Soft Tears and Daydreams do Abide Together
In the Watchtower gym Shayera Hol tortured her candidate for entry into the Justice League, and her victim was willingly accepting of it. The young superhero known to the world as Static eagerly applied himself to the violent rigors of training under a founding member of the league. He trusted, with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed acceptance, that everything she was putting him through would make him into one of the bests.
Shayera, for her part was in full drill sergeant mode. She grunted and scowled as she supervised and guided his progress. For now, he was her trainee and she endeavored to maximize his development in all arenas. Today the lesson was on augmenting muscle mass and the learning material was the body building equipment
"Alright, come over here now," Shayera ordered. She had already moved over to a rather rudimentary looking weight bench and was putting many heavy weights on both ends of a long barbell. Static tried to watch her as he recovered on the ground from Shayera's version of warming-up.
"You need to work on this," she indicated the chest area on herself, but of course she meant that the target area was on him.
But the equipment to be used was less of an exercise machine than really just a flat bench with a simple weight bar racked above it. Static looked from that archaic set-up to a more sophisticated piece of body building machinery. It was the same one that he had seen pretty much everyone else use. They called it the Resistomatic 4000 and it had a massive amount of weight that could be levitated with the help of a computer controlled powerful superconductor beneath it. Any amount of weight could be dialed in and the exact amount of resistance would be maintained throughout your work out. No need to struggle with swapping out various combinations of individual weighted pieces of iron, or worry about dropping something. That machine was foolproof, safe and state of the art!
"Your 'hero' uses this one," Shayera explained briefly, referring to her ex-lover, John. She knew Static idolized the man known as Green Lantern.
"Really?" Static was in mild disbelief. "GL rocks it old-school? Cool."
"Yeah…amazing isn't it?" she rolled her eyes at his teenagerish idiomatic phrasings and his desire for the object with all the bells and whistles on it. She did not mention how much she had to agree. She had watched John using the same type of simple piece of equipment in his Detroit apartment. She longed for those days when she could watch him contentedly making due with such an uncomplicated set of weights. It was all he seemed to need to maintain a fantastic physique. He would work out religiously first thing in the morning. John was definitely 'old school'. That was so him.
"You will refer to all senior Justice League members by their proper name," she abruptly reminded him. She then pointed from him to the bench. "Now, start pushing."
Static now gladly jumped onto the bench. Laying down and positioning himself face-up, he grasped the bar but paused before starting. He knew the routine with her. She walked around to the head of the bench and knelt down so she was nearer to his face.
"Who are you?!" she shouted
"League candidate Static, Ma'am!" he sharply answered back.
"What are you going to be?!" she prompted again.
"Justice-League, Ma'am!" came his proud answer.
"How far will you go?!"
"All the way, Ma'am!"
"Will you ever let yourself or the Justice League down?!"
"I can't hear you!"
"Good…good." Shayera seemed quietly assured by this. "Now push!"
From a corner of the tower gymnasium a dark figure almost smiled. It was Batman. He had essentially sponsored Static's application for entry into the League from the start. In a previous encounter he knew the young electrically powered superhero's true identity. He was also sure Static had deduced his alter ego was Bruce Wayne. It showed he could be trusted. There was much more to it than that though. Static had a past of helping out the league, and through a quirk of time travel Batman knew the teenager was a part of their future. Sooner or later he had to join, and if a bad future were to be avoided, it might be better to prepare him sooner rather than later.
Bruce was also the one who suggested Shayera train young Static. She needed to fully integrate herself into pulling her weight as a founding member, and that meant mentoring new guys. To Batman's calculation this was perfect. It was killing two birds with one stone. Shayera was still brooding over the revelation that in that possible future…that Static would one day be a part of…she had a son. This knowledge had unwisely been divulged to her by John…who was also that future son's father. The trickiest part being that, even though John had seen this, he was still pursuing his own relationship with Mari McCabe, The Vixen.
A way was needed for Shayera to sublimate her feelings; both the feelings about John as well as the knowledge that she was powerless for now to make that future come true. Busying her with helping a new league candidate in his developmental training was the perfect thing. It was perfect, that is, if she didn't wear the poor kid out first.
With a puff of strength Statoc pushed the weight up. It was ungodly heavy. He began to bring the weight down.
"Stabilize the weight," Shayera instructed.
Static shook and shuddered as it came down to his chest.
"Go!" she ordered.
He made the pained thrust to push it back up.
"Oh snap…." Was all he could get out as beads of sweat broke out on his ebony skin.
Shayera tried to seem unmoved by his exclamation of suffering.
"Don't talk." Her voice, while stern, betrayed a note of disquiet. Even as Virgil strained furiously with the weight she was confused and concerned.
"How come he can't lift more?", she thought. "I know John could lift that.
She had meant to urge him on as neutrally as she could, but she found herself prodding him more and more enthusiastically.
"Come on, Static. Come on…," she started off as he managed to press the weight all the way up. As he brought it down for a second repetition her chanting grew more and more fervent. "Come on…come on. You can do it…come on…come on!"
