Author's Note: "We've switched DarkRiver's regular Muse with Folger's Crystals, let's see is he notices!" I bloody well do notice! Eroticus seems to be on vacation, so I'm stuck writing real stories. Sorry, I know this'll ruin my rep, but what can ya do? This one should be viewable by all audiences... any slashy themes you notice are just your own sick minds at work.

This is a D.C. fic about Young Justice. If you're reading that book, I think you'll get a kick out of this little story. If you're not... why the heck aren't you? It's only in ish 27 and it's written by the most awesome Peter David so what's your excuse? Seriously, I've tried to fit in a little exposition to help along those who don't know the kids, but you'll get more out of it if you read the book. (There, Mr. David, I've given you your props, can I start now?)


Family Values: Part Two
By DarkRiver

"Al? You okay?"

Tim Drake, a.k.a Alvin Draper, looked up over the knees he had curled against his chest. Cassie looked to be genuinely worried about him. So did Cissie. Part of him knew he should stop acting like a scared kid and look after his teammates, but that part of him had run and hid when they had taken the mask away.

He shivered all over as he remembered waking alone in a small room just over an hour ago. His head had been hammering and his mouth had felt like he'd eaten sand. A man--some agent, he assumed--told him to relax and let the tranquilizer wear off on its own.

Fine advice, the only problem being that the man had called him by name.

His secret identity was blown and he had no idea how bad. For years Batman had hammered into his head how important it was that no one knew he was Robin. He had kept the secret from his teammates, his girlfriend, even his father. All because Batman believed that if anyone knew, it would lead to unveiling the identities of the whole Gotham vigilante circuit.

Now it was done and could not be undone and so he really didn't feel like being the responsible one right now.

"I'm fine," he whispered.

Cissie, a.k.a. Arrowette, shook her head. It made no sense, really, that she be here. She had quit the team weeks ago. She wasn't even really active as a costumed adventurer anymore. Apparently, she was guilty just by association.

This room they were in was plain. A simple metal table in the center, welded to the floor, was surrounded by heavy metal chairs. There individual quarters were adjacent to this room, but they were allowed to move freely. So far, no threat of harm had been made. That they were being monitored, no one doubted, but they were not being harassed, which was something.

Tim continued to fret.

The door opened and the plain-faced agent that was apparently in charge here walked in. Behind him was Kon, looking shaken and confused in the drab jumpsuit they had all been given to wear. He did not meet any of their gazes.

"Dinner will up in an hour," the agent announced.

No one replied.

The agent shrugged and left, sealing the main door tightly behind him. Kon shuffled forward and sat in one of the uncomfortable chairs, still not looking at them. The silence was one of those extremely uncomfortable silences, like a wet cat that insisted on climbing into your lap.

"So, uh, Kid... how'd they get you?" Cassie asked.

Kon gave her a pained look. "They have orders signed by the President, Wondy. I couldn't defy them, I just couldn't. So, I, um... surrendered."

They stared at him.

"Like it or not, they are working within the law," Kon told them.

Cissie took a moment to find words. "You surrendered? Are you nuts?"

Cassie chimed right in. "It's a funny kind of law they're working within. Arrowette has a goose-egg on the back of her skull cause of these creeps."

"Hey, hey! I didn't say I agreed with them! I've just got certain... obligations to meet."

"Obligations?" Wonder Girl snapped.

"Everyone calm down."

They all looked over at Robin, whose eyes were once more focused and serious. As always seemed to be the case, the preternaturally adult demeanor of the Boy Wonder drew their attention and commanded their obedience. He was their leader not by force, but by respect.

"Kon's correct. These men are sanctioned by the U.S. Government--I got that much out of them, anyway, before they locked me in here. To attack deputized officials of the Federal government would be just asking them to disband us, possibly incarcerate us long-term. They captured us using what they believed to be--and can probably prove in court as--necessary force. For the moment, there's nothing we can do but wait to see what they want."

Cissie grumbled and flopped into a chair. "This blows."

Robin gave her a weak smile. "Yeah... it does."

The door opened and their stone-faced keeper walked in. "Tim, your father is here to see you."

And the Robin personae went back into hiding as Tim felt terror more deeply then he ever had in his entire life. He swallowed hard and stood, wanting to wake up from this nightmare, wanting to be away from here.

