guys.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 5 - Words: 26,124 - Reviews: 22 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-05-05 - Published: 07-09-04 - id: 1954610
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thanks so much to Charlene and James for the betas. And for putting up with me Putting up with me is always appreciated.
Apologies for the multiple Return of the King-esque epilogues. But it's been like 50-billion chapters, so I'm entitled to it.
Disclaimer in part 1
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni,
et de profundo lacu: libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum:
deliver the souls of all who died in faith from the pains of hell
and from the deep pit. Deliver them from the lion's mouth,
lest the jaws of hell swallow them, lest they fall into everlasting darkness.
The heat beneath his helmet was unbearable. The device had fired up, and there wasn't anything Jimmy could do to stop it any more. And from what he could see from the Omega beam flash, there wasn't anything Bruce could do for him either. He hated the old guy more now than ever. The old bastard had come back just to tell Jimmy something he already knew—not to help. Not one damned bit.
Damned old man probably let himself get blown up this time too—just like the last time. He'd told his sister before—it really would have just been so much easier if the Old Man would have chosen himself over Jimmy.
His rockets didn't have much more fuel—he'd be lucky to get on solid ground. In fact, he should be doing that, instead of staring right at the shining piece of white metal, the polarized shield in his helmet the only thing keeping his corneas from searing out. A hundred yards out, he just hovered and waited, stomach twisting and vision obscured with salty, burning tears. The suit wouldn't withstand the energy burst that'd push outward before it dove inward. He really SHOULD head to solid ground.
He should have done a lot of things.
Sure, he could go on hating the Old Man. Bruce was an evil son of a bitch, after all. But he might as well place blame where blame was due.
The white-hot metal sphere dimmed for a moment, just before it ignited into a greenish-white plasma. It didn't make a sound, it just flashed outward, burned, and then turned in on itself. The resulting black hole lasted only a moment, then disappeared, leaving a sprinkle of twinkling coral-colored stardust in its wake.
All the channels were silent; no one even drew a breath until the luminous bits cooled and faded, hanging invisible in the sky.
Mara couldn't believe it was happening again. For a long time, no other thoughts were able to cram themselves into her head; it was so full of disbelief that things could go so wrong again. He had been there—he'd split her head opened and hated her guts for 'taking' his son away from him, but Jordy had been there. Alive. He'd cold cocked her right when she didn't think life could get more unbearable, and that had given her hope that everything would be alright in the end. Nothing was right.
Eventually, her heart stopped racing and pieces of the world began to slip back in. Her knuckles were white from her grip on the steering world, or they would have been, if not for the embracing green light surrounding them. It was thick and physical, but began to pull back and diminish as her breathing slowed. Slowly she was able to take her eyes off the wheel and look through the windshield.
Wow. She'd taught that tree who was boss. It was cracked and split, broken off at the bumper and leaning on the power line overhead. She hoped her mother didn't find out she'd wrapped the car around a telephone pole. It would only make her inevitable detachment all that much more difficult, because of her mother's incessant bitching and inevitable pursuit. Maybe she could push what was left of the car over a cliff. Hiding evidence was good. Maybe she could…
This was really happening again, wasn't it?
Breath catching in her chest, she managed to rip her hand off of the wheel and then turn the rear view mirror. The baby was still looking at her with those creepy back eyes. Looking at her like he knew, and wasn't pleased. He was also taking notes.
The green light died out still further, and it shrunk back to only surrounding the tiny figure in the car seat.
Jordy was gone again when he'd only just gotten back. Jordy was gone, Sammy was going head-to-head with a god, and she'd just wrapped her car around a tree and was alive to tell the tale.
She just wasn't sure why.
They were half way across the Pacific Ocean before Donna caught up with Kyle. She grabbed his arm, and he tensed, but stopped flying eastward. "Kyle, don't."
He looked heavenward at the collecting grey clouds. "Just… I need to be alone."
Donna held his arm, keeping him from flying off further. "Do you really think that?" Slowly she flew around in front of him, and then put her other hand on his thickly bristled cheek. His eyes were bloodshot and his pupils dilated, like he was looking through or past her. "Kyle, I'm not going to let you fade away to nothing."
He turned his head slightly, and pressed her palm to his lips, kissing it briefly. There was not enough energy left in him to feel anything other than emptiness. It left his voice as hollow as his eyes. "I wish you would."
