“Guess what?” Terry’s voice asks, filling the quiet study in Wayne Manor. Bruce is comfortably seated in one of the chairs beside the window gazing at the city skyline as the moon rises higher. He doesn’t answer and remains seated with his chin resting on steepled fingers. Terry approaches him, places the file on Bruce’s lap, and stares down at the old man with hands folded in front of him. “Pop quiz, tell me what’s wrong in there.” Bruce looks down at the file before opening it and reading the contents. He pulls out the picture and holds it in front of him as he studies it. However, he doesn’t concentrate much to find the oddity in the picture, and within seconds, his brow rises in question. “Exactly,” Terry replies with a proud smile on his face. “Don’t come to any conclusions yet. Just because a truck is there doesn’t mean it was murder.” “True, but a better question to ask is why was the truck at that specific location versus all the other wider and easier roads just a block away? Not to mention that even back then, trucks had their own routes to reach construction sites.” “They simply could have been blocked off. Besides, we don’t even know where the truck was heading. A lot of new buildings were coming up in 2029, so there might have been dozens of construction sites.” “Yeah, but this confirms my suspicions.” “No, it doesn’t. At least not really. It’s true that having a truck there in the middle of rush hour is odd, but not unusual. What you need to do is discredit other reasons of why it was there.” “Obviously to kill someone,” Terry replies a little annoyed. “McGinnis.” “Yeah, yeah, I know. Blah, blah, blah; ‘other reasons it was there’. Fine, I’ll finish my research and prove I’m right.” “I never said you were wrong. You’re on the right track, but you need hard enough evidence that could hold up in court,” Bruce replies as he places the file on a nearby coffee table. “Shit; forgot about court,” he groans. “Any tips on how to track a man who’s had seventeen years to run?” “Work fast.” Terry scowls at his useless reply. “Start with her mother and Nick.” “Nichole’s MIA, and I haven’t even looked into Nick’s location but something tells me it isn’t any different.” “That never stopped me.” “I have a better idea; I’m going to start with the whole truck thing. Since for whatever reason the police never got the chance to question the driver properly, I’m going to check his intended heading, and confirm other roads weren’t blocked. I’ll ask Max to pull out some records and see where that leads us.” “Have you told Jasmine yet?” He puts a hand on the back of his neck. “Yes?” “McGinnis, you can’t-” “I know,” Terry replies, cutting off Bruce’s lecture. “But who knows how she would react to this. She just got out of surgery; with a tempter like hers, if she gets too upset-” “That’s not an excuse. If this reaches court, the media is going to be all over it. She’s going to find out one way or the other. For your sake, tell her before going any further with this.” “But-” “This isn’t negotiable.” “Fine. But if I’m found dead in some gutter, I’m haunting you,” Terry replies as he grabs the file and heads towards the grandfather clock. -----*****----- It didn’t take long for Terry’s logic to make sense to Jazz, which was what brought her to make the decision. That morning, she had thrown out all the pink lenses she had, but the action didn’t finalize anything. What would cement it is deactivating the fake profile currently displayed on her computer screen. She has been staring at it for almost an hour now, remembering when she had first created it, the reasons why, and how she even thought up the material. She was supposed to be this model citizen, having grown up in the outskirts of Sacramento with two older siblings, Michael and Lucy. Her parents were happily married and made enough to be considered upper middle class. What wasn’t on the Interpol profile was added to her equally fake Facebook one instead. There she imagined herself to be a nature junkie who loved to climb trees, kayak through white water rivers, and hike unmarked trails. People could scroll through hundreds of pictures of her posing in countless national parks without even realizing they were photoshoped. They would have learned how much she loves to travel, European nations being her favorite to visit. She’s also supposed to be some kind of humanitarian, volunteering for charities like Habitat for Humanity or Big Cat Rescue. Jazz scoffs when she realizes how wild she let her imagination run three years ago, which was the birth of all these lies; but it’s time to take it down, pull back those flower curtains and replace it with the truth. She starts with Interpol, hacking into the system the same way her friend had taught her all those years ago and removes all traces of its existence. She uses the encryption code that alters her IP address, protecting her from authorities who might try tracking her for the hacking offense. She moves on to the more social profile, shaking her head at the 1,287 friends she had accumulated, most of them being people she had randomly added. At the time, she was surprised to learn how many were desperate enough to accept her request even though they had never met. However, they played their part in helping her build the façade and maintain it for so long. It’s time to bury it though; so after making her way to the account settings, the cursor hovers over the button that will erase all of this. With a deep sigh, she presses it, and within nanoseconds it was all gone, as though it had never happened. She can start over now, build a new profile, make new friends – real friends – and move on, hoping she