Author's note: Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noël, everybody!

YAY. Finally, my first completed JL story (I'm not counting Snapshots, since they're snippets and each could be a very short one-shot)!! It's a stand-alone that covers some of the events of Divided We Fall from the point of view of the Central City Rogues ('cept that Captain Cold decided to be the diva and stole the other villains' POV).

As 'secret' identities go, Captain Cold is Leonard 'Len' Snart, Mirror Master is Samuel Scudder, Captain Boomerang is 'Digger' Harkness, the Trickster is James Jesse and Pied Piper is Hartley Rathaway. We only just get a glimpse of him in Flash And Substance, but I wanted to include him, too, because he has a substantial (no pun intended) place in the comics. Plus, the idea of a music-themed villain (hence the reference later on to the Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil) sounds just cool to me :o)

Disclaimer: I don't own DC Comics, and I don't own the DCAU either. I do, however, own Bruiser Bob and Mildly Dangerous Dennis, who agreed to play the non-super villain thugs in the background of my little story. Thanks, guys :D


Every good villain is the hero of his own story.

--Anonymous (?)

It should have been a quiet night at Harry's, the pub where a selected fringe of Central City's criminal society had long ago come to use as their 'local'. It was the place where you could discuss your latest scheme, get sympathies because the Flash foiled it yet again, and elaborate on complicated plans to kill him in a creative sort of way.

Of course, those never seemed to work either, but it did a guy good to talk where nobody judged or mocked, aside from a few jabs. They'd all been there.

But the pub was more crowded than it was on a usual Tuesday night. And noisier.

Everyone had heard about the 'incident' in New Mexico.

Everyone had their opinion about it.

"You don't get it," snarled Mirror Master, his gloved fingers gripping the handle of his beer mug so hard the leather strained. "If they fired that big honkin' cannon of theirs on a building with people around, what's stopping them from using that thing on us?!"

"Maybe they didn't," muttered the Trickster, more to the remnants of his ginger ale than to anyone in particular. "Maybe that cannon was, you know, hijacked or something. Could be terrorists."

Captain Boomerang let out a sarcastic snort.

"Terrorists my lily-white arse. They're the bloody terrorists. Nobody's giving a damn about it, is all."

They were seated at their usual table, with their usual drinks, but the glasses were mostly untouched. They weren't the only ones, too. Pied Piper sat in the corner, his eyes on the small TV and the baseball game that played, although he did not look like he was taking in what he was seeing. At the bar, men drank and stared, lost in their own thoughts.

They were tough men, all of them – or at least, they worked very hard to play the part. But any idiot could have felt the fear underlying the anger.

"Frankly," continued Captain Boomerang in the same tone, "all the high and mighty attitude – all the 'holier than thou' crap they've been pulling all these years – are you really that surprised?"

"But – b–but that's just it!" Trickster exclaimed, banging his ginger ale on the table so loud both men jumped. "They're the good guys! They're not supposed to … kill people!"

He immediately shrank back on his seat when he became the subject of a cold glare that suddenly grew even cooler when a third person added their weight to it.

"Evening, Len," said Mirror Master, looking up into the blue glasses of Captain Cold. "Wanna sit and mope with the rest of us?"

Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold, stared him down for a few seconds, during which he was pleased to note that Sam Scudder shifted uncomfortably. Then he smirked and sat down at their table, ordering a beer when the waitress stopped by.

"You know, Trickster here may be deplorably naïve," he said when she walked off to the bar, "but he does have a point. The League are a bunch of goody-two-shoes. They think themselves heroes, who make a point of not killing … innocents." The last word was deliberately drawled, the pause intentional. "I don't picture the likes of Super Boy Scout firing a big laser cannon on a city."

"Even if it was to kill off a big rampaging monster, or some giant thing with tentacles?" ventured Mirror Master with undisguised sarcasm. Captain Cold leant back on his seat, a smug kind of half-smile playing on his lips.

"They'd make a big show of fighting it hands-on first for the whole world to see. Even they need justification once in a while, otherwise people would just get scared and want them stopped for good." He paused significantly, and treated the other three to a 'I-know-more-than-you-do' smirk. "Which is probably why the 'Big Seven' surrounded themselves to the government a couple of hours ago."

This bit of news was received with suitable stupefaction. For a few seconds, nobody spoke, staring at Captain Cold in unmitigated shock.

Then the whole pub was suddenly much nosier than it had been a few seconds ago.

