Notes: This idea popped into my head at around midnight while I was on the phone with a friend of mine. Actually, I started writing it with her still on the phone. I therefore present a fanfic that is complete, utter fluff. Oh, and I guess it's pre-Starcrossed. Enjoy!
The dark, shadowy figure grinned a feral grin. This time, he had finally done it – created the one weapon that even Superman could not destroy. A weapon, rather than physically injuring him, would break his spirit, destroy him from the inside-out...there was nothing more satisfying than psychological warfare.
The grin slowly evolved into a self-satisfied smirk. All that remained was to place the small package on the Watchtower, and let the show begin.
"Oof!" The red-clad figure 'hmmphed' in frustration and put the small jar down. True, he didn't have super-strength like some of the other League members, but he certainly wasn't a wimp. Oh well, he was man enough to admit when he needed help.
"Hey, GL!" Flash yelled out at the top of his lungs—
Meanwhile, halfway across the watchtower, Superman burst an eardrum, due to that mixed blessing of super-hearing. Ah well, he was a fast healer—
And the aforementioned ex-marine, against his better judgment, responded to the call for aid.
"What the hell do you need now?" he asked tersely. John Stewart's unnaturally bright, glowing eyes widened in surprise as the green, liquid-and-pickle-filled jar was thrust towards his face.
"Could you open this?"
A short pause followed. "You've got to be kidding me." Wally, however, just looked earnestly at his teammate and smiled impishly.
"No, really, I was trying to make a sandwich"—he pointed to the large, partially assembled pile of bread, ham, cheese, and lettuce—"and couldn't get this jar open. So could you, y'know, pop the lid off with your ring or something?"
"I don't need my ring for this," John said humorlessly. He grabbed the jar, gripped it tightly with his left hand, and began trying to twist the lid counterclockwise with his right. His face contorted; his muscles flexed; he let out a small puff of air.
"Can't do it?" Flash asked bemusedly, feeling somewhat vindicated.
"Hm? No, it probably just needs one good twist." Lantern tried again, clutching the jar with all his might, but to no avail. Yes, the man who knew seven different ways to kill a person with his bare hands was unable to open a mere jar of pickles. He put the jar onto the long, chrome counter and glared at it, as if willing the jar to open of its own accord. The jar, surprisingly, did not respond. "What's wrong with this thing?"
"Maybe you loosened it up," Flash offered optimistically. "Let me try it again." He picked up the jar from the counter and resumed his struggle against the stubborn lid. Alas, Green Lantern had not loosened it – the saline-soaked cucumbers were no closer to being freed than they were fifteen minutes before.
"This is ridiculous," John said after watching Flash valiantly battle the pickle jar for a few minutes more. "Can't you just eat your sandwich without pickles?"
"It's not—ugh—about the pickles—mmph—anymore," Flash said completely seriously, never giving up on the abnormally right lid. "It's—oof—a matter of pride now."
Green Lantern rolled his eyes, though on some level he was inclined to agree with his younger friend. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and, after a moment, decided upon a course of action.
"Put it down," John said finally, thoroughly disappointed that the situation had degenerated so far. "I'll try to open it with my ring."
Flash blinked in surprise before grinning happily. "Yeah, GL! Turns out that ring's good for something after all, huh?" he quipped, chuckling at his own quick-witted sarcasm as he placed the jar back on the counter.
Lantern, however, was not amused - he was preoccupied with thoughts of what his Corps superiors would say if they knew he was using the universe's most powerful weapon for such a frivolity. Oh well, he supposed it couldn't be helped – besides, how much of his ring's power could that little jar possibly use?
After a moment, the ring glowed and shot a beam towards the jar, encasing it in a neon-green halo of light. The lid did not come off. John focused and concentrated more power on the jar. Again, nothing happened.
"Oh, for Pete's sake!" John concentrated even more effort on the pickle jar, utterly fed up with the situation. The jar levitated; it began vibrating violently; John's glare intensified.
A few minutes later, the jar fell back upon the counter, the lid not loosened in the slightest. "AUGH!" GL yelled, in an uncharacteristically loud expression of frustration. "I give up!"
Flash did not respond; he was busy staring in utter disbelief at the pickle jar, which was now rolling its way across the counter. What was it made of?
