Duty
a Justice League story
by Merlin Missy
Copyright 2004
PG

DC, Warner Brothers and the Cartoon Network own these
people. There's something not quite right about that.

For Amy, who asked me to.


Wally sipped at his coffee; it was a fresh pot, too hot
to chug. He should have gone with an iced mocha, but he
was getting tired of the teasing. Just because he liked
his coffee icy cold with double chocolate, whipped cream
and sprinkles did not make him less of a man. Still,
today it was "guys only," and he'd drunk the last of the
soda on the Watchtower.

"We need two people for the nineteenth." Superman made
notes on their big erasable calendar while Wally covered
his yawn.

He knew they had to ensure somebody was on call at all
times, but scheduling got tedious fast. Making sure
they had a minimum of three meant a lot of cross-
checking with work schedules and secret identities.
J'onn was almost always on watch. Wally worked
irregular hours when he was actually employed. Superman
always seemed busy during the regular workweek. Bats
was around whenever he felt like it, but he did take
shifts. Everyone else filled in around them.

GL checked his organizer. "I can do it." John filled
in a lot.

Wally checked his own pocket calendar, saw it was
falling apart, and promptly forgot again as he had every
other time he'd noticed. "I'm free." Superman marked
his name down.

"Is that everything?" asked Batman, his voice tinny over
the comm.

"Almost," said Supes. He was staring at a date on the
whiteboard. "We need one more person on the twenty-
second."

"Who ... " Wally started, but then he saw the calendar
and his brain caught up.

"It's a Martian holy day."

"You always say that," said Superman peevishly. J'onn
stared back, mute but unwavering.

"I'm busy," said GL.

Wally went through every possible excuse. "I've got ...
a date!" He stared at his calendar. The unfamiliar
scribble grinned back at him: Melanie, Chez Wiz, 8pm.
Melanie?

"Liar," said John, grabbing the calendar. March and
April spilled to the floor. "Who's Melanie?"

Wally's brain went through a quick album of pretty
faces. Oh yes. He'd met Melanie at the grocery store.
She'd been blonde, cute, and not averse to going out
with someone with eighteen boxes of cherry Pop Tarts in
his basket. "Woman of my dreams, man." He snatched the
remains of his pocket calendar back.

"Batman?"

"I've got a fundraiser." Occasionally Bats said things
like that during these meetings. Wally suspected it was
code for: "Bite me, Boy Scout."

"No you don't," said Superman.

"I'll start one."

Superman sighed. "Look, I had to do it last month."

"And we appreciated that," said Wally. "Really."

"I had a headache for three days when last I did it,"
J'onn said. "Never again."

Wally asked, "Can't we just reorganize the schedule?
Maybe give one of them a day off, switch it around ... "

"We tried that already," said Superman.

And that was that. No matter how much they switched
around days, no matter what they did to prevent it,
about every three or four weeks Diana and Hawkgirl
pulled watch together. And some poor bastard was stuck
with babysitting duty when they did.

"We could try letting them do it alone." Wally looked
around hopefully, before he remembered the last time
they'd tried that one.

It wasn't that the two female Leaguers hated each other.
They were adults, and allies, and fine warriors both,
and when they went into battle, no one questioned their
loyalty to each other.

However.

During quieter times, they picked at one another, and
they sniped, and they bickered. When they were in a
room together without at least two other people around,
or a supervillain to pummel, Wally started looking for
large pieces of furniture to hide behind.

God help the man who looked like he was taking sides.

"I don't believe we want that option," J'onn said.

"No," echoed John.

Wally had done it twice. The first time, they'd fought
a giant robot in Sierra Leone, and that had been all fun
with lasers. The second time, the wire had been quiet
all day. Then Diana made some pithy comment, possibly
about the weather below them. Hawkgirl had replied with
a touch more sarcasm than was justified. Diana said
something uncomplimentary. Hawkgirl responded with a
less than reasonable suggestion. And so on.

Trying to defuse the situation, Wally had volunteered an
amusing remark, based on the original observation. They
were unamused. The only thing that had saved him the
embarrassment of getting his ass kicked was that he
could outrun them both easily and lock himself in the
kitchen for the next hour.

"Hawkgirl to Watchtower."

"Watchtower here," said Superman.

"Anything interesting going on up there?"

"Just some paperwork. Writing out the schedule for the
next few weeks."

"Boring stuff, gotcha. I never seem to make it to that
meeting."

"Don't worry about it," said Superman.

"Just let me know when I've got watch."

"Will do. Superman out." The comm went quiet.
"Someone has to take the shift."

"I'll do it next month," Batman said.

John added, "If he takes next month, I'll do the one
after."

"I'm holding you both to those," said Superman. "Flash,
are you sure?"

"Date."

"J'onn?"

"Holy day."

"Fine. I'll do it." Superman put his own name on the
calendar.

Wally said, "The things you do for us, Big Guy ... "

"Shut up. You're doing the month after GL, I don't care
what excuse you've got." Superman touched his ear
again. "Watchtower to Wonder Woman."

"Diana here."

"We've just finished the schedule for the next few
weeks. Do you want me to transmit it to you now?"

"It can wait." She paused. "I thought I requested to
be a part of the scheduling meetings."

"Couldn't be helped," said Superman. "Maybe next month.
Or the one after." Batman stayed silent over the comm.
John twitched in his chair. Wally stared bleakly into
his coffee, and wondered if he could manage a deep-space
assignment for three months from now.

The world would never know the sacrifices they made in
the name of duty.


The End