To all the fairweather fans of this story who only came to read the climax while skipping most parts and never left a review or PM other than to complain over the possibility that the story wouldn't have a happy ending, go fuck yourself. I've been waiting nearly three years to say that.
For the rest of you good people who have taken their time to read this story and offer their praise or constructive criticism, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. This story took a lot longer to write than I had anticipated but I thank you for your loyalty and patience.
Also since this update came a lot faster than my usual pace, please make sure you didn't miss the last chapter.
I know some people want to read this story all over again but be advised I'm still in the process of polishing some previous chapters for grammar errors. I'll post on the story summary when I've finally finished fixing the grammar errors in previous chapters but feel free to go ahead and start the story over if you're able to look past my bad grammar and typos. I'm not that good of a writer after all…
Also I've added another new poll on my profile. Please take the time answering it because the poll results give me good feedback as well.
And of course, please review. It's the end of the story so even if you never reviewed but liked the story, please leave me one.
Time has stains…
Time has depths…
Time has cracks…
The universe was destroyed….
The universe is being destroyed…
The universe will be destroyed…
The End of All Things…
His eyes suddenly opened and he found himself inside the Batcave. Bruce felt his heart rate slow down. He looked around and realized he was currently sitting in the chair in front of the Batcomputer. Immediately Bruce realized he must've dozed off. It was all a dream. But what was the dream? Bruce frowned as he tried to rack his memory but the dream had disappeared from his mind.
It didn't matter though, it was just a dream. He realized he was still in his Batsuit minus the cowl. Looking over he saw it was lying harmlessly on the medical table fifteen feet away. Yawning Bruce looked at the Batcomputer. It probably was around noon and Alfred was either running errands or cleaning. Bruce clicked a button on the Batcomputer to pull up a file of the current case he studied earlier in the morning.
"You don't matter…"
Bruce jumped out of the seat as he felt the hairs stick up on the back of his neck. He could've sworn he felt something rush behind him. Immediately he turned around but saw the Batcave was still empty. Shaking his head and internally chiding himself for being skittish, he went back to looking at the Batcomputer.
"It is the end…"
Again Bruce jumped as he heard something move around. He unconsciously put a hand on the belt pocket that held the battarangs.
"Hello?" Bruce asked nervously.
Did Joker, Scarecrow, or one of his enemies discover his secret?
"Dick this isn't funny," Bruce snarled.
Dick was trying to sneak up on him again. Angrily Bruce turned around before remembering Dick didn't live with him anymore. Bruce turned back around and saw the cave was still empty. In fact he couldn't even see or hear the faint chatter of the resident bats.
"Alfred?" Bruce asked nervously as his chest felt cold.
No one answered except his own echo.
"Tim? Barbara?" he called out.
For some reason he felt really nervous and wanted confirmation that the rest of the Batclan was still around. Deciding he needed to get out of there, he began walking towards the stairs. He would go up to Wayne Manor and confirm Alfred and the others were alright to ease his own superstitions. His feet echoed as he walked along the ground. He didn't remember the stairs being this far away. He kept walking and oddly for some reason he was no closer to the stairs than he was before. In fact he couldn't even see them. The whole cave had expanded so much that all he saw was darkness. He turned around and realized he was still within the vicinity of the Batcomputer. What was going on?
He looked back and found himself staring into the abyss. The fear began to overtake him. Panicking again, Bruce ran and ran towards the darkness in desperation that he would find another source of light or the stairs. But every time he looked over his should he was still not far from the Batcomputer. It was as if it was following him.
"Alfred! Tim! Dick! Barbara!" he shouted desperately. "Help!"
He didn't care about his pride, he needed help!
"Uhh!" he grunted as he tripped and fell down. He got up again and felt himself cry.
"Please Mom!" he cried. "Dad!"
Bruce suddenly twitched and found himself sitting at the Batcomputer again. What the hell was going on? He looked and saw he no longer was in the Batsuit. He must've been suffering from a lingering effect of Scarecrow's drugs.
"Get it together!" Bruce snapped at himself.
