Too Many Long Boxes!

Showdown in Blood Haven

by C.W. Blaine

Deputy Richard "Dick" Grayson sat on the hitching post, outside Booster's General Store, wiping the sweat from his brow. He waived his hat in a futile effort to hold back the searing Texas heat. In contrast, Marshal James Gordon stood in the middle of the street, staring out at the expanse of prairie that began well beyond his jurisdiction. The man, well into his fifties, didn't ever seem to sweat, and Richard was jealous of him for it.

Across the street, tumbling out of Warrior's Saloon, came Richard's fellow deputy, Roy "Speedy" Harper. He hadn't shaved, as usual, and was having a hard time buttoning his shirt as two of the saloon's working girls pawed at him. Marshal Gordon paid him no mind, having learned to tolerate Roy's behavior. 'He's not a Christian man, Richard, raised by the Indians on the reservation," the Marshal had said once. "They have a different view on things, and what we can do best for Roy is set a good, Christian example."

The fact was that Roy was not an Indian, and he was a Christian. His missionary father had been killed in the war, and the local Indian population raised Roy when he wandered onto the reservation years ago, an orphan. They did not try to subvert Roy's Christian ideals, only enhance his personal well being by exposing him to other ways of thinking.

The womanizing was neither Christian nor Indian; it was a Roy Harper philosophy he had developed on his own.

Roy managed to get away, only after promising to return later to finish what they had started. He didn't bother to put on his dusty brown hat; instead he pulled his long red hair into a ponytail. "Mornin', Marshal," he said to Gordon.

James Gordon nodded, but did not speak, simply continued to look out on the plain. Roy never expected too much from the Marshal, just to be told what to do and to be handed his pay every month. "Mornin', Dickie," he said to Richard.

Richard smiled. "I see you had another eventful night."

Roy stepped up onto the porch and plopped down into a chair, putting his feet up on the hitching post Richard was sitting on. "That? Nah, that was nothin' compared to last night."

Richard stepped down and turned to face his fellow lawman. Roy pulled his pistol out of its holster and checked to see if it was loaded. Richard wondered why he even bothered, since he had never known Roy to draw his weapon, except for practice. He was quick on the draw, but he never set out to prove it. Roy was gifted with the ability to use anything as a weapon, Richard thought. He had seen Roy take men down with everything from a shot glass to a horseshoe, but never with a gun. "It's a good thing you don't drink, or else you wouldn't be able to afford your hobby," Richard remarked.

Roy put his pistol back in its holster. "Ah, Hell, Dickie, you 'jus jealous cause I don't have to pay for it!"

Richard grimaced, and silently wondered if that was true. Since arriving in Blood Haven a year before, Richard had not been very successful in the romance department. It wasn't that he didn't think he was good looking; it was just that none of the women interested him.

Except Miss Donna Troy, of course.

Miss Troy was a woman of exotic beauty that was also the local schoolteacher. The two had been attracted to each other when Richard had first arrived from up north and he had even courted her for a few months. In the end, however, it was fruitless, as the two discovered that they were much happier simply being friends.

Roy, on the other hand, was in love with her, but she wouldn't give him the time of day, because of his nightly habits, which he was loathe to give up. In the end, the two most eligible men in the whole county would probably end up grumpy, unmarried old bags of wind.

At least Roy was able to take care of his urges. Richard's foster father, the steel tycoon Bruce Wayne, had taught him better than to go about in the company of whores. Still, Richard thought as he looked out onto the plains, a man is a man.

"Aha! I see it! There it is!" Marshal Gordon exclaimed, pointing out to a column of dust rising in the distance. There seemed to be a new spring in his step as he approached his two deputies. "Deputy Harper, stand up and make yourself presentable! And you, Deputy Grayson," Gordon said, poking Richard in the chest with his finger, "I expect you to act like the gentleman Mr. Wayne raised you to be!"

Both deputies agreed to do as they were told and began to make small talk. They did not notice the three men approaching from the opposite end of the street. When they were almost upon the lawmen, Richard saw them and called to Gordon. "Marshal!"

James Gordon turned from his viewing of the dust cloud and faced the three men. He did not recognize two of them, but he could tell by their stance and manner that they were gunfighters. The man in the center was large, but not large as if fat. No, this man, with wavy jet-black hair and beard, seemed to strain to keep the muscles of his huge limbs from bursting through the expensive suit he wore. "Morning, Mr. Savage," Gordon said to the man.

Vandal Savage smiled warmly, "And good morning to you, dear Marshal. I was wondering if you had a chance to ponder my offer?"

Gordon shook his head. "It's a good offer, Vandal, but I need that ranch. It's the only thing I can leave my family besides this star." He tapped the badge on his vest.

Savage's face took on a downcast expression. "I'm sorry to hear that, Marshal, you could have been a very wealthy man." He paused. "Did you say you had family? I was left to believe that your dear wife had died several years ago? A son perhaps?"

Gordon smiled with pride. "A niece, daughter of my brother, coming here to live with me. She plans on running the ranch for me."

Savage rubbed his chin thoughtfully and one of the men, a white hair tough with an eye patch, whispered something into Vandal's ear. Vandal slowly shook his head and the man backed away a step. He made the mistake of looking Roy's direction. Roy snickered. "You got a problem, boy?" the man asked.

Roy put a hand up to his eye, mocking the man. "I'd tell you, but I don't think you'd see the point!"

The man snarled, cursed, and reached for his gun. Before he could get it, Savage laid a massive hand on the man's arm. "You must forgive my employee; he's still suffering from the aftereffects of the war." Vandal turned back to Gordon. "These are my two new hands, Slade Wilson," he indicated the man with the white hair, "and Mr. Boston Brand. I'm sure you will see much of these men in the months to come."

Richard felt a spark in the back of his head. He had recognized the two names, and then it was gone. He was sure that he had never met Wilson before, but the name was very familiar. Boston Brand, a shorter, bald man with pasty white skin, seemed to burn in Richard's minds eye. Where had he met him before?

"Make a point of telling you employees that we don't go around picking gunfights with deputies in Blood Haven, no matter how childish they act." Roy put his head down at the admonishment.

Vandal smiled and looked out at the approaching dust cloud. His deep blue eyes could make out the approach of a stagecoach. "I take it that your niece is due to arrive today?"

"Yep," Gordon replied.

They six men all stood in silence, with Wilson and Roy playing 'stare-down'. In about five minutes, the stagecoach pulled up and stopped before them. The men waved the dust away as the driver hopped down to open the coach door.

The first person to step out was a young man, the same relative age as Richard and Roy. He had gentleness about him, even though he was dressed similar to them. His red hair was clean and combed, his clothes were brand new. He looked around and then approached Richard. "Hi," he said, holding out his hand, "I'm Wally West."

