Elseworld. Written for the AU ABC Challenge prompt "Detective".


The cloaked figure watched the gang prowling the alleyways between the buildings. Idiots. They'd left evidence of this drug deal all over the place. It wasn't even a challenge.

As they neared the docks the figure calculated his jump … now. He leapt, cape billowing, creating an obvious shadow in the sunlight. And when the first face looked up and twisted into a grimace of terror, he smiled. Criminals. Such a superstitious and cowardly lot.

It took him no time to subdue them—they were no match for the power he wielded. Before the first siren wailed in the distance, the scum were bound and cowering on the end of the dock. By the time the Coast City cops arrived—tipped by his anonymous call—he was gone.

Just a few more low-lifes off the street. But it would never be enough. He could take every single criminal off the streets, but it would never bring his parents and brothers back, their lives stolen by a mugger's gun.

Survivor's guilt had eaten away at him, during his recovery in the hospital and through the rest of his childhood. He had decided he needed to do something to make the streets of Coast City safer, above and beyond the limited capabilities of the police who hadn't been able to find one mugger. But what could an orphan trying to exist on a pilot's life insurance policy do? If it wasn't for the Kalmakus, the family of his father's mechanic, he would have been homeless or a ward of the state.

The opportunity had finally presented itself when he was twenty years old—a decade after he had lost his family—in the form of a dying alien in the desert. A dying alien with a wondrous ring.

And Green Lantern was born.

He flew into the WWII-era hangar, long ago abandoned on the far side of Ferris Aircraft. It was the secret hiding place of Green Lantern. Tom — the Kalmaku's son and Hal's best friend for as long as he could remember — was there, tinkering on his airplane, a broken-down P-51 Mustang he'd salvaged. Tom had gotten permission from Ferris to use the place for his hobby. It was excellent cover for what really went on below the dilapidated old hangar.

"Carol called," Tom said. He was elbow-deep in an engine. "She wants to know if you'll go to some charity event with her." Tom tossed his wrench into a toolbox and wiped his hands on a greasy rag. "You going to call her back, Hal, or do I have to make excuses yet again?"

Hal Jordan pulled back the cowl that hid his true identity from the world and gave an annoyed grunt. "I don't have time for that, Tom."

"She likes you, Hal. And you need a date." Tom shook his head. "You spend too much time alone. You're getting all grim and dark and as crazy as the psychos you chase."

Hal ignored Tom's admonishments and went to the door that led to the stairway to the basement. Carol Ferris was his boss. His father had been a pilot for her father. She'd given him a job when he'd gotten himself kicked out of the Air Force. She was an intelligent woman and Hal enjoyed working for her. But date her? Hal … wasn't interested.

"The kid's back, by the way," Tom called out.

Hal stopped with his hand on the doorknob. His pulse quickened and he took a calming breath before going into the basement.

He was sprawled in the chair in front of the computer bank that Tom had pieced together from scrounging flea markets and computer swaps. The first thing Hal noticed was that he had changed his costume — black and white had been replaced by black and green.

Hal forced himself to keep his voice steady. "Kyle."

The young man swung around in his seat and Hal had to catch his breath. Kyle looked older, more mature, more sure of himself. He was without a doubt a grown man now.

"Hal." He stood up. "Are you still mad at me?"

Hal pulled the cowl the rest of the way off, along with the cape, and tossed them onto a table. The last time they'd spoken down here, it had been ugly. Hateful. Kyle had an offer to join the Titans. Hal wanted him to stay, tried to argue that he wasn't ready. They'd argued, said many things that Hal would come to regret, and Kyle had left.

"No. I'm not mad at you."

Kyle smiled, and Hal remembered the teenager he'd taken under his wing. He'd only been Green Lantern a few years at the time, just into his mid-twenties, finally established as the Terror of Coast City. The young man had shown up at the hangar, bloodied and bruised. After years on the run, Kyle's parents had been killed by men with shadowy government connections. Aaron and Maura Rayner had been taken into the desert and shot, execution style. Their son had somehow managed to escape their captors.

