Resurrecting the Red
Chapter 33: The Road Goes Ever On
Nearly a month had passed since Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne had met privately to discuss their mutual friend, J'onn J'onzz. The Justice Lords had dominated their conversation. After much debate and an occasional loss of temper, they had finally decided to confront J'onn.
J'onn, to say the least, hadn't been surprised. The telepath had not only been expecting it, but had been agonizing over his decision as well. The decision to remove Chameleon as a viable threat by mindwiping him had seemed logical at the time.
To a telepath though, what J'onn had done was tantamount to mental rape. There was a reason that it had been outlawed on his world.
It was ironic. The Justice Lord J'onn, even somewhat the old J'onn, had been so distanced from humanity that brutal methods at keeping the peace had seemed right. The current J'onn, however, now had the memory of two lost loves to deal with. His Martian wife and now his human wife, Ming, were both deceased. His captivity under Luthor had deprived him of her.
J'onn had lashed out. Anger over his imprisonment and his close ties to the very humans who had once disgusted him had pushed him to the brutal methods that he had once abhorred. The others were right to distrust him.
The lonely Martian sat contemplating in Z'onn Z'orr, his private sanctuary in Antarctica. In his lap sat a book that had been introduced to him long ago by Bruce Wayne. J'onn often found himself turning to it when he felt lost.
J'onn opened Marcus Aurelius's Meditations and began reading.
Wally felt a large smile grow on his face as he sat in the large gymnasium. The bleachers were filled with waiting friends and family. Hundreds of empty, neatly ordered chairs awaited the excited graduates gathering just outside of the large room.
He looked down at his hand and examined the new wrinkles covering it. Bruce's prediction had been correct. Wally's body had aged unnaturally fast. It had puzzled the medical staff and created a worried frenzy among his friends. It was finally determined that his aging was linked to his time in the speed force.
Once Wally reached the age he was supposed to be, it had slowed down to normal levels. Psychologically however, it was taking the Scarlet Speedster much longer to adjust to his now seventy-four year old body.
Wally looked over at Bruce. The two men were sitting with Evan Kae, the man who had raised his grandson. On the other side of Bruce sat Terry's family.
"It's going to take time," he finally answered. Wally held out one of his hands to Bruce. "You've had longer than me to get used to this." Bruce answered him with a wry smirk.
With help from Amanda Waller, Wally now had a new identity.
The name of David's parents had been changed on his birth certificate and both of his maternal grandparents were supposedly dead. It had been deemed too risky for Wally to publicly be his grandfather. Because of that, Wally had decided on the next best thing and would officially be David's 'great-uncle.'
Bruce had showed uncharacteristic emotion when Wally had asked permission to use 'Alfred' as his middle name.
John Alfred Grayson, that was a good name.
Dick had had a good laugh when he heard it.
The opening notes of Pomp and Circumstance began to play. The graduating seniors of Hamilton Hill High School slowly filed into the gymnasium. Wally soon caught sight of David, Terry, and Max. He felt his chest fill up with pride as he watched the three young adults.
At his side, Bruce expertly hid a sudden moistness in his own eyes.
Four days later:
An explosion rocked the hidden government compound. Security alarms sounded as force fields immediately came on to barricade the prisoner within. Artificial red sunlight bathed the whole wing of the compound as heavily armed security guards searched for the source of the disturbance.
Jon-El peered out of his containment cell with unbridled curiosity.
There were several more explosions. The lights flickered and went out. After several seconds, emergency back up lights came back on. Unfortunately for the clone, the artificial red sunlight was also backed up in case of emergencies.
As he contemplated the mysterious battle going on within the compound, the armored door to his room was blasted open. Jon-El threw himself to the floor, but fortunately, the force field surrounding his prison cell also protected him from the blast.
Just as he looked up, a sheet of ice froze the other occupants of the room to the wall.
"Hey Kryptonian! You in here!?"
Definitely curious now, Jon-El stood up and looked through his containment field. A haughty, brunette haired woman, possibly in her forties, stood impatiently in the room. A blue and white coat covered her body, as did a small mask.
"Technically I'm half-Kryptonian," Jon-El answered.
"I don't care if you're half-Martian," the unknown woman answered. "Do you want out of here or not?"
"Do I really need to answer that?" the clone asked. The woman smiled.
"You've got spunk Kid, I like that. The name's Captain Cold."
"May I ask about the occasion?" Jon-El asked. The other occupant of the room, a young boy of about fifteen, merely grinned as his fingers flew over a nearby computer console.
"We're the newly reconstituted Rogues," the boy grinned. He appeared to be of South Asian descent. "You can call me Havoc. I'm the residential genius hacker."
