Summery: Part of my Definition series. Terry gets a night off and goes out on the town.
Disclaimer: if I owned Batman beyond, it would still be airing.
Apathy: [ap-a-thy] noun
lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern
Terry didn't get much down time. When he wasn't at school or patrolling he could most often be found sleeping or trying desperately to catch up on homework. To maintain the illusion of a normal life he did have to go out sometimes. It was an excuse he had pulled on the boss man twice now, and it seemed to work relatively well, all things considered.
It wasn't like there was any special occasion or anything. Dana's birthday wasn't for another three months and he had already missed their anniversary. There weren't any big dances and his mom was giving him a break at the moment. That was actually what made tonight the perfect night to go out, catch a band, grab some food.
There were no expectations. This didn't have to be the best night out they'd ever had. It just needed to be a good time.
He parked the car he had borrowed from Wayne and walked the half block to the Silver Dollar. It was a small club that had bought out the basement and first floor of an old brick tenant building, knocked out most of the floor and converted the rest into dancing room. The main entrance now consisted of a staircase down to what had been the basement. The support beams that had been left in to keep the rest of the building standing now supported lights and cast angular shadows on the bricks.
They descended into the mass of people and weaving multicolored lights. Max and Chelsea, both currently single, took the lead, flaunting what they had and singling out attractive young men as if they were prey.
Terry snagged a table against one wall before going up to the bar and shouting their orders over the music. Dana looked happy at the table for the moment, and Chelsea was already clinging to a blond in black leather pants out on the dance floor. Max retrieved their drinks, spending longer then really necessary at the bar thanking the bar keeper. Terry settled in. he listened to the music. When the next set started up he pulled Dana onto the dance floor for a few songs before pulling her close and running a hand through her hair, black and satin smooth.
She reaches up and kisses the corner of his mouth then says something that is lost in the pounding music, but still understood thanks to the lip reading that was forced upon him a few months ago.
"I'm really glad you're here."
There are a dozen ways he can respond, but he really doesn't want to talk about work. He needed this night to get his mind off the trio of murders that still haunt him from last week, but it's not as if he can tell her that.
"Me too, I needed to see you."
Maybe she can tell in that semi magical way that girls can that there has been more on his plate then usual, more troubling things that he doesn't want to see or deal with. Tonight was about clearing his mind, getting rid of all that. She takes his hand and squeezes it, then pulls him back over to their table where the others are apparently exchanging notes and possibly the phone numbers they've received. Terry lengthened his stride sliding into his seat before her, and pulling her into his lap. She gasped and then laughed.
The song ended and the lead guitarist leaned forward, adjusting his mike and speaking in a low dry voice. "Hey everybody, me and my crew are gonna step down for a few minutes, get ourselves a few drinks, before we come back and jam some more." He nodded as a general round of clapping rolled through the crowd.
Max leaned over to Chelsea and even with the band no longer playing her voice was low enough Terry couldn't catch what she said. Chelsea grinned, finished her drink and leaned over to shout over the crowd.
"We're off to get more drinks."
They sauntered across the dance floor, sliding onto a pair of seats at the bar near a group of football players from Gotham U. Terry watched them go then took advantage of the situation. Dana, already in his lap, snuggled in closer and let him nibble at her neck. He was more then happy to take advantage of that particular situation. With one hand wrapped around her shoulder his other moved it's way from her knee slowly upwards. His lips traced slowly from the base of her neck up to the curve of her chin.
The sound of shattering glass interrupted what was starting to turn into a very interesting night out. He turned despite his better judgement, or perhaps because of it, to see what was happening. One of the football players had pushed over a girl into a waitress and the tray she was carrying had ended up sending drinks cascading over the two of them. Glasses crashed onto the floor and the tray clattered sending out a cascade of sound as only metal can.
The football player yelled at the girl as the waitress ducked down picking up the glasses that remained intact and trying to turn invisible. Terry didn't blame her the profanities being thrown weren't exactly encouraging, even to bystanders.
"- you fragging Bitch," he finished. Turning he stormed off across the dance floor unhindered by the people who quickly moved out of his way.
The girl fell to her knees as the tension that had been holding her up drained out of her. She retained at least a portion of her dignity, She didn't break into tears or anything. The crowd slowly drifted back to what it had been doing. Leaving the waitress to clean up the glass.
"Poor Laura." Dana leaned against his chest watching as the girl was dodged around by the other patrons. Laura, the name was familiar. Terry watched as she picked herself up, brushing at the dress that was probably damaged beyond repair, and dabbing at her alcohol covered hair with some napkins from a nearby table. She turned and seeing her from the back Terry realized where he knew her from.