The kid had wanted nothing but revenge, but Hal tempered it into a need for Justice. He'd made the boy a ring from his own, and they'd become partners. Two Green Lanterns to protect Coast City. And the boy had made Hal's life just a little bit brighter.

But Kyle grew up and outgrew being a sidekick. Just after he turned eighteen, they had the fight and Kyle left. That was over a year ago.

"How are things with the Titans?" Hal asked. He turned away, letting the rest of his costume fade away. Only the cape and cowl were real — a construct cape just wasn't menacing enough. "I heard you were seeing a girl … Wonder Girl?" Green Arrow thought it was 'cute'. Hal thought it was a mistake.

"No, not anymore. It … didn't work out."

Hal felt relief at Kyle's failed romance and didn't want to think too hard about why that might be.

"That's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about, Hal." He sounded nervous.

Hal turned around. "So talk."

Kyle fidgeted where he stood, eyes on his feet, as if working up the courage to say something. "I … I've been thinking a lot about what happened between us. The argument." He looked up at Hal. "There were a lot of things we said to each other. And I thought a lot about that. And I think there was a lot of things we never said, too. Maybe some things we didn't realize … at the … time." His voice trailed off and he dropped his gaze again.

Hal crossed his arms and leaned back against the workbench. He suspected where this was going. He'd suspected it since the night Kyle had stormed out of here, leaving him angry and alone and broken. And if it wasn't for those meditation lessons at the little Zen temple up the road, he probably would have gone into a panic. "And what would that be?" he asked calmly.

"That … That we …" He sighed. "I want to come back. Because … of how I feel about you."

"No." Hal pushed away from the table and waved towards the stairs. "Go back to the Titans, Kyle."

Kyle gave a frustrated laugh and ran his hand through his short, dark hair. "Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?"

Hal forced himself to remain calm and cool. "I understand perfectly, Kyle. Which is why you should go."

"Oh." Kyle blinked. "I thought … because you … and I assumed…" His face went bright red. "I thought you felt the same way?"

"It doesn't matter what I feel, Kyle."

"You …?" Kyle narrowed his eyes at him, studying him for a moment, then he threw up his hands. "God, you are so … " He growled in frustration. "You don't have to be a martyr in every aspect of your life, Hal!"

Hal clenched his fists. So much for remaining calm and cool. "It's not about me!" he shouted. "You are too optimistic, too good-hearted, too caring, too young to get mixed up with me again! Especially like that." He took a deep breath, trying to reclaim some calm. "I don't want to hurt you, Kyle. I don't want to drag you down into the darkness with me. So I want you to go." He turned his back on Kyle. Why couldn't he make this easier on both of them and just leave?

"Dammit Hal! I'm not some kid you can boss around anymore!" Kyle grabbed his arm and Hal reflexively turned to grab Kyle's wrist. They locked together and the surge of willpower between them was so strong their rings started sparking. Kyle looked into his eyes, just inches from his face. "And maybe I want to drag you into the light!"

They held each other's gaze, neither willing to back down. Kyle's green eyes bore into him. They were fierce and determined and explicitly laid bare his feelings to Hal. And in an instant, they completely shattered the wall that Hal had so carefully put up around himself.

Oh, fuck…

They moved at the same time, coming together — desperate, aching, wanting. Kyle's costume disappeared and Hal's hand went under his t-shirt as his tongue plundered his mouth. This is wrong, this is so wrong, the voice in his head nagged at him. You shouldn't be doing this.

Kyle slid his hand inside Hal's pants and Hal told the voice to shut the hell up.

When they stopped to breathe, he gasped into Kyle's ear: "Bed." They stumbled over to the bed that Hal kept here for late nights working on cases. Hands went to work and clothes went flying, and then Hal froze, staring in awe at Kyle's beautiful naked body.

