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Supernatural/JLU: On The Road Again


Oct 21, 2003
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Backstory: In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, it was revealed that Tim Drake, the second Robin, was tortured and brainwashed by the Joker into becoming "Little Jay," a horrid surrogate son for the Joker and Harley Quinn. In a climactic fight between Batman and Joker, Joker ordered Tim to kill Batman. Instead, Tim executed the Joker. After that, we're told that Tim spent a year with Leslie Thompkins regaining his sanity... but not what happened to him after that.

In Supernatural, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hunt various freaks of a supernatural (get it?) nature, traveling to a new location every week in a 1967 Chevy Impala while listening to classic rock. It was recently discovered that Sam, the younger brother, had psychic powers.

This is their story.

1. Brotherly Love

“So, any progress on the psychic powers front?”

Sam looked up from his book. Dean was packing his things (generally hair care related. Man took a great deal of pride in his hair).

“Yeah, yesterday I fought two gnolls and I got enough XP to go up a level in psychic,” Sam said before going back to his reading. Suddenly he felt a small rock hit his forehead. “Hey!”

“Just making sure.”

“You hit me with a rock because you wanted to see if I had psychic powers?”

“Actually, it was more because of that lame RPG joke. Honestly, college boy, how did you ever get a girlfriend?”

Sam set down his book on crappy motel 514's bedstand. “What do you want?”

“I've got the perfect job for us.”

“Oh God...”

“No, hear me out. Gotham City.”

“Gotham City. You're going after the Batman?”

Dean nodded enthusiastically. “C'mon, it'll be awesome! You know, the city actually has lesbian supervillains?”

“Whoa, whoa, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn aren't lesbians.”

“Yes they are.”

“Are not.”

“Are too.”

“Are not.”

“Are too times infinity.”

“What are you, twelve?”

“You're just mad that you didn't pull the infinity card first,” Dean smirked. “Come on, pack it in. We've got a lot of ground to cover.”


Sam once again had his nose buried in his book, trying to ignore the heavy metal flowing from the radio that was probably the most expensive part of the crappy car (and it was a good thing Dean wasn't the one with psychic powers, because if he heard Sam think that about his precious auto...).

“Uh, Sam, mind getting your feet off the dashboard? Because, just saying man, they stink.”

Sam wished he hadn't packed his bookmark, because if there interruptions were going to become a thing... “My feet don't stink.”

“Yes, they do, man. You have a fungus or something.”

“You're a fungus. Hey, hitchhikers.”

Dean looked at the side of the road. There were two of them, a man in his mid-twenties with a long black ponytail and a young boy in his teens with a haunted look in his eyes. Sam made brief eyecontact with the boy and...

”This isn't the first time this has happened,” John Winchester said, checking their ammo. Dean looked up at him expectantly, holding his brother's hand to discourage him from running off. Satisfied, John started loading the ammo into the back of their minivan. “People all over have been attacked, killed by these kind of things. But nobody's doing anything about it. Nobody sees because nobody wants to see. Well, that stops right now. We're gonna take the fight to them. We're Winchesters. We're the last of the Winchesters, now. And we're not going to stand for this...”

“Pick them up,” Sam said suddenly.

“What? Dude, did you forget that the last time you hooked up with a hitchhiker she turned out to be...”

“Pull over and pick them up.”

“Oh damn, this is one of those psychic things isn't it?”


Dean hit the brakes. The two hitchhikers piled into the backseat. They each had one briefcase apiece. The older one was lean, with a greater muscle mass, while the younger one definitely had some sort of acrobatic training by the way he moved. They'd definitely be a problem if they turned heel, Dean mused.

“Thanks for picking us up,” the older one said, offering his hand between the seat divider. “Dick Grayson,” he said, shaking both of the Winchesters' hands. “And this is my little brother, Tim.”

“Hey,” Tim said, briefly lifting his head to get a glance at the two of them.

“So, where you guys headed?” Dean asked.

“Anywhere. Car broke down.”

“Car blew up,” Tim corrected.

“Long story. Anywhere you can take us that has hot food, a warm bed, and an internet connection is fine.”

They drove long into the night, the Graysons keeping quiet, not moving except for subtle nods and hand signals that might have been a language... if either of the Winchesters had been paying that much attention. Sam has his attention focused soely on his window, watching Tim in the dull reflection. A boy that age should be happy, bouncing around, asking questions or checking out the sights, not just... sitting there.

“Hey Tim,” he said, instantly regretting it at the way both the Graysons' heads shot up to look at him. Out of the corner of his eye, he even saw Dean give him a 'what the hell are you doing' eyebrow. “You doing okay back there? Any preference if we stop off for fast food?”

“No sir.”

“He likes Cajun food, if that helps,” Dick said, smiling as if in apology for his brother's incommunicativeness.

It was an insipid conversation, but at least it was better than the chilly silence that had been percolating through the car, like dead plankton going through a process of Catagenesis (it was a really good thing Dean wasn't the psychic one).

Finally, Tim gave a big yawn and Dean turned down the radio. Dick went to sleep, one arm curled protectively around Tim. Tim followed suit, head resting against Dick's shoulder. Sam went last, head flush against the window. Dean was alone with the snores.

“Great. I'm a soccer mom.”


The motel owner barely looked up from his porno to take their money and Dick carried Tim into the room. He pulled off the boy's shoes and tucked him in, taking a moment to slip something black and boomerang-shaped into Tim's arms before pulling the sheets over him.

"I'm going to get something to drink. Anyone care to join me?" Dick asked.

"Hell, I'm up for a brewski. How 'bout you, Sam?"

"Nah, think I'll catch up on my beauty sleep."


Walking down the sidewalk to the local bar, illuminated by the neon lights of the fishing town's strip joints and casinos, Dean struggled to keep up with Dick. The other man had longer legs and seemed in a hurry, even though he wasn't going anywhere in particular.

"Hey, you sure you feel safe leaving your little brother with mine?"

Dick arched an eyebrow. "Shouldn't I?"

"Well, sure, my brother wouldn't hurt a fly (unless it was a giant, mutated fly), but you don't know that."

Dick smiled. "I do know that if your brother harms one hair on Tim's head, I'll hurt you both in ways that will make you useless to a woman."

"I can respect that."


"Why do we make cups out of glass?"

Sam started and pulled his face out of the pillow. Tim was standing at the foot of his bed, wavering slightly, like a stiff breeze might knock him over. Sam could just make out his spiky hair and piercing eyes from the shadows. He turned on his lamp. Still the light seemed to shy away from the teen.

"Why do we make cups out of glass?" Tim repeated. "It breaks. It breaks easy. Why not plastic or clay?"

"I guess... because it looks pretty?" Sam ventured.

Tim laughed harshly and jumped up on the dresser, his legs dangling over the side. "You're not the normal one, are you?"


"In every story there's a normal one and a strange one. You're not the normal one... but you want to be."

This time it was Sam's turn to laugh as he pulled himself up by the bed's headboard and sat crosslegged atop the covers. "Trust me, in my story, there are no normal ones."

"Who said it was your story? It belongs to all of you."

"Me and Dean?"

Tim looked away. "For now."

"What are you, some kind of oracle?"

"No... there is no oracle in this story."

Sam nodded once. "Can't help but notice Dick gave you some kind of weapon before he left. That is a weapon, right?"


"You know, when I was little and got scared of monsters in the closet, my dad gave me a gun to keep me safe."

"My dad doesn't like guns."


Dean polished his cue. "It just didn't work out. I had to leave to... do some things. Although I saw her again later. It had to do with an anthropomorphized racist truck... don't ask."

Dick racked up the pool balls as Dean lined up his shot. "She promised she'd come back for me one day. Of course, that was before she left to be queen of Tamaran."

Dean looked up briefly from the eightball. "You win." He made the break shot. "You know what, this is loose. I'm getting laid. Hell, we're attractive guys...

"Gotta warn you, do not like where this is going."

"Double hell, we're man-****s. If we can't get laid, who can? I don't know about you, but I'm going to meet some lucky lady and wham, bam, thank you ma'am."

Both of them looked to a particularly bosom young lady sitting down at the bar.

"You go for redheads too?" Dick asked.

"Red, blonde, black, shaved... I'll take anything."

"Then may the best man win."

"I intend to."


Sam, working on a hunch, turned off the light. Tim seemed to become more comfortable, even though he was now invisible in the shadows. Sam felt the moonlight on his skin, streaming through the curtains. It felt like some sort of twilight half-world, destined to vanish at dawn.

Sam struggled to remember which one of Jess' cheesy romance novels he had read that in.

"You're used to smiling," Sam said after a moment. Tim nodded encouragingly. "But something bad happened to you and now you think you'll never smile again. That's your story."

"How do you know?"

"Because it's my story too."

"So, how does the story end?"

"Don't know yet. But I've seen the second act. Just because whatever... whoever made you smile is gone, doesn't mean there aren't other people who can make you smile."

In the darkness, Tim cocked his head to the side. "That's why you're with Dean, isn't it? He thinks you're only sticking around with him for revenge."

"If he thought different, he wouldn't let me come along."

"That's where you're wrong."


The first clue that he hadn't struck out that Dean got upon waking was that he was in a strange bed. Not that this was a new experience, but if he hadn't gone home with someone, he would be sleeping in the back of the Dean Machine (as he called it. It was too bad Sam was psychic, becaue he would hate for his brother to find that out), since Tim and Sam had the beds.

Pulling on his boxers, Dean stepped into the kitchen of the apartment. Dick was standing at the fridge. Dean ran through the possibilities before giving a little "what the hell" laugh.

"Roommates?" he asked.

The woman they had been competing over in the bar... both of them... walked out of their respective rooms.

"Twins," Dick corrected.

"Goddamn TWINS!"

They high-fived.

"Wait, if they're twins..." Dick began. "How do we know if we didn't both... with the same woman..."

"Why do you have to start on that?"


Sam had seen demons, mutants, ghosts, poltergeists (well, he hadn't actually seen the poltergeists...), aliens, and some sort of weird human/crocodile thing with a Bronx accent. He still did a double-take when Dean and Dick walked into the motel room, wearing the same disheveled clothes they had had on last night.

"It all makes so much sense now," Sam said, smirking. "The leather coats, the heavy metal music, the car... it was all camoflage for the part of you that loves sequins and showtunes."

"Hey, whoa dude, hold it off right there. Nothing happened. Tell him, Dick."

Dick smiled. "Don't spoil what we had with words, Dean."

Dean shook his head. "Both of you are twisted, I swear."

Dick's cell phone rang, interrupting him. He stepped outside. Through the thin motel wall, Dean could swear he heard something about "race Al cool" and "immediately." Dick stepped back inside. "I gotta go. Family emergency." He paused, making a sort of eye contact with Tim. Then made a face like his suspicions had been confirmed. "You mind keeping an eye on Tim for me? He... he can't go where I'm going. Not right now, anyway."

"Sure man," Dean nodded.

Sam tapped him on the shoulder. "You sure?" he whispered. "Dad sent us some new coordinates, I think it has something to do with this Etrigan fellow we've been hearing about..."

"Kid looks like he can handle himself," Dean whispered back.

"I just don't want him to get hurt." Sam looked up at Dick. "We'll take good care of him."

"Thanks. Gotta go. My ride's waiting." Dick ran off.

"What ride?" Dean asked no one in particular before something very much like a sonic boom washed over the area.


Dean's hands were weary and wet on the wheel. "I see something that starts with the letter... S."

"It's the sky," Tim said, bored.

"Okay, I see something that starts with the letter... R."

"The road."

"I thought you were the psychic one," Dean groused to Sam in a low voice, then said loud enough for Tim to hear him "What, were you trained by the world's greatest detective or something?"

"Or something."

Up ahead, a blonde in a flannel jacket over a camisole stood on the side of the road, holding out a thumb.

"Dean, no," Sam began, but Dean cut him off at the pass.

"One, she's hot. Two, she's hot. Three, she's hot. We're picking her up before some crazy psycho torturer nabs her. Didn't any of you ever see Wolf Creek?"

"Didn't you ever see The Hitcher?" Sam asked as the car lurched to a stop.

The hitchhiker threw open the backdoor and poked her head inside. “To answer all your questions: Because my dad's an *******, and no I won't go down on you. Now, mind giving me a ride?”

“Let her on,” Tim said.

"Thanks, stranger," the blonde said, sitting down next to him. "Handle's Stephanie Brown. What's yours?"
Banded together from remote galaxies are thirteen of the most sinister villains of all time. From their headquarters in a fetid swamp, the Legion of Doom met.

"Gentlemen!" Lex Luthor boomed from his podium. "I have assembled thirteen of the most sinister villains of all time!"

I just said that.

"Cheetah, the other cat woman!"

"What a purrr-fect introduction," Cheetah said, raking her claws over the assembly table.

"Solomon Grundy," Luthor continued, "superstrong albino zombie!"

"Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday!" Grundy said, smashing a hole through the table with his fists.

"I hope you all realize that the table budget is coming out of your salaries," Lex said before proceeding.

"The Riddler, with the amazing ability to tell our enemies what we're going to do!" Lex paused, but all Riddler did was giggle dementedly. Pleased, he moved on to: "Scarecrow! He's... made out of straw! Damn, what is it with Batman villains?" Lex rallied and continued: "Black Manta, who is our response to Aquaman! Which, I guess seemed like a good idea... at the time."

Black Manta shot the table with a harpoon gun, then looked around as if to say "Want to make something of it?"

"Toyman! Who makes robots and bombs, only they look like toys! Which is marginally useful, I guess."

Toyman threw a jack-in-the-box onto the table. All by itself, the lever turned until the jack popped out. Toyman cackled maniacally, then saw all the others were looking at him. "I'm so lonely..."

"Brainiac, the Living Computer!"

"I do not see the logic in further damaging our table."

"Sinestro, rogue Green Lantern!"

"So I violated the Corps' 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. It was worth it to get a look at Hal's sweet, supple..."

"Giganta, a woman who can grow to fifty feet tall and still wears a skirt! We have her onboard for obvious reasons! Captain Cold, quick shot with his dreaded ice-gun! I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Captain Cold is not, in fact, Mr. Freeze. They're two entirely different people. For one thing, Captain Cold is a captain."

"Bizarro tired of introductions!" the chalk-faced Superman duplicate complained. "Me also tired always lose to Superfriends. Me go home to Bizarro World, where everything backwards. There, losing equals winning."

"Silence, Bizarro!" Lex thundered. "Or you’ll be the only one that loses! Now, Gorilla Grodd..."

"I didn't get an introduction. I was going to shoot the light with my laser gun..." Grodd groused (hey, I'm a poet and didn't know it!). He stood up. "Individually, we have failed to stop the Justice League." He paused to make a sound like he was slurping back his own saliva lest it drool down his chin. "Only by combining our forces will we be assured to put an end to them."

The Toyman giggled as the floor shifted to him. "My phony distress message will lead them deep into space and to my sinister planet of toy traps!"

The Riddler twisted his cane. "My riddles will lead the other Superfools on a wild goose chase that will send them right out of the universe!"

As a servant poured them hot tea, Cheetah took up the chain. "We'll show the world that America and her Justice League is but a paper tiger, a bloated, incompetent force unable to stand up for..."

Suddenly, the servant dumped hot tea on her head. Like all cats, Cheetah went into a frenzy, which finally ended when she bolted into a low-hanging pipe and knocked herself out. The servant opened his ring and a costume expanded out of it. The servant and the costume seemed to merge, becoming the scarlet speedster... The Flash!

"It's the Flash!" Lex roared, confirming it!

"The Flash!" Toyman seconded.

"Not the Flash!" Bizarro yelled, never one to give into peer pressure.

Flash grinned cockily, every straight white tooth shining, just one part of the majesty that was his ruggedly handsome face. "Lex, you've had this coming for a long time." He wrapped his arm around Lex's neck, trapping the mastermind in his armpit. "NOOGIE!" he cried, wagging his knuckles against Lex's bald dome.

Gorilla Grodd leaped up, training his laser gun on Flash. "No man can resist my laser gun!"

"Stop trying to make laser gun happen!" Flash yelled. "And on the contrary, you can't resist my banana!"

He reached into his pants and pulled out a banana, then threw it out the window.

"BANANA!" Grodd shouted before jumping out of it. "My precious," he said, cradling it to his chest as he fell into a convenient volcano below.

Brainiac was next up. Flash moon-walked across a fur carpet at superspeed before poking the alien android. The static electricity fried Brainiac's circuits, sending him to the ground. "Toasty!" Flash declared.


"And that's how I singlehandedly beat the Legion of Doom!" Flash finished, crossing his arms smugly.

Supergirl crossed her legs. "Wow. Superman never told me about that."

"Well, Big S needs to keep up appearances, ya know? I just make sure he doesn't get in over his head, ya know, wear himself out."

Supergirl smiled. "You know, I find you very attractive."

"Guh? Oh, yeah, yeah. How could you not?"

"Will you go to bed with me?"


"I can't believe you tested sex pollen on us!" Superman bellowed. If looks could kill... and Kal-El's could... the one he was giving Batman would definitely do the job.

"It was necessary to find out who we could rely on in the event of a League-wide poisoning. Besides..." Batman tried to conceal a hard grin. "I hear Lois didn't mind."

"You leave her out of this! Behavior like this is exactly why no one trusts you!" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Superman wished he could pull them back. Batman sensed his regret.

"Don't. I'm used to it."

He stepped onto the transporter pad. "Now, if you don't mind, Gotham needs me." Batman disappeared in a blade of shimmering light.

Superman sighed. Was it too much to ask that Bruce make the slightest effort to...

More pressing concerns forced their way to the front of his mind. Supergirl hovered by. She had been doing a lot of that lately, flying when she could be walking. Kids.


Supergirl turned sharply, interrupted from her daydreams. "What is it, Kal?"

Superman let himself levitate enough so that they were on eye level, but didn't raise enough so that he towered over her as they would if both were on the ground. "You weren't here when Batman let the sex pollen out into the vents?"

"No, Big S. I was over the Pacific Ocean on assigment."

"It's true," Flash said, speeding in behind them. "I was on monitor duty at the time, so... she's not lying!"

Superman inwardly let out a sigh of relief. One less thing to worry about. Supergirl kept on going, humming a cheery tune under her breath as Flash stepped in front of him.

"Hey, big guy. I was just, uh, wondering something..."

"Spit it out, Flash. I'm not in the mood."

"Right, right... sex pollen's gone, of course you're not... anyway, I was just wondering if it wasn't time to drop the whole restriction on inner-League dating."

Superman turned to glare at Flash. "Wally, this isn't the time."

"Well, okay, sure... I was just thinking, ya know, since GA and BC are getting hot and heavy... and GL and Vixen aren't exactly nuns either... it's kinda getting to be a joke. We're not a paramilitary organization, ya know... are we?"

Superman sighed. "You're right, Flash. Maybe it is time to relax the regs on that."

"Alright! Cool!"

"Say, Flash, who were you with when the sex pollen hit?"

Flash crocked an eyebrow. "A gentleman never tells."

He sped off, leaving Superman pondering Kara's earlier words.

Hmmm... Big S. Superman thought. Where have I heard that be...

Great Rao.
"When do I get to drive?" the voice drifted out of the backseat like a foghorn cutting through mist. Next to Tim, Steph was lost in her own little world, staring out the window at the scenery rushing by and secretly wondering if this was what it was like to be the Flash. She did that a lot these days, wondering what it was like to be one of the Justice League, fighting evil wherever it reated its (patriarchal) evil head.

"Drive? You? Ha! Ha, I say!" Dean said. "You see this guy in the passenger seat here, the one that seriously needs to trim his bangs?"

"I like my hair," Sam mumbled under his breath.

"I don't let him drive and he's my brother. I'm the only one who drives this beauty."

Steph piped up: "So, when do I get to drive?"

"After Tim."


"How long do we have to stay here?" Steph asked, arms wrapped tightly around herself to try and keep the cold out. Tim stood nearby as always, apparently immune to the cold.

"As long as it takes to find this freak and put him in the ground," Dean non-answered as Sam got them a room.

"Bad news, guys." Sam walked towards them, holding up two keys. "We've only got enough money for two rooms. You two mind sharing a pad?"

Steph looked at Tim and didn't admit to feeling both disappointed and pleased when he shrugged, uncaring. Disappointed that he didn't care and pleased that he... Sam's mind snapped back into his own head. Sometimes he hated being psychic.

"Long as there's hot water, I'm happy," Steph lied.

Steph had always hated the cold, but especially loathed it ever since she'd run away from home without a coat. She felt something being draped around her shoulders. Next to her, Tim wasn't wearing his jacket anymore.


"You kids don't do anything I would do," were Dean's last words as he pulled the door shut. Steph was already in her bed, teeth chattering, bedsheets wrapped around her like a cocoon. She caught the remote Tim tossed to her on the way to the shower and tried to find something on the tube that reminded her of warm weather.


"What's that?" Steph asked, watching as Tim's finger traced a line down what looked like a cast-iron cross between a switchblade and a glaive.

Tim held it up to the light cast by the streetlamp outside. "Good luck charm."

"It work? Bring you good luck?"

"Not exactly."


"Don't get any ideas, stranger," Steph said, throwing her bed's covers over Tim's. She slipped under the sheets next to Tim. "This is just for warmth. In fact..." she drew a line down the middle of the bed "this is the Great Wall of China. And if any Mongol hordes try to cross the Great Wall, they're gonna find their Mongol butts thrown outside in the snow, Mulan-style. Dig?"

What might have been a smile made a slight twitch at Tim's lips as he laid back. "Long as my pillow's cool, I don't mind."

They lay like that for ten minutes, listening to each other breathe, neither of them going to sleep.



"You still awak... well, obviously you are. Why'd you give me your jacket?"

"You needed it more. Blood vessels near the surface of women’s skin constrict sooner, and to a higher degree, than men’s do at the same temperature."

"Who says chivalry is dead, huh?"

Tim heard the mattress groan as Steph shifted.

"Tim... you can get a little closer... if you like."


"SOLOMON GRUNDY, BORN ON A MONDAY!" came the cry from out of the fetid swamp.

"You sure bullets can kill this thing?" Dean asked, head buried in the secret compartment built into the trunk of the Metallicar (as Steph had come to call it).

"Ninty percent. I'm ninty percent certain."

"Ninty percent?" Dean shoved a shotgun into Sam's hands. "You always say ninty percent when you don't know."

"Actually, I always say seventy percent when I don't know."

"Whoever you're getting these visions from, I'm gonna have to have a word with him." Dean slammed the trunk closed and walked over to the backdoor. He held out a small-caliber handgun. "Just in case that thing comes a'calling," he explained.

"I don't use guns," Tim said morosely.

"Hell, I do!" Steph grabbed the gun from him. "Don't use guns... pah! Suicidal freak..."

Dean and Sam walked away, clicking their weapons' safeties off. "We have got to find somewhere to drop those two off," Dean said.

"Like an orphanage?"

"I was thinking bus station, actually."

"Have you noticed the way they've been looking at each other?" Sam asked his brother as they waded through the waist-deep muck.

"Have you noticed the way you're giving away our location to every crocodile, warthog, and giant albino zombie in the tri-state area?"

"We're going to have to give them the talk."

That stopped Dean in his tracks. He turned to look at Sam. "Why can't we just let TV teach them about sex, the way God intended?"


"Fine, fine... heathen."

"And for another thing..." ("please, God. deliver unto me a giant albino zombie" Dean thought) "Tim isn't getting any better. He still barely talks..."

"Maybe he doesn't have a lot to say, you ever think about that?" Dean asked, irritated. Damn mosquitos weren't helping his mood at all.

Sam shook his head. "No, he's got tons to say. His mind's like an angry beehive."

"Nice metaphor."



Sam grabbed Dean's shoulder, bringing him to a halt. "I'm serious. Maybe we should take him to see a therapist or something. We're not qualified to deal with this kind of trauma."

"We didn't have any therapists and we turned out alright."

Sam gave a slightly incredulous start, almost a chuckle. "Alright? Dean, have you ever had a relationship that lasted more than two weeks?"

Dean cocked his head. "I have you, don't I?"

"No, I mean with a woman."

"Like I said, I have you, don't I?"


"I thought they hunted these things, not the other way around!"

Steph was waving the gun around frantically. Tim calmly pointed it out of his general direction... but only after thinking about it for a moment.

"I guess sometimes it's the other way around."

"You guess?"

"Haven't been with these guys much longer than you have."

"So how'd you end up with them?"

"Long story."

"I'm not going anywhere for a while and there's no Snickers to grab." Steph rested the gun in her lap. "Thrill me."

"They picked me up hitchhiking. Wow, guess there's less story than I thought."

"Gotta be more to it than that."

"There usually is."

"Look, Tim... about last night..."


Sam tied a tourniquet across his shoulder. "Are you sure we got it?"

"Have you never watched a Romero movie? Bullet to the brainpan always stops 'em."

They came to the clearing where they'd parked the car only to discover their vehicle rocking back and forth, the windows steamed up.

"Uh, Dean... it's a nice night, why don't we got for a walk?"

"Sure... Dibs on Tim."


"I'm giving the Talk to Tim, you have to give it to Steph."

"Hey, wait a minute... that isn't fair."

"Life isn't fair. Thought you'd have picked up on that by now."


Back in their rooms...

"Well, there's a trick to it..." Sam said, trying unsuccessfully to pull a condom over the banana before the eyes of an equally disinterested and horrified Steph.


