A/N: Hello!! This is my very first Batman Beyond story ever!! It is, in case you missed it in the summary, a Terry/Dana fic. Since we all know that sometime between "Unmasked" and "Epilogue" she learns his secret, I decided to go ahead and make this my take on how that might occur; hopefully you'll like it!! Please forgive any OOCness or minor errors!!
Disclaimer: Not to be cliché, but if I owned Batman Beyond it would have lasted longer than three (fabulous) seasons… at any rate, clearly I don't own it in any way/shape/form.
"I can't believe I got to keep you for the whole date," Dana Tan commented, half-teasingly, as she and her boyfriend of over five years stopped before her car.
Terry McGinnis smirked down at her as he let the knuckles of his right hand slide lightly down the side of her face. "There's a first time for everything, right?"
Dana reached up and caught his hand as it had come to rest on her jaw, and laced her fingers through his as she whispered, "I wish it would happen more often, though."
"Me, too," Terry admitted honestly, his own voice softening as he leaned towards her. Shifting his hold so that his hand was cupping the side of her face, his left hand descended lightly on her hip as their lips met.
Loosely wrapping her arms around his shoulders, Dana leaned into the kiss immediately. The simple, tender kiss quickly turned more passionate as Terry let his arms wrap around her slim frame. Their tongues danced eagerly for a long moment before the couple reluctantly pulled apart.
They were silent for a long moment before Dana finally glanced beside them and asked hesitantly, "Are you sure you don't want me to give you a ride?"
Dropping a quick second kiss on her forehead, Terry took half a step back and grinned confidently. "I'm sure; the station's just a couple blocks away, I'll be fine."
"I don't mind," Dana offered, disliking the idea of him traveling at night by himself.
Terry grazed his thumb over her lips briefly, saying, "Don't worry, babe; just head home and I'll see you tomorrow."
Dana sighed and dug her key out of her purse. "Alright," she said as she unlocked her car.
Terry silently stepped back and waited until she was settled in the car and the engine was running, before he stepped up again and leaned down to steal one quick final kiss. "Good night, Dane," he whispered as he straightened again.
She smiled, replying, "Good night, Terry."
"How was your date?" Bruce Wayne asked over the video-channel he had established with the Batmobile.
"It was good; peaceful," Batman replied as he easily navigated the skyscrapers of Gotham City.
"Don't get used to that," Bruce reminded casually.
Batman allowed an almost bitter grin to curve his lips as he said, "Trust me, I won't."
It was then that the online computer picked up a silent alarm from one of the city's banks, so he automatically redirected the Batmobile in that direction and doubled his speed. Bruce rattled off the stats he'd picked up over the police broadcast as Terry approached his destination, and his night truly began.
Dana was two streets over from the apartment she shared with Chelsea Cunningham when her car started acting up. She frowned and pushed a couple of buttons on the consol, hoping to find an easy fix that would at least get her home. Instead, the vehicle gave a final choking sound and lowered clumsily to the ground, jolting Dana forward roughly.
"What the heck?" Dana mumbled once the car had come to a stop. The lights on the dashboard blinked rapidly before going dark and Dana sighed. "Just my luck," she grumbled as she unclipped her seatbelt and pushed open the door.
She was a bit too far to feel comfortable walking, so she extracted her cell phone from her purse and dialed her roommate's number. She could only hope that Chelsea was home -and available.
Her hopes were in vain, as Chelsea's phone rang until the voicemail kicked in. Dana hung up without leaving a message and hesitated with her finger poised over the button that would call Terry.
He probably isn't home yet, she realized, remembering that he'd had to take the train that night. Sighing again, she decided to call Max and pushed the button to call her other best friend.
She never saw the shadow sneak up behind her; never heard the hand rise above her head before swiftly coming back down and knocking her entirely off her feet.
Batman approached Commissioner Barbara Gordon as the police escorted the third and final would-be robber into the back of the transport vehicle. Barbara had just finished taking a statement from one of the tellers who had been closing the bank at the time.
"The bank's clear," he said as she slipped her notebook into her coat pocket.
"Good," she replied shortly, turning so that she could face the smoking building. The bank was still standing, and would probably be up and running again in two or three days; but the insurance wouldn't be happy about the large hole that had been blown into the west wall.
Batman inclined his head and turned to take his leave when one of the officers came running up.
"Commissioner!" the officer called, stopping in front of his boss and standing just a handful of feet from the infamous hero.
"What is it?" Commissioner Gordon asked, slipping her hands into her pockets.
"We've got an abandoned car on Maple Avenue," the officer began. "Randall was sent to investigate; he says the car seemed to have run out of power, but when he popped the hood, it looked like the engine had been drained."
"Drained?" Gordon repeated.
"Yes, ma'am," the officer asserted, "and there was a purse left on the side of the street, just a few feet away. Randall ran the plates and confirmed the purse belongs to the owner of the car; but she was nowhere in sight."
Barbara Gordon frowned as warning bells went off inside her head. "Were there any signs of a struggle?"