"Oh," he said in a faint whisper. "Okay..."

*About an hour earlier...*

Jack Drake sat in the small office straight-backed and hard-eyed. Having been rousted from his home late into the night by the Keystone P.D. and brought to this unusually plain building that was most definitely *not* the K.P.D. headquarters, he was in little mood for further surprises. What he wanted were answers--something the officers had been in short supply of.

His attorney, Michael Noonz, had finally arrived a few minutes ago. That was one encouraging sign, anyway. This was, by all accounts, a legitimate inquiry. But he was a law-abiding citizen and this treatment was the sort of thing he would have to discuss with his influential friends.

A woman walked in, dressed in a simple suit that marked her as one of the agents involved in this insanity. This woman had the harried air about her of someone with a job that played at getting easier and then suddenly became impossible. In her hands she juggled a notepad, a cup of coffee and a tape recorder.

"Hello, Mr. Drake, Mr. Noonz, I'm Agent Janice Dwight."

"Agent," Jack acknowledged her coolly.

She took a seat and set down her tangle of items. One slender finger turned the tape recorder on. "Now, Mr. Drake, you are aware this is an official inquiry and you are aware of your rights."


"Very well, Mr. Drake. Mr. Noonz will be advising you here?"

"Yes, Agent, now would you kindly tell me what in God's name is going on?" he asked.

Janice was unmoved. "Mr. Drake, please state your name for the record."

"John Drake."

"Thank you, sir. John Drake is here addressing issues regarding case file 13289A-E-J. Mr. Drake, do you have a son?"

*Tim? What the Hell did Tim have to do with this?* "Yes, Tim. Why?"

"Mr. Drake, do you know where your son was tonight?"

"In his bed in his dorm at Brentwood, or at least he had better have been," Jack replied tersely. "Is he in some sort of trouble?"

Janice shook her head and took a sip of coffee. "No, sir. Were you aware that your son has been operating under the identity of Robin for the past several months?"

Jack stared at her, ready to laugh, but finding himself just gaping. Months of mysteries all fell into place in one dizzying instant. Tim had been secretive, withdrawn and even rebellious of late. Always a good kid, he had begun defying curfews, breaking groundings, and had even gone into the middle of Gotham after it had been abandoned by the law.

And for each of these offenses, the punishments had grown more severe... and the defiance had only seemed to grow more outrageous.

"Robin's... just a myth..."

"Not at all, sir. Our agency has been following his activities for some time. He usually operates in Gotham--where you used to live, I believe--but recently he's been sighted in locations across the world."

"What is the purpose of this inquiry, Agent Dwight?" Noonz asked.

Her gaze did not turn in the lawyer's direction. "Simply to determine if Mr. Drake knowingly allowed his son to walk into life-threatening situations or not."

"You don't have to answer this, Jack. In fact, I doubt you should. It smells like a witch hunt."

Her eyes narrowed briefly in a display of annoyance. "Child endangerment laws have been violated. We are simply trying to assess blame."

Jack glared at her. "The answer is no, I did not know. How could I have known? I didn't think Batman and Robin were real."

The agent shrugged. "I suspected you did not know of your son's activities. You should be aware, though, that such ignorance does not necessarily clear you of wrong-doing."

"Wrong-d... Look, lady, I've just about had it with you and your accusations. Where's Tim?"

"In protective custody."

"Not anymore, he's coming home with me," Jack told her. His mind was still spinning with what he had learned. There was so much he needed to talk to Tim about... answers to questions he had not even thought of. It was too much. He needed time, and he really needed to be away from these officious busy-bodies.

"I'm afraid that is not possible, Mr. Drake."

Jack's gaze burned into her. "Excuse me?"

"Until this matter is resolved, your son will remain in the care of the state," Janice told him indifferently, gathering up her notes.

"Like Hell! Ismael, can they do they that?"

His lawyer gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm afraid so. Best thing we can do is move to resolve this quickly."

"The Justice department will be contacting you," she informed them. "Thank you for your ti--"

"Wait a second!" Jack interjected. "At least let me see him."

Janice looked uncertain. "I don't think that is advisable."

