The New 52
Chapter 1: Aftermath
Time is a fickle thing. Barry Allen knew this better than a lot of others in this world, or any other Earth. Earth was not a planet one would assume was the centre of the universe…a world late in developing its space travel by any standard and yet home to some of the most remarkable people in the universe. Many looked down upon it with scorn, others with total revulsion, but some genuinely loved this world for how unique it was…almost as if they sensed its importance. Barry Allen, the Flash, is one of the most unique beings in the cosmos. He not only was faster than the rest of his species, but he also is tied into the force of speed itself. Something that only he and a handful of others, many of whom were his relatives, could claim. But like any human, Barry was ruled by emotion, as his latest endeavours had shown.
Travelling back to the night of his mother’s murder, Barry had saved her from his arch-rival, Eobard Thawne, but had ended up creating a world where the heroism of his own time was distorted and utterly wrong. In that world, he had met a man not unlike a dear friend of his, the Batman. That man was the Batman himself, and yet the father of Barry’s Batman. A darker and implacable version of his friend, this Batman slew Thawne and gave Barry the means to restore history. The only problem was that time is fickle…and Barry thought he would return to a universe changed utterly. He did not. The world was the same…same as it ever was. But he did change one thing…Eobard Thawne was not dead, but more alive than any being in the history of the universe.
“Thank you again, Barry…this is…it really is something,” Bruce Wayne cried in such a genuinely thankful manner to his friend, Barry Allen. The Flash. A man Bruce remembered giving his life to save all of creation years before, now standing before him again as the person who had finally given Bruce closure on the loss of his parents. Bruce was a whole man, thanks to Barry. “It’s nothing, Bruce,” Barry congenially replied. “You would have done the same for me.”
“It does say a lot, though, old friend. You’ve given so much to the world…to…to the multiverse, and yet still…you continue to sacrifice.”
“What do you mean, Bruce?”
“I mean that you gave up having your mother be alive for the rest of the world. Was this world really that horrific?” Barry paused to think, knowing that Thomas’ letter could not convey meaningfully anything about that world to him. “It wasn’t…fun.” Bruce seemed perturbed by Barry’s nonchalant answer. “Stay for tea, will you? I’ll get Alfred to make it with some of the finest. Barry’s…it’s an Irish blend, he swears by it.”
“I’d love to, Bruce, but…”
“But nothing, Bartholomew Allen. You’ve made my day, and I think you need to talk to someone…” Barry smiled knowingly at his upset friend and they embraced as if they had not seen each other for several years.
The Daily Planet
“Kryptonians Save City from Doomsday” was the headline beaming before Clark as he saw his wife’s wonderful handiwork on display on Perry White’s desk. “I knew your missus was a star, Kent, from the moment I clapped eyes on her…but she really has outdone you on this one.” Perry White seemed to have an air of extreme giddiness as he recounted how the Daily Planet had managed to survive, at least in his version of events, purely by virtue of the talent of Lois Lane for what was now nearly two decades. “I mean sure…you’ve got your standard Superman interview…though why he talks to you and not her I still don’t know…But Lois got talking to that Superboy, Supergirl and hell, even Steel!”
“Steel isn’t from Krypton, Chief. And I’m pretty sure neither is Superboy.”
“Whatever keeps you up at night, Kent, ain’t none of my concern. Lois has got an exclusive with the two cousins tomorrow, Kon-El and Kara Zor-El, two of the greatest heroes this city…or any city…has known.” Clark continued to smile knowingly, knowing that Lois had asked Conner and Kara for the interviews afterwards and doing nothing to interfere. Why? Because as much as he loved Conner like a son and cherished Kara as his cousin, he knew Lois would do both of them more justice in print than he ever could. That was the one thing Superman looked for in a partner. Someone who could astonish him.
