Standard disclaimers apply.

This is for all the people who're so patient. And for those who kicked my ass.

Requiem

1/5

req·ui·em ( P ) (rkw-m, rkw- n.

1. Requiem Roman Catholic Church.
1. A mass for a deceased person.
2. A musical composition for such a mass.
2. A hymn, composition, or service for the dead.

"You're going to love it down here," Mara told the green glowing baby in her arms. The power ring levitated just off the surface of the skin, that refused to be separated from him. The "Betcha Alfie saved the high chair Grandpa used to put me in when he was forced to watch me. But I won't need all the extra bungee cord for you. I hope." Her nose crinkled at the thought of teaching him how to escape from things. When he was old enough. Four at least.

"We'll look at the dinosaur later. Let's see what Timmy's working on." At the computer, several processes were running, the monitors flashing a thousand images in the empty cave. A few bats screeched in protest of the newcomers, but remained in the caves above.

There was a broken plasma display on the table, its parts spread across the table. The mangled hard disk was attached to the cave's computer via ribbon cable, and data recovery appeared to be complete.

Readjusting the baby's miniscule weight in one arm, she sat down at the computer and began to go through the data available. No one had bothered to tell her that Jimmy was trying to blow up the entire world.

Mara looked over her shoulder at the glass case in the center of the cave. "No one listened to me when I told you he was evil." Now Jordy was gone and if something wasn't done, so would everything else. And to think they were pissed at her when she'd blown up or acquired all of Luthor's holdings. The coolest and most ironic part was when she'd made the paper trail lead back to Ras al Ghul's organization. It seemed fitting at the time to do that, considering she was insane with rage and grief from both parties.

A report did an auto-file into the caseload database. Calling it up, she saw that everyone had been called up, including Young Justice and all retired JSA members. Jimmy was still in a coma, but Apokolyps was destroyed, and no one knew where Granny Goodness, or Jimmy's device had gotten to, or why they hadn't struck against Earth yet. No wonder they were trying so hard to wake her brother up when she'd made her jail break.

Maybe with the world ending, dad would just forget that she'd used him.

"It's been about three or four years since we've had an Earth-ending crisis," she told the baby, trying to keep it all in stride. It was difficult. Her brother was involved. Jordy was gone because her brother was a fucker. "I used to ALWAYS be on those things. Either with the Titans, or on the Sidekick Plan with the JLA. Man. It's been a long time." Since she was in the good graces of the JLA, among other things.

When she looked down, she noticed the baby's tiny thumb in his mouth. His smooth little eyelids were closed and the green glow of the ring hugged him like a second skin. The strange look of it gave her pause, but in the end she smiled. "Enjoy your sleep, J.B., I'll show you the rest of the place later. I guess it's time to get to work."

Mara tried to open the fully restored files from the broken plasma display, and got an access denied message.

"Ok..." she checked the permissions on the machine. She and Tim had the same permissions, and he'd left himself logged in, which was uncharacteristic, but understandable under the circumstances. Seeing that the file shouldn't have been locked, she checked to see if her mother was running interference.

"You really shouldn't pry into things that are not your business," Matrix's passionless tenor emitted from the speakers.

He had been a part of the Titans almost as long as she had been. In fact, she'd been part of the team that had found him being forced into the service of an alien military cruiser, his advanced logic hardware performing intense hyperspace calculations against his will. Not even Matrix himself was sure when he had attained sentience, but the Titans had freed him, and found him a more amiable "case" to live in. He had been happy, being mobile and free. She was certain this was destroying his morale.

Mara's eyes narrowed. "I thought you were on mom's lap top?" His body had been destroyed and his hardware damaged almost irreparably by the same nanites that had killed Jordy. She'd hoped that out of respect for that, she and Matrix could come to some sort of working agreement. But it appeared that he was siding with her family, probably her mom specifically.

"I was cramped. I'm spread over the network. I needed space to repair my databases." He must have been doing better, the flippancy appeared to be returning.

"Do they have an ETA on getting you better digs?" The ability to travel through cyberspace probably wasn't much consolation when one was confined to data streams instead of being able to walk in the real world.

His voice was very stiff. "I do not appear to be a priority at this present time."

"I'll see what I can do for you. There's got to be something you can use temporarily." It was typical—they'd gotten him back online because they needed info, not because they cared.

