Disclaimer-I own them that I own. I don't own them that I don't own.
Grabbing hold of the car door frame, Mara Grayson pulled herself past the
steering wheel and to a standing position. Seeing her brother with a box on
the wooden porch, she frowned in frustration. "Jimmy, what're you doing?"
"What does it LOOK like I'm doing? I closed on the house, the paperwork
"And mom's letting you move out." Mara pointed out, folding her arms over
her chest incredulously. She knew the order of things in the Grayson
"I'm an adult. Me an' the boys're moving to the burbs, and to hell with the
rest of you." Shifting the weight of the box on his hip, he scowled at her.
"You're here because of the deadline."
Mara walked up the short ramp to the deck before speaking. "Yes," she
answered quietly. "Jimmy. it's tonight. If you're not talking to dad."
His lips pressed together in some sort of grim remembrance of his
grandfather. "I have it covered," he informed her. "It'll be handled
tonight. Then I'm going to move out the rest of my heavy equipment under
cover of darkness. Your whipping boy is welcome to help if he's not
"He's not my whipping-Jimmy-what's going on?" She didn't like the tone in
his voice or the look on his face. It was like seeing a ghost.
"I have things to do. You can go home. I have everything under control." He
tried to march past her, but she put her round form firmly in front of him,
knowing he wouldn't push a pregnant woman out of the way, no matter how
much he hated her. "Move."
"Jimmy. Talk to me here, ok?" She was going to try to be patient. It was a
new skill for her to try and work on, especially with certain members of
her family. "Tell me what you're doing tonight. You know how I hate not
Something strange glowed in his green eyes, and one gloved hand let go of
the box long enough to cup her chin in his. "I have it taken care of," he
said softly, some vestige of affection infecting his features. "You just
have to trust me on this," he added. He looked into her eyes for a moment
more, but couldn't stand looking at what he saw there. His hand fell from
her face. Suddenly he grabbed hold of the railing beside them and leapt
over the edge, landing on the frozen flowerbed below. "I'll tell you when
it's over," he said with Bat-like authority.
* * *
Mara stormed into her mother's work room, walking straight through a
holographic monitor feed.
"What did we say about interrupting?" Barbara asked with a tad of
redundancy in her voice. It was something she'd been trying to impress upon
them for two decades-don't interrupt mommy while she's working.
Still standing in the monitor's field, she folded her arms over her chest
in a firm and unyielding pout. "What did you guys do to Jimmy?"
"Mr. Tough Guy has decided he's moving out on his own," Barbara complained
with distaste. "This is going to make our job more difficult."
"YOUR job, not mine," Mara bit back. Watching Jimmy was a full-time job all
of a sudden, but it wasn't her job. "And I take it Kristen isn't invited.
Jimmy said he and the boys were going."
"Those two still aren't talking," her mother explained.
"Great." Mara threw her hands up in the air. "And what is SHE doing about
"What do you care?" Barbara asked in frustration. She knew Mara and Crystal
had never gotten along, and had been reduced in recent years to cool
civility towards each other.
"Well, I think I deserve a status report."
"Step out of the display," Oracle ordered, not giving anything.
"MOTHER," Mara complained bitterly, taking a step forward, instead of a
step back. She might be out of the display field of the monitor, but she
was effectively blocking her mother's view.
"Mara, get out of the way now, or I'm going to taser you," she said in all
Hearing 'that tone' in her mother's voice, Mara stepped back, looking at
the contents of the ceiling to floor display. "Those are NOT all of Jimmy's
boom tube transactions," she said perfect denial. She looked at the list of
contents and locations, and the pit of her stomach began to burn. "What
does he think he's doing?"
Barbara pushed her fingers under her glasses and pinched her nose. "I don't
know," she said simply. "He had to know he was going to get caught some
time, dealing with Apokolyps. And whoever the hell he was dealing with
there. You're right. He's sloppy. Something else is going on."
Mara was reading down the list, she wasn't listening. It wasn't the things
she was seeing that were making her wonder, it was what she WASN'T seeing.
One way transactions, no return trips. "Send a copy of this to the Cave.
I'm going to work on it tonight."
Turning on the lamp next to her desk, Barbara inspected her daughter's
attire. "Didn't show up for work today, huh?" She still had Jordy's heavy
brown jacket on, and it was pulled over and old greasy sweat shirt and
"Tim busted the front end of the Car last night, and I just didn't feel
like going in," she tried to justify. There were other reasons too.
"I figured you'd pick up Bruce's work ethic sooner or later," her mother
jabbed. "DON'T over-work yourself," she ordered.
Mara scowled. "Mom, I took the day OFF."
