Superman and Batman belong to DC Comics, SGA belongs to MGM. No spoilers for either fandom, and you don't have to know anything in DCU other than who Superman and Batman are. Thanks to Bironic for the beta; this is for Mara.
And Then The Heroes Came Along
They encountered the two strangers on PX9-380. One of them wore a dull brown suit and unfashionably large glasses, and was possibly taller than his companion if you looked beyond the slouch. The other wore a fancy white shirt tucked into black slacks, and more prominently, a scowl.
John wouldn't have paid them any attention if they hadn't looked like they had just stepped out of 21st-century Earth. But... well, they did. And they were wandering on a hillside just a mile away from the Stargate of a scarcely populated and distinctly pre-modern world. So. What the hell.
"What the hell," he muttered to Rodney, who was crouching by his side and making a lot of noise trying to be stealthy.
"Don't look at me," Rodney said. "The people on this planet have barely figured out how to knit, let alone design polo shirts."
Across the valley, the tall guy must have noticed them, because he started to wave. "I think our cover's blown," John murmured. The shorter guy looked like he was trying to dampen the tall guy's excitement, but the waves only grew wider, and he eventually resigned himself to a kind of angry embarrassment. John relaxed a little at their interaction; overeager puppy and bad-tempered businessman, they didn't look like much of a threat. Then again, it could be a trap.
Ronon and Teyla were back at the village. "Guys," he said through the comm, "Rodney and I have company, be on alert. I'll let you know if we need you."
"Gotcha," Ronon's voice crackled in his ear.
John stood up, Rodney following. "You know, they kind of look familiar," Rodney said as they walked towards the pair. "In a vague kind of way. They have square jaws."
"A lot of people have square jaws."
"Not like these. Clefty."
"Lorne has a square jaw."
"Lorne's jaw isn't distinguished. I can't put my finger on it..."
John gave him a look. "I am so not having this conversation with you."
When they reached the two men, John slipped into his 'we come in peace' stance while still keeping one cautious hand on his gun. "Hiya," he said, and almost winced at the weak opening, but hey. He was never assigned here for his diplomacy skills.
And it looked like he wouldn't even need them, because Brown Suit just smiled with palpable relief and said, "Oh, great, you good soldiers are American. My friend and I seem to be a little bit lost."
"I'm not American," Rodney corrected.
"I'm not your friend," said the other guy.
Brown Suit blushed. It was almost… cute. And very disarming. "We actually just woke up here, and we have no idea where we are," he said. "We were beginning to think we might not even be on, heh, Earth," he chuckled, almost like a question, and Rodney was right -- there was something... familiar there...
John shook himself. A lot of people had square jaws. "Who exactly are you guys?" he asked, deciding on the direct approach.
"Oh, how rude of me!" said Brown Suit, and if the other guy's eyes rolled any further back he would see his own brain. Brown Suit adjusted his glasses, extended a hand, and said: "My name is Clark Kent."
"Right, and I'm Batman," Rodney said immediately, snorting.
Brown Suit's eyes widened, as his not-friend tensed. "Is that a joke?" Brown Suit asked warily.
John exchanged a glance with Rodney. This was turning out weirder than he'd expected. He turned back to the guy. "Yes, it was."
The guy relaxed. "Ha ha," he said, patting the other guy on the back. "That was... funny."
Okay, what the hell was going on?
John was about to voice the sentiment aloud when Rodney gasped beside him. "Holy crap."
John's hands flew to the P-90, eyes scanning his surroundings. "What?"
But Rodney's eyes were wide, and he was staring at the strangers. "No, John. Holy crap. Holy crap. I think -- I think it's true. I -- holy crap, look."
And John looked at Brown Suit again, and...
...holy crap. There was the square jaw. With a cleft. And bangs just long enough to curl down his forehead, if they were swept by the wind. "No way," he said. He blinked, and tried to imagine him without the glasses. Clear blue eyes brimming with truth, justice, and the American way.
"Holy crap," he blurted.
Superman -- maybe-Superman -- maybe-but-holy-crap-probably-Superman -- frowned, and placed his hands on his waist. Honest to god. Hands. On his waist. John was far too manly to feel faint, but. "All right," Superman-or-whatever said, "what is going on here?"
