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World's Finest Writer's Corner Batman Beyond: Untold Story (C)

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by SilentBat18, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    “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.

     
    #21 SilentBat18, Dec 20, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  2. JazzyChick

    JazzyChick Bass players are misunderstood

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    great new chapter, and sry about the delayed response.

    hmm...the comish and jazz having a chat. that's nice. espically when coupled with terry's murder investigation. murder is always nice too :p .

    can't wait for more! (maybe some q's will be answered...)

    -JazzyC
     
  3. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Hours ago, Terry was occupying himself with the case file that has now obsessed his mind. But after working so hard to answer questions that only raised more questions, he ended up bent over his desk, his head resting on folded arms as he dozes off. Still asleep with pencil in hand and papers spread out under his head, his phone suddenly goes off, startling him.

    Waking with a snort, he drowsily searches for his slim cell phone buried under the dozens of papers littering the tabletop. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find it in time so the call diverts to voicemail. Rolling his eyes with annoyance, he drops his head back down on the desk. But before he has a chance to snooze again, his phone dings indicating a voicemail. Finding the tiny gadget beneath one of the case files, he unlocks it and listens to the message.

    “I’m surprised you didn’t answer considering you forced me to finish this paper work for you tonight,” Max’s voice tiredly speaks. “After pulling an all-nighter, I finally got the results of this tremendously easy search; I hope you’re noting the sarcasm. Okay, I checked all the roads, big and small, and all the truck lanes within a fifty-mile radius. A minor road southwest of the address you gave me was closed for construction, and there was an intersection jammed with traffic northeast. That’s basically it for the day. But what’s interesting is-” Beep.

    “‘Is’ what?” Terry cries out with anticipation when the voicemail’s time limit cuts her off. He quickly dials Max’s number and waits for her to answer.

    “Predictable,” Max answers with a smile in her voice.

    “Is what?” Terry anxiously asks.

    “What?”

    “What’s interesting?”

    “You know, saying please is a nice gesture.”

    “Max!”

    “Alright, alright. Well, you remember the boulders you told me about? No one within that radius needed them, so if this truck was driving them somewhere, it’s definitely no where close.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Positive.”

    “No one needed boulders?”

    “Uh, no,” she replies raising a brow.

    “And no one close provides those types of boulders?”

    “Closest is at least 150 miles away from the location. But the drive would be-”

    “Pointless, cause no one needed them,” he finishes for her as he picks up the picture of the wreck.

    “Am I talking to a parrot here?”

    Suddenly a realization strikes him when he takes a closer look at the picture. He hasn’t noticed the detail before, but he isn’t sure about his discovery.

    “Max, do you still have that picture I e-mailed you?”

    “The spring break one with the naked--”

    “No, Max,” he replies rolling his eyes. “The car accident.”

    She lets out a little chuckle. “Jeez, relax, what’s with you?”

    Ignoring her comment, he continues with instructions. “Zoom in and focus on the asphalt. Do you see anything odd?”

    Using her shoulder to keep the phone pressed to her ear, she does as requested. She enhances the picture before focusing on it. “Um, no. Should I?”

    “Come on, you’re smarter than that. There’s something missing, isn’t there?”

    “Terry, I think you need some sleep ‘cause I don’t notice—Hang on a second.”

    “Skid marks are missing; it seems a little off. Do me a favor and check out the ones caught at different angles.”

    “Just a second. By the way, why aren’t you using your own computer?”

    “Lazy.”

    “At least you’re honest. Okay, four photos with no skid marks belonging to the car.”

    “And the red light belonged to the car not the truck, right?”

    “Seems so. Why?”

    “Okay, red light and heavy traffic,” he says more to himself than to Max. “You’d think someone would at least try to stop.”

    “Maybe the driver was suicidal,” Max adds to his thoughts.

    “No. There was no reason for those kinds of attempts.”

    “How would you know? Did you know the guy?”

    “Uh, in a way.”

    Interested, Max straightens up in her seat. “Wait, what exactly does that mean? Terry, who is the guy?”

    “Not important, thanks for the help; you’re awesome.”

    “Don’t you dare hang up on me, McGinnis.” Unfortunately for her, the next thing she hears is a click disconnecting the phone call. “McGinnis!”

    Refreshed with a new determination, Terry shoots up off his chair, picks up his jacket from the nearby couch, and heads out his apartment door.
    -----*****-----​

    “This isn’t healthy for you,” Bruce’s baritone voice echoes off the walls in the cave as he eyes the dark haired figure sitting at the console.

    “Hm?” The figure replies uninterested.

    “Terry, you’ve been working on this for over four days without taking a break. You haven’t found anything-”

    “Since when did you sleep?” Terry cuts him off.

    “Excuse me?” Bruce asks as he makes his way to his side.

    “I got here at eight. It’s ten. Where were you?”

    “So now I don’t get to sleep?” Bruce answers with a raised brow. “Why are you here so early?”

    “Nothing better to do,” Terry absently replies, turning his attention back to the screen.

    “I’m assuming you found something interesting since you’re so obsessed with this case now.”

    “I’m not obsessed,” he retorts. “It’s practice. Anyway, check out these pictures. I blew them up so it’s easier to see.”

    “Skid marks are missing,” Bruce quickly deduces despite the fact he barely glances at the screen. “It took you longer than I thought to figure it out.”

    Terry whips around to face Bruce. “Wait, you knew?!” A slight smirk appears on Bruce’s wrinkled face. “Then why didn’t you say anything? That could have saved me hours of work!”

    “You’re the one who poked around, not me.”

    Terry twists his face into an annoyed scowl. “You’re a horrible mentor, you know that?”

    “Noted,” Bruce sarcastically replies.

    “Since you ruined my moment, my next hunch is that the brakes were cut; that’s why there were barely any skid marks.”

    “But-”

    “The problem is there are several problems. One being the brakes could have failed on their own; another is if it was murder, sabotage can’t be proven without the evidence, and last, even if we did have the evidence it’d be hard to prove. Not to mention we don’t know where our suspects are, and I’ll be lucky if Jazz kills me for continuing this case without her consent. Got any advice?”

    “Good luck.” With that said, Bruce turns around and heads to the stairway.

    “Bruce, you gotta give me something here,” Terry pleads as he rises.

    With a sigh, Bruce turns to face him. “There are ways to prove the brake lines were severed despite the car being crushed beyond recognition.”

    “Wait, she still has the car? Anything else you forgot to mention?”

    Bruce silently stares at Terry for a moment, before turning and heading up the stairs. “Ask Barbara about it.”

    He lets out a tired sigh as he gets up to pay the commissioner a visit. Right now, he would rather face Barbara than confess to Jazz about the investigation. In her condition, the last thing he wants is her getting angry, which she most definitely will be; but it’s not all that keeps him from telling the truth. He knows she’s a very determined person and it’s obvious she’s protective over personal matters. If he tells her about his suspicions of murder, she would want to get involved despite the fact she is physically incapable.

    But what if he can’t solve the case? He knows that Jazz’s mother is involved in this somehow, but there is no way he can pin her to the accident. He has no suspects to begin with, and progress is stressfully slow. This case really has become his obsession not because it involves his partner’s past, but because it’s one challenge he needs to overcome. An old case, worries, intentions to protect a friend, slow progress, and challenges sum up his concerns and none seem to be improving much. In his own mind, the only solution is to turn into a workaholic.
    -----*****-----​

    The streets of Paris are supposed to be beautiful under the dim street lamps and the brightness of the full moon, at least that’s what the rumors said. Her wavy black hair gently sways with the wind as her gray eyes stare at the Eiffel Tower. Ever since she was with her husband, she always dreamed of an evening like this. Clutching her trench coat tighter in an attempt to keep warm, she makes her way to the café across the street, where her ex-boyfriend promised to meet her in.

    Mistakes, regrets, and pain have haunted her for seventeen years now. Her conscious has been eating away at her long enough, and it’s what forces her clear it. But no matter how much money she spends, she can’t find the one person that would make sleeping at night easier.

    “Bonsoir, Mademoiselle,” the French host greets the olive complexioned woman once she reaches the front door of the café. “Avez-vous une réservation?”

    “Oui, c’est pour Nicole Cleland,” she replies in a perfect Parisian accent.

    “Ah, oui, Nicole. S’il vous plais, suivez-moi.” He grabs a food and wine menu and leads her to the saved table by the window. “If you don’t mind me asking, Mademoiselle,” the host asks in his thick French accent, “but will you be dining wiz anyone else tonait?”

    “Yes,” she replies. Once they reach the table, she takes off her coat and folds it on the back of the chair before taking a seat. “He will be arriving in a few minutes. Il s’appelle Nicolas.”

     
    #23 SilentBat18, Feb 1, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  4. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Snowfall begins to cover the French streets with a light blanket of white. Nicole is used to the streets of Paris, having lived here for so long; but every time the snow covers them, those feelings of elation always return as though it’s her first night in the French capital.

    “I still don’t understand your fascination with the snow,” a voice says, waking her from a trance.

    She turns to face him. “Nick, you’re late,” she starts in an unwelcoming tone.

    “Nice to see you, too,” he replies.

    After taking off his jacket, he eases into the seat across from her and signals a waiter. He orders a club sandwich and a beer while Nicole orders a Caesar salad and another glass of red wine. After taking their orders and collecting the menus, the waiter gives a polite smile and walks away.

    Nick turns to Nicole with a smug grin on his face. “Well, well, well; what’s the reason for this dinner? You missing me?”

    “Get over yourself. There’s something I need you to do for me.”

    “Ah, is there something your wealth can’t buy you?” He asks without wiping the grin off his face.

    “Shut it,” she scolds, but that doesn’t seem to affect him much. The waiter returns with their drinks.

    After setting them down, he gives another polite smile. “Your dinners will be ready in a few minutes.”

    Once the waiter is out of earshot, Nicole continues. “Here’s the deal, I’m trying to find someone.”

    “Oh?” He asks intrigued. “Why me when you can get anyone else for a cheaper price? Or is this an excuse to see me again?”

    Ignoring his comment, she asks, “how much do you want?”

    “Depends. Who am I looking for?”

    She hesitates and takes a sip of wine before giving him a quiet answer. “Jasmine.”

    “Jasmine?” He asks with a raised brow. “Douglas?” Looking away, she nods once. “You’re kidding. Did you forget our deal?” He hisses, his arrogant smile suddenly disappearing.

    “She’s my daughter. I have every right. Besides, our deal was off the second you dumped me.”

    “Why now then? I left you years ago.”

    “That’s none of your business. Look, I just need you to find her and you know I’ll pay.”

    He studies her face with skeptical eyes. “You agreed not to talk.”

    “I wasn’t planning to,” she coldly replies.

    “How do I know you won’t?”

    “Because I don’t want anyone to find out either.”

    Satisfied with her answer, he takes a swig of his beer. “What about the kid? You planning on confessing to her?”

    “No,” Nicole replies, hoping she’s hiding her true intentions well enough.

    Believing her, Nick leans back in his chair. “Good. Now, I take it you tried looking for her yourself?”

    “The orphanage transferred her and I lost track. I know you tend to have better luck with this kind of stuff.”

    Giving the offer some thought, he leans in and replies, “hundred grand.”

    “What?” She looks up surprised.

