The Five Times the JLA Found the Avengers and the One Time the Avengers Found the JLA...
Clark Kent v. Steven Rogers
Steve scrawled out another note into a small card, closed and sealed it before tucking it into the care package in front of him. He gave the box's contents a once over. A package of Oreos, phone cards, a package of stationary, a journal, a couple of donated DVDs, pictures drawn by kids from a local school and Steve's hand written note of thanks and appreciation. Steve gave the box and approving nod before closing it and sealing the top with tape. He passed it on to the next volunteer with a smile before rubbing his hands.
There was an ache in his palms and knuckles. He'd lost count of how many notes he'd written and how many care packages he'd helped fill but each one lifted his heart a bit.
He remembered how much the USO had done for him and for the soldiers of his own time. How a written note would boost his spirits. How a promised show could get him through another few days slogging through the muddied trenches and grizzly battlefields. He had to admit that he technically owed his start to the USO.
Steve tried to make time every week to volunteer, he did everything from mark down inventory to answer phones to help fill up and send off care packages to soldiers deployed to the Middle East and South Korea. Steve was glad to do it, to give to the soldiers of now how others had given to him in his own time of service, even if it meant sore hands and the sticky taste of glue inside his mouth for the rest of the day.
Steve looked up from his palm, he caught sight of a man with a build similar to his own. His black hair combed oddly to curl over his forehead and a fine wired set of glasses on his face. The man was dressed in a pressed suit and tie. It made Steve feel a bit inadequate in his khakis and Army tee shirt. Steve scrubbed his palms on his hips and offered his hand to the stranger.
"Yes, sir. To whom do I owe the pleasure?"
The stranger took his hand and offered a small smile. "They weren't lying when they said you were polite. Clark Kent."
The handshake reminded Steve of gripping Thor's hand, the Asgardian had the same stiff and sharp shake as Kent did.
"I'm told is a sign of my age. What can I do for you Mister Kent?"
Kent settled himself down into a plastic chair at the table Steve had been using to put together care packages for the last few hours. "Its more like what I can do for you."
Steve hardened a bit and said with a stiff edge to his voice. "If you're a lawyer or a talent scout you're wasting your time Mister Kent. I'm not going to get back into 'show business'."
Kent smiled and shook his head, "Can't say that I blame you, seen a few of those old news reels you were in. Though they did good. I'm from the Justice League of America."
Steve mulled the name over and it took a few minutes before he placed it. "Wait, Clint and Tony told me about that. Superheroes team, right? Stationed out on the West Coast?"
Kent nodded, "Actually Captain we operate world wide and then some but yes. One of the headquarters was in San Francisco for a time before we relocated to a station based in the upper atmosphere."
Steve let out a low whistle, "Sounds fancy for sure… but Mister Kent if you're a recruiter I'm gonna have to say thanks for the consideration but no thanks. I'm already a part of a team. Two if you count the US Army, and I do."
Kent let out a small laugh and a shake of his head and Steve had the distinct sense that Kent wasn't so much as laughing at what he said but more like laughing at Steve directly. There was that strange look in the stranger's eyes that suggested some kind of sympathy or pity. Steve had recognized it more than once in some SHIELD agents when he'd first woken up. It put the soldier on edge a bit but he was careful to school his features.
"I'm gonna take that as a hint that you aren't a recruiter then." Steve loosely folded his arms over his chest.
"Think of me as more of an advisor, Captain Rogers. I've been where you are now. I know what you're going through. A strange world and time, bombarded with celebrity and a reluctant team built around you, looking for guidance. It's a bit over whelming. I came looking for you hoping to offer myself as a mentor." Kent said matter of factly.
Steve's jaw tightened a bit. His first thought when the word 'mentor' was mention was 'Erskine'. Steve remember vividly Erskine's friendly air of confidence and reassurance, his easy going humor and unwavering belief in Steve well before he'd become 'Captain America'. The word 'mentor' belonged to Erskine and him alone. The stranger in front of him boasting of their similarities would never have a title like that even if Steve decided to keep company with him.