"There are more pressing matters than... all of this." Interesting. Not only was he attempting to let her down easily, he was also attempting to send her on her little way.

"This is the display Jimmy put a shovel through, isn't it? Did Oracle tell you to keep me away?" That right there told her it was something important. Maybe her mother thought she was in on it. It was the story of her life, lately.

"She does not know the process is complete."

Mara reminded herself not to yell. It wouldn't do any good to wake the baby. "Then let me see it."

"I merely wish to save you additional emotional distress."

With her free hand, Mara pinched the bridge of her nose. "I don't blame you."

There was silence for a moment—much longer than a synthetic life form should need to gather his thoughts. "I did not recharge at the appropriate meal time."

"I have a feeling... if it hadn't happened then, it would have been the next time he was on duty. It was not a random attack." She didn't know the specifics, but slowly the picture was beginning to fill itself in. She just didn't understand Jimmy's WHY. "Please let me see it."

The directory opened and she saw a list of files, labeled by number. Zero zero seven looked like it was her number. That must have killed Jimmy.

In that brief instant between when she gave the command for the file to run and the actual start of the video, she regretted her decision. She couldn't go back now.

The video was distorted with fuzz and lines, but it was her grandfather, several years younger than she remembered him being. "Martha Ann, I know you think that whatever it is, it's important. But you know better. So don't." Her grandfather looked away from the screen, and she was not sure if he thought he was finished, or if he was uncomfortable. A moment later, he turned back.

"I suppose you deserve an explanation," he continued finally. "I'm not the man I was the night you scared the hell out of Jim in his office for the first time." He appeared to be fond of the memory, his terse features eased for a moment, but returned to their more familiar state. "I'm not even the man I was when you started college. Edge is everything in this business and I'm too stubborn to retire." He paused, letting her draw her own conclusions. "If, in the course of the coming years, I take a few not entirely necessary risks, and if said risks should result in my 'untimely' demise..." He stopped again, extremely uncomfortable. "I'm too stubborn to retire.

"I accept that you may be angry with me. However, I believe you may be the only one to understand. Your father still has his ideals. Some of them pertaining to the remaining years of my life. I do not wish to disappoint him. A final thing...I make his life miserable, but Jordan is...acceptable. I want him to know what he's getting himself into. I'm glad you... have a life outside of the cave. I've tried to tell you this, but I know you don't listen—or won't believe me. You're going to want to leave the cave some day. In fact, I'd be disappointed if you didn't. You've been a good partner." His sharp blue eyes darted back and forth again. "That's all." The video turned off.

She'd already started to question whether she could continue being Robin. Cass had already offered her a trade up to the currently not used Batgirl moniker, but it had felt wrong. Now she knew why. What he was suggesting...

Sometimes it bothered her that he was always right. Other times, like now, it was a comfort.

"You might not be spending as much time down here as I thought," Mara said simply. The baby was sucking on all four of the fingers on his right hand, still sleeping without a care. "Show you around before we go?"

Jimmy woke with a start in a shiny white hospital room. The first thing he noticed is that he wasn't wearing any clothes beneath those sheets.

Dammit. There was a reason Mara always wore shorts and a t-shirt under her uniform.

"So, like should I punch him?" Good ol' Uncle Roy.

"I'm not sure Dick meant it," Uncle Wally snipped. "We need him conscious."

"I'm not dead and stuff?" he asked them.

Roy grabbed his hair. "Not yet. Of course if the earth blows up, then it'll save your dad the burden."

"It's my fault. I know. But we don't have time...." Jimmy pulled Roy's hand off of his head and sat up, wincing against the pain. "Migraine."

"Try boot to the head." Wally was scowling at him.

"No, really, Bruce was there, and he said I have to tell--" He swung his legs over the side of the hospital bed and wrapped the sheet around him. "Never mind."

"Did the Old Man tell you you're an idiot?" Roy asked in all seriousness.

"Yeah. He did. And I think Alfie went to Hell for calling out a hit on Luthor. I don't know." Jimmy looked around for his clothes. He didn't see the Icarus suit anywhere, so he headed to the door without it.

Wally yanked his hand off the door an instant later. "And where do you think YOU are going?"