"Just the abandoned purse," the officer replied. "No blood or unusual markings, and there don't appear to have been any witnesses. Randall says he thinks the owner was abducted."
"We should check the residence first, before we jump to any conclusions. Who's the registered owner?" Gordon asked.
"A woman named Dana Tan," the officer replied after consulting his notes.
Batman, who had been watching the exchange silently, clenched his fists and took a half-step backwards as soon as Dana's name left the officer's lips. He saw Gordon look over when he'd moved, but he ignored her partially raised eyebrow as he leapt into the air and fired the jets in his boots. The Batmobile met him several stories up and in no time he was seated and zooming towards Maple Avenue.
"What's the matter?" Bruce asked a few seconds later as the vid-screen popped up.
Pushing the Batmobile to go faster as he curved around the Wayne-Powers building, Batman said, "Dana's missing." He forced his voice to remain discernable, as his previous words had come out in nearly a growl, as he added, "Her car was found deserted on Maple Avenue; the police think the battery was drained, and her purse was found next to the car."
"So they suspect kidnapping, then?" Bruce asked rhetorically.
"Yeah," Batman stated, the growl returning to his voice. "I'm gonna call Max and see if she's heard from her; can you check and see which of my fans is running free tonight?"
"Way ahead of you," Bruce assured his protégé even as the vid-screen blinked out of existence.
"Computer, call Max," Batman instructed a heartbeat later even as he slowed marginally and began to lower the Batmobile.
Maxine Gibson came on the line fifteen seconds later, sounding calm. "What's up?"
"Have you heard from Dana tonight?" Batman asked, skipping straight to the point as the two police officers -and his girlfriend's abandoned car- came into view.
Max's confusion was obvious as she slowly replied, "Uh…no; was I supposed to?"
Batman ground his teeth. "Not necessarily. Call me if you hear anything. I'll get back to you." Then he ended the call and let himself drop out of the Batmobile, to land on the trunk of Dana's car.
The officers looked up at the soft thud and turned to face the car, their expressions showing their surprise as their eyes landed on Batman's dark figure. Batman propelled himself easily off of the trunk of the car and moved to the side to angle himself so that he could look inside the convertible, searching for anything out of place.
"What're you doing here?" Officer Randall asked hesitantly as they watched Batman search through the car carefully.
Without turning back to look at the officer, Batman replied, "You think the owner's been kidnapped, right?"
"Yes," the second officer answered.
Randall spoke up again when Batman offered no additional comment. "But don't you have bigger things to worry about?"
"Not at the moment," Batman replied shortly as he moved around to the front of the car.
"We already checked under the hood," the second officer pointed out.
"I know," Batman said. The hood popped up obediently a heartbeat later and he let his eyes wander over the intricacy of the wires and mechanics of the vehicle before he lightly placed one gloved hand on top of the engine.
As he'd suspected, the engine was completely dead, and the suit's computer indicated that a majority of the power had been drained out of it recently. Just as he was lifting his hand off of the engine, he noticed something else; the wire that connected the engine to the car's on-board sensors had been clipped.
So that's why she didn't notice it when she turned the car on, he reflected silently as he straightened.
"You should have your mechanics take a good look at this car," Batman declared, half turning back to face the officers. With a gesture towards the car, he added, "The engine sensor wire was clipped."
The officers exchanged surprised looks -they clearly hadn't noticed the wire during their previous search.
Sirens in the distance indicated the impending arrival of the Commissioner and her entourage, none of whom Terry felt like dealing with at the moment, so Batman turned from the abandoned vehicle and the officers and began walking away. Half a dozen feet later he took to the air to rejoin the Batmobile, ignoring the officers' curious and confused looks that he could feel at his back.
"Did you find anything?" Bruce asked as the Batmobile lifted above the skyline once more.
"Only that one of the wires was clipped," Batman replied shortly. "Nothing else that was new."
"Was it a clean cut?"
"Yeah," Batman said, "which only means it wasn't amateur, especially since it was the only wire that was cut. Whoever it was knew what they were doing." He was quiet for a second, before he finally asked the burning question. "Did you get the list?"
"I did," Bruce began, "but you're not going to like it."
Batman said nothing as he waited impatiently for his mentor to continue.
Bruce didn't keep him waiting as he said, "There have been some rumors underground that a new faction of KOBRA is on the rise in Gotham; I don't have any information on them yet. Spellbinder escaped from custody during transportation three days ago and he's been lying low so far. Mad Stan broke out less than forty-eight hours ago, and after leaving a small trail of devastation he disappeared. But I have worse news, I'm afraid."
"Worse than KOBRA, Spellbinder, and Mad Stan?" Batman asked rhetorically, his eyes narrowing as he glared out his windshield. "Thanks for the warning."
"Big Time escaped during Stan's breakout," Bruce declared grimly. "The police focused their search on Stan, and so they lost sight of Big Time almost immediately."
Batman's glare intensified as he tried not to think of his former best friend abducting his long-time girlfriend. Angrily, he snapped, "And why didn't we know about any of this when it happened?"