She was in his statistics class. She normally sat two rows in front of him and kept her hair up in a pony tail. From his mental files and Max's commentary he knew that she was a slightly better then average student, a member of the debate club, and as far as he could tell, no longer dating a freshman at GU.
Laura stood ignoring the crowd as it was ignoring her. It was like there was a wall around her that no one wanted to breach. She existed in a separate dimension completely apart and alone. for all she was aware the rest of the world no longer existed. But the real hard thing to witness was how the world was ignoring her.
Some people chose to disappear, she hadn't. She had been verbally abused, drenched and then abandoned, not just by her former boyfriend, but by the whole world around her. Even the waitress had vanished, supposedly to retrieve a broom for the glass.
Terry leaned over, kissing Dana on the corner of her mouth, then shifted her off his lap. "I'm going to ask her to sit with us."
Dana had looked surprised as he placed her in her own chair. Then she worked out what he was saying as he repeated at a volume that could be heard. She nodded and cleared their stuff from a part of the bench. Terry approached her slowly but even so she didn't notice until he gently touched her arm. She jumped then turned openly staring at him.
"Laura, you ok?"
She nodded, then seemed to come back to herself. She took another look at him and seemed to finally recognize him.
He nodded, and motioned back to the table. Chelsea and Max joined him when they saw what he was doing. They flanked him as he supported her back to the table. When she sat they huddled around her offering comforting noises and telling her what what an ass that guy was. She was obviously better off without him. He didn't know what he was missing.
Terry leaned against the table forfeiting his chair to her. He took it upon himself to glare threateningly at anyone who came too close, while also keeping a close eye on the remaining jocks at the bar. With Terry's actions it seemed the tide of opinion had changed. The ones in isolation were the jocks who, friends or not, had at least come in with the dreg who had started all this.
The next time a waitress came around the girl ordered a large drink. Drowning her troubles away seemed to be what the situation called for according to the girls. As Terry watched on all three of them downed drink after drink, all the while loudly speaking about how men weren't worth the trouble.
Terry seemed invisible to them as he silently guarded their table and made sure the empty glasses were taken away. He hadn't planed on drinking, one crazy drunk experience in the bat suit was enough for a lifetime, but it wouldn't have hurt them to at least remember he was there. Then again it wasn't like he wasn't used to silently protecting them without them knowing it. At midnight he told the waiters to stop serving them and patiently waited for their glasses to run dry. Chelsea was the first to complain, calling out that someone had stolen her drink.
"No one stole it, you drank it yourself." Max proclaimed. Of the three of them she seemed the least likely to fall down if she tried to walk across the room. Not that that was saying a lot since Laura seemed to be a light weight, Chelsea had probably started before they got together and Dana had downed the last few like water. He knew from experience that trying to stop them from drinking would make them complain and protest. Letting them think the alcohol was gone would be the lesser of the two evils but it would only work if they were to out of it to see the flaw in his logic.
"Hey, my drink's stolen too," Laura said, looking down at the bottom of her glass as if it was something she had never seen before.
Terry waited, it would not be long now.
"You're both just careless." Max managed not to slur. She downed the last of her own drink and looked around as if to validate her point.
"I don't know, I didn't see anybody and I would have." Dana lowered her voice to speak to the others in what she thought was a whisper. "I can be sneaky."
Max snorted, "Girl, you don't know nothing, nothing 'bout anythin'." Max leaned back and shook her finger at her friend.
"Oh yeah?" Dana asked, her glass suddenly empty as well.
"Course, you can't see sneaky if you're being sneaky." She said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Laura and Chelsea nodded as if she had made a good and logical point.
"Well, I wasn't being sneaky then." Dana said in her defense.
Laura was still nodding until she saw Dana's cup. "Look, they got yours too." She giggled then stopped suddenly and whispered loudly to the others. "Maybe it was gremlins."
"well, the sneaky"
"oh I bet you're right."
They all paused and looked around as if they were going to see little purple creatures or whatever gremlins looked like, hiding behind the salt shaker. Terry figured it was time for him to step in.
"You know, I haven't seen any gremlins in a while." Not that he had ever seen gremlins, but at this point that didn't seem like the point.
"Terry." Dana was suddenly up out of her chair and wrapping her arms around his neck. "I've missed you. I thought the gremlins stole you too."
"Nope, I was here the whole time."
"No, you weren't you're always disappearing."
"Not this time." He didn't know if she would believe him at the moment but it was the truth whether she thought he had been captured by gremlins or not. He hugged her to him slipping an arm around her to help support her and turned to the others.
"Come on, time to go."
