After a few days in the center where they kept kids like him, he went back to school. Mary was working on finding him a foster home, but Jimmy said he didn't want another huge change right away. He'd rather stay at the center until he started feeling a bit more normal. And one way to start feeling normal, so he hoped, was to go to school.
It didn't take him long to catch up on his homework. He enjoyed the distraction. And none of the bullies had any interest in picking on him anymore. They weren't such idiots as not to realize he'd been through more than enough recently.
He didn't talk to Jay until recess. At first they just stood outside looking at the ground, neither sure what to say. Finally, Jimmy reached into his pocket, pulled out the batarang, and handed it to Jay. He looked up, put on the best grin he could manage, and said, "Sorry I couldn't get this to you sooner."
"It's okay, man. Um... you still got yours, or the cops like... confiscate them...?"
"They didn't do that thorough a search. I doubt they would've found 'em anyway. I don't leave things like that where people can find them. I have various hiding places, y'know. Mary... the social worker... took me back to pick up some of my things. My secret things, I think I'll have to pick up later, on my own."
"Before they rent the apartment, I hope." Jay wasn't sure whether they should be talking about all this, but he figured he'd let Jimmy be the judge.
"Takes a little longer to unload a place where... you know. Anyway, I still have a key."
"They gonna let you out of their sight for long?"
"I dunno. I'm sure I could sneak away if I really wanted to, anyway." He decided to change the subject. "So, how's the cut? I was kinda thinking that might serve for your accident, instead of acid. That, or you could become Scarface."
Jay grinned. "Both those things have been suggested already. I decided to go with the former. No way I'm gonna be a dummy!" After a while his smile subsided. "Anyway, the others are eager to see you. Do you think we can all come visit sometime?"
"I'll talk to Mary."
"So... you think it'll be long before... you get somewhere else to go?"
Jimmy sighed. He looked away for a bit, then looked down at the ground. After a minute he looked up at Jay again. "I don't know. I don't know if I want to."
"Yeah, but... I mean, it sucks and all. But you kinda gotta. Unless you plan on dropping outta school and getting a job." He grinned again. "You think MIT's got any teaching positions available?"
Jimmy grinned at this, too, and laughed. "Well now, I wouldn't want to give all those other professors an inferiority complex, or anything. Maybe I'll try selling some paintings or something. Become a world-renowned artist."
They both laughed for a bit. But the laughter soon died away, and they let their gazes roam aimlessly for a bit, once again unsure what to say. Then Jimmy said, "Seriously. I've thought about this. The idea of living with some new family... I know people do it all the time. And it can be very good for them. Maybe it'd be good for me, too. I don't know. Maybe I just need more time to get used to the idea. Or maybe I need to get to know the right people. But right now, I think... I just think I'd rather be by myself." He paused for a few seconds, then added, "Of course, I'd need to see my friends once in a while. The Bat will always be there for the hunting, hopefully. And none of us stand a chance in hell of catching him on our own. But together, we are an unstoppable force!" He was working up toward a bout of villanous laughter, as he often had over the years. But he just couldn't muster it.
"Seriously. I need you guys. I think I always will. I can't live without friends. I couldn't stand it. I don't need many. Just a few is plenty. But I do need a few. But other than that... I think I could take care of myself."
Jay looked concerned. "You're not talking about... running away, are you? Living on the streets? C'mon, Jimmy, you're smarter than that. A whole hell of a lot smarter."
"People can't be governed solely by their heads. We can't really help also paying heed to our hearts and our souls."
"And our bodies," Jay threw in, hoping to lighten the moment.
"And to an extent, our bodies, yes," Jimmy said with a small smile. "Some of us to a greater or lesser extent than others. Me, I think the body doesn't control anything but life functions. Nature calling, tummy rumbling, that sort of stuff. Some of those things we're too young for yet, well... I seriously doubt they'd ever have much of a hold over me. No, my mind is mainly what rules me, but I do have a heart as well. And I feel it's time for me to start listening to it more. I'm not saying that it'll keep telling me what it feels like it's telling me now. I'm gonna give it some time. Time will tell....
"But for now, I'm here. We're here. And I'm drained. I'm always drained, these days. I'm gonna find a tree or a wall and sit against it until the bell rings. Wanna join me?"
"Don't mind if I do."
So they sat. They didn't have to wait so long for the bell to come. In the meantime, they talked, or they were silent.
Later, they went out to see their friends from Glendale. They went as themselves. In fact, as it turned out, none of them ever quite felt like Bat-hunting again. They'd tour their old haunts, but they were just children, never again mad criminals. Not for a whole evening, anyway. Not for more than a few moments, or minutes; and never again in costume. They talked about normal things, they watched TV or movies, they ate fast food. At least for a few months, they had their little fun together. But things would never be the same again. And before long, things would get even farther from it....
But that's another story....
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