JSA Brownstone, New York, NY. 11:02 AM

"You find Max. I'll get Beetle." Sue Dibny said to her husband. She knew Hawkman didn't make threats. He made statements, and backed them up with that mace of his. She just hoped Booster wouldn't be stupid about this.

Sue sighed. "Yeah," she thought. "What were the chance of THAT!"

Ralph found Max with L-Ron and Sand. "We've got trouble!" said Ralph.

Max sighed. He had experience with this kind of thing. "Which one of our guys? What'd they do? And to whom?"

"Not one of our guys." said Ralph. "Hawkman!"

"Hawkman!" asked Sand.

"What kind of problem?" asked Max calmly.

"Hawkman's gonna beat Booster up!" said Ralph excitedly.

"What'd Booster do to him?" asked Max. "Whoopie-cushion? Those damned 'castor oil and cat food' water balloons?"

"He was talking with Hawkgirl." said Ralph simply.

"That's it?" asked Max skeptically. "No practical joke? No unwitting insults? No 'bird' jokes?"

"Nothing." confirmed Ralph. "Booster's just talking to Hawkgirl."

"Then, what's the problem?" asked Max.

"Hawkman is a little...overprotective where Hawkgirl is concerned." said Sand. "Especially if you throw another man into the mix." Sand spoke from experience on that one.

"So, Hawkman's jealous." said Max. "What's he gonna do? Beat Booster up for talking to 'his girl'?" Max asked jokingly.

Sand and Ralph just looked at Max.

"Hawkman's gonna BEAT UP Booster!" asked Max.

"No. He's not!" said Sand. "I'll have a talk with him. If you'll excuse me?" With that, Sand was off to find Hawkman.

"Where's Beetle?" asked Max. "We should get him to talk to Booster. Just in case!"

"Sue's looking for him." said Ralph. "Why don't we just..."

"Mrs. Dibny and Mr. Beetle seem to be spending considerable time together." stated L-Ron off-handedly.

"WHAT!" said Max and Ralph simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Sue found Blue Beetle with Power Girl. ("Big Surprise!" thought Sue.) "I need to borrow Beetle for a second." she said to Power Girl. Sue grabbed Beetle by the arm and practically dragged him into a corner of the room.

"What's wrong?" Beetle asked, expecting the worst.

"Hawkman's going to beat up Booster!" said Sue.

Beetle thought for a second. "Does Booster deserve it?"

"TED!" said Sue sternly. "This is serious!"

Beetle sighed. "Why does Hawkman want to beat up Booster?"

"Because Booster's talking to Hawkgirl." said Sue.

Beetle just looked at her, expecting more of an explanation. "And?" prompted Beetle.

"And nothing." said Sue. "Hawkman is an extremely, EXTREMELY jealous person! The fact that Booster was holding her hand didn't help matters."

Beetle was mildly shocked. "Really? I bet Kara didn't see that coming!"

Sue was confused. "What's that mean?"

"Power Girl kinda pointed Booster in Hawkgirl's direction." said Beetle. "I think she wanted to 'punish' her! Who knew she'd actually like Booster!"

Booster Gold was laying on the charm. Ted was right! He was good at faking sincerity! And this Hawkgirl seemed interested! Woo-Hoo!

When Booster had walked up to talk to her, the only thing on his mind was that fine kiester of hers. But, from the front he noticed she had a really tight body. Killer abs! AND a nice set of...eyes. (At least, that's what Booster called THEM when he didn't want to get slapped!)

But, she laughed at his jokes! She smiled at him and seemed glad to talk to him! Unlike a lot of people Booster could mention, she didn't treat him like a dunce.

Booster was smitten!

Back accross the room, Ralph asked, "Whatchu talking about, L-Ron?"

"I do not want to talk out of turn, your stretchiness," said L-Ron. "But, yesterday morning, Mr. Beetle did drag Mrs. Dibny into his cubicle. They kept their voices low, so I could not discern with my auditory sensors what was being said. However, I did hear Mrs. Dibny make an exclaimation."

"An 'exclaimation'?" asked Max.

"I believe she said 'WOW', o beloved leader." said L-Ron.

