saga/title/fandom: Identity chapter 14 (Batman Beyond)
rating/genre:(PG-13) - Drama/Romance
warnings: violence, language
summary: Terry hasn't had time for himself lately, things seem a bit of a mess. It's a T/M fanfic - but i don't hate D
comments/disclaimers: I don’t own any of the characters, they were the creation of DC comics. This is a fanfic inspired by the Batman of the Future series, credit to the creators.Author’s note: This is my first Batman fanfic, it’s quite a daunting task, but I look forward to any constructive criticism on improving my writing as I’m an amateur at this. I haven’t been watching the show that long but it made an impact on me enough to want to write something. I apologise for any mistakes.
Chapter 14 Boys And Girls
Two days later, Max was sitting in the school canteen across from Terry. The days seemed to be dragging on as they got further into the school term with the assignments and tests increasing. At least the dreaded genetics test was out of the way. Max was managing to deal with the inflow of work, organising herself as it came in but she was still concerned about other loose ends.
Max thought back to the night before the genetics test. In a moment it had seemed that somehow something had been communicated between them, before Terry’s door had opened. Much to their relief, it had only been a sleepy Matt, oblivious to anything apart from the fact that he’d just had a nightmare and he needed someone with him in his room until he fell asleep. Max had volunteered, knowing Terry needed the time to study. By the time Max had got back to Terry’s room, Terry was deep in revision and acting like everything was normal.
Max believed in her instincts but looking at Terry now made her doubt them. She wondered if she’d imagined the magnetism that was seemingly flowing between them. However, that Sunday night had not been the night of Terry letting Max in. She still knew nothing about what happened between Terry and Mischief. Seeing Terry was not opening up, she didn’t feel like telling Terry anything.
Terry was resorting to distancing himself again. He seemed relatively ok after the test on Monday, even more accessible, but today he was in his own world. Max looked at Terry’s eyes, which were looking everywhere but at her, while he gave short responses to her questions. To make things worse, it seemed Terry was eyeing up every girl in the canteen. Max hadn’t seen Terry act like that before. She knew that after the break up with Dana, many girls had tried to sneak their way into his affections but he hadn’t been interested. Terry had clearly stated he was over Dana and it seemed that he was possibly on the look out for a new girlfriend, and it wasn’t her. Max continued to look at Terry, not bothering to make an effort to engage him in conversation any longer. His behaviour was confusing her. She continued to analyse the situation as she looked down at her sandwich, which had a meagre bite taken out of it.
Terry had a mental picture of the girl in his mind as he scanned the noisy canteen for a match. Last night Bruce had discovered that the disk from the warehouse was on loan to a girl named Wendy Gellar. Bruce had managed to get a picture up on what she looked like. Terry didn’t recognise her but she was on record as being a student at Hamilton Hill High. If finding Wendy was going to lead him to Mischief, then Terry was determined to find her. He still felt like Bruce was watching him more than he usually did and it was at the back of Terry’s mind each time he went out on the job.
Sunday was also still on his mind. Terry had almost let his guard down in a moment of really wanting to experience a different kind of closeness with Max. Max had seemed so inviting. The conversation had been heading in the right direction for him to express the way he felt about her.
The thoughts of Bruce being disappointed in him were troubling him but the information regarding the disk was giving Terry an opportunity to use his smarts and make good for letting Mischief get away. Telling Max how he felt at this time just seemed like a bad idea as there was not enough room in his mind to deal with the possible consequences of that, plus focusing on catching Mischief.
Terry felt that the timing wasn’t right but he hoped that after things had been resolved with Mischief and both he and Bruce were feeling happier with his work, then he could tell Max everything.
Even though many things had been left unspoken, things between them already seemed strange. Even though the kiss had never taken place that night, both of them knew that somehow the friendship boundaries had been crossed. Terry was trying to stop the trail of thought that had started from what he sensed could be Max’s attraction to him. He didn’t want to get those thoughts in his head right now. It was already becoming more difficult to be around her and not want to touch her.
Terry looked at her this time, noting something different in her tone of voice.
“Are things ok with us?”
He knew that she was talking about his erratic behaviour towards her.
“Always,” he replied in a factual tone, as he reached over to touch her cheek in a gesture of reassurance.
Terry gave Max a smile to further reassure her. She half smiled as she tried to read his mind. They had a close friendship, and displays of affection had not been uncommon but she was sure she could sense something a little different in the way Terry was looking at her. As she allowed herself to indulge in the attention from the blue eyes subconsciously seducing her, she felt his hand withdraw from her, followed by his gaze.
