Joseph Kane sat in his office in WayneTech working on his research. It was late at night, and usually he was back at Wayne Manor. Yeah, but here I'm the master of my little corner of Wayne Enterprises and not being barked at by Bruce for being slow in finding data. Joseph sighed, ever since he arrived in Gotham, he'd been practically been working non stop as the info gatherer and hacker for Batman, who just happened to be his boss and landlord Bruce Wayne. All because he wanted to earn proper training, so he could be a hero once again. Right now, he was glad to be working late on a personal project.
However, the skills he trained for his short career as a crimefighter in New York City hadn't entirely dulled. When the lights in his office went out, leaving only the glow of his computer, he went on alert and into a defensive posture. He heard a bow cocked behind his head.
"Ah Ollie, still annoying as ever I see." Joseph turned to face Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen. He and Joseph never liked each other; Ollie had bullied and teased Joseph as a kid, and Joseph more than once wished Ollie had rotted on that island. However, they were technically on the same side, and Joseph had assisted Ollie on a case or two, both earning the others begrudging respect. "Are you trying to pull a Luthor and do industrial espionage?" Joseph's hand went to a button under his desk, where he could summon security.
"Don't you dare, Joseph, unless you want an arrow in your shoulder."
Joseph withdrew his hand, with a smirk. "Are you trying to summon the Big Bad Bat?"
"No need, Doctor Kane, he is probably unaware of the temporary blackout, Green Arrow is here for my protection just in case."
Joseph turned to see a thin African American woman in a severe suit, short haircut, and an attitude of command sitting in one of the chairs in his office.
"Besides, I'm here to give you a business offer."
Joseph put on his best fake smile. "Ah, Director Waller; I knew I smelt the stench of a career obsessed, backstabbing, bureaucratic bitch. Have you lost weight?"
"I do not want to cause any turmoil, Doctor. And is this you treat all your guests."
"Only the uninvited ones."
"I could have sent Colonel Trevor."
"He would have been preferable."
"He would have told you to ignore my offer. Sit please."
Joseph frowned, "This is MY office, Director Amanda Waller of ARGUS. You will not order me around like your emerald hound over there." He nodded his head in the direction of Green Arrow.
"Fine, be petulant; youth is wasted on the young." Amanda Waller sat still, cold as ice, as Joseph went to the front of his desk and sat on it. "You have been making a name for yourself, Joseph."
"We do not know each other enough to be on first name terms, Director Waller. And what brings you from Darth Cheney's former bunker?"
Green Arrow chuckled, he shared Joseph's liberal beliefs. Waller just smiled, "You may have tried to hide your involvement, but your penchant for being 'in the wrong place at the wrong time' has caught my notice." She took out a file, showing photos. "Stopping Intergang with Superman and having Wayne Enterprises buy the Daily Planet, assisting Aquaman in recovering relics, helping uncover alien plots with Green Lantern, helping with a murder case in Central City where Flash was involved, running from creatures of myth where Wonder Woman was around, and of course those many sightings of you around Gotham." Waller smiled, "And of course you've helped Mr. Queen here from time to time."
Joseph grinned wickedly, "Don't remind me."
Green Arrow went to smack Joseph on the back of his head, Joseph flipped Green Arrow onto a couch.
"When did you learn that?" asked Green Arrow, picking himself up.
"Nightwing has taught me a couple things behind Pointy Ears' back." Joseph turned to Waller, "What's your point?"
"I know you better than you think, Doctor, we were well aware of your nighttime activities in New York. I also know you're not one who likes sitting on the sidelines. You work with Batman and his partners in the Justice League and what do you get out of it? Nothing. They don't even let you be a civilian liaison, though they've let you begrudgingly consult from time to time. We can offer you something."
Joseph raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
"ARGUS, and the Justice League of America, can offer you full training right away. While you will initially be a consultant, as soon as we consider you ready we can make you a hero again. We can give you upgraded gear, make you stronger than ever. Give you back your old identity, or a new one if you wish."
"And who would be training me, Pretty Boy over there?" asked Joseph, pointing to Green Arrow.