“Chief, as much as I love Lois…though sometimes I doubt not as much as you do…she really should be getting this praise from you herself, not me. I am just her husband, after all.” Perry suddenly snapped back into consciousness as if all he could think about was how successful Lois was making his paper, and Clark had sucker punched him like Superman would. But that was obviously ridiculous. Kent being Superman? Sure, the guy was built like a shit brick house and could probably smash Perry on the table like a wrestler if not for how damn clumsy he was. Poor hand to eye coordination but still a damn fine typist. But Kent as Superman? Perish the thought.
“The reason I brought you in here, Kent, and not Lois…well…you see…” Perry began sweating profusely. “Bruce Wayne is organising a gala in her honour. She’s getting the Wayne Foundation’s award for promotion of the underprivileged.” Clark seemed baffled for a moment. How could anyone describe Kara, Conner or even John as underprivileged? All three of them had extraordinary abilities, and outside of their alter egos, seemed like gods to the people of Earth. “It’s not for this piece, ya schmuck. It’s for her new book on the Suicide Slum. She interviewed that engineer guy, Irons, about how the young, unemployed kids had been seduced by that conniving yutz, Luthor, and his “Everyman Project”. She not tell you about this?”
“Chief, Lois and I try not to talk about work at home…we have other interests.” Perry was still flabbergasted by the fact that Clark Kent and Lois Lane were husband and wife after all these years. This is the same woman Superman had flown across the city, and some say still did, and she was married to…to the living equivalent of Brian from the Breakfast Club. Sure, Kent was good looking and intelligent…but he had no poise. This woman, who had been the object of affection for Bruce Wayne at one point, was married to Kent. So, Perry found it hard to believe she had any interest in Clark other than his journalism…and maybe his titanic body. And the fact he was Superman? Ah, Perry, how could you think that?
“Anyway, I want you to bring her there in a few weeks. Say it’s a surprise. You’re going to Gotham to see an opera or something. I only asked because Lois left early this week.” Lois was in fact in Smallville visiting her mother in law and Conner who were going to hold a little get together this weekend. Clark was keenly aware that despite their faults, Lois did sorely miss her father and sister, whose deaths had been caused by the recent arrival of New Krypton. Clark needed to solidify in his wife’s mind that the Kents were their family, and not the people who indirectly killed her family. “Of course, Perry. But don’t you think she’ll suspect.”
“Suspect? That you would be bringing her somewhere exciting.” Perry’s veins popped from his forehead in laughter before dismissing Clark, promising he would phone him the details. Clark loved Perry like a father, and genuinely believed the man was deluding himself when he knew full well his star reporter was the Man of Steel. Perry didn’t want to believe it, because not only did he have faith in Clark as a journalist, but also in Superman as a hero. The former would be shaken by Clark’s revelation that all his Pulitzer winning interviews with the big, blue boy scout had in fact been edits of talking to himself, and the latter by the fact that the man who constantly spilled the pens on Perry’s desk was somehow Earth’s greatest hope. Clark didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that…
The price of success is scorn. At least in the case of Hal Jordan. The greatest Green Lantern had become their greatest enemy, sentenced to life imprisonment on Oa, living a fictitious life on Earth in one of the Sciencells. They had developed technology…the Guardians that is…which could change the perception of any ordinary ephemeral being into believing they had never led a life of greatness. For Hal, this was the ultimate punishment. Again, and again, he tried to be the pilot his father was, and he never could. Coast City burned at the hands of Cyborg Superman… Carol Ferris rejecting him for, of all people, Kyle Rayner, who somehow Hal knew…this world was not…not the world he was from…and yet…it was where he belonged…
“A hot drop, Master Bartholomew?”
“That would be great, thanks Alf.”
Barry Allen observed the hot, spiced liquid pour from the fermented pot of heated water mixed with the leaves of a plant in a faraway country descend into his now empty cup. Taking some sugar and milk, Barry readily added to this cup of brown, heated liquid to make that nectar of the gods Alfred had coerced Bruce into drinking since pre-pubescence; tea. “So, tell me, Bruce. What brings you home? Last I spoke to Dick he said you were all about building this Batman Incorporated thing, while he stayed in Gotham.” Bruce seemed slightly more pensive as Barry brought up business with him. “Dick is going to be Nightwing again. He deserves his independence, but I am glad to know I have someone like him to turn to if things go wrong.”