Even though he couldn't see straight, Jimmy kept his head up and tried to sound resolute. "I'm getting my clothes, and I'm getting gone!"

Roy put his arm between Jimmy and the door, holding it closed. Even Uncle Roy was pissed with him. He was sure everyone in the universe was.

He tried to shake them off. "I just gotta figure out how she found a power source. Do you know how much freaking energy that thing would take, to disrupt the magnetic poles?"

Wally and Roy looked at each other and then stepped a little closer to Jimmy, who just kept thinking out loud.

"It's a lot of freaking energy. Like more than Superman running on a treadmill energy. Like... you'd have to...with a ring..." his eyes went blank, and Roy grabbed his arm, thinking he was about to pass out.

"Look, buddy, you're not going anywhere." Roy's nose was about an inch away from him. "I don't care what kind of spiritually enlightening experience you've just had. You killed Jordy Rayner and you're working with Darkseid. That makes you under arrest in my book."

"Aren't you people listening to me? Jordy isn't dead, but at this rate he's gonna be! Oh crap." He grabbed hold of Roy's shoulder, seeing double, then quadruple Roys.

"I'm just not sure if he's full of shit or brain damaged," Wally said casually, masking his anger.

In disgust, Jimmy pushed on Roy's shoulder, trying to shove him out of the way. "Listen to me! Someone get mom. Dad needs to tell the Justice League -- And don't tell Mara..." he leaned against the wall, still not mobile. "And I need some freaking aspirin."

"I ate a stick of butter, once," Mara randomly told her child. They stood in front of a glass case containing a familiar black and white suit. "I was like five. I know you're going to be so much smarter than I was. Alfred was making cookies, and I was sitting at the kitchen table... and I was wondering... Well, I got scolded by Alfred. But he stayed up with me all night when I was sick from it. He would have taught you manners. So that you're not a 'godless heathen who doesn't know a dinner fork from a salad fork.' He loved us all to death. Literally."

She moved on to the next case in the cave.

"You would have liked him," Mara told the baby. He was still asleep, cocooned in light. She knew he didn't understand or care, but she kept talking. "He was a tough teacher. Talk about beating it into your head. He wasn't into that mushy stuff." She almost laughed and cried at the same time. "He did try to give me The Talk, once, though. And then he gave up and just grounded me. We had the best times." She touched the glass case holding The Suit. "Just mention pink, purple, and his car in the same sentence, and he'd be growling for an hour." She looked over at the spot where the Car should have been. It was day time, and Tim was probably off trying to save the world. From her brother.

"He'd have liked you too. I... Sometimes, I kind of wish I'd have been too late. I know He would never have wanted it, and it's an abomination... to raise the dead... but..." Mara sighed and moved on to the hollowed out trophy room. "Especially now... I wish that I could just let myself not care."

He let out a tiny hiccup. Were they supposed to do that?

"This is the dinosaur. He's lived in the cave since your grandpa was an itty bitty Robin." She smiled at the metal structure covered with molded Latex and rubber, dusty and cracked with age. She never realized that Alfred had dusted that thing, it was just always clean, like everything else above and below. "I'll miss him. He's good for telling secrets to."

After going to her locker and removing a portion of the contents, she looked around a last time. She thought about leaving a note, but Tim would understand. She tossed her uniform onto his chair and left before she could get emotional.

He woke on the shining cold floor of the white room. It took all his strength to roll onto his back. How long had he been there? It felt like forever, and still—not long enough. The life was gone out of him.

He knew he'd been on the verge of sleeping forever, after he'd completed his great task. She'd given him enough sustenance to keep him alive, but that was all. Nothing to keep him going forward.

"You need to be fed, little child." Granny's voice echoed in the white room, or in his mind, he couldn't tell. "I had hoped to have a feast for you, but it wasn't to be." He knew why. It was because of the woman who had taken his child. They had not been able to free him yet.

A glowing ball of energy slowly descended in front of him. It spun on axis, tendrils of yellow-white wisping off the gold and orange surface. His fingers reached out to it, and the swirling edges moved to meet him.

The searing plasma did not burn him, but was absorbed whole the moment he made contact. Gasping with the rush, his head cleared, and the feeling of immobility faded.

"It's not much, little one, but it will be enough to complete your task."

