A/N: The next Act has begun! Check my profile for Justice Lords LIMITLESS Act 2: EndWar
It had been three weeks since the brutal attack and Kimber's life had changed. Whether it was for the better or for the worse was yet to be seen. As she exited Mawk's hospital room, she let loose a sight of relief. He would be alright. The knife that he had been stabbed with had not hit anything that couldn't be replaced with rest, nutrition, and time. He would be fine just in time for graduation. But for the next three and a half months, he will be out of school, She bit her lip disappointed that she hadn't been there for her friend in his time of need.
"You alright?" Curtis walked up to her, concerned. He, too, had been in the hospital room visiting Mawk. Most of the people who attended the party were there.
Kimber looked into Curtis' face, her eyes were red. Mawk hadn't been the only one she had failed. She had also failed Curtis. She invited the kid to Mawk's party just for him to get beaten by a maniac. "Ye-yeah," She stammered, "I'll be fine." With her hands she wiped her eyes and heaved a deep breath.
"For what?" Curtis looked surprised.
Kimber looked into his eyes. His face was covered with cuts and bruises, she knew that his chest and back looked even worse. He had refused medical attention, insisting that he was fine. But Kimber knew the real reason. "I'm sorry for inviting you just to get your ass kicked," She replied half-jokingly.
Curtis chuckled, "If I do remember correctly, I scored a few hits." He fake-sparred the air beside him, "I'm not just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world."
"I'm a killer: a stone-cold killer." Curtis gave the air three last jabs and then an uppercut just for safe measure before turning back to Kimber. "See?"
"Alright, alright." Kimber had to agree; he wasn't dead so he must have done something right in that fight. "So... What are your plans for this last week of break?"
Curtis shrugged, "Sleep mostly. Dad says I need the rest, so who am I to argue with him, right?"
Kimber nodded and enveloped him in a hug.
Surprised, it took Curtis a few seconds before he reciprocated the act. "What's this for?" He whispered into her hair.
"For standing up for me... when no one else did." Her voice was quiet and vulnerable. She hated it, but she couldn't manage her strong voice anymore. Too much pain. Too much sadness and loss.
"Aw shucks," Curtis squeezed her tighter, "It was nothing, Kim. That's what friends are for, right? Defending other friends from mass murderers."
The two released and Curtis checked his watch, "Shoot, it's time to go." He said his good-bye's to Kimber then started to leave the hospital.
Kimber watched the boy leave and noticed his slight limp. He had denied medical attention so save money. His father had been released in May from prison for speaking out against the Justice Lords during their reign. He had been in for life. His mother had passed two months after his father was released. It had been a hard year for Curtis Walker and needless to say money was tight. This would have been so different, she thought, if I hadn't froze.
At the door Curtis paused, turned for one last wave, and then left.
Bruce Wayne sat in his Maserati alone. He hadn't bothered to hire a chauffeur because, honestly, who could replace Alfred? As he sat in his car outside the hospital he thought back to that night. He still wasn't so sure what possessed him to reveal his secret identity to the girl, but now he had to deal with it. He looked into the hospital again and when he realized she wouldn't be leaving anytime soon, he drove off.
One hour later, he was in full suit ready to do what he hadn't done in a very long time: patrol. He wasn't even sure if he was going to. The way he had attacked that night was so fast and so stealthy that the camera Mr. Death had set up didn't even capture him. There were only a few witnesses and some of them were getting so much counseling that most would probably repress the memory for years to come. He had also scanned many bars and popular criminal hang-outs. Most didn't think he came out anymore and even others thought that he had died after the Justice Lords disbanded. "Shows what they know."
He decided against using the Batmobile as transportation and instead opted for traveling on foot. He didn't want to draw attention to his return to the Nightlife. The more he surprised the scum in Gotham's underbelly, the better. "Alfred." He barked into the crisp night air, "Lockdown procedure 7-0-2."
"Right away, sir." The mansion above was being locked down. No one in or out except the Bat himself. Lasers and bars over every entrance and all fences magnetically sealed.
After he was satisfied with what had happened, Batman stepped out of the cave and into the dark.
"Hey, Mawk." Kimber reached her hand out and took the boy's hand in hers. "I'm going to take off, okay?"
Mawk weakly grinned, "Alright. you gonna visit tomorrow, right?"
"Of course!" Kimber was surprised he would ask such a question, "Why?"
"Just makin' sure, Kim." He laid his head back on his pillow.
Kimber bit her lip before speaking again, "Before I go... I want to tell you something."
"These past few weeks have been a real eye-opener for me." She started off slow, "I have just come to realize how precious certain people are to me... and well..." She caught her breath and then proceeded, "Remember when we first went out?"
Mawk laughed, "Yeah, I do."
"And you eventually told me you asked me out to get away from another girl and not because you actually wanted to date me?" She smiled at the memory. At the time she had been crushed, but through it came a wonderful and lasting friendship. "We've done that fake-date setup more times than I care to count. But now, I realize just how much you mean to me." Her voice trailed off.
"What are you trying to say?" Mawk's voice was also quiet.
