A heart attack, he was going to be killed by a heart attack.
Batman shifted under the attack as the man above him continued to rain blows down on him in vengeance for his interference in their failed kidnapping plot.
Fighting against his own body, Bruce reached for the handgun one of the men had dropped earlier. His hand was mere inches from the weapon when the thug stepped on his hand, halting the movement.
Looking up, Batman stared into the eyes of his murderer and for the first time in all his close calls with death, he felt okay with it.
The Joker, Two Face, Bane, Poison Ivy, Ras’Al’Gule, Scarecrow, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, the Penguin.
The names that had haunted the nights of Gotham for decades, now nothing more than names on a slab of stone sticking out of the ground.
Two-Face had been gunned down by the police in a failed bank robbery, Bane had gone insane. The venom he used had finally snapped what little mental control the man had and he had tried to prove he was the strongest by stopping a train. The train won.
Poison Ivy, dead from asphyxiation, her lungs had closed up in response to a rare hybrid pollen she had created. Ras’Al’Gule, presumed dead, one of the few that Batman had never truly verified, reported killed by his own daughter. Talia had disappeared and was never seen again.
Scarecrow, died when he attempted to take over a gang in lower Gotham, the gang lord bomb had leveled three blocks. The Riddler had been found dead in his cell in Arcam, the last note was written on the wall in his own blood ‘The butler in the study with the candlestick’ was a rather absurd statement to the man’s mental capacity.
Mr. Freeze had died trying to save his wife and as per his wishes he and his wife had both been cremated and their combined ashes spread over the ocean. The Penguin had died many years earlier, his empire had gone up against Lex-corp and the penguin had died a penniless drug addict lost in the warrens below Gotham.
Lastly, the Joker. The Joker had reformed, married Harley and died a grandfather; Batman had been there to watch.
As the crowbar came down for the final time, Bruce closed his eyes and waited for the blow to arrive.
“Hey Ratman, should I come back later or are you going to get up and finish this?”
Groaning in pain, Batman opened his eyes and stared at the man that had plagued his existence since first coming to this universe more than thirty years earlier. “Rampage.” Batman groaned as the superhero helped him up carefully. Looking around, Bruce flinched at the unconscious form of his assailant several feet away. Glaring at the man, Bruce forced himself to step away from the aid the man was offering. “Why are you here?” He demanded as the grey skinned powerhouse simply grinned.
“Heard funny man passed, came to return some property of his,” Xander said in morbid amusement as he thought back to his one and only meeting with the clown prince of crime.
“I can’t believe you kept those,” Batman growled as Xander looked at the two thumbs that floated in the jar Xander held.
Looking at the man, Xander shrugged. “That was between me and him, besides I said I would return them,” Xander defended as the dark knight continued to glare. “Fine alright, it was a bad time for me, Bruce. Donna was dead, the league was disbanded and this cackling psycho decided to play mind games with me,” Xander growled before sitting down heavily and staring at the slowly rising sun. “I was so close to just snapping his neck and being done with it, no jokes no games, but I couldn’t be like them; I had to prove that I wasn’t a monster. If not for myself then for her.”
Bruce watched the man carefully as he tried to find the words that could help him, after several seconds he decided that there simply wasn’t anything that could be said that hadn’t already been said.
Moving over, he sat next to him. “I’ve decided it’s time to retire.” He said simply before nodding at the look. “Forty years is a long time to be at this, Clark’s retired to Kansas, Dianna’s now Queen, the ring has passed on to a new bearer. I’m the last of the old ones still putting on the cape, if you hadn’t shown up just now…” He trailed off as he let Xander fill in the blanks.
“You would have figured something out Bats; you didn’t face off with the likes of Darksied to be put down by some two bit thug,” Xander said before patting the older hero on the shoulder. “But if it’s time, then take my advice and get someone trustworthy to pick up the slack, Gotham may be cleaner and brighter than Metropolis these days, but the streets are still just as dark,” Xander said before standing. “Anyways, whatever happens, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for you and your city, but I gotta go, Tonight’s…”
“I understand,” Bruce said as he summoned the Batmobile, double checking the condition of the thugs, Batman turned to say goodbye and frowned at the empty space the younger hero had occupied seconds earlier. “Smartass,” He grumbled before carefully climbing into his hovercar.
Xander flexed his muscles to avoid cratering as he landed in the carefully kept grounds.
Walking up to the huge doors, he let the security systems check him out before the doors slid silently open.
The Hall of Champions was dedicated to the fallen heroes.
Xander looked at the gathered statues in silence as he felt the pain of lost friends, he was both sad and fiercely proud of the numbers currently standing in the long hall.
Making a full circuit of the room, Xander remembered everything he could about the names and faces. It was half an hour later that Xander slowed to a stop before the statue he had come to see.
Donna Troy Harris, Wife, Mother, Hero.