A/N: well, the title says it all. Thanks for sticking around and reading, and special thanks go to those who took the time to review. I can't describe how elated i feel when i get an email saying a review had been posted :) Hope everyone enjoyed the ride, and yes, i will be starting up a new fic... eventually. Anyway, with a very low and grateful bow, i invite everyone to read the final chapter. Enjoy!
Glad to finally be back in Gotham, Henry doesn't waste time with picking up his bag from the luggage carousel and catching a cab headed to Jazz's apartment. On the ride over, he realizes just how much he missed her and her food, and smiles when he imagines her waiting for him and holding his favorite pot of stew. The last three months were pure bliss. He hadn't worried about her safety, her life was on track, and best of all, they no longer had any secrets to hide. Life seemed steady, and although he puts in unusual hours at the ER, he feels his life is finally starting to stabilize.
It isn't long before he finds himself in the elevator on his way up to her floor. When the doors slide open, he is welcomed with the delicious aroma of food wafting from her place. A smile crosses his face when he recognizes the smell to be the stew he was fantasizing about earlier. Knowing he has no reason to knock, he walks into her apartment and finds her standing in front of the stove with back turned towards him. He sets his bag down by the door and walks up behind her wrapping arms around her waist and planting a kiss on the nape of her neck.
"Hey, beauti-woah!" He suddenly exclaims when she turns her head revealing the injured lip and black eye. "What the hell happened to you?" He asks as he examines her embarrassed face.
"Nothing, I'm fine," she replies shaking away the grip he has on her chin.
"You have three stitches in your lip!"
"Henry, relax," Jazz tries calming him down. "I tripped; that's all."
"Tripped?" Henry asks clearly unconvinced. She nods once. "On what? A fist?"
She winces at how unbelievable and lame her excuse is. "Okay, so I didn't trip," she admits with a sigh.
Narrowing his eyes, Henry studies her for a moment before his eyes travel down to the food simmering in the pot. The pieces start coming together: she's making his favorite stew, she's injured, and there's unmistakable guilt emanating from her eyes.
"Don't tell me you're doing that Batgirl thing again," he finally says after a moment of silence.
"It's not a thing, Henry," she defensively replies offended by his disrespectful statement.
"Oh, for the love of-!" He exclaims letting go of his girlfriend and stepping back. "I was only gone for a week!"
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It means you weren't supposed to do anything stupid before I got back."
"You're not my keeper," Jazz rounds on him.
"I didn't mean it like that, but this is a decision that affects both of us."
"It doesn't affect anything. You're at the hospital most of the night anyway, so how are things going to be any different?"
"You'll be risking your life, that's how."
"I'll be fine," she says waving him off.
"This, Jazz," he hisses pointing at her face, "this is not fine; you almost got yourself killed last year!"
"That's not going to happen again."
"You can't even look me in the eye when you say that! God, Jazz," he sighs running a hand through his short, blond hair. "Why the hell are you doing this?"
"Because I have to."
"No, you don't. The city was fine without you the last three months."
"I'm not asking for your permission," Jazz replies glaring at him.
"Fine!" He throws his hands up with surrender. "Do whatever the hell you want, Douglas." Spinning on his heel, he storms out of the kitchen, grabs his bag, and walks out of her apartment slamming the door behind him.
Seeing him this angry makes Jazz curse herself as she hurls the stirring spoon into the sink. She rips off her apron and runs out after him catching him just before he steps onto the elevator.
"Henry, don't go! Look I'm sorry, okay," she apologizes hoping it will stop him from leaving, but when he doesn't move, she takes a step forward to touch his arm. "Please, Henry."
The desperation in her voice brings him to face her. When their eyes connect though, he finds a need in her face that softens his gaze.
"Come on," he sighs taking her hand and pulling her back into the apartment. Once inside and away from curious ears, he asks, "who is he?"
"Who?" Jazz returns frowning at him.
"You know who; Batman."
"I can't tell you," Jazz replies with grave seriousness
"Is it McGinnis?"
"Terry?" She scoffs. "No, of course not." The answer however, doesn't ease Henry's hardened face. "It's not him, Henry. He works for Wayne; you think he has time to work for him and save Gotham?"
"I was his dog walker, Terry is his assistant. It's a 24 hour job!" However his unwavering face makes her groan with irritation. "Look, I can't tell you who he is; you're going to have to trust me on this one. Please."
Henry carefully studies his girlfriend's face to understand why she's trying so hard to convince him of a lie. He's done a thorough search on Terry McGinnis, and his findings did not completely surprise him. Batman suddenly reappeared soon after Terry McGinnis, a former delinquent, signed on to be Bruce's assistant. From there, Henry made a careful study of Bruce, the billionaire with easy access to any technology he wants. His demeanor suddenly took a strange turn for the grim after his health began deteriorating, an unexpected shift from the usually popular and fun-loving heartthrob Gotham knew him to be.
Suddenly Henry gets it: she's honoring a promise. She knows full well how capable he is at discovering secrets and connecting dots, but that doesn't mean she's going to confess to anything. It's one thing to learn that information on your own, and another having someone confirm it for you. He reaches an arm forward and wraps it around her waist as he pulls her close. He gently places a hand on the nape of her neck making her look up into his deep blue eyes.
"If he lets anything happen to you Jazz, I swear I will find him and kill him."
"I'll pass the message along," Jazz replies smiling.
She wraps her arms around him and tilts her chin up to receive the gentle kiss he plants on her lips. When they part, he rests his forehead against hers as he takes in the full experience of having her in his arms again. He'll have to take advantage of every moment he has with her now that uncertainty lurks around every bend.
"I love you, Jazz," he whispers tightening his embrace.
An involuntary smile crosses her lips as she buries her face in his chest. However, a bitter reminder robs her from fully enjoying the moment: her choice to take on a dangerous career. At this point she should break his heart to keep him from getting too close and protect him from future despair and disappointment.
But when she lifts her face to look into his, all she can say is, "I love you, Henry."