"Apparently the authorities are trying to keep it quiet," Bruce declared. "They probably don't want to alarm the citizens."
"Terrific," Batman growled. "Do we have any leads on Charlie?"
Bruce frowned into the screen and was quiet for several heartbeats before he finally asked, "Are you sure you want to start with Big Time?"
"He's the only one on that list that might have something against Dana," Batman reasoned.
"True," Bruce acknowledged, "but if he was involved do you really think her kidnapping would have been so delicate?"
Batman frowned and hesitated with his answer. Finally, he said, "Maybe he's working with someone again."
"Or maybe it's not him," Bruce suggested.
"Well what do you think?" Batman snapped as he curved over the docks for the second time that night.
"I think we need to open ourselves up to the possibility that it's not any of them," Bruce replied firmly. "The kidnapping isn't any of their styles, and though it's not impossible that they've got accomplices we don't know about, I think it's more likely to be someone new."
"I was afraid you'd say that," Batman admitted. His tone shifted, growing darker, and he added, "But if they are new, they're going to have a very short career of villainy."
"Once you find them," Bruce reminded pointedly.
"Yeah," Batman acknowledged, reflexively increasing the Batmobile's speed.
"I'm going to do some more research; I'll let you know what I find," Bruce declared as he cut off their video link.
Batman directed the Batmobile lower so that he could get a clearer view of the city below him as he navigated the traffic and the buildings in his own search. It would really help if I knew what to look for, he thought angrily.
Nearly an hour later, as Batman continued his search for Dana, another call came in. This time it was from Max, and Terry couldn't help but feel a spark of hope ignite within him as he quickly reached out to answer the call.
"You said you'd get back to me, remember?" Max reminded pointedly.
"I've been busy," Batman returned a bit too harshly.
"Does it have something to do with Dana?" Max asked. Before he could respond, she continued. "Because Chelsea called me about five minutes ago looking for her; apparently Dana called her over an hour ago, but she didn't leave a message. Since it wasn't long after that that you asked me about her, I figured it wasn't a coincidence. So what's going on, Terry?"
"She called Chelsea?" Batman repeated, ignoring his friend's question for the moment.
"That is what I just said," Max replied. "Don't ignore me, McGinnis, you know I can find out on my own."
Grinding his teeth together, Batman replied, "Dana's missing, Max. Her car was found right before I called you on Maple. When, exactly, did Chelsea say Dana called?"
"Oh my God," Max breathed as she took in her friend's words. After a moment, she snapped herself out of it and answered his question. "She didn't give me the exact time, just said it was over an hour ago, and that Dana's not home yet."
"Has Chels been there all night?"
"I don't know…I think so," Max replied slowly. "She said she'd expected Dana to get home a while ago, so it sounded like she was already there."
"Thanks, Max. Let me know if you hear any more, ok?" Batman requested.
"Yeah, of course," Max assured him. After a second, she added, "Good luck, Terry."
Without responding, Batman killed the connection and then dialed Wayne, who picked up almost immediately.
"What is it?" Bruce asked by way of greeting.
"I need you to get Dana's phone records. Max just talked to Chelsea, and Chels said Dana called her a little over an hour ago."
"Right before she was abducted," Bruce deduced aloud as he began clicking away at the computer again. "I'll let you know what I find."
Dana moaned as she slowly regained consciousness. Her head was pounding loudly against her temples and dread filled her as she realized that she was not where she was supposed to be. She was sitting up, propped against what felt like a wall -and it felt like she was sitting on a bed or a couch.
It was too dark for her to see anything around her, but when she went to move, she realized quickly that her boots had been removed and her feet were tied together at the ankles. In addition to that, her right wrist was shackled to something off to the side.
"Where am I?" she whispered as she tried to look around. All she could see was darkness, and all she could hear was her own heartbeat as it pounded rapidly inside her chest.
After a long second, Dana carefully pulled her legs closer to her body, so that she could reach across herself to try to get a feel for the shackle around her wrist. She lightly ran her hands over the cold, metal object until she found the chain. Then she focused her blind groping, hoping to feel a latch or something potentially breakable. But even after shifting her position awkwardly and tugging as best as she was able, the chain didn't budge, and neither did whatever it was fastened to.
Several minutes went by and Dana finally slumped, feeling defeated and especially vulnerable. She sighed, fear latching onto her heart once again as she wished she could see something around her.
She immediately regretted her wish when she heard a soft series of clicks and beeps, which sounded a lot like an unlocking door or security system. The sound echoed as if broadcast through a bullhorn in the dark room.
Then she heard a soft sliding sound and a slim beam of light leaked into the room, preceding the faint click of a light switch. Instantly, bright fluorescent light poured into the room, temporarily blinding Dana and forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut against the unexpected intrusion.
Before she could get her eyes open again, a familiar male voice said, "I was wondering when you'd wake up."
"Dana called Chelsea just before nine o'clock," Bruce declared as Terry came up behind him, having returned to the Bat-Cave at Bruce's request.
