Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chapter Six: The Daily Planet

Chapter Six: The Daily Planet

Old Efrem Austin slowly made his way up the stairs. He really had to get out of there. Forty years in Gotham had done him no good. Not really. Good people, different people to meet, but still, he was too old for it. He clutched the banister and made his way up to the top floor. He had a slight limp on his right foot and he could feel his heart beating in his chest. It was ten' o'clock. He was too old for this...

Mr. Austin reached the door to his apartment and fumbled around for his keys. Outside, a car honked at a truck ahead. 'Impatient people', Austin thought, 'But then again, life's too short sometimes, anyway.'

Finally, he found his key and somehow managed to shove it into the key hole. He twisted the doorknob and allowed for the door to swing open as he carried in the groceries. He had just made it to the store on time which was good since he would have had to go without breakfast in the morning if that had been the case. He looked around for his cats, Oreo and Twix. He'd probably want his dinner right about... now?

The door shut.

Old Efrem looked around to see the door, shut, closed, and sending the apartment into darkness. That door was way too stubborn, though. Just way too...

"Efrem Austin."

"Who's a there?" Austin turned.

"How long have you lived in Gotham?"

"Now wait just a second, who are you? This is my home! You hear that? That means you're a tresspassin'," Austin continued, "Where are ya?"

"Answer the question."

Efrem looked around. He saw no one. Was he hearing things? There was no one.

"Now don't be no coward and come out," Austin said, "You want my money, take my money, ya coward. Stealing from an old man, why I..."

"Oh, no, I'm not here to steal petty money from you, Mr. Austin, I want something much more valuable from you than that." Austin turned to see a formidable man coming out from behind the curtains of his windows.

He was covered in leather, steel armor, and was enclosed in shadows. But there were no ears, no bat on his chest. Not even two eyes. One. One eye with a black and orange mask with the makings of the terrors of Halloween.

"Who, who are you?"

"That doesn't matter," the man said coming up to the old man and pinning him against the wall, "Get out of Gotham."

Austin was having trouble breathing and he couldn't feel his feet on the ground as he managed, "What?"

"Get. Out. Of. Gotham."

"I, uh, no! This is my home, I'm not a gonna stand for this. You can't just tell an ol' feller to up and move," Mr. Austin told him.

"I'm not telling you to, Mr. Austin," the man said, "It's not exactly an option."

"I'm not a leavin'," Austin told him again.

The man dropped him to the ground. He took out a pack of matches as Efrem watched him light them. He started walking back to Austin, dropping match after match after match. Fire.

"Oh yes, you are, Mr. Austin," he said, "One way... or another."


There was a thick smell of smoke and burnt wood when James Gordon entered the crime scene. It was a mess outside. All of the occupants had evacuated the building, most of them either elderly or new couples with small children. The firemen had finally put the fire out. But there was a problem. Someone hadn't made it out. Mr. Reynolds, the owner of the complex, had told Bullock that he had heard two gun shots and that when all of the occupants had been rounded up. Efrem Austin, a long time resident, was missing. They soon found out why. It had been old Efrem's apartment. Luckily, the fire hadn't spread past his apartment, but that was now in shambles.

Jim walked in and looked around. Out on the other side, near where the windows had been, there were two noticeable holes. The man was dead. On the ground were slight fragments of bones. 'Poor guy,' Jim thought. Sometimes he was surprised that the depressing subject matter hadn't made him retire yet.

They were waiting for Jason Bard to arrive. He had told Sawyer to stay outside and wait for him while he went up. She was having a fit, though. Possibly one of the most outspoken members of the GCPD, Sawyer kept repeating the one thing that they all knew: It was too much of a coincidence. Max Wreith is presumed dead after being supposedly shot and killed. It happened almost a week ago. Jim had decided that listening to over half an hour of Sawyer's constant reminders was enough and that he needed some quiet time to think.


Jim looked up to see behind him an imposing figure. One however, that he had grown used to over the years.

"He's dead, shot or burned or both," Gordon told him, "Baffles me why they chose him, though. Probably at the end of his life, anyway."

"But he still wasn't dead," he said, walking over to the middle.

