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25 January 2007 @ 09:23 am
Flash By Northwest (11/14)  
***
Flash By Northwest (11/14)
a Justice League story
by dotfic and mtgat
Copyright 2007
TV-14 (DSLV)
***

Disclaimer: DC Comics and Warner Brothers own the characters and situations. No infringement on their property is intended or should be inferred.

Continuity/Spoilers: Takes place after JLU "Destroyer" and the events of the flashback in "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker"

Thanks to amilyn for her beta on this work. Special thanks also to xffan_2000 and billa1 for editing above and beyond the call of duty on the final draft. All mistakes that may still be found herein are ours alone.

Pairings: Lots. If it was canon, if it was implied in canon --- heck, if we just thought it was amusing at the time --- it's in there.

Summary: The Big Seven (plus one) are trapped inside a fantasy world created by a magical artifact. As the body count rises, familiar faces hide deadly secrets and it's up to Flash to save them.

***
Chapter Eleven
***

The receptionist tried to stop them as they came into the office, and Clark had already put his hat into his hand to ask nicely. He was flabbergasted and a touch impressed when John didn't even bother.

"We want to speak to Curry now," John said in a voice that promised big trouble if he wasn't obeyed.

"I'm sorry," she stammered — Lori, Clark remembered, her name was Lori — "Mr. Curry is in meetings all afternoon. If you'd like to make an appointment ... "

John rested his hand on her desk, leaning on it over her. "My name is John Stewart. My wife was Mari Macabe. Mr. Curry will see us now, or my friend Mr. Kent here will make sure everyone sees what I have to say in tomorrow's paper, got it?"

Lori gazed up at the man towering over her, gave a little squeak, and nodded. "I think he might have an opening at four?"

"Now."

She ducked down under him and then scurried over to the office door, knocked once, and slipped inside. From within, Clark heard Arthur's distinctive voice shouting, muffled, through the closed door.

"Did you have to intimidate her like that?"

John said quietly, "She's not the one I'm trying to intimidate. You know what Arthur's like." He held up his hand and wiggled it. Clark knew; the man had cut off his own hand to save his child's life. He redefined the term "alpha male," and it was only the fact that Clark knew himself capable of killing Arthur with his pinky should the need arise that made him confident in the king's presence. Usually.

"Just follow my lead," John said, as Lori opened the door and beckoned them inside.

"You're sending her flowers later," Clark whispered to John. He'd always liked Lori.

"I'll send her a damn florist if this pans out," John hissed back, and then they were inside.

"Mr. Stewart," Arthur said, a professional smile on his face as he rose from behind his enormous desk. "Forgive me for not calling sooner. We all loved Mari, and I was so sorry to hear about what happened."

"Thank you." He shook hands with Arthur, while Clark took note of the chrome hook on the other stump. It was not half so strange as seeing the business suit, or the golden hair pulled back into a neat ponytail.

"Please, sit down. Lori tells me you wanted to chat?" His smile was predatory now. "You and Mr. Kent." A glare, quickly hid, sent towards Clark.

"My wife and I used to talk about everything. Did you know that?"

"Everything, Mr. Stewart?"

John shrugged. "We discovered honesty late in our relationship, but we did find it eventually."

"I see. And yet the dearly departed Mr. Jones was still keeping your favorite bird in a cage for you, wasn't he?" Arthur's smile came back. "We talked about a lot of things, too, your wife and I."

"So she said."

Clark sat and watched the two of them, and swore to himself that he would never play poker with either one again. John was bluffing with no cards, but Arthur wasn't flinching.

Arthur said, "Look, I'm really very busy right now. I have a company to run, actors to audition, bills to pay, and no time to do it and no money, either. Cut to the chase or make an appointment so we can reminisce when I've got time."

"She told me about the film deal, Curry." Not a muscle moved on his face with the bald lie.

And Arthur broke. "If you're here for the money, you're wasting your time. The contract was with her, and terminated with her death."

"Her will says I get everything."

