Disclaimer: I do not own DC. If only I had some Lex Luthor-esque plot/scheme to take it from right under their noses. But then again, if I were capable of that, why would I stop at just DC?

Why not the world?

Chapter 2: Almost Easy

Entering his apartment in the early morning, Max dropped his workout bag on the floor by the door and locked it behind him. The local gym wasn't the most technical place to get faster and stronger, but he wasn't expecting a space-age set-up. He didn't really need it either.

A 225 bench wasn't twice his body weight, but in his opinion it wasn't too shabby either, and a 300 pound squat worked for him for the time being. He didn't figure he'd be able to ever lift that much in any capacity, even if squatting let you pick up more than he otherwise could.

In the weeks after his encounter with Robin and Batgirl he hadn't tried to take anything, only to prepare as best as he could for the next time out where he'd give things another try. He wasn't in another hurry to get his butt kicked all over town and he didn't have a need to take the risk yet either.

There was no need to take anything else any time soon. There was a market for authentic sports memorabilia, and the Gotham Knights were in the middle of their best season in twenty years. He hadn't even had to leave town to find someone willing to buy those right up from him on the internet.

Worrying about rent, worrying about food and keeping the lights on was a thing of the past, for now at least.

But it would come up again, and come up soon. And he wasn't looking to keep stealing for subsistence. Max wanted enough money stockpiled to actually take a chance on having a normal life. Maybe he could find some sort of dream to chase? With enough money, even if he failed it wouldn't lead to many negative consequences. At least that was the idea.

Flicking on the lights in his bathroom, Max looked over the large ugly bruise covering the right side of his torso under his arm. It hadn't stopped him from going to the gym though. Robin and Batgirl had handed him his ass the month before. He'd kept up training, but not to a degree of trying to improve.

They didn't have suits that boosted their abilities and they were still stronger, faster, and more skilled than he'd ever dream to be. But they managed to do it. If he was going to run into them again he had to find some way to close the gap. Using the suit in of itself as a crutch wasn't a good plan.

It was an awesome suit, but it was only as good as the guy inside of it was. Who cared if the suit made him twice as strong or however strong it made him if he could barely lift his own body weight over his head? Who cared if the suit made him faster if he couldn't even run a 4.5 forty-yard time? And none of that mattered at all in combat if he didn't even have a feel for fighting in the first place.

All he could do was work on it and get himself some field practice.

Said field practice put a grin on his face. There was more to it than just getting into spars with safety equipment on at that gym he paid to go to.

There were tons of people to test himself with for real. Gotham City had lots of criminals spoiling for a fight to prove they were tough or bad. Even hurt, he could take down a thug thinking that a kid who scuffed his shoe needed to be taught some respect. It was so easy to start a fight in that town, it made Max wonder if there was something in the air or the water that brought out the dark side in people.

Probably him too, since he was knowingly provoking these encounters even by playing dumb.

He hated lifting, he hated stamina exercises, but as it turned out he loved fighting with his hands, or at least learning how to fight with them. The differences the slightest placement or differing motion of one's body could present to an attack was enrapturing. And actually finding out from fighting that if things he'd learned were working was addictive.

It definitely helped him learn more about the suit, as he'd just throw it on underneath some clothes whenever he wanted some field practice. Apparently when he hit someone it would actually stun them, and not just from the impact. A blow from him was augmented with weak stun-gun properties. It was the best way he could describe it to himself.

Once again though, it didn't make any sense. None of it did. There were no sources of power built into the suit to let it achieve its processes.

"Mom and Dad's suit," Max said to himself, observing the outfit that had helped him more than he could ever give credit to. Even as he held a large ice pack to his ribs, "What did you make this for?" What he wouldn't have given for some sort of instruction manual.

Or any kind of idea as to how it worked would have been just fine too. As far as he knew, he just put it on, and he became better than himself. Faster, stronger, more agile… he even felt smarter.

And that made him realize that not knowing what made his equipment tick was a very unadvised course of action. For all he knew it could fail on him at the worst possible time.

Whatever. He didn't plan on being Null again anytime soon. There wasn't any use worrying about it now. The answer was probably somewhere in the house mixed in with all of the stuff that his parents had scribbled up or saved on a hard drive.

As of right then, school beckoned.


The good thing about finding oneself estranged from the students at one's school, no one really cared enough to question if anything was wrong when you walked around with a bit of a limp.

Oh, Mika. He hadn't had a relevant conversation with that guy in a while. Wow. He didn't even remember the guy's last name. That was either pathetic or scary.

"Quinn might have made a mistake man," Mika said, leaning against the desk with a grin, "…Keeping her party open like that. That's trouble. You're going this time?"

Of course he was going. It was the sort of thing he'd been fighting for the ability to actually go and do after all. He wasn't going to spend a Saturday night working his tail off while something cool was going on for once. He was just surprised that he'd kept enough casual acquaintances to warrant an invite to a party for once.

Max couldn't wipe the grin off of his face, leaning forward and setting his chin on his arms folded on his desk. It was too far to bend without feeling the strain on his damaged frame, causing him to wince and sit up as if he were burned.

"You alright?"

Max was hardly able to cover for his little jolt of movement easily enough behind a laugh, "Yeah, it's just good to have the weekend off for once."

Being a thief had turned out to be a good idea, painstaking lengths he had to go to in order to get the job done aside. The work was harder and vastly more perilous, but at least it didn't take up all of his waking moments. He could actually have a life again.

For once, Max remained wide awake all day in all of his classes. It felt good to be up for once in life again.


(Later That Afternoon - Batcave)

With a yawn, Barbara rubbed her eyes and closed her schoolbook, having finished her homework. In the time it took for night to fall and patrols to start, all you really had to do was stay on the lookout for the bigger happenings. That left plenty of time to see to mundane day-to-day activities, like school assignments.

Bruce was out and Tim was on his way back from school even then, leaving her alone manning the watch of the city in the meantime.

Well, not as alone as she could have been.

"Kara, Bruce is going to kick your ass if he finds you in here," Barbara said, feeling another presence hovering around out of her sight. Despite the content of her words, her tone was light as she smiled, "…Super or not."

Floating in front of her line of sight, an upside-down teenage girl with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes lowered herself. She wore a blue miniskirt with a yellow belt, and a blue skintight long-sleeved shirt high enough to show most of her torso. On her back, a flowing red cape, and on her feet, high red boots. Most importantly, emblazoned across the chest of her shirt was a yellow shield containing a big red 'S', letting the world know who she was.

