Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rating: Nothing you kids can't read.
"Oh. My. Word."
Hawkgirl whirled around, nearly jumping out of her skin. "Flash! Sweet mother of Thangor…..don't you ever knock?"
The aforementioned Flash was standing in the doorway of the Watchtower powder room, jaw nearly scraping the floor. "And shut your mouth," Shayera continued. "You look like a cow. And not a particularly attractive one, at that." She turned back to the mirror and continued applying her lipstick.
Flash finally regained the use of his tongue. "Somebody had better call God," he said in an awed tone.
"And why on earth would anyone want to do that?" Shayera said.
"'Cause I think he just lost an angel."
Hawkgirl rolled her eyes. "Down, boy! It's not like you've never seen me in formal wear before….."
"I haven't." Flash looked her up and down, now giving his trademark grin. "At least not formal wear like THAT. I like what I see so far, though, and….."
"Choose your words carefully, kiddo." Hawkgirl tried for a threatening tone, but she couldn't stop her eyes from twinkling. Turning away form him once more, she surveyed herself carefully in the mirror. She was dressed in a white, strappy, sequined top that left little to the imagination- it was cut low in the back, a choice she had made for her wings, but Calvin Klein had seen fit to cut it low in the front as well- and who was she to argue with a world-class designer?
To complete the outfit, she was wearing a matching floor-length skirt that clung to her slender frame, and strappy stilettos she had stolen from Diana. With the addition of heavy, dusky makeup, delicate jewelry, and a smaller mask, she thought she looked pretty good.
And if the puddle of drool slowly collecting at Flash's feet was any indication, she was going to turn heads tonight.
She abruptly stood, snapped her lipstick case shut, and looked Flash up and down. "Hate to admit it, but you look…..decent," she said to him. He was wearing the "dressy" version of his costume- a sleek, black aerodynamic outfit that was complemented with a floor-length leather trenchcoat. Very cool, very classy, very Matrix Reloaded. "You clean up well. I like you in black."
Flash grinned. "Don't I know it!" He stepped up to the mirror and threw an arm around her, staring at their reflections. "Amazing. You in white, me in black…..wouldn't we look great on the top of a wedding cake?"
"You're crazy, Wally." She shook him off. "Now move, before I hit you with my mace."
"It's not even here."
"Yes, it is." She lifted her enormous black Birkin bag from the floor and held it up to his nose level. "Think I'd actually leave my baby at home? C'mon, let's go and find the others."
"You are a nut."
"And PROUD of it. Come on!" Hawkgirl grabbed Flash's hand, dragging him down the hall. They reached the living area in seconds, where the other members of the Justice League- minus Batman- were assembled, talking and sipping drinks. Flash was the first to interrupt the conversation. "J'onn? In a SUIT?"
The Martian Manhunter turned to welcome him with a slight smile. "It's Superman's."
Superman himself was looking pretty dapper, in a charcoal-grey getup that simply screamed, "Italian made!!" And his forehead curl had never looked better. The Green Lantern was standing there as well, dressed to the nines in a camel-colored suit with a skintight cashmere turtleneck underneath. He sucked in an audible breath when he saw Shayera, and she smiled as she went over to him. "Hey."
"I…..hey," he managed to get out. To his credit, he wasn't staring at her chest OR her legs. Chalk one up over Flash. "Nice…..toe polish."
Chuckling, Hawkgirl took his arm. "C'mon, let's get the others and head out. We're going to be late."
John simply stared at her in astonishment. She had never been this friendly with him before.
"Look, John……" she sighed. "A lot has gone on since the team nearly broke up, okay? I just want to have some fun tonight." She looked up at him and smiled mischievously. "You said we should all move on. That's what I'm doing." She touched his shoulder lightly, then walked away form him and over to Diana, who looked every inch like the princess she was, a vision in a delicately draped Grecian-style dress. "Love the dress, Di."
"I…….thank you," she said distractedly. "Do you think….."
"Batman will show? I have no idea," Hawkgirl said, then sat back to enjoy her friend's discomfort.
"No, it's not that…..I…..he….." Wonder Woman made a vague gesture with her hand, then headed for Superman with a speed worthy of the Flash. "Shouldn't we get going, Clark?"
"We should. Everyone out!"
Hawkgirl was laughing all the way out the door.
"Care to dance?"
Diana looked up at the request, startled. She placed down her glass of champagne so quickly, it rattled on the table. "I…..Batman?" she began to struggle to her feet.
"No, there's no hurry. Finish your drink." Batman took a seat opposite her, and she took a long sip from her glass, seizing him up. He was dressed in a black suit, much different from his usual superhero getup, but the ever-present mask was on his face- and she would bet her lasso that his utility belt was under the loose jacket. "You look….." he didn't finish his sentence, but his tone said much.
"I didn't expect you to come," she said, low, slightly embarrassed by his remark. When was the last time that Batman had noticed what anyone wore?
"It was a good idea, Clark had. So, I decided to come." He stared out at the dance floor.
Diana had to agree. It had been Superman's idea that the Justice League have dinner and drinks together at L'Amour, an elegant Gotham city society club, as a sort of celebration of his return from the dead- as well as a celebration of the team's recent reconciliation. So far, most of the team seemed to be having a blast.
Clark and Lois were the perfect hosts, circling the room, talking to strangers and friends alike, signing autographs. Hawkgirl was having the time of her life- after a playful bump n' grind with Flash to a steamy salsa song, she was now looking extremely content slow-dancing with John Stewart, her wings encircling them both.
Flash was chatting up a table of college-age socialites, and J'onn was actually dancing- with a punk-looking, Courtney Love look-alike with purple hair!
The Justice league hadn't looked this happy in a long, long time.
And now, Batman was asking her to dance.
She finished her drink and stood, tucking her clutch under her arm. Batman stood as well, taking her hand and leading her out to the dance floor, earning many surprised looks from his teammates (Shayera and John nearly overturned a potted plant in their straining to look). He ignored them and stood on the floor, taking Diana into his arms, then beginning to move slowly across the floor.
Diana trembled slightly. She could feel his body heat, so close to hers, and great Hera-! Should a mere man affect her so? She stiffened, then relaxed, in spite of herself. The music was soft, soothing, and the warmth of his arms was so pleasant. He had a nice, clean, sensual smell about him, too- so human.
He was looking down at her now, a slightly bemused frown on his face. Great Hera, she must not make a fool of herself. Never mind that every second, a new rush of warmth is shooting down towards her lower belly……
"Diana? Are you all right?" she could hear him as if out of a fog, and his low voice was so gentle and caressing……curse that champagne!
"Yes," she managed to croak. Oh, Artemis, don't let him release me yet. Dear Hera……
Batman took her chin and tipped it up, looking down into her face. Diana sagged against him, feeling an ache so powerful, she didn't even have the willpower to fight it. Hippolyta had warned her of such feelings, of how they could enslave her to a man……
But was that so terrible, if it felt this good?
Diana forced herself to look up steadily, marveling at his height. Most human men were shorter than her- she even had Flash by a few inches, and he was taller than Superman, even. But Batman……
…...was kissing her now. She could feel the breeze on her bare arms. How on earth had they even gotten outside-? But she didn't care about that- all she cared about now was the warm jolt of flesh on flesh…….
Hera, Artemis, Mother! forgive me…....
"So. where do you think they disappeared to?"
"You gossip too much." John passed Shayera a napkin full of cashews, one of her favorite finger foods. She took them from him appreciatively, popping several into her mouth.
"I do not."