The nineteen year old Batman tugged the mask off of his face as he leaned forward, over Bruce's shoulder, to get a closer look at the screen. "Is that the closest we can get?"
"Not quite," Bruce replied. "Dana dialed Max at exactly 8:58, but before the call could go out it was cancelled. That would be why Max didn't hear from her."
His jaw tensing, Terry said, "Then she was attacked at 8:58; but we still need to figure out who took her."
"That might not be too difficult," Bruce stated, minimizing the screen display of Dana's phone record and pulling up a new screen that Terry didn't immediately recognize.
"What do you mean?" Terry asked, turning a curious look on his mentor.
Without looking away from the computer, Bruce replied, "Now that we know exactly what time to look for, and since we already have the location, I can call up a satellite image of the area at that exact moment in time. That should give us what we need."
Terry's eyes widened as he realized that Bruce was right, and he took half a step back to give the older man room to breathe as he anxiously watched the screen.
It was several minutes before Bruce was able to access the information they were looking for. But suddenly images were popping up, with little time-stamps in the lower right-hand corner. The first, timed at fifty-seven minutes and twenty seconds past eight o'clock, showed Dana staring at her phone; the next, twenty-five seconds later, showed Dana holding her cell phone up to her ear.
In the back of the second picture, clearly unknown to Dana, was the shadow of a second figure who was just out of the shot.
The third picture, taken at fifteen seconds past 8:58, was of a man standing behind Dana with his arm held high. The man looked to be about 6'2, and was wearing a mask that covered the entire front of his face, though the back of his head was exposed, revealing his dark blonde hair. He had on a black turtle-neck sweater, black gloves, and black jeans and sneakers as well.
The fourth picture was timed fifteen seconds later, and Dana was slumped -seemingly unconscious- in her attacker's arm. Her purse had slid off of her shoulder, and she had dropped her phone as well. Her attacker was reaching out with his right arm, the one not holding Dana, as if to readjust her.
The next several photos showed the mysterious man carrying Dana away from her car, and out of the shot; subsequent shots, from slightly altered angles, followed him as he placed Dana in a vehicle that was mostly hidden by a building.
The vehicle, with Dana and her kidnapper, drove away -out of sight- just three minutes after nine o'clock.
"I'll see if I can't find some information on our kidnapper," Bruce assured his protégé once they'd finished going through the relevant photos.
"And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?" Terry demanded in frustration, turning away from the computer and punching his fist into his opposite palm.
"For now, all we can do is spread the word and keep looking. You should go to the station and give these photos to Barbara so that she can have her people looking for him, too," Bruce suggested.
Terry turned back around and accepted the handful of pictures even as he tugged his mask back into place. "Alright," he agreed. "But after I talk to Gordon, I'm hitting the streets again. Do you think this creep could've called in a ransom to her father or something?"
"He hasn't so far," Bruce replied. "I'm monitoring the incoming calls on Mr. Tan's home and cellular phones; I'll let you know if he hears from our kidnapper."
"That's reassuring," Terry grumbled as he made his way to the Batmobile.
"She's your girlfriend, isn't she?" Commissioner Barbara Gordon after she'd quickly scanned the photographs Batman had handed her.
His eyes widened marginally before he asked, "What?"
Barbara cocked an eyebrow at him pointedly. "I made it my business a long time ago to learn about your social life, kid," she began. "The missing girl is your girlfriend, isn't she? Or has she finally dumped you?"
Batman frowned and opted to ignore her final question. "Yeah, she is," he replied tersely. "And I'm going to find her; but right now we don't have any new leads."
"My people are out looking for her," Barbara said, tucking the picture into a pocket inside her trench coat. "I'd offer to call you when I hear something, but I'm sure you're piggybacking my frequencies already anyway."
"I appreciate the thought," Batman commented as he pressed the button on his belt that would summon the Batmobile.
"But you won't wait for me if you find her first, I know," Barbara finished knowingly.
"He'll call you," Batman assured her, silently agreeing with her statement. At that moment, the Batmobile came to a stop above them, and the bottom hatch opened expectantly.
Barbara Gordon watched with mixed emotions as the new Batman launched into his vehicle and sped away, quickly disappearing into the night.
Batman searched through the night with no further success. As the sun began to peek around the Gotham City skyscrapers, Bruce called Terry and reminded him pointedly that since he still lived at home, his mother might notice if he wasn't home come morning. It took several minutes of arguing before he reluctantly agreed to go home, if only to rest for an hour or so before heading out again.
Terry slipped into his bedroom with little over an hour before his mother would be getting ready for work. He paused to set his alarm to wake him up with enough time for his mother to see him before she left; then he shrugged out of his coat, kicked off his shoes, socks, and jeans, and collapsed onto his bed. He was exhausted with stress and frustration, and he quickly fell into a dreamless sleep.
He was showered and as fresh as he was going to get just under two hours later when he exited his room and found his mother putting her cup of coffee into the sink.
She looked at him curiously, as he wasn't usually up so early now that he was in college, and said, "You're up early."