"And worked on the car. And the Cave's computers have been processing non-
stop since this morning. I figured it was Tim running a job, but I should
have known it was you. Mara, it's only for two more months, ok? I don't
want you hurting yourself."
Mara resisted the urge to bite her lips. She had too much going on right
now, too many things at stake, to just fall off the face of the earth until
the baby was born. She'd told Tim she'd fix the car if he left, just so she
could use the Cave's computers without his scrupulous gaze. She had twelve
hours, and no head. She had a brother who was fighting with the only person
who knew where it was. She was in a lot of trouble.
"Mom, you and dad and everyone in this family swore on a stack of Bibles
you were going to help me take it easy. Dad said he'd KILL anyone who
stressed me out. So if I decide to take off a day and work on the Car just
so I can do something to de-stress. don't blame me."
"It isn't US," Barbara said indignantly. "Your brother."
"It's EVERYBODY. Who told Uncle Wally he could pester my accountants,
searching for the errant money that already verbally accounted for? I had
to spend TWO DAYS covering my tracks with what I did to cover JIMMY'S
tracks. As far as I'm concerned, the Justice League has the same agreement
with me as they had with grandpa. ANY information they want about HIS
company comes from the horse's mouth."
Barbara actually backed away from the monitors with this, looking up at her
daughter again. "Your father did," she explained. "We wanted to find out
what else was going on."
"MOM!" Mara yelled indignantly. "It's MY company! HE gave it to me. /I/ run
it. IF someone wants something, they come to ME! You've been hacking my
office all week. I can't even plug my laptop into a port because you're
going to start scanning me. When are you guys going to start showing me the
same respect you used to show HIM? When am I going to be part of the big
"Honey, CALM down. First of all, we didn't want to bug you. Second of all--
Mara scowled viciously, beginning to understand why her brother wanted to
move out. Mom was. unbearable. "You don't want to bug me? Calling me into a
meeting on my day off to tell me my brother is probably a rogue agent
working God knows who is bugging me. The damage is done. Now you either
treat me like I'm part of this team, or I'm taking my ball and going home.
And that means pulling our main servers off of the network. I'll just start
throwing spontaneous and ridiculous IT policy around, just to make your
"Jimmy's right. You're threats ARE too long," Barbara noted distastefully.
"Which brings me to my second point. You're NOT Him. You're still our
child, and we're still expected to be responsible for you. BOTH of you.
They're your elders by one, mostly TWO generations, and they're NOT going
to let you play with the big kids. Just get used to it. Bruce spent YEARS
building up that kind of grudging respect. Don't think they're going to
just toss it to some pup who wants to take his place in the pecking order."
Martha Grayson bit her cheeks, trying not explode. Counting to ten, she
took a deep breath to speak. "Alright," she said quietly. "You're right.
I'm never going to be him. He gave me everything, and I can't even keep
control the way he would. Not over anything. And neither can you," she
finished coolly. Her voice remained crisp, though emotion backed up in her
throat. "I'm not him. But they can't treat me, or my company, or anything
else like I'm still a sidekick any more. You too."
She took herself to the door, not bothering to wait for her mother's
reaction. "Expect the Cave's security and Wayne Enterprises' IT policy to
change effective immediately," Mara announced, exiting the room. She could
feel her mother following her.
"Mara. honey, that isn't what I meant! Honey. I'm under a lot of pressure."
reaching the top of the steps, Mara paused, but didn't look back. "No, mom.
I know a lot of what you mean. I'm not him. I gotta stop expecting you to
respect me like him. I have to earn that respect. And I probably have to
earn it like he did-by being a hard ass." That statement being made, she
descended, leaving her mother staring.
* * *
Robin sat at the main computer in the cave, staring at the open folder in
front of her, but not really seeing it. She couldn't figure out who her
brother was working for, besides the good guys. She couldn't figure out
what he intended to do about Talia tonight. She couldn't fathom where her
father had put Ra's head. All she knew was that she was worried. She was
worried about what Talia would do in response to their obvious refusal to
cooperate. She was worried of what her brother was into. She was worried
about what the Justice League and the Titans would do if they started
really snooping around her operation.
One of the house com systems began blinking. Closing her eyes, she took a
few deep breaths, then pressed the button.
"Hey Mar, come on up here. I want to show you something."
Trying to quiet her pounding heart, Mara found her voice. "Give me a
minute," she muttered, then pressed the button again, releasing the line.
Closing the folder, she tossed it into her personal filing cabinet and
locked it, then went upstairs.