John rolled his eyes. "Whatever."
The two were seated on a window seat, laps full of food, behind a lace curtain, hiding from Flash, who was currently scanning the room for participants in a conga line he was organizing. "I mean, Batman dances with Diana out of nowhere, and then- wham, bam, they disappear off to somewhere." She looked at John. "Do you think they-?"
John actually considered it. "I always thought they'd be a good couple," he said.
Hawkgirl shrugged. "They do suit each other, I guess. The Princess and the Dark Knight." She peered out of the curtain. "Well, I wonder whether Flash and his victims have-"
"Hawkgirl…..Shayera." John's voice was serious, now.
"I just want you to know…..while we're being friendly right now and all……I don't consider you just a soldier. You're very….special to me, and I would give my life for you."
"I know." Shayera's voice had dropped several octaves, and she stared down at her lap.
"I don't know. Maybe I was just scared."
Shayera sighed and tucked her feet underneath her. "I don't know. Of my emotions. Of you. Of-"
Shayera didn't know when John moved closer, wrapping his arms around her, but all she knew was that she didn't mind at all. She lowered her wings, covering them as she had done when they were dancing, and leaned into his chest, listening to his strong, rapid heartbeat. God, she felt so comfortable. Maybe it was the champagne……..or maybe not.
His lips were full, the warmest she'd ever kissed, and God, could he kiss……and this place was so nice and secluded……..
Flash was going to be looking for them for a while.
"Hey everybody! Everybody!!!!"
Flash stood on the stage, his voice resounding through the club. "Are you all having a good time?"
As the crowd hollered acknowledgement, Flash looked around for the rest of the Justice league. Batman and Diana were seated at a table, and she was positively…..glowing. To the left of the club, he could see Shayera and John emerge from behind a bay window curtain, looking positively…..mussed. He raised an eyebrow. Interesting.
Clark and Lois were seated at a table, and J'onn and his biker chick were with them.
"Anyway," he continued. "It's nearing three in the morning, and the Man says we'd better call it a night."
The crowd groaned.
"I know, I know," he said, flashing one of his most charming smiles. "But for the last song, I asked the DJ to play a favorite of mine…..so we'll leave this place rockin.' Are you with me?"
"Then get out on the dance floor!"
Hey, ya……hey ya!!!!!
As the strains of the funky, American-Bandstand style OutKast song filled the small club, most people laughed and hit the dance floor. John and Shayera were getting down, much to the detriment of their "military" images. J'onn? Bopping gravely to the beat, with the Courtney-lookalike breaking it down in front of him.
Lois and Clark were on the top of the dance floor, making fools of themselves, and Batman, who would not dance, of course, was actually smirking in amusement as Flash taught Diana the Harlem Shake…..
Shake it like a Polaroid picture…..shake it, shake it……
Batman had to leave the room before he disgraced himself by laughing in front of his teammates.
The Justice League had never been closer.
He hoped they could stay that way.
"John…..get off my wing."
John Stewart muttered something unintelligible and rolled over- slightly.
"Okay, fine……don't say I didn't warn you!" Hawkgirl braced her feet against his back, then shoved with all her might. John rolled clean off her bed, and landed on the floor with a thump that resounded throughout the room.
Then, there was total silence.
Worried, Shayera leaned over the side of the bed, surveying John, who was laying on the floor, spread-eagle. Had she hurt him? "GL….."
He lay, looking up at the ceiling, unblinking. "Shy?"
"Yes?" she swallowed.
"What am I doing on the floor?"
"You, um, rolled out of bed."
"You pushed me."
"Well, sort of…"
"Mm hmm……" he was already nodding off again.
Hawkgirl laughed aloud, then climbed out of bed, joining him on the floor, nestling in the crook of his arm. He needed sleep, she supposed. Heck, they both needed sleep. They'd come back from Clark's party at nearly four in the morning. John had walked her to her room, she'd invited him to stay, and as could be guessed…….neither of them had gotten much sleep.
Until now. And this was after eight.
Shayera stretched with the contentment of a cat, replaying the night's events in her head. She'd had more fun than she'd had in ages, was now officially with the man she….loved……and-
She definitely had answers to questions she'd always had about certain parts of the human anatomy…..and flexibility, for that matter.
Man, WHAT a night. Who the hell said Marines were boring? She actually went scarlet for a moment, even in the privacy of her bedroom. GL was definetely not a....conventional soldier. And she had to admit, she'd been VERY enthusiastically following his lead.
Just as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard a voice, and a knocking at her door. Damn!
"Hawkgirl? It's me, Diana. Can I come in?"
"Um….."Hawkgirl leapt up, grabbing a sheet off the bed and wrapping it around herself. She kicked the back behind her, like a train, and opened the door, slightly. Diana was standing there, hair mussed, dressed in one of her ceremonial robes. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure, Diana, but, um……." Diana then glanced over her shoulder, taking in the sight of a very naked and very sleeping John Stewart on her rug. "Now's not exactly a good time…."
"Oh, good Hera, I'm sorry…" face flaming, Diana turned and hurried away.
Shayera shut the door, sat down on the rug, and laughed till tears ran down her face.
"This….is SO stupid."
"Shut up, Flash."
"I mean it! Who goes out on a full-team mission the day after a freaking party?"
"We do," said John grimly. "And I agree with Hawkgirl when she said you should shut up. If you don't I'll drop you."
Flash sucked his teeth. "You WOULD agree with her." So they were an "item" now. Who cared? It's not like they were doing a good job keeping it a secret. And if he had to endure one more moony look between the two……
He rolled his eyes and readjusted himself in the green canopy that Lantern had made for him with his ring, carrying him over Gotham city along with Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, J'onn and Superman, who were flying alongside him. Apparently this place could only be spotted from the sky. Irritated, Flash glared up at the four forms flying above him.
Sometimes it sucked, being the only non-flying leaguer. Even Batman could use those glider things when needed.
AND they were all cranky and hungover.
NOT the best position to be in while saving the world.
They had received a message about a possible intergalactic attack that might possibly affect earth, something like….an out-of-space terrorist attack. Their job? To monitor what was causing space disturbance, and if necessary, subdue it.
"Batman to J'onn."
"I hear you loud and clear, Batman."
"You are approximately three kilometers from your dropoff point. You will see the Batmobile."
The JL drifted down, after seeing the Batmobile, then scattered and took their positions, Batman giving directions from the inside of the vehicle. "Now what?" asked Hawkgirl.
"Now, we wait."
It was dusk, and seven very tired, doubly cranky members of the Justice League were headed back to the Watchtower.
And as usual, Flash was the first one to break the silence.
"So," he continued, "we waste an entire day that could have been spent sleeping in, catching up on Looney Tunes, playing cards…..." he paused for dramatic effect. "……on a meteor shower."
"Flash, no one knew it was a meteor shower at the time," J'onn said patiently. "It could have been any type of attack."
"Oh, I'm not blaming it on anybody, J'onn," Flash said quickly. "I'm just saying." He sat back in his seat, sulking. Everybody ignored him. Everyone else except of course, Hawkgirl.
"If I had any energy left to lift this thing," Shayera said, gesturing to her mace, "I'd bash your head in with it." He'd been complaining all day, and Batman had seen fit to put him on patrol with her during the Gotham city watch. She was pretty much ready to kill him.
"Oh yeah? I'd like to see you try!"
"Well, I DO feel a sudden burst of energy coming on…..."
"ENOUGH!" Superman's voice cut through the air like a knife, as the GL caught Shayera and her brandished mace with a beam from his ring. "Are you both children?" Superman continued sternly. "You miss one night of sleep and act his way?"