He could hardly believe what he was hearing. "Lady, if you don't let me see my son, I'll have your job, got it? I don't care who you work for. I've got more than a few friends on the Hill."

"I don't respond to threats, Mr. Drake," she told him curtly.

Jack started shaking and his shoulders sagged. He was all knotted up inside from worry and anxiety, wondering how Tim was. This whole situation was making him ill.

"Agent Dwight... despite your suspicions, I love my son. I'm begging you, give me five minutes..."

Her gaze softened and she sighed. "Okay, Mr. Drake... but only a few minutes. And Agent Foskani will be in the room with you."

He nodded weakly. "If that's the way it has to be..."

Jack paced frantically back and forth, searching for words, looking for some way to reach Tim in the short time he had. It was always so hard to connect with him, especially in the last few months. Jack had shrugged the behavior off as a teenager's phase. He himself had been involved with a woman he now hoped to spend the rest of his life with.

There simply had been no time, no right time anyway, to find out what was happening with his son. He had to wonder if Tim would ever have told him, if he'd pressed it. Back when he was a boy, Tim had been so open... bright and self-possessed, but definitely his father's son.

What had happened?

The door opened and Tim came in with another agent--Foskani, he assumed--trailing behind. He looked into his son's eyes and tried to see some trace, some inkling of that which he had missed all these months.

But standing there in a blue jumpsuit with his shoulders sagging and his face pale, he looked only like a terrified kid expecting the worst scolding in history.

"Is it true?" Jack asked. "Are you this Robin character?"

Tim looked stricken, as if the compulsion to confess was as strong as the desire to lie and the two impulses were tearing him apart. His jaw worked but no words came forth for a long moment.

Finally, in a voice just above a whisper, "Yeah..."

Tim started shaking and tears welled in his eyes. Jack forgot for a moment all that he had been put through as he saw his only child suffering. He stepped forward and opened his arms, but the agent held Tim back.

"Oh for Christ's sake..." Jack hissed.

"Sorry sir, against the rules," Foskani told him.

Jack looked over at his son who was now looking blankly at the floor. "Why didn't you tell me, boy?"

Tim flinched as if he'd been slapped and he looked even more gray. "I was... I wanted..." He shuddered and fell silent.

"You don't have anything to say to me?" More awkward silence was his only response. "Tim..?"

"Time's up, Mr. Drake," Foskani told him gently.

"But..." The Agent's expression brooked no argument "Okay, okay," Jack acceded. Tim still would not meet his gaze. "We'll talk more later, son."

He shook his head and walked out, his own emotions in turmoil. Once again, Tim offered no explanations for his behavior. Even now, when nothing should be left hidden, his son would not confide in him. If anything, the silence hurt worst.

As he left, though, he did not see the pleading look cast at his back, begging for understanding that could not be asked for.

*"...with four members of Young Justice accounted for, Judge Winfried is going ahead with this landmark case that brings into question the values we all hold. Again, to protect the identities of those involved, Judge Winfried has issued a media blackout. We will update you with reports as we receive them..."*

Max Mercury, retired hero and Zen master of speed, sighed and killed the volume on the television and followed the streak that was Impulse with his gaze. It was almost impossible to believe, but Bart actually got more hyper when he was mad.

This was, though, the only time he recalled his charge being angry.

"Are you sure you don't want to turn yourself in, Bart?"


"I really think it's the right thing to do. I mean, I'm not doing right by you as your guardian..."

"Max, this is no time for joking."

Max Mercury was a man possessed of near infinite patience... but it had not taken long for Bart to wear them out. The idea of having Bart taken away from him had a certain appeal.

"What are we gonna do, Max?" the blur asked. Max was fairly sure Impulse was pacing, albeit across most of Alabama.

"Do? This is a matter for the legal system. You will recall that we fight people who break the law."

"But Young Justice has done nothing wrong!" Impulse whined. "Are they ever going to get tired of picking on us?"

"As soon as the next group of young heroes comes down the pike," Max promised. "Bart, will you calm down? You've already worn a hole in the carpet and if you keep going you'll wind up in the basement."

Bart stopped right in front of him, his expression surly. "I may not be able to stop it, but I'm not gonna let them railroad my friends without a little visit."

Max sighed. "You're not going to interfere in the proceedings."