Jordy wasn't in the room he had claimed to do computer work near the
kitchen, so she went up to their bedroom. They'd closed down most of the
house, so it was a short search for him, usually. Not finding him in the
bedroom, she went to the next logical place, the room next door.
"Hey, took you long enough," Jordy huffed, still bent over the wheel he was
screwing back in. Mara looked at the yellow walls, with the dark golden
crackle effect overlayed on in fresh paint. The ceiling was a sunny sky
blue with tufts of white clouds. Jordy rose, and saw her staring. "Dad did
that this morning. He gave me orders to paint the walls and start moving
stuff into the room. He wont say it, but I think he's FINALLY getting into
the baby thing. "Sooo, I finally put all this stuff together," he said,
gesturing to the crib and the changing table. The dresser had come from
another room in the house. "I mean, they've been in the boxes for like a
month." he trialed off, watching her look around, almost lost "Mara?"
"It. looks good." She backed up two steps into the hall.
"Mar." He reached for her with one paint-stained hand, but she didn't come
back into the room. He rose and followed her, grabbing her and pulling her
back into the doorway. "What's wrong?" he asked gently. She looked so worn
and tired right now. Maybe now was just not a good time. Not after this
weekend, and the beginning of the Jimmy fiasco.
"It's just. it's really nice. It's really." she sighed. One hand pressed to
her belly, and tears welled in her eyes.
"Hey.." Every day since this had started, he'd seen a new side of her.
"It's nice," she sniffed. "And. thank your dad."
She looked like she wanted to back away and leave, but he wouldn't let her.
He had a feeling she needed someone. He had always seen it as part of his
job to know when not to leave her alone with her problems. "Hey, come on."
He placed his hands on her cheeks, brushing away the tears. "I know there's
a lot going on. It seems like we're always swimming in stuff. But. you're
supposed to be happy over this stuff." He gestured to the inside of the
room. He wondered if it was possible for her to put away her stresses for a
few minutes and just take a little joy in the moment.
"Just. give me a sec," she said, trying to get tears under control. She
sniffed and then wiped them away. "Jimmy's just really stupid, you know.
And I've had to change all the security codes in the cave cause my mom
doesn't trust ME now. And. the Justice League sucks." The last was
snippidy, almost a whine. Jordy was glad to see that bit of spark.
"And this has changed from when we were kids. HOW?"
"Good point," she answered seriously, then finally smiled. He could tell
she was still burdened, but she was willing to make an effort at enjoying
"Alright. Now come back in here." He pulled her into the room. "Isn't this
awesome?" She looked around the high vaulted room again, at the blue sky
ceiling and the two-tone gold walls and the white trim around the ceiling
and floor. "We'll put in a carpet before the little bugger starts crawling
around, but the hardwood floor looks so nice for now. It matches the
furniture sooo well." he'd obviously spent too much time in all those
Principals of Design classes in college. They'd actually rubbed off on him
"Its nice. It's really nice. But. I don't know. It needs something."
Jordy smiled, kissing her cheek. "It's missing toys. And a baby." His hand
went to her belly and rubbed it. The baby, as usual, didn't move as he did
so. "The first one, a little shopping'll fix. The second one. well, it's
just a matter of time."
A smile grew on her face, warm and hopeful and full of emotion. It warmed
his heart a little to know that he'd done that. He decided to do something
to make sure he got a few more of those out of her before the baby came.
* * *
Jordy flew through the window over the Graysons' garage. "What the HELL do
you think you're doing?" he asked his best friend angrily, watching him
load DVD boxes into a milk crate.
"Got my message, huh? I'm moving the big stuff tonight."
"Your sister's right. You're retarded," Jordan confirmed.
"/I/ am moving to the suburbs," Jimmy said indignantly, continuing to shove
things into his crate. "It's the rest of you people who're smoking crack."
Jordan grabbed the orange crate, tearing it from his friend's hand and
tossing it onto the water bed. "I'm NOT helping you destroy your marriage,
no matter how selfish you are, or how much of an insufferable bitch your
"She is NOT a bitch. She's just. we have irreconcilable differences. And if
it's selfish to want my kids to grow up normal, then I'll take the chance."
Suddenly, Jordan's uniform wrapped around him, and his arms folded over his
chest. "Jimmy, we BOTH know that isn't what this is about. I don't know
what else this is about, but it ISNT about that. Because I know you have
absolutely NO intention of leading a normal life yourself. You can't be
Daedelus and be normal. So you're lying to yourself. And I just can't
figure out why."
"Oh don't go pulling that crap with me," Jimmy ground out, giving his
friend a solid shove and grabbing hold of the milk crate again. "You know I
can take you in a fair fight, so just get the hell off. I'll move my shit
out myself. Just don't get in my way."
