An/ This has been sitting on my computer for a while now and I figured that is was about time that I shared it. Hope you all like this one and I'm definitely thinking of writing some more 'Other Trinity' pieces once I get a little more time. I've always loved the relationship between Wally, John and Shayera. Anyway hope you like this one.
All characters belong to their respective owners and of course, not to me :)
"Come on Shay!" Wally whined at her with that quivering lip of his, but her expression remained set in stone as she concentrated on the monitor before her. About half a minute ago she had decided to begin ignoring him and hoping that, like a bad smell, he might just go away. It would seem that Wally was far more skillful at lingering in comparison to a rather potent fragrance. "I can't just go on my own." He seemed to take on a whole new level of whimpering at that point.
Pinching the bridge of her nose and attempting to compose what little patience she had left into a workable and malleable piece of tolerance, Shayera glanced up at her red clad team mate. "Flash…I'm not going to say this again. I'm not going." The emphasis upon the word 'not' seemed to carry little weight with her present company. She was sure he didn't listen to such things.
"I wouldn't ask unless I really needed a hand, besides," his voice took on a higher, chipper note that made her instantly grimace with the knowledge that he was about to drop some kind of bombshell. "It'll be good for you, you know…get you out of the tower."
To her left she noticed Black Canary smile ever so slightly as if she were silently agreeing with the younger hero and she could literally feel herself retracting just a little despite herself.
"I go out of the tower." She replied rather defensively apparently forgetting the chirping monitor behind her that told her another Javelin had entered the bay, surprisingly in one piece. Javelins didn't seem to have a fantastic track record to the pain of Bruce Wayne's seemingly bottomless wallet. Sometimes she wondered if there was a bottom to his finances, she doubted it though.
Wally leaned his weight onto one arm, pressing his palm into the monitors as he looked down upon her, his lensed eyes scrutinising her rather carefully as if he knew that she withheld some kind of secret. A few seconds more of his gaze and she reluctantly turned her head, something she wouldn't have done if Wally had been wrong. It was true, she didn't leave as much as she should, often times only going out into the open if there were some kind of crisis occurring. Internally she begged for one right now, anything to get her away from Wally's broadside…heck she'd even take on Batman in the training rooms in comparison to being confronted with the uncomfortable truth of her unsociable behaviour.
"Just as I suspected." He chimed rather victoriously before zipping to her other side in the blink of an eye "So does that mean you'll come?"
Instilled with a new surge of confidence Flash was indeed far more encouraged about winning this battle than he had been previously, his eyes glimmering behind his mask as Shayera very slowly nodded her head.
"But," She raised a finger to gain his attention "I reserve the right to leave at any time."
Grinning, Flash mock saluted her happy enough that she would at least come with him. "You'll love it Shay, I know you will."
"Yeah well…we'll see about that Hotshot." Mildly she smiled to herself, she'd always liked how John called the Speedster a hotshot, it was rather fitting she thought. As her scarlet friend zipped off for a split second to discuss something with J'onn, Shayera thought about John. With a painful pang she remembered the conversation they had shared outside of Vixen's hospital room. She slowly pushed it away when she sensed the air move about her.
"J'onn's given us the A-Okay." Flash informed her brightly, "I'll meet you in the Metro Tower Hall in an hour alright?"
Answering a call on the comm link from Dr Light, Shayera nodded and waved him briskly off.
An hour later and she had kept her promise. Freshened up from a shower and changed, Shayera waited in the Metro Tower Main Hall for her scarlet and long-time friend. He really had become something of a brother to her, granted she wasn't sure what it was like to have siblings or how one felt about or interacted with them, but from her knowledge and observation of humans she had decided that Wally was what she imagined a brother to be like. Behind her the reception desk buzzed and chattered with all kinds of communication, some were on phones, others on comms, some were even loitering and talking with some of the costumes that stopped on their way through. She watched them for a few minutes out of interest, she didn't really stop to chat with any of the civilian workers, she didn't really stop to chat with costumes either. At this point she released a sigh out of her nose. She was used to being a social recluse it was in her nature, but despite that she didn't have as much social interaction now compared to when they were only seven. Back then they had been a close knit group who talked often or even simply sat together in contented silence as they worked or read or simply sat about, napping in the recreation room or picking on Flash for being a slob. Now she didn't even feel that close to them anymore, never mind the countless others that moved between the Watchtower and Metro tower.
She had been so absorbed in her thoughts that she hadn't even felt the rush of air that signaled Flash's arrival. Her feathers bristled slightly before they relaxed back into a generally smooth texture.
