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Glow

by David Hearne

From: David Hearne <ottercrk@sover.net> Subject:
Date: Saturday, January 31, 2004 11:15 AM

TITLE: GLOW (2 of 2)

AUTHOR: DAVID HEARNE

CLASSIFICATION: Justice League/Sandman Crossover

RATING: PG

Send feedback to ottercrk@sover.net

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"So," Hawkgirl said, "we have to keep our hands off each other."

"I'm the one being tested. Technically, I have to keep my hands off you."

"Ah. Does this mean I get to strip naked and sit on your lap?"

"I would rather you didn't at the moment."

"I know, I know." Hawkgirl sighed. "So, what are we going to tell the others?"

"That I'm being tested by Desire. No need to get into specifics."

"Does it matter? I think the whole League knows about us already."

"Then there's still no need. We don't have to bring it up."

And Green Lantern didn't. When he told the League about his encounter with Desire, Flash started to say, "Yeah, but what exactly do you have to..." Then he stopped himself, coughed and looked at the wall. Superman scratched his nose. J'Onn slowly nodded. Wonder Woman looked at Hawkgirl, then at Green Lantern and said, "Very well." Batman just stared.

"My test lasts for one week," Green Lantern said. "I'll be able to go that long, no sweat."

"Desire is the most treacherous of the Endless," Wonder Woman cautioned. "Be wary of any traps."

"I will. No one's going to catch me with my pants down."

Hawkgirl and Green Lantern winced at the same time. Flash coughed again. Superman became very interested in his cape. Wonder Woman blinked. There was just the hint of a smile on Batman's face.

And J'Onn said, "Indeed."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

On the first night, Hawkgirl and Green Lantern were flying together over New York City. It was a standard patrol -- just a reminder of their existence to others. Perhaps a man with a gun hidden in his jacket would look up, then decide to keep the gun hidden.

As they passed by the Chrysler Building, Green Lantern glanced at his companion. The wind ruffled her feathers and passed through the long stands of hair not covered by her helmet. He idly wondered how the helmet stayed on her head during flight and battle. It had been easy enough to remove when he first...

Then he noticed the slight layer of moisture spread over her bare shoulders. He looked over her slim, fit body stretched forward in the air. The fullness of her breasts could be seen underneath her yellow tunic. Her mouth...

"Over here."

Hawkgirl looked in the direction Green Lantern was pointing. She could only see an empty ledge. Despite her puzzlement, she still followed him.

"What is it?" she asked as she stood next to him.

"I think...we should keep apart as much as we can."

She frowned. "Are you sure?"

"Let's just say that it'll make things easier for me."

"Does it matter? I mean, as long as I tell you 'no,' then you're okay, right?"

"I'm not sure."

"Are you going to force yourself on me?"

"What? No! Of course not!"

"I know you're not that kind of man, John." She smiled slightly. "Besides, even if you were..."

"Big honkin' mace. Right. Still..."

Both of them were silent for a few moments, then she said, "Okay. If you think it's for the best..."

"I don't know if it is. I'm just being cautious."

"Of course. Hope the week doesn't wear you out too much."

"I could say the same thing for you."

Hawkgirl grinned. "Don't flatter yourself." With that, she flew away. She looked back once and waved. Lantern waved back at her.

He watched until she was completely out of his sight. Then he muttered, "Shoot."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

On the second night, he lay on his bed, hands folded behind his head, eyes studying the lines in the ceiling. "Just five more days," he kept saying to himself. "Just five more days..."

He didn't get much sleep that night.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The moon was full on the third night as Batman and Green Lantern conferred on a Gotham rooftop.

"Two-Face has always had a self-destructive streak," Batman was saying. "Even if he understands the dangers of his plan, he may not care."

"But how did he get his hands on a piece of technology like this?" Lantern wondered. "This is the sort of thing you expect from Luth..."

"Mmmm, I want a piece of that!"

Lantern turned to another building. Rich young people were having a party in a penthouse. A few blonde women in low-cut dresses were watching Lantern and Batman with binoculars. They were waving and whistling. "Come over here, Batman!" "Nice butt, Green Lantern!" "I want to see what's under those tights!"

Green Lantern smiled and turned back to Batman. As expected, Batman had his usual grim look. What Lantern didn't expect was Batman saying --

"Why don't you go over there?"

"What?"

"I imagine you're feeling a little wound-up nowadays."

"Excuse me?"

"Join those ladies. Have fun." Batman's low, monotone voice gave the word 'fun' the most dour inflection Lantern had ever heard. It also irritated him.

"Why don't you go over there?" he snapped. "I hear that dark and mysterious and uptight is considered very attractive nowadays."

"I don't need them."

"Neither do I."

Batman watched Green Lantern's eyes for a few seconds, then said, "All right."

"So let's stick to business."

"All right."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The XY Chamber was a machine created to safely split matter into its basic elements. However, its uses could be much broader. It could also literally distill a single person into different individuals with separate personalities. That's exactly why Two-Face stole it, and that's how Harvey Dent managed to finally yank Big Bad Harvey out of his soul. However, the actual form that Big Bad Harvey took was even more dangerous than Two-Face.

"Look out!" Green Lantern shouted as the twenty-foot-high green monster swung its fist at Hawkgirl. They were fighting Big Bad Harvey in a warehouse. Batman was helping a shivering, pale Harvey Dent to safety.

Hawkgirl caught the edge of the fist. She was knocked backwards at a wall. Lantern intercepted her body, catching her in...

In his arms...

Her warm body was in his arms, her wings brushing against his shoulders, her sweaty neck against his chest...

And he saw Desire sitting on Big Bad Harvey's gigantic head. He/She was smiling at him, his/her chin cupped in one hand and the other holding a cigarette. Even above the beast's growls, he could hear Desire's voice --

"Don't worry, John. This doesn't count."