“You really do love him, don’t you?” Bruce seemed to almost nod at Barry, not liking how someone, even someone as trustworthy and kind as Barry Allen, had broken down his defences. “I love all of them…my children. But…Dick is the only one left who hasn’t let me down.”
“What do you mean? Tim and Damian are fine young men, and Cassandra can hardly be blamed for what a monster like Deathstroke made her do?”
“Tim has turned as bad as Jason…so consumed with bloodlust all because the man who killed his father is back from the grave. Damian continues to break my one rule…flaunting everything. I’ve had to step in because I know Dick hasn’t been firm enough. He killed a man right in front of me the other day. As for Cassandra…she left this city when it needed her the most. When it needed our family the most.”
Barry was not always pleased to see the rougher edges of his old friend at work. In many ways, Bruce was kind and caring. He had taken in young people of similar circumstances to his own, in some cases worse, and turned them into some of the finest and most brilliant heroes Barry had the pleasure to know. But in other ways, they brought out an ugly side to Bruce. Bruce was always stern, but less so around friends such as the Justice League. When his children let him down, Bruce always felt doubly ashamed since he felt he was to blame, particularly in that he had taught them to be exceptional fighters, which only allowed the likes of Jason, and now Tim, to vent their anger at the world in a slightly psychopathic manner. “I’m sorry, Bruce. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Barry Allen…you are a remarkable man. You gave the life of your parents to save the multiverse. It would take a lot more than that for you to upset me.”
“You would have done the same.” Bruce did not answer, though Barry suspected he was seeing through his friend’s faux compliment.
“It is disturbing though, Barry. The fact that…well…death isn’t death anymore. Look at you…look at me. We’ve both in a way risen from the grave. And yet when the people we care about…people who lived ordinary lives and never hurt anyone else… if they try to come back…Well, the idea of them living again is somehow offensive to the laws of time and space. And yet, we, we who have shaped the history of this world by our actions get a chance at resurrection without any repercussions. It hardly seems fair?”
“It doesn’t, Bruce. It doesn’t. But that’s the way it is.”
There was silence for half a minute until Bruce said “Tim told me something once. About a few missions he had with the Titans. He said they met someone called Kid Eternity. The boy said he held open the door to the afterlife, but that it was only open for one reason…”
“What was that?”
“You were dead at the time of it, but…Clark died.”
“I know, I saw him turn into a Black Lantern. Me and Hal nearly did too, if it weren’t for my being so fleet of foot. Hal mentioned something about Doomsday and a very long story after that.”
“Yes, but Clark came back not too long after that. The world had turned upside down by his passing. Superboy and Steel and even…that bastard, Henshaw…appeared on the scene because of Clark being dead. And then he was back. Then, everything started to go wrong. Hal started killing indiscriminately. Next thing you know, he’s the Spectre. Then Ollie’s dead, then back again, and then the multiverse is nearly destroyed…again. My point is that ever since Clark died, the fabric of life and death has been torn asunder. But yet none of us can really control it. The lengths some people went to in order to bring Superboy back…Tim among them…and yet failing. Still, the Legion and Clark only needed one regeneration booth and a millennium to give the child a new lease on life. It’s not right, Barry. We’ve been playing God for too long. Nekron and the Black Lanterns showed us that, but I have a feeling…something else is coming.” Barry laughed. “I never took you for a clairvoyant, Bruce. It’s late. And I better be getting back to Iris. Thanks for the tea. I’ll see you at the Watchtower.”
Bruce remained stoic as Barry left, hoping his friend would have taken these thoughts more seriously. The fact that Bruce’s father being alive as well as Barry’s mother being a cause for hell on earth did not bode well for the Caped Crusader. Damian walked down from the upper wing of Wayne Manor to sit down and glare at his father, as Alfred re-entered with a fresh pot of tea. “Ah, I see Master Bartholomew has taken his leave. Would you like some tea, Master Damian?”