Ralph was shaking his head. A disbelieving smile on his face. "That doesn't prove anything!" said Ralph.

"I am not trying to 'prove' anything, your elasticity." said L-Ron. "I was just stating the coincidence of Mrs. Dibny and Mr. Beetle's proximity to each other over the past couple of days. At this party. Yesterday morning. Last night..."

"Last night!" asked Ralph, mildly stunned. "Sue was working in the office last night! I know! I left her there!"

"Yes, your rubbery-ness." said L-Ron. "And Mr. Beetle came back after everyone had gone home for the night."

Ralph couldn't believe this. Sue loved him! He knew that in his heart. Sue would never- NEVER!- do anything to hurt him.

"I was not there for all their time together." said L-Ron. "However, I did overhear the end of their conversation. I could relay the part of the conversation I heard, sir."

"You don't..." started Ralph, but, was cut off when L-Ron went into stenographer mode.

"Blue Beetle: '... I hope Ralph realizes what a lucky man he is to have a wife like you!' Sue Dibny: 'Don't forget your clothes!'"

Ralph's eyes nearly popped out of his head! He was stunned into silence.

L-Ron continued. "Blue Beetle: ''Night, Sue.' Sue Dibny: 'Hey, ladykiller. You know you have lipstick on your cheek, don't you?' Blue Beetle: 'No. I didn't realize that.' Sue Dibny: 'You've got to be more careful! If someone else were here, they'd have found out about 'the secret'! That's a clue even Ralph would find hard to ignore.'"

Ralph had the look of a man whose world was yanked out from under him.

Meanwhile, accross the room, Beetle was trying to placate Sue. "I'm sure the rest of the JSA isn't going to sit by and watch Hawkman beat up on a guest!"

"But, you have to..."

"No. No. No." said Beetle smiling. "This isn't a 'Super-Buddies problem'. This is a 'JSA problem'. If it was one of our guys about to cause trouble, then WE would handle the problem. I'm sure the JSA feels the same way."

Sue considered it for a second. "But, I know Hawkman..."

Beetle cut her off. "They know Hawkman, too. I'm sure Sand, or whoever the chairman is this week, is handling the problem."

Sue smiled a bit as she relented. "I guess you're right. I mean, what kind of team couldn't stop one of their members from starting a fight at a party?"

That was when the fist hit Beetle in the mouth!

In life, events fall into three categories: things you expect; things you don't expect; and things that NO ONE EVER expects. Elongated Man throwing his fist accross a crowded room to punch Blue Beetle in the mouth falls into the third category.

"DAMN!" said Jakeem Thunder. "That was like something outta 'The Incredibles'!"

JSA Brownstone, New York, NY. 11:13 AM.

The room went silent in shock.

Blue Beetle was in a state of shock. Ralph had just punched him in the mouth and knocked him on his ass! RALPH DIBNY! One of best friends. A man NOT known for violent outbursts for any reason. And HE punched Beetle in the mouth! "WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON HERE?" he thought as he touched his split lip.

Elongated Man quickly made his way accross the room. As he approached the still-downed Beetle, his face contorted in anger. "Get up!" he yelled. "Get up, you son-of-a-!"

Sue stopped Ralph. "RALPH!" she exclaimed. "What is wrong with you!"

Ralph looked at her with both pain and distain. "What's wrong with ME!" he snapped. "What's wrong with YOU, you... you... JEZEBEL!"

The crowd went into an uncomfortable silence now. Anyone who knew the Dibnys had never heard a harsh word exchanged between them. To hear Ralph yell at Sue was both surreal and gut-churning for everyone there.

"JEZEBEL!" stated a shocked and angry Sue. "JEZEBEL! What are you talking about?"

"Oh. Don't play dumb!" said Ralph. "I know all about your affair with HIM!" Ralph pointed at Beetle.

"WHAT!" both Sue and Beetle exclaimed in unison.

"Where the Hell did you get a stupid idea like..." started Sue.

Ralph interrupted. "I know all about 'the secret' and..."


It was Ralph's turn to be stunned. He'd never heard that kind of authority in Blue Beetle's tone before! And it froze him for a second. Beetle got up off the floor wiping the blood from his mouth.

