This is my first alternate universe on Justice League. I was inspired to write this after seeing a picture of teenage versions of Clark, Hal, Arthur, Bruce, Diana, Wally, and the Martian Manhunter. The wallpaper showed the team watching a movie, and it depicted the characters' personalities so well. I laugh every time I see it. And I hope you enjoy this story just as much as I had fun writing it.
He glanced at the pink slip in his hand, crumpled it, but immediately ironed it before turning the doorknob to the room that stole his freedom. Mr. Adams was hunched over his magazine, his reading undeterred by the glum newcomer. Perched atop the bridge of his nose were half-moon-shaped glasses, surreptitiously adding ten more years to his physical appearance.
Bruce glanced at the magazine in the teacher's hand—it featured a haggard face of a top celebrity—and he presented his admittance to Mr. Adams, who in turn took the slip without looking at it and waved Bruce to pick any chair in the barely lit room.
Bruce quietly walked to the backseat, ignoring the stares of his fellow detention mates. Upon crossing the threshold earlier, he noticed the usual high school misfits: Bane the bully, Quinn the tattooed goth, Oswald the stubby chain smoker, and Jack the ever-aspiring magician. Even though Jack was the laughing stock in the one and only illusionist business at DC Academy, Bruce admired the young man's persistence to laugh when his cards flew in all opposing directions, to blush like crazy when his handkerchiefs suddenly came up short, and to repay the five dollar bill he tore up when attempting to piece it back together with one swipe of a hand. Bruce wondered what could have led Jack to earn the pink note that amounted to a tarnished record. And yet, Bruce was in the same boat. Skipping Ms. Wallace's home economics class for a week should've merely sent Bruce to the principal office instead of the detention center, but calling Ms. Wallace's class "dull and emasculating" must have done the trick. Still, Bruce could care less for knitting.
Putting the past behind him, Bruce placed his backpack on the table and fished out a book. He was in the midst of reading the exchange between the condemned officer and explorer in Kafka's Penal Colony when a familiar waft glided past his nose. He glanced up and saw Clark Kent with a bruised eye and torn lip plunk down on the seat next to him.
Bypassing Clark's injuries, his Boy Scout looks were hardly diminished: dark waves masking his forehead, kind blue eyes, easy smile, and hefty build attracted a small crowd of brokenhearted girls whose fairy tale endings were shattered by broken promises and snappy breakups, making Clark the next dreamboat target. On the other hand, Bruce's brooding aura and boyish features seemed more compatible to the current situation. Often called the Ice Prince, Bruce sported spiked black hair, penetrating sapphire-blue eyes, and lean body structure that made girls salivate and daydream for x-ray vision. He was the nice bad boy, avoiding the popular kids and the socially awkward. And yet, every social group of the school respected him. He was attractive, smart, and friendly enough if one deserved it. The social outcasts admired him, girls were inevitably in love with him, the jocks feared and envied him, and the bullies—no one dared mess with him. Like a lone wolf, he watched only from the sidelines; but if provoked, the perpetrator would find his locker spotless clean, his homework nowhere to be found, his gym shorts gone, his skin sprouting an ugly rash. In other words, Bruce's methods were devilishly passive-aggressive, and that made people all the more afraid of him. Bruce Wayne belonged to no group, to no one but himself.
Seeing Bruce and Clark together, an unsuspecting passerby wouldn't have guessed that this mismatched pair was best friends. Although both were often ranked at the top of the class, their personalities had people wonder what common ground brought the two together.
"Your cologne stinks as bad as your face," Bruce said, putting the book down.
Clark gingerly touched his battered eye, winced when the pain tingled half his face. Bruce sighed and handed his friend a cold compress. Clark accepted it without protest.
After the cool sensation numbed his face a bit, Clark hefted the travel-size ice pack in his hand, as if studying its weight. It felt strangely warm in his hand but against his bruises it was soothingly cold. "One of today's experiments?"
"By the rate you're going with your story, I figured you'd need it. But I didn't expect you to use it so soon." Bruce picked up his book and resumed reading. Clark inwardly thanked his friend for the gesture.
"Missed Ms. Wallace's class again?" Clark asked after a few seconds passed in silence.
"Yes, and called her class 'emasculating.'" Bruce said.