"They did, didn't they?" Captain Boomerang muttered with a grin, downing the remaining half of his lager and signalling to the waitress. "Guilty or not, they had to. It's that or –" he paused to really savour his words, "– turning villains."

"So they all just turned themselves in like that?" asked the Trickster incredulously. Captain Cold shook his head.

"Apparently Batman didn't. Which isn't all that surprising, considering the guy's rep."

"Yeah, he's a bloody paranoid bastard all right," Captain Boomerang said dismissively while another pint of lager was placed in front of him by the waitress. "If that cannon was hijacked, he'll find who did it, and when he does you won't see me less than a hundred miles away from the unfortunate bugger."

There was a short silence as everyone eyed everyone else in indefinite suspicion.

"You … You wouldn't happen to know who that 'unfortunate bugger' could be, would you?" asked Samuel Scudder uncertainly. Captain Boomerang snorted and Captain Cold shrugged.

"Five minutes ago you were convinced that it was the League who fired that cannon," came a glum mutter, and all three turned in surprise to the Trickster, who raised his head and stared at them as though he couldn't quite believe he had actually uttered the words. "No," he stuttered, sinking back on his seat, "I – I don't know who it could've been either."

The four fell silent again, the sound of conversation and low playing J. J. Cale returning to foreground noise status. Then Mirror Master frowned.

"This is bad for business, I'm telling you. You thought they didn't let up before? They're gonna come down on us harder. We won't be able to make one move. And then someday they could get so edgy that they could forget their 'Mister Clean' attitude and cross the line for good."

"I don't see how –" began Captain Boomerang, but Mirror Master cut him off with a dark look.

"I mean murder one of us."

There was a heavy pause. Then the Trickster piped in nervously.

"You mean – just like that? In the heat of battle, or something?"

"Or something, yeah."

In the following grim silence, the Trickster seemed to work up the courage to speak and pointed out, "You know, for what it's worth, I don't really know about that. I mean, remember when Weather Wizard told us that Toyman had killed Superman?"

"How could we forget?" drawled Captain Cold, waving a lazy hand. "None of us could figure out whether to mourn or celebrate. And then the guy turns up couple of days later, alive as you and me. A real downer, that one."

"Yeah, well – anyway, Weather Wizard said that right after Toyman shot his disintegrator beam or something at Superman, Wonder Woman grabbed him by the throat and almost killed him. On the spot, with her bare hands. But she didn't." He fingered the edge of his cape a bit. "So … If Toyman disintegrating freakin' Superman in front of them wasn't enough to make them kill, what is?"

The thought made its way around inside each of the three minds, and they conceded the point.

"Wonder Woman just stopped short of murder?" asked Captain Boomerang to no one in particular. "What stopped her?"

The Trickster shrugged with a half-smile. "The Flash did, apparently."



"Figures, really."

Captain Cold sank back against the wall with a smirk. "That's two valid points you make in minutes, Trickster. I don't know if it's those pills you're takin', but you're certainly showing improvement."

The Trickster took the backhanded compliment with one of the big crazy grins his erstwhile companions knew well and proceeded to empty his glass.

Unfortunately, it was at this moment that the door of the pub banged open, letting in a gust of hot summer night air and a dishevelled Weather Wizard who shouted, "Turn on the TV!"

Everybody turned their heads to stare at him – the Trickster hiccuping because his ginger ale had gone down the wrong way – and Harry, the pub owner, stopped in the mechanical process of cleaning a glass with a towel.

"What channel?" he asked calmly while Weather Wizard ran in towards the bar.

"Anything that's not cable!"

This, more than his sensational entrance, got everybody's sharp attention. The last time all channels had broadcast the same thing, it had been the Thanagarians installing martial law. A bad memory for everyone. Nothing hurt business like a totalitarian invading army.

As a result, when the smoke had cleared, a lot of the winged would-be invaders on the ground were down courtesy of the city's underworld.

Captain Cold tried to not remember the small jolt he'd gotten when a perfect stranger had thrown her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek as a 'Thanks for saving my life,' leaving him standing there, slightly dumbstruck.

What could be as serious as that?

Harry changed channels and raised the volume of the TV.

On the small screen, a young, clearly inexperienced reporter was holding his microphone in a death grip. His knuckles were white.

"Furthermore, the spokesperson for Cadmus emphasised the destructive power of the Dark Heart technology, which can basically create solid matter out of thin air. Should the combination of Lex Luthor and Brainiac prove successful reactivating it, then it – it could mean the end of the world."

"Oh, for cryin' out loud," said Captain Cold impatiently. "How many times have we heard that before?"

