GREEN LANTERN AND HAWKGIRL AND JOHN AND SHAYERA
Summary: Set a little while after "A Better World." GL has discovered something about his counterpart that prompts him to make a move in his own universe.
His body pumped up and down rapidly.
"Almost there," she encouraged. "Just a little more."
Sweat dripped from his forehead. He didn't know how much longer he could last.
"There it is," she announced happily.
John collapsed, his heart pounding hard in his chest.
Hawkgirl's sneakers came into view. "Five hundred push-ups in record time." She crouched to the ground next to him and held the stopwatch in front of his eyes. "Very good." She dropped a white towel over his head and stood back up. "But you've got to speed it up if you expect to beat my time."
John grasped the towel with rubbery fingers and wiped away the sweat from his face. "Yes," he gasped, trying to catch his breath. Rolling to his back on the exercise mat he tilted his head at an awkward angle to peer at Hawkgirl. From his vantage she appeared upside down. "But my bones aren't hollow. You've got a distinct advantage there."
He watched her backside as she bent to stow the extra towels and stopwatch. John sighed with a mixture exhaustion and mild arousal as he enjoyed the view. She looked so much different in her exercise clothes. More relaxed and approachable. Her blue-striped tennis shoes and short white socks led his eyes up her bare legs to short gray cut-off sweats. The loose, bright red t-shirt she wore had holes in the back for her wings to fit through.
She turned to face him and John sadly realized why she seldom seemed "relaxed and approachable." She still wore her mask.
Sweat trickled from under its cover and she swiped absently at it with a towel.
Several months ago, John was amazed to realize his standard male desire to see her naked had morphed into a stronger desire to see her unmasked. A spike of jealousy shot through his heart as he recalled a conversation not so very long ago...
"How is she?" the man asked as John passed by his cell.
Against his better judgment, and Superman's direct order, John stopped. It was the first time he'd even acknowledged his doppelganger's existence since the battle. It was also the first time the other Lantern had said something that didn't sound like a taunt or an insult.
Slowly turning to face his mirror image, John found himself still relieved that the other man's eyes were a natural brown. "What do you care?"
Lantern stepped forward but John didn't budge. Lantern grinned and rested his forearms on the crossbar of the jail door. "Last I knew she was in the hospital."
John scowled. If one could call Arkham a "hospital," he fumed. Luckily, he and his teammates had been able to rescue Hawkgirl and bring her back for proper treatment. She had recovered and was ready to take the alternate Lantern's head off. Fortunately for the other Lantern, he and the rest of the Justice Lords would soon be extradited to their own realm. It was probably a better fate than facing an angry Hawkgirl.
"She's fine," John eventually settled on.
The other Lantern actually looked relieved. "Good," he said. "I hated to hit her so hard."
John frowned, doubting the honesty of that statement.
Lantern chuckled, "But you know how she is." He then arched a suggestive eyebrow at John. "Tough little bird in every situation."
Knowing himself well enough to know exactly what the look meant, John was instantly insulted by the implication. His eyes flared. "Mind yourself, Lantern," John growled.
The other man raised his hands slightly in surrender. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'd be pretty upset if somebody talked about my wife like that." He laughed again. "Though, I guess we are talking about my wife in some twisted parallel-universe way."
John couldn't stop his eyes from widening in shock. "Your what?"
"My wife," Lantern grinned at him. "Our wife," he corrected. The fact that John's jaw was hanging slack obviously prompted him to continue. "Shayera? Woman with wings and a bad temper?"
John suddenly realized he had been rendered stupefied and quickly clamped his mouth shut to alter the unflattering expression he wore. He attempted to cover with a scowl.
"So," Lantern responded with a smirk. "It looks like a lot of things aren't completely parallel."
...No, everything was definitely not identical in both universes.
His counterpart had obviously seen the alternate Hawkgirl in all her glory. The best he could do in this universe was admire her cloaked features and imagine what was hidden beneath.
"You gonna lay there all day?" she chided.