"You don't..." started Ralph.

"SHUT UP, RALPH!" Beetle hissed. "Just shut up before you start throwing things out you'll regret later!"

"You don't have the right..." started Ralph, overcoming his momentary shock.

Beetle interrupted Ralph's tirade. "Ralph!" Beetle had lowered his voice. "At least give me and Sue a chance to explain this to you. If you want to kick my ass afterwards, fine. But, I think discussing this in private is best for all concerned."

Ralph's anger had subsided for the time being. He nodded and followed Beetle out of the study. Sue followed behind Ralph.

There was awkward silence amongst both teams after the door shut.

"C'MON, EVERYONE!" shouted Guy Gardner, breaking the silence. "One punch! One punch!"

The assembly remained quiet. Most were shocked by Gardner's appalling timing. The rest (those that knew Guy) were sickened.

Gardner waved them all off. "Ah. To Hell with all of you!"

In the hallway outside of the study, Elongated Man was sitting in a chair. His anger had broken. It was replaced by sadness and confusion. "How could you? After all the time we've been together?" Tears were welling up in Ralph's eyes.

"Ralph," said Sue quietly, kneeling down in front of Ralph and holding his hands. "I don't know where you got the idea Ted and I were having an affair, but, we're not!"

"L-Ron overheard your little 'conversation' last night." Ralph responded, the hurt evident in his voice.

"L-Ron?" asked Beetle, wiping blood off of his lip.

"What did L-Ron hear?" asked Sue, desperate to understand how Ralph could get such an absurd idea in his head.

Ralph looked at Sue. "He heard you tell Ted not to forget his clothes! What was that about? Huh?"

"I had lunch with Kara." said Beetle calmly. "I'm not going to go out in uniform. I left my uniform sitting on my desk. I went back to the office to get it for the reception today. Those are the 'clothes' Sue told me not to forget."

That gave Ralph pause. It made sense, and Sue often referred to his own uniform as his "work clothes". In fact, she rarely referred to it as a uniform or costume.

Back at the party, whispers were beginning to start. It was human nature to discuss things that people had no clear knowledge of. In other words, gossip.

"Do you think Beetle and Elongated Man's wife...?" Hawkgirl asked Booster.

"NO!" said Booster emphatically. "No way! Beetle may be a lot of things, but, there's no way he'd sleep with a friend's wife! And there's no way in hell that Sue would do that to Ralph! PERIOD!"

"No doubt?" asked Hawkgirl.

"None!" said Booster. "I don't know what made Ralph think that, but, he's wrong! This is just a misunderstanding."

Hawkgirl was thinking that Power Girl was right. These people were like a family. Booster had no doubt in his mind that this was all a misunderstanding. He had no doubts that his friend wouldn't do that to another friend. She could tell that Booster was POSITIVE that nothing happened.

Elsewhere, Star-Spangle Kid asked, "Do you-?"

"No!" said Mary Marvel quickly.

"But they-" started SSK.

"NO!" said Mary emphatically enough that the Kid didn't even dare broach the subject again.

Back in the hallway outside of the study, Ralph still had his doubts. "Okay! Okay!" he said, trying to figure this out. "What about the lipstick on his cheek and 'the secret'? Huh? What about that?"

Sue looked up at Beetle. Beetle sighed. He nodded to Sue that it was okay to tell Ralph 'the secret'.

Back at the party, Fire and Ice were talking.

"They've been out there awhile." said Ice, concern in voice.

"It's been quiet out there, too." added Fire, as she bit her lip. "There's no way Sue and Ted...?" Fire let the question trail off.

"Bea, no. No way at all!" said Ice firmly.

"Right!" said Fire nervously. "Just checking."

Suddenly, the quiet from the hallway was broken by Ralph yelling "YOU DA MAN! YOU-DA-MAN!". There was an almost audible sigh of relief from the "Super-Buddies". If Ralph were yelling that, it wasn't because of an admission of guilt by Sue and Ted. It also meant that Ralph was convinced that the allegations were wrong, and that he wasn't mad anymore.

In the hallway, Beetle was asking Ralph, "Are you done yet?"