Richard took the hand. "That's nice." He then turned his attention away from West.

West looked at him funny and then repeated. "I'm Wally West."

"Would you shut the hell up?" Roy asked.

Wally approached Roy, holding out his hand again. "Hi, I'm."

Roy smacked the hand. "I know, Wally West. So what?"

"You don't know who I am?" Wally asked, a hurt look on his face.

Roy spit on the ground, putting a wad of tobacco on Wally's new boots and moved up to see what was in the dress that was stepping out of the coach.

To Richard, standing there in the hot sun, time seemed to stand still. The woman, barely two years older than himself he guessed, was stunning in the lavender dress she wore, with matching bonnet and parasol. Richard had not seen such a fine piece of clothing since he had left Gotham.

The woman who inhabited the dress caused him to feel lightheaded.

She was tall, but not too tall, with fair skin, crimson lips, and hair of a shade of red Richard had never seen before. She moved like a breeze, every movement like visual poetry. She smiled and Richard noticed he had stopped breathing. A smack on the back by Roy got his lungs working again. "Pretty, ain't she?" he said.

Richard did not answer as he watched the woman run to the Marshal. "Barbara!" the Marshal called as they hugged. I want a hug, too, Richard thought.

"Boobs are too small," Roy said in low tones.

Richard turned around, a look of dismay and shock on his face. He could not believe that Roy would make such a crude comment. "Her chest," he refrained from using the same word as Roy, "is just fine."

Richard caught the wry smile on Roy's face just before he heard the voice. "I'll have to ensure that I make my uncle aware that you are so approving, deputy."

Needles, hot, hot needles poked into Richard's ears and he slowly turned around to see the most lovely green eyes looking back at him. "I..uh, no..that is.."

Roy pushed past and held out his hand. "Deputy Roy Harper, ma'am," he said with his famous roguish grin. "This foul-mouthed snake is Deputy Dickie Grayson."

"Grayson?" Boston Brand said. "You're Richard Grayson?"

Richard gave him a queer look and then turned back to Barbara. Wilson grabbed Brand and started to lead him back down the street. Barbara smiled at Richard. "So, do you go by Dickie or Richard?" she asked.

"It's Deputy Grayson, my dear," Vandal Savage said taking her hand. He lifted to his lips and kissed it lightly. "Ah, Mon Cherie," and then he began a litany of French that thoroughly disgusted Richard. Richard knew the language as well, but he would not stoop to cheap romantic tricks.

Barbara responded back, in French. The conversation switched then to Latin, and finally some language Richard had no clue of. She was thoroughly enjoying her verbal encounter with Savage. "My, Mr. Savage, you are certainly well-versed in the languages of the world," she said, fanning herself.

He smiled. "I've traveled the world over, and never have I laid eyes upon such a beautiful flower among such a God-forsaken land."

Marshal Gordon butted in. "Okay, Mr. Savage, it's time I got Barbara out of this hot sun."

"Of course, how rude of me!" Richard wanted to vomit. "Perhaps your niece would permit me to call upon her tomorrow?"

She smiled. "Of course I will; you don't mind, do you Uncle?"

Within the span of five minutes, Vandal Savage had managed to arrange a formal sitting with the woman Richard was sure he wanted to fall in love with. He had expected the Marshal to object, but somehow he seemed to be resolved not to test this well-educated and charming woman. He and Roy got her bags and put them on the Marshal's wagon around the corner. Roy kept whistling. "Its not funny!"

Roy burst into a fit of laughter. "Hooooboy! Beat out by that old coot! Damn, Dickie!"

"Quit calling me 'Dickie'!" Richard shouted. He reached down, picked up a small rock and threw it at Roy. Roy grabbed it midair and launched it back. Richard jumped out of the way. Then they heard the cry of pain.

Lying on his back, at the corner, with a large red welt on his forehead, was Wally West. The two deputies ran over to him and helped him up. "Hi," the stunned man said, nodding up and down. "I'm Wally West."

Slade Wilson was in a bad mood. He looked over at Brand, who was having another coughing fit, and decided he wouldn't kill his partner. Today.

This was a good deal for them, working for Savage, and could mean a whole lot more work in the future. What he didn't need was for his partner to dragging up the past. "You ever do something as stupid as that again, I'll cut you down like a dog."

Boston wiped some blood from his mouth. "My God, why didn't we recognize him?"

"Who cares? That was over 7 years ago and he didn't see squat," Slade responded, getting up on his horse.

Vandal Savage appeared and got into his coach. He poked his head out the door. "Let's get home, boys. I got a plan."

Boston got up into the rider's seat. "We gonna kill the old man like you said?"

"I've got a better plan. Suppose I get the farm legally?"

Wilson spit on the ground. "You tried that, Mr. Savage; he wouldn't sell."

"Ah, but what if I was to marry into the family?"

The two gunslingers looked at each other for a moment, and then back at Savage. "You mean that little filly that just got off the coach?" Wilson asked.

"Indeed. If she is the inheritor, then I can end up with that parcel of land without having to spend one dime. Of course, she's a bit on the frail side for me, but once things are in order, I'm sure the two of you might find a use for her? Hmmmm?"

The two men again looked at each other, but this time there was a lusty grin to each of their faces.

"So, you're Wally West, damn glad to meet you son, " Marshal Gordon said, taking Wally's hand. The young man had a large welt on his forehead. "Your uncle was a fine man, a fine man."

Wally looked embarrassed. "Thank you, Marshal, he always spoke highly of you and his time with Gotham Police Department."

Gordon sat down at his desk and lit up a cigar. Wally continued to stand. "Damn shame when he went to Keystone City, damn shame what happened to him."

Wally didn't respond. He looked down at the floor, and Richard seated across the room with Roy, wondered what had occurred to Wally's uncle. "Anyway," the Marshal began, taking a puff, "that's in the past and I'm happy to have you here, son."

"I appreciate you taking me in, Marshal. There were no openings in Keystone City, and Constable Garrick suggested that I contact you."

"Garrick, eh? Can't say I ever met the man."

"He was a member of the All-Star Riders during the war, sir."

Gordon's eyes seemed to glaze over as his memory went into overdrive. He slapped his hand on his desk. "General 'Smash and Flash' Garrick? Hell, I didn't know that old warhorse even survived the war! He was a hell of a soldier. I remember him now. The All-Stars were in Gotham near the end of the war, guarding a train of prisoners."

"Yes, sir, and he remembered how much help you provided him during his stay there. Him and my Uncle Barry thought you were a great lawman, sir."

