Hal and I moved at the same time, determined to beat the other into submission. I nursed a spark of god ki in my chest, using it to chip away at Hal's body as he used his fists to pulverize my ribs. I felt them shift underneath his knuckles, the strike making the bones creak because Hal wanted them to, just as his face rippled when I planted a fist into his cheek, translucent willpower shifting like water while flakes split off like shards of glass. Our eyes met despite the punches landed and I knew exactly where Hal was going to punch next.

I caught it against my forearm, feeling my radius crack and in exchange, I planted a knee into his diaphragm. I wasn't sure if Hal still needed to breathe, but he folded a bit around the blow before punching me in the gut and knocking the wind right out of me. My eyes narrowed into slits, my ki being drained away into god ki that strengthened my body as I raised my fists up to slam into the back of Hal's neck and sent him flying away. Hal spun, accepting the trajectory as we started to fly dangerously away from the planet and towards a black hole.

His body started to shift, as if he wanted to change his shape and use one of his simple weapons on me but he chose not to. "I'm going to kick the fucking shit out of you the old fashioned way," he decided, settling in a boxing stances as I pinched the distance between us, thousands of miles closed in an instant.

"No techniques then?" I grunted, dipping my head out of the way before planting a fist against his ribs. Hal countered with a right hook and a scowl on his face.

"No techniques," he agreed, his right hook landing and snapping my head to the side as blood filled my mouth. Hal's body was just weird. I could predict his next move, just like I had with Ares, but because he was bonded with Ion, it… kinda didn't matter. He wanted to punch me in the face, so his fist connected, reality-bending the rules just a little bit for him to ensure it happened unless I landed a clean block. It was annoying but also fascinating to experience.

As my head jerked to the side, I delivered a sharp elbow to his temple before following the attack up with two lightning-quick jabs that Hal accepted on the chin in exchange for punching me in the liver. We traded a quick dozen blows, both of us drifting towards the black hole that was still millions of miles away, but I felt its gravity start to get stronger. Hal's technique was formulaic. I could tell hand-to-hand combat wasn't where he thrived, but he was decent enough at it. I would have won handily if it wasn't for Ion.

But Ion very much was a factor in play. "You piss me off so damn much- why are you smirking like that?'" Hal snapped at me, doing his utmost to wipe the small smirk right off of my face with a left hook that I blocked before contouring with an elbow to the chin. He needed to get better at protecting his head. Then his eyes narrowed, "You absolute prick - you better not be having fun right now," he growled at me, punching me in the ribs, then the back of my forearm when I blocked a blow.

"And you're not?" I accused him of the exact same thing, feeling a familiar excited hum in my veins. Hal was annoying, but as far as opponents go, he was probably the most interesting of them. That included Ares. Plus, there was something charming about a straight slugging match in the depths of space with the backdrop of a black hole that could swallow a billion Earth suns.

"No," Hal gritted out. "I'm not."

"Your aura says that you are," I pointed out, seeing the lie.

"What did I say about techniques?" Hal questioned, punching me in the face once, then again, only I ducked under the third to deliver a devastating blow to his ribs that splintered shards of willpower off of him. Hal frowned at me as he flew away, quickly righting himself and the translucent green willpower flowed into the cracks that I made from. "Fine. I'm having a little fun finally beating your face in. You don't get to be happy. This isn't a spar. We aren't going to become the best of friends after I kick the shit out of you. This is payback for Kilowog and everyone else you murdered during the war."

The smile did slip when I was reminded of how personal this was for Hal. "We were soldiers and it was war, Hal," I reminded him.

"You worked for a genocidal megalomaniac. The Green Lanterns you killed… they wanted to help people. To end the war without any more unnecessary bloodshed. That's who you killed," Hal spat at me, his hands curling into fists. "Everything that happened after that? That's all on me. The good and the bad."

More ki funneled into the spark of god ki, sustaining it. "I'm not the only one that worked for genocidal megalomaniacs. I did what I did because I thought it was the best way to end the war."

"Oh, I know that," Hal snarled at me, his body shining with ethereal willpower. "You were brainwashed by the source of all compassion and it still couldn't stop you from being a murderous fuck. And to top it all off, after everything that you did - the countless deaths, the planets ravaged, and the entire species driven into extinction at your hands - you chose then to betray Frieza."

My eyes narrowed, finding my own anger growing as he aired out his grievances. "I was Frieza's slave. One that had his personal attention. My race had always been destined for death at his hands and I did what I could to save them. Stop making it sound so simple when you know it was anything but," I snapped at him, closing the distance.

Hal slammed a fist into mine, making space shimmer between us as we resumed trading blows, anger bleeding into our strikes. It was different with Hal, I thought. When Robin, the Justice League and everyone else judged me for my actions, it was easy to shrug off their complaints. I could and did find them annoying, especially when my own reaction to their condemnation hasn't helped things. Hal, however, had fought in the war. Just as I was, he was transformed into something unrecognizable over the course of the War of Light.