“Thank you, Pennyworth.”
“I see your time with Dick has made you more mannerly, son. Pity he couldn’t have done more.”
Damian glowered over his cup, in that unique way only he and his father were capable of. A seriousness that would have made Tomas de Torquemada blanche. “So, you’ve come back for good.”
“Don’t worry, Dick isn’t going anywhere, but he’s going to be Nightwing again.”
“I am sure that wherever Grayson goes, he will excel. You know, when I met Drake, I thought you only picked utter weaklings…but Grayson really proved me wrong.”
“I’m glad he at least met your standards.”
“You don’t like me very much, do you father?”
“You’re my son, Damian, and I love you.”
“But not the way you love Grayson or Drake or that mute girl.”
“Not true. Tim, Dick, Jason and Cassandra are as much my children as you are.”
Damian smirked through a scoff containing the arrogance of his grandfather Bruce had hoped Dick’s lighter disposition might exorcise by now. “But they aren’t your blood children, father, no more than all those Ubus are my grandfather’s. Not unless you fornicated with circus gypsies and assassins…although…”
“You really are candid for your age, aren’t you, Damian? If my parents had caught me talking like that at your age…”
“Well, they didn’t, because they were dead.” A silence lasted half a minute as the two locked stares, neither giving in, even though Damian did quietly admit to himself he shouldn’t have said that.
“You’re distraught at the thought I might not love you. Because unlike with your mother, I can’t give you my undivided attention.” Damian nearly burst a blood vessel at his father’s insensitivity. Sure, he had spoken harshly of his own grandparents first, but his father had no idea how Damian had been raised. His mother only met him once a year, every year since he was two years old. His birthday. Each year, Talia would ask Damian what he wanted for his birthday; and he would always respond that he wanted to meet his father, the legendary detective who had outfoxed his invincible grandfather so many times. Talia would only allow Damian this if he bested her in combat. It had taken him nearly a decade but on his tenth birthday, Damian defeated his mother on the eighth time in his life he had met her. His father had no idea how the League or Talia had reared him and assumed that his mother had been as affectionate when she actually spoke of him as she had been in action.
“She was my mother. She gave birth to me. But she has naught to do with your warriors. Despite their virtues, these are naught but foundlings who presume they can succeed you. Granted, I had no desire to take your place at such a young age, and there was none fitter than Grayson for that role. But you mistake admiration for your students as paternal love, father, because you are too sentimental. Richard Grayson, Jason Todd, Timothy Drake, Cassandra Cain…they are all your acolytes…and Todd and the mute have both betrayed you.” Bruce squeezed his cup of tea with such anger that it burst in his hand. Alfred nearly fainted. “Oh, Master Bruce, you appear to have spilled!”
“Don’t you dare lecture me, boy, on what they have done or not done. You have no idea of the suffering those two have been through. This is not the League, and I am not your grandfather. They are my family, not my army!”
“But that’s the problem, father. Yes, we are! Every single one of them was an ordinary teenager, except the mute girl, and you turned them into a weapon of war. And with Cain, it was even worse. You saw what her own father had turned her into, and you used that as part of your crusade. Face it, father. You are my grandfather’s heir, and I am yours. Despite the value you may place in these children, they are but your servants who should do obeisance before both of us…”
Alfred grabbed Bruce’s arm before he could move to strike the boy. “Master Damian, I think it’s time you let your father be for the moment. I’m sure Gotham Academy’s entrance exams require some hard cramming…” Damian moved to protest but knew that Pennyworth was right to defuse the situation. “Very well. Good night, Pennyworth. Good night, Father.” Once the boy had gone, Alfred made a sharp, penetrating glare at Bruce. “Never once did I ever raise my hand to you, Master Bruce! Even when you deserved it! What has gotten into you?”
“He killed a man, Alfred! Right in front of me!”
“The way he and Master Dick tell it he was saving your life. I know that does not excuse it in your book, but the boy is torn up. He seeks your approval more than anything because he knows…he knows you are better than his mother.”