Clark studied his friend's face. "Diana was in the class, wasn't she?"
Bruce only sighed. "I'm going to get an earful." He subconsciously rubbed his ears as if her reprimands were echoing around the room.
Clark patted his friend's back reassuringly. "There's only one way to stop a woman from talking too much."
Bruce looked at Clark reproachfully. "Clark, don't even…"
"Ask her out already. It's so obvious that you—"
"No, I don't. We're just really good friends. Like how you and me, you and her are. Nothing more or less. Now don't get any funny ideas," Bruce said, ending the conversation right then.
"You're impossible," Clark said. He knew better than to pester Bruce when his serious friend was either reading a book or mixing chemicals in the school lab. Battling Bruce's silence, Clark fished out his pen and notepad and started jotting down the remainder of his story.
His hard-earned bruises erupted from a heated argument with the school president, Lex Luthor. Calling Clark's accusations baseless and impulsive, Lex's angry rant caused the student council's secretary Brutus—well, more like the council's guard dog—to jump at Clark and hit him in the face. It was so like Lex to let others do the dirty work. Even if it meant blemishing Clark's flawless face.
"I'm guessing you're here because this is the last place Lex or Brutus will step foot on," Bruce said without turning away from the novel.
"That, and Mr. Adams doesn't give a damn who waltzes in, pink slip or no pink slip," Clark filled in, waved in Mr. Adams' direction, though the man ignored the young man's friendly wave.
"Yeah, you're scared of Brutus beating the crap out of you," Bruce confirmed, ignoring Clark's protests of bravery.
With their eyes roaming the airless room, the pair caught sight of Bane lumbering toward them with clenched fists and a sadistic grin. Clark quickly tucked his notepad into his coat pocket in case Bane snatched it with his gigantic fists. Bruce, on the other hand, calmly stuffed his book into the bag, out of harm's way, and nodded in Bane's direction with a calm expression.
"What brings you ladies into the jailhouse? Aren't you supposed to be staying away from this dump? Wouldn't want to be rejected by Harvard and shit." Bane stood in front of them, standing tall and straight, squaring his shoulders to make himself look more foreboding to them.
"It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be," Clark said, looking around, ignoring Bane's death glare. "A little on the warm side. But cozy."
Bruce ignored his friend, craned his neck to look Bane straight in the eye. "How long's your sentence?"
Bane's lips immediately clamped shut, startled by Bruce's question. After a short pause, he said, "Uh, one more hour or so. But it doesn't matter, Mr. Adams doesn't give shit whether I leave early or not." When Bruce didn't add anything to it, Bane somehow felt compelled to return his share of curiosity, which was uncharacteristic of him. "And you're here because you beat the snot out of wannabe reporter here."
Bruce smirked, while Clark frowned. "Wannabe reporter? Is that how I'm referred to these days?" Clark complained.
"I missed Ms. Wallace's knitting class. And I called it dull and emasculating," Bruce told him.
"Emascula-wha?" Bane said, confused.
"It means the class is stripping us of our manhood," Clark said.
Bane shook his head, as if commiserating with the pain of all men who had to go through knitting class. "I'd hit detention any day than go to Wallace's class and knit a freakin' sweater."
"Yeah, sweater's definitely too much. Try mini scarf," Clark said.
Before Bane comprehended the implication, Bruce stepped in, said, "So what are you in here for?"
Bane shrugged his shoulders, as if what had transpired was of small consequence. "Stuffed Joker's head in the toilet again." He turned around and sneered at Jack, who was seated in one of the front row seats, as far away from anyone as possible. Jack was hunched over his deck of cards, mumbling to no one in particular, practicing his usual tricks. He would occasionally glance over his shoulder to check if Bane was suddenly lurking behind him.
"If you did that to him, why is he here?" Clark asked.
"The dork freakin' sprayed my eyes with pepper spray," Bane angrily took his shades to reveal red eyes. Clark winced.
"You try getting toilet water in your eyes everyday, see how that feels. And it's not just pee in there." Jack muttered under his breath, but it was still loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.
"What kind of guy freakin' stuffs a squirting flower thing with pepper spray, you sick homo," Bane began advancing toward Jack, who jumped up from his seat and cowered behind Mr. Adams' desk.
