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A Painful Beginning

By C.W. Blaine

Cw.blaine@england.com

This piece of fan-fiction is meant to fall within the current continuity (circa June, 2000) of the DC Universe. All of the characters contained herein are trademarks of DC Comics Inc. and are used without permission for use in this story. No copyright infringement is intended. This story has not been approved by DC Comics Inc. and is meant only to be shared between fans.

The Crisis on Infinite Earths radically chnaged the DC universe and many of the core characters. Many silver-age heroes and villians died or were majorly revamped. But what happened to the ones that were just forgotten? That is what this story is about.

"Justice League Audio Record, 2000.1." Barbara Gordon pushed back her cowl, letting her shimmering auburn hair fall free from the confines of her costume. She wheeled the chair back, but not before hitting the PAUSE button on the massive computer. She stretched and yawned, briefly considering going to her room, but decided to instead finish what she had started. "Bat Woman, chairman, logging entry," she said as she pushed the RECORD button.

"It has been over five years since the event we have come to call the Crisis occurred, and in that time, I have debated strongly whether or not it would be worthwhile to even record the events that transpired afterwards. Our logs are full of day-to-day entries from various members, relating cases and missions, but nobody, not even Kal, bless him, wanted to think in depth of what really has happened. As the newly elected leader of this team, the decision to do so has been passed on to me."

Barbara paused the recording again and took a deep breath. She felt like her costume was constricting, threatening to strangle her. She removed the cape and cowl completely and unzipped her costume on the side and pulled it down to her waist. She smiled at her bra, black with little yellow bat emblems on the cups. It had been a gift; a joke really, from the other team members when she had been elected leader. The joke had been that they wanted to give her as much support as she needed. She set the computer to voice activation and stood up, considering removing the entire costume, but threw the thought out of her mind. She didn't know when the video monitor would light up and she didn't want to be standing there nude to greet whomever was calling. No, she thought, the Bat-Bra would be just fine.

"It is hard to explain in detail what the Crisis was, not because it is too horid to believe, it's because I just don't understand it. In a single stroke, universes died, whole realities merged together and then were stripped apart. Sometimes I wonder if the Catholics were right, that it was God's judgement upon us. I wonder if, because of what I am, whether God has placed me in a Hell that I can never understand. Then, I think of Kal, and what he suffered and how good he is and I know then that this isn't Hell, it's simply Earth. Earth-1 that is."

Barbara wiped a tear from her eye, but a second one soon followed. Her voice choking, she began again. "A being called the Monitor gathered as many super-heroes and super-villians as he could, crossing the dimensions to alternate Earths and grabbing more from there. He warned of a threat, of a being so evil that it could not be described. The Anti-Monitor, ruler of the Anti-Matter universe was destroying every single reality in hopes of making his the only one. I never understood the exact science of it, but I do know that at creation, an infinite number of universes were created, seperated by thin dimensional barriers. My home was designated Earth-1; the hereos of our coimic books, who fought in World War 2, occupied Earth-2, and so on. We were gathered to battle the Anti-Monitor."

She got up and walked over to the coffee maker and grabbed a black cup with the yellow bat emblem and poured herself a cup. "We fought, as did everyone else, but we lost so many. I remember when….when…" she dropped the cup and it shattered on the dirt floor. She cursed, and then cursed again and tightened her hands into fists. Her bottom lip trembled and she barely spoke in a whisper. "I remember when Bruce told me Kara had died."

The tears flowed more freely as she visualized that awful day in her mind, seeing the events as if they were occuring for the first time.

Batgirl sat atop Wayne Towers, perched on a ledge, bioculars in hand. She scanned the city, but saw only panic as people attempted to evacuate the city. The sky, crimson with anti-matter, swirled like a red ocean. She didn't hear him approach. "Barbara."

She whirled around and saw him there, standing with a somber look. She hadn't seen him this way and she knew he had bad news. She considered all of the possibilities. She was sure both her father and friend, Nightwing, were okay. Was it Jason, the new Robin? "Bruce, what is it?"

He approached her slowly, a fatherly manner about him, a far cry from the image he normally presented. He pulled back his cowl, and his hair dripped sweat onto his chest. "Superman and the others have come back."

Barbara was relieved for only an instant. "Kara?" she asked in a child-like voice.

