by Anubis8, Rubberman41, Starsky Hutch 76 and JSAGL
August 13, 1985:
It was one week after the defeat of the Anti-Monitor — one week since Earth-Two was saved from complete and utter oblivion. Many had died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and many more were injured. In the Gotham City Memorial Hospital, a special wing had been set up to tend to those who were injured but had thankfully survived the Crisis.
Dick Grayson, who had been the hero called Robin for forty-five years now, sat at the bedside of Helena Wayne, better known to the world at large as the costumed heroine the Huntress. Helena had been comatose since being severely injured during the last days of the Crisis.
As Dick looked down at the woman whom he had watched grow up and thought of as the sister he never had, tears welled up in his eyes. “Helena, I hope that you can hear me. It’s Dick. I know that you’re in there struggling for your freedom. Please… come back. We — no, I need you to get better. Since Bruce’s death, you’re the only family that I have left, and I’m not ready to lose you, too.”
He turned to see Power Girl standing in the doorway, holding a bouquet of flowers. As he slowly stood to greet her, he noticed that she, too, had been crying. He thought to himself, Poor Kara. First losing your only surviving relative to this damn thing and then to see your best friend lying here — it must be taking an incredible toll, even for you.
“Kara, it’s good to see you. How are you holding up?”
Mustering up a half-smile, Kara Zor-L simply replied, “I’ve been better. How about you? You look as if you haven’t slept since they admitted her a week ago.”
Dick slowly walked over to Helena’s bed, nodded, and said, “She’s all that I have left. There’s no way that I would be able to leave her here alone.”
Kara slowly walked up behind him, placing her arm around him, and laid her head on his shoulder. “Dick, she’ll never be alone. If there’s anything that you can count on in this thing we call life, it’s that the JSA always looks after its own.”
Smiling, he simply said, “I’ve always known that. Thanks to Bruce and the JSA, I was never deprived of a family. Granted, it wasn’t exactly your everyday nuclear family, but that didn’t matter to me.” He paused, then asked, “Kara, have you had a chance to check on the condition of Ted or any of the others?”
Clark Kent looked out over his balcony at the destruction that was widespread across Metropolis, the city he loved. The world has taken a beating from this so-called Crisis, he thought to himself. It will take a lot of work to return the luster to Metropolis.
As Clark was pondering this to himself, his wife Lois Lane Kent had stepped out of the shower. She walked toward him, drying her hair. “Clark, I know that look. You’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders again.” She sighed. “I thought we were taking a day off. You can save the world tomorrow. Tonight, you’re all mine.” Lois pulled Clark’s head down and kissed him passionately.
The couple broke the kiss as Clark sighed, “I wish Bruce was here. He’d know a way to fix everything.” Clark went back to the window. “I feel so helpless. Bruce’s own daughter is lying in a hospital in critical condition, and all I can do is sit and watch.”
Lois gently grabbed Clark by the chin, turning his head to look at her. “Bruce Wayne was just a normal man — well, just a normal man who dressed as a bat and skulked around in the dark,” she said with a chuckle. “He would be the first to tell you that one man can’t solve everything that comes along, and not even a Superman can.”
She walked over to the light switch on the wall and dimmed the light. “You can help with the clean-up tomorrow, Superman, but tonight you are my special hero,” she said as she dropped the towel covering her and walked into the bedroom.
Clark started to follow her but stopped in his tracks. “Well, Lois, I guess our little night together will have to wait. I just heard a fire at the Quality Chemical plant. Rain check?” he asked.
“Go on — those people need help. I’ll call the Star and get someone on the story,” Lois said, sighing. “Be careful out there,” she said to the gust of wind that was left behind in her husband’s wake.
“Life’s a beach when you’re married to the Man of Steel,” she laughed to herself as she started dialing the phone.
JSA Headquarters, Gotham City:
In the monitor room, Ted Knight and Rex Tyler — the heroes known as Starman and Hourman — were attempting to get the transmatter unit back on line, with little success. Wonder Woman had brought her mother’s magic sphere to help, but even it was meeting with limited success in breaching the new barrier between worlds that had been erected since the end of the Crisis.
Alan Scott, alias Green Lantern, arrived to find his three comrades working feverishly. “Afternoon, everyone. How’s it going?”
Ted looked up at Alan and smiled. “Wish I had better news to report, Mr. Chairman, but so far nothing. We did manage to get a short message to and from the JLA, but that’s about it.”
“What about Jay?”
At that moment, the scarlet speedster entered the room. “No luck, either, Alan,” said the Flash. “I’ve tried matching my vibratory speeds to the one I know for Earth-One, but nothing happens. I really want to get over there and make sure Wally’s OK. Barry’s death can’t have been easy on him.”
Wonder Woman, alias Princess Diana of the Amazons, approached the two. “I understand your feelings, Jay. My counterpart was reverted to clay during the final battle against the Anti-Monitor. I hope that my sisters on Earth-One have been told of her fate. Alan, even though I have been unable to pierce the veil between worlds, we have been able to use the magic sphere to determine one thing: There were five universes that survived the Crisis.”
Walking over to the magic sphere, Diana showed the assembled JSAers a picture of five Earths, separated by dimensional vibrations.