His condemnation carried more weight. And I found myself wanting to defend my actions where with Earth, I brushed off their opinions because they didn't know war. Earth's greatest wars would have been small battles in the War of Light. Even if they were all added together. The scope of the war was beyond their comprehension because they had no frame of reference. Hal did have that reference.

"Don't give me that," Hal snarled, his head snapping to the side as I planted a well deserved punch. "You can dress it up however you like-!" He continued, countering with a fist to my stomach before a left hook was blocked. "You had choices. You chose to become a monster. All the food intentions in the world won't bring back everyone that you murdered."

I headbutted Hal, "I should have run away then? Abandon the war and my people? Would you in my shoes?" I asked him, punching him in the face a half dozen times in a fraction of a second before I spun sharply to kick Hal in the side of the head. He blocked with his forearm, flying away, and I wasn't far behind him.

"You had a chance to join the right side, didn't you?" Hal snarled at me, grabbing me by the necklace and pulling the green ring up to my gaze. My fist hesitated to flatten his nose, "You could have joined the Green Lanterns. You could have escaped Rench with the 501st, and gathered up your race to escape Frieza. Do you think any one of your species would have complained if it meant that they got to fight?"

The remark struck a chord with me, but there was a rebuttal quick on my tongue. "Easy for you to say," I said, planting a foot in Hal's gut before clutching my hands together to bring them down in a large fist against the side of his head. "The Frieza Force is filled with monsters that only cared about profit margins. If I didn't step up and flinched away by what needed to be done, the war would have been a hundred times worse. And it would still be going on for hundreds of years all because Frieza wanted to sell merchandise."

Hal and I traded frustrated blows, and I could tell that the point struck a chord with him. He knew I was right about that. Either bonding with Ion gave him perspective, or he learned it from the Guardians. My ribs ached, blood dropped from my nose before freezing to my skin, and the skin on my knuckles tore. The coldness of space didn't really sting, though. Not like it had.

"Would you have done anything different?" Hal asked me, punching me in the face hard enough that I felt every tooth rattle. I countered with an uppercut to his jaw, snapping his head up. The flow of ki to the spark of god ki was taxing and I could feel my ki slowly being drained dry.

I scowled, "Do you really even need to ask?" I asked him, blocking a fist before punching him in the ribs and following it up with an elbow just as he threw a knee at my diaphragm.

Lamenting the past was pointless. You couldn't change it. At least… so I thought.

"I do," Hal said, headbutting me hard enough that blood trickled down my forehead. "You want to use the Dragonballs. Do you even know what they are?" We traded more blows, each one striking with thunderous force while we slowly drifted closer and closer to the black hole. I could feel time starting to warp ever so slightly, making seconds be one hours outside of the gravity well. It was a shockingly simple thing to straighten out the time with but a thought. Almost as if they were a curled bit of string that just needed to be pinched and pulled.

"What are you going to use them for? Bring back your team? Your brother and father? Go back in time to unfuck everything that you made a mess of?" Hal's blows picked up in their intensity as if he were trying to beat sense into my head and I wasn't making it easy for him. "How can you tell me that you did the right thing when you're looking for the ultimate Mcguffin that'll let you undo the consequences for every decision you ever made?" He snarled the words at me and my lips thinned into a small line.

My knuckles ached as I punched Hal in the face once more, flakes of green willpower cracking off of him, but he remained whole. "I… don't know what I'm going to use the Dragonballs for," I admitted to Hal, catching him by surprise that I punished him by planting a right hook to his jaw.

It was the truth. Raven wanted to undo her greatest mistake - the destruction of Azarath. For myself, I didn't know what I wanted. Did I want to bring back my family? My team?

I did but as the ache of their loss wore off, I saw how terrible of a decision that would be. Vegeta wouldn't bend. Either he would force me to kill him, or he would continue his warmonger ways and be no better than Frieza. Bringing back my team? I wanted to, but I was… afraid of the idea. I murdered them in a fist of rage because they hadn't trusted me enough and I willfully turned a blind eye to the tension between my team and family.

Should I wish to go back in time? Stop it all? So much of everything I did was a result of being unable to resist Frieza. I wasn't strong enough to kill him. I was completely reliant on his favor to support the war effort to preserve the lives of my soldiers. If I went back now, I could kill him. Frieza, Cooler, and Cold. The war would never happen.

Which made Hal's words ring with an undeniable truth. If I was looking to undo what I had done - the consequences of my actions - then could I truly claim that I did the right thing? That I did the smart thing? That things were as they should be?

