The New Titans: Family Attractions, Chapter 1: Distant Relations

by Libbylawrence

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A handsome man in a costly business suit walked slowly out the door of his mansion, entered his foreign sports car, and drove recklessly toward Gotham City. He was refined and mature-looking with graying hair. A young man on a motorcycle tore through the streets of Gotham City with a glazed look in his own eyes. Finally, two other men of different ages and backgrounds made their own desperate journeys toward Gotham City.

None of them really had a thing in common with the others except for the fact that they were compelled to rush to the city. It was a city most of them had never visited. In the course of normal events, they likely would never have gone there. However, their fevered expressions, frantic haste, and glazed eyes marked them as those set apart from the common walk of humanity.

The irony was that these individuals had no idea that they were not acting alone. Each had no idea that others shared his compulsion. All they knew was the One who controlled them wanted them to go to Gotham City to find one young woman. They would die before failing in their mission.

The fastest man alive was also rushing into Gotham City. His name was Wally West, although while wearing his colorful red costume, he used the celebrated name of the Flash. He carried a pretty blonde woman who held him tightly, looking grim and worried. Wally noticed Frances Kane’s expression. Since he knew her very well, it really didn’t take such an outward sign to indicate to Wally that the lovely blonde college student was very worried. He even knew what bothered the demure girl. He smiled and tried to make her forget her stress.

“Frances, I’ll buy you a We visited the Batcave, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt and utility belt,” he joked.

She smiled. “Thanks, but I’m not big on any costumes, remember?”

He nodded. She referred to her own powerful innate gift to control the forces of magnetism. She had no desire to use those gifts as a costumed heroine, even alongside Wally and his friends in the New Titans. They had been good to her in times of trouble, and they had sheltered her when her mother had cast her out of the only home she had ever known. Still, Frances was not eager to be a crime-fighter. She wanted to be a normal young woman and nothing more.

Wally had brought her to Gotham City for a purpose related to her loss of family. Her mother had rigidly held to the wrong and hurtful belief that her daughter’s powers marked her as one lost to evil and not worthy of belonging to their family. She had not spoken to her in months. Frances had been heartbroken by the loss of her mother, and since the loss was perhaps initiated by the deaths of her brother and father in a car accident which Frances alone survived, the girl was totally alone in the world. Wally had been all too aware of her need and her pain. He had been close to his parents and still was. He had been close to a loving aunt and uncle and mourned his separation from one and the loss of the other. He knew from growing up in Blue Valley that the sense of warmth and belonging that came from such a support group was a wonderful thing that many never knew. Thus, he had asked his best friend Dick Grayson to see if he could track down any remote Kane relations that Frances might come to know as family.

***

The brilliant Dick Grayson (Nightwing of the New Titans) had been busy. He had made peace with his friends following a difficult time of captivity and mind-control. He had parted from his lover when she was forced to take part in an alien ceremony of state that he viewed as being as final and separating as a marriage. He had returned home in time to help his team find an alien invasion, and now he had returned to Gotham City to make peace with his mentor Bruce Wayne, alias Batman. Certain events had occupied the young hero, but now he had called Wally with welcome news.

“I’ve got good news. Not only is Frances related to some living Kanes, but we know one of them. Betty Kane is a distant relation. I called her, and she happens to be passing through for a tennis tournament. She’ll be here later today. Can you bring Fran to the Gotham Plaza Hotel?” Dick had asked.

Wally replied, “That’s great! I never thought about Betty. Didn’t exactly take much Bat-training to locate her, did it?” he laughed.

Dick replied, “I did call her via Bat-speed dial.”

Thus, Wally had rushed over to greet Frances as she exited her college class, and he had revealed the surprise.

“A pal of mine Nightwing learned you have some kin. We even know one of them — Betty Kane, no less,” he had explained.

Frances had been pleased but surprised. “The model? The tennis player?”

Wally grinned. “Like, yeah! She is happy to hear about you and is coming to Gotham. So, shall we?”

Fran said, “Sure. Betty Kane, huh? I wonder if she’ll like me?”

Wally grinned, “Not at first. You’re too gorgeous. Still, she’ll come around.”

***

The Gotham Plaza Hotel was a luxurious place that routinely housed stars of screen, television, stage, and the world of sports. It was a place where the wealthy could enjoy every privilege money could buy.