Superman's sole living relative, Kara Zor-El. Supergirl.

"What do you mean 'if'?" Supergirl said, righting herself in the air in front of Barbara, "He probably knows I'm here right now. Bruce knows everything. All the time."

"Which is why you should know he gets testy about people showing up uninvited."

"Cut me some slack," Supergirl said, hovering around the Batcave aimlessly while Barbara kept watch on all of the surveillance screens, "…I'm bored. So what's new in your neck of the woods?"

The redhead shrugged her shoulders and spun around in her chair to speak to her fellow teenage superhero, "Nothing much really. It's been quiet lately if you can believe it or not," Comparatively anyway, "As quiet as Gotham gets at least."

It was obviously not the answer Supergirl had been looking for. Clark was so overprotective of her, she usually had to leave the bigger baddies to him. Actually, when he found out she was in Gotham City he'd still more than likely chew her out. The man wasn't quick to anger, but when it came to family he was rather stern.

The Man of Steel wasn't exactly fond of Batman's chief stomping grounds either. It was a nasty place to be.

Supergirl sighed and landed on the floor behind the command center, taking a novel look around the vast hideout of Batman and his vigilante associates, "You know that Gotham on its quietest day is still more interesting than Smallville most of the time. Come on. I flew all the way out here. Fill me in would you?"

Barbara rolled her eyes at the way her Kryptonian friend almost seemed to plead for some entertaining story, "Nothing big, like I said. The only thing new is a new thief making the rounds."

"There, that's something. Talk about that. A new one you say?" Supergirl asked, "Are you sure it's not just another criminal from somewhere else?"

"Yep," Barbara said, "Tim and I fought him first. He didn't even have a name for himself until we ran into him. He calls himself Null."

Supergirl raised an eyebrow at the name. It definitely wasn't the most imposing name, but it was nothing if not simple. There was something easy to remember about it, "So if he got away from you and Tim he's got to be some kind of tough, right?"

Quite the contrary.

"Null's totally small time," Barbara said, "He never goes after anything big. He steals things big enough that he'll get paid off of them, but not something so big that it makes Batman take notice, so he tells us it's our problem."

"He wants you to catch him?" It was enough to draw a grin from Supergirl, "What, like a test or something?"

"Null's not worth his time really," Barbara said before grinning, "Tim doesn't like him at all because it's hard to find him. Null steals the weirdest stuff, so it's hard to tell if it's him behind something," Barbara said with a shake of her head, "Apparently, it's always worth good money though."

Supergirl furrowed her brow in thought over the matter. He was brazen enough to try and steal and he'd gotten away from both Batgirl and Robin before. There was obviously something there worth talking about, "He's got to be sort of good, right? He took you guys on."

"Well… that's the thing. He's not that good."

"Then how haven't you caught him yet?"

Barbara chewed on her lip, wondering how to word things. He was odd,

"He might be a metahuman. His reflexes are better than ours, and he's flat-out faster. I've even seen him stick to walls with just his hands and feet," She admitted aloud, "And he's not a genius, but he's no idiot. He at least tries to pick his spots," At that she gestured to Supergirl, "Like right now. Everyone probably knows you're in town, so he's definitely not going to try a thing until he knows you're long gone."

He didn't like fighting with heroes period. There was no chance in hell he was going to test his luck against Superman's cousin. No chance of running away and no chance of winning a fistfight? Null was going to keep his head in his hole until that little bit of trouble passed overhead back out to the Midwest.

Supergirl smirked and laughed a bit, "That's a shame. Gotham City doesn't have many bad guys that aren't old enough to be tried as adults. I kind of wanted to see what one looked like."

And what one acted like. From the sounds of things, he wasn't some kind of detestable crook.

That wasn't the usual fare that one came across in Gotham. Even if he wasn't particularly a threat, normally named criminals of any sort didn't get any sort of favorable retelling after the fact from Barbara. Whoever this Null person was, he obviously didn't upset her too badly during their run-in. He actually seemed in over his head.

"Wait, what he looks like? You can't even see his face under his hood thing," Barbara belatedly pointed out before being met with a cheeky smirk, causing her to remember who she was talking to, "Oh. Nevermind."


(Elsewhere in Gotham City – East End)

An old cash advance had come to the attention of a low-level loan shark working for one of the last remaining old-family mobs left in Gotham. A scowl crossed his face as he looked it over for the tenth time that day.

Two scientists had signed off on a moderate cash loan with his family after they couldn't get one through legal methods from the bank. They seemed to know what they were talking about, and from the sound of their pitch they seemed to have their shit together. They'd showed past credentials with S.T.A.R Labs and other assorted research and development companies, and had guaranteed when they'd finished constructing the idea they had needed the loan to finance, they would quickly repay.

They hadn't seemed to be desperate people. Just very confident that as long as they paid, and they were self-assured that they would have what they needed to pay, there was nothing negative that could befall them. That had been well over a year ago though.

Yes, their time had long since come up, and not a peep out of them. It was time to collect, one way or another.

"Alright, this loan's been pending for fourteen goddamn months," The lender said before lacing his fingers together in front of him on his desk, "Deadbeats. So I asked Boss Galante to send you. The boss says you wasn't doin' nothin', was you Zeiss?"

"Yeah, yeah," A man of average height, Zeiss wore a black suit and red tie, along with a smart black jacket over his clothing. He had slick black hair on the top of his head and wore a pair of high-tech goggles over his eyes, "…Wastin' my time with a stupid collection."

He had to work for his pay like anyone else though, and Pasquale Galante paid well.

"Hey, with the money these folks owe, it's worth it," The loan broker said, holding up a piece of paper before ripping it up, "You ain't doin' it alone neither."

Zeiss sucked his teeth and gave the man a look, "What do you mean I ain't doin' it alone? It's a collection. What the fuck do I need a partner for?"

"Oh, but it's not the kind of collection you're used to," A smooth voice said from the entrance of the office.

At the door, a man leaned against the frame sporting a tall, slender frame, and unique attire. Cloaked in the black robes of old-time tax collectors, he wore a top hat half of his height and a small black mask that covered the upper portion of his face. His hair was wild and shockingly white, and his white teeth were on full display in a wide, maniacal grin.

Zeiss's eyebrows rose up above his goggles as he finally understood why he was going, "Oh, so it's that kind of collection," The kind of collection where there wouldn't be any collecting.

"I'm afraid the subjects of your loan are no longer amongst the living,"

"You killed 'em already?" The loan shark said, "I called for you like an hour ago. That was fast."