"Hey…you okay?" Wally asked in concern as he caught the expression on her face as it moved from concentrated and likely brooding thought, to startled and then to her regular and carefully neutral one.
"Fine." He was expertly brushed off by her as she began to walk towards the teleportation pads so that they could be sent to Central City. It might have been easier and more convenient from the Watchtower but Wally had been called to a last minute mission in the local area.
He followed her up to the pads, grinning all the while and not just because he was happy that she was joining him, he also smiled to encourage her to smile too. Having known her for as long as he had, he had learned how to make her relax and how to make her smile and he ensured that whenever they were together, that was what he did. It wasn't long before he was rewarded with a quiet smile from her, it wasn't great but it was a start, he only hoped that everything would work out this evening and wouldn't bring her further down than he already knew she was on the inside. Once in position on the pads, they were instantaneously transported to Central City, their specific location a small and easily overlooked alleyway that allowed them to arrive with little detection.
"So, where we headed?" Shayera asked with little enthusiasm although she had tried to cut the nervous edge out of her voice. Truth be told she was as nervous as hell, anxious and tetchy. She was sure if her senses and nerves were any closer to the edge she just might snap and lash out at the nearest object…likely Flash. Acknowledging this observation, she doubled her efforts to stay calm. It wouldn't be fair for her to lash out at him, verbally or otherwise, because he had been there for her through and through, always.
"It's not far," He was already walking toward the opening of the alley, a casual demeanor about him as he encouraged her to join him. "Look, I know you're uncomfortable but you can't stay cooped up forever Shayera."
She looked towards him expecting that all of her reservations about this event were written quite plainly upon her features. Shayera had always been a reserved creature in regards to her inner feelings and emotions, for a Thanagarian they just weren't things you shared willy-nilly. On rare occasions she had been able to open up, even if it was only to the likes of Wally or even John when things had been friendlier between them. Being emotionally intimate had been something that she had learned from Earth and more specifically its inhabitants. She just wished that it didn't make her feel so very foolish.
"Wally," Her voice was hardly above a hushed whisper in part because of their closeness to the public, but also because of how hard the next few words would be to say "I…I don't think I can take much more."
Wally focused on her, his expression soft but concerned. He'd known for a while now that there was more going on with her than she let on. Silently he approached her at normal speed, he didn't zip and he didn't rush to her like a gust of unexpected wind, just walked to her calmly and for an instant she thought it was the strangest thing in the world. With one practiced gesture he reached up and slipped back the cowl of his costume, a pair of green eyes and a shock of red hair not unlike her own being revealed. It wasn't often that she saw his face, at least it wasn't anywhere near as often as she saw him in the cowl, but oddly enough every detail of his features were familiar to her. He truly was like a brother to her.
Without a word he took her wrists gently in his gloved fingers and tugged her into his arms, a strong embrace being wrapped about her as he comforted her. It was like the hug he had given her before she had departed for places unknown all those years ago, all warmth and reassurance. She was reminded again of how unshakably supportive he had been towards her. She squeezed him tightly in return.
In the darkened alley, Wally maintained their privacy by continuing to keep his voice low, something quite unusual for him.
"I don't know what to tell you Shayera," He held her a little more securely "I know it's hard, but you can't hide away all of the time…that's not the Shayera I know." He smiled at her kindly.
She felt stupid for feeling so nervous about a simple matter, but after almost three years of hateful and fearful eyes, she had become increasingly more reluctant to meet people, to make friends, to laugh and smile. She often felt as if she didn't deserve to.
Gently she broke from him and smiled tightly up at him "It's okay," She reassured softly "I'm just…" In truth she wanted to say that she was emotionally exhausted, what with Carter and John and the memories that weren't hers and Vixen, and so many other things…it was all starting to become too much.
"I know, Shay…and you know what?" he grinned at her with his trademark goofy grin, a glint in his bright eyes she often couldn't see behind the white lenses "If it doesn't work out, I'll take you to dinner. My treat."
With a playfully raised eyebrow Shayera smirked "I think I'll hold you to that."
"Wouldn't have it any other way." With a final reassuring smile he pulled the cowl back up over his red head and green eyes, shutting away for now the happy visage of Wally West who, like the Flash, would be there for her in any and every situation. It made her realise why she went so far out of her way to watch his back.
From that point onward the pair of them made their way towards the street, a few startled glances being thrown their way by some passers-by who having identified them in an instant, paid them little attention except to warmly greet the resident speedster. Central City was a clean and well-kept city, there was little to no litter, few stragglers upon the streets and very little graffiti as far as she could see. Despite all of this, her keen observation skills told her that despite appearances this was the rougher end of town.
"It's hard around here." Flash shared with her as if he had been reading her thoughts "It's really tough on the people."