"And this is called 69," Dean said, pointing to the specific photo in Penthouse. "And this is a threesome, but you can call it a menage a trois if you want to go all Eurofag on a girl."


Steph stood outside the motel room, raising two bunched fingers to her lips and exhaling. The condensed vapor made it look as if she were smoking. "They give you the talk too?"

Tim shrugged. "If you can call it that."

"Why is it whenever kids find someone they can have sex with, adults give them a talk guaranteed to make sure they never want to have sex ever?"

Tim leaned on the railing next to her. They had gotten a motel room on the second story and the landing outside the rooms opened up onto a world of melting slush and dirty snow.

"I don't know if I'd call Sam and Dean adults. More like really big kids with ready access to firearms. What's with the...?" Tim blew out his own visible exhale.

"Adds to my mystique."


"I think I preferred my real father's Talk. Just one word: Don't."

"Beat ya. Mine was just a red circle with a slash over Poison Ivy."

"Poison Ivy?"

Tim shrugged again. "Plant lady. Temptress-type, you know. Kinda gay."

Steph crossed her arms downward across her torso, intertwining her fingers. "Was she pretty?"


"Prettier than me?"

"I plead the Fifth."

"I choose to defy the Geneva Convention and interrogate you via tickling." She did so, her hand slipping under his shirt, short fingernails scratching at his bare belly. "Ve haff vays of making you talk!"

Steph stopped tickling, feeling the definition of his abs. His skin was warmer than she would've expected.

"I have more mass than you," Tim replied to her unasked question. "I retain more heat."

"I'd bet." Her hands slipped lower. "I'd just bet."


"Well, that's just great," Dean grumbled as Tim and Steph slipped into their hotel room clandestinely. "Now we've got two lovestruck teenagers and their raging hormones tagging along with us. Have I mentioned how much I love your little crystal ball act lately?"

Sam sighed. There was no talking to his brother when he got like this. "Visions have never steered me wrong before."

"Sam, even if there were some kind of... powers that be or something... guiding you, what damn good could a runaway girl and a traumatized teenager do for us?"

Sam gave Dean his best I-am-a-mysterious-possessor-of-secrets-man-was-not-meant-to-know face. "We'll see, won't we?"


It was an igloo, Steph thought. She and Tim had built an igloo out of discarded underwear and bedsheets and love... and apparently Hallmark greeting card lines as well. Still, inside the igloo it was sweltering as a jungle and no one could hurt them.

"Ready to talk about it?" she asked Tim.

"Not yet. Not just yet."

Steph pressed herself closer against his chest. "Alright. I'll go first. My dad's name is Harvey Dent..."
“Hey Big S, great place you’ve got here,” Flash said nervously. “Very... crystal.” he added as he walked between several cages full of bizarre alien creatures. They leered at him, howling and gibbering. “Dig the freaky alien things. Not that I dislike aliens, I love aliens... well, I don’t love love aliens, I don’t care what the tabloids say about me and J’Onn.”

“Flash, I can’t help but noticing that you and Kara have been spending a lot of time together,” Superman said in a low, low voice.

“Uh... yeah. We’ve been doing a lot of things... very safe things, like rock-climbing! Safe rock-climbing! With safety lines! For safety!”

“I think we both know you’ve been doing more than rock-climbing.”

“Well... we did go roller-skating once. But,” Flash continued in a sanctimonious tone, “I insisted she wear elbow pads and a helmet. For safety. Haha... safe.”

Superman stopped and turned to glare at him. Flash smiled uneasily. “Hey big man, looking pretty buff there today. You been working out? Bench-pressing asteroids?”

“You can’t bench-press an asteroid, Flash,” Superman said, his voice cold. “In the vacuum of space, there’s no gravity, so pushing an asteroid would take virtually no effort at all. Why, it’d be as easy for me as... wringing your neck.”

The Fortress of Solititude boomed with laughter. Flash joined in after a moment.

“Wringing my neck! That’s a good one! Ahaha... But seriously, thanks for inviting me out here to your fortress... in international territory where murder is not strictly illegal...”

“And where no one can hear you scream,” Superman said helpfully (and, Flash noted, sounding a lot like Ron Silver all of a sudden).

“Right! Right, where no one can hear me scream... are you gonna rape me?” Flash whimpered.

“No, Flash, I’m not going to rape you.”

“Thank God my anal virginity will remain intact... I don’t care what the tabloids say about me and Batman... Wait, you're not gonna kill me or something, right?”

"Don't be silly!" Superman chortled. "On Krypton, we don't believe in murder as a way of resolving a conflict."


"But we're not on Krypton... are we?"


“We’re getting off-topic, Flash. You and my cousin, the only other survivor of my race, are doing something together other than rock-climbing or roller-skating...”

“Parasailing?” Flash offered up meekly.

Superman crossed his arms. “Sex, Flash. You’re having sex with my cousin.”

“Actually, I prefer to think of it as making love...” Superman’s eyes glowed red. “Although really, anything you want to call it, that’s fine, fine...”

Superman stepped towards him, boots thumping against the floor with the density of a neutron star. “You took advantage of my cousin while she was under the influence of sex pollen?”

“Hey, no, misconception! That would not pass muster in a high-school debate class, mister! Because she took advantage of me! It was consensual... sex pollen! They call it that for a reason! Because it’s the pollen of sex! Of sex! And hey, don’t you think if I had took advantage of her, she would’ve told you about it?” Superman stopped walking, now nose-to-nose with the smaller man. “...no, really, have you been working out? Ya look good!”

“Do you know how many of these creatures could dispose of a full-grown human body in seconds?”

“Uhh... is this a trick question?”

”Yes, Flash. It is a trick question. The answer is all of them.”

”All of them! That’s great! You have a great collection! Good for you!" Then, after a pause, indignantly: "I bet you're not giving this treatment to Shayera!"

"Hawkgirl too!? Hawkgirl had sex with Kara?"

"Actually, it was more like I had sex with Hawkgirl... then Hawkgirl had sex with Kara... then I watched Kara and Hawkgirl have sex with each other, which is really impressive since they can both fly... then there was just kind of a smorgasbord thing. I might have had sex with Kara again, but it was kinda confusing."

Superman gritted his teeth together and reached out, hands twitching, trying very hard to resist crushing Flash's head like a big red grape with wings on the side.

"Hey, if this is how you're going to react when I'm honest with you, I'm gonna be that much less inclined to tell you about the next time I have sex with Kara."

"Next... TIME!?"

"Hey man, you should be grateful! I won her back over to our side. She's playing for our team again thanks to me. Well, maybe not our team... I've seen those looks you give Lex, don't think I don't... but I still brought her back over to the het side of the Force. High-five?"

A beam of heatvision blasted a pothole in the ground a few feet from Flash's boots. "BURN!"

Flash backpedaled desperately, holding up his hands in a calming fashion. "Hey, you know this is how it starts, right? First you kill me, then President Luthor, then fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, THERE WAS A FIREFIGHT!” Flash screamed before running away with all his speed.

Superman waited a moment, then flew after him.


Nightwing was startled up from his stake-out by a sonic boom and a cloud of dirt being shoved up by Flash skidding to a stop next to him.

"Nightwing, old buddy, old pal, ya gotta hide me!"

Nightwing looked at his old friend. The former Kid Flash was panting, more from fear than exhaustion. "Hide you? Why?"

"I kinda had sex with Hawkgirl and Supergirl..."

"In a row?"

"Yes. Then at the same time."

Nightwing held up a gloved hand. "Dude, high-five."

Flash slapped his hand. "I KNOW!"

Nightwing sat back, now in thinking mode. “Why don’t you just go to Batman? I hear you two are...”

“Goddamn tabloids,” Flash muttered under his breath, before looking back up. “Batman and Superman have that whole World’s Finest thing going on. He’d turn on me in an instant, not like you, old Teen Titans running buddy... get it, running buddy, I made a joke, haha, oh I’m gonna die...”

“You’re not gonna die.”

“Yes I am. Look, I’m wearing a red shirt!”

“You’re wearing red everything.”

“EXACTLY! I’m gonna die in the first five minutes to show the seriousness of the situation! I don’t even have a last name, I’m just ‘Flash’ or...”

“You have a last name, Wally.”


“Yes. Your last name is West.”

“Oh. Yeah. So, you gonna hide me or not? Cuz people are starting to stare...”


Nightwing came home from his patrol. As soon as he came in the window, he had one simple question for his new roomie. “Wally, why is there a sock tied around the doorknob?”

Wally looked up from the TV Guide. “Oh, Kara was over earlier. Forgot to take it down. Sidenote: you need a new bed.”

“Wally, this isn’t working out.”

“Is this about the milk? Because for the last time...”

"Wally, I really can't do this right now." Nightwing sighed and took off his mask. "Kory's coming back. Today."

Wally reacted with shock. Then: "I can see why you're so upset about the bed being broken."


It was, of course, common knowledge in the superhero community how Robin, after dissolving his partnership with Batman, had spent some time in Jump City and formed his own team of superheroes. It was somewhat less common knowledge that he started a relationship with another member of the team, one Princess Koriand'r alias Starfire. And it was quite uncommon knowledge that Robin and Starfire had gone through a bad break-up before Starfire left Earth to become Queen of Tamaran.


"So..." Flash said between micro-bursts of speed which tidied up the apartment at the cost of what little feng shui Dick had been able to impose on his surroundings. "You and Starfire, huh? Mrrrow!"

"It's not like that," Dick insisted, replacing his costume inside the closet's secret compartment. "We're just friends."

"Just like you and Raven were just friends? Oh yeah, I was on to you two..."

"Wally, you were on the team for five days."

"I got bored. Sue me."

Dick resisted the urge to smash his head open against the wall. "Wally, this is exactly why I don't want you to be here when Kory..."

There was a knock at the door... no, actually it was the window. Dick opened it. Skinny little Princess Koriand'r. She grew up. She filled out.

Starfire was wearing some kind of armored pants that extended from a belt slung low across her waist down to her purple boots. A similarly-colored top stretched from neck to midriff, leaving her belly bare. An onyx-like gem was set in the collar. "Dick! It is well to be seeing you again!"

Dick smiled good-naturedly. "It has been a long..."

Starfire pushed past him to kiss Flash, slender fingers handing onto his ear-wings as she forced her tongue down his throat. Then she turned back to Dick. "Snakes on a plane," she enunciated very carefully.

"My God! Their method of absorbing pop culture is much more advanced than VH-1!" Flash realized.

"So... Starfire... what brings you back to Earth?" Dick asked, trying very hard to wipe the image of his ex-girlfriend kissing his best friend out of mind.

"I have institued democratic elections on Tamaran and was not elected. Therefore, I am... 'looking workfully'?"

"You turned Tamaran into a democracy?"

"Did you think I learned nothing from the Mod of Madness taking over our city?"

Flash shot a glance at Dick.

"Don't ask me, I was a member of the AARP for most of the thing."


The uncommon knowledge behind Kory and Dick's break-up was that Starfire had asked him to come with her. He had refused.

Starfire's secret was that she had wanted to stay with him more than she wanted to see her homeplanet again, but she had a duty.

Dick's secret was that he didn't care where he was, as long as he was with her, but the Batman needed him in Gotham.


"So, you hitting that?" Wally asked, zipping from point to point as he tried to light every candle in the darkened room. Unfortunately, his wake kept blowing candles out, so...

"Not that it's any of your business, but... it's not any of your business."

"Okay, sure, fine, groovy... if you wanna waste a golden opportunity with a golden girl who's warm for your non-golden form, go ahead..."

"'Warm for my form'?" Dick repeated irritably. "She kissed you."

"Yeah, but she was trying to make you jealous."

Dick grabbed Wally by the ear-wings. "Wally, stop for a minute. What's with the candles?"

"...I'm just trying to set the mood, man."

Dick groaned and slapped his forehead. "Wally, for the last time, I am not going to try to win Kory back!"

"Oh, you two have pet names now. Cute."

"God! Okay, fine, fine. Let's try to win her back."

"So just like old times, eh?" Flash cried, slapping Dick's back. "I'll be your wingman!"

"Wally, I remember old times. You set me up with Poison Ivy."

"Yeah man, that was a sure thing, don't know why you passed up on that. But if you don't like women, that's cool, I'm totally accepting of that, I don't care what Mike Baron says!"

"Her lips are poison, Wally."

Wally looked taken aback. "Dude, you've got serious issues with women, you know that?"

Just then, Starfire burst into the room. "Kid Flash, Nightwing..."

"Actually, it's just Flash now..." Wally tried to interject as Starfire took in the romantic atmosphere.

"Dick, were you going to ask me to dinner?"

"Ye-NO! No, not really... at all."

Starfire looked at Wally and Dick in a whole new light. "Oh. OH! I have a K'norfka who's the exact same way..."

"Kory, what's going on?" Dick asked, shifting back into commodore mode.