"Later boys, we've got to go," the self-proclaimed Captain Cold answered. With just a few more taps of the boy's hands, the force field disappeared from around Jon-El. The woman pulled out a small, makeup mirror.
"What are you…?" Jon-El started to ask. This seemed like an inappropriate time to check one's make up.
"Into the mirror Kid," the woman barked. Before Jon-El could reply, he found himself being sucked through the mirror. He was instantly deposited through a large mirror in a wall. Jon-El suffered the indignity of landing on his face. Moments later, Captain Cold and the young Havoc also exited the mirror, only to land on their feet.
The half-Kryptonian clone hurriedly got to his feet and examined the other occupants of the room.
"You got him?" an old man asked.
"Pff, of course we did," Havoc answered hotly. "We're the Rogues."
"You're not a Rogue yet," he reminded the boy. The old man looked over at the recent escapee.
"You can call me Weather Wizard," he added. After a moment of hesitation, Jon-El shook his hand.
"I've heard of you before," the clone said. The old man laughed.
"I'm not as spry as I used to be," he answered. Mark Mardon, the aging wizard, began to introduce his fellow Rogues to the clone.
"You've already met Cold and Havoc. This joker over here is Mirror Master," Jon-El looked over to see a man sitting at a table, playing with a small mirror. "And the last member, the one who provided a distraction for your rescuers, is Pied Piper."
A tall, caramel skinned woman nodded her head at Jon-El. Her dark, frizzy hair was pulled neatly back with a green comb. She also wore sleek, green outfit and a short green cloak. Jon-El's eyes paused on her very shapely legs.
She was the most beautiful woman that he'd ever seen.
"What do you want with me?" he asked. The elderly Weather Wizard smiled.
"We'd like you to join the family," Mark Mardon answered.
"Because the Flash is back in town," he answered. "And to be quite honest Kid, you don't really have anywhere else to go. Besides...unlike the so-called Injustice League, we Rogues actually take care of each other."
Barbara Gordon felt her eyes tear up as she hugged Kara Kent goodbye. The blonde haired woman had written a message to her future friends and left it in a safe location where it could be found. Brainiac 5 had found it and had come to take her back to what was now her home.
"I'm going to miss you," Kara sniffed.
"At least I get to tell you good bye this time," Barbara answered. The two women hugged fiercely and let go. Kara then turned to her waiting cousin and gave him an even harder hug.
"Stay out of trouble, Clark," she said. She kissed him on the cheek and looked back at Barbara. An older Clark Kent was waiting for her in the future. Barbara Gordon was not.
The two women shared a long look and knew that they would never see each other again.
"Bye Kent," Barbara smiled. Kara smiled back.
She and Brainiac 5 vanished in a flash of light. Barbara willed herself not to cry.
It was a losing battle.
Terry McGinnis, David Kae, and Maxine Gibson were in a very unusual situation. In congratulations for their high school graduation, as well as their work in helping the League, Clark Kent had decided to take them all out for ice cream.
It didn't matter that they were on the verge of starting college. How often did one get treated to ice cream by Superman?
"This place has the best ice cream in Metropolis," Clark grinned boyishly. "They make it from scratch every day." Eighty-some years and a streak of white hair hadn't erased the country boy from his heart. The disguised Kryptonian dug eagerly into his chocolate fudge sundae.
"Mr. uh…Elliot," David said. Since he appeared to be too young to pass as Clark Kent, Clark had taken up the name Jordan Elliot has a pseudonym. "How's…uh…your wife?"
"She's doing fine," Clark answered. His hair had been dyed brown and a fake, but realistic, mustache adorned his upper lip. "What're kids planning to do now that you've graduated?"
"We're all going to Gotham State," Max answered. "I'm not sure what I'm going into yet." The other two teenagers nodded their heads in agreement.
"I'm not sure either," David admitted. "I've been thinking about history or journalism." Clark's eyes immediately lit up at the mention of journalism. The young Flash suddenly realized the he would probably be bombarded with helpful 'advice' from the older man later. Clark, however, chose only to smile and look over at the second young man.
"Terry?" he asked. "What about you?" Terry was silent for a time before he answered.
"I want to buy back the part of the company that Bruce sold to Derek Powers," he finally answered seriously. "Bruce regrets having done that. I plan to fix it and return the company to Wayne Enterprises."
Clark looked at him in surprise. Inside however, he was pleased with the response. He knew that Bruce had several regrets in his life. Two of them were his failed relationships with Selina and Diana. A third was his choice to sell part of his company.