This was not real. This was all an illusion. However a flashing light caught his attention. He looked and saw the clock of the Batcomputer was flashing. But it wasn't showing the time of the day. Instead it showed the time 3:00 before it began to count down. But it didn't count down like a normal clock. It would sometimes jump forward or backwards and show letters instead of numbers.
"Ahhh!" Bruce screamed in pain as he looked down.
He realized blood was pouring out of his side. He had been shot!
"Arrghhh!" he clutched his wrist in pain.
When did he hurt that? As if on cue, his body began to hurt all over again. It felt like he was being repeatedly shot, stabbed, and beaten by an unseen force. He fell from the chair and writhed on the floor. If he wasn't in pain he might've noticed the floor was shaking.
Bruce managed to will himself through the pain and looked up to see a rock had fallen from the cave roof. The cave was collapsing!
The ground began to shake violently. He needed to get out of here! But the pain was unbearable.
"You are nothing…" hissed a voice.
Bruce looked around desperately.
"You've always been nothing…"
He tried to get up and realized he was coughing up blood.
"Except for the times you've caused countless pain on others…"
Helena, Bart, Azrael…
"Arrrghh!" Bruce screamed as his head began to hurt. He remembered!
Bill, O'Hara, Stiles…
The cave was still collapsing on itself. It wouldn't be long before Bruce would be buried with it.
"Noooo!" Bruce cried in horror upon realizing his own fate.
"This is the end Batman!" the voice taunted.
Bruce looked up and saw that a pale ghostly figure was floating above the cave.
"Hades!" Bruce shouted in anger. He remembered everything now!
"I'm not Hades!" the ghost of Hades taunted. "I am the Anti-Life and am here to make sure you accept the destruction of your soul! It has put up a fight but you can't stop its destruction forever!"
"ARRRGHHH!" Bruce screamed.
His parents, Batmite, Metron, and Talia…
"You feel the hopelessness; the true value of your soul amounts to nothing…" the shade of Hades cooed.
Angrily Bruce tried to fight it but all he could see were the deaths of Helena, Azrael, Batmite, and the many others replaying again and again. He also was feeling every physical and emotional pain he ever felt in his life ten times over.
"Nothing matters, that is the greatest secret," Hades mocked. "All the work you did was for nothing…"
"Nooooo!" Bruce cried weakly as he thought of all the people in his life that would suffer.
Alfred, Gordon, Dick, Tim, Barbara, Shayera, Vandal, Hippolyta, Wally, Zatanna, J'onn, Lois, John, Superman…
He saw Diana's beautiful face staring at him but she too disappeared into the darkness.
"The ultimate truth about your existence is it has been nothing more than pain and suffering," Hades revealed. "You only experience pain and bring suffering for others. Why would you even bother to fight for such an existence?"
Bruce now found himself as a child again standing in his parents' blood. The child cried and wept. But in a flash, he was back on the ground in the crumbling Batcave.
"Now you see why I'm right," the shade of Hades whispered. "Life is cruel and meaningless. Give in to the Anti-Life and you will know true peace…"
And with that Hades disappeared.
CRASH! CRACK! BOOM!
The entire cave was almost gone! The only thing still around was the Batcomputer. Bruce cried in pain and heard the words replay over in his mind. The Anti-Life and Hades were right. All he felt was nothing but pain. It would be better to accept the oblivion and disappear forever. Then he would never feel or remember pain again.
"It's not over yet…" whispered a calm voice.
Bruce looked up and instead of seeing Hades he saw a different figure floating in a chair.
"Metron?" Bruce whispered in recognition.
"You can still fight through…" Metron whispered while not even flinching from the falling rocks around him.
"You're not real!" Bruce denied. "ARRRGHHH!"
He felt more pain coarse through him. It would be all over soon.
"This is nothing more than my soul trying to convince me to fight back! This is not real! I'm done!"
"It is true this is not real," Metron admitted. "But I can assure you Batman, I am very real."
Despite the pain and the fact he was reliving his worst memories over again, Bruce was able to summon enough focus to stare at Metron in confusion.