Her response was to nod, again she was reminded of how big his heart was, how utterly caring he was to those he felt deserved it. Wally had a big heart that she was sure competed with Clark's, the pair of them in a stalemate. Sometimes the two of them intrigued and confused her. She often wondered how they could be so deeply caring and how they could offer so much of themselves to other people, strangers even. Then again they were all costumed heroes who spent almost every day of their lives defending and fighting for those who couldn't do it for themselves, it was what she loved to do ever since coming to Earth and devising an existence here. She loved fighting for people who truly needed and appreciated her. It was such a difference in comparison to battling ferociously for an Empire that saw her as more of an asset than as an individual. Here she had been able to make a real difference. She had made more of an impact here, as she was, than she had ever done on Thanagar being so many different people.
"And here we are."
Shayera looked up to see Flash in the beginnings of opening a door to a rundown looking building. It was small in comparison to those around it, its brickwork looking old and in need of replacing in areas, the roof rustic looking and the general colour of the building had clearly faded over time until it blended in with its neighbouring buildings. Above their heads was a simple sign that was hanging wonkily, a few letters missing but the title being readable regardless.
'Central City Community Centre.'
Together they stepped over the threshold, a musty foot mat upon the entrance ready and prepared to obtain any of the grime from the streets, both of them dutifully wiping their feet without needing to be asked. The first thing that struck Shayera about this place before anything else was the smell. As soon as she had stepped into the warmth of the building the first thing that had hit her was the smell of cooking food, coupled with the warmth it felt so innately comforting. Once she took the time to assess more of the building, she discovered that a corner of the room had been set up as a small kitchen area, a unit of small counters and work surfaces providing ample space for the preparation and cooking of their ingredients. The stoves although old looking, seemed loyal and reliable as they provided heat into the large metal pans that were set upon them, boiling soup bubbling away contentedly and suffusing the air with a concoction of smells.
"Hey Brenda, I hope you don't mind that I brought a friend along?" Flash was by the kitchen talking to a lady who seemed to be in her early to mid-fifties, her stature taller than that of Shayera's.
At first Brenda seemed unsure of this new guest but it would appear that Flash's smile didn't just affect her. With a smile Brenda placed her hands on her hips casually.
"A friend of yours is a friend of mine." With a step she approached Shayera and continued to smile "I can't thank you enough for giving up some time to help us out here, we could use all the hands we can get."
Surprised and humbled, Shayera smiled in return "It's my pleasure." On an afterthought she added "Besides, I know what a terrible cook he is."
Brenda chuckled warmly "I can't say that he has demonstrated any outstanding culinary skills, but what do you expect when he's always in such a damn hurry."
"Hey!" Wally complained but it never took the amusement and happiness from the corners of his mouth "I eat food, I don't make it."
"Uh huh." Brenda teased and the three of them grinned as if they'd known each other for longer than a handful of minutes. "If you'd follow me Hawkgirl, I'll find you an apron…that is of course if you don't mind?"
"Not at all, but please…its Shayera." She followed Brenda around and into the small kitchen where a bright, colourful apron was procured for her. As she accepted it gratefully, she couldn't help but be astounded by the people here. They were all so friendly and accepting, so willing to help and talk regardless who to. Shayera found herself being deeply appreciative of them.
It took less than ten minutes for Brenda to introduce Shayera to the other volunteers at the soup kitchen, but it took Flash at least an hour to introduce her to all of the people that were there for their warm evening meal. There were so many of them, young and old and in all kinds of conditions. Maurice, a tall and proud man, yet worn by illness and the years he had spent on the streets, was as friendly as they came and he had not hesitated an instant in holding out a holey, woolen gloved hand to her in greeting.
When the time came and the soup was ready to serve, Shayera returned to the small kitchen taking up her agreed position behind one of the large pots, a ladle in hand and a stack of bowls to her right. Julie, the next volunteer down was prepared with over a dozen crusty loaves of bread, thick slices having been cut to accompany the hearty soup they were about to serve. Regardless of the hunger she was sure these people were experiencing simply from the brief discussions she had shared with them earlier, every single man, woman and child lined up and queued without complaint, each one shuffling along the stations that gifted them with a bowl and spoon, a generous helping of soup and a doorstop like crust of bread. As each person came before her and with each ladle full of soup she poured, Shayera talked with them, shared smiles and small talk, accepted their gratitude as she told them that they were more than welcome…and with each face that smiled, Shayera felt just a little more of her knit back together.