"The great one?" he asked, sitting up.

She put a large heavy hand on his head in comfort. "No. You are not strong enough for that. You need to be replenished, and it will require your own hand."

He rubbed his eyes, feeling well enough to accomplish the small labor his grandmother had set before him. "What must I do?"

"You will be taking back what is yours."

Taking a picture off the desk in the library, Mara shoved it into her bag before grabbing the baby carrier. Behind her, the clock door opened.

"Now's not a good time to quit," Tim informed her.

Mara refused to turn around and look at him. It would just be too hard. "Now's a good time. I thought you would understand that."

"Not when we're trying to stop the end of the world," he mocked.

"I just had a cesarean. Do I LOOK like I'm ready for this? I'm not even supposed to be carrying him, much less fighting."

"Your brain still works." Tim tossed a CD that landed on the empty desk. "The Justice League has narrowed it down to one device. We need some way to disable it. It appears impenetrable."

Mara put the CD into her bag. "I'm going back to the city. I've already had my stuff moved there. I'll look at it when I get there."

"None of us are ever out of the game. You should know that."

Closing her eyes, Mara sighed and put the carrier down on the desk. She hadn't left a note because she didn't want to have to explain herself. "I'm not out. But... I have to go. I can't stay here. I can't go down there. I can't BE Robin."

"The end of the world aside—I need you down there." Tim was trying to be patient, and they were running out of time.

"You don't need me down there. I keep stealing your chair." She smiled briefly. "Sammy's dying for a shot. And with Cassie teaching her and Peaches, she's at a good spot. She's malleable."

Tim's teeth ground at the mention of Sammy in spandex. "What about you? Are you freelancing, now?"

Mara smiled at the thought of being a separate entity from her family. "I guess that would make me freelance."

"What are we supposed to call you?" Tim was having trouble wrapping his mind around it. Especially in light of what the last family freelancer had done.

There was something mischievous in Mara's eyes. "Nobody."

"That's a lousy--"

Picking up the carrier, Mara went for the door. "Give me a few hours."

The down town apartment hadn't been used since she and Jordy had gotten married. It had been cleaned recently, but had a foreign smell, like a hotel room.

She put the carrier down just inside the doorway, and then closed the door, trying to not breathe in that foreign smell. They'd only stopped living there within the last year. One'd think it'd be more of an inviting environment than this.

"THE BABY!" a tiny voice cried out. Sammy came running from the living room into the foyer, socks sliding on the slate until she fell over and landed on her stomach just in front of the carrier. "Are babies supposed to glow in the dark?"

Mara looked up from the girl to the living room doorway. Cassandra was leaning against the frame, her arms folded across her chest. "Want to baby- sit hyperactive seven-year-old?"

"Actually, I want an insanely long nap." The sooner she looked at Tim's files, the sooner she could achieve that very thing. The last few days was catching up with her.

"Good. Sammy can baby-sit you." Cassandra flicked a finger toward the baby carrier, and Sammy picked it up, taking it into the living room.

Mara sighed. "Why're you out to torture me?"

Cassandra seemed very satisfied with herself. "I'm helping."

"Through hurting."

"You shouldn't be alone. Iseley's with Dana, and I'm on 'end of the world' duty." She paused, evidently hoping Mara would catch up, but it didn't happen. "Seven-year-old help is better than no help," she said finally. Grabbing her purse, she walked right past Mara and left.

Kind of dazed, Mara walked into the living room, wondering what the hell had just transpired. Didn't anyone know she didn't have time for this?

"We're going to be the best pals ever, you and me. You're gunna be WAY better than Iseley. She just cries and poops a lot, but you're way better than her..."

Mara's heart caught in her throat at the sight of Sammy's hand penetrating the green field, rubbing J. B's belly. "How did you--"

"He likes me," she explained simply. "We're gunna be pals forever."

In defeat, Mara put her laptop on glass coffee table, opened it, and began going through files.

When Jimmy woke up, he was alone in the room. It took him a full thirty four seconds to dislocate his thumbs and tear his hands out of the handcuffs. Dammit, he was slow. "Stupid head and stupid passing out..." he muttered, sitting up and tying the sheet around his waist.

He began opening drawers at the small counter across from the bed, but they were all empty. They knew him.