Gordon flushed slightly. "I wouldn't go that far, son, but it's always good to hear praise from your peers." He motioned to Richard and Roy. "Boys, this here is Wally West.."

"We know," both men groaned.

Gordon cocked an eyebrow. "As I was saying, this is Wally West, also known as the Lighting Kid, nephew to a damn fine lawman out of Keystone City. Wally has decided to come work for our little town as a deputy. I expect you two to show him the ropes."

Wally walked over and stuck out his hand. "Hi."

"I swear, if you say your name once more I'll shoot you," Roy said standing up and accepting the hand. "Do you like to be called Wally or Walter?"

Richard shook his head.

Wally smiled. "My friends call me Wally."

"Okay, Walter," Roy said, "let's get you fitted with a star and a rig."

For Richard, the next few weeks were a blur of activity. Wally, it turned out, could live up to his name. He was quicker than Roy on the draw, much to Roy's chagrin. In frustration, Roy had challenged Wally to a target shoot. "First one to shoot six cans, wins," Roy said from the firing line.

In less than five seconds, twelve shots had been fired and Roy had hit all of his cans. Wally, though he drew faster, hit none. "You can't hit worth a squat!" Roy laughed.

So the secret was out; Wally couldn't shoot straight to save his life, and Roy, now once again confident in his status as top gun, began slowly training Wally in the ways of the firearm. Richard, more of an academic, spent late hours going over the various laws of Texas and Blood Haven with the new deputy. His devotion to duty was unquestionable, but it put a serious dent in the time he had to possibly pursue the interest of the Marshal's niece.

More than once, he had run over to the Marshal's ranch, with one sorry excuse or another, only to find Vandal Savage in the living room, smoking cigars and talking in French to the lovely woman. On the rare occasions that Richard would find himself alone with her, the conversation seemed to go nowhere. He became tongue-tied and unsure of himself. He would sweat, even in the chill of the night.

But eventually, over the course of time, he began to relax. She would tell him of growing up as a normal child in Gotham, and then moving on to the prestigious Gotham University. He talked about the death of his parents, sharpshooters in a traveling circus, and how their mysterious assassin had never been uncovered. Barbara talked about spending summer days walking with her uncle as he patrolled the streets of the city. Richard would only remark that his foster father was more of a night person.

Vandal sat in his office, behind a large redwood desk. The desk had to be large, for it held stacks and stacks of papers that Vandal had not yet gotten too. His time spent with the young Ms. Gordon had made him fall behind on his business interests. He knew, deep inside, that his attention to her was more than just some scheme to get her uncle's land; no, he was beginning to truly desire her. He had, over the course of his very long life, been in the company of many women, some even younger and prettier than Barbara, but never had one resisted his charms for so long. In the end, if charm didn't seduce them, his money would.

This fiery filly from Gotham was not only resisting his best efforts, but she was even beginning to spend her time more and more with that Grayson fellow. That was one problem he knew he was going to have to take care of soon.

The door opened and Boston Brand stepped in. Vandal hated looking at the man with his pale complexion and thinning hair. He considered momentarily having Slade shoot the man dead so nobody would have to look at him anymore. "Yes," Vandal began, agitation in his voice, "what is it, Brand?"

Brand gave a weak smile. "Got a visitor, boss."

Vandal's hopes were raised for only a moment, had Barbara come to her senses and rode over here to pledge her submission? He started to stand when a man in a dark suit walked in. "Good morning, Vandal," Lex Luthor began.

Boston closed the door leaving the two men alone. Luthor sat down and removed his hat, revealing a shining bald head. Luthor was the owner of Luthor Munitions, the largest arms manufacturer in the United States, and was a partner with Vandal on a variety of schemes. "What do you want, Lex?" Vandal grumbled, returning to reviewing his papers.

"I've come to relay some concerns on behalf of some of our other investors," Lex stated, looking about the room. The walls contained paintings that he recognized as having come from various private collections. "Copies?" he asked.

Vandal didn't even look up. "No. Mine are the originals."

Luthor nodded. "Some of our investors are calling for a more firm hand in dealing with the holdouts."

"Who has a problem?" Vandal asked.

Luthor shrugged. "That's not really important now, is it Vandal? What is important is that you secure the lands over that oil field soon, or else there may be.consequences."

Vandal set the papers down and peered across the desk. "Are you threatening me?"

"No. I have enough money and sense to know that even if you fail here, our business dealings can still continue to make us both a profit. Some of the others, however, like Cobblepot or Al Ghul, might consider your inability to come through on your promises to be traitorous."

Vandal dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand. "I've had worse than them to deal with."

Luthor began again. "I've been told that you've been, how should I put it, distracted from your work recently."

"And which one of my employees is your personal spy, Luthor?"

"All of them," Luthor replied with a wolfish grin. "What do you care? We're partners, you and I; I put up the capitol, you make the investment work. That is why I am asking. You are spending my money, Vandal, and I don't want it used for your romantic pursuits."

Vandal snarled. "What I do to secure our investments is my business. You've never wanted the details before, so why should it bother you now?"

Luthor reached into his satchel, pulled out a newspaper and threw it down on Vandal's desk. Document stacks fluttered to the floor in its wake. Vandal was about to protest when he caught the headline. It read "SENATOR CALLS FOR PROBE INTO FAMILY DEATH". "Do you remember, about a year ago, when you had old Mr. Johnston killed? Well, guess what, his nephew happens to be a respected senator from South Carolina! Had you bothered to confirm with me, I could have told you that. There's a couple of deputy U.S. marshals on their way here to look into your business dealings, since you bought up the Johnston property before the body was even cold!"

"What about the person who did the killing? What was his name?" Vandal asked, searching his memory. It had seemed so trivial at the time. It was just before he had come here to Blood Haven, in a California town called Coast City. He had needed to secure the water rights for another of Luthor's projects, but the old man, a retired army colonel, had told him to go to hell. So, like he did in most situations, Vandal had sent one of his many hired guns to kill the man. Vandal then used his money to purchase the property from the county, after conveniently destroying the old man's will.

"Not him, her," Luthor said. "You remember, Jack Napier's woman, Harley Quinn?"

"Oh yes, Napier, quite the little comedian, a regular joker. Has he been informed?"

Luthor smiled and reached for a cigar that Vandal offered. "Yes, but he doesn't seem to care. I may have to take care of him myself. I have a man down in Santa Prisca who may be of some use in that department. Either way, I need you to be more careful, especially with those U.S. marshals running around. No screw ups!"

Vandal lit up his cigar. "I don't think we have anything to worry about. Nobody can tie me to you, and we already sold off the property to one of your companies in Mexico."