The tall man laughed wickedly, shaking his head as he held his hat on top of his head, "No-no-no, they've been dead. Roy and Lena Gabriel. Died less than a year apart, the last one passing over six months ago. Did you know that Roy moved out of their home some time shortly after his wife's death?"

So why did he seem so pleased? That just meant that he didn't have any targets to get rid of.

"Of course, that just means that their son will have to pay their debts instead."

It was understandable enough, but it still didn't explain why two people were needed to kill a kid. Zeiss had better things to do. Batman was still out there somewhere, and he wanted to prove he could take him down. Money talked though, so he kept a steady job. It was almost admirable, "One of us can do this, so pick one."

"It's a scientist's kid. Don't you read nothin'? Chances are, he's either smart as hell, or he's tough enough to give you the runaround," The mob moneylender said, "…I'm sending two just in case. Best case scenario, you get paid for watchin' a kid get shot. Worst case scenario, you have to break his legs so Tally Man can shoot him."

Well when he put it that way, how could he turn it down? It was easy money. The equivalent of otherwise going for a walk. Even if Zeiss didn't fancy himself a hitman, more of a bodyguard really, Tally Man was enough of a psycho where he'd jump into the endeavor merrily.

Looking between his boss's lower collector and Tally Man's grinning form, Zeiss shrugged his shoulders and strode for the exit, hands shoved into his pockets, "Fine. Let's hurry up and get this Gabriel kid,"

It wasn't like a kid would be that hard to find… or kill for that matter.


(With Max – Some Time Later)

It was odd how out of place Max felt upon entering the townhouse that hosted the party he'd looked forward to for days.

He knew a lot of the people there, or at least he did before he had to take on actual responsibility and lost the time to hang around anyone. It was all just an exercise to try and reconnect. People remembered him, so that was something. It was too bad that he had been out of the general loop for so long that he needed to find common ground with someone again.

Still, it wasn't his scene and he knew it. There was the obligatory ill-gotten alcoholic gains that he hadn't been surprised to find had been procured for the party, but he wasn't touching any of that. Drinking wasn't that novel of a concept to him.

What did interest him was that he managed to locate the shock of red hair belonging to his lab partner, "Barbara?" Max said, surprised to actually see her, "What are you doing here?" He hadn't figured a straight-A student to be much for the night scene.

Turning toward him upon hearing the sound of his voice, Barbara reacted in surprise at the sight of him, "Oh, you know. Why not, right?"

She was keeping up appearances as a regular teenager. In reality by the time eleven o'clock rolled around she'd be out of there and changed into her Batgirl gear to patrol. She'd actually been doing an earlier shift before ever even arriving there.

Max gave her a wry grin, crossing his arms over his chest, "You're Commissioner Gordon's kid, and you're at a party where kids are drinking," He said, gesturing his head in the direction of the people holding red cups, "Do you think I could get some money selling that story and some phone pictures to the tabloids?"

Barbara rolled her eyes at the playful threat, "Do it and I'm keeping your name off of our lab papers for the rest of the year."

"It wasn't fair that you felt like you had to in the first place. I'll be helping and doing my own work from now on, don't worry," Max said, feeling quite proud that he was accomplishing exactly what he'd set out to in the first place. This was it, as quaint as it was. He was enjoying himself at a party with a maybe-friend instead of busting his hump mopping floors and restocking shelves at a corner store past midnight.

Who knew that a few burglaries and a beatdown from Robin and Batgirl could change his stars so completely? Daresay, he was happier then than he had been when his parents had both been alive. They hadn't paid much attention to him anyway, and now he knew he was surviving and possibly even thriving off of his own efforts.

His luck was on point tonight. In fact, it was so good, Max felt that it wouldn't have been outside of his range at the moment to try chatting Barbara up. Why not? Sure, she was out of his league, but the way things were going lately, it wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibility to maybe get a date. The worst that could happen would be that she'd shoot him down and he'd no longer be batting a thousand.

"Anyway, I'm not gonna bother you anymore. I should probably get lost before your boyfriend comes over and kicks my teeth in for talking to you," He didn't know if she had a boyfriend or not, but the idea was that assuming that she did would be flattering, and that choosing to back off because of such a thought was respectful, "I've been lucky lately. I don't want to end it like that."

It didn't quite work the way he wanted it to, and he quickly realized that his half-assed vision of the way things were supposed to go had been severely off.

Barbara sent him a slightly dirty look "Max, I don't have a boyfriend," She said, sounding significantly underwhelmed by his attempt at game. She was far too busy for anything like that, and while she didn't want to follow Bruce's example on that front, he sort of had a point, as heroes didn't have very good or safe relationships. Being reminded of that wasn't exactly pleasant, "I don't even know where you would've heard that."

"Really? You don't? I definitely thought you would have," Max's voice came out in a nervous timbre. Something about her scowl put him off more than he figured it should have, "Ugh. Sorry Barb."

His apology was earnest in its intent. He thought she'd laugh at least. He didn't think she'd take offense, and more than anything else it killed his mood that he'd been acting like a gassed-up clown. Who the hell did he think he was, James Bond? Being smooth wasn't his thing. Hell, stealing was barely his thing.

It seemed as if she had to take a moment to thoroughly scan his face before her own expression softened. Maybe she was just that good at reading people? Or maybe he just looked pathetic enough for her to let him off. Man, women were not his thing at all.

The police commissioner's daughter eventually considered that she wasn't staring down a criminal, and Max Gabriel was not a detestable person. He was a few things; confusing being one of them, but he wasn't a loathsome sort, "It's okay. I guess it's partially my own stuff too."

"I didn't want to piss you off. Can I take you somewhere and make it up to you sometime?" He eventually asked, "I told you, I kind of already owe you in the first place for all of the lab stuff, and I did mean that. And now this just makes me feel worse."

She was too good to him normally for it to sit well that he'd offended her at a party.

As weird as it was, since Barbara was nothing more than his lab partner, he talked to her more than he talked to anyone else in his year or at school in general these days. It wasn't worth making her think he was a jerk just because he was feeling like high on life at the moment.

The gorgeous redhead pursed her lips and Max's jaw almost dropped as she seemed to be considering it.

'Someone shoot me now, this can't be happening,' The fortunate youth thought to himself. Barbara Gordon was earnestly thinking about taking him up on his offer. If someone told him that it was his last day on earth, he might not have been able to question it, 'My luck really is turning itself around.'