But Rodney gasped, and John moved his eyes to the right and realized what Rodney must have just. The kept hair. The polo shirt. The kind of psychotic blackness deep inside his eyes.
And Rodney said, with absolute sureness and absolutely no foresight, "You're Bruce Wayne. You're Batman."
In less than a second, Rodney was flat on his back with a Batman on top of him and an arm pressing on his throat. "How do you know that?" Batman snarled. "Who are you?"
John moved automatically. "Let go of him." His gun was aimed at Batman's head.
"No, Sheppard!" Rodney sputtered beneath the crushing hold. "He won't -- Batman doesn't kill!"
"I'm not Batman," John growled. He flicked the safety catch. "Let go now."
Batman -- Bruce Wayne -- whatever turned his head to John, and honestly, the last time he'd sensed so much derision in a gaze had been at the hands of a Wraith. It was just rude, is what it was. Batman spoke. "If you know who I am, do you really think you can take me out with that?"
John looked down at his P-90. "Well, it's not like this is a toothpick. It's a good gun."
"Please, of course he can take you," Rodney intervened, and John couldn't help but feel a small rush of warmth at his faith in him, "but he won't -- right, Sheppard? Because we're the good guys--"
Rodney's choke was cut off by Superman, who said, in a firm, booming voice: "That's enough."
And suddenly John didn't have a gun anymore and Rodney was on all fours on the ground, coughing, and Batman looked like he'd just been lifted by the collar and Superman looked --
He was red. And blue. And... shining. And also five feet in the air.
"Are you thinking in italics right now?" Rodney whispered.
"You bet, buddy," John said, feeling like a little kid.
Superman crossed his arms. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Well, duh, you're Superman," Rodney said, getting to his feet and rubbing earth-stained hands on his BDUs. "You're a farm boy at heart. Now he might actually want to hurt us, but that's because he's got, you know, a mother lode of issues and he's paranoid and channels all his emotions into violence. What I don't understand is how your powers are working here – everyone knows you need the Earth's yellow sun, and not only are we in a different galaxy but PX9-380's sun has different levels of radiation than Earth's – who knows, maybe this sun makes you even stronger! But then, why don't we all have powers too when we travel between planets? Was it just because Krypton was special? Are the Ancients somehow related to Kryptonians? And for god's sake, how does your cape fit under your regular clothes?"
Superman blinked. Even Batman looked surprised. This seemed to John like a good opening.
"What my completely sane and rational colleague is trying to say," he said carefully, "is that we're very curious as to why you both are here."
"That makes four of us," Superman replied.
"Right, right," John said. "Except it's really weird for us. Because... you're both comic book characters."
Superman dropped to the ground. He blinked again. "Um," he said, sounding not unlike Clark Kent. "What?"
Ten minutes later, they were still seated in a circle on the grass, which kind of felt like sharing hour in summer camp but with superheroes. Which made it substantially cooler.
The fact that they were comic book characters seemed to be a hard concept to accept. Superman kept saying, "I don't believe this!" and Batman kept flatly saying, "I don't believe this." With a really scary scowl. Ronon would be scared of that scowl.
Okay, possibly not Ronon.
"You're an entire franchise," Rodney explained, with the same kind of enthusiasm he had when he was solving million-dollar math problems, or at least working on them. "I mean, we've gone over the basic comic books, but there are also TV shows, movies, sequels, new origin stories, and obviously the merchandise that goes along with it. I have -- if we go back to the base, I can show you a couple of..." Rodney cleared his throat. "Our scientific team has a collection of choice comic books I could show you."
"And you're saying that in this universe everyone knows our secret identities?" Superman asked, still stunned.
John nodded. "Clark Kent, Superman. Bruce Wayne, Batman. Wally West, Flash -- at least the current one. We can go through the entire Justice League. All the heroes, all the villains, all the plans and plots--"
"Not just secret identities, but inner monologues," Rodney continued. "What you're thinking, what you're feeling -- it's all narrated."
Batman's eyes narrowed. John tried to imagine what it must feel like to know that your entire life, your inner world, were spread wide open for the entire world to see, and to be confronted by the people who'd read them. To be put in such a vulnerable position.
It had to suck.