Gordon watched as Batman looked around the room, taking pictures with his cowl maybe or gathering shrivels of evidence here and there. What the man was looking for, Jim had no idea. That was Bard's specialty, not his. Probably where the fire started. The Dark Knight bent down looking at the bones on the floor.

"May I?" he asked. It really wasn't a question, just a courtesy.

"Sure, bet Bard can deal with one bone less," Gordon told him, but he paused before continuing, "Do you think that it could do with Wreith's murder?"

The man was silent as he worked but gave a curt nod as an answer. There was always that possibility. The whole investigation took only minutes. Efficient was one way to describe it. Fantastically incredible was another. Gordon was one of the few who knew outside of the so called 'vigilante' department of law enforcement that Batman was not just a legendary fighter, but also one of the smartest men alive.

"But why would they choose Wreith and then Austin? They have nothing in... common?" Gordon trailed off when he realized that he was once again alone.

He sighed. It figures. He should know by now that Batman isn't much of a talker. Still, one would think that the man could at least say that he was leaving. Well, it didn't matter right now anyway. Never did. Gordon heard a pounding of footsteps up the staircase.

"Gordon, Gordon! I'm here, I'm..." Bard burst in, followed by Sawyer.

Gordon only smiled, "You're a little late."

Bard looked around and realized that he was beaten once again to the scene. Stomping on the ground once, he yelled, "Every time! What? Can the guy teleport or something?"

Sawyer smiled as she commented, "That's a distinct possibility."

Bard only glared at her while Gordon laughed under his breath. He looked around the burnt room and bits of bones on the floor. A distinct possibility. That's what this whole place was. Wreith, now Austin. This town was getting worse. Way worse.


"I still can't believe that he changed the password," Robin told Alfred who was busy cleaning the computer controls.

"Master Dick, you're well aware that he changes those passwords at least once a month," Alfred told him, dusting a particularly nasty spot of dust off the giant coin.

"Yeah, but normally he emails me about it so I don't have to make these phone calls," Robin muttered on screen.

"He is very busy, Master Dick, you know that," Alfred continued, "And who knows? Perhaps he wanted the phone call. You don't call very often."

"What are you talking about? I call you at least once a week," Robin responded.

"You call me, Master Dick, not Master Bruce," Alfred explained, as he got down from a ladder.

Robin silently fumed and slouched in his seat, "Yeah, well, it's not like he's much of a talker anyway."

Over the speaker, Robin heard a loud screech of tires on pavement "That him?"

"Yes, I'll get him," Alfred said.

"You can just get me the password," Robin called, but knowing Alfred, that wasn't going to happen.

If there was one thing about Alfred that neither Bruce nor Dick really liked, it was the fact that he was always right. But it proved to be more of an advantage in the end. At this point in time, Alfred had watched time drive a wedge between the Dynamic Duo and he knew that this fight would only get worse if they let it go. Both Robin and Batman knew this, but they weren't about to admit it. Honestly, the two could be so stubborn. He walked down the long staircase to the garage where the Caped Crusader was climbing out of the Batmobile. He looked as solemn as ever as he approached Alfred and handed him a small bag.

"How was your evening, Master Bruce?" Alfred asked.

"Another homicide, Alfred," Batman told him.

"Oh my. I hope it wasn't too..."

"A fire, two bullets, same as Max Wreith," He told the butler as they headed up to the computer.

"You think it's connected?" Alfred asked.

"I know they are," came the response.

"Well, in any case, before you go into this full scale investigation, Master Dick is on the line and he wishes to speak with you," Alfred told him.

"What about?"

"A password and I'm assuming that you know what that means," He answered without expression.

Bruce sighed as they finally reached the top. Alfred handed him the bag again and walked off to finish cleaning whatever presents their nocturnal friends above had left. Batman didn't even look up at the monitor as he began to take out the collected samples from the bag.

"Nice to see you too," Robin said curtly.

"The password's 'Siberia' this month," Batman told him, again without even looking up.

"Gee, thanks, couldn't you just send an email?" Robin asked, trying to bring up a point.

"You haven't needed to use the rogue's information for the past two and a half months," Bruce answered back.

"I still used it," Robin told him.

Robin fumed when he didn't get an answer, "So I'm just cut off from the Rogue's Gallery just because I'm not over in dark and dirty Gotham?"

That made him look up, "I've just been a little busy and besides, I've got bigger problems to worry about than sending you a password. What do you need it for?"