In time when every table was full along with every bowl and soon to be, every stomach, Shayera helped clean the kitchen, her hands working mechanically as her mind pondered over many things she hadn't considered for quite some time. The people here had been dealt some of the harder cards in life. Some of them like Maurice had been homeless and living on the streets for many years. It reminded her of the time she had spent alone and exiled, the time seeming so minute in comparison. It did however enable her to understand, if only just a little, the kinds of lives these people must live.
Beside her Shayera heard Brenda laugh softly in her throat, when Shayera turned to see what was causing her mirth, she smiled. The community centre was filled to the brim with people, every one of them talking, laughing and eating and amongst them a red clad Wally West sat and talked with them as if he had known them his whole life. He laughed with them, he smiled with them, he even ate with them and shared stories with the children of his superhero exploits as they looked on in awe at their hero and the spark of hope he ignited in their hearts.
"You know, he comes here almost every week." Brenda stated with a deep sense of respect and appreciation "I've never known him to miss a Soup night unless something really important had come up."
Shayera nodded her head, she knew all too well how much time he gave to others, he visited the local Orphanage as often as he volunteered here.
"Things have been tough around here, what with money and work being hard to come by." Brenda talked on and Shayera listened "The kids have the hardest time. Many of the orphans get caught up with the wrong sorts and end up wrapped up in drugs and gangs." Brenda sighed deeply "He gives everyone hope even if it is just by showing up."
Brenda's words suddenly hit Shayera somewhere, struck her with a sudden clarity she hadn't been anticipating and she suddenly realised how self-absorbed and selfish she had been. All of this time, ever since the invasion, she had felt guilty, resentful, had been miserable to the point of almost ending her life. Even after re-joining the league she still weighed herself down with her regrets and her mistakes, betrayals and heartbreaks, and all the while there were people like the ones before her now who had so much less than her, yet so much more. It made her put aside her worries of people's contempt, it made her put aside some of her guilt and resentment, because she still had so much when they had so little. She realised that she had friends, those she would call family that she could be as close to as she once was if she just let them in. She also had a place to live, a job and the potential for so many other things.
"Thank-you for letting me help tonight, Brenda." Shayera said suddenly as everything in her mind molded together into understanding.
Brenda smiled "No, thank-you." The two shared a brief moment where there seemed to be equal amounts of gratitude and perhaps understanding on either side before Brenda broke the silence "How about you grab yourself some soup and settle down someplace, I'm sure there's a seat for you somewhere."
Minutes later and Shayera was sitting at one of the crooked tables, her wings pulled in close to prevent her from bumping the other patrons. All around her were various people, all of them talking and including her in their conversations as if she wasn't sitting there with a pair of large wings and a pair of eyes that were more intense in colour than any human ones. For hours on end they all talked, they told her of their pasts, of wars they fought, of jobs they'd had, of the dreams they still had, and in exchange she shared with them some of her own experiences and stories. A sharing of information between them all that somehow created an unmistakable bond between them.
It was late when the two of them left, or perhaps it was early, the stars were still out in their full glory.
"Wasn't as bad as you thought, was it?"
The pair of them were sat upon the roof of one of Central City's higher buildings, Wally sitting quite happily on a jutting rise that was home to a roof access door, while Shayera perched comfortably along the building's edge.
"No…Can't say that it was." She replied thoughtfully as she picked at her pizza topping. Despite having joined the others at the community centre in the consumption of soup, Wally had still been quite hungry. It only seemed right that they ordered a pizza from the nearest pizza place.
Wally smiled at her, a quiet smile as if he were remembering a happy memory "Do you remember when the three of us used to do stuff like this all the time?"
By 'the three of us', he meant her, John and himself. Before the invasion and when everything went so horribly wrong, the three of them used to pick a night a week when they were free from monitor duty and sit together somewhere high up where they could see entire cityscapes. It seemed like such a long time ago now.
Filled with bittersweet nostalgia, Shayera nodded her head "Guess it's just the two of us now." She couldn't expect that John could join them and even if he could she doubted that it would be like old times.
"I guess so," Wally said slowly before putting his pizza slice to one side. "You know John misses you, don't you?"
Her attention remained focused on the starry landscape, the lights of the city off and leaving it cast in the foggy dimness of street lights. Tonight's work with Wally in the soup kitchen had opened her eyes about a lot of things, for one thing how much energy she had been putting into feeling sorry for herself.
"It doesn't matter," She replied softly, after a long pause she added "I had forgotten how beautiful it was here at night."
Wally grinned at that as if she had personally given him praise, Central City was his home city after all.
"You want to start doing stuff like this again?" He asked her brightly as he reached again for his previously discarded pizza slice, a sense of comfort and contentment befalling him as he settled in the moment.
"Yeah, Wally…I think I do."