saga/title/fandom: Identity chapter 17 (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 17 Those Near And Dear
Terry and Max stood on the bridge overlooking the river on the outskirts of Gotham's suburbs. Terry was clearly deep in thought as his eyes trailed the ripples in the water in his motionless state. Max studied the lines of unease on his face as she slouched over the railing of the bridge in imitation of a silent Terry.
"So…Batman on TV…"
"Yeah, I know. Bruce thought the whole thing was ridiculous. He was advising me to keep away from the media and to just let the thing blow over. The Commish wasn't too pleased though. Bruce said that I should just let Barbara know what happened but she was still concerned about the way it would reflect on her, considering she was still allowing Batman to play protector of Gotham. She wanted me to give the public statement to let the rest of Gotham know what was going on."
"Appearing on TV does take some of the mystery of Batman away, guess it makes him seem more friendly – although I don't think the old guy really cares what people think."
"Bruce had to be talked into having Batman do the public statement. The Commish can be pretty persuasive…"
Terry remembered Bruce mentioning that Barbara had made that 'personal visit' and that there had been a 'discussion' about the incident. Terry knew that Bruce was jaded by any rumours involving Batman and that the truth was that he had probably only agreed to Terry doing the appearance to keep Barbara off his back so that he could concentrate on more important things.
"Did she believe you?"
"We had a talk and she seemed to be quite willing to trust me but she wanted the statement. She thought not saying anything would make Batman appear guilty."
Terry had come to have a lot of respect the Commissioner. He really admired her strength and sense of what was right and what was best for Gotham. He didn't want to refuse her the public statement even though he knew Bruce would think it was unnecessary and Terry himself felt quite nervous about the whole thing. Still, Terry wanted to continue being Batman mainly because he wanted to right the wrongs in his past. He agreed with the Commissioner that Gotham needed to have some kind of reassurance. Seeing the city's crime fighter involved in crime would only make the citizens even more concerned about their security and build up distrust of Batman, something that Bruce thought would happen anyway.
However, Barbara had convinced Terry that it was for the best that he made a statement to at least let people know he wasn't hiding away, but was stating his innocence and reaffirming that he wasn't the bad guy. It was Terry's natural response to want to defend himself. In fact, Terry had to admit that doing the statement was in large part due to his annoyance at seeing people speaking about him and saying he did things that he didn't.
"I'm sorry Terr, for being so stupid about the whole thing." Max, cast her eyes down in shame.
"It mattered to me what certain people were thinking. It mattered to me what you thought of me… but I was hoping that you would have had more trust in me…maybe it was partly my fault, I don't know."
Terry had been pained by Max's first reaction. It was important that people knew that the Terry who used to be part of a gang was a thing of the past. This Terry did his best to think about others before he acted. He never wanted to see his mother cry again because of his socialising with kids from the wrong side of the tracks or because he'd screwed up again. In the same way, he wasn't going to risk a possible relationship with Max by getting a cheap thrill from some other girl. Her feelings were more important than his feelings.
"I was stupid Terr. I just felt sick when I saw you with that - girl all over you. Then there was all that questioning about some girl…"
"She's just someone I was tracking down. I think she has links to the Jokerz somehow."
"I feel like a total idiot."
"I only mentioned that Wendy girl to you because I indirectly wanted your help but didn't want to get you involved."
"I know. I figured that out after I went through the 'who is she?' thing." Max remembered that she was meant to find some information on Wendy but had let recent events sidetrack her.
"Sometimes I want to shut down and be alone with my thoughts. Other times I want to talk to someone. I know you're probably thinking that doesn't happen too often. I know I've become less communicative, but the more I see the less I want to talk about it. Sometimes all I want to do is go home where I can be a normal person. I can hang out with my best friend and we can just talk about other things. I don't always talk about work with you, but just having you there helps me make sense of things Max."
"Whatever happens, I'll be there. Any ideas on who set you up?"
Terry hesitated in answering. "Probably something that Mischief knows about."