But then, he should have known Batman better than that. "Think, Clark," Batman said, nothing but calculation in his eyes. "It's an incredible source of intel. If we could get access to those files -- what?"
Superman's expression was a mixture of exasperation and amusement. "First of all, Bruce, they are comic books, not 'files'. Secondly, you know we can't. It would be wrong."
Batman gave him a hard look. They seemed to be locked in some kind of mental conversation, even though John knew telepathy wasn't one of Superman's powers; still, he reflected, they did spend a lot of time together. In the end Batman's face twisted into a scowl. Again. "Fine," he said, and then added, "Don't look so smug."
Superman grinned. "I knew you'd make the right choice."
"Oh, god," Batman muttered, and leaned closer to Rodney. "Please give me something to be hold over him."
"Uh... George Clooney played you in the movie?"
Batman turned to Superman, smirking. John flashed Rodney an urgent look, hopefully conveying do not tell the man about the bat nipples. Rodney rolled his eyes, with an expression of give me a little credit, Sheppard, I may have the EQ of a cabbage but I'm not as dumb as that.
Huh. Maybe this psychic talk thing wasn't as hard as it looked.
"Who played me?" Superman asked.
John tried to think. "Some guy... um, Brady? Brandon something?"
"Brandon Routh," Rodney filled in. "The movie sucked, by the way. Sorry."
"All right, all right." Superman frowned, scratching his chin with one muscled hand. "This has all been a lot to handle, but two things are clear: one, we don't belong here, and two--"
"--since we don't plan on being here for long, this rapidly deteriorating conversation is irrelevant," Batman finished darkly. "The window of opportunity to get back into our own universe may be closing. Time could be of the essence."
"Okay," John said, getting up to his feet. The others rose up after him and looked like they were listening to him being in charge, which. Man. "So we have to figure out how to get you guys back. Batman, I know you're the World's Greatest detective, but -- well, no offense, but you're not on your world. Rodney?"
"I have a theory," Rodney said. "The time-space continuum--"
"--Yeah, thought it might be that," John concluded. "Is there anything we can do from here?"
"Please," Rodney scoffed.
"Right. Then guys," John took a breath, "We're going to Atlantis." He switched on his comm. "Ronon, Teyla, you done?"
"Yes, John," came Teyla's voice.
"Good. Meet us at the gate in ten. Superman, if I could have my gun back," he said, not letting it sound like a request. Superman studied him for a moment. John held his gaze. Which was… really quite strikingly blue. And inspiring. "I promise not to shoot Batman. I trust you guys, and I'm telling you you should trust us."
There was a blur, and then the P-90's reassuring weight was in John's hands again, and Superman was floating a few inches above him. Which was completely unnecessary -- Superman had the height advantage anyway. John was just getting uncomfortable with mentally labeling Superman as a showoff when Superman flashed him a white smile with perfect shining teeth and said, "You can call me Clark."
"Okay," John said in a small voice. And immediately wanted to bury himself in the ground. But Rodney was looking at him with something approaching envy, so John figured it was okay to be a little overwhelmed by being on a first name basis with the coolest superhero who'd ever lived.
Or not lived. Jesus, John needed to get back to base and give orders or something.
They started walking to the Stargate. Three of them, at least. John and Rodney at the lead, Batman half a step behind them, a constant presence of silence and gloom. He was a really tough guy to read with no inner monologue.
"So, we're going to... Atlantis?" Super--Clark asked from above them, confused.
"Um, not Aquaman's Atlantis," John said. "The real one. It's a long story."
"Atlantis," Batman muttered quietly. "There's something... familiar about this situation. Clark--?"
"I feel it too," SuperClark said, flying lower. "Atlantis... the Earth expedition... something about MacGyver..."
And then Batman stopped in his tracks. "Holy crap."
Superman gave him one look, and then raised his eyes to the sky with shock.
"Clark, what galaxy are we in?" Batman demanded, still unmoving.
"I don't recognize it," Clark said with wonder. "But if I had to wager a guess based on nothing whatsoever to do with astronomy, I would say..."
"...Pegasus," Batman completed.
John looked at Rodney who looked at John. "Do they know about Pegasus in the comics?" John whispered.
Rodney shook his head slowly. "No."