Laura looked skeptical, Max was still trying to find the gremlins and Chelsea had apparently decided that that Max's hair was the most fascinating color in the world.
"Max, your hair is Pink"
And they were off on a tangent looking at Max's hair which was actually rather hard for Max at least. Chelsea was having an easier time. They were so distracted that for a moment Terry even considered leaning them as he took Dana to the car. It couldn't be that bad. After all it would only take him a few minutes. Well maybe five minutes they had parked down the street rather then in the back lot like last time. Then there was the fact that Dana probably would need help walking so it would probably take even longer. Maybe 10 minutes was a better estimate really.
No. In the end he couldn't leave them like this. They would probably end up crawling over the floor looking for those gremlins they kept talking about or even worse someone might offer one of them another drink. He would never get them out of there if that happened. Really there was nothing for it. He would have to find a way to convince them to come with him of their own choice.
After a moment of thought, which was made increasingly harder as Dana had started playing with the tag on the back of his shirt and the whole thing was tickling his neck, he finally just figured he'd say whatever came to mind and hope it was the right thing. plans were over rated anyway.
"So, what are you going to do?" He asked them.
Laura was the first to look up. "About what?"
"Well," okay he hadn't planed that far. Think, man think.
Max saved him. "tch, he says we need to go after them."
Thank you Max for being the only one who can follow a train of thought even when there isn't one.
"That's right. We need to go find them."
"They took our drinks." Dana suddenly remembered. "and stole Terry!"
"You're right, we need to go save him. He must be in trouble." Laura was suddenly coming to his defense. Terry made a mental note to get to know her sometime when she wasn't really out of it.
"He must be in real trouble if Batman can't help."
Dear God Max how could you? Really that was the secret of secrets and a few drinks could get her to slip? He would have to have a stern talk with her as soon as he got them out of this and they were all sober. Of course, given the fact that he was the only one in the whole club who probably wasn't out of his brains drunk it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It wasn't like she'd come out and said it or anything. Still, he needed to get them out of there.
"That's right, you've got to come rescue me, come on." He managed to get them all up and walking slipping his free arm around Max to help her along while Chelsea and Laura swayed back and forth in front of them.
The door man gave Terry an approving look as they left. Terry couldn't properly respond as Laura had started down the sidewalk in the wrong direction. She hadn't come in with them of course but there was no way he was going to leave her to her own devises, especially if that meant driving. Of course there was the little problem of not knowing where she lived, but he would burn that bridge when he came to it.
Through a process that was akin to herding cats he managed to get them all going in the right direction. He had borrowed one of Wayne's less conspicuous cars for the night and Chelsea at least seemed to remember it. The moment she saw it she rushed over and spread herself across the hood.
"Look at this car! It's so pretty, and shiny." Or maybe she just thought it was a nice car. Then again, saying it was less conspicuous was like saying it was the least dangerous alien invasion; it was still big and flashy even if it didn't have all the bells and whistles. At least he wouldn't have to worry about seating that many people.
He managed to get the keys out of his pocket and click the car open but soon realized that with one of his friends on one arm and his girlfriend on the other he wasn't going to get the door open any time soon.
"Laura." The girl had been leaning over Chelsea and giggling at every word she said, but at least she looked up at the sound of her name. Maybe the cold night air was doing her some good. "Could you open the door for me?"
She looked at the door for a minute, frowning, then got off the hood of the car and stumbled to the door. She managed to get it open swinging with the momentum and giggling again. That set the rest of them off, except for Dana who was still fascinated with the fact that he had been stolen by gremlins.
Finally he got the four of them piled in the back and buckled in. Turning on the car he saw that the radio was proclaiming it to be nearly one in the morning. Terry wasn't sure whether to sigh at another lost night of sleep or be happy that he had managed to get them all back to the car before dawn.
Looking in the rear-view mirror it was clear that his troubles weren't over yet. Getting one person home and into bed would not be difficult, two people would be unwieldy but doable. Four people on the other hand, would be more then he could handle without using gadgets from the cave.
What he needed to do was figure out how to get them all home and in bed with a minimum of fuss. Chelsea wouldn't prove much of a problem. Her parents wouldn't bat an eye if she crashed at someone else's place for a night. He could probably leave her in Max's spare room and no one would make a fuss. Dana would be harder. He needed to make sure she would be okay but at the same time, if he brought her home like this and her dad was still up he would never see her again. Letting her explain it in the morning was quite possibly the lesser of the two evils. That left Laura, he didn't know where she lived. Not that it would be hard to find out but what if she didn't remember what had happened tomorrow? Better to wake up with friends then all alone. At least he could tell the truth about it in the morning. Max's family was out of town again so her place was empty and the only reasonable choice.