"Jimmy, the only person getting in your way is YOU." The black and white
uniform slithered back into Jordy's ring, but he remained rooted in his
spot. "If you wanna go, lets go."
Jimmy swallowed angrily, and didn't look at his friend. He shoved another
DVD into the box.
"That's what I thought. Now you listen to me. All this shit. and I mean ALL
of it is stressing the hell out of your sister. It isn't good for her, and
it ISN'T good for the baby. I don't care if you never do anything else for
her ever again, but you fix whatever's going on with Crystal. You get
yourself straightened out with your parents and talk to them, or you're
going to have ME to deal with. And I'm at the end of my rope with ALL of
Stomping off towards his next victim, he left Jimmy unhappily growling to
himself that it wasn't HIS issues that were upsetting Mara right now, it
was something he knew nothing at all about.
In Oracle's war room, an angry Green Lantern planted himself to the floor.
"You're going to have to explain a few things to me," he informed her back.
"Like why my wife hasn't smiled in a week. Why she hasn't slept since
Saturday's debacle with the Titans, and why you people are doing this to
her?" he'd had a long talk with Mara after he'd showed her the nursery. He
knew all about her conversation with her mother, and he wasn't happy.
Oracle's chair made a sharp turn until she was facing him. "I'm sorry I
upset her. I tried to apologize--"
"It's not just that. But I don't think you tried hard enough."
"She walked away."
"And you didn't go after her. I don't appreciate you people stressing the
hell out of her. You or Jimmy or any of this."
Barbara frowned. "I did NOT create this situation. And believe me, /I/
don't think this is an ideal time for it to come to a head either. I WANT
to see her take it easy. It seemed like our efforts to bypass her with the
Cave computer and her company weren't really seen as stress reducing,
though, but an affront."
"That wasn't meant to reduce stress. You guys have your eye on her too. And
it's sick. You should KNOW her."
"I thought we knew Jimmy," Barbara said sadly.
Jordan's fists clenched. He couldn't stand that his wife was under attack
from her own family. "Do you have ANY IDEA what he's doing when he's locked
in his lab late at night? NO ONE does. If Mara's up to something, I THINK
Tim or I are going to notice."
"She IS up to something," Barbara shouted venomously. She turned, clicking
vigorously, pulling up the appropriate file. "She's been running reports on
chemicals that're used for ONE thing only: pit resurrections. She's been
shuffling money around in her own company, and even after you add up what
Jimmy has played around with, there's still money unaccounted for. She's
got security feeds that she doesn't really have access to, both in the
Watch Tower and in the Titans Tower. Dick pulled a bug out of the
conference room in New York yesterday. The only question I have is whether
they're in separate trouble, or they're in it together." Barbara looked so
sad and disappointed. "I love her. I want this baby to be born safely. But
right now. I just want to know what the hell's going on."
"ALL of those things could have reasonable explanations," Jordy said
angrily. "NONE of you have ANY faith in her, and it makes me SICK. Have you
EVER tried just asking her? Instead of heaping more and more and more crap
on her? Probably not." He shook head. "I'm telling you-back the hell off.
She's probably bugging the place to find out what the hell you people're
doing NOW to plot against her. I don't KNOW what's going on. But I can tell
you this: I DON'T CARE. I don't care WHAT Jimmy's doing right now. It can
WAIT. I don't care what she's doing with her own money. What I care about
is her not sleeping, her not eating. Her not smiling or taking ANY joy in
the fact that the thing we've wanted for SO long is just a couple of months
from coming true. Give her a fucking break from all this, because she is
NOT going to take one herself, she's just incapable. And yeah, I sound like
a real over-protective bastard right now. But SOMEONE has to be. You
guys're too caught up in your own STUPID melodrama to take care of her."
"You don't understand the consequences of everything that's in play right
now," Oracle spat at him. "There is NOTHING more that I want than to give
her time off. Unfortunately, the world--"
"The world can go to hell," Jordan spat. He wanted the luxury of caring for
his family first and the rest of this shit later. "If she's trying to
resurrect Bruce, did you ever think it's because she's hurting?" he said,
painfully accepting the possibility. "Did you ever thinking of trying to
deal with the hurt, instead of heaping more on?" Jordy shook his head in
disgust. "No. You didn't." He walked to the door, knowing he wasn't going
to get any further with this fool's crusade. "Cause you all need therapy
just as much as SHE does." And with that, he left.
* * *
Even in the dark, Jordy could see that she wasn't asleep. She was staring
at the ceiling. "So."
"So." Mara replied.
"I. uh. Peaches called."
