Disclaimer: I don't own Justice League Unlimited.
(A/N: Set during the early episodes of JLU season one. This isn't in continuity with my other JL stories. Thanks to hhgbh for beta-ing!)
It was one of those rare stormy Central City nights. Wally didn't particularly enjoy them because they interfered with his traction – running into walls wasn't funny no matter how much Ralph said it was – but mostly because of the mood they brought down on everybody. People were irritable, cars honked, drivers snapped insults at each other…
And Rogues liked to stand out right in the middle of it just for the sake of getting him wet. He was sure that was the only reason Captain Boomerang was out here. Yeah, there was that armoured car full of diamonds and other stuff Wally couldn't dream of buying on a crime scene investigator's salary, but that was just a bonus.
Boomerang's smile did nothing to discourage his opinion.
"Do you even know how wet and cold it is?!"
A boomerang followed him up the side of a building. He leapt off, grabbed a lamppost and swung down to street level, the boomerang colliding with the lamp instead. An already black night was made even darker.
"Don't worry about me, mate. I'm wrapped up as snug as a bug!" Three more boomerangs flew at him.
Wally ducked one and grabbed the second, throwing it into the third and shattering them both. "Snug as a- what does that even mean?"
The first boomerang swung around and ended up back in Boomerang's hand.
"Look, never mind. Can we do this later? I mean, I know you'd rather be at the bar sipping some Arnold Palmer with your buddies."
He seemed to consider it for a moment before shrugging. "I'd rather be sipping Arnold Palmer on a beach in Hawaii, which is exactly where this stuff will get me!"
A gloved hand pulled another boomerang out of his drenched coat and tossed it at Wally. Years worth of experience told the speedster that it was explosive.
"Fine," Wally sighed loudly. He kicked down on a drain cover in front of him, propelling it up and into his hands. A quick duck and the boomerang shot over his head and curved back around to its' owner. Wally tossed the drain cover and intercepted the explosive before it reached Boomer.
The explosion made Flash wince as Boomerang was tossed back and collided with the wall with a mighty thud.
Boomerang groaned, and Wally charged at him, knocking him out with some well placed super-speed jabs.
Sirens wailed in the distance, brilliant blue and white glowing amidst the haze.
Why did they always arrive at the end of the fight?
After filling in an annoyed and soggy Officer Chyre (Detective Morillo beside him seemed rather smug in his yellow waterproof coat) and making sure Boomer was safely inside the prisoner transport van, Flash set off for home.
Many a time his female friends and/or relatives had talked about how much they were looking forward to a hot shower. He never really appreciated that until now.
Within a few seconds of entering his apartment his clothes were thrown to all sides of the room and hot water was blasting down on him. Another few minutes ("Cleanliness can't be rushed," Aunt Iris would always say) and he was in the kitchen in a robe looking for a snack.
He pulled out a box of Lucky Charms and tucked them underneath his arm, still rubbing his stubbornly squeaky hair as he took a bowl and sat down on a stool beside the kitchen 'table'. Well, Wally called it a table, although it really more resembled a bar, and every visitor he had told him so. Aunt Iris, Uncle Barry, John, although in the weeks leading up to the invasion he hadn't been too bothered.
Wally scowled at where his thought patterns were going and leapt over to the fridge, taking some milk and a carton of orange juice. He closed it and turned around, promptly leaping out of his skin at the shadow stood in his living room.
After some panicked juggling, Wally came to bear holding the orange juice as a gun and the milk as a sword.
The shadow didn't move, and Wally relaxed as recognition sunk in.
"Oh, it's just you," he breathed, letting his weapons drop and sinking onto his kitchen stool. "Geez, J'onn… give a guy some warning, huh?"
He poured out the lucky charms as J'onn spoke.
"I apologise. We tried calling you, but your communicator was switched off."
"Well, yeah, but… that's because it's only supposed to turn on when there's an, uh… orange level emergency."
"Well, whatever." He poured the milk into the bowl. "So… why are you here? Social call?"
"Didn't think so," he replied, scowling as he realised he didn't have a spoon.
"We have been concerned-"
"I'm fine, J'onn, okay? I mean, I'd be better if…" he trailed off as he searched the cutlery draw in vain for a spoon.
"If I…" he grumbled some more and moved over to the dishwasher, where he found all the spoons were dirty. "If I could find a clean spoon!" he declared to the heavens.
Looking a little irritated, J'onn stepped around the counter and picked up a spoon from the dishwasher, rubbing off what Wally assumed was dried milk with his thumb, leaving it sparkling. The Martian neutrally handed it over.
"Wow," Wally said quietly, impressed that he could see his own reflection in it. "I didn't know you could do that."
He shrugged. "I turned my thumb into a sponge."
"Indeed. As I was saying, we have been concerned about the well being of our team in general."
"New guys and gals having trouble?" Wally asked, stuffing his face and finishing the first bowl within seconds.
"You misunderstand. We were more concerned about the well being of our team. We decided it would be beneficial to have a… party."
Wally paused almost imperceptibly as he refilled the bowl.
"Batman has… volunteered Wayne Manor for the proceedings."
That elicited a grin from the speedster. "Diana made him cave, huh?"
A small smile graced the Martian's lips. "In any case, you have been invited by generous multi billionaire Bruce Wayne to a social gathering at Wayne Manor."
Wally stopped in mid feed, some milk dribbling from his chin. He wiped it away before speaking. "You mean as Wally West?"