Flash looked ashamed. So did Hawkgirl. "He's right. Sorry, Shy."
"Yeah, yeah……" Shayera tucked her mace back into her belt and sat down with a sigh.
Superman rolled his eyes and began to prepare the Javelin for landing. Honestly! Sometimes he felt like a father with a brood of six very unruly kids…..well, maybe not six. Two, definitely. "How's it look, Bats?"
"All clear for landing."
"Then let's do it. Brace for impact, people!"
The Javelin landed without incident and all seven members of the Justice League unloaded, preparing to settle down for a quiet night. Every now and then, Diana stole a look at Batman, but he was working meticulously, cleaning his weapons, restoring them to their designated spots in the plane. He didn't look at her; he didn't speak unless it was totally necessary-
"Di, could you pass me those pliers?"
"Hunh?" said Diana, still not quite out of her reverie.
"The. Pliers." Green Lantern repeated slowly. "Like. I've. Been. Asking. For. The. Past. Five. Minutes."
Diana shook the cobwebs from her brain and handed him the requested tool. "I'm sorry, John. Guess I'm…"
"Worn out?" John offered her a grin.
"Well……yes," Diana said. She wasn't even thinking about her physical state, but she WAS tired. Praise be to the gods for John's offering her an excuse. She smiled. "I guess I do need some sleep."
"You're telling me." John smiled back at her. "Hold this screw for me while I tighten it, willya? Bats won't release us till the Javelin's in tip-top shape." he added with an eye roll. "Reminds me of a drill sergeant I had back in the Marines."
Diana laughed, but her attention was dragged away again- this time by Batman, who surveyed the plane in grim satisfaction, then left without a word to her. She sighed inwardly. Had he really kissed….her last night, or was that a figment of her imagination….or a crazy wish?
"…….can leave now." Diana turned her attention back to the Green Lantern just in time to catch his last phrase.
"I'm sorry John, what did you say?"
"Boy, you're really out of it, aren't you?" he chuckled. "I was just saying that I think we're pretty much done- we can leave now."
"Oh." Wonder Woman picked up her lasso, then turned back to John, determined to make SOME intelligent conversation so the man wouldn't think her a total fool. "I guess you're going to Shayera's room?"
John's mouth fell open, and she felt her face turn red. Great Hera, what was WRONG with her tonight? "Oops. I wasn't supposed to know that, was I? Oh…..I'm so sorry. Just forget that I-"
"No, no, don't worry about it," said GL, rubbing a hand over his head, a slightly embarrassed smile on his face. "You would have found out eventually. I guess we weren't as sneaky as we thought we were."
Diana opened her mouth, about to inform him that she'd found out by seeing him in a…..compromising position on Shayera's rug that morning, but decided to keep THAT information to herself. "I'll see you later, John."
Wonder Woman rolled her eyes as she watched him go. "Rookie, my foot," she muttered. She knew that he only called her that jokingly now, but….it still grated. She exited the plane, shut the door and headed out of the garage, walking down the hall towards her room.
She passed the security room, and saw a dark shape occupying one of the chairs.
After a moment's hesitation, she entered the room, tapping on the door, lightly. "Hello, stranger." She said, lightly.
Batman didn't seem surprised. "Princess."
Diana flinched slightly, more from his cool tone than from his use of her formal title. "Batman, we need to talk."
Batman was silent for a minute; when he finally spoke, his voice was hard and final. "Not now."
Blinking back tears, Diana stood and fled the room.
He didn't even want to….talk about it.
And the worst part of it was…..she actually CARED.
Unable to even fathom returning to her rooms to sleep, Diana wandered into the den, where Flash was sitting on the sofa, playing with the X-Box he'd cajoled Superman into letting him bring from his apartment. "What are you doing up, Flash?" she walked in and sat beside him on the couch, tucking her feet under her.
He shot her a grin. "Couldn't sleep. I guess I was too tired." He was dressed in fire-engine red long john bottoms, an Elvis is Dead t-shirt, and red socks. His mask was gone (making it about only the third time that Diana has seen him unmasked) and his reddish-blonde hair was tousled. "Wanna play?"
Diana returned his smile, and suddenly saw a picture in her mind of what he must have looked like as a kid- too cute. She took the controller from him. "Loser cleans the bathroom after Clark's done his hair….. for a week."
"You're on!" he popped in the game, and the two began playing. It was about an hour before Diana was declared winner. She smirked at Flash. "Good luck scraping that mousse off the sides of the basin."
"Don't remind me," Flash groaned. He kicked back, propping his feet up onto the side of the couch, dropping his head in Diana's lap. "I'm bored now. Tell me a story."
"What are you, five?" Diana was amused. "I-"
"He has the mentality of five earth years," a voice said, teasingly. J'onn walked into the room, dressed in one of his formal Martian robes, stretching.
Flash made a face at him. "Very funny, J'onn. Real cute." He sat up. "You done with the phone yet?"
"J'onn was on the phone?" Diana asked in surprise. The telephone had been installed a few months back, mainly so the human members of the Justice League could reach family members on earth in case of an emergency, but so far, she'd never seen J'onn touch it.
"Yup." Flash looked very pleased to be passing along the information. "With that chick he picked up at Clark's party."
"Chick….oh, Hera!" Diana finally processed what Flash was getting out. "You mean, that girl with the purple hair?"
"She wanted to ask me some questions about intergalactic relations. It is for a graduate thesis she's writing." J'onn looked slightly embarrassed.
"Intergalactic relations, my foot!" Flash was whooping now, slapping his leg. "She was totally digging you, J'onn!"
"You exaggerate, as usual."
Flash was too into his tirade to stop. "And…..and," he said, wiping a tear of laughter from his eye, "after they danced, all this guy can say, was…" he squeezed his face into a comically good representation of J'onn's poker face, and took on a staccato baritone. "I find your customs here on earth most fascinating." He finished his imitation and doubled over laughing.
"Indeed," J'onn replied, nettled. "YOU were turned down by the named "chick" three times, if I recall correctly."
Flash chose to ignore that. Besides, he was rolling on the rug, now, howling. "Intergalactic relations! Let me translate that for you! It means-"
J'onn came the closest he'd ever been to the Martian equivalent of rolling his eyes and headed for the door. "Good night, Diana."
"Good night," Diana answered, but she was slightly peeved. A Martian widower of a certain age currently had more of a love life than she did.
It just wasn't fair.
Diana rose from her place on the couch and gave her teammate a Look- he was still on the rug, weak from his laughing jag. "Do you need someone to tuck you in, Flash?" she asked sarcastically, not sounding unlike Hawkgirl. "Since you insist on acting like a child."
Flash tried for a seductive look. "Oh, would you? 'Cause I would love….."
"Not on your life." Wonder Woman turned and headed for her door. Really. Flash was just too much sometimes…..
All of a sudden, a crash filled the room that resounded throughout the entire Watchtower, making it shudder with the impact. Wonder Woman let out an involuntary scream, then clutched the doorknob in an attempt to keep herself from being sucked out into space. On the edges of her vision, she could see Flash doing the same thing, hanging on to a table that was bolted to the floor.
A large, plane-like structure had crashed directly through the window, and it was headed straight for her…..
Batman heard Diana's scream and leapt to his feet, putting the security system on auto and racing for the den. He arrived just in time to see her duck a small shuttle, then leap to her feet as the emergency hatch closed the gape in the window. Flash was also struggling to his feet.