"I don't think I have anything left to say. Just something to do." She leaned down and kissed him.
Gotham streets were not how he remembered them. There were not as many crimes and in the wake of Mr. Death's 'supernatural' encounter many criminals were too spooked to come out. "It will be at least another week before these mooks decide to show their faces." Batman growled into the night air. He was crouched between two gargoyles equally; just like the old days. It hadn't taken him long to get to the city from his cave, and even shorter to get to the apex of the Clocktower. What he hadn't counted on was a slow night. Police scanners were nearly empty and he had been on top of the tower for over an hour. Alternating his location, of course. Suddenly, a figure caught his keen eye. "Finally, some action."
With all his pent up energy he leapt from his perch, spread his cape and glided to the roof the figure was standing on silently. It took him about five seconds to make this descent. Oh, how he had missed the feeling of the wind at his cheeks, the city rapidly approaching, the control over his fall, the adrenaline. Training in a cave barely rivaled the feelings of actually doing. He stalked up behind the figure. "You're out early."
Spooked, the figure turned suddenly with an 'eep,' but when she saw it was the Dark Knight, she put a hand over her chest and exhaled. "Shit..." Batgirl breathed, "Scared the crap outta me."
"Get used to it." Was all he replied.
Batgirl looked at her watch, "It's ten-fourty," she stated, "I'm normally out an hour after sunset. This is late for me."
"With those hours, you will work yourself to death," He moved to the edge of the building, cape still draped over his shoulders and body, and leaned for a better look at the ground level. "The most dangerous part of the night starts at thirty to midnight and doesn't end until four-thirty in the morning. The busiest time is the hour of two."
"So if this is early, why are you out?"
"Tonight's different." He squinted at her and she had to remind herself that looks can't kill.
Or can they? She asked herself as something did seem to die within her at that face. "I know the radio waves haven't been to gracious to us vigilantes, but I've been following this group for the past few blocks.." She pointed to some young people now huddled in an alleyway. "I'd say they are up to no good."
Batman turned his attention on them; his mind went to work as did the tech in his cowl. Five men. Two women. Mid- to late-twenties. Two men armed. Crowbar. Pistol; most likely a cheap one. Both women armed. Two knives. One baseball bat. He retrieved binoculars and peered at the group. Clown-like face paint. Jokerz. His scowl grew. How anyone could follow that madman even to the point of mimicking him was beyond Batman's mind. "Any idea who the target is?" he packed away his binoculars.
Batgirl shrugged, "Not a clue. So far there seems to be no rhyme or reason. They have just been walking. Stopped in that alley awhile, so I guess that is where they are waiting."
Batman shared the information he gathered from watching them with his unofficial partner. She was stunned.
"All that from just a look?"
"No." He stood at the edge of the building as the group below looked as if they were about to spring. "Get ready."
"Yeah, you can glide down and get started. I'll have to use the ladder or something."
At first Batman thought she was trying to get out of the fight, but when he turned she was already nearing said ladder. Initiative. Good. He nodded and she started her climb down. For the element of surprise, Batman fired his line launcher across the street and rode it to the building adjacent to the hoodlums. He saw Batgirl in the shadows of the building he had been at, obviously surprised he had already gotten to the top of the building quickly.
The group of Jokerz readied their weapons and sprang their trap on the next passer-by.
"Give us the dough and we'll letcha go!" Rhymed one member. He was carrying the crowbar.
"You don't want any trouble from us!" A second piped up. The teen with the pistol.
"Pl-please!" The man whimpered when he realized he was at the mercy of the seven teens, "I don't have anything! I am only a janitor for a school!"
"We-ell, you better hurry up and find something!" threatened the knife wielding girl, "We don't carry these pointy things just for effect, ya know."
The man whimpered again.
This was all he needed. Batman raised and then dropped his hand. From where she was, Batgirl sprinted across the street and delivered a powerful elbow strike to the neck of the first speaker. Before any of the Jokerz could respond, Batman descended, feet first, crashing into the gun-toting member. In a flash he had the gun in his hands and he pistol-whipped the closest Jokerz member and then discharged the gun's magazine, rendering the weapon useless. He then threw it to the side as added precaution.
Finally one Jokerz member spoke up, "Woah! It's the Bat!" was all she got to say before Batgirl rammed her shoulder into the girl's chest, knocking the wind from her.
Batgirl did a quick run-through of the events in her mind as she blocked a strike from an unarmed member. The gunman is out and his gun is gone. The crowbar guy is down, for now. Batman brought is armored knee into said thug's face. Oh, never mind. He's down. She blocked another punch and then threw one of her own, her gloved fist collided with his made-up face. He's down.
Batman vaulted over the head of another thug and palm-struck him in the back. He then finished the strike with a quick stop to the face. The man was unconscious.
"I'm gonna end you, Bats!" came a voice.
Batman expertly ducked down and a crowbar whizzed above his head. The girl with the knives had picked up a heavier object. Not one to be attached twice, Batman swiped her legs out from under her with his own leg and then slammed her face into the concrete. Ordinarily he would not have been as brutal to a female enemy, but tonight was different; tonight he was making his first stand, again, that he was back and crime wouldn't be tolerated.
