Chapter 12: Who do you turn to?

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A/N: man, this is like, intense, emotional, drama-filled stuff here. If you don't care for matters of the heart, you'd best skip ahead quite a bit because we've been feeling lovey-dovey (no you pervs, not like that! Eww. Being a lesbian would be way impractical, and possibly very stressful. Think of that time o' the month. Geez. . . .), and we figure, after a fairly traumatic event, the JL folks would probably be feeling that too.

Nothing makes you think of life as much as death.

Disclaimer: aww crap. You all know we don't own anything, right? I mean, we own all these original story ideas, and any original, non Cartoon Network/DC Comics characters, right? But other than that. . . . We have some nice shoes. And Chunks could probably whip up some moola. But not much. She'll probably just borrow from her sister again, anyways. The thirteen-year-old sister . . . So don't sue us. For any reason. All you're gonna get is hit in the face. (with what? We don't know. We'd try to be creative.)

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Hawkgirl left the small study looking a bit sedated, and she went off by herself to her bedchamber, shooing off a concerned Diana.

It was getting rather late, so Superman said, "Why don't we all go get some sleep. We can figure out what caused the malfunction after we all start thinking clearly."

GL narrowed his eyes when Flash walked into the room. Then he said, "Yes. We all know what happens when people get foolish and run into things without thinking clearly."

Flash just sighed and walked back down the hall to his own bedroom.

GL stared after him for a second, until the red costume faded from sight. Then the black garbed man went to his own room. Silently.

Raising his eye ridges, J'Onn said, "Interesting. . . ."

Diana smiled, said a brief goodnight, and stalked to her room without so much of a backwards glance.

"Also interesting. . . ." commented J'Onn. "Superman, your turn."

"Turn for what?"

"To walk to your room. Everybody's doing it."

"Batman isn't."

"He's nocturnal."

Superman looked like he really wanted to have a good comeback, but he couldn't think of one, so he too walked to his bedchamber.

J'Onn turned his pupil-less stare to Batman. "I will be around, if you need something to distract you." Then he phased through the floor.

**Distraction from what?** Batman thought.

**Bruce, you don't think I'm that unobservant, do you?** came the Martian's response, telepathically of course.

**No, but. . . . who do you think you would be 'distracting' me from?**

**HER, of course.** said J'Onn. He then grew silent and left Batman staring out the windows.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^ MEANWHILE: IN GL'S ROOM

He had changed into his nightclothes; spandex and rubber aren't too relaxing. Lantern sat on the edge of his bed, head hung low, knuckles white from clenching them in his grip of the mattress. If he were the crying sort, he would have needed tissues. As it was, his eyes were filled with an incomprehensible sorrow. Well, incomprehensible to those who have never felt such loss.

He didn't know what to do, and for a black man, ex-Marine, and current world renowned superhero, not knowing AT ALL what to do came as a bit of a shock. Sure, their relationship had never been the easiest. 'The course of true love never did run smooth,' he would tell himself. But he reveled in her passion, and rejoiced in her forgiveness. He loved those times so much that it almost hurt just to remember them.

He did not care for docile women. If he wanted a blindly obedient dog, he could go out and buy a damn spaniel anywhere. He wanted a WOMAN. Not just to share his bed, or even just his time. One to share his life, his heart, and his soul. He thought that woman would be Shayera. But, so many moons ago, she had left him. Not for any other man; such a thing would be beyond her morals.

She felt caged. She had told him as such. Silly John, thinking he could tame the wildness in her; that he could fill that void that he saw in her eyes, after he pulled off that stupid mask. She asked that they remain friends, and he wanted to refuse such foolishness.

But he was so in love that he would submit to just being 'friends.' Still, he'd never told anyone the depth of his feelings for Hawkgirl. There was that odd bathroom banter with Flash, and he suspected J'Onn knew (but wisely never said anything), but he really had no one to confide in.

