Chapter 13: The Thin Line
Disclaimer: This is my perspective on characters that belong to DC comics.
So all rights and stuff go to them except for the character(s) that I make
"So, you don't date much?" Bryan, the Joey-like guy from the bar asked as we walked through the park. The sun was starting to set as we walked, which worried me. Gotham City after dark was no joke, especially now.
"No," I smiled, "I just haven't had the time, school and stuff..."
"School?" Bryan asked.
"I graduated, don't worry." I chuckled, "Do I like I'm in high school, cause I..."
"You look great." Bryan said, looking me over, "So, what was an eighteen year old doing in a bar?"
"Same thing a twenty year old was." I smirked, "My dad...he went to jail."
"I read in the newspaper." Bryan said honestly, "Are you okay?"
"He got off and he's home, probably waiting for me to come home." I said, "That creep you out?"
"No, well, yeah, but not enough to keep me away from you." Bryan said.
"What do you like about me?" I asked.
Bryan chuckled, "I like that you're hot and you have a kick-ass personality." He said, "You're not buff, but that doesn't mean you're ugly. You're still hot."
I had to have blushed, "Those are great reasons." I smiled nervously.
There was a silence as we looked at each other. We stared into each other's souls before leaning in and kissing passionately. As the passion rose, so did my sixth sense. Something was wrong.
"Hey, look at the fags." A voice said, causing us to pull apart. There was a band of four thugs and they watched us. The head thug had a red belt that matched his Mohawk. The second, a woman, had blue skin. The third was a more muscular man with dreads. The last was a boy, no older than me. The red-head spoke first, "Give us what you got."
Bryan pushed me behind him, pulling at his pants, "Just don't hurt us." He said.
The Red-head walked closer, as if to walk over to me, but Bryan stood in his way, "We'll give you what we have." He said.
"I don't think you have enough. I think we might need something else." He said, looking at me.
Bryan stood bravely, "No." he said.
Before he could react, the Red-head shot him and Bryan dropped to the ground, lifeless. I couldn't make sense of it, any of it. I fell to my knees and pulled his head into my lap, trying to feel air come from his mouth, but there was no air.
"Drop your weapons and get on the ground!" a voice said as two people came from the bushes with guns. One was a man, middle-aged with a muscular build, the other was a woman who looked to like Cleopatra Jones., "We've called the police."
"Who are you, his bodyguards?" The woman asked.
"Yes." The woman said, "Special agents Tess and James."
The Red-head held up his hand and fireballs flew from them and the Bodyguards dodged them, losing their guns. The blue woman attacked Tess and the muscular men went at it. I laid Bryan's head on the ground and stood, his blood soaking my shirt. The Red-head threw up his hands like the flame-thrower he was and the flames shot out of his arms but stopped at the force field in front of me.
"What the..." he said.
The flames flickered and vanished. I walked over to him and he attempted to punch me, but I raised my hand and caught his arm, kicking him in the stomach. I punched him, then side-kicked him to the ground. I grabbed a Sai from my leg strap and put it to his throat. I looked around, noticing for the first time that Nightwing had appeared, helping with the blue woman, who seemed to be a metahuman also as she hurled frozen balls at he and my bodyguard. I saw Robin dealing with the youngest of the gang and Batman helping with the muscular guy. I looked back down at the Red-head. Kill Him, he deserves it. I felt it. Do it. It's justice! It's what he deserves! I punched him, knocking him out.
"Come on, people! This is Gotham, there is some freak out there right now, preying on some innocent person. I want to know what he did, how he did it, and when he first decided he'd do it." I barked at the staff, causing them to scatter. I picked up my things and left for the monorail. I felt watched and suddenly the train swept by and I was about to hurry down to catch it when someone tackled me onto the top of the train. I got to my feet shakily and looked around, seeing a man wearing a mix of leather and denim. He smiled at me, pulling out what looked to be Sais.
"Phoenix Fox?" he chuckled, obviously at my animalistic name, "I see you're not much of a talker, makes it easier."
