FREUDIAN SLIP by Terry Winder
Disclaimer: I don't own them and my life would be so different if I did.
(Spoilers for Divided We Fall)
Shayera - You enjoyed that a little too much.
John - Just letting off some steam. She broke my heart, you know.
Shayera - Likewise, I'm sure. – Divided We Fall
(Five hours after that conversation)
They hadn't been alone for any length of time since the hideous combination of Luthor and Brainiac had been defeated; since they had pulled Wally out of the Speed Force; since he used his ring to transport the other six back to the Watchtower to survey the horrific damage from the Cadmus /Ultimen attack; since Superman said he wanted to meet in the conference room in three hours to discuss the fate of the Justice League. They hadn't been alone – until now.
They stood in the middle of the operations center, surrounded by fellow Leaguers smartly moving about the station restoring functions lost during the attack. John lightly tapped her on the shoulder. "Let's go to the rec room. I want to talk to you for a moment."
Shayera's eyes widened the way they always did when she was surprised and then narrowed the way they did when she had decided a course of action. "John, let's not," she said flatly.
"Look," he replied. "I just wanted to talk to you someplace reasonably private about what happened down there." He pointed toward the floor.
"We can talk as I walk to my quarters," she answered as she headed down the corridor without waiting for a response. He'd heard that tone before. It was the 'you can talk but you really should save these breaths for your deathbed' tone. He sighed loudly and he ran to catch up with her. Okay swing for the fences.
When he was abreast of her, he asked, "So did you mean it?"
"Mean what?" she answered. She kept walking but she slowed her pace.
John stopped. She took another step, stopped and faced him. "You know what," he said. "Did you mean it when you said I broke your heart?"
"I think my exact words were 'likewise'." Her expression was flat. No, there was something different in her eyes. She looked interested.
"I know what you said," John responded. His tone was sharper than he really wanted it to be as he continued, "And that's why I'm asking but I see you still want to play games." He tried to modulate the anger in his voice as he said, "I thought…I hoped I could talk to you. You know… about… you know…us…down there."
She walked toward him then suddenly turned and faced the window. She stared at the slowly rotating planet below. He stepped next to her and was relieved when she didn't step away but instead continued to stare out the portal.
"Well, John," she said after some moments. "I just watched you smash Hawkgirl to bits. I seem to recall you hit her five times; each time was harder than the last until you broke her heart…and everything else about her." She looked up into his eyes. John thought he saw the hint of a twinkle there.
His grin was small. "It was only four times and yeah maybe I was punishing her …you know…for everything. Besides, you seemed to disassemble my…ah…counterpart very quickly. One blow, I seem to recall."
She tilted her head slightly toward him. A wisp of a smile was on her face. "Well don't hate me because I'm more efficient than you are."
"So did you mean it?"
She looked out the window again. "You're asking if I meant to destroy your clone with one blow. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I meant to do that."
John frowned and stepped away from the window. "Okay. You don't want to talk. I understand. But don't pretend you don't know what I mean. Don't worry. I won't take up anymore of your time on this."
He turned and walked back toward the operations center.
"Wait," she called out. "Will you tell me something honestly?"
He stopped and faced her. She stepped away from the window and toward him. "Yes?" he said.
There was a look of sadness on her face as she looked him in the eyes. "When you were smashing my double," she said softly, "did you wish that it was me, the real me?"
It wasn't just the words but it was her body language that bothered him when she spoke. Her wings sagged and her shoulders slumped. It was almost as if she was trying to make herself smaller, he thought.
"I knew that wasn't you," he quickly answered.
Suddenly her wings bristled and she straightened up. Her tone was sharp. "But that wasn't what I asked you. Did you wish that it was me?"
John stepped back. He was a little surprised by her sudden change of attitude. He quickly surveyed the corridor then looked back at her. "I don't know what you want me to say. Did I wish I could hurt you, the way I felt you hurt me? Sure I did. Lord knows I wanted to punish you for coming into my life, letting me love you and then flying out of it."
He exhaled loudly.
"I loved you," he said quietly. "But it…it hurt to love you. So yeah, I did want that broken machine to be you." He paused and then added, "At first…but not anymore."
She looked down. "I see."
He then did something he hadn't done since their last night together before the invasion. He gently lifted her chin with his two fingertips, raising her head so he could look her in the eyes. "No you don't see," he said as he removed his fingers. "It helped to be able to let off steam - to hurt you the way I thought you hurt me. But that wasn't you I destroyed. Remember what you said when you flew away from Bruce's place after the invasion. 'No more secrets. No more lies.' Remember that. I'm not lying to you. I don't want to hurt you." He shrugged his shoulders. "I can't hurt you."
He flashed a smile at her but her expression remained flat. Then she gazed out the window. She folded her arms across her chest as she said, "Yes."
"Yes?" John asked. He noticed that her wings were almost wrapped around her like they were that day at Wayne Manor.
She continued to look out the window. "Yes, I meant it when I said you broke my heart. That day I told you I loved you and do you remember what your response was?" She looked into his face. There was anger in her eyes but the rest of her face showed no emotion. "Nothing," she continued. "You said nothing." She sighed. "I felt like such a fool." She looked back out the window.
John shook his head and then flashed just the hint of a grin. "But I did tell you that I loved you. You just didn't hear it." He inched a little closer to her, but was careful not to touch her. He gazed out the portal looking at her reflection in the Plexiglas. "So you wanted to whack me for not telling you how I felt, huh?"
She smiled at his reflection in the Plexiglas, "Yeah. But I feel much better now since I broke a couple of your double's brain cells. That will teach him to toy with my feelings."
John sighed again. This time it was so loud that Shayera turned her head to look at him. "So where do we go from here?" John asked as he faced her.
She smirked at him. "I'm going to my quarters and clean up. Then I'll think about what I'm going to do after we disband the Justice League." She started walking down the corridor.
He ringed a hand in front of her face. He didn't care if anybody was looking at them now. She stopped and turned. She looked amused. "That's not what I meant and you know it," he said as he caught up with her. There was lightness in his voice.
She shook her head and frowned. "You go back to Vixen, John. It's okay." She smiled weakly as she added, "We're okay, really we are."
They continued down the corridor. There was silence between them. John noticed that she seemed to walk a little closer to him than before.
"Want to go get a cup of coffee with me, then?" he said.
She stopped. "No. Not now, but do you wanna play 'Brawlin'Bots' after the station cleanup is completed?"
He grinned broadly. "Haven't worked out all your frustrations yet, huh? Okay. I've got -"
She interrupted him. "I got dibs on the green one." She briskly walked passed him back toward the operations center.
"Yes. I think you do," John whispered to himself as he ran to catch up with her.