saga/title/fandom: Identity chapter 16 (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 16 Lights, Camera, Reaction
“Miss Nixon, were you a consenting party in the incident that…”
“Hey, he’s just a lonely man not a criminal! He’s the good guy remember?”
That’s great, she’s defending me. Maybe things won’t work out so badly after all. Just tell the truth….
“Are you and Batman together? Or was this just a one off ‘appointment’?”
“Appointment? I’m not sure what you mean….”
“Was his visit work related?”
Oh no, how is she going to get around that one. She looks uncomfortable
“What has work got to do with anything?”
“Questions have been raised about where you work and what you do.”
“Rumours.” She gives the interviewer a warning look so he probes no further.
“Ok…So you’re the woman warming Batman’s lonely nights…on a regular basis?”
“I don’t want to give any more information about our relationship at this time, that’s private.”
“Well, save for the photos…”
“Oh yeah, the photos. Those paparazzi people just don’t know when to quit. He’s a really private person, I’m sure he won’t be pleased about things coming out like that.”
“It must be difficult with every magazine and TV show now hunting you down for interviews!”
“Yeah, it’s tough…I’m not used to so much attention - from the public that is. Batman on the other hand, he knows how to make a girl feel special.”
No, no, no. A fame hungry street worker hoping to become the next big star, just great, JUST great!
“You’re the envy of many women right now.”
“Little me? Don, I’m just an ordinary girl, with an extraordinary man…but I believe we connected somehow. He saw something in me…”
Terry turned off the TV and slumped back into the sofa. It’s ok, when I make my statement tonight, people will believe me. They have to. Max has to.
“Batman is to give a live public statement at 19.00 hours tonight. Batman has said that with this statement, he ‘hopes to put to rest any rumours or doubts that the people of Gotham may have.’ This is Cindy Rockwell signing off.”
Max stared passively at the TV screen. I can’t cancel on Trent tonight, and part of me doesn’t want to. I’m sick of spending nights at home alone. Even if Terry does manage to get home early, I’m not sure if I want to see him, at least until I can be calm about whatever it is he’s into.
She came out of her spaced out state on hearing her phone ring. It was a withheld number. She knew there was a good chance that it was Terry. I’ll just answer it.
“We still on for tonight?”
“I’ll come round to get you and then we’ll go meet the others. Is 7 ok?”
“Er..Trent, can we make it 8?”
“Is something up?”
“No, everything’s fine, I just want to do a few things first, get some extra work done on an assignment.”
“Yeah…workaholic! Max, you deserve a time-out tonight, you’re the hardest working person I know.”
“Yeah…you’re right, I should have some me time. Is 8 still ok though?”
“Yeah ok, 8 it is. See you then.”
“Why am I doubting Terry? He was never unfaithful to Dana…well not unless you count the thing with that mysterious girl, during the temporary break up he had with Dana. Who was that girl? He’s never talked about her since. The phone again…it’s Terry this time…I can’t avoid him forever.”
“Max, please don’t hang up on me!”
“Max, I’ve been framed.”
“You believe me?”
“Terr, who was that girl, the one you were seeing when you broke up with Dana. We never really talked about her.”
“Max, that was a long time ago.”
“Do you still…have feelings for her?”
“Max, talking about Melanie is not going to resolve anything!”
“Melanie…is she blonde?”
“I just want to know where I stand with you!”
“Today, before all of this happened, I was going to tell you.”
“Why did it happen?”
“Max, will you promise me something, watch the broadcast tonight.”
“Max, what happened to having faith in me?”
“I do Terr…I don’t know.”
“I don’t know everything about what that woman’s been saying, but I need you to trust me.”
“I’ll be watching tonight.”
“Great. Max, you’re the only girl I care about, just remember that.”
Before Max could say another word, Terry had hung up the phone.
Trent lay back on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. The house was quiet as usual. It was around 5.45pm and Trent had no idea where his mother was, even though he expected her to be at home during the day. He pondered over Max watching the Batman broadcast, wondering what she would think, whether she would believe him or not. Batman seemed almost flawless in her eyes. She jumped to his defence at every chance. He knew that the real reason Max wanted to meet at 8pm was so that she could watch the Batman broadcast and that she clearly was not angry enough at Batman to miss it. Trent never knew what it was like to have someone love him like that, to the point where a person would be there, even if it seemed that the chips were down. The unconditional love that he felt he deserved from his mother seemed to be practically non-existent because she wasn’t there physically to give him what he needed emotionally. The times where she did grace him with her presence, she would be half drunk or emotionally unstable for some reason or another. It was unfair that he had to take the role of comforting her when he himself needed someone fill his void with love. Lacking one parent already, he felt it was his mother’s duty to make him feel wanted. She had failed in this respect.
