The Wingman #7: Memories(PID:51704665628) Source
posted by Killer Moth alias Duncan C. Young on Thursday 25th of November 2021 05:50:50 PM
=The Batcave: After the Sandstorm= A month had passed since the Battle of Nanda Parbat. A month since the stand-off between Batman and the Misfits. A month since Drury Walker murdered Ra's Al Ghul. As Bruce walked down the stone steps towards the conference table, a lot of scrambled thoughts passed through his head; Memories, regrets... As always, the cold logician in him swatted these doubts away and, as always, a dozen more insecurities rose up in their place. He was at an impasse: Dare he lift Walker's exile, or keep him banished in Keystone under West's supervision? That, was the question. The question that continued to torment him even now. Over this past month, he had devised several arguments, both for and against, and each and every one of these debates had ended in a stalemate. They, were here to break that stalemate. "Is this everyone?" Bruce asked the assembly. Sat around a stone table were a group of seven young men and women; Bruce's trusted confidantes from different backgrounds, and with different methods and ideals. Most of which, were trained by him personally to hone their natural talents. He couldn't go to the League with this, they wouldn't understand the importance of this decision. Of what it meant to him. "What? Your unfair and partial jury?" the blonde woman on the far left asked, a cheeky smile on her face, lowering her purple hood. "Stephanie..." Bruce inhaled, as he sat down at the head of the table. "Kate and Luke are at Wayne Enterprises, and JP and Duke are on that Kobra case, but everyone who could be here, is here," the red-headed woman in thin spectacles said, bringing the rest of the group up to speed. "Thank you, Barbara. I'm glad someone is taking this seriously," Bruce reprimanded Stephanie. "It's Killer Moth," Steph shrugged. "And I meant what I said by the way. She's biased; she's dating his kid," Steph explained as she nudged the younger girl on her right, Cass, playfully. "Not important," Cass brushed her off. "Tim kissed Kitten," she stated. "Cass!" Tim, Steph's boyfriend, spat out his tea mortified. "Sorry, Alfred," he apologised to the elder man approaching the table, napkin already in hand. The rest of the family was silent for a moment. And then, sat across from Tim, Jason Todd erupted into juvenile laughter. "No way!" he cackled. Tim's face had turned a deep scarlet. "What was it like?! Nah, don't tell me, I got this: do the words 'Strawberry Lipgloss' ring a bell?" "Does it?" Steph raised an eyebrow. "How could you-?" Tim gasped at Cass. "She brought up Axel," she replied, a bright smile on her face. "Said it wasn't important: Barbara had a crush on Mr Walker." "What-?" Dick, sat on Barbara's right, had perked up now. "No, I did not," Babs tutted dismissively. "Lies!" Steph giggled. "I saw you texting Dinah. 'His voice was smooth. Like the principal when you've been bad.'" "So, should we be worried? If people are reading your messages, we should be in a heap of trouble," Tim argued. "Look, yes, that happened, I said that," Babs confessed. "But look, he was my first." "What?!" Dick repeated, his voice an octave higher this time. "Her first supervillain, dumbass," Jason guessed. "Can we focus?" Bruce murmured. "Right, right..." Jason apologised, wiping the smile off his face. "Personally? I don't blame him." "Shocker," Dick spoke, masking it behind a series of coughs. Jason glared at him, but continued. "Look, Ra's was a genocidal maniac; he killed hundreds, and his playing matchmaker with the old man brought us this little hellspawn," he gestured at the young boy sat on Bruce's left. "My grandfather made many mistakes," Damian conceded. "Least of which, was resurrecting you." "Touché," Jason smirked. "That said, I agree with Todd. To an extent," he added. "Grandfather, was not perfect-" "Understatement of the year!" Steph yelled. "But to die by the hand of a pirate and his son-in-law is a disgrace," he finished. "But he's not just the in-law, is he?" Tim argued. "This guy helped take down Cobb, Crane, infiltrated Arkham City... Heck, he ran for mayor and won." "Which, let's be real, isn't that hard. Penguin's getting good press," Dick pointed out. "Noted. But what I'm saying is, underestimating him is what got Ra's killed in the first place." "It's not just Ra's," Babs