A/N: Well, you asked for it - here is the next chapter of the Oklahoma saga. I hope you enjoy, and thank you to the brilliant Angel Queen for the beta :)
Chapter Nineteen—Leaving the Eastern Bloc is Tricky
Martha was unconscious for no more than ten minutes. It still didn't make Sarah feel better though. Those booby-traps were designed for criminals, not for unsuspecting grandmothers. Not that Martha was a grandmother yet, of course, but logic like that wasn't doing a good job of making the guilt go away. She was cursing herself chiefly for her thoughtlessness; she had dangerous equipment with her, not least a nuclear bomb, and she'd not told Martha anything about any of it. Even a 'don't touch that' would have sufficed.
Martha was appeared unharmed. The electric shock that Reaper's utility belt had delivered was designed to incapacitate, not kill, so while her limbs had seized violently, her heart hadn't been badly affected and when she woke she would be fine. If pretty annoyed - Sarah somehow doubted that her laissez-faire attitude would extend to electric shocks from her companion's mysterious equipment.
She woke with a groan, putting a hand to her frizzy head. "Ow…"
"Martha?" Sarah kept her voice as soft, as soothing as she could. "Can you hear me?"
"Sunshine, you been keeping secrets from me?"
Martha sat up groggily with Sarah's help. "What was that?"
"That would be a booby-trap. You shouldn't have tried to open the pouch. Unless you do it in a specific way, you get an electric shock, like the one you just did."
"Why would you have a booby-trap on a belt?"
"Maybe we should get you to a hospital," Sarah said, hoping to deflect the question. "Are you feeling okay? Headache? Nausea? It's not uncommon to —"
Martha proved that while she was a hippie, and while she smoked a fair amount of weed, she was far from stupid. She knew when she was being the subject of a distraction technique. "Sunshine," she said, her voice uncharacteristically hard, "stop talking unless you're going to answer my questions."
"Are you going to answer my questions? Because if you're not then you can get out of this van and walk to D.C.!"
Sarah debated with herself. She obviously could not tell Martha everything. She couldn't even tell her most of it. But then, she didn't need to know most of it. The truth was so big and complicated that even a little would satisfy. And it was unlikely Martha would demand the names of her parents or grandparents. "I can answer your questions."
"Good," Martha said firmly. "Because the first one you still haven't."
"Right. My belt is booby-trapped because it contains some very sensitive and… classified equipment."
"Are you military?"
"How can it be classified if you're not military?"
"You saw the level of technology. I have more, and it's not like anything anyone else has. I can't allow anyone else to have it."
"Okay, I'll ask again…are you an alien?"
Sarah's mouth twitched up in a brief smile. "No, I told you the truth with that one."
"Then… are you from the future or something?" The silence stretched on, and Martha's jaw dropped. "No fucking way."
Sarah waited for the shock to subside into either disbelief or acceptance. Judging by how wide Martha's eyes were, it was going to be the latter. It took her approximately thirty-five seconds for her to take her hands down from her mouth, and when she spoke it was in a hushed whisper, like they were in a crowded room full of eavesdroppers rather than completely alone on the side of a deserted highway.
"Like… how far in the future?"
"About seventy years."
"Oh my God."
Sarah cocked her head inquisitively. "I'm surprised you believe me."
Despite her shock, Martha managed a faint smile. "It makes sense, Sunshine, and I'm not so narrow-minded that I can't believe the possibility, but… It's a lot to take in."
"True. And are you taking it in?"
"Yeah, I think so. Just give me a minute."
Knowing she would probably need more like twenty, Sarah clambered back into the front of the van and started the engine again, driving back onto the road and continuing. She didn't want to, but if she had to then she'd steal a car and hotwire it to D.C. After a moment, Martha joined her in the front, settling into the passenger seat.
"So that belt has all your time-travel equipment in it?"
"Yeah. My backpack too."
"And the booby-traps are to stop people from stealing it?"