"Dorrance, back in your seat. You're not even supposed to be out of it. Get your butt in your seat before I actually ban you guys from talking," he repeated when Bane still inched forward, whose eyes were filled with murder. "You hear me?" Mr. Adams said once again, his voice louder, laying down his magazine for the first time since Bruce came in.
After what seemed like minutes, Dorrance, otherwise known as Bane, finally returned to his seat, glaring at Jack, who shakily sat back down. When all was still, Mr. Adams grabbed his magazine, adjusted his glasses, and picked up from where he had left off.
"Wow. This place is surprisingly less frigid than the library. We should come here more often. And it's like getting front row seats to Geeks Smackdown." Clark said, sounding somewhat excited. When he looked at Bruce, however, he felt the error in his words and took it back. "Not that we should advocate such bullying. Any type of bullying for that matter. Especially when I just got hit in the face."
"Well, you did harass the president," Bruce pointed out.
"With the truth. The student body has the right to know," Clark, with a frustrated sigh, fished out his notepad to peruse his first draft. "He's stealing the SATs, Bruce. And I know it. I just have to catch him in the act, or hope that he'll slip up."
"Lois is letting you run the story?" Bruce asked.
"Only if I have proof. But dammit Bruce, the guy knows how to cover his tracks. It's like he's my psychologically evil self, always one step ahead of me, always knowing what I'm about to do next."
"This isn't the Twilight Zone, Clark," Bruce said, easing his friend's wild imagination.
Clark only shook his head and resumed writing. Bruce also busied himself by picking his book compilation of Kafka's short stories and reading the final paragraph of Penal Colony without further interruption. Half an hour had passed until Mr. Adams alerted the students that timeout was up and that they were free to go.
"Until next time," Mr. Adams wearily called out after Bruce left.
Clark stretched his arms, as if he had been cooped up in there for days, turned to Bruce for details of what the rest of his afternoon looked like.
"Chemistry lab. I was working on something. You?"
"Red room. I need some time to think of my next move, and I left my flash drive in there. I'll stop by the lab once I'm done," Clark patted his friend's back before heading in the opposite direction.
With his hands stuffed in his pockets, Bruce quietly made his way to his refuge, his space of solitude and inspiration. The hallway was empty and void of flighty, teenage interaction—after school hours brought him nothing but joy. Closing his eyes, Bruce walked the same old route to the lab, growing increasingly excited to work on his next concoction.
He opened the door and headed straight for his table when he caught sight of a familiar figure sitting by the window, her eyes trained on a book by Jane Austen. Books were good indicators of its readers' personality and interests. In this case, Jane Austen was Diana's inspiration. Girl to girl, if they had both lived in the same age, they would have sparked and fueled a revolution that would have burned and built bridges, and female dominance would have been established if Diana had been born two centuries ago.
Sensing Bruce's presence, Diana looked up and shut her book. She waited for him to approach her, as if she were a princess sitting at her throne, expecting news from the other kingdom to be shared.
"Just got out of detention," Bruce stated the obvious, shrugging his shoulders, as if detention was part of his normal schedule. He searched for frustration in her sparkling blue eyes but found nothing. His gaze fell and stuck on her revealing, toned arms, her glossy pink lips in a determined line, her soft, dark waves undulating in the light breeze from the slightly open window, and her tan complexion showcasing her partial Greek lineage. If Bruce didn't know any better, he would have believed her to be a descendant of Aphrodite. Or Athena. Neither one was far-fetched.
"I'm glad you managed to get out of there in one piece," Diana said, opening the book in her hand. "You caused quite the riot after making that statement."
Bruce scratched his head, feeling sorry for offending Diana. Hardly for Ms. Wallace. Even though Diana didn't show it, he knew that she was furious with him. He, of all people, should know her feelings about sexist remarks, though subtle or halfhearted.
"What happened?" Bruce asked.
"Well, let me see," Diana closed her book again, with a loud snap, continued, "After you were sent to detention, boys howled in laughter, exalted you, threw their yarn and sticks to the ground, and ran out of the classroom—but not before informing Ms. Wallace that her class was a total waste of time. When they were gone, the girls cleaned up the mess you made. We picked up the sticks and yarn, straightened some overturned chairs and tables, and escorted a wailing Ms. Wallace to the girls' bathroom. That was real mature of you, Bruce, to say such a derogatory, hurtful thing. Especially to someone as kind and gracious as Ms. Wallace." Diana suddenly stood up and was about to walk past Bruce when he grabbed her arm.