    “Hundred grand; that’s how much I’ll do it for.”

    “You’re kidding.” Staying silent, he looks her dead in the eye with his sly grin. “Fine. How long will it take?”

    “As long as it needs.”

    “Then put a rush on it. I’ll send you half now if it’s incentive you’re looking for.”

    “Tough bargain. This is why I like you Nikki,” he teases. “But so we’re clear, if I find out you spilled to her, you’ll have the pleasure of picking out her casket, you got that?” He warns with a menacing grin.

    With a heavy sigh, she nods once before downing the rest of her wine with one gulp.

     
    #24 SilentBat18, Feb 23, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  5. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    The last time her life has changed this much was when she was four years old. Fast forward seventeen years, and she finds herself trying to acclimate to a new life yet again. The original Batgirl had given her blessing, her partner in crime fighting has now become a friend, and she’s finally accepting who she is rather than pretend to be someone else. All good things are happening, so why does she feel so conflicted?

    She stares at her suit laid out on the repair table, the dried blood already been cleaned off of the ragged slits she is getting ready to mend. Everything around her suggests that she has earned her title, but she still feels like a failure, a poser underserving of the named but not sure why. She figured it could be because she hasn’t authentically connected with her team yet.

    She cringes with self-hate when she remembers how angry Terry had been with her, how fed up he was with her evasiveness. She needs to make it up to him somehow, because telling him the story he should have learned months ago isn’t enough. She rests a hand on her damaged suit, fingering the slit in the middle of it. If he had known who she really was before this incident, she might not even have cuts to repair; they would have been better synced rather than struggle for the last few weeks.

    A sigh escapes at the thought, but she figures there’s no use dwelling on a mistake that has been corrected. She gingerly slips her injured arm out of the sling, setting it aside so she can get to work. Although Bruce had explained the basics of the suit’s design, her knowledge was still limited; so halfway into the circuit restoration, she sets her tool down and pushes away from the table. She knows the blueprints are saved on the main computer, so she decides referencing it would be the best way to avoid botching the repair.

    Holding her left arm close to her chest to avoid moving the tender shoulder, she uses her good hand to run the search; but typing with one hand proves to be a tricky task, causing her to accidentally bring up the wrong file. A glance at it though, stops her from carrying out her search. What she stumbled on to is Terry’s research on her father’s murder. Reading that word tenses her frame, while discovering the evidence to support it sends her thoughts reeling.

    “S***,” the whispered curse reaches her ears, making her head whip around to find Terry at the top of the steps, eyes wide when he realized what Jazz was reading. “Look, I can explain,” he starts as he descends the stairs.

    “What the hell is this?” She hisses, forgetting her earlier resolve to be kinder to him.

    “I was going to tell you about it when I was sure.”

    “This looks like you’re pretty damn sure; so what the hell were you waiting for?”

    He kneads the back of his neck as he tries figuring out a way to calm her down. “I didn’t think you were ready to hear it yet.”

    “Excuse you?” She rounds on him, eyes blazing with anger at his assumption.

    Wrong answer. “You’re not in the best shape, and news like this could make things worse.”

    “Oh, you’re just full of them,” she replies, moving past him. “How could you do this? Who gave you the right to snoop around without my consent?” She asks, heading back to the workbench to retrieve her sling and throw it around her neck.

    “I’m sorry; I know I shouldn’t have, but when I looked into your dad’s history, info was pointing to foul play.”

    “Yet, you thought it was a good idea to hide that from me. You went ahead and played detective, trying to dig for more evidence.”

    “Like I said, you weren’t in a condition to take the news,” he reaffirms.

    “As noble as your intentions were,” she sarcastically replies, her eyes holding his in a menacing glare, “it doesn’t get you off the hook. You had no right, and it stops now.”
    The command makes him frown. “Why?”

    “Because I said so,” she states, hiding the fear shaking her insides.

    If she has to accept one more change, one more life altering fact, she might break down. However, Terry can’t see that; he doesn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to find out the truth.

    “You really want to just sweep this under the rug?” He asks, not convinced that she wants all this to stop.

    “Shut up,” she shoots, scowling at him.

    “Cause it’s not going to happen,” he continues, ignoring her. “You can’t forget something like this; it’s just going to keep gnawing at you, and you won’t be able to fight the regret.”

    “You don’t know that; you’re dad hasn’t been dead for seventeen years.”

    “Powers is still out there,” he counters, reminding her of what he has to live with everyday. Her glare eases as his deepens. “He got away because I made a mistake, so regret isn’t new to me. If you don’t want me to go forward with this, then I won’t; but you better be ready to live with a question that’ll haunt you for a very long time.”

    She looks away, finding the subject difficult to deal with. She wants this to end, to stop changing her reality, but she can’t deny Terry’s point. Regret will eat away at her if she never finds out the truth. Terry takes a step towards her, picking up on her wavering decision.

    “Jazz,” he tries again, softening his tone. “Closure can’t be overrated.”

    She lifts her eyes to the monitor glowing behind him, curiosity pulling her in, vengeance tipping her scales.

    “What do you have so far?” She quietly asks, bringing her eyes back to him.

    “Nick and you mom are in the spotlight,” he replies, noting the twitch in her eye at the mention of Nicole. “The commissioner saved your dad’s car in the evidence warehouse. If I can prove it was tampered with before the accident, Barbara will reopen the case and start and official investigation.”

    “When were you going to work on the car?”

    “In the morning.”

    “Then I’m coming with you,” she states, making his brow furrow.

    “You sure?”

    “Only way you can work on this is with me, got it?” She replies.

    He understands the protective possessiveness she’s claiming over the case; after all, Andrew is her father, so he nods in agreement and hopes she won’t suddenly change her mind if and when they come across difficulty.

     
    #25 SilentBat18, Mar 21, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  6. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    The forty-minute trip to the warehouse was a quiet one, neither one knowing what to say exactly. A sleepless night is the reason Jazz remains silent with eyes watching the buildings go by, while Terry chooses to follow her lead, speaking only when she’s ready. However, somehow neither one finds this awkward, even after Terry parks the car and shuts the engine off.

    He turns to her and watches for a reaction, but the dullness in her eyes prompt him to open the door and step out, with Jazz imitating him. They make their way into the warehouse, pass through the standard security, and meet with Barbara on the other side. Greeting them with a nod, she leads them to the basement where the larger or older pieces of evidence are stored. Apart from a few words considered to be small talk, the journey is another silent one.

    While Terry occupies his mind with details of the case and what to check for, Jazz’s mind on the other hand, is surprisingly blank. It’s the only way for her to stop the gruesome images from the file fill her head and churn fear. Despite the effort though, she still ends up feeling like running out of the building; but with her legs pulling her closer to the final destination, she manages to avoid acting on her irrational instincts. A few moments later, they arrive to a large room housing boxes and plastic bags stacked against the walls and reaching the ceiling. In the middle is a tarp covering the crucial piece of evidence that rests on a car lift.

    They stop just after the entrance before being greeted by a husky, balding employee. “Commissioner Gordon,” he greets holding out a hand, which she shakes.

    “Bill,” she replies, letting go.

    “I got the car set up for you,” he explains, his suspicious eyes drifting to the other two occupants behind her.

    “Good. I appreciate the discretion,” she adds, her pale blue eyes hardening on his pudgy face.

    “Uh, right,” he stutters, understanding her message. He moves to the tarp-covered car with the others trailing him. “Last time it was touched was ages ago, so it should still be intact.”

    Without hesitation, he rips the sheet off revealing the red convertible, or what used to be a classic car. Just like in the pictures, the car’s hood, including the windshield, are almost completely flattened by the boulders that had rolled over it. Since the car’s canopy was down at the time of the accident, the upholstery is torn up, with springs sticking out of the many holes made in the cushions. The rear part of the car seems to have received the least damage since a few dents defined the trunk of the car.

    But the most heart wrenching sight is the large bloodstain, turned dark from age, marring the driver’s tan leather seat. Bill and Barbara never notice Jazz closing her eyes and turning away, but Terry does, and he can’t help but relate to the tragedy collapsing her insides. Her quivering chin reminds him of the day over five years ago when he returned to his father’s apartment to pick up his stuff. The cleaners had mopped up the blood, but they failed to lift the stain it left on the wooden floor. He was frozen by the door, staring at it for the better half of an hour, the truth sinking in slowly and tormenting him before the sadness engulfed him.

    “You know how to operate these cranes?” Bill suddenly asks, pointing at the car lift and pulling Jazz and Terry out of their thoughts. Terry gives him a nod. “Good. I don’t know what you guys are looking for but good luck ‘cause this is one hell of a mess. Anyway, take your time; if you need anything just press the intercom button on that wall over there.” Using a thumb, he points to the wall a few feet behind him. With nothing left to be said, he nods at Barbara and leaves them to get on with whatever they came to do.

    “You have an hour,” Barbara informs Terry. “I have a meeting upstairs, so make sure you’re done before I get back.”

    Once they have been left alone, Terry turns to his partner and places a comforting hand on her shoulder.

    She shakes away his gentle grip. “Just get this over with,” she demands with an unexpectedly icy tone, surprising him.

    Terry tries again, this time spinning her to face him and finding the shaking chin and watery eyes she is trying to hide. Very few words are the right ones to say in a situation like this, but it wasn’t words that helped set him free from the depressed trance he was in when he stood in his father’s doorway; it was a gesture. So Terry repeats it by pulling her into a warm embrace similar to the one he received back then; it had eased his growing sorrow and anxiety, helping him move on, and it has the same effect on her.

    It takes a few seconds for him to feel her stiff frame loosen and her arms wrap around him. Jazz never realizes just how much she needed that hug until they part. When she looks up at him, her face remains blank, but her eyes show the deepest gratitude when they stare into Terry’s. After a few seconds of comfortable silence, Terry clears his throat and turns to the controls that operate the lift.

    “I guess we should get started,” he quietly states as the hydraulics’ humming fill the room, slowly hoisting the wreck into the air.
    -----*****-----​

    A half hour into the examination, Terry has already taken detailed pictures of the disc brakes and whatever is left of the pads, a semi-smashed brake fluid reservoir and wires connecting it to the braking system, as well as the almost intact rear axles. Finally done with the car’s underside, he lowers it down and pulls off the latex gloves he had on. Jazz, however, discreetly makes her way around to the passenger side of the car with a finger sliding along the damaged frame. The door to the convertible is jammed, so she lifts herself into the seat, keeping her eyes off of the bloodstain.

    She runs a finger across the smooth, leather wrapped dashboard, examining it with both her eyes and sensitive digit. She finds the latch to the glove compartment and flips it open. However, she doesn’t realize the hinges were damaged until the entire flap topples to the floor along with the compartment’s contents. Picking up the items, she places them on her lap and begins sifting through them.

    The first items Jazz picks up are the car’s registration and insurance cards. She puts those aside before picking up a pair of broken sunglasses. Recognizing them to be her mother’s, she carelessly tosses them aside; but the gold plated pen she finds, she gingerly places beside her. It’s the one her father constantly lost; she remembers one time it took him a week to finally find it all because she suggested to check the most obvious place to a four-year-old: his desk drawer. She got to go to the candy store because of it.