Robin scrunched up his eyes and folded his arms. For a moment, he debated as to whether or not he really wanted to tell Bruce. But he knew he'd end up telling him anyway. No need to act like an immature kid about it. After all, that's why he was in Gotham, definitely not in Jump.

"We've had two robberies within the past half month with similar circumstances," Robin told him, "I was wondering if there was anything like that happening in Gotham or if the JLA had picked up on something like that."

"I'll save you the trouble, the JLA hasn't dealt with any major robberies within the past three months. In Gotham, I haven't picked up on any real robberies; been too busy," Bruce told him, again focused on his work.

"With what?"


Robin raised a brow. Alright, maybe he should cut the guy a little slack, "What about them?"

Bruce was quiet for a moment and answered, "Similar circumstances, both burned and shot. I'm trying to see if there's a connection or if this is the work of a random psychopath who likes to play with fire."

"Firefly maybe?"


"Oh, well... Need any help?" Robin offered.


Robin looked off to the side and looked back at the camera. It was around ten at night. He'd probably stay up past three.

"Alright, well, I guess... thanks for the password," Robin said.

"Want to talk to Alfred?" Bruce offered, not really paying attention.

"No, it's alright," Robin sat up, "Later."

The line terminated. Bruce barely noticed. He did, however, notice the taping of a foot. He looked up to see Alfred's eyes narrowed in a glare.

"What?" Bruce asked, harshly.

Alfred shook his head, "You could have used the boy's help. And instead, you've just opted to keep me up all night so that you could discuss the possibilities with me."

"You've never complained before," Batman said in a low tone.

"Oh for goodness sake, that's not the point and you know it," Alfred cried.

"You're right," Batman said, surprising Alfred for a moment, "Figuring out if the murders are linked is the point of tonight."

Alfred shook his head and looked up as the ceiling only to see the thousands of bats stare aimlessly down at him, "What are your goals this time, Master Wayne?"

"Austin was once an elite social figure in Gotham, to an extent. Wreith's hard though, I don't know much about him. I want to find out if there's a connection between Wreith and Austin. The evidence that their murders are linked leads to the fact that they were nearly undoubtedly caused by the same person or persons," Batman answered.

"So that leaves the connection?"


"Excuse me, sir?"

"That leaves the connection and who the killer is," The harsh emphasis on killer almost made Alfred feel sorry for whoever this 'killer' was.

"Do you have any idea as to who it could be, Master Wayne?" he inquired.

"A couple for starters but I..."

A sudden ringing came from the leather bag that Bruce had brought down that evening in his rush to get back from Wayne Tower.

"Alfred, could you?"

"Already on it, sir," Alfred told him as he made a quick stride over and opened the small cell phone.

"Wayne residence," He began, "How may I help..."

"Alfred, old man, how are you doing?"

Alfred looked at the receiver, baffled as the speaker continued, "Hey, pal, why don't you put Wayne on the line, I just want to chat."

"I'm sorry, but who is this?" he asked, his proper British accent rich as he did so.

"It's Luthor, Lex Luthor, from Metropolis, you remember?" Lex said. He was kicking back in his office and watching the night get darker.

"I, uh, well..." Alfred began, knowing that Batman wouldn't want to take the call, but finally replied, "I'll get him."

"Who is it Alfred?" Batman asked, gruffly.

Alfred handed him the phone, "A Mr. Lex Luthor from Metropolis."

Bruce held back a groan as he pulled off his cowl and began talking, the harsh and dangerous tone replaced by a care free, tired drawl, "Lex, how's things in the big golden city?"

"Fine Bruce, fine," Luthor answered, "You know, it's hard to get your cell phone number."

Bruce managed to laugh, "Well, I normally don't take phone calls in the middle of the night."

"But that's just it," Lex began, "I couldn't sleep unless I was able to do this. I'm sorry if I woke you."

"It's only two in the morning, Lex," Bruce told him.

"Well, it's two here. Listen Bruce, do you remember when I asked about Wayne Bio-Tech and Aerospace?"

Bruce inwardly sighed, "Yes, I remember, Luthor."

"Listen, I'm still up for the offer. It's still good and quite frankly, I think it would be a good deal for the both of us," Luthor said, attempting to negotiate.