Kent nodded and smiled. "We have so much in common and have been through many of the same things Captain Rogers. I think-"
"The same things? So you were in World War Two also?"
Kent's smile dropped off his face instantly. "I didn't mean-"
"No?" Steve asked, his voice calm, even and ever polite. But the friendly edge was gone and replaced with a strict discipline to it. "You were pretty sure that we've been through the same things. That we were so much alike that you could damn near tell me every move I should make, right? So that would have to make you a soldier? Like me?"
Kent stayed silent and Steve gave a passing smile that would have made those closest to him cringe. Though few believed it because of his good nature and sweet demeanor Steve was fully capable of turning sharp. Underneath his good heart there was a wound that boiled and frothed bitterly, a wound left there by innumerable rejections and unjust violence that had been brought down on him by bullies and predators. The soldier rarely allowed it to surface, it wasn't a part of himself he particularly liked, but Kent's adamant testimonial, his bemused smile and pitying eyes rubbed Steve the wrong way. He'd begun to learn that there was more than one kind of bully; some kicked you when you were down. Others like Kent, wanted to talk you into submission.
Steve wouldn't keep company with either.
"I think you misunderstand me Captain Rogers. I meant to offer myself as a kind of advisor. To help you through the difficulties of transition and help you learn the best way to handle being in celebrity and better ways to serve the community."
The soldier gave a little shake of his head, that slight smile still in place. He looked around pointedly to the USO office and to the array of boxes for care packages and contents. The stack of blank note cards the Steve would write out small thank yous. The rows of free phones and laptops for veterans and active soldiers to use at will. The busy counselors scheduling anyone that needed a soul to talk to into their over flowing date books. The row of tables were soldiers fresh from deployment were being checked in and helped to find rides and lodgings if their family hadn't been able to greet them… or if they had no family to greet them at all.
"I'm gonna have to say Mister Kent that I think I have a pretty good idea on how to best serve my community. If you're not gonna stay and stuff a few boxes it'd be appreciated if you left, someone else probably needs that chair a lot more than you do."
Diana v. Thor
Out of all the Avengers Thor was truly the easiest to find. Rarely did the Asgardian Prince go without his armor or cape. Though he had on occasion professed a liking to Midgardian clothing he typically went without.
The day that Diana Prince went looking for the Odinsson was not one of those atypical days and the red cape was not hard to miss. Though finding it in a broken down and distressed part of Harlem was a surprise.
The booming laugh, rumbling like distant thunder, was unmistakable. The Prince seemed not to notice the smaller children happily hanging off his cape or sitting on the end to be dragged along for a ride while Thor lifted broken and rusted pieces of playground equipment off their bases. Neighbors on the block went to work as soon as the heavy warped bits of metal and plastic were cleared to rake out the rotting woodchips.
Mechanics and welders did there best to salvage what they could through repair and what couldn't be saved was tossed into a waiting scrap metal truck to be hauled away.
A group of teenagers was being directed by an adult on bolting together new play equipment in full to replace what had been lost entirely to age and disrepair.
Another group of neighbors were busily sorting out large bags of fresh cedar chips and trays upon trays of brightly colored flowering plants to be buried into new beds.
Thor, with his cape full of youngsters, easily did all the heavy lifting. Here pulling the merry go round off to the side, there setting out a cast iron bench to be bolted down. There carefully balancing the massive cement bowl of a fountain on its new base.
And every moment that he could the Prince paused to jovially play with any child in arms length. Bounding after a squealing crowd of them in a game of chase. Allow himself to be tackled and rolled onto the new sod and grass as a defeated enemy. Letting a half dozen at a time cling to his arms to be lifted clear up into the air.
All the while his bright blue eyes danced and his chest rumbled in that thunderous laugh.
Had it not been for his regal and chivalrous upbringing he might have missed the woman's approach all together. He was in fact at the moment being "conquered" by a pair of twin girls determined to make their claim on 'Mount Thor' by braiding flowers into his mane of golden hair.
