by Chris McIntyre -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A sliver of sunlight broke through the curtains and fell upon Hal
Jordan's face, waking him up. It was nice of Wally West to let him stay
in a spare room in his house for a while. Last week, after Hal helped
the new JLA beat Extant, Wally had been the first to forgive him. He
always had trouble picturing his Uncle Hal doing those horrible things
he was said to have done. Wally had been in awe of him growing up, and
never really believed that he could have gone astray.
Still, he had trouble clearing it with his girlfriend, Linda. She was
understandably angry about having a guy who had tried to destroy the
universe a number of times move in, even if it was just until he could
get back on his feet. She eventually relented, though, after Wally told
her about all the adventures he and Barry and Hal had together.
_Wally's really found himself the right woman for him,_ Hal thought. He
saw a spark in their eyes when they're together. He hadn't seen that in
many other couples. Barry and Iris had it. So did Jay and Joan. It must
be something about those Flashes.
Hal never saw that spark in Carol, which might be why he didn't go
directly to her after he returned. He realized that maybe they didn't
belong together after all. That might be why he could never commit to
her. She had become like a sister to him during the years. Maybe once
they had a chance together, but now things had changed too much.
It was time. Hal knew that he couldn't avoid going back to Coast City
any longer. He had to see it. As he flew there from Keystone, he thought
about everyone who lived there. 7 Million people. That number was stuck
in his head. Luckily, no one very close to him had been living in Coast
City when it was destroyed, but still, there were some acquaintances there,
and people he'd never met but who still mattered. He was their
protector, after all. He realized that what he'd done was wrong, but he
still wondered what would have happened had he succeeded.
He arrived and saw the memorial. Wally told him about it the other day.
It was too much. But still, the green flame was a nice touch. And it was
nice that things had started to grow there again. All of a sudden he
felt a draft, and knew that he wasn't alone.
A voice from behind him said, "It was only a matter of time before you
arrived here. Now you must face your sins." Hal turned and saw the
Spectre before him.
"You have sinned, Hal Jordan. Although you have seen the error of your
ways, do not believe that you can escape punishment. Billions have died
by your hands!" exclaimed the Spectre with a voice that could make the
Hal was surprised by the Spectre's intense reaction. He had worked
alongside him a number of times over the years, but never before had he
seemed so angry, except during the whole Zero Hour fiasco.
At that moment, Hal looked around him. Everywhere he saw death and
destruction. Although he wasn't responsible, there was nothing he could
do to stop it, and that made him feel partly at fault. Then he
remembered what he tried to do later on. He knew what he did was wrong,
but it wasn't his fault. Sure, he was probably rationalizing it, but
there's no way that he could believe that he had been responsible for all
that had happened. He was a hero. Heroes don't do those things.
Suddenly he and the Spectre were in another place that could only be
described as Hell. Months of pent up anger exploded at the Spectre. "I
am NOT responsible for those deaths! That wasn't really me! It was a
dark side brought out by some Qwardian years ago. You can't blame me for
that. After Coast City... I couldn't control that part of me any more!"
"You couldn't, or you didn't want to?" the Spectre asked him. "That dark
side has always been a part of you, Hal Jordan. You didn't want to face
the tragedy of Coast City, so you let this evil out. You are culpable
for everything that happened because you did nothing to stop it. You
were supposed to be fearless, but you were finally defeated by the one
thing you still feared: the fact that you failed."
"What do you know? How would you know what it's like to have the city
you were supposed to protect be destroyed, and then realize that you're
powerless to help. I have the most powerful tool in the universe... but
I was helpless to save an entire city." After he said this, Hal looked
at his ring, and then ran towards the Spectre, trying to punch him
across his face. Instead, he went right through him.
"Damnit. Why do you have to be so high and mighty? You were a human
once. Try to imagine how I felt," Hal said, regaining his composure. "Why
are you coming after me, anyway? I have to live with what I did. I don't
think I'll ever be free from my past. Isn't that punishment enough?"
After a long silence, the Spectre finally spoke. "You were a hero, Hal
Jordan. You were among the greatest of this time. But after being higher
than most, you fell farther than most. You betrayed a great trust."
"So that's it? You feel betrayed because I was a hero? Listen, I
realize that I did things I'll never be able to live down. I'll always
know what I did, and so will everybody else. But I hoped that I could in
some way redeem myself. This is the old me, and I just want to put my
life back together!" Hal explained.
Just then, the Spectre moved towards Hal, and was able to see into his
mind. Hal was scared at first, but once he realized what was happening,
he relaxed. He could feel the Spectre in the farthest reaches of his
mind. Soon he felt a sharp pain, and fell to the floor moments before
the Spectre broke contact.
"I cannot forget what you have done," he began, "but you seem sincere
in wanting to repent. So then, I will give you a chance. But I will be
watching you. Remember that the evil is still within you. While the
Qwardian energy which allowed it to dominate you before was drained, it
will always be a part of you. You must constantly be aware of it, and
try to keep it under control. I... I know how hard it is to suppress the
darkness within you. It would be a shame to see it overwhelm you once
In a flash, Hal was back at the Coast City memorial, alone. This was
the first step in putting the past behind him. He looked about the area,
and began to make peace with its memory. It was time to move on and
begin a new life. Maybe now that someone else had forgiven him, Hal
could finally forgive himself.
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