All she seemed to care about was her precious Johnny, her new and improved version of his father. Trent moved off his bed and over to the drawer where he had kept the business card. He eyed the address of the Goldberg Insurance building. The man had beaten his mother and was still getting more of her time than he was. It seemed he deserved some kind of punishment. He threw the card back into the drawer and closed it before walking back to his bed. Goldberg would be a nice target for all of his pent up angst and an excuse to get the guys together for some late night fun. Putting on the mask and getting out there to escape his mundane world of loneliness would give him the buzz he needed and also shake John Goldberg up. That fancy office building represented Goldberg’s pride and his wealth. He envisioned making that building a wreck but needed to get inside to cause some real damage. At present, there was no one in the Jokerz clan who was good at cracking security codes. Trent’s skills were average and Ghoul had been slightly better but was now in juvi. The Goldberg building would need a technological whiz kid on the case.
The Jokerz needed some new recruits. The number in the Jokerz gang had grown smaller over the years, with many of them being thrown into juvi by Batman. Trent missed the old days. The Jokerz were more of a threat then and people took them more seriously. It seemed that they had the world if they wanted it, and when they did not get their way, there was always the B plan of using ammo. Weapons were less accessible now, the Commissioner had seen to that. Still, it was about knowing the right people and Trent had some connections he could use. The Jokerz gang needed a face-lift. A new Jokerz gang under his leadership could go far, he just had to tread carefully. Being locked up, staring at the same four walls day in, day out, was not something he could ever go back to. Being inside only served to fuel his anger. In juvi, he had acquaintances but no one he would really call a friend and most nights he was talking to himself. On the outside, he had the Jokerz. Then there was Max Gibson, the girl who wanted to hang out with good boy Trent. How naïve she was to try and befriend him, yet he was grateful for her efforts. He hated to admit that he was looking forward to another night in Max’s company. After all, he had invited her out.
Terry stood in the Batcave, as Bruce stared gravely at him, not flinching.
“What do you want me to say Bruce?”
“Terry, I know you’re a hormone crazed adolescent but I give you more credit.”
“She looked like she was in danger, there was a Joker on her tail. I thought he was going to mug her – or worse.”
“I believe you Terry.”
“Do you think the Commish believes me?”
“You know that Barbara has been concerned about the level of prostitution in Gotham and having Batman seen with a street walker doesn’t look good, to say the least. The best you can do is to be honest.”
“Mischief must have set me up. The guy has it in for me.”
“Batman has protected the people of Gotham for many years. Hopefully people haven’t forgotten that.”
“Bruce, I have to do this.”
“Terry, this won’t be the last time that Batman’s actions or motives are called into question. It’s something that you just need to accept.”
“I agree with the Commish on this one. It’s something that needs to be done. I forgot, the Commish said she wants to see you. She said she’s going to make a personal visit because she wants to talk to you about things.”
“Great.” Bruce’s scowl reflected his reluctance at having a confrontation with Barbara Gordon.
“So does the famous Bruce Wayne have any tips for doing public appearances?”
“I suppose I should make sure you don’t make a mockery out of Batman while you’re playing the people’s superhero.”
Barbara Gordon, true to her word, came to visit Bruce an hour later, expecting a frosty reception. She made her way down the stairs to the familiar surroundings that were once like a second home to her. Bruce was looking up security camera footage from locations close to where Terry had been on the night of the incident with Vicky Nixon, to see if he could get an image of the Joker involved. He stopped tapping away at the computer when he heard Barbara’s voice. He knew from the footsteps that it was her and hadn’t bothered to look up until she had got within close proximity.
“Has Terry left?”
“Listen Bruce, I know that you don’t think it’s necessary to have Terry give a statement, but I’m sure I don’t have to point out to you how bad this looks.”
“Terry has been set up. Right now, it’s more important to find out what the Jokerz are planning. Or more importantly, who the new leader is. I’m sure I don’t have to point out to you that the crime related to the Jokerz has been on the increase.”