"Gotcha. So why are you in 1969, if you're from…2030-ish?"
"Accident. I'm not a professional time-traveller or anything, I was just trying to get home. There was a solar flare that interfered with our… long-distance travel device."
"'Long distance travel device'?" Martha asked.
"Well, it's called a boom tube, but I figured that wouldn't mean much to you."
"You figured right," Martha nodded. "And by 'we', you mean your boyfriend don't you?"
"Yeah. We work together."
"And you're trying to get back to the future?"
Sarah couldn't help but giggle a bit. She'd watched a lot of those classic movies when she was a kid – now suddenly she was Marty McFly. "Yes. Hopefully Rex will have a better idea of how to do that than I do right now."
That was unlikely. Rex was wonderful in a million ways – he was intelligent, he was kind, he was brave and generous… but he wasn't an expert in temporal physics. Nor was she, for that matter, but at least she was an expert in normal, nuclear and theoretical physics, which hopefully was a good place to start. And who knew, with the blessings of the gods, maybe Rex had found some way of getting them back home. They had given her Martha, after all.
Martha's soft laughter woke up from her reverie. "What?"
"You, Sunshine, being all smitten."
"I'm not smitten!" Sarah winced inwardly. She'd practically just squawked, for goodness' sake!
"You are a smitten kitten," the other woman shot back, grinning. "Eyes in the middle distance, lovesick smile on your face, blush on your cheeks…"
Having had attention drawn to them, Sarah's cheeks now began to flush in earnest, and she had to work to force the blush down. "Anyway, yes, we need to get back to the future."
"Well, then we definitely have to get you to D.C. then, don't we? Forget Woodstock, we'll head straight to Washington."
"Martha, New York will be fine, I can make my own way from there —"
"In an unfamiliar time, without any clear idea of how to get there?" Martha shook her head. "No, Sunshine, I'm coming with you. Besides, it's just another music festival. How many times am I gonna be able to help a time traveller get back to her own time?"
Sarah smiled, though it was a little strained. She couldn't ever imagine anyone who'd been there describing Woodstock as 'just another music festival'. Also, she was a little wary of allowing Martha to come with her at all. By dropping into her life like this, she'd disrupted Martha's personal history and perhaps changed her own ancestral history, and probably not for the better. The rest of that day (and the day after) was spent fielding questions from Martha, deciding carefully which ones she could answer and which she couldn't – and if she could answer them, to what degree she could answer them. Trivial questions about movies, or fashions, she could explain without problems.
Questions like, "When does the Vietnam War end?" were slightly more difficult. Not least because Martha would be disappointed to learn that it still had (almost) another six years left to run, and she wasn't sure how she'd take learning it would be a bitter humiliation for the US. She was, however, happy to assure her that another atomic weapon would never be used, by anyone.
They reached Chicago late the next day and decided to find a hotel to stay for the night. They both needed a break from the road, and Sarah was itching to get some exercise. Even if it was just to go for a run around a park, she needed fresh air. What actually happened though, was that they got a hotel room, went out for dinner at a diner that served greasy, tasteless things masquerading as burgers and other greasy, tasteless things masquerading as milkshakes. Sarah didn't consider herself to be a snob – but she had to admit that her taste-buds were pretty snobbish. They had developed on Alfred's cooking, and matured on the best Michelin starred food her father's money could buy. Grey patties served on gluey bread washed down with lumpy drink were not something she enjoyed, so she went mostly hungry. The fries were fine, though. Martha didn't seem to mind, and wolfed down her meal and then polished off Sarah's too. After that they went back to their hotel, Martha disappearing into the bathroom to take a shower.
Looking out of the open window, Sarah was reminded of Gotham. It wasn't quite the same – there were far too few skyscrapers for that – but it had the same slightly dingy quality; the same harried-looking citizens, the same rain. There was a sudden, sharp sound of a gunshot, and she flinched. Chalk up another similarity to Gotham. A thought striking her, Sarah peered out of the window, looking both down at the street twenty stories below and up at the roof. It would be risky. She didn't know the city well, and she was stuck outside her own time… but she had been looking to blow off some steam. When Martha came out of the bathroom, Sarah made out like she'd changed her mind about going outside, and they both went to bed.
