She stood there, in the balcony, eyeing the droplets glistening in her palm. She stood there, in spite of the increasing chilliness and the drizzling rain that had started a while ago. She stood there, door leading to her bedroom wide open, for the chill to take over, curtains flapping in the mild wind, dressed only in a nightgown and a robe. She stood there because of the aching pain in her heart, the hollow feeling in her soul, the tears in her eyes that wouldn't shed… because only such a dreary night could even begin to render what was going on inside her now…

The television set poured on whatever program was being broadcasted at that hour and the sounds, although faint, were still distinguishably reaching her, but did not move her in any way. She only turned it for the fake impression of company it gave her. But of course, that couldn't last long; it was, in actuality, beginning to annoy her to an extent. It was no denying she hated news bulletins… and well, how could she not? It had been the means of news that she learnt of his death… The monotonous, impassive voice droned on and on as she sat in front of the blue screen, in a state of shock. The spokesman (he usually reported, not without a professional smile on his face, the bad news of the day, generally good news, sports and weather forecast were reserved for the spokeswoman) emotionlessly narrated how her first and last had met his end, in the bowels of that barren submarine, in the dark and icy depths of the sea. And even though he said it was most likely because of some major malfunction Powers himself had triggered with those radioactive capabilities of his, Anna knew better: Batman and that… Paxton had sent him to his death. And she should have seen it coming, they both were fiercely determined to take them down, each for whatever reason they had… and she should have stood her ground and not run away so cowardly when he stepped out, from behind her, like a herald of doom and dread… and she should have done more for Powers, hidden him elsewhere, warned him, shielded him… but in the mental state he was in, he would hardly allow her to see him…

She could bear it no longer, the flooding feelings of shock, grief, abandon… guilt… and that irritating spokesman, rambling on carelessly about other, unimportant news, trifling that of Powers' death as he did so…

Since that faithful day, the emotional flood rampaged inside her, to the point of breaking her apart, then slowly diminished in destructivity, gradually ebbing away, dyeing away, until it left her drained, numbed… hollow…

Because to her, Powers was everything.

And without him, what else was left of her, besides a cold, empty shell of a person?

Hmm, what was that again?

"Congratulations! …correctly guessing… all three song tittles! …first person… …dedicate a song of choice… loved one …cho…!"

(unintelligible shy/modest murmur)

"What… …song in mind?"

"…a favourite..."

(unintelligible fast/excited speaking)

"…for the centre of my universe… sun … my sky… one person …means everything for me…"

(more excited speech; Anna found the presenter rather annoying and couldn't help not tone him out)

"Right. The song… All that I'm Living for, Evane…..ce!"

"Gee… ..pretty dark song. And, …a weather like this… I don't know if she'd appreciate it…"

(determined, low voice speech)

"Alright then…as you wish….. Ladies and gentlemen, All that I'm Living for, by Evanescence!"

"Thank you!"

Without further ado, the demanded song began abruptly, taking her completely off-guarded:

All that I'm living for
All that I'm dying for
All that I can't ignore
Alone at night

As the softer, instrumental music poured on, she pulled herself from the balcony and directed herself to the television. She relied solely on habit and her very familiar room as she allowed her legs to mechanically take her to where she wanted to get; for the song had, like a key to a lock, opened doors that have been shut, which she had shut, doors that lead to memories she once held dear…. As the lyrics poured on, softly, visions of her first sighting Powers also began pouring:

I can feel the night beginning
Separate me from the living
Understanding me
After all I've seen

It was Anna's first day of work and, already, she was supposed to attend an important meeting. As the guests were ushered into the meeting room, she followed them too, at the end. Everyone got seated, according to their company position; she was among the last to take her place. So it was only after a bit of time that Anna finally got a good look of, her boss, Derek Powers: in his early 50s, at least, but no push-over, he was seated at the top of the table, kept himself up-right and stern in position, voice silky yet loud enough for everyone, even those seated at the other end like Anna, to hear and seemed to be hawking everyone at the same time (and he didn't seem to be even trying!). All that done with a charm she had rarely seen in other people before. When his gaze met hers, he let it rest on her a while longer.

Piecing every thought together
Find the words to make me better
If I only knew
How to pull myself apart?