Barbara was used to Bruce’s stubborn ways and looked at him, undaunted by his tough talk. With Bruce, it was just a case of reasoning with him, which wasn’t easy, considering his intelligence and tenacity. However, Barbara wasn’t one to back down from a challenge, plus it was her own smarts that had made her an asset on Batman’s team as well as a very capable Commissioner.
“Batman, you’re on in 5.”
At the sound of the voice shouting, Terry snapped out of his analysing the possible outcomes. He hoped Bruce was right and that the people of Gotham would remember Batman’s service to the city. His eyes were now transfixed onto the bright lighting in the studio, which was also making him hot in the suit. He was already perspiring slightly from the nervousness he felt about being viewed by thousands of people. He started psyching himself up whilst the people around him were getting into their places. A lady took his arm gingerly as she gently guided him over to the back-drop in front of which he would give his side of the story. Terry tried reasoning that this probably wouldn’t be the only time he would have to appear on television as Batman so this was good training for the future. He had to take a more practical view of the situation to calm his nerves and get a balance between conveying his emotions and giving a factual account. Bruce had given him a few pointers about public appearances as well as what was expected of Batman.
Max was curled up on the couch, impatiently waiting for Batman’s appearance. The longer she sat there, the more she wondered why she even needed this reassurance. It was easy to say that Terry’s changes in behaviour were down to the job, maybe it was. At the same time, ‘the job’ could provide an effective cover for anything. Max had always found it unusually intriguing that a guy with Terry’s looks could be so modest about all the attention he got. Terry had the choice of playing the field when some guys never got that choice but would no doubt take it if presented with it. As Batman, Terry was desired by flocks of women but he pretended to be oblivious to the comments because he treated it as a job to be taken seriously. It was why Terry had become even more attractive in her eyes. Max knew better than anyone that Terry wasn’t the type of guy to use his looks to take advantage of people. He had a good heart. She loved that he was essentially a good boy with an edge. The broadcast was starting any second. What am I doing? I don’t want to watch this. Max got up and turned the television off.
Batman stared into the camera calmly.
“Good evening people of Gotham. I know there is no need for an introduction but I’m sure you’re questioning how well you know me. Recently, some photographs were taken which could be seen as incriminating evidence of my involvement with a woman who is believed to be a prostitute. I’m sure you all have your opinions and beliefs but so do I. Commissioner Barbara Gordon has been trying to implement a programme to reduce prostitution and I am in full support of it. I share the Commissioner’s aim of trying to make Gotham a safe place for everyone. By participating in a lewd act with a prostitute, I would be going against what I believe. Prostitution leads to many dangers for those involved and also for those who live in Gotham who are just living there everyday lives. My job is to protect people and that is why I would not be a part of anything, which could endanger people.
On the night in question, I saw Miss Nixon being followed by a member of the Jokerz gang in the city centre. I thought he was intending to attack her. I have been fighting crime in Gotham for years and my concerns were not unwarranted. I know you are all aware of Gotham’s history of gang crime and that it still exists. My intentions have been to prevent people, such as yourselves, from being victims of such senseless crime. My intentions were no different that night. When I found Miss Nixon, she seemed to be fine but was under the impression I had wanted to meet her there. I had made no such arrangements. I don’t know if this has been a thought-out plan or just a childish prank that has lead to me being here tonight, but I do not know Miss Nixon personally and I had not contacted her prior to that night.”
Across town, Trent and his friends were in the VR Room, enjoying the fact that there was hardly anyone there due to the Batman broadcast. A few kids who thought they were too schway to waste their time watching Batman were there but apart from that, the place looked bizarrely empty.
“So Trent, why is Max Gibson hanging out with us tonight?”
Trent turned to the slender Japanese girl giving him an icy look. “It’s part of the plan Sky. She’s coming because I want to find out more about her. I think she’s the key to getting to Batman.”
“So why don’t we just torture the information out of her?” asked Link, flippantly.
Omar gave him a dirty look, which silenced Link, as he knew that if the look didn’t work, Omar had no problems with brute force. The threat of Omar’s strong physique beating him into a pulp always prevented Link’s continuing with the mindless but sometimes humorous comments. Nick on the other hand was a little slower at ascertaining whether Omar could be pushed further to the edge without consequences.
“Seems Omar’s got a little crush, huh Trent?” Nick grinned but his smile was soon gaping open for air as Omar grabbed him by the throat.