Luthor sat back and took a drag off of his cigar. He blew smoke rings into the air. "You've got one problem; I understand that you've had a run-in with Richard Grayson."

"The deputy? He's nothing!"

Luthor took another drag. "Don't be an idiot! Do you have any idea who he is, really?"

"Watch your tone, Lex," Vandal warned. He was angrier by what Luthor knew than the insult. How much about everything had been leaked to his partner.

"Richard Grayson is the adoptive son of Bruce Wayne."

A puzzled look came over Vandal's face. He knew he should know that name, but it didn't click. Luthor watched the eyes of the man if front of him, noting that there was something almost primitive about them, especially when the man was lost in thought. "I'm sorry, Lex, but I don't know if I should care."

"Bruce Wayne? The owner of Wayne Diversified, the owner of Wayne Steel, the owner of Wayne Shipbuilding? The owner of Wayne Guns and Cannons? My largest competitor?"

The realization washed over Vandal like a wave from the ocean. The little deputy was actually a rich man's son. "Why the hell is he out here, working as a deputy?"

Luthor shrugged and put the stogie in his mouth. "Wayne isn't normal. He only works at night, lives in a huge house all by himself, doesn't pursue women; personally, I think he's queer. He's always adopting young boys. Grayson might have gotten tired of being used as a pin cushion and moved out here to be away from him."

Both men laughed at the crude remark. "I think one of my men knows him, too," Vandal said, wiping a tear from his eye.

"Brand? He hasn't told you? He was hired years ago to kill Grayson's parents when they refused to go to work for Brother Blood. He was part of the show, too."

"Blood? That religious fruitcake? What did he need sharpshooters for?"

Luthor shrugged for the third time. "Don't really know. All I know is that Brand shot them in the back and then ran like hell after setting the main tent on fire. I assume the local police thought he died in the fire, so he was never suspected of the crime. You know your Marshal Gordon investigated it. á That's how he and Wayne became such friends. Wayne bought the ranch Gordon owns, you know."

Vandal had not known that, his conversations with Barbara had not revealed that fact. Bruce Wayne, whomever he was, was a man who kept very quiet about a great many things. "You think Wayne has some idea about the oil?"

Luthor shook his head. "No, I think he, like everyone else, believes the railroad is going to go through here. I think he saw a way to make a little money, or else maybe not. Who knows? Either way, the railroad will go through, but I understand their going to use Indian reservation land. That leaves the oil rights to us."

Vandal watched as Luthor continued to smoke the cigar and make smoke rings, acting as if he hadn't a care in the world. The addition of Bruce Wayne into the equation was going to make it even more difficult for Vandal to ensure Luthor's investment was realized.

Richard opened the door to the small house he owned and walked in. It was a former barracks for the army, back when there had been a fort here, which had since been transformed into a dwelling. He had picked it up at a reasonable price and found it suited his needs. It was located on the outskirts of town, far enough away from it so that he had some privacy, but close enough so that he was available for the marshal whenever he needed him.

He lit the lamp on the front table and nearly jumped out of his skin. Seated in the chair at the table, dressed in black leather, was Helena.

"Hello, Richard, you look well," she said coolly. Helena Bertinelli was an employee of Bruce Wayne's. She had come from an immigrant family in New York that had reputed ties to La Costa Nostra, and organization of criminals from Italy. Most people thought La Costa Nostra was a myth, Richard knew otherwise.

Helena was about a year older than him, with long black hair and smooth white skin. There was a softness to her that was misleading; Richard knew that she could out fight most men any day of the week and twice on Sundays. She was employed by Bruce as a courier and was known in darker circles as Huntress, since she always seemed to be hunting for something, be it information or a person.

She had also been Richard's first love. "Hello, Helena, I won't bother trying to figure out how you got in," Richard said as he went around the main room, lighting lamps.

She pulled off her hat and let her hair flow down. Deep inside, Richard could felt the old rumblings in a place much lower than his stomach. Losing Helena had been one of the reasons he had come to Blood Haven. "I have the information you requested from Bruce," she said.

"Thanks, but you didn't have to bring it personally." Richard said as he started to work on lighting a fire. He was purposely avoiding sitting down and being comfortable.

"Bruce felt it would be better if I delivered it; he didn't trust any other couriers." She got up and walked over to him, stopping got stand behind him as he worked on the fire. "I guess this is kind of awkward."

"You could say that."

She tapped her foot on the floor, a habit she had developed during childhood to show when she was frustrated. "I'll leave it on the table. Is there someplace I can get a room for the night?"

Part of him wanted to tell her she could stay. He had been very much in love with her and they had been a couple since their late teens when she first came to work for Bruce. á In fact, it had only been a year and a half since he had proposed to her and she had said no. I love you, Dick, but I'm catholic, I can't marry you, my family would disown me.

Being catholic had not stopped her from coming to his room late at night in Wayne Manor, from sharing his bed until the wee hours of the morning. He had been good enough to provide stud service, but not good enough to marry. All because he was Jewish.

It wasn't an advertised fact, but his parents were not originally named Grayson. When Bruce had adopted him, he told him that he should not hide his religion, nor be ashamed of it, but not to go out of his way to advertise it. That was Bruce's way, to be secretive about everything. So, they had parted that night, and the next morning he had written a letter to Marshal Gordon, asking if he needed any help in his new position.

"You could try one of the saloons in town, otherwise, I'd say you'll have to rough it."

There was a tear welling up in her eye, but she wiped it away lest he see it. Without a word, she left, the distance between the two now too far to ever be crossed.

Richard picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside were several documents and a letter in Bruce's familiar script. As he read, he felt his face become flushed.

The information on Slade Wilson was useful enough. Slade had been a Major in the Confederate Army during the war. He was known as an excellent soldier who was prone to charge off after the enemy on his own. Bruce's contact had not been able to get anything official about Slade's status after the war, but it looked as if he had become a bounty hunter for a while. He traveled throughout the northern states and Canada before taking up with Vandal Savage.

The documents about Boston Brand were what caused his blood pressure to shoot up. He read through the papers, and then through them a second time. He cursed, swore, and kicked a chair across the room. Finally, he put his hat on and stormed out of the house.

Helena walked into the saloon and waved a hand to make the smoke move from her face. Many conversations stopped and a few whistles were directed towards her as she made her way to the bar. When she got there, a blonde haired bearded man offered to buy her a drink. He said his name was Oliver Queen and that he was the local bank president. She told him she was unimpressed.

She waved the bartender over and asked for a room. "Uh, we don't let outsiders do their business in here."

