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 future.

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 frightened him.

* * *

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 children."

"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 get up."

Kyle buried his head against her shoulder, lost in emotion, but unable to cry.

* * *

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 this. Goodbye."

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 stake.

* * *

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 place-the cemetery.

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 couldn't breathe.

"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 explain."

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 you."

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 the right?"

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 bulging stomach.

"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 electronically alter.

"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 impotent.

"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 energy deficit."

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 and odds."

Nightwing nodded ascent. "Odds of stabilization?"

"It'd take more time before we even understand what we're dealing with."

* * *

"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 appeared.

"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 should survive.

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 instead of 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 seriously. 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 tighter.

"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."

"Understood WHAT?"

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