Ralph couldn't get over the fact that Ted and Kara... Now, he knew what other guys thought of HIM! Score another one for the geeks getting the hot girl!

"Before you get too happy, Mr. 'I-Don't-Get-Jealous'," said Sue. "I'm letting you know right now that I'm going shopping with Fire tomorrow! And I'm taking your credit card with me!"

Ralph didn't say a word, to his credit. He knew stupidity had it's price, and he was going to pay it! He'd have to go back out to the party and face all those people after making a fool of himself. Taking a hit, even a major hit, on his credit card was a small price to pay. "Yes, dear." he finally said.

"Honestly!" said Sue exasperated. "How could you think I'd cheat on you? With Ted, no less?"

Beetle raised an eyebrow at that unintentional insult, but, he kept his mouth shut, too.

"I'm sorry, Sue." Ralph said. "I know you'd never do that, but, just the thought you might..." Ralph let the rest trail off as he shook his head. "I'm sorry about hitting you, too, Ted."

Beetle rubbed his lower lip. "You learned that little move off of "The Incredibles", didn't you?" he said with a slight smile.

Ralph shrugged his shoulders and managed a weak smile. "I love that movie!"

The doors opened to the study, and Ralph, Sue, and Beetle went back in to join the reception. Ralph put his hand on the back of his head and had an embarrassed look on his face. "Well," thought Beetle. "If I can take consolation in anything, it's that Ralph won't do anything to embarrass himself again. At least today."

As Sue and Ralph rejoined the party, Power Girl walked over to Beetle. "Nice lip!" said Power Girl.

Beetle gave her a half smile. "First time I heard you complain about it!"

"From the yelling I heard, I'll guess that you told Ralph." said Power Girl with a cocked eyebrow.

Beetle shrugged his shoulders. "Emergency situation. Couldn't be helped. It could have been worse, though."

Suddenly, a figure shattered through the window of the study! She completed a full roll and came up in a fighting stance!

Black Canary looked at the reception going on around her. First left, then right. Not a sign of alien invasion, super-villian attack, or extra-dimensional anomolies! Nothing! She straightened up. "Someone is in sooooo much trouble!" she said as she caught sight of Beetle.

Power Girl leaned over and whispered to Beetle, "At least, it was a spectacular entrance!"

JSA Brownstone, New York, NY. 11:30 AM.

To say Black Canary was upset would be an understatement of monumental proportions. She had a late night and was blissfully sleeping when Oracle called. "Trouble at the JSA headquarters," she told Canary. "Blue Beetle was cut-off in mid-sentence," she told Canary. Dinah rushed off as fast as she could to get here. And there was nothing but a reception going on.

Getting something this wrong was not in Oracle's nature. Hence the information she got was wrong. And she got the information from Blue Beetle. The person Canary was staring at right now!

Power Girl saw the look on Canary's face. She leaned in and whispered to Beetle again. "If you ask really nice, she might just kick your ass in private and not embarrass you in front of your friends!"

Canary started advancing toward Beetle's position. She was cut-off by Wildcat.

"KID!" said Wildcat, obviously happy to see his former student and friend. "How ya been doin'?"

Canary was so intent on having a "discussion" with Beetle, Ted Grant's sudden appearance threw her off stride. "I...I'm fine." said a mildly surprised Canary.

"Good!" said Wildcat with a big smile. "I'm really happy that you could come!"

"I'm glad I could make it, too." said Canary, as she let Wildcat lead her into the party.

"Oh! Play the lottery tonight!" Power Girl said to Beetle. "You just dodged a major bullet!"

Beetle looked at her and smiled. But, as he looked past her, the smile evaporated. Power Girl turned to see what Beetle was looking at.

Hawkman had come through the doors of the study. Obviously, Sand had neither found nor talked to Hawkman. Hawkman scanned the crowd until he found who he was looking for. Then, he started striding over to where Booster and Hawkgirl were, a very unfriendly look on his face (actually, it was just a major frown, as that was all of Hawkman's face you could see when he had his helmet on).

Before Hawkman could get there though, Guy Gardner had come up behind Hawkgirl. "Well, HELLO, sweetcheeks!" he said, slapping her behind.

