Your Cheatin' Heart

Chapter Ten

DISCLAIMER: Anybody who so much as THINKS I could own these characters has got to be way off their nut. Look what I'm writing, for Pete's sake!

Okay, sorry for the little delay, but I've been busy (watching the Hardy Boys, LOL). And I've also been pret-ty reluctant to post this chapter. For soon-to-be-obvious reasons. (begs on hands and knees) Please don't kill me! Please? I wrote this with the best intentions!


Later that week, I was back in my room at the beach house, packing my belongings. It was time to go home, and for once I was glad. This was one time I was relieved the summer was over. Maybe school would help get my mind off… things…

At least my arm was almost completely healed. It was still sore, but just a little bit. And soon, the doctors said I'd regain full use of it.

That didn't mean I was going to be perfectly healthy just as quickly. Because it was so hot that day, I had decided to take my shirt off while packing. Bad move. About a half-hour later, I had gone into the bathroom to collect my toothbrush and such. That was when I really saw myself for the first time since the shooting.

I gasped slightly upon first glance. There was a small scar on my left shoulder, thanks to the bullet that had gone in there. But the worst part was the fact that I somewhat resembled the skeleton that hung in my biology class. It actually scared me to a certain degree. I knew I had always been on the very light side of 'lightweight', but that stay in the hospital had put me past 'lightweight' and well into 'emaciated'.

Someone knocked on my bedroom door. I almost literally dove for my shirt and hastily began to button it back up. I couldn't let anyone see me looking like that—if it was Alfred, he'd command that I eat something at once, even though we'd just finished lunch and I wasn't at all hungry. If it was Bruce… well, I didn't really know what he'd do. And I didn't think I wanted to know. Ever. Although, now that I think of it, they probably already knew. Those two know everything.

"Come in!" I said.

The door opened. It was Bruce.

"Almost finished packing yet?" he asked.

"Um, yeah."

To prove it, I stuck another pair of pants in the suitcase, then shut and locked it. Yes, we actually have locks on our suitcases. When you're guardian is a multi-millionaire, you really need the things. Although it's really annoying because I'm constantly forgetting the combination to open it again.

"Well, since it seems you have nothing to do, how about going for a quick ride before we leave? Maybe that'll help put some color back in your cheeks—you still look like your own ghost."

You have no idea!

I instantly perked up, recognizing the concern behind the sarcasm.

"Sure!" I agreed enthusiastically. Then my face fell as I remembered what happened the last time I had gone riding.

"But can we skip the log jump?" I added softly, somewhat embarrassed. "I… I don't think I can…"

My voice trailed off, but Bruce seemed to understand and nodded.

"I'll be waiting for you outside."

"Sure."

With that, Bruce left the room and went to saddle his own horse. I suddenly felt a whole lot better than I had in ages. Who cared if it was just Bruce, Alfred and me again? We'd been going on like that for ages, and I liked it—we didn't really need someone else anyway.

A few minutes later, I had hurried down the stairs as fast as I could (it could have been quicker if I had slid down the banister, but it was too flimsy to hold anything and I knew I'd end up in the hospital again if I tried it).

I was almost at the front door when I suddenly tripped over some unseen object and wound up sprawled on the floor. I wasn't hurt—just got the wind knocked out of me.

Geez, could you get any klutzier? That's the third time this week!

Still sitting on the floor, I turned around to see what I had tripped over. Judging by the way the corner of the rug was turned over, that had been the cause of my downfall. I fixed the carpet, still grumbling, and then headed out the door.

I found that Bruce was standing just outside the stable doors, holding both our horses by the reins. I grinned and mounted Rainforest.

We started our ride by Sunset Rocks. I tried not to think about the fact that I had plotted my own murder there and just enjoyed the view of the ocean instead. It seemed much prettier now that I wasn't worried about the Silvers sisters.

A few minutes later and we were riding again—not as fast as I would have liked, though, so I gave Rainforest a gentle kick to go faster.

No more than five seconds later…

"Slow down!"

That was Bruce's voice. I reined in and asked what was wrong.

"Dick, you just got out of the hospital. I don't think you're quite ready to be going that fast yet."

'Overprotective' was the first word that sprang to mind. But I guess I wouldn't have it any other way, even if it did annoy the heck out of me.

"Fine," I sighed.

We hadn't gone very far after that when I suddenly reined in a second time. We had arrived at the cliff. The one with the overhang that protected June's hide-out.

Terrible memories flashed through my mind: overhearing the conversation in Tracie's room… the nightmares that followed… the arguments I had had with Bruce… the—

"Dick!"

I snapped to attention.

"Did you say something?"

"What's wrong? You looked sick for a minute there."

Ah, yes. Bruce didn't know that June had been staying a mere twentyyards from where we stood. And I intended to keep it that way.

"It's nothing. Just… can we go back now? I'm feeling a little tired."

"Of course."

We both turned the horses around and headed back to the house. I tried to chase the foul thoughts from my mind, but it wasn't easy. I tried remembering something nicer, like the time Bruce first taught me how to ride a horse. Actually, I had already known how to ride, but doing handstands on a saddle-less mount apparently wasn't Bruce's idea of riding…

A single shot was fired, and the next thing I knew, Bruce had been gunned down. It was such a shock that I almost didn't grasp what had just happened.

I tried to say something, to move even, but I found myself frozen in place, even as his horse ran off in a panic.