The Prince smiled and dipped his head politely at her approach, much to the protest of the twins; he gently disengaged himself from the girls and sent them off to help with the flower beds. "Off with you, little ones. I have a lady to address."
"I've heard you were very formal, Prince Thor. I also heard you were a bit of a wrecking machine."
Thor smiled as he took her hand and dipped for a light press of lips on her knuckles. "Only to mine enemies, my Lady. May I have your name?"
"Diana. Diana Prince."
A bemused smiled crossed Thor's lips. "The title of 'prince' is fitting for the women of Midgard?"
Diana, gave a shake of her head. "It's my last name. Prince. And I am no 'Midgardian'."
Thor's brow deepened and his eyes turned stormy. "No, my Lady?"
"I'm an Amazon."
Thor's face spilt into a wide grin and he belted out a deep rumble of a laugh. "I have heard of such women warriors! I'd believed them only stories to foster the nature of our own maidens! Lady Sif will be most pleased to hear of their existence. She idolized the Amazons as she did our own Valkaries."
Diana cocked her head to the side, "I assure you the Amazons are very real. As are many others of the Greek Gods."
Thor's booming laugh cut her off. "Then we are cousins of a sort. The Allfather will be most intrigued by this. Tell me, Lady Diana of the Amazons. To what do I owe this visit?"
"Yes. Cousins. Well, 'Cousin Thor'. I was sent here to speak with you from my team. The Justice League."
Thor quieted some, head cocking in confusion and making a small shower of loose flower petals and leaves flutter from his hair. "Justice League… then you are associated with a clan of warriors as well? As I am?"
"Yes. Though we are very different."
Thor nodded decisively, his chest puffed with pride. "I would agree with you, Lady Diana. There is no offense to your clan but there are no finer brothers and sister in combat than I have."
Diana gave a small smile. "We've heard all about how you came together as one. After your share of conflict of course."
Thor deflated a bit and after a moment said with a firm defensive tone. "Do not all families and siblings bicker? It's the nature of such things."
"Yes, I will have to agree with you there, Cousin Thor. Hopefully that's all in the past. And I'm not here to discuss that, I'm here to discuss the future. Your future as well as your 'clan of warriors'."
Thor smiled a bit though confusion crossed his face. "Will you elaborate, Lady Diana. I'm afraid I do not understand. Our future is to remain as we are, if we are needed we will be called and come together to fight again until peace is resolved. Was that not made clear?"
Diana's posture straightened a bit. "It was but we need to speak with you, all of you concerning your public behavior."
Thor looked at her oddly and remained silent, waiting. After a moment Diana went on.
"You see, Cousin Thor, as a team the Avengers now have new expectations of them. They have to carry themselves professionally and at a distance. It's far too dangerous for you or your teammates to continue life casually. You're now burdened with responsibility; you owe it to this world to show yourselves as heroes and saviors. How can you expect you or your team to be respected and taken seriously with flowers braided into your hair or when you so casually give out your names to anyone who asks? You have a place now above the rest, where you have to make yourself into an idol and good example. You need to hold yourself to a higher standard and you can't achieve that with games and group trips to the zoo."
Thor looked as her passively for a very long time, her stance, straight and strong never wavered and her eyes never left his. Thor turned to look back to where the children of the neighbor hood where busily painting the repaired merry go round with their hand prints and any shape their fingers could make. They noticed Thor's attention and beckoned him over. He smiled slightly before turning back to Diana and gave a dip at the waist.
"You advice has been headed, Lady Diana. But I have some of my own to give to you in return. Perhaps it would be wise of you to depart."
Diana's eyes hardened sharply and she stiffened. "Excuse me?"
Thor continued with his gentle smile. "Lady Diana you speak the way one would speak of herself. And if there was a possibility that it could strike you, I can see that you are not in a gaming mood."
"No. I am not in a 'gaming mood'."
"Then I do not think you would be comfortable here, in my company or in this place. For you see, this is a place of play. And I fully intend to enjoy it."
