Warning: Contains spoilers for the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue"
Though she was around ninety, Amanda Waller could still pour water into a china teapot without spilling or breaking anything. The years hadn't taken away her steadiness or anything else she'd taken for granted when she was younger. Rather, they'd made things a lot better for her. While modern medicine reduced the effects of Alzheimer's much more than it had sixty years ago, the disease made some of her less pleasant memories a bit hazy; and religion and a few unlikely friendships had taken a lot of the bite out of her. And now that her children and grandchildren were grown and gone and most of her old friends and colleagues had either died or disappeared, she was glad that she had managed to gain the trust of one young man, even though she'd betrayed him before he was even born. But from what she'd learned, he'd taken a good look at the two roads he could walk down, and he'd decided forgiveness was a lot kinder. He would be coming for tea that night. Normally, people didn't drink caffeinated tea at night, but both she and her guest didn't mind. She'd gotten used to it over the years, and he lived in the night. Just as his father before him.
There was a knock at the door suddenly, so she took her cane and hobbled over as the guards let him in. Standing outside was Bruce Wayne's eldest biological son, Terry McGinnis. He wore the same leather jacket he'd worn one week ago when they'd met, but with a nice blue shirt rather than a black T-shirt. And he wasn't decimating her security system or threatening to throw a batarang in her face this time. Rather, he held a small box, which he'd obviously been shielding from the rain.
"It's good to see you, Terry," Waller greeted. "Please, come in. And put your wet coat by the door. I wouldn't want you to catch a cold."
"Thank you," he replied, doing as she'd requested.
"I'm glad that you were able to get away from your duties in Gotham for this," she commented.
"I took the night off," he explained. "Being only a part-timer in the League, I didn't have any obligations to them. And Bruce thought it was a good idea to get Gotham used to a second Batman." At her questioning look, he clarified, "We're training my brother, Matt, to take over for a while."
Mrs. Waller raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Really? How come?"
Terry had a small grin on his face. "I just proposed to my girlfriend last Friday. I'm going to need someone to take over for the time I'll be out…"
"And who better than your own brother?" she realized. "Considering that he too has Bruce Wayne's genes." Terry nodded, his eyes still a little solemn.
"I've accepted it, and I can move on now," he assured. "Warren McGinnis is still my father in spirit, and I guess I've always thought of Bruce as a second father. The only thing I really need to adjust to is the fact that it's true."
"How did your brother take it when you told him?" she asked.
"A lot better than I did," he replied, with some semblance of a smile. "Like me, he'd started suspecting something back in high school biology—two red-haired parents shouldn't be able to produce two black-haired children. After I explained Project: Batman Beyond and everything, he admitted that he doesn't blame Bruce for this, but he still can't think of him the way I do. Warren was our dad, plain and simple. But Matt thinks that he can trust Bruce." His expression turned serious again as he added, "It's you he's not sure about."
"I can't blame him for that," Waller sighed. "Anyway, come over and sit down. I have the tea all ready for you."
"Thank you, Mrs. Waller," Terry answered. "But first, this is for you." He handed her the box. "Think of it as an apology for our last meeting."
She took the box and opened it, finding two items carefully wrapped in tissue paper. Terry's expression didn't betray anything—he'd obviously learned that one from Bruce—so she carefully unwrapped one of the objects, finding to her surprise, that it was a real china teacup with the exact same pattern as her set.
"I found that while Dana and I were out looking for things for our wedding," he explained. "Apparently, someone had been stupid enough like me to break the other cup in the set, making the whole thing worthless. The teapot itself had disappeared too, so I managed to buy the remaining cups as pieces on their own. It's not the same as getting it from your mother, but…"
"This is enough," she assured him, carefully turning over the delicate cup in her hands. "From you, it's more than enough."
"I know there were originally three cups in your set before I broke one," he added. "But I figured if you ever needed a replacement or an extra for guests, you could use that other one."
"Thank you, Terry," she replied.
For a few minutes, they sipped their tea in silence. There didn't seem to be much else to talk about at the moment, but it didn't matter. Mrs. Waller enjoyed having company, especially the current Batman. Terry was just glad he'd gotten his life in order, partly in thanks to her. Outside, the storm raged on. Only someone insane would be out there in all that thunder and lightning to commit a crime, but in Gotham, insanity had always been the criminals' forte. Even now with all the new evil trying to live up to the legacy of the villains of old. But the heroes of old and the heroes of new were always there to stop them, just as she and Bruce had, and just as Terry and Matt were doing.
"How is your fiancée taking all of this?" Mrs. Waller asked suddenly. "She knows that you're Batman, am I right?" He nodded as he took another drink.
"Dana's always been fine with my being Batman," he explained. "She figured it out back when the Joker returned. She'd heard that he had suddenly appeared at Wayne Enterprises and was terrorizing Bruce, so she figured that the only reason the Joker would be doing that would be if Bruce had been Batman. And she suspected that since I was Bruce's assistant, I must have been the new one. Then when the Jokerz came after us in a nightclub, she was able to confirm it."
Waller looked very impressed. "That's a smart woman you have on your hands." Terry nodded once again, looking very proud of her and of himself for getting the courage to propose to her after fifteen years. "So, do you two have any plans for children?"