Terry shrugged, reaching into the cupboard to grab a box of his younger brother's cereal. "Yeah, I promised Max I'd be over in half an hour; we've got a big test coming up, so we thought we'd study together."
Mary McGinnis furrowed her brow thoughtfully. "I haven't heard about any test."
A guilty look settled over Terry's face briefly and he muttered, "I, uh, kind o' forgot about it until last night. Max called while I was running some errands for Mr. Wayne and reminded me."
His mother sighed, shaking her head slightly, and began to walk past her oldest son, pausing to drop a kiss on the crown of his head. "Well, you'd better be sure to thank her, then. Look, I've got to run; since you're up, can you make sure Matt gets to his bus on time?"
"Yeah, of course," Terry promised, offering his mother a smile he wished he felt.
"Thanks," she said gratefully. She made it all the way into the living room before pausing, her coat slung over her arm, when she looked back and asked, "Are you sure you're all right, Terry? You look exhausted; is something bothering you?"
Terry cringed, extremely grateful that she couldn't see his face, and replied, "I'm fine, Mom, I swear; I just didn't sleep too well, that's all."
"If you're sure…" Mary said hesitantly. With a final sigh, she decided to accept her son's answer and called goodbye to Matt before disappearing through the door.
"Don't you have class today?" Bruce asked less than an hour later as Terry descended the stone staircase.
"Max takes good notes," Terry stated as if it were all the excuse he needed. When Bruce gave him a pointed look, he added seriously, "I'm not going to class while Dana's missing. I don't have to make another appearance at home until tomorrow if I'm lucky. Do you have anything new?"
Bruce frowned, a frown Terry knew was not directed at him, and returned his attention to the screen before him. Ace lifted his head as Terry approached and whined sympathetically.
"Our kidnapper somehow managed to avoid getting caught on any security cameras," Bruce began as he pulled up several different screens. "What little satellite footage we have isn't that good; we don't have enough to do a facial recognition scan. I was able to get a partial on his license plate, and with what little we were able to see about his vehicle from the footage, I've come up with a list of possibilities."
"Which would be great -unless he stole the car," Terry concluded with a frown.
"It's not quite that bad," Bruce said as a new image dominated the screen. It looked like a list, with thumbnail photos next to a set of bullet-points for each picture. "We know our kidnapper is male, and blonde; we also know his approximate height, and we can rule out the young and the elderly. Additionally, our kidnapper looked to be in decent physical condition."
"How does that help if we still don't know who he is? If he just stole some random car, we're back at square one," Terry questioned angrily.
"Take a look at this list," Bruce said, ignoring his question. "There are 25 people in Gotham City who own vehicles that fit our partial description. Of them, only one has reported his car stolen in the past twenty-four hours."
Here, Bruce maximized the image of the fourth man on the list. He looked to be in his mid-forties, slightly overweight and balding, with dark hair. Terry studied the image, glanced at the man's name, and memorized the address before turning to suit up. But before he could get very far, Bruce called out to him.
"Hold on, McGinnis," he said. "Before you look into him, you should see something else."
"What?" Terry asked, turning back around but not stepping closer.
Bruce minimized the picture and scrolled down the list as he said, "I looked into the backgrounds of the owners as a precaution, and found someone who matches our kidnapper's description."
Terry's eyes widened and he quickly returned to his mentor's side, leaning forward and waiting impatiently.
As the image of an early-fifties woman with blonde hair was pulled up from the list, Bruce continued. "Tamara Pearson is the mother of two children; one thirteen year old middle-school girl, and one twenty-year old male college student." The image on screen switched, Tamara Pearson being replaced with a young man who did indeed fit the description of the man who'd kidnapped Dana.
Terry's eyes widened as he recognized the man on the screen. "But that's Gary Caulder," he said after a moment.
"His parents divorced when he was five, and his mother got remarried just a few months before his sister was born," Bruce explained. "Apparently, Gary kept his father's name instead of taking on his stepfather's name. And you clearly already know that he goes to your school."
Terry straightened and turned towards the darkness of the cave as he slipped his backpack off of his shoulder. "I've got a few classes with him," he began darkly. "A few months ago, when Dana and I had that stupid fight, he swooped in and tried to make her forget all about me."
"Then he couldn't have been too happy when you got back together," Bruce deduced calmly.
"He was furious," Terry clarified as he tugged the first glove into place. "He got in my face that same day and threatened to break every bone in my body if I broke her heart again; said I wasn't worthy and that I was killing her."
Then he paused, looking up and meeting Bruce's knowing gaze, and added, "But the worst part was, when he realized Dana wasn't interested, he threatened her." Terry ground his teeth as the memory washed over him. "I lost my temper; I'd have leveled him, but Dana held me back; she said he wasn't worth it." As he turned again, tugging his cowl into place and starting towards the Batmobile, he growled, "I should've done it anyway."
"Where are you going?" Bruce asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I know where he lives," Batman replied evenly. "I'm gonna pay him a visit."
"Gary, please, let me go," Dana pleaded as she watched her abductor move around the small room. When the lights had come on, she had realized quickly that she was in a small bedroom. The knowledge didn't necessarily ease her mind at all.