    There is a piece of paper folded three ways that she picks up and unfolds. Her heart sinks when she discovers it’s his will. She vaguely remembers the day before the accident her father had introduced her to his lawyer when they went out for lunch. She was paying too much attention to her spaghetti and meatballs to understand what was going on. Reading part of it, Jazz realizes that in the case of an untimely death, Ethan was to be her guardian, not her mother. She is also to inherit half of her father’s fortune once she turns twenty-five.

    She lets out a sigh and places the will next to the pen. The last item in the stack was a picture that brings a nostalgic smile to her face. It’s when they had visited a parade in downtown Gotham; she was almost four and sitting on her father’s shoulders. The two were watching the float passing by before looking back to smile at the camera. Jazz was grabbing at her father’s red hair as he held onto her little legs.

    “What’s that?” Terry suddenly asks, bringing her attention out of the forgotten memory. She never noticed him standing behind her, staring at the picture before he spoke up.

    “Nothing, just a picture,” she replies, flipping it over and hiding it between the papers. Taking them in her hands, she climbs out of the car without looking at Terry. “Are we done?” she asks as she straightens her sling.

    “Yeah,” he sighs. “Wayne’ll analyze these; hopefully he should have something by tonight.”

    “Then what?”

    “Barbara will have CSU reanalyze the car so they get the same result. Courts will have an easier time once things are legally on record.”

    “What if Bill talks about us being here?”

    “I wouldn’t worry about that,” he replies as Barbara returns.

    “You two finished?” She asks as she approaches them.

    Terry nods. “Appreciate the help, Commish.”

    “No problem, kid,” she nods before her eyes move to the papers in Jazz’s hands. “You took those from the car?” Jazz hesitantly nods. “I’m sorry, but you can’t take them. At least not the papers,” she adds when the gleaming pen catches her eyes. She can tell it meant a lot to Jazz by the way her grip tightened around it.

    “Fine,” Jazz agrees, looking down at the registration form to read the address.

    She places the will, insurance and registration cards on top of the broken glove box lid so it looks like it came apart on impact. The pen and photo she stuffs in her back pocket, glad she has a piece of her father she can carry with her. It’ll make uncovering family secrets easier to bear, and unbeknownst to her, help face her mother who is on the eight hour flight back to Gotham.

     
    #26 SilentBat18, May 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  7. Theking

    Theking Very cute Lego Babe.

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    OH I can't wait for Mommy derest to show her face.

    Hope she gets punched. :evil:

    You have such a great story here. I am hanging on every word.

    Keep up the great work.

    Way to go on Graduation.

    TheKing
     
  8. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Terry knocks a second time before opening the door to Jazz’s apartment when she doesn’t answer. He finds her slowly pacing back and forth in her living room as she reads the files Terry had given her. He silently approaches and waits for her to acknowledge him; finally aware of his presence, she stops and turns to face him.

    “Bruce finished the analysis,” Terry quietly announces with his eyes watching every twitch. She knows the chances of it being an accident are slim so she isn’t surprised when Terry continues. “Power lines to the brake fluid reservoir were cut.”

    Jazz stands silent, staring into space with a mind frozen in thought, before blinking a few times and turning to Terry. The look on her face, however, intrigues him: for the first time in days, she seems optimistic.

    “My mom and Nick are connected to this, I know it. We just have to figure out who did their dirty work.”

    “How do-”

    “I know someone who can help,” she cuts him off as her eyes perk up.

    She pulls off her sling and tosses it on the couch along with the folder before she heads to the door with jacket in tow.

    “Wait, where-”

    “I’ll give you a call later tonight.” But before she has a chance to step out the door, Terry manages to grab a hold of her arm. He raises his brows anticipating a better explanation. “What?”

    “You know someone?”

    “Yeah; he’s a friend from a while back. I don’t know how, but he’s like this info magician.”

    “Why didn’t you mention him before?” Terry asks, letting go of her arm.

    She shrugs as she opens the door. “You never asked.” He scowls at her before she disappears behind the closing door.
    -----*****-----​

    She opens the door to the cheap bar and takes a step in. Greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer, Jazz uses the dim light shining from a few bulbs above the pool table and bar to find the familiar face. Assuming he hasn’t changed, she scans the room for a tall, well-built man in his mid-twenties. It isn’t long before she spots him by the pool table, but it takes her a second to recognize him considering he has grown a goatee.

    He notices the toned woman arriving at the other end of the table, stopping just as he strikes the cue ball that sends a striped yellow one into the corner pocket. He straightens and meets Jazz’s eyes with a smile, noting the irritated look on her face.

    “Well, look at you,” he greets as his eyes glide over her figure, studying every curve the dim light bounces off of. “All grown up and filled out.” His eyes once again meet hers but his smile never fades even though Jazz continues to frown at him. “That glare would be scarier if your bangs weren’t in the way.”

    “Four months, Tank. I got four months in Juvi because of you.”

    She knew him only as Tank while she was JD to him. They had never exchanged their real names or contact information when they first met and it stayed that way until they parted ways; it was one of the few codes they lived by.

    “It wasn’t my fault you got caught, JD,” he replies. He moves to another edge and bends over as he aims for a red striped ball. “I told you to bolt, you didn’t listen.”

    Happy with his aim, his arm pushes the stick forward, successfully sending the ball in a pocket. With a grin, he straightens and analyzes the table again.

    “I did run; you never said where the cops were coming from.”

    “My bad,” he quips, indifferent about the issue. He eyes his next target and bends over to aim. “Besides, if you were so pissed at me, you could have squealed on us since you knew where we hung out.”

    “I should have,” Jazz retorts switching her weight to another leg.

    “I agree, considering the deal the ADA offered you, so why didn’t you?” Tank asks lifting his eyes to meet hers. She looks away and shrugs making him smile. A purple ball makes it into a side pocket, and Tank straightens to look at her. “Now, I forget, exactly why are you angry at me?” He smoothly asks, winning her over.

    “You’re still partially responsible for getting me caught,” she counters, folding her arms and regaining eye contact.

    “Oh, so I guess I’m only partially sorry.” He gives her a pearly white smirk making it hard for her to repress a smile. “Thanks for forgiving me.”

    “I never-” She begins to protest before he interrupts her.

    “So how’ve you been?” He turns his attention back to his game, but Jazz picks up the cue ball interrupting him. Annoyed, he rolls his eyes as he straightens and rests his chin on the pool stick’s end.

    “I need your help,” she states.

    “Six years I don’t see you; but then, when you suddenly show up, you blame me for getting you caught, fail to forgive me, and then expect me to help just like that?”

    “Get over yourself, Tank. It’s not like we had some dramatic falling out. It wasn’t my fault I got relocated to-”

    “Chicago,” he casually finishes for her, as if she had already told him what had happened even though they haven’t spoken since the night she was arrested.

    This takes her aback, but only for a moment before remembering her friend has his way of getting even the most classified information. Her surprised expression eases into an intrigued one.

    “If you knew where I was, how come you never called?”

    “Considering you were fresh out of Juvi, I didn’t think you wanted in again. But you proved me so very wrong considering you got into trouble for B&E charges. How’d you get off without time?”

    “I squealed on a couple of d*****s.”

    Tank finally lets a genuine smile cross his lips, glad to learn she was loyal only to him. A few seconds of silence pass as the two stare at each other before Jazz clears her throat.

    “So, are you going to help me?”

    “How can I refuse my favorite pickpocket?” Tank replies giving her a reassuring smile.

    “Come on, I’ll buy you a beer,” Jazz offers as she returns the cue ball to the table and escorts her friend to the bar.

    They seat themselves on two vacant stools at the end where no one around can listen in on their private conversation, and Jazz waves to the bartender.

    “Two brews,” she asks when the tattooed man approaches.

    “Make it one; I’ll just have a Coke, thanks,” Tank corrects. She whips her head around to give him a surprised look.

    “You’re turning down a free drink?” She asks once the bartender is out of earshot.

    “I’m expected to be somewhere in an hour.”

    “Where? An AA meeting?” She asks half jokingly but hoping it isn’t true.

    “Surgery,” he replies, surprising her again. The drinks arrive along with a bowl of mixed nuts, and he gives the barkeep a thankful nod.

    “Surgery? Are you sick?” Jazz asks concerned.

    “Relax, I’m performing it,” he calmly explains, amused by how he keeps shocking Jazz.

    “Performing? You’re a surgeon? Since when?”

    “I have a few more weeks of interning before I sit for the exam.”

    “Wait, let me get this straight. When I met you, you were a straight C and D student in high school with no intentions of going to college, but now you’re a doctor? What the hell?”

    “Actually, I was a B and C student in high school, and I never told you I was in college before we parted ways.”

    “You must have been a sophomore the last time I saw you then.”

    “Yup. I went back to Bedford, Mass for med school, didn’t like it there, so I transferred back here.”

    “Where did you study?”

    “St. Michaels School of Medicine.”

    “Specialization?”

    “Trauma.” Something in his tone suggests he knows more than he’s letting on.

    “Uh, where are you-?” She reluctantly asks.

    “Interning? Gotham Memorial.” The hospital she was admitted to. He turns his attention to the nuts in the bowl and fishes for the cashews. “By the way, your arm is supposed to stay in a sling if you want that shoulder to heal properly.”

    Her eyes go wide with shock as a sly smirk draws on his face. “Don’t tell me-”

    “Jasmine Douglas; birthday August 23[SUP]rd[/SUP]; height 5’8”, weight 148 lbs, blood type A positive. I was one of your doctors; I recognized you when they wheeled you in. Plus, I was the one who stitched you up; don’t worry, I do a great job. There shouldn’t be any scarring on your cheek.”

    He looks back at her to find disbelief sketched all over her face. His pearly grin grows wider. “You know, JD wasn’t that creative of a nick name now that I think about it; but how’d you get all messed up like that?”

    It takes her a short moment to compose herself enough to quip, “I thought you knew everything.”

    “The report was vague. My attending knew what happened, but he wasn’t willing to share for some reason.”

    “Uh, well, I was mugged.”

    Tank gives her half a nod as his mouth turns up in thought. “You need to work on a better lie, JD.”

    “It’s the truth,” she tries defending herself, before taking a long swig of her beer.

    “You forget I’m the one who taught you to fight? There’s no way you’d let a couple of muggers mess you up that bad unless they weren’t muggers. So what’s the real story?”
    She nervously kneads the back of her neck. “I can’t tell you what really happened, so just trust me on this one.”

    He lets out a sigh. “Always full of secrets.”

    “Your turn to give some up considering you know my blood type.”

    He gives her a smile before extending a hand for her to shake. “The name’s Henry Whitman Jr. I will be 27 on May 18[SUP]th[/SUP], height 6’4”, weight 185 lbs of muscle and blood type is O positive.” Amused, Jazz shakes his hand as she gives him a warm smile. “I think I have an idea of the favor you’ll be asking me in a few seconds.” Both of their smiles disappear, with Jazz’s gaze lowering to her half empty bottle accumulating condensation. “Your father’s death seemed suspicious to me too.”

    “How come I never noticed you were a genius?” Jazz scoffs.

    “Because I’m not; I just pay attention to detail. The fact there was a construction truck filled to the rim with boulders in the middle of rush hour on narrow streets didn’t seem right.” Jazz gives him a skeptical look; she knows he must have pulled out the information recently. “Ok, so maybe I did a little research after I found out he was your father. But before you ask me anything, I have no idea who’s behind it.”