"Unless you've just inherited a 36-24-36 body that I can put in a swimsuit with Ethel Merman, you've got nothing. No up fronts if there's no performance, period." He let out a breath. "Did you tell Wayne about it?"

"Not my business to."

"God knows how he found out, then. She wouldn't have told him. I didn't think she'd tell you until the party."

And that was the sound of the other shoe dropping. Clark looked over at John, who nodded back. Mari's announcement was going to be that she was leaving Wayne Productions. Arthur was desperate for a big name star, and wouldn't have cared about Mari's past as long as people piled into the theatres to see her. No more blackmail, not the kind Clark was doing, and not whatever Bruce was holding over her, either. Maybe she'd have taken the opportunity to leave her unfaithful husband at the same time; Arthur seemed to know more about their relationship than John did.

"Plans change," John said.

"Or people change them for you," Arthur intoned. "Wayne would have lost millions without the Vixen in his films. He's got nobody with her class. If you ask me, and I can't help noticing you didn't, he's the one who killed her." He stood up. "Let me know when the funeral is."

"I will. And thanks."

Arthur smirked. "I just told you that you ain't getting any money, and you're thanking me?"

Clark said, "In case you were wondering, I consider this off the record."

"Good," Arthur said. "I wouldn't mind seeing you dead, Kent, but I'd hate having to clean my rug afterwards. Show yourselves out."

Outside the building, John stopped and looked up at the sky and just breathed for a moment.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine. I haven't tried a bluff that hard in years, not without a backup plan."

"It worked, though it's another dead end if he thinks Bruce killed her."

"Yeah. Remind me how we know he didn't?"

"He told us." As the words left his mouth, Clark realized how stupid they sounded.

"Right." Another deep breath. "I'm going home. I've been avoiding it, but I've got to go plan a funeral."

John drove them back to the Devil, and then drove off towards his house. Clark went back up to the office. Jimmy looked up from his desk and said, "You know a dame named Diana Prince?"

Clark set down his jacket and his hat. "Why?"

"She called about half an hour ago. That Hol bimbo's dead. Lane's out covering it now, and Perry'll have your nuts if you don't get out there and snap some pictures."

Clark closed his eyes and wondered how many more friends he was going to lose before this was done.

***

The engine purred under his hands as John drove the winding roads back to his place. They didn't make cars like this anymore, huge and hungry yet strangely graceful even in their lumbering fashion. Uncle James had an old street rod he'd souped up in his garage, and John had been allowed to drive it twice, with stern warnings from Uncle James and his grandma not to take it above thirty.

He shifted gears, nudging the car up to sixty just for the love of it, and then shifting down again so as not to get himself killed on these unfamiliar roads.

Something about driving a good car filled him with light, like no other experience. The right radio station, though the ones he really liked wouldn't be founded for decades, and a full tank of gas, and he could just go and be.

At last, he pulled off the highway onto the private road that would terminate into his driveway. He took the car into the garage, and went in through a back entrance near the kitchen.

Katma ran into him as he walked past the dining room. "You're back," she said in a voice both surprised and irritated.

"Well, I live here, don't I?"

"I guess. Sir."

"Kat, my memory's fuzzy. What did I do to make you so mad at me?"

She stared at him with an expression he knew right out of training, one that asked if he was drunk, stupid, or pulling a galactic-sized joke just to convince her that all humans were as dumb as algae. His first month in training with the ring, she'd looked at him like that most of the time.

Katma looked down at her maid's uniform, and John had to admit it was fetching on her. They'd never roleplayed. For John, the thrill of being with an alien had sustained the rush for the entire time they'd been lovers, though he still couldn't say for sure what had kept Kat coming back, not without sounding even to himself like a conceited jerk.

"After all I did for you during the war, you dress me up in this and make me clean your wife's house. Meanwhile, you keep that tramp who sold us out to the enemy living in a nice place up the coast. What, if I'd have slept with you again, you'd have put me there?" She folded her arms.

"I'm sorry," he said, because even though he hadn't actually done any of those things, something in his head said he could have.