will be accepted by society the way she is. So spends the better part of an hour recreating her profile, one where people can learn she’s a city girl by heart, that she loves playing football, and the philosophy she lives by is “take one day at a time”. She accepts the fact that she doesn’t have that many pictures to display, even less being the number of people she truly considers friends, but she’s okay with it. She doesn’t care if people find out she doesn’t volunteer anywhere, that she’s held weird jobs (the latest being a dog walker), or that she’s in love with Gotham’s historic district. A smile grown on her face as her list of interests grows, many of them she has learned from the countless friends she has made in group homes around the country. Pride moves through her when she adds the finishing touches before finally confirming the new profile. No more lies, no more wishing, no more disappointment. A knock at the door grabs her attention. Closing down the browsers, she moves to the door and opens it. “Uh, hi,” Jazz manages to stutter when she recognizes her guest is Commissioner Barbara Gordon. “Douglas, right?” Barbara calmly asks, her hands stuffed in her jacket pockets as she stares at the surprised young woman. “Yeah,” Jazz replies. “What’s this about?” “You were Thorn’s last victim couple days ago. I have a few questions regarding that night.” “Did you run out of detectives at your precinct?” Jazz asks as she steps aside to let Barbara in, but the commissioner’s penetrating gaze as she passes by Jazz suggests she isn’t in the mood for jokes. “How did you run into him?” Barbara starts, her eyes now studying the tiny apartment. “I was on my way home from the library; it was pretty late and I just wanted to get home, you know? So I crossed through some shady part of town. Next thing I know some guy jumps me from being and holds a towel or something against my face. I black out in seconds.” “What happened next?” Barbara asks, eyes trained on the young woman, making her slightly nervous for some reason. “Uh, well, I wake up in this room; I was tied to the chair, my clothes were gone, and I could hear Thorn sharpening his knife. He starts asking me these questions.” “Like what?” “Where the drugs are getting shipped, the container, stuff like that. I had no idea what he was talking about, but he didn’t believe me. So he starts wailing on me,” Jazz lies, looking away in hopes her performance is convincing enough. “He gets the knife and, well…” She lets her voice trail off as a hand sweeps across her face and down to her shoulder. “After he stabs me in the ribs, I black out. Next time I wake up, I’m in the hospital.” “Why would Thorn kidnap you?” Jazz shrugs. “I heard, he killed some drug dealer’s girl; so maybe he thought I was someone else’s girl.” Barbara nods as she quietly moves to the couch and takes a seat, suggesting she isn’t going anywhere yet. So Jazz follows her and sits in the chair Bruce had occupied the day before. “Convincing story, kid,” Barbara starts. “It should be considering it’s the truth.” “I heard a different version.” Jazz frowns with curiosity. “Thorn said he never touched you, or seen you for that matter; said it was Batgirl that he had a tussle with, and a proud man like Thorn has no reason to lie about that.” “What, and his victim does? Never thought I’d see the day when cops take the bad guy’s side.” “I never said that; just letting you know what I heard. Besides, the only things I believe are my own eyes, and what they saw that night was pretty interesting.” Jazz tenses. She knows Terry was forced to remove her suit before the police arrived, but did anyone notice it? “And what would that be?” She hesitantly asks. “I think given you know what really happened, your guess would be pretty accurate,” Barbara taunts with a smile. “You’re Batgirl.” Jazz’s eyes widen with shock; she’s not sure what to do. She could go on a whole spiel of denial, but if Barbara saw the suit, what is there to deny? However, she’s not about to give up a confession that easily; she knows better than that. “Relax, kid,” Barbara suddenly says, stopping Jazz’s mind from reeling off the tracks. “You’re lucky McGinnis is a fast thinker.” “Wait, so you know?” “Know? Hon, you stole the boots I wore all those years ago.” “You’re the original Batgirl?” Jazz gasps. “Was; no one seems to get that right,” she sighs. “So all this about Thorn-” “Your name and picture were never released to the press, so even though he’s saying it’s all a lie, he doesn’t know who you are anyway. Your identity’s safe, and the press still take the cops’ word over that of a killer.” Jazz releases the breath she didn’t realize she was holding. If Barbara hadn’t been on their team, Lord knows what the press would have done, let alone what the criminal world would do with that information. No doubt they were lucky. “I noticed you and McGinnis have a lot in common, though.” “Depends on how you look at it,” Jazz scoffs, clearly in disagreement. “Then you should adopt my point of view. Listen, this job, it’s not a joke,” Barbara warns. “You lose focus for half a second and your head could get sliced off.” “I can handle myself.” “I see that,” she sarcastically replies, making Jazz look away. “Word of the wise, listen to your partner,” Barbara advises as she stands. “And stay out of police business,” she adds before moving to the door. “Wait, so you’re okay with all this?” Jazz calls out. “Professionally, no; personally, as long as you don’t destroy my reputation. See you around, kid.” With a nod in her direction, Barbara heads out the door, closing it behind her and leaving Jazz to deal with a slew of clashing emotions.