A/N: I'm not a sports fan. The only time before this that I saw any of the JLA members refer to sports was that Wally, Linda and Snert are big hockey fans. Was musing while I waited on a download and I wrote this little pipsqueak draft---then decided to take a break and go read an online JLA DC comic book story. Wow...there it was. The League playing baseball. So it turned out to be a whacked dream of Plasticman's while he was under duress......heck....it was still the JLA playing baseball. After I was just drabbling with Wally playing baseball. Coincidences are weird.
Nightwing and Flash/Wally West fic. Loosely tied to Worrywart and The League Gets Plastered, but only vaguely.
The Crack Of The Bat!
Dick blinked at his 'civilian dress' cell phone, only just forbearing from jiggling it as if it was at fault for leading his ears astray. "You're at the baseball diamond?"
"Yep," affirmed a cheerful voice.
The dark haired man looked up to stare at the storm clouds which were currently threatening Bludhaven with a Saturday wash job. It was not shaping up to be a pleasant week and he had things to do, problems to solve, old girlfriends and recent bad decisions to mope over....and now here was Wally West calling him to tell him he was at a baseball diamond as if this somehow should be interesting news worthy of sharing.
Wait a minute.
He spoke into his phone again. "A baseball diamond. Bruce's baseball diamond---the one on the grounds of Wayne Manor? The estate he told you to stay away from on pain of having your ear radio receivers permanently tuned to polka music stations?"
"Uh huh. It's not exactly Wrigley's field, but it's of a decent size. Bruce did a fair job on it."
The first question that flashed through Dick Grayson's mind was simple enough: Why? His only difficulty was figuring out which of his many 'why' questions should have priority over the others:
* Why are you over there as opposed to a public baseball field?
* Why did you call me just to tell me that you're there?
* Why am I still talking to an insane speedster when I should be doing something more important like stopping crimes other than those of a red-headed idiot trespassing on Bruce's property? Or at least filing my tax info for work related expenses?
He settled for a more general observation. "I thought you didn't like going to baseball games?"
"I don't. Too slow. Nothing like hockey. Hockey's the best...even if it could be faster."
"Okay." Not a very drawn out reply, but most of Dick's brain was still trying to work out what Wally was up to---because this was Wally. West was his best friend who tended to act first and think sometime after the consequences were already cast in titanium steel. The guy who got you out of trouble almost just as often as he got you mired into the mess in the first place. The meta human who kept switching between respecting Dick's abilities and worrying about his welfare like an overprotective den mother.
"Eyeballing a baseball game is a soporific experience for me," Wally reminded him. "Same as watching golf. Most of the time the players are just standing around scratching body parts. Kind of like watching you and Bats do a stakeout---only without the scratching part because, you know, that would totally destroy the whole immune-to-life's-ill's superhero thing if we spandex-wearers didn't make liberal use of anti-fungal powders beforehand--seeing as spandex doesn't breathe all that well. Then again, that may be why the Bat Clan and Supes wear such long, concealing capes...pretty handy for times when even precautionary measures don't work out."
"Thanks for the imagery." And I hope for your sake that none of the cape wearers ever hear you voice such an explanation as jock itch would be the least of your worries.
"Or when the movie theater plays interminable food stills before the show to entice me to buy munchies---although that usually does work---but not because I'm easily susceptible to mind manipulation, you know---just bored waiting for the show to start and I was hungry anyhow."
"I can only imagine the sheer dullness of sitting still for five minutes," was Grayson's rather dry response. Really, what else could he say? That Wally should learn patience? Like that was ever going to happen.
"But playing baseball is fun. Want to watch me?" Wally asked with unconcealed excitement.
Dick could tell it was unconcealed because Wally's voice had acquired a slight echo to it; which meant he was vibrating.
"Okay, so participation with a team is less boring than watching." Dick could understand that. It was always more interesting to take part in something than to just stand by and watch others run around hitting stuff. That was why his other identity was Nightwing: the acrobats-endowed vigilante hero who got to leap about and smash bad guys. "Still...you can't move any faster than a normal human without...you know..."
"Blowing my secret identity?" his childhood friend chuckled.
"The thought did come to mind."