Bruce Wayne v. Tony Stark
"JARVIS… I told you never turn my music off when I'm working…you know I think you actually turn my music off more than you actually turn it on? You have something against AC/DC? Metallica? If you're more of a Nickleback kind of guy JARVIS that might just be a deal breaker-"
My apologies, sir. You have a visitor.
"Well it must not be someone on the team or they would have barged in already. Pepper would have turned the music off herself. It's Tuesday night so it's not a meeting. Unless I forgot about some call to the Netherlands or Germany or some other place twelve hours away. Which if I did it means you didn't remind me. JARVIS I'm demoting you. Dummy-"
The animatronic robot chirped to life.
"You've been promoted. Make me coffee."
Dummy whirred happily… then in confusion and buzzed through the notion of trying to make coffee on its own. Tony scoffed from under the car.
"I don't know how, JARVIS makes it and he doesn't even have a corporeal form, does he? Figure it out."
Dummy chirruped and hummed, gears spinning.
"Nope JARVIS. You've been demoted. Dictate your message through Dummy and I'll get back to you in three to five business days-"
Sir. Mister Bruce Wayne of Wayne Enterprises is waiting for you in the Ward Suite.
The silence that echoed in the garage was deafening. Then there was a clatter or metal tools and a scramble as Tony hauled himself out from under the classic roadster and her engine. His hair was mussed and a bit singed in places. His arms, hands, face and tank top were streaked with oil and grease. His favored heavy duty goggles firmly in place over his eyes and spot welder in hand. The inventor sat perfectly still for a very long moment before speaking.
"Batman is in my house."
The clang of the spot welder crashing to the floor in Tony's wake echoed loudly as the inventor sprinted out of the garage, up the stairs, too impatient to wait for the elevator and hauled ass as fast as he could towards the second floor.
…Sir I should remind you that the suggestion that Mister Wayne is Batman is only a working theory… Sir?
If the AI could have sighed it would have.
Tony practically galloped up the stairs bounding the last few and panting a bit in his rush as he skidded to a stop in front of the Ward Suite. Usually just the name of the business lounge made Tony bristle a bit. The inventor had a bad habit of warping and twisting his father's name for rooms made for work and business. It did nothing to help him let go of the grudge but he couldn't help it.
The inventor smoothed himself out as much as possible and lifted the goggles to settle on his forehead before swaggering in. He ignored the wide shouldered and chested man in a suit standing by the window. Wayne was easily a foot taller, a foot or more wider and had fifty pounds on Tony. All muscle too, though the suit he wore that probably could feed a small Indian village for a year made all sleek lines and smooth frame.
For some odd reason, Tony's cheap jeans and tank top didn't make him feel smaller in the man's presence. The inventor ambled over to the fully stocked bar and pulled off his thick leather work gloves, tossing them onto the stone counter top haphazardly as he tugged down a pair of crystal tumblers and a bottle of gin, he frowned at the label and tisked, addressing Wayne without a formal greeting.
"My father's brand. His favorite. Don't touch the stuff myself." Tony shrugged and poured the two tumblers. He slid one to the edge of the bar towards Wayne on the other side of the room and swirled the other in his hand, sniffing it before taking a drink.
"I suppose that by offering it to me in a room with an anagram of your father's name filled with overly expensive furniture and entertainment equipment you're trying to make a point of intimidation." Wayne ground out in a low voice; he stayed by the window on the far side of the room.
"Hmm? Oh no. Maybe for the everyday Wall Street Schmuck but for you, you ol' Batsy boy. I have multibillions to do the intimidating for me." Tony smiled cockily and sipped the tumbler again.
Wayne's eyes narrowed and his jaw hardened. Tony's smile turned into a smirk and he slapped his hand on the bar top.
"I knew it! I was right! I did the math. The math is never wrong. Though I got to say Batsy you are one sneaky bastard. You're practically waving it in all their faces and they're still eating it with a spoon."
"This is exactly your problem, Stark. Your ego. It'll get you killed one day."
"Already has. Couple times actually. Did you know there's no actual white light? No grandma waving you in for a landing? It's just nothing… well that could be because that's not where I'm heading. At least according to some. Depends on who you ask."