"It is I, Metron. My very own soul has come from the depths of beyond to convince you to not give in. Hades hasn't won yet."
"How?" Bruce asked. Despite the despair and pain, the small warm feeling of hope burned inside him weakly again.
Metron didn't say anything but pointed a bony figure behind Bruce. Bruce sat up and looked in the direction of Metron's finger to find the cowl was harmlessly on the ground now. Unlike everything else in the Batcave it wasn't swallowed by the darkness or the crumbling rocks and remained untouched. Inspiration returning, Bruce weakly got up and began to head towards the cowl.
RUMBLE! CRACK! BOOM!
As if sensing his growing defiance, the cave began to shake more violently.
"Ahh!" Bruce yelled as he jumped to avoid a fissure that formed between him and the cowl.
He turned back around and saw that rocks were landing on the Batcomputer. It was getting destroyed like the rest of the cave. He quickly looked back and saw the Batcowl was still untouched.
"Hurry!" Metron shouted.
Bruce ran but almost tripped immediately. The remaining ground in the cave not destroyed was shaking violently.
Bruce looked around and realized the small piece of land that he and the cowl were on was the only piece of ground left standing. In fact it was as if the tiny piece of land was floating in the darkness.
"AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!" Bruce howled in pain. A rock had fallen and crushed his legs.
Stiles, Batmite, Helena…
He tried to ignore the pain as he crawled towards the cowl. It was almost within reach…
"Pain and suffering…" whispered the distorted voice of Hades.
Bruce cried as his worst memories replayed in his mind. He felt like he was going to explode because he was in so much pain. But the cowl was right there! He reached his hand out pitifully to find it was just a little short.
"NNNNNNRRRGHHHHHH!" he grunted and tried to get up but he couldn't. He couldn't move anymore. All he could do was feel the pain as his own soul was destroyed around him.
"I can't do it…" Bruce said in defeat.
"Yes you can!" Metron disagreed. "You have the strength!"
"I don't!" Bruce protested and began to cry. At least it would be over soon and he would no longer exist. However Metron wasn't done yet.
"Bruce…" Metron said with compassion in his voice. "There's a way; there's always a way with you."
Bruce looked back at Metron who seemed to be slowly fading away.
"Hades is wrong. He thinks the greatest secret of life is that there is no meaning but that is not the secret."
Metron leaned forward in his chair.
"If you know the greatest secret, Hades and the Anti-Life cannot harm you."
"What is it?" Bruce called out weakly. "Tell me…"
"I can't," Metron said reluctantly. "In order to know the secret, you have to find out on your own…"
Bruce growled and looked back. The cowl was so close. What was the secret of life? Hades justly thought it was nothing but Metron seemed convinced there was something else.
"It was for nothing!"
"Pain and suffering is all man will ever know!"
"Everything dies in the end!"
Bruce grimaced. Metron was wrong. There was no purpose, no hope, no meaning to life at all. It was just a cosmic joke.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" the Joker's laugh reverberated throughout the area.
Bruce grunted and felt himself going black. The falling rocks were getting closer to destroying what was left of his soul.
"Bruce…" Metron whispered again.
At this point Metron had almost faded into nothing.
"I know something that can help you uncover the secret," Metron assured.
Bruce didn't look up at Metron but continued to listen. Not that it would matter anyways.
"What was the first truth of the Batman? If you remember that truth, you will know the secret of life…"
And with that Metron had faded away completely.
"NNNNGGGGHHHH!" weakly Bruce tried to crawl inch by inch towards the cowl while thinking over Metron's words. What truth did he speak of?
"The Ultimate Truth is you were nothing more than just one obsessive man, all alone and blinded by your own anger, as you embarked on a mad quest for vengeance. You didn't care how many lives were ruined or destroyed in the name of your 'justice.' So many people had been killed because of you for nothing. So you see, you are the real god of death. You led too many lives to their own grave by the illusion of your own imposed morality and selfish sense of purpose. And the most humorous part of the whole situation is, it didn't matter; the universe was destroyed and with it the world! In short, you are nothing but a liar and a failure, all alone as you lay dying in the abyss."