"What's – hp – what's a Brainiac?" the Trickster asked, still hiccuping.

Weather Wizard flashed a withering glare at them.

"Man. It'd do you small-timers good to get out of Central once in a while." He raised his voice so that the entire pub could hear. "Brainiac is basically an alien computer that wants to absorb all information about a planet and then destroy it. If it succeeds, well – like the man said – we're all pretty much screwed."

'The man' on TV – who according to the caption was Mitchell Smitts, live from Washington DC – gestured to a tall office building some twenty feet behind him and continued, "The Lex Luthor/Brainiac hybrid has been sighted a few minutes ago entering the Charlton Tower, which the government has stated contains a secret containment unit designed to study the alien technology. Meanwhile, the Justice League –"

"Will waltz in at the last minute and be the big damn heroes, as usual," muttered Mirror Master, gulping down the remnant of his beer. "Shouldn't they already be there showing off anyway? I thought their big satellite could teleport them wherever they wanted."

"Shut up, Scudder," Captain Boomerang said conversationally. Then he rolled his eyes. "For the love of Pete, Trickster, can't ya do something about that hiccup?"

"S – hp – sorry."

"… Signs of battle in the 'Watchtower' satellite, and it seemed all their planes are d – wait –" The reporter's voice trailed off. "I think … Yes, I think that's one of the Javelins! And here's Superman – Batman – Wonder Woman – all of the seven original members of the Justice League are there!"

"What'd I tell ya? Big damn heroes."

"Shh …"

A big explosion made the camera shake, and when the guy trained the objective at the tower again, it looked less like a bunch of offices on top of other offices and more like some comic book villain's dark lair. Air seemed to liquefy and then solidify into chunks of unknown utility, which sailed through the night and up the tower like a giant invisible man playing Lego.

The cameraman zoomed on the seven Leaguers – who were all tensed into a fighting stance – and on the opponents that materialised in the same manner as the mysterious construction bricks. Those were posted like chess pawns protecting the king – specifically, the Luthor/Brainiac creature at the foot of the tower in his big yellow ball of energy.

More than one viewer frowned. It was like staring at a warped mirror.

The black and white Superman was identical to the blue and red version, except that he was not.

Judging by what looked like electrical wires and chips running all over his body, he was more likely to be an it, for starters.

The two groups smashed into one another.

Keeping his eyes on the brutal fight on screen, one of the guys who sat at the bar frowned and said, "So, we're talkin' Luthor here, right? As in, 'Richest Man in Metropolis', who hates getting his hands dirty? What does he think he's doing, winning the Ultimate Super Villain Contest?"

"Well, he is a man of wealth and taste, for one," came Pied Piper's sarcastic voice.

"Nice one there, Piper."


"Ah, shuddup, we're watchin' here!"

The League had defeated their robotic counterparts, but now beams of light shot out from Luthor/Brainiac's arms and rammed them down one by one into the ground.

"Is it me, or are they getting the crap beat out of them?"

Mirror Master's would-be casual remark closed a few mouths. Weather Wizard's face darkened.

"I'm not saying there isn't something highly satisfying to seeing those jocks being pounded, but there's no time to mess around. I'm serious, if nobody stops that thing we're not gonna be alive tomorrow to regre – holy crap!"

By the look of it, Wonder Woman had just thrown the League's plane right at the tower. The fuel tanks exploded first, setting off a chain reaction that brought the whole building down on Luthor's energy ball. The tremor made the picture shake violently just before the blast knocked the cameraman off his feet and the image switched to a pair of dumbfounded and quite nervous anchormen.

Most of the pub patrons blinked and let out a shaky breath. Harry slowly put down the glass he was drying and calmly – because you didn't stay the manager of a pub where criminals hang out if you couldn't hide your frayed nerves if necessary – said, "You boys like to live dangerously."

"That's why we're not interested in 'getting out of Central'," Captain Cold breathed angrily, glaring at Weather Wizard. "So far it means that no one threw a goddamn plane at my head."

"Uh … Guys …"

The Trickster's hesitant voice broke through and made them glance at the TV again. Apparently, Mitchell Smitts was back online. He had gotten to his feet, and was now handling the camera work. But he appeared to have trouble commenting on the footage he was getting.

Where the Charlton Tower once stood, only remained charred or still burning debris that glowed in the relative lack of light. Thick smoke hung in the air, blurring the image even more than the occasional technical hiccup did. But it was sharp enough to make out most of what was going on.

