A/N: 04/19/2021

SYNOPSIS: Hayate, the hero Koutetsu, makes a decision on whether or not to stay in Gotham. His decision is met with some opposition, as well as encouragement. Post-"Like a Star."


Choice

Hayate walked through the streets of Gotham. He was studying the city, considering getting an apartment on his own, despite the fact Bruce told Hayate he could keep living in the Manor. Hayate studied the city, thinking about the things he had experienced, not just lately but throughout his life.

Hayate always felt Batman was the pinnacle of an honorable samurai. But, after meeting Terry and Bruce, Hayate realized it was more than that. The code Batman lived by was one of sacrifice for those around him, putting himself last. Hayate saw that, firsthand, when Terry put his entire life to the side to protect Basem, to fight for Basem, and willingly risked his life to protect the ones he loved.

Like everyone else, Hayate always heard how Batman worked alone. And he respected that. Hayate even favored to do things on his own every now and then. When he first began his mission, he was alone before he joined the Justice League. After operating in Japan for a couple of years, he moved to Paris, making it his primary base of operations. Despite his friendships, Hayate still felt like Paris wasn't quite his home.

Hayate had only been in Gotham for just over a year. It felt like where he belonged.

After seeing Terry and Max with their child, Hayate began to feel like this was a home he needed to protect. After Stevie was born and Basem and Sally's wedding, Hayate felt his choice was obvious.

He was just well-aware his choice wouldn't be one everyone was in favor of.

The following morning, in Wayne Manor, Hayate was in the Cave and made a video call to Paris. Answering from the League base in Paris was Ari, the hero Vixen; Alex, Outlaw; and Lance, Plastic Man.

"Hey, Hayate!" Ari and Lance said, simultaneously.

"Greetings all," Hayate replied.

"What's going on, friend?" Alex asked.

"Just wanted to call and check-in. And to speak with all of you."

"Speak with us?" Ari asked.

"What?" Lance asked. "You need some help with moving back here?"

"Not exactly," Hayate replied.

"Oh? What's up? You guys get another case and you have to stay longer?"

Hayate sat, contemplatively. "Stay longer. Hm. Accurate."

"For how long?" Alex inquired.

Hayate smiled for a while, not sure how to answer.

Ari studied Hayate then her smile slowly faded. "You're… not coming back. Are you?"

Alex and Lance froze in place then they stared at Hayate.

"What?!" Lance shouted.

"You're not coming back," Ari repeated.

Hayate slowly shook his head. "No. I'm not."

Alex stared at Hayate in shock. He breathed out, "Hayate…"

"I just… feel my talents will serve better here."

"Are you for real?!" Lance asked, angrily. "You're just gonna abandon us and…"

"LANCE!" Alex elbowed Lance in the chest.

"I do not mean to slight you, my friends," Hayate said.

"We know, Hayate," Ari said.

Lance grumbled something until Ari and Alex glared at him.

Ari looked back at Hayate, "Just… why stay?"

Hayate sighed. "I feel like the Tamashii is directing me here. I've had extensive conversations with Basem, Terry, Max, and Sally about Batman's past exploits. Both Terry's and Wayne-sama's."

"What did that tell you?" Alex asked.

"That Batman has battled alone long enough. True, Basem is here and does an excellent job. But… my own Bushido code is making me feel that I should stay."

"So, you're blaming your Tamashii training and the teachings of Bushido on ditching us?" Lance growled.

Ari growled in return at Lance. She looked at him, "I swear I'm gonna…"

"No, Ariana," Hayate interrupted. "He's right. I made this decision based on my own mind and heart. I may feel like I'm being drawn to stay in Gotham, but, ultimately, I am making the decision to stay here."

Lance stared at Hayate.

"I'm so sorry if you feel betrayed, Lance. That was never my intention. I do not wish to hurt anyone. I'm simply doing what I feel is right."

Lance scoffed. "Jackass." He left the room.

Ari and Alex sat in silence for a while. They looked back at Hayate. "He'll come around," Alex said.

"If he doesn't, I understand," Hayate replied.

Ari scoffed. "We're just being selfish, Tay. We get why you're doing this. Hell, it's even a great idea. It's good Basem and Terry will have someone else out there watching their back." She smiled. "We're just really gonna miss you around here."

"I'm sure this won't be forever," Hayate replied. "But…"

"But like you said," Alex preempted with a smile, "you're doing what you think is right. Literally what you've done since we met."

Hayate smiled, warmly. "I truly hope you won't hate me for this."

"Never."

"You're our friend, Hayate," Ari added. "You're family. Now, you're just family across the Atlantic."

"Indeed," Hayate nodded. "That being said, should you ever need me…"

"Right back at you, man."

"I'll call you soon."

"You better," Ari smiled.

"You take good care of yourself, Hayate," Alex commanded.

"Yes, sir," Hayate nodded. He ended the transmission and sat back, breathing a heavy sigh. He looked to see Bruce standing behind him, with Ace at his side.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Bruce asked.

"I will be," Hayate replied. "But I meant what I said. I belong here."

"I can't but agree." Bruce motioned toward the stairs. "Breakfast?"

"Splendid! I'll happily cook."

"I hope you're not expecting me to politely decline that offer."

Hayate let out a light laugh.