He was looking for something to pick the lock with. Jimmy knew it was locked without trying it.

Looking around, he assessed his surroundings. This lesson could be blamed entirely on the old man, not his dad.

Bruce had practically kidnapped him for an entire weekend when he was seven, and forced him to escape and pick his way out of hundreds of scenarios. At the time he was pissed his mother had let him be abducted for two whole days. Now he realized the old man just knew that mom wouldn't approve of him learning the trade, and it was something dad and Timmy might not get to in their private lessons.

As he pulled the top drawer entirely out of the counter, he remembered his favorite part of the lesson that weekend: when in doubt, start breaking things. Jimmy slammed the drawer against the counter, dislodging the molded plastic handle. Snapping it in half, he headed for the door and jammed the plastic in the lock. It was harder than actually having a pick, or even a piece of metal, but it wasn't impossible. However, you'd know he'd been there. Of course, they were going to know he wasn't there, so it wasn't like it mattered.

The lock clicked, and he pulled the door handle slowly. Peeking through the crack, he didn't see anyone and decided to proceed through.

"I'd get back in there." Roy was leaning against the wall next to the door hinge.

"Do you want to disable that thing, or do you want the Earth to get zapped?" Jimmy wondered if he was too dizzy to take Roy. Possibly. It may also be his only option. He couldn't believe he hadn't seen it before. He couldn't believe he'd let Granny Goodness get Jordy.

"You are staying here until your father, or the Justice League can deal with you."

"If you don't let me out of here, Jordy's going to die! For real this time." He tried to march purposefully past Roy, and thought that he'd made his point, until he felt the side of a hand on the back of his head. All six and a half feet of him dropped to the floor.

"I'm not buying any of your shit, ever again." Roy looked down at him with the glare of a man who had been betrayed. He didn't even have Roy's trust any more.

Jimmy tried to get onto his knees, but he couldn't seem to find the room as it spun again. "Bruce said I was supposed to tell you, and we were supposed to fix it, together. Bruce said we could fix it. Jordy--"

"You killed him. He's dead. Goddamnit, when the hell are you going to grow up and stop playing games? Someone's dead and you're still fucking around with all of us."

Before he could find his legs, Jimmy began puking stomach juices. "I'm not—fucking—with you," he got out between heaves.

"Tell that to Kyle—tell that to your sister." Unable to listen any more, Roy kicked him in the head and sent him back into unconsciousness.

"Yeah," Mara sighed into the telephone, "I had a feeling you guys would have found that already. Just obligated to report in and stuff." The only potential vulnerability she had managed to find had already been discovered by both Tim and Clark. "I'm gratuitous," she muttered, then realized she'd said it out loud.

"Any ideas what's powering it?" Tim was trying to sound casual, but it wasn't working. He at least knew better than to try to console her.

"Probably no more than you do. Someone has to wring it out of my brother, and last I heard, Roy put him out again." She sighed in frustration. "I should have stayed up there..."

In the kitchen, Sammy was going through the cupboards. This place sucked. When she was like five and stuff, she got to come over on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons with Mara and Jordy, and play with their toys and stuff, but then she moved into Old Batman's house, and gave all her toys away. At least when she was five there was food in the cupboards. So far she'd found baking soda, two packages of Ramen noodles (too bad she wasn't allowed to use the stove) peanut butter, and an unopened jar of mayonnaise. Jordy hid bags of M&M's everywhere, and she couldn't even find old yucky bags of those.

"This is so stinky," she told her new pal. He was in his baby carrier, sleeping and sucking his fingers. Babies were dumb like that. "Your mommy is really bad at having food in the house. Cassie always makes sure there's peanut butter and marshmallows."

Sitting down on the counter, she pondered the mayonnaise. It was the same color as marshmallow fluff. Maybe she could close her eyes real hard and pretend.

By the same token, the bricks of Ramen noodles were kind of like bread. They were shaped like bread and they kind of tasted bready when they weren't made into soup.

This could totally work.

Hopping off the counter, she began looking for a knife. "Y'know, J.B., I make really good marshmellon and peanut butter sammiches. Too bad you're a midget-baby. If you weren't a midget, then we could share."

Peaches was dumb because she was six, but she missed Peaches because they used to eat sandwiches together. It had been like a whole week or something since they had ninja lessons with Cassie.