She kept her temper in check and informed him that she was not a prostitute. The bartender apologized and they settled on a fair room price. She then asked for a bottle of whiskey. Several cowboys called her over to their tables, offering her everything from the promise of twins to marriage proposals. Again, she told them she was unimpressed.

Then she saw a young man, about her age actually, casually walk into the saloon. Everybody seemed to tone their behavior down a bit as he strolled by the tables. She saw the star on his chest, and figured he was one of Richard's friends, come to check up on her. He strolled up to her, a hand resting on his sidearm. She didn't want to admit it, but he was cute. "Hi, Deputy Roy Harper," he said, tipping his hat to her.

"I suppose you're here to make sure I'm being a good girl," she said, pouring her a shot.

"Actually, I kinda prefer bad girls," he said with a lopsided grin

She found herself strangely attracted to the unshaven, unkempt deputy with the cocky attitude. Most men who approached her were full of themselves, and Deputy Harper seemed no different in that respect. However, she got the distinct feeling that he never said anything that wasn't true. "If I'm really bad, are you going to lock me up in the jail?"

He laughed and ordered himself a drink. "I think you and I are going to be very good friends."

Barbara was just going to her room to get ready for bed when she heard the pounding on the front door. She couldn't imagine who it could be this late at night and she didn't want to disturb her uncle, who had gone to bed early. She went to the door and opened it. There stood Deputy Grayson.

At first, she assumed he was there to see her, and she found herself worrying about her hair. She then realized by the stern expression on his face that there was something serious on his mind. "Good evening, Richard; rather late to be calling on us."

"I need to see your uncle," he said flatly.

"He's gone to bed, if you come."

"Now, damn it!" he barked. She jumped back, slightly wounded by the harsh words. She thought about shouting right back, but then she understood that something very important was going on, and it had nothing to do with her. There was business between her uncle and Richard that needed to be resolved right now.

She let him in and went to go wake her uncle. He was groggy and didn't quite understand what she was trying to tell him, but he understood he was needed in the front room. Barbara helped him out of bed and wrapped a blanket around him.

"Richard, what on Earth is it?" James Gordon asked, walking into the room.

Barbara excused herself and went to her room. She closed the door, but left it cracked to hear what was going on. She had found herself becoming more and more attracted to Richard as they spent time together. He was the strong, shy type that intrigued her. She knew that he was upset about the attention she had been paying to Vandal Savage, but she felt it was important to maintain good relations with their neighbors. She certainly had no intention of getting romantically involved with Savage. He so old and nasty!

"Why didn't you tell me that you investigated the deaths of my parents?" Richard asked, his back to the marshal.

"You never asked. I didn't think it was important, since we never found out who did it. I also investigated the deaths of Bruce's parents, but I don't go around telling everyone. I was constable of Gotham Township at the time, it was my job."

Still turned away, and in an icy voice, Richard spoke again. "Why didn't you tell me that Boston Brand was suspected of murdering my parents? That's why he was shocked to hear my name that day when the stagecoach arrived, he thought I was dead, too."

James Gordon sat down, feeling the weight of what he was about to say on his shoulders. He felt he was getting too old to be carrying so much. "Richard, we never did find out who shot your parents," he began quietly. "The fact of the matter was that I didn't know Boston Brand was alive until that day Vandal introduced us to him. Hell, I don't even know if he's the same one who traveled with the show you were in."

"You could have told me."

"Told you what? Boston Brand, or Deadman as he went by in his act, was listed a probably dead in the fire that destroyed the tent of the show. You remember that night; you remember how many people died. We couldn't identify all of the bodies, so we assumed that Brand was dead."

Richard turned around. His eyes were puffy and red from tears. "That bastard killed my parents! You knew it! I had a right to know. He destroyed my entire life!"

Gordon's voice took on a fatherly tone. "Son, we don't know that. I say its likely, but there is no evidence. Bruce even hired a Pinkerton detective to look into it, a good fella named John Jones. Jones couldn't find any positive evidence that Brand was responsible. Since he disappeared, we couldn't ask him."

"He's here now!" Richard yelled.

"I'm not the Constable of Gotham City anymore, I'm the Marshall of Blood Haven; a crime that occurred ten years ago outside my jurisdiction is not my responsibility to investigate."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Richard asked, the tears flowing freely. He felt his face getting numb he was so angry. "At least two people were murdered by Boston Brand, I'd say that was your responsibility. Did you at least inform the current Gotham Constable?"

James nodded. "I wrote him a letter a couple of weeks ago. He wrote back that the city attorney, Harvey Dent, was not interested in pursuing the case, base on a lack of evidence."

Richard was near his boiling point. "Dent? Good God, do you know how much business Bruce gave him when he was in private practice? He's nothing but a two-faced.."

"Richard, you need to calm down," James said, trying to soothe the young man. "Without a confession, we're nowhere, unless we had a witness, but all of the witnesses died in the fire."

Richard couldn't take it anymore and he sagged to his knees. Despite herself, Barbara came out of the room and got down on the floor next to him, holding him in her arms as he cried. James Gordon came over as well and put a reassuring hand in his shoulder.

He hadn't cried that night, as he was in too much shock to register what was going on. Then with Bruce, he learned to bury the feelings, bury them deep inside and use them as fuel for the fire of justice. For years, since he had inherited his late father's fortune, Bruce Wayne had been financing a secret battle against crime in Gotham City. It was he who provided the anonymous donations to the city to hire more constables; it was he who secretly built shelters for the rising amount of homeless people in the city; it was Bruce Wayne who also went out at night, clad in dark clothes so he could hide in the shadows. From the darkness, he would observe the criminals of his city: Jack Napier, Oswald Cobblepot, and others. He would then use his vast resources to hire others to take care of the dirty work for him. People like Helena.

Now, after ten years of holding it in, Richard Grayson wept for the parents he had lost before he had a real chance to know them. Certainly they had been loving enough and supportive, but he would have wanted to talk to his father as a man, to have his mother cry at his wedding, to see their faces when they saw their grandchildren. But that had all been taken a way one fiery night. His parents had been shot in the back and the tent set on fire to try and hide the crime, but a doctor hired by Bruce had discovered the true cause of death.

Eventually, James Gordon had to retire to his bed; he was getting too old to stay up all night. He smiled to himself though, as he blew out his lamp, as he saw Barbara sitting on the couch next to Richard, listening to him. He prayed silently that night. He prayed that Barbara would realize what a good and decent man Richard was. It had been his plan all along, to introduce Barbara to his friend Bruce's adoptive son. The puzzle pieces had started falling into place until Savage had come along. Gordon had known that if he tried to forbid the strongly independent Barbara from seeing the rancher, she would do it just to spite him. So, he had bided his time.

