Summary: The Huntress comes to a new understanding with the Dark Knight.

Author's Note: Takes place following JLA #46, Tower of Babel story arc.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to DC and Time/Warner; this is an original story that doesn't intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome.

Copyright September 2000

By Syl Francis

The city spread below her. Its crime, sounds, and human despair shrank to insignificance by the dizzying heights. Taking a moment to get her bearings, she finally spotted him--a grim figure, standing unmoving in the darkness, his cape whipping around him in the cold, uncaring wind.

She stood above him for what seemed an eternity, watching him watching his city. A city where she was unwelcome. She glared at his unyielding back. She knew how he felt, but refused to sympathize. She was determined to be selfishly jubilant at his current situation.

"So, now you know."

Batman made no move, giving no hint that he'd heard. But of course he had. The Huntress knew that he'd heard her soft footsteps almost ten minutes ago. She did not expect to startle or to get a rise out of him, but nevertheless she felt a twinge of disappointment that he showed none.

She wanted her words to hurt. To make him feel the same cold knife that he'd taken more than once to cut out a piece of her heart. She wanted her words to slice a new hole in what she knew was the still-raw wound left by the JLA.

But he remained silent, his stony pose a rival to the gargoyle on which he stood.

"Now you know how it feels to be ostracized," she accused. "To be told that you're not wanted. That your methods are too harsh. That you're not a team player."

She walked up to him, stopping within an arm's length, but not daring to touch him. There was a time in their stormy past in which she'd been beyond angry with him. Raging at what she'd considered her unfair treatment in his hands.

She'd felt triumphant at his expulsion from the JLA, experiencing a moment of personal satisfaction by his teammate's rejection, but in the end, she'd only been angry with herself for being reduced to such pettiness.

And she blamed him for her reaction. If he'd treated her as an equal, welcomed her into his 'family,' or at least given her his approval, then perhaps she could've come to him now as a friend and equal.

But that's not how their relationship had developed.

And now he knew.

The Huntress stared at Batman a moment longer. She shook her head in disgust. What could have made her think that he'd care? That he'd have been affected by the JLA's decision?

She considered her own complicated motivations this evening. She'd wanted to taunt him, to pay him back for how he'd hurt her. But then, she recalled his recent laurel leaf--offered after she'd accidentally shot him, no less!--allowing her to clear her own name without interference from him or his 'family.'

Studying his unyielding back, she felt exhausted--by the constant arguments, misunderstandings, and desire to strike back in kind. There was nothing more to do. Nothing more to say. About to turn away, she stopped, suddenly lifting her chin with a new determination.

Reaching out tentatively, she lightly placed her hand on his shoulder, and almost jerked it back when he flinched at the unforeseen touch.

Half-expecting him to slap her hand away, she was strangely warmed when without turning, Batman reached over and briefly squeezed her hand in a silent note of thanks. The next instant he was gone, flying over his city in his relentlessly lonely battle.

Standing in the freezing rain, overlooking the sleeping city below, the Huntress felt a single unbidden tear slide down her cheek.

Yes, now he knew.

The End

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