Gary Caulder turned back and gave her a puzzled look. "Why would I do that?"
Dana desperately fought down the glare that wanted so badly to settle on her face. "If anyone finds out you've kidnapped me, you'll be arrested. You can't hold me here; they'll find me eventually."
"Who will?" Gary challenged arrogantly. "Your slut roommate? She probably hasn't even noticed you're missing." He paused, and his arrogant expression shifted into an angry glare. "Or did you mean your criminal boyfriend? I'm sure he's not smart enough to figure it out at all."
This time the glare did show as she clenched her fists. "Terry's not a criminal anymore, and Chelsea isn't a slut. Who do you think you are that you can just play with my life like this?"
Gary moved swiftly forward and reached out, smacking Dana as she backed up against the wall behind the bed in a vain effort to avoid him. His voice a snarl, he said, "Don't you dare speak to me like that! I did you a favor, relieving you of that trash you call a boyfriend! I'm going to get you out of Gotham entirely, and then I'll show you what it's like to be with a real man!"
Shifting her jaw in an effort to lessen the pain, she hissed, "Real men don't hit women, you jackass. And for the record, I'll never go anywhere with you."
"Oh, I beg to differ," Gary breathed as he knelt on the bed Dana was still shackled to. He reached out and forcibly cupped her face in his hands as he lowered his voice and said, "And I think now's the perfect opportunity to start our journey together."
Dana tried desperately to pull out of his grasp, but pressed up against the wall as she was, there was nowhere for her to move except forward -and into Gary. Bringing up her free hand, she pushed as strong as she was able against his shoulder as fear tightened its grip on her heart. "Get…off of me!"
Gary ignored her protest, and her shoving, and slipped one hand behind her head to pull her forward slightly as he leaned down, intending to press his lips against hers.
Dana jerked her head at the last second to the right, so that his lips made contact with her left cheek instead. Unfortunately, her actions only angered him.
"Hold still!" Gary snapped, firmly grasping her jaw in his right hand and holding her face properly forward as he prepared to try again.
"No!" Dana gasped as she tried to pull back again, and attempted to angle her hand up to shove his face aside. Their bodies were too close, however, for her to get enough power behind her; the first tear slipped free as she felt his breath against her face.
Gary's eyes had closed expectantly as he could nearly feel her lips against his when the solitary bedroom window -whose curtains had been tightly shut- shattered inward. He leapt backwards, startled and angry at the interruption, and Dana whimpered in relief as she was finally released from his hold. Her relief doubled when she recognized the infamous figure of Batman as he pushed himself to his full height and leveled a glare at Gary.
"Batman!" Gary declared, his eyes going wide as he stepped back against the bed. "What are you doing here?!"
"Don't play dumb, Caulder," Batman snapped angrily, his fists clenching as he took in the sight of his shackled and terrified girlfriend on the bed behind his opponent. She was curled up in as near a fetal position as she could manage and slim trails of tears were sliding steadily down her face.
Shifting his attention back to Gary, Batman growled, "Surrender now and you might be conscious when the police get here."
"Not a chance, dreg," Gary declared confidently as he suddenly threw himself to the side, landing on top of his school bag and coming up an instant later with a gun. "You can't stop me, Batman!"
As Gary fired, Batman ducked and rolled to the side, inwardly cursing the small space even as he released two batarangs in Gary's direction. The first went wide, arching back around behind him, while the second slammed into his wrist, forcing him to drop his weapon. As he bent to retrieve it, the first collided with his shoulder and made him stumble at the unexpected pain as he reached up to hold his new injury.
Batman moved forward swiftly, planting his fist directly into Gary's stomach and knocking him backwards. Then he stepped back and swung one leg out and around, his booted foot collided solidly with Gary's shoulder and slamming him unceremoniously into his desktop.
Batman had two more batarangs ready to go in his hand as he stepped back to see what Gary would do next, secretly hoping it would give him a good excuse to beat him senseless. But he wasn't at all happy with Gary's decision.
Gary straightened after a second, and Batman realized that he'd somehow managed to retrieve his gun, because he had it aimed directly at Dana. His free arm was wrapped around his torso, indicating that Batman might have done a bit of damage with his punch, and Gary met Batman's gaze cockily. "You can dodge it, but she can't. Get lost or I waste her, and it'll be all your fault."
Dana drew in a startled breath as her eyes flickered between them quickly.
Batman hesitated, not entirely sure if the small space would work for or against him in this situation. But he wasn't willing to risk it, so he cautiously held both of his hands up, and released the batarangs he was holding, letting them fall harmlessly onto the floor. "Put the gun down, Caulder," he said slowly, forcing the venom out of his voice in hopes that he could talk the man into releasing his weapon.
"Not until you're out of sight," Gary returned angrily. "Me and my girl, here, we're leaving town, and you're not going to follow us. In fact, you're going to pretend like you've never so much as heard of us."