You don't deserve this, the voice chided. How can you deserve this when your family is dead and you lived?

It almost got him. He almost gave into the guilt, almost turned away and told Kyle once and for all to leave. But then he frowned at the voice that had nagged him for so many years. Because Kyle and I both lived. And I love him.

It was like a great weight had been lifted from him, like a seething monster had been exorcised from his mind. All because of Kyle.

"Hal?" Kyle asked. He held out his hand. "Is something wrong?"

Hal smiled and took Kyle's hand. "No. Not any more."

He pushed Kyle down on the bed, pushed him back so he could straddle him. And then with hands and mouth he found all the spots that made Kyle gasp and moan and whimper and beg. And when he couldn't hold back any longer, they lay with cocks pressed between their bellies and moved together until each of them came, shouting each other's name.

They collapsed, bodies slick with sweat and semen, gasping for breath. Kyle closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh. "Wow."

They lay entwined for a while, just content to be together. Hal watched the young man dozing next to him, grateful that Kyle had decided to come back, grateful that he'd listened to Kyle rather than his guilt, grateful that Kyle gave him something to live for besides his crusade. Kyle was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and he knew his life would be drastically different from now on. Kyle was already dragging his sorry ass into the light.

The sound of a tool hitting the floor above them reminded Hal they weren't entirely alone. They reluctantly got out of bed—no use giving Tom a heart attack if he came down to make sure they hadn't killed each other—and got dressed.

Kyle willed his costume on, then looked at Hal. "I'm going to go give the Titans my resignation. And then I'm going to come back and go on patrol with my new partner. And after that—well, I'm sure we can think of something to do."

Hal grinned and caressed Kyle's cheek. "I'm sure we can."

Hal put his own costume on, then reached for the cape, but Kyle grabbed his hand to stop him. "You should lose the cape and cowl," he said. "You don't have to scare them to death in order to kick their asses."

Hal shrugged and left it on the table. Maybe it was time for a change in other areas of his life as well. He added a simple domino mask similar to Kyle's. "Better?"

Kyle leaned in and kissed him. "Much better."

Hal followed Kyle up the steps—Damn, the kid has a nice ass!—and out into the hangar.

Kyle waved to Tom as he passed. "See you later, Tom!"

Tom waved back. "Yeah. See ya, kid."

They watched Kyle leave, and then Tom turned to Hal. He raised his eyebrows. "New costume? I like it." He looked back the way Kyle had gone. "So I take it he's coming back for good?"

Hal nodded. He had a lot to look forward to tonight. And a whole lot of other nights as well. "Yes."

Tom grinned. "You're smiling, Hal. I haven't seen you smiling in … I don't even remember how long. It's good to see."

Hal shrugged. "We had a really good discussion."

"Uh-huh." Tom chuckled and turned back to his engine. "Well, if you're going to keep having those 'really good discussions', we need to think about soundproofing the basement better."

"Oh. Shit. Sorry, Tom." Hal rubbed his hand over his warm cheeks. "I suppose I don't have to break the news to you then."

"Can't say it's a surprise," Tom said. "You've been moody and unbearable since the kid left. And it explains why you keep turning down the prettiest woman in Coast City."

"Right. Carol. I'm supposed to call her." Hal gave Tom a pleading look. "Could you …?"

"I'll tell her you can't go. And that you're spoken for." Tom gave a long-suffering sigh. "You'd think I was your butler or something."

"Thanks, Tom. I owe you." Hal started for the door, then stopped. "Oh, and I won't be back tonight. Me and Kyle …"

"Yeah, yeah. I figured," Tom said, laughing.

Hal stepped out into the sunlight and rose into the sky. He went up too fast at first — flying without the cape made him faster and lighter. He felt like he'd left a whole lot of weight back there with the cape.

He smiled and took off for Coast City to wait for Kyle.