"It's Metropolis. Some kind of... monster is attacking the city. Superman and Supergirl are trying to hold it off..."

"Kara!" Wally yelped, then tried to cover by saying "I mean, Supergirl! No, Superman! I meant to yell Superman!"

Starfire gave him another look. "Superman and Nightwing? Flash, you man-****."

Wally paused, dumbfounded as usual. "Wait, what are we talking about again?"

"Kory, who's been sent as reinforcements?" Dick asked, cutting back to the heart of the matter.

"No one. The transporters on the Watchtower have been disabled and the shuttles have been sabotaged!"

Dick gritted his teeth. "Luthor."

Wally snapped his fingers. "I was just about to say that!"

Dick turned to Starfire. "Can you carry me to Metropolis?"

"I would love to!" Starfire shouted enthusiastically.

"I'd be on my way already," Wally said, twisting his finger, "but Dick... ya gotta say it, man."

Dick smiled as he slipped his Nightwing mask on.

"Titans GO!"
Supergirl flew through the air, lazily loop-de-looping through a fluffy cloud formation, breaking it apart like an iceberg in the summer. Superman disapprovingly blew a brief puff of Arctic Breath through the side of his mouth, pushing it back together.

"We could use the rain," he explained.

Supergirl, pouting, carved out a seat on a smaller cloud and sat down, the psychological effect of the "chair" being there subconsciously taking over for her flight powers. "This is about me and Wally, isn't it?"

Superman crossed his arms and floated in front of her. "You having a relationship with Flash is not the issue here. I'm just... upset that the two of you went behind my back on this."

"Okay, first of all," Supergirl started, brushing some ice crystals off her cape, "not that I have an obligation to inform you of where I'm spending my nights, but Wally did do you the courtesy of telling you about it."

"We did no such..."

"Hey, big guy. I was just, uh, wondering something..."

"Spit it out, Flash. I'm not in the mood."

"Right, right... sex pollen's gone, of course you're not... anyway, I was just wondering if it wasn't time to drop the whole restriction on inner-League dating."

Superman turned to glare at Flash. "Wally, this isn't the time."

"Well, okay, sure... I was just thinking, ya know, since GA and BC are getting hot and heavy... and GL and Vixen aren't exactly nuns either... it's kinda getting to be a joke. We're not a paramilitary organization, ya know... are we?"

Superman sighed. "You're right, Flash. Maybe it is time to relax the regs on that."

"Alright! Cool!"

"That..." Superman sputtered. "That doesn't count!"

"Fine, whatever. Point is, I'm dating Wally and there's nothing you can do about it."

Just then, a blur of black and silver slammed into her from below, knocking her into and out of orbit. On her present course, she would be jolted back to consciousness by slamming into one of Saturn's moons. If she didn't aspyxhiate from oxygen deprivation first, that is.

The attacker was a young man, couldn't be more than eighteen. He was shaved bald, bony protrusions probing out of his skin along his scalp and bare forearms. A simple black T-shirt and trousers clothed him, the T-shirt inset with a blood-red S logo, the heroically-colored yellow replaced with the same ebony black as the rest of his clothing. Some sort of tubing pumped Venom from Lexcorp gauntlets to the back of a silver collar he wore. On the front of it were the small holes of a speaker system. But the worst part of all was the glazed look in the youth's eye, the blankness on his face. Before Superman could respond,f ists crashed down on Superman's head and he felt himself flying downwards like a bullet spat from a gun.

If he hit the ground, he would kill hundreds.


Tim slowly pulled away from Stephanie, her expression growing more and more confused as he steadily detached from her. "You... you're Two-Face's daughter?"

"It came as a shock to me too," Steph said, smiling sadly. She pulled the covers tightly around her and continued. "My mother was Grace Brown."

"Harvey Dent's fiance before the accident," Tim said by rote. Bruce had made him memorize these files, but a child had never been mentioned...

Steph nodded, confirming it. "They were in a real rush to the altar after I was conceived." ("That would explain why Harvey got together with Grace so soon after his first encounter with Poison Ivy," Tim thought) "Back then, he wasn't all..." Steph raked her fingernails lightly over the right side of her face to demonstrate.

Tim reached out to correct her, fingers wrapping around her wrist and redirecting her hand to the left side.

"Yeah," Steph confirmed. Tim didn't let go of her wrist. "After he went all..."

"Pukeface?" Tim suggested. Steph nodded again.

"My mother moved to Metropolis. To get away from all the weirdness. Course, that was before Superman showed up... so you can imagine. Then one day this guy with half his face missing showed up at my door, calling me Duela Dent."


"My full name's Duela Stephanie Brown. I think it's some kind of hippie thing, I don't know... he was angry that my mother had brought a child into this chaotic, random world. She said that it wasn't that random, that it could be a nice place to live. So he flipped a coin. It came up heads, he would punish mom. It came up tails, he would kill me so his sickness couldn't be passed on." The hand at Steph's wrist moved downwards, curling around Steph's hand and squeezing it reassuringly. "Lucky me."

Just then, Dean and Sam burst into the room. Dean instantly covered his eyes. "I can go to jail for seeing that!"

Sam ignored him as Tim uncomfortably put a protective arm around Steph. "Get dressed. I just had a vision. Something's about to hit Metropolis... hard."


Superman reviewed his options. He was falling at about four hundred miles per hour courtesy of the blow he'd been hit him with. The ground was rushing up to meet him and only by using his super-speed was he able to try and think up a way to avoid an impact that would kill hundreds. X-ray vision revealed that directly below him were no subway lines. Good. That would make this easier.

He exhaled Arctic Breath like water from a firehose, bursts of heatvision sculpting the torrent. It hit the ground and froze a tunnel deep into the ground. Superman strained against his own kinetic force, managing to slow himself to around three hundred miles per hour before he hit. The ice fractured under his body, but absorbed the shock. He let his momentum carry him two miles into the earth, but only the shaft was affected by the hit.

A blast of heatvision that would have frayed the sun melted the ice above him, instantly turning the shaft into a sauna. The attacker flew down the tunnel like a bat into hell, hitting Superman and digging him downwards.

"Hello Kal-El," Lex Luthor's voice said from the speakerbox around the attacker's neck. "Like my new go-fer?"


Flash poured on the speed. Somewhere far behind him, Starfire was carrying Nightwing towards Metropolis. He would reach the city precious minutes before they did. He would be alone. He hated being alone. Sure, he said he resented having the others watch out for him, but deep down inside he appreciated having someone to fix things when he screwed up. With the Watchtower disabled, there was no one to do that. Just him and a monster that had already taken down Supergirl and was currently trying to rip Superman apart. There'd be no one to clean things up if he made a mistake.

Alright then. He just wouldn't make a mistake.


"That's right, alien," Lex snarled as his "go-fer" tunneled Superman through a flow of lava. "I know who you are. I found that pod that brought you here. And I always thought you were some sort of exiled criminal or agent provocateur sent from some hostile world. But really you're just some lost little boy fighting for a world you'll never see. It's almost as funny as it is pathetic."

Superman drove a knee into the enemy's stomach before stoving his head against a nickel deposit. "What do you want, Luthor?"

"Well, for starters, I'd like my fortune back, to be respected by my lessers as is my rightful due, and oh yes, to have my city back under human control."

Superman had to get out of here. They were tunneling towards the molten core of the earth, where even his nigh-invulnerability couldn't protect him. Lex was willing to sacrifice his... servant? Slave? But Superman couldn't allow him to die, not without making an effort to reach him. Plus, the force of their blows could trigger a seismic shift at any time.

"I'm more human that you'll ever be, Luthor."

Superman could feel Lex's mocking smile, even through the comlink. "That's touching. Truly. But don't worry, Kal-El. Your 'ideals' will live on, in the form of this."

Kon-El stepped back and Superman could see, through the cave-in that occured as soon as the sheer force of their battle stopped holding the manmade cavern together, him mirror one of Lex's sweeping, operatic gestures. "Cadmus helped me perfect the technology which once produced Bizarro. Stabilized with clean, pure, human DNA. My DNA. Meet our son, Kal-El. Meet Kon-El."


In the backseat of the Metallicar, Tim watched a streaming video of whatever had attacked Superman flying after him into the earth on a Wayne Enterprises cell-phone. He paused it and zoomed in on the villain's face, noting the bright red lasers streaming out of his eyes.

"He's a Kryptonian," Tim announced.

Dean stepped on the gas a little harder. "Well, either Supergirl's gotten herself one hell of a Nip/Tuck treatment (which would be a shame), or..."

"Moreover, going by those facial features, I think he's related to Kal-El." Off everyone's quizzical stares, Tim explained "Kal-El is Superman's real name."

"One of these days you're going to have to tell us how you know all this stuff," Sam said.

"No, he doesn't," Steph stated unequivocally.


Superman managed to resist the momentum transferred to him by the uppercut in time to avoid crashing into the ceiling of the subway tunnel. He threw himself out of the way of the oncoming train and, resting against the wall of the tunnel, tried to catch his breath. That's when Kon-El ripped out of the hole Superman had shot out of.

"No!" Superman screamed as Kon-El derailed the train. He zipped to the front of the train and grabbed it, trying to guide it back onto the track as Superboy kept pace with him easily.

"By the by, know where I got the name for my latest henchman? You. You see, your mother... Lara, was it?" (Superman's ears burned to hear this monster speaking his mother's name) "She was pregnant when Krypton went the way of all flesh. You know what she was going to name your baby brother? Kon-El. Oh, you didn't know, did you? What's the matter, alien? Couldn't figure out how to decode the archives? And this one is just the beginning," Lex smarmed. "I'm going to clone a whole army of you to use as... oh, why be politically correct? Slave labor. I think the only thing I'll enjoy more than watching you die is knowing that your entire race will only survive as my cabana boys."

Superman had just managed to set the subway train back on the rails when a mighty kick hit him below the ribs, sending him careening into the wall. His body took a chunk out of the corner before landing in a subway terminal. Kon-El landed and walked towards him slowly, languidly, taking his time.

"This is what the Justice League does to traitors!" Lex's voice boomed, his voice lowered to a dull roar.

"Luthor, you diseased maniac!" Kal-El barked, fighting his way into a low crouch. "Leave these people out of this."

"Oh, be quiet, do-gooder, you're finished." Kon-El kicked him in the throat. Superman fell over, gasping. "I added a little Doomsday DNA to our bouncing baby boy, just for spice. Hope you appreciate it." The bone spurs on Kon-El's knuckles cut deep into Superman's face. Superman fell, marvelling at how cool the tile floor was under his bruised cheek. He felt a boot pressing itself into the base of his neck. "And here's how a god dies."

Suddenly, a red streak hit Kon-El like a freight train... although considering the speed, the Flash really had more in common with a bullet train. Kon-El slammed through either end of an elevator shaft and deep into the city's sewer system. For his part, Flash skidded to a part, desperately digging in his heels as he slip-slided up to the smashed-in elevator doors, groping fingers just managing to find purchase on the side of the doorway. He pulled himself away from the edge, panting.

"I was in such a hurry, I forgot to make a witty one-liner," Flash gasped.

He felt a hand clasp his shoulder. Turning around, Flash saw Superman wiping the blood off his face with the corner of his cape. So that's why he wore a red cape.

"You... you saved me."

"Hey, what our friends for?" Flash smiled. "Uh, does this mean you're not going to kill me for going out with Supergirl?"

"Kill you? I was just going to give you a vaccination. There are a few cross-species viruses humans can pick up from close contact with a Kryptonian, you know."

Flash shook his head. "No, I don't know, I don't care what the tabloids say about us. Hey, that would explain why it burns when I pee lately."

"Flash, that's not one of the symptons."

Superman didn't have time to take in Flash's reaction to his jape, as Kon-El picked just that moment to slam into Superman with the force of a wrecking ball. Superman flew across the terminal, scraping into the floor like a meteor landing, tiles being thrown into the air like so much chaff. A brief surge of electricity as he careened off the third rail and that was all she wrote.

"Sorry for the delay," Lex said over the radio. "I would've gotten here sooner but I had to wash off all that..."

"Crap!" Flash swore under his breath. Kon-El turned to regard him.

"Oh, it's you. I suppose killing you in front of the alien would cause him a bit of distress before his untimely demise. You don't mind, do you?"

Flash ran for it. After a moment of lag, Kon-El's lips twitched with a fair approximation of Lex's trademark sneer.

"You can't run from me, boy."


"You hear that?" Tim said, back pressed against the wall of the staircase. The others, hunkered down a very safe distance away, shook their hands. Tim walked back to them, unconcerned as the Flash ran past him, closely followed by Superboy. "That was Lex Luthor's voice. I think he must be controlling that... Superboy."

"Lex Luthor?" Dean asked incredulously. "Where'd you run into him?"

"Charity fundraiser, actually. He was quite stingy as I recall. We still have those electronic gizmos in the trunk?"