Hades's claim echoed in Bruce's ears. Hades was right again. The truth of Batman was pain and misery. He brought destruction and death to everyone he knew.
The platform was getting destroyed. Bruce stopped reaching for the cowl. He was close but it was hopeless. Metron's words were of no help. The ultimate truth of Batman was simply pain.
He saw his parents getting gun down by Chill. That was the first truth of Batman. All Batman knew was pain.
Everyone around him suffered or would suffer because of him.
It would've been better off if he never existed.
Bruce felt his eyes slowly closing as the platform was nearly destroyed. It was over and he had lost. He kept replaying the murder of his parents before his eyes. It was the ultimate truth of Batman and it would be fitting that it would be the last thing he remembered before he disappeared.
"That's not true…" the voice of Metron whispered.
Chill shot his father and his mother screamed.
"You're close but think a little further from the night Batman was born; you will find your answer there," Metron promised.
Bruce's eyes were nearly closed.
He remembered the entire week after his parents had died all he felt was a sick and empty feeling in his heart that never got filled. In fact he was in more pain than when he saw his parents gunned down. What was Metron looking for? All Batman felt was pain and suffering! It never stopped after he saw them die. He knew no salvation and no comfort after that…
Bruce felt his eyes completely closed…
"What was the first truth of Batman?" he heard himself say as he saw only darkness and felt himself slipping away.
He saw the blood, the pearls, their bodies…
They all faded away into the darkness. He was falling too…
And then as if in a last act of defiance he remembered one thing. Penetrating through the darkness was the blurry memory of a middle-aged man comforting a small child.
"I want it to stop! Make the pain go away!" the child begged.
"I'm sorry, I can't," Alfred whispered. "But I can tell you this."
Alfred then got on a knee so he could look Bruce directly into his eyes. Bruce stopped sobbing so he could look into Alfred's as well.
"Bruce Wayne," Alfred spoke slowly with a sympathetic smile to the child. "You are a gifted child and your parents even in death will always love you like I have. You will always have a home here with me."
"I don't want a home anymore! I'm all alone!"
Alfred smiled softly.
"If there is one thing I know in this world Master Bruce it is this one truth. The first truth of Bruce Wayne; the ultimate truth. Something that makes you special and will give you the strength to live through this tragedy."
"What is it?" Bruce asked curiously.
Alfred leaned in to whisper into the young child's ear.
"You…are never alone."
Immediately Bruce's eyes opened wide as a multitude of images flashed through his memories.
Dick, Tim, and Barbara patrolling the streets together…
Zatanna flirting with him and giving him a kiss on the cheek…
Shayera winking at him as he lost another chess game to her…
"NNNRGHHH!" Bruce angrily extended forward and began to claw himself towards the cowl.
Wally putting a comforting hand on his shoulder…
John embracing him in the Med Bay…
J'onn sharing a sardonic joke with him…
He was almost there…
Anthro fighting Savage to save him…
Hippolyta and Artemis fighting side by side with him at ancient Themyscira…
Gwen giving him a beautiful smile as helped her on the horse…
Sir Justin giving him spare clothes to wear…
Jonah Hex riding alongside him with the rest of the Possee…
The Saunders family all sitting at the dinner table with him…
"Almost…" Bruce whispered.
It took all the strength he had and some more just to crawl another inch towards the cowl. But somehow a flashback of every person he held dear in his life encouraged him to move a little further.
Gordon coming to his rescue against Zsasz…
Terry embracing him as his son…
Vandal Savage smiling in defiance as he activated the time machine…
Superman saving him as the Watchtower piloted towards the Earth…
Bruce fingers were micrometers away from the cowl. He just needed one more push!
And then he saw her. It was always her. He saw Diana smiling and lighting up the room she was in. Bruce realized she was in a wedding dress. When was this? He saw her next to a man he didn't recognize as they exchanged their vows. But that didn't matter. All that he saw was the smile on her face. She was happy. She deserved to be happy. They all did.
"ARRGHHH!" Bruce yelled and grabbed the cowl.
"ARRRRRRGGGHHHHHHH!" Bruce yelled as he opened his eyes and found himself breaking through the wisps.
