CHAPTER 7 of 7

Shayera had lost track of whether it was supposed to be night or day, but she knew at least a couple days had passed. Her strength was returning and with any luck she could convince the League to set her free soon. Perhaps the next time J'onn came in she would broach the subject of leaving.

She'd been quite the good little prisoner. She, as promised, ate all her meals. And she even tried to get some exercise by pacing around three sides of her bed, repeatedly making the u-shaped trek in the only space available to her.

The luxury of a shower was even offered to her on what she assumed had been a daily basis. It was nice to be clean again, if only physically.

J'onn had also rewarded her with brief updates on important items like the new Watch Tower, the new Javelin, some of the new League members and the details regarding Mega-Co and the rampaging robot.

But not surprisingly, no one else set foot in the medical bay. Even John hadn't made a repeat visit. She was actually glad Green Lantern finally came to his senses and decided to shun her like the rest of the civilized world.

As she rounded the end of the bed, she was surprised to see the faint electrical glow of her force-field prison switch off. Feeling that it was too early for J'onn to check on her, Shayera turned, unsure whom to expect.


He approached her without a word and deposited a duffle on the bed. Puzzled, Shayera unzipped the bag. Inside she found clothes and boots. Not exactly sure of his intentions, she looked back up at him skeptically.

The conflicted expression she saw told her he was about to do something he had set his mind to, but wasn't completely satisfied with having to do.

She bit her lip and nodded, realizing that she was finally being pushed out and it was John's job to see she left without incident. It was only a little sooner than she'd expected, so it made sense. Of course they wouldn't want her around any longer than necessary.

She upended the bag and dumped the clothing to the bed. A twinge of something painful shot through her heart as she recognized the outfit as one of the few she kept at John's apartment.

"Well, this is good timing," she commented past the lump in her throat. "I was just thinking about getting J'onn to let me out of here." She turned away from John and started dressing.

She could feel his eyes on her as she stiffly donned the clothes. Knowing she wasn't fully recovered and probably unable to fly for several more weeks, Shayera carefully considered where she'd ask John to deposit her. The mountains would probably be too cold and the Everglades too hot. She'd need an easy source of food until she could fly again, not that she had any big plans to eat much. Somewhere near a lake would still be best. Perhaps a national park. One with lots of trees. She could disappear in the woods again and survive well enough.

She was so lost in thought that she didn't realize she was struggling to get her arms and wings to cooperate with the shirt. It wasn't until she felt John take it from her hands did she blink back to reality.

He helped her maneuver the shirt gently over her damaged wings, guiding them through the specially-tailored holes in the back. As she tucked in the shirttail, she stared out the window. North America was passing below, and she tried to pinpoint the place she'd like best to be left. But, as usual, her eyes drifted to the stars.

Suddenly, an idea struck her. She turned, finding John standing much closer to her than she realized, also looking out the window.

"I know you've probably got orders to drop me back on Earth somewhere," she began, "but maybe you could do me a favor instead."

He didn't speak, but his gaze shifted until he was watching at her out of the corner of his eye.

She cautiously continued. "Take me someplace else," she requested. "Anyplace else." She tried to smile. "Maybe I could get a job as a bouncer at our favorite hang-out."

She saw a flicker of mirth cross his features. "After that brawl you caused? They'll never let you near the place."

Raising an eyebrow, she looked back up at him. "I believe it was you that started the brawl," she said with mock innocence.

He chuckled and shook his head. The humor didn't last long before he turned his attention back to the planet below.

Shayera dropped her gaze. "Earth it is," she said, knowing she never stood a chance of John going against orders. She stepped toward the exit. "At least I know my way around down there." She waited for him at the door.

John turned and studied her. She wished the League had picked another person to take her back. John had done nothing wrong, so it didn't seem fair of them to stick him with the trash disposal duty. She was sure Batman or one of the new League members would have a much easier time dumping her off without a care.

"Come on," she coaxed. "Let's get this over with."

John straightened and walked forward, a new determination settling in his eyes.

She was shocked when he took her hand to lead her down the corridors. It seemed an odd gesture. She figured he'd distance himself as much as possible to make the inevitability of their parting less painful.

