An/ This has been playing on my mind for a while now and I decided to finally get it written out. I was going to post this in 'Hearts Tethered' but decided that it would be better suited as a stand alone piece.
Justice League and its characters do not belong to me but instead, their respective owners.
Hope you like this one XD
"Boy, am I glad that's over." Courtney expressed with relief as she watched the authorities pack away a band of defeated looking criminals into an armoured truck. One of them was massive and Green Lantern had remarked on his similarity to Grundy, a large bulk of a man with the strength to pummel most anything he laid his hands on. He had been, to their disadvantage, more intelligent than Grundy but like all others who broke the law and endangered others, the League had put a stop to him eventually.
Courtney hovered beside Green Lantern as he looked on as well. It hadn't been too bad a mission, easy enough that they were able to bring Stargirl along for a little more hands-on experience.
"The cleanup crew should handle the rest." He stated as trucks and vehicles pulled into the area, an entire building had been brought down in the scuffle but thankfully it had been a relatively small one. "Better head back to the tower," He continued before looking around thoughtfully "Where's Shayera?"
They had been a thrown together team needed immediately, leaving no time for strategic selections, Shayera and John were usually together so it lead to an instant picking of the two. Both of them being Founding members were perfect for looking after younger Leaguers.
Stargirl looked about her. When she noticed the winged form of the former Hawkgirl she gestured in the direction with her Cosmic Rod. "Over there," on an afterthought she added "Is she okay?"
John squinted only to see that Shayera was apparently rummaging amongst the rubble of the collapsed building, he instantly thought that someone might be trapped there and flew over to her without hesitation, Courtney hot on his heels.
"Shayera, what's going on?" He asked already preparing his ring to lift the rubble at her feet despite being certain that they had evacuated everyone in the area.
An eyebrow was raised as Shayera seemed to ignore him for a moment all the while hefting a considerably large piece of rubble and dropping it down elsewhere as if it wasn't much bother. Flicking a bang of red hair out of her eye she looked to the people standing before her both wearing anxious expressions.
"I just need to find my mace." She explained already moving to shift more rock "You can go on without me."
The Green Lantern was puzzled that she had lost it, she never let it go if she could help it. Courtney voiced his question.
"How did you lose it?" Even as she asked she began to lift up rubble with the Cosmic Rod, not hesitating to help. For a moment John was deeply grateful for that, there was still some hostility towards Shayera within the League and he knew that it meant a lot to her when people gave her a chance.
Shayera meanwhile didn't halt her own search as she inclined her head in gratitude to Stargirl, "That big guy over there," She indicated briefly before lifting some more debris "He got a hold on it earlier and I had to let go or be thrown with it." With an irritated huff she continued "I saw it fly off in this direction."
"We'll help you find it."
"No, its fine. Really." Shayera looked up at Stargirl "Go on back to the tower. No point us all staying here looking for it."
John realised that her statement stretched to him as well. Looking to Courtney he indicated for her to head back "You did a great job," He said encouragingly "I'll stay here and help Shayera find her mace."
He nodded and she shrugged her shoulders "Fine, but it would be quicker with the three of us." She pressed a finger in her ear "One for transport." And she was gone in a beam of bright blue light.
After Stargirl had transported out, John approached Shayera and began lifting even larger chunks of debris away with his ring.
"You could have gone too, John." Shayera pointed out matter of factly as she continued to search the local ruins around her.
"And leave you searching by yourself?" That mace has given me too much trouble for me to leave you without it now." He smirked brightly. Ever since they had agreed to try their relationship again it wasn't often he was found without a grin on his face.
For a few long minutes they both remained silent in their work, the sirens and chatter of police and cleanup crew working away behind them, no-one ever approaching the two heroes as they apparently searched the rubble.
"Can I ask you a question?" John asked breaking the silence.
"Depends on what it is." Shayera replied coyly "If it's about watching Old Yeller with you again tonight...the answer is no."