John was starting to get a headache. He could handle cool and he could handle weird, but so much weirdness and coolness mixed together were causing an emotional upheaval he wasn't used to, and also, hero worship totally wasn't his thing, really, and--
"What the hell is going on?" he said aloud.
Clark landed on his feet with the kind of grace that didn't fit a grown man. Or alien. "Colonel," he said lightly, "you know how in this universe we're comic book characters? Well, where we come from--"
"So let me get this straight," Ronon said in the briefing, thirty minutes later. Clark and Batman were in Rodney's quarters going over JLA issues, while John and his team were debriefing the Atlantis high command. "Where these guys come from, we're like The Simpsons?"
"Yes," John said, and then heard himself. "No. No, we're like... like Star Trek. We're not animated."
"I never watched Star Trek."
"Ask Zelenka, he has tapes. This..." John rubbed his forehead. "Wow, this is not the point on so many levels. We have to figure out how to get them back."
"I thought you liked them," Ronon said.
"Oh, you know." John said, waving a hand airily. "Just the normal amount of like."
"Every Earthborn member of this expedition would undergo a sex change operation in a heartbeat if that's what it took to sleep with them," Rodney said, not looking up from his keyboard.
Well, John couldn't contradict that.
"Fortunately," Rodney continued, "our unhealthy obsession with them is not the point. If we don't get them back to their universe by the end of -- and this is just a rough estimation -- the day, they'll be stuck here forever, which means an open rift in the time-space continuum and a scarred multiverse and --" his fingers click-click-clicked on the keyboard for the last time, and then stilled. Rodney looked up gravely. "Just as I thought. According to my calculations, if they don't go back -- we'll have no more comics. Forever."
The briefing room stilled in quiet horror. Woolsey swallowed audibly.
"I would point out," Teyla said calmly, "that it appears as if they could do much good in Pegasus -- and, indeed, on your Earth -- if they stayed."
For a moment John wanted to physically shield her from the violent glares directed at her from all corners of the room, because yikes. Who'd taught Lorne how to make that face? It hadn't been John. He thought.
"—However, this is clearly not an option," she finished dryly. "As life without comic books is devoid, as I understand it, of any worth. And most of all, it would be unfair to them."
"Exactly," John agreed. It was an entirely altruistic decision. "So what do we do?"
"What do we do," Rodney scoffed, already turning back to his computers and typing into two tablets at once. "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Get Zelenka in here with some power bars, shut up, and let us work."
A plan which meant that John had more time to hang out with Clark and Bats while Rodney screwed with the multiverse.
Yeah, that worked for him.
There was nothing not cool about showing Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne around his city. The fact that everyone they passed by froze in their place and stared with awe only made it better. The fact John called Clark 'Clark' and Clark answered every time was even more awesome. The fact that they were followed everywhere by a small gaggle of scientists who were too scared to ask questions but too excited to stay away... well, frankly, that was a bit annoying. At a certain point John was forced to turn and say, "Okay, weird guys following us around, ground rules: you can tag along as long as you're within a three-minute run of your work stations. You can ask for autographs. You can't shoot Ancient darts at Superman just to see if his skin breaks -- guys, it's impolite, and also they ricochet. And most importantly: please, no touching the Batman." He paused. "I will not stop him from cutting off your fingers."
They stayed back after that.
"Thank you," Batman said, startling John. For a moment he actually looked like a man, and John had to consciously remind himself that he wasn't even wearing his costume, still in the same white shirt and black slacks.
John just managed to bite back, aw, shucks, mister. "No prob." And then, taking advantage of this unexpected breakthrough in their relationship, he said, "So I have this ship."
Batman's eyes sparked with interest.
"It's not a Bat-spaceship or anything," he warned in advance -- he didn't think there was a Bat-spaceship, but if there was it was probably pretty awesome and he was a little iffy on canon -- "but she has some nice moves."
Wayne grinned. "Let's see her."
John changed their course to the jumper bay. Just as he finished prepping the jumper he wanted to take out, he heard the squeaky footsteps of Zelenka's shoes coming up behind him. "Rodney kicked me out," Zelenka said sadly.
"What did you do?"
