Hours later, he's standing between Red Arrow and Red Tornado and trying to pull a con on Vandal Savage.
It's a bad idea.
Vandal Savage has seen every con in the book. Hell, he saw them before there were books. You don't survive 50,000 years without seeing a thing or two.
He's got his mask back … the mask he swore he would never wear again, and he's actually grateful because it's even better than his poker face. He needs that. He needs that because Savage has his little girl, his Jade …
Red Arrow—Roy—had told him that she had been one of the first people he'd infected with Starrotech. He had looked away when he said it. He had looked like he had expected to be hit for what he had done … possibly even killed.
And if he had still been the Sportsmaster, still been the man he had been when Paula was alive, then Red Arrow would have died right then.
But he wasn't that man any longer, and Roy—clone or not—was one of his kids now.
So he had hugged the younger man and said, "We'll get her back."
He had expected that Savage would have sent Jade out on a mission—they had already found that The Light had sent six of the Justice League off to do God knows what, God knows where—so he was surprised to see her standing at Savage's side, wearing a dress that left little to the imagination.
To his credit, Roy keeps his face expressionless, but he's as tense as a drawn bow.
He understands that. Hell, he shares it.
If Savage had touched his little girl, if he had hurt his little girl, then, immortal or not, Savage would die.
But if he let his anger free now the mission is going to fail—if Savage is onto them too soon than the Team won't have time to finish this mission of subduing and reclaiming the Justice League. So he does his best to bite down on his rage, to throttle his desire to rip out Savage's throat with his teeth, and does his best to act like a good little drone.
Klarion the Witch Boy is with Vandal and Jade. He's not happy about that. The little psychopath is a powerful enough mage to wage battle against Doctor Fate and not get his butt kicked in five seconds. The one thing they'll have going for them is that the witch brat is too impulsive to use his powers strategically.
"Any problems?" Savage asks them after one long look. His hand is lightly resting on Jade's shoulder.
He can see it in Savage's eyes. He's known Savage too long. He can see the smirk for what it is … but they still have to buy the team time.
"Nothin' too much. The kids got in a few good licks, but we took 'em out."
Tornado goes on to sprout his patter about the Team awaiting reprogramming on Earth, and Savage give him enough rope to hang himself … calling out one of the Green Lanterns to lock them down.
But he still keeps himself from moving, from acting. They don't expect much from him—not even Savage. After all, to them he's just a man … and one that had been crippled for years at that.
So he waits for his moment, knowing that each second that Savage rants is another that the Team has to reclaim the League.
So he doesn't try to break free from the Lantern. He doesn't resist when they put the Starrotech on them again … he doesn't resist because he's looking forward to the moment that he shows Savage who he's dealing with.
Ironically enough, it's Klarion—no one's poster boy for "Mr. Observant" who points out to Savage they aren't back under control—right after detecting the Team's presence on the satellite.
"You're slipping, Vandal!" He can't resist the taunt as he slams the blunt end of his javelin into a surprised Lantern's gut and slapping the cure onto his neck even as he knocks him out.
"Jade, deal with your father. Klarion, the children have clearly engineered a cure for the Starrotech. We no longer have to worry about taking them alive. Recall the League and have them put an end this."
The Witch brat recalls six of the League from wherever the Light had sent them—bad news it's Superman, Wonder Woman, the other Green Lantern, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter, and The Bat, and he knows that things are going to get rough.
Jade leaps at him and lashes out with a killing blow.
It's sloppy, and he knows that his little girl would be embarrassed if she was in control of herself. She hasn't been that bad since she was a little more than a toddler.
He slips past her guard and hits her with the cure and she drops to the floor.
Of course that's the only good thing going for him right then—in the time that it took him to take down Jade, both of the Reds have taken out by the League.
He's all alone.
"Lawrence, I am sorely disappointed with you. I went to the trouble of restoring your legs to you, allowed you to dally with that woman you're infatuated with, and you betray me. I thought we were friends."
"You don't do anything out of the goodness of your heart, Vandal." He should shut up. He should back down. Maybe a little groveling would save his life, but he doesn't have it in him. No, all he wants now is to buy the Team time—and keep his daughters alive. "If you were my friend you wouldn't have dressed my daughter up like some cheap tart."
"Yes, it was a bit gaudy, I admit, but I thought that Ras would appreciate it if she went to him giftwrapped."
He knows that Savage is riding him, but he can't help himself. "The Shadows will never get my girls! Never!" He throws the javelin right at Savage's twisted black heart …
And of course the immortal caveman catches it with one hand.
"Lawrence, Lawrence, your children have made you weak. You could have been my right hand. You could have had all the wealth and power you could have ever desired."
"I'd have been a lot poorer than I am now, Vandal." He doesn't have money—he doesn't have a future beyond Artemis' 18th birthday—but he has girls. He has his girls, and he's had the Team on his side, and that's worth more to him than any gold or power that Savage would have ever given him.
He's going to die.
Savage has the League. He has Klarion.
And Lawrence Crock only has his himself...
He tosses his mask off and flashes a feral grin at the caveman.
And Vandal Savage … blinks.
"C'mon, Vandal. Enough with the foreplay. Let's get to the main event. Let's dance!"
He's going to die.
But every minute—every second—he gives the Team brings them that much closer to saving the League, to saving Jade. Hell, maybe even saving the world.
Sometimes, you don't have to live to win.
I love you, kids.
And then Lawrence Crock does what he's always done best:
Fight for the people he loves.