"That creep huh? Terry, I don't expect you to tell me all the details if you don't want to, but I don't want any more secrets between us."
"I get the feeling that you're going to get involved even if I tell you not to. I've accepted that."
"Good, because I was thinking about doing some research on Wendy whatever her name is."
Terry just smiled, as he looked at Max who had her thinking face on.
"Terr, the other night, you said that the reason for you being distant isn't to do with wanting to protect me anymore and seeing how you're not giving me the talk about staying out of things…I was just wondering…"
"Er, yeah…" Terry, turned away from Max as he tried to think of what to say.
"McGinnis, don't even think about backing out! No secrets."
"In your momentary madness when you thought I was with that girl in the pictures, it really bugged me, partly because I was wondering why my best friend who knows more about me than my Mom would think I would do something like that. But it mostly bugged me that you would think that the other night with us, would mean so little to me."
"I didn't know what to think Terr. It was all so sudden."
"I didn't see you complaining." Terry smiled to himself as he remembered Max kissing him back.
"Well, I was…so what?" Max, cut her thoughts short on seeing a little smirk on Terry's face.
"So I think you know what's been going on with me."
"Maybe…but maybe I want to make you say it anyway."
"Max, you really give a guy a hard time." Terry turned to look at Max again, sighing in resignation.
"Isn't that why you like me? It's the challenge." Max gave him a wicked smile, having no intention of allowing him to avoid some kind of spoken confirmation.
Wendy scolded Omar as she looked at his determined expression.
"Omar, I've told you, this is a plan with so many holes! Now that we've followed Max and her friend, what do you plan on doing?"
"You asked if I'd like to see Max around more often, and the answer is 'yes'. How was I going to let the opportunity pass when who should I see walking by but Max and that twip friend of hers!"
"Oh so now what? We go beat up McGinnis and kidnap Max and convince her to take a cameo in Mischief's personal vendetta with his band of merry men?"
"Think about it Wend, Max is probably just the person we need to break the security system. She's great with that technological stuff."
"And you're going to get her to come over to the dark side by performing some kind of mind trick?"
"Oh, I don't know…but I'm sure we could take out McGinnis without a problem!" Omar, glared at him with jealousy from their place of concealment.
"Omar, we need to think with our brains here." Wendy was starting to get impatient with Omar's lust issues, although she wasn't having any brainwaves of her own.
"Listen O, I'll figure something out for your precious little Maxie, give me some more time. I think tonight we need to concentrate on the easy pickings."
Omar grunted in reluctance but he was aware that they needed a much tighter plan if they were going to steal Max and even then, he had no idea how they could get Max to champion their not very noble cause.
"Terry, pulling that face like you're confused is not going to get you out of this!"
"I think someone is watching us," Terry whispered into her ear, as he edged closer to her.
"If it's not Bruce, it's those criminals."
"I know you'd love to have me all to yourself Max, but if you want to hook up with a sexy superhero there are certain conditions."
"McGinnis, if you want to be with me there are certain conditions."
Max relaxed and looked at him with her eyebrow raised in a look that told Terry she was waiting for him to say something. Terry was distracted as he thought about who was watching them and whether it was worth tracking them. Looking at Max again, he decided that it was better to stay and have the talk with Max. It didn't look like she would be waiting for too long before she slapped him or something to that effect.
"You know McGinnis, I thought this conversation would be a bit more…"
"You thought about us having this conversation?"
"Maybe. Have you thought about this, before now I mean?"
"Well, we weren't doing too much talking…" Terry smiled sheepishly.
"McGinnis, be serious!"
She couldn't help feeling good at knowing that Terry definitely found her attractive but wanted to probe deeper into how he felt. There was no way she was going to enter into a relationship with a guy who wanted a body to satisfy his urges but was not prepared to be committed to her. It would kill her if she felt more for Terry than he did for her and if she essentially became his friend who he made out with. Being alone for so long had its benefits as well as drawbacks and giving up her freedom to have her heart broken had to be avoided. Having a relationship with Terry backfire would also mean more than her heart would be broken.