"The ghost-detection equipment? Yeah," Sam said, briefly nodding.

"Get it. I think I can rig up something to trace the slave signal back to its source."

"Whoa, hold on a minute, are we seriously considering letting a seventeen-year-old boy order us around?" Dean asked Sam.

"What's Plan B, shotguns and crucifixes against the guy who just whooped Superman?" Steph asked.

"She's got a point," Sam admitted.


Flash could feel Kon-El hot on his heels. Literally. Kon-El was melting the asphalt under his feet with heatvision, trying to trip him up. Although Flash was a bit faster than whoever this guy was, he had one big disadvantage. He couldn't fly.

"Did I hear right?" Lex's voice asked insistently, beamed on a tight radio beam from Kon-El's collar into Flash's Justice League communicator. "You and Supergirl? Well, there's someone I haven't heard from in a while. Not since... I booted her into space."

Flash gritted his teeth and kept going. They were well out of the city now, headed towards the Orion Mountain Range.

"Why do you think that is? I mean, she can breathe in space, right?"

Flash went faster. He had to run from it, run from it all. Lex was lying. He was a liar, it's all he knew how to do. But Flash couldn't outrun Kon-El, couldn't even outrun the tinny basso in his ear that gave a voice to all his fears.

"Oh, she can't? That's a shame. Guess you won't have a date for the prom, eh?"

"Luthor..." Flash said, looking over his shoulder at the closest thing he could find to the evil mastermind. "Shut up."

With that, he peeled out with a speed neither himself or Luthor could ever have anticipated. Kon-El suddenly found himself on a collision course with a couple hundred tons of sheer rock.


Kon-El pulled himself out of the debris from the "mineshaft" he had just created. His tattered clothes, still wet from the fire hydrant he had kicked over to wash clean, were now covered with dust from what had been a boulder moments ago. Just as well. The battle damage would improve the illusion.

"Is that all you've got!?" Lex's voice rang out, echoing across the mountains. "A little paltry sleight-of-hand?"

"That..." and Kon-El whirled around to see Flash standing there, a set of brass knuckles adorning each hand. "And these."

Kon-El felt himself being beaten up and down his chest, face stuttering backwards under the force of the blows, his body like an anvil being abused by a hammer. The blows kept raining down like a jackhammer working at concrete, sparks buzzing off the knuckledusters as if a welding torch were being applied to them. Kon-El's skin bruised (impossible) and he felt his bones start to give way (no). Flash kept punching until the knucks were molten hot and he only peeled off his gloves when the red-hot metal being leaking onto his skin.

Kon-El, now lying on his side, coughed up blood onto the yielding desert ground.

"How's that for sleight-of-hand, SOB?"

Suddenly a hand darted out and wrapped around Flash's neck. Yellow-booted feet furiously pedalled as they were lifted off the ground. Kon-El once again smiled Lex Luthor's smile.

"I've seen your face, Flash. Doesn't it ever bother you that beneath that mask, you're a nobody?"

A serene, accepting look came over Wally's face as a thumb pressed against his jugular. He knew what he had to do.

"Kara thought I was somebody."

Over the transmitter, Lex heard a sonic boom as Flash's fist broke the sound barrier... before breaking against Kon-El's jaw. It was succeeded a moment later by the sound of that jaw breaking.


In the end, it was the first place they should've looked. Tim, Steph, Dean, and Sam snuck through the basement of the boarded-up Lexcorp headquarters, the Winchester brothers carrying shotguns, Steph taking up the rear with a small handgun. The makeshift tracking device beeped in Tim's hands, telling him they should turn left at the next intersection. He took his eyes off Steph for one moment to read the device, long enough for Two-Face to step out of the shadows and press a gun to the back of Steph's head.

"Hey Duela," he croaked. "Who are your friends?"


Kon-El felt his jaw as it healed, now slightly off-center. Lex sighed. He'd have to bring the prototype in for cosmetic surgery later on to fix the helter-skelter angle of the jawline. Looking through Kon-El's eyes, he saw Flash hanging fron Kon-El's hand, clutching his broken hand. Blood bubbled out of the ripped-open knuckles and through the clenched fingers off his other hand. Lex gave a slight smile, mirrored by the prototype.

"You shouldn't have done that," Lex said into the microphone.


"I was going to let you off with just a warning," Lex finished. Flash closed his eyes tightly as Kon-El raised his free hand. A moment later, he felt something rip into his chest.

Then, almost gently, he was set down. Flash opened his eyes to see a gaping hole in his chest. He desperately pressed his hands against the wound, trying to hold the blood in. No good.

He missed Kara.

Suddenly Wally's legs felt weak. They hadn't felt weak since before he was Kid Flash. He missed being Kid Flash. He could just goof around with the other Titans and nobody ever died and...

He fell to his knees and looked up at Kon-El and knew with perfect calm he was going to die.

"I'll see you soon," he said to the clone and everything went black.
Nightwing hit Bessolo Boulevard in a crouch. It was deserted, a few abandoned cars littering the streets. Nearby, a ruptured fire hydrant geysered water into the air. Starfire set down next to him.

"Where... is everyone?" she asked.

"Evacuated. C'mon, we've got to find a chokepoint."


"If that thing comes back, we're the only thing standing between him and the people of this city."


The first GI on the scene was already applying what little he knew of first aid to the Flash when he saw General Lane approaching.

“Sir!” He gave a rote salute, unknowingly flicking blood into his face, and went back to pressuring Flash's wound. “I've already called for the medics. They should be here any minute!”

“Don't bother, son.” General Lane took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow. “His heart's been ripped out.”


“We could die, you know.”

Nightwing looked up. Starfire was hovering over him, circling the broadcast tower he was hanging from. No sign of Superboy for miles around, not that these stupid pseudo-futuristic Metropolis skyscrapers were helping on that account..

“This is different from day-to-day living... how exactly?” Nightwing asked, checking his binoculars once more.

“Just that...” Starfire frowned and crossed her arms.

Nightwing pulled himself up onto the top of the tower to face her. “Just that what?”

Starfire remained silent, but her look seemed to say “you know what.” Or “I am thinking of beef,” with those green eyes it was hard to tell.

“You know, your English has gotten a lot better,” Nightwing said.

“I wonder if your French has improved.”

“What? I was sixteen! And you took me by surprise!”

“This is pretty messy,” Kory said, floating down to sit down beside Nightwing.

“Messed up.”

“That too. Here we are, about to go into battle and possibly die, and we're talking about old times.”

“What would you rather talk about?”

Kory stood up, pacing along the top of the tower in frustration. There wasn't much to pace, so she quickly found herself next to Nightwing again.


The man once known as Harvey Dent held two guns. One was cast-iron black, a revolver, big and brutal. The other was nickel-plated so that it was a silvery chrome in color, an automatic, with twelve bullets in the clip. It could hold thirteen, but Two-Face put in twelve. He had enough bad luck as it was.

Case in point, four intruders had just shown up at the abandoned Lexcorp headquarters to stop his boss, Lex Luthor, from committing various acts of terrorism. The oldest two, the brothers (they looked like), Harvey had never seen before. The boy looked vaguely familiar to Big Bad Harv. And the fourth was his illegitimate daughter, Duela.

And she was the one had he had his good gun pointed at. Smooth move, Ex-lax, Harvey thought sarcastically to Big Bad Harv.

“Drop the gun, dearie.” Steph did. Two-Face kicked it away, back towards the Winchesters at the other end of the corridor.

“Let me guess,” Dean said, shotgun trained squarely on the new arrival. “You were trying to get a contact out and things just went downhill from there. No, wait, I got it! You were getting some morning coffee from McDonald's, mistakes were made, but no one's going to listen to you because of that Stella Liebeck *****, am I right? That's why you turned to the Dark Side.”

Harvey had his second gun aimed squarely at the loudmouth, who seemed unconcerned about having a .357 bullet plotting an intercept course with his head.

“Oh, please! You know how many monsters, spirits, and general freaks I've sent packing? I'm not going down for a guy who borrowed half his face from Freddy Krueger.”

“Plans change,” Harvey whispered harshly. “I was on top of the world. District attorney. Handsome Harvey, they called me. You think anyone calls me that now?”

“Well, maybe ironically...”

“How can you be Lex Luthor's flunky!?” Steph interrupted Dean to demand, trying to keep her mind off the gun pressing into the back of her skull.

“Your college fund's a *****, Duela.”

“Don't call me that. That's Mom's name for me, remember?”

“I remember your mother,” Two-Face hissed. “I remember how she two-timed me with that backstabber Wayne. So you tell me, who's the real two-face?”

“This is just a guess,” Dean volunteered, “but the guy who looks like a walking, talking advertisement for exfoliating cream? Because I know all I can think when I look at you is 'got dry, itchy skin'?”

“Dean, don't antagonize the gun nut with the split personality,” Sam advised.

Suddenly, an ice-cold voice came from inbetween the Winchesters and the Dents, one they had all forgotten about.

“I'm not letting you take anyone else away from me,” Tim said. He picked up Steph's dropped gun and switched the safety off. “Not again,” he finished quietly.


“Is there no one else to challenge me?” Lex's voice boomed from Kon-El's collar, now digitally filtered to be deeper, more guttural. “Is there none who would stand against the Justice League's might? This is why it is for the best that we shall rule. Under your own initiative, you have become fat, lazy cattle, fit only for destruction. A few years under the heel of metahuman boot will teach you pathetic normals the meaning of power.”

It was all for show, of course. Lex Luthor had no intention of ruling through force of arms, not even with the JLA to use as a scapegoat. However, they would make a good Emmanuel Goldstein for his return to power. His clones would “beat” Superboy, then hunt down every metahuman with the power to stop him. Now he just wished he had left the prototype's hair alone so that his production models could share the same hairlessness as their creator. Oh well. Sacrifices had to be made.

Through the monitor, Lex focused Kon-El's vision on an American flag, blowing briskly in the breeze. He smiled. Kon-El's eyes glowed red.


Suddenly, Kon-El's auditory sensors transmitted a whirling noise to Lex's computer... just before a Birdarang cut through the tubes that supplied Venom to him. Kon-El's mass seemed to decrease infinitesimally. Kon-El's X-ray vision located Nightwing hiding among the pigeon coops and chimneys easily.

“You don't burn the flag in Superman's city,” Nightwing told him.

“Oh. No. Drat. Whatever will I do?” Lex unenthusiastically sarcasmed. “Congratulations. You've earned a quick death. Did you really think that was going to stop me?”

“Not really,” Nightwing said, catching the returning Birdarang. “I was just distracting you so that she could get the drop on you.”

With that, Starfire dropped a truck on Kon-El's head. A split-second later it exploded from the inside, Kon-El ripping himself free. Starfire allowed herself a quick glance at Nightwing before leading Superboy away from him, flying down Suicide Slum.

Kon-El and Starfire engaged in what could only be described as a metahuman dogfight, the clone firing deadly blasts of heatvision, the alien retailiating with bolts of her namesake. A burst of heatvision sent Starfire against the side of a building, her body tearing through it like a wrecking ball. Kon-El supersped through the foundation, collapsing the edifice like a house of cards. Starfire flew upwards through the stairwell, hearing the roar of the collapse below her like a dying beast, before making a break for the window, zig-zagging between falling debris. She made it, breaking through the glass, but Kon-El was there in a heartbeat, catching her in a bearhug.

"I hope you'll forgive the injoke, alien," Lex drawled. "But let's grow closer."

Starfire's smile could chill ice. "I do not forgive you anything, villain." Her eyes flashed green and Kon-El found himself falling, spots of green infiltrating the darkness every time he blinked. What the hell was that?

"What the hell was that?" Kon-El asked as he righted himself.


"No," Lex growled, hurriedly pressing the red button. Another pulse of electricity shot through the chip in Kon-El's head and control was reestablished. That was a close one. The monitor cleared of static just in time to pick up Starfire as she hurtled into Kon-El.


"You have hurt my friends!" Starfire said, intertwining her fingers and slamming her conjoined fists across the side of Kon-El's face with force that would put a sledgehammer to shame. "You have endangered innocent lives!" She brought her fists down on the crown of his head, splitting it open slightly. Blood trickled down Kon-El's cranium. "I wish to show you how I feel about your actions!"

The final blow came up like an uppercut, catching Kon-El under the chin and sending him rocketing skyward like an old test-your-strength carnival game. Starfire watched his form reclining in the distance, parting a cloud before continuing onward to the stars.

"I trust I have made myself clear."

That's when she heard the sonic boom of Kon-El's return. She blinked and in the space of that blink felt Kon-El slam into her, carrying her downward.

"Perfectly," Kon-El said before they slammed into the construction site, creating a crater one hundred feet wide and deeper by far.


“Take me instead,” Tim said, offering the gun up to Two-Face. “Let Steph go.”