Wendy looked on at the pathetic display and then over to Trent. She could handle Omar going crazy over Max Gibson, but not the way she could see Trent changing towards her. At the beginning it had seemed that he hated Max and was using her to humiliate Batman. None of the Jokerz had a problem with that. They were all aware that the Jokerz needed some publicity to get them some respect again. Trent just seemed to be spending unnecessary time with Max, as if he enjoyed being around her. It made her sick. The last thing she wanted was to have do-gooder Max Gibson hanging out with them and having her soak up all Trent’s attention. She couldn’t understand how Trent could think that he could live a double life when he was a member of the Jokerz gang. He said he was doing it to give himself a cover and to gain more information about Batman but she couldn’t help thinking it was a trick to help him get up close and personal with Max. Why was Link’s suggestion of torturing Max a little not even an option? Wendy watched as Trent separated Omar and Nick but said nothing.
Carl was quiet and contemplative. “Trent, you know the word on the street is that the Jokerz are the gang to watch. I think The Web stunt had the other gangs taking more notice.”
“There’s plenty more to come Carlito. I actually have a personal matter to settle and I would really appreciate your help on this. That Goldberg guy is really starting to irritate me but I need some help to break into the building.”
“Oh yeah, that will be easy. We just need to crack the million cred security system,” laughed Link.
“That’s right. There’s no one here who could have matched Ghoul’s skills. We need some new recruits. At the moment we have the edge but the other gangs outnumber us.”
“New blood, great. So how we going to find these new members?” asked Omar thoughtfully.
“Well, I thought I’d put Skull and another volunteer on the job,” answered Trent, as his phone started ringing. He fumbled in his pocket to answer it, while Omar looked at the others.
“So anyone want to do this with me?” asked Omar with excitement.
There was silence as they all smiled. Wendy tuned out when she over heard that Trent was talking to Max, and was slowly moving out from the group to get some privacy.
“I’ll do it,” Wendy said resolutely, looking over her shoulder at Trent who had a sappy smile on his face.
“Well, well, and Wend steps out of the shadows. Want some more of the danger sweetie?” teased Link as he pinched her cheek playfully.
“I have to say I wanted to have some more fun but I’m generous. I did get to have a major part in the latest Batman scandal,” Carl said, smiling with satisfaction.
“They were some pretty pictures,” Nick said, tapping Carl’s shoulder in a gesture of praise.
“Well if a career in crime doesn’t work out, you’ve always got photography to fall back on,” cracked Link.
“I think Wendy should go,” Sky said, looking at the determination in her friend’s eyes.
“Out of all of you, Wendy does seem to be the most enthusiastic. What do you say partner?” Omar extended his hand to Wendy, who gave it a firm handshake.
Trent came back towards the group. “Max has changed her mind. She’s meeting us here and then we’re going to go see a movie or something.”
“Great,” Wendy muttered under breath. Sky gave her a look of sympathy.
“So who’s going with you Omar?” Trent asked.
Trent frowned a little before smiling curiously. “Ok, I wasn’t expecting that but I’m glad you’ve decided to become more of a player in this Wend.” He stroked her cheek with the back of his index finger, making her shiver slightly at his touch. Trent walked away without noticing his effect on her, but Sky had seen it, and rolled her eyes at her friend’s denied attraction to Trent.
It had been an hour since the interview and Terry was still feeling troubled. He stood at the side of Bruce’s chair, as they both watched the public’s response being reported after the broadcast. Bruce was his usual serious self as they watched the reporter go round the streets of Gotham to get the views of the public. Terry was almost as serious, except he couldn’t help being amused by some of the comments.
A young scruffy looking teen stared into the camera, looking only half sober as he blurted out, “Don’t listen to them Batman, you rock!” Bruce just shook his head in disapproval. Next, a dear old lady came into view, looking quite angry. Terry felt glad he was watching safely from his side of the television. He was relieved when he heard her words. “People always want to fix what isn’t broken. I think it’s clear that Batman is just trying to do his job and some cheap floosey was getting in his way. Mr. Batman, I know that you’re a good man. He saved my cat Snowball when she got stuck in a tree you know…” the woman began waffling to the reporter, who quickly moved on to another person. There was more of a positive response to the broadcast on the whole, but some people remained sceptical. A mother appeared on the screen, looking weary of everything. Terry definitely identified with her. He was disappointed to discover she wasn’t on his side. “My son adores Batman. He dresses up like him and runs around the house. I never used to mind. Now I’m not so sure. This thing has made me question what kind of role model Batman is.” The camera moved down, to show the face of a puzzled seven year old boy.
