Thank you so much for getting this far! I very much hope that you will enjoy this story, and that it will do all for you that a good story should do. I do promise to do all that I can to make it a well-written piece, though I cannot promise it will be a crowd-pleaser. You see, it will have, as a said before, a bit of a twist to it, but I feel that as long as you just go along for the ride, you will very much enjoy it. I'm sure I did take some liberties, though I tried not to directly contradict the original Batman Beyond - this story is my creative take on the characters.

To Dana fans, extra props to you for getting this far! Though this is a Terry & Max fanfic, I respect your preference. Dana is quite lovely, and she did get to Terry first. I admit that I only prefer the Terry and Max romance because my best friend biased me towards it. So, that said, I encourage you to read anyway. I encourage you to - while still remaining loyal to the Dana of Batman Beyond - allow your view of her to become a little more flexible in this rendition... in my view of exactly what really happened.

The cool kids sat in the back of bus, feeling way too cool, and way too old, to be riding on a bus at all, and discussing it.

"I swear, if Matt has another slagging 'flu,' I will personally make him incapable of having anther one." Growled a roguish, handsome looking young man as he glared out of the corner window.

The young lady next to him made his attitude seem like a pathetic temper-tantrum. She wore an easy smirk, and spoke in an unaffected, dry voice. She was distinguished, calm, and far more dangerous seeming than the boy. "And how are you going to do that, McGinnis?" She giggled a bit, knowing she would be complaining just as much if Terry wasn't.

"Kill him," he whispered, trying to sound sinister. He turned his head slowly toward his companion, his black hair hanging down into his blue eyes. When he saw the hidden smile on the girl's full lips, his own twitched into one as well. He laughed openly, shifting his position and fiddling with his homework card. He seemed an easy-going youth, artless and friendly, having those easy characteristics that make one likeable and looked-up to.

The girl beside him, however, was a nerd no one could spot unless she chose to let them in on it. She was elegant and edgy, with her shortly-cropped pink hair and Audrey-Hepburn-simple style. Her dress was classic, composed of narrow cropped black pants, black flats, and a snug, tan, sleeveless tank. She was popular for the very reasons that her best friend was not. You cared about what she thought about you, with Terry, you already knew.

"Max, I know you're perfect, but could you please, just get frustrated, once?" Half-joked Terry, pushing a large hand through his angular hair cut.

"Oh, Terry, I've been frustrated. For example, if your mom hadn't had to take little-miss-faker to the doctor, I would have gotten a ride to school today, as usual."

Terry laughed. "Little-miss-faker, that's good," he repeated, rather like a dork.

Max rolled her eyes, feeling the strain of being at a higher level of intelligence than those of whom she was in company with. "And if you would just buy your own car and stop driving your mom's tank around…which, by the way, is ancient, and huge…"

"Hey, wait a minute, now! So what, I don't have a car. You are a whole year older than me and you need rides all the time—"

Max's dark brown eyes shot up suddenly. Terry, ever in-tune with her emotions, ceased talking and followed her eyes to look around the crowded, rather less than updated bus. Those other passengers who did not have such engaging company as they shared, nor such great chemistry, naturally fell to watching the entertaining show. When confronted with the couples' eyes, however, they mildly went back to sifting through their cell phone databases.

"Well I'm sorry, you have a job that pays you, like, a million dollars, and I don't," Max hissed back when she had gone back to tapping around the internet on her hand held. "Oh, and I have to pay rent."

"That's okay, though. It's not like you have any other friends than me, so you have plenty of time to work, at least." They both fell to chuckling.

"Hey, Dana…" Terry alerted Max, pointing out the window.

"What?" Max leaned over Terry and peered at the line-up of kids preparing to board. Not too out-of-place was fifteen year old Dana, standing the row, clutching her bag to her chest and looking down. Her black hair blew around her, and she looked sort of sad. Always ironically dressed, she wore a miniskirt and furry boots. Her fur-trimmed purse, of course, matched.

"She must have decided not to have her dad take her when I told her I was taking the bus," Terry said, almost apologetic.

Max tried not to sigh and just gave Terry what she meant to be a careless smile. "Well, fun's over, now," she said, teasing. Max got up with her bag slung over her shoulder and moved awkwardly up to a row that was, blessedly, absent.

When Dana entered, she gave Terry a brief wave and then sat down by Max, a huge smile on her face.

"Mornin', Max, how are you?"

Max tried not to zone out at Dana's dark, glossy lipstick shade. "Great, how are you?"

"Oh, just great. I mean, a little bummed that all I saw of Terry was a phone-cam conversation at 2:00 in the morning last night, or this morning, or…whatever."

"So, you takin' the bus now?" Max said, not really hearing the friend whom she didn't come close to connecting with.

Apparently, Dana felt the same way about Max, and kept rambling. "Yeah, oh my gosh, those late night conversations are just killin' my complexion. My eyes are watering so much, my eyeliner won't stay put!" She flipped open her make-up compact and began applying with one hand, eyeing herself through a mirror in the other.

Max watched, feeling rather strange and expressionless as the pretty girl applied heavy eyeliner, accentuating her slanted eyes.

Terry, too far behind to hear, desperately wished he had his suit on. He touched his fingertips to the seat in front of him, but he stopped himself as he was reaching out, embarrassed. "Man I wear that thing too much. Maybe Dana is right that my job is taking over my life. I can hardly function as a normal kid anymore."

"They look like cat eyes," thought Max as she watched Dana continue.

"I mean, who cares how big Wayne Enterprises is? I think he should quit. I mean, who wants to work that much? No girl would put up with what I put up with."

"Yeah, well, sure, I think he should do what he wants," Max murmured, trying to appear busy with her phone.

"How can he possibly want to work? It's not like he does anything with the money, takes me out or anything…"

"Well, if he enjoys it," Max felt herself beginning to get a little defensive, but cloaked it, as always, by pretending to comfort Dana.

"I have a theory. I think he's afraid of the future and wants to save up money or something. I don't know. I think he's just being selfish."

"So why are you still going out with him?" Max shocked herself when the words slipped out.

Thankfully, Dana wasn't easy to offend, and hardly noticed. "Oh, I don't know, all relationships have problems. Terry is a lot more, like, apologetic than most guys…that's a good thing."

"Yeah, Terry's a nice guy," Max said, trying to sound casual. Dana and Terry had begun dating after Terry asked her to go to a dance with him, and she sorta' just never stopped calling, after that. That was at the beginning of high school, when they all met. Max and Terry had hit it off right away, but Max had always tended to hang out more with guys, so it didn't seem like a big deal to either of them. Things changed a little bit in high school, when Max clicked so well with Chelsea, and Dana basically attached herself unbidden to Max.

"Well, I better go say hi to him. How do I look?" Max looked in surprise at Dana. Why would someone who looked like that ever need to ask? "You look…perfect," she answered, telling the honest truth.

Dana was gone and Max forced herself not to glance back at them, though she could hear Dana cooing to Terry in the backseat.

Max was relieved when she finally got off the bus, and hurried to find her best friend, Chelsea. Terry would have loved to follow, but Dana clung to him as well as did Blade when they stepped off the bus. But for some reason, Terry still hadn't learned to say no. Perhaps Max's independence wasn't encouraging enough for him. Perhaps, somehow, he didn't think he ought to be in a relationship with anybody. Perhaps, it was just that Dana was so available. But maybe that's how she lost some of her appeal, too. Perhaps it's a little strange and almost even pathetic that Batman couldn't assert himself, but in fairness, it must be said that all he wanted was for once, for something in his life not to be a fight.