The creature that once had been the two separate entities of Lex Luthor and Brainiac stood amid the wreckage, tall, metal gleaming, and not sporting a single scratch.

Of the entire Justice League, there was no trace.

Except for one severely battered and bruised man in a red suit, held down – or up, it was hard to tell on the small screen – by two constructs that looked like soldiers.

Everyone saw Lex Luthor's smile on the creature's lips.

Almost all of the men who were watching in the pub had at least had one encounter with the Flash. The costumed villains known as the Rogues ran into him at least once a month during the odd robbery attempt that he thwarted.

He always stopped them and handed them to the cops with infuriating speed (well, duh) and ease, and added insult to injury with his lame jokes and annoyingly cheerful attitude.

Yet there was not one man who didn't hold his breath as a shotgun materialised in the creature's hands.

"He won't – that's – that's not –" began Mirror Master, but his voice died down.

The shotgun touched the Flash's head.

Captain Cold grit his teeth.

The Trickster hiccuped.

Then the red-clad arms blurred, and suddenly he was free from the restraints the Luthor/Brainiac hybrid had created.

The Flash stood bolt upright, staggering slightly …

… And ran off.

A lot of jaws seemed to go slack at the same time. But before anyone had the time to even think of a sarcastic comment, something unclear happened.

Luthor/Brainiac's armoured shoulder seemed to explode.

Captain Cold narrowed his eyes behind his glasses, and noticed the red streak on his second crash into the creature. Then his eyes went round as the implications sank in. "No – surely he couldn't – I mean, even he wouldn't be fast enough to –"

"There he goes again!" cried Pied Piper, pointing wildly at the TV screen. "Can't you see him?"

One … two … three … four … five … six … seven seconds …

The Luthor/Brainiac creature folded up, cradling his exposed arm, the burning look of pure fury on his metal face making him appear almost human.

Another blur – the shock made him skid ten feet backwards. Only a few square inches of armour remained on his upper body.

One … two … three … four seconds. The time between hits became smaller each time the Flash slammed into the creature, the fantastic amount of kinetic energy displayed melting a deep trench into the street.

Another mighty crash – Luthor was on the ground, mostly recognisable.

In the pub, quite a few people were on their feet.

Between two hiccups, the Trickster genuinely felt like clapping – but didn't, because he didn't want the others to give him funnier looks than usual. Some of the others actually did. Bruiser Bob and Mildly Dangerous Dennis punched the air and cheered, "Come on, kid! You get that thing!"

And then the Flash stopped dead and stood over the creature.

Captain Cold stared hard at the screen, not quite believing what he was seeing. He was not the only one. The few who were still seated kicked back their chair and sprang to their feet.

Gone were the cheerful grin, the corny quips. The face that stared down at the breathless body on the ground was absolutely devoid of any humour. It was set, hard, foreign, and frankly, genuinely scary.

Nobody understood what exactly happened right after that – not for a long time. The Flash bent down, his arms blurred, and the camera shook wildly as Smitts crouched and brought it the closest he could to the ground, because pebbles, pieces of concrete, blacktop, garbage and various debris were being flung around as though caught in an exploding tornado. Smoke made it difficult to see, and Smitts kept rubbing the lens to keep the dust from blocking the view entirely. Blue electricity crackled everywhere.

There was screaming. A continued, unearthly screaming that seemed to come through several sheets of metal in the screamer's throat, and which made more than one man's hair stand on end. Not that any of them would admit to it, of course.

The screaming intensified, the wind howled against the boom microphone, and the ground shook with an explosion that sent Smitts diving for cover as rocks and debris hissed past inches over his head and his camera.

When the smoke cleared, Smitts picked up the camera with a shaking hand and trained it on what had been at the heart of the explosion, approaching it step by tentative step.

To everyone's astonishment, Lex Luthor lay, panting and naked but clearly alive, at the centre of a foot-deep crater. He was scratched, bruised, and gasping for breath, but otherwise unarmed. The camera panned from him up to the Flash, who stood at the edge of the crater.

His whole body was vibrating wildly, from head to toe, and tendrils of blue electricity flickered all over him. His expression was almost impossible to decipher from where Smitts stood with his camera, but Captain Cold had fought him for years – longest of anyone in the Rogues, as a matter of fact – and he knew pain and fear when he saw it. Thousands of questions exploded in his mind, demanding answers all at once, but they were all silenced when something unexpected gripped his throat.

They all saw the Flash raise his head to look at the rest of the Justice League who had gotten up and were staring at him, unadulterated awe rapidly turning to alarm.