John rolled his eyes "No," He looked to her seriously "Your mace, it means a lot to you doesn't it?"
Oddly enough Shayera fell surprisingly quiet, no sound escaping her except a quiet grunt as she hefted another huge rock out of her way. Frowning she replied "It's my weapon. You wouldn't be without your ring would you?"
"Well, no I suppose not." He looked at her more closely noticing just how desperate she really was to find it. He recalled how she treated it, how she cared for it and seemed to cradle it protectively sometimes. "So, that's it? It's just your weapon?"
Shayera didn't answer and continued with her search, moving from place to place even if she was becoming increasingly more distraught as time dragged on. She really wanted to see some kind of sign, some kind of glimmer of Nth metal to ease her panic stricken mind.
Eventually she broke the silence again after John had seemed to decide that the conversation was over.
"It...used to belong to my Father."
John's head whipped around "Really?" He couldn't help the tone of surprise, this was the first time he had ever heard her mention something so personal about her family life. She had rarely if ever mentioned her parents.
She nodded slowly before sitting down hopelessly on a nearby rock "He gave it to me just before I entered the military academy." she paused obviously contemplating her memories "I always favoured the mace when I trained with him."
Transfixed John listened intently, unconsciously halting in his search so that she had his full attention.
"My parents," Shayera began slowly clearly not sure how to begin or why she was even sharing this with him "Weren't like the other Thanagarian parents, most of them anyway." She kicked at a stone with the tip of her boot "Thanagar was at war for its survival, naturally that has a detrimental effect on the population."
John nodded his head and took a seat nearby her.
"Many lives were lost on nearly a daily basis, the population needed to keep its numbers up so naturally laws were passed to ensure that future offspring and more importantly, soldiers would be produced." He watched her frown at something before she continued "These laws meant that more and more Thanagarians were being united and promised to one another before they were ready to, so that they could do their duty and raise more young."
"It makes a lot of sense." John opined thoughtfully, Shayera nodded.
"My parents were one of the few couples that deeply loved one another." She shrugged awkwardly "Not that I knew them well enough to know." She looked at him sadly "All I know is that they were inseparable in battle even though the Elders had threatened to separate them if it interfered with their missions."
She paused for a long while and John just simply sat beside her in companionship, the topic was clearly a difficult one for her to broach.
"They weren't the only Thanagarian couples like it but they were certainly one of few, I just wish that I had known them more, understood them more. I was brought up in a society where the law insisted that I marry as soon as possible and carry a child as soon as possible." She looked to him hoping that he realised that she had loved Hro, but that the love she had for him paled in comparison to what she had for her Lantern. "My mace is all I have of them, John. It's all I've ever really had of them apart from some stray memories, the only one I really remember with any clarity is the day that they left me to the academy."
The tiny winged girl's eyes expand in wonder as she looks up at the enormous building before her, she watches as all the other little children are being led towards it by their parents. The others are entering in dribs and drabs, some of them she recognises from the shelters they stay in while their parents are away in battle. Her Father grips her hand a little tighter before changing direction and walking her over to a small secluded area where she knows no-one will see them. His stride is large and she struggles to keep up with him knowing that he won't slow down. Within the area of seclusion he has lead them to he stands before her and then crouches down to her level. Gripping his helmet with his hands he slides the metal barrier up and away from his face to reveal dark steady eyes and unruly red hair. Even though she has witnessed the action many times in her short life, she still finds the transformation awing. She wonders if it's the same when she takes off her own helmet.
A smile lights his hard features and Shayera doesn't see the darkness in his eyes from seeing too many battles, from losing too many friends. She does however see the scars on his face from the injuries he has received and she never fails to follow the large heavy scar that trails jaggedly from his ear to his chin with her eyes. His smile broadens as her Mother enters the small alcove and bends down beside him, she too removing her helmet revealing bright emerald eyes. Shayera's Father has told her many times that she too has eyes like emeralds, and she glows a little inside with the thought that she has eyes like her Mother's. Before either of them speaks, her Mother reaches towards her and removes her own small helmet to reveal her Mother's eyes and her Father's hair, and Shayera grins knowing that this moment is just theirs, that there are no barriers. Ever since she was able to fly and walk she has worn a mask in public and her Mother has told her many times that it is a symbol of her honour and family name and that she shouldn't reveal her face unless she is with her family or someone very special to her.
