In-Between Book II: Una Historia de Tragedia

As usual, you need to have read the prequels in this series to understand what's going on here.

Warning: Sad story ahead!

May 11th 2010. 02:00 PM UTC-6. Metropolis Cemetery, Metropolis, Kansas, USA.

It was strange how a man who'd been blind since birth could describe the sky as being blue. He never had the chance to see it turn grey during the days where people would walk with their head down on their way to work. He never saw it red and yellow at dawn or sunset, these times when the sun would gently whisper in your ear: 'Take my strength, absorb it and shine as though you were me.'; Neither did he witness the skies fill up with a threatening darkness before a storm, just when one could smell the ozone in the air that came along with the promise of rain.

The sudden flashes of light brought by the thunder, the shapes of the bright white clouds floating over the world that only birds could chat with... The blind man had missed out on those experiences and yet, nobody cried for his loss.

Instead, they wept for a young man who met his end before its promise. He had had good eyes, he had seen the skies in all its forms; enjoyed looking at it and being rewarded for this simple act by the sight of a wonderful clear paint of light blue.

The young man had seen once, now he was blind. Forever.

'When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.'

Chloe felt the world lacked common decency when a strong sun in the middle of a beautiful blue sky saw Bart meet his final home. The birds chanted jovially all around them, she didn't even try to wipe the tears from her cheeks anymore.

'Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.'

Her hand tightened around Oliver's, she felt him respond with the same intensity. There they stood, wearing black suits fitting their mourning, the Justice League... or rather, what was left of it. They were paying their last respects to their fallen team-mate and dear friend before parting.

'When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.'

In the three days following that cursed night, they stood by and watched, numbly, as Lex Luthor savored his triumph in public fashion. He rallied half a million people in his last meeting, the first one as Elected President of the United States of America. It wasn't even the inaugural day yet, and everybody felt his impatience to officially become the acting leader of the nation.

Many saw ambition and a desire to improve things in the country, in his actions. Chloe could only notice his thirst of power and determination to get the full immunity coming with the mandate.

During these three days, they did nothing. There was no retaliation on their part, no act of revenge or public challenge. They had had to mourn their friend and send him off in the most respectful way possible. The outside world bore no importance to them at the moment. One of their own had lost his life trying to help them and nobody else seemed to care about his demise.

'Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'

She had to hold in a breath, her eyes stinging again at the words spoken by the priest. Chloe, like her friends, was not a believer. She had seen too many things in her life, her commitment to the Church was long gone. Only Bart had expressed his religious beliefs, often source of arguments between himself and Dinah but underneath it all, accepted just as another part of himself he had been willing to share with them.

Had Jesus been here, had he existed, Bart would not be dead. It hurt to hear it, almost as much as the sky's defiance.

'But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.''

A sardonic grin almost pulled up the sides of her mouth. They had been doing Jesus' work when Bart lost his life. They wouldn't have had to do that had he existed. The difference was that there was no coming back from the dead for them.

'Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.''

Dinah seemed to think the same. She was openly glaring to the talking man in his vestment while he peered down onto his bible. Victor was staring at the casket, seemingly in a world of his own while AC's closed eyes couldn't prevent his tears from falling down. At her side, Oliver hid himself behind his dark shades, looking outwardly unaffected.

She rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand soothingly, feeling all the pent up emotions pour out of him soundlessly.

There was no one else. No other friend, no family, not even his parents had come. Chloe's anger couldn't have been more intense for them. She had contacted them herself and they'd played fools. 'Bart who?' 'I don't know no Bart!' Horrible people.

For all intent and purpose, they were his true family. They welcomed him among their ranks when he entered their lives and bid their goodbyes today when he was leaving them. What more could they have done? What more could they do now?

The priest was about to turn the page and start with another rime when she interrupted him. "Thank you, Father." she smiled at the poor man sadly.

He glanced at her in surprise, fidgeted with his bible for a moment before he decided to close it and bless the dead. "Rest In Peace, Bartholomew Jason Allen." He respectfully retired from the grave and left them alone.

Oliver was the first one to put his hand flat on the casket, as if to feel closer to the man inside one last time. AC followed soon after. Chloe imitated him along with Victor and Dinah. They were expressing their thoughts in the only suitable way. Words were not enough.

Still, they tried. "I miss the little guy." AC said quietly. "It's not the same now."

They all nodded. It would never be the same.

The long minutes ticking away didn't see any of them move away from the dark shining wood overcoat. They would have remained that way for hours, trying to put off the inevitable, hadn't it been for the wind bringing them back to reality.

Dinah deposed a bouquet of bright yellow flowers on the top of the casket, stroking it softly twice. "Goodbye... I'm sorry." she whispered, her voice wavering. She pulled back, looking up at each of their faces before, slowly, retiring.

Her footsteps faded on the grass of the Metropolis Cemetery, leaving nothing but an empty spot in her wake. She wasn't the only one. AC sighed longingly, dropping his own bouquet on which the letters 'Always On Our Minds' were written. "See you, guys." he said softly.

Victor watched him go before reaching inside his suit and producing a gamepad controller. The three of them chuckled at the sight of the red and yellow piece of electronics. It had been Bart's favorite, only him was allowed to use it during their long games between friends in the penthouse's living room.

Their light moment came to an end too. Victor's smile vanished as he nodded to them, swallowing his bile before leaving too.

Chloe looked at the dried red tulip in her hand and smiled in reminiscence. It was the same tulip Bart had given to her all these years ago when they met at the Talon and he had been hitting on her. She dropped it on the casket before kissing the tip of her fingers and brushing them on it.

"Do you want a moment?" she asked quietly, gripping Oliver's right arm. He said nothing, simply nodded. She watched him for a minute before dropping her eyes to Bart one last time and walked back to their car.

On her way, she stepped past Lionel Luthor's grave, her pace slowed for an instant. He may have changed in his last yearsbut he was still, in her eyes, the one responsible for turning Lex into a monster and he deserved what happened to him.

She looked away with disdain, speeding up her steps until she crossed the exit and the SUV she and Oliver had used to get to the cemetery was in sight. She turned back, watching her man from afar. He was still standing by Bart's grave when she saw him pull out a piece of paper, a picture, out of his jacket. He held it aloft for a moment, watching it.

His head dropped visibly before he set the picture on the casket along with the rest and walked back in her direction.

It wasn't the same man who came back to her. She could see it in the way he walked or held himself. He was broken, his confidence and light-heartedness were gone. She wished she knew how to help him, to heal his wounds and take his pain away.

His history with Bart was so extensive. They had shared many things together that Chloe was afraid he would never recover from Bart's death. Despite her beliefs, she still prayed that they would find a way past this. She didn't know what else to do.

If only... If only things had turned out different. Where would they be now?

I'm a bit sorry to end this year of writing on such a tragic note with this series but, what can I do? I'm a slow writer so I can safely say that the next update will happen in 2015.

Whether that update will concern Eternal Wrath or Stolen Future, that's still a surprise. Whatever this is, it will be a long ride and I hope, a rewarding one in the end. As an author, I cannot fathom ending a series without a happy ending, so you can be sure that I'm not finished here!

Thank you for reading and commenting and may you have a wonderful end of year!