"Luthor, I'm sorry, but I believe I turned it down. It's going to stay that way," his tone was still light, but had taken a sharp turn.

"Wayne, Bruce, please, I'm sure it would benefit your company..." Luthor began, realizing that he was losing this already.

"I'm sorry, Luthor. But I don't need your money. I don't need your resources and honestly, I don't exactly trust your criminal record," Bruce said bluntly.

"Wayne, this isn't about..." Luthor began.

"You can't convince me of that. I'm sorry Luthor, but the answer is still 'no'," Batman finally emerged in his gruffness and hung up.

Inside the top of LexCorp, Luthor fumed. His temple throbbed and the phone began to shake in his clenched hand.


He threw the phone against the wall, breaking it. Lex walked back over to his desk and leaned over. He breathed, trying to control his temper. 'Now Lex, no need to get so worked up. Criminal record... why I oughta'...' His train of thought went. Luthor walked around his desk and picked up the land line, dialing a number.

"Pick the phone up or I'll..."


"Slade, what on earth are you doing?" Luthor demanded.

Slade could only smile as he put Luthor on speaker, "Do I sense a hint of impatience?"

"Answer the question, Slade. Believe it or not, some of us do have schedules to keep," Luthor told him.

Slade was standing in the middle of an arsenal and Luthor's words were but mere flies buzzing in his ear and face, "I'm doing what you hired me to do."

"I said kill Wayne," Luthor explained, "Not have tea and cookies with him."

"Luthor, this business is complicated. You want this done right don't you?" Slade said, running his fingers over the many weapons, some metallic guns, others silver swords.

"Well, of course, but Slade this is ridiculous!" Luthor shouted.

"How much do you want to bet that I'm the only one who could kill you on our supposed side?" Slade asked suddenly.

Lex stopped pacing in his office. Had he just been threatened?

"Oh no, that wasn't a threat Luthor, that was an analogy. You and Wayne both are very wealthy individuals. And while he probably doesn't share your same IQ in the science of space and aliens, from what I've found, he's smart and he's got a lot of smart guys watching his back," Slade told Luthor as he took down a blade from the wall, "Not to mention, I've got the Dark Knight to deal with. That's probably more protection to get past than the President of the United States has."

Lex stood still on the other line. This is the one thing that he hated when it came to dealing with Slade's type. They were smart and they knew it.

"So do you want this done or don't you, Mr. Luthor?" Slade asked very passively.

Lex closed his eyes and suddenly, let out a breath and laughed, "There's a reason why they call you Deathstroke the Terminator, isn't there?"

Slade smiled as he ran his finger down to the tip of the blade, "Oh, Mr. Luthor, you don't even know the half of it."

"I'm sure, Slade, I'm sure," Luthor said over the line, no longer angry, only amused, "Just get it done before I meet my death day."

Slade heard Luthor hang up. He smiled. This was all just too easy.



Jimmy and Clark turned, as did a number of others, to see White and Lane in his office arguing. This wasn't unusual. They did it several times a day in fact. If it hadn't been for Lois's reputation as a reporter, she'd have been fired ages ago. After this slight outburst, most of them turned away to continue typing as though running a marathon. Jimmy returned to cleaning his lenses and Clark continued to file some of his old papers. However, both of them kept an ear out to what the two were saying so they'd be prepared for when Lois took Perry's ranting out on them.

"Chief, this isn't fair! I'm already half way through and..."

"You don't have proof and I need you on this assignment!"

"I'd have proof if you would just give me time! Make Clark go! He likes Gotham!"

Jimmy snorted at Clark's startled look. Clark didn't Gotham. No one smiles there. That was way too depressing for the Smallville farm boy.

"I'm running a newspaper Ms. Lane. We don't have time. And I'm sorry but I'm not sending Clark to Gotham. He just got back a couple weeks ago."

"So? It was a party! I didn't even get invited to the one I was covering!"

"You mean the one Luthor threw that I specifically said 'do not cover'?"


"Lane! That's it! Kent! In here now!"

Jimmy looked over at Clark who braced himself as he got up, slouched as always, to go into the hurricane.

"Yes, Chief?" Clark asked as he went in.