His emotions were intense. He'd been shocked when he heard of Hawkgirl's drunken carousing. Like most normal types, he had attempted to distract himself with an irreverent game show. It ended, he still hurt, and now he was all alone.

He leaned over onto his pillow, and gathered the blanket around his body. Yes, he'd call her in the morning. She'd know what to do about this. She always knew. She was his teacher, after all. . . .

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^ MEBBE AN HOUR LATER, WITH BATMAN

Batman was still staring at the window. And slowly banging his head against it. He stopped, rewound J'Onn's words and some recent events in his head, and started banging against the window again.

The computer in the wall behind him beeped. He turned, the data he'd requested now being spun onto a mini-disk. He opened a certain panel, and the disk was spit out into his palm. He closed it in a case, put it somewhere in his cloak (where, we don't know. No one ever bothered searching the cape, once they got it off his body. . . .), and then he stood, hands on his hips, looking very masculine and bewildered.

"Batman?" a small voice asked, intruding on his thoughts.

He turned, and there she was. Not in that scarcely covering ensemble of earlier in the evening, but in a Marines sweatshirt (borrowed once from GL for an odd reason, and never returned. . . .) and blue plaid pajama pants. She looked really. . . normal. Like your average, twenty-something woman. She even had her hair up in a messy bun.

Her bare feet barely made noise as she glided over to him. She had grace, even without heels and a fancy getup. She stopped a few feet away from him, eyes questioning, and said again, in barely more than a whisper, "Bruce?"

He turned from her, and she withdrew the hand that had almost reached out to him.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^ HEY LOOK. TIME FOR SUPERMAN.

Superman paced the length of his bedchamber, pondering. He really didn't know what to do, so he decided to take a nice, few hours long reprieve. He peeked out his door into the hall, saw that it was clear, and darted down another hall to the space deck. He slipped on a space suit (even he had some problems with the negative pressure of space) and flew off towards Metropolis. He landed on the balcony of his tenth story apartment, slid the door open, and walked in. Lois never locked it. It was too high up, and on the opposite side of the fire escapes, so there was never a real reason to, even though it was a large, almost courtyard-like balcony. He dropped the space suit on the floor, and was left in sweat pants and a "Daily Planet" shirt. He crept silently to the bedroom he and Lois shared, when he wasn't busy being a frenzied superhero.

She was sleeping, though not completely soundly, her face turned to where his should have been. He walked lightly to her side, sat on the bed's edge, and put his hand over her mouth. He whispered, "Lois. . . . Lois, honey."

Her eyes opened slowly, then flared open in fear, but settled down happily as he said, "Honey, it's me. Clark." He removed his hand and used it to brush a stray lock of her jet hair out of her face.

"Clark, I was so worried!"

"Worried? Why?"

"Your alarm in the other room said that the Watchtower was malfunctioning. I didn't tell anyone, don't worry. I just didn't know if you were on there. . ."

Clark's expression went from confused to sympathetic. "I'm sorry, Lois. I didn't know you knew about that. I should have called. . . .Yes, I was on it. But we fixed it, so obviously, I'm fine."

She smiled in relief. "Get in bed. It's cold tonight."

He stood and walked to his side of the bed, then crawled in next to her. He wrapped an arm protectively around her waist, and pulled her close.

"Clark, your feet are freezing," she laughed, her worry transformed into joy at his return.

"Mmhmm. . ." he murmured, threading her fingers with his.

"Clark?"

"Yes?"

"How long are you staying?" she asked tentatively.

"Just for tonight. I have to go back and find out what caused the system failure. I'll try to be back here as soon as I can."

"Alright. . . ." she sighed and leaned her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat.

[pause]

"Clark?"

"Yes?"

"I love you."

"Good thing, because I love you too."

[pause]

"You weren't planning on sleeping much, were you?" she asked.

"Not really."

"How nice." Lois' eyes twinkled as she turned to look up at him.