It wasn't just sympathy that tore Donna's heart apart. Empathy nearly killed her—she knew this moment of re-losing someone who'd never quite been back. She didn't wish it upon anyone. "I know you do."
Kyle turned away from her, searching his hands for answers that would never reveal themselves in the cracks of his palms. "I couldn't do ANYTHING. The force field—damn Bruce. Damn him for leaving these things for someone else to find. I could have done something. I could have--"
A finger pressed to his lips. "Shh. You could have gotten yourself killed too."
"I could have at least tried. I could have been there, instead of watching."
Her cheek rested on his shoulder as she brought both arms around him. "Watching is the worst part. I know."
Looking at the leveled throne room, Superman pinched the bridge of his nose. "I think maybe before you girls start at the beginning, you might want to tell me where Darkseid is."
Barda still hadn't scraped her chin off of her chest, and Plastic Man was still kicking around the rubble. In the middle of the throne room, two little girls stood, dirty with white rocky dust and black soot, looking guiltily at the ground.
Peaches rubbed her nose with a fist full of scorched red cape, and then pointed to Sammy. "It's all HER fault. She said we hadta do it cuz the grownups didn't know about the badness, and the Blue Man said we hadta, and we did, and it started out fun, but then it was kinda scary!"
Collecting herself, Barda looked down at them. "Kind of scary? KIND of scary!" They were lucky to be alive. They were lucky to be alive, and she had NO IDEA how a couple of grade school kids had defeated the entire hordes of Apokolyps. She didn't know if it was a stroke of genius or plain old good luck.
Tears started leaking out the corner Peaches' eyes, and she bit both of her lips to keep from sobbing.
"WELL, I hadta do what the Blue Guy said. He knew all about the ring and stuff!" Sammy held up her ring finger. "And the ring said to tell a grownup, but there weren't any growdups, 'sept for the complete an' total NON-GROWUPS that was sittin' me. So I got Peaches, cuz she's 'structable, and we did it ourselves!" Crossing her arms over her chest, Sammy huffed. She didn't understand why everybody was acting like they were in trouble. "And I dunno where Darkseid is. He's mean, he needs ta get sunlight, and I told the ring ta send him where we sent all the other people who tried ta get in our way."
Plastic Man looked at the girl critically, up and down, side to side. He didn't say anything though. He was sure there was supposed to be a smart remark somewhere for this, but he just had no idea what it was.
Superman folded his arms over his chest, letting the little girl know he meant business. "And where is THAT, Samantha?"
Sammy shrugged. "I dunno. I told the ring ta send 'em somewhere where they wasn't gunna hurt anyone. And they got sucked into a big hole. So then we got ridda that guy when he tried to blow us up and stuff, which is rude. You don't blow people up. An' then we blowed up the evil book we were supposed to blow up, then you guys showed up." There had to be ice cream after this. There just had to be.
Grabbing Peaches around her waste with one arm, and Sammy with the other, Superman walked towards the boom tube. "I think you're about to be grounded." And possibly locked in a metal cage, Clark thought. If Tim didn't die of an aneurism first.
Sammy looked up at him innocently. "Can we get ice cream first?"
"…I don't know what part of you thought that ANY of this would be a good idea?"
Nightwing WANTED to stop. He knew he probably should. "You couldn't just listen. You never CAN JUST LISTEN, CAN YOU? There always has to be a reason…" The part of him that was completely independent of the yelling knew it was doing no good, but the part of him that was yelling wouldn't stop. "You're worse than your sister…"
Wally grabbed his arm and wrenched him around, thankfully stopping what was about to become a broken record. "Uhh… dude. Cap'n Marvel didn't save him from being blown up so that you could scream at him to death."
They both looked down at the young man. His mother's green eyes were staring forward vacantly, sweaty thick carrot locks clung to his face, freezing in the cold. Wally scratched his neck. "And I kinda don't think he's listening."
Jimmy licked his cracked lips, never looking away from some invisible point in front of him. "I… He should have just let… I deserve…"
Nightwing drew breath to tell his son exactly what he DID deserve when Wally dragged him away. "Look, man. Just give it a rest for a minute. Wonder Woman wants to take him into custody. She's spazing hard, nobody knows where Kyle went, and Young Justice is still on standby, waiting to find out from somebody even RESEMBLING a leader if they can go home. You gotta take a minute and deal with this."
A guttural sound rumbled deep in Nightwing's throat, but he closed his eyes and collected himself. "You know, maybe I SHOULD let her take him in. He did try to blow up the planet." Tough Love was probably the ONLY thing his kids understood.