"Diana, I didn't mean to hurt you—"
"It's not me you should be apologizing to. It's Ms. Wallace," Diana said, still glaring at Bruce.
"I know. Being in detention made me rethink my words and I'm sorry. I'll apologize to Ms. Wallace first thing tomorrow. But I just want to make it clear to you that I didn't really mean what I just said. I had other things in my mind, and with West making fun of me…"
Diana smiled, her disappointment with Bruce ebbing away. "Good ol' Wally. He was the only boy who stayed and helped out."
Bruce frowned at her remark. He expected her to sympathize with him. "The guy knits like a grandmother."
Diana laughed, pushed Bruce lightly in the chest. "There's no reason for you to be jealous of Wally's knack for knitting. Besides, you could have asked me for help."
Bruce looked down, hiding his blush from her. "I get knitted scarf's and hats from Alfred all the time—I don't need one. I don't need to make one."
Diana looked at him with a raised brow. "You need a new hobby." She spread her arms to emphasize her point. "If it weren't for tests and Physics, you'd be stuck here all day."
Bruce only shrugged his shoulders. "It's what I'm made for."
Diana rolled her eyes, ruffled his unruly hair. "You're incorrigible." Accepting his indirect apology, Diana went back to her usual place by the window, picked up her book, and resumed reading. Everyday, until six o'clock, Diana waited for Bruce to finish his experiments. Consumed by silence and routine, they carried out their chores and respective interests. Sometimes, Diana felt compelled to do her homework first, as did Bruce, but after all that was done, they would move on to better things, ones that mattered most to them. For Diana, it was reading Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf; for Bruce, it was mixing chemicals and inventing new gadgets.
Diana watched Bruce measuring his beakers intently, and smiled. Unlike her, he never bothered to follow the social system of pubescence. Her name was distinguished among the student body. Rich and popular, Diana graced the halls with elegance and confidence. Being the daughter of Wonder Corp, the company that produced world-famous cosmetics and skincare elixirs, bolstered her social standing, making her invincible. But hanging around Bruce humbled her, giving her new purpose when high school gossips and whirlwind romances seemed like that was what life was going to be.
Escaping the expectations formed by teachers and fellow classmates, Diana burrowed herself in books, tucked away in the darkest corner of the library where nobody would find her. Nobody except Bruce. She remembered the way he nonchalantly looked at her, at her book, revealing a small smile. He praised her choice of recreation—Dostoyevsky's Idiot—and walked on as if she was a fixture in the library, as if she was a normal student who just loved reading books. Since then, she'd follow him everywhere, befriending him and his close friend, Clark Kent. The two of them were like a pair of glasses, giving her clarity and fresh perspective on life.
She soon relinquished her title as cheerleading captain and hung out with honored outcasts, Clark and Bruce. But despite her efforts to stay in the shadows, people still noticed her and kept tabs on her Twitter and facebook, flirted with her as if she still held the mantle of cheerleading captain and homecoming queen.
Diana pushed the thoughts away and glanced down at the green expanse that was the football field. She watched Wally West running around the field with Hal Jordan holding a timer.
Wally and Hal.
Aside from Clark and Bruce, these two were also quite the pair. In spite of Hal's rocketing fame as quarterback of the football team, they still hung out together, but only when Hal's jock friends and the rest of the student body were not witnesses of their secret friendship. It was always on Tuesday afternoons, when no football practice was in session, that they would meet on the field and Wally would do his rounds around the track with Hal urging him on.
Diana never understood why Wally never showed any signs of hurt and anger, as if he were relieved and nonchalant that his best friend since kindergarten felt ashamed to be seen with him on normal days. Every Tuesday afternoon, when they thought that everyone had left, Hal and Wally would hug as if they were long-lost lovers, pumping their fists and resuming their sessions of running races and mud-wrestling.
Diana sighed, touched the windowpane, as if her feelings of sympathy would somehow be conveyed to Wally. Watching him now, it was a wonder why he never joined the track team. Or the football team. But like every teenager, each one had his or her own reasons. And Diana could only wonder what they were.
