Author's Note: Written for the HG/GL Ficathon on JLA Universe. Conveniently fits into the Fanfic 100 Challenge as well. Prompt: Not Enough. Thanks to BillA1 for the beta.
by Athena Phoenix
"Great." Shayera pushed the hair off her forehead and sat down, muttering.
Batman's head tilted slightly. "Hrn. Yeah. Great." He was leaning on the cave wall, arms crossed.
The storm showed no sign of abating. They were three to five meters from the entrance, facing each other. Any closer to the entrance, and the splash would be soaking them. It was dank, and not particularly warm.
Shayera looked up, hopeful. "You wouldn't happen to carry..." she broke off as he turned to look at her.
"...coffee in that utility belt, would you?" she finished, subdued.
He regarded her, lips pursed. "I wish."
Shayera slumped and gazed out at the deluge, disconsolate. "Twenty-four hours?"
"Give or take." Batman glanced at her again and his eyes narrowed. "Scared?"
Shayera was contemplating reaching for her mace when she saw the upturned corners of his mouth. "Like to live dangerously, do we?" she growled, not really all that upset.
"Always." He looked out over his right shoulder, and his lips curled in annoyance. "Miserable hunk of rock. Should have known this lead was a bust."
Shayera sighed. "Wouldn't have expected the reactor's cooling system to just conk out like that. The Javelin's, what, only a couple of years old?"
"It saw hard use. It was damaged during the Th – it was damaged. Never been the same since."
She took a deep breath. "Bruce."
"You don't have to tiptoe around that." Shayera was looking straight at him. "I mean it. No pretty words, no pretending that my people came over just to sample the eels. Give me that."
Batman regarded her impassively. "Fine. It was damaged when your people invaded."
"Thank you." Shayera nodded curtly, in a way that reminded Batman incongruously - well, perhaps not that incongruously - of John. They're both soldiers, after all... and were lovers.
He looked out again, the storm now worse than ever. "At least we were able to radio our position accurately before the storm. The rescue party should have no problem finding us."
They traded stories for a while. Because the military on Thanagar were not as clearly separated from the police as on Earth, Shayera had quite a few "cop stories" to tell. In spite of everything, she appeared to enjoy Batman's company.
"...and then he wet himself," she finished, laughing and shivering at the same time, gathering her wings even more tightly around herself.
Batman let out a short guffaw. "Seems to be a universal constant." She is definitely not dressed for this weather. He checked the temperature gauge in his cowl. Two degrees centigrade right now, and it'll get worse before morning. They were fortunate that the nearest planet had an oxygen atmosphere, but that had been the extent of their luck. All our survival gear – contaminated by radiation. Everything that even remotely resembles kindling – soaked. So much for being prepared.
He noticed that she was quiet, her red hair cascading over her bent knees.
Shayera shook her head and opened her eyes sleepily, parting her wings slightly. "What – what did you –"
"I said 'Wake up!' You are not to fall asleep, soldier." He used the military term, hoping it would help her draw upon her training.
She smiled weakly. "You'd make a terrible drill instructor, Bruce."
"Is that right?" If she still has a sense of humor, her higher brain functions are still up and running. Good.
"Yeah, that's right." She got up, swaying slightly, all the while looking him straight in the eye. "You'd. Make. A. Terrible. Drill Instructor."
"And why is that?" Got to keep her active.
"Because you're too cute."
Batman coughed in surprise. Okay, this is getting surreal.
"That's right. You're too cute to be a drill instructor. No scars. No prostheses. Look like a damn model." She paused, giggling. "No wonder Diana'sh doin' the… doin' th'… the Arcturian belly flop with y–" She sat down so suddenly, that for a moment Batman thought she had collapsed. But she just sat there, her wings unceremoniously splayed out, giggling like a schoolgirl with a dirty magazine.
Maybe hypothermia symptoms are different with Thanagarians? I'd swear she was drunk… but then he saw her shiver violently, her teeth chattering audibly.
He glanced at the thermometer reading in his heads-up display again. Negative three! A five degree drop in a few minutes. Great – a microclimate effect, no doubt. He briefly considered using her mace to blast the cave entrance shut, but dismissed it as quickly – who knows how stable this cave is.
