Terry winced at the sudden twang of pain in his stomach. He inhaled sharply.
"Terry, what's wrong?" Bruce asked over the com-link.
"Nothing. Just realized that I didn't do my homework, that's all." He excused himself. He tried to focus on his own eerie shadow on the rooftops. Maybe that would help take his mind off the pain.
"That's the first time that you've ever worried about homework. What's going on?" Bruce asked again.
"Nothing!" He swept over an alleyway and saw a dash of purple. "Jokerz." He muttered.
He landed, flipping on stealth mode to survey the scene.
The Jokerz were dealing in credits this time.
"Hoohoo!" Cackled the leader. Out of any Jokerz, he bore a strong resemblance to his namesake. "Look at all these credits! There's got to be almost a thousand of them!"
They laughed in unison.
"Sorry to drop in." growled Batman as he plummeted towards the purple-clad Joker. His fist smashed into the Joker's nose, blood spurting out as he did so.
He landed and kicked another in the stomach, sending him into a pile of trash against the walls. Before he could turn and take on another Joker, one hit him across the back with a metal pipe that had been lying on the ground.
As Terry tumbled forwards he realized that if he hadn't had the suit it would've broken his spine. Instead it only broke a circuit that activated the strength amplifiers.
Another Joker caught him and turned him to face the leader, who had somewhat, recovered. His nose was still bleeding and dying his white face a pretty pink.
"I don't find you all that funny Bats." He growled. He clenched his fist and cackled again. He punched Terry in stomach, the area where his swollen appendix was. The force was just enough burst it. The last thing Terry heard was his scream echoing in the distance.
"Terry!" Bruce shouted over the com-link. Terry didn't answer. The only sound that came through was the sound of snapping bones and blunt objects connecting with human flesh.
He stood with the help of his cane and pressed the button calling the Batmobile to him. He climbed in and hit the gas. He'd never driven without the help of the suit, like it was designed for, but he'd used it enough to know how to use it manually. He came upon the alleyway where the tracer indicated and saw Terry on the ground. He quickly landed and hobbled as fast as he could to Terry's still figure, expecting the worse. He gently rolled Terry on his side and heard a raspy gasp.
At least he was alive. The suit was ripped and torn, exposing the intricate circuitry underneath. One part of the chest had been torn all the way through to Terry, where blood had already stained the suit.
"Oh God." Bruce muttered. He pulled off the cowl to reveal Terry's face. He wouldn't have known it was Terry if he hadn't had the suit on. Long red gashes from a razor blade covered his face, one going almost to the bone and a large bruise from a bat had begun to turn a dark blue.
Bruce held his hand in front of Terry's mouth to see if he was breathing. He was, but barely. Bruce guessed he had a punctured lung, or perhaps a crushed ribcage.
He heard the wail of a siren from the ambulance he'd called before he left the Batcave. He quickly yanked off the suit from Terry and threw it in the Batmobile and sent it to land on the roof nearby.
The ambulance whirled around the corner, stopping in front of Terry. Two meds leaped out of the back with a stretcher between them, and crouched beside Terry, checking for any reason they might not be able to move him.
Bruce watched from a distance. He didn't need to explain why he was there. He watched silently as the medics carried Terry into the back of the ambulance. The Dark Knight had finally fallen for good.
"Code blue, code blue! We've got a victim of the Jokerz; severe head trauma and internal bleeding. Prep for the OR immediately!" The nurse ordered, who rushing beside the gurney that held Terry. His eyes fluttered open for a brief second to see the nurse bend over.
"It's going to be okay." She whispered to him.
Terry immediately blacked out again.
Mary McGinnis burst into the Emergency room, Matt's little hand clutched in hers.
"Excuse me Miss. What can I help you with?" The woman behind the desk asked in a masked cheery voice.
"I'm Mary McGinnis, my son was brought in here a little while ago." She replied hastily. "When can I see him?"
"Is your son Terry McGinnis?" The woman asked.
"He's in the OR now. You may seat yourself until he's allowed visitors." The woman answered, pointing to a plush couch in the corner.
"Will my brother be okay?" Matt's voice was strangely quiet.