Before either Hawkman or Booster could do anything, Hawkgirl quickly spun around and connected a solid right cross to Gardner's infamous "glass jaw"!

Gardner's jaw slid sideways as spittle flew out of his mouth. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he was unconscious before he even hit the floor.

"What did you ever see in him?" Fire asked Ice.

"I honestly don't know!" responded Ice.

Both Hawkman and Booster froze in surprise.

Hawkman just shrugged his shoulders. "Damn!" he thought. "I guess she really can take care of herself!" Hawkman turned around, found Sue and Ralph Dibny, and went off to discuss the glory days of the "Satellite League".

"ONE PUNCH! ONE PUNCH!" yelled Beetle, who was experiencing deja vu.

"OH MY GOD!" screamed Canary. "I DIDN'T miss it this time! I'm so happy!"

"WOW!" said Booster to Hawkgirl. "THAT WAS GREAT! You're my hero!"

"Really?" said Hawkgirl. "I thought you might be upset that I punched one of your own!"

Booster waved that thought off. "He's not really one of us! And you didn't just punch him. You knocked him OUT!"

"Sometimes I just get so mad at every guy focusing on my butt!" Hawkgirl said. "What am I? The "J-Lo" of the superhero set? I've got more to offer than just THAT!"

"Yeah!" said Booster. "Like a WICKED right hook!"

Elsewhere at the party, Max Lord called over L-Ron.

"Yes, your imperiousness?" asked L-Ron.

"See if you can drag Gardner off the floor and put him somewhere out of the way." said Max. "I don't want anyone tripping over him and hurting themselves!"

"Worried about law suits, oh milk-of-human-kindness?" asked L-Ron.

"Exactly!" said Max.

Beetle had to admit, seeing Gardner get knocked out made this party for him! He was wiping the tears out of his eyes when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to look at Black Canary.

"You didn't really think I'd forgotten about you, did you?" asked Canary, with just a hint of the sadistic in her voice.

Beetle winced and mouthed a silent "damned!". He slumped his shoulders and said, "I guess not!"

"You want the butt-kicking here or out in the hall?" she asked.

Beetle sighed. "The hall." he said. He walked out into the hallway. It seemed to him he was spending more time out here than in the party.

Canary followed him out the door and shut it behind her. Once the door was shut, she booted the still turned Beetle right in the gluteus maximus.

Beetle jumped and yelled "OUCH!". He didn't expect the ass-kicking to be literal! He spun around and started rubbing his sore posterior.

"You deserve a lot more than that for setting me up!" said Canary. "But...getting a chance to talk to Wildcat and watching Gardner get decked ALMOST makes up for it. That and you still have to deal with Oracle!"

Beetle bent over, looked into Canary's broach, and waved. "Hi, Babs."

Canary's head jerked to the side, and she brought a hand up to her ear as she winced. "Not so loud!" she said, but, not to Beetle. Canary looked at Beetle and said, "She wants you to turn your cell phone back on."

Beetle hesitated. "What? Now?"

Canary's head jerked to the side again. She pulled off her earring/receiver. "Damned! Kill the messenger why don't you, Barbara!"

Canary said to Beetle, "You know, the longer you keep her waiting, the madder she's going to get!"

"Or maybe," said Beetle. "She just needs time to cool off!" He smiled at Canary. "Why not turn off the receiver and go back to enjoying the party?"

Canary considered that for a second and smirked. "Why not?" she asked as she switched of the receiver.

JSA Brownstone, New York, NY. 11:53 AM.

In the pantry, where L-Ron had dragged his unconscious body, Guy Gardner was stirring. He moaned as sat up. "What the hell happened?" he muttered to himself. Guy felt a twinge of pain when he mumbled and began rubbing his jaw.

The last thing her remembered was feeling the most incredible ass he ever touched! Mary Marvel's and Ice's were great, but, this one had size! Firm, yet soft. If it had been a pillow, Guy would have given it his full endorsement!

"That's right!" thought Guy. "I was trying to save Hawkgirl (and that fantastic booty!) from that loser, Booster Gold!" Guy's mind was racing. "He musta sucker-punched me!"

"SONOFA-" Guy said aloud, as the pain in his jaw cut him short.