With his years and experience, he could probably judge a person's character with as little as glance. She was a well brought up person, with the excellent education that came with that. Her seating indicated she was no overly ambitions person, yet made sure she was where the activity was. She looked petite, deceivingly mellow even, but that passivity could also denote a cold sense of self-control. When his eyes met her, she did not shyly turned them away, she did widened them a little, not seeing that coming, but kept her eyes into his. And if Powers looked deeply enough, which he did, he would have seen her dominant trait: strong, abiding faithfulness . And that, rare as it was, was something Powers needed indeed; particularly because of the not so moral, no, licit, business he'd to be doing…

Looking back on that, she did wonder, why, while becoming more and more familiar with Derek and, thus, learning more and more dark secrets of his, did she not back away from him? Plenty would have; in spite of the money, professional success that came with it all. But no. She did not leave. She did not stay for all those things either.

All that I'm living for
All that I'm dying for
All that I can't ignore
Alone at night

All that I'm wanted for
Although I wanted more
Lock the last open door
My ghosts are gaining on me

Powers had a lot at stake and a lot to prove in that meeting and he converged all his resources (and charm) into achieving his goals: catching adversaries in their weakest, terminates any obstacles before they even arises, drawing allies by his side; and she, most faithfully, observed all this happening. But she would not stick to observing for long… An important part of that meeting was a presentation that needed a good deal of skill and self confidence in doing right. Yet, Powers was not about to do that himself; instead, he spotted someone that was able to pull it off, more than able even. Yes, if she passed this test, she'd probably be the best acquisition he'd ever made.

„Miss Winston, if you please…"

She didn't think much of it at the time, but later on, when she would be alone with the memories of that day, she would say to herself that only Mephisto's voice could match Powers. So charming, so warm, so silky… so enrapturing, he could persuade you to do anything. And, as time would pass she would, indeed, do anything for him. And, as it would turn out, that meeting presentation had been a piece of cake.

"Certainly, sir." She answered with a tone that tried to match his in charm and confidence. As she spoke, she rose up and walked over to the display panel. On her way there, she got hold of the remote control with an elegant gesture. She then spun on her heels and placed herself right next to the display. With a push of a button and a smile full of self-confidence, miss Winston commenced the presentation.

It was a challenge to be able to determine what each chart, scheme and statistic represented, more challenging to convey it to the assembly; most challenging was to do all that in a pleasing way, for the assembly, for herself, but most importantly for Powers. Not just because he was her boss, not just because she was a perfectionist and made a point of doing everything assigned to her right. But because… she wanted to impress him. She wanted him to have something properly done to look at; and be genuinely happy about it. And to feel supported as well. Because she knew that, besides difficult to maintain, the spot on top could be a lonely and unnerving place…

"Thank you, miss Winston." And Powers was as pleased as he sounded. Seeing his demand not only accepted, but carried out, with joy even! He had come across a rare gem indeed, and he knew it; and he also knew how to put it to good use too.

I believe that dreams are sacred
Take my darkest fears and play them
Like a lullaby
Like a reason why

The first couple of years were hardly what anyone would deem as exciting… at least compared to her later part of life. Sure enough, she was assigned the most difficult of tasks, but she had them all taken care of, in accordance to Powers' high standards. Though Powers would, many a time, reward her with praises, or one of his enchanting, Mephistophelic smiles (not to mention, paid her really well), she had the feeling that there was plenty going on behind closed doors. Of those things, she only heard rumours about or discovered a clue or two herself while doing her job. Your average employee would have been worried out of their mind, thinking what in the world was their boss up to! what were they getting themselves into? Well, as deviated as it may sound, she would, at the time, wonder when would she take her proper place by Powers' side when doing less than legal business. After all, she saw him for what the charming devil he really was; so she, in a way, sign up for it.