"You went to go see my family," Mara said distastefully. It was so
difficult to hide things from her.
"And I told 'em what I thought about bugging you. And as usual, they're
unrepentant. Your mom has a bug up her butt about your brother, and your
brother is an idiot. I think I've covered everything." Crawling on the bed
next to her, he gave her a kiss. "You feeling any better?"
"I just hate being so physically." she couldn't say it.
"It's not for too much longer. You've made it this far. And even if your
family's retarded, and my family's all. well, who knows what's up with
them. I blame it on the Y chromosome, and you should too. Anyways, I'd like
to think that we're our own little pocket of sanity." That got another
little smile out of her. "Twice in one day." Why did he get the feeling she
was just trying to appease him though? "Mara. what's really bugging you? It
started before the Jimmy debacle. It's something else."
"Nothing," she muttered. "Just. everything. Worried about the baby and
He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her just a little closer to him.
"There's NOTHING to be worried about. Besides being tired and emotional and
a little sick. everything's been PERFECT this time. You're fine. the baby's
fine." He kissed her again, trying to find some way to express that she
should be as certain as he was that things were going to remain ok. "Is
there anything else?" he asked her in all seriousness. "Besides your
family, and Jimmy's current mess. Is there anything else on your mind?"
"No," she muttered. She wished she felt safe in his arms right now. She
wished she cold relax or rest.
"Nothing about your grandfather?"
She shifted in his arms suddenly. "NO. NOTHING."
"Honey. don't get mad at me. I'm worried. Your mother said you've been
looking into chemical compounds used for. pit resurrections." Mara
stiffened in his arms, and he knew he'd done the wrong thing. "Please talk
"Just because I'm looking at that. do you think it means I'm going to do
that? Go against his wishes like that?" She pulled away from him, putting a
foot's distance between them. "An. an abomination like that? Just because.
because I miss him?"
He could hear the fury in her voice, and wasn't sure what to do. "Mara. I'm
just worried, ok? I don't think you would. but what do you need that stuff
for?" There were so many times he wanted to protect her from herself, and
"Because there're TWO factions fighting for control of Ra's Al Ghoul's
territory, and I want to see if they're trying to revive the pits, ok? So
I've been tracking chemicals. God. They don't trust me. I KNOW they don't
trust me. But. GOD." She let out a growl of frustration. "I am a GROWNUP!"
Jordy dragged himself closer to her. "I know you're a grownup. And I'm sure
if they stop being stupid, they'll figure it out too." He smiled, and
rubbed his nose against her cheek. "Maybe. I can show you how much of a
grownup I think you are?"
Her arm wrapped around his neck in a tender gesture, but she didn't go
further. "Maybe. later. Later tonight."
Jordy had NO idea what that meant. They were already in bed. "You know I
think you're beautiful, right?" he didn't know if it was the body image
thing again. She'd get like this off and on, and it usually didn't bode
well for any kind of 'funny business' when she was feeling that way, and
right now he suspected she needed the funny business more than he did. "And
I don't think you look like a penguin, or that you're butt's too big or
that your breasts look like water balloons." He thought he'd covered all of
her insecurities right there.
"Just. stay here, ok?"
He couldn't turn down such a mournful, pleading request like that.
Snuggling closer to her, he did his best to quell whatever was hurting her.
He wished he knew.
* * *
The wide glass door leading to the balcony of the pent house slid open
silently and two heavily booted feet fell upon the carpet. A thin armor
covered the well-built body standing there. There was the slightest hum as
power coursed through the armor. The faceplate turned and an electronic eye
scanned the room, reading heat and energy signatures. Locking on a closed
door, the figure raised his hand, and a short blast of yellow lightening
flew from his glove and the door exploded off of its hinges and fell
The timeless beauty rose from her bed, not daring to adjust her scant wine
colored night shift to cover her indecency. "You're late."
"You're not worth being on time for," he spat.
She came towards him, her long dark hair swaying with each turn of her
hips. She walked over the broken door as though it were nothing. "I'd like
to think that I am," she answered coolly, standing a bare six inches in
front of the metal and machine before her, then ran a hand along it's
armored chest. "My have we grown."
The creature's left hand shot out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her arm
away from him. "Do NOT touch me."
"HE used to say the same thing," she purred. "I see you've decided to be
reasonable," she noted, looking at the sealed container in his other hand.
He held it up, looking at the hexagonal shaped box. "You assume too much.
This could be. anything."
