Disclaimer: DC Comics owns all rights to the characters within. They are used without permission and not meant to infringe on copyrights or meant to generate income.

Also, if you have not read my other stories, it would be helpful to do so before reading this one. The chronology goes: Brothers in Arms, Where Do We Go From Here, Tragedies of the Past, Betrayal From Within, Future Sins, Reestablishing Bonds, Parents and Children, New Allies, Rivals or Friends, Public Enemy Number One, Double Date, Mind Games, Solar Complications, Mentors and Pupils, Brother Against Brother, Calm Before the Storm, Opening Moves, Isolation, and The Great Father and Son Contest.

Fugue State, chapter 1

Location: the Kent's farm

Conner knew when the alarm went off that something was wrong. The scent of breakfast wasn't in the air, but even more unusual was that Max was still in bed.

Conner went over to him, worried. The only times that Max had slept in this late was when he was undergoing cellular degeneration. Max wasn't sweating, but he was simply staring at the ceiling.

"Max, are you there?" Conner asked.

He received no response.

Conner reached out and shook him. There was no reaction.

Cursing under his breath, Conner threw off the sheets to see if there was anything wrong with his brother's body. He couldn't see anything different. All through this, Max stared at the ceiling, his breathing slow but regular.

"Aunt Martha!" Conner shouted. "Uncle Jon! Call Clark! Something's wrong with Max!"

Location: the JLA Watchtower

Max's comatose body was placed in the medical bay. There was nothing wrong with him physically that the sensors could determine, but he seemed to be in some sort of fugue state.

"Match's mind is normally guarded against mental intrusion," J'onn explained. "In this state, those defenses should be weakened for me to enter his mind."

Kon and Kal watched as J'onn's eyes unfocused. After a moment, he seemed to recover and looked at them with a grim expression on his face.

"This is not a natural occurrence," he stated. "His mind has been infiltrated by some external source and several blockades have been constructed using his memories. These can only be bypassed by moving through them."

"Is it possible for you to undo what's keeping him in this trance?" Kal asked.

"If I did, I would destroy those memories," J'onn said. "That would cause irreparable damage to him. Each section is also tied to a certain person who needs to accompany me to move through them."

"Were you able to find out who's needed?" Kon asked.

"Batman, Robin, the two of you, and a teenage boy named Daniel Reiner."

"You'll be able to bring the five of us into his mind, correct?" Superman asked. "That won't be too difficult, will it?"

"I can do it," J'onn said. "However, I will need the cooperation of everyone involved. They must all be fully active."

Superman sighed. "You're saying that I'll need to get him to agree to it. Kon, can you get Dan and Robin to agree? I'll work on Batman."

Location: the Kent's farm

Conner hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. He knew Tim was having issues with Max, but that didn't get in the way of him agreeing to help. Dan was all too eager to help. He didn't know what he was getting into, but nothing would stop him from helping out his boyfriend. Conner hoped that there wasn't going to be anything dangerous involved, because it would be difficult to protect Dan in an environment where anything could happen.

Conner frowned. He didn't like the thought of going into Max's mind without his permission. His brother was a very private person, and he knew there were things in his past that he wanted to forget. Mental landscapes could also be manipulated by those with telepathic powers, so it was likely that the one who did this to him was waiting behind all of the blockades.

"It's all right, I'm going to save you," Conner said aloud.

Location: the Bat Cave

"Hh," Batman said.

Superman's eyes narrowed. He had expected a real reply to his request for aid, not just an indication that Bruce had heard it. He waited for a response.

"I don't like the idea of bringing a civilian into this," Batman said. "We have no idea of the dangers involved; he could be injured or killed."

"He's one of the people that J'onn says are needed to free Match. Between the five of us, we should be able to protect him."

"We'll need to take precautions to shield Robin's and my identities," Batman stated. "J'onn should be able to do that. I assume that we'll begin later today."

Superman was taken aback. "I expected you to think it over more or to have more reservations."

"He's one of our own, Clark. I want him to be my successor. I'll do anything I can to help him."

Location: the JLA Watchtower

Dan was originally awestruck by his surroundings, but he quickly forgot about them when he saw Max lying in the medical bay's bed. He stayed by his side and talked to him, hoping for a response, but received no reply.

Before they entered the room, J'onn took Batman and Robin aside.

"I'll take both of you into his mind first," he explained. "That will allow me to set your mental avatars to be wearing your costumes. You do not have to worry about what Daniel sees."

"That's good to know," Robin said.

"Match knows and we'll be in his mind," Batman warned. "We don't know what to expect so we'll have to be ready for anything. Have you ever done anything like this before?"

"Not exactly like this," J'onn replied. "It will be interesting to see what sort of structure has been created; there are few mentalists that could do such a thing, much less ones that would."

Dan's eyes widened in amazement when Batman, Robin, and the Martian Manhunter entered the room.

"Uh, hello," he stammered.

"When we're in Match's mind, you'll do what we say," Batman ordered him. "We're going to help him, but we don't want any unnecessary injuries. Don't be impulsive or reckless. Do you understand?"

Dan nodded. "I do."

"The Martian Manhunter is going to bring us into Match's mind one by one," Batman told everyone. "We don't know what to expect, so be alert."

Everyone laid out on a bed, and J'onn approached them one by one. Each one fell into a trance as he brought them into Match's mind.

Dan was the last one to be brought in. He felt his eyelids grow heavy as J'onn placed his hand on Dan's forehead. His eyes closed, and Dan didn't feel tired any more. He opened his eyes and saw that everything had changed.


Any and all comments welcome!