They all saw him flicker, like some sort of eerie live special effect.

They all saw him hold his chest in obvious pain, stumble – then disappear entirely.

They all saw Superman rush to the spot, too late. His hand only grasped thin air.

For the first time ever at Harry's, you could have heard a pin drop. Twenty or so thunderstruck faces stared at the TV screen in absolute shock.

The Trickster was not hiccuping anymore.

When Captain Cold unfroze and turned his head toward the guy, James Jesse's eyes were round, disbelieving, and – no – yes – full of tears. They splashed on his cheeks as he wiped his nose on his sleeve.

The worst thing was, Len didn't even have the heart to shake his head at the pathetic joker.

Pied Piper bowed his head.

Weather Wizard sat down.

Captain Boomerang took off his cap.

A voice in Len's head that had been trying to make itself heard finally managed to yell, Wake up, you bunch of pitiful losers! This is ridiculous! You've been trying to murder the guy for ages, for God's sake! Call yourself 'villains'?!

Len snuffed it back into his subconscious without paying much attention to it. Thing was, when the shock wore off, they would return to business as usual. But for now, there was a minute of silence to observe and respects to pay.

They were all villains – every single one of them. They were all thieving bastards, and if you dug a little bit under the surface you could even find murdering bastards. They'd all done time, they'd all stolen things (for a living, or even just for the beauty of it) and they would do it again, no matter the consequences or the questions of right and wrong.

Truth was, it took a special kind of villain to be man enough to honour a 'hero's' memory.

Captain Cold liked to think he was that kind of man.

And … If he really thought hard about it … He had to admit – first and foremost to himself, and that was difficult – that it took a special kind of 'hero' to bring that kind of thing out in his own villains.

Guess the Flash just was that kind of guy.

On screen, the image was oddly steady after all the rocking and shaking. Mitchell Smitts kept silent, just filming the scene without commenting the footage. Captions scrolled past, unread.

Then something broke through the shock on Superman's face as he looked down. The camera followed the movement, and they saw Luthor crawling out of the crater with an exhausted and dizzy-like grin on his own face.

Superman grasped him by the throat and lifted him as if he weighed nothing, fury burning in a pair of eyes that glowed red.

Another time, Captain Cold would have taken special satisfaction in seeing every little kid's hero genuinely entertain the thought of killing another human being and do so on national television. Right now, though, he found with some surprise that he really could care less if the guy killed Luthor or not.

It seemed he was not the only one. The Trickster stared despondently at the table, and Pied Piper was not-looking at the TV in the same absent manner as he had when Len had come in – as though the screen was transparent, and what he was seeing was actually a couple of feet behind it. Whatever it was.

Most of the rest, though, were still watching tensely. Harry gripped his towel in both hands, twisting the fabric, and kept his eyes trained on the screen. Eyes were round in expectation, or narrowed in grim thought.

Captain Cold heard Mirror Master gnash his teeth and mutter, "Ah, just kill him already …"

A murmur of assent ran throughout the pub.

But Superman's eyes went back to their natural, non-glowing colour, and he slowly – very slowly – lowered Luthor down, the death grip still on his throat.

There were some disappointed "Aww …" and some dark looks as most men returned to their drinks, but all in all, Captain Cold had to hand it to Super Boy Scout – it took balls to go by what you preached in a situation like that. It would have been so easy for him to just fry the guy on the spot. Len himself probably would have iced him and smashed him into little pieces.

Well. Superman wasn't Superman for nothing.

Just as he sat back down, his mind reeling from the events that had just played – in so little time, too – Len sensed some of the earlier tension that had gone when Superman had decided not to kill Luthor after all return among the audience.

"What the hell …?"

Captain Boomerang's mutter made him look up at the TV again. It was filled with a swirling, blinding blue light that formed (when Mitchell Smitts, still loyal to his post, zoomed out) some kind of whirlwind. The Thanagarian girl, who was closest, appeared to be standing in the middle of a storm, her hair streaming in the sudden howling wind.

The woman unhesitatingly thrust her arm into the thick of it. She was about to get pulled in when the Green Lantern grabbed her other arm.

One by one, the six remaining Leaguers hung on to each other and pulled, seemingly, with all their might. When even Batman grabbed Wonder Woman's arm and pulled wordlessly, muscles plainly straining from the effort, the last few patrons who weren't already staring at the TV screen looked up in puzzlement.

"You don't think that –" began the Trickster almost hopefully.