"That's an admirable goal, Terry. I wish you luck," he said. Clark started to say something else, but the communicator in his ear beeped. The three young heroes watched as his expression changed and realized that something was up.
"Something wrong?" Max asked. Clark quickly survived their surroundings and decided that the risk of being overheard was too great. He pulled out a pen and wrote 'Jon-El has escaped' on a napkin. As soon as the other three read it, he crumpled it up and put it in his pocket to dispose of later.
"Are you leaving?" Terry asked. Clark looked at him and then down at his ice cream.
"Over the years I've learned to delegate. The situation's in good hands at the moment," he answered. He gave a small smile and took a bite of his ice cream. "I think I can spare five or ten more minutes."
It was a hard lesson that Clark had learned, but it was true. Superman didn't need to be everywhere at once when there were other people perfectly capable of handling the situation.
Sometimes, the place he needed to be was where he could get to know the next generation of the brave and the bold.
Bruce was sitting by an open window the next day when he heard a strange racket coming from outside. Jon-El's mysterious escape was currently plaguing him. The frozen government staff and the small, cosmetic mirror that had been found at the scene had immediately raised his suspicions.
After the reappearance of the Flash, it was almost inevitable that the Rogues would reappear in some form. He just hadn't thought that it would be this soon.
He attempted to keep his mind on the puzzle, but the strangely familiar sound of a ball bouncing on cement attracted his curiosity. Bruce picked up his cane and followed the sound to its source. Ace followed faithfully at his side.
Outside, in front of the garage, he found Terry, David, and Max shooting hoops. Somewhere they had found and put up the basketball hoop that he had once bought for Tim. Bruce was surprised that he'd even still had it.
"Hey! That looks like fun!"
Bruce turned to see that Wally had joined him. His friend and fellow teammate apparently wasn't allowing old age to slow him down. The billionaire suspected that he had run over from David and Evan's apartment, where he was now living.
"You're not young anymore Wally," Bruce reprimanded him.
"I'm young at heart," he retorted. "I still need my exercise you know." Even so, Bruce noticed that he was slightly out of breath. Wally watched the game for a few seconds before his face lightened up.
"What hell are you planning?" Bruce asked. Wally only grinned mysteriously as he dialed Dick Grayson's number.
Half an hour later, Dick, Barbara, and even Tim had arrived at the mansion. Before long, Wally had organized a basketball game between the 'Old Geezers' and the 'Young Punks.' He decided to guard David, since they both had superspeed. Terry and Barbara naturally faced off, leaving Dick to guard Max.
"I guess it's you and me, Kid," Dick smiled. Max smiled back. Tim, for his part, had decided to be both the referee and the score keeper. He sat self importantly in a lawn chair, armed with a whistle and a pad of paper.
"Prepare to get your butt kicked, McGinnis," Barbara threatened. Terry only smirked back.
"I'm going to curb stomp you Gordon!"
"What was that McGinnis!?"
"You need a hearing aid Granny?"
"You're dead, McGinnis!!"
So the trash talk has started already, Bruce thought wryly. It figured that it would be Barbara and Terry that started it. The elderly Batman decided that the Jon-El case could perhaps wait a little while. There was an interesting basketball game that he didn't want to miss.
Speaking of which…
Bruce dialed a few numbers of his own. Within minutes, he was joined by several old friends. Clark and Diana brought lemonade and plastic cups. J'onn brought Oreos. John and Shayera brought a camera, chips, and more trash talk.
As his friends began to cheer and shout words of 'advice' to the basketball players, Clark leaned in towards Bruce.
"Any word on Jon-El?" he whispered.
"No," Bruce answered. He took a sip of ice cold lemonade. "Remember Kent, he's not your son."
There was a pause as they watched Tim cry 'Foul ball!' The game continued, only to be interrupted a few minutes later by Terry and Barbara trying to out-trash talk the other.
John shouted out his own 'pointers.'
"It never ends, does it Bruce?" Clark asked.
"Crime never ends," Bruce said impassively. "Don't worry though. Whatever happens, we'll take care of it."
"We always do," Clark agreed. With nothing more to be said, they relaxed and watched the rest of the game.
The Old Geezers won by two points.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
(As sung by Bilbo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring.)
Author's notes: Well, it's the end of the road for this story. I don't know at this point if I'll do a sequel or not. I'd like to focus on Original Prankster for a little while, unless there is a large demand for a sequel.
The name of J'onn's JLU girlfriend is never officially stated. The name Ming is used by Mists in her stories and I decided to borrow it. Wally's new name, John Alfred Grayson, is my own creation. However, Clark's fake name is not. Jordan Elliot is the false name that Clark uses in Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
Thanks for reading!