"Gary, please, stop this," Dana begged on a sob. Terry's heart lurched and he held his breath as Gary's attention switched briefly.
It was all the opportunity Batman needed, as he dove forward and fired the jets in his boots, propelling both of them out the broken window before Gary could react. The gun plummeted six stories to the ground below.
They landed on the roof of the dormitory that Gary called home, and Batman slugged him solidly in the jaw before delivering a spin-kick to his temple and knocking him out. As he tied him up, Batman radioed Barbara and told her where to find Dana's kidnapper.
"And the girl?" Barbara asked on the other end of the line.
Batman straightened and turned his back on Gary, saying, "I've got her; she's alright." Then he cut the line and dove off the roof, dropping two stories before he found himself once again outside Gary Caulder's dorm window.
Propelling himself through the window, Batman landed easily on the glass-covered carpet and paused to pick up one of his discarded batarangs as he asked, "Are you alright?"
Dana sniffled as she tried to restrain her tears, and after a second she nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess," she said. "Can you… get me out of here?"
"Yeah," Batman promised as he approached the bed. He knelt opposite her on the bed and paused, adding gently, "Hold still." Then he reached down and dropped his free hand lightly on her calves to hold her legs in place as he carefully ran the sharp edge of the batarang over the ropes that were binding her ankles together. They severed easily and then he moved to the shackle on her wrist.
The shackle was steel, and wouldn't simply cut apart like the ropes. So Batman put the batarang away and triggered the lock-pick mechanism in the index finger of his glove.
Dana held still and remained silent as he worked, and in no time the shackle sprang open, releasing her. She immediately pulled her arm free, gently massaging her wrist where the restraint had been cutting into her skin.
"Thank you," Dana said, looking up into Batman's eyes -or where they were, hiding behind the cowl.
Batman slid back, stepping off the bed to give her some space, and said, "Don't thank me yet." With a quick glance at the floor, he looked back at her and added, "Where're your shoes?"
Her eyes went wide and she looked down at her bare feet. In all the chaos, she'd forgotten that her boots and socks were missing. At length, she replied, "I don't know; when I woke up, shackled to the bed, they were already gone."
"Of course," Batman mumbled. "Well, then we're doing this my way," he declared, holding a hand out to her.
As she took his hand trustingly, Dana asked, "What do you mean?"
"Do you trust me?" he asked as he curled his fingers lightly around her smaller hand. When she nodded silently, he pulled her closer to the edge of the bed, then released her hand to loop his arm around her; he slipped his other arm behind her knees and in an instant she was up in his arms and he was walking towards the window.
"Hang on," Batman whispered. Even as she looped her arms around his neck, he leapt out of the window and fired his jet boots again, propelling them swiftly forward. The glider wings extended as they began to soar away from the dormitory.
As they flew, Dana sighed and let her head rest lightly on his shoulder. Softly, she mumbled, "Thanks for saving me again." She felt, more than saw, him angle his head down at her as if he were giving her a curious look, and she added, "You probably don't remember, but a few years ago-"
"I remember," he interrupted as they began their descent onto another roof several buildings away.
She lifted her head in surprise and reflexively asked, "You do?"
As his booted feet made contact with the hard surface of the roof, Batman stared down at the woman in his arms. He knew he had a decision to make at that moment that could change everything. He could lie, or tell a partial truth, to explain why he remembered rescuing her from mutated rats nearly three years ago; or he could tell the truth -which he'd resisted doing for years, supposedly for her own safety.
But now he found himself wondering if he'd really been lying to himself all those years.
"Um, is something wrong?" Dana asked slowly as she stared up at her rescuer.
Batman was standing solidly on the rooftop, but he had yet to release or even loosen his grip on his girlfriend as his mind raced with what he should do next. He had his perfect out to avoid her previous question; he could set her down, tell her to be careful, and leave without creating a problem. But that suddenly felt like the absolute wrong thing to do.
Aw, slag it, Terry thought exasperatedly.
Drawing in a breath, Batman crouched and carefully removed his arms from behind her legs, so that she could get her feet under her without stumbling. He kept his other arm around her shoulders for a lingering moment, before pulling it back until only his hand rested on her shoulder.
"Dana, are you sure you're alright?" he asked softly, letting his true concern leak through his voice.
Dana blinked up at him, seeming startled by the question, before slowly replying, "Um, yeah, as far as I can tell." She shook her head briefly and offered him a weak apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, it hadn't occurred to me that you'd know my name…but I guess it only makes sense."
"Not necessarily," Batman replied automatically, realizing belatedly that his response would only confuse her more. When she gave him a confused look, he sighed and reached towards her, pausing with his gloved hand still several inches from her face. Her eyes slid sideways almost apprehensively, and his brain finally kicked back in.
"Listen, there's…something you need to know," he began awkwardly, dropping his outstretched hand to his side.
"Is something else wrong?" she asked warily, subconsciously stepping out of his loose grip and wrapping her arms around herself. "I really just want to go home…I want to see my boyfriend, and change out of this dress and take a shower and maybe eat something…" she sighed, adding, "what is it?"