Not again… please, not again… I thought helplessly. I couldn't stand it if I lost a father all over again… please, no… no… please, not again…

Someone was laughing. It was a female voice, one that was laughing, laughing to the point of insanity. The Joker himself couldn't have done a better job.

Finally, I looked up. There, on the Sunset Rocks, stood June Silvers. She held a gun in her hand and had thrown her head back, laughing, laughing…

Enraged, I gave Rainforest a kick and rode over towards the rocks. At the base of the massive stones, I dismounted sloppily and began climbing them to get to June. I knew that there were probably more bullets in that gun and that she could easily shoot me, but this was just a subconscious thought. All that mattered was getting to June.

Nobody gets away with hurting Bruce. And I mean nobody.

I don't know how I managed not to slip on the algae-covered rocks. I didn't even pause to think about that, either. I managed to make it, though, and continued to stalk towards her, fury blocking out every other emotion and every sensible thought.

It all happened so fast I didn't know what hit me. June had spotted me and, furious, struck me with the butt of the gun. I fell off Sunset Rocks and into shallow waters, dazed.

June leapt down onto the beach and was soon holding me down by my throat, effectively keeping my head underwater. I think she said something, but I couldn't hear with the water rushing past my ears. And even if I had heard, I wouldn't have cared.

She was laughing at me again. Laughing that spiteful, unfeeling, insane laugh that made my blood boil.

I desperately gasped for air and just wound up swallowing a whole mouthful of water. I attempted to cough it up, but just wound up swallowing more seawater. Holding by breath didn't work either, because there was no breath left to hold. Little bright spots began appearing before my eyes, and I suddenly felt terribly woozy. I was drowning. But that wasn't where my thoughts lay.

She's not going to get away with this.

I thought of Bruce's body, lying spread-eagle on the sand. Unmoving, lifeless… that made me even more upset and, just as I felt the life being choked out of me, I found the strength to push June off me. She landed back on the sand with an 'oomph'. Without even bothering to catch my breath or to cough up all the seawater I had swallowed, I leapt forward and reversed the positions.

The hands around her neck were my own, and she was the one frantically trying to get me off of her. But my pure rage gave me the extra strength to prevent her escape.

I'd never attacked a woman before, and I especially had never tried to strangle one. But the only thing I could think of was the fact that she had just murdered the one man who had understood me, the one man who had always been there for me and had always stood up for me, no matter what.

I squeezed so hard that my knuckles turned white before my very eyes. June began making strange, choking noises as she tried to breathe. Somehow, in my madness, that sound was oddly satisfying. I didn't realize at the time that I was killing her. My mind was clouded by feelings of anguish and sorrow, blocking all thoughts except one: she had killed my best friend. She had killed him… my best friend… my father…

Several pairs of hands grabbed me by the arms and pried me away from the half-conscious woman. I didn't even know or wonder who they were. All my thoughts were focused on one thing and one thing only.

"She killed him! She killed him!" I screamed over and over again, still fighting hard. I was infuriated at my inability to get to her. I had to get to her, to do something that would relieve me of these awful feelings swirling around my heart.

Someone was yelling at me to stop it. I ignored him and continued to scream at the top of my lungs, even as my voice began to get scratchy and hoarse:

"She killed him! Murderer! She killed him!"

I don't know when I began to cry. I remember being held tightly as I sobbed on the verge of hysteria. I didn't know who the person was, although I could probably make an educated guess and say it was Alfred.

My shouts had died down into heartbroken whispers. The temporary insanity had vanished, and the events of the past five minutes were truly beginning to sink in.

Five minutes. Such a short amount of time, but that was all it had taken for my entire world to be turned upside-down. It was as if everything that had ever mattered to me was crumbling away at an alarming rate. I wanted to stop that crumbling. I wanted to run away, far away, and never come back. I wanted to just curl up in a ball and die. I wanted to do something—anything—that would help me forget…

To Be Continued…


Me: HA! Weren't expecting THAT, were you? Just please no flaming, I know that the odds of this ever happening are absolutely zero, but I just... I don't know. I thought it sounded cool. :P Oh yeah, and um... hehe... well, Dick just read it and he, uh... well, let's just say that he's no longer on speaking terms with me.

Denny: Serves you right, you meanie!

Me: Yeah, whatever. Anyway, Part Two will probably take a little while to get up, because there are still some major plot gaps to fill in. Plus I have inspiration for half a dozen other stories, and I'm sure I'll think of more pretty soon, AND all of my school work. (growls) School stinks. :-P

Denny: I suppose you'll be wanting me to do the replies now.

Me: Yes, that was basically what I had in mind.

Denny: Well, TOO BAD!

(grabs some Bat-gas and sprays it on Panamint. It does the job it's meant to and the evil author promptly slumps over)

Denny: Good! Now I think I'll go make Little Joe do the replies...

Reviewer Replies

Alexnandru Van Gordon-Thanks for the review! And that's okay, I believe you. From what Dick has told me, this website has a tendency to go wacky once in a while. Just for the record, Panamint is currently working on a completely different 'little Dick' story, but it may take a few dozen centuries for her to finish, at the rate she's going... :-P

:)-Yeah, me too. And I know for a fact that Dick agrees as well, although he's too stubborn to ever admit it.

kokomocalifornia-We're really glad you're enjoying this story. Even though Panamint is a bit of a jerk, she works hard. When she feels like it, that is.

60's-bat-fan-Hey, thanks for reviewing! And thanks for suggesting that Denny use the Bat-gas on TAP. It worked like a charm!