"Apparently I have insufficient knowledge of Infinite Crisis metaphysics." Zelenka raised his chin defensively. "It is very confusing to hear him talking about Earth-1 and Earth-2 and shifting holes in reality and memories. I doubt anyone would have fared better."
"Well, maybe Chuck," John pointed out. Chuck was currently leaning against the railing at the far end of the jumper bay, head on folded hands, aiming a love struck gaze at Clark. Clark shifted uncomfortably.
"Maybe Chuck," Zelenka agreed.
Meanwhile, Batman was inspecting the jumper appreciatively. It really was unnatural, seeing that hint of a smile on his face.
Not that John was jealous of his ship or anything. He gave her a last pat on the hatch, then comfortably slid into the pilot's chair. "Buckle up, folks," he called. "...Figuratively. Zelenka, you joining the ride?"
Zelenka brightened. "Of course. Is Superman also...?"
John looked around for Clark. Then he looked up.
"He's not coming," came a gravelly voice behind him.
John almost jumped. But it was just Batman, and wow, the guy could still sneak up on you when you already knew he was there. His reputation was so justified.
Batman sat in the co-pilot's chair. "Well?" he asked expectantly.
All right, baby, John thought at the ship, running a hand across her panels, show him what you've got.
A few minutes later, after making enough smooth twirls and dives to feel like he'd left a lasting impression, John told the jumper to slow down, gliding across the sky until they stopped to hover a short distance above the city. He loved those kind of stops; felt like parking on a bank of clouds.
John had always thought that the view of Atlantis from the sky was breathtaking, no matter the weather, no matter the planet, no matter who the company.
But the view of Atlantis from the sky with Superman in flight around it -- a tiny red bolt speeding across the city, circling towers and leaping off buildings and cutting under bridges and soaring through the nearly transparent light blue piers, dipping into the ocean and splashing out in the dazzling white sun --
Well. That was indescribable. Even Batman looked captivated.
"He looks like a little red robin," Zelenka sighed. Batman's head snapped to him. John held his breath.
But Batman returned to the view of the city, reflected through the display, his face closed off; not a hint of emotion beyond the slight clenching of his left fist. And then he said, in a detached tone of a mere observer: "It's nothing like Gotham."
The thought felt like a cold stone in the pit of his stomach. For a moment John was swept with a vision of Atlantis black and broken, cloaking criminals and gangs beneath a cracked shield, living from night to night. "No." John shuddered. "Nothing like Gotham."
He set the jumper back in motion, trying to put the image behind him and the look in Batman's eyes as he watched Superman arching above his clean and beautiful city.
God, he reflected to himself. It sucked to be Batman.
When they got back to the city, Zelenka decided to try and go back to try to help Rodney after all. "John, thank you for the ride. Bruce," he said, clapping a hand to Batman's shoulder, to John's utter amazement. "It was an honor. Please--" he leant closer, about to impart some sage advice, "--tell Tim and Dick you love them. For all your sakes, hmm?"
With another pat on Batman's back he wandered back to the control room.
John stared after him. "I have to say I'm impressed," he said. Zelenka must have balls the size of Saturn.
Okay, John thought, and we're back to square zero, dark and broody. And they'd been making such good progress, too.
Whoa. Since when was he the guy complaining about other people's communication skills?
Still, it was different. This wasn't some guy he was stuck with on guard duty and just wanted to pass the shift with some peace and quiet. This was Batman. There were so many questions he could be asking. So many war stories to exchange. Hell, so many death grips he could learn.
But Batman was... really Batman. Not the guy whose punches went POW! and BAM! on TV. This Batman wasn't the sharing type.
So John left the jumper to the capable hands of the maintenance crew and beckoned Batman to follow him. "Any ideas where Superman might have gone?"
Batman's lips curled. "Probably offering help somewhere."
John flicked on his comm. "This is Sheppard. Anybody got word on the Man of Steel?"
"Sir," he heard Lorne's voice, "you should check with Ronon and Teyla. I saw them with him in the mess a few minutes ago."
"Thanks," he said. "Mess hall," he told Batman. "He's with the kids."
They walked down the halls in silence, the kind that grew heavier and heavier the further they went. Finally, John couldn't take it anymore.