Wally looked around, trying to see how many of the remaining heroes had seen the melt down session. "Ok, great, fine, whatever. But he did SAVE the planet, too. And I don't think there's anything we can do to him that he ain't already doing to himself." Wally handed his friend the long, thin and empty can of compressed cement. "I don't think there's a single one of us that could live with making that call. Well, maybe Bruce." Looking over his friend's shoulder, he pointed his chin at the boy, sitting there, staring off into space. "And as hard of an ass as he tries to be, he ain't Bruce."
The closer he got to the base of the mountain, the muddier the trail became. The boots were stiff and weighted unevenly because of the unspent fuel sloshing around the soles. It wasn't a fun trek, but if he took the easy way down, he'd be spotted in an instant.
No. He was dead, and he'd damned well better stay that way.
It was a hell of a lot easier on everyone.
Stopping for a moment, he surveyed his options. He'd left the heaviest of the equipment on the ridge, so he wasn't as well-equipped as he'd have liked to have been. It would have been more exerting to descend straight downward, but it would have been faster, and thereby safer. Lacking safety equipment, however, he continued on his current course. It wouldn't have done at all to be brought back from the dead only to break his neck by falling on a jagged piece of rock.
Besides… they weren't looking for him. No one was. Not even Darkseid, whose mind was no doubt otherwise occupied at the moment. And a good detective knew… people seldom found what they weren't looking for.
He wanted to stick around. Part of him did, anyway. Someone needed to hold Dick back from the inevitable storm. He knew Dick well enough to know he was probably two steps away from an aneurism. That was just how Dick was. Intense to the last drop. It hadn't been easy to watch him all this time. It would be easier now, Bruce told himself. He wouldn't have to see them any more. And Alfred… well. He'd just not think about that. Alfred made his own choices—Free Will and all that.
Small metal shards occasionally sprinkled down on him, but he didn't bother to brush it off. It was best that he wasn't going back. Facing Mara would be too difficult. He'd liked Jordan, really he had. He'd let the boy get within two feet of her, after all. Partners looked out for one another, and he was pleased, in the end, that her only choice was someone who could past the test.
Bruce wanted to take credit for that, but it was probably her parents doing. He'd never thought much of Dick's plan to raise his children in a "normal" environment, but certainly having two dedicated parents paid off. Mara was doing fine, she didn't need him. No one did, really. They might have thought they did, but they didn't. Not even Jimmy, when it came down to it. There wasn't much more that he could tell the boy beyond the obvious.
As for Jordan… well, he was sure he'd be seeing the young man, the second time around.
His boot slid in some muddy clay, and it almost made Bruce stop and look up. They didn't need him to solve their problems, or provide his inept facsimile of comfort. The dead should stay dead, he thought. It might not be true in all cases, but it was certainly true in his.
He'd never really figured out who Bruce Wayne was, the first time around. Now was as good of a time as any, he supposed. He really should have just let Darkseid blast him into space dust. But he'd had a taste of it again, and living was addictive.
Six months later.
There was nothing worse than space junk, Sammy decided. There was the dust, and that was annoying. But when the actual STUFF got in the way, she hated that most of all. Using the ring to push away some crumpled up piece of metal, she sighed. "This is dumb, and it's not fun any more."
"Well, I haveta find it," Peaches squeeled from inside her tiny space suit. "Kon gave it to me, and I haveta, haveta HAVETA find it! Otherwise I'll be in trouble." Because then Kon would know she was playing in space again, when she wasn't supposed to be.
This was the worst adventure ever. They'd been searching everywhere around the earth's orbit for Peaches' gold bracelet. If it got free, then they'd be searching the entire universe. "We need better adventures. The Justice League went to a whole 'nuther dimension and stuff yesterday. We should go to the playground near the ice cream shop and play in the sandbox."
Peaches sighed. "I don't like the sandbox any more. I found dog poop last time." That was the second worst surprise ever. "Tell the ring to find it!"
Sammy hesitated. "I don't wanna."
With a whining moan, Sammy did as she was asked. "Mr Ring, will you please help us find Peaches' bracelet?"
The boy that lived inside the ring materialized. "What have we gotten ourselves into this time?" The bald little boy made up of ring energy floated in front of Sammy, arms clasped behind his back.
He had that disapproving look on his face that made Sammy HATE calling him out to play whenever they were doing some thing that daddy wouldn't approve of (like daddy approved of ANYTHING that was actually FUN). "We were playing with the space junk and Peaches lost her bracelet and now we haveta find it. And I want you to help."