It looked like his patience was paying off.

"Hi, I'm Wally West," the young deputy said, extending his hand to the two U.S. Deputy Marshals that stood inside the marshal's office. The older one, a tall blonde-haired man, introduced himself as Alan Scott. He introduced his partner as Hal Jordan.

They asked him when the marshal would be in, and Wally responded it would be soon and they could wait inside if they wanted. They thanked him and entered. Wally then remembered he had to go wake Roy and excused himself.

Wally took off towards the saloon Roy said he would be staying at for the night and began to whistle a tune. He was loving his job, following in the footsteps of his uncle. The only thing that would make it better was if his uncle were alive to see him.

As he turned the corner, he heard a woman scream. He looked and saw a dark-haired woman smack a man upside the head. Wally ran over to see what the problem was. The man was rearing back to hit the woman, when Wally got there. Out of breath, he told the man to stop.

The man turned and Wally saw that it was Vandal Savage's man, Slade Wilson. "Get out of here, boy, this has nothing to do with you."

Wally looked to the woman and saw it was the local schoolteacher, Donna Troy. He had been meaning to speak with her, possible feel out if she was courtable, but he never seemed to have time. "Hi, I'm Wally West," he said, extending his hand to her.

Wilson smacked it up out of the way. "I said get the hell out of here, boy! This bitch is giving me lip."

Wally straightened up. "I don't think that's the proper way to talk in front of a lady, sir. Now you apologize."

Wilson spat on the ground and Wally saw his hand move to his sidearm. Wally, much faster, drew his weapon and fired. Wilson went down, a bullet lodged in his thigh.

Roy Harper came running out of the saloon, his gun drawn, only to see Wally standing over a screaming Slade Wilson. Two men were running up to Wilson. "Get him the hell outta here," Roy said to the men.

They started to drag Wilson off, who was cursing and holding the bloody wound on his leg. Wally slowly put his weapon back in its holster and then moved over to Miss Troy. Roy picked up Wilson's fallen weapon and inspected it. It was a fine weapon, sure to get Roy a couple of dollars of credit at the tables!

Wally returned and Roy saw that Miss Troy was moving off towards the school. "I got me a date."

Roy shrugged and then saw Helena coming out of the saloon. She was adjusting her hat and the sun caught her just right to highlight her trim, hard form. Wally let out a small whistle. "I got me laid; I thinks that be a whole lot better," Roy said.

Wally nodded slowly. Helena saw them standing there and walked over. She gave Roy a hug and kiss when she got there. I want a hug, Wally thought to himself. "Hi, I'm Wally West," he said extending his hand. She took it and he was surprised by the grip.

"Roy, if you're ever in Gotham, stop by and see me."

Roy said he would and the two men watched her walk off towards her horse. As she rode away, Roy began questioning Wally about what had happened with Wilson. After Wally had given him the story, Roy nodded his head. "Marshal will be happy you didn't kill him. Good job going for the leg."

Wally replied sheepishly. "I was aiming for his heart."

"I'm afraid I can't help you gentlemen very much," James Gordon said, pouring him a cup of coffee. "Vandal is a snake, don't get me wrong, but I can't prove a damn thing. Nobody has registered even the slightest complaint on him. All of the land he's bought up out here he appears to have gotten legally."

Alan Scott nodded, while Hal Jordan took notes in a small notebook. "What about any of his people, his employees?"

Richard spoke up. "He's got a man suspected of murder working for him named Boston Brand."

"The sharpshooter?" Jordan asked, looking up. "He's here?"

Gordon nodded. "Yeah."

"He's wanted for questioning in New Mexico. No federal charges, mind you, otherwise we'd go get him. I'll inform the law there about it."

Richard decided he liked Jordan right there. He was younger than Scott, but older than Richard. He had an air of confidence around him and you could tell that he wanted to be the best U.S. marshal of all. "He's wanted for murder?" Richard asked.

"Suspected, not wanted. A land contract attorney was shot in his office in town. The local sheriff determined that the shooter had to be up on a mountain to get the shot off without being seen. It was a hell of a distance, not many a man could have done it. It just so happens that Boston Brand was in town that day passing through," Jordan said.

"Anything else?" Gordon asked.

"No, marshal," Scott said, getting up. "We appreciate the time and information. If we do need anything else, we'll let you know."

Vandal Savage was angry, even angrier than when his seventh wife had been killed by Pharaoh Ramses II's troops.

Vandal Savage was an old man, a very old man, and his ire was up. It had been tens of thousands of years since the meteor had struck down in front of him, bathing him in radiation. The radiation had caused him to stop aging. It made him immortal.

Being immortal gave one a different perspective about things, and Vandal Savage had learned to be very patient over the centuries. Today, however, his patience was at its end.

She had refused him, refused his offer of marriage, claiming that her heart belonged to another. He knew who the other was, Bruce Wayne's little homosexual toy, if the rumors were true.

His plan to marry into the Gordon land was dissolving before his eyes. He had no choice now. He wasn't afraid of being killed by the other investors Luthor had warned about. No, he just didn't want to go through the trouble of rebuilding his empire again. Power was the only thing he desired now.

Except for Barbara Gordon.

He sighed, forcing himself to calm down. He would have her, at least once. It felt good to know he was still capable of good old-fashioned lust after so many centuries. He always thought he would tire of sex eventually. But he hadn't and he would force her to his bed and then he would kill her. It had been so long since he had committed a brutal murder that he actually found himself smiling as he imagined her neck in his massive hands, being slowly squeezed.

They would strike tonight. He would be out of Blood Haven by tomorrow night, heading to Metropolis for a much-needed vacation at Luthor's expense.

Barbara Gordon looked out the window at the tract of land her uncle owned and sighed. She had turned down Vandal's proposal so quickly that she was worried that she had hurt his feelings. While Richard may not have trusted him, Barbara found it hard to believe that the man who spent his nights discussing the arts and philosophy with her could be all that bad.

Still, Vandal's wasn't the first proposal she had refused, and probably wouldn't be the last if she didn't figure out a way to get Richard to ask. She found herself spending her days wondering what it would feel like to be carrying his child in her, what it would be like to see his face when she had a warm supper waiting for him when he finished a hard day at work.

So lost in her thoughts, she didn't hear the back door open or the soft footsteps of Boston Brand as he crept through the home. He was working hard not to cough, knowing that to do so would give him away, and then he would have to chase her. He didn't feel like chasing her. He didn't feel like doing anything.

The disease that was ravaging his body was making each day a living hell, and he knew it was God getting back at him for the terrible things he had done in the past. Here was again, breaking into a home to kidnap a young woman. This time, however, it wasn't to satisfy his own lusts. He had discovered weeks before that "Little Boston" no longer got up in the morning, or the afternoon, or anytime actually.