Putting her sandwich together, she wondered why babies weren't more like dolls. They were supposed to be better than dolls because they were supposed to be "interactive" like dad said, but you had to play with them careful and stuff. And that was dumb.

"Maybe you'll grow up to be not dumb," Sammy pondered, biting into her bricks of noodles. She chewed for a few seconds, then spit it out. Mayonnaise was not a good marshmallow alternative.

"What the—never mind. Don't even tell me."

Sammy looked up guiltily at Mara, who was staring at the pieces of noodle, peanut butter and mayo on the floor. "I was hungry."

"Next time, ask." She wet a wash cloth and threw it to Sammy. "I guess it's time to order something or... something." She couldn't say anything. She had, after all, eaten a stick of butter once.

Picking up the phone, she tried to match up the phone numbers stored in her brain with the names of restaurants that did takeout. "How's about Chinese?" That was one number she didn't have to work too hard to remember.

Sammy got all the yucky stuff into the rag and was walking over to the sink with it. "I want sweet and sou--" She stopped breathing and her eyes grew wide, looking past Mara into the doorway. "Jordy?"

Mara spun around, and suddenly he was there, two inches from her face. Their eyes locked, she didn't even breathe. Shock made her hesitate, and perhaps not even see the blow that connected with the side of her head a second later.

Seeing that things were not right at all, Sammy used her body as a shield between the badness going on and the baby.

"Give him to me," Jordy demanded.

"I... I don't think I should." Sammy was pretty sure he was evil. Peaches talked about superhero stuff, and people who knocked out other people were evil, even if the punching person was someone you loved. When that happened, they were clones.

"He is mine." EvilJordy® came closer, and Sammy tried to hug the baby to her even more. "She took him from me. I will have him back."

Sammy wished there was something she could do. EvilJordy was obviously crazy, and if he hurt Mara, she was pretty sure he wouldn't mind hurting Jordy She wondered if the glowing aura around the baby was like an egg shell, that it could protect them—or at least him.

The green light surrounded her too, just as Jordy reached for them. His hand stopped on the surface of green, and couldn't get through. "Let me have him!"

"Go away! You're bad, and you need to go away!" a large hand peeled off of the field surrounding them, and hit him back, out of the kitchen.

EvilJordy flew back at them, and before he could get in, the green light filled up the entire room like Jello. Righteous, good, and anti-evil Jello. Jordy growled, punching at the light, unable to reenter the room. Finally, he placed both hands on the edge of the field of green and sighed, energy flowing into him.

Sammy didn't know much about superhero stuff, since she was going to be a ninja, but she had a feeling this wasn't good. As soon as she figured out that he was sucking the Green Lantern energy out of the green light, the green light disappeared. She had to use punches.

Her hands balled into fists of anger as much as fear. She noticed that the silver ring that had been hovering over the baby in the green light on her finger, its center glowing green. She didn't understand how it had gotten there, but the ring meant she could give him all kinds of punches.

"I'm really sorry, Jordy, but you're really bad right now." Flying at him as fast as Peaches, who was as fast as Superman, and faster than Wonder Woman, she slammed into his chest. All the air came out and he crashed into the dining room table.

The glass table shattered, and before she could stop herself, a hand reached out of the ring to pull him away from the falling glass.

It was the wrong thing to do. He used the tether to drain energy from the ring. As much as she tried to stop it, and make the ring go to sleep, it wouldn't listen to her.

EvilJordy began laughing. It wasn't a good happy Jordy laugh, it was an evil laugh. "The ring was MINE! Before she stole it. It listens to me!"

Sammy squirmed, trying to catch her breath. "Not when you tell it to do something EVIL!" At that, the ring shut off. The only glow it maintained was the field around the baby.

With heaving breaths, Jordy began marching past her, going for the baby.

Sammy bit her lip, knowing what she was about to do was really, really bad. With all the force her mind could muster, her feet pushed off the ground as if she were propelled by a rocket. She knocked him square in the chest, and felt all of the air leave EvilJordy's lungs they both crashed through wall of window in the dining room. It all happened so quickly that he didn't have time to latch on to her to try to convince the ring to do his will.