He took off his cape and put it around her. Got to keep her talking until I can think of something…
"So, you think I look like a model?" he asked in his best bedroom voice.
Shayera's head was down again and her eyes were closed.
"Hey! Wake up!" Batman took her by the shoulders and shook her.
Ever so slowly, she looked up at him through half-closed eyes. "Whaddya want, you twerl?"
He recognized the Thanagarian slang. "Oh, I'm a twerl now, huh?" He fought to keep his voice seductive and swallowed, his mouth almost dry. "I thought I was a model."
"You… you could be both…"
"Get up, soldier!"
To credit her training, she did try to get up – barely. But she slid back down almost as fast.
Batman's mind raced. She's running out of time. My suit is keeping me warm… guess I could put it on her… but then I'll be in shirtsleeves and in the same boat she is. She won't necessarily get better immediately… Who's going to keep us both awake?
He made his decision and took the cape off her; to his dismay, she did not even move from where she had passed out, her body bent over, her wings wrapped tightly against her. He pushed the thought aside and continued as quickly as he could.
Okay. Now step two. He spread the cape on the cold cave floor next to her. Picking her up unceremoniously, he placed her on it. Hang on, Shayera, for God's sake, he pleaded silently.
Step three. He peeled off his suit, shivering as he felt the cave's cold air on his skin. Damn, it's cold! Got to do this quickly, or I'll end up like her. Good thing she's petite – I'd hate to have to undress her in this cold… he picked her up again, wincing as he noticed the bluish tinge of her lips.
In you go. Holding the Batlight in his teeth,he first tried one way, then another, then finally gave up all pretense of being delicate and stuffed her into the Batsuit – twisting one of her wings in the process. He noticed, absently, in the part of his brain that always seemed to act as dispassionate recorder, that he had a handful of feathers in his left hand, one of them apparently ripped by the roots. He thought – he hoped– that he had heard a mild moan of protest, a faint resistance to his mangling her wing.
It was his turn to have chattering teeth. Oh God, it's cold. It's… it's gotta be colder than negative three. Okay, now step three… I mean, step four. Dammit, step four, Bruce! He kept his cowl on his head and replaced the gauntlets on his hands, so he would have at least some protection. The suit would keep her warm, but losing heat through his head was a sure way to pass out.
He lay down next to her and pulled his cape around them both. It barely covered him, but he could tell that he was losing heat at a lesser rate now. The cape was thick, and woven to have minimum heat conductance. He assumed a fetal position, to minimize his apparent surface area, and willed himself to only breathe through his nose. He went through all his mental disciplines, making his body conserve its heat, making it shift it to his body core where it was most needed. Frostbite I can deal with.
A sudden alarm went off in his head. Got to see how… how she's doing. He made himself move toward her, look at her, careful not to open their makeshift sleeping bag too much. Air we need. Cold air we don't. Hey, it's like a rhyme. Air we need, cold we don't. Ere we need, we be culled, we… ere we…
Focus. Focus. Focus. He repeated it as a mantra, and pulled himself alongside her, examining her as well as he could in the darkness of their cocoon. His heads-up display reported her radiating more heat than before – her metabolism was rebounding a bit. He prodded her face with his finger, and she flinched slightly, making a slight defensive move with her left hand.
Oh, thank God. She's warming up. The suit had correctly diagnosed her dangerously low core body temperature and kicked in the heat circulation system. He cuddled up to her, out of instinct. There was little warmth radiating from the suit – that was, after all, what it was designed for. One occupant. He could only hope his own body heat would warm the air between them enough to keep him from going into hypothermia. Won't Clark be amused? He'll think I tried the sacrificial thing again if I die here.
Just for that, I gotta make it alive off this rock. To show that Boy Scout up, if nothing else. Just for that…
"Shayera! Oh thank God, you're awake again." He suddenly noticed that his eyes were burning – the cold. Yeah, that's it.
I'm such a liar.
"How… how long… hey, I'm in your suit. What… are you… are you naked?"
"No, just in shorts and a shirt."
"Oh, well, a girl can hope, right…?" She chuckled faintly, then winced. "Ow! My – my wing. What the hell happened to…"
"Um,… um… hrn."
He looked straight at her. "You wouldn't fit."