As he drove the talk in the back descended into quiet mumbles intermixed with rounds of giggling. He tried to ignore it but Max and Dana seemed to be talking about him, and his hearing was generally better then average.
The communicator in the car beeping was what finally managed to distract him. He slipped the speaker into his ear and closed the divider between him and the back just in case.
"McGinnis" He answered trying to keep the frustration out of his voice. Honestly, he needed some kind of back up so he could take a night off once in a while without the old man yelling in his ear. There was no way he was leaving the girls unless the world was on fire.
"I saw the car beacon, you're needed."
No hello, no how was your night, just get to work. And Wayne didn't even put any inflection into it. There were times he seriously considered whether Wayne was a robot or not.
"I'm busy. Besides you gave me the night off, remember?"
"I let you go to that party because you complained about your secret identity, that doesn't mean you have the night off."
"Is the world ending?"
"That's a no."
"As in no the world is not ending, which means whatever it is can wait." Terry waited for Wayne to tell him no it couldn't wait, That it was an emergency and he had responsibilities. Then the silence started to draw out. He knew Wayne hadn't hung up he was just waiting for Terry to crack. Terry considered cutting the connection from his end but he knew if he did it would end up worse for him later. Finally he let out the breath he had been holding and spoke.
"What is it?"
"Break in at the historical sciences museum."
Terry shook his head even though he knew his boss couldn't see him.
"I can't get there. I'm all the way across town they'd probably be long gone by the time i got there even if i could get away, and I can't."
Wayne was silent.
"Look, I can't just leave these guys they're my friends and I said I would be the driver. I've got to get them home safe. Can't Gordon handle this one?"
"I'll look into whatever they steal tomorrow. We'll get everything back and everything will be fine. It's not like anything in there is dangerous or anything, just a bunch of collectors items."
"Fine, but you do realize that you're tempting fate now."
"Yeah yeah, because the whole world is out to get me. I'll deal with it."
"Suit yourself." and Wayne hung up.
Terry breathed for a few minutes while silently cheering. No more trouble tonight, just get the girls home and he could pass out and worry about thefts and crooks and gangs and everything else in the morning. You know, it probably said something when that was what he was worrying about rather then the classes he was failing or the finals that he hadn't studied for by really that was life. His life at least and he liked it that way even if he didn't get to just relax very often.
He turned into the street where Max's apartment was and looked around for a spot to park. his car didn't have the right pass to park in the garage Max's family used and Max didn't have a car so he hadn't been able to borrow one. Still at that time of night on that kind of street it wasn't that hard to find a spot on the curb.
After parking, he slipped around the car to open the door. He leaned inside and couldn't help but raise his eyebrows. Max and Dana were both out of it in the seats just behind the driver, but Laura and Chelsea in the back seemed to have other things on their minds; namely, each other.
Chelsea had a red mark on her cheek that looked suspiciously like Laura's lipstick and her hand was surprisingly high on Laura's thigh. Terry spared a moment to wonder if that was what all the giggling had been about before he realized that Chelsea was still nibbling at Laura's shoulder. He turned and nearly shut the car door to give them some privacy before he remembered that he still had to get them all inside. That left him with the problem of if he should try to herd all of them at once or take Max and Dana before coming back for the love birds. The elevator wasn't all that far and this was a fairly safe neighborhood all things considered.
He sighed and reached in to help Dana out. If this was any other city they would be fine but given the fact that this was Gotham and that Wayne was right (as usual) and he was already tempting fate, they would probably be attacked as soon as he was out of sight.
He got Max out and it seemed like she had cooled off enough to at least stand and walk on her own, for which he was grateful. Dana was still out of it enough to need help. She also seemed to have taken the hint from the other two since as soon as he had his arm around her she started breathing on his ear.
He would have liked nothing better then to take advantage of that but now was sadly not the time.
"Chelss, Laura. Come on, we're here." Laura looked up, her eyes glazed. He nodded at the house and silently thanked the forethought that had made him ask for Max's keys earlier in the evening. Laura looked at the house as if she didn't know what it was. Terry figured that wasn't so strange considering she had never been there before.
"Beds?" he tried, hoping to get through to her. Chelsea looked up and around now that her dance partner seemed to be distracted.
"Hey it's Max's" she said through a mouth that didn't seem to know how to form words.
"Yes." Terry confirmed. "Come inside and get some sleep. You know sleep, in beds?" At this point he was only hoping to get through to them since actually expecting them to understand seemed to be pushing it.
He held out his free hand they reacted in the normal way until he had everyone out of the car. This time it was Dana on one side with Chelsea on the on the other and Laura being helped along on her other side.