"Rhetlea on your 'sorry,'" she said. "Sir."

He went to touch her shoulder. "Kat."

She backed away. "Don't touch me. You've got your doxy for that. She's up in the guest room. I wasn't putting her in the master bedroom. Ms. Macabe hasn't been gone a week." Her glare could have lit a small city.

"Thanks," he said, and under her baleful eye, he headed upstairs, reaching the top landing just as the bell downstairs rang.

Mason beat him to answering the door. Wally and Diana stood there on the front step.

"May I help you?" Mace asked, as John came down the stairs.

"Let them in. What's going on?"

They shared a look. Wally said, "Sit down."

John led them into the parlor and shut the door. His pulse raced, fearing the worst. If they'd had happy news, a break in the case, anything, they wouldn't be looking half so somber. "What's happened to Bruce?"

Diana frowned. "Nothing."

"I just left Clark about half an hour ago. Don't tell me something's happened to him."

Wally said, "Shayera was in an accident. She's dead."

Diana said, "We thought you should hear it from us instead of the news."

"She's not dead."

"Not if we find our way out of this, no."

"No, I mean she's not dead here. She's asleep up in my guest room."

Wally broke into a hopeful smile, as Diana asked, "How did she get here?"

"I have no idea. I just got back from the city." His mouth had continued to talk while his mind stayed on Shayera. "Come on."

He left them to follow in his wake as he hurried upstairs to find her. John opened the door to a guest room and found it empty. The next two were also empty. Shayera was in the fourth room, asleep on the bed and facing away from him. The curtains were drawn against the late afternoon light, casting everything in the room in a weird gloomy light. He'd watched her sleep before, unconscious after battles, and later, slumbering after sex. So strange, to see her without her wings framing her, pushing him away if he tried to cuddle from behind her.

He flipped on the switch. She looked terrible: clothes ragged, hair a tangled mess.

"Oh my God."

Wally pushed in past him, and Diana did the same. "Oh please," said Wally, as he sat down beside her still form. He rolled her over, and as he went to do it, John felt a sudden strong urge to yell at him to stop, knowing that she was dead, that someone had left her there as a terrible joke, that there would be blood and burns and worse, that he could possibly survive the death of one woman he loved with his sanity intact, but not the loss of both.

"Don't," he breathed, and then Wally had turned her, and there was blood.

Then her eyes cracked open. "Hey," Shayera said. "Hands off."

Ignoring her words, Wally immediately hugged her, and Diana let out a sigh of relief. "We thought you were dead."

"Good," she said, pulling herself to a sitting position. She noticed John, still standing in the doorway. "Tell me the police think so, too."

Diana nodded. "They did when we left them. They'd just found Carter's body. They were still looking for yours."

"Let them keep looking."

Wally asked, "What happened?"

Shayera frowned. "He got crazy while we were back at the house."

John asked, "What did I miss?"

"Carter Hall kidnapped her at gunpoint," Diana said.

Anger gripped him. "He what?"

"It's fine," Shayera said. "I dealt with it." She rubbed her left arm. "Anyway, I jumped out of the truck when it when through the railing." She winced. "I think I sprained something. Possibly a couple of somethings. Anyone got an aspirin?"

"I'll get you one," John said. "Do you want to see a doctor?"

"R'lyeh, no. I'll be fine. I just need to disappear for a while."

Not that you've ever done that before when things got too hot for you. He said instead, "They'll look for you here. Katma's already seen you."

"She's the only one. Can you ask her to keep quiet?"

"I can try."

"Thanks." And he realized he'd just invited her to stay, and she'd accepted. He finally came into the room, and sat down beside her on the bed.

Diana asked John, "Have you and Clark found anything?"

"Nothing useful. We met up with Aquaman."

Wally asked, "How is ol' Sharkbait?"

Diana said in a warning tone, "Didn't he say that if you ever called him that again, he'd shove his harpoon where the sun does not shine?"

"Yeah, but he's not here right now."