The front door to the townhouse swung open and everything came to a sudden stop. Even the music shut off as everyone looked to the odd person that had chosen to intrude. It was quite obvious that he wasn't any sort of high school student, junior-year or otherwise.

Whether it was the fact that he stood taller than most high school basketball players, that he had wild white hair, or dressed from a time period a dozen generations back. Any answer could have been correct in that regard.

And the startlingly wide smile on his face that seemed to promise nothing but ill intent didn't do much for anyone's state of mind.

"A moment of your time…" The tall, creepy robed man said, "I'm looking for someone, and those in his building say he headed to this part of town for the evening," Everyone was dead silent, with rapt attention being paid to him, "The sooner I get your assistance on the matter, the sooner I'll be gone and you can return to whatever it was you were doing before. Easy, right?"

Max didn't even know he'd been slipping his way to the back wall until his back pressed flat against the surface. Perhaps it was time to make himself scarce?

When a creepy guy with a slasher/pedophile grin on his face crashed the party, it was time to leave.

"If you could just point out a Maximilian Gabriel for me, I'll be on my way."

Every eye in the house turned Max's way as if he were a giant neon sign that had just turned on. It wasn't quite as damning as the throwing of the Christians to the lions, but the part-time thief probably felt there was some sort of credence to that line of thinking, "…You guys all suck."

The point could not have been emphasized enough for his tastes, even if he possessed a big foam hand that was permanently affixed in flipping every last one of them all the bird.

"Ah, I think I have my target," The Tally Man said before a pair of handguns flew into his hands from his loose, long sleeves. He immediately opened fire with eleven shots at Max through the crowd as the young man darted back through the kitchen. Everyone hit the floor at the sight of the gun before the shooting even started and covered their heads, screaming as Tally Man passed through and gave chase, "Remember kids, sooner or later everybody has to pay the Tally Man! Some sooner than others."

Bursting through the back door, Max dodged all of the outdoor furniture in the backyard without skipping a beat, "Ten seconds. You jerks couldn't give me a fucking ten second head start?" He hadn't been looking for anyone to play the magnanimous hero, but someone could have at least unintentionally stalled the guy by asking why he wanted him.

He barely cleared the top of the brick gate before a shot from a powerful handgun blew apart the portion where his hand had been. If jets had been in Max's backside at that point, he probably couldn't have run through that back alley any faster.

Tally Man hopped the very same wall and caught sight of his prey making a turn at the end of the alley, "Come, come now boy! Running just makes things so much harder for you!" He reloaded one of the revolvers in his possession and kept on with his job.

The fact that he'd somehow missed the boy grated his nerves. He'd emptied both of his revolvers and hadn't hit his mark.

On the roof, Zeiss watched Max slip out of the back and jump the brick wall in the backyard, shaking his head at the sight of the boy trying to run, "Tch. Tally Man couldn't peg that kid inside of the house?" The sound of screams as partygoers spilled out onto the street to run for dear life

Shaking his head, he smirked and started jumping roofs to try and find a place to cut the boy off if Tally Man didn't pump him full of lead first.

From the street, Barbara spared a glance back at the townhouse and narrowed her eyes at the sight of Zeiss taking off in the direction Tally Man had chased Max off in. Luckily since everyone was heading for the hills, she wouldn't be missed when she slipped away and summoned the Batcycle for her gear.

It was just about time for Batgirl to go back on patrol anyway.


Max dug through his pockets as he ran through the back area of a small business section of the neighborhood, finally pulling out his house keys that had two small lockpicking tools attached to the keychain. The very first door he saw quickly found itself forcefully opened. Hopefully it had a silent alarm that would have cops swarming quickly, but he couldn't count on that working out.

Come on lucky streak. Give him a pawn shop. A place with guns and bullets on display behind pickable, locked cages or breakable glass display cases, "Come on easy to steal guns. Come on."

It was dark, but the moonlight from the open door showed him enough. It was a bust. From the overpowering smell of candles and incense and the sight of decorative wall hangings and paint in the back room just waiting to be put out on display he had stumbled into a home decoration store.

Well, the lucky streak was officially dead and buried, 'Hopefully I'm not next,' Max thought to himself, shutting the door behind him and moving out into the front of the store. His backpack had books and the folded-up form of his suit, 'So it's either run and hope I lose him, put on the suit and run, or put on the suit and fight him to make damn sure I lose him.'

The sound of the back door's lock being shot off made the decision for him.

"You really are a zero, boy," Tally Man said, his wide, frightening grin on his face as he slowly crept through the store, searching for Max, "Less than zero really. Your parents' little debt has put you behind the eight-ball before you could even do anything about it."

Max stayed silent and tried to stay away from his line of sight, moving aisle-to-aisle as he tried to keep track of the gunman's movements. He was so tall, and with his hat Max could see him over the tops of the shelves.

From the pitch of the killer's voice, he was heading in the wrong direction anyway. It was the realest version of cat and mouse Max had ever played. Tally Man had already checked behind the counter, so that gave him some time to do what he needed to do if he could just quietly slip back there for a moment. He'd already taken off his shoes and belt to prevent noise, and had his backpack off of his shoulders ready to be opened.

The moment he saw Tally Man's silhouette enter another aisle with things that he could see through, he kept himself low and sprinted down his own aisle, hooking a right at the end of it and sliding behind the counter where he quickly relieved himself of his clothes and slipped into the inactive version of the suit.

Silence was golden, and he'd been taught how to do things without making sounds.

The moment he fastened the suit on tight and felt the familiar static current of it connecting to his body, he almost let out a sigh of relief. If he ever saw Selina again, he was going to kiss that woman, even if it got him beaten to a bloody pulp afterwards.

"It's a shame really, but I'm merely here to collect on what is owed," Tally Man continued, hoping to spook Max out of hiding. People were so jumpy when you threatened them and waved a loaded firearm at them. Go figure, "I'll make it quick if you stop running away. If you don't I'll kneecap you just to make you hold still."

Done suiting up, Null covered his head with his wrap and made his move to sidetrack Tally Man's attention away from his schoolkid alter-ego.

"You and those pea-shooters are making a lot of noise," He said, knowing he was getting the attention of a killer, "I thought you were a cop until I heard you speak up."

That was all it took for Tally Man to drift to the end of an aisle where he found himself staring down some odd young man in a suit with his head loosely covered, "You," He had no idea who the youth was, but knew that he had no business there, "What are you doing here?"