From another corner in the canteen, Dana was watching from her table while Chelsea and Blade were gossiping away. After realising Dana was no longer contributing to their discussion they both looked at her. Seeing her looking misty eyed, Chelsea followed her direction of vision to see that Terry and Max were exchanging intimate looks.
“Doesn’t it just make you want to puke!” Chelsea nodded in the direction of Terry and Max as she looked at Blade.
“Picking up Dana’s leftovers, totally! I mean no offence to you Dane, but Terry was a loser, you did a good thing in moving on,” Blade added as she took out her compact mirror to re-apply her lipstick.
“She’s right Dane, if Max was as smart as people say she is, I don’t think she would be with Terry McGinnis.” Chelsea eyed Dana’s ex as she stirred the lettuce leaves of her salad.
“It’s not that he looks bad, but he just doesn’t have that thing, you know?” Blade had to admit he was pleasant to the eye as she also looked at Terry.
“Listen guys, I’d rather not talk about it. Besides there’s no proof that they’re together, together.”
“Wake up Dana!” Chelsea rolled her eyes.
Dana awkwardly twined the ends of her hair between her fingers as she saw that Terry had seen them looking at him and Max.
“Max, I really don’t feel like being the entertainment for the ‘I Hate Terry McGinnis’ club, do you want to take a walk before we go back to class?”
Max turned to sneak a look over her shoulder. As she had suspected Dana, Chelsea and Blade were sitting in the opposite corner. “Sure.”
Once outside on the school grounds, Max imitated Terry’s leisurely steps. She stared at the ground as she walked along then glanced sideways to see Terry looking straight ahead, his face not expressing any emotion, as he strolled along with his hands in his pockets.
As they walked past one of the trees on the school grounds, they both noticed a couple playfully kissing each other, seeking privacy under the shade of the tree. Max pretended she hadn’t seen the couple, choosing to try to stay more level-headed so that she could figure out what was going on in Terry’s head. Terry was imagining him and Max in the scene, wondering what it would be like to be with Max. He tried to shake the image from his head on seeing that Max was now looking at him.
“Things been tough at work?”
“Let’s talk about you Max. What’s happening in Max’s world?”
Max sighed. “Well, I wish I could say something exciting, but nothing new.”
Just as Max finished talking, a well-built guy walking past them gave Max a smile before looking her up and down. “Hey girl!”
Max gave the guy a dirty look, not seeing that Terry was giving him a more threatening look.
“Hey, chill man, I’m going.” The guy held his hands up in surrender and continued his self-assured walk back to the school.
“Do you know him?” asked Terry, looking over his shoulder to check the guy wasn’t looking back to get a rear view peek at Max.
“That guy? Nah. Just some weirdo.”
“The Max magic at work again, huh? Ever thought about actually putting one of these guys out of his misery by just agreeing to go out with him?”
Terry knew what the reply would be. “Work comes first,” he said in his best Max voice as Max herself said the same words. They both smiled.
“It’s not that I wouldn’t date someone right now…but it would have to be a really special someone for me to get involved in a relationship. With so much work and tests taking up my time, I want to make sure I stay on target for this year.”
“I’m sure you will, you have a way of making everything fall in to place.” Max smiled at his compliment. There was a small pause before Terry followed on. “So Special someone huh?”
“Something wrong with that McGinnis?”
“No…you have such high standards…doesn’t give a guy much of a chance!” Terry’s tone was light-hearted but he was mentally drawing up imaginary criteria of Max’s ideal guy and seeing if he would match up.
“Well he doesn’t have to be Superman or anything,” she retorted, smiling wryly, at what was more of a joke to herself.
Terry laughed. “Just as well.”
Max frowned at him, not sure if Terry had understood the underlying meaning to her comment, while he just smiled back at her.
On hearing the sound of the bell for the end of recess ringing out, Terry’s face developed a sulky look.
Max grinned, shaking her head as she took his arm to guide him back towards the school. “Come on McGinnis, let’s go. Even superheroes need an education.”
Tuesday evening was the usual. Max was lying on her bed, with her laptop out in front of her. Getting bored of maths, she loaded her programme to try and eliminate some more names from the list of Jokerz leader suspects. Her mind wandered a little as she found herself thinking about Terry. It seemed he was never going to bring up what almost happened Sunday night, although she had expected him to. All that seemed to be happening was Terry blowing hot and cold. She reminded herself that Terry was open with her because he was her friend and he hadn’t even been doing that recently.
Max was curious about the Terry in romantic situations, whom she had limited knowledge about from covering for him when he was with Dana. The only way she was going to get closer to that Terry was to initiate a conversation about her not so platonic feelings, which meant taking a risk. After sharing such a meaningful friendship with Terry, it seemed crazy to want to risk that, plus he needed her to be there for that emotional support that no one else could give him. On the other side of her reasoning, Terry was keeping whatever issues he had to himself anyway and if their friendship was as strong as she believed, then they could overcome any weirdness. Max mulled things over and came to the conclusion that she had to find out how Terry felt through observation and subtle tests. When she could be sure that Terry did like her in that way, she could confess her own feelings with more certainty.