But the junior superhero was quickly reaching muscle failure. The weight was overcoming the combination of muscles that was holding it up. Uncontrollable tremoring shook Static and the whole bench. He gave his all to the last…but suddenly at the point of complete exhaustion the weight slipped from his hands.
Shayera instinctively yelled a final bit of warning not even aware of what words she used. Before the weight fell down and crushed Static's sternum, with lightning speed, she grabbed, held it and placed it back on the rack.
Her exhausted protégé sat up on the padded bench huffing and puffing, barely able to gasp out an apology.
"Oh my god…you saved me," he panted clutching his chest. "Thanks. I am sorry I couldn't..."
However Shayera was looking shaken.
"No," she began. "I'm…"
Before she could continue, the dark and brooding voice of Batman came from close in behind her.
"Ease up, Shayera" The Dark Knight spoke just loudly enough for only her to hear. "He is NOT Rex."
When she turned to face him he had already turned away and began to stride out of the Watchtower gym. She quickly followed.
"J…just rest," she instructed Static. "I'll be back."
"Hey!" Shayera called towards Batman. She was actually surprised when he did stop.
"What?" he asked.
It was a good question. She didn't even know what she wanted from him, and she was still a little rattled from what almost happened.
"I…I…" she began unsteadily. "I didn't mean to push him so hard. I…"
Batman gauged her with cold blue eyes.
"Static does not have Thanagarian physique. Rex was slightly taller. Broader shoulders…" he paused as if he were considering not continuing with the thought. "…like John. Medium tan complexion. Green eyes."
The description had a profound affect on her. She was immediately imagining it, her mind's eye fusing images of herself and John into a composite portrait of a man unknown and yet familiar. She inadvertently began to smile.
Batman strode away.
She leaned against a wall and let the imagery infuse her soul. It was all she had..and she allowed herself to cling onto it for a few ephemeral minutes
She returned to the weight room to another surprise. John was there.
He was next to her charge, Static was still on the weight bench. John was coaching Static through the same exercise.
"Okay," John was saying. "Bring the weight down slowwwly."
John was talking in smooth even tones.
"Breath-in as you come down," he instructed. "Keep your mid-section tight."
Static was doing much better. He kept the weight under control as he brought it down close to touching his chest.
"Okay, good," John said as the barbell reached as low as he wanted Static to bring it. "Now push steadily and exhale gradually as you bring it up."
Static complied smoothly with a whooshing sound. An efficient cycle of the exercise.
"Good!" John encouraged. "Keep it steady and slowwwwly bring it down again."
Shayera was in awe. She fairly fell against the wall, again lost in imagery, except this was going on right before her eyes. John was being so calm, so patient…so attentive to the kid. As if he was his own…
"Steady…"John cautioned. "No need to go fast. Let your muscles bring it down…not gravity. That's how you make them big and strong."
Shayera was lost in reverie. She couldn't help herself. She couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to have John coaching THEIR child through this. She was seeing HER son under John's careful instructions. She was hearing John's deep voice warmly guiding HIS son's efforts…with a father's love and concern. Their unborn/unconceived child. She was seeing too much… Tears began to come to her eyes and blurred her vision. That was probably for the best.
As Static reached the point where he could do no more of the exercise on his own, John began to slightly assist him out by holding up some of the weight himself so that Static could go to maximum muscle usage.
"Nine," John counted for Static. "That's great. Come on. Just one more. Push it out, son"
Static grunted and stressed, but John helped him keep it under control.
"That's it!" John said. He was supporting nearly all the weight for static but Static was still pushing just as he should putting all of his pectoral strength into the last effort. John finally took all the weight from him and placed the barbell back on the rack. "Good job! Nice work! Take it easy. Rest a bit!"
John finally noticed Shayera leaning against the wall…staring at them, but not really seeing.
"Hey! I was just helping Static with the bench press," he explained with a smile. "Static told me he was having a little trouble with it. I took off some weight. I hope you don't mind…hey what's the matter."
Shayera, having never allowed herself to shed so much as a single tear in front of him quickly turned away and covered her face with one hand.
"No…I don't mind." Her voice was cracking. "Thanks."
She had to get out of there, before too much emotion came out. She felt her way to the door entrance.
"I'll be back…" she said for the second time that day. Cleared her voice to keep it from cracking. "…in a few."
John was thoroughly confused. He wondered for a second if she was mad at him for interfering with her training regimen for Static.
"Hmmm…" John murmured as he furrowed his brow.
"I think she is mad at me," Static confessed through deep breaths. "I nearly dropped the weight this time. She had to pull it off me. I am not doing to good am I? I just couldn't hold it…"
Static paused for a second to remember.
"Who is Rex?" Static thought to ask.
"I think she called me Rex or something. I am not sure."
"Ohhh," John said briefly, now comprehending.
He looked at Static. There was no resemblance to Warhawk, but John could now understand what might be going on.
"Don't worry. She's not mad at you at all." John said with a reassuring smile. "You're doing just fine."
"Oh?" this was a relief to Static. He liked Shayera no matter how hard she was on him. "Well, that's good."
"Yes." John patted him on the shoulder. "Ya know…she might be a while, so I think I am going to take over training you this session…for Shayera. Let's work real hard. Let's do it for her. Okay?"