Humans certainly were a strange lot, she thought as they walked to the air lock she'd attempted to go through a few days earlier. The more hopeless the situation the tighter humans clung to the hope that everything would miraculously turn out okay. A bad habit, Shayera thought bitterly, that was seldom rewarded.

She was surprised to see J'onn waiting for them at the air lock. From the tightening of John's fingers around hers, she assumed he was surprised as well.

"Have you told Superman?" J'onn inquired.

"I'll contact him," John answered.

Shayera watched as the two men stared at one another. She frowned. Something wasn't right.

"We will miss you," J'onn said.

For a moment, Shayera thought he was speaking to her. But then she understood.

"John, no," she said, releasing his hand. "You can't. I'm not worth it. I won't let you do it."

He reached down, took her hand again, and with a crooked smile he sternly answered her protests. "There's not a damn thing you can do to stop me." He turned his attention to the Martian and extended his right hand. "Been a pleasure, J'onn. I hope to work with you again in the future."

J'onn grasped his hand. "It has been an honor serving with you." He looked to Shayera. "Both of you. And I am certain we will all work together again soon."

The Martian then turned to the keypad and input the pass code. The air lock opened. Only a thin force field separated the Watch Tower's interior from the void of space.

John produced a life support bubble and encompassed himself and Shayera. He moved them through the force field. Both looked back to see J'onn raise his hand in farewell as the air lock closed behind them.

John propelled them away from the Watch Tower, away from Earth and into the blackness of space.

Caught between supreme anger and stunned silence, Shayera crossed her arms over her chest. John's actions were completely unreasonable. He was being a fool over her and she felt it her duty to convince him to return to the League.

"That has to have been the stupidest thing I've ever seen anyone do," she grumbled at him. "They need you. The people of Earth need you."

John shrugged. "I'm still a member of the Green Lantern Corps. The people of Earth still have me. They've always been part of my area. And the League will get along just fine without me. There are plenty of other super heroes out there. Let them have a chance to shine for a change. Besides," he stole a glance at her, "there's someone else that needs me more."

Shayera scowled at him and he shook his head at her typical response.

"All right," he said, changing his approach, "there's someone that I need."

Her expression softened and he smiled at her. She sighed with exasperation and his smile grew wider. "You humans do some pretty irrational things."

"Irrationality is not limited to humans," he commented. "I've seen the male of many other species act the same way when he's in love."

Shayera arched an eyebrow at him then looked away. "I've never heard you say that before."

"You flew off before I had a chance."

She looked down at her boots, unsure of what to say next.

"I looked for you, you know," he said. "You didn't stay in one place for very long. I could never seem to catch up to you."

She shrugged. "I wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms."

"I would have," he stated.

She mulled over the turn of events. It still amazed her that John would care so much for her, even after all they'd been through. Hesitantly, she looked up at him. "We should really talk."

"We will," he assured her. "And you'll tell me anything I want to know."

Shayera met his eyes seriously. "Anything and everything."

"I knew you could be reasonable," he said as though the issue had been up for debate.

"I missed you," she said quietly.

"I missed you, too." He pulled her close with his left arm and gingerly embraced her, being careful to not jostle her ribs or wings too much. She wrapped her arms around his middle and buried her face against his chest. John kissed the top of her head, then rested his chin against her red hair. "So," he said, "where shall we go? I'm all charged up and, if you'll pardon the expression, we're free as birds."

Shayera grunted in amusement at his words. "Well," she said, pulling back far enough to look into his eyes, "I know this great place to celebrate..."

John pursed his lips in false thought. "Let me guess. Omega Quadrant, third moon of Galtos. A loud bar where you can start a fight."

"Omega Quadrant, third moon of Galtos," she confirmed with a broad smile. Then her eyelids lowered and she pressed against him a little closer. "But I was thinking more along the line of a quiet hotel room where we can start something other than a fight."

John's eyebrows shot upward. With a coy smile, he tightened his arm around her. "I could yet learn to like that planet."

With Shayera tucked safely next to him, John changed direction and headed for the Omega Quadrant at top speed.