Disclaimer: I don't own Justice League Unlimited
Send Me on My Way
Chapter One: Playing the Game
She didn't like the colour scheme of the Metro Tower rumpus room. It was official, as of this moment. Shayera wasn't sure why she didn't like the colour scheme, but she knew for certain that she really, really didn't like it.
Maybe it was the clashing colours.
Maybe it was the pattern (or lack thereof).
Or maybe it was the fact that Wally West, the superspeed empowered hero known as The Flash, was continuingly and consistently beating her. Earlier that day, the speedster had had no idea how to play Chess. Now he was better than her.
She shook her head.
She was just distracted, that was all. That was the only explanation. That was, unless…
Well, the only other explanation was that Wally was better than her at Chess.
Shayera paused for a moment to think about that.
It was definitely the 'distracted' thing.
The winged heroine looked up at her opponent. "Sorry, what?"
"Your move," he said, gesturing to the Chessboard.
Shayera looked down at the board incredulously, and then looked back up at the masked speedster.
"You're not playing it right."
"The game. You're supposed to think about every move before making it. Think about what your opponent could do, and about what you would do to counter that move, and so on."
"Yeah, I did that."
"No you didn't."
"I so did!"
"No, you didn't. That was what, a few seconds?"
Flash shrugged. "About a minute." He pointed to his head. "There's a fast mind in here," he said, smiling in his usual Flash way.
"Quick as a Flash, right?"
Shayera sighed. "Okay, all right…" She concentrated on the board in front of her, contemplating her next move.
Flash frowned and cocked her head. "You okay?"
Shayera reached forward to move her knight forward, but then thought better of it. "Fine. Why?"
"I dunno. You just seem… off, I guess."
"Yeah, off. Like… not quite… there."
"Well… I'm fine."
Flash cocked an eyebrow. "Sure?"
Shayera sighed and looked up at her friend. "Yes, I'm sure. Now could we just… get back to the game?"
The Scarlet Speedster put his hands up in surrender. "Sorry, sorry… you're right, carry on."
Shayera looked back down at the board, her gaze lingering on Wally cautiously before returning her attention to the game.
"It's just that-"
She whipped her head back up. "What?"
"Well… 'fine' is usually what someone says when they're not really fine and they just want the other person to back off…"
Shayera cocked an impatient eyebrow. Flash looked down, unable to meet her penetrating gaze.
"At least… that's what I think…" he said, suddenly enraptured with picking off a piece of lint on his shoulder.
Shayera smiled. "I'm fine."
Her gaze once again lingered on the speedster before she went back to the game. Slowly and cautiously, she picked up her knight.
Shayera's head whipped up to look at Flash. "What?"
"Oh. Nothing, nothing. I just… wouldn't make that move, is all."
"Well, thank you, but I'll move wherever the hell I want, thank you."
"Okay, okay," he said, badly hiding a smirk as he put his hands up defensively. "Please. Go on."
Shayera moved the knight forward, and then sighed. She put the knight back where it was. Then, arching an eyebrow, she looked up at her opponent, considering his expression.
Let's see… he tried to get me to not make the move, which means he's afraid.
She reached down the pick up the knight.
He could have known that I'd think that and done a double bluff. But still… he could have anticipated my anticipating his…
Wally picked up the paper bag of popcorn next to his stool, ate the entire bag, and belched loudly, patting his belly proudly. He grinned as goofily as humanly possible.
Shayera sighed, shaking her head.
Oh yeah, he's playing mind games.
She moved the knight forward and to the left. She looked up at Flash, whose grin had taken on a predatory menace.
He sighed melodramatically. "I told you not to make that move." He moved his rook one space forward. "Checkmate," he said, leaning back and putting his hands behind his head.
Shayera looked down in horror. "How did you-? I mean… that's…"
"I know, I know…" Flash said, still grinning.
"Oh, go ahead, laugh it up. Lean back and relax."
"Thank you, I think I will."
The speedster leaned back on his stool, forgetting that it wasn't a chair, and immediately tumbled to the floor, rolling head over heels before scrambling to his feet.
"I meant to do that. You can't prove I didn't."
Shayera, meanwhile, wasn't even listening. She was laughing too hard.
The speedster frowned. "Yeah, well… you're stupid!"
"I'm not the one who… who…" she burst out laughing again.
Flash scowled. "Whatever! I'm gonna… go do something else now!"
And with a red blur, Wally was gone.
Shayera was still laughing when Superman entered the room, perplexed at her good humour. She quickly regained her composure as she saw his amused expression.
"I take it Flash didn't take too well to chess."
"Oh, no, he beat me."
The Man of Steel cocked a curious eyebrow. "And you're laughing?"
"…yeah. Isn't it great?"
Superman didn't know quite how to respond to that, so he just gestured down to the table. "You want to play again?"