"But it isn't," Talia said knowingly. "You care too much for your sister
and her child for it to be anything less than what I asked for." A smile
spread across her face. "You do remind me of Him." Her hand trailed up his
chest again, this time stopping at his neck. She lifted the visor and
stared up into his magnetic green eyes. Her soft hand caressed his bristled
cheek. "Even for my father's rebirth, it will be necessary for me to
fulfill his only request of me. And an heir from the Detective's line will
Roughly, he pushed her away. "Don't EVER touch me again."
"You are still bound to the memory of him. It is. sweet. But childish. None
of this would have happened, had he simply given my father--"
"I have what you wanted. Quit talking." He placed the box into his hand and
then keyed a combination on the lock. The box hissed as it opened. Reaching
in with a thick-gloved hand, he withdrew a gray and white skull that still
had remnants of tissue attached.
She reached for it, and he pulled it away, glad for the difference in
height. "If I give this to you, you don't come NEAR her. You forget she and
her child exist. And do not EVER come near my family. Or you WILL face me."
"FINE. Give me."
Suddenly, his glove ignited. Another yellow burst of lightening fired, but
did not shoot forward. It lit the skull then blazed brighter, burning her
eyes. She turned away to protect herself, and then the room went pitch
black. She spun around, squinting in the dark. She saw his empty hand.
When he spoke, his voice was riddled with cruelty. "If I can't have my
grandfather back, why should you have your father?"
Her eyes were wide with shock and fury. "You WILL pay. Those children of
yours. HER child. You have signed their death warrants."
The figure in front of her gave a grotesque grin. "You won't have time. Ubu
has been alerted to your attempt to resurrect the Demon's Head, and he's
not pleased. He was quite enjoying control of smaller factions of your
father's organization and was upset. And SHOULD you find yourself with
spare time-DON'T. I WILL kill you." He blew on his hand, and a fine dust of
pulverized bone clouded in the air. "Don't put it past me," he said
casually. "I don't play by the same rules as everyone else. People like
you are NOT worth the honor my family has invested. Icarus is his own law."
That being said, he turned and leapt from the balcony. A wind current
seemed to catch him, and instead of diving the way the Bat-people were want
to do, he drifted upwards and out, away from Talia. She watched in pain-
riddled anger as 'Icarus' disappeared into the night.
* * *
Jordan kissed his wife's cheek gently, then rested his head on hers,
continuing his story. "Then I told him his wife's a supreme bitch. And then
he's like 'she's not a bitch, we just hate each other.' He felt Mara smile
just a little. "I knew you'd like that. You know, I haven't seen her hold
those kids since they learned how to walk." He was still mad at Crystal for
calling Mara an unfit mother, and saying their child shouldn't be there.
"They're both so stupid, they deserve each other."
"Do NOT get mad when I tell you this," he whispered, one hand beginning to
rub her belly. It seemed like she was calming down, the more he talked.
This story might make her mad at first, but she'd probably laugh too. "I
had her over my house once, probably the first week or two I was in Young
Justice. My dad said I should ask her out." He let out half a laugh. "I was
like, 'dad, I never even want her in my HOUSE again.'"
"Cause of the crazy uber-feminism, or the weird religion stuff?"
"Both of those things. And she was so quiet, I kind of knew she had to be
all creepy and evil and stuff. And. she wasn't you. I had my heart set on
you from the beginning. I knew if I was a big enough pest, you'd let me in,
even if just to make me go away. But you didn't. And here we are. I have
you, we have a baby. Jimmy and Crystal are idiots, and some things are as
they should be."
Her hand closed over his. "I swear. It stops moving every time you touch
Trying to distract her, he leaned around her and gave her a kiss on the
lips. "Conspiracy against me," he informed her. "So. is it later yet?"
"Maybe," she said, but there was the slightest bit of resistance in her
"Ok. Lemme know when it's later."
They lay in silence, taking some brief refuge within the chaos that had
erupted the last week or so. Finally, her fingers twisted into his, and
they both stroked her stomach. Tears started spilling out of Mara's eyes.
Just when she thought she couldn't bear the not knowing any more, the phone
rang. Her hand snapped out of his, shooting for the telephone.
"Ok. I'll meet you down there." That was all she said, then hung up. "I'm
going to talk to Jimmy in the cave. If things go well. When I come up is
gonna be 'later.'" Because frankly, she needed the release at that point.
Slipping out of bed, she kissed her husband quickly and departed, some hope
finally restored to her.
* * *
"Have good news for me," Mara asked desperately from the top of the cave
"I have good news," Jimmy answered, stepping out of the shadows. His
clothes were dry, but his hair and collar was wet. He'd changed before he'd
come into the cave. "It's taken care of."