Lois looked like she was ready to murder someone. Funny though, she always managed to look pretty in any situation. Perry was leaning over his desk, his face nearly red in anger. He'd have to watch it otherwise one day that temple of his would burst.

"Would you be so kind and tell me what this is?"

Perry held up to Clark's face a newspaper print with big bold letters at the top.

"Um, I think that it's a copy of the Daily Star, Mr. White," he answered.

"Would you be so kind as to tell Ms. Lane here the cover story?" Perry asked, obviously trying to get at something.

Clark squinted, even though he didn't need to in order to read the cover, "Gotham's Pyro-Homocides?"

"Exactly," Perry explained, "I want to know how a story like this could get past us and onto their cover!"

"Chief," Lane began, "Luthor's been..."

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT LUTHOR!" Perry screamed making Clark cover his ears, "I care about these homicides."

Clark intervened for a moment, "Wait, Chief, what about Luthor?"

"Luthor's been..."

"Don't get her started, Kent," Perry told him, "We can still get an edge on this story. The Daily Star only reported that they were happening. I want to know who, when, where, how, and most importantly why which is why I'm assigning both of you to this story."

"Chief, I..."

"No, Lois, your Luthor stories are out of the question right now," Perry told her, "They're coming up with nothing."

"Chief, I can just take care of the homicide story on my own..."

"No. I need your connections and Lane's snooping. This isn't optional Kent. You're both working on it," Perry said and they both knew his word was final.

Both started to walk to the door when Lois called back, "Fine, when the world blows up because of Luthor, don't say I didn't tell you so!"

Perry laughed, "You never said that in the first place!"

Clark pulled the door open and let Lois pass by. She marched right back to her cubical that was across from his. Jimmy looked up happily as Lois sat down and started muttering something under her breath.

"Went well?" Jimmy asked.

"Can't believe this," Lois muttered, "Luthor's up to something which is probably much more dangerous than some sort of murderer obsessed with fire."

"Wait, Lois?" Clark asked and she turned to face him, "What about Luthor?"

Lois looked up at him scrutinizing for a second and then answered, "He's up to something. That party, you know, Jimmy knows this, but it was impossible to get in. I don't even know how people got in and I know they did. The noise got louder. And now Luthor's bank account's going nuts. Some of his money is just disappearing to who knows where. Can't believe Perry cut me off."

Clark thought for a moment. This wasn't good. When Luthor money goes missing it was never a good sign. Maybe he should call in a League member to do some tracking...

"Clark? Clark? Clark!" Lois snapped, bringing Clark out of his train of thought.

"Oh, uh, sorry, Lois, just thinking about this. Look, if we finish up the homicide story, then you can work to catch up on Luthor's business deals. I'll help you if you want," Clark offered.

Lois smiled after a moment of thought, "Alright, fine, but any idea as to how we could get this done quickly?"

"Remember those connections I have?" Clark asked, "I'll see what I can find through them. Do you want to track down these two guys records' in the mean time?"

"Sure, I'll see what I can find," Lois answered.

"I could try to get my hands on some photos from the crime scenes," Jimmy suggested, "Maybe there's something to 'em."

"That'd be swell, Jimmy," Clark said.

Lois shook her head. There was no way on Earth or anywhere else that they were going to be able to convince Clark that no one said 'swell' anymore. She hesitated for a moment and watched Clark. If there was one thing that she liked about him, it was that he trusted her on her leads. That and he was a great multi-tasker. Perry just liked his typing and spelling skills.

Clark had just opened up an email when the phone rang, "Hello?"



"Who is it Clark?"

"Nephew," he answered.

Lois raised a brow, "Aren't you an only child?"

Robin suppressed a small laugh as he listened to Clark's excuse, "It's a family-friend sort of thing, Lois."

"Sorry, Dick, what's up?"

"Not much, nice cover by the way. Has she been on your throat lately?" Robin asked.

"On and off it seems," Clark answered.

"How do you deal with that?"

"Don't know, I just manage," Clark told him, "That's not why you called, is it?"

"No, I'm just..." Robin paused for a second, "I just need some advice in that whole balancing life department."

Clark pulled as his shirt's collar. Perhaps it was because Dick had said it in such a way as to make that topic seem so casual and minimal that worried him. How on earth did parents deal with things like this? Unfortunately, he guessed that Bruce didn't or didn't do a very good job in that area. And that was saying something considering that he, The Clark Kent, always tried to see the good in everyone.

