Ordinary Heroes

by

Tracey Claybon

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Disclaimers: Batman and his worlds don't belong to me, they belong to Warner Bros. and DC Comics.

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Author's Note:

This story is dedicated to Peggie Farmery, my friend and fellow Bat-fiction writer, who left us in February 2003.

The character in the story is named for her. I hope she would have enjoyed the story - and liked her namesake.

This does take place in my Trinity universe, and is partly in comic canon, partly in BTAS/BB canon.

Peggie liked my Trinity stories, and also liked my story, Volkswagens and Porsches. I originally met her because of that story; Ordinary Heroes is a sequel to V and P as well, written in honor of a friend I'm going to miss terribly.

I just couldn't get the words out, till now.

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May 1st, 2003

I saw something today that totally redefined my ideas of "courage" - courage of the common man, that is. I was with Selina yesterday afternoon at a charity fundraiser for one of Barbara Gordon's disabled-awareness focus groups, the Kane Memorial Hospital Survivors' group. Right as the charity auction was concluding, Two-Face broke into the proceedings - two pairs of custom-made Tony Lama cowboy boots were on the auction block that day and he had come to "acquire" them, and the cash from the auction.

Selina and I were getting ready to fade into the crowd to find a secure place to put on our union suits when the most extraordinary thing happened.

A young woman in her twenties - introduced to me later as Maggie Farmer - from Barbara's group stepped in harm's way when Two-Face turned to leave, and calmly informed him that he was *not* leaving with his ill-gotten prizes.

Harvey looked absolutely floored that the person stopping him wasn't Batman, or Robin, or Nightwing - or someone else of the superhero community - for about 15 seconds. He recovered quickly however - he pulled his scarred gold coin out of his pocket and flipped it high into the air.

It came up bad heads.

Harvey brought his gun up to shoot the girl.

She continued to look at Harvey with an absolute calmness that froze him in his tracks. As a measure of how shaken the stare made him, he demanded to know why she was staring at him that way.

She told him that it really didn't matter if he shot her. She had just found out that she was in the advanced stages of leukemia and had about six weeks left to live any way - killing her now would be a mercy. "In the meantime," she said, "you can return that prize and the money back where you found it. Right now."

Barbara and her group was now looking at the girl with shock and sadness on their faces - I realized right then that she hadn't told her friends this news.

Harvey stood in a staring match with the girl, and amazingly, his eyes dropped first. He bowed his head for a moment, then looked up.

I was amazed to see a look of remorse - and sanity - in his eyes.

"We'll leave. Quietly. We are ... sorry to have disturbed all of you - we didn't realize this wasn't just another high society event.

"We won't be bothering you again - and we'll make sure none of our -- colleagues -- does either. We don't need to flip a coin on that decision.

"We can't make up for the damage we did, but please accept our apology for disrupting things -and this as a donation for the event. "

Harvey reached into a pocket and pulled out two gold double-headed eagle coins that were similar to the scarred one he flipped earlier - but they were unscarred. He gave them to the girl, then called his men and left the building.

The girl was then surrounded - after the shock wore off - by Barbara and her friends in the Survivor's Group. They were obviously happy that Harvey hadn't killed her - I got closer as I heard her respond to someone who asked if she was bluffing.

"No, I'm afraid I told him the truth. The doctor said I didn't have to go to the hospital until I was unable to care for myself any more, and that I could come to the event as long as I was careful not to tire myself out. I'd planned to tell all of you at the next meeting, I'm just sorry to break it to you this way," Maggie said.

Selina, who had also moved into earshot with me and heard the last remark from Maggie, mirrored my surprise and shock that the statement was true, and quiet admiration that Maggie had rare courage and strength beyond the norm.