Today though is a very important day and Shayera knows that despite her parent's reassurances that she won't see them again. They'll head into another battle while she is trained for future ones. As she thinks on these details her eyes begin to well but she pushes the tears back because soldiers don't cry and she is going to be a soldier. Sometimes she does cry though and she takes special care to make sure no one sees or hears her at night when she can hear the Gordanian ships rumble overhead. The moment is made worse because she wants to stay with her parents, she doesn't want them to leave her again. She doesn't understand why it is she is unable to spend as much time with them as she would like.
The quiet moment is broken slowly by her Father "We're very proud of you, Shayera." He says softly.
She doesn't know what to say. Normally her Father is brash and harsh, training her to fight and to survive, but this is a side of him she hasn't seen before. Usually he shouts at her to try harder, pushes her to her short limits telling her that she must pass them in order to survive and be strong. Sometimes she hurts herself during these gruelling lessons, falling over or missing a block or parry and bruising as the blunt weapon strikes her arm instead. Her Mother comforts her telling her that her Father just wants her to be able to protect herself and that he wants her to be the best she can, it's because of that, that she keeps trying harder.
Once again he smiles and glances at her Mother, the woman his life is bound to. It is then when she smiles in return that he nods and reaches around behind his back, triggering his daughter's child-like curiosity. Shayera leans around wondering what is there but her curiosity turns to awe as he reveals a metal weapon. A mace. It is his mace and he has carried it in every battle he has participated in, but he has decided that he wants her to have it. He doesn't realise as he holds it out to her that she'll carry it throughout the rest of her life, refusing the more modern weapons of her age in favour of an older yet reliable design. Her tiny hands grip the smooth handle seeming so small in comparison, particularly to the large hands belonging to her Father who haven't yet let the weapon go.
"You're going to make a very honourable soldier, Shayera," He said focusing on her eyes, the eyes that were reflected in her Mother's "And as long as you have this mace...you have us with you."
Gently he finally lets go and chuckles softly in his throat as her arms fall at the additional weight, she is not yet strong enough to hold it with ease. Shayera though likes the weapon and has favoured it in her early basic training, the one weapon that enabled her to land a strike on her Father while they sparred. It's why she's here. Having passed a series of tests focusing on strength, intelligence, observation and perception, Shayera has been accepted to join the military Academy where she will be trained into the warrior that she is destined to be.
She smiles as she looks at the mace warmly, thanking her Father as she does so. He nods and looks to her Mother who touches his armoured shoulder affectionately before leaning down toward her young daughter. Her heart wrenches at the knowledge that she must leave her daughter in this way, that she must leave her in favour of the Empire and she hopes that the war will end soon. Before speaking her Mother pulls a tiny Shayera into her arms and strokes her small wings softly, smiling as her daughters arms wrap around her neck and clutch at the armoured plates beneath her fingertips.
"Whatever happens, we will always be proud of you, Shayera." Her Mother whispered softly before her Father hugged them both encircling them with his enormous wings.
After a few moments they released each other and their masks were replaced. Once again ready they led the young Shayera up to the large imposing building never to see her parents again, but destined to become a formidable warrior.
Shayera let out a heavy breath as she concluded her retelling of her memory to John. Her heart felt heavy and her tongue dry, it had been much harder to share than she had expected, even if the person was John.
John was looking at her intently but his eyes were defocused, he was elated that she had trusted him enough to share with him information about her parents, but yet, at the same time he was saddened to learn of what had happened. He heard her sigh again as she slumped her shoulders and flexed her wings which were likely becoming stiff and sore.