Clark calmly asked, "Did you ask Bruce?"

"No," Robin answered automatically as though it made no difference, "I don't want to. Besides, I think you'd be the one that would give more... healthier advice."

He was alone in his room just pacing. The others were hanging out somewhere and he had declined the invitation to join them. All together, they had come to ask him to come with them. Their faces when he said 'no thanks' had all turned slowly from smiles of enthusiasm to frowns of disappointment. Even Raven's normal blank face was slightly more depressing. It wasn't that this hadn't happened before. It was more so that he was feeling equally heavy pressure from both ends of the equation. Call Bruce about it? No, it's too trivial a thing for him and one that he wouldn't care about anyway.

"Well, what are you trying to balance?" Clark asked.

Robin tried to explain with a sigh, "Saving lives and living my own, I guess."

Clark thought for a moment. Robin was right about one thing. He probably was better suited to ask this than Bats was. Actually, it was probably because of Batman that Robin didn't know how to find that balance.

"There's another crime spree and I tell myself that it will only be a short break from hanging with my friends, but I know that it never will be," Robin added, "And they do too."

Clark sighed and finally answered, "Dick, I, well, you're not an adult yet. So that means that you don't have to work for a living."

"Yeah…but I still have to work to keep people alive, " Robin said, collapsing on his bed and looking up at the ceiling.

"Dick, I don't think that's your job," Clark answered.

"Bruce does."

Clark looked down at his brown shoes, "Well, it's not. That's a responsibility, that if anything, your team shares as a whole."

Robin sighed, and off handedly asked, "Clark, what's it like to fly?"

Clark was taken back by the question, but answered, "It's… weightless, why?"

Clark waited for a response, but nothing came. Robin tore off his mask. No one was there. No one would see. He didn't feel like Robin right now anyway. He didn't feel like anybody come to think of it. No, that wasn't true. He felt like Dick. He felt like he was striving for something that he couldn't see, couldn't pin point. Weightless, that sounded so good right now.

But no, life wouldn't be like that. Why? Because he had never received the call to take a brake.

"Dick? Are you there?" Clark rubbed his eyes amazed at what parents had to go through.

"Yeah, I'm here," Dick said after a moment.

"Go hang out with your friends," Clark told him, "That's where you want to be, isn't it?"

Dick looked out of the corner of his eye at his desk. That could be considered an… unofficial call, right? It might not be Bruce, but then again, who could be more of an official in this stuff than Clark? The guy was Superman after all. He could deal with that, even if his mentor was really in Gotham City and not Metropolis.

He answered in almost a whisper, "Guess so."

"Dick, don't isolate yourself. You've seen the good that's done Bruce all these years," Clark told him.

Dick sighed and answered as he nodded, "Alright. Thanks, Clark."

"No problem, kid," Clark answered.

Dick held the phone for a moment and right before he hung up he heard something on the other end.

"So who's this kid you were talking to? Is he on a sports team or something?"

He smiled and hung up. He grabbed his mask and fit it back onto his face. He pulled on his cape and walked to the door, picking up his communicator and leaving the cell phone on his desk. Intentionally he didn't look at the files on his desk as he opened and closed the door, ready to do what Clark had said and ride into the city to find his friends.

The files sat there on the desk. Not moving. The Manila paper was covered in finger marks made by pizza grease. It could have looked like a collection of comic book stories, with all of the titles. Magic, Martial Artists, Extraterrestrials, Legends, Myths, Robberies, Kidnappings, Traitors, Atlanteans, Homicides, Natural Disasters, and Super Villains. All tabs on different subjects.

Cheshire's file was pulled up, as was Blackfire's and Mad Mod's. Next to those were "Homicides" and "Robberies". Maybe he didn't really need "Homicides" to be out. But for Robin, it was only a natural impulse to be ready. To be ready to help Batman if he needed him. He knew that he probably wouldn't call, but sometimes, being that help was what he lived for. Being that help for anyone was something that he lived for.