Bart rolled his eyes. "No..."

"If you do, I'll hog-tie you and hand you over."

"Yes Max..."

"Okay, go check on your--"


"--friends..." Max sighed heavily.

Far above the Earth, on a little orb not composed of green cheese, stood a monument to technology and innovation. The Watchtower was the lunar base for the Justice League, a fortress from which the mightiest heroes could keep an eye out for trouble from any quarter.

Today it was the setting for one beauty of an argument.

"Nothing?" Diana asked. "You're going to do *nothing*?" Wonder Woman clarified.

Superman, arms folded and jaw set, nodded patiently. "I checked to be sure. This came from the President's office. We cannot interfere."

Batman, on the monitor, nodded. "We need to bide our time."

Diana swept them both with a glare. "Our proteges are down there, trying to explain why they are risking their lives... quests they were inspired to by us! Hermes' heels, I cannot believe you'd let them face this alone."

"Superboy is the responsibility of Cadmus," Superman said stiffly.

"And I cannot risk exposure," Batman told her.

Wonder Woman tossed her head proudly. "We try to teach these young heroes certain qualities, and what does it say to them when we won't stand by them? We share a certain responsibility for these children and their parents. By Hera, I intend to honor it," she told them, turned on her heel, and left.

Superman looked over at Batman, whose grim face was even darker now. "And you, my friend? How safe are your secrets now?"

Batman did not flinch. "Robin will tell no one. It remains to be seen if there are those clever enough to put together the pieces. I don't trust these A.P.E.S., Superman. They bear watching."

The man of steel nodded his agreement. "Yes... and I am sure you will be watching very closely. I will do what I can within the system. I do have a little pull. Contact me if anything changes."

"Batman out."

Bonnie Jones and Helena Sandsmark had never been friends. Helena was mother to Wonder Girl, but she herself came from a relatively normal background. Bravely she had faced up to the challenges of being associated with Wonder Woman. She had then even supported her daughter's quest to follow the Amazon's legacy. Each step had been a massive adjustment marked by tremendous emotional stress.

Bonnie--mother to Arrowette--was, by contrast, a jaded, chain- smoking ex-minor-hero who knew the game and played it with what she believed was unparalleled skill. Her enthusiasm for her daughter's super-heroing career appeared overbearing. To most people, Bonnie was living vicariously through her daughter.

That idea had worn on the nerves of Helena, and hate was born.

Today, though, they were both faced with the idea that the state was going to deem them unworthy parents and take their daughters away. That notion had united them for the first time in their turbulent history.

Nothing in nature is as dangerous as a mother protecting her young.

Bonnie had come to Helena's house, a quiet home in the suburbs of Gateway City. The tension at first had been too thick even for a knife, but mistrust gradually gave in to mutual worry. Helena had even let Bonnie smoke in the house.

There was still no sign of the third member of their team, but they did not let that stop them.

"Okay, I think I've had my panic attack for the day," Helena said in a strained voice. " I think I can deal with this now."

Bonnie sucked in a breath of toxic fumes. "We're going to need to get lawyers. I guess the first question is, do we get one for each of us or should we do co-counsel?"

Helena pondered it for a moment. This was an area she was hopelessly uninformed about. She was a sophisticated woman--educated, curator of a major museum--but there was nothing in her experience that had prepared her for this.

"I think..." She took a deep breath and told herself to get it under control. "I think that it would put a better face on it if we had a united front--don't you?"

Bonnie nodded, her gaze intense with thought. "Probably. Do you know any good lawyers?"

"A few..." Helena sighed and shook her head. "We'll need them. I mean, the state does have a pretty good case against us..."

Bonnie's gaze grew flinty. "What do you mean by that?"

Helena shrugged. "Well, what kind of parents let their kids go out and get smashed about by creatures of every imaginable size and shape?"

"The kind that understand that teenagers are owed the dignity of making their own choices; the kind that support the unique gifts of their children," Bonnie hissed. "If you're going to fight their side of the battle, Sandsmark, then don't bother showing up."

Helena shook herself, her own expression darkening. "I was just putting out there what we're going to have to hear in the courtroom, Bonnie. Don't cop this attitude with me. You may not like hearing it, but we do allow our kids to go into danger with our blessing and maybe it's time somebody held us accountable for it."

