It's About Time
Summary: John has to talk to somebody about the future.
Author's Note: As always, thanks to Merlin Missy for the beta.
"That's the seventh time you've checked the clock," Batman growled.
Green Lantern didn't respond, but did slide his glowing eyes away from Big Ben and down to the damp street below. He calculated the time difference. If the terror suspects showed up in the next couple hours and gave only minimal resistance, he could be back in Detroit in time. His eyes moved back to the huge clock, several blocks away but still clearly visible in the night.
Batman cleared his throat.
Lantern looked down at the street again.
"Do you have someplace else you need to be?" Batman said in that falsely conversational tone Lantern had come to hate over the years.
John's luminous eyes narrowed and darted to his right.
The Bat crouched, practically falling off the edge of the roof. His cape splayed around him in a wide circle, signifying his personal space. In complete silence, he continued to stare down at the street far more intently than necessary.
"The bank. I want to get to the bank before it closes," John said five minutes later when he caught himself checking the clock yet again.
"I can get you in touch with my personal banker when we're done here. You can concentrate on the job at hand now," Batman said.
"Thanks, but no," Lantern responded, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against an air conditioning unit.
Twenty more minutes passed in icy silence.
"Making some investments?" Batman queried, his breath making a white puff in the air.
"Something like that."
An hour later, John stretched his back and popped a few bones in his fingers.
"The S&P is doing well," said Batman.
Silence settled between them again for another forty minutes.
"I hear that Wayne Enterprises is a solid investment."
John rolled his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind," he muttered as he settled back against the cold metal of the air unit again.
A while later, Big Ben's hour hand crept past the nine and John huffed out a cloud of air. He'd already constructed a shield of warmth around himself because of the frigid temperatures, Batman of course refusing the offered heat. Even with the time difference, it was now too late to make it to Detroit and get to the bank. He gazed down at the alleyways below, amazed at how dark and dank they were. It reminded him of Gotham and he figured Batman felt right at home in this unpleasant place.
"How long do you plan to invest?" the Bat questioned.
"Retirement? What's your goal? Fifty-five? Sixty? Sixty-five?"
"It's not for my retirement," John snapped, annoyed that Bruce was taking such interest.
Batman turned his head then and looked up at him, his eyes narrowing under his cowl. John sighed, crossed his arms over his chest and stared down, waiting for the scrutiny to end.
"You're not seriously...?" Batman began, and John ground his teeth together. "Don't you think that's putting the cart before the horse, Lantern?"
"It's my money," John retorted.
"Put the money someplace else. You'll earn more until you actually have a child to start a college fund for."
"And how did this become any of your business?"
Batman shook his head. "First, I have an army of bankers, accountants and financial advisors that can help you. And second, have you talked to anybody about this?"
Lantern frowned and turned away.
"Uh-huh," Bruce rumbled, "figured as much."
John snapped his head around. "You're a fine one to be giving advice on talking to people. Just how many people have you discussed the Chronos issue with? Nobody, right?"
Lantern's eyebrows shot up. That was unexpected. Batman didn't talk to anyone about anything. "Who?" he asked before he could stop himself. He was even more shocked when Bruce actually answered.
"Alfred, of course. And Diana."
For a moment, John could only stare down at the Bat. Bruce looked back at the street below, but continued to speak.
"I always talk to Alfred about important matters," he said, sounding to John's ears as though his strong connection to his butler was common knowledge. "Diana was there with us. She deserved to know what happened."
John crouched next to Bruce on the very edge of the building. "What'd they say?"
"Alfred congratulated me on becoming a nasty, lonely old codger." John arched an eyebrow, but Bruce continued. "He also suggested we should keep an eye out to see if or when Terry is born."
"Terry McGin..." Bruce stopped, his lips tightening.
But John instantly understood. Bruce had access to the future Batman's computer; he'd snooped and found out information on his upcoming protégé. "You were the one who said we shouldn't know about our future!" John snarled.
"That's not our future, Lantern. We changed it the second we went back and trapped Chronos."
"But you're looking for Terry. Waiting for him to be born."
Batman shrugged. "I will be old someday. Or dead. If Batman is to go on, I will need a replacement. It could be him. It might be someone else. It could be no one. The point is the future is not set in stone. It's fluid. One action or inaction now changes everything. Just sitting here waiting for our perps has changed what could have been had we been on the Watchtower or in the Cave or anywhere."
"I met my son!"
"You met a possible son," Bruce warned. "There's no guarantee Rex will be born. There's no guarantee Terry will be born. Or if either of them are born, that they'll want or be able to be what they were when we saw them.
"Terry could fall out of a tree when he's ten and be paralyzed. Rex could end up with birth defects from trying to merge human and Thanagarian DNA. One of Terry's parents might die in a car accident before they even meet. You might come home tired one night and go to sleep instead of having sex and miss the one opportunity that one particular egg and that one particular sperm had to meet."
John dropped his face into his palms. "And this is why I can't talk about it!" He growled in frustration, jerked his head up and balled his fists. "It drives me insane!"
"Yes, it will make you crazy. It's done a number on my mind, too."
John sighed and shook his head. The streets below were still empty. He wished with all his being the terrorists would show up.
"You've not talked to Shayera then."
John rolled his eyes.
John shook his head.
"You need to."
John looked at Bruce, knowing the nauseated expression on his face couldn't be hidden. "And tell them what?"
Bruce smirked. "Diana suggested that she and I start dating so I won't become a nasty, lonely old codger."
"You're suggesting changing the future."
"I'm suggesting you talk with your..." Bruce coughed, covering a chuckle, "girlfriends."
"Don't do that," John warned, noting that Bruce had a seriously evil sense of humor.
"I'm saying, you have a choice to make: Vixen or Shayera or neither."
"But there's Rex..."
"No, there isn't. There's the possibility of Rex, nothing more. And you won't ever know how or why or when until it has passed."
John's jaw clenched at his words.
"You decide or they'll decide. You can't stay inactive forever." Batman reached to his belt, flung out a grappling hook and jumped from the building.
Blinking, John followed where the Bat went. He groused a curse to himself when he saw Batman had already apprehended one terror suspect. Two more were running away, guns drawn. John sent a zap of energy from his ring, trapping the two in mid-air as he gently descended from the rooftop.
"Thanks for the heads-up," he said to Bruce when he landed.
Batman had a boot between the shoulders of the toady, holding him to the ground as he snapped handcuffs around his wrists. He only looked up at John, obviously uninterested in his complaint. He then poked a finger in his ear. "Batman to Watchtower. Five to transport."
John found himself back on the Watchtower a second later. The three would-be terrorists were handed off to security, leaving him alone with Bruce again.
"You handle the report," Batman said, stalking to the transporter control panel. He punched a few buttons and the pad hummed to life.
"Where are you going?" John demanded.
"Back to Gotham," Bruce said, taking his place on the platform. As he started to phase out, his voice fuzzed a little, but John was pretty sure he heard him say, "I have a date with Diana in an hour."