chimed in. "It's the attack on GCPD, and helping Bane too. He broke into the Cave, Jason. And planted Kuttler's-" "Don't you dare say 'bug.'" "Barbara's right. If Bane's Phantom Drive had worked, Earth would have lost the Justice League, the Titans, all of us, and left the planet at the Society's mercy," Bruce spoke up. "Look, I don't get why you're so surprised. This is what happens, what always happens when you let a supervillain join the team... No offense, Spider," Jason waved at the man at the farthest end of the table. "That, wasn't Basil's fault," Cass stated defensively. "Besides, we let you join, Jay," Dick smiled, deliberately steering the conversation away from Karlo. "And we've been paying for it ever since," Damian tutted. Bruce tilted his head up to face Needham. "Spider, what do you think?" Needham glared at the rest of the group, and swallowed. "I think that, if you only brought me in to talk shit about Walker behind his back, then I don't belong here." Bruce nodded slowly. "Those in favour of lifting Walker's exile?" he asked. Needham raised his hand, followed by Cass, and surprisingly, Jason. Alfred, also raised his hand in Walker's defense. "Those opposed?" Damian's hand shot up first, followed by Tim, Steph and more hesitantly, Dick and Barbara. Bruce looked around the table solemnly. "Then it's settled. For now, Walker's exile remains in effect." "Right," Tim nodded along to the verdict, then rose from the table. "If we're done here, I'm going up to the pantry. I was on patrol all night and I haven't grabbed breakfast yet," Tim rose from the table. "Hey, grab me a cola while you're up there, 'Robbie Poo,'" Steph teased, tapping him on the shoulder. "That's not- Dick was Robbie Poo..." Tim sighed as he walked off. "But I never kissed her!" Dick smirked, as the rest of the group broke away from the table and walked off in separate directions. "Man, I'm never living this down," Tim muttered under his breath, as he dragged himself upstairs. While everyone else departed, Bruce and Needham remained sat at the table. "They're good kids," Bruce broke the tension. "Uh-huh." Needham stood up and walked off in the direction of his parked motorbike. =Now: The Gotham Royal: Floor 19= Ted Carson. Joseph Rigger would be the first to admit he was pretty squeamish. He had a ton of phobias, plenty he wouldn't disclose to his fellow Misfits as, admittedly, a good deal of them were supernatural, and probably fictional in nature: Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts. That sort of thing. But Carson? He scared him. Like, really scared him. He was tenacious, and driven, and utterly ruthless. Had Suit not given his life for him; for all of them; Joey would be dead. Impaled on that flaming sword Carson carried around. Joey paused as he knelt down to tie his shoelaces. Come to think of it, Black Hand had been a zombie, hadn't he? And he'd played D&D with that Monk guy, Tepes, who had seemed oddly interested in his neck... That wasn't the point, Joey realised that of course, but maybe he ought to consider bringing a scarf to their next game night. As he finished tying his laces, he stood back up and was immediately met with a pink cloud that spoke with the voice of Manga Khan. "Have you given any more thought to my business proposal?" it's voice rattled. Joey, jumped back in fright. "Holycrapitsaghostthatsjustwhatweneed!" he panicked, grabbing the rest of the room's attention. "It's not a ghost!" L-Ron strutted towards him, waving his spindly arms in the air. "It is Lord Manga!" he explained. "Yeah! Who died!" Joey countered, his body shivering. "It's... It was a whole thing, I don't really want to get into it," Flannegan shrugged. "So, you really going into business with that pink fart?" he asked. ~-~ Gar bowed his head, kicking the ground as he shuffled over to Jenna's side. "It's Carson," he announced glumly, confirming what Jenna had already suspected. Franco's eyes fluttered open at this, glancing back and forth between Jenna and Gar. His grip on Jenna's hand tightened. "Gar, please. You don't have to fight him-" Jenna urged him, pulling her hand away from Franco's side, unaware he was now stirring. "Nah," Gar sighed, glancing over at Drury, as he placed his hand against her cheek. "We both know that I do" he said softly. "No. Not this time. Not alone," Jenna decided, getting up off her knees, and presenting him her purse full of hardware