"What the hell is going on?" yelled Superman, rushing into the room. John Stewart and Shayera were right behind him, along with J'onn- all in various states of undress. It was obvious that they were coming from bed.
"I don't know!" Diana leaped nimbly out of the way, just as a fiery laser beam came from the ship, directly at her. She flew upward, wrested the entire gun from the side of the ship, and threw it on the floor, stomping it into the ground. "Maybe that fool Lobo's back!"
Superman immeadiatly dove into the shuttle, pushing out everything in his way with his fists, Wonder Woman right behind him. When they reached the pilot's chair, they both gasped in disbelief.
"Care to join me for a cup of tea?" the battle-armor clad man said, with a cool grin.
"Savage?" to say that Superman was shocked would be the understatement of the century. "Well, here we go again," he muttered. He lifted his fist, about to drive it home, but Savage lifted his hand, catching Superman's fist in an iron grip. "I have no desire to fight with you," he said, coolly. "Now let me get out of this hideous shuttle and make my proposition."
"We want to have no words with you," Superman said, coldly. "Now get out- before we make you leave."
Savage rolled his eyes and walked past Superman, moving quickly towards his exit. Caught by surprise, Superman and Diana followed him with undignified little hops, trying to catch up with him. He stepped out, and was instantly hit by a series of attacks. John was aiming beams at him, Hawkgirl was swinging her mace with impunity and Batman was……
"WAIT!" Superman raised his hands and landed on the ground. "He claims he wants to talk to us, not fight."
Savage looked bored by all the commotion. He was flicking dust off his suit.
Hawkgirl stopped flying towards him, but she didn't lower her mace. John hovered behind her. "What do you want, Savage?"
"Lovely place you have, here," Vandal said in reply, walking around the den. "X-box, hmm? You might be surprised to know that I'm quite proficient at video games."
Even Batman looked shocked at his nonchalant tone. "What do you want?" John said, sounding frustrated.
Savage sighed and sat down on the sofa. "I suppose it would be considered in bad taste to ask for a brandy."
"That is possibly the only sane thing you've said so far," Batman said, icily. "State your mission, or be thrown out."
"Such impatience," Vandal sighed again. He stood and walked over to Superman, who was shaking with barely-contained rage. "I see you're back from the dead," he said, amused. "And came running helter-skelter to stop me, right afterward. You must have met quite a humdinger of my future self."
Superman's mouth fell open in shock.
"Don't look so surprised, darling. You look quite foolish with your mouth open." Savage smirked, taking Clark's chin between long, slender fingers. "So tell me, Clark. DID I achieve world domination? I would hate to be going through all this trouble now, and have it come to nothing."
"I….you…." as Clark stuttered, Batman's eyes narrowed in sudden comprehension. "How did you know?"
Savage continued as if he hadn't even heard Batman. "That Toyman," he said, softly. "Stupid, stupid fellow. He thought he was in it to KILL you, Clark." He smirked again. "The entire group. Foolish, foolish people. It's amazing how well villains can work together, when it's for revenge- or what they THINK is revenge."
He looked at Superman again, that little smile never leaving his face. "However, he did manage to do one thing correctly." He turned to Diana. "Look under your arm, my dear."
She did so. On her bustier was a tiny metallic object, no bigger than half a pea. She plucked it off, holding it between finger and thumb.
A tracking device. So this was how he'd found them.
Savage moved close to her, so close that she could feel his warm breath on her skin. "You threatened to punch a hole in his head," he said, softly. "Too bad you didn't notice what he left sticking to you."
"You sick…." Diana swung out, smashing his jaw with a fist, sending him flying across the room. "They were workinng for YOU?"
It took considerable time for him to get to his feet and when he did, the entire league was standing above him. "For the last time," J'onn said, "what do you WANT?"
Savage stood to his feet, raised an eyebrow, then pointed. "I want her."
"DIANA?" the entire Justice League spoke as one voice.
"Did I stutter?" Savage asked politely.
"You must be out of your mind!" This was Flash.
"As Howard Stern would say, 'certi-f*ckin-fiably!" Vandal laughed at his own joke, without humor. "So, my dear, are you going with me or not?"
Diana's reply was to lift her lasso, and aim it for his head.
"I thought not." Vandal sighed. "I did hope that this could be done easily, but….." he shrugged and then turned suddenly, ducking Diana and ripping a large pillar from the floor with his suit's robotic arm, hurling it at Flash, who was dashing for him, full speed. Flash fell to the ground, unconscious.
Vandal then ran for his shuttle, activating something on his wrist as he did so. Though damaged, the shuttle shuddered, unfolded, and began transforming into a large machine- from which floating, demon-like creatures seemed to appear.
"What the hell are these?" screamed Hawkgirl, swinging at one with her mace. It passed harmlessly through his boneless body and began to wrap itself around her, holding her tightly.
"Oh, just a little something I had Ms. Le Fey whip up for me," Savage said airily. They should cut off your air, my dear- you'll be dead in about two minutes."
"You work with Morgaine, too?" John shot a beam at the one now encircling Shayera's throat, desperately trying to dislodge it, but it was of no use. The creatures were all over, now. Savage laughed at his question. "Let's just say that I recently developed a youth serum that she was….very interested in having."
He turned to Superman. Mid-flight, he had also been caught- by three! "Don't bother struggling, Clark," he said, softly. "They are shape shifters- they'll move with you. It'll be an easier death that way."
J'onn was also having trouble. He'd attempted to take the shape of the creatures, but apparently they knew their own, and were now strangling J'onn as well. Only Batman remained, hiding behind the TV entertainment center.
He watched at Savage walked over to Diana, who was also entangled with the creatures. However, she was struggling desperately, and unlike the others- could breathe. He reached for a Batdart and tossed it up at one of the creatures that was still flying. When it connected with its target and exploded, the creature disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Savage grinned coldly. "Good work, my pretties," he said, softly, ignoring the explosion behind him. He picked up a still-entangled Diana and headed for his ship.
"Batman," he said, low, "I see that you have discovered the secret of my….babies." he paused for effect. "Fire will destroy them. But do you have enough time to save your friends- AND Wonder Woman?"
Batman looked around, almost frantic. Hawkgirl had already passed out from lack of air, and if the look on Superman's face was any indication, he'd be soon to follow. A drop of blood was running down John' s chin, and both Flash and J'onn were unconscious.
Savage tossed Diana in his ship, jumped in himself, and charged it up.
Batman gritted his teeth and let a batdart fly…….
"Am I hurting you?"
"I…..no……OUCH!" John Stewart hissed through his teeth as a Betadine-soaked towel was slapped on his bruised shoulder. "Not so hard!"
"Thought it didn't hurt." This was with a smirk, from Shayera.
J'onn looked up from where he was bandaging Flash's wrist and nodded approval. "As you humans say, suck it up, John. You don't want an infection."
"There is nothing to suck up. In the Marines, we continually suffer much more pain than this- in fact, we- OUCH! Shy! She's doing that on purpose," he said accusingly.
"Can't take it, big boy?" Shayera teased. "Di, how's that foot-metal extraction going?"
"Just….fine….." Wonder Woman was examining the bottom of John's foot with a magnifying glass, where he had taken in some shrapnel in the scuffle with Savage.
"Why do I always have to get the worst of it in a fight?" grumbled John. "If my ring hadn't shorted out the last minute…"
"Who cares about whether or not you got the worst of it?" Flash was grumbling as well. "What I want to know is, why do you get all of the pretty nurses, and I just get J'onn?"