The little boy that lived inside the ring looked at both girls critically. "I think you should inform your respective guardians of what you have been up to. I'm hardly a 411 service for lost objects."
Sammy crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. "You're the WORST ring ever. You're supposed to do what I tell you to. Not get us into trouble."
The little boy's lips pulled back in a tight smile. "If you did not do things for which you could get into trouble, we would not constantly be finding ourselves at such an ever-tiresome impasse."
"You suck," Sammy mumbled.
The little boy looked down his nose at her. "What was that? I didn't quite hear?"
Peaches stuck out her lower lip. "Mr. Ring… can you do it for me, please? I didn't mean to lose it."
The little boy hesitated for a moment then sighed. "Very well. The things I do…" he pointed to his left, without even looking over that way. "One hundred and fifty yards to your right, young ladies. And if you do not tell your guardians, you may find that this old ring… lets it slip." The little boy disappeared.
He was great for tea time and the sandbox (when no one else was in the playground) and watching cartoons with, but he was such a busy-body. He even bugged her about brushing her teeth before bed. What was his deal, anyways?
Flying in the direction prescribed by the ring, they saw something shiny floating in the distance. "He rocks," Sammy affirmed. "Even for a meany."
Very gently, Peaches plucked the bracelet out of the ether. "So, we gunna go play at the park?"
Sammy shook her head. "Naw. I think we should go catch fireflies."
They weren't really fireflies, but Sammy didn't know what to call them. They were little green fairy lights that weren't attached to anything. They just floated and zoomed about, making it hard for them to catch.
The ring was good at finding them in the upper atmosphere, hiding in clouds and dancing on wind streams. But the ring wasn't quite so good at actually catching them. It usually meant that Sammy and Peaches would zoom around the sky as quickly as they could, chasing after the little bits of light, then scoop them into washed out mayonnaise jars as quickly as possible. Sammy ate a LOT of mayonnaise now days. Cassie always told daddy it was a phase, but they both knew the jars disappeared from the recycling bin.
It took a while to find them, then even longer to actually catch them, so they could only find a few at a time before they had to go home. They couldn't play too long unsupervised—someone extremely super would find them and get them into trouble just as quickly as the boy inside the ring would.
Today they were lucky. They got to play in a pretty pink sunset, which was very bright and stuff, but made the specks of green stand out among the fiery clouds. They got four total, in two separate jars. The two little ones in each jar danced around each other, swirling closer and closer until they became one bigger ball of light.
"I think we did real good. I'm seeing less and less." Sammy flew straight into the "attic" of the building she lived in with daddy and Cassie and her dumb baby sister. It wasn't really an attic the way houses had attics, but it was a "crawl space," her dad called it. She didn't have to crawl. She and Peaches were the exact right height. They walked across the few boards connecting the huge beams that ran across the building, to their secret hiding spot. She couldn't believe daddy hadn't found it yet.
She knew daddy hadn't found it, because she'd have been in so much trouble by now.
Placing the jars on a small ledge, the fireflies in the other mayonnaise jars got excited, swirling around and bumping against the glass. She wasn't sure how she knew it, but she knew letting all the fireflies play together was a bad idea. They couldn't play together until she had found all the fireflies. She just knew that was true.
"I should go back to Metropolis," Peaches said, staring at the figure covered in cloth lying across one of the boards.
Peaches never liked being up in the crawl space, now that "it" was there. It was cold and grey and always creaped her out. Sammy wasn't sure how she knew--she just knew "it" had to be there, so that the fireflies could play nicely in the end. "It's nuthin' to be scared over. It's just clay and water." To prove her point, Sammy pulled back the thick canvas covering it.
Peaches couldn't jump backwards, she was just learning how to control her powers, and she didn't want to risk putting a hole in something necessary. She just tightened every muscle and clenched her eyes closed. A small yeep escaped her lips before she bit them closed as well. "I just hate looking at it," she said finally.
Sammy looked down at the grey clay man. His eyes were closed and there was no emotion on his face. She supposed if clay were capable of sleeping, the clay man would be sleeping. "It's not going to hurt you."
Turning away, Peaches turned the broken bracelet around in her fingers. "I just hate looking at it, ok? It looks like Jordy."
Sammy replaced the canvas. She didn't know why it looked like Jordy… she just knew it was supposed to.
