Title: Pain (2/

Title: Pain (2/?)

Author: Maven Cree mavencree@hotmail.com

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Any characters previously mentioned in a DC comic, I do not own. DC does. I'm not making money off of this.

Continuity: Comic book.

Summary: Could you really be prepared?

Warnings: Heavy emotional stuff. Some violence.

©April 2001

**********************************************************************************************

GOTHAM GAZETTE

HEIR Continued From A1

-to sources, Grayson had just finished changing a

flat tire when the robbery attempt was made. He

was shot three times.

Somehow Grayson was able to get back into his

car and drive to the Gotham Memorial Clinic, two

blocks away where he was attended to by Doctor

Leslie Thompkins, a long-time family friend. He

died several hours later.

The rookie police officer of the Bludhaven PD was

Not armed at the time of the assault.

Grayson, sole heir to the vast Wayne fortune, was

In Gotham visiting family for the day.

In a cruel twist of fate, Bruce Wayne's parents, the

prominent Thomas and Martha Wayne, were taken

from their son in a similar manner, many years

earlier. Another robbery gone horribly wrong. A

second adopted son of Mr. Wayne's was killed

under mysterious circumstances four years

ago.

How will this latest tragedy effect one of Gotham's

leading citizens? We will have to wait and See.

At this time there has been no comment forthcoming

from Wayne Manor.

Funeral Services are to be held on Friday.

**********

Detective 2nd Grade Renee Montoya looked up from her paper and with a shake of her head, dropped the article down on her desk.

"Can't *believe* I never saw this before." She said in a voice just loud enough for her partner to hear. Crispus Allen was busy doodling on his own copy of the very same paper. "The pieces all fall into place. It's so *simple*!" She smacked herself on the forehead.

"Easy, Montoya." Said Lieutenant Bullock. He had walked up to the set of desks while Renee was berating herself. "They fooled all of us."

"Some detectives." She muttered.

"Do you think he knew?" Allen asked without looking up. His head nodded in the direction of the Commissioner's door.

"Not our business, Crispy." Bullock said, knowing the Detective hated that moniker. Allen narrowed his eyes at the Lieutenant.

"And we don't know nuthin' either. Remember that." He finished, and walked to the Commissioner's office.

Montoya caught a glimpse of Allen's doodle and snatched the paper away from him smacking him over the head with it, before storming away from their desks.

She went into the ladies room, which was fortunately empty and took one last look at the paper.

Looking back at her was a file photograph of Officer Dick Grayson in his police uniform.

Crispus had drawn a wing-shaped mask over the eyes.

Montoya tore the photo to shreds and flushed them.

**********

With the light rapping at his door, Jim Gordon took a deep breath and sighed.

"Come in, Lieutenant." He said. Even with his chair back to the door, the Commissioner knew who it would be.

"Heya, Commish." Bullock said upon entering. Jim swivelled his chair around as his long-time friend and co-worker closed the door behind him.

"What can I do for you, Harvey?"

The heavyset policeman lumbered slowly up to the desk. He noticed a copy of the Gotham Gazette on the surface, open to the very same article.

"'S a damn shame." Bullock said, tapping the paper with his own.

"Sure is." The Commissioner said flatly.

Bullock locked eyes with the seated gentleman.

"Hell'ova coincidence, don'cha think?"

"Yeah, well, coincidences have a tendency to be like that." Jim leaned back in his chair. "We have any leads, lieutenant?"

"Not a one."

"Hmm." Jim laced his fingers together and rested his chin against them, staring ahead absently. "And since the car was moved, we don't really know *exactly* where the crime scene is."

"Busy part of town. Any *real* evidence would'a been trashed by now."

"Case might never get solved."

"Think Mr. Wayne will… launch a complaint?"

He looked back up at Bullock. "I think Mr. Wayne will understand… He knows how… difficult… things can get… around here."

Bullock nodded and started to leave. He stopped and turned back once more.

"You okay, Commish?"

"…We're all officers… of justice, Lieutenant. Sometimes we take losses." He said, unintentionally letting his gaze fall on the picture of his late wife, before going back to Harvey.

"We go on."

**********

Something was wrong.

Very, very, very wrong.

Her daddy was crying.

Her daddy *never* cried.

Even when he broke his leg and got beat up really, really bad, he didn't cry.

But he was crying now. He was sitting on the side of his bed, his face in his hand and he was crying. It wasn't loud. But she knew crying.

Her home was quiet. Too quiet. Everyone seemed to have disappeared. So she'd gone to look for her father and peeking into his bedroom found him in his current state.