Like a play of my obsessions
Make me understand the lesson
So I'll find myself
So I won't be lost again

She was doing great, just as he expected of her. She had proven her skills to him plenty of times over and Powers thought it was high time he put them to good use. Up to this point he had been caught up developing a satisfactory amount of chemical weapons, most especially a new type of mutagenic nerve gas. Derek had long ago learnt that real money and real power did not come from good deeds, but from good deals. Hardly had he hinted that he had such weapons available that different people and organisations expressed their interest; interest which would materialise into actual meetings and transactions. When that would happen, he was going to need some help: he already had Mr. Fixx if it came to…. "unpleasant incidents", but he also needed someone to assist him if things actually went along smoothly. And who better to back him up than the wonderful…

All that I'm living for
All that I'm dying for
All that I can't ignore
Alone at night

Well, this definitely wasn't in the plan! Somewhere along the line of the preparations made for the up-coming transaction that too-good-for-his-own-good McGuiness had not only found out about the whole deal, but got into the possession of damning evidence as well. To be honest with himself, Powers did have a moment of panic learning about this: McGuiness was the kind of employee anyone could order around; on the surface level. In reality, when he made his mind to pursue something (justice and righteousness most particular), he'd go to the end of the world. Moreover, how did he get the data in the first place? For one stomach-churning split second, it crossed his mind that the good secretary he had entrusted had been treacherous and careless enough to let him have them. To his great relief (and joy) he was proven wrong by the secretary in question: not only was she innocent of any information leakage, but she had also been able to track down the actual source of his trouble: by the looks of it, Warren had obtained them from another employee, who had been accidentally (?) been exposed to the mutagenic gas and used as a test subject regarding the effects of the substance. Well, things have been going too well to be true…

"The transaction is going to take place just a couple of days later. With so much at stake, I can't afford anyone ruining it." said Derek, chocking any nervousness with irritation and cynicism.

"I believe some preventive measures should be taken."

"You think?" he eyed the lady in front of him as he asked that. Loyal, level-headed and diligent, definitely, but somehow she never struck him as being…

"Yes. I think I should contact Mr. Fixx for you. He is the one qualified for these types of tasks."

"Yes, do just that." He said, unable to smile just a little bit. Her being so like him was quite a bonus indeed.

All that I'm wanted for
Although I wanted more
Lock the last open door
My ghosts are gaining on me

The big night finally came; and when it did, Anna had asked whether or not she should come with him. The fewer involved the better, she had long ago figured that out, but still…

"You've done more than enough." He commented while grabbing his coat to leave. "Now it's time for me to me to play my part. Why don't you take this evening off?" With the smile he gave her, she wouldn't have refused him had he asked her to circle the Earth. "The way I see it, everything will work out without a hitch!" And he confidently walked off, Mr. Fixx marching by his side.

Guess I thought I'd have to change the world
To make you see me
To be the one I could have run forever
But how for would I have come
Without mourning your love?

"Sir?"

She wanted so badly to talk to him, it didn't matter how tired she was or how long she would have to wait before the doctors were done.

"Yes, Anna?" As even as he tried to keep his voice, she could tell that all he wanted to do right now was to withdraw and be with no one other than himself; understandable, since he had just been transformed into a walking blight…

"I… I am sorry…" That definitely widened his eyes as he turned to look right into her own.

"Sorry? For what, may I know? If anything, you are the least responsible for… everything." At that he rolled his eye. Damn hell bat!

"Perhaps, yet… I feel I should have done more, I should have come with you as well, I…" she let the sentence trail off. She could tell her judgement was starting to get clouded and that was the least thing Powers needed. As she lowered her head, eyeing her shoe tips, she was surprised to see a pair of back shoes stepping themselves in from of hers. That caused her to look up at Powers.

"Anna," he began lifting his hand "I…" he let the sentence fall, as well as his hand. He left like levelling the new Bat with the floor for stealing his chance of ever safely holding anyone ever again; and himself as well for not doing so when he was able to. Well, if he could not convey meaning via gestures, he would have to make up for it in words.

"I can't imagine what charity I've ever done to have you watch over me so. Don't worry about you not being able to do enough for me. I just hope I'll be able to repay you accordingly."

That got them both to smile, in spite of the less that happy current situation. But no matter. Even if the present seemed rather bleak, Anna would see that their perspectives would brighten; however great or small the tasks…

All that I'm living for
All that I'm dying for
All that I can't ignore
Alone at night

All that I'm wanted for
Although I wanted more
Lock the last open door
My ghosts are gaining on me

She sighed as that old, increasingly familiar feeling began to sink in: guilt. Not for "abiding a criminal fugitive", as the police would probably put it. But for not being able to do more than that: brining food or other minor necessities for him. It was true that she was the only one he trusted enough for that; she was the only one he trusted at all. But that was not helping him anywhere near as much as she would have wanted: he was still Blight… he was still confined to that submarine… he still had Batman looking for him…

"You don't wanna be here tonight."