“First of all, her name is Duela,” Two-Face explained as if he were talking to a child... which he was, by some standards. “Second, no. I can't let you spoil our daddy-daughter time. By the way, do I know you from somewhere?”

“You killed my father.”

“Ah. Sounds like something I would do.”

“C'mon, Dent, you don't want her. You want me.”

“And why is that?” Harvey asked. Tim held a hand over his eyes, parting a slit in his fingers to see through. “What is that supposed to... you.”

The scarred madman took his second gun off the Winchesters and aimed it at Tim.

“I know you, Dent. You want revenge on Batman, I'm the best way. Not the most original plan in the world, but it works, trust me.”

Two-Face turned his head, scarred side facing Tim, his handsome veneer eyeing his daughter. A dilemma. He had only one way to solve dilemmas. He stuck the second gun back into its holster and pulled out his lucky coin. He smiled at Stephanie with the side of his face that wasn't pulled into a ghastly rictus.

“Let's flip for it, Duela.”

He tossed the coin into the air. It somersaulted in mid-air, end over end... until Steph snatched it out of the air.

“My name is Steph.”

She grabbed the gun from Tim and whirled around. There were two quick bangs before Dean fired his shotgun, the blast catching Two-Face in the chest and throwing him backwards.

“Damn, that was a good shot!” Dean said, whooping it up. Then he saw Steph bleeding out onto the floor.
Kon-El dragged Starfire out of the crater by the hair, Lex rambling from his collar like a Shakespearean monologue.

"It's always give an inch and take a mile with your kind, isn't it?" he sneered. "Like one of those 'if you give a mouse a cookie' books my dad used to read to me before I had him killed. At first it was just Superman, then his cousin, then the Martian... God knows how many of you there are now. You're like a cancer, a festering infection on the planet, a parasite on the human race. And like any tumor, you'll have to be excised for the good of the healthy body parts. Just call me the scalpel, baby."

Kon-El pressed Starfire into the drying cement of the construction site their fight had led them to. “You really thought you could beat me? Lex Luthor, the greatest scientific mind of our time? You, some silly little girl from a third-rate team no one can remember anyway? Your mere presense here is an insult to me.” He hovered upwards, dragging Starfire into the air with him. “What delusion made you think you could take down the man who killed the Flash.”

“Wally...” Starfire said under her breath.

“You'll join him soon enough,” Lex hissed, and commanded Kon-El to squeeze...

Suddenly, they heard a revving behind them. Kon-El turned just in time to see the motorcycle Nightwing had commandeered clearing the ramp. Nightwing kicked off it, sending it straight for Kon-El... who caught it effortlessly with one hand, shifting Starfire to the crock of his other arm.

“Was that supposed to hurt?”

“No... this is.” Nightwing, still in mid-air, threw his arms out wide. Kon-El instinctively dodged to the left, avoiding a jumpline that wrapped around the under-construction building. Then he followed the angle of Nightwing's other hand to see a Birdarang cut through the cable holding up a load of girders. Kon-El was aware of Nightwing swinging by and yanking Starfire from his arms as the weight crashed down on him.


“Is this what being shot is like?” Steph asked Tim as he tore off a strip of his shirt and wrapped it around the wound. “It sucks.”

“Yeah, I know,” Tim said comfortingly before he looked up at the Winchesters. “Find Luthor. Give him one for me.”

“Consider it gived,” Dean said, ejecting the spent bullet from his shotgun and going on his way. He turned back a moment later to see Sam standing motionless.

“We can't just leave them there.”

Dean slung the shotgun along his shoulder. “They're casualties. We have to keep going. Tim'll take care of her.”

“They're just kids.”

“So were we. You think dad would've given up on a hunt just because one of us got a boo-boo?”

“I don't care what dad would've done!” Sam shouted. “We're not leaving them like this!”

Dean turned his back on Sam. “I'm putting a stop to this. You do whatever.”

He walked down the corridor, never looking back. He couldn't let his younger brother see the weakness in his face.


Nightwing set Starfire down in the truck stop. The building was abandoned, just like the rest of the city. It was as if they were the last two people on earth.

“I tried, I tried to stop him...” she muttered.

“I know you did. You were great. You did Tamaran proud...”

“I don't care about Tamaran. If I did, do you think I would have left it?”

Nightwing looked away, seeing the wreckage of the fallen girders out in the street.

"Dick, why do you think I came back?" Starfire finished lamely.

The wreckage was already starting to stir.

“That won't hold him,” Nightwing said, his voice far away. “There's no one else.”

Starfire grabbed his arm with surprising strength for a woman in her condition. “No. You're not going back out there. He's already killed Wally, I won't let him kill you.”

Nightwing's mouth worked soundlessly for a moment. “He... Wally can't be dead. He's the Flash. He's... people like him don't die, people like us die. The second-stringers, the rejects, the guys who don't get to be the big heroes and stand in the spotlights. Not him. Not Flash.”

Starfire shook her head. “Everybody dies, Dick. But I won't let you, not today, not when I haven't had a chance to tell you...”

“Tell me what?”

“That I love you, okay!?” she shouted. “I've always loved you and I never said it because of your stupid Earth customs of repressing emotions and keeping everything bottled in and never, ever...” Never ever what she never got to say, as Nightwing picked that moment to press his lips against hers. She pulled away from Nightwing, rubbing her lips. “Took you long enough,” she said before rushing back to meet him. He pulled back.

“I'm not dying. Not for Lex Luthor and not for that thing.”

A fist punched clear out of the wreckage, sending a girder flying.

“There's nothing you can do,” Starfire insisted.

“I can do what Batman taught me to do. I can never give up.”


Kon-El pulled himself free of the wreckage just in time to see Nightwing bearing down on him in a petroleum truck. It slammed into him, the wrecked grill ensnaring him, and his x-ray vision caught Nightwing turning on cruise control and swinging out of the cab. He jumped up onto the trailer and swung a Birdarang into the tank like an icepick. Gasoline bubbled up from the hole and Nightwing lit a mini-flare from his belt...

Which suddenly froze over, a victim of Kon-El's Arctic Breath.

Kon-El was hovering next to him, keeping pace with the truck so easily it might as well be stationary.

“I'm not even going to take the time to gloat,” Lex said.

Nightwing saw Kon-El blur black and felt something rip in his insides. He toppled backwards, hitting the ground in a roll like Batman had taught him. It didn't help. He collided with a parked car and felt a rib give way. Definitely internal bleeding from Kon-El's attack. And his leg was broken from the fall. Nevertheless, he pulled himself to his feet and raised his dukes.

“That all you got?”


“Just stay awake a while, okay?” Tim asked, using his folded jacket to prop up her head. “Just stay awake until... until...” you die.

No one was going to come.

“You're acting like I'm going to leave.” Steph smiled slightly. “'Fraid I'm gonna stick you with the check?”

Tim wiped a spot of blood off her cheek. “I'm not worried. I'm the one that leaves.”

He heard a click behind him.

“Guess you inherited the Dent family luck, Duela. Bulletproof vest,” Two-Face explained, aiming his gun at Tim. Tim pulled Steph closer to him as he heard the gunshot. After a moment, he opened his eyes and turned around to see Two-Face pulling his hand away from his throat, palm slick with blood.

“Should've worn a bulletproof scarf,” Steph spat, holding Tim's dropped gun, the barrel still smoking.


The finger-flick from Kon-El sent Nightwing flying across the street. He crashed through a storefront window, glass lacerating his back deeply, before landing in a produce display. Somewhere deep in his mind, he registered that the vegetables tainted by his blood would have to be destroyed.

"Your girlfriend put up a better fight than this!" Lex taunted as Superboy walked across the street after sarcastically looking both ways for oncoming traffic.

Nightwing picked up the nearest thing he could grab and threw it at Kon-El. It bounced off the clone's forehead harmlessly.

"You couldn't have had a secret weakness to cabbage?" Nightwing groaned.

Kon-El pulled off Nightwing's mask. "Shock! Tres horror! The mysterious Nightwing is in reality Dick Grayson, orphan trust-fund goodie-goodie!" Superboy pulled in closer, grabbing Dick in what could only be construed as a gross parody of an embrace, pressing his ear against the collar.

"That's right, Dickie-Wing, I know all about you and the rest of your freaky surrogate family. Don't worry, I've got something lined up for Bruce and the rest of his merry men. But first, a little something to ponder on the way to the grave. You think God's going to let you into heaven after what you let happen to Tim?"

Dick shut his eyes tightly. "Just get it over with, you sadistic son of a *****."

Kon-El swung Dick's limp form around in a pirouette, dipping him like a ballroom dancer.

"Answer the question or I'll rip out whatever passes for a heart in Starfire's pretty little xenomorph body right in front of you. Do you think God will forgive you for what you allowed the Joker to do to young master Drake?"

Dick gritted his teeth. "That wasn't my fault."

"Really? Would it have happened if you hadn't run away from home like a petulent brat throwing a fit? Food for thought. Why did you leave, anyway? Was it because Miss Gordon rejected you?"

Dick slipped the detonater out of his glove. "You asking me whether God's gonna let me into heaven?" He spat out blood on the sidewalk and brought his finger to the trigger. "Let's find out together."

Kon-El crushed his hand over Dick's, locking the explosive in Nightwing's palm. "Don't be an idiot. You'll the only one who will die in the explosion. Even if the blast did damage this body, I'm still safe and sound back home. You have nothing to gain by sacrificing yourself."

"Maybe not... but when has that ever stopped me?"

Dick pressed the button.


Dean kicked the door open and threw himself inside, shotgun held squarely on where he had heard Luthor's voice coming from. Lex looked up from his computer.

“Shut it down. Now.”

Lex smiled. “I always take advice from men with guns.”

He pressed a button on the computer and Dean suddenly felt like his skin was on fire. He fell to his knees. Lex stood up, stretched, cracked his back, then sauntered up to Dean. He picked the shotgun up and cracked Dean across the jaw.

“Who are you, anyway? DEO? Cadmus? SCU?”

“Actually, I'm unemployed.”

Lex's smile widened as he pressed the shotgun muzzle against Dean's cheek. “If I were you, I'd start hoping they have an unemployment office in hell.” His finger tightened around the trigger. “You're dead.”

The butt of a shotgun slammed into the back of Lex's bald head, knocking him unconscious.

“He's not dead,” Sam said, helping Dean to his feet. “He's my brother.”


Two-Face felt the good gun slip out of his fingers. He stumbled backwards and hit a wall, then slumped to the ground, the exit wound painting the wall with blood. He found the strength to point a finger at Steph. “Nice shooting!” he rasped, blood spurting out of his new breathing apparatus from the effort. “Won't kill me... but other than that, just like your old man.”

"Just wait..." Steph said, holding the gun dead steady. "Next one's going between your eyes."

"Aren't you going to stop her, Robin?" Two-Face forced the words out. "I don't think Bats would approve."

The gun shook in Steph's hands. "You're Robin?"

"I've been meaning to tell you," Tim said as his fingers found the artery Two-Face's bullet had severed. He pressed it closer. If he let go, she was dead. "Surprise."

Behind his back, the gun was still trained on Two-Face. It was a strange tableau. Tim crouched over Steph, hands clamping shut an artery deep in her chest, her hands clasped behind his back, wrapped around a gun aimed at Two-Face who sat with his scarred hand covering up his throat, squeezing the wound shut.

"You wanna stop me," Steph said, face hardening, "let go. Let me die."

"Never been much good at letting go. I've been trying, but it's just not my thing."

"You seemed to have let go of the patricide on my part pretty well," Two-Face pointed out.

"Shut up!" Tim said over his shoulder before turning back to Steph. "I can't stop you. Even if I could, I wouldn't. I'm not Robin anymore. I'm Tim Drake and I'm telling you not to do this. I've been where you've are and I've made the decision you want to make. And let me tell you, it tastes like ashes in your mouth. It leaves you feeling like a shadow, just... detached from the world, unable to touch anything; people. And that's how I felt until I met you. You want to hear something weird? Whenever I start remembering what the Joker did to me, I think of you. Did you know that? It's a secret thing I do, like taking a good mood pill. I know, it's stupid, but it's the God's honest truth. You're so special and I can't watch you do this, not because he doesn't have it coming, because he does, but because I don't want to see you go through what I did. Steph... I love you."

Steph looked at Tim, her eyes pleading with him. "Tim... he killed my mother."

"I know. But it's going to be alright."

Steph dropped the gun and buried her face in his chest, wrapping her arms around his back like a drowning woman hangs onto a life preserver.

"God, I hate him."

"It's okay. He can't hurt you now. You made sure of that. We made sure of that."

"I wish you were right, kid," Two-Face said, his face painted with a kind of infinite sadness. "But it doesn't work that way. Soon as the coin tells me to, I'm gonna come after you. And the girl. And I'm going to kill you just like I killed your parents."

Steph picked up his coin and threw it at him. "Go to hell, you sick bastard!"