"WHATTT?!" screamed the angry voice of Hades.
Bruce looked up and saw Hades staring at Bruce with shock and anger.
"You're supposed to be destroyed!" Hades shouted.
"You can't harm me!" Bruce shouted back. "Nor will you harm anyone again!"
The Beast Man then let out a war cry and charged at Hades. It swung hard right at the startled god's chest.
"ARRGHH!" Hades grunted and collapsed to his knee in surprise.
He looked up just in time to see the warrior running towards him. Hades quickly summoned his sword and blocked the warrior's blow.
"Stop this!" Hades yelled.
The warrior broke off and swung again. Hades parried and tried to deliver a powerful strike that the warrior barely managed to dodge.
"Nnnnggghhhh!" Hades growled in frustration like a wounded animal and glared at the warrior.
The warrior could feel the wisps of darkness trying to envelope him again but he fought through.
"You've been wrong this whole time," Sir Thomas said calmly which was in contrast to the rising anger of Hades.
"Shut up!" Hades snapped and swung his sword wildly at Sir Thomas who jumped to the side and swung at Hades' outstretched arm.
"ARRRGHHHH!" Hades yelled in pain and dropped the sword in shock.
Hades felt a whip go around his neck and pull him down. The American took advantage of the stunned Hades and jumped on him.
"You think our lives are nothing because everything dies…"
"ARRRGHHH!" Hades yelled and knocked the American off of him. He got to his feet just in time to find his face hit by two bullets.
Detective Saunders still pointing his smoking gun at Hades just calmly stood before the violent god.
"You've been blind this whole time because you've made a bad assumption!"
"Pathetic mortal!" Hades screamed and tried to hit Bruce Wayne who was in Luthor's battlesuit again.
"You've based your whole philosophy on the assumption that our lives are measured by what we did. But that's not what makes our lives worth living!"
"ARRGHHH!" Hades yelled and charged at Bruce.
Bruce calmly shot a blast from Luthor's battlesuit that sent Hades flying back.
"Our lives our measured by the people we share it with," Bruce revealed. "Our own value is not determined by what we did or failed to do but by those we let in our lives. The real secret of life is our lives do matter as long as we're never alone. We're supposed to love, befriend, and care for others because even when we're gone, they will remember us and how we had touched their lives. The only way a life has no meaning is if it is spent alone."
Hades struggled to get to his feet. Bruce was now without the battlesuit and standing calmly in front of the god of death.
"Is that why you're so convinced that life doesn't matter? Was everything you did all in an attempt to hide the fact that you are alone? You have no one in your life! Your own greed and selfishness pushed everyone who could've loved or cared for you away. Maybe all this time you've had it wrong; maybe it's only your life that doesn't matter…"
"ENOUGH!" bellowed Hades and he extended an arm forward.
Bruce didn't have time to react and black smoke had hit him square in the chest. Bruce found himself thrown across and landing on the steps of the Monarch Theater which was still floating in the abyss.
"I will not take any more resistance from a weakling mortal like you!" Hades yelled angrily as he began to heads towards Bruce.
The black wisps of flashing light began to circle around Bruce again. Bruce could feel the familiar feelings of hopelessness and despair. The Anti-Life was trying to overcome him for a second time.
"I am a god!" Hades yelled as his face began to distort.
His eyes began to turn red as his nose and jaw protruded forward. His handsome face quickly transformed into its true form of a wolf demon. The tongue hung out of the mouth ravenously. Meanwhile Hades began to expand in size and kept on growing.
"I am the master of the Anti-Life! I am death! Your words are nothing compared to me."
Bruce just calmly lied there as the Anti-Life began to cover him up again.
"I've destroyed the universe once and I will destroy it again! The End of All Things has come! I am the Destroyer of Worlds! You're just one mortal soul against me! You can't do anything! You are alone this time!"
"That's the thing," Bruce smiled victoriously. "I'm never alone…"
The doors of the Monarch Theater slammed open and revealed a bright light right into the face of Hades.