A hand on her shoulder startled her. She turned to see Bruce looking at her with slight concern.
"You didn't turn around when I asked if you're having dinner at my place," Bruce said.
"Oh. Oh, sorry," Diana apologized, tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear. She checked her phone for any messages from her mother. None. No messages always meant that Mother was working overtime—again—and Diana was free to spend time with Bruce and his butler and godfather, Alfred. Sometimes Clark dropped in to play around with Bruce's gadgets, but her nights were usually spent at Wayne Manor.
"Yeah. What time is Alfred picking us up?" Diana asked.
Bruce checked his watch for the time. "Same as usual. Six."
Diana glanced at the clock and saw it was quarter to six. "Guess I better get ready." She flipped open her book bag, dumped Sense and Sensibility in it, and checked to see if she had everything. Bruce was all set, waiting for her.
Just then, Clark appeared in the doorway with his bag slung over his shoulder. "Mind if I hitch a ride with you guys?" His timing was perfect. Always.
Diana was rummaging through her things when she realized that she had left her wallet in her locker. Bruce and Clark agreed to walk with her.
After climbing two flights of stairs, they reached the indoor swimming pool. Diana went straight for the girls' changing room, leaving Clark and Bruce to watch Arthur Curry making laps in the chlorinated pool.
Captain of the swimming team, Arthur Curry—always referred to as 'The Englishman'—would have been mistaken for a soul surfer hailing from sun-kissed beaches if it were not for his Cockney accent. With medium-length, silky-smooth blonde hair, bright green eyes, and chiseled arms and abs, Arthur was the face and talent of the swimming team, garnering first place for two consecutive years since he moved here. It was rumored that Arthur knew how to ride the waves, too. He was like the god of the sea, gliding instead of riding, flying instead of swimming.
"Sorry for the wait," Diana said, rushing to them. She followed their gaze when she sensed someone walking toward them.
"Diana Prince, marvelous to see someone of your caliber on this slippery side of campus," Arthur said, taking her hand and pecking it. He then turned his attention to Clark and Bruce, smiling at them. "Good to see you, gents. Oh, I heard of this morning's scuffle in Ms. Wallace's class. Interesting take on knitting, I must say."
Bruce only nodded. "Such slip of the words is hardly admirable."
"Indeed," Arthur said, wiping himself dry.
Bruce glanced at the clock—five minutes to six. "We have to go. See you, Arthur."
Suddenly, the ground beneath them shook, pushed them out of balance as if something had exploded nearby and they were experiencing the ripples of the blast. Diana nearly fell to the ground but Bruce caught her hand, pulling her toward the doorway for support. Clark and Arthur followed them, braced themselves.
When the quake finally stopped, they looked at each other in question, wondering in silence what had just happened.
"Let's get out of here, in case it happens again," Clark said.
They ran down the flight of stairs, down the hallway, and out of the main entrance. They looked around and found nothing out of the ordinary. No shattered windows, cracked concrete, broken lampposts. Everything was still, undisturbed.
"That was weird," Arthur said, scratching his head.
"Tell me about it. It's like, we're the only ones who felt it," Clark said, watching a car drive by.
"No way, man. Holy shit. This cannot be real," Hal Jordan's voice was faint but it rose above the silence that surrounded them. The group ran around the left side of the building, toward the football field.
As soon as the lawn was in their line of sight, their attention immediately honed on the spaceship that crash-landed in middle of the football field. Smoke and burned metal filled the air, but the shock of seeing an actual alien aircraft immobilized them completely.
"Dudes!" Wally said, running toward them. "A spaceship! In our school. This is just… so cool," Wally said, practically jumping up for joy. Hal was inching toward the spaceship, looking for any signs of activity.
"We have to check it out," Clark said, inching forward. He stopped beside Hal, exchanging ideas if any survivors could have lived through the crash.
"They're aliens, of course they'll live through anything. Even if their ship crashes in our school's backyard," Hal said.
"Yeah, but you never know. We've never really had a history of aliens crash-landing on school grounds before."
"Only one way to find out," Hal said, venturing to touch the ship in hopes that it would trigger the latch to open.
"We better not touch anything. Yet. We don't know what it's capable of, both the alien and the ship," Bruce cautioned them.