appliances. Gar nudged the purse away from his face. "You know I can't ask you to do that," he informed Jenna, as he adjusted the nozzle of his flamethrower. "Then don't ask," Jenna pleaded. "Let me help you." "Jelly Bean!" Franco spluttered in protest, sitting up. Rosso intervened, placing a hand on his chest to restrain him. Franco batted him away, rising to his feet. "Jenna, listen to me!" Jenna spun around, her face red with irritation she stuck her finger in his face. "No, Davey, you listen. All night I've been oogled at, and all night you've smiled it off, and ignored me. And now, we're in danger. Real danger. And so far, Gar and his friends are the only people who've done anything about it. So I'm going with them. You can stay here if you like, but I'm gonna stop this," she stated, swinging the strap of her purse around her shoulder. Franco's jaw tightened, and he exhaled through his nose. "You go with them, and you'll never be more than a henchwoman for petty criminals." "What's so bad about that?" she frowned. ~-~ Drury looked to Gaige for affirmation; given by a stiff nod, and typed a number into his mobile. As Drury put the phone to his ear, waiting for the recipient to answer, his mind wandered. "You seem like a decent bloke. A bit feminine but whatever; my daughter likes you. A lot," Gaige admitted to Drury, the closest thing he ever got to a blessing for marrying his daughter. Course, back then, all Drury wanted to do was impress Gaige. To be part of the "in" crowd. To feel accepted. But that was before Santa Prisca changed his perspective, and before the mob and their schemes brought a dozen assassins to his doorstep. "Before you, supervillainy was an art form, it was something you turned to out of necessity, perhaps for the thrill of it, after being shunned by society, spat on by the masses. When you became a supervillain you became something to be feared: Edward Nashton, Oswald Cobblepot, Basil Karlo, may he rest in peace. These are the names that give children nightmares and yet: they had class, they garnered respect from the inmates of Blackgate Prison. Until you came along. Once you put it in crooks heads that anyone could be ‘super’, they all started crawling out of the woodwork. The Joker will always be feared. The Eraser never will be. C-Listers proved supervillains could be laughed at, could be hurt, could be killed. And people stopped being scared. They reopened Arkham just to house you morons! So the ante had to be upped, in order to regain that fear. Victor Zsasz keeps a count of victims all over his body, hundreds of tallies, hundreds of kills! Dollmaker made a patchwork of body parts from still breathing Arkham Guards! Roman Sionis butchered Catwoman’s family and made her sister eat her husband’s eyes! His fucking eyes! You did this!" Two-Face was snarling at Drury; a small partition and the former's twisted devotion to a "fair trial" were the only things keeping him from tearing Walker apart. Drury didn't like to talk about that day in Santa Prisca. Zodiac as his defendant was bad enough, as was sharing a room with the Mad Hatter and his tea-soaked breath, but beyond that, it was the day he truly understood what it meant to be a supervillain. The risks. The sacrifices. Sure, he'd thought about it plenty, seen things on the job that turned him pale, but this was when he learned the whole truth. That what happened with Lightning Bug wasn't a fluke. It wasn't an outlier. To these people; Penguin, Two-Face, Joker and the rest, it was the norm. And that was when he realised, he wanted nothing to do with that. With them. "Drury. Look at me. You're not a failure, I married you, didn't I? I don't regret it one bit. This time things didn't work out. That's ok, this team just didn't gel. You just need to find a group that does," Miranda was reassuring Drury, in the wake of yet another scheme blowing up in his face. No. Not some 'scheme.' Gar's then-girlfriend Volcana had murdered his uncle and his crew on the orders of the Secret Society. All because they were protecting Getaway Genius. The same Getaway Genius who later abandoned his kids and his friends when the Society's cloudburst bomb detonated. Drury always found a way of protecting the wrong people. And getting the good ones killed over it. "Is everyone else brainless? Am I the only one who gets it? When you hear a noise down a dark corridor, when you see something peculiar