Mara zipped up her black leather jacket. It was late spring, but they were far enough north that the nights were old enough for it. Even though she was no longer Robin, or anyone of importance for that matter, she still had an image to maintain. Her hair was tied back in a pony tail at the base of her neck—it was the first time in her life her hair was long enough to do that. Dark jeans covered over her boots and thereby her assortment of concealed goodies. Without a cape, the belt just looked dorky—she'd have to hand that one to her dad, at least.
Slipping a handful of smoke pellets into her pocket, she looked around to see if there was anything else that she might need. She wasn't sure how the evening would turn out, and with that in mind, she wanted to be fully prepared. Scratching her cheek, she wondered if she should bother with a mask. She felt naked without it, but it also lacked the subtlety she was looking for.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she poked herself in the stomach. There probably weren't enough sit-ups in the world. She was back into shape, but things looked… different. It wasn't like it mattered—she never saw anyone any more. Uncle Clark had tried to "talk some sense" into her a few months after she left Gotham, but she made it as clear as possible that she needed time.
She needed time away from the city, from the day-to-day of her grandfather's business, her mother's manipulations and her father's good intentions. She needed a vacation from her family, most of all. Tim knew her well enough to just let her go. Batman, on the other hand, had sicced Superman on her. Sometimes Tim could be far more divided than Bruce ever was.
She hated the house. Without Alfred there, they'd just barely managed, but they'd done it together. Without Jordy it was completely and utterly pointless.
Smoothing out the jacket and realizing that was as good as it would get, slapped on a black corduroy baseball cap, pushed it down to her eyebrows in leu of a mask, and left the bedroom of the hotel suit.
"How do I look?" she asked, presenting herself for inspection.
Matrix looked her up and down. He wasn't fond of the new body—he felt that he looked "ridiculous" without a nose, but he was in a fully functioning peach colored titanium and silicone shell, better than ever. He might have been missing a nose, but Mara thought the black and orange body he always wore was far more dehumanizing. "Are those smoke pellets in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?" Yup, the sarcasm circuits were functioning again.
Digging a hand into her pocket, Mara pulled them out and set them on the island in the kitchenette. "Too much?"
"A little eyeliner, maybe. Lipstick would hardly kill you."
Mara made a face. He'd spent the two weeks of his 'out of body' experience trolling around the cave's systems and he must have found Alfred's old files because he was suddenly channeling the old man's more annoying qualities. All of the pestering, none of the cleaning.
Grabbing the fuzzy brown bracelet on Matrix' wrist, she got hold of the furry brown line attached to it, and began tugging. Eventually she got to a harness that looked like a monkey, and the six month old inside. He'd been gently bumping against the ceiling, nibbling on his newly discovered toes. They couldn't keep JB from floating off, so keeping him buckled up seemed to be the only alternative. She'd been reading up on the few meta children that had achieved flight in infancy, and having him float out a window was just as disturbing as a crib with a cage on top. Keeping him tied up like the family dog seemed far saner.
"There's my little monkey." The green aura around him allowed her to penetrate it enough to kiss his forehead. He never took his foot out of his mouth. Well, it was probably for the best that he learned that his mouth could be used for something besides that screeching crazed howler monkey cry that started up whenever he was bored or wet.
He still didn't eat, but she was hoping to introduce him to the wide and wonderful world of food as soon as he had the teeth for it. It bothered her that he was being sustained by a Green Lantern power ring that was thousands of miles away. It intrigued her too… but mostly it bothered her. "You be good for Matrix, do you hear me?"
He cooed and drooled, his gaze seeming to ask who the hell are you, crazy lady, and why aren't you letting me play on the ceiling? It was a look she was getting used to.
Sighing, she let go of the little furry harness. The baby floated back up to the ceiling, still on his little monkey leash. "Well, Jay, some day you'll turn sixteen and will need me for access to the car." That was probably the first time he treated her like she mattered.
Grabbing hold of the door to the suite, she drew in a deep breath to steady herself. It wasn't her first mission since she'd "come back," but this was probably going to be her most difficult. There were some things she'd never been good at.
Discretely, Mara made her way across the crowded bar. Her quarry probably already knew she was there, but there was no reason to draw attention to herself. The lights were dim and a dirty yellow traffic light blinked red on the wall as she passed. The antlers of the moose and deer heads flashed jagged shadows on the floor and the smell of cheap whiskey burned her nose.