Bruce shook his head and she fell into his chest, crying out as if in great physical pain.

Barbara stripped off her glovves and threw them down and began to pick up the pieces of her coffee mug. "Kara's death, along with Barry Allen's, the Flash, took us all by surprise. We were so confident that we could stop him. We didn't realize the price we would have to pay to defeat him."

She stood up and suddenly felt chilly and pulled her costume back up, but left it unzipped. "Personal note for entry: I know what the rumors were at the time of Kara's death. I know the guilt that I have felt for the past few years over not being there with her. I read the headlines in the supermarker tabloids for years before her death. Since this is the official Justice League record for these events, I guess I'll spill all of the beans." She sat back down in the chair. "For those of you future members, be it next month, or the next century, it is important for you to know what pains we went through because of this, so you don't become complacent. You can die. You can lose those you love. You may even kill. When we put on these costumes and use our abilities, we are waging a war agianst those who would destroy the things we cherish. The Anti-Monitor killed Supergirl, Kara. He killed the woman I loved."

She smiled. She had so long wanted to come out and say it, but she never had. Everyone suspected or actually knew, but it was never spoken of. Kal never even hinted at it, ever. "Kara and I were lovers. Yes, I know that Kal has indicated she was technically married to an alien, but that didn't matter at the time. If Kara had been married, she didn''t remember it, and that is that. At the time, it would have destroyed the public's perception of super-heroes. Intolerance towards gays and lesbians was at an all time high, even more so than today. At least China and the Germanic Republic are willing to stand up and say being gay is a capitol offense. No, back then, they talked about you behind your back, snickering. I prefer an up front attack any day of the week."

"All of the rumors about me and Bruce, Batman, or Richard, Nightwing, were just that, rumors. Bruce was indeed handsome, but I wasn't his type. If you ever get a chance, find a copy of Smith's Urban Legends. He does a pretty good examination at the career of Batman and his many femme fatales. Seventeen years old red heads just didn't fall into the right category. And Richard? Maybe at one time I would have considered it, but he had very exotic tastes and I think I would have been too boring for him."

The monitor beeped as a video link was established. Barbara paused the recording and accessed the link. A man in a green mask, brown hair with just the touch of grey at the temples, appeared. "Hello, Barbara. Or should I say Madame Chairperson?"

Barbara smiled. "Barbara is fine, Hal. How goes the recruiting?"

Hal Jordan ran a hand through his hair. "Pretty good. Would you believe that I'm up to 1000 Green Lanterns? Only 2600 more to go and I can retire."

Barbara raised an eyebrow, "Aren't you a little young to retire? Anyway, we need you here."

Hal got a serious look, "Is there a problem with Kyle?"

"No, he's fine, but a little over-anxious. Not to mention he needs to get his hormones in control. I caught him yesterday drilling a hole in the shower with his ring. Lar said he would take care of it, but I think he could really use some time with an older man."

Hal nodded. "I can't figure out for the life of me why the ring picked him to be a Green Lantern. Stupid sixteen year old kid and he gets picked to be a Green Lantern." He sighed. "I'll tell you what, I plan on heading in anyway to check on Dinah next week. I'll talk to him and if that doesn't work, I'll take him with me and you can have the alternate."

"Who is the alternate?"

"Another kid named Tim Drake. I think my ring is getting partial to young boys."

Barbara laughed at the joke and the two chatted for another fifteen minutes before Hal signed off. As the screen went blank, Barbara couldn't help but wonder. "For the record," she began again, "Hal Jordan is the most fearless man I know, ven more so than Kal I think. While no longer an official member of the Justice League, he is a valuable ally who has done more to try and fix the problems with the universe than anyone else I can think of. I have been attracted to very few men in my life, but I can say that Hal Jordan could wrap a giant green hand around me anytime he wants. The man is way too much of a hunk for his age."

She giggled and allowed her mind to drift back to only two years before.

Hal Jordan stood with his mask off, staring out at Happy Harbor. Batgirl walked up behind him. "Beautiful isn't it?"

"Yes," he said not turning around. "Barbara, we have to talk."

She removed her cowl and let her hair hang. She knew he was attracted to her, and she was attracted to him. Am I finally gettng over her, she thought to herself. "What is it, Hal?"