John said, "Mari was going to leave Bruce's studio for his. That was probably what her big announcement was going to be about. Gives Bruce another motive. Arthur thinks it was him."

"He said he didn't do it," Shayera said. "Which doesn't mean he didn't hire somebody else to do it for him."

Diana looked around at the rest of them. John could see her objections to the thought bubbling beneath the surface, before her face calmed. "I think," she said, "the worst part would be that he doesn't even know it yet."

***

The Emerald Parrot was dead at this time of day. He would come back later, as wealthy producer Bruce Wayne come to pay his respects at Queen's favorite club during his wake. Diana would be his date for the evening, a cover made much more convincing since according to Alfred, they'd already been planning an outing tonight.

Bruce hated that thought, but the more he found out about the him he was supposed to be, the more it made sense. Diana Prince had been in a handful of walk-on roles, but she wanted to be a star, just like everyone else did. Bruce Wayne made stars out of the people who asked him, if they asked him nicely enough. He'd made Selina a star, and then broken her when he'd been finished with her. He'd made Mari a star, the brightest one in Los Diablos, and if that meant what it did with the others, then maybe the rumors had been true after all.

Diana was slated to be another notch on his bedstand, if she even rated a trip to his bedroom. Barbara had been territorial about that, even as she'd been fooling around with Dick behind his back.

Bruce wanted a drink. He let Matches order one for him, just this once. As he sipped the scotch, frowning at the sharp taste and remembering he didn't actually enjoy it, he took a long look around the club. Someone had killed Ollie, probably someone connected with this place. They'd killed Dick and Roy, too, and probably J'onn and Vixen, though Bruce was willing to consider the possibility of multiple murderers.

Wally and Diana swore Napier's alibi checked out.

He took another drink.

The singer on-stage, Ricky Whatshisname, gave a bow to the half-hearted applause from the audience, and walked off as the house lights went up. No one had seen or heard from Dinah Lance since the morning after the murders, though the word on the street said she'd gone to see what was left of her family up in Seattle.

Someone sat down beside him, and Bruce glanced over. "Zatanna!"

"That's me," she said. "Larry, make it a double, okay?"

"Sure thing," said the bartender, and handed her a drink.

"We're running into problems," Bruce said to her as soon as Larry had moved away. "J'onn's been killed. There are some other characters turning up dead." That was less painful than saying that he'd had to identify Dick's body. He knew Zatanna would understand. "Tell me you and Fate have made progress."

Zatanna sighed. "Always. Always. I always get the nutty ones. Listen, buddy, I save the fortune-telling for the act, okay? No freebies. I'm on my break."

His mouth opened, and then shut. Her costume was wrong, in the cut and the coloring. This wasn't the real Zatanna any more than Larry was the real bartender Alfred hired to work his parties.

"Sorry, lady," he said in Matches' voice. "Thought you was someone else."

"Whatever," she said, and downed her drink. Bruce pushed his own away.

"I know we got off on the wrong foot and all," Bruce started.

"And we're going to stay on the wrong foot," she said, getting up. "Thanks, Larry. You can put it on my tab." She touched her hat, put on a fake smile, and said to Bruce, "I'll be on in ten. For a buck, I'll tell you your fortune then."

He watched her go, noting that her fishnets were the same, at least, though that was no doubt due to the attention he'd so often paid her legs in the past. He sighed.

"Don't worry yourself, pal," said Larry, wiping a glass. "'Tanna's been in a bad mood since that house fell on her sister. Eh?" he said, grinning at his own joke.

Bruce let himself smile and raised his glass. After he pretended to drink, he asked Larry, "Hey, bub. You know anything about the Bertinellis?"

Larry went stiff. "Don't you say that name in here, mister."

"Just askin' a question. I heard a little mouse say somethin' about them." If by "mouse" he meant "Flash," and by "something" he meant "Question was acting crazy again but we know what Huntress was like in the real world," this was a broadly true statement.

Larry dropped his voice. "Listen, everyone's kinda spooked right now. Mr. Queen's gone, his head guys are gone. It's not a time to bring up ghosts, you know?"