"I regret that my appearance is not sufficiently pleasing to your majesty," J'onn said, dryly. "How does the wrist feel?"
Flash flexed it. "Better. Thanks." He reached up and touched his head. "This bump on my head is growing bumps, though. It sucks, being hit on the head."
"From the quality of your conversation, I think it's safe to assume that you don't have a concussion." J'onn stood to his feet.
"From the quality of his conversation, I would suspect that he HAD a concussion," said Shayera, and both women laughed.
Flash scowled at them. "I'm going to go and hunt up some grub." He stood and left the room with an air of bruised dignity.
"Diana, go and rest," J'onn said quietly. "I think you've been through enough this evening."
"Yes, go," John chimed in. "You did one helluva job tonight."
Diana smiled modestly and got to her feet. While Batman had been occupied in freeing their suffocating teammates, she had been struggling violently with Vandal, who was flying away from the Watchtower at high speed- with her as his captive.
He had obviously underestimated her power and her strength- and the resulting battle had ended up with her flying back the Watchtower in HIS ship, leaving his unsuited body tumbling about in space somewhere.
The shuttle was now in the lab, being analyzed by Batman and Superman, while she, Hawkgirl, J'onn and Flash tended to their wounds in Sickbay. Amazingly, she had only escaped with a few welts. "I hope we never have to deal with him again." She turned to John. "And I have to thank you, John. If you hadn't sent that trail after me with your ring……I might have never found my way back. I hope we never see him again."
"We will," J'onn said, flatly. "The man is immortal, a genius- and mad. He will be back."
"I wonder what he wanted me for, though….." Diana waved a good-night to her teammates, then headed for her room. She briefly considered stopping by the lab to see if Superman and Batman had discovered anything, but she quickly decided against it. "Wonder Woman" or not, her limbs were aching, and she wanted nothing more than to strip off her filthy costume and go to sleep.
Walking in through her doorway, she didn't even bother to switch on a light. In two fluid motions, she yanked off her belt, boots and top, then threw them on the floor. Normally she was a neat freak, not unlike John in his military presicion, but today? She just wanted sleep.
A man's deep voice came from the darkness of her room.
Gasping in shock, Diana covered herself with her hands. "Who are you?" She looked for her top, but it was over by the door. Reaching out quickly, she grabbed one of the oversized t-shirts she routinely slept in from on top of the dresser, pulling it over her head. "Flash, I swear to God, if it's you…."
Diana felt her heart give what she was sure was an audible skip. Peering into the room, as her eyes adjusted to the lack of light, she saw a dark, vague shape on her bed. She snapped on her light, but the bulb was blown. Cursing in a true Shayera-like form, she lit a small incense-filled lamp she normally kept on her dresser, flooding the room with a soft, yellow glow.
Sure enough, it was Batman, sitting on top of her comforter, feet on the floor. And he looked……troubled.
"Batman," Diana said, still trying to recover from the shock. "I……"
"Please forgive my intrusion," he said, low. "I have something to say to you….." his voice trailed off, and he looked down, that troubled expression still clouding his face.
"Batman….." Diana sat on the bed. "Bruce," she said, softly. "What's the matter?"
He gave her a sharp glance at the mention of his alter ego, but looked down again, plucking at her blanket. It was a full minute before he spoke. "Today….." she had to strain to catch his words. "Today I….. I had to make a choice."
"What are you talking abou-"
"The fight with Vandal," Batman said, voice low. "He gave me a choice…"
Diana was confused. "Batman, I don't know what you're talking about."
Batman continuted to speak without making any sign he'd heard her. "He had you, and was about to take off. The team…." He shook his head. "They never would have been able to make it."
Diana was still confused. "Batman, I still don't understand……"
"I sacrificed you," his voice had grown husky with emotion. "So I could save the others. I knew Vandal wouldn't kill you, so I let you go…….and I saved the others. Sacrificed the one to save the team…."
Touched, Diana took his hand. "Batman…..you did the most sensible thing you could have done…..and I'm fine now. I escaped and I'm back. That's all that matters. I would have done the same thing, in that situation."
He looked up. "Diana, it's not that……it's just that…….I used you." His eyes, blurry through the mask, met hers and locked. "You."
And in his pained, guilt-ridden expression, she read exactly what he couldn't find the words to say.
"Oh," she breathed, low, and before she could consider her actions, before she could even THINK, she threw her arms around him, squeezing gently, offering what comfort she could.
"I'm…..sorry," he said, low. His cheek was warm, and wet. Or was that hers? "I should have been able to do both, somehow...."
And then he kissed her.
It was nothing like the long, languid kiss he'd given her at the party- this one was hot, forceful, and full of barely contained emotion……she clung to him tightly, feeling slightly dizzy….. Shades of Athena, if Mother could see me now……and kissed him back with equal feeling.
When she finally pulled away, they were both breathing hard. Batman pulled out of her arms and stood to his feet. "I……I'll be going now." His voice sounded ragged, disjointed.
"Why?" Diana almost cried out, but contained herself in time. To her surprise, her voice sounded just as strange, and had actually dropped several octaves.
"Diana….if I don't leave now, I'm not going to be able to."
"Oh." As Diana caught his meaning, she plunked back down, flushing. He smiled ruefully and headed for the door. "See you, tomorrow, Princess."
As she watched him go, her mind went back to a conversation she'd had with Shayera as they'd worked together to clean up John's scrapes. He had still been unconscious.
"What made you do it? I mean, with John, that is…….."
Her friend had sighed and looked out the window. "So you know about us. Why do you ask?"
At that, Shayera smiled gently. "Well," she said, quietly, "I looked at our occupation. It sounds brutal, but we could be killed anywhere, at any time, in any battle."
She rested a gentle hand on John's forehead, then continued. "I don't want any regrets about anything….I don't want to die without truly loving….or truly being loved." She looked her fellow teammate in the eye, serious for once.
"Di….if you see an opportunity…to love, or be loved….don't push it away. In our business….it may never come around twice."
"Thank you," Diana had said, touched at Hawkgirl's openness.
"Don't mention it. And if anyone asks…I NEVER said anything THAT mushy! Especially not about John!"
The women laughed, and began to revive John……
Wonder Woman shook her head abruptly, but the words stayed with her. No regrets……
She wanted this. Now. Not for Batman, not for merely the physical aspect, but for herself. He had finally become human to her….she could see the pain, the guilt in his eyes……as well as something that ran so much deeper.
Leaping out of her bed, she cleared the floor in a couple of steps and grabbed Batman's shoulder. "Wait!" he froze, then turned slowly.
She leaned in to kiss him, bracing both hands on his chest, running them over the hard ridge of muscles underneath the suit. "Stay. Please." She could sense his arousal, though he barely flinched. He took her chin in his fingers. "Are you sure?"
She nodded, and wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face into his neck. Hera, let this be the right decision…..
Even as she said the prayer, she felt an overwhelming feeling of peace wash over her at Batman's touch.
This was the right decision.
She closed her eyes, gave in to her sensations…..and knew no more.
Batman heard the shrill scream even BEFORE he awoke, and was jolted out of a sound sleep. He rolled over. He was in Diana's bed, but she wasn't there. Damn. Were people up already? He'd planned to slip out of Diana's room and to his own before daybreak….but apparently, she'd worn him out a little more than he intended.
Rolling out of the bed, he pulled on his clothing, which was scattered around the room, grimacing at the tattered condition of his uniform- Diana's nails were longer than they looked. Oh, well. At least his cape would cover everything till he could….