Once again, with his great big idea to get his enemy's notice, Null hadn't thought of a snappy response or logical explanation for his actions and reasoning before making his move. His banter would suffer because of it.

"Uh…" Well, Null was a thief, and they were in a store... of antiques. Two-plus-two equaled-, "I was totally robbing this place before I heard someone, not gonna point any fingers to who, start some soliloquy about useless children and how you should pay your debts. What are you doing here?"

"I can show you what I'm doing here if you'd like," Tally Man had no problems killing whoever he felt like, especially if they were slowing him down.

Null scoffed and verbally derided him in return, "You can go kick rocks 'Donkey Teeth', I was here first," Null said with a snap to his tone, "Go play with little boys on someone else's score. I'm working right now."

Tally Man stared Null down for several seconds before humming to himself in thought, "Hm. Well, I guess this would be faster than talking," The second put his pistols away and pulled out a fully automatic G18 to take aim, Null had already darted off into another aisle before gunfire could rattle out through the storefront, "You owe the Tally Man for his time."

"Holy shit, it's Quaker Oats meets Boondock Saints in this motherfucker," Null said, ducking into an aisle of mirrors that he used to confound Tally Man. His spray of bullets hit nothing but reflective glass and frames, confusing him when there was no more smartmouth burglar to pump full of holes.

Things went quiet other than the sound of broken glass and porcelain crunching beneath Tally Man's feet as he slowly wandered through the store looking for someone to kill. He was after the Gabriel boy, but if he could murder that punk thief first he would have felt so much better first.

The glass on the floor alerted him when Null dropped down behind him looking to put him out. Turning abruptly, grinning maniacally as he did, the barrel of his gun wound up being aimed right in Null's face.


Null turned sideways just enough to avoid getting his brains splattered on the tile floor beneath him. The bullet passed through the open space between his face and his hood comprised of wraps, but left him unscathed.

Grabbing Tally Man's wrist with his opposite hand, he slid his feet across the floor and dropped a heavy backfist strike to his torso that sent him into the nearby shelves, taking down the entire row and everything that had previously stood behind it.

His face underneath his hood was affixed in an expression of fright. One misstep in movement and he'd been a split-second away from certain death. He couldn't block a bullet with his skull, or anything else for that matter.

Tally Man rose back up from the several overturned shelves with an angered sneer on his face, "Someone wants to be a hero, don't they?" Without waiting for a response, he pulled out a submachine gun and opened fire.


Even blocks away, Zeiss could hear the shooting that he assumed Tally Man was engaging in, "Fuck. Call every cop in the precinct down on you why don'tcha?" He said, traveling by rooftop, "If that brat ain't Swiss cheese by now, I'm thinkin' his folks must've been part-alien or somethin'."

Musing to himself about why one stupid kid hadn't gotten himself shot yet, he wasn't able to see the approach from behind until it was too late to do anything.

White and black flashes filled his vision as he hit the rooftop of an apartment building, face-first. He tried to quickly return to his feet, but found his arms and legs bound tightly in a weapon that was familiar to him.

"Batman!" Zeiss spat, finding a bat-shaped shadow towering over his downed for, "Goddamn it, let me go and fight me like a man!" He struggled trying to get up and prove himself the superior fighter as far as Gotham City's underworld went.

He was doubly disappointed when the figure lowered itself from its higher perch and stood right by him.

"Sorry, not Batman," Batgirl said, "So I don't think fighting like a man would fit in this instance. Pretty sloppy Zeiss, leaving yourself open like that," Apparently, that whole 'equal to Batman' thing only applied in hand-to-hand combat.

"Tally Man should have axed that stupid fuckin' Gabriel kid by now! This should've been over, and I'da beat you like the bitch of the Bat you are."

Batgirl narrowed her eyes at the slur and the fact that he was definitely in on the attempt against Max, "But it's not, and you didn't. Your stupid enhancements don't mean a thing when you can't actually see your target. Now where's Tally Man?" She didn't have time to banter with a defeated crook. One assassin was still unaccounted for and she hadn't even seen Max since he'd tried to make a run for it.


The clear sound of distant gunfire put a grin on the face of the Sicilian enforcer. Batgirl cursed under her breath and took off to try and stop the shooting at its source before someone was hurt… or killed.


As he got used to his suit, Null had learned something from increased use of the piece of equipment. When he got that weird static feeling that something was coming at him from a direction he couldn't see, he learned that it was in his best interest to move away from that direction! Because he only had that instance to either avoid a threat altogether, or change something about the way he was moving to keep from getting killed.

Diving through the front window of the antique store seemed like a good idea at the time when he'd done it. It was better than getting shot up by an automatic weapon at least, by far. He landed in a heap in the street, but got back up as quickly as he could upon seeing Tally Man move to the opening to try firing at him again.


Null rolled along the pavement until he had taken himself out of Tally Man's line of sight, causing him to cease fire. The tall shooter jumped out of the open window, grinning more than ever as he seemed to have the upper hand.

Null took cover behind a nearby car, trying to think of a way to solve the problem before him, "Did you ever have one of those days where you could literally feel your luck turn? Like someone had their hand on a dial and twisted it over to complete shit?" He said, flinching at the spray of shots sent his way, "I was having a pretty great night, and then you showed up."

"You certainly like to talk don't you?" Tally Man pointed out, shooting at Null with one hand while single-handedly reloading the gun in his other hand, "You're quite yappy for a boy who's about to die."

"I don't like silence," Null said as more bullets impacted off of the car, some appearing to come closer and closer to him, 'Talking reminds me that I'm not dead yet.'

He ripped the license plate off of the bullet-riddled car and threw it out past the side of the car before getting up and clamoring over the top of the vehicle. Tally Man, shot his automatic at the plate and punched dozens of holes in it before it hit its apex. By that time Null was in the air after having jumped off of the roof of the car.

There wasn't any time to finish aiming his second gun Null's way before he landed right in front of him, grabbing both of his wrists to keep the guns from going inward. With Tally Man's middle wide open, Null lifted his foot and kicked Tally Man right in the family jewels without mercy.

Null swore he'd kicked him so hard he literally lifted off of the ground. At the very least it made him drop his automatic.

With that being done, Null hooked Tally Man in the jaw three times, turning his head and entire body with each punch landed. On the third punch, he stuck his forearm right in his neck and drove him back into the wall of the store they'd previously fought inside.

Null pinned Tally Man against a brick wall by his throat with his forearm, holding the barrel of his adversary's remaining gun right against his stomach. The contact with the palm of Null's hand sent light volts of electricity through him via the suit, enough to actually make his hand spasm. He came just short of shooting himself because of the sensation.