She opened the door quietly and just wide enough for her to pass through. She cautiously stepped to the bottom of the bed.

"Daddy?"

His head popped up in surprise at the sound of his daughter's voice.

"Lian?"

"Daddy, why are you crying? You got a owie?"

Roy Harper wiped at his face and tried to force a smile.

"No. No honey. I'm okay."

"But you're crying." The three year old said slowly making her way around the bed.

Roy looked at the little girl a moment. Lying to her wouldn't help. He sniffed and nodded, then held out his hand for her.

"C'mere Princess." He said pulling the small girl onto his lap.

"I'm… I'm crying, because, I got some very bad news today. Sad news."

"Mommy?"

"No. It's not mommy. It's… It's your Uncle Nightwing."

The little girl became very still.

"Unca Nightwing got a owie?" she asked in a small voice.

Roy could feel the tears swelling up in his eyes again so he closed them until he felt he could continue.

"There was an accident, honey. Uncle Nightwing was helping some people when he got hurt… bad."

"He gonna be okay?"

The archer chewed down on his bottom lip and began to shake his head. He couldn't prevent the tears that were coming up now.

"No, honey. He's not gonna be okay." He took a breath and blinked several times. "Lian… Uncle Nightwing… he… he's gone honey. He's gone to heaven."

"…But …But that's where Gran'pa Ollie is…"

"Yeah, Princess. That's where Grandpa Ollie is."

"But… but… you said Gran'pa Ollie can't come back… Can Unca Nightwing come back?" she asked, her own eyes filling with tears.

He shook his head again.

"No, honey. I'm sorry, but he ca--"

Arsenal's voice broke off and he broke down, covering his eyes with his free hand and turning his face away from his little girl. He felt her wrap her little arms around his neck and her own tears start to soak through his thin t-shirt. He hugged her back tightly, burying his face in her raven black hair.

"Why, daddy?" her muffled voice squeaked against his chest.

"…I don't know, Princess." He replied softly. "I don't know."

**********

"Not that I don't appreciate moving things along, but what do you mean we're ready to start? Weren't Superman and Batman the ones who called this meeting? And where's Flash?"

Wonder Woman lowered her head at Aquaman's impatient comments. She knew the sea king didn't like to be called from his realm without serious reason.

All members of the JLA were present, save for the ones Arthur had mentioned. Batman and Superman, she knew where they were. And as Wally West, the man now known as the Flash, was one of the original Teen Titans and one of Dick Grayson's best friends, she guessed that the reason for his absence was the same. Through his knowledge of Dick Grayson, he would obviously know who Batman was. He could learn of Superman's identity at another time.

She firmly gripped the sides of the podium and looked up to address the Atlantian.

"They did indeed plan this meeting, and it *is* important. But a rather unfortunate turn of events has prevented them from being here tonight. I'm assuming that this is the same reason for Flash's absence."

Dianna stopped only long enough to raise her hand to silence the king's forthcoming question.

"I am going to continue with this meeting in their sted and hopefully by the end you will understand what is going on. Just give me a chance to explain everything before you berate me with questions, okay Arthur?"

The king sat back in his chair, and crossed his arms, a sour expression displayed across his face. But he didn't attempt to say anything, so the Amazon took this as leave to continue.

She pressed a button, activating a large digital screen behind her. Two photographs filled the screen. Pictures of two men, similar in colouring and age. One wore glasses, the other a *very* costly Armani suite.

Diana didn't miss the surprised look of those already in the know.

"Do any of you recognize either of these gentlemen?" She asked the group, though her words were more directed to Green Lantern and Plastic Man.

"Isn't that guy on the right Mr. Bruce "Who Wants To Be A Billionaire" Wayne?" Plastic asked, his neck stretching up to an inch away from the screen. One of his hands was formed into the shape of a magnifying glass.

"Yes it is."

"He's my idol! Imagine! The money, the women! The power!"

"Who is the other man?" Green Lantern asked, stopping the tirade of his rubbery teammate.

"He's a reporter GL, for the Daily Planet." She told him. "His name is Clark Kent."

"Clark Kent?" Plastic exclaimed. He zipped back to his seat, the top of his head taking the form of an old-fashioned "press" hat. "I read his stuff!"

"You read?" J'onn the Martian Manhunter joked.

"I'm deeply wounded."

"You will be if you don't shut up." Arthur snapped. He turned his attention back to Dianna. "Continue Diana." He said. He recognized these men and hand a pretty good idea where this meeting was going. What he didn't know is 'why'.