Meanwhile, Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman, who were training together, had heard John's cry of distress and had run to the kitchen to see what all the commotion was about.
"What's going on in here?"
"THAT!" John and Wally shouted in unison, pointing to the accursed pickle jar (which by that point had come to a rest on its side).
"We can't get it open!" Wally said, almost whining.
Shayera and Diana stared for a moment before bursting into a fit of laughter. Diana clutched the nearest chair for support, while Shayera literally doubled over, clutching her stomach and absolutely howling in mirth.
"Oh, that's rich!" Hawkgirl cried. 'So much for machismo,' she thought internally, but was unable to say aloud as she gasped for air between guffaws.
"It's not funny!" John replied emphatically. "There's something seriously wrong here – I couldn't even get it open with my ring."
That shut the League's two female members up rather quickly. "Are you serious?" Diana asked, standing up straight and wiping the laughter-induced tears from her face.
"Do I look like I'm kidding?" Lantern replied, crossing his arms and alternating glances between Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl.
"Here, let me try it," Diana said, wondering how tightly stuck the lid could possibly be.
Flash quickly picked the pickle jar up from the counter and handed it to the Amazonian. "Knock yourself out, Princess," he said, convinced by this point that the jar was fundamentally impossible to open.
Much like John, she gripped the glass with one hand and began twisting the lid with the other, with little success. Her eyes narrowed as she tried again, her long, slender hands and arms tensing with the effort.
Unlike John, however, Diana's pride would not allow her to simply give up after two failed attempts – after all, she was the Princess of Themyscira, blessed by the gods with strength unrivaled by any normal human. Ten minutes later found John and Wally sitting at the table and absently munching on Flash's sandwich, while Hawkgirl stared and held her mace, which she had been training with, in a loose grip.
"Oh, Hades!" Diana shouted, slamming the jar onto the counter with a loud 'clang'. "I don't understand – what idiot would make a blasted pickle jar out of such exceedingly strong materials?"
"I'll take a swing at it," Shayera said, pun intended. She lifted the spark-emitting mace over her head and swung down with all her might, certain that it would at least break the jar. The other three superheroes present in the room shielded their faces from the imminent shower of glass and aluminum.
What they were not prepared for, however, was the mace bouncing back and hurling itself – and Hawkgirl – across the room. Shayera landed with an audible 'thud' against the opposite wall and cried out in surprise.
"Impossible!" she exclaimed, shakily standing up and preening her disheveled feathers. "That jar should be dust now!" she yelled indignantly.
"Just as well," Flash said after swallowing a mouthful of food. "The point is to get the pickles, not pulverize them."
"Well, do you have a better idea?" Hawkgirl asked, picking up her mace once again and slowly making her way back across the room.
"I could try phasing through it," a voice called from the doorway. John, Diana, Shayera and Wally all turned to find the Martian Manhunter standing at the kitchen's entrance, looking thoroughly amused – well, about as amused as he got. Especially considering that his daily round of meditation had been interrupted by the shouts and general emission of 'bad vibes' from the kitchen – how was he supposed to concentrate in such a negative environment?
"...Now why didn't I think of that?" Wally said after a moment, adding "Oh, shut up," when a split-second later he realized that he had left himself wide-open for an ill-timed insult.
J'onn slowly and deliberately made his way over to the counter, where the jar's lid was still vibrating slightly from being hit with Hawkgirl's mace. He looked at it thoughtfully – which was in itself nothing unusual, as he tended to look at everything and everyone with that same intense gaze. He eventually concluded that the pickle jar was nothing out-of-the-ordinary; the lid must just have been stuck on exceptionally tightly.
J'onn went intangible, convinced that this course of action would free the elusive pickles. An assumption that was quickly shattered, however, when he found that, though he could phase inside the jar, he could not pull the pickles out the same way.
"Perhaps I'll try it the old-fashioned way," he said after the shock of having failed wore off. Wally rolled his eyes – after all, the sandwich the pickles were intended for had already disappeared. He set about making another sandwich – this one filled with turkey and Swiss cheese – while J'onn put his own strength to the test.
Within a minute, J'onn had also given up, opting instead to sit down and stare ruefully at the pickle jar. "This is most unusual," he said, more to himself than those around him.