Shayera sighed, shaking her head. "No thanks. I've been concentrating on this game all day…"
She almost wanted to cry when she saw the crestfallen look on Superman's face.
"But, you know, I could do with a game of something a little less… taxing."
Clark looked up at the ceiling as he thought to himself. "…Go Fish?"
"You've never played Go Fish?"
"And yet you've played poker."
"You haven't even played Go Fish with Batman?"
"Batman plays a game called Go Fish? I would have thought that would be Aquaman's game."
Shayera buried her face in her hand, and Superman smiled.
"Oh, Yom Shigureth… I've been spending way too much time with Wally."
"Yes you have. But that's not necessarily a bad thing."
She looked up at him. "It's not?"
A smile spread across his face. "Shall we discuss this over Go Fish?"
"So… I have to get the same number in every suit?"
"Or a set of numbers in the right order."
Superman cocked an eyebrow. "Are you sure you've got it?"
"We'll find out, won't we?"
"Okay. Have you got any twos?"
"Can I lie?"
"Oh. Then yes."
Shayera handed over her two and Clark smiled in a mischievous way that Shayera didn't see very often in the Man of Steel.
"So… you were saying about my hanging around with Wally being a good thing?"
"Well, you do seem more relaxed."
Clark nodded. "Yeah. Let's take an example. When Volcana scorched your wing last week, you would have been scowling for about a month about how you let your guard down in the old days. This time, Wally had you laughing at… what was it?"
Shayera smiled. "A hand puppet."
Superman nodded, only now comprehending. "Oh, is that what it was?"
She shrugged. "It was a very funny hand puppet."
"Who was it?"
"Promise you won't tell?"
"Of course not. Have you got any Jacks?"
"Go Fish. It was Batman."
Clark picked up a card, smiling the entire time. "Why am I not surprised…?"
Shayera smiled at the memory. "I don't know. I suppose he does help me relax now and then. He still drives me crazy at times."
"He drives everyone crazy. Your turn."
"Oh, right. Um… have you got any… sevens?"
"Yes," Clark grumbled, begrudgingly handing over three sevens.
Shayera smiled. "I'm liking this game."
"I thought you might."
"Have you got any nines?"
He handed them over.
"Anyway… I was thinking that you might want to take a little vacation."
Shayera blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"Well… it's been a stressful year or so for you… for everyone, really, and-"
She sighed. "Is this about Hawkman? Again?"
"No, it's not."
There was a silence as she took in the sincerity of Superman's last statement. "It's not?"
"No. I've been trying to get all of the original seven to take a break at regular intervals, and it just happens to be your turn."
"Yes. Your vacation time's about to run out." He nodded at her cards. "It's still your turn."
Shayera shook her head and got back to her cards. "Oh, right. Have you, uh, got any Aces?"
She picked up a card. "I suppose I could take a break… I have been feeling stuck in a rut lately."
Shayera looked up at Superman, who was now focusing solely on his cards.
"I was thinking that… maybe… you could…" he trailed off, mumbling the last part of the sentence incoherently.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"…take Flash with you."
Shayera was speechless. But only for a moment.
"Let me get this straight. You want me to go on vacation… to get away from Justice League business… and you want me to take Flash with me?"
"His birthday's coming up, and we've got a surprise party for him. But you know what he's like when it comes to this kind of thing. He keeps on poking his nose around at superspeed until he ruins the surprise for himself."
"It isn't my turn for a break at all, is it?"
Superman shook his head.
"There was never any vacation roster, was there?"
Superman shook his head.
"You're just using me to get rid of the Flash, aren't you?"
Superman nodded. "Will you do it?"
Shayera sighed. "Let me think about it."
He grinned. "Great. You got any fours?"
She handed over her three fours. Superman smiled and put down his hand.
"And that's how you play."
Shayera thinned her eyes at the Man of Steel. "Oh, yeah, laugh it up. Just lean back and relax. I'll call you if I decide to do it."
She stood up and made her way out as she saw Superman lean back on the stool with his arms crossed, gloating.
She left the room, and there was a crash.
And a string of words that a Boy Scout would certainly not approve of.
And Shayera laughed.
Flash threw the yellow ball into the air from where he lay on his hammock, bouncing it off the ceiling of his room. Since he didn't live in his room at the Metro Tower, he mostly used it for storage, like his games consoles, comic books, and of course, the hammock he had bought on a drunken whim whilst vacationing with Dick and Roy.
It seemed like a worthwhile investment at the time, and still did, in some cases. Such as now, for instance. His bed (which he never used for sleeping anyway) had become swamped with various objects, so he had taken to relaxing in the hammock during his more quiet moments, which he had strung across the far right corner of the room.
"I think it's a great idea," he said, bouncing the yellow ball against the ceiling yet again.