"Yeah, what's this about?" Plastic questioned. "These two planning a world take over or something?"

"No. Nothing like that." She continued. "Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. Each a famous man in his own right. A world class, world famous reporter and a billionaire philanthropist and industrialist. But we in the JLA know them as something different."

She pressed another button and the digital images started to change. The pictures when finished resembled persons more familiar to the group.

"You're joking right? This is a joke. Ha-Ha, Wonder Woman makes a funny, right?" Plastic implored, his eyes the length of an average person.

"She is telling the truth." J'onn said. "Though the reason behind it is lost to me."

"Trust." She said. "There has been a lack of trust weeding it's way through the group as of late. This was the only way these two could think of to restore that trust. Full disclosure. No more secrets among the u—"

"Waitaminute, waitaminute, wait!" Kyle said holding up his hands. "From all I've heard, Bruce Wayne is a dimwitted, playboy, who barely has the brains to sign a check! You want me to believe that he's Batman?!?"

"It's an act, GL. It's all an act. An elaborate play to throw attention away from who he really is. You've just proven how affective he is."

"So why aren't they here telling us all this?" Arthur asked.

Diana looked at her teammate poignantly for a moment before dropping her head again.

Keep it together Diana. Keep it together, she told herself.

"Since you seem to know so much about Bruce Wayne, do you know who Dick Grayson is?" she asked Plastic who had formed to cowl horns on his head.

"'Course! He's this circus kid Bruce—Bats—Bruce, took in after his folks got killed. Don't know where he is now thou—"

"Nightwing!" Kyle exclaimed. "He's gotta be Nightwing!"

Diana nodded. She took a deep breath.

"This morning, I woke up to some… horrible, horrible news. How it happened was probably different than how the news reported it… but the ends are just the same… Nightwing… Dick Grayson… is dead."

Low sounds of shock passed across the table.

"The Gotham Gazette and several news organizations are reporting that is was a botched robbery. That he was shot after changing a tire on his car. But knowing him the way that we do, I doubt that's what really happened. Sup—Clark is taking this pretty hard. The Flash was maybe his best friend, which is why I think he's not here. …I don't have to say why Bruce isn't here. He may project all the emotion of a stone when he's Batman, but Dick was his son. We all saw that, no matter how hard he tried to hide it."

Diana looked around the room. Each member of the JLA seemed to be staring into nothingness, lost in their own thoughts. All except for Plastic, whose face was pancaked flat on top of the table.

"I—I have nothing else to say." Diana said quietly. "So as long as there are no more questions or nothing else to say, meeting adjourned."

The room remained silent, so she started to walk for a door.

"When is the funeral?"

"Friday." She said, stopping only long enough to answer Arthur's question.

The sea king nodded slightly and after a moment, headed for the transporters himself. The others slowly followed in suit.

**********

Clark Kent eased his rental car up the isolated road that lead to Wayne Manor. It was no the first time he had driven up this path, although he more often took the more 'scenic' route. But this wasn't Superman going to see Batman. It was Clark going to see his friend… whether he wanted company or not.

When Lois returned from the office the day before, they'd discussed his options. He'd thought about calling, but he doubted that Bruce would come to the line. And besides, a phone call just wouldn't have been right. Lois suggested that he go to Gotham and that he go as Clark Kent. Superman didn't know Dick Grayson. She would join him in time for the funeral.

So early this morning he'd hopped a (traditional) flight and arrived in Gotham not long afterwards.

Still a mile away, Clark sighed and rolled his eyes as his supreme hearing confirmed what his experience as a reported had told him would be waiting.

Media circus.

Bottom feeders in his professional opinion. That wasn't his kind of journalism. Stalking a story. Harassing victims at their homes… there were other ways to get a story. Clark was very proud of his work as a reporter. It was one of the few things that he could compete with honestly, with the rest of humanity. He was pretty damn good at it, if he did say so himself. And he never had to stalk. Investigate yes. Invade no.

And now, a friend of his, while he was use to being in a social spotlight, was now prey for the vultures gathered at his gate.

That made him… annoyed.

Not good for the vultures.

He rounded the final bend to see dozens of reporters gathered at the gates to the Manor. Vans with satellite links and cars with equipment were scattered all over the road. There were two police cars narrowing the entrance to the gates and two uniformed police officers stood guard.

"Great." Clark muttered.

He eased his car up to the entrance. One of the officers approached him and leaned down to the window. The other was trying to deal with several reporters trying to BS their way past him.