Terry recognised her playful anger transforming into what he knew was Max weighing up the options. For fear of Max deciding to leave things on a friendship level, Terry adopted his more serious mode.
"Max, I've thought about you, about being with you and I've been trying to fight it. You don't deserve to be locked into a relationship with a guy who has to disappear at a second's notice, even if it's your first year anniversary and he's tried really hard to plan something special but it falls apart because he has to see to some lunatic who wants to wipe out half of Gotham…"
"Terr, we've been through this. I can let a few hours with you go because I know what you have to do. It's not just me who needs you. I just can't stand when you feel like you can take the world on by yourself because I want to be there to make sure you're ok. When something happens out there, you come over to my place and I can be that person, I want you to come over to my place."
Terry raised his eyebrow as he dwelled on a passing thought. This time Max smiled, knowing that Terry was just trying to lighten his mood.
"Max, did I ever tell you how amazing you are?"
Max remained quiet, taken a back by Terry's words and the look he was giving her.
"I realise that for this to work, I'm going to have to have to relax a bit. That's not going to be easy."
"I get that you want to look out for me and Terr, I don't want that to change but you have to let me make decisions for myself. I want to do this with you but you're going to have to let me. If you really think I'm amazing, then let me be amazing."
"I don't know what I'd do without you. You're the best researcher and assistant, you're smart, determined…a little stubborn at times…but I figure that with Bruce being pretty much the same, you fit right in." Terry gave Max her a smile which she returned.
"You're my best friend and I know that I would be messed up right now, if I didn't have you to keep me from ending up in Arkham…but Max, more than that, you fill an emptiness in my life. When I'm out there, thinking of coming home back to Mom, Matt and you, it keeps me fighting even when I'm down to my last ounce of energy. You're beautiful and have this great personality, it seemed unreal that a screw up like me could have a shot with you but I was happy knowing that you were a part of my life. I don't know Max, lately I've been thinking, if I don't say something, I'm going to feel stupid when some other guy's all over you and I'd only act like a jealous Neanderthal…"
"I see…" Max looked down bashfully, not sure what to say apart from clarifying things. "You know Trent and I .."
"Ha, you think I was jealous of Trent with his top grades and his always being there…come on Max, you know me…" Terry laughed, knowing he wasn't fooling anyone. "Besides, there are things I can do that he can't."
"Being Batman does give you an unfair advantage." Max grinned.
"I wasn't talking about that. If you want to know, then I guess you're just going to have to take a chance Max."
Max eyed him suspiciously. This is dangerous, very dangerous…McGinnis could become an even bigger distraction but on the other hand, can I honestly say that I wouldn't be thinking about him all the time anyway. I'm Maxine Gibson…I can handle being Terry's girlfriend and getting top grades and being an excellent assistant to Batman, right?
"Hey, what was the last name of that Wendy girl?"
"Huh?" Terry looked at her confused having thought of all the possible responses in his head and seeing that this matched none of them.
"That girl that might be linked to the Jokerz." Max stalled, finding it harder to disclose her own feelings.
"Max, are you serious? I did just kind of lay it on the line here! You want to talk about work, right now?"
"Terr, I lo-left my lap top on, I better get home otherwise it will be flat when I get home and then I won't be able to do all that work and-"
"Max, what are you so scared of? What am I saying, I know, it's crazy right? People at school asking why someone like you is going out with a drop-kick like me when you're going to graduate no problem and have this wonderful life…"
"Terry, you're smarter than a lot of those people are, so you suck at genetics but you know, even Trent does," she joked before continuing. "Besides, I don't know anyone who can do what you do."
"Look good in a black all in one playsuit?"
"Admit it…you like me when I'm suited up."
"Terry…that's not the issue here. I'm totally ok with us being together when you're not suited up. It's just gonna take some getting used to…and there's Dana."
"She's going to have to get used to us being together and with her having a different clique these days, I'm sure she'll be ok. Blade and Chelsea are probably setting her up with some jock as we speak."
"That's harsh Terr."
