High Heels and Underwear on the Outside

by Amy L. Hull

written for Nancy Brown for the prompt "John/Shayera, uniform" in an LJ ficlet meme


In the early days, Shayera recognizes these humans by their jumpsuits. Different colors, all bright and garish, all tight and thin. Her own, modeled after theirs, is ridiculous and unworthy of a warrior.

They cannot expect to inspire awe or fear...especially wearing those pretentious capes.

Their enemies must laugh.

She does.

Lantern has alien tech. It, at least, offers some protection.

She spars with Wonder Woman and learns new techniques.

She learns Batman's entire costume is made of thin, flexible armor.

This is valuable intel for combating the self-declared protectors of Earth.

More valuable is that there are few of them, and they coordinate rarely.

And poorly.

She is on watch tonight because she volunteered when the others all made personal plans. Typical. But it is the perfect opportunity to examine the Watchtower's inner workings.

Their "secrets" are as poorly-kept as their schedule. There are no records of her-or the Martian-so her identity is what she tells them. Except the Flash and the Bat, they walk the streets showing their faces. She discovered their identities in two days.

It is 2 a.m. when the viewscreen looks toward the Thanagarian system, so many light years across the galaxy. Watchtower time. Gotham time. Why do none of the others notice that? Never question the "generosity" of Wayne Industries? Are they truly so blind? Are all humans? And what does it say if this contentious little group represents the best Earth has to offer? She hopes her work with these protectors will encourage Earth's leaders to help her people. When the Thanagarian fleet arrives, if there is resistance, it will be too little for a truly honorable battle.

Of course, these humans, they may cooperate fully.

She misses home, misses feeling the warmth of that faint, distant star above her as her sun. She touches a finger to the viewscreen, then turns back to the computer.

J'onn and Superman come from other planets. Lantern has offworld experience. It will be easy enough to cast suspicion on them if necessary. Wonder Woman knows this culture barely better than Shayera herself. Wally is...Wally. Batman, the smartest and the most suspicious, she watches from a distance or avoids.

She clears the cache of her computer research, sets the station to automatic, and walks the halls. She has even learned how to move quickly in ridiculous Earth boots. Hro will never let her live that down, she knows.

The heels of her boots clicked against the decking as she moves through the station, learning the feel of its layout. It reminds her of a Thanagarian ship, the recycled air, the chill just the other side of the hull, the hum of the engines vibrating up through her feet. The Watchtower is brighter than a Thanagarian ship, quiet, has no scent of feathers. And it is empty. Always empty.

She reaches the exercise room and punches the hanging bag.

"Whoa. What'd that bag do to you?" Lantern's voice is deep and smooth, friendlier than his perpetual scowl would have indicated.

A grey shirt with no sleeves offsets the glistening of his skin around well-defined arms. Matching grey shorts leave bare his thighs and his calves. She thought the black sleeves of his tight uniform left nothing to the imagination. Apparently, she'd been wrong.

He smiles, and she realizes she is staring.

"So are you going to brace this, or what?"

The grin spreads and he leans into the bag, then nods.

She pounds it, rapid-fire, then slams into it with her shoulder. Lantern takes her hand, shows her an alternate stance.

"Learn that from your magic green ring people?"

His fingers wrap around her hand, guiding her. "Nope. That's pure Marine Corps."

"You learned it from the sea?"

He laughs. "No. It's the branch of the military I was in."

She'd read that, but not understood. She feels like an outsider. She is supposed to be an outsider. Supposed to lie. Not supposed to care about these stupid people. She plants her feet-as well as possible standing on her toes like this-and starts again. She can learn from hand-to-hand tactics, and this is almost as satisfying as sparring with Wonder Woman.

Before she feels even warmed up, Lantern steps back. "Sorry to cut things short. It's my watch next. I just like the gym facilities up here better than near my apartment, so I like to get here early." He smiles and extends a hand, a signal she has learned means she is to join hands and move their arms up and down in unison. "We should do this again sometime."

"We should." She watches him. It is less comfortable to lie to someone who smiles.

Shayera moves quickly to a terminal. He should have announced his arrival so he wouldn't be presumed an intruder. She should have known he was there.

She gets to her quarters and checks the mainframe before he gets to his post, where he could checks the logs. Batman's paranoia is useful to her. The surveillance footage shows him arriving by power ring and going straight to the gym. He didn't check the computers or see any of her investigation.

Her cover is still intact.

Her terminal pings and a message with his face pops up. "It was good to see you. G.L."

She initiates a search, grateful for the relative simplicity of the interface. In moments, pictures appear: Sergeant John Stewart, promotion ceremony. He wore a white hat, white gloves, a dark blue jacket with medals and stripes and shiny buttons, and a sword at his side.

Her respect for Lantern is slightly greater. Even before the ring, he was a warrior.

She closes the terminal and takes off her boots. At least there are warriors on Earth who wear dignified uniforms with weapons requiring power and skill...and John Stewart trained and fought with them. Now she has the chance to learn the skills from his military.

Green Lantern is more interesting than she thought. She'll make a point of seeing more of him. She smiles. That will be pleasant, indeed.