"ARRRGHHH!" Hades screamed in pain as he was blinded by the light. Immediately ghostly figures emerged from the light and headed towards Hades.
"What is this?" Hades yelled in shock as a gliding Anthro and Azrael headed towards him.
"Oi! Eat dung!" Bart cried and shoved his sword into the back of Hades's leg.
"ARRRGHHHH!" Hades screamed just as Azrael and Anthro began to beat his head.
"Get off me!" Hades complained. But still more souls were heading towards him.
Bruce slowly broke through the wisps and got to his feet as Jonah Hex, Reverend Stile, Sheriff O'Hara, and even Bill began to fire their guns and rifles at Hades.
"ARRRGHHHH!" Hades yelled and fell further backwards with each shot.
"Hold onto that rope Pete!" Jimmie called to Peter as he and his son extended a rope, causing Hades to trip.
"This is for Hippolyta!" Helena shouted and jumped onto Hades's body with Gwen at her side. Together, both women impaled their swords into his chest.
"EEEGHHHH!" Hades coughed in shock.
The souls continued to pummel and beat Hades back who did his best to resist.
"Don't touch me!" Hades ordered angrily and tried to get up again just as something small zoomed towards him.
"Batmite Slam!" the imp cried as he hit Hades right in the face and knocked him to the ground.
"UNGH!" Hades grunted and coughed.
The souls all began to cover and hold him down. Hades grunted and hissed while trying to resist but their sheer strength and might kept the god pinned. Bruce calmly began to walk towards the trapped god of death who stared at him with evil eyes of hate.
"So you had to call on your friends to save you once again you coward," Hades taunted in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save face. "You're still that pathetic mortal."
"No," Bruce disagreed. "I'm Batman!"
Batman then jumped up in the air before coming down hard with a slamming punch right into the face of Hades.
"AAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Hades screamed as he broke into a million pieces of tiny light.
"AARRRRGHHHHHHH!" Hades screamed and clutched his head. He almost fell down but regained his footing. He quickly realized he was in his own realm. He needed to quickly head back and stop Batman before his soul had crossed over.
"ARRRGHHHH!" Hades screamed in pain and clutched his head again. The connection was broken!
"NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!" Hades screamed in frustrated anger. The mortal had defied him again!
"ARRRRRRGGHHHHHH!" Hades suddenly grunted in pain and looked down. A white light was growing on his hand.
"What is thi-ARRRGHHHHHHHHHHH!" Hades screamed as he felt a burning pain in his chest. He looked down to see another white wound was glowing across his breast. It was then Hades had realized what was happening.
"NOOO!" Hades yelled in horror as more white light wounds began to spread throughout his body.
"I warned you…" a voice stated calmly. Hades looked up to see the apparition of Luthor staring at him coldly with no pity or remorse.
"The Anti-Life needs a sacrifice," Luthor explained. "And since you've failed to provide it one, it has selected you."
"I still need some time!" Hades begged. "ARRRGHHHHH!"
Most of his lower half was almost covered in white light.
"It is too late," Luthor stated. "I told you that you couldn't control it and now look what has happened! You will now be destroyed into nothing and only an echo of you will join the infinite faces across the Source Wall…"
"NOOOOOO!" Hades screamed in terror as part of his right cheek opened up to show white light.
In pain he covered his face with what remained of his right hand. Hades then noticed two figures had appeared next to Luthor.
"Apollo! Hermes! Please help me!" Hades begged.
"We promised to not interfere with your plans," Apollo said smugly.
"Besides there's nothing we can do anymore," Hermes reminded. "It's too late Uncle."
"This is your fault!" Hades accused. Much of his torso had disappeared by now.
"You tricked me! This has to be your father's doing!"
"None of us did anything," Hermes denied. "You did this all to yourself. Every bad thing that has happened to you is your own fault but you still stubbornly refuse to see that."
"ARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHH!" Hades yelled.
His left arm had disappeared.
"Wait!" Hades begged as he saw Luthor disappear and Apollo and Hermes looked like they were about to as well. "You still need me! If I go, Tartarus will have no ruler and the Balance will be disrupted! You need me!"