    “That’s what I need you to find out, though. My mom and Nicolas Boris are connected if that helps.” Henry is ready to refuse, but the desperate look in her eyes makes him reconsider.

    “Maybe I can call someone…” He shrugs.

    Jazz’s face on the other hand lights up and she can’t help but throw her good arm around his neck pulling him into a grateful embrace that surprises him. However, he isn’t nearly as enthusiastic, so he takes her wrist to pull her away from him.

    “What are you going to do with the information anyway?” He asks, concern filling his dark blue eyes.

    “Not what you’re thinking,” she replies, knowing he’s assuming the worst, but he doesn’t seem reassured. “Look, it’s a long story, but I have some friends working on the case for me; we’re planning on going the legal route, no foul play; but we need a lead.”

    He studies her face, particularly the bandage still covering her cheek and making him remember how close to death she had been a week ago.

    “That lead you’re looking for, is that what got you messed up?” He suddenly asks, making her look away for a second when she remembers the pain inflicted on her.

    “No,” she finally replies, looking him in the eye. Taking her word for it, Henry nods, relaxing again.

    “I’m guessing your fiancé is the one doing all the work, then.” He lets go of her wrist and takes a sip of his soda.

    “You heard about that?”

    “Gossip keeps ER doctors awake,” he quips, making her laugh lightly.

    “Yeah, he’s helping, but he’s not my fiancé.”

    “You just keep getting more and more interesting,” he grins.

    “I missed you, you know,” she unexpectedly confesses.

    Henry can’t repress a chuckle. “Me of all people? You do remember the beatings you got when I trained you, right?”

    She smiles at the memories. “I know you took it easy on me, or I would have been in a body cast at least eight times.”

    “Nine, actually,” he corrects. “I wanted to call after you got out.”

    “What stopped you?”

    His deep blue eyes gaze into her gray ones for a moment. “Didn’t want to get too attached in case we never saw each other again.” His honest reply, however, earns him a punch in the arm.

    “You almost pulled off the smart guy act if it wasn’t for that stupid logic. We were partners in crime, twip; of course we were attached! I always had your back and I know you had mine, until I got caught that is.”

    “What part of ‘run’ did you not understand?”

    “Do me a favor, never give anyone directions,” she counters, making him laugh again. “One other thing,” she adds grabbing his hand and flipping it palm side up. She finds a pen behind the bar and scribbles something in the middle of his hand. “Tattoo that on before you scrub up for surgery.” He looks at his palm once she lets go and reads a set of digits he guesses to be her phone number. “That way you won’t have an excuse for not calling.”

    A sheepish grin flashes her way. “Don’t worry; I won’t forget. Trust me.”

    “I’ll hold it against you if you do,” she replies with a playful smile.

    He takes a last gulp from his soda and stands. “I gotta head out. I’m glad I was predictable enough to find.”

    “The hell you were! Do you have any idea how many bars there are in the Narrows? I checked at least ten before this place.”

    “Well, now you know where to find me every other night,” he leans in to give her a parting hug.

    “Good luck on your surgery, Dr. Whitman,” she winks as he steps away.

    “Put your sling back on, Jazz,” he calls back before heading out the door and leaving Jazz calmed by the thought that she’ll soon have closure.
    -----*****-----​

    Even in the darkness of night, it’s easy to tell the house looks almost the same as when she had left it, except for the dying and weed infested garden. Nicole thanks the limo driver with a generous tip after he empties the trunk from her luggage and places them in front of the door as instructed. Once he drives out the gates, Nicole fishes her keys out of her Coach bag and picks out the right one before sliding it through the keyhole. The lock, tough from years of disuse, takes some effort for it to finally turn.

    Pushing the heavy oak door open, she peers into the darkened foyer, listening for sounds of life even though she knows full well the house has been empty for a long time. Even so, she still remembers where the light switch is and flips it, allowing the yellow light to fill the huge hall. Some things can’t be forgotten.

    The mansion is at least sixty years old, but has been the property of the Douglases for twenty-three. Andrew was in love with the architecture, so he only renovated what was necessary for comfort’s sake and preserved all that he could. At first Nicole was against it, but stepping into the house now, she’s glad Andrew talked her out of making drastic changes. She rolls in her single piece of luggage and parks it by the vanity table at the entrance where she tosses the keys. She puts her purse down and takes off her Armani trench coat, resting it on her suitcase.

    “Home sweet home,” she bleakly sighs as she moves to the living room and flips another switch.

    She analyzes the seven piece custard colored furniture set and eyes the auburn coffee table with seventeen years worth of dust on it. A manicured finger runs across the top of a side table, collecting a thick layer of filth, which she brushes off after inspecting it. She grabs a throw pillow from a nearby love seat and pats it down releasing a cloud of dust to float through the air and tickle her nose. Letting out a couple of sneezes, she drops the pillow back onto the couch and reprimands herself for not covering the furniture before she left.

    Looking around the room, her eyes fall on the fireplace mantle where a few picture frames and albums are lined up, and she makes her way towards them. She remembers how excited Andrew was when they were first looking at the house. The fireplace in particular was what he loved most. He imagined it would hold the pictures of their growing family and had hoped it would soon be filled with photos of children, grandchildren, and maybe a few pets, too. She regrets having stopped with only four frames of their family standing, but that realization strengthens her motivation to find her daughter. With a heavy heart, she turns away and walks out of the room and heads up the grand staircase leading to the upper levels.

    Before she finds the master bedroom, she opens another door and flips the light on to reveal a room covered with pastel pink and cream colors. The canopy bed was never made and the unfinished coloring books and crayons still lay strewn all over the floor. Jazz never used her desk to color, but she did use it for her puzzle sets. Nicole finds a large, renaissance French style doll house set up in the corner of the room by the ceiling to floor window, the miniature pieces of furniture piled high next to it. Nicole wonders if Jazz was remodeling before she… left.

    She turns towards the bed and picks up a stuffed animal Jazz had named Roger. It’s a foot long, floppy lion with a missing eye and tongue sticking out, easily making it the silliest thing in this room. Holding the animal up, a nostalgic smile stretches on her lips. Jazz used to drag it along with her everywhere she went, so it surprises Nicole to find it forgotten on her bed. She sets the toy back down and leaves the room, turning out the light as she goes.

    The tour of the house left her feeling guilty and on the brink of tears as she nears her bedroom. She opens the door and stares into the moonlit room trying to repress the many arguments she had with her late husband as their marriage drew to an end.

    “It’s been four years, Nicole,” Andrew had said as he tried to keep his voice down. “She’s your daughter and you act like you picked her off the streets.”

    “What do you want me to do, Andrew? I’ve tried everything with her. She hates me and I know you’ve been encouraging that!”

    “That’s not true, and keep your voice down,” he had warned, “I don’t want her hearing this.”

    “I don’t care if she does; she’s four, she won’t even know what we’re talking about.” She had turned away from him and stormed into the bathroom.

    “You keep underestimating her; that’s your problem. You never give her a chance and don’t tell me otherwise,” he argued in front of the bathroom door as he unbuttoned his shirt. “I’ve seen her try, and I’ve seen you ignore her. You can’t use postpartum as an excuse anymore and you know it.”

    The door swung open and Nicole stood behind it glaring at her husband. “I’ve given her chances; she ends up either complaining or uninterested.” She pulled the band out of her hair, letting her waves flow down to her shoulders.

    “That’s a lie. We both know she loves to hear you play the piano every Saturday. You know that she asked me why you never teach her? How the hell do you answer that?!”

    “Her fingers are too short, that’s what you should have said.” She walked past him, heading towards her vanity mirror.

    “No they’re not.” Andrew followed her.

    He took off his watch and tossed it on the table in front of her. He then grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. His eyes revealed just how troubled he was feeling.

    “Nikki, something tells me this isn’t about our daughter anymore.”

    “What the hell are you talking about?” She tried acting offended in hopes he won’t find out about the affair.

    “Our marriage. You’re not the same woman I married. You used to be excited and charming; you loved everyone, especially children. When you were pregnant with Jazzy, you couldn’t wait till the nursery was finished. What happened?”

    She shook away his grip and spun around; she couldn’t bear to look at him. “I was only twenty-three when I got pregnant, Andy. People change.”

    “We waited two years to start our family! You said you were ready!” Andrew barely managed to keep his voice low enough so as not to wake Jasmine. “I just don’t understand how this could happen.”

    “It’s a shame it did,” he heard his wife murmur.

    Nicole makes her way to the nightstand and pulls the top drawer open. In it lay an overturned frame that she picks up and flips over to stare at a picture of Andrew and herself on their wedding day. Suddenly, much overdue grief overwhelms her, forcing her to burst into tears that don’t stop until she’s fast asleep hours later.

     
    #28 SilentBat18, May 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  9. Theking

    Theking Very cute Lego Babe.

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    NOOOOOO!!!! You will not make me feel sorry for this woman.

    Well maybe you will, but I will not be happy about it. :p

    This was a very good post, good history that makes the characters feel more real and believable.

    Keep up the great story.

    TheKing
     
  10. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    LOL if that's the case, then you' definitely hate whats coming up :p:p don't worry though, i'll still give you someone to hate :D i'm glad the characters are coming alive for you, that was my intention :D thanks so much for your feedback! you've been so supportive throughout this really long fic and i greatly appreciate it! :D an update is coming up this week, i promise!

    SB18
     
  11. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Rays of early morning sunshine sneak into the room, gently waking Nicole from her slumber. She turns away from the window and opens her bloodshot, puffy eyes. She slowly gets up and takes a moment to remember where she is. Realizing she is still clutching the picture frame from last night, she puts it aside and rises. She makes a trip to the bathroom before heading back down the stairs to fetch her luggage still standing by the door.

    She uses the service elevator to send them up to the second floor. Once she returns to her room, she calls a maid service explaining the six-bedroom, five-bathroom mansion hasn’t been cleaned in a long while. She makes sure to stress the fact she needs the house in tiptop shape, giving them no more than a week to get the job done. After she’s assured the cleaning service will be arriving that afternoon, she hangs up and prepares herself for a shower. Before she has a chance to step into the bathtub, her cell phone’s muffled ringtone chimes from her purse. She puts on a silk robe before making her way towards the bag lying on the bed and pulling out the tiny gadget.

    “Hello?”

    “You were right about fifty-grand being an incentive,” the voice she recognizes to belong to Nick starts. Instead of putting on the usual scowl when she receives a phone call from him, she nervously chews her lower lip. “So when will you be wiring the rest of the money?”

    “As soon as you tell me what I want to hear,” she replies, hiding her anxiety as well as she can.

    “She’s in Gotham. You got a pen and paper for her address?”

    “Hang on.”

    Balancing the phone between her shoulder and ear, Nicole pulls out an electric organizer and opens the notes section. She taps the screen and signals him to start. She types down the address, drawing a box around it once she’s done.

    “By the way, do you want to know what else the brat, is up to these days?”

    “What do you mean? She’s not a stripper is she?” She asks slightly concerned the answer might be a “yes”.