As soon as they were well past the falling glass, she stopped. EvilJordy started falling downward, and she just levitated there, watching. She must have hit him hard enough. He wasn't stopping his fall. As he reached the last story of the building, she closed her eyes and turned away. There was a horrible sound of twisting of metal as his body crushed through a black sports car and a thud as he hit asphalt.

Not knowing what to do, she flew inside and back into the kitchen. JB was crying, but still surrounded in his green bubble. The side of Mara's head was a little bit bloody but really, really purple and she was totally not going to wake up any time soon.

She thought about calling Cassie, but there was only one person she wanted right now. Taking the communicator out of Mara's pocket, she activated it.

"Um... Oracle?" You were supposed to use secret code names or something when you did this stuff.

"Sammy, honey, are you playing with Mara's communicator?"

She kind of started to shake a little bit. Before she could stop herself, her nose was running and tears were rolling off her cheeks and onto the floor. "Mara won't wake up, and Jordy was here, and I pushed him out the window..."

"Slow down."

A cold early-December breeze came tearing through the apartment. Sammy looked around at the destruction. "I want my daddy!"

Tim showed up instead of Batman, because it didn't take a detective to figure out that the place was going to be crawling with "authorities" after something as large as that had transpired. He did what he least wanted to do, and waited until an official call came in from the authorities because Tim Drake just didn't have that kind of access to police channels, or more precisely to superhero channels.

What a wonderful idea Cassandra had had. Let Sammy keep Mara out of trouble while the rest of them worked. It had ended up so well. Sammy had been left in the line of fire—again.

He got off of the private elevator and wove through the foyer to the only apartment on the floor. He had to duck past a raving man in a black Armani who was threatening a law suit over his demolished car.

When Tim finally got through the door, Mara was holding an ice pack to the side of her head and doing her best to not growl at the EMT who kept insisting she needed to be looked over by a professional for a zillion good reasons.

Superman had shown up three minutes after building security's initial call to the police under the guise of investigating League-related meta activity. When a Green Lantern ring came into use, they'd wanted to know the circumstances. Superman was trying to act as an intermediary between Sammy who would not let go of the baby carrier, and the police.

"How did you think to push him out of window?" he kept his arms folded across his chest, and remained planted firmly between the girl and the two detectives attempting to gather information.

"I said what would Alfie do? Cuz he's smart and not crazy, and Alfie used to sweep off the step outside the kitchen at Mara's house that's less stupid than this one." She sniffed and rubbed her nose.

When she did so, Tim saw the silver ringer on her middle finger. "Sammy, how did that get there?" This was bad beyond his wildest imaginings of bad.

"I was trying to keep EvilJordy away from the baby, and it got all green around us, and then the ring was there." She held up the ring for him to inspect.

Picking her up, Tim discretely wrapped his hand around the ring and tugged.

Superman arched an eyebrow.

Tim's jaw locked, making sure Superman was still acting as a door. He twisted and pulled twice, but the ring didn't give.

"It appears, for the moment, to be stuck," Superman explained formally. "The Justice League will, however, do it's best to resolve the situation."

"Sammy," Tim said in a low voice. "I want you to WANT to take this ring off, right now."

"Daddy... that HURTS. J. B. gave it to me. He's my pal and I wanna help..." She yanked her hand away from her father.

Superman turned back to the detectives, still using himself as a barrier. "If you can excuse us... I would like to explain the situation to the gentleman privately, if I could?"

The older of the two turned toward the remains of the dining room wall. Fortunately, his partner followed suit.

"I think she'll be fine for now," Superman cautioned.

"You can't be serious." But Tim knew he was.

Superman didn't change his tone. "I don't see that we have a whole lot of choice. There isn't time. If what she's saying is true, Jordy might not have gotten what he came for, but he got what he needed."

Tim had a headache. "And what is that?"

Mara staggered over, still holding the ice pack to her head. "A recharge."

To Be Continued in Part 2

Libera me, Domine,
de morte aeterna In die illa tremenda:
Quando caeli movendi sunt et terra:
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem

Tremens factus sum ego et timeo
Dum discussio venerit

Atque ventura ira

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal,
on that dreadful day:
when the heavens and the earth shall quake,
when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

I am seized by trembling, and I fear
Until the judgment should come,

And I also dread the coming wrath.