"Mr. B's a dead man?"

"Dead as Boston, like my ma used to say. Ollie never shoulda had him whacked. Bad business, killing off the guy above you. Eventually, somebody below you is gonna get the same idea."

"You think Queen was gunned down by one of his own men?"

"I ain't sayin' nothing." Larry continued polishing the glass, though God knew why. His eyes went to the door.

Joker came through, surrounded by a bunch of semi-familiar faces. Harley was on his arm, radiating her normal adoration. "Come on in, boys," Joker said. "We're starting the wake early! Larry, bring my boys some hooch!"

Smiling. Happy. Not a care in the world now that he was the top guy in the mob.

Bruce set his glass down, knowing he'd break it in his hand. "Thanks," he said to Larry, and left him a big tip as he walked out of the club, Joker's laughter in his ears.

***

Shayera was half-asleep again, so John saw Wally and Diana out, with a reminder for them to tell Bruce and Clark personally what had happened. Then he asked Mace to make some calls for him.

The coroner's office was busy, but John wasn't taking any more runarounds from them, and went back into Demanding Bastard mode until someone got on the phone who agreed to release Mari's body. The funeral home had no problems at all with John's requests, and were exceptionally helpful in their suggestions. John agreed to them all, regardless of tastefulness or cost. Mari wasn't really dead. This was for show, and perhaps to draw out her killer.

He ate a light dinner, then took up a plate for Shayera. She was still asleep.

John was worried. She'd been non-specific about her escape from Hall. Diana had checked out her injuries as much as she could, but maybe Shayera had a concussion. John set the plate down and then sat beside her. "Hey. Suppertime."

She sat up slowly, eyes unfocused. "What time is it?"

"Six." He brought the plate over. "It's not bad. I can't identify half of what's in there, but I think it's lamb."

"Thanks." She took a few bites and made a face. "Got any curry?"

"Doubt it." He thought he should go and let her eat in peace. He stayed.

"I shouldn't be here," she said after a while.

"Do you want me to take you back to your house?"

"I mean, I should be dead. I should've been killed."

"You weren't. You're a survivor."

She made a noise in her throat and kept eating. When she was finished, she set the plate on the nightstand. Now he really should leave, he knew. Take the plate downstairs, finish what he could for Mari's funeral arrangements, see if he could find her diary after all.

Shayera said, "I killed him. I killed Carter. He was going to kill me, I think. So I killed him first."

"It was self-defense."

"I could have incapacitated him back at my house. I tried. He stopped me. I should've been able to take him down without a problem."

"You're human here. The rules are different."

"So? I still have my training. You don't have your ring, but don't tell me you couldn't kill a man with your bare hands if you had to. Don't tell me Batman can't."

"Are you upset because you're not better than us weak little humans anymore?"

"I don't think that. I never ... I don't." She closed her eyes. "I just didn't think I'd have to kill someone. Except I did, because this is all out of our heads, right?"

"That's the going theory."

"You notice anything funny about that?"

He shrugged. "Other than running into people who've been dead for ten years?"

"Zatanna said we were in counterpart roles to our real lives. But that's not quite right, is it?"

"There was probably a story before we got here. There were going to be changes."

"I don't mean the story. I mean us. What's your biggest fear?"

He moved away from her. "We already played that game with Dr. Destiny. My fear was being trapped as a servant to my ring. Yours was enclosed spaces."

"Not what I mean. You want to know what my biggest fears are? That I'm only ever going to be remembered for the invasion, no matter what else I do. That what I did makes me a suspect for everything that goes wrong from now on. That I'm only going to survive on the kindness of people who have every reason to hate me." She took a deep breath, and he heard the thickness she'd never acknowledge. "That I'm going to end up killing everyone I love, that I'm going to die at the hands of someone I love, and that I'm going to deserve it."

Evening had come, and the room was lit only by the hall light. Shayera was an outline in the darkness.