    “No, but I bet that would have been interesting. She was admitted to Gotham Memorial a week ago.” Her knees buckle from under her, forcing her to take a seat on the edge of the bed while fear steals away her voice. “She’s fine though,” Nick indifferently continues. “I’m looking at her file right now; it mentions something about a stabbing. They’re not generous with the details, but you may want to bring a ‘Get Well Soon’ card with you.”

    He hears her let out a sigh of relief before talking into the speaker. “Anything else?”

    “My price was for her location only. It’ll cost you if you want more.”

    “Then forget it,” she sighs, disappointed she can’t learn more before the planned meeting.

    “Remember, Nikki, I’ll know if you talk,” he warns before hanging up.

    His threat brings back the fear she has worked hard to be freed from, but she knew the risk when she decided to search for Jazz. So it’s no surprise she hopes this will be the last time she ever hears from him again.
    -----*****-----​

    The night before was rough on Terry. There were two bank robberies, one of them tragically ending with two dead cops and one civilian, six rape attempts, three Joker disturbances, and a three-man gang feud that almost got him a bullet in the eye. On his way home he had wondered if they were taking advantage of Batgirl’s sudden disappearance, or if they had banded together to give him a night of hell.

    Now he lies half awake in bed pressing the snooze button for the fifth time before dragging himself out and throwing a shirt over his bare chest. He makes himself a quick breakfast of cereal and milk and takes his time eating it. He knows his class isn’t until another forty minutes; he has a habit of setting his alarm clock a good two hours ahead of time knowing he tends to snooze if off anyway. With the bowl still in hand, he moves to his modestly furnished living room where he notices a blanket bunched up on the couch.

    Frowning, he makes his way towards it, lifting a corner only to find a pair of sock covered feet underneath. He tries the other end and finds Jazz’s sleeping face wincing from the bright light. He takes a seat on the available space next to her head and gently shakes her awake. A quiet groan escapes her throat before she suddenly shoots up and grabs her shoulder.

    “Sorry,” Terry apologizes once he realizes he agitated her injury.

    The sudden movement, however, shoots a sharp pain from the other wound on her stomach, forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut and wait for the throbbing to subside. Once she lets out a sigh of relief and opens her eyes, she grabs the throw pillow beside Terry and retakes her previous position this time with her head resting on the pillow.

    “Mind telling me why you’re sleeping on my couch?” He asks as he watches her push her disheveled hair away from her face.

    “Waiting for you,” she sleepily mumbles. “You didn’t answer your phone… door was open… you came in late.”

    “What did you need me for?”

    “Nothing important,” she replies a little less coherently.

    “That brings me back to my first question: why. Are. You. Here?”

    Her reply is a shrug. She doesn’t want to admit that she simply needed the comforting company of a friend, even if he is the person she butts heads with more often than not.

    He blows out a puff of air before asking another question. “How’d it go with your friend?”

    “He’s going to help us.”

    “That’s good news, I guess.” A short pause passes. “So how’d you two meet anyway?”

    “I was twelve when I found him. I showed him my skill as a pickpocket, he liked it, and recruited me.”

    “T’s?”

    “No; he had his own gang of harmless thieves.”

    “Harmless? What, did they say please before robbing a convenience store?” The comment gets him a painful pinch in the side.

    “We only hit high priced corporations after closing time so people weren’t losing their businesses or life’s savings on our account. And if we ran into trouble, we either split or kicked ass.”

    “Who taught you to fight?” He asks as he runs a hand over a stubble covered cheek.

    “Tank.” She sees his brow rise with confusion from the corner of her eye. “The friend who’s going to help,” she clarifies.

    “How long did he train you for?”

    “Three years give or take.”

    “Am I going to be running into him at night?”

    “No, not unless you were stabbed and admitted to Gotham Memorial.”

    “ER doctor?”

    “Surgeon.”

    “He fixed you up?”

    “Mostly stitching.”

    “You don’t seem too surprised by this.”

    “That’s cause you missed it.”

    “So you guys best friends or something?” He asks as he picks off a piece of stray lint from his shoulder.

    “We haven’t talked to each other in six years.”

    “That doesn’t really answer my question.”

    She shrugs one shoulder. “I know him well enough to figure out where he was, so I guess he’s the closest thing.”

    He rests his head back and stares up at the light fixture. “Are we waiting for a phone call from him?”

    “Yeah, he’ll get us some names then we hunt them down.”

    “There’s no we this time, Jazz; at least not until you’re healed.”

    “Oh, for the love of-” she complains as she sits up. “I need my suit back, Ter. I feel fine and it doesn’t hurt,” she argues, clearly having forgotten her wake up call only moments ago.

    “Barely a touch ends with you doubled over in pain. I’m not letting you out there in that kind of shape,” Terry counters as he rises.

    “Since when was asking questions like fighting off dregs?”

    “Since people learned they could exercise their right to remain silent. It takes some persuasion for them to change their minds about that,” he replies before picking up his empty bowl and heading back to the kitchen.

    “I’m good at persuasion,” she tries to negotiate.

    He leans a hip against the counter and crosses his arms as he raises a brow at her. “No,” he states before a grin crosses his face. “Hey, look at that, I wasn’t persuaded. Guess it means you’ll need to work on that.”

    Jazz rolls her eyes at him and sighs with defeat as she slumps deeper into the couch, while Terry straightens and heads back to his room to get dressed.

    “You want me to drive you home?” She hears him offer from the bathroom as she fetches her shoes.

    “No,” she calls back, shoving a foot into the soft leather boot. His head pops out from the doorway, a toothbrush hanging on the corner of his mouth, as he quirks a brow at her.

    “You sure?” He mumbles.

    “I’m not bedridden, you know.”

    His head disappears before she hears the faucet run, a couple of clinks, and a coherent reply. “I’ll drive you anyway,” he says before scoffing as he emerges from his room with another grin on his face. “Another fail at convincing me. This isn’t your day, is it,” he quips before receiving another scowl from her.

    “And yours will come, McGinnis,” she threatens as she follows him to the door.

    “Oooh, scary,” he teases as he grabs his bag and keys before stepping out, while Jazz wonders why she ever thought his company would be consoling.
    -----*****-----​

    They arrive to her apartment building ten minutes later; quickly thanking him for the ride, she steps out of the car just in time to see a woman in a beige trench coat hurrying out of the building and quickly walking down the sidewalk. The collar of her coat is pulled up so Jazz isn’t able to take a good look at her face. All she notices is the wavy black hair bouncing with every step she takes as she swiftly turns the corner and enters a nearby café.

    “Something wrong?” Jazz hears Terry ask. Shaking her head, she closes the car door and walks up to the entrance as he pulls away.

    She reaches her apartment door moments later and freezes when she finds a large, yellow envelope resting on her doorknob. She picks it up and flips in over to find “Jazzy” written on it. Her eyes narrow with suspicion as she reads over her name three more times as if she doesn’t believe the letters written in black marker. No one she knows calls her Jazzy, and the realization reminds her of the woman with long, wavy hair she just saw. As best she could, she sprints down the hallway and back into the elevator.

    Bursting out onto the sidewalk, she runs to the café she watched her disappear into earlier. The customers are surprised when Jazz suddenly rushes in, her wide eyes frantically searching their faces for familiarity. But when nothing turns up, she walks up to the cashier, ignoring the protest of the waiting customer.

    “Have you seen someone with black hair and gray eyes walk in here like five minutes ago?”

    “You’re kidding, right?” Jazz frowns at the sixteen-year-old’s blemish covered face. “Have you looked in a mirror?”

    It takes everything in her not to jump the counter and punch the boy in the face. “Another woman, twip. She looks like me.”

    “She walked out like two minutes ago. Lousy tipper, too.” He picks up a cup and marks the order on it before handing it over to another employee.

    “Which way?”

    “I don’t get paid to watch people leave.”

    Letting out a disappointed sigh, Jazz turns away. “Thanks.”

    She unlocks her apartment door and heads to her kitchen. She tosses her keys along with the envelope on the table and moves to her fridge. Pulling out a container full of strawberries, she takes a seat at the table and stares at the unopened envelope as she munches on the red fruit. Curiosity forces her to reach for it and pull on the metal tabs, flipping the lid open. Her hand reaches into it and pulls out a bunch of thin notebooks, which upon closer inspection she realizes are sheets of piano notes. Scowling at the odd package, she begins flipping through them.

    There are classic works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven; some she has never heard before, others seem to automatically play in her head. The last set of sheets is actually a beginner’s notebook. She flips it open and skims over it to find lessons starting with finger and hand positions, notes and chords as well as a bunch of exercises. She also finds a set of sheets that lack the composer’s name but has music notes scribbled all over it. Jazz recognizes the handwriting: it’s the same as on the envelope.

    Putting them aside, she picks up the seemingly empty envelope and takes a look inside hoping to find a note that would explain this. Luckily, she pulls out a tiny sheet and finds matching handwriting.

    ‘There should be one set of music sheets for every birthday I missed.’

    Learning that the stranger was indeed her mother, she clenches her jaw with anger and crumples the paper before tossing it aside. She picks up the stack of music and counts seventeen sheets. She tries to hold on to the anger and resentment that she’s supposed to feel, but she can’t help but let out a sigh and pick up another strawberry.

    Even though it was done in secret, it’s still an attempt at forgiveness. The simple act of finding her and personally dropping off the package rather than mailing them shows the effort Nicole is putting in, so dismissing them is just cruel and unfair. It’s the first step, but not the last. Jazz knows her mother has to try harder the next time she tries to sneak around her building in order to receive any kind of redemption. As she munches on another strawberry, Jazz flips open the beginner’s book and reads away.

     
    #31 SilentBat18, Jun 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  12. JC Roberts

    JC Roberts Member

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    Truly excellent writing, along with fine characterizations. A pleasure to read!
     
  13. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Ace’s tags rattle against each other as he trots down the hall in search of the strange noise coming from some room he can’t find. The sound grows louder as he approaches the music room in the east wing. The scent of the person in the room prompts him to start wagging his tail before he finds Jazz at the grand piano pressing down on a few keys, listening to the differences in tone. He sits in the doorway and slightly tilts his head waiting for her to acknowledge his presence.

    But she is too engulfed in the music she is trying to play to notice the Dane mix watching her. She left the tarp partially covering the piano to muffle the notes so no one can hear her experiment. She had already learned which notes were which on the white keys and has moved on to figure out the flats from the sharps on the black keys. So far, she understands a black key can be played as a sharp or a flat depending on the chord that starts out the piece, which is the lesson.

    Jazz stops with a finger on a white key when she finally noticed the tinkling tags approaching her. “What do you think?” She asks her only audience member with a smile. The reply is a vigorous tail wagging. “Liar; I suck.”

    With grace matched by a bull, Ace clumsily hops up onto the available space on the bench and gives Jazz a lick on the cheek. She lets out a little chuckle before wrapping an arm around him and scratches his ear. With her free hand, she continues slowly and carefully playing several notes, hoping to train her ears to notice the minute differences. She never notices Bruce occupy the same space Ace stood in a half hour earlier and watch her playing his grandfather’s piano.

    “Keep your fingers straight at the last joint,” he corrects, startling her in the process. Caught in the act, she shoots up from her seat almost knocking Ace off with her and stares at Bruce with wide eyes.