Neither of us came to this conclusion because she stood up to Two-Face and won - it was because she was going on with a life that was going to end way too soon - and doing so with a smile on her face and a kind word on her lips. We asked Barbara to introduce us to Maggie and spoke with her for some time, getting to know this remarkable young woman. Her sense of humor and her friendly charm won us both over, and speaking with her dispelled the last of the Bat's rage within - as Selina and I talked with her, the tension caused by Two-Face's aborted robbery dissipated.

Some time later, after her friends were reassured that she was okay, the auction continued, with the new coins donated by Harvey on the block with the rest.

I got into a three-way bidding war with Selina (which should not have surprised me as much as it did) and Honoria Van Zandt over the coins; I won, with a bid of 2.3 million dollars - and then. later, I gave the coins back to the group for display at the new facility they were planning to build because the auction had been such a success.

For once, the Batman wasn't needed to take down a criminal. There were no guns fired, no elaborate weapons or drawn-out fight - the only weapons that defeated one of the most formidable members of Gotham's most notorious Rogues' Gallery weren't fists, but calmness, a strong will, and courage.

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May 8, 2003

Selina tells me that Harvey has been inquiring about the girl who stood up to him during the aborted robbery at the Kane Memorial Hospital Survivors' Group fund raiser, and let me know that she told him that she knew of the girl. She then promised Harvey she'd keep him informed of her condition.

Harvey found out about the hospice where Maggie would be when the end came, and shortly after that, an anonymous donation in Maggie's name was given to the Rucka Memorial Hospice to cover her expenses. The only clue as to who donated the money was a unmarked double-eagle double headed coin.

Also, crime in the areas within a 10-block radius of the hospice and hospitals dropped to an all-time low - there weren't even any *shoplifting* incidences in that area after Harvey's promise, and the major Gotham Rogues' Gallery avoided the area like a vampire avoids sunlight. To say that I was amazed by that is an understatement.

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June 21, 2003

Barbara let me know that Maggie Farmer died peacefully in her sleep early this morning. She also passed the word on to Selina, who promised to get the word to Harvey. Maggie's family lived in Vancouver, BC, Canada, so Barbara coordinated with them to make the funeral arrangements as one of Maggie's closer local friends. I arranged with Alfred to foot the bill for the cremation and an arrangement of flowers. Maggie had asked that part of her ashes be scattered here in Gotham and the rest in her family home of Vancouver. The wake was to be held on the 28th.

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June 28, 2003

Maggie's wake and remembrance ceremony was held at 2p today. She'd asked Barbara to read an letter she'd written before the remembrance ceremony began. In it she asked that her remembrance ceremony and wake not be sad or morose affairs - she wanted to be remembered with joy, not sadness. She also thanked all of her friends for standing by her both during her final illness and before, as part of the Kane Memorial Hospital Survivors' Group.

After Maggie's ashes were scattered, her friends placed individual flowers of her favorite kind around the small plate that would serve as a sort of headstone for her in Gotham's Remembrance Row,

The pile of pink and white roses, cream colored lilies, white and blue irises and multi-colored peonies grew to three feet high and 5 feet around before all who came to pay her tribute finished placing their blossoms.

As I was turning with Selina to the car, I noticed a lone male figure in a black suit standing some distance away observing the people as they were leaving the remembrance ceremony. He held something cream-colored in his left hand, and the sun glinted goldenly off something in his right hand.

I told Selina. She and I had Alfred stop the car a short, unobservable distance from Maggie's gravesite; we changed clothes, and Batman and Catwoman made their quiet way back to Maggie's grave stone.

Harvey stood at the foot of the marbled, flat stone, and tears were running down both sides of his ravaged face.

He knelt to place the lily of the valley he'd brought on the pile of flowers first.

Then he said, "We admired your courage, and if circumstances had been different, we'd have been ...honored to call you a friend. Rest peacefully, Maggie. May you be happy and content in the place where no shadow lies, and no pain reaches.

"In honor of you, and your courage - the area around Kane Memorial Hospital and Finger Memorial Hospice will stay crime-free as long as we live and we're around to see to it. We hope this will help you to be even more at peace."