"Go ahead!" Null shouted, "Pull the trigger now!" He rammed his forehead into the taller man's nose and mouth five times, turning them into a bloody mess before stepping back and pulling him in, tripping him to the ground onto his stomach as if he were a kid tripping someone in a classroom aisle.

An award-winning pugilist he was not, but apparently it was enough to batter someone like Tally Man to a pulp when the guns weren't a-blazing. That was just fine with him.

Turning the arm he still held up behind Tally Man's back far enough that he knew without a doubt he had dislocated it, he heard the hitman yell and drop his gun to the ground. Falling forward with all of his weight and force, he pounded the downed man in the back of the head with one punch he put everything he had behind.

Not the most graceful of finishes, but the bastard didn't get up afterwards, which was the only thing that mattered.

Null jumped back up and kicked the gun as far down the street as he could before slapping Tally Man hard on the back of the head, sending his hat flying, "Fuck! You! How about you collect that!?" He bellowed at him, his adrenaline still pumping from a life-or-death situation and remembering the things that Tally Man had said to him before he'd been able to defend himself, "You sure collected that asskicking just now didn't you!?"

That man had pointed a gun at him, both in costume and out, and had tried unscrupulously to outright murder him on several occasions, in front of people. He was still getting used to people just trying to fight with him in general, and now he had just survived attempted murder from a contract killer.

There were no such things as training wheels when it came to crime, at least not in Gotham City.

Hands on his hips as he tried to catch his breath and calm his nerves, Null walked down the sidewalk, prepared to leave. With his back turned to Tally Man, he felt a presence shift and move and turned to fight what he felt would be a continued conflict. Instead he was met by the sight of Batgirl looking over his handiwork.

Perhaps he could slip away before she noticed he was there. Yes, that sounded like a fantastic idea.


Damn it. He should have known from his inexpert display in the store against Tally Man that stealth wasn't his forte.

He'd been ready for fight and/or flight, but Batgirl was busier with keeping Tally Man from escaping of getting access to anymore of his firearms. She was still taking hidden guns off of his person as she spoke, "He didn't get you, did he?"

"No, he didn't get me, I don't think," Null said, sparing the unconscious Tally Man another look as Batgirl tied him up, "I'm good."

"You… beat the Tally Man," Batgirl said, quickly regaining her composure from a small measure of amazement. She'd called for support and dealt with Zeiss as quickly as she could, but Null had actually beaten her and her backup to the scene, 'He's getting used to actually fighting.'

An offended frown crossed Null's mouth, the only visible part of his face, "Fuck that guy. It was two on one when you fought me the first time," He said, feeling a tad offensive at his skills, or lack thereof. He quickly cooled down when he realized that she had in fact helped him, or Max anyway, "But thanks. I didn't know there'd been another one. I probably wouldn't have been able to beat him too."

'Does he mean together or separately?' She didn't see Null as the type to stand and fight against either the Tally Man or Zeiss, let alone both at the same time, "Well, you won't have to worry about him. Unless they have a third, he's sitting pretty and waiting on the police."

Null smiled under his hooded wrap as he looked at the heroine, "That's why I don't mind you capes that much. You might not like me, but you keep the killers and the psychos busy at least."

Speaking of which, Batgirl could see the empty shell casings littering the block and Tally Man's automatic weapon a ways away from where he was newly awake and trying in vain to move enough to warrant a getaway.

"Dodging gunfire?" She asked with a wry smile on her face, "I didn't think you were that attentive."

"Oh guns aren't that hard. It's not really about dodging… just don't let the barrel line up with the path of your movement," Null said, scratching his head at how dumb his reasoning sounded, "Well… that kind of works for me, because I'm kind of fast and move any way I want to," In the suit his reflexes were so good, stopping on a dime and immediately changing direction didn't create any loss of momentum.

"What I don't get is why you even fought him," Batgirl asked, "You don't fight."

Null didn't have a reason ready for why he would knowingly take on a fight with a bad guy. Not one that wouldn't either link him to Max or keep others from making the mistake of linking him to heroes. But then he realized, he didn't need a good excuse absolving himself of wrongdoing, just a reasonable one.

"He was stepping on my toes and getting in my way."

Batgirl then paid note of the store that the fight had clearly taken place in for the most part, and did the simple math that one would figure could go with it, "You're a criminal Null. I can't just let you go."

"You could, and you should because I didn't even get anything," Null said, pointing in the direction he knew the house party was in, " Hey, didn't a place get shot up before this started?" A slight moment of hesitance was the only opening Null needed to make himself scarce before Batman showed up, "Don't worry! You guys can take a shot at me when there's not two blocks full of bullet holes!" She heard him yell from wherever he'd run to.

The red-haired heroine bit her lip in exasperation at letting the new guy slip away so easily, "Well he definitely knows how to run away," He was a criminal, so why wasn't she feeling inclined to pursue?

If Batman found out that she'd let Null go without a fight, well she didn't want to think about how he would admonish her for that sort of lapse.

"So that was Null," A deep, dead-serious voice said from directly behind her. So used to hearing it was she that she didn't even register it at first.

Batgirl nodded before realizing who she was speaking to and turned around with a start. Standing before her was the man himself, tall and muscular, wearing a dark grey, almost black bodysuit. It was only accented by more black in his cape, bat-themed mask, boots, bat symbol on his chest, his protective gauntlets, and the yellow utility belt.

She felt markedly defensive until she realized something about Batman's timely arrival, "Wait, how long were you here? Did you watch the fight?"

Batman simply turned away from her with a flip of his black cape. It was the closest thing to a shrug she figured she was ever going to see out of him, "He's extremely raw. But then again, he isn't a fighter first. He's a thief."

"And you didn't go after him or even jump in?"

"Stepping in the middle of their fight wouldn't have served any purpose. And as weak a point as it was to save himself some face, he has a point. I think taking out a notorious contract killer takes priority at the moment over a teenager that failed a burglary," Batgirl wasn't certain, but she had a hunch that Batman was chiding her. She quickly shrugged it off.

"He beat him by himself, alone," Batgirl said, shaking her head, "A few weeks ago he couldn't lay a hand on us, and now he's taking on hired guns like Zeiss and Tally Man."

"We're not the only ones who train you know," Batman said with a permanent scowl etched on the lower portion of his face, "The police are already picking up Zeiss. You should go and check on that party, out of costume," Upon being met with a silent question of why, the experienced answered before she could ask, "Tally Man and Zeiss were after a kid weren't they?"