    “Sorry, I just… Um, sorry,” she nervously stutters as she closes the notebook and lowers the lid, covering the ivory keys. “I know I’m not supposed to be in here; I just knew you had a piano… sorry,” she continues as she replaces the tarp.

    “Why?”

    “Uh, I found – er – well, someone left me a few notebooks yesterday, and I thought maybe I could teach myself,” she timidly replies as she collects her things.

    “Who?” He calmly asks.

    “I think-,” she hesitates, worried she would sound crazy if she replies. “I think it was my mom.”

    His eyes twitch with interest as his mind races with thought, but he doesn’t reveal them to Jazz. Instead, he approaches her before pulling the tarp off of the black antique, exposing the instrument in all its glory. He then opens the lid, and presses down on a key.

    “The last joint should never bend,” he proceeds to explain what he had meant earlier. Taking it as an inviting sign, Jazz watches his hand intently before mimicking it herself. “It should look almost like a bear claw so you have more control over the loudness.” Her brows furrow with confusion, prompting him to continue. “Listen.”

    He presses down on the key and the note comes out loud and clear. He pushes down on the same key, but this time with a lot less force and the note comes out lower and softer.

    “Changing the intensity in loudness gives the music a different dimension.” She imitates him as a smile creeps onto her face. “Sit,” he commands and she does. “Keep your back straight.” With his cane, he taps her gently on the back, “feet flat on the floor. Put your fingers on the keys the way I showed you. Now bend your wrists up just a little bit. Keep that pose as you practice your playing.”

    “What do the pedals do?” She asks as she presses the C chord she just learned.

    “Try them.”

    So she does, paying close attention to the changes they create. “How’d you learn all that?” She asks, looking up at the old man.

    “Friends,” is the simple response that reveals little of his worldly travels when he was her age.

    “Do you play?”

    “No,” he replies before asking, “has your friend called yet?” Her fingers slip causing a note to break; she reluctantly shakes her head, the same answer she’s been giving the last two days. “You should have given him a deadline.”

    Jazz rolls her eyes. “Yeah, I can see myself ordering him around after he tells me he helped save my life,” she sarcastically quips.

    “It was his job,” Bruce replies, making Jazz scowl at him.

    “He’s still my friend, though.”

    Bruce sighs, letting the matter drop before asking an unexpected question, “did you make the lasagna in the fridge?”

    “I brought it from home, so I didn’t touch any of your pots and pans,” she defensively replies, thinking she was in trouble.

    “What else can you make?” He asks, not concerned about where or with what she made the food.

    “A whole bunch of stuff; why?”

    “Dinner is in an hour; you might as well make yourself useful since you’re here.”

    “Uh, okay,” she agrees with a raised brow, finding the request strange.

    After replacing the lid over the keys, she follows him out of the music room and down to the spacious kitchen furnished with cooking appliances seldom used. He takes a seat at the kitchen island as he watches her move from cabinet to fridge to cabinet, scoping out the available ingredients. Deciding on a dish, she places a large pot of salted water on the stove; and as she waits for it boil, she starts opening cans of tuna and corn using a manual can opener.

    “It would have been helpful if you had an electric one,” she complains slightly wincing with pain as she struggles with them.

    She opens a bag of frozen peas before dumping them along with the other ingredients into a second pot, drizzles some olive oil, and simmers the heat under it. Bruce watches her quietly, intrigued by how comfortable she seems as she dices the slippery sun dried tomatoes with precision. She sets the blade down halfway through chopping to dump the dry corkscrew noodles into the boiling water, stirs the pears and corn when they sizzle, and returns to dicing all in one fluid movement even though she only has one arm to depend on.

    Aware of Bruce’s eyes on her, Jazz’s gaze flicks between him and the cutting board before asking, “what? Am I doing something wrong?”

    He shakes his head. “You never mentioned you cooked.”

    “Oh,” she softly replies, bringing eyes back down to the shriveled red fruit between her fingers.

    His comment reminds her of how much she hid from them even though she’s been on the team for six months now. She shrugs as she dumps the tomatoes into the pot of peas and corn.

    “I’m not a fan of taking about myself,” she mumbles, but Bruce knows it’s code for fear of attachment.

    It’s something he can sympathize with; after all, he’s had his fair share of failed relationships because of it.

    “It gets easier,” is all the reassurance he can offer her for now, but she’s glad for it nonetheless.

    She shows her gratitude with a small smile before she turns to check on the noodles. Finding them ready, she switches the heat off and drains them using a strainer set in the sink. Moving quickly yet gracefully, she empties a carton of whipping cream into the pea pot, stirs and seasons it with salt, pepper, and mixed herbs, the palm of her hand replacing a measuring spoon without sacrificing the accuracy.

    Once the mixture starts bubbling, she stirs it into the pasta, which was returned to the larger pot. Finding a casserole dish in one of the cupboards underneath the counter, she wipes it down before spreading the tuna noodle mixture in it. Sprinkling some shredded cheese on top, she slides it into the oven to allow the cheese to melt. In the meantime, she cleans up the mess around her, returning the kitchen to its spotless condition.

    Although Bruce has been quiet most of the time, Jazz never found it uncomfortable since she had a task to do; but now that there is nothing left to do but wait for the timer to go off, she finds the silence awkward. She clears her throat and looks down at the dishrag between her hands.

    “I’m having trouble in school,” she finds herself confiding for some reason.

    That talk about opening up more might have had something to do with it. She steals a glance at Bruce and finds he had barely reacted to the statement.

    “What kind of trouble?” He finally asks, reading into her intentions.

    “I can’t pick a major to switch to.”

    “Why are you switching?”

    She shrugs. “Turns out I don’t like psychology.”

    “Then drop out.”

    “No; I want to graduate, get a degree, a good job,” she explains, before quietly adding, “I want to make my dad proud.”

    “What have you majored in before?” He asks, not minding the advisor role he has to play. He’s done the same for Terry, so why not her?

    “Business, government, communications; they were all a bust. The only good thing out of them was completing my core requirements.”

    “Have you tired any that relate to hobbies?”

    “I don’t think they have Bat studies as a major yet,” she quips, earning a look of indifference. “No,” she sighs. “You have something in mind?”

    He shrugs. “Culinary arts? Restaurant management?”

    She scrunches her face. “I like the whole cooking thing, but I’m not in love, if you catch my drift.”

    “If you want to dedicate your studies to something meaningful, then try figuring out what that is,” Bruce replies, making her stop and think

    He has a point; after all, isn’t college all about finding who you are? Feeling somewhat reassured, she gives him a small smile just before the time goes off. She pulls out the bubbling casserole dish and sets it down on the counter before Terry, as if on cue, walks into the kitchen, freezing by the door when he notices the two occupants’ eyes staring at him.

    “Uh, hi?” He tentatively greets.

    He expected Bruce to be taking his nap around now and Jazz anywhere but the manor. Quickly getting over his surprise, he moves to the utensil drawer and picks out a fork. After tossing his jacket and keys on one end of the counter, he takes a seat beside Bruce, pulls the dish towards him and digs in without waiting for an invitation. After a couple of mouthfuls, he realizes the two are still staring at him.

    Switching his gaze between them, he swallows his bite. “What?”

    “How is it?” Jazz asks.

    “It’s not burnt.”

    “Meaning?”

    “It’s good,” he hesitantly replies raising a brow. “Am I missing something here?”

    “Nope, enjoy.” Giving him a quick smile, she leaves the kitchen and heads back to the music room.

    “What’s with her?” Terry turns to Bruce.

    “What makes you think something’s wrong?”

    “I hate your secret fan club meetings sometimes,” Terry complains, rolling his eyes. He returns to eating his dinner. “What do we have tonight?” He asks between mouthfuls.

    “Teenagers are planning to raid a gas station, and security will unknowingly need some help transporting someone to Arkham. Eat slower or you’ll give yourself indigestion.”

    “No time.”

    “Make time.” Terry passes him a look before slowing down and actually chewing his food.
     
    #33 SilentBat18, Jun 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  14. Theking

    Theking Very cute Lego Babe.

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    First of all Sorry I have been gone for a while. Arrrgh work sometimes.

    But way to go on these last posts, you know I hang on every word trying to figure out what you have all rattling around in your head.

    Keep up the great writting as I just love to read it.

    TheKing.
     
  15. aiwac

    aiwac Member

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    I am really enjoying this story. The characters are well-rounded and believable and the pacing's great. :)

    One very minor quibble (it's the chess geek in me :D)...The term for surrounding and trapping the king is 'mating net'. A 'fork' is a move threatens two or more pieces at the same time.

    Keep up the great work!

    aiwac
     
  16. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Her pen rapidly taps against her notebook with frustration as she stares at the university’s brochure. She had drawn a line through every major she didn’t like, but after a few minutes, more than half the brochure has been scratched out. She’s hesitant about scratching off any more in fear that she’ll never find a suitable area of study. Luckily, her ringing phone offers a much-needed distraction, and her arm gratefully shoots forward to fetch it.

    “Hello?”

    “Guess who?” A familiar and much anticipated voice asks. “I got what you need, but not what you want.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “I’ll explain over dinner tonight; I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes,” he coolly offers.

    “Sorry, I don’t have the time.”

    “Did you forget I could tell when you’re lying?” The rhetorical question makes her smile.

    “Where are you taking me?”

    “Nowhere fancy, just our favorite diner.”

    “You mean your favorite diner,” she corrects before hearing him laugh.

    “I know you liked it, too.”

    “Yeah, cause you always paid.”

    “And how does that not make it your favorite too?

    “I see our point.”

    “So where can I pick you up from?”

    “How bout I just meet you there since I know where it is?”

    “You sure?”

    “I wasn’t paralyzed, Tank; I’ll see you soon.” She hangs up and throws her sling around her neck before making her way to the nearest subway station.

    She takes her time walking to the diner so she could enjoy the chilly Gotham breeze blowing though the dimly lit streets, reminding her of the adventurous nights she shared with Henry and his gang almost seven years ago. She had met him by chance, and he had recruited her simply because she was small enough to crawl through air vents in the buildings they broke into. It didn’t take long for the members of the gang to welcome her as a part of them, and even faster for Henry and Jazz to form a particularly special bond.

    Henry had taught her how to defend herself, to fight back with savvy and efficiency even though size wasn’t on her side at the time. Although they never shared names or details, Henry was one of the very few people she trusted at the time. Their three-year friendship out-lasted any other relationship she ever had, and she knows that if she hadn’t moved, they never would have parted ways.

    Reminiscing about the years they shared brings a bashful smile to her face. He was the best thing that ever happened to her and the only reason she was able to survive the last few years in group homes. She owes him more than her life, but she knows his easygoing nature would never allow her to pay him back. Given how meaningful their relationship was to her, Jazz mentally kicks herself for being too afraid to seek him out after her return to Gotham almost four years ago.

    She was too attached to the new life she created, the one she desperately wished for, to accept the fact that Henry’s friendship was much more valuable than these empty dreams. The realization hits her as she nears the diner marked with neon signs and a chalkboard with daily specials written on it. She breathes a sigh as she lets go of the regret and stares at the establishment where her best and only real friend waits for her, happy to finally be reunited. With her nose and cheeks turning a light shade of red from the cool breeze whipping around her, she opens the door and steps in, looking for that familiar twenty-six year old with the short, golden blond locks.