Before anyone could utter another word, the latch hissed open, emitting a burst of contained air. The group shielded their eyes. When they reopened them, a strange-looking figure stood limply in the doorway, its face masked by the smoke. Diana gasped when she saw a clearer outline of the creature. Its head was long and pointed at the tip, its limbs long and thin, its legs or feet were extended like a horse's hind limb. And as the smoke cleared, the alien's complexion was an emerald green.
"Holy Sweet Baby Jesus, I'm living the Steven Spielberg movie," Hal muttered under his breath.
Diana let go of Bruce's arm—she hadn't realized she was holding onto him so tightly—and looked up at the creature. She noticed its purplish eyes—no irises, just a saturated color of iridescent purple. And then she saw a dark line running down its head. A color that could only mean blood.
"He's hurt!" Diana exclaimed, climbing up the latch, ignoring Bruce's protests to be wary. As soon as she touched its weak arms, its knees buckled, its weight crumbling onto the floor. Diana ripped a portion of her skirt to stop the bleeding on its temple. Bruce was by her side then, checking its vitals.
"He doesn't seem to be in critical condition. Maybe he hit his head a little. But there could only be one way to be sure," Bruce said.
"The hospital?" Arthur suggested.
"No. Alfred." Bruce flipped his phone open and hit speed dial.
While Bruce was on the phone, Hal, Wally, and Clark were debating on whether it was a good idea to call the FBI, CIA or Area 51.
"Only one way to find out if he's here to attack us," Wally said, rushing through the doorway. Just then, Wally realized how small the ship was, almost as small as an escape pod on Star Trek. There didn't seem to be any signs of big laser guns, just controls to steer the ship.
"We'll be famous!" Hal exclaimed. "I can just see it, Hal Jordan and classmates find spaceship at high school. Sweet."
"Not entirely true," Clark countered. "Once we inform the FBI, CIA, or Area 51, they'll wipe our memories clean. We'll hardly be mentioned in their files even."
"So what do we do about this? We can't just hide him or something. Not when this is on school property," Arthur said.
"In…" the Martian pointed at a green button right next to the steering wheel. Wally looked at it, then at the Martian.
"Does he want me to press it? What if he wants me to blow us up to smithereens?" Wally asked.
"Invi… sible. Press… button. No… harm…" And with that, the Martian lost consciousness.
"If you say so, green guy," Wally said, pushing the button before anyone else could object.
And just like that, the ship disappeared from sight.
"Like that's going to help us," Hal said. "Even though no one will see a spaceship lying on the lawn, they will see a hole in the ground. And there's football practice tomorrow. Wouldn't the team be in for a surprise when they hit their heads against an invisible spaceship or what?"
"We'll have to drive it then," Bruce said, walking to the main controls. "I just talked with Alfred and I told him to expect company. An injured one."
"Bruce, as much as I applaud you for thinking things through, you have never driven a spaceship before!" Clark said, freaking out slightly.
"Can't be as hard as steering a jet," Hal said, shrugging his shoulders.
Bruce made way for Hal to sit in the master chair. He then ordered everyone else to take a seat or brace themselves. Diana sat on the floor, unmoving, holding the Martian tightly in her arms. Wally and Arthur sat next to Diana, while Bruce and Clark stood on either side of Hal, clutching the chair for dear life.
"When did you fly a jet?" Wally asked.
"The arcade. Duh." Hal said, pressing a red button.
Suddenly, the ship jerked awake. Hal noticed a lever on the side and gave it a slow tug. Soon, the ship slowly lifted off the ground, and as Hal pulled the lever more, the higher the ship went. When he was sure that they were high enough to miss hitting any buildings, Hal let go of the lever and steered the wheel. The ride was bumpy at first, lurching forward and back, from side to side, and Wally was on the verge of throwing up his lunch.
"Dude, stop lurching," Wally groaned.
"Hey, I'm trying here. Be grateful I haven't bumped into an office building or something," Hal said. After getting better acclimated to the controls, Hal asked Bruce, "Where to, Wayne?"
"Turn right on Bludhaven Avenue, down Star Street, then take a right on Central Avenue. Keep going straight. The house is at the end."
"Gotcha." Hal said, steering onto Bludhaven, through air and clouds.
To be continued…
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