Explanations
By KnightRogue

Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. Batman, Batman Beyond and all related characters and concepts are owned by Warner Brother and DC Comics. No profit is being made from this work and no infringement is in anyway intended.

Chapter 1

"Just go away." Dana's muffled sob came from behind her closed front door. "You've said it all before. Nothing's changed. "
"But Dana…" Terry McGinnis's voiced pleaded with a hint of desperation. "I can explain."
"Explain what?" Her voice grew sharp. "You can explain why you stood me up at the dance? Why you've run out on me more dates than you've stayed?"
The shrill sound of a cell phone going off interrupted the tirade.
"Explain that! I can't and I won't! No more excuses! Not anymore." The sounds of her crying leaked through the closed door to the teenager waiting outside.
"But Dana…" Terry tried again.
The phone shrilled again.
"Just…go." Dana's sobs intensified. "It's over. Just please go! I don't want to see you anymore."
The sounds of a male's footsteps echoed in the hallway inside. Pacing towards the front door, they promised trouble to the troubled teen waiting outside.
As the phone rang for the third time, Terry cursed as he reached for it and was forced to trudge back down the path outside.

***

"McGinnis! What the hell do you think you're doing?" Bruce Wayne's voice boomed through Terry's aching head as he half ran, half limped after the pair of thieves he'd just surprised.
"I've got it under control." He coughed.
"You haven't got anything. Let the police handle those guys. You need to be after the ringleader."
Terry slowed as he heard the whine of the approaching sirens. Turning back to the scene of the crime, he slid into stealth mode as he scanned over the area. He fought back the urge to cough again as he gazed through exhausted eyes at the various symbols dancing through the cowl's visor. "I think he's gone." Batman rasped as he took in the trashed computer lab.
BAM! Terry's vision blurred and greyed out as the business end of the thick metal bar crashed into his skull. Stars swam before his eyes and Batman fell to his knees as the last robber made good his escape.
"McGinnis!" The voice roared through his head again and grew tinny. Terry fought to remain conscious as the sound of police footsteps began to race into the building.

As Wayne's scathing voice echoed over him and throughout the Batcave, Terry was hard pressed to follow the lecture. His chest burned and his throat hurt with the onset of a nasty cold and his head throbbed from the concussion the metal rod had given him. He tried to nod in all the right places in the conversation as he inwardly promised his body two hours of sleep before school started for the day. As he reached up to touch the growing knot on his head, his shoulder screamed a reminder from last night's nocturnal activities. Pulling himself back to the matter at hand, he tried to enter a plea in form himself.
"Bruce."
The interjection went unnoticed.
"Bruce!"
Again, he went unnoticed as the former Batman continued to criticize Terry's lack of finesse and the botched capture of a particularly canny band of computer data thieves.
"How could you not notice the suit was damaged? Did you just expect to push a button and nobody see you? Didn't you even check? They saw you coming a mile away!"
"Bruce. I'm sick and I'm tired and I've got school in three hours. Can I go home now? We can go over this tomorrow. Today. Whatever. After school, I mean. That is if Mom doesn't ground me for a million years for not coming home again…" Terry's voice trailed off as he finally focused on the aged blue eyes glaring at him.
"Give me the suit."
"What?"
"Give me the suit. Obviously you need to reevaluate your commitment. You've grown lax. You're making stupid mistakes."
"My commitment is fine!" Terry interrupted.
"Then explain tonight. You knew better. I've trained you better than that. Obviously you've decided to ignore that training. As of this moment, you're out of the suit."
"You're firing me? Just because I made a mistake?" Terry's head increased its pounding as the import of the older man's words began to sink in. "Fine. I'm outta here. I really don't need this right now." He threw the backpack at Wayne's feet and stumbled up the steps out of the cave.