Harvey then placed a brightly-shining double-headed double eagle coin on the marble stone and turned and walked away back toward the place he'd been standing before, watching the remembrance ceremony.

Selina and I looked at each other in wonder for a while, then we too left the grave stone and returned to the car and Alfred, then home.

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June 21st, 2038

Terry McGinnis walked into Wayne Manor, and found a message on the vidscreen - Bruce had gone into Old Gotham because he had a private piece of business to take care of; he'd left Ace in the Batcave.

Terry suited up, then went to the location Bruce had mentioned to check on the old man.

He found him at an old cemetery and cremations remembrance park called Remembrance Row; when Terry had gone with him to place roses at the location where his parents died, he'd always taken white roses.

This time, the old man was carrying an armful of irises, pink and red and yellow roses, cream-colored lilies and a rainbow of peonies, and he was standing in front of a different grave stone.

Bruce carefully scattered the flowers around the stone, one by one, saving a lily of the valley for last, which he held. Terry, deeply curious now, turned up the volume on the headphones on the suit.

Just in time to hear in Bruce's gravelly voice: "I know you're over there, McGinnis. Quit lurking in the shadows and join me. I don't mind - for once - telling you why I'm here, but let me finish what I'm doing. Just listen - QUIETLY - while I do. I'll explain afterward."

Terry jumped a bit at that, but quickly joined Wayne.

The old man looked at him for a moment, almost expressionless; then he turned back to the grave stone.

"Hello again, Maggie. It's been a really long time since I last came here." I came because I'm saying goodbye for someone - he asked me to. You probably know this better than anyone - Harvey Dent died today, and I know that he never missed placing a lily of the valley at the foot of this stone on the anniversary of your death, every year since you left us, till now.

"You probably also know that he kept the promise he made to you here - no matter what other crimes he committed, he kept the area around the old Kane Memorial Hospital and Finger Memorial Hospice crime-free - he even got the *Joker* to agree to stay away from the area, which was no mean feat, and he came back to your grave stone every year to leave you a bouquet of your favorite flowers.

"He asked me - when he knew he was dying a few months ago - that if he died before he could come out to see you this year, that I would do this in his place. I've kept my promise to him, and I'll make sure you have flowers every year - just like Harvey did.

"I also came to bring the two coins that Harvey donated to help out the Kane Memorial Hospital Survivors' Group so long ago with that auction - they named the facility after you, to commemorate you and that memorable day.

Bruce placed the coins on the grave stone.

" You might like to know that the original building might be gone, but the work they do continues, and the avalanche that started from that pebble changed the way the disabled were perceived, and the money raised that night formed the seed for the funding that financed the cure for any number of crippling and deadly diseases and curing of physical ailments that weren't caused by diseases - the first one cured due to this funding was the form of leukemia that killed you.

"So much good came of one act of courage, so long ago. Someone told me that as long as someone is still alive who remembers a person that has died, then that person will be around in their memory for a lifetime.

"I'm now going to tell my successor and protege about you and the action you took that started all of this, and that way, you'll be remembered for a long time more. I made a name as Batman, and stood with a pantheon of god-like heroes in my time.

"But it's people like you - the ordinary heroes of the world - that are why I'll never give up hope for our world - or for humanity."

And with that, Bruce placed the lily of the valley exactly where Harvey placed his so many years ago on the grave stone. He stood there a moment more, remembering that day so long ago, then he turned to Terry.

Bruce walked away and Terry followed. As they drove back to Wayne Manor, Bruce described the single act that redefined how he viewed courage.

And later in life, Terry McGinnis told his successor to Batman's legacy...

And his successor passed the story on, and so forth and so on; the story became part of the Batman's legend and legacy, a legacy left by an individual who never wore a costume - but was a hero of the greatest magnitude just the same.

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And so the story was passed down through the years and ages, and Maggie Farmer lived on, both in the good she left behind, and the hearts and souls of those who remembered her story and the courage behind it.

FINIS