"BATMAN!!" This was Superman yelling, now. "Get OUT here!"
Batman cautiously opened the door, only to see Superman flying down the hall in the direction of his room. "Clark, I'm here," he called.
Superman turned, abruptly, not even looking shocked at the sight of Batman emerging from Diana's bedroom. "It must really be serious, then," Batman muttered, face creased in worry. "What happened?"
"Green Lantern disappeared."
"What do you mean, disappeared?"
"Just what I said. Shayera said he went to the kitchen to get a bite to eat in the middle of the night, and he never came back."
"Flash is trying to get a feed." Both men raced for the security room, where Flash and J'onn were going over the tapes for the night before. Hawkgirl was standing behind them, looking as if she was going to cry. They were staring at the screen in shock. "Batman," Flash said, awed, "You're not going to believe this, but……."
"What?" barked Batman.
"Look for yourself."
Batman watched in amazement as the Green Lantern walked into the kitchen, yawned, flipped the light switch on, and walked in, dressed in a Marines t-shirt and boxer shorts. He opened the fridge, took out a soda, and……disappeared in flash of light. Just like that.
"Holy…." Superman said.
Batman was undeterred. "Play it again."
Flash did so.
Flash did so.
"Batman, shouldn't we……"
Batman reached into the drawer and pulled out another tape- this one of Superman's "death." He popped it into the adjoining VCR and pressed play, playing both tapes at the same time.
"The same thing that happened to you happened to him, Clark," Batman said, finally.
"How can you be so sure? I mean…."
"Just look at it. The radiation patterns look the same," Batman said, grimly. "He hasn't been killed; he was transferred somewhere."
"How the hell did that happen?" Hawkgirl said, hoarsely.
"I don't know. But I have an idea that it had to do with the visitor we had this last night- especially since he admitted that Toyman was working for him." Batman sat back, pressing the back of his hand to his forehead.
Then, all of a sudden, he sat bold upright and bolted from his chair. "Oh, GOD! NO!" he took off, running down the hall. He remembered seeing something that morning…..and Diana hadn't woke up beside him….oh, God, he was a freaking DETECTIVE. How could he have missed it?
The team dashed after him, and found him in Diana's room, standing over her bed. He was holding something in his hand, something that glinted gold under the lights.
"She never takes it off," Batman said in a voice that none of them had ever heard before. "Never."
It was official.
Another member of the Justice League was now missing.
Hot, searing pain.
That was the first sensation that the Green Lantern felt when he opened his eyes. He groaned again.
A woman's voice was calling his name- but why did it seem so loud? His ears were buzzing.
"Could you not yell?" John said, the raspy tone of his voice surprising even him. "Please?"
"John, it's Diana," she said, more quietly this time, although she still seemed to be talking right into his ear.
"I….Diana?" John struggled to focus, and as he did, he realized that he was shackled to some type of cold, metal wall, naked except for a pair of loose sweatpants and pair of combat boots.
His legs dangled free, but his wrists were attached to the wall. The burning sensation he felt was apparently because of the weight of his body that his arms had to hold up.
With pure soldier instinct, John pushed his feet flat against the wall and straightened up, relieving the pressure on his arms. He blinked, struggling to focus.
Diana was shackled in the same way, right beside him- and her clothing was gone as well. Instead of her standard Watchtower-issue nightshirt, she was wearing a thin cotton shift of some sort. It almost resembled a hospital gown.
"Diana, where the hell are we?"
"I don't know. It appears to be some sort of lab."
Green Lantern ignored the steady pounding in his head and glanced around, taking in every detail. The room was large, a sterile white color, and was furnished with every gadget and gizmo that one could imagine would be in a mad scientist's lair. Two cots stood in the center of the room, made up with hospital precision.
John gritted his teeth against the pain in his arms, and then strained against his restraints.
"Don't!" Diana's voice cut through his attempts. "The bands will electrocute you if you come close to breaking them. I tried before."
"I don't care…….auugghhh!" John cried out, this time, and fell back, his restraints smoking slightly.
"I told you," Diana said, shaking her head. Men! "We'll just have to wait until our captor decides to show his face."
John winced slightly before making a response. "Maybe not. Do I still have my ring on?"
Diana glanced over. "Yes. And it's still glowing."
John nodded, and closed his eyes, concentrating with all his strength. A thin laser beam came from the ring, heading in the direction of Diana's restraints. "You have to tell me where the lock is," he said. "I don't want to risk electrocuting you."
Diana nodded, and following his careful instructions, was soon out of her restraints. She walked over to the computer, trying to find a way to unlock his restraints. As she did so, she activated her Justice League homing device, which miraculously was still behind her ear. Whoever had frisked her must have done quite a sloppy job.
"What's the last thing you remember before you got here?" she said, to keep up conversation while she looked for how to free him. If the sweat that was beginning to coat his body was any indication, he was going into shock.
John understood what she was trying to do and forced himself to stay awake. "I…..was getting a soda, from the fridge," he said, slowly. "Then all of a sudden, my feet were burning up. The sensation traveled up through my body, I couldn't breathe…..and then I woke up here."
"The same thing happened to me, except I was in bed," Diana explained. "I tried to wake Batman, but….."
"Batman?" Even in his weakened state, John was able to pick up on THAT little detail.
"I….." Diana wondered how she was going to explain herself, but it turned out that she didn't have to.
A man had walked into the room.
"Well, look at who's up!" he said, cheerfully.
Diana's mouth dropped open, and John had the exact same reaction.
Standing there, in a clean, white lab coat, was none other than…..
"Vandal?" Diana hissed the name.
He nodded, pleased. "So you remember me."
Furious, Diana took to the air and lunged for him "You good-for-nothing…….I'll break every bone in your……."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Princess," Savage said sorrowfully, shaking his head. "Take a look at your left thigh."
"Notice anything different, love?"
Diana gasped. There was a long, thin scar on her leg, obviously seared closed. "What-"
"It's an implant," Savage explained. "In it is a serum that will paralyze you instantly, should I choose to activate it." He gestured to a tiny detonator, strapped to his wrist. "Your teammate has one as well." He watched in obvious amusement as Diana examined the scar, then flew over to John, who had a similar one on his left arm.
"You have some very interesting tan lines, by the way," remarked Savage.
Diana glanced down, and for the first time, realized that her uniform was gone. It took supreme effort not to cover herself and cry out- in spite of the cotton shift, she had never felt so naked in her life. Her face burned with anger- and shame.
Vandal saw the look of distress on her face and smiled sardonically. "If it's of any relief to you, I didn't touch you. I had more important things to do." He snapped his fingers, and an android instantly walked into the room. It picked Diana up, shackling her back to the wall.
"Now," Vandal said with the calm that only characterizes the truly insane, "How did you get off my wall?"
Diana's response was to spit on the floor at his feet.
"Fiery. I like that." Savage clapped gravely, then slapped her across the face with all his might. "I want an answer."
She didn't say a word.
Surprisingly, he didn't push the issue. "It is of no relevance to me, Princess," he said, grinning coldly. "I still have you here."
What he didn't know was that the Green Lantern had freed himself from HIS restraints, using his ring, and now leapt off the wall and onto Savage, taking him by surprise, and struggling for the detonator.
"You fool! I will….." those were the last words that Savage managed to get out, before his face was stomped in by a size-thirteen combat boot.
"Diana- the android!" yelled John. It had begun to advance.
Diana understood immediately what he was trying to tell her. When the android passed her, she lashed out with a series of fierce kicks that threw it off balance, making it crash to the ground. John had encircled Vandal's head with a pod that was cutting off his air, and he was at the computer. "As soon as he passes out, Di, I'll….."
