Batman: Something to Be Thankful For, Chapter 2: The Best Man

by Immortalwildcat

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It was nearing midnight on Thanksgiving Day when the ebony-black plane landed on a snowfield outside of Isolation, Alaska. Two men got out, one bundled in a heavy parka, the other seemingly immune to the cold and wind in dark spandex and a flowing black cape. Together, they made their way to the reinforced Quonset hut that served as the tiny settlement’s social center. Inside, the hut was dark, though a light still glowed in the small room at the back of the building.

“Who’s there?” called a voice from the back as the door closed.

“Mick? It’s Thomas — Bruce Wayne. I need to talk to you.”

“Bruce? What the hell are you doing back–?” Mick froze in the doorway when he spotted the Batman standing behind Bruce. “What the blazes? I thought we were friends, Bruce! What’re you doing bringing the Batman up here?”

“Because you don’t belong up here, Mick,” replied Batman. “Mr. Wayne told me about your situation and asked me to check into the fire that killed your friends.” Batman took a seat at one of the tables and pulled a folded copy of the facsimile from his utility belt. The other two men sat as well. “There were some things that didn’t add up.”

“If you’re trying to blame me for that fire–“

“Mick, that’s not why we’re here.” Bruce laid a hand on Mick’s arm. “Please, hear him out.”

“On September 20, the Santa Fe Fire Department responded to a report of an explosion at 4223 King’s Park Drive. When they arrived, they found the house nearly demolished and fully involved. Three bodies were found in the kitchen where the fire had apparently started. Those bodies were tentatively identified before being taken to the morgue as those of Paula Osborne and her two children, Meghan and David Osborne. They were identified by Paula’s sister, Emily Porter, the property owner. She also informed the investigators that she had a boarder, one Gregory Mitchell, who was unaccounted for. As he never turned up, it was presumed that he died in the fire.”

Silence filled the hut as Mick digested the meaning of the words just read to him. “Emily and her kids weren’t killed?”

“No, and the fire was caused by an exploding gas range. Fire investigators were puzzled about the equipment they found among the ruins of the workroom. One note in the report states that the lead investigator would like to meet the person who built that equipment, as it was one of the best engineering and safety jobs he’d ever seen.”

“They weren’t killed! They’re still alive!” Mick jumped up, his hands in the air. “They’re still alive!

“I have the address where they are living now.” Bruce reached inside his coat and pulled out a slip of paper. “We could take you there, if you want.”

“Oh, hell, I can’t just up and leave — I have to make sure someone will take over here. We got all those kids to worry about.”

“How about tomorrow?” said Bruce. “I’ll have a plane here at noon.”

“And, Mick, last night, after Bruce told me about your situation, I made a couple of calls to Central City. According to the Flash and the Central City Police, there are no outstanding warrants or charges against you. You’re free to go, to start a new life under your own name, although I’ll wait a month or so before I mention anything to the Flash about that.” Batman reached out his hand. “Congratulations. There aren’t too many of the rogues who can say that.”

“I… Bruce… B-Batman…” Mick stammered as he turned in place, looking at the hovel he had called home for over a year. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You want to thank me, Mick? You just go and find Emily and those kids, and find yourself some happiness with them. You’ve got a second chance. Make it count.”

Batman leaned over and whispered in Bruce’s ear. “And you — you do the same, all right?”

***

Three nights later, on Sunday, Bruce received a phone call.

“Bruce? It’s Mick — Mick Rory.”

“Mick! How did it work out? Are you back in Santa Fe?”

“You better believe it! I told her everything. And yeah, I mean everything. I was afraid she might be scared off, but I figured it would be even worse if she found out later.”

“How did she take it?”

“Read me the riot act. Told me that if she ever suspects I’m back to being Heat Wave, she’ll throw me out on my ear and call the cops. But if it’s all in the past, then she’s OK with that.”

“And is it in the past?”

“All but one thing.” There was a few seconds pause. “Look, Bruce, I don’t want to ask anything of you, ’cause you’ve already given me more than I could dare hope for…”

“What is it, Mick?”

“Remember when you said I could patent some of my ideas?”

Bruce smiled with the realization of where the conversation was going. “I remember that. Are you ready to take some of your inventions and put them to legitimate use?”

“That’s what I was thinking. And I was thinking I’d split the money with you and put some of it aside for those kids up in Isolation.”

“I have a better idea. We’ll put you to work at Wayne Technologies with full and exclusive patent rights and royalties on your ideas. You and Emily keep all the royalties and revenues from your ideas, and I’ll match anything you want to contribute in Isolation, doubled.”

“Whoa. You sure about that, man? Sounds like you’re giving up a lot of money.”

“I have a lot of money, so don’t worry about it. I’ll start the ball rolling here. You spend the next few weeks getting reacquainted, and we’ll set things up after the start of the year.”

“That’d be great. And, Bruce, I have one more favor to ask. Do you have any plans for two weeks from today?”

Bruce glanced at a calendar on his desk, which was mostly blank, since he had not yet returned to work. “I’m free. Why?”

“Because I need a best man for my wedding.”

The End

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