Batgirl's eyes went wide, remembering that they had been gunning for the kid that was her lab partner if she hadn't been mistaken. She never saw him again after she'd left to get into her gear and found Zeiss. For all she knew, Tally Man could have injured or killed him before Null got to him.

Batman watched her as she headed off to do as he told her, his thoughts fixated not on the subject of the failed assassination, but on the hooded young man that had taken off just moments before. He was the definition of small-time. Tonight he hadn't even managed to try and steal anything, only trash an antique store in the attempt.

All he'd managed to do was half of their job for them. It made him wonder just what the kid actually knew. His education seemed unfinished on all fronts, and here he was trying to be a criminal. A thief, "That kid's going to get himself killed."

Even if he didn't wind up getting busted, this sort of thing wasn't going to work for him down the line. Sooner or later, and Batman was wagering on sooner, Gotham City was going to throw its weight around, and more than anyone else, he knew that such a thing was enough to crush him.

"Holy crap, Null did this?" Robin asked as he stood on the downed hitman to keep him from squirming around, "I mean, I know it's not like he beat Deathstroke or something, but still… by himself?"

Robin didn't think much of the guy, but finding a way to beat a trained gunman was impressive to him. He didn't figure Null to be much of a fighter at all. Null clearly wasn't a coward, just overtly pragmatic. Obviously though, he wasn't knowledgeable enough to be dangerous with that sort of self-awareness of his own blatant limitations.

"Unarmed against a gunman," Batman added as he looked down at Tally Man, "Well, you were sent after a kid. I think it's kind of poetic that another one wound up stopping you."

"I'll see you choke on it one day Batman, be certain of that," Tally Man threatened despite his situation, "You'll pay what you owe, and so will that brat who did this."

"I doubt it."


(With Max)

Well wasn't this a fine way to end a Friday night? Walking back home after getting shot at and chased out of a party by a lunatic out for blood money. With a sigh he figured that this was just the sort of thing he was going to have to get used to.

'I'm pretty sure somebody was going to shoot at Null sooner or later,' He thought to himself, 'Just as long as I can keep the stuff I get myself into as Null away from myself, I think things could work out.'

He had no idea how though, as this night was clear example of just how easily his exploits in the costume could bleed over into regular life. For God's sake, Tally Man just strolled right into that party and called him out by name.

"And I ran away like a pussy in front of everybody," It was better than being shot, but if he thought he wasn't going to get an earful of it on Monday from everyone and the school staff combined he was a fool, "Well, so much for staying normal."

It was a nice dream while it had lasted, but until he retired Null and put distance between it and himself, as well as what his parents had been in life, that would probably never occur. Hopefully this was the only 'pleasant' surprise they'd left him with in their passing, rest their souls.

Max shook his head and looked up at the moon, obscured by the clouds in the sky, 'They'd probably be turning over in their graves if they knew I was using their suit to try and steal things. Or maybe they'd just be happy that it seems to work.'

Part of him wanted to hurry home before something else happened, but walking around in his street clothes was relaxing. And he didn't want to go home, as he felt he'd have nightmares of bad guys kicking in his door and putting a bullet in his head.

A hand set itself on his shoulder and a frantic Max cast it off before turning with his hand already cocked to throw a punch until he saw the concerned face of his lab partner. The prospect of striking her on accident because he was jumpy was almost enough to make him physically ill, "Oh, Barb… thank God. Did anybody get hurt."

Barbara cursed herself for moving as if she were still Batgirl. The poor guy hadn't even heard her coming before she'd grabbed him. Of course he'd figure someone still would have been after him, "No, you were the only one that man shot at. You aren't hurt are you?"

"No," Max said listlessly, relieved in the pit of his stomach that no one else was harmed, "Just… surprised," He said with a bit of a laugh before his mood sobered, "Those guys were really going to kill me weren't they?"

Barbara knew he didn't need to hear an answer from her one way or the other. The question had been entirely rhetorical. But in the end, he was just a kid, not a criminal. For Zeiss and "Why?"

Max pursed his lips, wondering if he should even say anything. Oh, it didn't matter. This wasn't anything Null-related. It was all him, and he could tell his own stories if he wanted to. It wasn't as if it were a secret or anything.

"My parents were scientists, but they were out of work," The blond teenager said, "They kept working on a project they had even when I knew we didn't have the money for them to spend on private research. I never wondered where it came from. I guess I know now."

Loans from the wrong people. And without hearing any word from Max's father in the half-year since his death, they had to figure they were never going to get their money from that family, hence the attack. A psycho like Tally Man wouldn't care if he was just a kid. Children inherited the debts of the parents in many cases.

And all he got was a suit. A suit that he had no idea how it worked.

Talking about this sort of thing wasn't depressing to him. He'd come to terms with the way things had been before his father had died. He hadn't had to grieve for very long before accepting it, "I was too old to say they neglected me now, and I don't really hold any ill will against 'em. They weren't bad people and I don't want to be that guy. They were my parents, you know? They had a dream I guess. I just wish their dream didn't come back to try and shoot me in the ass tonight."

Barbara gave him a wry smile, "Do you know how much being Commissioner Gordon's daughter gets me targeted?" She asked, nudging him on the right arm at the wrist before pulling back with red on her fingertips, "You're bleeding," Barbara pointed out, indicating blood dripping from the bottom of his hand, "See? You actually got hit."

Max looked at his red-dripping wound as it began to sting and bite after getting his attention. His clothes were also stained where he'd pulled them off earlier to change, "I guess a bullet grazed me when I jumped that wall," It was the only time he could think of where a bullet would have hit his hand, and otherwise it looked like it had been open for a while and dripping behind him, "…Well that sucks."

Two months ago he would have reacted far differently to being touched by a gunshot, probably as if he were a foot away from dying. Now he knew full well that it wasn't a big deal because it hadn't even gone into anything.

"Don't try to be tough," Barbara said, "Someone just tried to kill you."

"I'm not, it's just a scratch," Max insisted, "If I was tough, I would have kicked that guy's ass instead of running off like a deer," It was clear that running had been the clear course of action, but macho was macho, "I'm going to go fix this before another hitman tries to blow my damn head off," He said, figuring he should tell at least one person where he was going. Maybe she'd let the cops know that he was actually alive so he wouldn't have to do it, "The police don't need me do they?"