Clenching his fists as he prepared to do something that would undoubtedly get him reamed later, Batman said, "I should've told you this a long time ago, and I'm sorry…I thought you'd be safer if you didn't know." He hesitated again, and her worry shifted into full-blown confusion and she gave him her 'what?' look, but before she could actually voice her question, he lifted one hand and hooked it beneath his cowl.
Her eyes went wide as she realized what he was doing, and she knew she should protest, but she couldn't bring herself to say anything. So she watched as he lifted the cowl up and pulled it over his head.
Dana sucked in a sharp breath, one hand flying to her mouth when she realized that she recognized the man beneath the mask. That in fact it was a face she knew well.
Genuine concern and something akin to guilt had settled on Terry's handsome face as he cautiously held out one hand towards her. "Dane, I'm sorry…I know I lied, I just thought…I was wrong, babe, but please just-"
His pleading was cut short when Dana choked on a sob and suddenly threw herself into his arms. "Terry!" she cried, curling her arms tightly around his torso.
"Dana," Terry breathed, wrapping his arms tightly around her and leaning down to bury his face in her hair. "I'm so sorry."
"Just shut up, McGinnis," Dana choked without lifting her head. "I just want you to hold me for a second."
Terry obliged her request, keeping silent and keeping her pressed tightly against his heart as she finally let go of everything that had built up within her since the previous night. He didn't let himself consider the royal ass-chewing he'd get from Bruce, or even Barbara; and he gave no thought to the 'I-told-you-so' he'd get from Max. He simply focused on the immediate facts: Dana was alright, and she hadn't dumped him -yet.
"You're…really Batman, aren't you?" Dana whispered several long minutes later as she finally loosened her hold on him.
He stepped back only far enough to look down at her, and he kept his hands on her hips comfortably. Inclining his head, Terry replied, "Yeah."
"So this," Dana began, tracing the top of the bright red bat-symbol on his chest, "is why you've cancelled and stood me up so many times." She paused and looked back up at him, smiling faintly. "It actually makes sense now."
Terry studied her face for a long second, before trailing one hand up and lightly brushing back her hair. His knuckles grazed the side of her jaw, which he noticed looked slightly bruised, and he cupped the side of her face -being careful not to put pressure on the bruise.
Dana's arms slid up his chest immediately as he leaned in, and wound themselves around behind his neck as their lips touched softly. The kiss was delicate at first, as if Terry were trying to be gentle, so she buried her fingers in his dark hair and pulled herself flush against him, deepening the kiss. He responded immediately, wrapping both of his arms around her again as his tongue slipped past her parted lips.
They kissed passionately for a long minute, their tongues dancing and exploring. But all too soon Terry pulled away, dragging in ragged breaths as he once again met his girlfriend's gaze. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bloodshot, her lips parted as she breathed heavily, but despite the remnants of tear stains on her cheeks, and the bruise still forming on her jaw, she didn't look angry. He hoped that was a good sign.
They stared at each other for a long moment, before Dana slowly reached up and danced her fingertips over the side of his face. "This could take some getting used to," she admitted quietly.
"You're not angry?" Terry asked, sounding both surprised and relieved.
"I suppose I could be," Dana began, letting both of her hands rest on his shoulders, beside his covered neck. "But now it seems so obvious that I almost feel stupid for not at least suspecting it. And besides…I heard what you said before, and I can't be mad at you for trying to protect me."
Terry smiled then and leaned down to drop a quick kiss over her lips before pulling back and resting his forehead lightly against hers. His voice barely a whisper, he breathed, "I love you, Dana."
It was Dana's turn to smile, and she said, "I love you, too, Terry; and don't you dare forget that."
"Not a chance," Terry promised, stealing another kiss as he laced his gloved fingers through her hair and held her tight. When they parted again, and she rested her head against his shoulder, he whispered, "I should get you home."
"Home would be nice," Dana agreed. After a pause, she added quietly, "Will you have to leave after?"
"What do you mean?" Terry asked, stepping back again to look at her.
Dana looked down and absently traced her fingers across his chest. "Chelsea has class all day, and I just don't feel up to going today…but I don't really feel like being alone, either."
Terry grinned half-teasingly. "I think I can afford to miss a day of classes, and Batman isn't usually needed until nighttime anyway. So I can hang around for a while if you want me to."
She nodded then, smiling appreciatively, and said, "I'd like that."
With a half-nod of understanding, Terry reluctantly released her and pressed the button on his belt that would summon the Batmobile as he reached up with his other hand and tugged his cowl back into place.
"Yep," Dana said after a second, "still strange."
Scooping her easily into his arms again as the Batmobile came to a hovering stop overhead, Batman said, "You'll get used to it."
A/N: Wooo! It's done!! Ok, so it was a slightly long one-shot, but that's ok, isn't it? Sorry if anyone really wanted it to KOBRA or something; I tried to make it a previously-established bad guy, but it just didn't want to happen! Anyway, I hope you liked the story!! Please review (after all, reviews mean I might write another one)! LOL