"I'm sorry sir. You're going to have to turn your vehicle around. No admittance.

"I'm a friend."

"I'm sure you are, Mister…"

"Kent. Clark Kent."

"Clark Kent? From the Daily Planet?" The officer shook his head. "Nice try Mr. Kent. You reporters'll do anything to get a story won't you?"

"I'm not—"

"Look, you can park your car down there and join your little friends milling here at the gate. If Mr. Wayne for some reason looses his mind and wants to come down here and talk to you people, you can get your story then."

The officer went to straighten up but Clark grabbed his arm. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that this could be construed as assault on a police officer, and arrestible offence, but the majority of his mind didn't care.

He was mourning a dear friend, and now he was getting angry.

"Look. Officer. I know it is really easy to group people of a certain profession into one uninformed group. Right now several misguided beliefs about the police are coming to mind. But in this case, I am in earnest. I *am* a friend of Bruce Wayne's. I was a very close friend to that boy who died. So why don't you get over to that intercom, call up to the house and let Alfred know that I'm here." Clark spat through clenched teeth. He'd released the officer with enough speed that the man stumbled back.

The officer looked back angrily at the reporter in the car. He was about to read him the riot act and slap on the cuffs, when through pieces of glass, he locked eyes with the man… and was deeply afraid at what he saw there.

He momentarily wondered if this was what people felt like when they saw the Batman for the first time. From what he'd heard, this man had the same look. One that was not to be messed with.

At least not without backup.

Fine, mister big shot. I'll call up to the house, he thought. And when they tell me to tell you to hit the bricks, I'm taking you in.

He pressed the intercom and momentarily, Alfred Pennyworth responded on the other end.

"Mr. Pennyworth. Sorry to bother you, but there's this reporter down here kinda throwin' his weight around. Says he's a friend of Mr. Wayne's, but the man lives in Metropolis so…"

"Ah, Mr. Kent." Came the stout English voice. "Yes, please allow him through."

"…Mr. Pennyworth. We're in charge of security down here. If you were expecting someone…"

"We were not Officer Gillis, but Mr. Kent is a welcome none the less. He is indeed a close friend of Mr. Wayne's."

Gillis took his finger off the intercom and rolled his eyes. He hated being wrong, and he wasn't about to admit it to the face of some fancy reporter. Instead he took out the key he'd been assigned inserted it into the electric security box and opened the gates. He waved the reporter through vehemently refusing to face him as he did. He and his fellow officer busied themselves keeping the other reporters at bay until the gates closed once again.

There was still some distance till the house so Clark decided to put the incident at the gates behind him and concentrate on why he was here.

He parked the car and hopped up the steps, a small genuine smile creeping up on his face, knowing full well what was about to happen. He lifted his fist to rap on the door and before contact could be made, the door opened (as it always did) and Bruce Wayne's proper English Gentleman, Alfred, greeted him. Clark wondered how someone with no powers whatsoever could always know the exact moment to open the door, without patiently waiting by it or spying out of the window. Alfred would just approach and open at the perfect instant.

"Master Clark. I am very glad to see you sir." He said as Clark stepped in.

"I wish it were under better circumstances."

"As do I, sir. I fear this is a shadow that will not soon lift from this house… or Master Bruce's heart.

Clark nodded thoughtfully then looked at the elder man. He placed a caring hand on his shoulder.

"How are *you* doing, Alfred?" He asked, knowing full well that Dick had been something akin to a second son, or at the least a grandson to the man.

Alfred straightened up into the proper stature of a gentleman.

"I am… enduring, sir." He said, his chin holding firm. But his voice and his eyes betrayed the weariness of his spirit.

Clark nodded in understanding.

"How is Bruce?"

"It is… difficult to say, sir. However, I do feel that your visit could not have been more well timed."

Clark raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Master Bruce, sir. I—I am growing quite fearful sir. Master Dick's death…" Alfred paused. It was the first time he had spoken the young man's name since… "…he is not dealing… …even with Master Jason he would… and poor Master Timothy…" He trailed off shaking his head. For the first time in many years, Alfred found himself unable to articulate the words he wanted to.

Clark placed his hand on the gentleman's shoulder again. "It's alright, Alfred. Tell me everything."

**********

Alone in the study, standing in front of the grandfather clock, Clark took a moment to gather his thoughts.

The news media had been mislead. Nightwing had been shot late Saturday night and had died at the clinic around 5am Sunday morning. Brain death. They'd kept his body artificially warm until late that night in order to stage the story that would be presented. Today was Tuesday and Clark felt even worse now knowing that his friend had been gone even longer than he'd thought.