He still did not turn around. "Barbara, you know that I like you. In fact, I like you a lot. I like you a whole bunch if you get down to it. Plus, I think you like me."

She wanted to wrap her arms around him, his sillohuette in the dying sun making him even more desirable. "So, what is the problem? We're both adults, Hal. You might be an older adult, but I think you still might have some fire in you," she chided.

"I can't be with you and you know it."

Her heart sank as the reality of their situation hit her. He was right, as always, and she had fooled herself into believing otherwise. As if asking for more pain, she demanded the reason why.

"Because, Barbara, I have too much to do. I've decided to try and reform the Corps. There are more worlds in the universe than Earth, and I'm the last Green Lantern as far as I know. Both Guy and John disappeared with the Guardians, as if they never existed. All of those other sectors of space need someone to help them. I'm going to find a replacement for me here and head into space."

There were tears in her eyes, "Tell me you don't care about me! I've seen the way you look at me, the way you steal a chance to brush your hand against mine, how you always are there when we go into battle! Damn you, Hal, I think I love you and you know that!"

He turned, his gaze weary. "Barbara, I wasn't there when it happened. I gave it up, gave the job to John and look what happened. I was meant to be there. If I had, maybe Kara…"

She slapped him, "Don't you mention her name! Don't you dare! You have no idea what you are even talking about. There were over 3600 Green Lanterns present during the Crisis, do you really think that you would have made any difference? So now, because you feel guilty, you want to fly off into space and save the universe…"

Hal stepped forward and grabbed her. She embraced him and her hot tears fell onto his uniform, "Barbara, I have to do this. If I don't, I won't be able to live with myself. I lost both Ollie and Barry, and Carol, and Pie, and John, and Alan, and so many others. They made a sacrifice and I have to ensure that it wasn't in vain." He pulled her chin up and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I care very much for you, but I'm not the one, and you know it. I know it. I don't know why, but I just do. This is for the best."

"I know," she sobbed.

He kissed her again, this time on the forehead. "If I thought for one second I could give this job to someone else, I would. I'd stay here with you and never leave. But I can't. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices."

"It was Kara and Barry who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our victory against the Anti-Monitor. Barry used his power of super-speed to contain the energy of the Anti-Monitor's cannon within a vortex, but the result was that the exposure to pure anti-matter killed him. Kara died later protecting her cousin, Kal, Superman, from the Anti-Monitor. I cried for days, wanting so much to talk to someone, but everything was happening so quickly. I so much wanted to talk to my father, Commissioner James Gordon, but even as the world was coming to an end, I couldn't tell him I was in love with a woman. I was such a coward."

"Eventually, all of the powerhouses confronted the Anti-Monitor and they beat him, so Kal told me. They killed him at the dawn of time and expected that everything would right itself. But it didn't. I woke up the next morning all alone. I don't mean that emotionally, though to this day I can smell her hair as she laid next to me. No, I mean really all alone. I was the only person in all of Gotham City."

She got back up and grabbed a red cup with a WW symbol on it and poured herself another cup of coffee. She wiped the red lipstick off of the rim and took a drink, relishing in its caffinated goodness. "It was the same all over the world. In the space of one night, 85% of the world's population had disappeared. Christians everywhere proclaimed it the Rapture, but we knew better. There may or may not be a God, I think there is, and despite my sins, I believe I will go to Heaven one day. No, this wasn't the calling of a supreme being, it was almost as if someone had grabbed toys out of one box and put them in another. I was one of the toys left behind."

"I made my way to Wayne Manor, only to find Alfred beside himself in fright. He swore that he had fallen asleep next to Bruce after dressing his wounds, only to find an empty costume laying in the bed the next morning. I went to the Batcave and started up the generator. I used the computer there to scan airwaves for anything, but power was off all over the world. That's when I found his JLA signal device and activated it. I called for all active members of the Justice League to meet at the Batcave."

"They came eventually, Superman, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Black Canary and Hal. Superman explained the situation and together, we decided to investigate. In the end, however, it was futile. We searched the world over and came up with the same results each time. They were just gone."

"I don't understand it at all. Time should have reverted back to normal," Superman said, his arms crossed over his barrel-chest.

"Well, it didn't and I don't know what we can do," Hawkman said, admiring a display case full of weapons Bruce had confiscated over the years.