“She wants him dead, Alfred. That’s why I need to be in Gotham. To prepare him for her.” There was a long pause as the two sat down uncomfortably. “Is there any news coming in from the tower? I wasn’t able to finish my intel when Barry arrived?”
“What pray tell, sir, was Master Bartholomew doing visiting you today?” Bruce handed Alfred the letter from his parallel father to Alfred, and Alfred smiled through tears as Bruce had done. “That Allen lad doesn’t do things by halves, does he, Master Bruce?”
“No, not at all.”
“As to news, I decided to award Lois Lane this year’s Foundation Award. The ceremony is next week, and she and her husband will both be attending.”
“Good, I hope Dick and Barbara can come as well. That is if they’re still…” Alfred guffawed. “You know where he’s moved too, don’t you?”
“I won’t lie, it seemed odd that he had a place to stay the first night he left the penthouse.” Bruce hugged his surrogate father tightly as they both laughed, thinking on the happiness of their young peers. Meanwhile, Damian sat on the stairs, weeping for the life he had just taken…
Kent Farm, Smallville
Cousins Conner Kent and Kara Zor-El strode down the green outside the Kent family farm whiling away the day as the bright, Kansas sun rolled into the evening. “We totally kicked Doomsday’s ass, didn’t we, Conner?” Conner gave a knowing smile in her direction. “I mean, yeah, but come on, Lois made us out to be better than Clark.” Kara shrugged. “Neither of us are, but credit where credit’s due.”
“Yeah, you’re right. But this kind of publicity might serve us well. Kara, I think we’re going places, you and me. Next stop, Justice League.”
“Thought you were having trouble with teams at the moment?” Kara instantly regretted saying that as Conner physically winced at the mere mention of that fact. He was only now rekindling his friendships with all his former Teen Titans comrades since his resurrection nearly a year before. “I didn’t mean…”
“No, it’s okay. I mean we’re family right, and you’ve not had it easy yourself. What with Lana and everything. If I can’t talk to you, who can I talk to, right?” Conner thought for a moment. “Prime came back…”
“Yeah, Cassie mentioned. Said he was really gung-ho about killing you all over again.”
“He even cloned me…well, younger versions of me…somehow to do it. We stopped him, kicked that sucker straight into the Source Wall. He’s not going to bother anyone ever again.” “Are you sure that was the right thing?”
“He’s too powerful, Kara. Kryptonite can’t hurt him and it took the whole team to take him down. Clark will understand.”
“He’ll understand, Conner. But I don’t know if he’ll approve.”
An awkward silence descended between the two cousins who realised they barely knew each other. Not long after Kara had arrived on Earth, Conner had died. And since his return it was only recently that he became more of a team player. With the exception of the odd run in, they had only really gotten to know each other since they had defeated Doomsday, the monster that killed Clark once, the other day. “So, you and Cassie?”
“We…haven’t started back yet. Didn’t really work last time we tried.”
“But you’re goddamn perfect for each other. I’d say Clark and Diana were the same if not for a woman as great as Lois being out there.”
“She sure is something, huh?”
“Cassie or Lois?”
“Both of them.” Kara smiled at Conner. “Now you’re just dodging the subject.” Conner’s cheeky grin belied a deeper knowledge. “No…no…just complimenting two great women. Of course, you’re something too, Kara. But I don’t know is it okay to pay that kind of compliment to a blood relative.” Kara boxed him in the arm and they both started laughing.
“You’ve got a heart of gold, you know that, ‘cuz?”
“That’s the first time you’ve ever called me that. You know, Kara, I thought you’d see me as…”
“As Luthor’s dumb clone hybrid kid. Not a real Kryptonian. And here you are calling me ‘cuz and giving me relationship advice concerning one of your best friends.” Kara gave her cousin a big hug and began crying. “Conner…it’s just…my world is dead…my mother and father are dead…the closest thing I’ve got to a family are Clark and Lana…and I guess, you and Lois. Of course, I see you as my cousin.”