That's when John's ring fizzed and shorted out.
Gasping for air, Vandal got to his feet, punching John with all the force in his hand, knocking him to the floor. John retaliated with a painful kick to Vandal's groin, but even as the man doubled over, he placed his finger on the detonator.
"One…false….move," he wheezed, glaring over in Diana's direction. John understood the threat and slowly put his hands up.
The injured android, who had since then collected itself and gotten up, grabbed John, picked him up as if he weighed no more than a bag of peas, and re-shackled him to the wall.
"A…..brave…….attempt……" Savage struggled to his feet, still reeling from the force of John's kick. He must be seeing stars, the GL thought with some satisfaction. Vandal began to speak again, regaining his strength and poise with every word.
"You…are perfect," he said, looking at Wonder Woman with something akin to reverence. "A brilliant strategist, a fierce warrior, gifted with intelligence and beauty. A true asset to both your race and the justice league. You are perfect for my purposes."
"What purposes?" frustrated, Diana could do little more than cry out. "And how do you know so much about me?"
Savage chuckled. "I have been watching you for months, my dear," he said. "It was during that felicitous time when we fought together during the War that I realized that you….you were perfect."
"Perfect for what??"
Savage ignored her question and continued. "I attempted to abduct you from your headquarters, but even then you proved too strong for me, and managed to get back." He grinned wolfishly at her. "Thought you'd seen the last of me, yes?"
"You're mad." Diana could think of nothing else to say.
"Yes, I am," he said. "Have you really only realized that, love?"
"Don't call me that."
"I look forward to our partnership, my dear." Vandal chuckled and turned to John. "So…..you are the reason she was able to get back to the Watchtower."
John didn't reply. His cold, steely glare was unwavering.
"For a human, your abilities astound me," Vandal said. He glanced at John's hand. "I am assuming the ring is the source of your power?"
When John didn't answer, Vandal raised a thick black brow and lifted his wrist, indicating the detonator. "Pardon me, but I must ask you to repeat yourself. I couldn't hear you."
"Yes." This came reply after a full minute, from between tightly gritted teeth.
"Astounding." Savage paced back and forth in front of the GL, taking his chin into his hands, looking deep into his eyes. "Your eyes glow an unearthly green, and yet you are human." He pushed his face in even closer to John's, so that their noses were almost touching. "I don't believe that this eye color is normal for people of your nationality?"
The glare that the GL shot him said plenty.
"I didn't think so," Savage said, smugly. "Which means you must have absorbed some of the powers from this ring. Astounding!"
Savage then backed up, tucking his hands behind him. "You should feel fortunate to have company," he remarked to Wonder Woman. "Your teammate is actually not supposed to be here right now. He was linked molecularly to you because of that trail he sent after you, to lead you back to the Watchtower."
The Watchtower. Diana suddenly struggled to keep the smile off her face, remembering the homing device she'd activated earlier- by all appearances, it was working perfectly. Batman was probably leading the search party to them right now, and the ensuing battle that would occur- oh, she was going to flay the skin off Vandal's back herself.
Vandal glanced at her, and smiled, as if he was able to read her thoughts. "The homing device won't work, sweetheart," he drawled. "We're in…..how do I say this? An entirely different dimension. The Justice league no longer exists."
"You sick f*ck….." Green Lantern finally broke his self-imposed silence. "Where the hell are we, Savage?"
"Over the hills and far away……"Vandal sang his reply, and then laughed- a low, maniacal chuckle. His tone immediately switched to one of dead seriousness, and he approached the Green Lantern once more.
"Amazing," Vandal said, tilting his head and surveying the GL carefully from head to toe, eyes raking over his bare, muscular chest, stomach, and upper abdomen. "Mr. Stewart- or may I call you John?- you have a wonderful body."
John was too shocked to speak. His mouth fell open.
"Yes….quite beautiful indeed…..I don't think I've ever seen such a physique on a human before…..simply lovely. Very male." He stepped forward, running his cool, slender fingers over John's chest and torso, tracing every muscle, pausing just below his navel. "It's almost like touching marble."
"Get your filthy hands off me," John spat.
Savage ignored him and continued to skim his fingers over the younger man's skin. "Your eyes glow green from the ring, which mean the radiation- and subsequently, some of the power- has been absorbed into your bloodstream…..and your DNA." He let his hands slide slowly down John's sides, and removed them, apparently finished with his examination. A thoughtful look crossed his face.
"Maybe, John Stewart," he said softly, "it wasn't a mistake bringing you here after all." He gave him a look that made the hair stand up on his neck.
"You may be of some use to me."
Diana and John exchanged quick, fearful glances.
Savage smiled benevolently. "Now…..now we begin."
This was Flash, stealing into Batman's lab, where he and Hawkgirl were poring over some documents.
"No, Flash," Batman replied. "But if you can, persuade Hawkgirl to go and get some sleep. She's been working nonstop for two days."
"If you don't need sleep, then neither do I," Hawkgirl said stubbornly, though her pale face and red eyes belied her remark. She and Batman had been pursuing the case of their missing teammates night and day, pursuing every lead they could find.
Batman sat back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. "It was obviously Savage's work," he said. "That's for certain. Now we know he hired Toyman and the others who attacked Superman, and also with his past history- he's the only one who has the ability to pull off such a stunt."
"But what would he want with Diana? And John?" Hawkgirl's voice rose.
"I wish I knew." Batman sighed again, then turned to Flash. "Any news from the others?"
"I found nothing new on Savage, except that he's been exceptionally quiet for the past few weeks, and could not be reached." Flash shook his head. "That usually means bad news."
"What about J'onn? Was he able to establish a mental link?"
"Yes…..but it's too faint for communication, he says. Apparently they're somewhere pretty far away- but they're alive, at any rate."
As if he had heard his name mentioned, J'onn walked into the room as well, looking tired. Keeping up a constant mental link for the past two days was beginning to tell on his health. "Do we have any leads?"
"No." Annoyed, Batman snapped his laptop shut. "There's nothing." He stood and looked at his teammates, face grim. "I think we need to pay the Toyman a visit."
"So what makes you think that I know anything?"
Batman shot one of his famous glares at Toyman. The Justice League- minus Superman, who had been left behind on monitor duty, and J'onn, who was still trying to maintain the mental link- had gone to the Gotham Holding Center for Criminal Activity, where Toyman was being held, awaiting his trial.
"You little….." Shayera began, but Batman cut her off. "We know that you purchased your equipment from Savage, Toyman. We need to know what he was planning to do with his other machines."
Toyman sighed, then giggled. "You know, it really is funny," he said, pressing his round face against the Plexiglas wall, "that I'm stuck in here, and the real mastermind is picking off you guys like ducks on a pond."
Shayera lunged forward, mace-less because of the no-weapons policy of the prison, but she looked ready to kill, anyway. It took both Flash and a warden to hold her back. Batman ignored her outburst and turned to Toyman.
"We might as well get down to business, Toyman. What'll it take for you to tell me what you know?" Batman said, coolly.
"We don't have to negotiate with him!" Shayera hissed. "Just give me five minutes with the little turd, and……"
Batman grabbed her arm and dragged her to a corner, away from Toyman's huge, unblinking eyes, then took her chin in his fingers and jerked it upward sharply. "Shayera," he said firmly, "Listen to me. You love him, don't you?"
Her eyes were still flashing with rage, but she nodded. Hot, angry tears began to pour down her cheeks.