"No, no. I'll let them know you're alright," The hidden heroine said, shooing him off "Just take care, and be careful. Don't get shot again before Monday would you?"

That had been enough to bring a huge grin out of Max for the first time in a while. He hadn't even had to dodge bullets as Null, and here he'd had to do it outside of his thief suit first. What was a simple quip to Barbara was a major inside joke to Max, and he was thankful for the reason to laugh.

"I wish I could make you that sort of promise, but I really wouldn't know if I could," Max said, seeing things much better when he could find a way to laugh at them, "Tell you what. I'll make an effort to not get shot at for the rest of the weekend… even though you'd probably get a better lab partner if I got plugged."

Ah, now he could make her laugh, and he reveled in the sound of hearing her giggle. Seeing as how being cool wasn't his thing, self-deprecation seemed to be working much better, "That's so wrong," She said, "Just go home. After this, I think dad would have some officers watch out around your neighborhood for a little while."

Max nodded and crossed the street to head off back to his own neighborhood. He didn't really have another place to stay for the night, and he needed to return there anyway.

There was something he had to do to make all of this go away.


(The Next Day – East End)

East End was a truly gross place. Max counted being threatened by junkies wielding knives a number of five times as he walked past them since he'd arrived on the train. He made a note to himself to never go there at night without his suit. Maybe more. He was fortunate that he was carrying his money in a nondescript backpack that any kid his age would have on them. Without a doubt, if anyone knew how much he was carrying, they would have stuck him up at gunpoint and shot him for it.

At least he was finally getting to see more of the city!

Yes, he'd seen the people sleeping underneath the train bridge, the ones that were in clear sight of the street yet were ignored by everyone: the single fate that scared him more than anything else on the planet that he'd come across so far.

He'd seen three 'hotels' that he knew for a fact no one stayed at for the reasonable overnight rates and the room service, as well as the pleasurable company hanging out on the sidewalk nearby offering their 'services'.

Eventually he made his way to a particular strip club. It was common knowledge amongst those who frequented the East End area that it was an operating point for a particular branch of a crime family, the one that his parents owed money to.

The bouncer out front let him in, and all he had to do was open up the bag on his back full of money. He escorted him right to the back where Max caught sight of the manager of the club, someone who was clearly surprised to see him alive. He'd obviously heard about what had happened to his two hired guns the night before.

Preempting anything that the man would have possibly said, Max dropped the unzipped bag on the table, letting dollars spill out of the top of it as something of a show. Whatever the manager was going to say died in his throat. It allowed him the time to go ahead and smooth things over as best as he could.

"Could you, I don't know, maybe tell me that my parents owed you guys money before you send killers after me?" Max said, his voice in a dreadful, asking kind of tone, as if he were afraid to offend, "I'm… I… just… take it."

He had to sell fear. And he had to pay the mobsters. If they sent Tally Man and that Zeiss guy, and both of them got stopped, who would they send next? Getting saved by Batman and Null would have only made the mobsters go at Max even harder the next time. It didn't take a genius to think of that much.

Barbara said that maybe police would keep watch over his neighborhood after the attempt on his life, but for how long? A day? A week? That wasn't good enough. He needed them out of his hair, and paying them off was the best way to make sure they left him alone. If they didn't have a reason to bother with him they wouldn't.

The collector flipped through the stacks of money, counting it all up before nodding. The kid hadn't just thrown in interest. He clearly didn't know how much his parents had owed in the first place. It had been substantial for certain, but he had paid more than the debt had been, "Shit. Where'd somebody like you come up with this much money?"

"I don't want to talk about it," And he really didn't. He was handing over almost all of his hard-earned spoils.

The loan shark grinned and handed the money off to his muscle to put away for later, "You know, most people think that just because they got saved by cops or by the Batman one time, we leave 'em alone. Guess you're smarter than that. Good for you."

In other words, they really would have sent someone else after him. It made him feel more confident that he'd made the right choice, as much as it irked him.

Max nodded and took that as his cue to get out of there and never look back. That hadn't been a small payment. It had been everything he'd had. All he had left was five-thousand. It wasn't where he'd started, but it was as close to square one as he'd felt comfortable getting.

After getting back out onto the street, Max dropped his fearful, tentative expression and scowled at his rotten luck as he shuffled home.

Great. So now he was broke. Again. And at least one bad guy would be harboring a grudge against Null until he finally put a bullet in him. He wasn't sure how well Gotham City's justice system had been reformed since Batman came around and started trying to fight fear with fear in cleaning the place up, but he didn't want to take any chances on Tally Man staying where he belonged for very long. No one ever seemed to.

Maybe Selina was right? Maybe Gotham City was too much too soon? He wasn't even dipping into the heavy stuff and he'd found enough trouble to kill a normal man.

Gotham City was not the place to cut one's teeth in.

After coming to that realization that should have been obvious had it not been for the fact that he'd grown up there, he came to another one that chilled him further.

If it wasn't for his becoming Null in the first place, he would be dead.

If he had never found that suit, never felt his back close enough against the wall to start stealing, had never run across Selina Kyle, had never begun training hard enough to deal with the denizens of the night who would be out to throw him behind bars, the same thing with the hitmen would have happened, only he would have probably been working a night job when they came for him.

It also would have ended much differently.

He wouldn't have had any sort of inkling on what to do when being chased, he wouldn't have ever gained a level enough head to deal with gunfire, and he wouldn't have had a handy-dandy suit to augment everything he'd been learning and training to do.

"…Damn it," Max muttered to himself, sitting on a bus as he headed back to his corner of town. Looking out the window he realized just how bad off he was, "…I've got to get the hell out of here," That city was going to kill him if he didn't.

He had to take a chance. His rent was paid for the next few months and his back-rent was cleared, so he could leave his apartment for a little while and go somewhere else.

Five-thousand dollars was enough to take him somewhere, and if he played his savings right he could live off of it for a little while if he needed to. More than long enough to make more to replace what he'd spent on digging himself out of trouble. A cheap motel, and an armful of groceries, he'd be set for a few weeks if necessary.

Yeah, that would work. It had to. It was all a matter of experience, and while he could get that in Gotham City, the place would be more likely to take his life instead if he tried.

It was decided then. He was going home to pack his stuff, and then he'd be catching the first ride he could out of town.

This isn't exactly a traditional hero's story, because the hero isn't a hero. At least not yet… and not intentionally.

But hearing it from me isn't exactly fun for you the reader, so if you enjoy the story I'll just have to keep trying to entertain you folks.

Until the next time then, Kenchi out.