And suddenly, he started to laugh.
"Bruce, have you…" but she had to stop, because she was laughing too. In between giggles, she finally managed to say, "Diana'd be furious if she knew you'd been feeling me up."
"I have not –" he started to protest, but then realized that she was teasing. Might as well continue with the joke – we've got to do something to stay awake. "Yeah, Plastic Man will sell tickets when she attacks you."
"Me? I'd worry about you! She'll probably rip 'em off and feed 'em to you! She sure…seems like the possessive type."
He winced at Shayera's description.
She continued, "Then you wouldn't have to worry about having any little Bats flying around your cave. You don't seem like the father type anyway."
"Dick –" he began, but she didn't appear to notice.
"Makes two of us. I'm never gonna have kids. Who'd stick with me long enough to raise 'em?" She looked away.
"Hrn. Yeah." Well, technically, Batman thought wryly, if having them is the only problem, they just have to put up with you long enough for you to sleep with them. Which John can probably still do – I saw the way you looked at each other in the elevator.
"And another thing – I mean, who's to say Thanagarians and humans are even genetically compatible?"
Tension is making her more talkative than usual, he thought.
"No Thanagarians are gonna want to sleep with me, that's for sure, and as for humans –" and she caught her breath, suddenly, wincing.
"No, just… forget it."
She paused, shifting her wing, winced again. "Ouch. You did a number on it, didn't you, Bruce?"
"Couldn't be helped."
"Yeah, well. It'll heal." She shifted her weight again, trying to get comfortable, and failed. "One thing bothers me, though."
Shayera seemed to be weighing her words carefully. "I hate to admit it… I mean, I went out with that Carter Hall guy mostly out of pity. I mean, he's fairly cute, but I'm not one to go for kooks, on any planet."
Her eyes narrowed. "Still living dangerously, are we?"
Batman smirked. "Not much else to do right now. Go on."
Shayera seemed annoyed. "I lost my train of thought."
He let out an elaborate sigh. "Kooks. You. Not SOP."
"Right! Normally, I steer clear of the crazies. But… that guy. He was so convinced that he… that we… were part of something bigger, something grander than just a man and a woman who might find each other companionable. The whole… well, the whole destiny thing. And, the truth is…" she paused and swallowed, abashed.
"I wanted to believe him so bad, because it would mean that I could quit worrying about John, about Hro, about everything…" she broke off, frowning. "I'm not making sense, am I?"
"Maybe you are. Maybe you aren't." Alarm bells were sounding in the back of Batman's head, and he couldn't figure out why, so he tried to be as cryptic as possible.
"I mean, Bruce, look. If Hall was right, then my past, my present… my future were set. All that had happened had just been a sideshow. My past? Be his consort or whatever. My present? Be his flying girlfriend. My future? Have his children, I guess…" She looked at him, eyes full of pain. "Now do you understand?"
Batman forced himself to focus – the cold was getting to him. "You mean…if Hall was right, your life would have meaning? You'd have a purpose? Is that it?" He was shivering violently now.
"Yeah. Stupid, huh?" She moved restlessly within the Batsuit. "It couldn't be that easy."
Batman rubbed his hands on his thighs, trying to bring sensation back into them. His mind felt numb as well. Finally, he responded.
"It's not stupid."
"It's not stupid. Everybody wants to make sense out of their lives."
"How do you do it?"
"But you just said –"
"– I said everybody wants to make sense of life. It's not always possible."
"Is that why you're so obsessive about the mission?"
"Aren't we all?"
She laid her hand on his arm. "Yeah. But you're a special case, Bruce. I still don't know how Diana ever got you to –"
"Got me to what?"
"Got you to play nice."
Batman raised an eyebrow. "Who says I do?"
She laughed a bit. "You're all right, Mr. Dark and Foreboding. You're all right."
"Glad to hear you approve." God, it's cold…
"Bruce!" He heard her voice from a great distance.
"Bruce, don't do this to me! We've been… we've been through that, okay?" Her voice had an edge of panic in it. "I already did that. No need for you to do it, okay?" She was pleading, shaking him. "Wake up!"
He came to, groggy. "You're all heart," was all he could mutter.