    She finds him seated in the booth they always occupied back in the day, his arms spread across the back of the bench and blue eyes staring right at her with a smile on the lips framed by his goatee.

    The way he stares at her, head slightly tilted and gaze once again running over her figure, makes her blush. It suddenly reminds her of the crush that was budding all those years ago, halted by the separation she had to suffer; but now she can’t stop it from blooming despite the mental reprimand she gives herself as she makes her way over to him. It seems one can’t simply outgrow a schoolgirl crush that easily.

    “You’re blushing,” he states with a stretching smile.

    “No I’m not,” she counters. “There was a cold wind when I was walking over.”

    “Uh huh,” he replies, unconvinced. “I already ordered for you,” he explains when the waitress sets down two cups of coffee.

    “Well looky here, if it isn’t my two favorite people. How long’s it been?” The waitress asks with a warm smile. Although the wrinkles on her pasty face have deepened over the years and streaks of white mixed with her usually short, red hair, Jazz and Henry still recognized her and returned the smile.

    “Hey, Maggie,” Jazz greets.

    “Look at you all grown up,” the waitress gushes as though Jazz is her own flesh and blood. “And you still hide your pretty face behind those bangs of yours,” she lightly scolds, noting the dark bangs sweeping across Jazz’s face and shading her eyes. “How many times have I told you to pin those back, young lady?”

    “Enough times to ignore it,” she replies still smiling.

    “I see you still manage to get yourself in trouble,” Maggie says on a more serious note as she nods to the sling.

    “Oh, no; it’s nothing; just a sprain.” Jazz knows it’s easier to fool Maggie than Henry, so she isn’t surprised when she watches her face relax with reassurance.

    “I guess I don’t have to tell you to be more careful next time; I don’t want to sound like a parrot.”

    “You never do.”

    “You’re food’ll be ready in about ten minutes, hon,” she announces with a smile before walking away to tend to another table.

    “I can’t believe she still remembers us,” Jazz confesses with her eyes still on their old friend.

    “Who could forget you?” Henry replies, making Jazz raise a brow at her friend.

    “What?”

    “You stood out as a kid; don’t tell me you never realized that,” he elaborates. “What did you think I meant?”

    “Nothing,” she quickly replies as she pours some cream into her coffee.

    He lowers his arms and rests his elbows on the edge of the table as he watches her pour some cream into his own mug. She still remembers how many packets of Sweet-and-Low he has with his cup: one and a half. After adding his fake sugar, she pours the rest into her own coffee and mixes both mugs.

    “Thanks,” he says after she taps the spoon a couple of times on the rim of his mug. He takes a careful sip and smiles with nostalgia. “Just like old times.”

    “Speaking of old times, how are the guys?” It happened that she was the only girl in their close-knit gang of thieves.

    “All over the place doing what they do best.” She raises a skeptical brow. “Technically their talents are legal.”

    Although still hesitant, she nods with approval as she remembers the talents that made each one of them unique. Other than being small, Jazz shined when it came to pickpocketing, while Henry had the head for planning and the endless connections he built in the criminal world.

    “We should put together some kind of reunion,” he goes on to say. “It would be sweet once they know you still exist.”

    “I thought you kept tabs on me after our unfortunate parting.”

    “They didn’t, and they didn’t know I did.”

    “Why didn’t you tell them?”

    He shrugs. “Wouldn’t have mattered anyway. We parted ways a month after you were gone.”

    “How come?”

    “Too many differences,” he replies with a shrug. “God, I just want to see the look on Keys’ face when he sees you,” he adds. Keys was one of his oldest and best friends; he also helped Henry put the group together back when they had first met. “He was so pissed when you got caught. He actually planned to spring you out; but I managed to talk him out of it, since it was too risky and we didn’t have the means to do so.”

    “What about the triplets?” She asks, referring to the set of identical triplets, each with their own unique talent.

    “Two of them are married believe it or not.”

    “No way! Aren’t they like twenty-four though?”

    “Yup; one of them has a kid on the way.”

    “Wow; good for them,” Jazz says with a smile.

    “Alright, kids,” Maggie returns with two plates of food. “Scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and white toast for the blond gentleman, and sunny-side up with bacon and pancakes for the lovely lady.” She sets the food down and gives them a smile. “I saved the last slice of banana cream pie for you to share once you’re done,” she adds with a wink before walking away.

    “I love her,” Jazz comments out loud making Henry chuckle. He reaches for the salt and pepper shakers and sprinkles them first over Jazz’s food then on his.

    They eat in silence for a few minutes before Henry clears his throat. “I only have one name,” he quietly explains as he stares at his half eaten eggs. Jazz looks up at him waiting for him to continue. “Two people were involved in the accident, but they didn’t plan it.”

    “How sure are you?”

    “My sources are never wrong,” he states looking at her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t find anything else.”

    “No, don’t be. What you have is more than enough; trust me.”

    Giving her a nod, he continues. “One of them is Max Hemming, but before you ask, I have no idea where he is. Whoever set this up knew what they were doing and left no traces behind.”

    “We can track him, don’t worry.”

    We?” Henry inquires with a raised brow.

    “My friend.”

    “That’s not what I meant. There’s no we, Jazz, it’s just the police. This is too dangerous for you.”

    “Are you seriously giving me this lecture?” She asks clearly annoyed.

    “Don’t pull off that heroics **** on me. I don’t want you putting yourself in harm’s way especially in your condition,” he nods in her shoulder’s direction.

    “God, are you listening to yourself? I’m not twelve anymore; I know the risks and I’m willing to take them.” She manages to keep her voice down so as not to attract any attention, but her glare only intensifies surprising her old time friend. “You sound just like him,” she adds, remembering the arguments she has had with Terry over the same issue. “I was hoping to get a little more support from you.”

    After studying each others’ features, Henry finally gives in, not because of her compelling argument, which hasn’t affected his decision in the least, but because he doesn’t want to let her down. He always had faith in her, so there is no reason to doubt her now. Letting out a defeated sigh, he eases into the bench.

    “I got your back. If you need me for anything, just call.”

    Relieved, she gives him a thankful smile. “This means a lot to me, Henry.”

    “Just promise you’ll be careful,” he adds without hiding the worry in his eyes.

    “How many times have you said that to me? Like a hundred and three?” She jokes, lightening the mood once more.

    “They go in one ear and out the other with you. I don’t know why I even waste my breath,” he replies rolling his eyes.

    They talk and eat for the next two and a half hours, occasionally attracting curious looks when they burst into laughter from stories they revisit. She forgot just how easy it is to be around her friend, and she’s grateful fate has brought them back together. Another reason to love Gotham that much more. Maggie picks up their empty plates and serves them the single slice of pie she promised, placing it in the middle of the table along with two forks.

    “Thanks, Maggie,” Henry says with a never-ending smile.

    “Best way to thank me is with a generous tip, hon,” she jokes giving him a wink as she walks away.

    As Jazz picks up her fork, a content smile draws her lips back before she digs into the crusty dessert. “What’s that grin about?” Henry asks as he imitates Jazz and cuts out a bite size piece.

    “Just remembering how this became a weird tradition.”

    “People having dinner or the pie thing?” Jazz rolls her eyes at his lame response. “Yeah, I remember too.”

    “After my first heist.”

    “I took you out to eat,” Henry continues for her.

    “We had breakfast at three in the morning.”

    “I thought I would treat you to a slice of pie.”

    “We both liked banana, but there was only one slice left.”

    “And you shared it with me,” Henry finishes giving her a small but warm smile, making her blush again. “Gonna blame that one on the cold breeze again?” He asks just when she turns away in hopes to hide her face.

    “Shut up.”

    “I didn’t say anything!” He protests still grinning. “But care to tell me why you keep turning a lovely red every time I do talk?”

    “I do not,” she scowls at him.

    “Yeah you do. See! Right there; red again.”

    “That’s cause you’re pissing me off.”

    Rolling his head to the side, he scoffs. “We’ve had fights way worse than this, but you always kept your cool like a pro regardless of how pissed you got. This though, isn’t even an argument.”

    “What are you expecting me to say then?”

    He opens his mouth to say something, but changing his mind, he quickly closes it a second later and rolls his eyes. “Never mind,” he mutters.

    “No, say what you wanted to say.”

    He hesitates before complying. “I expected you to speak your mind, not hide like a coward. I don’t see a reason for you to start keeping secrets from me now.”

    “Who said I’m keeping secrets?”

    “Jazz,” he lightly scolds, watching her take a bite of pie. “I have an idea why you blush so much; I was just hoping you could confirm it,” he adds.

    “Oh, yeah? Enlighten me,” she challenges with a smirk.

    But her smile instantly disappears when he reaches across the table and takes her hand in his. He flips it palm side up and begins slowly stroking it in a number eight pattern. She isn’t sure if it was the fact that Henry is the one stroking her or the actual act itself that brings back the fluttering feeling in her stomach.

    He isn’t looking at her as he continues to stroke her palm. “I’m assuming, actually more like hoping, you would be blushing meaning my hunch about you having a little crush on me is right. What would be interesting is to see you prove me wrong.”

    He looks up at her and a victorious grin spreads across his face. Her face, just as he predicted, turns a flattering shade of red before she tries hiding it by looking away. She pulls her hand away and hides it under the table, inconspicuously touching the palm he caressed seconds ago.

    “What are you embarrassed about?” He asks leaning back and spreading his arms across the back of the bench.

    “Why would you want me to confess to something like that?” She asks, still shying away from him. She wishes there was somewhere to just hide and get away from those charming blue eyes.

    “I’ve never known you to act like this, Jazz,” Henry comments, surprisingly with a little concern. “You’ve changed; no, something’s changed and I’m not sure what.”

    “I think dinner’s over now,” she quietly states. She reaches for her money but Henry raises a hand in protest.

    “Let’s keep up with tradition.” He slides his card in the built in slot and watches his friend stand before rushing to the door. “Woah, hold up,” he calls after her and quickly follows suit.

    He grabs her elbow right after they step out of the diner, forcing her stop. To keep the wind from stealing the warmth from her jacket, she wraps her good arm around herself, hoping the evening will end without incident. Her eyes blankly stare in the direction of her apartment; but Henry, too stubborn to let the strange behavior go, lifts her chin with a finger and brings her gaze to lock with his.

    “You know what I liked most about you?” He asks, hoping the self-disclosure will repair the damage the earlier comment might have inflicted. “That unforgettable attitude of yours. You used to tell it like it was without sugar coating anything. But that was the case when it came to anyone who wasn’t you. In the three years we were together, you never let your guard down, and given the time, I didn’t let it bother me. But now I know who you are and I understand why you were so bottled up, so you don’t need to hide anymore. Whatever it is, I won’t let it drive me away.”A hand gently cups her cheek filling her with the reassurance she’s been starved of for so long. As though sensing the effect his touch has on her, he pulls her closer and whispers, “I’m never leaving you again, Jazz.”

    They stand in the cold wind for a moment, gazing at one another before Jazz breaks the silence with a question. “Do you want to walk me home?”

     
    #36 SilentBat18, Sep 4, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  17. Theking

    Theking Very cute Lego Babe.

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    I love this STORY!!!!!!