"What happened?" Mara asked desperately, carefully making her way down the
"Dad didn't have the head," Jimmy explained. "Ubu did. Apparently he was
keeping it just incase she decided to pull a stunt like that. I told him
SHE was looking, I told her that HE had it, and I pitted them against each
"There's something else," Mara said skeptically.
"There's NOTHING else."
Mara decided she might need to give a little to get a little. "Jimmy, the
Titans and the Justice League are watching BOTH of us. They know about the
money pilfering." She was far too exhausted emotionally for this. She
wanted to just crawl into bed and not stick her head out of the covers
until it was solved, but life seldom worked that way.
He ran a hand through his wet hair. "So I like fucking with the big-wigs
once in a while. Like you've NEVER done shit just because you could do it."
Slowly, Mara edged herself into a chair. "Nothing that's caused the stir
you're making now. Why don't you settle up with Dad and Tim?"
Jimmy approached her, all humor and light gone out of his eyes. She wasn't
sure who she was seeing now, her brother, who would never grow up, or an
apparition. "I love you all," he promised her sincerely. "But don't try to
understand what I'm doing or why. I wasn't ever meant to play on your
level. It was always a game to me out there, and I can't play games any
"Then what the hell is all of this, Jimmy? Were you cooking the books for
fun, or is there something else going on?" She wouldn't mention the
Apokolyptic technology found on the DEO bot. She needed to keep some of her
cards close to her chest. "What the hell's with throwing your marriage out
the window? That doesn't seem real 'grown up' to me."
He bent and kissed her forehead with something resembling devout sincerity.
"I told you. Don't try to understand. Kris and me. It's not just the fight.
Something else happened. The money. I'll fix it. If that'll make everyone
happy. I just need some space right now. Space I'm not getting in a house
where dad's always bugging me about coming back, and mom's always on my
shit about something."
"Running away doesn't fix things. I can tell you that from personal
He turned from her then, preparing to leave. "Talia won't be bothering us
any more," he informed her in a cool, business-like manner. "I'll fix
what's going on with the Justice League. Quit worrying about all this stuff
and take care of yourself." He disappeared into the shadows.
"Who's going to worry about it if I don't?"
"I told you. I'm not playing games any more. I am on it, and it'll be
handled." That being said-he was gone. Mara didn't know if his words
worried her more or less.
* * *
Mara untied her robe before opening the bedroom door, wondering if it was
seductive for a fat lady to do so. She pushed on the door; ready for the
quick and passionate release that she knew her husband promised. The
disappointment heated her face as she wrapped the robe back around her
self, seeing him holding a conversation with his communicator.
He looked up at her just as it grew dark with the connection closing. "I
"Matrix is on duty and he needs to recharge."
"Can I have. five minutes of your time?" She'd settle for even less.
"He plugged himself in. He was calling from the recharger in the kitchen.
No one's watching the monitors."
"Nothing's going to happen in five minutes," she said, not believing what
was coming out of her mouth. Five minutes could make all the difference,
her grandfather would say. Jordy knew his responsibility though. He was
already putting his pants back on. "Alright. Listen. Go on up, I'll see if
I can get someone to cover for you." The lousy part was, everyone called
Jordy for everything because he was the most reliable. "If I can't find
anyone to take over for you. I'll meet you up there."
He grinned. "I'm glad to see you indignant over this. It lets me know I
haven't lost my ability to be a love machine."
"I'm indignant over a lot of things. That's separate from you being a love
machine." As he walked towards the door, she slapped his behind. She needed
him tonight. She could sort out the rest of this mess later.
* * *
Exhausted, Jimmy Grayson flipped the light switch to his lab, prepared to
pull an all-nighter, moving the rest of his things from the house. He
figured he wasn't getting any help from Minty.
"I thought you were supposed to have your stuff out of my house by now?"
Barbara questioned from behind him.
"Leave me alone. I had something to do."
"Feel like sharing with the rest of the group? And turn around and look at
me when I'm talking to you."
Jimmy didn't move. "I'll be out by morning."
"What were you doing, Jimmy?"
Jimmy leaned against the doorframe. "What does it matter? You don't trust
me. You're searching for my Swiss bank accounts. You've been trying to
break the security code on the door for a week. No matter WHAT answer I
gave you, it'd be insufficient. You should worry about more important
things. Like who stole Ra's head out of Titans headquarters."
"How the hell do you--"
"Mara's got security feeds from the Tower running directly into her laptop
at work. I hacked THAT when I was hacking the grants servers. Give me a
break." Taking a step out of the doorway, he let it slide closed and locked
again. Slowly he turned around. "You must think you're the only person in
this family capable of cracking a code."