"It's all a joke to you isn't it Stark? All a game? And you've given up your hand. Shown all your cards. They know who you are, what you do, where you live, how to find you."
"I like to play with all the chips on the table, you ought to try it Batsy. C'mon, admit it! You're dying to come out! You're just pissy that I beat you to it. Hey, there's more room at the table, man. Pull up a chair."
Wayne sneered. "You're an incorrigible spoiled brat."
"You forgot filthy stinking rich." Tony smiled and wiggled his eyebrows and then shrugged a shoulder. "And a nerd if where gonna do the whole name calling thing. Okay. My turn. Where to start. Where. To. Start…."
Wayne straightened up. "I tried to advise the League the futility of trying to reach out to a gang like you have going on, Stark. I tried to warn them that they're too arrogant and misguided to be set straight. The selfishness that you wear on your sleeve is rampant in the rest of your group, Stark. The way you sit around and soak up fame and media time. Team press conferences? Accepting awards? You're self serving. All of you."
Tony's smile stayed in place and he hummed a little as he swirled the gin around in his tumbler before downing it, then lifting Wayne's ignored drink and throwing it back in a single swallow. He set the crystal tumblers aside and focused all his attention on Wayne.
"Batsy, Batsy, Batsy… you've been holed up in that cave of yours for way to long. You've got the bends and its messing with your higher thinking."
Stark stepped around from the bar and started a slow walk towards Wayne. "See I'm not denying that I'm a diva and a camera hog and give 'em plenty of reason to run my name in the tabloids. And sure I had my years of sewing my wild oats and building weapons of mass destruction and generally making a drunken ass of myself in public. I could easily cite the work that my company has done in the Green Movement and the charitable donations, the functions and banquets and the dozens of giant checks I've handed over to research foundations and proactive movements. And I fully admit that after my kidnapping and epiphany in the deserts I built an amazing little piece of machinery that was part science experiment part an attempt at atoning for my sins as innumerable as they may be. But Batsy-"
Tony was right in front of Wayne by then. His head tilted back to look up at the taller man. Tony lifted a hand and tapped his knuckles against Wayne's sternum with a muffled thumpthumpthump.
"At least I admit it. We admit it. Steve knows he's a PTSD fucked version of Marty McFly. Thor knows he's a one man wrecking ball with a communication failure. Bruce knows he's a bookworm with hair trigger bipolarism. Natasha knows she's an ice queen, eat their hearts out with farva beans interrogations specialist and Clint know he's a justified serial killer that escaped from the local Renaissance Faire. We know. We admit it. Not just to ourselves but to everyone else. Wedon't hide ourselves away in empty mansions on hills, space docked club houses or in caves."
Tony tapped his knuckles against the arc reactor humming and glowing faintly blue through his greasy shirt. It clanged softly at the knocking. Tony gave a sardonic little smile.
"I'm gonna have to say that 'self-serving' isn't how I would describe us."
Wally West v. Bruce Banner
By the time Wally West made himself at home in Bruce's lab the gamma expert was expecting the visit. Word had made way through the Avenger team that the JLA was taking it on themselves to try and 'help' them.
Bruce knew that sooner than later someone would contact him. It was just who was brave enough to make the attempt that the doctor was waiting to see.
In the end it seemed not to be a matter of bravery and more a matter of recklessness.
Wally West didn't show up in a suit and tie as it had been reported the others had to Steve, Tony and Thor. West showed up fully dressed in his uniform as 'The Flash' and only causally dropped his cowl to give away his identity before he set to work touching and turning and knocking over everything in reach and beyond.
Bruce had done his best to be polite while West buzzed around excitedly, chattering at an otherwise silent Bruce.
"Bruce right? Or Hulk? I like Hulk. Or THE Hulk. Like THE Flash, yeah?" West's eyebrows wiggled up and down in a blur that gave Bruce a slight headache trying to watch.
"I'd prefer Doctor Banner."
