Warnings: Pity parties.
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, don't own DC property, blah.
Author's Note: This is now AU, as it was written very early into Countdown. Makes more sense if you were reading Green Lantern and Blue Beetle, have been following Countdown (including the advertising), and remember the last crisis.
In the upcoming 'Search for Ray Palmer', Jason Todd, Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner go traipsing through the multiverse, visiting different worlds, looking (obviously) for Ray Palmer.
The three of them have been using the Bleed (a strange nothingness that the Monitors can't monitor that connects the multiverse) to go from world to world, having adventures and discovering new fantastic things. But their journeys have not gone unnoticed, and on their last world, they met the Inventor, who told them strange and wonderful secrets about the Anti-Monitor. The same Anti-Monitor who, you know, monitors everything just like the Monitors do. Secrets he doesn't want them to know... Secrets he needs kept secret. And now, our three intrepid heroes (or two intrepid heroes and one anti-hero) stand poised in space above yet another earth, debating their strategy, unaware the danger streaking up behind them...
Something rushed past them, and a figure slammed into Donna, sending her rocketing into the atmosphere below.
Superboy-Prime turned to face Ion and Jason.
"You," Ion growled, summoning green light to smash the boy with.
Jason felt the ring under his glove, the one they'd recovered from the last world. It worked a bit like a Green Lantern ring, glowed a lurid orange colour, and its limited power didn't seem connected to Jason's willpower, desire to cause fear, or anything else he'd been able to discover. But it did let him breath in space without relying on Kyle, and he could open the Bleed with it. He scooted himself back away from the two combatants.
"The Anti-Monitor wants you dead!" Prime declared.
"Then he can come discuss it with me himself," Ion replied, "but you hurt Donna, and you're going down!"
The Green Lantern charged Prime, who side-stepped with ease.
"She's no match for me," Prime sneered, "and neither are you!"
Jason moved back further as they began to fight close up. Ion's power shoved Prime back, but the green fists and fighter jets and clapping hands just didn't seem able to hit Prime hard enough to knock him down. And then suddenly, Prime wasn't there. He began smashing into Ion, faster then the eye could follow, pushing him out of Jason's range to see. Towards the sun, and Jason had to look away, even with the filters in his eye mask.
"Great," The young man muttered, the ring responding to his thoughts and moving him towards the earth. "I wonder if this thing can do atmospheric re-entry? I suppose if I ease in slow enough? Damn crackerjack reject."
He flew clumsily towards the planet, hovering just as the ring began to pick up atmosphere. Then before he could try and work out some theory about angles and not burning up, Prime was in front of him. Mere inches away.
"Look at you, you didn't join in. Don't you care about your friends?" Prime sneered.
"I'm not really in your weight class," Jason shrugged. "They're the heavy hitters. I do stealth."
"So you're just going to stand there and die? Aren't you mad I killed your friends too?" Prime demanded.
"You didn't kill any of my friends," Jason replied nonchalantly, crossing his arms over his chest. "In fact, you're the reason I'm alive."
Prime hesitated, thrown by the unexpected response.
"So, I heard a fair bit about you. Why did you decide to go on a murderous rampage? I did mine to prove a point, although," Jason frowned, "it didn't work out the way I wanted. I'm still working on a new approach."
"I...," Prime started, staring at him. He stopped, silent.
"I just wanted to compare notes, is all," Jason said after a moment.
Prime glared at him, defiantly, daring him to laugh or mock. "I didn't mean to."
"So what happened? Why'd you crack?" Jason asked, keeping his voice soft, curious, without any hint of accusation.
"You don't know what it's like," Prime said softly. "My whole world is gone. Everyone who loved me, everyone I loved, everything. No one cares..."
He trailed off.
"There's no where for you to go, no one you can go to, and it doesn't matter how much you beg, wish, or pray, you can never get it back," Jason finished.
Prime looked at him, cautious.
Jason took a deep breath of ring-created air. "When I was little, my Dad disappeared. About a year later, my Mum got sick and died. Mum was... my whole world. When she died, I had nothing. No one to look after me. No other relatives. I didn't trust strangers, so I had to run away. I had no home, never knew when my next meal would come... I know what it's like, to lose absolutely everything," Jason finished. He was quiet a moment, then continued. "Then I got a new family. Then I died and when I came back, everything had changed. It was like I was forgotten. Like my life had made no difference at all. There was even... someone in my costume, using my name."
Jason bit his lip. "I mean, I was dead, so I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me. Hurt though. What hurts worse is that... he had time to learn to do a better job then I did. Time to make friends. People like him. If he died, people would miss him. No one missed me."
"Yeah, that's what it's like," Prime murmured. "My parents, my friends, they're gone and now I'm here, but I'm not supposed to be here. No one knows me, no one missed me. There was some stupid guy using my name, and he didn't even wear the right costume! He was weak and a loser and everyone liked him. They hated me!"
"People are jerks," Jason said, shrugging. "But, I still think those with power should protect the innocent people. I mean, there are lots of decent people who don't deserve to be hurt, or die. Don't you think? I mean, you're Superboy. You saved people all the time on your world, didn't you?"
Prime nodded. "Yes. I was a hero."
"Do you still want to be a hero?" Jason asked, eyes narrowing slightly behind his mask.
"I... I can't. I killed those people. Everyone here thinks they're heroes, and they threw me in that stupid prison. They didn't care that I lost my whole universe!" Prime yelled, fists clenching in anger.
Prime's head snapped up.
"There are 52 different worlds. Just because the people in one world got the wrong impression doesn't mean you can't start new somewhere else," Jason suggested. "I mean," he spread his arms, "There are 51 other worlds, why not one where you are needed, where you can make new friends, and find a new family and be a hero? You can't go back, you know. You and I, we'll never have exactly what we've lost. But I found a new place last time, so there's no reason you couldn't. The Anti-Monitor will destroy everything except the anti-matter universe, where he will rule, correct?"
"So, you'll get to spend the rest of your life with him, the Sinestro Corps, and a wanna-be Superman cyborg. None of them sound like heroes to me. So once everything else is gone, if you want to be a hero, you'll have to find some civilians there and fight all your former allies. Wouldn't it be easier to go and find a nicer place? I'm going to stop the Anti-Monitor, so you're new world will be safe. And if anyone from my universe tries to chase you down, you can point out that you defected and saved them a lot of trouble by leaving early. And beat the snot out of them."
Prime stared off into space. "Do you really think that could work?"
"Yes," Jason stated.
"But," Prime looked back at the youth in front of him. "I don't know how to go to the other worlds. The Anti-Monitor opened a gate for me to come through to here, and until I report back, he won't open up another one for me to return."
"Well, if you want to wait in the Bleed or something, I can help you once I've stopped the Anti-Monitor," Jason suggested. "The ring lets me open a way in and out of the Bleed, and I'm getting pretty good at navigating it. I'll take you through the other worlds.
"You promise?" Prime hissed, eyes narrowed.
"I promise," Jason matched his glare.
"All 51 of them?"
"Until we find one you like," Jason agreed.
Prime crossed his arms over his chest. "Then I'll help you stop the Anti-Monitor."
Jason grinned. "Cool. I have an idea, but we need to go before he reaches us."
Prime followed Jason's finger to a patch of green light approaching at an alarming rate.
"Hold on," Jason grabbed Prime by the arm, and used his ring to open a gate into the Bleed. The two slipped through and the portal winked out behind them.