"Have either you or Green Lantern attempted to contact our Earth-2 counterparts to see if they have the same problem?" Hawkwoman asked Superman.

A grim look came over Hal Jordan's face," That's strange, too. I know Earth-2 exists, and I know I should know how to get there, but I just can't focus my ring to do it."

"What's more, I can't break the time barrier anymore," Superman said. "No matter how fast I go, I can't move through time. That's never happened before."

"Could this be a plan by one of the League's enemies?" Batgirl asked, trying to keep from looking too hard at Green Lantern. She couldn't quite place it, but the man simply inspired confidence by just standing there.

"I don't think so, Batgirl," Hawkwoman explained as her husband joined her. "It would have to be somebody who knows the secret identities of several super-heroes. If it was a plot, why involve you? No offense, kiddo, but you aren't exactly a major player."

Batgirl nodded. "Then, it's true, they're all gone, for whatever reason. We won against the Anti-Monitor, but what a price."

Superman nodded and then turned to Black Canary, who was huddled in a corner. "Dinah, are you akay?"

She was shaking uncontrollably, and she pulled her blonde wig off, "Where's Ollie?! He wouldn't have left me! We were making love and he just disappeared!" A wild look came over her eyes and Green Lantern walked slowly to her. "Dinah, I'm sure Ollie is fine."

"No! You're just saying that! You don't know!" She grabbed her stomach. "God, why does it hurt so much? I feel like I'm being pulled apart!"

"We didn't know it at the time, but Dinah was being affected by the shift in reality. Dinah's mother came from Earth-2, but now it appeared that Earth-2 didn't exist, so how could she? Eventually, Superman had to put her in the Phantom Zome to save her from killing herself. The physical pain, plus the shock of seeing Oliver Queen, Green Arrow, just disappear during the act of love destroyed her mind. Dinah Lance was the only person on Earth, so far as we know, who actually witnessed what happened to everyone else."

"Superman immediately enlisted Hawkman and Green Lantern in helping reestablish world governemts. But even the Last Son of Krypton could not have predicted the changes in world power to come. The United States splintered into four separate nations, with Canada annexing the northern territories. It was strange, but of all the countries in the world, Canada only suffered a 2% reduction in population after the Crisis, which gave it the most powerful military in the world. The United States is currently made up of New England only, encompassing Gotham and Metropolis."

"In Europe, Germany became an empire, conquering several countries before Superman could reestablish order. Germany has become the leader of the world and, much as loathe to admit it, has contributed greatly to bringing about order."

'The New United Nations, made originally of The Germanic Empire, the Peoples Replics of China and Vietnam, the Confederate States of America, the United States of America, Canada, Britain, and the California Collective of Free Peoples ratified new laws that were designed to promote good will and peace. They ordered that all metahumans put themselves before the NUN for service to benefit mankind. Hawkman adamantly refused and left Earth with his wife. He hasn't been back since."

"At first, the measures were good. The Justice League was reformed with me, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Superman as leader. Together, we worked towards reestablishing power and lines of communication. We did a lot, and as time went on, we even added a few members like Jimmy Olsen as Elastic Man and Blue Devil. Then, the trouble started."

"What the hell is this?" Batgirl screamed as she threw a newspaper on the meeting table. The paper unrolled to reveal the headline New Laws Force Heterosexuality.

Jimmy Olsen stretched his arm out and grabbed the paper. "What did you expect, Barbara? After the AIDS epidemic last year, did you think the government would allow your kind to just walk around like nothing was happening?"

"'My kind'? What do you mean by that, you bigotted moron?" Batgirl felt herself wanting to throw a batarang right into his forehead.

"You know…queers," he smirked.

Barbara leapt over the table and crashed into Olsen. He screamed aloud as she pummeled him with blow after blow, but his rubbery face ensured he took no permanent damage.

"Enough!"

The two combatants stopped as the voice filled the entirety of the Justice League Headquarters. Aquaman and a robot in army fatigues entered the room from the training area. "Stand down Aurthur, G.I. Robot," Superman said. He motioned to Jimmy to stand up. The young hero did so, but not before Batgirl whispered in his ear.

"You're just jealous you can't get any of this."

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," Superman began. He picked up the New New York Times and used his super speed reading ability to absorb the article in seconds. "This is unfortunate, but expected. The population is so low that govenments are forcing people to have children. It's a race. Whoever has the most people will rule the world for the next generation."