How he had died, defending a life, Clark knew that was what Dick would have wanted, and that brought him some (albeit miniscule) comfort.

He was also upset over what Alfred had told him of Bruce's behaviour since the incident. Returning home after Dick had died, Bruce had retreated to the cave and had not surfaced. Still in his uniform, he refused to eat or drink. He refused to speak to anyone. He kept a silent vigil over nothingness, and poor Alfred was left to worry and deal with everything else.

And poor Tim…

Damn it Bruce, I'm not going to let you do this. Not this time, he thought angrily and opened the large clock. He descended the stony steps.

Reaching the bottom, Clark looked around with regular site. He saw nothing. Heard nothing. He was about to extend his super abilities when…

"Go home, Clark."

"Bruce?"

"Go home."

One of the shadows moved.

"I'm not going anywhere, Bruce." He said, approaching the aberration.

The Dark Knight, in full vigilante gear, was standing on one of the exposed natural ledges staring into the abyss.

"You're not required here."

"Like hell I'm not."

"This isn't *a job for Superman*."

"Good thing he's not there then."

"…"

Clark put a hand on the man's shoulder. A moment later he found himself being unceremoniously flipped head over heals and plummeting into the abyss of the lower caves.

If he wasn't able to fly…

Clark had stopped being surprised at Bruce's ability to best him. If his guard was down and he didn't see it coming… The Kryptonian had lost track of how many walls, airlocks and boulders he'd been tossed through over the years.

When he returned to the level that they had been standing on, he was likewise unsurprised to find that Batman was nowhere to be seen.

…At least not by human eyes.

Batman was standing in another shadowed corner, once more looking out into nothing.

This time, Clark did not approach. Instead he moved to the large Crays computer consul and sat down, turning the large chair to face in the vigilante's direction. He laced his fingers together, sat back and waited.

And waited.

Three hours passed without noticeable movement from either man.

Then, Batman heard the sound of motion coming from the computer stage. He heard a button being pushed and from its distinctive beep, knew that it was the intercom switch.

"Alfred?"

"Yes, Master Clark?"

"Has there been any change in Tim's condition?"

"Sadly no, sir. I'm afraid not."

"You'll let us know if there's anything…"

"Of course, sir."

"Thanks."

The switch was turned off. Both men continued in their previous manner.

For four minutes.

"What happened to Tim?"

"What do you care?"

"I'm not in the mood for games, Clark."

"Well at least that's a step I the right direction."

"What's happened to Tim?"

"Oh, nothing much. It's just that he's lost the person who meant most to him in this entire world. His hero, his idol… his big brother. The very person he wanted to *be* when he grows up. You kinda know what that feels like don'cha, Bruce?

"Speaking of which, the one person who he'd normally look to for support is too busy sulking among the stalactites to even notice him!

"Did you know that Tim's had to be almost continuously sedated for the last three days and when he's not sedated he's borderline catatonic. That he's not eating, and the few times he's tried, he hasn't been able to keep it down? He hasn't spoken since it happened. Did you notice that? Not a word in three days. He's coming apart Bruce and you're the only one who can help him.

"Alfred's contacted the boy's father, but the jerk said he won't be back in the country for another three weeks. If no one helps that boy, he'll be in an institution by that time!"

"…Alfred is perfectly capable…"

"ALFRED has got ENOUGH to deal with! He's tending to Tim, worrying about you. He deals with your press and is keeping all those hounds at bay. He's making all the arrangements for… for…"

Clark shook his head. "He hasn't even taken a moment for himself to mourn Dick yet. And you *damn* well know how much that boy meant to him!"

Clark paused and lowered his voice to a calmer level.

"I don't begrudge you your grief. You deserve it. You're allowed to feel it. But you *are not* allowed to stay down here and sulk, while other people need you. You're not eight years old anymore, Bruce. You can't just shut down like a child."

Clark stood up. During the entire conversation, Batman had not once turned t face him. Clark stopped once more before ascending the stairs.

"You're an adult, Bruce." He said. "Start acting like one."

**********

When he'd emerged from the cave, Clark had told Alfred that he needed to check into his hotel and that he'd call later.

The scholarly British gentleman had politely insisted that he stay at the Manor. Especially since the hotel on Clark's budget was nowhere near meeting Alfred's high standard of approval.

Superman had politely declined, not wanting to impose, but soon found out why Dick used to joke that Alfred was the *true* head of the Wayne household.