Then he heard --

"John, move!"

Hawkgirl pushed herself out of Lantern's arms. That's when he realized that the beast was almost ontop of him. He had only one second to erect a power shield between him and the monster's descending fist. As the blow's shock travelled through the energy line and numbed his fist, Lantern cursed himself through clamped teeth.

They won, eventually. That's how the fourth night ended.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Fifth night.

Green Lantern did five-hundred push-ups. With every push-up, he said the same thing --

"I am ridiculous...I am ridiculous...I am ridiculous..."

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He went to Arkham Asylum on the sixth night. Two-Face had asked to see him. When Lantern saw the half-handsome, half-scarred face, he felt guilty.

Two-Face could see Lantern's guilt. "Don't feel bad," he said in Dent's soft, kind voice. "You didn't have a choice. I am the cage of the beast. You had to put it back inside me. There's a lesson in this for you, you know."

"What's that?"

Two-Face grinned. When he spoke, it was the harsh, sarcastic voice of Big Bad Harvey. "You can't get away from yourself. You can't purge your heart of feelings."

Lantern took a step back from Two-Face's cell. "Oh, yes," Two-Face snarled. "I've seen her. Or him. I was told all about your little problem. You're gonna fail, you know. You're gonna go down, and so is the entire Justice League."

Lantern marched away from the cell, down the corridor and toward the exit. He could hear the laughter of Two-Face for a long time.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Where is the trap? Lantern wondered. What am I missing? He pondered these questions on the seventh night. He also imagined a drill sergeant barking orders in his head. "Soldier, you better keep it zipped up! You keep your hands off that little winged filly! The team is depending on you! Are you going to tell me that the team can't depend on you?!"

"Sir, no, sir," Lantern said out-loud. He then took a sleeping pill and went to bed. As slumber overtook him, he thought about Hawkgirl. Soon we'll be together again, he told himself. Soon I will hold her in my arms, soon I will feel her lips against mine...

And in his dreams he passed through the ceiling. He felt a tingle across his skin as he drifted through wood and stone. Then he felt the air bend around him as he ascended to the stars.

Eventually the air thinned into nothingness. He flew over the great surface of the earth, passing by satellites and tiny rocks, until he saw a great tower hovering in space.

He went through the thick metal of the tower, leaving no mark on the smooth surface. He began his search of the tower until he found...

She was sleeping in her quarters, on her side as always, her wings slightly spreading and contracting with each breath. Her helmet rested on a table, and her hair spread over the pillow like flowers.

He knelt at her bedside.

He touched her chin.

He kissed her.

Her eyelids rose partway to show two sleepy yet aroused eyes. She touched the back of his neck and pushed him slightly, just enough to make the kiss more rich, more warm...

And then her eyes fully opened, lit up by shock. She pushed him backwards. "John!"

In his apartment, Green Lantern awakened. For a few seconds, he could see his body in his apartment and his body in the Watchtower. His dark, sweaty body was in the apartment. His green, transculent form was in Hawkgirl's quarters. He could see the shadows of his apartment, and the shock on her face.

This dual vision shattered. She vanished from his sight. Lantern briefly hoped that he had just experienced a dream.

Then he looked at his hand. He saw his ring.

"Oh, no," he whispered.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The green spectral form of John Stewart dissipated almost immediately after Hawkgirl shouted his name. She was left alone in her quarters.

Not for long, though. "Sorry, lass. But your bloke lost."

She spun in the direction of the voice while reaching for her mace. A tall, red-headed man dressed in boots and a loose white tunic lifted his hands in a warning.

"Don't go bashing things, girl. Your side is in trouble enough as it is."

She slowly pulled her hand away from the mace. "Who are you?" she asked. "And who was that?"

"That," the visitor said regretfully, "was the consciousness of Green Lantern in energy form. And it did just what your lover was avoiding."

Realization snapped inside Hawkgirl's head. "The ring. He went to sleep and..."

"Yes."

"He forgot to take off his ring." She closed her eyes. "Oh, John."

"I'm afraid he lost."

Hawkgirl shook her head. "It's not fair. It wasn't him."

"And when he uses his ring to smack a monster around, that's not him? What he wanted...what he desired found an outlet through the ring. So..." He spread out his hands.

Hawkgirl held her breath for a moment, then released it. "The score is two-zero, right?"

"M-hm."

"And you're one of the Endless. Right?"

"That's also true. Well, more by family ties than occupation."

"But you are here to test me."

The visitor nodded.

"Okay." Hawkgirl swung her legs out of bed and stood up. She shoved her helmet onto her head, then reached for her mace.

"You won't be needing that," the visitor told her.

She looked at him, suspicious.

"In fact, you're better off without it right now. As my brother once said, 'Tools are the subtlest forms of traps.'"

"I'm not sure what that means."

"After what just happened, you should."

Hawkgirl looked down at her mace. Her fingers were touching the handle. She thought about how familiar it felt in her hand, how she carried it everywhere, why she felt naked without it.

She pulled her hand away from the mace. "I see." She turned to the visitor and said, "Are we going someplace?"

"Yes, we are. We don't have to go right now, though."

"I would prefer we did. Green Lantern is probably heading up here right now."

"Don't you want to..."

The visitor saw the pain in Hawkgirl's eyes. He nodded. Then he pointed his arm at the stars.

When Green Lantern arrived, he found no one in Hawkgirl's quarters. He sat on the foot of the bed, shoulders slumped. He raised his fist and glared at his ring.

He yanked it off, tearing skin. He flung it against the wall. Then he covered his face with his hands.

At the far end of the room, the ring twitched for a few moments. When Green Lantern didn't look up, the ring became still.

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If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to David Hearne

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