Two Bullets

by 'rith

Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom: JLA current continuity, set directly after JLA 1819.
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.

I'm trembling.

J'onn's just left, and the silence of my apartment is becoming overwhelming. Oracle's lair, a sanctuary of information and control, the sanctity of which was nearly destroyed a few hours ago by a knock at the door.

I tremble, and think of two bullets.

It began with Julian September, a quantum physicist who split seven photons and fractured all reality in a terrifying chain reaction. A lever applied correctly can move the world; now, it seems, the splitting of the smallest element of matter can unmake the universe. All the possibilities came crashing in, what never was suddenly, terribly *real.*

In that cascading wave two bullets were never fired, Dr. and Mrs. Wayne were never killed, and Bruce, Bruce never....

Even as we last seven remaining members of the JLA raced to repair the damage, I tried to keep it that way. I ran the numbers, desperately seeking to make it so that when we returned the world to what it should be, *his* two world-shattering bullets still would never have been.

Not my one.

J'onn believed I withdrew for my own purposes, so that the gunshot that shattered my spine might be undone by the changing tide. I'm human. Of *course* I thought of that. But that never-was headline--"Mugger's gun misfires," under a photograph of a family made whole--made me feel that I had to try. For him. So that they would not die, would never have died.

I don't blame J'onn for thinking that of me. Who, given the power to rewrite Fate, would choose *not* to reverse such as had been done to me? But outside my door I heard a Bruce Wayne who never was call and tell me his parents were on the way up to visit, and he a man. Not the Batman.

For want of a nail...

I want to scrub at the invisible blood on my hands like Lady MacBeth. It's not mine; I didn't pull the trigger. But what terrifies me is the "if." *If* I could have rewritten time and fate so that a mugger's gun jammed at the right moment.

To *change* fate. Who am I, to think I even should?

I told J'onn that I have to believe what happened, happened for a reason. That I had no real choice but to allow the world to reset as it always had been. Because to accept otherwise means there was no reason for their deaths, my pain, a million ordinary tragedies that I see through my screens every day.

The reasons are clear. I can name a thousand in Batman's small triumphs in Gotham, in the dozen or more times the Earth itself owes him its very survival. He's irreplaceable, and it's the history that shaped him that makes him so.

And still.

I think of two bullets, and weep.


"...our dark knight no longer exists--because the gun that killed his parents misfired! That made all the difference! Remember, Bruce's whole life was changed by the course of two bullets..." Oracle, JLA 19

Thanks to Maelstrom, who made me think of it.

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