"This may be our only hope. Don't you understand?" in a moment of compassion totally unlike him, Batman wiped her face with a corner of his cape. "I'm sorry, Hawkgirl. But I don't know where else to turn."
Shayera took a deep, shuddering breath and nodded. "You do what you have to do," she said. "It's for Diana, too." She reached up and touched his face with a look of gentle understanding.
Batman swallowed, then turned and headed for Toyman's cell, a lump forming in his throat. He couldn't break down, now…..if he wanted to find her, he had to be strong.
Still, it was a moment before he could speak.
"What are your demands, Toyman?"
Toyman's voice immediately lost its childish inflection, and his voice grew as cool and businesslike as Batman's. "Don't look so worried, Batsy; I'm not going to have you break me out or anything," he said, voice ringing with contempt for the whole affair. "Eight million dollars, transferred to my bank account by morning, so that my people can post bail for me."
Hawkgirl and Flash gasped at the exorbitant amount, but Batman didn't even blink. "You have my word," he said, each syllable dripping with ice.
Toyman leaned back in his chair and shot them a decidedly amused look. "I knew I could depend on you, Bats," he said dryly. "Anyway, what I know isn't much, but what I know I'll share with you.
"Savage approached me months ago. He knew of my…..problems with Superman, and knew that a league was being organized against him. He agreed that Superman needed to be destroyed, and offered me a way to do it, although he refused to formally join us.
"Apparently he had developed a new weapon that was quite…..unconventional, and he offered to make me a sample to test on Superman, since he's so resistant to anything but Krypton. He showed me another machine, too- a kind of transporter sled that you could use to time travel or timeline-hop and then return, but I had no interest in that. I wanted to be rid of him permanently."
Toyman paused to take a breath, then continued. "The energy balls were what I used. Frankly, I had no idea that they would transfer Superman without killing him- I never would have paid the amount I did for it otherwise. Anyway, all Vandal wanted to find out was if he could safely transfer human beings on the timeline from one dimension and alternate universe to the other. Or at least, that's what I assume he was after. He just used us as his guinea pigs."
"Where is he now?" Batman asked.
Toyman shrugged. "Who knows? He told me that if my plan against Superman succeeded, I might not see him for a while." He grinned ruefully at Batman. "Should've just stuck to good old-fashioned Kryptonite bullets, eh?"
Batman didn't even dignify him with an answer. Standing abruptly, he said, "I'll have your money transferred tonight," and left with speed, leaving his teammates (except for Flash, of course) almost running in their efforts to keep up.
They were aboard the Javelin before anyone dared to speak.
"Batman," Hawkgirl broke the silence, "you don't think?-"
Batman looked grim. He did think. They all thought.
Savage had somehow transferred the two to some kind of alternate dimension, and they had no way to find them- unless, like Superman, they found their way back.
As Savage's captives, that wasn't likely.
All they could do now was hope- and pray.
It had been seven days since the Green Lantern and Diana's disappearance, and though the Justice League was doubly vigilant in their search, they were beginning to move on towards SOME semblance of normalcy.
Aquaman and Supergirl were called in as temps, and the Teen Titans, eager to get their feet wet on some "real" cases, helped out as well. The Watchtower watched, the Justice League fought, and bad guys were put away.
Still, a dark sense of foreboding hung over the team.
It had begun with J'onn, over the breakfast table, six days after their disappearance. He was in the kitchen with Flash, eating Oreo O's, chatting quietly. All of a sudden, he groaned, dropped his spoon in the now-chocolaty milk, and grabbed his head.
"J'onn! Dude, what's the matter?" Flash leaped up and grabbed his teammate's hand.
"I feel….pain…." And the Martian Manhunter had bowled over. Just like that.
When he awoke about two minutes later to the concerned stares of his teammates, he looked excited. "They are close!" he said. "I can't talk to them yet but I can feel them….."
"Why cant you speak to them?" Batman said, urgently.
"I don't know." J'onn frowned, slightly. "It's strange. It is as if I haven't been in contact with them for months- and it's only been a few days. But, they are close to us. I know."
That had been yesterday.
Also, another unusual occurrence- Diana's tracking device, which originally had been giving up only static, was now giving off a weak signal. It sounded fragmented, as if it had been disjointed by some great magnetic or electric disturbance, and because of that, they couldn't pinpoint a location, but it was signaling nevertheless.
So they were alive……..somewhere………
Still working in his lab, with the ever-present Hawkgirl by his side, (the others were on a mission with the Titans) he heard the sound of the soft, feminine voice behind him, and froze. It was a voice that he'd replayed over and over in his mind for the last week….but no, it couldn't be…..could it?
"Batman." This voice was deeper, a rich bass. Hawkgirl stiffened at the sound of it, her head jerking up.
They both turned around slowly. Together.
Diana and John were standing in the doorway.
Their uniforms were gone, but it was unmistakably them. John was dressed in loose, brown monk-like vestments, heavily embroidered, and Diana was wearing a loose, draped robe, a bundle tucked under her arm. They looked drawn, tired, and travel-weary.
But very much alive.
Shayera leaped out of her chair, knocking it over, flapping her wings to get to the doorway faster. When she reached John, she threw her arms around him, squeezing with all the strength she had. "Thangor be praised…..John….."
To her surprise, he stood rigid in her arms for a second, before allowing his body to relax. "Shy…..is it really you?" he pulled back slightly, looking down into her face, which was now wet. "You're not an illusion?" hesitantly, he reached out and touched her face with a fingertip.
His face was wet as well.
She smiled tremulously, then pressed herself tightly against him, once more. "Yes. God, John, I thought I'd lost you……"
The Green Lantern pulled away from her once more, looking her up and down. "I……I've pictured this moment for so long……you still look the same……everything is still the same……" his eyes looked hollow, and sad.
Shayera pulled back as well, troubled by his expression. Behind her, Batman was still frozen, staring at something behind them with an expression of pure shock.
"John, what do you mean?" she laughed half-heartedly, forcing lightness into her tone. "You've only been gone for a few days……were you keeping track?" she reached up and touched his face. "Were you unconscious? What did that monster do to-"
John took her hand abruptly, pulling it away from his cheek. "Shayera," he said, and his voice was urgent. "How many days have we been missing, exactly?"
"About seven," she said, stung by his reception of her, and shocked at his manner. What was wrong with him?
"Only SEVEN days? Are you sure?" his tone had grown in urgency.
"Yes, I……what's wrong?" seeing the stricken look on Diana's face, she immediately felt bad for not giving her friend an equal welcome. And why was Batman still stuck to his chair? What was wrong with the man? "Oh, Diana, I'm sorry, I was so happy to see John, I didn't even think……"
"Seven days? That's it?" John's voice had lowered to a whisper. "Oh, God….." He dropped down on the nearest chair, burying his face in his hands. His shoulders began to shake.
"John…what's wrong?" Hawkgirl knelt beside him, and looked up at Diana. Is he sick, or……"
Diana's face had gone white to the lips. "Great Hera….." she looked like she needed a chair, was well.
"What is going ON?" cried Hawkgirl, frustrated.
Though she was now shaking as much as John, Diana managed to formulate a reply. "Hawkgirl," she said, in a low, shaky tone, "We've been gone for over a year. Eighteen months, to be exact."
Shayera fell back, astounded beyond belief. She stared at Diana in shock. "A year?"
That's when she heard a thin, faint cry.
And saw the baby in Diana's arms.
Will update soon- if you tell me what you think! Post post post!!!