Two-Face caught the coin with his good hand, flipped it, caught it again, and looked at the result.

“Okay,” he said before drawing his revolver and sticking it in his mouth.

Tim covered Steph's eyes as the gun went off.


Nothing happened. The bomb was a dud. Dick would laugh if it weren't so pathetic. His last-ditch chance to sacrifice himself to save the world in a million-to-one shot and it didn't accomplish anything. It was all so post-modern. Bruce would've pulled it off.

Kon-El didn't say anything as Dick let the explosive slip out of his hand. He just slipped a hand around Dick's throat and squeezed.


Dean stared at the computer console uncomprehendingly. Text scrolled down three monitors endlessly below an HD-TV showing a shaky POV of the life being choked out of someone who bore an amazing resemblance to Tim's brother.

"Yo, college boy, can you make heads or tails of this? We've got something of a time issue..."

Sam looked it over quickly. "I don't know, give me a minute, maybe I can..."

"Step aside."

Sam turned around. "What-" Dean was aiming the shotgun. Sam jumped out of the way as Dean pulled the trigger, obliterating the computer with one well-placed round.


Dick felt the grip on his neck slacken. He gasped in air and it was sweeter than any perfume. Then the grip went away entirely and he crashed down to the ground, giggling. Above him, Kon-El took account of his surroundings.

"Where the hell am I?" he asked. "And what the hell happened to my hair?" he added after running a hand over his shorn, bloody scalp.


“Don't bother, son.” Wally heard from a long way away. “His heart's been ripped out.”

What was that, like, a metaphor or something? Because things were going great with Kara. She was sexy, smart, sexy, funny, sexy, intelligent, sexy...

Oh right, Superboy. It wasn't a metaphor.

Suddenly, he looked down and saw into his chest... literally into it, like it was being bombarded by X-rays. Before his eyes, glowing green shapes merged and flowed together to form the four chambers of a human heart. His new green heart started pumping and he looked up, following a green power beam from the heart to the ring of John Stewart.

“What, you thought you were gonna die alone?” Green Lantern asked. “And you wonder why people call you stupid."

"Who calls me stupid?" Flash responded indignantly.

"Forget it, we've got bigger problems." Off Flash's by now well-worn look of confusion, GL continued. "My ring only has a charge for another hour. After that... it's all over.”


“This superheroing stuff ain't so hard,” Dean declared, resting the shotgun over his shoulder triumphantly. “We took care of business and didn't even have to put on tights to do it. Hey, maybe we should put in an application to the Justice League. Because, hey, Vigilante, all he does is shoot stuff. We can shoot stuff. Sure, we don't wear cowboy hats, but maybe we could get our own gimmick. You wouldn't happen to have a spare luchadore mask, would ya?”

“Dean, I think we've got bigger problems,” Sam said, looking at what remained of the computer.

“You're right, first we have to think of a name. How 'bout this... The Brothers Grimm?”

Dean looked at him irritably with his 'this is serious' face that always looked impossibly silly coming from the man who's diapers Dean had used to change. “Dean, we've really got a problem.”

“What? Luthor's down and out, monster's shut down, don't see what the problem is.”

“I think Luthor's sabotaged the Watchtower's retro-thrusters. Its orbit is decaying.”

“English, college boy! Break it down for me!”

“In less than one hour, a space station the size of a skyscraper is going to hit Gotham City. And there's nothing we can do.”

"Correction, biological units," Brainiac said as his face emerged from Luthor's flesh, tentacles wrapping around the Winchester brothers. "You can die."
"Okay," Tim said. "Okay okay okay... we've gotta seal the artery."

"You do that," Steph said drowsily, staring at the ceiling. "I think my mother would've liked you..."

"Hey! Stay with me!" Tim picked up Steph's gun with his free hand and pointed it at the ceiling. He squeezed the trigger until the magazine clicked empty, the barrel sizzling hot. He ejected the clip and set it in her mouth. "Bite down on this. I'm so sorry, Steph. This is really going to hurt."

As quickly as he could, he held the severed artery together and stuck the hot gun barrel into the wound. He could feel the heat on his thumb and forefinger as the artery was seared shut. Steph cried out, her scream muffled through the clip. Tim pulled his bloody hand free and began to bandage the wound shut.

"Okay. Hard part's over."


Dean struggled to stay on his toes... literally. The thing that was now controlling Lex Luthor, skeletal face shoving its way through the skin of his chest, dangled him from its tentacle just low enough that he could get a exhaustive half-breath every few moments. Beside him, his brother was getting a similar treatment.

"Friends of yours, Sammy?" he groaned.

"Brainiac. You know, the living computer, twelfth-level intelligence?"

"That so?" Dean asked, letting out a low whistle. "Think we got time for a quick game of Tetris before you polish us off?" The tentacle around his neck tightened. "Maybe Solitaire?"

"This is a real nice situation you've landed us in, Dean."

"Me? You're the one who had some dumbass vision!"

Sam sneered at him. "Are you kidding? This is just like that stunt you pulled back in Toledo!"

Dean tried to conceal the realization from his face. "Oh yeah? Well, maybe if you listened to dad once in a while instead of always having to do your own thing!"

"Then what? I could be a good soldier-boy like you? No backbone, no independence whatsoever?"

Brainiac's gaze shifted between the brothers, trying to decide what to do with the two specimens who were abruptly ignoring it. "Biological units will desist discourse immediately!" it ordered.

Dean looked at his brother. "You heard the man."

With that, they simultaneously quick-drew their sidearms and opened fire.


Inside the Watchtower, Batman, Wonder Woman, and J'onn J'onzz stared at the viewscreen as the Orion base pumped in a streaming video from Green Lantern. Below John Stewart, a power beam from his ring formed a ring construct heart for the Flash, pumping blood through his ripped-open chest.

"I can't send someone to my apartment to get the power battery. Believe me, my secret identity isn't that important!" Green Lantern bellowed. "But the power battery is on the station..."

"And we're under lockdown," Diana finished. "Batman, do you think you can..." Batman had already disappeared. Diana turned back to the monitor. "Don't worry, we had a man outside when the station went into lockdown. He's working on the problem."

"A man? Who?"


Booster Gold stared at the incomprehensible array of switches, dials, and wires through the faceplate of his spacesuit. Skeets hovered nearby.

"After reviewing my database, I conclude that I have all the necessary information to repair the space station in question," the tiny robot said.

"That's really reassuring," Booster said. "Alright, where do we start?"


Batman strode into his private room. It was mostly unused, not even possessing the basic amenities like a bed or chairs, but there were several tools to resupply his utility belt. Batman clicked on his private communicator.

"Batgirl, come in."

After a moment, there was a corresponding click. "Batgirl here. Go."

"Do you recall case seven-one-three?"

"Actually, yes."

"We need Clayface to do it again."

"We?" Batgirl asked.

"The Flash is critically injured. He needs an immediate heart transplant."

"Oh, my God..."

"You have one hour to find Clayface and convince him to help. Then take him to the Orion Mountain Range outside Metropolis..."

"Wait a minute, one hour? How am I supposed to... I mean, Batman, we don't even know if this is going to work. I mean, you and your entire space station are about to fall on the city, shouldn't I be helping with the evacuation or..."

“This has top priority.”

“Batman, c'mon. There's no possible way I can do this in time.”

"Damnit, we're not losing Tim!" Batman said with a sudden, shocking rage.

"You mean Flash," Batgirl said after a pause.

"You have your orders."


Lex looked down at his body in mute horror as it was peppered with lead, the bullets bouncing off the metal of his parasite like raindrops. Nevertheless, the attack was enough to force Brainiac to drop the two brothers, who broke for cover as soon as they hit the ground. Brainiac regarded them coolly. This would not do. A heat beam lanced out, cleanly slicing through Sam's shoulder. Sam went down in pain, blood spurting out of the exit and entry wounds. Dean scrambled to a stop and returned fire, hitting a gas pipe above Brainiac/Lex. Hot steam hissed out into the dual entity as Dean dragged Sam behind a bank of supercomputers.

"Sammy, you okay?"

Sam managed a tight grin. "Peachy. You mind killing the scary Borg thing while I lie down for a minute?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah. Try not to bleed to death or anything. That would be totally gay."


Dean popped out from his cover to open fire on Brainiac, bullets shredding into the cyborg's kneecaps. They barely slowed the thing down as it stampeded towards the Winchesters. Dean ducked back behind the mainframe as a laser zapped through where he was a half-second ago.

"What are you waiting for?" Dean demanded of Sam, reloading his pistol. "Give him the psychic whammy! Read his Tarot card or whatever!"

"It doesn't work like that!"

Dean peeked out at Brainiac again. The damn thing was like a tank. In a matter of seconds it would be upon them. He tucked his gun into his waistband and tensed his legs like a spring.

"Where are you going?" Sam asked.

"To get my shotgun back. Cover me."

Dean burst out from cover like a bottle rocket from a bottle. He felt the heat of a laser hissing behind him as Brainiac fired upon him, shots impacting the far wall and melting it into slag.

Sam leaned out from behind the mainframe and fired, scoring three headshots. The bullets bounced off a forcefield as Lex squeezed his eyes shut. Sam covered his head as a blast of energy shredded the mainframe. He felt red-hot shrapnel pierce his body like angry ants.

Dean fell to his knees in mid-run, scooping up the shotgun and taking aim at the enemy. He propped it up against his shoulder just like his father had taught him and pulled the trigger. There was a bang like the world was ending and Brainiac lurched back, one of the blank mechanical eyes in the thing's chest now bubbling up a thick, orange goo.

"That was a mistake," Brainiac informed him as a tentacle closed in...


"I've got an offer for you," Batgirl said through the glass wall.

Clayface stared at her with his usual leer. "I can imagine. So, who'll it be? Jude Law? Harrison Ford in his prime? Or maybe..." he transformed into a flawless facsimile of Batman, "you can take a chance on that office romance..."

"I don't have time for this. But I'm willing to give you a full pardon and unlimited funds to find a cure if you help."

"And why should I trust you?"

"What choice do you have?"


Booster ripped deeper into the control panel. Behind him, the Earth loomed so large it blotted out the reassuring starscape.

"Alright, so now I just disconnect all the cables, reboot the central power nexus, and reconnect the noncompromised cable to restore power to the retrothrusters, right?"

"That sounds about right," Skeets confirmed.

"'Sounds' right?"

"One can never be sure whether the results will match the desired outcome, this is the very principle on which the scientific method was founded, sir."

"So, what you're saying is, no promises."

"I'm not saying that... but if anything goes wrong, it is not my fault, sir."


Tim blinked away the stabbing pain in his eyes as he once again emerged into the daylight, Steph strangely weightless in his arms. It felt like he had spent his entire life underground, in the dark.

"Don't worry. I'm going to find someone." He looked around the deserted city. The silence was a desert. Tim clenched his eyes tightly shut and tried to ignore the voice in his gut that told him it was all for nothing. "There's gotta be someone."

In his arms, Steph's lips were turning blue.


Nightwing let himself sag against the side of a building as Kon-El looked around in confusion. "What am I doing here? This isn't my home..."

"You've been through..." Dick paused, then picked up his mask. He wiped some blood off on his leg, then put it on. "You've been through a traumatic experience."

Kon-El pulled off his collar and gauntlets, looking at them with an odd expression. "What are these things? Why can't I remember?"

There was a small burst of static in Nightwing's communicator before he heard, quite clearly, the word "move."

"No, wait!" Nightwing cried as Superman slammed into his clone, tackling him into an abandoned mall.


The fighter pilot glanced at his readout. The special sensor which detected the solar radiation Kryptonians soaked up was going through the roof. He toggled his radio.

"Control, this is Boomtown. Five minutes to target."


Tim carried Steph through the empty hospital. Except for the strong smell of disinfectant and ammonia, it was more like a mausoleum than a hospital. All the detritus of everyday life was there. A topped gurney. An abandoned purse. Candy wrappers and cigarette butts and empty soda bottles, even a spill of hospital supplies like cannulae and bandages. Tim set her down on a bench and checked the front desk. No one there. After a few moments of examining the intercom, he found the button to page all.

"Hello? Is this thing on?" His voice echoed throughout the entire building. "I need a doctor or something down here, right now. I need... someone help me. Please."

"Tim..." Steph was trying to sit up. He rushed over to her.

"Don't... try to move."

Steph wiped a tear from his eye. "I never got a chance to tell you... you said you loved me... I love you too... I've never been so happ..."

Her head lolled back at an awkward angle.


Kon-El felt a hand around his neck, a thumb pressing into his jugular. So this was pain...

"You're too dangerous to live," Superman said with a voice that was both aggressive and regretful. "I'm sorry."

