by Starsky Hutch 76, JSAGL and Anubis8
Richard Grayson and Karen Starr left Helena Wayne’s hospital room and walked to the waiting room. There they saw the gathered members of Infinity Inc. watching a program on television.
“What are you watching?” Power Girl asked them.
“Some old ’40s guy,” said Todd Rice, alias Obsidian, son of Green Lantern. “Dice something or ‘nother.”
Some old ’40s guy? Dick cringed internally. He was some old ’40s guy. He could remember sneaking off to see his movies as a boy. The only other person in the room who could probably say that was Sylvester Pemberton, the time-tossed Star-Spangled Kid.
“I wouldn’t just call him some ’40s guy,” said Hector Hall, alias Silver Scarab, the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. “Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay was the inspiration for guys like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor.”
“Whatever,” Todd said.
“How is she?” asked Lyta Trevor, alias Fury, daughter of Wonder Woman. She changed the subject to avoid a needless argument.
“The same,” Dick sighed. “I keep hoping for any kind of sign.”
“I hate this,” Lyta said, clenching her fists in frustration. “She was my inspiration to become a hero. Sure, I wanted to live up to my mother’s example, but it was the Huntress who showed me it was possible.”
Hector put his arm around Lyta’s shoulders. “That goes for all of us.”
“There must be some way to help her,” said Rick Tyler, who had just been accepted in the team as the new Hourman, along with Dr. Beth Chapel as Doctor Midnight.
Lyta suddenly looked up, a light having come into her eyes. “There is! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner!”
Elsewhere, in the nether-realm between worlds, Doctor Fate and the Spectre were making their own attempt to reach Earth-One.
“Nothing,” Fate said, his expression unknowable behind his golden mask. “I reach out and can feel the gossamer threads that link this world to our own, and the moment I feel that I have connected, they slip away, like sands flowing in an hourglass.”
The Spectre reached out to touch Earth-One, but it slipped through his hands, much like water in a raging river.
“This is maddening! Never before has the Spectre been denied access to wherever he chooses, and yet I cannot bridge the gap between worlds.”
“Yes, I recall during the battle with Anti-Matter Man, you successfully became a bridge between our two Earths.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Bridge Between Earths,” Justice League of America #47 (September, 1966).]
“Do not remind me, Fate. It was not one of my prouder moments.”
“Indeed, as I recall, it was Batman who saved the day where you and I could not. Seems highly unlikely, does it not?”
The Spectre stared at Fate for a moment, a whisper of a smile playing across his ghostly lips, but it was gone swiftly, much like the Cheshire Cat. “Speaking of highly unlikely, perhaps there is one avenue we have yet to explore.” The Spectre waved his cape, and out popped a very bewildered Johnny Thunder.
“Whoa! Where am I? Doc Fate? Spectre? Say, you must have something pretty big going on to call me in! What is this place, anyway?”
Just as soon as he said it, the Thunderbolt popped in. “Master John, this certainly qualifies as the second weirdest place you’ve summoned me to.”
Doctor Fate spoke. “Johnny, this is Limbo — a place that exists between our world and the other-dimensional Earths. The Spectre and I have tried rather unsuccessfully to bridge the gap between our Earth and the others.”
The Spectre turned to Johnny. “It was our hope that your Thunderbolt might succeed where we have thus far failed.”
Johnny smiled as wide as the Mississippi. “Huh! The JSA’s two most powerful members turning to little old me for help? Gosh, guys, I’m flattered. Y’know, I remember back in ’47 when Dinah–”
“Enough! Cease thy endless prattle, John Thunder, and command your Thunderbolt!” the Spectre whispered and shouted at the same time.
Johnny gulped. “Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh T-bolt, take me to Earth-One — fast!”
“Sure, Master John, no problem.”
Johnny looked at the Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt looked at Johnny.
Doctor Fate looked at the Spectre. The Spectre looked unhappy.
“This defies explanation. Magic is unable to break the dimensional barrier, and yet Theodore Knight is able to send a message to Earth-One. What in the name of heaven’s host is going on?”
“Calm yourself, James Corrigan. Existence itself has been torn asunder and has only begun to heal. It may be a while before we can leave our world. I sense no malevolence here.”
“Perhaps you are right, Fate.”
And with that, the four figures vanished and returned to Earth-Two.
Back at the Daily Star Building:
“Somehow I always figured it would be you handing me this instead of the other way around,” James Olsen said, holding out the gold watch for Clark Kent. Clark was startled by the high-pitched sound emitting from it that only he could hear when he accidentally pressed a button. Jimmy gave him a playful wink.
Later, after the rest of the staff had left, Jimmy and Clark sat in his now-bare office. His mementos sat in a box upon his desk.
“Boy, Clark, you could have knocked me over with a feather when you told me what you did.”
“Come on, Jimmy,” Clark said with a smirk. “A reporter of your caliber? Surely you’re not going to sit there and tell me you didn’t at least have some suspicion. Lois figured it out years ago, even before we were married.”
“Well, yeah,” Jimmy laughed. “I guess it just blew me away that you finally got around to telling me.”
“As long as we’ve been friends, I just figured you deserved to know the truth about why we’re just all of a sudden picking up and moving.”
“Well, I guess it would raise a lot of suspicions if you were to just suddenly turn up with a teenage son no one’s heard of before.”
“It’ll be a lot easier to get away with that in Smallville,” Clark said. “Most of those people haven’t seen me in years. They’ll have no problem accepting a Clark Kent, Junior. As for Superboy, I’ll just tell the world that I was waiting until he was old enough.”