"Ok...I know. But it's over Max. The only thing that matters right now is whether you're willing to take a gamble on 'this' with me."
"What is 'this'?"
"Max…we don't have to rush this. I'm not going anywhere."
Terry was just about to move towards Max for what seemed like a good moment to kiss her but his phone rang.
"You were saying?" Max smiled.
"It's Mom. She's probably worried about me...it's kinda late."
Terry answered the phone and soothed his mother's concern as Max looked out over the water, pondering over actually being Terry's girlfriend after spending so many months daydreaming about it. Terry gave his mom the assurance he'd be home in no time and hung up.
"Yep, Mom doing her mom thing and getting worried over nothing." Terry casually put his phone away.
"I don't know, some of the schizo people you've had to keep under control…"
"And that's exactly why, she must never and will never know."
"Terr, you regret me finding out about, you know…?"
"Can't say I was ecstatic when you told me you knew…but I don't know, I've got used to it."
Max gave him a knowing smile. "So, guess we better get you home to your mom."
"We haven't finished this conversation…but…you're right…I told her I'd be home soon."
"Raincheck. After all, I'm not going anywhere either."
"Hmm…ok." Terry stifled a yawn, agreeing, with no energy to argue.
"It's been a long night. Come on Terr, I'll walk you home."
Terry laughed at Max's joke of her walking him home, as she took his arm and led him.
On reaching Max's house, they stopped at the front door. Max turned to look at Terry who was giving her a dreamy look, either because he was literally half dreaming from being so tired, or because he was doing his best to get a goodnight kiss.
"So what happens tomorrow Max?"
"I'll try and see what I can pull up on Wendy and any other Jokerz connections."
"Get some rest ok."
Terry knew he would be thwarted on every attempt to get an answer from Max about their relationship tonight. Nonetheless, Terry was pleasantly surprised when Max gave him a gentle kiss on the lips. Terry smiled as she drew away but frowned at the brevity of the kiss.
"Goodnight McGinnis." Max gave him an impish grin, before disappearing into her house.
Terry walked wearily back to his house. Mischief was out there somewhere, having fun at his expense and he was trying not to let his feelings of revenge cloud his thinking. As Terry entered the apartment, in the dark he noticed a silhouette if some things piled up in the corner. He had a good idea what the objects might be but chose to pass by and think about it tomorrow. Terry almost tripped as he came round the corner, feeling something under his foot. He bent down and picked up the soft object. In the dark, he made out the outline and features, particularly the eyes.
"Where have you been Terry?"
Terry looked up as a light came on, and the face of his concerned mother came into view.
"I had work. Why is Matt's Batman toy being thrown out with this other stuff?"
"It's not being thrown away, just put aside for a while. I'm not sure if your brother's obsession with Batman is healthy."
"No other reason?"
"Terry, your brother hasn't had a father figure in his life for a long time. Kids need role models. I'm just not sure if Batman is the kind of male figure Matt should be looking up to."
"I see…and I suppose I'm just part of the furniture."
"Terr, you've been great with Matt. He might not say it, but when you're not home, he really misses you. We don't see you very often…"
"So I'm a bad role model because I'm never home right? And of course there's my past…" Terry's feeling of guilt hit him, coupled with being highly offended.
"That's not what I'm saying Terry. It would be nice to see you more, that's all. What could Mr Wayne want you to do that is so important that you're out til this hour?"
"What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" He took a defensive stance, feeling like he was being unfairly attacked from all sides.
"What are you talking about Terry?" Mary noticed her son's increasing irritation.
"Batman fights for Gotham every night, protecting people like you and Matt. Surely that gives the guy some credibility!"
"I'm not saying anything either way. I haven't decided what I think. Terry, enough about Batman for the moment. Matt and I, we've missed having you here and I'm worried about you working such long hours…"
"Mom, It's fine. I'm tired. I'll see you in the morning." Terry gave his mom a half-hearted kiss on the cheek and walked to his room.
Mary watched her son's somnolent form swagger into his bedroom. "Terry, I hope you're ok," she whispered, before walking to her own room.
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