Hal snapped me out of my thoughts with a strong punch to the gut that folded me around his fist. I expected another blow to come, but Hal drifted back a few feet, frowning at me. "You don't know?" For some reason, that really threw him through a loop.

I frowned at him, feeling the aches and bruises that were forming from the battle. "I never allowed myself to doubt during the war. I always knew how cruel it was, but I told myself it was necessary. It was all necessary to end the war, and when there was peace, I could make the sacrifices worth it by building something better. The war is over, there is peace, and I wonder how many of the decisions I made were truly necessary." I inclined my head to Hal. "I don't know if I'd change the past, Hal. But I do understand that a lot of people died in a war that was caused by one person's greed."

Hal's face twisted like he could barely recognize me and he couldn't be more disappointed. "What?" Hal questioned, a hand going to his face as he waved me off with the other, not believing a word that I just said. Or, rather, he had a lot of trouble processing it. "You're being serious right now, aren't you?"

My face twisted, feeling indignant. "I am," I answered shortly, narrowing my eyes at Hal in a silent glare.

Hal didn't look at me for a long moment, his lips pressed together in a thin line. "Superman told me that you were trying to… I dunno. Become a peaceful and calmer person or whatever. I thought it was pure bullshit, though. You fooled the Guardians. I figured if you could fool them then you could fool anyone," Hal remarked, dragging a hand down his face. "You aren't who I wanted to beat the shit out of."

I cocked an eyebrow at the proclamation, especially when we had been doing exactly that to each other for the past ten minutes. "How so?"

"You really have no idea what you sound like, do you?" Hal questioned me, making me frown at him, wondering where he was going with this. "Ever since you were a kid, you spoke with… certainty. No matter how horrible or fucked up, you would say you'd do it and you'd treat it like it was the only true option. Did it all the time. Pissed me off something fierce because it sounded like you were talking down to everyone else that didn't come to the same conclusion that you did."

"The word you're looking for is patronizing," I told him, mostly because I knew it would annoy him.

Hal gave me the finger. "That's who I wanted to fight. The Supreme Commander Prince Tarble. Someone who could orchestrate the deaths of trillions and call it the objectively correct decision."

I recoiled ever so slightly, my lips thinning as I heard what he was saying. "I… could still do it," I told him, admitting to it as if it were a grave sin.

"Yeah, I don't know about that. You've gotten soft, Tarble," Hal decided, cocking his head to the side. "You can lie to yourself all you want, but you'll have a lot tougher time lying to me, Tarble. You're an annoying little bastard, but I know you. The you right now… if you had a chance to turn back the clock… you'd kill Frieza, even if it meant you'd die trying. Because anything would be better than reenacting the butchery of the war."

I really didn't know how to feel about that, but I felt uncomfortable for the most part. "How are you so certain of that?"

"Bonded with the physical manifestation of all willpower. Comes with some perks. Such as seeing resolve in other people," Hal answered, his tone flippant. "That, and the old you never would have admitted that you didn't know shit about shit. Because that's what you thought people needed, and it's what you needed."

I scowled as I looked away, crossing my arms over my chest. He was… annoyingly right about that. I learned very early on that when people looked to you for guidance, you had to be decisive. In everything. From the commander of a team, to two thousand, to fifteen hundred, then to armies that numbered trillions - I always had to be in complete control. Even as everything spiraled wildly out of control. Admitting that I didn't know would have been a defeat and during the war, I could never be defeated or the image of me that my soldiers believed in would suffer.

"Are we still fighting it out or not?" I growled the question out, not at all pleased with the psychoanalyzing that Hal was doing. Especially when it came from Hal of all people. You'd think he'd direct that ability inward before he turned it in my direction.

Hal seemed to genuinely think about it for a moment before he shook his head, "Nah, I think I'm good," he decided, sounding… at peace, for lack of a better word. "If you were the same ass you've always been, I'd be tossing you into the black hole and be done with you, but you aren't him. Not quite." Hal said, drifting forward.

I thought he was going to offer a handshake. And I think he fully intended to as well, and it was because of that I never saw the sucker punch coming until it impacted my cheek, snapping my head to the side. "That," Hal decided, sounding more at peace now. As if a large burden had been lifted from his shoulders. I ran my tongue over my teeth to make sure that they were still there, finding myself envious of his apparent peace despite the sucker punch. "Was for Kilowog."

I narrowed my eyes into a glare, spitting out a mouth full of blood and debated if I wanted to escalate right back. Then I thought on Kilowog's final moments - the last stand of the Green Lanterns who chose Hal to escape. Their rings running out of charge or overwhelmed by the Yellow Lanterns I once had under me. Kilowog was fearless even as I killed him.

I settled on a small nod, accepting the punch. That, I decided, was fair enough.

"Good. Let's get you to the Guardians then. They've been waiting for you to show up."

...

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