    You just don't post enough. :D

    The flow is going very well with these posts.
     
  18. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    With a relieved smile, Henry allows Jazz to lead the way. As they slowly head down the sidewalk, Jazz gently nudges him with a shoulder and smiles up at him, prompting him to gladly wraps an arm around her and pull her close to keep her warm. Content with the silence only friends find comfortable, they fall in step with each other, the corners of their eyes stealing glimpses now and again.

    “Chicago sucked, you know,” Jazz confesses, comfort radiating through her because of Henry’s embrace.

    “That’s not what I heard,” he replies, making her raise a brow. “Apparently you earned a reputation of being an expert lock picker,” he explains, making a modest grin stretch on her face.

    “Yeah, but I didn’t know anyone worth sharing the spoils with,” she replies.

    “Couldn’t meet anyone as awesome as me?” He quips, making her chuckle. “So why’d you screw it up over there?” He asks on a more serious note and causing her eyes to lower to the ground.

    “Like you don’t know,” she mutters, figuring if Henry can find out so much about her in a city a thousand miles away, then he must know the full story.

    Realizing Jazz is smarter than he gives her credit for sometimes, he lets a sigh escape him. “They were a nice couple, you know,” he replies.

    “No they weren’t. They pitied me, thinking adopting the troubled teen and turning her into a model citizen was doing me a favor. I wasn’t a charity case.”

    “You had a chance a lot of kids would have killed for.”

    She shakes her head. “Not me. I’d rather hoof it in another orphanage than be a missionary couple’s project. What about you? Why’d you ditch Gotham after my arrest?”

    He kneads the back of his neck with his free hand as he groans in reply. “Keys and I had a falling out,” he hesitantly explains, bringing his arm down and stuffing his hand in a pocket.

    “What?” Jazz asks with surprise. Keys and Henry had known each other years before she met them, so she never expected the two to end up fighting. “What happened?”

    “Remember how I said he was planning on springing you out?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Uh, well, he was more than ready to do it,” Henry continues, wincing at the memory of the fight. “It earned me a black eye, but I managed to talk him out of it.”

    “Woah,” she quietly gasps, disbelieving the effect the arrest had on Keys, the one person who seemed indifferent about what happened to her.

    “With the gang split up and at each others’ throats, I knew we were done. My dad lived in Bedford at the time, so I decided to move in with him after college.”

    “What brought you back?”

    A bashful grin crosses his lips. “I – uh – met someone.”

    “You are just a bag full of surprises,” she replies with an amused grin.

    “Well, you’re gonna love this cause I got a few more. We met in my capstone class and I applied to St. Michael’s School of Medicine because of her.”

    “That serious?”

    He shakes his head. “Way more than that. We – uh – got engaged couple years ago.” He watches her eyes grow with surprise. “Told you.”

    “So what happened?”

    “My lab partner happened,” he replies, and she winces on his behalf.

    “She cheated on you?”

    “Pretty much. They dropped out of med school and moved to California last year.”

    “So, uh, are you okay?” She carefully asks.

    He looks down at her with warm eyes that make her blush again. “More than okay,” he replies, smiling at her reaction and pulling her closer.

    However, before anything else could be said, Jazz hears a faint meow that grabs her attention when they cross by a dark alley. She stops to listen more carefully and when the unmistakable sound repeats, she leaves Henry’s side to investigate. She disappears into the shadows for a moment before reappearing with a grin on her face and a kitten cradled in her arms. Rolling his eyes at her, Henry walks up to her side.

    “You can’t be serious,” he starts, making her giggle.

    “Oh come on, at least this time I’m not going to beg you to take him,” she argues, reminding him of the time when she found a stray cat scavenging for food by the orphanage.

    She took it upon herself to sneak it food every night, and when the caretaker realized what Jazz was doing, she threatened to call animal control. Desperate to save it, she begged Henry to take it in, but he refused; luckily though, Keys came to the rescue and adopted the black cat more for Jazz’s sake than the feline’s. This time though, she’ll be able to rescue the scrawny tabby herself.

    “You can’t keep him, Jazz,” Henry starts.

    “Says who?” She asks as she scratches the top of the kitten’s head.

    “It’s a stray, probably flea bitten and mangy,” he counters, making it clear he’s not a cat person.

    “The more reason to bring him with me. I mean, look at him, Henry; he needs me,” she tries convincing him.

    It’s hard not to pity the emaciated kitten in her arms; so knowing he won’t be winning this argument, he sighs and says, “at least take him to the vet first.”
    Smiling with glee, she takes his hand and pulls him across the street. “Come on, I know a 24 hour one around the corner.”
    -----*****-----​

    It’s a ten-minute walk to the busy vet’s office, and with the kitten safely tucked in Jazz’s jacket, the two approach the front desk.

    “Evening,” Henry starts.

    “How can I help you?” The receptionist dressed in a pair of puppy covered scrubs asks.

    “We got a sick cat here.”

    “Well you’ve come to the right place,” she replies with a tired smile. She pushes away a strand of brown hair as she turns to her monitor. “Have you been here before?”

    “No.”

    “Ok, so we’ll start a new file on the little critter. Here’s some paper work for you to fill out, but can I have your name?”

    “She’s the owner, so Jasmine Douglas,” Henry answers as he nods in his friend’s direction, who is preoccupied with soothing the kitten.

    “And the cat’s name?” The receptionist asks lifting her surprised brown eyes to stare at Jazz.

    “Uh,” Henry stutters, turning to Jazz.

    “Zee,” she quickly replies, looking up. “He’s a stray but I’m keeping him.”

    Not surprised by Jazz’s decision, the brunette smiles at her as she processes the information in her computer.

    It wasn’t long before they were called to an examination room to meet with Dr. Wikard, a tall, moustache-wearing man in his mid-fifties. A few hours later, an upper respiratory infection is diagnosed and a prescription is made out along with instructions to care for him.
    “What are you studying, by the way?” Dr. Wikard asks Jazz before they have a chance to leave the exam room.

    “Me?” Jazz asks surprised by the question. “I’m kind of undecided.”

    “Ever thought about veterinary sciences?” He asks with a smile that seems familiar.

    “Uh, why?” She stutters, her eyes narrowing in thought as she tries to remember if she knows him.

    “Just a thought,” is the nonchalant response. “Nothing to lose if you look into it. You go to Gotham State?” She nods once. “If you’re interested in checking out a program, just come by my office; here’s my card.” He adds with a smile.

    Taking the card from his hand she returns a careful smile. “Um, thanks. We pay up front, right?”

    “You know what, don’t worry about it. Just promise me you’ll look into the program.”

    “Seriously?”

    “The tech up front already knows; she also has the prescription ready. I’ll see you next week for a follow up.” He holds the door open for the two confused clients.

    “Um, yeah,” Jazz hesitantly replies before walking out.

    When she goes to pick up the medicine at the front desk, Henry’s wandering eyes find a small plaque hanging behind the nurse’s desk which reads: “A plaque of appreciation to the generous donation made by World Chemistry, without which we cannot continue saving the lives of beloved pets.” Under the plaque hangs a bulletin board over flowing with papers, but in one corner is a pinned picture partly covered by a blood donation flier.

    “Can I look at that picture over there?” Henry asks the receptionist.

    “Oh that?” She takes it down and hands it over. “Oh wow, I forgot that was even there.” Taking a closer look, Henry recognizes the three people in the old photo. “I bet you’re too young to recognize--”

    “That’s Andrew Douglas and Ethan Garvin,” he interrupts.

    Jazz whips her head around at the mention of her father’s name and stares at the picture in Henry’s hands. It’s an old picture of Andrew, Ethan and Dr. Wikard standing by the newly erected plaque.

    “I’m surprised you know them,” the nurse smiles. “But I’m sure you do, Miss Douglas.” Jazz turns to the examination room where Dr. Wikard still stands at the door, smiling at her.

    “We’re the only privately owned vet in Gotham that treats strays for free, not to mention cut the cost for families who can’t afford the bills. Your father donated two million dollars to keep us from going bankrupt. It was more than enough to keep the business going, so you could imagine how devastated we were when we found out that… you know. I’m sorry it happened.”

    A moment of silence follows, one filled with respect and gratitude.

    “You’re always welcome here, hon,” the receptionist continues when Jazz turns back to her. “We’ll see you next week.” Saying their last good-byes, they head out and reach her apartment in a few minutes.

    “Never realized you were so popular,” Henry starts, taking his jacket off and making himself comfortable on her couch. Jazz lays Zee down on his lap despite his objection and makes her way to her room.

    “And I did?” She calls from her room, “anyway, thanks for tagging along.”

    “No need for that,” he replies, staring down at the kitten curled on his lap. Hearing him purr so contently makes it hard for him not to scratch the tiny head with a finger.

    “I knew you liked him,” Jazz says after emerging from the room.

    He rolls his eyes at her grinning face. “Don’t get used to it. It’s just the doctor in me sympathizing with the ill.”

    “Sure,” she unconvincingly replies as she takes a seat beside him. She watches him pet the cat, moving his finger from the top of the cat’s head to his cheek and smiling when Zee purrs louder.

    “So – uh – you think the vet was right?” She quickly asks, eyes fixed on the purring kitten.

    “About the infection? It’s unethical for me to diagnose a cat.”

    “Henry,” she scolds.

    “Where’d your sense of humor go?” He scowls before sighing. “Yes, I think you should do it. You said you’ve been wanting to change your major, so why not vet school?”

    She gives it some thought, figuring majoring in biology won’t push her graduation date back and she’ll be able to start Gotham U’s veterinary science program the fall after graduation. Her eyes move to the cat snoozing on Henry’s lap, smiling when his seemingly content face warms her with optimism.

    “You made up your mind?” Henry asks, bringing her attention back.

    “I did,” she replies, picking her cat up and cradling him in her arms.

    “Good,” he smiles before catching a glimpse of the time. “Well, I hate to end the evening, but my shift starts in six hours. You busy tomorrow night?” He asks as he rises.

    “Maybe.”

    “Maybe?” He raises a skeptical brow.

    “Don’t ask. I’ll let you know around seven.”

    “That’s fine.” He bends down and lifts her chin with a finger before placing a gentle peck on her cheek. Pulling away, a charming smile spreads across his face. “Night,” he whispers, while caressing her cheek with a thumb before he lets go of her.

    Blushing for the last time that night, she grins as she watches him head out the apartment, excitedly anticipating the next time they will get to see each other.

     
    #38 SilentBat18, Sep 17, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2012
  19. aiwac

    aiwac Member

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    Welcome Back :)!

    I really like the way the plot and characters flow so naturally.

    Keep up the good work.

    aiwac
     
  20. Theking

    Theking Very cute Lego Babe.

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    I am just totally loving Jazz's dad more and more. ;-)

    Just one thing:

    Did Henry lose that kitten twice?

    Quote:
    Once she hands him the old photo, she takes the kitten from his lap and sits on the other end of the couch. “Did you try looking for it?”

    And

    “Four AM already. My shift starts in six hours,” he announces as he stands and hands Jazz the kitten. “You busy tomorrow night?”
    :End Quote

    I can't say enought on how well you flow your story, I read it at different speeds just like I think you had in mind.

    Ok, I want to see Terry being Jealous. :evil:

    TheKing
     

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