Ignoring the looks from the unshaved guys in the trucker caps and the looks from the less unshaved guys in white shirts with rolled sleeves who never left after happy hour, she sat down at the bar and gestured for the same thing that the person to her left was having.
The bartender handed her the drink. Attempting to elicit a response, she took a cigarette out of the breast coat pocket of her jacket and lit up. Smoke pellets wouldn't have been too much.
"That'll kill you," the man to her left said.
"Everything'll kill you eventually." She put the cancer stick back between her lips, but didn't inhale.
Letting the pause between them give birth to two tinier twin pauses, Mara eventually put the cigarette in the ashtray in front of her and watched it burn down a bit. "You know, Clark's suspicious. He has been since the day… well, you know. You know. You were there."
He pushed the half-full glass away from him slightly. "I'm working here. So."
"So how'd I find you? Someone blew up a shipment of Talia's shit, and it wasn't me. Boy was I sad about that. She's a crazy cow, by the way. Figured you'd still be hanging around the area. Oh yeah, your guy's not coming. I dropped him and tied him up on the roof about half an hour ago. You look good, by the way. Who's your plastic surgeon?" Mara staring down at the drink, pride escaping her lips
Bruce sat forward on the stool. He reached into his jacket then tossed some bills on the bar, gesturing to the bartender that he was paying for both of them. "That wasn't my guy. That was his lookout." A grin broke out on Bruce's face. "We'd probably better get the hell out of here."
The water of the bay glowed a pretty pink from the light of the burning warehouse. "You know, I don't think buildings are supposed to burn that color." Mara handed the binoculars back to Bruce. It had taken them two hours to get control of the situation after Bruce's contact got wise to the setup.
They'd had to drop like fifty guys or something. She didn't know, she'd lost track somewhere around two Ubu brothers and an actual chick that was in Talia's employ—nasty thing with a cape full of daggers, too.
"Do you want to know what Talia was keeping in there?" Bruce scanned the area again, making sure they didn't miss anyone as the fire department pulled up.
She seemed even nuttier than normal, Mara supposed. "Probably not."
When he was sure that no one had gone unnoticed, Bruce put the binoculars away. "How're things?"
Smalltalk with Bruce had ALWAYS been painful. Nothing had changed. "Mom's cyber-stalking me, Jimmy's a complete recluse from what I hear, and my son would rather sleep on the ceiling than in his crib. You know, situation normal; all fucked up. Oh yeah, we rolled out a few new products, stocks're up."
Bruce's arms were folded over his chest as he looked out onto the fine mess they'd made. It wasn't contentment that Mara felt, so much as relief. It was just like old times. The world had fallen apart—she'd lost Jordy twice, and her brother had become a distracted hermit who'd probably starved to death by now if his wife didn't keep after him. Crystal had at least come through in that regard. She couldn't talk to her parents—anyone from her former life for that matter. But this… this was as it should be. Getting blown up and shot at with Bruce.
The wind changed and smoke obscured their vision of the scene. "Talia's moved on, no doubt. It's time I should too."
"Where do you think she--"
Bruce held up a hand, he knew what she was thinking. "If we work together, it will only make it easier for Oracle to track us."
"Mom usually knows where I'm--"
"But she doesn't know where I'm at."
Mara's jaw locked. "And you're still not going to tell anyone."
Hands shoved into pockets, Bruce did the jacket equivalent of pulling his cape around him. "I can't. There's no place for me back there. And before you say it—no, you DON'T need me."
Mara decided to be the reasonable party and put up a fight. It was difficult to swallow back down all the reasons why it wasn't true. "Oh well. It wasn't like I was going to give the company back or anything anyway." She gave him a sidelong glance. "I think you're wrong, by the way."
Bruce wanted to ask if there was anything new with that, but kept his peace. She'd been the most agreeable and disagreeable of his companions at the same exact time.
Not sure if her intention was to make him uncomfortable or herself, Mara pinned his arms at his sides when she wrapped her arms around his torso and squeezed the life out of him. "I hope I'll see you around, at least. Stop in sometime. See JB. I named him after you. And Jordy. He's a little shit. I--" She pulled away suddenly, unsure how to say more.
"Mara, about Jordan—look." How did he say it? Did he say it? "Look. Both of you will be fine. And…yes, I'll stop in sometime." Unsure how to say more, he took a stride up, onto the ledge of the rooftop. "It was good to see you," he said casually. "It's always good to see you." Without another word, he took a step off the ledge.
Smiling, Mara didn't even bother to look down.
And that, small children, is all.