Melanie leaned against the cold railing, looking into Terry's eyes. Her body had adjusted to the cool air quickly, but the cold inside her was far worse. It was like every drop of her blood had turned to ice when she looked into Terry's eyes. He was as hot as she remembered, handsome was not the right word. His hair had grown out and brushed his jaw in sharp layers, he had grown as well and stood over six feet tall.
His eyes were dead.
They were screaming for something, someone to save him. She doubted that if she had not worn the same look she would have missed it. He hid it better than she ever had. But she caught it, the pain and aguish. He was screaming and no-one could hear him. She doubted even Max could. Pushing back her emotions she faced him with sharp eyes.
"It's been a while?"
He was in front of her in an instant, his body pinning hers to the balcony. She raised her eyebrows at him but did not break their eye contact. Instead she leaned up closer, so there was no space between them. She could feel him tense and smirked, placing her lips against his ear.
"It has been," she whispered.
She could almost feel the anger coming from him. But, to his credit, he did not move away and actually pinned her to the balcony, reversing their positions. Against her wishes, she could feel her muscles tighten, the cold at her back and her ex-something at the front. She forced her muscles to relax, just in case he was enjoying this and used her agility to twist away from him.
"Why did you come back after all this time?" he asked, not even bothering to sound casually. Melanie wished he could, then she could pretend he was one of the rich idiots she had been forced to socialize with in her youth. He never could make anything easy. Crossing her arms against the chill, Melanie forced herself to be strong.
"I found out my parent's death was not accidental," she said, "they were murdered. I know their killer is in Gotham," she said.
"And you want my help."
"No," he said flatly, "I am not going to help you take innocent lives."
"These people," she drew herself up, "are not innocent. They took my family from me."
"Your family was full of criminals," he said, his voice tight. She drew back her hand and smacked him full across the face, her sharp nails leaving jagged lines down his smooth cheek. His face snapped back to her. She was breathing hard, her small hands bunched up into fists.
"I will find these people," she said, her voice unwavering "with or without your help."
Turning she walked back into the sea of people, leaving Terry standing on the balcony watching her disappear. His jaw tight, he turned away as the glass doors slammed shut and faced the unwavering lights of Gotham. This was his city, he had given everything to keep it safe and he was not going to let Melanie Walker and her warped sense of justice ruin that.
Turning he walked through the party members, letting the glass doors slam behind him. He found Max surrounded once again by a bunch of bodyguards who forgot their charges to discuss weapons with Terrance Wayne's lovely house-mate. He wrapped a hand around her back, fingers against her side.
"We have to go," he whispered into her ear. Knowing better than to question why, she turned to her companions.
"Excuse me gentlemen," she said, "you know how the wealthy play-boys can be. Never a moment's peace," the guards laughed and Terry escorted her to the car. Inside, he floored the gas pedal, "okay I know you hate formal events but what the hell?"
"Melanie Walker is going to kill whoever murdered her parents and we have to stop her," he said spinning the wheel. The car turned sharply onto a different street. Max grabbed her seatbelt and slammed it on.
"Tonight!" Max gasped.
"I'm going to patrol tonight," Terry said as the bright lights of Gotham slowly ebbed away, "and after the last incident you told me to never go without you monitoring again," he said.
"It's a little soon to be out again," Max warned.
"That's a risk I'm going to take," he said shooting the car through the wrought-iron gates. He and Max got out and walked through the marble foyer. Max yanked off her high shoes so she could keep pace with Terry as he stormed to the bookcase. She shook her head at her strong-headed best friend.
Downstairs he threw off his formal jacket, tie, vest and cummerbund. Unbuttoning his shirt he threw that aside and Max winced. Slashing across his back from his right shoulder-blade to his left hip was a deep gash, the stitches had just come out and left a deep purple scar.
"I thought after all these years you might be a bit more careful," a cool voice said, "how disappointing."
Both spun around to see Melanie Crane sitting on the chair in front of the consol, her feet propped up on it. She was not in the garb of the party but dressed in black pants and a black jacket. With her dark sneakers and gloves, she looked like a jogger. Terry's hands immediately went for his shirt.
"Don't bother, I've seen it before," she said easily, "I would not touch that if I were you," Melanie said to Max who had gone for the knife hidden in her dress, "considering every tabloid reporter saw me come in here."
"What do you want?" Max demanded.
"I told him," she said looking at Terry, "but he said no," she pouted slightly making Terry's fists clench, "Now, I'm forced to resort to drastic measures. Being an ex-villain, I know how incredibly sweaty you get when you fight crime, so—" she held up one of the masks he wore under his hood, "either you help me or I take this to them and you get to read about the unmasking of Batman in tomorrows paper."