He was behind her and almost had her when she smelled him. He had a scent of decay about him. She turned and saw him reaching for her. She screamed and punched him in the nose. "God damn!" he cried as blood poured from the broken cartilage. The woman ran out the front door and headed for the stable.

She saw the man emerge in the doorway of the house and ran even faster to the safety of the horses. She tripped over her own dress and she cursed silently, wondering why she chose to wear such a frilly thing out in the middle of nowhere. She heard a click behind her and she looked to see another man pointing a pistol at her. "Don't move, darlin', or I'll plug that pretty ass right here," Slade Wilson said.

Later that night, James Gordon returned home with Richard Grayson and discovered his home burned down. Their first thoughts were of Barbara, of course, and they were only slightly relieved to find a note stuck to a dead mare that gave instructions for Gordon to come to the offices of a local attorney to sign over the deed to the land or else Barbara was dead.

James Gordon entered the office. It was late, but not so that there still weren't people on the street. With all of the witnesses, Gordon could not take the law into his own hands. He saw Vandal sitting at a table with the attorney. "James, so nice of you to agree to come by. I believe you know Mr. Smythe."

The attorney was pale with fright. James noticed that pistol in Vandal's hand, pointed at the attorney's chest. He had at first thought that the attorney was in on it, but now saw he was just a pawn as well. "I didn't have much choice, did I Vandal?"

Vandal held up a finger. "Your weapon, please, James."

Gordon complied by removing his rig and dropping it to the floor. He kicked it over to where Vandal was sitting. "Anything else?"

"You have the deed?"

James reached inside his vest and withdrew a piece of paper. "Got it right here. Where's my niece?"

"First things first, James, sign over the deed, and then I'll tell you where she is."

Richard crept along in the darkness, Wally and Roy behind him. They moved around to the back of attorney's office and found Vandal's carriage. All three knew that Vandal would not have driven himself and that the driver would undoubtedly either be Wilson or Brand. Richard wanted it to be Brand.

Roy knelt on the ground and examined the prints and tracks on the dirt. Silently, he indicated that the driver had headed off across the street. He then motioned that the carriage had come from outside of town.

As they had previously arranged, Richard headed out after the driver, while Roy and Wally followed Vandal's tracks out of town.

Richard walked through the alley that led to the main street. There was a full moon out and he could see the shops across the street perfectly and he wondered behind which building the driver was waiting.

A figure stepped out from in front of the attorney's office and stood in a fighters' stance. Richard recognized the gaunt form of Boston Brand. "I should have known it would end up like this, " Boston said.

Richard took a similar stance and pulled on his leather gloves. "You killed my parents, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I shot 'em. They were running me out of a job."

"You made a big mistake."

Brand coughed and hacked in response. "Yeah, I know. I should have killed you, too."

Richard's hand moved like lightning to his pistol, Brand matching him in speed. Both guns fired simultaneously and Richard fell back as he felt a blow to his chest. Brand fell down, face first, along with him.

Richard felt down in his shirt; sure enough, the chain mail vest that Bruce had demanded he wear so long as carried a pistol had stopped the bullet. Richard could almost feel the bruise starting to form and he knew by morning he wouldn't be able to move his left arm.

He got up and walked over to Boston. He did not need to turn the man over. The back of the man's skull was blown away, indicating that Richard's bullet had found its mark.

At the sound of the shots, Gordon moved like a wildcat, jumping on Vandal. Vandal brought the gun up and fired. Marshal James Gordon went down with a thud.

The front door was kicked open and Vandal saw the form of Richard Grayson. Vandal quickly put a shot into the cowering attorney, killing him, and then fired a shot at Richard. Grayson dodged aside and Vandal ran out the back.

Outside, Vandal hoped onto his coach and got his horses moving. Richard was only seconds behind him, but he couldn't get off a good shot. The bullets just whizzed past the fleeing criminal.

Richard went back in to check on the marshal, but found that the man was dead. Richard held back the tears and reached for the deed still clutched in Gordon's fingers. He opened it and looked, seeing that it wasn't a deed at all, but a will, leaving the entire ranch to Barbara. Gordon's plan had been to force Vandal to keep Barbara alive by sacrificing his own life. "Good-bye, marshal," Richard said.

Then he ran out of the office to his awaiting horse.

Roy and Wally were hiding in the pigpen.

In the Savage home, every lamp was lit, and Roy could make out a few guards here and there, but had not seen the silhouette of Barbara Gordon yet. Roy knew that if a woman passed by one of those windows, he'd know.

He pulled out his gun and checked it. It was fully loaded. He considered their options and he didn't like any of them. He could call for the men to surrender, but he doubted they would. They could charge the home, but the odds were against them, especially with Wally backing him. He would have tried it if he had Richard or even the marshal, but Wally was too much of a greenhorn.

Then a thought occurred to him and he smiled. He emptied the rounds out of his pistol and then reholstered it. Wally was about to protest and Roy made a motion to shut up. Roy stood up and threw a bullet into the stockyard. A cow bellowed and mooed.

There seemed to be no reaction from the guards, so Roy began throwing the bullets two at a time. He started pulling them out of his belt. A cow went down, the bullet going right through the eye and Roy winced. The death of the cow spooked enough of the other animals that they started raising a commotion.

Roy was very satisfied when the guards started running out to the stockyard. In the shadows, he and Wally slowly made their way up to the front porch. The door opened and a man started to walk out, carrying a rifle. Before the man knew what happened, Roy made a war cry, reached out and snapped the man's neck.

Roy's cry had alerted the other guards to their presence and they came running. "Stay out here, keep 'em away, while I find Dickie's filly!" Roy cried as he ran into the house.

Wally turned and drew both pistols, aiming them at the approaching guards. "Hi!" he called. "I'm Wally West, Deputy Wally West that is. You are all under arrest."

The men stopped and started laughing. One, the apparent leader of the crew, brought his rifle up and pointed it at Wally. Wally fired at the man, and the man on his target's left went down. There was a stunned silence and the leader lowered the rifle. "What the hell?" he asked.

"That's right," Wally said, trying to think of a way out of this situation without dying. "The next one of you that draws on me, I'll shoot the man next to you."

The guards began to look at each other and argue. One pulled out a pistol and pointed at Wally. Wally fired and a pig went down. The squeal echoed through the cold night.

The men, realizing that Wally couldn't shoot straight, started firing at him. He ducked down and started returning fire. Bullets started hitting everywhere around him and Wally knew he was a dead man if he didn't do something soon. He reloaded as quickly as he could and said a small prayer. He peered out, nearly losing an eye, taking in the positions of the men attacking him.

