Shame

-3 Months after the events in "Justice League: Doom"-

"He saved us! He saved us all! Thank you! Thank you, Batman!"

Perched, crouching above the cheering masses, he slowly stood in a cold whisper of dark fabric, a shadowed silhouette against the blood red sunset. The harsh pull of his lips and cheeks, and the cold stare with which he surveyed the crowds slowly killed the joyful chanting and celebration. Movement ceased, and the gathering became deathly still.

Then the hero's voice, resounding and glacial, carried out over the assemblage.

"I am not some benevolent god."

One gloved hand was extended, aimed at his weary and dazed sometime-teammates.

"And neither are they."

His masked face turned slowly, relentlessly, with all the fearless apathy of Death itself, to land on the huddle of neutralized Justice League members. Though they were now in their right minds, no longer controlled by a malicious outside force, still they flinched back as that iced, knowing gaze ran over each one. His next words were aimed entirely at the group of superheroes, the same group which he had just stopped from mistakenly destroying the Earth.

"And you would do well to remember it."

Then a bolt shot straight overhead from his wrist guard, and he followed it, a powerful yank making the menacingly cloaked figure fly smoothly upward and into the idling jet now directly above. As the plane's engines hummed in near-silent counterpoint to its possible speed, the black craft bolted forward, streaking across the sky, and was gone.

Leaving behind the shell-shocked, injured and anxious throng of near-victims, and the battle-weary and angry JLU, who were being forced to reconsider a decision of a few months earlier.

Batman's membership to the League had been revoked, following the discovery of a set of contingency plans to nullify each of his teammates which a villain had gotten hold of, almost causing their deaths and the genocide of a good portion of the planet's inhabitants.

Now, they found themselves forced to admit that, once again, the Batman had been less arrogant than they saw him, and far better prepared for any eventuality. Though not of their own free will, they had become a threat to humanity, and only his provisions for just such an event had been the planet's saving grace.

Shame was not something the heroes often felt. Today, though, they did.

End.