|Emerald in the Rough
Author: Elendil PM
The Jade Nova's ring winds up in the hands of a new bearer. If only he knew what he'd been getting into...Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Words: 1,626 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 10-11-03 - id: 1555267
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Dave Armstrong sat in his desk chair, hands steepled, as if contemplating the cardboard box containing the contents of his desk in front of him. His life was drifting into a classic movie-style depression. He'd been fired two days before Christmas. Not that his job had been wonderful - it had normally been rather shaky since day one. Probably why Denise, his steady girlfriend of college years, had left him for someone else, and taken their year old son Rory, wanting a better life than the scrapes they'd had to endure. He couldn't say he blamed her in some ways.
But yesterday - yesterday seemed like it had been looking up. His boss had wanted to 'bring him into the fold'. His accounting firm had planned out a rather sneaky process of draining money that went undetected, pocketing a chunk of it and passing the rest to the firm. His boss had explained it all to him, and told him that a prime target would be one of his current clients, a man named Kyle Rayner. After all, he was just an artist, how would he ever know?
After being given a grin that would have fit on a crocodile, and a hearty pat on the back, Dave had been staring at his computer screen much like he was the box now. He had to admit, doing this would make him one of the 'favored' partners in the firm, would triple his salary, and that way he could show up the bastard Denise had ditched him for and make her feel stupid. To have his son back...it would have been the best Christmas present. But his fingers couldn't do the job. He knew he would never enjoy life again, knowing he'd been feeding off others to sustain himself. As much as he wanted to be in a higher financial bracket, to prove to his family he was someone in the world - he wanted to be someone his son could respect even more.
Switching into an email program, he typed out a full explanation on the process and how it was hidden and forwarded it to Kyle, to warn him, and sent a copy to the district attorney's office. The DA was making an indictment the day after Christmas. He'd been sacked right off. His firm didn't care about repercussions over getting rid of him unfairly; they were in worse trouble already.
Everything was too damned gray in this city, he thought. Made him even more depressed. He shuffled along, looking rather foolish with his box, trying to screen out the happier faces of the people around him. He just wanted to catch the fastest train home and lock himself in for a week. A voice intruded upon his brooding, though. "Hey, Dave Armstrong?"
Turning around to find the owner of the voice, he had black hair, looked somewhat rough, a bit of stubble on his face. The other man held out a hand to him. "Kyle Rayner." Dave shifted the box under one arm, shaking the hand lightly. Kyle kept a wince off his face, noting the box under his arm. "Guess they weren't so happy about your tip." Dave shrugged lightly. "Guess not. It's just a job though. I'll find another one."
Kyle adopted a more serious look. "I just wanted to find you...and thank you." Dave shrugged again. "No big deal. Doesn't say much for accountants who have to dip into their clients' accounts to be able to manage their money."
Kyle couldn't help but chuckle. "Listen, if you want to come over to my place for dinner on Christmas, we'd be happy to have you, just some friends coming over." Kyle felt like he owned Dave one, despite that Dave didn't think he'd done anything special. Or maybe he was just rather depressed to acknowledge it at the moment.
Dave shook his head. "I think my cloud of gloom would overpower the good cheer of the party. Thanks anyways. Seeya later, Kyle. Merry Christmas." Kyle shook his head lightly. "Hey, Dave. Thanks again." Dave didn't turn around, disappearing into the darkening city.
Taking a small shortcut through a park, a shriek of alarm reached Dave's ears. "No! Please!" Jogging a bit down the path, he found a mugger holding a woman and her child at gunpoint. "Just hurry it up and give me your money, b*tch! Then you can go!" Dave had stepped between the gun and the victims; his box discarded a few feet away. "Give them a break, its Christmas."
The mugger rolled his eyes. "God, there's always a hero." Dave pulled out his own wallet, offering it to the man. "Here, just take my wallet and let them go." The mugger snorted, snatching his wallet. "Thanks. I still want hers too." He grinned toothily. Another few moments of non-compliance, he leveled his weapon a Dave. "Fine. I make an example outta you." Dave watched it all happen as though it were slow motion. The trigger was pulled, the bullet came screaming out of the barrel, and bounced off the green bubble that had surrounded him - wait. Glancing upward, New York's hero had arrived, their own Green Lantern.
The mugger took off running - straight into a green band that resembled a slingshot between two trees, which stretched, and tossed him across two blocks, caught in the awning above a coffee shop, which in turn rebounded him onto the hood of a police car. The Green Lantern landed, and ruffled the awed child's hair briefly. "Keep an eye out for your mom, ok?" The child nodded, and left with his profusely grateful mother.
GL turned to find the man who'd come to the other pair's aid, who was collecting his things back into the hastily dropped box. He was surprised to find Dave again, but managed to conceal any facial expressions. "You stood up for them. I don't know many people who'd do that in New York."
Dave chuckled self-effacingly. "Well my life's been so wonderful lately, seemed someone miserable in place of two happy people was a reasonable trade." Humor aside, he shrugged. "They deserved to be happy for the holiday. Someone should be, at least. Me? I plan on hibernating until New Year's."
The Green Lantern smiled somewhat ruefully. There was something different about Dave. He seemed like he was trying to make the best of bad situations, and he held to a set of morals, even to the point of risking his job, even his life, to help other people. "You could always be happy to, if you wanted to."
Dave smirked. "Try me next year. Maybe then." As Dave turned to go, the nagging feeling in Kyle's head got stronger. "Hey!" Dave turned around, curious why the Green Lantern was intent on a talk with him, a common person, and a depressed person, at that. Dave's eyes opened wide as the green and black uniform altered, changing into the form of Kyle Rayner. "You....you're the...."
Kyle just nodded. "Yeah. It's me. Meet at the fountain three blocks south of Rockefeller Plaza at 11 tonight. There's something I want to give you."
At that, he changed back into the Green Lantern, taking to the air. Dave stared after him. "11 tonight..."
Dave woke late on Christmas morning. Kyle had been cryptic, giving him a small box, telling him not to open it until Christmas, and then leaving with a wry smirk. Dave sifted through the mildly cheery cards from siblings, parents, relatives, the obligatory card from Denise, with a mess of garbled crayon marks from Rory. Feeling odd a moment, Dave smiled, sticking the 'card' from his son on the refrigerator.
Remembering the box, which he had tried to open before, only to find it felt like it was welded shut. Trying again, it popped open easily, revealing a green ring, the likes of which he'd never seen before. He shook his head, confused, muttering, "Thanks Rayner, but I don't swing that way."
As though in response to his comment, an image of Kyle appeared in the air, some sort of hologram. "Hello, Dave. After seeing all that you've done recently, you helped me make up mind about a decision I've been putting off. This ring, given to me by...an old associate..and..well, it needs a new bearer. I think you'd be a great choice. You would be a very much so needed addition to the small and trying-to-rebuild Corps. If you'd like to join, just put the ring on....and show up at my place for dinner with us. We've got a few Lanterns coming over, we'll explain it all to you, and help you learn about your ring. If not, well, no matter. Just close the box, and the ring will return itself."
The hologram faded, and Dave stared at the ring. It seemed eerie, and almost scary, but the prospect of adventure stirred his blood. And it wasn't like he had opportunities beating down his door. Smiling a bit, and without another thought, he pulled the ring from the box, sliding it onto his finger......