"Not anymore," Apollo replied. "We already have someone selected to fill your post. Goodbye Uncle…"
Hades glared as the Anti-Life began to destroy what was left of him. However the god of death then began to laugh madly.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'll be back in some form or another!" Hades stated with a crazy look in his eyes. "I am Death and Death always reigns supreme!"
At this point all that remained was what little there was left of his face.
"Nothing matters!" Hades yelled before letting out an insane laugh again. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
And then in one more flash of light, he was gone.
Bruce stared at the spot where Hades had vanished before turning back around. All the souls of his friends and loved ones that had come to help him were standing in front of the Monarch Theater.
"Like I said earlier," Reverend Stiles said calmly as he stepped forward. "We've been waiting for you."
Bruce and the Reverend hugged. Quietly and slowly, Bruce began to make his way through the souls of his friends. He gave a curt nod to Azrael and Anthro before slapping the hand of a grinning Bart. Helena and Gwen both came up and kissed him simultaneously on each cheek. Bill and Sheriff O'Hara took off their hats in reverence as he passed them.
"Come here!" Jimmie said happily as he and Peter both hugged their friend.
As he hugged the two members of the Saunders family, Bruce looked up and made eye contact with a grinning Jonah Hex who winked at him. Bruce smiled back as he broke away and stepped closer to the theater doors only to almost run into Batmite.
"I missed you!" Batmite cried happily and gave Bruce a big cartoonish kiss.
Bruce couldn't help but smile a little and then he realized he was only a few feet from the entrance of the theater.
"We're proud of you Bruce…" a deep familiar voice echoed from the bright light inside the theater.
Bruce stared at the white light in shock and thought he saw a familiar silhouette.
"Dad?" Bruce whispered in nervous anticipation.
"It's okay Honey," a female voice called out. "You're safe now; you're home."
Bruce realized there were now two silhouettes waiting for him. Feeling nervous for a second, Bruce then felt relief and began to head towards the white light. Behind him, all the souls who had helped him defeat Hades disappeared. However in the background one ghostly image still remained.
The soul of Metron, still sitting in his chair, watched as Bruce slowly began to cross the threshold of the white light.
"The story is over," Metron noted. "But the adventure continues."
And with that, Metron too faded away as Bruce disappeared into the white light and the doors quietly creaked shut.
Wow, what a ride this has been. There's so many people to thank that I don't want to leave anyone out if I start naming people specifically. However I would like to reserve a special thanks to the story's biggest fan, Skillgannon the Dammed who has been with me since this story began back in April 2012.
I also have to thank Grant Morrison because obviously many elements of this story were inspired by his run on Batman. While I didn't necessarily like Morrison's run on Batman, his creativity nonetheless inspired me to adapt a lot of his ideas into this wonderful fic and he deserves credit.
Also please check out my new story Out of the Flames which I can finally focus on 100%.
And as usual, whenever I finish a story, I always have my own credit list of the characters below.
Batman/The Beast Man/The Warrior/Sir Thomas/John Wayne/Justin Saunders/Bruce Wayne
Wonder Woman/Diana of Themyscira
Nightwing/Batman II/Dick Grayson
The Savage Man/Lord Vandal/Judge Savage/Mr. Barbare/Deathstroke/Vandal Savage
with Metron the Observer
and Hades, Lord of the Underworld
Commissioner James Gordon
Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Green Lantern/John Stewart
Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onnz
Mister Terrific/Michael Holt
Green Arrow/Oliver Queen
Black Canary/Dinah Lance
The Question/Vic Sage
Mayor Hamilton Hill
Harley Quinn/Dr. Harleen Quinzel
Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane
Killer Croc/Waylon Jones
Mad Hatter/Jervis Teetch
Detective Harvey Bullock
Detective Renee Montoya
Squire Bartholomew "Bart"
Princess Guinevere "Gwen"
Morgan le Fay
Dr. Thomas Wayne
Dr. Emil Hamilton
and Lobo, the Main Man
The Phantasm/Andrea Beaumont
Congresswoman Amanda Waller
Special Agent King Faraday