Elsewhere, Blue Beetle and Black Canary were rejoining the party.

"By the way," said Canary. "What happened to your lip?"

"Ralph punched me." said Beetle matter-of-factly.

Canary stopped. "Ralph! As in 'Ralph Dibny'? Ralph Dibny punched you!"

Beetle shrugged.

"Don't leave me hanging here!" stated Canary. "What happened?"

"It's a long, rather embarrassing story. Best left untold." Beetle said. He turned and started walking away with a smile Canary couldn't see.

"Uh-uh!" stated Canary emphatically, as she grabbed Beetle's elbow to stop him. "You've GOT to tell me!"

"Do I?" asked Beetle, with a half-smile.

"You most certainly DO!" said Canary. "Unless you want Batman finding out who was behind the 'Incident' all those years ago!"

Beetle was shocked. "Blackmail does not suit you!" said Beetle smoothly. "Besides, I'm sure the 'world's greatest detective' figured that one out long ago. It's not like he had a world of suspects!"

"So, you admit it!" said Canary.

"No." said Beetle. "Although, I wish I did it! That has to rank as one of the best 'bat-pranks' ever!"

Canary stopped again. "Wait a second! You mean you DIDN'T do it?"

Beetle shook his head. "Not me. And it wasn't Booster either. We were playing video games at the time of the..." Beetle made quotation marks with his fingers. "... 'Incident'!"

Canary was shocked. "All these years, I thought it was YOU!"

"Everyone did." said Beetle, a little proudly. "Except Batman. He thought it was Booster. He thought Booster'd crack under interrogation, too!"

"Batman interrogated Booster?" asked Canary with a raised eyebrow.

"Booster confessed to everything from bedwetting to drinking other people's sodas!" said Beetle with a smile. "But, he didn't confess to the 'Incident'!"

"Well, if it wasn't you. And it wasn't Booster. Then, who? Guy?" asked Canary.

Beetle had to laugh that one off. "Guy! Do you really think Guy possesses the style...the PANACHE...to pull off the 'Incident'?"

"An unsolved mystery after all these years!" said Canary with a smile.

Beetle smiled at her knowingly. "I do have a prime suspect, though!" he said conspiratorially.

"Who?" asked Canary quickly.

Beetle narrowed his eyes and looked around quickly. He leaned into Canary and whispered, "J'Onn!"

"NO. WAY." said Canary.

Beetle smiled and shrugged. "It makes sense. Who else could have gotten access to Batman's utility belt?"

Elsewhere, Fire was enjoying "entertaining" Hourman, Mr. Terrific, and Wildcat. She was laughing at all the jokes she heard. And the 'boys' enjoyed watching her laugh. Her chest heaving up and down. Hypnotically.

"Okay." thought Fire. "I'll admit it. I'm a flirt."

Fire LOVED attention! Especially male attention. If you're going to a party, be the life of the party! The CENTER of attention!

Ice was watching her friend. "She hasn't changed at all!" thought Ice, although not disapprovingly. It was nice to know that somethings hadn't changed while she was away.


Ice was surprised by the voice behind her. The voice belonged to a man in cowl and dark goggles. He extended a hand. "I'm Dr. Mid-Nite."

Ice shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you." Ice said with a smile. "I'm Ice."

"You have the most wonderful voice." Dr. Mid-Nite said with a smile. "It's soft, yet, has a beautiful strength to it."

Ice blushed at the compliment. She didn't know what to say. So, Ice did what she always did. She directed the conversation away from herself.

"I'm surprised you're not 'admiring' my friend's new costume." said Ice. "Everyone else is."

"If by 'everyone else' you mean every man in the room, I agree." said Dr. Mid-Nite with a smile. "I'm afraid her new costume would be lost on me."

"Oh." said Ice. "Well, Booster looks good in his uniform, too!"

"What?" said Dr. Mid-Nite, mildly confused.

"Well, if Fire's costume is lost on you, I thought..."

"No!" said Dr. Mid-Nite quickly. "I'm blind, not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that)!"

Ice turned red. "Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't know." Ice felt so foolish now. "I'll leave you alone before I embarrass myself anymore!"