“What about hospital records, birth certificates, and such?” Jimmy asked.
“Don’t worry,” Clark said, rising to his feet. “I have friends who can help me with that.” That reminded him that he needed to give Dick a call. Most of his teammates didn’t even know he was still alive. He had even neglected to call Kara, because he’d been so busy with Clark, Junior — he winced as he realized she would be furious. But the first few days with the lad had been difficult. He’d been strong through the Crisis, but once it was over, the loss of Earth-Prime and all his loved ones — not to mention everyone he had ever known — had taken its toll on him.
“Well, we’re sure going to miss you around here,” Jimmy said. “The Daily Star won’t be the same without Clark Kent. Can I help you to the car with this? You’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years.”
“I appreciate it, but I flew. Maybe you could bring a few boxes to the apartment later and join us for dinner — meet the new son!”
“Great!” Jimmy said enthusiastically. “I’m looking forward to seeing just what a Superboy looks like.”
Meanwhile, at a local diner, Sylvester Pemberton had hoped that Lyta’s interruption would have put a stop to the impending argument about the old Vaudeville comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay, but it had only postponed it. Let it never be said that Hector and Todd passed up an opportunity to bicker. He wished he’d been able to join Lyta and the others, but where they were going, it was strictly ladies only.
“The guy wore a zoot suit, for cryin’ out loud!” Todd Rice said.
“The guy’s comedy is classic. Like W.C. Fields.”
“The guy tells a few raunchy limericks, and you compared him to Lenny Bruce? That stuff seems pretty tame today, anyway.”
“That’s because he could be funny without the F-word — unlike today’s comedians. Right, Sly?”
Sylvester had been a fan when he had grown up in that era, but he didn’t want any part of the argument. His gaze drifted to a solitary figure sitting across the room, and he had his excuse. “Hey, guys. I just saw an old friend. I’m gonna go over and say hi.” The two continued their heated discussion even as he left.
When he walked over to the booth where Roy Harper sat, he almost wished he hadn’t. The former kid sidekick Speedy, partner of the Green Arrow, was completely oblivious to his arrival. He sat there staring into his coffee with his hands around the mug, awash in his sorrow. He was surprised at the way he’d lost touch with his former teammates from the Seven Soldiers of Victory. It had taken the Crisis and then Green Arrow’s funeral shortly after to bring them all together again.
“Hi, Roy. I’m here with a couple of friends, so I thought I’d drop by and see how you’re doing.”
Roy gestured to the seat across from him. “Have a seat.” He slid into the booth and ordered a cup of coffee from the waitress.
“Why’d he have to die, Sylvester?”
“A lot of people die in our line of work, Roy. You play the odds long enough, eventually you might lose. We all knew that going in.”
“After everything we’ve been through, I never…” Roy paused for a minute, collecting himself. “He was like my father, you know — and the best friend I’d ever had. He was the only family I had left. Everyone else was gone. So much time had passed when we were gone. They’re all dead now, or so old that they don’t even remember me.”
“I know,” Sylvester said. “The same thing happened to me.” He remembered how hard it had been for him. Joining the Justice Society had been a big help for him. It kept him from feeling so alone. Roy was about the same age as him. Considering how much they had in common, it was surprising they hadn’t kept in touch or been better friends.
“What am I going to do now?” Roy said mournfully. “What am I going to do now?”
“Well,” Sylvester said. “Have you ever thought about coming to L.A.?”
Back at the hospital, Dr. Angstrom decided to look in on his patient, Helena Wayne. As he walked down the hall, he reviewed her file. “Still in a coma, I see,” he muttered to himself. So many people had been killed or injured in the Crisis. It was a wonder they all received treatment.
As he stepped into the room, he turned to the bed where she had lain for days and received the shock of his life. He turned to the orderly that was walking in behind him and snapped, “Has Helena Wayne been moved without my authorization?”
On the rooftop of Gotham City Memorial Hospital, Dick Grayson was still staring into the night sky where just moments ago he watched Wonder Woman’s invisible plane leave with the still-comatose Helena Wayne.
Slowly, he turned to head back downstairs to leave the hospital where he had spent most of his time over the past week, only to be startled by Power Girl, who had been quietly standing there while he gathered his thoughts. “Kara! I thought that you had left.”
“Well, actually I did. I was about halfway to Metropolis when I decided to turn around,” she said as she walked over to him. “To be perfectly honest with you, I thought that we could both do with a little company right now.”
As Dick looked back toward the star-filled sky, he said, “I just hope that the Amazons are able to help Helena.”
Kara, standing next to him, looked up and said, “If anyone can help Helena, it’s Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons. I owe them so much for all that they did for me.”
“Hmph. I suppose that you have a point.” A smile slowly made its way across Dick’s face as he replied, “I think that you may be right, though, over needing some companionship. It certainly has been one hell of a week! And the company of a beautiful woman might be just what the doctor ordered.”
He turned to her and said, “Listen, I’m a little hungry, and hospital food just hasn’t been doing it for me. Would you… care to join me for dinner?”
Smiling back at him, Kara replied, “Why, Mr. Grayson, are you asking me out on a date?”
His face flush, he smiled as he nodded and held out his hand for hers. She said nothing as she reached to meet his waiting hand and slid her own into his grip, only stopping to notice the feeling of symmetry that suddenly rushed over her.
They left the confines of Gotham City Memorial and stepped out into the crisp night air, which was suddenly so rich with hope.