"Any and all members of the JLA, and Col. Trevor, will be at your disposal."
"And what would I be giving you in return?"
"Inside information on Batman, his activities, and that of the League. In return, you'll become what you set out to do when you saw the man who shot you as a kid got away with it."
Joseph thought it over. "So in return for being your mole, you'll make me a hero, a peer to Batman and Co."
"Well, then...my answer...is...." Joseph smiled, knowing that old stage adage of making the audience want more.
"What is it, Doctor Kane, or should I say 'Ronin'?" Waller smiled, a sycophantic one to lower his guard.
"I respectfully decline, Amanda. You don't mind if I call you that?"
"Respect your elders, kid!" growled Waller.
"I respect those who I consider worthy of it. You want me to betray a man who took me into his confidence, has offered me a chance to become something greater, who I have the privilege of helping and being his friend...and spit in his face? Sorry, but I'm not a backstabbing Black Ops piece of filth like you and your little Suicide Squad. Oh yes, Director Waller," he grinned evily, "I know of your little group of prisoners. And I'm perfectly willing to leak it to the press. Did your offer tempt me, yes. I would give everything in a heartbeat to be a hero again. But I have bonds, loyalties, to Batman, to his allies, to the various heroes I've had the privilege to work with even in a small capacity. And they're more than my heroes, in a way they're my family. And I'd rather spend another year slowly earning training and another year training than betray their trust. And now I must ask you to leave."
"You should reconsider my offer, Doctor."
"No need, Waller. Leave. Now."
"Well, let's just say Batman has been aware all this time."
From out of the shadows, the cowled and cloaked form of Batman appeared. Green Arrow looked startled, "How long have you been here?"
"Long enough," Batman turned to Waller, "Waller."
"Nice to see you, Batman."
"Leave Joseph alone."
"Like you give him respect."
"Actually I do. I may not be outright with it, but I know he works hard to make sure my operations go well. We all know he has potential, and the drive; he just needs the discipline."
"We could give him that, Batman, care to risk the life of another boy?" Waller said, taunting the times Batman had lost partners for a time.
"He has a stronger chance of survival of he remains here."
"It's his choice."
"And I told you it, Waller," Joseph said. "My loyalties lie with Batman, and the League. Now get out."
Waller nodded and she and Green Arrow left. Joseph turned to Batman, "How long were you here?"
"About a minute after she cut the lights in your office."
"Can't wait to learn that."
"You might learn it sooner rather than later."
The words clicked in Joseph's head, and he had a big grin on his face, "You mean I've earned training?"
"Almost, a few more months of quality work. Plus you showed maturity and nerve facing down Waller and telling her that you wouldn't betray those close to you even for what you want."
"Call me a sentimental fool."
"You're young, you're still allowed to be a tad foolish."
"Yeah, until I start training; then you'll be saying some other fortune cookie."
"The League respects you too, Superman especially. He knows you'll do well once you're ready."
"Remind me to thank him," Joseph smiled. "Thanks Br--Batman."
"Now, did you get me that report on that device we found?"
Joseph nodded and activated a projector. A box-like object hovered as a hologram in mid air. "It's certainly similar to those boxes Darkseid's army used. But this one seems different. Not to mention scans show different configurations. Could be New Genesis tech. You said the League found this hidden in the ruins of some villain's hideout after a major conflict?"
"Yes." Batman only gave the information he wanted.
"Well, it may be rusted and inactive, but I'd say its New Gods tech."
"I want you to take a closer look."
"Batman...that means I'd have to go to the Watchtower."
Joseph smiled, "Cool."
"The League wants you as a civilian liaison, I just had Cyborg send the information to Waller."
Joseph's grin grew wider, "She's going to be pissed."
"Don't get cocky, Joseph; you have shown your loyalty, now you need to show you're more than worthy of our trust." Batman went to the window.
"I thought I was worthy?" Joseph asked, his grin replaced with a slight frown.
"You are, we still will be keeping an eye on you to see if you're ready to take the next step." Batman launched a grapple and flew out into the night, leaving Joseph very puzzled.