As he stood, he felt a body crash into his side. The man who had been pistol-whipped was finally stable enough to attack. Or at least try. Batman barely budged and brought full upper-body force into the attackers neck. When the man let go to clutch his aching neck, Batman ended the fight with a swift knee to the face.
Meanwhile, Batgirl was squaring off against the final gang member. This member was obviously new to the thug-life as the had been frozen during the entire fight muttering "they told me they Bat wasn't real" over and over. Finally she got her wits about her and raised her bat to strike Batgirl.
"Time to find out who the real 'batgirl' is!" The girl hollered before charging and swinging the bat at Batgirl.
Batgirl groaned internally at the pun. She saw the bat coming and flashed back to the last time she came up against a bat-toting foe. Not this time. She easily caught the bat's horizontal motion, and pulled it towards her. Of course, the girl fell to Batgirl. Now with both of them holding the bat between them horizontally, Batgirl leaned in close to her enemy.
"I. Don't. Like. Baseball bats." She growled. Then she slammed her helmeted forehead into the girl's unprotected skull rendering her unconscious.
Batgirl let go of the bat and the girl fell back onto the pavement. She looked around and realized the poor janitor was still there, shocked.
Batman turned to him. "Don't ever speak of this. To anyone." And then Batman was gone.
"You should call the police, though." Batgirl added, "You know. Before they wake up." She then ran further into the alley and disappeared.
In all the fight had seemed like eternity but when she was on the roof and looked at her watch, "It's only ten-fifty?" she exclaimed quietly. The last time she looked at her watch was ten minutes ago. That time minutes the time it took for her to get to the bottom of the building, wait for the signal and run across the street added out to...
"Two minutes." Batman breathed.
"Wow..." She was impressed. Never before had her fights ended so quickly.
"That was slow."
"The freak?" Batgirl looked at the man incredulously. "That was slow? It took only two minutes to end that struggle! What is normal to you?"
"By myself, they would have been taken down in less than a minute. Combination of gadgets then well-placed strikes would have finished them. With any one of my old partners it would have taken ten seconds. With all my partners full force; they would have run off before the fight started."
Batgirl was silent for a moment. "So what are you saying? I suck? Am I holding you back?"
"Yes." Batman's answer was blunt, but not without explanation. "You're talent is raw and unrefined. Powerful but not focused. The potential is there, but it is untapped."
"What are you suggesting?" Batgirl asked uneasily.
"Training. You need it."
Kimber had taken a few martial art classes and even reached black belt in a couple, but she knew better than to argue with the Bat. "When do we start?"
"We already started." He dropped a handheld T-shaped device at her feet then stalked off. "Follow me."
She picked it up and did as she was told.
He fired a line from his grapple gun and swung to a building three blocks away with east, the cord retracted as he began his landing.
"Darn..." Batgirl looked from the device in her hands to the building Batman was standing on. "Oh, wow." She fired the line to the same building Batman had fired his and jumped. Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiit! She felt the blood rush to her face then her stomach and fought to keep from screaming. Get it together, Kimber! Her arc so far was perfect and she didn't want to mess anything up, but it was a chore keeping herself from spinning around on the wire. As she neared the building she realized she had no idea how to land nor how to retract the wire. Okay, calm down... just Caaallllm down. Finally she found the right button and pressed it... and felt herself start to fall. As the roof drew closer and closer she sighed. He's got some nifty cape obviously, or he can defy gravity. Either way, I'm pudding. She closed her eyes and leander forward.
"Oof!" her own voice surprised her just as much as the impact did. She landed just behind her right shoulder and rolled four times before rolling to her feet. Tumbling classes had paid off. "Oh, thank God."
"It's a start." Batman offered no words of wisdom, no words of comfort. "Come on."
No spare breath, eh? She followed.
Once again the Dark Knight fired his line and swung over more buildings with grace and once again Batgirl tried her best to mimic his moements. She knew she looked goofy. She knew she looked ridiculous, But hey, even he must have had to start out where I'm at.
After a few more buildings, she caught up to the Dark Knight and was beginning to match him nearly swing for swing. "So, where are we going?" She asked in mid arc of another swing."
His response nearly made her drop the one device keeping her in the air: "Home."
A/N: So, how was that chapter? Good? Yes? No? Well, this chapter ends Act 1! Yayz! So this story is finished. Next is Act 2. I am not certain what I will name it yet, but is will be very much longer than this Act for sure! More characters and more action, too! And that is the reason you read this, right? Keep in mind that even though it wasn't mentioned in this chapter, by this time it is the first week of January and Diana (Wonder Woman) has been released. How will this play out and where are the other Justice Lords? Keep reading to find out! ;) Oh and please read and REVIEW. I like seeing people adding this to their faves or alerts, but I would also love to see what you all think of the story and get feedback. That is how writers mature :P Also sometime soon I will be posting my Deviantart account on my Profile so you can see the characters as they appear in the story to get an idea of how they look!
Once again Read and Review, thanks :)