“Conner! Kara! Supper’s ready!” The two cousins ended their embrace at that moment. As Conner moved to head back, Kara placed her hand on his shoulder. “What’s death like?” The abruptness of the question was shocking to Conner. “Sorry…I meant…what’s it like to be back from the dead.”
“It’s like I told Cassie, it’s like I’ve woken up from a long sleep.” Kara shook her head. “It can’t be like that, though.”
“No…it’s not. I can’t sleep right. It’s like something…or someone…has a hold over me and I can’t really put my finger on who…”
“You know that’s just paranoia talking, right?”
“I hope so.” Kara gave Conner another hug. “You’re okay, Conner, we’re all here for you, you know that?”
“Good. Oh, and just for me, don’t ever lie to your girlfriend again.”
“Cassie’s not…” Kara put her hand over his mouth as she laughed heartily. “You men are all so dumb.”
Lois Lane watched as her mother-in-law’s spread was laid down on the table and looked at two in-laws who she had grown to admire almost as much as Martha. Conner and Kara were like the children she and Clark never had. Sure, they weren’t that much older than them but Conner was Clark’s clone and Kara was his big cousin who had been in stasis a lot longer than Clark. They were both heading back to the house after she saw Kara put her hand over Conner’s face. “Something troubling you dear?” Lois turned to see Martha had her hand on her shoulder. “You seem to be looking at the two young ‘uns a lot.”
“Oh, it’s nothing, just…I wish Chris was here.” Martha nodded knowingly. Chris had been a Kryptonian child Clark and Lois had fostered not long ago, in a similar manner to how she and Jonathan had raised Clark. But he was taken from them because his real father was an enemy of Clark’s, General Zod. But with the whole New Krypton incident, Lois had met Chris again, and he was older. Turns out being born in the Phantom Zone meant his body didn’t react well to the flow of time in the real universe and he needed to return there to live, just like Clark’s old friend, Mon-El. Though Lois saved her son’s life, she had damned the woman he loved. A friend of Kara’s from back on Krypton, Thara Ak-Var, had become Flamebird to Chris’ Nightwing. She had died stopping Lois’ father, who killed himself that same day.
“I’m afraid if I ever see him again, I’ll have to tell him she’s gone. Because of my dad. That bastard…”
“Now, dearie, I remember Samuel, and he was no saint, but that’s no excuse to speak ill of the dead.” Lois had to giggle a little through her melancholy, at how old-fashioned and yet so brilliant and progressive Ma Kent could be. Her parents were far less stuffy about some things but complete fascists about everything else. Guess that’s the army in them. “Lois, we all hurt. But you…you seem like you want something.” Lois had to bite her lip. “Me and Clark…we can’t have children.” “Well, neither could Jon and I but that didn’t stop us, as you know yourself.” “But I couldn’t bear taking in another kid, Martha. It would be like Chris all over again. They’d just…take him away.” “Now, you don’t know that…” Martha had to admit to herself that Lois had a point in terms of if they adopted another Kryptonian. She could just look sadly at the amazing woman her son had married, not knowing what to say to ease the pain.
Conner and Kara entered the door this time. “What’s cooking, Aunt Martha?”
“Beef bourguignon. Clark’s favourite.”
“Where is Smallville’s resident boy scout, anyway?”
Lois gave Conner a dig. “Only I get to call him that, alright, “Metropolis Kid”. Conner’s face went red as Lois referenced how they first met. Kara looked curiously out the window as she and Conner simultaneously heard something move faster than a speeding bullet.
“He’s just gotten to a phone booth. He should be two minutes.” Conner looked longingly up at the woman who was as good as his mother. “Ma, any chance me and Kara could have some wine with the dinner tonight?” Martha’s face grimaced. “Conner Kent, you are seventeen!”
“That’s legal in Amsterdam!”
Lois laughed. “Oh, come on, Ma, it’s not like it’s gonna’ affect him. He should be immune to that stuff.”
“Really? And I suppose Clark is immune as well?”