Shayera followed the yellow ball with her eyes as she spoke. "I don't know… I don't want to go on vacation just because it's my turn…"
"Why not? Look, you've done just as much for the League as anyone else. Why shouldn't you get a vacation?"
"No, not 'you guess', just 'yes'. You deserve this, Shayera, trust me."
Shayera shrugged. "I just think- GAH!" She twisted her waist slightly to lift her rear-end from the bed, where it had come into contact with something rather sharp. Looking down, she saw a Martian Manhunter action figure.
She cocked an eyebrow as she showed it to Wally.
"Oh, that," he said, smiling. He tossed the ball into the air once again, allowing it to thunk against the ceiling before continuing. "I had to fight tooth and nail to get that. It's kinda weird how J'onn is the most sought after action figure, don't you think? Since he hardly ever appears in public at all?"
"Does he know you have this?"
"Well, he does read minds, so… I dunno."
"Why do you have it?"
"Oh, come on! It's a J'onn J'onnz action figure! I saw it in the department store in Central City, and I just thought 'hell, it's a J'onn J'onnz action figure'. There wasn't really much thought involved."
Shayera looked down at the plastic toy inquisitively. The miniature J'onn stared blankly back up at her.
"Hey," Wally said, grinning. "Push the button on the back."
She considered the speedster suspiciously, thinning her eyes. "Why? What's it going to do?"
"Would you just trust me and push the button?"
She pushed the button.
Shayera looked up at Wally incredulously.
His grin widened. "I don't know about you, but J'onn says that to me all the time."
She looked down at the action figure. "Makes me wonder what mine says…"
"Oh, yours just yells."
Horror crossed her features. "You didn't."
"Oh, no, I just saw it in the store."
She smirked. "What does yours say?"
The Scarlet Speedster's grin disappeared, and he returned to bouncing the ball off the ceiling. "Nothing…"
"Oh, no. Yours definitely says something."
"It's nothing. It… doesn't say anything."
Silence descended between them as Shayera continued to stare at Flash. The only noise in the room was Wally bouncing the ball off the roof.
Wally sniffed and scratched his nose in-between throws of the ball. He glanced over at Shayera out of the corner of his eye. She was still staring at him, eyebrow cocked.
Why won't she just stop?
"This isn't gonna work, y'know."
"It doesn't say anything."
Wally leapt from the hammock, landing on his feet in front of Shayera. "Fine." He went over to the closet and rummaged around the bottom shelf for what seemed an eternity.
"Up, up, and away!"
"I. Am. Batman!"
Shayera cocked an eyebrow. Zip? Who says 'Zip'?
The large grin that had once been on Flash's face now adorned Shayera's.
"'Zip'? Your action figure says 'Zip'?"
"Yeah, well… I go fast… I kinda make a zipping sound…"
Shayera laughed, although she tried her best to cover it up.
"It's not my fault I don't have a catchphrase."
"I know, it's just… 'zip'…"
"Yeah, well… whatever."
Flash shot over to the hammock and searched for his ball, which had landed next to Shayera.
Wally gave her a look as he caught the ball. He tossed it back to her.
"So… moving on… are you gonna do it?"
Shayera tossed the ball back. "I don't know. Do you think I should?"
Flash caught the ball. "Oh yeah. Beaches, swimming pools, five star hotels… go nuts." He paused before throwing the ball back. "The League's paying for it, right?"
He shrugged and tossed back the ball. "Okay then, go nuts."
"Do you, uh…" she caught the ball. "Do you want to come too?"
Wally paused. "Heh?"
"Do you want to come too? As in… on vacation."
"Uh… I… dunno what to say…" He grinned. "I mean, sure, yeah! That'll be awesome!"
Shayera smiled. "Okay." She paused. "Um… what do we do… first? I'm sort of new at this."
"Right, right, sure. Well, first of all, we've gotta decide where to go. Then we've gotta pick the right stuff to bring with us, book a flight, hotel…Ooo! Ooo! Make sure it has a swimming pool, too… and a sauna…"
Shayera sighed as Wally continued to rattle on. She was beginning to think that this might not be a good idea.
"…and it's gotta have a breakfast bar," Wally said, grinning at the possibilities.
She looked at her friend.
Definitely not a good idea.
(A/N: I was going to wait until I'd finished 'Gut Feeling' before putting this up, but I just liked it so much that I couldn't resist.
I thought that after the heavier, more serious stories, I could stand to do a light hearted piece. Also, we've been getting brief spurts of scorching (for our standards) sunny days over in the UK, and I guess that just inspired me. Also, the mental image of Wally in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, sandals and tacky sunglasses is waaaay too funny to ignore. All the while thinking he looks like a real treat for the ladies, of course.
This'll be updated at a much more leisurely pace than my other stories usually are. While pace is an important factor on some of the more dramatic stories, this is more of a relaxed affair, so I'm going to treat it like one.