Shayera raised her voice. "Yeah, I'm not the mother type. You, on the other hand – yeah, you and Diana could produce some really scary offspring."
She sighed. "Don't know why I even bother. I might as well just sit next to a batch of uranium, for all my eggs have done me… why did you do that?"
"You jumped when I mentioned the uranium. Oh, gods, don't tell me you're such a sentimentalist that you think I still have a chance to reproduce."
Batman was quiet.
"Bruce! You still with us?"
A few seconds, then a weak grunt of affirmation.
She forced herself to sound conversational. "You know, if you died out here, I'd have to kill you. You know that, right?"
A soft chuckle.
Shayera turned awkwardly in the suit until she was embracing him. "C'mon Bruce – you can't get out of it this easily. What did you mean?"
Batman struggled to keep his eyes open. "No uranium. Rex." He dimly recalled something abouttime and clocks and bad things happening.
"Huh? What's Metamorpho got to do with it?"
That didn't seem right…"Metamorpho…?"
"So it wasn't Metamorpho" Shayera suddenly grew suspicious. "Who is Rex?"
Batman opened his mouth, closed it. He wasn't supposed to be talking about this – he was sure of that.
Shayera was getting visibly upset. "Bruce, are you holding out on me? Who is this Rex guy? Why does he care about my eggs?"
A single word suddenly formed in the confines of Batman's freezing brain.
"I asked you a question, Bruce!"
The alarms that had been sounding in the back of his mind suddenly hit air-raid level"Shayera – I –" he blinked. Crap! Oh. That word again.
He exhaled slowly, surrendering. "He's… he's your son. Rex Stewart."
"What!" Startled, Shayera drew back for a moment; then her eyes narrowed as she registered the last name. "Despite the cold, you don't seem delirious. Yet." Poking his chest, she demanded. "Explain."
Shayera had been uncharacteristically quiet as Batman pieced together the story of his and John's trip through time. It would have been confusing even if his brain had been firing on all cylinders. But she got the gist of it. Her only comment had been, "I didn't think Earth had developed time travel yet."
He described the final battle haltingly, and how courageously Warhawk had fought alongside his father.
"He kicked ass?" Her eyes were shining.
"Yeah. He did. Just like his mother."
"I was there?"
"Then I was –"
"I don't know. Don't speculate! You'll become obsessive."
She laughed. "Like you?"
"Sounds like you're feeling better," she said wryly. Then her voice turned serious. "How do you deal with it?"
"Knowing the future."
"I try not to think about it. Even considered asking J'onn to give me a mindwipe."
"But you didn't. Why not?"
He turned within her embrace, stalling.
"Because why?" she pressed.
"Because," he squirmed again, "maybe I was meant to have that information."
"You? Getting mystical? Now I know you're delirious."
He was saved from having to reply when their communicators crackled.
"Shayera? Batman?" came John's concerned voice. "Are you all right?"
"We've… we've been better," Shayera responded, startled at who had come to the rescue. "How soon can you get here?"
"We're orbiting the planet right now – we'll touch down shortly. The storm seems to be abating. Hang on."
They heard a muffled conversation, then he returned.
"Batman? Are you there?"
"Where else would I be?"
"Same old Bats," John chuckled. "We've pinpointed your location and we'll be there in ten minutes. Lantern out."
They looked at each other for a few seconds. Then, a smile broke out on Shayera's face, and she kissed Batman on the cheek.
"Thank you." Her eyes were teary. And she looked away.
Batman was puzzled. "Thank you…?"
"Thank you for trusting me enough to break a time quarantine like that."
Shayera looked at him quizzically, then smiled again. "It's a military term – of course, you don't have time travel."
Batman looked at her, his eyes dark. "Not yet."
She sighed. "Maybe you ought to get dressed. No use starting any rumors." Suddenly, she grinned. "Pity. It would be fun to make him jealous."
That brought a peal of laughter from Shayera. "You know what you sound like when you do that?"
"I didn't think so. No way you'd do it if you did."
"You said something about living dangerously?" His eyes were narrow. "I won't be hypothermic forever, you know."
She looked at him coolly. "You. Me. Training room seven, twenty-four hours from now. Tell Diana to bring the first aid kit."
"Why? She doesn't like you that much."