"Your father told me what you did to the Titans' petty cash," Barbara
accused, glaring up at her son. "What the hell are you getting into?"
"That was a legal use of funds!" the young man hollered. "I ran into some
trouble upgrading the security grid at the Tower. I had to rip out two
miles of old cables that you people promised me were brand new. THAT is
where that money went."
"You never left even a piece of paper saying where the money went."
"I got busy. I can't make the Titans' budget look nifty and still go
grocery shopping for grandpa every week and take the twins to the doctors
or whatever else they have to go." He glared down at his mother, not
budging an inch. He remembered when he thought the moon rose and set
beneath her feet. He remembered the struggle it had been to get her to let
him go out on the streets again. A battle that had ultimately been for
nothing. "Look, the sooner you let me alone, the sooner I'm out of here and
no longer your responsibility. I'll be a grownup who doesn't need his
mommy's protection any more. Me an' the boys-"
"They are staying here."
"You can't tell me what to do. I am an ADULT. And if I say they're moving
to the suburbs with me, they WILL. I take care of them. I feed them, I
Barbara gripped the wheels of her chair so hard, her knuckles turned white.
"You are NOT removing those boys from this house," she said icily.
Something dropped out of bottom of Jimmy's stomach. "Those are my sons."
"And your wife lives here."
"You can't do this."
"Did you ever bother to discuss who gets custody of those boys if you
decide to go off to the suburbs to be an 'adult'?"
"She's welcome to join me at ANY point in time that she'd like to admit
"Jimmy," a voice said softly from the top of the cellar steps. Kris had
heard everything. "I'm not letting you take the boys. And I'm not going.
Because I'm scared of you."
Jimmy's fist slammed against the wall.
"I don't know who you've become." She came half way down the stairs.
"Jimmy. whatever you're doing. don't do it. Just. don't do it." There was
something hollow and icy in her eyes that he'd never seen there. "There're
repercussions of everything we do. The karma you're building--"
"I don't believe in that shit!" he lied.
"LIAR. But you're not dragging our boys into that. If you're going to walk
down that path. you're going to do it alone."
"I'm not who I was!" he informed both of them. "I'm not playing games any
more." His voice was rough with the last. "I'm not playing games."
His mother pushed up her glasses, her eyes boring straight into him. "We're
not either, Jimmy."
* * *
The image on the cave computer tugged on her robe, looking thoroughly
disturbed. "You're a leach on humanity," Iris informed Mara.
Mara looked up from where she was trying to reach down to zipper her boots,
but was having trouble getting past her own stomach. "And I want him here
for one night." She must have interrupted Iris in the midst of getting some
herself, because the magenta colored beauty was very unhappy.
Iris sighed. "And then you'll want him there for the delivery and
"Oh great. Let me pencil it into the Titans' busy schedule. Somewhere
between the return of Brother Blood and Donna going evil. You have NO IDEA
what kind of week I've had. I WANT my husband at home tonight."
"We'll see what we can do," a familiar male voice said from behind Iris.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Mara said in frustration, closing
the connection. She immediately dialed the Titans' Tower. "No can do. Looks
like I'm meeting you there. You're NOT going to believe this. Roy is
shacking up with my old English teacher again, Amethyst is GROUNDED, and
Iris and Balius are too busy doing the nasty to help."
"The last part you're making up," Jordy groaned.
Mara stared at him wide-eyed for a moment. "No JOKE. I couldn't make up
anything that messed in the head. Should have seen it coming, and didn't,
Jordy grinned. "Well, I told 'em to get a room or get a divorce. Who'da
thunk." Suddenly he shuddered. "Ok, the humor of the situation's worn off.
Now I'm just afraid."
His sudden disgust did make her smile, despite her brother's destructive
behavior and despite the near-collision with Talia this week and the
Demon's head. He could do that. He could give her joy despite all the
goings on in her life. He'd helped put her life back together after it had
fallen apart-had given her a child when she was afraid she wouldn't be able
to have another. He was her light and her joy-especially when his deep
green lips curled in horror just like that. "Lemme get my other boot
zippered." She stood, putting one leg on her chair, reaching for the
"Why bother? Throw a cape on and get up here. It's not like I'm going to be
able to take my time all proper-like." He shook his head. "I've become Roy.
I'm going to have casual sex in the monitor center." Suddenly he blushed,
his cheeks turning deep green. "I can see it now. Matrix is going to finish
recharging, and then he's going to--"
Jordy's image flickered and the screen crackled once, then went dead, just
as Mara collapsed onto her side, letting out a scream of pain. Out of agony-
clenched eyes, she saw the Cray computer blinking above her. "No signal."
The End. for now.