I stood shakily as the train began to roll away from the station. I reached down into my hidden holster and pulled Sais from them, twirling them quickly. I saw him coming, prepared myself to go head to head with him. Assassin versus target. Two strangers fighting for their lives. Kill or be killed. I choose the first one. I raised my Sai to meet his and they clanged as they met and I hopped back in time to miss the other Sai, twirling to meet both of them in the air. I was about to move but he kicked me in the stomach, causing me to fall back. I rolled away in time for his Sai to go through the top of the monorail! I kicked him in the face but he sliced my arm with the other Sai. I stumbled back and as he got his Sai and we went head-to-head, our Sais clanging each time they hit, sparks flying everywhere! I got close enough to slice his leg. He stumbled back, laughing.
"That's all?" he asked. I spread myself flat against the top of the monorail as it rushed through the tunnel. I didn't see what happened to the assassin, but I saw the blood everywhere and I put two and two together. He didn't have a name. I just killed someone without a name. I didn't kill him. Somebody just died. I have to get out of here.
As Bruce Wayne made his way into his office after his press conference, he stopped when he realized he wasn't alone. The chair behind his desk turned slowly to reveal myself.
"Phoenix?" Bruce asked.
"Bruce Wayne." I said, "Our business section wants an exclusive on the merger."
"Sure, anything for you, but why are you really here?" Bruce asked.
I shrugged and put my feet up on his desk, "Why are any of us here?" I asked.
"There was a man on the monorail, he's dead. Police could only find pieces of him." Bruce said.
"Assassin." I said quickly, "He was trying to kill me and didn't watch where he was going."
"Oh." Bruce said.
"I didn't kill him." I said.
"I know, I just..."
"You thought I did." I said, standing, "It's cool. I mean, once a killer..."
"You didn't kill anyone." Bruce said.
"But even I thought I did. Changes people." I said.
"I can see." Bruce said, looking straight through me.
"But what do you know? With all this money, you're still a glorified jock." I said.
"Are you angry at me or you?" Bruce asked.
"Who are you? How can you be so...I killed him and just because it wasn't real doesn't mean I..." I stammered.
"Let me help you." Bruce offered.
"What happened to me?" I asked, "How did things get so messed up?"
"Phoenix..." Bruce asked.
I put up a hand, "Ra's is not behind everything. He tried to...he...screwed with my mind." I said.
Bruce stared at me.
"You know the part that makes everything so bad...I actually believed what I said, that they deserved to feel my vengeance. The truth is, I'm a bad, bad man. Bruce, I'm a bad man." I said, tears flowing from my eyes. Bruce pulled me into a hug, "I'mma bad man."
Suddenly, the whole building rocked and the glass in the room shattered.
"What was that?" Bruce asked.
I looked around, then shrugged.
"Mr. Wayne?!" the intercom said, "You should turn on your TV."
Bruce walked over and turned the TV to see the Joker's face plastered across the screen.
"Hello, boys and girls, the Joker here. Come one, come all! The Circus in Downtown Gotham! I invite the Batman and one of my newest products, a lively young man named Phoenix. I promise you a knock-down, drag-out party of the year. I plan to paint the town red. Ha HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!" then it ended.
"It's a trap." I said.
"I know, but I don't have any choice." Bruce said darkly.
I looked at him slowly, "There's always a choice." I said, "You can't go."
"I have to." Bruce said, "Joker is a madman, Gotham City could be destroyed with one joke."
"He's not just a madman, he's a killer. Cold-blooded." I said.
"You could always help." Bruce suggested.
I shook my head and turned, "I'm not a hero." I said, "This is a hero's job."
"Then you made your choice." Bruce said, "Millions of people are depending on me."
As I was about to talk, Dick burst into the room, "Bruce..." he stopped at the sight of me and my teary face, "What's going on?"
I wiped my eyes, "Just here to get the scoop on the mega merger." I said, "Doesn't look like that'll be the big story, though." I said, walking past him, "Later, wings."
Dick looked back, "Bruce, what..." he started.
"We don't have time," Bruce said, "The Joker's been up to something big this whole time, his big plan is finally playing out."
"Yeah, but Bruce, this is a trap." Dick said.
"Yes, I know." Bruce said, "There's one other error, he's been molding Phoenix."
"And..." Dick asked.
"I just said it's an error." Batman said, "We have to go get to the Manor and load up, it's going to be a long night." He said, leaving with Dick at his heels.