outside, you don't go running towards it, understand? Not like in some B-Rated Horror Film. You do the reasonable thing and walk off in the opposite direction!" The Getaway Genius was yelling at Drury; Floyd Lawton's laser sight pointing directly at Reynolds' sweating forehead. In Drury's eye, Reynolds was the worst type of criminal. The type who ran away when things got bad. The type that wouldn't keep their word. The type who'd throw anyone else into the flames to save their own skin. It wasn't until his conversation with Joey that it clicked for him. That's how Jenna saw him. The dangerous lunatic who was dragging Gar down with him. "Walker. I'm telling you right now, it's not your fault." "Is this what it's like? Being you? Watching people get hurt, with no way of stopping it?" "Yes." "And that doesn't bother you?" "Of course it bothers me! You know full well what I've lost! But I'm telling you here, now, whatever happened between you and Ted Carson... whatever you did to him, it was the Arkham Moth who chose this path of vengeance... not you," Bruce told Drury, watching him hopelessly try to resuscitate the girl now known to be Ted Carson's daughter. Even then, Drury knew. Using the last of the Lazarus Water on her would be a death sentence if the League of Assassins ever found out about it. But he didn't care. He'd hoped... He wasn't sure what he hoped at the time. That maybe by reviving Carson's daughter, he'd be atoning for his past mistakes? That maybe that would break the cycle of death and violence between his family and Carson's? Wouldn't that have been nice? "If there's anything you ever need, I'll be there," Len promised, holding in his hand the money Knyazev had turned down. The money Drury was now offering him to rebuild his bar. 'But where was Len now?' Drury wondered. He had heard what Len had done to Jumbo, and though he shed no tears for Carson's step-brother, he knew Ted would be seeking some sort of retribution. He hoped that maybe Len was just in hiding until the heat died down; that's what he'd been telling the rest of the Misfits. But deep down, he didn't believe it himself. "I shouldn't have expected anything else from you. The boy who never grew up," Hugo Strange sneered, as he held Drury against the floor and prepared a syringe full of poison. Strange had been right all along. Just thinking that made Drury want to puke, but it was true. This life wasn't sustainable. This life wasn't healthy. Look at what it cost him, what it was still costing him: He hadn't seen his kids in weeks! No. 'No more dress up,' Drury decided. No more make-pretend. It was time to grow up. It was time to face Carson. It was time to break the damn cycl- "The person you're calling is unable to take your call. Please leave your message after the tone:" "Figures..." Drury rolled his eyes. "Hey, it's me. I know we haven't, uh, talked since... Well, y'know. I know I said a buncha things I shouldn't have; I hit you, stole your stuff, ran away like I'm a coward, which I'm not, I hope you know that. But I've been... told by a couple of friends that I'm sorta a mess right now. I mostly agree with that. It's something I'm gonna need to work on a bit. If you see this message- scratch that, I know you'll see this message; you see everything, don't you? Heh... If you see this message, know that I'm sorry. And that maybe, if you're sorry too, we could meet up somewhere? Royal would do! Bring a nice suit." "It's done?" Gaige was leaning against the wall, listening in. "It's done," Drury confirmed, immediately dropping the hyperactive persona. He lowered his phone, looking out towards Gar, struck by the way he was looking at Jenna: The way his eyes twinkled, how the edges of his mouth crinkled to form a smile. The way he nodded along to every word she spoke. And at that moment, it hit Drury just how much he cared for her and her him. And he smiled, thinking back to the days when he felt that way. When he could feel that way... He put his hand to his cheek and noted the damp patch under his eyes. "Look after them," he ordered Gaige, gesturing in their direction. "Course," his father in-law nodded respectfully. "The kids are at Dave Wist's place on the city limits. Simon should've made it over there by now... I shoulda visited him in the hospital... I visited Gar in the hospital." "I'll take care of it," Gaige promised, a sense of finality to his words. "I know you will." Drury