It took only about twenty minutes for Martha's breathing to settle down into sleep, and then Sarah got up. She was good at moving silently, and she dressed in her Reaper gear and headed out the window.
Chicago wasn't Gotham, and its criminals were, well, pussies compared to the ones she dealt with at home. After all, they'd had decades of one hero or another beating the crap out of them, whereas in Chicago it was entirely new. The melting out of the dark only to melt just as instantly back into it was still wonderfully effective. She didn't stay out the whole night – only till about three a.m. It had been fairly satisfying; four armed robberies, three race-hate crimes (and that had been shocking, to say the least), and one attempted rape. She'd scoped out the city so that she knew where the police stations were ahead of time, and dumped the perpetrators there.
When she got back to the hotel (after getting very slightly lost, and waking up a nice elderly couple innocently sleeping in the room below), it was to find Martha still in bed. Although sitting up. And with the light on. And looking even more maddeningly curious than she had before.
"Is sneaking out in the middle of the night a habit of yours, Sunshine?"
Sarah sighed, pulled back her hood and removed the mask. "Yes," she said honestly.
"I was worried."
"You were supposed to be asleep."
"You were supposed to have told me everything. So what else are you, apart from a time-traveller?"
"A vigilante crime fighter."
"What, you just patrol the whole of the country looking for criminals and then kill them?"
"Never killing them," Sarah said firmly. "Just dealing with the ones the police can't, and handing them over. And I'm based in Gotham."
"Never been to Gotham. No offence but I don't think I want to if it needs vigilantes …"
"It doesn't," Sarah said quickly, "and it won't for many decades to come. As it is now, I'm sure you'd love it."
"Maybe. It is supposed to have a great music scene."
Reassured she had not just inadvertently destroyed her own family, Sarah changed out of the rest of her suit and slipped into the bed next to Martha's. Martha was watching her closely.
"So how do you take down the criminals without killing them?"
"Using martial arts."
"Like in movies?"
"No," Sarah shook her head, "like used in the East for millennia."
"How'd you learn them?"
"From my father," she said. "He's a master."
"In which ones?"
Sarah grinned, unable to keep a note of pride from entering her tone. "All of them."
"Ooh, Daddy's girl, huh? Does Rex know what he's getting into?" Before Sarah could think of a reply to that, Martha cracked a teasing smile. "I'm kidding, Sunshine. I think the crime-fighting thing crazy, but it's truly groovy."
"Thanks." I think you'd be proud of all that Daddy's done, she wished she could add.
"How long you been doing it?"
Sarah smiled wryly. It looked like she wasn't going to be sleeping at all tonight.
There was thick cloud cover over Eastern Europe. Tom and Rex were not far into it; in fact they were still in Germany as far as Tom could tell, and they were able to fly as far as Berlin. There, however, the cloud stopped. Tom was not-so-secretly relieved. When Rex had suggested the idea that he simply fly them, Tom had instantly blanched.
"No way. I don't like flying in a fucking plane, let alone on a pair of tin-foil wings attached to someone I just met."
"Actually, they're Nth metal. It's the strongest element in the galaxy."
"And just how many other planets has NASA been to?" Tom demanded. "As far as I know the Moon landing hasn't happened yet."
"Classified," was Rex's reply, though inwardly he was kicking himself.
He had to be more careful about what he said. A few wrong words and the entire history of the '70s could be re-written. Not to mention he could accidentally erase the Wayne family – Sarah's family. Although he wouldn't put it past her to find a way to will herself back into existence just so she could kick his ass if he managed to create that kind of disaster.
Thankfully, Tom only raised an eyebrow and left it at that. "Regardless, I'm not doing it."