"I suppose then sir, I could always *un*-prepare the room I just spent a great deal of time preparing. That will of course push this old man's schedule back a few hours. Dinner could always be served a little late tonight, I suppose, especially since only Dr. Thompkins seems to be eating. But of course she won't mind waiting. And.—"

"Alright, alright, I give! Sheesh! Just promise you'll never use that power for evil!"

"I fear I don't understand what you are referring to, Master Clark. Now, if you are so inclined sir, I am serving tea in the parlour. I am certain Dr. Leslie would be fond of the company…"

And so the hero found himself taking very dignified tea and discussing fond memories of a fallen treasure, when he and the good doctor were startled by the sudden presence of someone else in the room.

Bruce Wayne (not Batman) stood in the doorway to the parlour looking sullen.

"Has… Tim woken up yet?" He asked.

"No." Leslie told him.

Bruce nodded. "Don't… don't sedate him anymore. I'm going to try to talk to him when he wakes up." He said.

Leslie looked at Clark with raised eyebrows, before looking back at Bruce.

"If you're sure, Bruce."

"I am."

"Ah, Master Bruce." Alfred said coming into the room. "Good to see you in sunlight, sir."

"Care to join us?" Clark asked.

Bruce paused. They were expecting his usual retreat.

"I'd like to check on Tim first." He said. "Then I'll be back down. Alfred, I think I should… probably eat something."

"I shall have something prepared upon your return sir." Alfred said with a warm smile.

Bruce turned to leave the room but stopped and looked back at the group again. He looked extremely uncomfortable.

"I…" Bruce closed his eyes a moment before continuing. "I don't know how to do this." He said in a quiet voice. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do… what I'm supposed to be doing."

Leslie stood up and gently touched the side of Bruce's face. This man was the closest thing she would ever have to son. She knew how difficult those words were for him to say. "Bruce, you've already taken the first step." She said and gave him a tight hug. He returned it.

"And then next step?" He asked.

Leslie looked up at him.

"Knowing that you're not alone."

**********

Jim shrugged off the night air in his habitually present trench coat.

Would he come? There have been other times when he'd ignored the signal for one reason or another, usually because he was busy with something else. But would that be the case tonight?

He didn't want to use the signal. He didn't want to call him. But the hero was needed.

The Ventriloquist was on a rampage.

Twenty minutes passed. The Commissioner sighed and turned off the new electric signal.

He was heading for the roof access when a small noise startled him. It wasn't the noise itself it was the fact that he'd heard it.

He turned to find two heroes; just not the ones he was expecting.

"Commissioner Gordon." Superman said, by way of greeting. The dark form of the current Batgirl sat crouched silently on the ledge behind him.

"Superman, I didn't expect to see you here." Gordon said extending his hand, which the hero shook.

"Batman is occupied right now. He's doing some computer work on the Watchtower. I told him that I… well, we," he said motioning to Batgirl. "would look after the city while he's gone… That is, if you don't mind."

"Mind? Of course I don't mind." He replied.

"Then how can we help?"

The trio (for Batgirl occasionally spoke imputing her detective skills and knowledge of the criminal) discussed the case for several minutes before deciding on a course of action. The plan set, Batgirl swung from the roof to implement her part.

Superman was about to take flight when the Commissioner cleared his throat.

"Uh, Superman… about Batman… Is he…" Jim sighed and glanced out at the dark Gotham skyline. "How is he?" He asked, meeting the Kryptonian's eyes.

Superman paused and held the man's gaze. He found understanding there. For such a loner, Bruce, you sure know how to pick your friends, Kal-El thought.

"He… He'll heal." He said quietly.

The Commissioner nodded and Superman excused himself with his own nod.

Alone again on the rooftop, Gordon was glad that his friend had someone looking out for him when he could not.

It hurt him not being able to be there for him; not being able to acknowledge what he knew; what he'd known for years.

He'd gone to see Barbara earlier that day. His daughter, the one-time Batgirl, and current computer goddess known as Oracle was a wreck. She tried, as per usual to hide her pain, but once he made it clear that she wasn't fooling him, she let go.

She'd confessed to him that she'd loved the rookie police officer. This was something that he'd known for a long time as well. Even before she did, he suspected. He didn't tell her of his now dashed secret hope that the young man would one day become his son-in-law. He couldn't think of anyone he'd be more proud to welcome into his family.

But that wasn't going to happen now.

And it hurt like hell.

**********

Pain Will Continue… (And possibly get worse…)