"I never apologized," she said. "I never said I was sorry for what I did. For everything that happened. I couldn't. I can't. It's too big. I can't ask forgiveness because I can't be forgiven. Not by Earth. Not by Thanagar. I can't make up for anything, but I can go out and do my job, and that's a start.

"But I still do stupid things like, well, Carter. I let him get into my head, but even my subconscious knows he's trouble. That's probably why I was with him. In reality, I mean. A lot of me thinks I deserve to get killed for real, and if it's at the hands of whoever I'm sleeping with, then that's payback too."

"No one's going to kill you. You're too big a pain in the butt to die." He'd intended it as a joke, but the words had come out harder than he'd expected.

"You'll manage it eventually."

"I'm not going to kill you, Shayera."

"You've thought about it, though."

John hesitated before answering, because yeah, he had. Right after the betrayal, right after she'd hit him, when he'd been stuck in the Thanagarian holding cell, or running for his life with the rest of the League. The holding cell especially. He'd been one raw nerve, flinching and angry at every single memory rerunning like a bad commercial in his head. Every lie she'd told him. Every time they'd saved her life, thinking she was their ally. Everything. And he'd spent that long, miserable day on his knees, hands bound, imagining each particular sound she'd make as he crushed her windpipe.

Even after, when she'd turned on her people for Earth's sake, he'd felt like a walking wound, unable to focus on anything but the blood pouring where no one could see. Later, when Luthor had fused with Brainiac and played his little Justice Lord mindgames, John had seen Shayera's double, and he'd touched that rage again, and he'd killed her dead. And then the anger was finally gone.

"I won't say I never did. But I don't anymore."

"No," she said. "You just kill me in different ways now, huh?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Really. Because I could have sworn that you actually sat down and thought out the best way to hurt me without leaving a mark. You stand there and tell me about the future, that you saw it, saw him, as real as day and then you tell me you don't want any part of that or him or me. Did you practice in the mirror? Did you go through every possible way of mentioning your time jump, and then decide, 'Hey, this'll be the best way to get her back for everything she did to me?'"

"I told you the truth," he said, reaching for solid ground. "Batman knew. I knew. I thought you should know."

"And Mari?"

"I told her. She took it fine." Truth be told, she'd taken it as well as could be expected.

"I'll bet."

"She's not like you."

"She's a lot like me, and that drives us both crazy. Guess how I know."

Too much time together. They were trying to be friends. "Did she tell you?"

"She didn't have to. Look around. She was the first one to touch the book. This is all out of our heads. You're not worried about her getting killed, not really. But Mari is. She's terrified that spending time with you is going to kill her, especially now that you've told her you saw a future without her, and all that'll be left are a bunch of photographs."

"I never said she wasn't alive in the future." But then, Rex had told him everyone else was dead save himself, Static, and Bruce's successor.

"She knows. I know too. The only way she's going to survive you is by leaving you before it's too late."

"You're awfully big on the psychoanalysis tonight."

She shook her head. "I just checked out her house. It's decorated in her fears. You should take a look. You might learn something."

"You don't get a say in my relationship with Mari." He stood up and grabbed her plate. "If you need anything, ask Katma."

"I don't. I'm going home." She went to stand up, grimaced, and sat back down again, rubbing her right calf. She'd stumbled here, past her own house, staying out of sight from the road and from anyone who might be better suited to aid her. She'd needed help and she'd come directly to him.

There was a poem he'd had to learn in high school about where home was.

"You're staying. Stop arguing and get back into bed."

She complied, if grudgingly. "You know, if you were ever considering that for a pickup line, don't."

He pretended to be hurt. "And now she's critiquing my romantic lines. This is definitely what ex-girlfriends are for."

"I've now managed to kill two of my ex-boyfriends in fiery explosions. You feeling lucky, Stewart?"

He grinned without being about to help it. "Get some rest."

"I will. John?"

"Hm?"

"Thanks."

He closed the door. He stood there for a while, listening, but she breathed too softly to hear. He went back down to the kitchen, placed the plate in the sink, and then gave up. He went into the picture room, as he thought of it, and looked around.