"Jesus, why don't you just sign Cassie over to the State right now?"

"The Hell I will!" Helena snapped. "They'll have to lock me up if they want to cut me out of my daughter's life. Make no mistake, I'm going to fight them with everything I've got. But we've got the hard job of proving we're not bad mothers."

"You're weak, Sandsmark."

"Me? You can't even listen to someone question your competence as a parent, how are you going to make it through a trial where that's the only subject? I'm ready to face the accusations, you'd better be."

"Anyone accuses me of being a bad mother had better be ready for a fight, including y--"

The doorbell rang. The two women shared a lingering glare, silently challenging each other like male lions vying for the pride. It was Helena who broke the gaze, standing up and walking briskly over to the door. She hated the way she was constantly being dragged down to schoolyard behavior by the belligerent woman.

A tall, polished man in a long coat stood on her doorstep, his expression shadowed and haunted. His gaze on her was deeply tired. "Helena Sandsmark?" She nodded. "Jack Drake, good to meet you."

She managed a smile and ushered him inside. "Good to meet you too. This is Bonnie Jones, Cissie's mom."

He greeted the agitated woman and doffed his coat. "Sorry I'm late. There was a traffic snarl on the turnpike."

Helena took his coat and hung it in the closet. "We're glad you made it. Bonnie and I were just talking about how we should present a united front."

He nodded his agreement. "My attorney agrees," he told them, sitting on the couch next to Bonnie and folding his hands. "He's putting a team together. I hope you don't mind my taking the initiative, it's kind of the way I am. Don't worry, I'm footing the bill for all this. I'm still stunned by the situation, but one thing is for certain: they can't have my son. I'm sure you two are just as worried about your daughters, so I think it's the least I can do to make sure we have the best legal counsel."

Helena sat on the couch across from him. "That's very generous, thank you."

"Just so these lawyers represent us all equally..."

"Bonnie..." Helena warned.

Jack shrugged listlessly. "It's a fair question, and the answer is yes. The way I see it, either we'll all be acquitted or none of us will."

"That's pretty fatalistic," Bonnie grumbled.

Jack did not appear to pay any attention. "There is just one thing I have to know. I understand you were aware of your daughters' activities... did you know about Tim... that he was Robin?"

Helena reached out and took his hand, feeling his pain. "He... never told you?" Jack shook his head. "Dear God... Well, I can promise you, I didn't know. From what Cassie told me, he was pretty secretive."

"Yeah," Jack said with a bitter smile. "He's good at keeping secrets."

The court that had been selected was located in Virginia, an hour's drive from D.C. The decision had been based mostly on the fact that the small, secure building was virtually unknown by anyone to even exist. Despite appearances, the government was trying to handle this delicately and a great deal of effort was being expended to respect the anonymity of the young heroes.

Judge Winfried was a well-respected man who had come up over his lifetime all the way from the public defender's office in Philadelphia. Once upon a time, his name had been favorably mentioned in discussions about openings on the U.S. Supreme Court, but he had declined to seek the position for reasons he had never discussed.

This case, though no one knew it at the time, was to be his last. Having spent his life in service to the law, he had decided to hang up his robe.

And it was certainly a fine point to close on. Whatever the outcome, he was going to set legal precedent for decades to come. The enormous responsibility of it would daunt lesser men--and make even lesser men salivate at the notoriety--but Charles Winfried only wanted to make a decision that would serve those who came after him.

The opening statements had been made. Special Prosecutor Maxine Delricci had spoken eloquently and directly about society's duty to young people, about the standards parents had to be held to and the dangers of unsupervised teenagers with powers.

Winfried had known Maxine for many years. Back in his days as a Federal Judge he had tried many of her cases. She was a brilliant woman, extremely professional and possessed of an almost instinctive understanding of the law. The State could not have chosen a better general for their little war.

The defense team he knew by reputation. Lead Counsel Ismael Noonz was among the top litigators in Manhattan, possibly all of New York. The only cases he had ever lost had been due to technicalities that could easily have gone either way.

James Farnsworth Junior was the grandson of the founder of New Jersey's largest lawfirm. Like his forebears, he was sharp as a tack and ruthless when it came to victory. He was their hired gun, and Winfried was sure he came with a hefty price tag.