Ice was going to leave, but, Dr. Mid-Nite held onto her hand. "No." he said. "Please don't go. I think, maybe, we should start again. Hello. I'm Dr. Mid-Nite. And you?"

Ice smiled and played along. "I'm Ice. Pleased to meet you."

Accross the room, Canary said. "Look at that smooth operator!"

"Is calling a doctor a 'smooth operator' a pun?" asked Beetle.

Canary shot Beetle a look. No, that wasn't an intentional pun. And Canary didn't like that Beetle caught it before she did.

"Har-de-har-har!" said Canary.

"So," said Beetle. "Is this Dr. Mid-Nite some kind of lothario?"

"No!" said Canary. "It's just..."

"You dated him?" asked Beetle.

"No!" said Canary. "Well...yes. Damned! Why do you do that?"

"Do what?" asked Beetle innocently.

"Steer conversations in a different direction! That's what! We were discussing Dr. Mid-Nite and Ice and you steered the direction of the conversation my way!"

"Did I?" asked Beetle with a mixture of faux-shock and innocence. "I'm offended. Here you accuse me of hijacking conversations after physically assaulting me and trying to blackmail me!" Beetle shook his head. "You've changed, Dinah! Did you know that? You think fishnets can forgive a lot!"

Canary was in a state of semi-shock as Beetle walked away.

"Hey!" she yelled at Beetle as she realized something. "I still don't know why Ralph punched you!"

JSA Brownstone, New York, NY. 12:09 PM.

Now, more than ever, Black Canary was DETERMINED to find out why Ralph punched Blue Beetle. If Beetle wouldn't tell her, maybe, Ralph would!

Canary found Ralph sitting in a quiet corner of the room with Sue and Hawkman. They were talking about the "old days" when the League had a satellite and more than the "Big Seven" members.

"Remember that time Wonder Woman caught us playing holographic video games when you were supposed to be on monitor duty?" Elongated Man asked Hawkman.

"Ahhhh." said a slightly embarrassed Hawkman. "You were losing, too. If I remember correctly."

Ralph shook his head. "You DON'T remember correctly! I had half your fleet blown away and..."

Canary hated to interrupt Ralph and Carter reliving their holographic interstellar war stories, but, she did. "Can I talk to you for a moment, Ralph?"

"Sure!" said Ralph, always happy to talk with old friends.

As Ralph got up, Sue said with a mischievous smile, "I'll try not to get too JEALOUS while your gone!"

Canary could detect a dig in that, but, she had no idea what it meant.

"Thanks, dear." said Ralph with a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance. Ralph and Canary walked off to talk.

Elsewhere at the party, Blue Beetle found his way back to Power Girl, who was talking with Hawkgirl. Booster was nowhere to be seen. Hawkgirl caught Beetle looking around.

"Bathroom." she said.

"Ah." said Beetle. Beetle hadn't met Hawkgirl yet. He extended his hand. "Blue Beetle."

Hawkgirl shook his hand. "Yes, I know. I've heard a lot about you!" Hawkgirl smiled at him as Power Girl shot her a dirty look.

"Okay." Beetle said, a little confused. "Nothing bad I hope."

"Oh, no!" said Hawkgirl, beaming. "It was all positively GLOWING!"

"Why does she DO this to me!" thought Power Girl. "Now I know why Ted didn't tell Booster!" A nasty thought popped into Power Girl's mind.

She grabbed Hawkgirl by the elbow. "Excuse us for a second." she quickly told Beetle with a sweet smile. "Y'know! 'Girl talk'!" With that, she practically dragged Hawkgirl out of the room.

Once, Power Girl and Hawkgirl were out of everyone's earshot, Power Girl asked Hawkgirl, "You didn't tell Booster about Ted and me, did you?"

There was enough menace in Power Girl's voice that Hawkgirl hesitated. "Weeellllllll..." she started.

Power Girl looked heavenward. "God," she said. "Could you give me a helping hand here!"

Hawkgirl said, "It's not like it's a secret or anything!"

Power Girl just looked at her.

Realization dawned on Hawkgirl. "Oh." she said. "It is a secret."

"Correction," said a perturbed Power Girl. "It WAS a secret!"