Wally closed his eyes, stood up and started firing. Bullets whizzed past his ears, but he kept firing. Soon, all he could hear was his own screaming and he opened his eyes. All seven of the men who had been attacking him were dead, each one shot in the head at least once.

Roy heard scuffling coming from a room upstairs and decided to investigate. He was out of bullets, so he drew his boot knife instead. He heard a shot outside and hoped that Wally was okay. He then heard Wally's familiar greeting and smiled.

He reached the door in the hallway and put his ear up to it. As he did, another shot rang out and Roy could have sworn that he heard a pig die. He shook his head and listened again through the door. He heard the distinctive sound of cloth tearing, and by the length and pitch of the sound, Roy knew it was a woman's dress being torn from the front. He had been witness to the sounds many a time.

The only difference was the times he had done it, the women had been laughing, not pleading as he heard right now. Roy kicked the door open and saw Slade Wilson, pants down, trying to mount a terrified Barbara Gordon. Roy threw the knife and was amazed that Wilson grabbed it out of the air, sending it flying back at Roy.

Roy dodged, but not quite enough. The knife missed his chest, but hit his arm. Wilson quickly was pulling up his pants, and Roy backed out of the room. Gunfire had erupted outside and Roy was very fearful for his partner. Wilson came storming out and grabbed Roy by the neck. The man's strength was inhuman as he easily picked Roy up off of the ground.

Roy was choking to death and struggled to break Wilson's grip. The man just laughed. "You have no idea what kind of man I am, do you? The army experimented on me with all kinds of potions from Asia and Africa, trying to make me into the perfect killing machine. It worked; only problem was we lost the war before it could be distributed to our troops."

"Thanks for the life story," Roy gasped. He was starting to see strange colors swirl before his eyes and he was reminded of being very, very drunk.

Barbara screamed and brought a statue down on Wilson's head. The man let Roy go, who tumbled to the floor, gasping and coughing. Wilson turned and punched Barbara in the face, sending her flying back into the room. á "I'll get to you in a second, whore!" he said, turning his attention back to Roy.

Roy tried to move, but his left arm was going numb and he was still seeing spots. Wilson reached down and hauled him up by his shirt. á "Where's my gun at, you little bastard?" he snapped.

"Right here," Wally said from behind. Wally fired and Wilson screamed and grabbed his right buttock. Wally fired again and Wilson grabbed the other cheek.

Wilson snarled, getting past the pain and jumped Wally. There was a shot and the dead body of Slade Wilson landed on top of Wally. "Oh, God, get him off of me, he's bleeding all over me!" screamed Wally from under the dead man.

Down at the bottom of the stairs, Richard holstered his smoking weapon before running up two stairs at a time. He pushed Wilson's body off of Wally, noting the bullet hole through the center of the eye patch on Wilson's face. "You okay?" Richard asked.

Wally nodded his head. "I was aiming for his knees. I should have kept my eyes shut."

Richard smacked him on the back and saw Roy getting up. He saw the knife sticking out of his friend's arm and reached for it. Roy nodded and Richard pushed it in slightly, making Roy howl. "What the hell did you do that for?"

Richard smiled. "That's for calling me 'Dickie'!"

Roy pulled it out himself with a grunt. "Fine, Dick!"

Richard went into the room and went over to Barbara. She had a black eye, but was otherwise fine. "I've never been hit that hard before," she said, slightly dazed.

The next few weeks were a flurry of activity in Blood Haven. Barbara had been very distraught over the death of her uncle, but was slowly getting over it with Richard's help. He had asked her to marry him, and she had consented. They were already planning a honeymoon in France, where she promised to help teach Richard the language of love.

Wally had decided to return home, taking a certain young schoolteacher with him. He had decided that perhaps law enforcement was not where he was meant to be and was thinking of becoming a teacher. His replacement was a half Chinese fellow named Connor Hawke. Oliver Queen, the local banker, had been elected by the city council to find a new schoolteacher. He was currently interviewing several likely female candidates in his private office.

The entire Vandal Savage incident had colored Richard to his chosen profession, and he had resigned his star in favor of managing the ranch. With his financial backing, he hoped to establish a chain of restaurants. It was a novel idea, and Bruce Wayne had bought into it as well.

"So, that's it, you're gonna open a bunch of, what did you call them? Steakhouses?" Roy asked.

Richard sat in the office of Marshal Roy Harper with his fiancÚ and nodded. She laid her head on his shoulder. "I think it's a great idea," she said.

Roy laughed. "Who the hell is gonna pay to have someone else cook for them a whole meal when they got a wife at home?"

"You'd be surprised, Mr. Harper," Barbara said. "Did you ever stop to think that maybe wives don't want to cook all the time?"


The door burst open as soon as he had said it and there stood Helena, a look of rage over her face. "You little bastard! I'm pregnant!"

Roy's eyes got wide. "Hey, how do you know it's mine?"

Helena ran up and punched him in his bandaged arm. She turned to Richard and Barbara. "Congratulations on your engagement. Now leave."

They looked at each other, shrugged and got up to leave. Out side were two dark haired men in expensive suits. Richard could tell by the bulges in their jackets they were armed.

"By God, you'd better be catholic," Helena screamed.

At that, the two men nodded to each other and entered the office. As the door closed, they could here one of them saying to Roy. "Not to worry; if you's ain't catholic, we're here to convert you's."

Vandal Savage sniffed the salt air of the Atlantic Ocean. It was too bad he had to leave the United States, but he figured he could return in fifty years or so, when vandal Savage was nothing more than a memory. He had holdings in Europe that he long neglected. Perhaps he would retake his Prussian title?

His ship would be leaving soon and he looked around to find a likely candidate to carry his baggage on board. Two men walked up to him.

"Vandal Savage?" the blonde haired one asked?

Vandal regarded the man with contempt. "And who is asking?"

Both men pulled their coats open to reveal badges. "U. S. Marshals; we'd like to ask you some questions regarding the killing of Marshal James Gordon."

Vandal shrugged. "I don't have the time."

The darker haired of the two got up into Vandal's face. "Seems Marshal Gordon was cooperating with us on an investigation into your activities in Blood Haven. His death is now a federal matter."

Both men grabbed his arms and placed crude bindings on his wrists. Vandal sighed. He could break them, he knew, but he was getting tired of the whole thing. The most he would get is maybe a hundred years; his lawyers would make sure he didn't get life.

Vandal decided not resist. He figured a one hundred year vacation would do him so good. Let his accounts accrue interest. Maybe start exercising.

He smiled at the thoughts as the marshals led him away.


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