"Not a problem."
Dick juggled his non-Nightwing cell to his other hand and checked his watch. Wally didn't normally keep a phone conversation up this long. He was more a face-to-face type of person--besides, he didn't really need to pay long-distance charges when he could be in your face within seconds anyway. "Oh...so your playing baseball while costumed as Flash. In Batman's sports field. Does Batman know this?" Maybe it was a Justice League exercise that Batman had authorized? But no, Wally had implied that Bruce had not given permission for anyone to be there; nor would it make sense for Wayne manor to host a Justice Baseball League...it might instill some unwanted inquiries in both the media and the criminal organizations.
"Are you kidding me? The red suit gets enough wear and tear on it what with battling super villains, giant robots, and insane alien invaders. No need to go adding grass stains."
But that meant...Wally was running around in just his civvies? "But..." A horrible thought dawned. Could his annoying pal be intoxicated? "Wally, you are clothed, aren't you?"
"You know, you and the whole Bat Clan work too much. You need to relax more. Want to watch a game or not?"
"Uh...." It wasn't yet night so he currently was Dick and not Nightwing. Regardless, he had stuff to do as a normal guy. Like buying groceries and doing laundry. Checking the online pages for a good therapist who gave discounts for recommending buddies. Possibly paying bail for a drunken meta wrapped in a police blanket.
"Great. I'll be right over to pick you up."
"No, hold on! Are you clothed---GAAAHH--WAALLLLYYYYYEEEEE!"
The dirty, blighted cityscape that was Dick's chosen place of operations blurred by at a sickening speed to be suddenly replaced by an open area and another kind of home base. Artificial light stung his unprepared eyes, effectively blinding him.
"Isn't it great?"
"EErk..." An arm quickly wrapped around his torso, supporting him as he hacked up his latest meal.
"Ooo....nasty," Wally's voice sounded genuinely sympathetic. "Sorry about that. I thought that as a former acrobat you would be immune to motion sickness."
"Excuse me if my trapeze never traveled just under the speed of light." Dick wiped at the foul remains clinging to his lip as he glared at the cause of his discomfiture. At least Wally was fully attired in a skin-tight athletic suit and not au naturel as he'd started to fear. "As soon I locate my lost sense of well being, I'm going to kill you."
"Not now," Wally chided. "The game's already started."
"Wally..." Next thing he knew, Dick was seated on a folding chair in the stands with a bucket of popcorn in his lap and a banner dowel in his right hand. His left was covered in a neon yellow foam finger. There was a six-pack of soda next to his feet...and an unusual weight on his head. Odds were it was some silly sports hat. He was afraid to look.
"Just sit back on this chair and relax. Have some fun and don't forget to cheer the player."
"You mean players?"
Wally pointed to the object he'd placed in Grayson's right hand before disappearing.
Dick glanced at the banner: It was a simple red felt triangle affixed to the dowel. "Flash is #1" was painted on it in gold. He sighed and looked down at the baseball diamond, wondering just which schmucks Wally had coerced into this baseball game; a game he figured would only last as long as it took for Bruce to get home from his Wayne Tech office anyway even if Wally had managed to climb up and position the spotlights so that they shone on each and every security camera that had been installed---so it would probably be less trouble to just acquiesce and watch the game until the ultimate Umpire showed up to kick them out. Besides, Bruce had done a good job on the stadium. The seats were comfortable. The stands were clean.
Nobody else was in the stands. Nobody was manning the microphone and scoreboard. Not a soul in the dugout or the outfield.
Or first base.
In point of fact, there was only one player on the field and he was wearing a skin-tight red uniform. The shirt proclaimed the pitcher to be 'Wally #1'.
The overhead speakers kicked into life with Wally's voice loudly came through the opening static.
"What a beautiful day for a game! Team One's best pitcher is on the mound....and it's the pitch!"
Dick's gaze immediately flew to the announcer's box, but it was still empty. So was the pitcher's mound. Home plate, however...