Photographs, film stills, posters, all of Mari, all smiling or flirting or dramatically serious.

Photo albums filled with documented trips across the world, but no children.

Arthur, convinced she was killed because she was trying to escape a life she hated.

"Baby, what was in your head?" he asked to a seven-foot-high closeup of her face. And what's in mine?

***

A phone woke him from dreams he couldn't remember. Clark stumbled from his bed, through the dark and unfamiliar apartment, and grabbed the telephone.

"Hello?"

"This Kent?" The voice was shrouded by a harsh whisper.

"Yes. Who is this?"

"You're trying to find Helena Bertinelli?"

Clark was fully awake now. The Question had come to Wally and Wally had spilled everything to the rest of them. He'd told Clark right after he and Diana came back with the good news about Shayera, so Clark had dropped his other research to look for Huntress instead. His nosing around appeared not to have gone unnoticed.

"I've got some questions to ask her, yes."

"Be at the docks, Pier 16. Ten a.m."

"Pier 16. Got it. Thank you, mister ... " The phone went dead in the middle of "you."

Clark hung up. Then he picked up the receiver again and asked the operator for Wally's office.

***

To Be Continued ...
 
 
 
crhblackcrhblack on January 25th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Like the rest of this work, I'm fully enjoying each section. The reader gains more and more insights into how the heroes think, but what drives those thoughts and emotions. Hol's revelation to Stewart demonstrate that their secret fears are the driving motivations to what makes them heroes (as a quick aside: Hol's revelation of sleeping with Hall was brilliant). I could comment all day on all seven of the main characters, but I'll stay with my favorite, John Stewart.

Stewart's bluff with Curry was the best characterization of the man since perhaps "The Savage Time". Their inteplay simply speaks for itself. What I find fascinating is that Stewart's weakness isn't related to the ring at all. In this 'story', his true alter ego (as do all the heroes') takes stage. Mason is his butler. Stewart mentioned his envy of Mason's lifestly. Katma is his maidservant or minuet. Hawkgirl chided Kat earlier about treating Stewart as a playtoy that has lost its appeal. Hol is his mistress, a cruel role reversal to their original relationship. Mari's situation is most vexing. (Candidly, I beleive her to be a better match for him) Stewart may genuinely love Mari, but she is the 'safe' play with no hang-ups, but he's afraid to give himself over to her because of past failures. One delicious item comes from having all 3 women within range.

I better stop here. I'm developing wrist strain! I eagerly the next installment!
Merlin Missy: Adorkable (GL)mtgat on January 25th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
(Candidly, I beleive her to be a better match for him)

Really? 'Cause I never would have guessed. ;)

Stewart may genuinely love Mari, but she is the 'safe' play with no hang-ups, but he's afraid to give himself over to her because of past failures.

And that's certainly one interpretation. There are others, but I'm so not getting into them before we've posted the whole thing. :)

The John vs. Arthur thing was a lot of fun, so I'm very glad you enjoyed it too. Keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow's post!
crhblackcrhblack on January 26th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
I can't wait to see how you resolve the mystery and the fallout for the heroes. How do they deal with their true alter egos being brought out to the forefront. Moreover, do other people really view them that way?

J'onnz's death is a critical moment in this fic. I've still not pieced that together yet.
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on January 26th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
Wow, that's some amazing analysis.

The reader gains more and more insights into how the heroes think, but what drives those thoughts and emotions.

Really great to hear. Yes, we were having fun with the plot, but part of that was because we could poke at the heroes emotionally and see what popped out.
crhblackcrhblack on January 26th, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
Keep on poking! I relish seeing their hidden fears being brought out. What makes them really heroes aren't the super powers but rather how they put aside their own inadequacies to defeat their opponents.
Chris: Bright Lantern90scartoonman on January 25th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Lori...Lemaris? From Clark's mind? And is "Dead as Boston" an actual expression or is that a reference to Deadman?