On the corner was an old file that was never, ever, put away. One name at the top. One name who owned the mask that was up on the bedroom wall. It was a name that had imprinted humiliation, pain, suffering, and fear into Robin's memory. Most of the time, he suppressed it because it showed his weakness. The bad guy above all other bad guys. But he didn't have to worry. Not really. He did, but it was considered a bit pointless. Slade hadn't shown his face (or rather mask) for months since he appeared to Beast Boy at the deserted Carnival.

He wasn't a prominent danger to Jump. So his file shouldn't be out. But it was. It always would be. Just in case. Just as a reminder. Just as a file?



Jason Bard got home around seven. It was pouring rain outside, the gutters seemingly overflowing with water. Bard locked his car up and ran inside. Opening the door, he pulled off his coat and put his suitcase down to the side. He kicked off his shoes and smelled something cooking in the kitchen. Ham maybe, or no, chicken. Chicken and something else. His hair was wet, but it would dry soon.

"Liz? I'm home, hun!" He yelled.

"Jay?" Liz looked around the corner from the kitchen, using her name for him.

Jason walked over and planting a kiss on Liz's cheek, "How was your day?"

"Alright," Liz smiled, "Dinner's almost ready."

"Great, I'm starving. Can I help at all?" he asked, giving her a hug and resting his head on her shoulder.

"Not really, I've got it," Liz answered.

She was grabbing a couple utensils and was having a bit of a hard time since Jason wasn't letting go. He was holding onto her and rubbing her stomach, which was... larger than normal. They were going to wait and see if it would be a boy or a girl.

"Alright," Jason told her, "I'll just put my stuff up, kay?"

"Be down in five minutes then," she replied.

He kissed her cheek and then walked over to grab his suitcase so that he could bring it upstairs.

"By the way, I think it's going to be a girl," he told her.

"I think it's gonna be a boy!" she called back.

The lights were off and the only source of light came from the computer in their bedroom and the lightning flashing from outside, threatening any who dared to defy it. But he didn't need the light and they were on a tight budget anyway. He opened the door to his bedroom and put his suitcase onto his desk. Opening it up, he pulled out his notes on the homicides.

The one thing that many people asked him was why he went into this line of work. It was really just a fascination. He loved to study forensics and after a while, the depressing element of his work was lifted by the fact that the entire department had a bit of sarcastic sense of humor to it. Most of that humor was to keep them from dying from depression, though. Normally, he wouldn't work on the homicides at home, but Gordon had told him that if he could get any leads or any information out of what he had right now, it would be a huge advantage. And at this point, an advantage was something that they were lacking in.

He sighed. He had to run an analysis on the bones, but at least the DNA scan had been done and had come up...

"Jason Bard."

Jason turned on the spot, "Who's there?"

"You head up the homicides division in the Gotham City Police Department."

Who was this? Batman? Finally he answered, "Yeah, why?"

"Because you have information that can't get out."

Not Batman. Definitely not Batman.

Jason's heart pumped fast in his chest as a figure emerged, "Who? Who are..."

"Names of are no relevance right now. I'm giving you a chance. Destroy the information."

Jason looked at his briefcase. He thought of Gordon and Sawyer. He thought of Liz and the baby. Now the murderer was in his house. He was dangerous and he was going to get what he wanted one way or another. Bard knew that this really wasn't much of chance. But he might as well do something.

"No," he answered, "That's not up to me."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Slade said quietly, "It's quite a shame."

Bard's eyes widened and his heart beat rapidly. Why had he left his jacket and gun downstairs? The man walked forward. He had one eye that was narrowed, dangerous, and deadly. This was so bad...

Jason was gone an awfully long time, considering that dinner was calling his name. Liz picked up a dish on the table to fill and called up, "Jay, dinner!"

No sounds, no answer.

"Jason?" she yelled.

Liz walked over to the stairs and called up again, "Jason? Honey?"

She looked up. Again no sounds. It bothered her. She walked up the steps and suddenly she could hear something. Rain water and the thunder were louder. Their bedroom door was open.

"Jason?" She asked. Nothing.

"Jason, this better not be a joke," she called.

No answer. She grasped the door handle. As she opened up the door, she looked around. The window was open. She gasped as behind her, she saw Jason's computer explode, lighting the desk on fire. Jason was gone. He would have come at the sound of the exploding computer. She dropped the plate in her hands and it shattered in her moment of panic. This was wrong.

This was all wrong.

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