wiped his eyes, tightened his shoulder holster for the last time, and proceeded to walk off down the hallway. "Where are you going?" a voice called after him. Drury turned around. Staring at him, his lip petted, was Joey. Gar and Jenna were staring at them now too, as was Flannegan. "I... Like you said, someone needs to watch the King," Drury lied. "You're gonna face him, aren't you?" Joey asked, his mouth open in disbelief. "I gotta, Joe," Drury said hoarsely. "Why?" he answered back, a sullen look on his face. Drury exhaled. "Because otherwise, what was the point?" "Of the road trip?" "Of all of it!" Drury yelled suddenly. "I mean it, what have I actually done?" "You saved the city." "Lester Butchinsky saved the city. I just watched." Joey took a step forward. "You saved me." ... "You gave me something to believe in. To hold onto. And that was the Misfits. That's why you founded it, right? And I know right now, not everyone's happy with you, and they all have their reasons. But for me? Being able to fight side by side with you guys, to be treated as an equal? I've never felt happier." Drury felt his cheek getting damp again. "Give me your comm, Joe." "No." "Give me your comm. Please," Drury said wearily. "I can't..." "I ran Carson down that night, you understand? And I hid his body. Then, I left my Charaxes serum lying about so the Moth; that's unrelated; could use it on him. After that, I recruited a sorcerer to banish him when I wasn't man enough to deal with him myself. After that, I stole Krill's belt. I ignored Julian's cries for help at every turn. I got Gar ran over. I got Blake stabbed and Ten maimed and Sharpe thrown out a window. And I got Miranda..." Drury's throat swelled up. He wasn't just speaking to Joey now, he was speaking to all of them and they all knew it. "Please. Let me do this," he offered. "I've got to do this." "It's like what Jenna said. Not alone, you don't," Gar stepped forward. "Not alone," Joey repeated, holding the comms device out to Drury, his fist kept closed until Walker accepted his terms. "I won't be," Drury nodded his head slowly as he stretched his arm out. "I won't be." Satisfied, Joey placed the comms unit in Drury's palm. Drury put it to his mouth, his voice cracking slightly as he spoke into it. "Chuck," he called out. "I couldn't stop him, Drury- I tried, really. But he's coming. He's coming for you and I didn't stop him-" "It's... It's alright, Chuck," Drury answered. "No, it's not, it's-" Drury turned the device off and turned to Flannegan. "Otis," Drury spoke. "I need you to round up the troops; Blake, Chuck, Kuttler and Ten all need patching up. Sharpe, Needham and Mayo might need help too. Make sure they all get the proper care." His eyes narrowed. "You kidding me? You want me to run a paramedic service? You've got your arch nemesis on the warpath, after your head, remember? I'm your guy for this," he reminded him. "Do what he says," Gaige warned. Flannegan was about to argue but swallowed his pride. "Sure, doc," he grumbled, his nose twitching as he stormed off. They were silent for a moment, and then Joey breathed in a sigh of relief. "You weren't gonna just abandon us, right?" he wondered. Drury smiled faintly. "Abandon-? Never." "Good," a voice echoed from the opposite end of the hallway. "That makes it easy for me." "You can all die together." Ted Carson stood at the end of the hallway, his firesword ignited, thick smoke hissing and spitting from the vents lining his crimson battlesuit. He put one knee forward, and took a fighting stance. Drury unfastened his cocoon gun, his finger wrapped around the trigger. His other hand, reached down to the holstered pistol strapped to his waist. Gaige, slowly and fearlessly, unhooked a curtain rod from the closest window, and held it like a spear. Jenna, reached into her purse, and pulled out a spinning powerdrill. Joey, stepped in front of Drury, his katana raised, sweat dripping down his brow. "Done letting empty costumes take the fall for you, huh? Good for you, kid." Franco, covered his face with his hands, hopeful that Carson wouldn't recognise him. "Oh, and nice suit, by the way. You can wear it to your funeral," Carson barked at Drury. "Oooh, nice banter!" Drury retorted. "You can use it at-" Drury swallowed. "Ah, forget it."
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- Published 08.20.22
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