"Nope," he finally said, dragging his eyes from her face. "Shower." He pushed himself up, hoping his strained arms didn't wobble too visibly.
"Good call," she agreed, draping her towel over her shoulders and turning toward the locker rooms.
John again found himself marveling at her retreating form. He enjoyed spending time with Hawkgirl and hated to see her go, no matter how nice the view was.
What the hell, he decided spontaneously, might as well give it a shot. The worst she could do was say no, he reasoned. Actually, the worst she could do would be to slowly dismember him, but he doubted that even she'd be that rash over a simple question.
"Hey," he said, jogging after her. "How about we get a bite to eat afterward?"
She continued toward the showers without bothering to turn. "Sure. I could eat."
"Great. I'll meet you by the airlock."
Her head instantly snapped around. "Airlock? Aren't we...?" She waved a finger in the air in the general direction of the Watch Tower kitchen.
John approached and stood slightly closer to her than he normally would. "I know a better place. You like Chinese?"
She shrugged, but he could tell she wasn't thinking about his choice in food.
"Good." He pressed, "Hurry up." He gave her a little shove in the right direction and was highly pleased with himself that he'd not only managed to ask her out but also leave her speechless at the same time. He wasted no time cleaning himself up and dashing to the airlock to await his date.
Hawkgirl arrived only a few minutes after he did, dressed in full costume. Mask on her head, mace at her hip. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him.
"The two of us in a restaurant isn't such a good idea," she said as a greeting.
"Then wear something less 'formal,'" John suggested. "I'll stop by home on the way and change, too."
"I don't think that would help," she protested. "It's not like I can just make these..." She spread her wings slightly. "...disappear and look like a human."
"Superheroes have to eat, too," he reminded her, grasping for anything that would keep her by his side for a few hours longer.
"John," she sighed.
He knew she was going to back out, so his mind raced to come up with an alternate plan. "Takeout," he proposed.
She raised an eyebrow at him.
"We'll go to my place. You can stay there while I go get takeout." Actually, he liked that option much better. Him and her in private. No prying eyes of other patrons who wanted to get the juicy details of a budding inner-League romance. He tried to look impassive, but the expectation couldn't help but shine in his eyes.
Hawkgirl was silent as she pondered his offer.
Had the alternate Green Lantern had this much trouble with his Hawkgirl? John swallowed. Was the collar of his uniform getting tighter?
"Okay," she relented. "Your place. Takeout."
John exhaled in relief. Maybe it would work out after all.
Various abandoned containers of Chinese food sat open on the coffee table, most only partially eaten. John had spent a young fortune on dinner because he'd not thought to ask Hawkgirl what she liked to eat. He had to figure it out the hard way by buying one of everything on the menu. It turned out she seemed most happy with the fried rice, egg rolls and anything that looked slimy. John would have plenty of leftovers for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.
Leaning back against the sofa cushions, John again found himself simply staring at his companion as she drained the last of the beer from her bottle. She carefully lined up the bottle, label out, along the edge of the table next to its empty brothers. Between the two of them, they'd put away six-pack. John thought it best if they stop at three a piece, so he didn't offer to retrieve the second six-pack from the fridge.
There'd been small talk during dinner. Discussion about Kilowog munching on Old Yeller, a laughable description of Flash's make-out van, and some friendly jabs at Hawkgirl's "duties" with the Justice Guild. Nothing of any great weight was brought up, and it felt wonderful. They weren't bickering over some small detail or major worldly problem.
Apparently satisfied with her bottle arrangement, Hawkgirl adjusted her wings and sat back on the sofa. She was close to, but not quite touching, John.
"This was fun," she said, smiling at him.
He returned her smile and nodded in agreement.
She closed her eyes and tilted her head back to rest on the cushions. "This is much more comfortable than the one on the Watch Tower," she mused. "Company is better, too." She passed a sideways glance at him before sliding her eyes closed again.