“I…that’s not the point. He and Kara saved the world twice this week. I think they deserve at least a glass.”
“Alright then, one glass.” Kara sidled beside Conner and gave him a dig in the ribs for making things awkward. Just then, Clark landed outside holding two bottles of red wine. Lois rushed outside and gave him a bear hug. “Good to see you, Smallville.”
Titans Tower, San Francisco
Rose Wilson was never one to let her feelings get the better of her. Being the Terminator’s daughter means you lack feelings. And yet, she couldn’t stop thinking of what Conner Kent had said to her this afternoon. This boy…this hero, better than all of them. The guy who gave his life saving the multiverse, had shown Rose what he really thought about her. He had asked her, the girl with the dark past, to be the one to kill him should he…should he…ever turn out like Prime. She knew he meant well, and that was the fucking problem. One of her friends had just asked Rose to kill him and been as nice as fucking pie about it. She wouldn’t have minded if Cassie or Tim had said it, the two of them are so fucked up and high and mighty when it comes to her it wouldn’t matter. But Conner? That guy was so sweet. She had spent nearly two years trying to prove to the Titans that she was not her father. That she wasn’t a murderer. And now here she sat in the Titans Tower living room, crying her eyes out over a bottle of Jack Daniels. No one else was home. Gar and Rachel were on a date and it was the working week, so none of the other Titans would pop round.
The worst part for Rose was that she was slightly proud that Conner trusted her that much more than people he’d been friends with for so much longer. He, Tim, Cassie and Bart had all known each other since before their first pubic hairs, while Rose was still under the watchful eye of Roy Harper. That made her cry. Poor Lian. The sweetest child the world would ever know, and her life had been ended by that dickwad, Prometheus! All the heroes were up in arms against Ollie and Roy for killing him, but damn it those self-righteous hypocrites don’t get it! If it had been a child of hers, or hell even a friend, Rose wouldn’t have hesitated in taking out that pig. But no, Ollie was a criminal now. No place for him on the Justice League, and Roy was barely accepted by the Titans. If she ever killed again, Tim would lose all the sympathy he once had for her and she’d be gone.
“Are you okay?” Rose jumped from the couch, her drink spilling all over her neatly polished sword, just as she brought it to rest upon the neck of Bart Allen. “Don’t…don’t ever do that again, Bart.”
“I’m sorry, I just wondered, were you alright.”
“I’m…I’m fine. Why are you here?”
“Joan and Jay are on a double date with Grandpa Barry and Grandma Iris.” Rose had to laugh at that.
“Yeah, yeah I know. So, anyway, what’s the problem?”
“Oh, it’s nothing, you need to worry about.”
“But I want to worry. Rose, does this have to do with your dad, again?”
“Why would I care about him?” Bart stood still for a minute and realised she was telling the truth. Slade was a bastard, but he wasn’t her problem anymore. “It’s…it’s… “It’s Conner, okay. I don’t love him or anything, just he…this whole bullshit with Prime…and…none of you trust me.”
“I always did.”
“Don’t lie, Bart. You saw me with my dad, all those years ago and you judged me just like Tim and all the others did.”
“If this is about Tim, he’s been going through some shit as well. He believed in you when even I didn’t know what to think, Rose, because Dick told him too. If you’ve got the backing of Nightwing, even though it might not seem like it, you’ve got the backing of the Titans, through and through.” Rose looked up at Bart and smiled. “I wish I could tell you…”
“I think I get the message. Conner’s one of my best friends, and I know he’s more scared of himself than anything else. I think he doesn’t appreciate the fact we’d all die for him, but at the same time it’s only because…well…he did for us.”
“You died before, right?”
“Yeah, I did. But this is so weird. Rose…I remember everything.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was alive…but I was older than I am now. I was a man.”
“Yeah, Tim told us all when you…um…when you died.”
“I wanted so much to make my grandma proud. To be like Barry Allen, my grandfather…the Fastest Man Alive.”
“You’re not the only one with family hang-ups, then?” They both chuckled.