"Okay then: do you have any ideas on how to cross Soviet-controlled East Germany with no money and with me dressed like this?" Rex asked testily.
"Then we do it my way."
Over the rush of the wind, Rex could barely hear him, but he was fairly sure Tom kept up a steady stream of invectives directed at him and his parents. It didn't bother him. Most of the curses that Tom was likely muttering had nothing on the Thanagarian profanity Rex had grown up hearing his mother use. Some of them were still bad enough to make him blush, even as an adult. Whatever Tom was saying, though, Rex heard him mumbling from the moment his feet left the ground to the moment they touched it again.
Which was still on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. They'd managed to get so far because they were small enough not to be picked up on radar, and because the weather had been on their side. It had been starting to thin in the final approach to the capital city, however, and now they'd been forced to land, or risk being spotted by trigger-happy Soviets. They were roughly two hundred feet from the wall, only on this side there were two fences. A barbed wire one, patrolled by soldiers, and then about twenty feet beyond that, the huge mass of concrete. Rex knew from old news footage, mainly from his high school history classes, that on the other side, it would be scrawled with graffiti – not so on this side. Even to him it looked forbidding, designed to intimidate. It was very strange to see. In Rex's time this thing was a vestige of the past – important, yes, but a… mistake, to say the least.
Strange, he thought again, strange, and very surreal. "So," he finally spoke out loud, "how do we get across that thing?"
They were in the shelter of a factory building, having touched down a few minutes before. It was about an hour or two until daylight, at which point they'd need somewhere to hide. It wouldn't be as simple as finding a hotel; Rex had nothing to wear but his armour, and absolutely no money on him. It wasn't even as though they could go to the U.S. Embassy and request asylum – in 1969, there simply wasn't one in Berlin at all.
"We could try Checkpoint Charlie," Tom suggested.
Rex sent him a sceptical look. "The Soviets will probably shoot us for even trying. And if they didn't, then the Americans on the other side might well shoot us for being spies."
"Of course they wouldn't! America's the good guy in this!"
"It's the Cold War. Even the good guys aren't thinking straight."
"What kind of soldier are you?" Tom muttered.
Rex ignored that. "Have you got any money?"
"Sure. I've got a couple hundred dollars and some Deutsche Marks. Neither of which is going to be any use to us this side of the wall."
Rex wasn't up to speed on the details, but he assumed that meant East Germany used a different currency to West. Fortunately, he was reminded of the men who had kidnapped Tom. He'd searched them after they had been knocked out, taken and disposed of their weapons. And relieved them of their wallets. It had only been a precaution, but now it would be useful. He pulled the wallets out of his armour and handed them over to Tom. "There enough in those?"
The other man counted it out the currency. "Three hundred twenty-two East German Marks. Yeah, this should get us a room somewhere."
"Get it for one, and let me in through the window. No point in raising more attention than we have to."
"Agreed, but could you keep any eye on me?" Tom asked jokingly. "I'd rather not get kidnapped again."
Rex had assumed that was all it could be, a jest. He found out, two hours later, that all the members of the Wayne family had a penchant for crime, some of them for fighting it, and others for attracting it.
Thomas Wayne fell into the latter category.
He'd only gone out to get food and clothes for Rex. Rex could see the food store from the window of the hotel, and he'd kept an eye on Thomas. He went to the clothing store first, and Rex watched him come back and go into the food store. Then he made the mistake of taking his eye off of him. Because then a suspiciously long time passed without seeing Tom again. Or rather, between seeing him exit the food store and him not coming back to the hotel.
Rex had nothing else to wear, but he was equally sure that something had gone wrong, so he jumped out the window and immediately heard exclamations and screams erupt from beneath him. Rex couldn't care less; he was scanning the alleyways and streets for any sign of Tom.