Maxwell Crandall was the quiet member of the trio. He was the expert at preparing witnesses, conducting research and winnowing away useless information to reach critical points. If he were as quick on his feet as Jimmy Farnsworth, he would be a devastating force in the courtroom. Sadly for him, he tended to freeze up before a jury, so he was relegated to the supporting role.

Noonz had made their opening statement, painting the parents as caring people who did, despite the allegations, keep tabs on their kids. The lawyer spoke passionately about values and responsibility and other buzzwords. Winfried took it all in, sifting the truth from the rhetoric.

Now, after a short recess (Winfried hated the fact that he had to go to the bathroom all the time these days) they were back in session.

The bailiff, a dangerous-looking fellow who was obviously government issue of some kind, had them rise while he took his seat.

"Okay, since I doubt we can keep the media at bay for terribly long without mobilizing the National Guard, I suggest we proceed with haste. Ms. Delricci, call your first witness."

"The United States calls Dr. Patrick Lee to the stand."

A tall, lean man rose and strode forward. The doctor, descended from the proud Lee family, was a balding fellow with spectacles, but he moved with a rangy grace that harkened back to his forebears. He took the stand and repeated the oath with clarity and poise.

"Dr. Lee, please state you position for the record."

"I am Chief of Medicine at Bethesda Hospital."

"And, on the Court's order, your hospital gave the four young people in this court, collectively known as Young Justice, full physicals?"

"Yes, a select number of top physicians on my staff and I conducted detailed physicals."

Maxine went over to her table where her assistant, Arthur Schlemmer, handed her a stack of folders. She paused to take a sip of water and turned. "Doctor, you have reviewed the results and discussed the cases with your staff?"


"Let the record show that Dr. Lee is a certified physician with years of experience in family medicine and that for the sake of brevity, he will be answering questions on the results of the exams."

"Defense?" the Judge asked.

"The defense will stipulate," Noonz responded. "But we reserve the right to call these doctors as witnesses if there are points of dispute."

"So noted," Winfried murmured. "The doctor's testimony will be so allowed."

"Thank you, your Honor," Maxine said graciously. "Doctor, while most of the results are far superior to those of the average teenagers, there are some notes I wish to clarify. You noted specifically that Tim has signs of fatigue?"

"Yes," Dr. Lee replied. "While in generally good health, his norepenephrine, serotonin, acetylchorine and phenyleprine levels are at precarious levels. E.P.M.G.s show muscles and nerves that are worn far more seriously than is normal for a boy Tim's age."

Tim Drake, sitting on the bench with his companions, clenched his jaw and glared at the Prosecutor resentfully. It was obvious what he thought of the tests.

"The report also mentions evidence of head trauma found on Tim, Cassie and Kon. Can the nature of these injuries be obtained?"

Dr. Lee nodded slowly. "Contusions and the after-effects of them were found, well, all over their bodies, honestly. It is the sort of injury commonly associated with boxers; blows to the head and body, organ bruising, that sort of thing."

"Commonly associated with boxers," Maxine repeated. "So these injuries are of a life-threatening nature?"

"Not in and of themselves, no."

"But they could be?"

"Objection, your honor," Farnsworth called out. "Speculation."

"Sustained. Rephrase, Counselor."

Maxine pondered it with a sour look. "A head-trauma can turn into a concussion, is that true, Doctor?"


"And concussions can lead to comas, even death, is that true?"


"Thank you, Doctor," she said with a patient smile, glaring over at Farnsworth. "Now then, on Cissie King-Smith, Dr. Fasid noted something that troubled her in particular. What was that?"

Lee took a sip of water and ordered his thoughts. "Her shoulder was badly scarred from a poorly treated entry wound. X-rays revealed scarring on her upper tibia--"

Bonnie Jones was turning dark purple. "I can't believe you'd dredge that up!"

"Order," Winfried demanded.

"They're making demons out of shadow puppets!" Bonnie insisted.

Winfried had no tolerance for theatrics in his court. His steely gaze fell on the irate woman. "Ms. Jones, you will remain quiet or I will hold you in contempt and have you expelled from this court."