“Do we know which Earths they are?” Hourman asked.
“Yes, Rex,” Diana replied. “Our own Earth and Earths One, Four, S, and X.”
Green Lantern looked at the others for a moment. “Hmm. I know Earth-X is the home of the Freedom Fighters and Earth-S is the home of the Marvel Family that we met a few years back, but Earth-Four?”
As he went back to tinkering with the Transmatter device, Starman answered, “I met a few of those heroes briefly — Captain Atom, Nightshade, Blue Beetle — now that guy was a real clown.”
“I see,” Green Lantern said. “Well, keep me informed of your progress.”
“Speaking of progress, how’s the Hawk doing?” the Flash asked.
Alan sighed. “As well as can be expected. I spoke with Shiera this morning, and she said he is recovering slowly but surely.”
“I’ll be glad when the whole team is back in shape,” Hourman commented.
“I’m off to check on Wildcat in the hospital. I’ll be back later.” And with an emerald burst, Green Lantern was gone.
“Is everything all set, Jimmy?” Lois asked.
“The cake just arrived,” James Bartholomew Olsen said from the other end of the phone. “Clark won’t know what hit him.”
“I knew I could count on you,” Lois said, laughing.
“So will you be able to make it?”
“I’ll try,” Lois said. “But I have a lot of things to take care of around here, and this is really an occasion for all of you at the Daily Star.”
“Considering how long you worked here, it wouldn’t be the same without you,” James said.
“That’s sweet of you to say, Jimmy, but most of the faces around there wouldn’t recognize me, or vice versa. But I’ll try to make it there if my schedule frees up here.”
After saying their goodbyes, Lois Lane tiptoed over to the guest room to look in on the sleeping figure that would be keeping her busy for a while.
She couldn’t get over it. He looked exactly like Clark, only even younger than the day she first laid eyes on Superman — much younger, in fact. He couldn’t be a day over fourteen. She and Clark had always wanted to have children of their own, but their physiologies were just too different. Now they had one almost fully grown — the Superboy she’d always hoped to have.
Gotham Memorial Hospital, in Ted Grant’s room:
Al Pratt — the JSAer known as the mighty Atom — stared out the window, his mind a million miles away, trying to take in all that had happened over the past few weeks. Behind him laid Ted Grant, the fallen warrior known as Wildcat.
“Al, are you listening to anything I’m saying here, or what?” Frustrated by the lack of response from his old friend, Ted yelled, “Dammit, Al! Could you at least look at me?!”
Al Pratt slowly turned around to look at the man he had stood beside in battle for the past forty years, trying not to snap back at him. “Ted, look — I understand your anger, but there’s no need to go yelling at me. I’m listening!”
Ted glanced down at the two white casts that covered him from the waist down. Hmmm, he thought to himself, those used to be my legs. Now look at them. Hell, look at me. He looked back up at Al, his voice slowly rising as he yelled back, “You understand my anger? That’s what you’re telling me? I’m the one lying here with both of my legs broken into a million pieces, with little hope of ever walking again, and you know how I feel?!”
“Ted…” Al began, knowing that this was just a release for the frustration that had been building up inside of Wildcat since he was injured. Now it was time for him — of all people — to calm his friend down before he did any further damage to himself. “Doc Mid-Nite hasn’t said anything about you never being able to use your legs again. Only time will tell. And I’m telling you that this outburst of yours isn’t exactly following doctor’s orders.”
“Al’s right, Ted,” Charles McNider said as he strolled into the room, holding Ted’s chart. “I have the results back from the latest round of tests we ran on you.”
“And?” asked Al and Ted in unison as they glanced at one another.
“Well, gentlemen, if these tests are as accurate as they are supposed to be, our friend, here, has about a seventy-five-percent chance of gaining back full use of his legs.”
“Seventy-five percent? That’s great! Isn’t it, Ted?” Al smiled as he looked over at his old friend.
“Seventy-five percent, Al. Naw, that ain’t great, but it’s a start. And just knowing that ol’ Wildcat hasn’t gone down for the final count will give me enough willpower to get back to one-hundred percent!”
“Willpower, huh? Well, if that’s not a perfect segue for my entrance, then I don’t know what is,” said Alan Scott as he glided through the emerald hole that had formed on the wall.
The chemical fire was simple enough to put out. After all the years he’d been at it, he could do this sort of thing in his sleep. He ducked into an alley to do a quick change and then walked into the building of the Daily Star. He took the elevator up to the floor of his office, and when he stepped off the elevator, he was greeted with a loud, “Surprise!”
Hanging from the ceiling was a banner that read, “Happy Retirement. We’ll miss you!” A throng of happy faces stared at him, waiting for a reaction.
“I — I don’t know what to say,” he stammered. “You guys shouldn’t have.” Apparently, it was the desired reaction, because he received a round of applause.
He had earlier told Jimmy he didn’t want a big to-do over his retirement, that he’d rather just come in and do his final day’s work and then quietly say his goodbyes. He’d bet his last dollar that Lois had something to do with this — not that Jimmy would’ve needed much encouragement.
Well, the least he could do was show his appreciation to everyone. Letting out a chuckle, he went forth to greet the partygoers.