Wednesday, November 21, 2007


He looked at Sasha. The expression on her face was incredibly sad. It had been that kind of a day.

Alfred walked over to her, and she looked up, pointing at one of the screens on the computer console in the Batcave.

"The computer analysis shows that he made it past the first two threats, successfully identifying and neutralizing them, but when he made it to the third...."

"The female...." commented Alfred.

Sasha nodded, then continued. "At this point something went wrong. While he was busy with her, he missed this threat here," she said, pointing at the screen, "above and behind him, on his right." She turned to Alfred.

"Then all of the fire he took in the front did nothing to him."

"No," Sasha answered quietly, "the analysis was that the Batsuit did its job against the submachinegun that the female had. It was the military-grade weapon in the hands of the sniper behind him that did it. The computer analysis shows that this was the lethal shot."

"And so Batman is dead," Alfred added quietly.

Sasha was sad. It looked like she was taking this personally.

"Sasha...." Alfred began.

"I'll go back upstairs and shower. Shall I turn out the lights on my way?" she asked. "There's no point in having the Batcave so lit up now."

"Go ahead. I shall turn out the lights," Alfred managed a smile.

Sasha ran to the door, and disappeared into the corridor that led upstairs to Wayne Manor.

Alfred turned, and looked at the vault that contained the Batsuits. He thought about Gotham City, and that special part of Gotham Island, near where the Gotham Towers had been. It was cold outside, and just after midnight on the coldest night in November on that part of Gotham Island -- more than any other place or any other time, that was Batman's turf.

But, no more.

He had often complained to Alfred how hot the Batsuits were, and now they had finally developed a new one that would not be so hot -- just in time for winter!

The irony, Alfred thought.

Philanthropist, connoisseur, executive -- he played many roles through his adult life, but this... this was the part he liked to play.

He took a last look in the vault, then turned out the lights.

She looked at the package. She certainly hadn't been expecting anything, yet here it was.

She opened the card and read it again. It was from her sister.

That was odd, she thought. She didn't have a sister.

But, the card seemed to anticipate that response, and told her she would believe it once she opened the package.

She opened it, and pulled out what was inside, and her heart stopped at the realization of what it was that she now held in her hands, after so many long years....

Lieutenant Jim Gordon of the Gotham Police Department sighed.

He had hoped the Batman might actually be of some help, but the evidence now indicated otherwise.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Lieutenant!" It was O'Hara. "Don't stay too late."

"Thanks, Happy Thanksgiving to you, too."

Gordon looked back down at the paper. Of all people, he had been named to lead the task force assigned to bring in the Batman.

Happy Thanksgiving, he thought sarcastically.

"Bruce Wayne is Batman," he announced, full of self-satisfaction.

She looked at him.

"You know, I would have approved of him as a husband for you," he said as he turned to her.

They looked at each other.

"Perhaps it can still be, Father," Talia answered.

"Not after tonight. As of tonight," Ra's al Ghul began, "Batman is a dead man."

Dr. Sandra Villanova was worried. Bruce Wayne had failed to return her calls for two days now, and she was worried about him.

They were just friends, and perhaps she shouldn't be so possessive of him, but still....

She wanted to talk about what she had discovered, but Bruce wouldn't answer.

She looked at the Batsignal she had been given.

Perhaps she should call him....

Edward Nygma looked up toward the door.

"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving." His partner, Linda Callahan, was staying late, too. "What are you working on this late?"

"Look at this," he answered. "Do you remember that program called Belladonna?"

She nodded.

"Well, it seems one of the contractors that supported the program was Wayne Enterprises."

"How do you know?"

"Because some of the materials are right here in the basement. And look what was next to it."

Linda leaned over. "What's that?"

"It was a prototype system for the GBI to search publicly available information -- phone books, newspaper and magazine articles, and so on. The idea was that when the GBI had a crime and couldn't generate any leads, they would try this system and see what connections it made."

He recognized the look on his face. He had had that same look on his face the first Thanksgiving after his parents had been killed.

"What's the matter, Master Bruce?"

"Sandra is angry at me. She's left several messages tonight while I was in the simulator," he began. He was staring off into the darkness. "Now I notice a change in the way Sasha is acting toward me."

"And you have feelings for both of them, but not the way they do for you," Alfred commented. "You still have feelings for Talia," he continued, "and that's not good."

"It's not something I can turn on and off, Alfred."

Alfred looked at him.

"Batman is under attack, too," he continued, looking back at Alfred. "Lt. Gordon has been appointed to lead a task force to bring Batman to justice."

"And he might just succeed, considering the ten-million-dollar pricetag that the underworld has placed on Batman's head," Alfred commented.

He nodded.

"On top of that, your performance in the simulator tonight shows that when you got distracted with Sasha, you left yourself vulnerable to a lethal shot from behind. Batman was killed," Alfred continued. "Fortunately, it was just an exercise."

Alfred stepped closer. "It does shed some light on what happened that night that you got sandwiched between Catwoman and the GBI." He paused thoughtfully. "It also places the events of Halloween night into perspective."

Bruce Wayne looked back at the computer console, as Alfred continued. "How many police cars destroyed? Batman just barely escaped." Alfred paused again. "I hope you will take my advice, and spend a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, and just spend some time being thankful."

He looked up at the pictures of the Gotham Towers, and the pictures of the figures behind their destruction -- figures now threatening to destroy all of Gotham City.

"I guess I'm just not feeling very thankful this year, Alfred."

The Batcave was dark and silent.

Suddenly a light illuminated on the console, with an audible alarm to call attention to it. It indicated a communication from one of the tiny communication devices known as Batsignals that were loose in Gotham City, summoning the Dark Knight out into the darkness of the coldest night of November.

The faintest of smiles crossed Alfred's face, as he turned around.

This was the part that he liked to play, he thought, turning the lights back on in the vault that contained the Batsuits.

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