More than a month later, Donna Troy cuddled close to her husband Terry Long. “Well, the good news is that Roy has settled down nicely with little Lian. Her mother is in prison. He’s decided to stick with the name Arsenal,” she said. “And speaking of names, we’ve all agreed to drop the Teen in our names, given our ages. From now on, we’re the New Titans.”
Terry said, “How’s Gar doing?”
She sighed. “He’s become more inactive due to grades and the care poor Dayton requires. Still, with Questor and Jillian as supports and the occasional team mission, he’s holding up OK.”
“Vic will be there for him,” said Terry.
“Yes, he’s a rock for all of us,” she said.
“I don’t really know Hawk well. That name makes me think of the 1960s,” said Long.
“He’s heading out west. I wish someone could be his partner to keep his moods reigned in like poor Don used to do,” she added.
“He needs a new Dove, but that’s one job I’d hate to take on,” said Terry, shaking his head.
“Garth is getting better, too. He’s almost put Tula’s death in perspective. Arthur’s recovery from his own guilt over the JLA seems to have helped, too. I hear he’s had a romantic encounter with another aquatic heroine, too, if Roy’s account is right,” she said. “Jason really came through. The new Robin makes a great new member, but Batman has him pretty busy. You know about the troubles in Gotham.”
Terry said, “Wally’s working with the JLA, too, isn’t he?” Terry showed her a paper. “Captain Comet’s team has been doing fine. The tabloids claim he has Supergirl working for him now.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Return of Supergirl.]
“Those rags always get things wrong,” Donna sighed. “Lilith is serious about staying on Earth to fight her many siblings on behalf of the Oympians. She is also a man-magnet like always. Gnarrk, Dove, the winged alien — they all went crazy over her,” she said. “She is sweet, though. Goddess or not, she carries this aura of being a bit spacey with her.”
“Joe Wilson and Kole are back as Titans, too,” he said, as if confirming a given fact.
“Yes, and they are really helpful. Still, I don’t feel right about Dick,” she said.
Then, as if on cue, the phone rang. “Dick?” she gasped as she heard his greeting.
Dick Grayson sat across from Donna the next day at a trendy eatery. He looked fit and well as he smiled boyishly at her.
“Donna, I’d better say this now and get it off my chest,” he began. “I’m sorry for everything. I acted like a jerk. I’m really sorry, and I hope you’ll forgive me.”
Donna was in his arms before he could continue. “Thank you. It’s forgotten. I love you, and I’m so glad to see you back — the old you, I mean.”
He smiled. “I love you, too. Funny thing about mending fences, once you start, you can’t stop. Raven and I are both OK now. She and I almost had a romantic moment after escaping from Blood, but we were just both vulnerable. We’re friends again, and she’s eager to rejoin the team, as am I.”
Donna said, “The Titans can’t survive without their leader.”
“I hoped you’d say that,” he said, grinning. “I want to head home for a bit, though. Bruce and I need some time together just to make everything right.”
Donna said, “So after that, you’ll be back?”
“Count on it,” he said.
At that moment, the famous form of Starfire streaked into view. “Dick! Thank X’hal I found you. I’ve been battling through space for weeks now. An invasion fleet is coming!” she said breathlessly.
“Kory? Calm down. Where’s Karras? Is it Komand’r again?” he said excitedly as he held her.
“No! Other worlds have formed an alien alliance against Earth. And Karras is dead,” she said.
Dick gasped and held her tightly. “I’m sorry. We’d better organize to fight this threat. Tell us more,” he said, jumping into action.
As Donna hugged her friend, Dick’s mind raced. What does Karras’s death mean for us? he thought.
Later, as the New Titans fought the invaders alongside other heroes like the Outsiders, the Green Lantern Corps, and Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad, the action kept them all too busy to have time for personal reflections. And the Flash was fighting for his life at the same time, as the Justice League of America battled desperately to stop an entirely different alien invader — Despero.
Lilith Clay did not participate in the alien invasion battle as much as she would have normally, because the beautiful girl was busy dealing with the passionate ardor of Azrael. The winged youth had tracked her down with uncanny instinct.
“My love, you have returned!” he cried dramatically as he entered her loft.
“I dreamed you would find me,” she said with a smile.
As they embraced and soothed one another’s worries and desires, Lilith had another vision. This one shook her shapely form as she gasped and saw fighting forms, colorful costumes, and ancient evils.
“It’s starting all over again!” she screamed.
Sometime later, Wally West sat next to a lovely blonde woman in his Central City apartment.
“Frances, I know you don’t relish the heroic life, but I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to have you to talk to,” he said.
She glanced around the apartment. It was a nice one, but not gaudy or the place of a wealthy man. “You have had so much to adjust to lately. The lottery money you gave to charity would have changed most people,” she said.
Wally nodded. “Barry lived on his cop’s pay and never thought of using his powers for gain. I even considered doing that before I won, but then I realized that keeping just enough of my winnings to allow me to pay for my education and not worry about keeping down a steady job was plenty. The Barry Allen Foundation will help send a lot of police science students to college, as will the Iris Allen Photojournalism Scholarship I set up at Central City Community College.”
Frances smiled. “Barry would be proud.”
“After surviving the fight with Despero, the clean-up of the alien invasion, and some duty with the Titans and JLA, I’m only thankful that my old speed is back,” said Wally. “It’s an irony that Mento was responsible for it. Seems it was largely a psychological barrier holding me back. It was like I was fighting against being anything like Barry as the Flash, and by having only a fraction of his speed, I didn’t feel as if I was stealing his role. That changed after Mento planted those vivid nightmare images of a distorted version of my life in my head. Fighting through them broke open my mental barriers. Funny, it was after the Despero case that it happened all at once.”
Frances snuggled closer. “Tell me more.”
Wally said, “It was a stormy night like the night I first became super-fast. I had dreams of Barry being disgusted with me for things real and things imagined. I struggled to justify my career and my actions, and then he spoke to me. Barry spoke to me through that dream, and it saved me like he always saved everyone in need.
“I just cried out in the dream, ‘I’m not worthy. I know that. I have felt that for years, but I need to do my part to preserve Barry’s legacy. He’s counting on me! I’ve had so many shallow impulses lately. I did consider using the speed for material gain, and I have broken a few hearts. Still, I would never do anything to hurt him. I want to be worthy. I will try to live up to his legend in my own way.’
“Then, when things looked darkest in the dream, the lightning flashed, and there was Barry. ‘Son, even super-speed can’t help you with life’s journey if you lose your way,’ he said as he appeared in the lightning.
“‘Barry! Oh, it is you this time! I feel it,’ I said tearfully.
“‘Wally, I can’t come back, but I’ll be with you. I’ll see you in your dreams, and that’s all this is — just a bad nightmare. I want you to know that I believe in you, and as always, partner, I’m counting on you,’ said the legendary hero. ‘You have never failed me yet. Iris sends her love, too,’ he said as he vanished.
“I smiled, and with renewed purpose, whispered, ‘You never failed me, either.’ It was then that my speed increased to its old level again. I had broken the barriers that held me back,” he said happily.
He truly was the Flash, the fastest man alive.