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Disclaimer: I acknowledge that some of the characters, settings and situations in this story belong to DC Comics. I use them only because I love them and want to see them live on. No infringement of copyright was intended. Please don't sue me. I really won't be worth your while.

Special Thanks to all those people who took the time to send me support and encouragement.

WARNING: There are a number of spelling, grammar and punctuation differences between Australia and the USA... please forgive me for writing with an accent. (g)

Never Again

Dick Grayson ran his trembling hand over his tired eyes and shook his head. He simply couldn't believe it. How could he let this happen?

Images of the night before entered his clouded mind.

The carnage.

Impossible odds.

Bodies everywhere.

Dick remembered trying to pick Wally up, but not having the strength to do so. He remembered stumbling over Gar sprawled at his feet. He vaguely remembered seeing Vic slump and then rise like a phoenix with a roar of determination. Garth had valiantly tried to make it to the door, but his legs had failed him. Only Donna had come though unscathed.

Dick cursed and the sharp pain throbbing in his temples exploded. Why had he ignored the warning signs? Now they would pay the price.

"This is my fault. I could have... should have..." He swallowed and the ringing in his head increased.

Donna glanced up from her examination of Wally and frowned. Dick was pale with grey bags under his eyes -- a result of too little sleep or food. "You better sit down, hon, before you fall down."

Dick drew in a deep breath, nodded and sank down into the closest chair. His eyes were drawn to Wally who was lying so still. "How long before...?"

Donna stretched her back and headed across to Garth. "Eight to twelve hours. Maybe longer. This isn't your fault. They knew..." Wally groaned, distracting Donna and the woman moved swiftly to his side. "Easy, Wally."

The young man's eyelids fluttered and opened. His body ached. His nostrils pinched. The distinctive smell told him exactly where he was. His mind drifted and then he looked up at Donna with hooded eyes. "Who won?

"Roy, I think," Dick mumbled. "When I passed out, he and Vic were the only ones still standing."

Donna muttered something under her breath and scanned her 'patients' with disgust. Roy was lying along the bar, snoring loudly. Gar was curled up in a ball under a table. Garth was slumped against a wall, a bottle of whisky clutched tightly to his chest -- a look of serenity on his face. Vic's head was resting on the table in front of him amongst a dozen empty whiskey bottles and Dick was balanced precariously on a chair. "If I live to be a hundred I'll never understand why you do this every New Year's Eve!"

“Never again,” Dick promised.

Donna snorted. “You say that every year.”

Dick grinned and winked at the woman he loved like a sister. “I do, don’t I.”

Donna sighed. Her anger and frustration drained away and a contented grin leaked onto her face and she walked across and wrapped her arms around him. If the truth was known, she wouldn‘t change a thing. This was her life and these misfits, with all of their strengths and faults, were her family. “Happy New Year, Dick.”

I would really love to know what you thought.

© December 2005 Aussie Nightwriter. : This relates only to the creative property in this story. The distinctive way the story unfolds, the specific dialogue and unique situations are mine. I acknowledge that some of the characters and settings belong to DC comics and I thank them sincerely for turning a blind eye so I can borrow them. (g) No infrigement of copyright was intended and no profit has been made from this story... so, please don't sue me. It wouldn't be worth your while.

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