By Adrian Tullberg.
The Dark Knight exited the teleport tube and strode towards the infirmary.
It was days like this that the bitter irony of the universe was brought up, and thrust into your face with all the subtlety of a stripper who'd been promised a really big tip.
Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern, possessor of the most potent device in the Universe, left his ring at his apartment while heading to the corner shop to grab some beer - and was promptly shot and liberated of sixty-odd dollars by a jittery crack addict.
Batman stopped at the threshold - Jade was seated near the body, distraught. Clark, J'onn, Diana - even O'Brian was looking dignified.
He didn't intend to stay long - Diana and Clark were much better at offering comfort, advice ... emotional connection, to be honest. A few words to Jade, then leave. Talking about a replacement was best discussed over the phone with Clark.
Everyone had noticed his presence by now - and were looking at him almost ... expectantly?
"Batman ..." Jade stood up, and produced something - a document, laser printed.
A will? Why or what ...
Batman took the document and scanned it. Funeral requests ... somehow, Batman doubted Shannon Elizabeth could be enticed to give lapdances during the reception. Open bar ...
Then Batman realised why he'd been given the document.
"It's his dying wish." Jade's voice was cracking, but her resolve stood out. "I don't think you have a choice here."
"I ... Gotham ..."
"Gotham has the rest of your family to control the nightlife." Jade was becoming angrier each second.
"The ... there are other ..."
"No there aren't." Clark spoke up. "We've checked." The sympathetic expression tempted Batman to hit him with a convenient Kryptonite rock. "It's up to you."
Batman turned, dropping the document, and walked out of the infirmary.
The Dark Knight rested his forehead against the plexiglass window overlooking the lunar landscape.
Damn that untrained, undisciplined, random excuse of a replacement for Jordan.
Yes, Batman drove him mercilessly. Pushed him beyond his known limits and beyond. Made him strive to become greater.
Now he'd achieved his post-humorous revenge.
A slim hand curled around his shoulder.
"You can't avoid it."
"I was planning on refusing it altogether."
Diana moved closer to his ear. "Justify his faith."
"I can't ..."
Can't operate on that scale. Can't change my methodology so extensively. Can't take on the responsibilities of that role. Can't become the kind of inspiration a hero like that has to be.
"... just can't."
"Think of it more as an extension of your duties."
He turned his head, and gave her a slight grin. "Are you going to tie me up and drag me back if I don't go back?"
"Don't get your hopes up."
Batman held the object in his hand, weighing it. Despite it's hardness, it weighed very little.
He'd have to learn whole new ways of combat. Of concentration. Start from the bottom of the ladder again.
No choice in the matter, come to think about it.
Batman took the Oan Power Ring, and slid it on his right middle finger.
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