I'm glad Shayera survived, if just to have that scene with John. I love the way you analyze the history of both characters throughout the course of the series and explain how they ended up where they are in this story. I really love her take on the invasion, how she'll always be remembered for that, and how that effects every single relationship (romantic and otherwise) that she's in.
Merlin Missy: HG/GL dreammtgat on January 25th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
I have Lori issues from way back. So I shared. And yep, that was a Deadman shoutout.

Shayera and John should yell at each other all the time, and then I would be happy.
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on January 26th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
We're glad Shayera survived too. :)
Kiraava_cabot on January 25th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
OMG, Shayera's alive? Great plot twist. Loved the John/Shayera bickering!
Merlin Missy: Hawkgirl Girly-Girlmtgat on January 25th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
See? She was only mostly dead. ;)
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on January 26th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
She is alive. Shayera is awesome. :)

Sadly, J'onn is still dead. :(
Matt Zimmermattzimmer on January 25th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
Great shipping stuff! I too thought John was being a turd in Ancient History by laying the revelation of Warhawk on Shayera and then saying he was sticking with Vixen anyways. Inexcusable.

Have I met Lori before in the DCAU? Is she Mera or someone else Clark recognizes?
Merlin Missy: Adorkable (GL)mtgat on January 25th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
John is such a dork. :) *pets him anyway*

Lori is Lori Lemaris, as 90's figured out above. I've had a thing for her since I was five, and it figures she'd be working for Arthur.
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on January 27th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
We're glad the character stuff is working so well, thank you! :)
(Anonymous) on January 25th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
Wow. I've spent most of the day catching up from chapter 4, and this story has really got me hooked! I mean, I know you have to kill of characters to make it interesting (and it worked!), but on behalf of J'onn I say: NOOOOOOOO! YOU POOR GREEN MISUNDERSTOOD MARTIAN GUY!!!

That said, the rest of the story has been really intruiging, and I love how easily the characters all fit into their alternate roles, both the original seven and the extra people. The stuff about Bruce and his Bat-family is really interesting and emotional (and I liked the random Static and Gear insert there).

I'm now off to make a flow chart to figure out what the heck is going on! So many murders and so many freaking suspects! :)

Can't wait to read more!
Keep Smiling! ;)
rogueandkurt
Merlin Missy: Sharkbaitmtgat on January 25th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
Glad you've joined us over here! *pets her poor, dead Martian* He needed to go, sadly.

Good luck on the flow chart!
getting the chocolate in the peanut butterdotfic on January 26th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
*sniffle* Poor J'onn. We had to do it!

We're really glad you're caught up and reading, and thanks for the thoughtful comments.

Goodness, a flow chart! *nervous* Hopefully there aren't any pesky plot holes.
Akino Ame: Robinakino_ame on January 26th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
Ah, so that's what the Big Announcement was. I thought it was just going to be a McGuffin motive while we all shifted concentration to whodunnit.

I'm really curious as to where you're going to end this, especially since this is all in everyone's minds--if Mari's dead because she feels like her relationship is killing her, I wonder what that hints for everyone else (and I'm not revealing who I think did it; it might be clear from what I've just said).

One little nit though. I was a bit confused over the line "He shook hands with Arthur, while Clark took note of the chrome hook on the other stump." I figured out what you meant after I read it over a second time, but it sounded like he had two stumps instead of a reference to his hand being gone in both worlds. You might want to clarify that before putting it to print.
Merlin Missy: Sharkbaitmtgat on January 26th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
putting it to print

??? *is confused*

I was a bit confused over the line "He shook hands with Arthur, while Clark took note of the chrome hook on the other stump."

I had to read the line out loud to someone else before I figured out what you meant. :) I'm going to leave it as it is, since it's a style issue rather than a typo/factual error, but I'll keep it in mind for the next story. Thanks!

(Don't forget to email us with your guess on Whodunnit!)
getting the chocolate in the peanut butter: Flash: hero in progressdotfic on January 27th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks for passing along the suggestion.

Hee. That's cool that this as piques your curiosity. We're glad you're reading along. :)