West snorted and flicked a hand dismissively. "So you went to med school-"
"What?" He lifted a tablet full of calculations and started touching and swirling the notes on the screen around. Bruce quickly took it out of his hands and tried to straighten the altered work.
"I'm not that kind of doctor. I'm a physicist. A scientist. I'm not a medical doctor. Please don't touch any of the tablets or screens, they're full of gamma radiation equations."
"That's the stuff that turned you big green and mean right? Gamma radiation? While you were trying to remake the serum they used on Cap." West skipped over to a long array of blood agar cultures under a glass case. More than one was flooded with blooms of green growth.
"Yes." Bruce answered simply, watching warily. West seemed to pass over the blood agar and turned his attention to other experiments in the lab, zipping from one station to the next with Bruce trailing more sedately behind.
It was odd to Bruce, for once being the clean up crew behind another instead of being the one cleaned up after. It left him with a bemused cock to his head and minor accidents left and right to busy him along the way.
"Tough break huh? Well you seem to be handling it really well. They figured you were on a hair trigger, explode any moment kinda guy. Angry all the time right? I figured I would have had you all smash and bash already. You seem to have a pretty good handle on it. Very zen." West rambled out at he tapped a flask full of dark red fluid. Making it bubble and froth.
Bruce gently removed it from his reach. "Well Mister West that is somewhat dependent on circumstance. Were you sent here by your team or did you volunteer to seek me out?"
"… what does that have to do with anything?"
Bruce smiled a bit knowingly and gave a small shake of his head. "Nothing, I suppose. Mister West if you could tell me what you're here for? I'm very busy with a few new projects…"
"Right. Rightrightright." West side stepped into a table and jostled several bits of equipment all at once; Bruce flinched at the clatter of glass and metal. "Pretty sure you've heard the spiel from your buddies. JLA. Mentor. Teach you the ropes kinda thing."
"Yes. I heard that it wasn't going over well."
"Understatement, the rest of your team are real mules on the whole thing. That's where you come in. We figure you're a bit more level headed, might have a little more sway. Yanno, you're reasonable and you'll listen to the advice we have and pass it on to them, they'll get the idea, bing bang boom. Done."
Bruce stiffened a little. He'd spent the last few years of his life trying to avoid people trying to use him as a means to an end. It seemed no matter how hard he tried there would always be someone else. "I see."
West smiled dopily. "See! We knew you'd get it! It's not really any big deal, I mean c'mon, you have to admit that your team is kind of all over the place. I mean really, giving away your identities and the walking around town thing? Oh and the Tower. Strak's complex in Manhattan. That, that's just a bad idea."
Bruce narrowed his eyes slightly. "Is it?"
"Well yeah, it's a hundred foot high eyesore with you names on it and there's no security in the first few levels right? Open to the public, right?"
"Tony is a business man. I don't think he's supposed to expect his employees and partners to have to go through security checks just for meetings and shift work." Bruce reasoned.
"You know it's pretty stupid for all of you to stay together in that tower. Kind of a glaring 'hey, here we are!' to everyone that might want to take a bite out of it." West picked up and swirled a flask with pale purple liquid inside.
"I'm quite sure Tony will use what we learned from the incident in Manhattan to redesign the Tower a bit more safely. Please put that down." Bruce gently took the flask from him and set it back in the row.
"Still. It'd be smarter to spread out. Make yourselves less of a target since ya'll decided to go the 'let everyone know who we are' thing. Which is stupid, just so you know."
Bruce hummed and tried to deflect West away from a Bunsen Burner that gurgled softly. He quickly brushed the speedster's hand away from the gas control, turning it up far too high for safety. "I prefer it. Its home."
The doctor smiled a little nostalgically at the idea.
"It's better to be on the move. Mobility is the superhero's friend. Can't get pinned down, can't get cornered, always on call."
Bruce gave a very small smile and slight shake of his head, "Mister West, I've spent most of the last few years running and hiding and afraid. With Tony. With Steve, Thor, Clint and Nat… with them I feel like I have a home to turn to. I'm not going to run away from that."