I wonder if I’m ever going to find out who Mischief is. Once Terry catches this guy, maybe he’ll be less cagey. I wonder if he’s found out about that lead from Wayne yet. Max started tapping her fingers pensively on the keyboard. Does Mischief know about me? If he does, what? She got her mind focused and continued the elimination process again.
“Hi Wendy.” He looked suspiciously at the ordinary looking girl in front of him.
From the park bench she was sitting on, all Wendy could see was black until she trailed her eyes upwards and looked to see Batman towering over her.
“Oh great, have you been stalking me or something?”
“Most girls would be flattered to have my attention,” he said dryly, not expecting the attitude problem.
“I’m not most girls.”
“And I’m not stalking you.”
She placed her fingertips to her temples, and held it down as if she had a headache, allowing her long, straight chestnut hair to fall over her face.
“So what do you want?”
“Are you happy Wendy?”
“What? You gotta be kidding! You want me to actually talk with you?”
“Why are you so defensive?”
“Ok, enough with the questions.” Wendy had wanted time to herself and was getting irritated by his presence.
“Sometimes people try to find comfort in things that end up hurting other people.”
“Whatever it is, you’ve got the wrong person. Now can you just leave me in peace.”
“It’s ok. You don’t have to talk, but if you decide you want to, I’m ready to listen.”
“Shouldn’t you be off looking for baddies or something?” She looked up at him, not liking where the conversation was going.
“That’s what I’m doing. Oh, and be careful where you leave things, you could end up paying for it.” Batman dropped the library disk onto her lap.
Wendy looked down at the disk in shock as she considered his ambiguous remark. By the time she looked up again, Batman was out of sight.
Batman summoned the Batjet as he landed on top of a building, getting ready to go out on patrol. He knew that Wendy was hiding something from the way she was acting so nervous. It was his gutt feeling that she had some link to the Jokerz, if she wasn’t a member herself. At this stage there wasn’t much he could do. Wendy was clearly very unwilling to divulge any information about anything and all he had was proof that the disk found at the Jokerz hide-out belonged to her, and that was known through hacking into the public library records. Based on his hunch, he knew there was more to her than her just being the average moody teenager. The next step would be to find out who her friends were and what she did after school hours. He knew the perfect person to ask. Max usually updated him student stuff, but at the same time he didn’t want to directly involve her.
As he cruised the skies in the Batjet, he found Gotham was peaceful. He looked down at the control panel to see he had an incoming call.
“Not right now. Things seem ok on the streets at the moment. What’s up?”
“Bored with Maths. Thought I’d give my best friend a call for a quick chat.”
“Actually Max, I wanted to ask you something.”
“Do you know a girl called Wendy Gellar?”
There was a pause on Max’s end as she thought more about what this girl meant to Terry instead of whether she knew her or not.
“Max? You there?”
“Er, yeah. I don’t know her. Why?”
“No reason.” Terry could have asked Max to find out about Wendy and whom she hung around with but he decided he would do it himself, feeling happier with not having Max get mixed up in Jokerz business when she didn’t have to be right now.
“Terr…what are you doing this evening? I don’t suppose you want to watch a movie after you’ve finished patrol? Or if you need some help with the case…”
Terry smiled. “Max, I want to sort this case out myself. I promise you, when this is over with, we’ll talk, really talk about things.”
Max didn’t feel so sure of that, although Terry had never broken a promise to her.
“Ok. You feel like vegging out with me later? ‘Cause I need a break.”
Terry noticed a woman standing anxiously on a street corner and that a Joker was slithering his way towards her from amidst the shadows. A Joker…this could get interesting… “Max, I’m going to have to get back to you. Something’s come up.”
“Terr, just take care of yourself, ok?”
“Yes Mom!” Terry loved it when Max got all protective on him. He didn’t want her to worry, but it made him feel like he really meant something to her.
“Later McGinnis,” Max said, shaking her head at the way he was laughing off her worrying about him. For the first time she began to feel a bit uneasy with Terry using that phrase. She didn’t want to be ‘Mom’ when this Wendy girl could possibly be Terry’s new love interest. Max thought about the girl’s name for a few seconds before she had another idea.
Batman left the Batjet and went to find the Joker who was surprisingly fast. Batman stealthily but speedily began his tracing of what he believed were the Joker’s steps, hoping that he would not only apprehend the Joker but also get some valid information about Mischief from him.
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