"So about our show," he began. And then stopped. How much did Batman know? Having a TV show about Atlantis, yeah, John could see that happening -- he's was a sci-fi fan himself, and there was enough raw material in Pegasus to fill twenty years of televised craziness -- but. But what level of detail -- oh, god, what if it had a voice-over narration of John's thoughts. Or followed him into showers. Or showed him having sex.
What if Batman had seen John having shower sex on TV.
For a moment John closed his eyes and just tried to erase his brain.
But then, what if he could learn stuff from what Batman knew? What if the show told its viewers where Ford was? And what Michael was planning? What if there was a stash of ZPMs lying around somewhere that viewers could hunt down by cracking online clues? John had to know.
He cleared his throat. "So, um, about our show--"
"Do you actually think I watch your show?" Batman asked flatly.
Well, that settled the question of whether Batman could deliver a slap down without even touching you. John sighed. Not that it was ever a question to begin with.
In the mess hall, Clark was sitting with Teyla and Ronon around a small table. John pulled up two chairs, seating himself in one. Batman remained standing.
"So," John said, "how are you guys getting along?" He wondered how Clark had ended up with Ronon and Teyla, of all people. Of everyone in Atlantis, they were the only ones who hadn't grown up knowing who he was, all he symbolized and all he'd done. They couldn't really appreciate him to the fullest.
"Clark and I had a very interesting conversation about the culture of Krypton," Teyla said.
Clark clasped Ronon's hand profoundly. "And I'm very happy to have gotten a chance to meet the Last Son of Sateda."
The Last Son of -- oh. Yeah, John should have thought of that.
"And I told him about the movies," Ronon said.
Clark beamed like he'd just married Lois Lane on Christmas morning. "Yes. Yes he did."
"I still don't get why people are so freaked about the bat-nipples," Ronon said with a bored shrug.
Batman froze. "The what?"
"I'll tell you about it later," John said hurriedly. "So, hey, I have an important question to ask you guys!"
"Already asked him," Ronon said. "He doesn't watch the show."
"I -- what? No." John frowned, trying his best not to be hurt by everybody not watching his show. They were superheroes. They had things to do. Like superhero. "That's not -- what did you think I was going to ask?"
Teyla rolled her eyes. "If they show any of us having naked shower sex."
John's eyes widened. He did not want to know if Teyla and Ronon were having naked shower sex in Atlantis. With each other or otherwise. Broadcast on national television or not. No no no no no. "Uh, no," he managed, turning to the superheroes. "But -- how did you guys even know about the show if neither of you watch it?"
"I read the TV Guide every week," said Clark, and thumb-pointed at Batman. "And I believe his butler is a fan."
Alfred watched his show? John tried not to grin stupidly. Well, at least that. Ha. Or something.
"Maybe I should go and help Dr. McKay," Batman said. "Pop culture, which is clearly where this conversation is heading, is not my area of expertise."
"Sorry," John said. They'd both offered to help earlier, but Rodney had adamantly refused, and it occurred to John that Superman and Batman might be the only people in the world not as smart as Rodney that Rodney cared about impressing. In this case, by doing things his way. "All the tech here's in Ancient. And I know you guys are great at... you know, world-saving, but this is alien-physics geeks territory. Rodney'll figure it out."
"Hmm," Batman grunted. He folded his hands distrustingly and leant back against one of the mess tables.
"Anyway," John steered the conversation back on topic, "what I was going to ask was: where exactly are Gotham and Metropolis?"
"What do you mean?" Clark asked, puzzled. "They're in the United States."
"Well, yeah," John said, but that doesn't help me settle any bets. "I meant what states, specifically. They never say, in the comics."
"Oh!" Clark nodded. "Well, they're actually both in--"
"Everybody to the control room now!" Rodney shouted in the comm, making John, Ronon, Teyla and Clark all flinch.
"What is it, Rodney?" he asked, jumping to his feet.
"John," Rodney said, sounding urgent, "you have to get them to the Stargate now, we only have a few--"
Abruptly the world around him turned kind of hazy and red and blue, and John suddenly found himself in the control room, with Ronon and Teyla disoriented in front of him, and Batman still with folded arms and looking annoyed.
"--minutes," Rodney finished, his surprised voice coming from beside John instead of the comm. "Superman. I should have seen that coming."