Terry’s heart sank as he wondered what his mother and Matt were thinking. They didn’t know he was Batman, but it would hurt all the same if he heard his mother speaking out against Batman. After watching the news item and several other follow-up shows, Terry left the Batcave with a few words of encouragement from Bruce. All he wanted to do was go to Max but knew that it was up to Max now.
He got onto his motorcycle and sped home. It had turned out that Max’s idea of getting the old cycle out was a good one. Terry remembered how riding helped clear his head. Watching how the public reacted to Batman, reminded him how much Terry McGinnis was interwoven with the Dark Knight. The way people felt about Batman, still affected how Terry McGinnis felt, even if it wasn’t an attack on Terry’s character. He had to stay strong. Mischief wanted him to crumble, but he wasn’t going to give him what he wanted. Terry parked his motorcycle and dismounted.
He walked lazily up the path to his house when he caught sight of Max, sitting on the steps with her head bowed down. Just seeing her there, lifted him. She looked up as she heard the shuffling of his feet, walking towards her. She stood up shakily, as she tried to think of how she was going to articulate what to say to him.
“I look pretty good on screen, don’t you think?” he joked, as he stopped in front of her. He stuffed his hands in his pockets as he waited anxiously for her to say something.
“I’m sorry Terr, I didn’t watch the broadcast.” She saw Terry’s face reflect his chagrin. “Hear me out Terr.” His expression did not change but he set his eyes steadily upon her, making her feel a little uneasy.
“Max, I don’t know what more I can do…if you’re going to tell me that you can’t be around me, I’d rather not hear it.”
“Wait a minute McGinnis, you don’t know what I’m going to say and you’re definitely not going anywhere.” She walked over to him to let him know that she would only follow him if he decided to leave.
“You said you’d be watching tonight.”
“I did. I said that when I wasn’t thinking straight…ok that didn’t quite sound right. Here’s the deal McGinnis, I was going to watch that broadcast but I kept thinking about you. Terry, you’re Batman.”
“This revelation only hit you today?” interrupted Terry, half jokingly.
“Are you going to shut up and let me explain why I came to tell you that I’m not going anywhere?”
Terry frowned, before giving his consent for her to continue.
“So yes, I know you’re Batman. I’ve known for quite a while. Sometimes though, I don’t see much of Terry and when I do, he’s all secretive and I’m not used to my best friend acting like that. I know that it’s the job, and that’s why I’m here to support you. I know Terry McGinnis and I know that he’s a good guy.”
“Then you should know that Terry McGinnis is also the kind of guy who wouldn’t do anything to hurt someone he cares about.”
“Terry, I don’t know what happened with that woman but when I thought things through I realised that I didn’t need to watch that broadcast to find out what I already know about you. I guess when I saw the photos, I was jealous.” She saw Terry smiling at her confession. “McGinnis, I’m pouring out my heart here, would you try to be serious!”
“I am. I’m just smiling because of what that means. Max, do you want to go for a walk?”
“Now? Where to?”
“I don’t know, anywhere.”
Max gave him a look that told him he was being too vague but he slipped his hand into her hers anyway, knowing that she wouldn’t withdraw. Terry gave Max one of his smiles that left Max with nothing left to say apart from silently cursing herself for being seduced too easily by him. She complied, not knowing where he was going but feeling secure in his warmth as he brought her closer to him, wrapping his arm around her as they walked.
Omar and Wendy were hanging out in Gotham Park, trying to devise an effective way of looking for suitable candidates for the gang. Omar had been surprised by Wendy’s enthusiasm for wanting to get to work right away.
“I know some guys, they hang out round the park sometimes. They do car break ins…”
“O, don’t you remember what Trent said. He needs help on that personal matter.”
“What’s wrong with you? Oh, let me guess…still thinking about Maxie?”
“She’s just so…”
“She’s just so in Trent’s face all the time!”
“Yeah, he needs to back off.”
“HE needs to back off? Did you see her being all sweet and nice to everyone and then trying to show off her gaming in VR Room?”
“It was nice having her around today.”
Wendy mimed puking but then had a brainwave. “How would you like Max to be around more often?”
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