“We mentioned Conner, didn’t we? And Raven, she wrote the book!” The two teenagers then settled down. “It must be hard…I mean, our teens aren’t easy. For any of us. And you got to be a man…you were the Flash. And then…you were dead. But you came back, and that’s grea-“
“I came back and I was a boy again, Rose. Not only that but my perfect grandfather who made even Wally feel bad about himself because of how perfect he was is the Flash again. It’s not fair. My grandfather and I should be dead. Wally is the Flash!”
“Bart, come on. I’d kill to see my mother again. You must be happy your grandpa’s back.” Bart paused for a moment.
“I did miss him, don’t get me wrong. I never knew the man, and part of me is glad I can get to know him now. But he…he well…he’s so fucking perfect. Everyone’s happy that he’s back. But…Iris is my grandma. I know she’s his wife and they love each other. But all the happiness she could have at me, her only grandson, being back…is ignored because he’s around. Even Wally. I died at twenty…he died a grown man with children doing something right. I was shot in the back. The first person that people who swore never to kill, did kill, all because they were scared. I can’t even die properly. Like Conner, he gets to die saving the multiverse. And me…I’m just…I’m just…” Rose rushed to embrace Bart and he reciprocated, crying into the shoulder of a girl he’d known for years, and yet had struggled to bond with despite her flirtations. “It’s okay, Bart.”
“But it’s not…I was grown up…I had a life…and that’s all gone…”
“Did you have someone in your life? Apart from your grandma, I mean?”
“I…I had…Val…poor Val…she probably still thinks I’m dead.” Rose began crying as she felt the hot moisture seep onto her shoulder. She had never felt so sympathetic for another Titan since Eddie. Poor Eddie. The kid who wanted to be a hero had to die because of what he went through.
“You, um, you loved her, then?”
“I…I guess I did…in my own way. It’s so weird…it’s like I remember everything but I don’t have the…the emotion…the maturity…even in my memory…that I had back then. It’s like my mind has regressed too.”
“Trust me, Bart, I know the feeling. Dad had me doped up to make me his perfect little soldier. I cut my own eye out for fuck’s sake. I was a psychopath. When I remember it, I…I can’t really imagine how I acted like that. I suppose for you, it’s the reverse. Like you were better when you were younger. Almost the opposite of the rest of us.” The two weeping friends had a chuckle at that.
“We’re two broken people, aren’t we, Rose?”
“In…such different ways, eh, Barty boy.”
Somewhere in Time and Space…
Speed…Speed…Speed Force. Speed Force creates life. Speed Force manipulates time. A scythe in the back from a man who should be dead. But now that man is dead. So, how did he stab you in the back? More to the point, how are you alive again over a decade after Barry Allen snapped your neck? That was a good one. Eobard Thawne…what are you?
Eobard Thawne opened his eyes. All he saw was, nothing. Was this death? Had he finally left the Speed Force and entered the realms of the nether. Could the Reverse-Flash pass on? “No.” What was that? A voice echoing through his mind. “Tell me…are you dead?” Eobard opened his mouth to reply in the affirmative and end his suffering…but then he thought of smug old Barry Allen, lording it over him because of how much better he was. How he hated him! And now, Allen got to go back to his perfect world. With his family all alive again. Except…except for his mother. And his two children. That selfish oaf, Allen, had saved his mother but not the only children he and Iris West would ever have. “It’s funny isn’t it?”
Whatever it was, it was reading his thoughts. What was it? “I am Life. You…you are the embodiment of me.” Eobard was stunned. He’d killed more people than he could count and yet now this thing was telling him he was some kind of hero. “Let me explain, Eobard. You are a monster. A servant of death. And yet, you are the ultimate evader of death. Your relationship to the Speed Force makes resurrection much easier for you than the Flash or any other speedster. And so, I offer you one thing.” “And what is that, pray tell?” “It is the gift of life, my friend.” “And what is that?” “Isn’t it obvious?”
YOU ARE GOING TO BECOME GOD