Max seemed to have wandered toward the doors like an animal instinctively seeking out home. Only when she was there did she realize she couldn't get in without her keys. Terry tried to get her keys out of his pocket but couldn't seem to manage it while supporting the others.
"Max," she turned and stopped looking through her purse. "They're in my pocket." He nodded down to his front left pocket. "Keys're in my pocket." He shifted his hips so she could grab them. It took her a few tries. He couldn't help but notice when her fingers ran over his belt, and of course Dana still had her face tucked into the crook of his neck making it harder to concentrate.
She finally got her keys and of course it took her forever to find the right one and actually get the door open. From there it was just a slow mater of time guiding everyone inside without anyone getting hurt or passing out.
Max finally flopped down on her couch with a small contented sigh, snuggling into the cushions. Terry set Dana down beside her for the moment and led Laura and Chelsea into the spare bedroom that Terry had been known to crash in. They seemed happy enough to comply although he had to wonder how they would react the next morning when they woke up in each others arms. He switched off the light and closed the door behind him.
He reentered the main room in time to see Dana and Max whispering to each other behind their hands. He come over and looked down at them, wondering what was going through their heads this time. After the gremlins he wouldn't be surprised at anything. Then they looked up at him with those sly looks and he suddenly got a sinking feeling.
"Alright, what are you two thinking?" He asked, not really expecting an answer.
"Terry." Dana held up her hands to him and gave him the smile that she knew he couldn't resist. He took her hands and found himself being pulled down onto the couch. He landed sprawled across her in a heap. He tried to get up afraid that he was squishing her but she pulled him close, holding him down. Then he felt something tugging at his ankles and twisted in order to get a look. Max had grabbed his legs and was untying his shoes. She got the first one off and threw it across the room before starting on the second.
Before he could finish the sentence the second shoe was off and she was going for his socks. When she had his socks off as well she tossed them behind the couch.
"There now you can't leave."
"Yep," Dana agreed hugging him tighter. "No more walking for you"
He couldn't help but grin at their logic, or lack there of. "Really? Well, in that case..." he shifted until he was sitting more next to Dana then on her and settled back into the cushions. "I guess I can't leave."
They smiled and snuggled down next to him. Slowly their breathing evened out. It didn't take long for Terry to join them in sleep.
Terry woke to the sound of his phone going off somewhere underneath him. He fished around until he found it and groggily answered.
"Terry? Are you awake dear?" His mom. He sent a silent thank you to the universe that it wasn't Wayne.
"Yeah mom, I'm here."
"I was just wondering if you could still sit with Matt this afternoon."
Terry tried to sort out the contents of his brain and eventually managed to come up with an answer. "I think so mom, Wayne need's me to work but not until later."
"That's fine I should be back by 4 at the latest."
"K, Bye." He hung up and glanced at the time. 8:45 seemed far too early, and he hadn't even been drinking. He did not envy the girls and the hangovers they would be sporting, and speaking of girls.
He surveyed his surroundings. Both Max and Dana were still asleep, piled on top of and around him. There was no sound from the guest bedroom and no sign that Chelsea and Laura were up yet. He tried to shift in order to start making the coffee that was definitely going to be needed but Dana just clung tighter to him. Apparently the no walking rule was still in effect.
It was at least half an hour before any one else stirred.
Max slowly shifted feeling around for a blanket or something. When she couldn't find it she slowly pushed herself up and looked around, semiconscious. Terry nodded at her when she figured out he was a person rather then a part of the couch.
"You ok?" He asked. She winced at the sound of his voice even though he had kept it low.
"What happened last night?" Her voice was scratchy
He tried to keep his tone soft as he answered. "What do you remember?"
She shook her head then winced at the movement. "We got to the Silver Dollar, then," she shrugged. "A blur."
Terry nodded, then looked down at Dana again. He tried to shift her again and this time she let him, rolling over to lean on Max. Terry stood up and stretched the kinks out of his back.
"I'll make some coffee." He volunteered and left her to nurse her headache.
He had the pot just about ready when he heard the screams from the bedroom. It looked like Max wasn't the only one who didn't remember the night before.
First for those of you who are new to my work, this story is part of my definition series: a collection of eight short stories inspired by the eight words featured in the Batman Beyond opening. Power has already been posted and the others will come as soon as they're finished.
Now that that's done with...
This is actually the first of this collection that I started writing. It took me forever to find a beta. I have to say though that so far it's my favorite of this series. Terry deserves a little down time every now and then.
This story is set in the same universe as my other batman beyond stories, but you don't have to read any of those to understand this one.