"What happened to them?" He asked quietly.
"They died." Before he could answer she began talking again "I had graduated from basic training when I found out." She remembered it still as if it were yesterday. They had told her that for her next step in training she would enter Espionage rather than the Elite flying squads like she had requested, and in the same breath handed her a piece of paper.
"They gave me a slip of paper." She said aloud "Just a note saying that my parents had died honourably in battle and that my family name would be proudly continued by me as I continued my training." She shivered slightly where she sat as John's eyes became sorrowful. "Freya...she was a friend of mine...when her parents died she said it was like two names passing by. Two strangers. When I found out mine had died," She looked into his face "I couldn't help but feel as though I had missed out on something, that there was more, that there could have been more."
"That's only natural." John offered softly as he shuffled a little closer to her.
She shook her head "On Thanagar it was normal not to notice the passing of your parents, my generation hardly knew their parents." She looked around her at the people still working about them "It wasn't until I came here that I realised what I had missed out on."
John nodded in understanding, reaching a hand out to give hers a reassuring squeeze which she was appreciative of.
As he leaned forward to peck a kiss upon her cheek he saw something glimmer in his peripheral vision, something that momentarily lifted his heart. He got to his feet ignoring Shayera's flicker of indignation having still not received her kiss, and strode over to where he had seen it. Shayera too stood to her feet as John began to rummage in the dirt and debris, his gloved hands pulling away rocks and stones as he worked. He could have used his ring but for some reason now having heard of the origins of the fabled weapon, John felt that it was more respectful that he physically exerted himself to retrieve it. After a minute of hard work he pulled one last rock free and was rewarded by the sight of the Nth metal mace that had once belonged to Shayera Hol's Father.
John stood with it in his hands and showed it to her, his heart skyrocketing even higher as he saw the elation that graced her features at having found her beloved weapon. Without hesitation she ran to him but didn't snatch it from his hands, rather she held the shaft and handle of it with him, admiring it despite the dust and grime that covered almost every inch of it. She looked up into his eyes fixing him with the emerald irises she had inherited from her Mother, her fiery red locks blowing in the wind not unlike the ones her Father had been born with.
"My Father would have liked you." She said almost a little tearfully.
John smiled "You think so?"
She nodded, instinctively knowing that her parents would have found him agreeable even if he wasn't a Thanagarian. John let go of the mace and watched as the relief and comfort of the weapon seemed to relax her a little, her wings fluttering slightly without her consent as a sign of her happiness. Already she was trying to wipe the dust from it and she pulled a face when she noticed the torn leather strap that would need replacing, but at the same time her mind was in disarray.
"What do you think they'd think of me now?"
He looked to her and saw the sadness in her eyes that always seemed to find itself there regardless of her best intentions, he wondered to himself if it would ever leave her. He pondered her question closely before he finally gave her a reply.
"You said that they loved each other."
She nodded in response.
"Then, I think they'll understand."
At that she smiled warmly and moved to hug him, her arms wrapping around him as she pressed her cheek to his chest, a moment later her wings enveloping him in her protection.
"Thank-you." She said softly.
John held her more closely before giving her another reassuring squeeze "Hey," He spoke startling her as he pulled away "There's a boxing tournament on, how about we go back to mine and-"
Shayera pressed a hand to his lips "Say no more, John."
She loved to watch any form of fighting sport, but had lately taken to boxing having decided that wrestling was more choreographed than even the Earth soap programmes she found detestable. As he bathed himself in emerald light she was already stretching her wings ready for takeoff and he took her hand so that they would fly together. On their way to Detroit he called in at the Tower to let them know they had found Shayera's mace and would be on call for the rest of the day if they were needed.
As it turned out though John ended up spending the rest of the day listening to Shayera as she enthusiastically chanted and chided the boxers as they faced off, her Father's mace polished and shining as it sat proudly upon the table.