The woman's eyes flashed and he recognized the spark of rebellion against authority. Many of the people who had passed through his court had been high-strung. As he always had, he gave the woman a steady glance which warned her he was not kidding.

She resumed her seat.

Maxine turned back to her witness. "Now then, Doctor, you were saying?"

"The object had evidently barely scratched the tibia; lucky for her. There were no traces of burned tissue that one would find from a bullet wound, so it was most likely an arrow."

"And, while that is in and of itself a disturbing image, what made Dr. Fasid highlight this finding?"

"Because we were provided with detailed records of their medical history, and Cissie was never admitted to a hospital for any injury to her shoulder. Knowing the particulars of this case, Dr. Fasid thought she should point it out."

"Now, if the arrow was not removed by a physician, how was it removed?"


"I removed it," Impulse replied, alighting on the bench his friends occupied. His smile was beatific, almost vapid. The quivering of his frame, though, betrayed his tension. He was ready to bolt at the slightest provocation.

Judge Winfried fixed a weary gaze on the young man. He had been warned that the last member of the group who had evaded capture would likely be popping by. "Young man, you are disrupting a legal proceeding."

"I was just answering the question," Bart replied.

Winfried leaned forward. "And how did you do that?"

"Your honor, he's not under oath--"

"Noted, Counselor. I at least want to hear what he has to say. It may be the only opportunity."

Bart looked around uneasily. "Well, um, y'see, one of my powers is I can vibrate so fast I can pass through solid objects--like how I got in here. I can also, um... phase objects..." He picked up a pencil and demonstrated by pushing it into a table. "See?"

Winfried was suitably impressed. "Indeed."

"So you performed surgery on Cissie yourself?" Maxine asked archly.

"No!" Bart insisted.

"Your honor," Noonz was exasperated. "If this is to be formal testimony then let him be sworn--"


"--in... Or not."

Winfried returned his attention to Maxine. "Go on, counselor."

Looking a little off-balance, the Prosecutor looked over at the four young heroes. "I have nothing further for this witness."

"Mr. Noonz?"

"Thank you, your honor," he said, rising from the table. "Dr. Lee, you have experience in family medicine?"


"Twenty years of general medicine, in fact, before you moved on to a stint in the ER."

"Yes, five years at St. Elizabeth, five years at Hadley, four at Children's National and seven years at Metropolitan Medical."

"In that time, did you treat children with contusions?"

"Of course."



"Broken bones?"


"And in those instances, what percentage of times did you suspect neglect or abuse?"

"I can hardly come up with a solid number," the doctor side-stepped.

"Roughly then?"

"It was a long time ago."

Noonz looked impatient. "A ballpark. Come on, was it a lot or a little?"

"Not many," Lee finally conceded, glancing uneasily over at Maxine. The Prosecutor did not appear alarmed or perturbed.

"In fact, Dr. Lee, in all twenty-one years, four months of your time in general medicine, you made two reports to the police, is that correct?"

"Objection, your honor. The witness has already stated he is uncertain of the actual number and this continued line of questioning is simply badgering the good doctor," Maxine casually interrupted.

Winfried nodded, though he was mentally congratulating Noonz. "Move on, Counselor."

"Yes, your honor," Noonz conceded graciously. He took a deep breath and plunged forward. "Doctor, just so we are clear, you have treated children with mild to severe injuries that come from--as near as you can tell--loving families?"

"Objection. Is the defense really expecting the witness to speak authoritatively on the home-life of all of his patients from fifteen years ago?"

"State and federal law require a doctor to report injuries he or she suspects are the result of child abuse or child neglect. That being the case, I'd like to think the witness is prepared to stand by the judgments he made during his time of taking care of children," Noonz fired back.

Judge Winfried watched the wheels come off Maxine's wagon. Noonz was indeed very, very good. "I'll allow the question."

"Thank you, your Honor," Noonz replied. "Now then, Doctor, let me ask the question this way: In your experience, can childhood injuries be the result of accident rather than neglect or abuse."

Dr. Lee met his gaze, obviously displeased. "Yes."

"Thank you, your honor. I have nothing further."


Maxine's expression was flat, indicating her fading patience. "Nothing at this time, your Honor."

"Very good then, the witness is dismissed. We'll break for lunch and return in two hours. This court stands in recess."

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