Blonde and beautiful Betty Kane, wearing a pink miniskirt and white top, was there now, and she was bored. She lounged across a plush chair and pondered her life

She was a famous athlete, model, and spokeswoman. She enjoyed the sensation of knowing that she was physically at the top of her game. She had mastered tennis, gymnastics, martial arts, and was also secretly a whiz at the sciences as well. Still, Betty wanted more. She had eagerly accepted Dick’s offer to meet this unknown relation, since she had a sense of loss since her Aunt Kathy had died. She had missed her old heroic career that seemed to fade away by her own choice far too soon. She had given up Bat-Girl for her tennis career. Now, she wondered if that had been a mistake. She sighed and fluffed her hair in the mirror, then answered the door.

“Dick, that is you beneath the beard, right? I can tell it’s fake,” she said.

Dick nodded with a grin. “I use a disguise at times when I mix with the heroic set while not in costume in Gotham. Can’t be too careful about people connecting Dick Grayson, who is something of a celebrity here, with others who might be revealed as super someday.”

Betty smiled and kissed him. “Oh, you could like just let the press think Dick Grayson, boy socialite, is, you know, having a wild and passionate affair with glam tennis babe Betty Kane.”

“Or not,” said Dick. “You look great, Betty. Seems like only yesterday you were sporting your Bat-compact and tear gas powder puff.”

She put one hand on her hip. “Well, a girl crime-fighter has to be prepared. Imagine, the Cobra is, like, trying to put the venom bite on you, and a bomb is ticking away… and your mascara is majorly smeared.” She laughed, “I’m teasing. You thought I was serious. Some detective!”

Dick smiled. “Betty, you know how sorry we were about Kathy.”

She nodded grimly. “Thank you. I miss her. She saw me as something more than, like, a pretty face or a party girl.”

He patted her arm. “Frances needs family. You and she share a great great great grandfather or so, and she is hurting. Her mom disowned her because she has magnetic powers.”

Betty said, “That is sooo kewl! Some of the guys on the tennis circuit thought I had magnetism, too.”

Dick said, “She’ll be here any second. Thanks for seeing us.”

Betty said, “Seriously, I’m glad to find a long-lost relation.”

As Wally West and Frances Kane entered, Betty frowned. “I’ve seen you before. Weren’t you at Donna Troy’s wedding? Purple-hued dress, strap heels?” she asked.

Frances said, “Why, yes. I saw you there, too, but we didn’t get to talk. I was star-struck. I mean, Michael Jackson was there.”

Betty took her hand. “Michael is rad. When he thanked the girls in the balcony at the Grammys, he was really talking to me.”

Wally and Dick shook hands and watched.

“You know, Franny, we could be so totally simpatico. Blondes with brains, y’know? We must go out sometime. I’m, like, heading for the Big Apple for a Special Olympics appearance and some celebrity playing, all for charity. Wanna come?” asked Betty.

Frances smiled. She was taken aback by Betty’s high spirits. “I can’t get away from school now, but we have so much to talk about. It’s a thrill to meet you,” she said.

Betty sat down and pulled Frances next to her on a large sofa. “So, about this magnetism…” she began.

Wally and Dick exchanged glances, and Wally stepped up. “Uh, Betts, Fran is kinda sensitive about it,” he said.

Betty said, “I’m sorry. Listen, anything that makes you stand out is righteous.”

Dick said, “Good thing Batman had me learn so many languages. Valley speak is a real test.”

Wally grinned, “You are, like, so totally right!”

***

Time passed, and when Dick led Betty down to the lobby to get her mail, Wally took a minute to see how Frances was doing.

“So, kid, you OK? Betty is a real dynamo,” he said.

Frances smiled warmly. “I like her. She isn’t what I expected. Beneath that glitz and gab, I think she has real depth.”

Wally said, “See? I knew that she’d be delighted with you. Who wouldn’t?”

At that moment, the four mysterious travelers burst into the room. Their glazed eyes indicated they were not in their right minds, but neither were they slow. Energy bursts blasted out to stun Wally as he rushed to protect Frances.

She screamed, and all the metal in the room exploded toward the grim figures, who had burned through the glass deck doors with the same energy that they emitted via their odd wands. She struggled and held them off before one lucky blast slammed her to the floor.

She was scooped up along with Wally, and the odd group flew off with their prisoners.

“We have her!” said all of them as one.

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