Timeline: Takes place right after Prisoner of Sinestro but before Loss.
Disclaimer: Sometimes I borrow these characters but I never pimp them out.
Full disclosure: English is not my first language, in case things "sound" strange.
"Sooo... Razer... what's up?"
The Red Lantern groaned loudly and rolled his eyes at the human's infuriating attempt to make small talk. If there was anything he truly hated about Hal Jordan, it was his manic obsession with making friends with everybody.
"How is everything? You know we've hardly had a chance to talk since you rejoined the crew"
"A decision I regret more and more with every passing second" Razer grumbled, making his way through the dark and dank tunnel.
They had just landed on a jungle planet that supposedly held another lost Manhunter cache. They made their way through the foliage, using their rings to clear a path, until finally they found the abandoned building complex. Aya lead the group inside using her sensors to track the Manhunter homing signals. Razer and Hal formed the centre of the party, with Kilowog guarding their backs.
"Ah come on. We have some fun together"
Razer chose not to dignify that remark with an answer. He merely glared from the corner of his eye.
'Uh, side-glare. One of your more exotic choices" Jordan commented.
Razer simply huffed and turned his eyes forward, hoping the human will take the hint to stop talking.
"So listen, I wanted to ask you. You do have hormones right?"
Razer full-on stared at the human, completely stupefied by the question. His attention distracted, he stumbled on a protruding boulder and nearly fell on his face.
"Easy there slugger"
"Jordan... I'm sorry, but you are so not my type it's not even amusing" Razer said trying to regain his dignity.
"Ha, funny. I'm just checking because you know, your physiology is weird to say the least... and I don't really know how your uhm... things work. Maybe you don't even have a... lantern in your pants so to speak"
"Please stop talking!" Razer pleaded.
"I just want to check I didn't give Aya any false information"
"Aya? What are you talking about?"
"Well... during that whole Neuroxis episode she was really stumped because you were acting friendly towards her so I gave her the whole shpiel about boys and hormones"
"That wasn't me!" Razer said slightly more panicked than would be dignified.
"I know, I know. But still... if you do have them and if they you know... make you so inclined as to act in a certain way around Aya..."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. We are just friends" Razer quickly cut off the human.
Hal threw Razer his best "yeah right" look, evident even through his mask, especially from the way he was pursing his lips.
"And back on Odym you went into god-rage-mode because you saw your friend being hurt. I suppose you would've reacted the same way if it was me or Kilowog being zapped by a Manhunter"
Razer chose not to answer that. Because he didn't know if he was that good of a liar as to answer yes and get away with it.
"And when you saved Aya on Oa you used what... the friendship transport?"
Razer opened his mouth ready to protest but then quickly snapped it shut. There was no way he was debating his way out of that one. He was definitely not that good of a liar. So he resolved to not feed the troll that was Hal Jordan and ignore him until they reached the Manhunters. They walked in silence for a few minutes until Hal finally spoke up:
"Okey, I did not want to do this, but you leave me no choice. I'm going to have to resort to... feelings"
Razer threw Hal an exasperated look, as if to say "are you completely daft?". The human however surprised him when he turned completely serious.
"Carol broke up with me" he whispered staring into the ground, his voice sounding strained and ready to crack.
Razer was surprised by the confession but empathized with the human in spite of himself.
"I'm... sorry to hear that"
"Yeah... I don't blame her, you know. It's this life. It was too much for her. Waiting for me for months, not knowing if I'll come back at all. I mean who wants to live like that?"
Hal remained quiet for a while, still trapped in his own hurt over the separation.
"Don't get me wrong. I love what I do, what we do. Fighting bad guys, saving the galaxy. I love the hero shtick, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I'd be lying if I said I don't love her, and I don't want her to be there for me when I need her. Because if I were completely honest, I think I deserve it. I'm a decent guy, right? I mean, I beat down Atrocitus... I'm fighting Manhunters... I'm saving the universe! Can't I have this one thing? This one person?"
"No, I can't. Because it's not fair towards her. I can't ask that of her, you know. I can't ask her to give up her life on Earth to wait around for me, until one day I show up in a coffin after she wasted her best years looking at the stars instead of... living. If I were in her place, as awesome as I am, I'd dump me too"
Razer realised that he'd never seen Hal Jordan look quite so... powerless. He always seemed so sure of himself. Razer still wasn't sure how the human's romantic woes had anything to do with him. Jordan quickly cleared that up.
"The point is if you find somebody that you care about and that cares about you and it's somebody who can share in every aspect of your life... then you can't afford to waste that opportunity. You and Aya... you've got this thing, and I've noticed it for a while. Maybe I'm a big ol' softy, maybe what happened between me and Carol has destroyed what little sanity I had left... but I want you two to work it out. I want you to beat the odds."
"Jordan, I don't think..."
"She's going to get curious about this stuff eventually", Jordan quickly interjected. "And I'd be more comfortable if I knew she's with you"
"You would!?" Razer asked flabbergasted.
"You're a good kid. Scratch that, you're a good man. Yeah, you have a temper and you smell funny, but when push comes to shove I know you would risk life and limb for the people that you care about. I know you would die before letting any harm come to her"
"What do you mean I smell funny?" Razer asked, trying to ignore the good mood that was threatening to take him over.
"What I'm trying to get at is... you have my respect. Now you have my blessing"
"And the sergeant feels the same way you do?" Razer asked raising an eyebrow.
