A/N: Sorry this last chapter took so long to post. The ending is always the hardest part of a story for me to write. Hope this turned out okay. . . Thanks to those who read this story, and especially those who took the time to give me feedback!
"What do you think you're doing?"
Hearing the snap of irritation in Leslie's voice Bruce turned to face her. "A light workout. You did tell me I was allowed to do some light exercise," he reminded her.
"Yes, I did," she admitted, still scowling. "I forgot just how different our definitions of 'light exercise' are."
"Barbra has located Brother I," he told her.
"And you're going to go no matter what I say, aren't you?"
"I'm fine, Leslie."
"Less than a week ago you were literally knocking on death's door," she reminded him. "I know the healing rays helped, but you're still not fully healed. For most patients I'd insist on another month of recovery. From you I'll just ask for one more week. Let Nightwing and the others handle Max Lord." She didn't usually like referring to Bruce, or his protégés, by their alternate names, but she wanted to remind Batman of how capable Nightwing was. Not that he was likely to forget, but a little reminder never hurt.
"I can't," came the answer.
With sadness written on her face Leslie nodded. Being who he was, Bruce honestly couldn't. It simply wasn't in his nature.
That evening they gathered to plan their attack on Brother I. Superman joined them, as did Flash.
"Flash, Supermen. There are going to be people on Brother I besides Lord. You'll need to get them to the Watchtower."
For a second Clark considered teasing Bruce about wanting to take down Lord himself, but seeing the deadly serious expression on Batman's face he decided against it "The Watchtower?"
"The holding cells. I have some questions for them," he said in a tone colder than an arctic winter.
The next morning Maxwell Lord turned as he heard a sound behind him. The sound of the Watchtower teleporters.
He doubled over as a fist drove into his gut with the force of a sledgehammer. Then he fell to the ground as his feet were knocked out from under him.
Batman turned from the fallen man and walked to the main computer.
Lord tired to stand up, but a foot on his chest held him in place.
"Don't get up on our account," Nightwing instructed. His trademark grin was in place, but the anger burning in his blue eyes convinced Lord to do as he was told.
Robin, Batgirl and Catwoman had split up and were taking down the other guards in the room.
Batman was focused on the computer. As he'd expected, Brother I had been looking for Superman ever since his attack on Batman. Bruce was glad that out of friendship for Clark he'd made sure the Fortress of Solitude was shielded from Brother I, as were several other locations and the Watchtower. After shutting down the internal scanners everywhere except the Command Center he let Superman and Flash know it was safe for them to teleport in.
A moment later the connection was set up and the proper files were downloaded from the Watchtower. The files that showed Max Lord had been behind Superman's attack on Batman. It took only a few seconds for the Brother I computer to verify the accuracy of the records.
Batman's eyes widened in shock as he read the messages that scrolled across the screen.
TARGET: TEACHERBLACK KINGMAXWELL LORD:TERMINATE
A laser fired, burning it's way through Lord's heart, killing him instantly.
"Brother I, explain," Batman ordered, his tone harsh, strained. How had brother I been able to kill? After the Tower of Babel incident he'd been careful to make sure that Brother I could keep an eye on the Meta-humans, but not be a threat to them. He'd spent days writing in the programs to make sure that it couldn't kill. But it just had. . .
"The Teacher tried to terminate the life of the Creator. This could not be allowed," replied the computerized voice.
"It's poetic justice really," came another voice.
"Jessica," Batman said as he turned to greet Checkmate's White Knight.
She nodded, then continued. "Batman doesn't kill. That's the one thing your allies and enemies can agree on. And you made sure that Brother I couldn't kill. Lord was more than a little angry when he found that out, so one of the first things he did was erase those protocols. It took him weeks, but he finally managed it. He wanted Brother I able to kill, and it ended up killing him. Like I said, poetic justice," she explained with a smirk. She'd never been fond of Maxwell Lord, and thought he'd gotten exactly what he deserved.
Batman turned back to the computer and entered a different set of commands. A set he'd hoped he'd never be forced to use. The screen went dark as Brother I's main programming was erased. Only back up power for the lights, environmental systems, and to keep the satellite in orbit remained.
"What will you do with it now?" Robin asked.
"Dismantle it. A lot of the parts could be used as spare parts for the Watchtower if needed. The rest will be routed back into WayneTech's R&D department, where they came from."
"We can clean up here," Nightwing said. He could see that this mission was taking a lot out of Batman and wanted him safely in the Watchtower, near medical care if he ended up needing it.
Batman gave him a nod, and walked over to Jessica, and teleported them to the Watchtower.
Once the remaining members of Checkmate were locked up Superman turned to Batman. "I know you'll probably ignore me, but I have a suggestion."
"I don't ignore you Superman. I may not do as you suggest, but I always listen to the suggestion before doing things my way," Batman pointed out.
'Yep. He's back to his old self,' Superman thought as he suppressed a grin. "They aren't going anywhere. Go home and get some rest. Let them sit in their cells and worry."
Batman gave a slight nod. "Not a bad plan," Batman admitted. He wasn't willing to admit just how much pain he was in without the painkillers, and how tired he felt. Taking the rest of the day to sleep, and then waking them up in the middle of the night for questioning would allow him to be rested, and them tired, during the questioning. "I'll be back tonight. . . . Thank you."
"Anytime, my friend. Anytime."
After the rumors that had been going around for the past week, more than a few member of the League were reassured by the familiar sight of Batman and Superman off to one side having a quiet conversation.
The next day the permanent members of the League gathered in the Conference Room, and they were all glad to see Batman back in his usual chair. There was still a lot of tension and issues to be resolved, but the League had held together.
Out in the hall Green Arrow, Hawkman and Zatana stood talking.
"You know they're talking about us, about what we did. What I did," Zatana said.
"We all voted. Don't take all the blame on yourself. Batman's forgiven Superman. Maybe he's forgiven us."
Green Arrow looked at Hawkman in disbelief. "I wouldn't bet on it. And I don't think Superman is going to be in a forgiving mood either," he said before walking away.
As the sun sank towards Gotham Bay the nest day the Batmobile raced towards Gotham. Not long after sunset whispers were heard in Gotham's Underworld. Not long after midnight those whispers turned to warnings. Batman was back.
A few hours before dawn, in the privacy of the Batmobile, Batman allowed himself a smile. In the rearview mirror, he saw Gotham, secure as he could make it. Beside him sat Selina. On the road ahead of him Nightwing, Robin and Batgirl were on their bikes and appeared to be engaged in a race back to the Cave, where Alfred, Leslie and Barbra waited. It was a good night.
Trecebo: THANK YOU! For all the great feedback. Hope you like how I dealt with Max Lord, even if I didn't let Bats hurt him too much. I have to agree with you about Selina. She isn't on WW or HG's level. But as long as she stays in Gotham (with Bruce ;-) or takes on 'normal' criminals rather than super villains I like her.
Proponent of EVO: Thanks! Glad you liked the story. Hope you liked the ending. Thank you!