"Won't that look… weird? I mean, how are you and John and Diana going to go?"
"Diana has publicly met Bruce Wayne before in Paris. I can assume any form I choose. Green Lantern… is going with Vixen."
Flash flipped through his mental catalogue of superheroes. Vixen, Vixen…
A noise akin to a sigh escaped J'onn. "Mari McCabe."
"Wow… okay. And Supes is going because he's a reporter, okay… and how am I coming?"
Somehow, J'onn managed to pull a card from his person. "As a photographer."
Dick had been hoping for something a bit more relaxing. He'd had enough of pounding noise from the shower of bullets Firefly's thugs had unleashed upon him the day before. He'd been hoping for a nice sit down and catch up with his old Gotham State U buddy, Brian Rogers.
For the second time that week, Brian had had something else in mind.
He was pretty sure that the lights were scorching his retinas, so he kept to the bar, only drinking beer. Hard liquor didn't really go down well with him; probably Bruce's influence, when he thought about it. Beer was more acceptable to his subconscious because of the superficial resemblance to soda.
Tina pushed her way through the crowd, her brownish blonde hair not quite glistening under the lights.
"Dick! You'll never guess who I found!"
Dick didn't want to know. He had met Tina on his first excursion into Gotham's othernight life with Brian. He liked her and she seemed to like him with little reason to, since he barely talked upon their first meeting. They had only gone out a few times since then, although nothing serious had really come of it. A few kisses here, a few movies there…
She wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box, but Dick actually found that rather relaxing at first. Someone who wouldn't be so perceptive as to know when he was walking slightly funny, or wincing just a little bit when someone touched his arm.
But now she was just getting annoying. And that was leaving out the fact she kept on bringing over random men who had taken a liking to her and introducing Dick as her friend.
"This is Roger!" she said, her arm firmly around his waist and his on her rear.
Dick nodded a greeting, but Roger barely registered him. Dick ordered another drink.
"I'll have a tequila shooter, thanks man," Roger said quickly.
A thin smile adorned Dick's lips. "Good for you, but you'll have to wait until I've ordered my drink."
He patted his pockets in a big gesture. "I'm out of money!" he said, handing over some loose change to the bartender for his beer to emphasise the point.
Roger and Tina kept on talking under the lights, eventually disappearing back into the crowd and to the dance floor when their pretence of including Dick became boring.
The beer seemed to disappear in a few seconds, and Dick waded into the crowd to search for Brian.
He found him dancing between two girls, both of them showing an amount of flesh that reminded Dick of Helena's costume. He bumped into and shoved his way past quite a few dancers (he would have sworn someone pulled his ponytail) on his way over, finally settling for a gently touch on the arm to gain his friend's attention.
Brian barely noticed him when he said he would talk to him later. While Dick hadn't been drunk that many times himself, he had been to enough of Bruce's soiree's to know when someone was severely under the influence. He considered staying to make sure Brian got home okay, but remembered that Brian had booked a limo to come and pick everyone up at the door of the club ("What's the point of being a football star if you can't show it off a little?").
Relatively sure of his friend's safety, Dick made a hasty retreat through the crowd, not being able to force his way out into the cold Gotham night fast enough. Winter was on the way out, but Spring had yet to get its grips on Gotham. Something about the city seemed to resist the change of seasons.
People gave him strange looks as he walked through the streets, but he didn't pay them any attention. Most of them were stumbling about in a vain effort to resemble sobriety, while others had abandoned all pretence and laughed at the way the puddles in the sidewalk made them look funny.
He hoped to God Barbara wasn't out on patrol tonight. He really didn't need her smugness all up in his face.
Although that wasn't technically true. He would enjoy talking to her right now. He would probably even enjoy the smugness, at least inwardly.
After a twenty minute walk, Dick was riding up the elevator to his loft. A familiar although not exactly welcome shadow was waiting for him, standing on the balcony.
Dick smiled. He hadn't been able to get past the alarms in the windows.
Slower than he had to, Dick sauntered over to the window, punched in his security code, and slid it open.
"Can I help you?"
"You've been drinking."
There was a measure of distaste in his voice, although well hidden.
"One beer away from being a full blown alcoholic," Dick said, smiling as he tossed his jacket off onto the sofa.
"Don't take it so lightly. It can sneak up on you."
"Thank you, wise one. I spent years training physically and mentally under the best tutors, but I never knew about the dangers of alcohol."
Dick realised he had just paid Bruce a compliment, but pretended he didn't notice.
"What's up?" he said, sounding more irritable than he felt.
"I'm holding a fundraiser at the Manor. I want you to come."
"Right. And you couldn't do this over the phone, why?"
"Other people have been invited."
"How odd, for a party."
Bruce continued as though he hadn't spoken. "Special people."
There was only the briefest of pauses before Dick spoke. "Justice League?"
No response, which in Batmanese meant 'yes'.
"I see. But still, you could have told me over the phone."
"I wanted to check up on you."
"I haven't seen you on patrol."
He shrugged. "I've been working different parts of town."
"Batgirl hasn't seen you either."
The shadow of the Dark Knight shifted as though uncomfortable. "Is everything all right, Dick?"
"I'm okay, really."
"Look, I'm tired. I'm going to bed. Give me a call later on to tell me when the party is, all right?"
Dick turned and went up the stairs to his bed, still aware of how Batman was staring at him. He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
A few minutes later, Bruce left. Dick could have sworn he heard a 'good night' while he spat into the sink.