"Well, maybe not exactly the same way... But in some ways he's an even bigger softy than I am. Don't worry about Kilowog. I'll handle him."
"Well, that is a very generous offer Hal Jordan, and I appreciate your... input on the matter. The answer is yes, by the way"
"Yes, you'll pursue these feelings?"
"Yes, I have hormones."
Hal Jordan howled with laughter and then slapped Razer on the back.
"Fine, I'll take that as a hint to close the subject... I'll just say this. You can't use me or Kilowog as an excuse to be a lazy ass any more. There's nothing in your way now. Nothing", Hal said determined and considered he said his piece and now it was simply up to the kid.
Razer knew that Hal had all the best intentions, but at the same time he felt the human clearly was underestimating how complicated the situation was. Of course, he didn't know the whole story... He spotted Aya's boosters through the fog and the dust, the android hovering in front of them as they made their way through the tunnel. Razer stared at the glow pensively, while Hal's words were ringing in his ears:
There's nothing in your way.
"Green Lantern Hal Jordan I have discovered the Manhunter remains" Aya shouted back at them.
"Remains?" Hal asked puzzled and increased the pace.
The tunnel lead to an altar room similar to the ones they had already seen. The Manhunters had been removed from their resting places where they sat lodged in the walls. Their feet remained there, while the rest of them were scattered around the floor of the hall. Bits and pieces of armor, cables, scraps and shards of metal formed an ocean of electronic debris.
"Looks like it was an all you can eat Manhunter buffet" Hal remarked.
All of the members of the party picked up remnants for inspection. Kilowog finally caught up with them and looked around shocked.
"What the frack happened here?" he asked astounded."Who did this? Can we get them on our side!?"
"I don't think so big guy, look at these crude cutting methods. These guys weren't professionals, they were just really determined. Who does that remind you of?"
Kilowog thought for a second and then his huge mouth snapped open when he realised wha they were dealing with.
"Space pirates!? Here?! Gotta hand it to the poozers, they got guts taking apart Manhunters when the crummy things are invading the galaxy"
"Lanterns, may I direct your attention to this Manhunter helmet component" Aya said holding up a medium-sized shard of metal.
"What is it Aya?" Hal asked.
"It is 30% hotter than standard room temperature in this area"
"What does that mean?" Kilowog asked puzzled.
"It means it is still warm" Hal replied and felt a shiver run down his back.
Right on cue, six space pirates riding hoverbikes barrelled into the room and separated to face the Lanterns. Kilowog and Hal adopted defensive stances and raised shields against the space pirates crude but effective laser-weaponry. Razer and Aya launched themselves into the air, with two of the attackers going after them, attempting to separate them.
"Hey, we don't want any trouble" Hal shouted over the sound of laser-blasts being fired and smashing into his hardlight-shield, dissipating.
"We just came here for the Manhunters, just surrender what you scavenged from them and we'll leave you alone. No hard feelings"
The pirates ran circles around Kilowog and Hal Jordan. The bolovaxian extended his own forcefield which came to include Hal's own defensive projections. The dome-like hardlight manifestation was spreading out, with the two Green Lanterns in the center, slowly pushing the pirates further and further away. The attackers were still firing their laser-guns at the dome, their salvas just dissipating into the green light.
The dome brusquely expanded, and knocked over three of the bikes and their riders. Razer made short work of the two following him, just by targeting the drivers with a couple of short blasts. Those bikes were maneuverable, but not necessary fast, especially since they were cobbled together from all sorts of stolen parts. Razer and Aya came back down and next to their friends, who were staring down the last space pirate still mounted on his hoverbike.
"Now will you listen to me?" Hal asked rather politely.
"Listen to this" the helmeted dark figure said and dropped a device on the ground.
The device looked like an improvised grenade. The group quickly sheltered themselves with shields. Their measures of protection were however useless against a sonic bomb. The subsonic waves hit them at full force, and every organic not wearing protection felt like their brains had just been turned into pain-flavored jello. Kilowog, Hal Jordan and Razer clutched their ears in agony and then crashed to the ground.
Aya was not affected by the sonic blast and moved to capture the last space pirate when he raised a lance-like weapon and shot an energy net at her. His ears ringing painfully, Razer watched Aya fall down, her body twitching uncontrollably. Her safety was the last thing on his mind before losing consciousness.
He was the last one to came to. He had no idea how much time had passed, but the space pirates were gone. He got up slowly, still slightly dazed, his ears ringing but at least he could hear. There was some commotion behind him. When he turned around, Razer saw Kilowog and Hal Jordan with out-stretched arms approaching Aya slowly, the robot cowering in a corner. Aya for some reason looked terrified, but what would terrify her about Hal Jordan and KIlowog?
"What is going on?" Razer said making his way towards the group.
"Razer!" Aya shouted excitedly.
She ran up to him and hugged him tightly. Razer was shocked at the display of affection. He tentatively hugged her back, but soon found himself lacking air since Aya's robot strength was more than enough to crush his sternum.
"Aya, I'm... touched, but I'd really like to be able to breathe now"
She eased her grip and looked up at him. The enthusiasm from earlier disappeared from her features. Her eyes were teary and her lips trembled. This was not like Aya at all.
"Why is everybody calling me that?" she asked and cupped his face. Razer practically flinched, unused to the android being so familiar.
"Razer... it's me. It's Ilana..."
AN: I'm really crap at titles.