"Pity I hadn't thought of that before, eh, Clark?" Lex Luthor said as he entered the room. Superman turned to the bald man, clad in his signature purple and green outfit, and extended his hand. "Lex! Good to see you."

"As always, it is hopping in here," Lex said, grasping the Kryptonian's hand. "I see that some members of the group do not agree with current government policy."

"Damn right," Jimmy said, nursing his jaw. "Man-Batgirl there doesn't think she should do her part for the human race."

It took only a second, and the batarang sailed through the air. Had it hit, no doubt the razor-sharp weapon would have embedded itself in Jimmy's thigh. Fortunately for Elastic Man, Superman sped over and caught it. "That is more than enough. Jimmy, consider yourself off active duty."

A look of pain and betrayal washed over Jimmy's face. "Clark? How?"

"Not now Jimmy."

Jimmy stalked off, towards the exit. "I get it, she sleeps witth your cousin, that makes her family! I thought we were friends, Clark!"

Superman watched him sleave and then turned to the assembled group. "It's my fault. I should have told him the truth so many years ago. Then when Lana and I got married, I think he saw as me choosing sides."

Lex Luthor put his hand on his former enemy's shoulder, "Clark, you can't be responsible for everything. He's a timebomb waiting to go off, I know. I've been there. You can only deal with things as they happen."

Superman nodded and Luthor turned his gaze over to Batgirl. "Barbara, so nice to see you as well."

Batgirl nodded at the genius who had single-handedly ended world hunger and developed the Internet into the main communications system. He had only been a member of the League for six months, joining right after Hal had left for space. It was in this extrordinary man's arms she had found solace. Luthor had changed after the Crisis, and everyone realized that deep inside he had only been very lonely. When Superman had revealed to the world he was Clark Kent, Luthor saw the pain in his foe's eyes as he spoke of the loss of Lois Lane. He had not enjoyed that visage. He always thought he would.

So Lex Luthor had become a hero, and Jimmy Olsen a bitter man. He had lost everything and when he hoped to find comfort with Lana Lang, Superman was there to rekindle their old romance. So he had tried with Batgirl, only to be rejected as well. However, she had not rejected Luthor and, for only a brief time, they had been much more than teammates.

Barbara had hoped she would have the stability with Luthor that she couldn't get with Hal Jordan. She imagined them working together to solve the world's problems, but the dream was short-lived. Guilt ate away at Luthor until he had to confess that he was married to a woman on another planet called Lexor. Though she was hurt, she knew he was hurting more and backed off to allow him to regain himself.

"I've come to resign my membership, old foe," Luthor said, turning back to Superman. "This bit of legislation rubs me the wrong way. It violates rights in a way I never would have even dared to. I will return to Lexor to live out my remaining days."

Superman nodded. "Perhaps I'll join you there one day, Lex."

"My friend, you will always be welcome in my home."

"And so, the birthrate skyrocketed as Luthor left Earth behind forever. I was lucky enough to receive a presidential 'excuse' from having to have children, given my chosen profession as a crime-fighter. Kal never brought the subject up of my choices or lifestyle and I loved him for it. As time went on, we found ourselves battling the forces of the Atomic Skull, who had managed to conquer most of Africa. Only Iraq and Israel are free, and that's only because they have demonstrated that are willing to use the nuclear weapons at their disposal. Other countries have their own super-heroes to protect them. In Russia, former Teen Titan Starfire, no the one my old friend Richard was covorting around with, protects what's left of the once mighty Soviet Empire. Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman, moved to England with Alfred and is supposedly trining some blonde who goes by the name Huntress. Aquaman, whose home of Atlantis disappeared, has taken up residence in the Greek Isles and is still a reserve member."

Barbara punched up a current roster and reviewed it slowly. "We were doing pretty good, though our membership was suffering. Hal's replacement, the kid Kyle Rayner, is really green, no pun intended. I also know that he looks at my butt more than he should, but I really need a Green Lantern. Sometimes I even wish that Guy Gardner hadn't disappeared. But Hal says his ring vouches for him, and with the Guardians of the Universe gone, Hal is the big green king. The former villian Johnny Thunder joined, strangely enough, with his wife Jonni Thunder. Like their Earth-2 counterpart, they both control a mystical genie. Whoopee! The problem is the genie is too literal. We were in one battle and Johnny tells the thunderbolt to make tracks, and so that was how the first monorail track around the world was built."