It took a few minutes, but he found him – in one of the less well-lit alleys, and it seemed like some terrible precursor to what he knew would one day come, Rex saw with a sick feeling in his stomach. This assailant didn't have a gun, though, just a knife. He already had Tom's wallet in his hands, but seemed to be demanding more.
"Es gibt keine," Tom urged in reply.
The criminal who'd just mugged him opened his mouth – but then didn't get a chance to get anything out of it. A half-Thanagarian had just landed on top of him. A few ribs snapped, maybe a collarbone, but no skulls, Rex made sure. Then he faced Tom, struggling to control the jolt of real fear he'd been feeling ever since he'd spotted the mugger threatening Sarah's future grandfather.
"Man," Tom gaped, his eyes wide, "I am glad you're one of the good guys."
"An alleyway, Mr. Wayne?" Rex demanded. "Really?"
"It was a shortcut!"
"A shortcut to being mugged!"
"Well I didn't know I was going to get mugged, did I? And it's Tom."
Rex sighed and helped him pick up the fallen items of food and clothing, while still trying to calm the frantic beating of his heart. It started to rain as they did so, which was a good thing for Rex. People didn't tend to look at the sky when it rained, their heads bowed as they hurried inside. He wasn't waiting any more; the longer they stayed in East Germany the longer Tom had to get himself in trouble. Not to mention it wasn't getting him to Sarah any faster either.
"Come on, we're crossing over."
"Non-negotiable," Rex said firmly. "Buckle up."
Tom didn't really have much time for objections before he'd been bodily lifted into the air, through the rain clouds – getting them both soaked in the process – and set down on the safe side of the Berlin Wall. The perfect place had presented itself for a landing site – an apartment building that had been gutted by fire. Admittedly, that meant that the roof looked solid but decidedly wasn't, and they fell through it, ten feet onto the floor below.
Tom stood up, brushing off his clothes with an unimpressed expression. "That could have gone better."
"I don't see how," Rex returned, deadpan. "We're in West Berlin, aren't we?"
Twenty minutes later, Rex was dressed in the civvies procured in Easter Berlin, his armour safely hidden away in the burned-out building where hopefully no one would ever find it. He and Tom left the building and tried to walk down the street as normally as possible.
"I need to get to a phone," Tom said. "Let my people know I'm safe." Then he shivered. "God. Not two weeks ago they were my dad's people."
"You'll get used to it," Rex said comfortingly.
"Maybe. Come on, my house isn't far."
Rex felt a little guilty that he wasn't more interested in their surroundings. He'd never been to modern Berlin as a tourist, and this was past Berlin, Berlin right in the middle of history. He should be looking eagerly around and absorbing it all – but he couldn't care less. All he actually wanted was to get away from Berlin, to America and Washington. To where she'd be waiting. And the first step to that was getting to Tom's home.
When they arrived there, it was to find the house full of police, security officers of Wayne Enterprises and someone from the American embassy. All of whom wanted rapid explanations. By the time they'd got through the, "Where were you being held?", the "Who took you?" and the "How the hell did you get free?" questions, it had all led nicely onto who exactly Rex was.
He would have been a moron if he hadn't expected something like this, so the cover story had been worked on and perfected. And Plus, Tom kept his mouth shut as the the parts that had changed since he'd heard it the first time.
"Lieutenant Rex Hol, on assignment from the Justice League division, codename Warhawk."
The attaché he was speaking to looked sceptical. "Justice League division?" he scoffed. "There's no such thing."
"It's classified above your clearance level," Rex said smoothly.
The other man looked affronted at such an idea, but since the lie had been convincing, he didn't question it. It might have also had something to do with the fact that he was, at most, five foot four and weedy in comparison to Rex's height and bulk. None of the police looked ready to question it either. They were all just happy than an American as prominent as Thomas Wayne had been returned to West Berlin without a massive diplomatic incident exploding in their faces.
"Well… what are your orders?"
"My assignment was to retrieve Mr. Wayne from the Soviet bloc and return him to Gotham safely."
"We can take over from here," one of the security staff said.
