Fifty-two years in the future…

The time bubble translated out of the time vortex in the Bat Cave of the late 21st Century. Waiting there for them was Dana Tan McGuiness and Barbara Gordon. Terry leapt out of the bubble as soon as Cosmic Boy opened the hatch. He caught Dana up in his arms and passionately kissed her.

She giggled, "Maybe you should disappear more often."

"Not a chance." He promised.

"Then, could you at least take the mask off?" Dana inquired, "It makes kissing you like kissing a cold fish."

Bruce had never seen Batman's mask come off so fast. They repeated their earlier effort and then Terry swept her off her feet and started to carry her upstairs.

"Later guys!" he called back.

"You have to forgive him, he's…" Bruce started to say.

"No problem." Cos grinned, "I get the picture." He held out his hand, "It was a pleasure working with you. You're everything the history tapes said you were."

Bruce turned to Barbara, "Cosmic Boy, this is…"

"The former Commissioner Gordon." Cos smiled, "Also infrequently known as Batgirl. You may not remember this but we've met."

"I remembered it as soon as Dana told me what had happened to Bruce and Terry." Barbara confessed, "That was some trick Saturn Girl pulled off."

Cosmic Boy shrugged, "Just some mental sleight of hand. All for a good cause."

"Did Savage ever reappear from the time vortex?" Bruce asked.

Cosmic Boy's grin reappeared, "Not yet. So, you two do remember everything that happened. I suppose it's about time." He glanced from Bruce to Barbara, "I have to be going now and get my time bubble stolen. Besides, you two have things to talk about."

Bruce was puzzled by that last comment but Barbara had an all too knowing look in her eye. She'd had those looks over the last few years since Sam, her second husband, had died but not very often. She and Bruce had started regular twice a week visits. One day at her house and the next one here in the manor. He was due at her house but he could have sworn their date was a day away.

The time bubble's warning siren sounded and it faded in and out of life as the bubble disappeared and reappeared until it was gone altogether. Bruce turned to Barbara, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that it was Wednesday. I would've come but I was caught up…"

Barbara grinned, "It's only Tuesday. You haven't missed anything."

"But you're here…?" Bruce was confused.

"Can we carry this on somewhere more comfortable where I can get a cup of coffee?" Barbara suddenly blurted out.

Bruce smiled, "Of course. I can make a fresh pot. I made doughnuts a few hours ago. They should still be fresh."

"You?" Barbara was stunned as they climbed the stairs together, "Baking?"

"More like deep frying." Bruce admitted.

"I know that." Barbara teased, "The wonder of it is that you know it."

"Alfred didn't have an attentive student for very many years but I picked up what I could in the time that we had." Bruce confided.

"He often confided in me that he was worried that you'd be lost without him." Barbara revealed.

"If I hadn't given up being Batman and taken him seriously the last few years of his life I would've been." Bruce admitted, "As it was, he still died too soon."

"Is it ever a good time?" Barbara softly asked, "For us, I mean."

"I suppose not." Bruce sighed. They walked to the kitchen where Bruce began gathering the coffee makings. Barbara helped herself to the pantry and found the pastries. She brought out a serving dish full of them.

They chatted about what Bruce had been up to until the coffee was brewed. After pouring some, Bruce laid out milk and sugar. Sitting down across from her, he asked; "Now what's really on your mind?"

Barbara wore a sad smile, "You know me too well."

"I should." Bruce replied, "We've a lot of history."

"History is why I'm here." Barbara confided, "As you know, I retired from the police force five years ago. Sam died three years ago. What that's left me with is an eager anticipation of visiting you every couple of days."

Bruce was mildly embarrassed but he let her continue without protest. Next she said, "Like you said, we've lots of history. I'd like to make more."

Carefully Bruce asked, "What are you suggesting?"

"I'd like to move back into the manor." Barbara explained as though it were the simplest thing in the world, "We have a whole catalogue of secrets between us. The type that are best kept when they're shared."

"I'd love for you to move in." Bruce confessed, "I just don't know what you'd be expecting. After all, we're…"

"Old?" Barbara laughed, "No worries Bruce. I'm after companionship. After all of these years, you're my best friend and I'd like to spend more time with you. Anything beyond that would be a bonus."

"I'd be delighted to have you live here." Bruce readily agreed, "In fact I can't think of anything I'd like more."

"Even more than having Terry taking over as Batman?" Barbara queried him.

Bruce held her eyes with his, "Even more than that."

"You have changed." Barbara remarked.

"Maybe not enough but there's still some time left." Bruce remarked, "I may surprise myself."

Barbara toasted him with her coffee mug, "Here's to surprising changes."

Bruce returned the toast with a twinkle in his eye, "May they always keep us alive."

Thirty billion years in the future…

The sun shone red in the sky. The star had once been a yellow dwarf, like Earth's, but now it was a red giant. The planet too had been a duplicate of Earth but now it was an arctic wasteland. Vandal Savage wasn't one to complain though. At least he was still alive.

Cosmic Boy's powers had damaged the stolen time bubble. It had been locked onto one time: billions of years into the future. Savage was now an eyewitness to the heat death of the universe. The stars of the Milky Way, once so bright filling the sky, were now burnt out embers. A mere handful made their mark in the night.

What could be seen were other depleted galaxies all converging on the same spot just as the Milk Way had collapsed down into a few thousand light years circumference. Dark matter and dead matter reigned supreme. Entropy had weaned the universe down into its least usable components. What life that was left barely hung on in the remaining starlight. All of it headed for what appeared to be a massive palm of a hand.

Savage knew that he was finally going to die. After thousands of years of waiting, the universe itself would kill him through the violent upheaval of its death throes. A new universe would be born. A universe without Vandal Savage to persecute. He looked forward to that day…or did he?

Looking again to the damaged time bubble, he entered it and examined its damaged components. Cosmic Boy had twisted the internal mechanisms so that the chronal field generator was locked onto a single point in history. Savage assumed that he could continually return to this point in history and therefore escape death. But what was the point? He'd still be alone.

If only I could repair the damage, he mused, then I could escape from this cold and lonely corner of hell.

Wondering if there were the remains of a dead civilization on this rock, Savage activated the time bubble and began to sail across the horizon in search of a miracle. He never knew. He might actually find it.