The question caught the woman off guard.
"I'm sure he will be. He must be strong, from what I've heard of him." She replied.
"Hello Mary. Matt." Mr. Wayne rose from his chair with the help of his cane.
"Mr. Wayne! How long have you been here?" Mary catechized as she sat down near to the billionaire.
"Long enough." Was his short answer.
The three sat back for the long wait that was to follow.
"His appendix has burst. Getting poisons out of his system now." The surgeon informed the huddled nurses and assistants. "He's going to be lucky to get of this alive. Stabilizing left collapsed lung. Scalpel nurse." The surgeon held out his hand for the tool.
"His head wound hasn't stopped bleeding yet sir. What should we do?" A nurse asked as she removed the temporary bandage that was soaked with bright red blood.
"Stitch it up. I've got my hands full right now and time is of the essence."
It was too hard to keep fighting. The pain was incessant as the waves in Gotham Harbor. Terry thought about another time when the pain kept coming. When Powers' henchman, Mr. Fixx, had murdered his dad. Why did these things happen to him? What had he done to receive this pain? It was too hard to keep fighting. It would be so nice to drift off. So easy. Yes. Maybe that's what he should do.
"Doctor! He's crashing!" exclaimed a nurse as the heart rate machine showed a flat line.
For the next thirteen minutes, the doctors fought to keep the boy in this world. Their efforts were rewarded when a weak, but steady, pulse began again.
"Mrs. McGinnis, Mr. Wayne?" A nurse nudged them both awake.
"Yes?" Mary had to stifle a yawn.
"Your son is out of OR, but he's still unconscious. Just keep talking to him; it seemed to help before in other victims. He is in room 592."
The three were up and to the elevator before the nurse could say another word.
Terry looked like hell. Well, he looked like he should underneath all those bandages anyway.
He had an IV hooked into both his hand and his forearm and an oxygen tube running into his mouth and presumably down his throat from the respirator. The top of his head was swathed in bandages like a turban with only one eye, his nose, and mouth showing. He had a tube hooked into his chest between his third and fourth ribs to release the constantly forming pressure in his chest with a valve. His ribs were bandaged both underneath and over top his hospital gown and his left arm was in a cast up to his shoulder. His right leg was suspended in a sling above the bed. The respirator was making a soft whooshing noise as it took each breath for Terry.
"Is he dead?" Matt whispered, clutching his mom's hand harder.
"No, honey. Just sleeping." Mary choked out. She walked stiffly to Terry's side and sat down on the edge of the bed. Unable to hold the tears back any longer, she let them come.
No one heard Matt's soft voice reply, "That's what you said about my goldfish before he got a burial at sea."
"Terry, I'm so sorry!" Mary cried.
"There was nothing you could have done Mary." Bruce said. But I could've done something. He thought to himself.
"Mrs. McGinnis? Mr. Wayne? May I speak to you for a moment?" A doctor motioned them outside the room.
"Were you aware that your son had appendicitis before he came here just now?" The doctor asked, pushing her glasses up.
"No! He never told me about it!" Mary gasped.
Bruce put a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Terry is very private and wanted to be able to do what was needed." Bruce answered. " I don't think he told us for a reason."
"His appendix burst and released a lot of poisons into his blood stream. We had to flush out his system so he might be a little weak when he comes to. He also has a concussion and a broken cheekbone. He managed to fracture his femur and knee, and puncture his lung. That's what the valve you saw was for. He's a very lucky young man, your son is. He should've been dead from a beating like that."
When they'd finished being briefed on Terry's condition, the two slowly walked back into the sterile white room.
"Matt-" Mary began, but was cut off by Bruce's hand on her shoulder.
"Look." He pointed to Terry's left side.
Mary almost began to cry at the touching scene.
Matt, who had said so vehemently that he hated his brother, had crawled up on the bed underneath Terry's broken arm and had fallen fast asleep. His hand had fallen across Terry's heart, making sure it was still beating while they both slept.
"Let them be. You never know when you're going to see this again." Bruce said as he steered Mary out of the room. He gave a fleeting look to Terry and Matt before he stepped out himself.