Rex shook his head. "My orders are clear. I'm to leave Mr. Wayne's side only when he is on American soil."
"I'm sure that's not —"
This one was harder to intimidate than the attaché, so Rex tried another tack. He let his gaze turn flatly determined, straightened his stance a little more and thanked God his father had always taught him 'to stand like a soldier'. "Orders are orders, sir," he said.
The security officer looked at Tom. "Mr. Wayne, are you happy with this?"
"He's saved my life, Jim," Tom said, obviously familiar with the man, "and he's one of the good guys. I'll feel safer with him around."
"Yes, sir. I'll see if I can have the company plane flown out here to pick you up."
After taking a cursory statement from Tom, the German police went. The attaché wasn't slow to follow, and the still-frightened glance he gave Rex indicated that he wasn't going to be digging too deep to confirm his story. The security officers positioned themselves all around the property, with Jim making the call. It didn't seem like he was having much luck, and he put the phone down shaking his head.
"Can't get the company plane to Berlin. I'm sorry, Mr. Wayne, but they wouldn't give it clearance."
"Where can we get it?"
"Paris is the closest."
Thomas nodded, but then reconsidered. "We could probably get a flight to Paris from here though, couldn't we, Jim?"
"Let's do that then!" Rex said, desire to see Sarah pushing forward again.
The enthusiasm of his tone caught Jim's ears, and he gave Rex a suspicious look, but with Tom vouching for him, didn't comment. Mental note, Rex thought, don't think about Sarah too often. Difficult, but not impossible. Not completely. Though it was when he thought he might be less than twenty-four hours from her. He bit his lip slightly, the worry resurfacing. He'd been telling himself she would be there just to keep functioning, but what if she wasn't? He'd wound up in the Eastern bloc, what if she'd ended up somewhere even worse? He knew she spoke several languages, but even that wouldn't help her if she ended up somewhere classified. Hell, with the current level of paranoia that was so prevalent in the world at this time, being multilingual would probably only cause her more problems if the government noticed her.
Jim went back to the phone, ordering a car to the airport. It would be more expensive, travelling on short notice, but no one paid a single thought to the expense. Tom was scarcely less eager to be at home than Rex was, and within an hour they were boarding a plane to Paris. It cost Tom – or rather Wayne Enterprises – a lot of money, since Jim was insistent that they buy every seat on the plane to be on the safe side. And once they had, all but a few of the security officers fell asleep, apparently exhausted. Rex couldn't blame them. Presumably since their new CEO had disappeared, none of them had been sleeping much.
Neither he nor Tom slept though. A few minutes after take-off, watching Germany fly beneath them, Tom said, "I suppose this is the end of my career, isn't it?"
"As a doctor you mean?"
"It doesn't have to be," Rex reasoned. "There are a lot of directors on the board of Wayne Enterprises. I imagine. Couldn't one of them run the company for you?"
"Maybe. I wish I'd paid more attention to it all now."
"Never too late. You can be whatever you want to be."
Tom's gaze went amused, his intelligence shining through. "You don't work for the government, do you?"
"But your partner really is in trouble."
"Knowing Reaper, I doubt it," Rex smiled, "but I have no idea where she even came out. It could be Beijing for all I know, or Gotham. God, I hope she didn't come out where the Watchtower should be…"
The image of Sarah, still and frozen, was horribly difficult to dispel, but it faded when Thomas laid a hand on Rex's shoulder with a comforting smile. "I'm sure she's fine. She can take care of herself, right?"
"I've seen her take care of the entire planet before."
"So she'll be fine. Look, once we get to Paris, there are considerable resources at my disposal. If she's lost, we'll find her."
"Thanks, Mr. Wayne."
"Tom, I keep telling you."
"Alright. Tom. Thank you."
A/N: AQ raised the point of whether Jim is just a coincidental character or Jim Gordon before he became a cop...and I honestly can't make up my mind, so that's open for your interpretation :) Review please!