Terry laughed. It was a bit surprising, but this Batman was Terry McGinnis, not Bruce Wayne. He only had half of his DNA and a lot less of his tragedy. He still remembered how to laugh. "Right now, we're still trying to figure out the guest list. We have to be careful about who we invite so that we don't blow my and Bruce's identities. And Dana and I can't think of any way to explain the Justice League at the reception. Warhawk isn't exactly subtle, and someone would be bound to recognize Green Lantern, Aquagirl, and Superman."
"Not Lois Lane, though," Waller remembered. Terry was momentarily surprised to hear this reference. Superman had mentioned her a few times in passing, but this wasn't something he expected to hear. "That woman was an excellent reporter, but pretty dense not to recognize her partner Clark Kent and her caped boyfriend Superman as one and the same."
"I've seen stranger things," Terry commented. "Anyway, Dana and I have put some thought into having kids. I've been living in the Manor since I graduated from Gotham University—it's just easier that way. She agreed to move in when we get married so that we'll have easy access to the Batcave if anything happens. And if anything does, she and whatever kids we end up having would be safest down there. Bruce and I've seen to it."
"Any thoughts on names?"
"Yeah," he answered. "If we have a boy, I want to name him Bruce Warren. Dana thought it would be a good idea."
"So do I," she agreed.
"I asked Bruce to stand in for my dad at the wedding," he added. "I told him that I'd like to have at least one of my fathers with me on that day."
"I can tell you that it meant a lot to him," Waller confided. "He'll never admit it, but what you said meant a lot."
"I know it did," he replied. "We've gotten pretty good at reading each other. I don't think he's felt the same since Dick and Tim."
"No, he probably hasn't," Waller agreed. "Make sure that both of you take care of him. He deserves to have someone showing that they love him after all he's done for the world."
"Don't worry, we will," Terry promised. "And our kids will too." A slight smile spread across his face. "Who knows? Maybe having some grandkids might soften his heart a little."
"You never know," she replied.
"You're invited to the wedding too," he informed. "I know we don't know each other very well, but you also played an important part in my life." She gave him an apologetic look, but he explained, "And it's not because of Project: Batman Beyond. You helped me get my life back in order. You showed me that my genetics don't have to determine my destiny. I do."
"I don't think it's a good idea," she confessed. "I really don't deserve to be there. What I did to you is the kindest thing I've done as a Cadmus official. Bruce may have told you about some of Cadmus's experiments, but I doubt he's told you everything we did. We thought we were protecting the world, but in the end we came close to destroying it."
"I understand," he replied.
There was a somewhat awkward silence following this, broken only by the ringing of Terry's cell phone. He excused himself outside to answer it. On the other end was Matt, fresh from his first patrol and battle in Gotham.
"What's wrong?" Terry checked.
"Just want to see if you're willing to train your little brother one-on-one," Matt answered. His voice sounded a bit strained, as though he was biting back pain.
"I got pulled into some League business. Some strange creatures were rising from the harbor, so Aquagirl, Warhawk, and Green Lantern came over to help. They figured out pretty fast that I was a rookie at this."
Terry tried his hardest not to laugh. "How fast?"
"When they got there, I nearly drowned because I couldn't get out of Aquagirl's way fast enough. Between Bruce and Dana screaming in one ear and Warhawk warning me to get down in the other, I barely managed to fight. Green Lantern spent most of his time shielding me rather than actually fighting."
Now Terry laughed. "It happens. Don't worry, Matt, I'll help you train when I get back to the cave. See you later."
As Terry walked back in, Mrs. Waller noticed the amusement all over his face. "Was it something funny?"
"Just my little brother asking for help fighting Atlantean supervillains. I'm going to have to train him myself a little bit when I get back."
"Don't go too hard on him," she warned. "Gotham needs a Batman, even a temporary replacement."
"And here I hoped I could have reused Bruce's training regimen."
They were on the last of the tea now, and the last of the conversation. The storm outside had given way to a light drizzle, almost as though recognizing that Terry needed to go home soon. For a while, the only sound came from the pattering rain against the windows until finally Waller spoke:
"You know, Terry, you and Dana are going to need some nice things for your wedding." He looked at her with some confusion. Where was she going with this? "Instead of going to the reception, how about I give you this tea set for as a wedding gift?"
"But this came from your mother," he protested. "Don't you want to pass it down to your children?"
"They never seemed very interested in this fragile old stuff," she answered. "At least I know you and your fiancée will appreciate it."
"Thank you," he replied, just barely keeping himself from stammering.
"Just promise me one thing."
"The next time you stop by for tea, try and see if you can talk Bruce into coming. Your fiancée too. After all, I have enough cups this time."
Terry smiled and nodded. "All right, Mrs. Waller."
Standard disclaimer applies: I own neither Batman Beyond nor Justice League Unlimited. Like my friend Lady Iapetus, watching the JLU season finale got me started on this huge plot-bunny that I couldn't help but write. Her fic should be coming along eventually, focusing more on Matt (which gave me the idea to include this little snippet of him to begin with). The idea of Matt as a replacement Batman is something I'd been playing around with for months, but I was never able to come up with a story to fit it, until she and I both pointed out on Live Journal that unless the nanotech solution in Warren McGinnis's reproductive material wore off after a while, Matt had Bruce Wayne's DNA as well. And the Matt vs. the Atlantean supervillains conversation came directly out of the anime The Big O, which is compared to Batman often for having similar themes and animation styles. In at least one episode of The Big O, creator Chiaki Konaka had hero Roger Smith fighting against some strange creatures rising from the sea.
Please give me feedback as to what you think. Is there anything that can be improved, or is there something you particularly liked? I'd really like to know what you think.