John's heart sped up and his smile widened. Encouraged, he reached out and touched a single fingertip to one of her feathers. When she didn't shake him off, he stroked downward, observing the individual barbs of the feather coming apart and going back together.
He looked up to see her watching him. She didn't seem upset with him messing her neatly preened wing, so he moved in a little closer. His jean- clad thigh came in contact with her Spandex covered one. He could feel the temperature difference between their bodies. Thanagarians were several degrees warmer than humans. The thought of snuggling up next to her on a cold night instantly earned a place on his top ten list of things to do with Hawkgirl.
Slowly, he adjusted his position, his arm sliding around her shoulders, his lips beginning their descent. Her head tilted slightly, cooperating with his angle and ensuring the beak of her mask was out of his way. He felt her hands rising up his chest.
His eyelids drooped as the space between them closed. "Shayera," he sighed.
John suddenly found himself nearly unable to breathe. His hands instinctively shot to his throat to find his shirt collar twisted in Hawkgirl's fists, cutting off his airway.
"What did you say?" she growled.
John pulled back, causing Hawkgirl's fists to pop free from their grip. He rubbed at his throat and decided he wasn't truly hurt, just caught off- guard.
Hawkgirl was already to her feet, hands on her hips, staring down at him. He was glad her mace was across the room, but he had no doubt that she could still make a puddle out of him with her bare hands.
"Your name," he said, also rising to his feet. "That's your name, isn't it? Shayera."
"Yes, but..." She frowned at him, sputtering in frustration. "How did you...? Who...?"
"Green Lantern of the Justice Lords," he answered. He knew Hawkgirl already wanted to fillet the other Lantern for putting her out of commission for over a week, but for him to also reveal her true identity just added insult to injury.
She crossed her arms over her chest and plopped back down on the sofa, sulking.
"I'm sorry," John said, unable to overcome his compulsion to apologize for his knowledge. Truly, he had no idea that she'd react so violently to him knowing her name. "I won't tell anyone." He continued to try to dig his way out of the hole he'd accidentally fallen into. "I've known for weeks, but have never said it until just now."
She looked at him. Instead of rage he saw uncertainty in her eyes.
John sat down next to her. "If it makes you feel any better," he offered, "I don't know your last name."
"What else did he tell you?" she questioned hesitantly.
John swallowed. If she took the use of her name badly, he could only imagine how irate she'd be at the only other bit of information he'd gotten from the alternate Lantern. He looked at her apologetically. "Only that they're married."
Hawkgirl shook her head. "Who's married?"
"We are," John answered, then winced. "They are. The other John and Shayera."
Hawkgirl's jaw dropped nearly as far as his did when he first heard the news.
John knew how shocking it was. But he'd had quite awhile to warm up to the idea, to accept it and decide to move toward making it his reality as well. "I just thought maybe we..."
Hawkgirl's blank stare unnerved him. "Maybe we..." She finally focused on him again. "...what?"
John's shoulders sagged. He knew what she was thinking. That he thought there was some "cosmic destiny" working in his favor; that she'd "have" to fall for him because of it.
"I thought we could get to know each other better," he said. "As friends. That's all." Well, it wasn't entirely true, but if friendship was all she could offer, it would be more than enough for him. "I just want to know you better."
Hawkgirl's focus returned within for a while longer. When she moved again, she stood. John stood as well.
"I should go," she said, already heading toward the door. She picked up her mace from the kitchen table and attached it to her belt.
John reached the door at the same time she did and began undoing the locks to let her out.
She stepped into the hall without a word.
"I'm sorry," he told her again. He meant it this time. Only he wasn't sorry for speaking her name, but rather he was sorry for ruining any chance they may have had to be anything more than teammates.
John watched as Hawkgirl took a few paces down the corridor. He was about to shut the door when he saw her stop and turn around.
"Hol," she said simply.
John didn't understand why she was talking about the hallway. "Excuse me?"
John's eyes widened.
Shayera smiled softly at him. "I'll see you tomorrow, John." She turned and continued down the hall to the stairs where she disappeared.