Clark was standing with his hands on his waist again and beginning to float. John knew he should be concentrating on Rodney's explanations, but god, it was distracting. And he could still feel Superman's phantom handprints on his chest.
"...through the Stargate now, you should be able to get back to the universe you came here from," Rodney was saying. "I can't promise you where exactly in the universe, but it should at least be somewhere in the Milky Way, and you have, you know." Rodney waved his hand vaguely at Superman's cape. "Sufficient transportation."
Clark seemed to notice he was hovering and softly landed on the ground again. His curl bounced. "Thank you, Dr. McKay. We're both indebted to you."
Ha! John thought triumphantly. Rodney totally wanted to say aw, shucks. Instead, Rodney blushed and said, "Well, I am a genius."
So Woolsey gave the order to dial the gate. The Stargate swooshed happily. It probably had the hots for Superman and Batman, like everybody else.
Clark went around the room, shaking hands with everyone. Naturally, Batman didn't. Just before they left, Zelenka ran up to Batman with two issues of comics. "You cannot take these into your world, of course," he said. "But just... look."
Batman took the comics from Zelenka's hand, and held them almost... cautiously. John looked as well. Nightwing and Robin. Huh.
Something imperceptible changed in Batman's eyes. "They have their own titles?" For a fraction of a second he was Bruce Wayne again, and John could swear he saw a flicker of pride in his eyes. And then he gave Zelenka back the comics. "Thank you."
Superman waved his hand, just like he'd done when they'd first seen him a few hours ago. "Goodbye, and good luck," he said, and flew through the gate.
Batman took a last look at the control room, said his parting words, and stepped through the gate, which closed with a swish behind them.
The entire control room stood still, stunned into silence.
Finally Chuck said, in a small voice: "What does he mean, he's sorry our show was cancelled?"
They returned to PX9-380 one more time, just to check if Clark Kent's brown suit was still there. It wasn't. "Maybe he has a special pouch in his cape," John speculated, "and he just rolls his clothes up real tight and carries them around."
"What about his glasses?" Rodney countered. "They'd break."
"Not if they were made of adamantium."
Rodney gave him a look. "I know you know that's Marvel." He sighed. "Let's just get back home."
So much for trying to get Rodney out of his funk. He'd been dragging his feet and sighing morosely ever since Clark and the Bat had left the week before.
"Come on, Rodney, snap out of it," John said, as they started heading toward the hill that had the Stargate. "You're the guy who saved comic books. You should be celebrating."
"Oh, whatever," Rodney grumbled. "I can't believe they cancelled our show!"
Ronon's voice came on the comm. "Sheppard, we're at the gate. Is he still complaining about the show?"
"I can hear you, you know," Rodney said stiffly.
"McKay, if you don't stop whining I'm gonna go Batman on your ass," Ronon warned. "You had your fifteen minutes of naked shower sex on TV and now they're over. Deal."
Rodney's eyes widened. "They did not! Oh, god, did they?"
"No, Rodney," Teyla's voice said, sounding tired. "Ronon is just teasing you." She paused. "But I agree with him that you must find the inner power within yourself to... get over it."
John suppressed a grin.
"Oh, don't you give me that look." Rodney narrowed his eyes at him. "Don't pretend you don't care too. You know what they told Lorne? We were a spinoff! We were a spinoff, and now we're cancelled! The end!"
"Hey, I know, okay? It sucks."
Rodney's aggravated pace had carried him ahead, so John placed a hand on his shoulder to slow him down. Rodney stopped. "Great words of encouragement, Sheppard. Thanks."
"Rodney," John said, with a quirk of his lips, "they may have cancelled our show, but we're still here."
Rodney held his gaze for a moment. Then he exhaled, and started walking again. "You're so melodramatic."
John grinned, following behind. "Maybe I could write comic book inner monologues."
"I could be the Man of Steel Abs and you could be the Caked Crusader."
"'They fight for Cake. And ZPMs. And the Pegasus way.'"
"...This is gonna be a thing now, isn't it."
Note: there is an awesome cover image for this fic made by Sabrina-il and an illustrated epilogue on my LJ, in the entry this story is posted. So, yeah :-)