As I entered the paper, night had already descended on Gotham. The tension the Joker had caused only an hour ago had made its way through the streets of Gotham. As I made it through the bull pen, I noticed all eyes on me. I stopped immediately. A trap had been set. I began to wonder why all of a sudden the Joker would want to throw Gotham a deadly bash and actually invite Batman to his bash? To keep him busy. Without hesitating any longer, I headed for my office. I walked into darkness and saw my chair turned towards the window. The bat signal was visible from the window.
"Did you think we would waste our time and just let you leave?" Ra's Al Ghul asked, turning to me, "You will join us."
I sighed and took a moment to ponder this, it had all been to mold me to be their assassin, "How many times does I have to tell you, no means no." I smirked.
"I see our training has had little effect." Ra's said.
"Oh it affected me," I smirked, "But you know what they say, you can't keep a good bird down."
"You insolent..." Ra's stood but paused, "You will fight."
"To the very end." I smiled.
"To think I allied myself with that clown, just to fail? You shall feel my wrath." Ra's raged.
I shrugged, "As long as it doesn't itch or burn, I'm good." I joked.
"The shadows move around you," Ra's said, pulling off his cape, "You will fall."
I nodded, "Probably, but I'll just keep getting up," I said, ducking one of the shadow-assassin's fist, "Too slow." I said, grabbing his arm and twisting it, kicking him in the stomach. He dropped to the ground. I felt the shadows moving around me but Ra's had stopped the shadows, this was his fight.
"I control the shadows." Ra's Al Ghul said confidently.
"Which leaves everything else." I said, "Bringer of light, one too strong to fight, exp..." I was hit and fell to the ground, "...expose the darkness so that I can see. Goddess of light, return to me." I said and suddenly I was glowing. The light had illuminated me and I stood, feeling the light rise inside me. It was there, finally. A bright burst of energy happened around me and when it was over, the room was cleared.
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in." I said breathlessly.
"Boss, is...is everything alright?" Connie asked.
"No." I said, "Call the cops and stay out of this room. Get everyone out."
"Where are you going?" she asked.
I walked to the broken glass window, "Down." I said, jumping.
"Oh, Batsy, I just love the way you fall into a trap." The Joker laughed maniacally. Batman, Robin, Huntress, and Nightwing had been captured. They were now tied up on top of the tallest tower in Gotham as the Joker and Harley, along with his thugs, set up for the Joker's big finish, the Joker gas bombs.
"You won't get away with, Joker." Batman scowled.
The Joker laughed, "I already have." He said, "Turning poor, little Fox into a cold-blooded killer...the best joke of all. Testing his morality. Couldn't have done it without Ra's, but poor ole Phoenix is just ashes now."
"What did you do?" Nightwing asked, secretly trying to cut his ropes with his bird-shaped batarang.
Harley Quinn slapped it out of his hand, "Uh Uh Unh, play fair." She said, walking over and standing by the Joker, "This is Mr. J's night."
"My best joke
yet." The Joker said.
"What did you do?" Robin asked.
"He's got a date with Ra's Al Ghul now." The Joker said.
"He was cute," I said, causing them to turn to me, "But I much more prefer Joshua Jackson...a little Pacy action."
The Joker whirled around, "You!" he said.
"Me." I echoed.
"How did you escape Ra's?" The Joker asked, his face, while still smirking, was more serious now.
"He messed with a super pissed off magic user." I said, walking towards him, "Hey, Joker, why so serious?"
"Get him!" he shouted.
The thugs raised their guns.
"Hold on!" I said, causing them to stop, "How do you know I'm not here to help."
"Kill `im Mr. J!" Harley said.
"Can't you shut her up?" I asked.
"Shut up, Harley." The Joker said.
Harley shut up, but looked devastated by the comment.
Harley, you going to let him talk to you like that.
"What?" Harley said.
The Joker looked at her oddly.
He treats you like this all the time and it has to be stopped! He's a jerk!
"You're a jerk!" Harley shouted at the Joker.
Harley: Who are you?
I'm you! The other you, the one you're creating by letting this joker talk to you like this! It has to stop!
"This has to stop!" Harley shouted.
"She's crazy." I said, "And you actually work with her?"
The Joker looked from me to her, "Harley, shut up. You're wearing my patience."