Oliver Queen v. Clint Barton
Clint jerked awake at the sound of the knock and ring of the doorbell. He'd just been dozing off curled up with Steve on the couch and growled unhappily at being deprived.
The archer sighed tiredly and looked at the time. It was nearly two in the afternoon. Prime time for catching up on lost sleep from the mission the night before. Steve moved to get up and Clint pushed him back down as he unfolded himself and promised to be back shortly. He padded silently through the apartment to the door. He unlocked the chain and deadbolt and pulled open the door halfway. His hair mussed and clothes rumpled he yawned loudly, he blinked blearily at the day light.
There was a tall, broad shouldered man standing in the hall. He was in a neatly pressed suit of a dark gray green and a mint colored shirt. His blonde hair was swept back and gelled into place. His shoulders were wide, wider them Steve's and made him look unusually top heavy. The only thing about the stranger that caught Clint's attention were the tell tale scars on his jaw and cheek that suggested work with a bow. Just for that Clint gave himself a shake and tried to pay attention.
"Are you Clint Barton?"
"Yeah. Can I help you?"
The stranger gave him a very strange look. "Agent Clint Barton of SHIELD?"
Clint blinked and ticked his jaw, speaking slowly as if to a very dumb child. "… yeeeesssss."
The stranger's face hardened a bit. "Operating Specialist 'Hawkeye'?"
"… is there a question coming?"
"Agent Barton your address was in the phonebook. I walked into this building off the street. The lock on the front door was broken." The stranger seemed to be becoming annoyed.
Well… Clint was already annoyed. He made a mock sympathetic face. "Aww. Are you lost and need someone to walk you home?"
"You've said my name about ten times but I still don't know who you are." Clint nudged the door a bit wider and leaned on the door jam, crossing his arms. "Care to enlighten me?"
The stranger straightened up, giving his lapels a tug to sweep away nonexistent wrinkles. "My name is Oliver Queen. Though I'm better known as the Green Arrow."
If Queen was expecting some kind of awed response he was sorely mistaken and Clint continued to look at him in annoyed passivity. When Queen didn't continue Clint sighed and rubbed finger tips into his eye socket. "Is there a particular reason a billionaire politician is standing on this humble assassin's front stoop at one thirty in the afternoon or are you expecting me to guess? Which if I remember right when you ran for re-election a couple years back did not go over very well when they were asking you how to handle the deficit."
Queen flushed sharply. "I seen you're well informed on current news events."
Clint clicked his tongue and drawled in his Iowan dialect. "Well we're tryin' but there's a lot of switches 'n stuff."
Queen glared at him. Clint smiled a little then his face dropped back into that annoyed mask.
"What are you doing here, Mister Arrow? Is there a particular reason."
"Queen. I came on concern of your safety, Agent Barton. The members of the JLA have decided it would be wise that we seek members of your… 'Avengers' out and act as counselors and offer advice on how best to conduct yourselves. Beginning with your disregard for privacy and safety of your identity."
Clint lifted his hands and made air quotes, "You mean my 'secret identity'?"
Queen smiled slightly, clearly starting to think that Clint was warming up. "Yes. Considering that you're a part of an agency as powerful as SHIELD and with the addition of Mister Stark's technology we can easily erase your existence. As well as the rest of the team."
Clint pushed off the door jam and asked in a deadly voice. "Erase our existence?"
Queen straightened up. "Figuratively speaking, of course."
"… Ho-kay it's your name. Mister Queen. I really don't want to slam this door in your face so please leave."
Queen stuttered. "W-what?"
"Mister Queen, in my personal opinion is when you remove yourself from society that you start to forget what you're fighting for. See we, as a team, prefer to be here. With them. So we can see and are reminded every day as to what we're fighting for, putting our lives on the line for. Because is when you build a club house in the sky and look down on everything that those messiah complexes that we're all so afflicted with that they start to become a syndrome of 'holier than thou'. We, as a team, are not going to 'erase' our existence. In fact I'm pretty sure we're all doing our damndest to make sure our existence is as well known and felt every where we go. We're planning on making a difference and impression on everyone and everything around us, so that the ones that need our help aren't afraid to come for us at any time. And the ones that think they can come for us any time know to be afraid. Good bye Mister Queen."