"How was I suppose to know that!" Hawkgirl said, trying to defend herself. "Isn't Booster suppose to be Beetle's best friend? Why's he keeping it secret from Booster?"

"You know how you like to tease me about it?" Power Girl patiently asked Hawkgirl.

Hawkgirl nodded.

Power Girl continued. "Well, Booster's just like you. Only WORSE! He and Beetle have been friends for years! And like most guys, the only way they show affection for each other IS TO RAG ON EACH OTHER!"

"Oh." said Hawkgirl.

"Is that all you can say?" said a clearly upset Power Girl. "'Oh'?"

"This is your fault!" said Hawkgirl to a stunned Power Girl. "You should know better than to tell me a secret! I've got a big mouth! Everyone knows it!"

In a different corner of the party, Canary came right to the point. "Why'd you punch Beetle?"

Ralph looked embarrassed and refused to look Canary in the eye. "I'd rather not talk about it." he mumbled.

Canary was starting to get frustrated. First, Beetle wouldn't tell her, now Ralph wouldn't! She would never admit to anyone, but, she HATED that feeling of not knowing what was going on!

"C'mon, Ralph!" she said. "This is me! You can..."

Ralph cut her off. "I'd rather not talk about it." He turned and walked away.

"This is going to drive me nuts until I find out what happened!" thought Canary. Then she smiled.

"There's one more thing I can try!" she thought.

Elsewhere, Beetle was waiting for Power Girl and Hawkgirl to come back. This "Girl Talk" must have been important because it sure was taking a long time!

"How ya doin'?"

Beetle turned to see Booster. Booster was smiling broadly at him. This made Beetle nervous. It usually meant that Booster thought he knew something Beetle didn't.

A little knowledge is dangerous. A little knowledge in Booster Gold's hands was disasterous!

Beetle narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Booster. "Why the smile?" Beetle asked cautiously.

"Why not?" asked Booster, whose smile never relented. He waved around the room broadly. "The party's going great! A chance to make new friends! A chance to see Guy get knocked out! A chance to learn new things!"

THIS made Beetle really nervous! Booster didn't want to learn new things unless he saw something in it for himself.

Beetle was going to hate himself, but, he had to ask. "Like what new things?" The words came out cautiously.

Booster looked around to make sure no one would overhear. He whispered to Beetle. "Like Hawkgirl isn't married to Hawkman!" Booster winked at Beetle and smiled.

Beetle loosened up and almost sighed his relief.

"And that you've been doing the NASTY with Kara! YOU DOG!" continued Booster.

Beetle visibly winced as though he were hit the gut. "SUNUVA-! How'd you find out!" hissed Beetle.

Booster smiled. "Never mind how I found out! I have to tell you that I'm HURT that I had to find this out on the streets and not from my best friend!"

"Find out what?" asked Ice. She and Fire had been passing by when they overheard Booster's last comment.

Before Beetle could stop him, Booster blurted out happily, "Beetle's been getting busy with Power Girl! Do you believe that?"

"WHAT!" asked Fire, feeling the jealousy boil up. She never really felt anything romantic for Ted, although she liked to flirt with him. But STILL... Why was he looking at other women when she was around!

Ice, ever nice and the one person Beetle knew wasn't going to ride him about this, said, "Isn't she out of your league?"

The question both stunned and hurt Beetle. "What does THAT mean?" he asked incredulously.

Ice, a bit embarrassed that she asked that question outloud, said, "Well...she's like a 'superwoman' and you're..."

"I'm what?" asked Beetle, starting to feel both defensive and offended.

"A regular guy!" Fire finished off Ice's thought.

"Meaning WHAT?" asked Beetle, now visibly starting to get angry.

The trio was beginning to realize just how upset Beetle was getting. Ice, feeling badly that she had upset her friend so much, tried her best to smooth things over. But, she just made matters worse. "It's just that...when you and her...and you..." Ice started becoming frustrated that she couldn't put her question in a way that wouldn't offend Beetle.

"How do you do it without Power Girl hurting you?" asked Fire bluntly as Ice looked on in shock.

Beetle blinked. His whole body tensed up and he began to shake. Finally, he just waved his three friends off, turned, and stalked away.