She spun around, heart in here throat. There he stood like the Grim Reaper himself. Seeing she froze in her tracks, he came closer, quickening her pulse even more. That was it, she turned around and ran as fast as she could. Even as she ran, her mind screamed at her how cowardly she was, but her legs kept going. She rapidly and mechanically put the car into high gear and took off. It didn't matter where as long as she put distance between herself and that…

At some point during her wild drive, she realised she was racing straight to the Wayne-Powers company headquarters. Her rational side took control once more. Why was she heading for that place? If she would be looking for protection, that was the last place she should be going, now that Powers was gone… She slammed the breaks to the ground. In her haste to flee from Batman, she had completely forgotten about Derek! She barely restrained herself from slamming her head onto the car wheel.

She gulped down and willed herself to calm down. What could she do now? She could turn back and help…in what way? By getting in Powers' way? She felt smaller and meeker than ever. The worst of things could happen to herself or those she cherished and she could do nothing about it… Well, maybe she couldn't do much, but Derek could… he would not let himself be brought down by anyone.

She should go home. Yes, she should do that. Safer this way for both her and Derek. Besides, whatever would be going on, by the time she reached either places, it would all be over. In fact, by the time she'd get home, Derek might try to contact her again and…

Something gave her the idea of turning the T.V. on. The channel chosen was unimportant (it was all over the news anyway). As she gazed at the T.V. wide-eyed, the T.V. anchor man narrated how the (presumed) events leading to the submarine's destruction and sinking and Powers'…..

"Oh, Goodness…" she placed her palms over her eyes and all the collected calm so natural to her melted away with every tear.

"…The police have yet to find the body of Derek Powers. His whereabouts are still unknown…"

Sitting in front of the television now as she did back then, she remembered one phrase, among all the others that the spokesman had uttered back then. At the time, she was too wasted to even hear him, but now, after all those months, it resonated in hear head as clear as if he had just uttered it right next to her ear; it was that stirring, that song…

They haven't followed up on that news, the news agencies being too busy with Paxton and his rise to power (and his private life, while they were at it), but she could only assume the police has never found the body (if it did, it would have been all over the news, like his death had been). That being the case than… she could only assume… oh, dare she assume?... there was no dead body to be found…

Should it hurt to love you?
Should I feel like I do?
Should I lock the last open door,
My ghosts are gaining on me.

She stood there, on the sofa, wringing her hands eyeing then intently as she did. She stood there, feelings most contrasting flooding and threatening to overflow any second. She stood there, her mind clinging to the spokesman's words, then assaulted by reasonings against any miraculous survival. She stood there, once again, assailed by the urge to do something, anything that she thought it might be of aid to Powers yet pinned to the spot by reason and common sense. And something else as well: she had never gotten to close the door… the air was frigid now, but there was something else besides the cold that lingered. Expectation? Eagerness? Hope? The promise of a revenue, however fleeting or unlikely? She could give no specific name to the impression, but she felt that, if she held her ground patient enough, things would set themselves into motion, in a course with which she would be more than happy about…

Author's Note: Hello everyone, hope you enjoyed this little story. It's about Miss Winston, Derek Power's faithful secretary, one of the few stories centred on her, dare I say. The idea first came to our mind when a buddy and I were discussing about various, kick-ass characters from Batman Beyond (one of the best animations ever, btw.), and not just about the good guys. Powers, of course, got the most attention, us exploring every aspect of his character, rise to power, we even came up with several possible pasts for him. Then, of course, the discussion lead itself to Miss Winston. I was quite amazed how little character development she got from the script writers, I mean, she doesn't even have a first name! Even tertiary characters get first names… and, as Power's right hand…woman (and, as we get to learn from the tie-in comic, Batman Beyond #8, dear-and-near), she's not someone to easily overlook. Not to us, at least. So we settled on a name for her, Anna, and got around to deciding what might have become of her Powers/Blight went down with the sub. This is the result!

I would like to dedicate this story to: doktorblitz. Depending on the feed-back, more might come … with a top character's comeback to boot!