***

"Where have you been!"
For the third time that night, someone else was yelling at him. "I was working"
"Don't give me that! I specifically asked you to watch Matt while I was at work, and yet you again pawned him off on your friends. Do you think I have the money to keep paying them for babysitting?"
"Mom. I'm sorry." He paused to once again cough against the fumes that had seared his lungs three nights ago as Batman. "Mr. Wayne called and I had to go in."
"Don't give me that young man! Nobody calls out a seventeen year old at 11 pm for a job. I've watched the news. I've seen what's going on. Your school called me yesterday. You're one step away from flunking out and now you're out 'til…" Mary McGinnis paused to look at the clock. "6 am! That's not a job! You're out with those gangs again, aren't you?"
"No! I swear! Call Mr. Wayne! I've been at work."
"I will not wake up Mr. Wayne at this hour. This is exactly what happened before, and I can see it happening again. I was hoping he could keep you out of trouble. Lord knows, I couldn't. But all you've managed to do is take advantage of that sweet old man."
'Sweet old man?' If the situation hadn't been so serious, Terry would have laughed at that statement. As it was, he tried once again to defend himself. "If you'd just call him, I know he's up…"
But Mary McGinnis had only paused for a breath. "Is it drugs?" Without waiting for an answer, she stared at her wayward son. "Now we're back where we were before. Only this time I don't have your father to send you back to. I would have thought for at least his memory, you would have tried harder."
"But I have! I'm not in any gang! And I'm not doing any drugs. Mr. Wayne will tell you! If you'd just listen for a second!" The pounding in his head blurred his eyes and caused his empty stomach to twist even tighter as he tried to explain. "I wouldn't! Not after Dad…" His voice broke and trailed off as he recalled with a shudder the results of that horrible day.
"I'm calling the school today and talk with your Guidance Councilor. Maybe he and your councilor at Juvenile can come with a solution. I haven't been able to. I'm sorry Terry, but I've got to do something. I've got Matt to think of too, and he's at that impressionable age where he thinks these kinds of things are cool."
"You just want to get rid of me again, don't you?" Terry spat out bitterly. "You never listen!" He headed to his room and slammed the door. "Don't bother calling Juvie. I can find somewhere else." He grabbed a wad of clothes and his unopened schoolbooks and stuffed them into a bag along with his personal computer. Storming out of his room, he brushed by his mom and out the door of the apartment.
"Terry!" His mother's cry echoed down the hallway.
He didn't look back.

***

Sitting outside Max's apartment building, the cold of the cement bench seeped through and stiffened already aching muscles. Dozing in the pink haze of dawn, he started as a familiar voice called out to him.
"Up kinda early, aren't you? Or did you ever even get to bed?" Max looked with sympathy at her friend sitting in front of her. "Rough night?"
"You have no idea."
"I bet I do. The gossip mill is already running at full tilt about your breakup last night. I've had six calls already from Chelsea and Blade. They told me that Dana means it this time."
Together, the two started toward the hovertrain platform and school.
"Terry. What's wrong? You're limping!" Max took a closer look at the tired figure next to her.
Terry brushed it off. "Nothing that won't heal. And believe me, I've got plenty of time for that now."
"What happened? You mean your not?" She gestured toward the backpack on his shoulder.
"Nope. I've been fired." It took all of his control to keep his voice casual.
"But how? Why?" The conversation slipped to a whisper as they joined the press of students crowding towards the front doors of Hamilton High.
"I'll tell you later. It's a long story." Terry ignored the glaring stares Dana's group of girl friends was giving him. He looked, but Dana was nowhere around.
"By the way," he said, following Max to their fist class, "can I bum a placed to stay tonight? Mom and I…" he trailed off as the bell rang and the teacher called for order.
Max took a moment when the teacher was occupied to IM him a quick answer. 'Sorry. Mom's cousins are in town with the parents. They'll be leaving in a couple of days and your welcome then. Your mom kick you out?'
Terry didn't reply, but concentrated on staying awake. The aspirin he had took while waiting for Max earlier had done nothing for his cold or the pounding in his head and chest. Words blurred on the screen in front of him as he fought to stay alert and figure out where he was going to go after school. Wayne's place, he was fired. Home was out. Dana's, not likely. Max's apartment, full. He tried to remember if anyone else he knew would let him bunk out until he could get Wayne to listen to him and call his mom.

The next class was no better. Dana, Blade, and Chelsea completely ignored him while the rest of the class whispered at their cold looks and IM'd each other at every opportunity the teacher's back was turned. On his way to third period, Nelson and his cronies had been particularly obnoxious about his break up with Dana. If he hadn't felt so miserable, he would have taken Nelson up on the barely concealed challenge. As it was, Terry only had time to swallow another two Tylenol before sliding into his seat in history. He remembered something important was due in class, and he prayed it wasn't one of Mr. Hilbrorn's famous quizzes. He slumped down in his seat and tried to avoid notice.
The strategy worked until his lungs betrayed him. He began to cough.
"Mr. McGinnis. How nice to see you." The sarcasm dripped from Mr. Hibrom's tongue. "Perhaps you would be so good as to start the collection of the term papers for me."
"Uhmmm. The rest of the class sniggered as Terry's brain finally kicked in and remembered what it had forgotten.
"Let me guess." The scorn was evident over the laughs of the other students. " The dog ate your homework. Or perhaps something else more exotic." Mr. Hibrom paused. "Why don't you take a visit to the Vice Principle's office? I'll join you there after class. We wouldn't want to take up anymore of your valuable time."
As Terry got up and made his way out of the classroom, something mentally snapped. Instead of heading down the hallway towards the school's offices, he turned and limped out the front door to the city beyond.

To be continued…