Clint didn't slam the door but it snapped shut firmly and he padded back into the living room and dropped down onto the couch. He sighed and shut his eyes. Steve feathered a hand through Clint's hair. "Who was it?"
Clint yawned. "Some campaign door knocker looking for votes. Need to go down and replace the lock on the building door. Just anyone can walk in."
Natasha Romanova v. the JLA
To put it simply it was a failure.
The Justice League had set out to try and show themselves as good neighbors. Fosters. Mentors. To a group of men and a singular woman that no onehad been able to locate at all. Trying to offer up their experience and service and aid to the hodge podge little 'gang' out of New York City that had been thrown together by circumstance and force instead of choice. A group that in their first moments together had bickered to the point of destruction of several square miles of National Forest, a half crushed city and insurmountable property damage.
The League, for its troubles and attempts to offer their help and suggestions had not only been rejected completely, they had been shamed. Their pride as both individuals and a team, their practices and attitudes had been brought into question, examined and found wanting.
It was humiliating.
And now the League, cloistered away in their atmosphere stationed headquarters and well away from the 'Avenger Mania' taking place on firm ground far below were, for lack of a better term, sulking.
Except for Wayne. Wayne was fuming.
The League sat quietly together, trying to ignore the array of screens pulled up on the large viewer, showing off media coverage of the Avengers at work. Bruce and Tony announcing a new type of nanomicrobe that would eat pollution out of sewer systems and ocean water. Pictures of Thor sitting in a circle of children at an after school literacy program… a very reluctant Loki sitting next to him with a stack of books in his lap. Steve and Clint passing out packaged meals to homeless citizens while they waited to be checked into shelters. The media was in a frenzy. There were supposed scandals broadcasted on TMZ and Entertainment Tonight. Youtube full of videos ranging from tributes to please for marriage. Twitter and Facebook fan accounts with millions of members. CNN and BBC world new stations reported on the actions and movements of any one Avenger at any time.
The silent disapproval and awkwardness was broken up by a soft sigh from Kent as he looked around at the rest of the League. "We can't deny that it seems like they're doing something right."
Wayne looked about ready to leap over the table at him… when the screen gave a happy little chirp.
They looked up to an icon of a large envelope filling the screen. A cartooned image of a black spider in the center of the envelope danced a bit in place. There was an unmistakable red hourglass shape on the spider's back.
Without waiting for prompt the spider and envelope icon unfolded into a 'letter' a long email with several very official documents attached.
As the League read their faces turned white and their stomachs churned.
There in a simple list were all the identities, locations, home addresses, personal cell phone numbers, social security numbers, financial accounts and pins of every member of the Justice League. In alphabetical order.
Below it was a short letter written crisp and clear from the unseen sender.
Dear JL Assholes
Enclosed you will find the full roster list of the entirety of your little club. Including deceased members. This roster list is currently on a sealed data chip in an undisclosed location and will remain so as long as you heed the attached New York State Court issued restraining order. If you look you can clearly see it's signed by several judges in the circuit court, the mayor of New York and just for a little over kill, the President of the United States. The gist of it states if you approach Missers Steven Rogers, Anthony Stark, Robert Banner, Thor Odinsson or Clinton Barton, or any future individuals named as 'Avengers' then we'll out your asses on the front page of the New York Times and Tony's Twitter account.
Leave us alone.
Natasha Romanova – The Black Widow
Attached to the letter at the very bottom was a picture of the Avenger's team, arms slung over each other's shoulders, making faces and smiling brightly at the camera; perched awkwardly on the edge of a fountain in Central Park and seeming hanging onto each other to keep from toppling into the water.
Even in the photograph Natasha's sharp eyes seemed to look straight at the Justice League.
A/N: This was FAR too much fun to write. For the record I do actually like a fair few of DC's projects and storylines and characters. But well... yeah I couldn't help it. Hope y'all liked!
PS: Natasha is totally BAMF.