Mirror Master shook his head, his eyes still on the screen. "I'm not thinking anything. If anyone here has a single clue about what's happening, well, good on them, 'cause I don't."

The combined effort of six of the most powerful people in the world looked as if it wasn't going to be enough at first; then, while Smitts panned round with his camera, something appeared to give way as … something … pulled through, stretched and distorted for a second, and landed on the ground – and in the winged woman's arms – in the form of a very familiar red-clad speedster.

The Flash was in the same sorry, battered state he had been when Luthor had got a hold on him, what seemed like ages ago, and there was a look of utter exhaustion on his face when he raised his head ever so slightly. But he did.

He was alive.

Several men cheered.

The Trickster actually whooped.

Captain Boomerang ordered another lager.

Harry announced a free round for everyone.

Captain Cold sat down again – realising with a jolt he had no clear memory of standing up in the last few seconds – and let his eyes wander over his colleagues. The unexpected tightness that had risen in the region of his ribcage was dissolving, giving way to his usual cool – he was Captain Cold, after all – calm.

What surprised him most of all wasn't the sudden rush of laughter, beer and loud conversation that flared up in the pub; it was more or less similar to the general atmosphere after the departure of the Thanagarian army. A failed apocalypse was always a good excuse for a free round.

The idea that the Flash being alive was any cause for celebration might be ludicrous, but it wasn't that surprising, either. After all, Central had no other hero, and the thought of a different guy who wore his underwear outside of his pants trying to chase the Central City Rogues was not one that Captain Cold particularly wanted to entertain.

What really astonished him was the faint sense of pride he perceived behind some of the current enthusiastic conversations.

The world had just been saved again – but not by Superman or another flying brick from Metropolis or Gotham or one of the 'important' cities … It had been saved by the kid from Central City. Their enemy. Not anyone else's.

The impression was confirmed when he heard Mildly Dangerous Dennis state in his usual booming voice, "Yeah, he's a pain, and man did I wish him dead more than once, but he's ours, you know?"

"And he's not half bad, too," added Mirror Master proudly. "Been actively trying to kill him for years, and I barely even slowed him down. The guy's good."

"He damn well better be, to survive Len's ice guns –"

"Thanks, Hartley."

"– And Digger's explosive boomerangs –"

"Hear, hear!"

"– And Sam's mirrors –"

"Aw, man."

"And my giant acid mousetrap!"

There was a second's beat, while mugs of ale stopped halfway to drinkers' lips and they thought about it. Then some said, "Yeah, good point" while others muttered, "That thing's actually pretty nasty."

The Trickster beamed.

Harry exceptionally didn't close the pub until the small hours of morning.

Captain Cold and Pied Piper were the last ones to go, Piper still jotting down notes about a melody that would, in his own words, 'make a killing'. He probably was serious about that.

All in all, as he walked home, Captain Cold could put the cheer in the pub's atmosphere down to the general feeling that was, 'If he can survive us, he can survive anything!' The opposite had also been suggested – that if the Flash could survive 'that' (whatever 'that' had been, nobody knew) he could take anything they could throw at him. And they would.

Soon, Captain Cold knew, the Flash would be back at Central City and he and the Rogues would resume their own reverse version of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. They would fight him with renewed enthusiasm, work their eyes out on their own deadly weapons, and for a while they would actually be proud to do so. The hero they battled was no harmless clown.

Funny that it took your best enemy disappearing into an unknown vortex of blue energy to make you realise how much you would have actually missed that game.

It was rather pathetic, really.

After all, Captain Cold could think of a million more interesting things to do with his time, and he was almost sure the others felt no different. They all had a living to earn – well, steal, really – and planning and scheming took time if they wanted the minimum amount of bumps along the way.

What, then, made him want to grin widely as an idea for improving the range of his cold gun came into his head?

Captain Cold shook his head, turning his smile into a smirk.


The end :o)

Ah, Divided We Fall … The episode that launched a thousand plot bunnies. Let's face it, it's made of pure awesome through and through. Questions of determinism, choices versus fate, retaliation and the value of mercy, sprinkled with Watchmen shout-outs on top. Plus a string of epic moment upon epic moment. What's not to love?

And the 'Charlton' Tower is my own little deliberate nod at Watchmen – Charlton Comics was the original publishing company that created Blue Beetle, the Question and Captain Atom (for those who don't know, the templates for Nite Owl, Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan respectively). Also, Walter Kovacs went to the 'Charlton Home'.

Merry Christmas, and see you soon for the next snapshot :o]