A gold-uniformed baseball player was there..another ginger-haired man....'Wally 2b' on the back of his shirt. The batter up swung. There was the crack of a ball hitting aluminum. Then a gold streak shot from the home plate towards first base. Before he could reach it though, a red blur appeared and caught the pop fly. Dick had just enough time to spot the Wally #3 on the shirt before the player threw it towards first where another red player (Wally #4) caught it.
"And he's OUT! What a play!" screamed the announcer. The gold shirted Wally 2b player slumped and headed back to the dug out in disgrace. The red clad Wally #4 did a little dance on first base before tossing the ball...back to the pitcher: Wally #1.
The announcer was again at the box and this time Dick spotted him. Ginger haired and decked out in a plethora of licensed 'The Flash' apparel, he was grinning like a loon. "Two outs in the last inning...no one on base! And no one's managed to score yet, folks. What a game! What a pitcher! What a team!"
The red pitcher took a huge bite of a three King-sized chocolate bars, chewed, choked, and spat out the candy wrappers on the ground. He held up a thumb at the nearly empty stands to show he was ready and okay to play ball. Hold it---not empty. Suddenly they held a ginger haired fan who booed and complained of littering. The red pitcher blushed and picked up the wad of offending wrappers; hurriedly tossing it into a far away receptacle. Dick watched it sail in for a direct hit. The announcer was quick to comment:
"That's right, fans, we want to see a clean game whether it's baseball or basketball!"
The sound of a bat hitting the ground drew Dick's attention back to home base. It was the gold team's batter....'Wally 3b' was also a ginger.
The pitcher wound up. Threw the pitch.
"Looks like it's going to be a curve ball!"
The batter swung and missed. Cursed at the pitcher who just smirked. A spectator appeared at Dick's shoulder; loudly booing.
"You pitch like my grandpa's old canoe!"
Startled, Dick looked back...to see nothing but more empty seats. He blinked. Then frowned. Being only half interested in the game he hadn't been paying full attention before. It was only now he realized that none of the game players--or anyone else besides himself---seemed to be staying in place for very long. Back on the mound, the pitcher was making a face in his heckler's direction. He made a great show of winding up.
Dick narrowed his eyes and watched him like a hawk.
"Uh oh, folks...looks like it's going to be a Wally Wham-O special....."
Dick ignored the announcer and kept his eyes pinned to Wally #1.
"Yes! His fast ball!"
Despite himself, Dick's eyes flashed to the batter. He cursed, but now kept his eyes trained to the batter.
The bat was swung.
The ginger holding the bat looked startled--then blurred for the briefest fraction of a second.
The catcher held up his mitt....the ball safely encased by the hardened leather. "Strike!"
The gold batter growled.
The red catcher looked unimpressed and gave him the finger.
An umpire appeared....also---coincidentally---a ginger. The two engaged in a shouting match (blur, blur, blur)....while the pitcher looked annoyed at the delay...searching his pocket for another candy bar.
Up in the stands, Dick shook his head and took a sip of his soda. If this was what happened when you obtained strange meta-powers during a freak accident....well, he was just glad he was normal. At least Wally hadn't resorted to getting drunk and naked in an attempt to get Dick out of the doldrums. Because that's what this whole one-man game was about....Wally's attempt to cheer Dick up.
There was the sound of a bat hitting something other than a ball.
Then the strained voice of the announcer:
"Uh...*kaff* it appears another batman has..*kaff*...joined the team."
Dick almost choked on his soda.
Sure enough, there was Batman, standing over home plate, wielding one of the metal baseball bats and standing over a downed Wally Umpire--who was rubbing his ribcage despite the protective padding. He'd better get down there and try to salvage--
"Look what you've done, you moron! Trenches in the diamond! Burned grass streaks in the outfield--!
"Jeez...someone's a grouch. Next time don't forget the powder."
(Oh crud. Didn't need to be a detective to tell it was too late to attempt a save and past time to go. Just the shape of Bruce's mouth...)
Switching directions, Dick quickly made for the exit. Frankly, he'd always preferred gymnastics to ball games. And anyway....Wally was going to need a fresh supply of medical plasters by the time he was healed enough to limp home---as well as a lecture for being such a dumbass.
But that's what best friends were for.
And it's one--two--three strikes "your out!" in the old, ball, game!
Game called on account of an angry Batman.