"Our latests additions are a new Superman and Wonder Woman, demonstrating that already the cycle begins anew. When Kal finally decided to retire, he called upon Lex Luthor to develop a cure for a Phantom Zone inhabitant named Lar Gand. Years ago, he appeared briefly as Mon-El when a young Superboy thought he was his brother. Unfortunately, lar developed lead poisioning and Kal put him in the Phatom Zone to save his life. Kal said that in the 30th century, he would be released and join the Legion of Super-Heroes. Thanks to the Crisis, Kal doubts the Legion will exist. So Luthor developed a cure and Superman, Kal, retired to Lexor with his wife, Lana Lang. Since I was the next senior member, I got elected to be chairman, chairperson, or whatever."

"Then something magical happened. Kal told us he had seen Princess Diana, Wonder Woman, destroyed by the Anti-Monitor. We had all forgotten about her former partner, Donna Troy, who had been Wonder Girl. Donna had gone back to paradise Island, to find most of the Amazons had also disappeared. Those that were left trained her to be Diana's replacement and guardian of their nation. She had lost everything in the Crisis, including her husband and son."

"So, you knew Richard pretty well," Donna said, lifting the weights again into another curl.

"Yes, but probably not as well as you did. I think he liked you," Barbara responded as she practiced her kickboxing against a weighted dummy.

"They all liked me, especially Roy, Speedy. He was a chip off the old Oliver Queen block. When we first got together, I was only 13, he was 12, and he was always undoing my training bra, even in battle."

Barbara stopped and sat down in a chair. Her bat logo T-shirt and shorts were drenched in sweat. "Why didn't you hit him or something?"

"I don't know, come to think of it. Sometimes I enjoyed it, sometimes I didn't. It's almost like I was living two different lives. There was one that was sexually curious, another that was cold and aloof. I was never happy though. No matter which way I went, I was always sad."

"I'm hitting the shower, then I'm going out. They got the Metropolis theater up and running again finally and they got a copy of Star Wars."

Barbara got up and Donna set the weights down, grabbing her hand as she walked by, "Barbara, can I ask you a question?"

Barbara shrugged. "Sure."

"Do you think Lar is cute?"

Stupid question, Barbara thought. "Well, physically he is only 17, but he definetely is cute. I'd give him about a year to ripen though before I would ask him out."

Donna shook her head, "Oh, no, I don't want to go out with him, though if I don't get a presidential decree, I may ask him to get me pregnant. Think of the child we would have!"

Barbara had to agree that it would be a wise choice. "It's a thought. But why did you ask?"

"Well, I wanted to know if you were seeing anybody."

"Huh?"

"I'm asking you out. We're about the same age, we like a lot of the same things, and I've been on an island with women for six years. Think about it."

"And since I'm rumored to be the resident lesbian…." Batgirl began.

"No, I think you're attractive." She stepped up and kissed Barbara lightly on the lips. "Very attractive. I have no more room in my life for men. All the ones I loved are gone and being on Paradise Island opened my mind to…possibilities at happiness."

"And so, the current roster includes myself as Batwoman, Donna as Wonder Woman, Lar Gand as Superman, Kyle 'I just hit puberty' Rayner as Green Lantern, Blue Devil, and G.I. Robot. Six of us out of a multitude. In the end, after all of the pain, we rebuild. Maybe Hal will return one day and he and I will pick up where we left off, but I have to say that I think Donna and I are falling in love."

Barbara stood up and fixed her costume back, noting the time. "I still miss Kara, and Donna respects the feelings I still have for her. I miss dad, Bruce, and Richard, but can only hope that they didn't die and that somewhere, in some place in time, that they carry on. Who knows, maybe Richard and I got married? Maybe Kara and I got married? I don't know, but I can only hope."

"The Justice League remains, safeguarding a world coming back from the brink and I hope it will do so for many generations to come."

"End record."

The computer buzzed and indicated that recording had indeed stopped. Barbara stretched and then bent over and grabbed her ankles, taking very slow breaths. She noted a shadow behind her. "Kyle, I swear to God if you are looking at my butt again, I'll jam that ring right up your nose!"

The End for Now