He smiled gently, took her face in his hand, and kissed her lightly. No, sleep wasn't exactly a priority right now.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^ BACK AT THE RANC-- WATCHTOWER . . . .

J'Onn swiveled in his chair in front of the monitor, tired of his FreeCell game. ** I wonder what Onna is doing . . . . right now. . . .**

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^ IN A DIFFERENT PART OF THE WATCHTOWER

"Did you need something, Wonder Woman?" Batman asked. It seemed a bit stupid to call her that, when she was quite obviously just trying to be a plain ole woman.

"We need to talk."

Batman grimaced, though she couldn't see it. "About?"

"Um . . . us."

He knew she was going to say that. "I knew you were going to say that."

"Then why did you even ask?" she demanded, as he turned to face her.

"Because I'm not very good at this, . . ." he gestured wildly, "this, communication thing."

"So I've noticed." Her smile was grim.

"Well, what about us did you want to talk about?" he asked, lamely.

Her eyebrows furrowed pensively. "I just wanted to know if I meant anything to you, or if I was just another girl, another night."

HIS eyebrows raised. He hadn't expected her to come out and say it. And he wasn't quite sure how to respond. "You shouldn't mean anything."

"I shouldn't? Great for me. But do I?"

"I still don't know if I trust you."

She looked as though she had been slapped, and took a few steps backwards. "Well I trusted you! More than I've trusted any other man, on this entire planet! But you still haven't answered my question. Do you care for me or not?"

"Well, technically, yes, I do." He was really losing it.

"Technically?!"

"It's not that simple, Diana!"

"Why not?"

"Because. . . because. . . there's a lot of crazy things in my life right now. I don't want you to get hurt. I can't risk your heart or mine when there is so much else at stake."

"Bull shit."

"Excuse me?" he was a bit shocked. She never used this language, not even under fish-stick influence.

"You can say all the nice things you want. I understand perfectly. I was a passing fancy, maybe a bit longer lasting than other dates, but you don't really love me. If you did, you wouldn't be making up all these crappy excuses over why we can't be together."

He stood silently, stunned by truth and unable to say how much he wanted to protect her, keep her from the darkness, make her happy. He wanted to say how much he panicked at the thought of her losing her when the Watchtower was falling. Wait, he tried to say, I DO love you! But his voice wouldn't work and all he could do was open his mouth as she started to cry.

"You know, not everyone is evil. We aren't all trying to get you."

His lips moved, but no sound came out. Tears were streaming down her face now, making it hard for her to talk.

"Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold," she cried, before turning around and briskly walking back to her quiet abode. She wrapped her arms around herself, but it was for self comfort, not warmth.

Something warm trailed down Batman's cheek. First instinct said blood; he was a fighter after all. Realization that it was a tear jarred the Bat's emotions. He sat down hard in the nearest chair.

**J'Onn? **

**Yes, Bruce? **

**Am I fucked up and cold? **

**It would seem so. **

** I didn't want to hurt her by saying something. **

**Sometimes saying nothing cuts deeper. **

Batman stood up slowly and looked sadly at where she had stood, only moments before. He then went to his own darkened bedroom, took off his cowl, and looked at himself in the mirror. "Way to screw up, Bruce."

He donned black pajamas, slid under his covers, and tried to sleep.

It wouldn't work. Nobody slept that night. A few doors down, Hawkgirl was tossing and turning, images flashing before closed eyes too fast to comprehend. Diana was staring stonily at her ceiling, having sworn to cry no more over 'that man,' and even Flash was having sharp twinges of guilt, or something akin to it.

Maybe things would be better in the morning. Maybe.

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A/N: Chunks: Dude, Zippy, you HAVE to lay off that bad Nora Roberts stuff. It's junk food for your brain. Your brain's ass is getting fat.

Zippy: Screw you.

Chunks: We don't do that kind of thing. I thought we already discussed that. . .

Zippy: . . . . .

Ed: SQUEAK, YOU!

Ein: =squeak= [translation: what do lesbians DO anyways?]