Kon-El grabbed his pseudo-father's wrist and tried to pry his fingers loose. "Don't! Don't! I'm not..." His airway constricted as the fingers dug into his throat. "Please! I can control it! I don't..." The bone spurs retracted into his skin and Kon-El gave Kal-El a pleading look. "I wanted to be like you when I grew up," he said with his last breath, the words so soft only someone with super-hearing could pick them up. "I want to live..."


Tim backed away from Steph's body, shaking his head. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the glass front of a vending machine and saw a boy who'd seen things even a man shouldn't see.


Kon-El looked at his other and saw an old man who's gas tank was running on fumes.


In a fit of rage, Tim picked up a chair and swung it into the vending machine, shattering the glass.


Kon-El felt the grip on his throat slacken. He looked at Superman. Blue eye met blue eye.

"You can't kill me," Kon-El realized.


Tim picked up a shard of glass.


"You'd be killing part of yourself."


Tim drew the shard across his wrist and felt a curt, stinging pain as blood blossomed out of the cut.


Nightwing limped as best he could towards the shopping mall. He still had time. He could still stop Superman from taking an innocent life.

He could do it.

He had been Robin.

Robins had magic.


The targeting reticule descended on the shopping mall where the twin figures of man and boy stood in thermovision.

"General, Superman's in there too! Do I have weapons free?"


General Eiling almost salivated at the thought.

"Take your shot."


Superman heard the ignition of the Kryponite-warhead-equipped missile first. He looked at his other, the strange boy who was at once both him and his greatest enemy, and said with all his authority: "Run."


Nightwing looked over his shoulder as the missile flew towards his destination. There was no point in throwing his Birdarang at the missile, considering how fast it was going.

He threw it anyway.


"Go on without..." Kal-El started before Kon-El interrupted by throwing him as far away as possible.

Kon-El turned to see the missile bearing down on him. His eyes glowed red.


Nightwing felt the heat of the explosion as it lifted him up and shoved him backwards.


Dean briefly considered turning the shotgun on himself, just to deny this Brainiac thing the satisfaction of killing him. The second tentacle ripping the shotgun apart denied him that option.

"I liked that gun."

Brainiac and Lex smiled as one, puppet and puppeteer. "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, you're dead."

There was a soft scuffle of footfalls and Sam stepped out from behind the devastated mainframe.

"Sam, run! Go!" Dean yelled before the second tentacle pressed its sharp tip against his forehead.

"Hey!" Sam said in a slightly raised voice. "If anyone's going to kill my brother, it's going to be me."

"Watch out!" Dean yelled unnecessarily as a tentacle hurled towards Sam. It stopped suddenly, tap-tapping against an invisible wall in front of Sam.

"It's alright Dean," Sam said, furrowing his brow a bit. "I think I've got it now." The tentacle roiled and flew apart. "Yeah. Definitely got it."

Dean felt the tentacle go limp and release him as Brainiac was thrown backwards. The tentacles retracted into the main body as Sam walked forward slowly. Sam raised a hand while Dean watched in awe.

"I see you now," Sam said, and Brainiac suddenly was ripped apart.

On the floor, Lex Luthor groaned and blinked his eyes open. "What, what happ..."

Dean kicked him back into unconsciousness. "Shut up, Lex, you're bald."


Booster looked at the array of unplugged wires, swaying in zero-gravity like the heads of a hydra. However, they were now inexorably pointed towards the gravity mass below... namely, Earth.

In a matter of minutes, impact.

"Alright, which one do I plug back in?" he asked.

Skeets nudged a bit closer to the panel. "The green one."

"They're all green."



Steph opened her eyes.

That fact alone was surprise enough. She was pretty sure she was dead, had been dead, whatever.

Heaven looked like linoleum tiles.

Hell was cool and hard beneath her.

She sat up. That, too, was surprising, because she felt a dull ache above her breast, right where her father's bullet had sliced into her. Through a sort of early-morning haze she realized she was in shock. Moreover, she was lying on the floor. On a bench next to her, a soda bottle still had traces of blood in it. A clear plastic tube ran from the lip of the bottle to a cannula inserted into her inner elbow.

And besides her, Tim was lying against a chair, a tourniquet around his arm, wrist bandaged. The darkness in his eyes seemed to have expanded to encompass more of his face, like shadows stretching away from the setting sun.

"Hey," he said with a weak smile.

"Hey," she said back.

He gestured with his drained arm. Which meant he tried to lift it and failed. "Type-O. Universal donor," he explained. "Felt a little dizzy. Thought I'd lay down."

"You are so getting to fourth base when we get better."

"I appreciate that."


Booster grabbed a wire at random.

"Here goes everything."

He plugged it in... and the retrothrusters exploded spectacularly, like a string of malfunctioning Christmas lights.

Nothing could stop the Watchtower from landing on top of Gotham City now.

Booster Gold steadied himself, mentally commanding his smartsuit to ramp its density up to full, and began pushing against the station, flight pack putting out every kilowatt of energy it could to try to push the mighty station back into orbit.

It was hopeless, of course. A hundred Booster Golds wouldn't have the strength to stop the Watchtower's descent.

Skeets began pushing against the station with all the strength its tiny motor could muster.

Booster felt a strong heat on his back as the station began to enter atmosphere. He probably wouldn't survive to be crushed, the heat of reentry would incinerate him first. Well, there was a cheery thought.

Suddenly, he felt a bit of give. The station was actually slowing down! Maybe that would save a few lives, who knew?

But the station didn't just slow down. It actually stopped. And began to reverse its course!

Inside the control room, the assembled Leaguers let out a wild cheer. Batman felt Wonder Woman press a quick kiss to his cheek and even J'onn J'onzz allowed himself a small half-smile.

"I did it!" Booster cried! "I did it!"

Then he looked up to see what appeared to be a young, blonde girl in a blue skirt and cape pushing the station back into place. Supergirl smiled down at him.

"What, I never mentioned that Argoians can breath in space?"


"I'm going to make your chest intangible," Green Lantern said. "You may feel a little discomfort."

"Hey, that tickles," Flash giggled as his chest faded away. The power beam was flickering and growing dim, but there was enough power to allow the Clayface to a lump of clay into Wally's chest. Once inside, it immediately took on the size and shape of a human heart, seamlessly fitting into the space left by the one Superboy had ripped out.

Green Lantern pulled his hand back. "Just in time."

Flash sat up, scraping away the dried blood from around the scar left in his chest. "I never though I'd say this, but thank you, Clayface."

Clayface nodded and turned to Batgirl. "Now, since I'm free and clear of all charges..." he transformed into Orlando Bloom. "I think I'll go meet up with some groupies."

Batgirl watched him go, scowling. "I give him two months before he's back to old habits."

"Cynical, aren't you?" Green Lantern opined. "Oh, right, the Bat-thing..."

"Flash, Green Lantern, this is J'onn," came a voice over their comlinks. "We've managed to reverse the lockdown and stop the crash landing. And more good news: Supergirl is alive."

Flash smiled. "Well, looks like everything turned out okay in the end."


Superman pulled a support beam away. Under it, his enemy/faux-son lay. For a nigh-invulnerable foe, he now appeared almost... weak. Kon-El lay on the ground, a length of rebar piercing his abdomen, his black T-shirt ruffled and torn. A trickle of blood ran from his mouth as he looked up at Superman.

"I think I know who I am now," he said. "Lex made me forget, but... I'm Superboy. I just forgot for a little while."

Superman looked down at him in disbelief. "You... you saved me."

Superboy nodded, then grinned widely. "I know. Isn't it cool?"

His eyes rolled back into his head. Superman shut his eyelids for him.
One week later...

"Actually, I think scars are very sexy..." Supergirl said from Wally's lap, running a finger along the scar over his heart. "Too bad your metabolism heals these things so quickly."

"That's just the kind of sacrifices I'm prepared to... hey, he's waking up!"

Wally stood up, roughly depositing Supergirl into open air, where she hovered huffily. He raced through the tower, poking his head in every door. "Superman, he's awake! Nightwing, he's awake! Tim, Steph... oh, sorry to interrupt. Kory, he's awake!"

Within a matter of minutes, all involved in the incident were gathered around Superboy's bio-bed as he came to.

"What... what happened?" Kon-El asked, staring at the man he'd been cloned from, a golden-skinned alien, a man with a ridiculous ponytail, two teenagers, two brothers, the fastest man alive, and a flying girl in a skirt. "I thought the radiation from that Kryptonite warhead..."

"It would have," Superman said comfortingly. "Fortunately, you're half-human."

"Lex's half," Flash said with an implied "ugh!"

"Kryponite is harmless to humans. So instead of killing you, the missile merely put you in a comatose state," Nightwing finished.

"So, the same side of me that belongs to the most evil man on the planet also kept me alive," Kon-El mused. "That's irony for ya. Hey, why aren't I on the Watchtower?"

"Repairs," Supergirl explained. "Not safe for unauthorized personell. So, since no one's using the place, we thought we'd keep you here."

"Here?" Superboy asked. "Where is here?"

"Titan Tower."


"You sure you don't want to stick around for a few days?" Sam asked as Dean stuffed their commemorative Teen Titans plate into the trunk.

"Nah, I don't think I've got a chance with that alien chick. Besides, 'bout time we got back on the open road." Dean slammed the trunk shut. "But do me a favor, Sammy."


"No more hitchhikers."

Dean climbed into the driver's seat as Sam laughed.

"Come on, you've got to admit, they turned out awful handy in stopping Luthor."

"Oh, that reminds me." Dean started the car. The radio came on along with the engine, playing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man. "No more supervillains either. In fact, let's avoid any cities with superheroes from now on. They have monsters, let the underwear perverts deal with them."

Dean paused as he moved to shut the door. "You're right though, Tim and Steph did come in handy. What're the odds we'd run into the one guy with the knowledge to identify and find Lex Luthor, along with the girl who could take down his lead henchman?"

Sam shrugged. "Powers that be."

"Maybe. Or maybe someone with psychic powers, stuff like seeing the future and reading people's minds, maybe he could've seen this kind of thing coming. And maybe he'd have manipulated events for a favorable outcome."

Sam smiled. "C'mon, Dean. You're making me sound practically Machiavellian."

Dean pondered that a moment, then pulled his door shut and slipped on a pair of shades. "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

"Hit it."


Steph stood on the roof of Titan Tower, holding a Batarang in one hand and idly tapping it against the palm of the other. She didn't notice Tim walking up to her as she threw the Batarang out. It quickly boomeranged back. She shrieked and ducked, at which time Tim caught it and handed it over to her.

“Thinking about going into the boomerang business?”

“Actually,” Steph said. “I was wondering how they got this thing in the shape of a T. Look at it! It's ludricious!” Nonetheless, she took the Batarang. “How's that old saying go? 'The evil that men do lives on, the good is oft interred with their bones'?”

Tim nodded. “Something like that.”

“My father is dead, but his evil lives on. Someone has to make up for that legacy. Might as well be me.”

Tim reached out and took her hand. “I'll help you.”

Steph beamed and kissed him. “Great! I've already got a costume planned out.”

“A costume? Couldn't you just join the police or something?”

“Ha! Anyway, it'll be eggplant-colored, see...”


Nightwing was just completing his latest round of Tamaranean physical therapy (he much preferred it to Earth physical therapy due to the “reward system” Kory had in place) when Flash ran up to him.

“Hey, Dick, we need to talk.”

Nightwing resisted the urge to hate Flash for being able to knit his bones back together in minutes. “About?”

“It's Superboy. Gotta tell you, the League is worried. And not just Bats. There's no telling what kind of sleeper programs there are embedded in that half-Luthor head of his.”

“If it's not in Bludhaven, it's not my problem.”

“That's the thing, see... my and Superman were talking, and we thought me and Supergirl could be liaisons.”

“Liaisons?” Nightwing turned to look at Flash. “Liaisons to what?”

“To you! The new Teen Titans?”

Nightwing laughed. “Me and Kory in the new Teen Titans? Thanks, but no thanks.”

“C'mon! Not only could you keep an eye on Superboy, but you could give a helping hand to all those superheroes who are too young to be in the League yet. Just like Batman did for you when you were a kid.” Nightwing stared at his friend. For the fastest man alive, Wally wasn't very quick. “We've already got some members lined up. Tim has agreed to work with the computers, get this whole place dragged into the 21st century. And Spoiler can be one of your charter members!”



“Got a new assignment, team,” Tim said, his words piped through a radio channel to Starfire, Nightwing, Spoiler, Animal Man, Superboy, and Cyborg in the T-Jet. “A new speedster in Blue Valley, calls himself 'Impulse'. Seems like he just wants to help, but he's... not quite ready for the big leagues,” Tim finished, eyeing the damage report from this Impulse's attempts to “help.”

“Say it, Tim,” Spoiler urged over the comline.

“Oh God, don't start on this again...”

“C'mon, Tim,” Nightwing said. “It's tradition.”

Tim smiled despite himself and leaned into the microphone. “Fine. Titans, GO!”


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