Compliment me...uh, Phoenix on his costume and tell Mr. J off.
"Nice costume, Huma." Harley said, "And you can't talk to me like that! He's trying to trick you!"
I waved a finger around my head, "Cuckoo Cuckoo." I said quickly.
From nowhere, a batarang clipped the Joker and he fell to the ground. I watched as Huntress, Nightwing and Robin took on the thugs. Batman headed for the Joker and they fought.
"Put your hands up!" Harley said, holding a gun to my chest.
And she fell to the ground. I walked over to the button, thinking about the consequences of my actions. I could do it, end it all. End all of Gotham's pain and mine. On the other hand, it wasn't my place to end their suffering. I held my hand above the button, above certain destruction and damnation. A batarang stopped in mid-air before it hit me, hovering there for a few minutes before dropping to the ground.
"What are you doing?" Nightwing asked.
"I'm a bad man." I said, "This is what bad men do."
"You don't have to be." Nightwing called.
"I let someone rob me of the only thing I had, the only innocence I had left." I said, "It was all an elaborate joke."
"I can help you, you know I can." Batman said.
"No one can help me." I said, lowering my hand, but I stopped, "My life isn't mine anymore."
"Phoenix, please..." Robin pleaded.
His voice...it was innocent. He deserved to be innocent and grow up. The batarang levitated into the air and flew over to Batman, who ducked in time for the batarang to hit the Joker and knock him unconscious!
"Thank you." Batman said.
I shook my head, "I'm not a bad man." I said quickly.
"No." Nightwing said, taking a step forward.
I stepped backwards, looking over the side of the tower. Nightwing looked at me slowly and I jumped from the ledge and into the night.
Later, the next day, I found myself in my room, packing. I was trying to pack as quickly as I could. I threw things that didn't even fit in the suitcase into the suitcase. Dad and I were taking a vacation and I had to go before...
"Hey." Dick said, entering my room.
I stopped and turned to look at him, "Hey." I said quickly.
"You leaving?" Dick asked.
I chuckled, "Yeah, it's the summer. I'm going on vacation with Dad. We need to bond." I explained.
"Oh." He said, "Déjà vu."
"Only it was the other way around." I said.
"I'm sorry." He said, "I'm sorry for leaving you when needed me. I'm sorry..."
"That I didn't tell you I love you when you asked me." Dick said.
I looked at him, my eyes teary, "What?" I asked.
"I love you." Dick said, "I've always loved you and I'll always love you. I'm really dumb for not telling you that when I came back, for not...I love you."
I exhaled and took a seat on my bed, "Oh God, I needed you. Two guys orchestrated a plan to corrupt me, to make me their instrument." I said.
Dick walked over to me and bent down in front of me, "I was afraid." He said.
"Of me?" I asked, "How can I scare you?"
"I'm not used to caring this much about one person, loving you this much is too much, or at least it was." Dick said, pulling a ring box from his pocket, "Marry me. Please, be with me forever."
I looked at him oddly, "No." I said.
Dick looked at me sadly, stuffing the box back in his pants.
I grabbed his face, "You listen to me, you bastard...I love you. I want to be with you, but not like this." I said, "I'm not ready."
"I understand." Dick said, "I was there."
"And now, here I am." I said, kissing him.
For five minutes, we kissed, then we parted.
"Should I wait for you?" Dick asked.
I shrugged, "I love you, that's all I can promise." I said quickly.
"Right now, that's enough." Dick smiled, "Have a nice trip."
I nodded, watching him leave. I wiped my eyes and turned back to my bags, "It's not because of you." I said.
"I hope not." Batman said.
"It's me." I said, "I'm not a bad man. I'm a good man." I said, shutting my suitcase.
"The Joker is
locked up, along with his gang." Batman explained, "Ra's is still at large."
"He's not my problem, not anymore." I smiled, "He's yours. I'm not a Batman. I'm just a guy."
"I know." Batman said, "Have a nice trip."
"I will." I said, "I'm going to miss Gotham."
"Gotham's going to miss its Prince." He said.
I nodded and walked over to him, "What am I going to do without my knight?" I asked.
"Live." Batman said.
I nodded and turned, walking out of my room and away from Gotham.