"No, really?" Flash said sardonically, as he slapped entirely too much mayonnaise on the slice of wheat bread in his hand.
"Maybe we should ask Superman to take a crack at it," Hawkgirl said, by now determined to see the jar opened one way or another.
"Ask me to take a crack at what?" Superman said, entering the kitchen, which by now, if not for its size, would have seemed very cramped indeed. His super-hearing had just returned, as his burst eardrum had miraculously repaired itself mere seconds before.
"The pickle jar," J'onn answered, still gazing thoughtfully at the trapped cucumbers within.
Clark quirked an eyebrow. "You mean all of you weren't able to open it?"
"Yep," Flash said, around a mouthful of his third sandwich. He swallowed quickly, then continued, "I think it's enchanted or something. We should just forget about it."
"You're the one who wanted it opened in the first place," GL said pointedly, an accusatory look on his face. After all, it was the kid's insatiable appetite that put them all in this ridiculous situation to begin with.
"Besides," said J'onn, "I'm picking up no traces of sorcery. This appears to be a normal – if exceptionally tightly closed – pickle jar."
Superman blinked, looking back and forth between the jar and his assembled teammates. "In that case," he said after a moment's pause, "it shouldn't be a problem."
"Don't say I didn't tell you so," Flash remarked in a sing-song falsetto.
Like those who tried before him, Superman gripped the jar and lid and attempted to twist them in opposite directions. His teammates' observations were confirmed when he realized that the lid was very much stuck. Still, he was the strongest living being in the solar system, and probably throughout much of the galaxy – the proper application of strength should have the jar opened in no time.
He held the jar tighter and again began to twist the lid off, without making progress. "This thing is stuck on tight," he observed, once more demonstrating his renowned command of the obvious.
"Can't get it off?" Wonder Woman asked, no longer feeling self-conscious about her own failure.
"What? Of course I can!" Superman replied, obviously becoming irritated at the pickle jar. He sat down at the large round table, utterly determined to show the container who was boss.
"Here we go again," said John, who by then had stood up and made to leave. "I've wasted enough time in here as it is."
"I'm with you," Shayera said, and sounds of assent filled the room. Within a few minutes the kitchen was empty, save for Clark.
"Are you coming?" Diana asked as she exited the kitchen.
"No—grr—you go on ahead," he said, never relinquishing his death-grip on the obstinate pickle jar.
'Men,' Diana thought, and left the kitchen without so much as a backwards glance.
When the team, sans Superman, went to their respective sleeping quarters at midnight (GMT, that is) as was customary, they could still hear the strained grunts and exasperated grunts murmurs coming from the kitchen.
Three a.m. rolled around, and Flash found himself wide-awake, prompted by the growling of the bottomless pit that was his stomach.
"Time for a late-night snack," he said aloud, bounding out of bed and zipping his way towards the Watchtower's kitchen. He entered the room, determined to find some sort of nourishment that pickles did not go well with, but stopped dead in his tracks at the sight before him. Superman was sprawled across the kitchen table, his hair mussed and his face slightly red, despite the fact that he was fast asleep. Mere inches from his right hand sat the pickle jar, just as full and as tightly shut as it had been that afternoon.
"Christ on a cracker," he mumbled under his breath, making sure to keep quiet enough that he wouldn't wake the exhausted superhero. He quietly tiptoed to the table, picked up the jar, and rocketed his way over to the Watchtower's airlock, out of which he promptly threw the jar.
Wally dramatically dusted off his gloved hands and smiled in satisfaction. As he made his way back to the kitchen, he silently prayed that the jar would forever remain lost in space, rather than finding its way into the hands of some other unfortunate soul.
Batman chuckled softly, the dark mask barely hiding the mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he watch the control room monitors, surveying exactly what was going on in the massive kitchen.
Who said he didn't have a sense of humor?
A barely audible whisper filled the dimly lit room. "April Fools."
Notes: Well, I hope that didn't bore anyone. I know, it's a bit late for April Fool's day (heh), but I just couldn't resist. Now, before you ask what the jar was made of, or why Batman would create a material so durable and then use it for something like a fake pickle jar, remember: this is just a fluffy bit of humor, not meant to be taken seriously or viewed within the continuity of the cartoon. (Grin) As usual, please review! Praise and constructive criticism are highly appreciated.