They Never Listen
"Shut *up*, Harper," the woman growled, stalking into a setting that bore a distinct resemblance to the Legion cafeteria and sinking wearily into a chair. She looked around--poker game in the center, Kory and two Laurels having a chat at one of the tables, with Gar admiring the scenery. Over at another table, three Brainys and a Rond were in earnest discussion of some esoteric scientific principle; Ayla was directing the occasional comment at the assemblage, when she and Cham weren't making eyes at each other. And judging by the sounds coming from the conveniently dark corners, *somebody* was having fun. Looked like a regular night in her brain. "You guys know perfectly well why I haven't been by; I've been *busy*."
"Shouldn't have left it all till the last minute, you know," Dick pointed out, looking up from his hand.
"Dick, I love you, you know that, and I appreciate that you haven't been giving me trouble like *some* characters--but right now I don't want to hear a word out of your oh-so-perfect mouth." Dick studied her face and decided--wise man that he is--that now was a good time to shut up.
Roy, of course, had no such restraint. "Hey, he's right. You let everything pile up, don't deal with it till the last possible moment, 'course you get run ragged."
Garth looked at him, amused. "Like you're not the poster child for act first, consequences later? At least the Writer didn't get a supervillain pregnant."
Roy snickered. "Hell, I should hope not! Unless there's something you're not telling us about you, Brainy Girl..."
"Oh god," the woman muttered. "Save me from smart-mouthed characters..."
"Hey, I'm only being annoying for your own good. Isn't that how you're writing me?"
"Yes," she sighed. "It is. My apologies for making you put up with it, Garth."
The Atlantean shrugged. "We're all pretty used to him by now. And at least you let me slam him into a wall." He looked faintly hopeful. "You don't think I could hit him, do you? Just this once?"
Garth grinned. "Sorry, Roy. I'm deranged with grief, remember? Not responsible for my actions."
"Yeah, I bet," Roy grumbled. "Hey, writer, you sure I can't sleep with somebody else? Like, say, a woman?"
She gave him a disgusted look. "What, like you don't get enough in canon? Look, Harper, you're comforting him, all right? Don't you want to be the strong, mature one for a change?"
He considered. "Well...yeah, I guess so. But what's wrong with my comforting someone a little more..."
"Female," Garth finished dryly. "What, don't you like my technique?"
"Well, y'know, Gillhead, it does leave a bit to be desired. Kind of weak on the seduction part. Maybe I could give you a few tips, huh?" He smirked at the Writer. "Or maybe you'd like them instead--I could give you a little hands-on instruction on that sex scene part. You *do* sound like you need to get lai--"
The Writer glared. "*Don't* finish that sentence, Harper. And don't expect to distract me with those big green eyes; you're sleeping with Garth and then you're going to comfort him, and I don't want to hear another word about it. Or else I'm gonna write you a rape story."
He blanched. "You wouldn't..."
She raised an eyebrow. "Wanna bet? Mood I'm in right now, I think I'd enjoy doing a little nasty hurt. I might not even bother to add in the comfort..." The look in her eyes was not reassuring in the slightest.
Roy raised his hands hastily. "Right. Never mind. Garth it is."
"And now that we've got that out of the way..." She looked around, and frowned at the empty chair that had previously contained the Legion's resident spy. "Oh no, Lyle, you don't get out of this that easily." She snapped her fingers, and suddenly he was back.
"Hey!" he protested. "That's direct reality-manipulation; you can't do that."
"I'm the Writer, and this is metafic anyway. In here I can do whatever I damned well want." She snapped her fingers again, and an anvil appeared over his head, suspended in midair. "Care to argue the point?"
Lyle looked up nervously. "Um...no."
"Good." A third snap and the anvil vanished. "Now, would you like to explain what's wrong with you?"
"*Wrong* with me? What, because I don't want to put myself through a relationship with the most arrogant, obnoxious, sarcastic, emotionally withdrawn character this side of Kerr Avon, there's something *wrong* with me?"
Ayla glanced up from her seat and grinned. "He loves you too, Lyle."
Lyle glared. "Fine, you like him? *You* do the romance bit, you're better at it anyway."
"I am not!" she protested. "We're friends, that's all."
Lyle snorted. "Friends, right, *that's* why you were dripping icicles when Supergirl showed up." Across the table from Ayla, Cham was beginning to look increasingly alarmed.
"Oh, come on, she was *using* him! I had a perfect right to be upset--since unlike *some* people, I actually *care* about him." She gave Lyle a nasty look.
"Oh, right, you're pure as the driven snow." Lyle got up from his seat and walked over, planting his hands on the table and facing Ayla. "C'mon, Lightning Babe. Tell me you weren't the *least* bit jealous of her. Tell me you spent all that time in the lab for purely altruistic reasons. Tell me you've never *once* thought about what it would be like..."
She hesitated; Cham looked hurt. "Ayla, I thought you loved *me*!"
She patted his hand. "Oh, Cham, you *know* I do...but there's just something about him, you know? And I'm his only real friend, and I'm *much* better at being there for him than Lyle is..." She shrugged helplessly.
Lyle smirked. "Hey, Cham," he offered, "if Spark decides to leave you for the green genius, I'll be available." Cham looked like he was giving this serious consideration.
The Writer closed her eyes briefly and sighed. "Thank you, Ayla, Lyle. I'm well aware of this storyline's tendency to head away from where I'd like to take it. *However*--" she looked around the table, "I expect you all to do your best, all right? Cham, don't fret, she's not going anywhere...well, not this version, anyway. And I think I'm gonna need you as a matchmaker, you did such a nice job in Love and War.... Ayla, yes you're his friend, yes you should be there for him, but I'd like to *try* to keep it platonic, all right? Lyle..." her gaze fell on the black-clad Legionnaire, who was standing with arms crossed and a stubborn expression on his face, and she sighed. "Look, it's *not* that bad, all right? He's adorable, he's smart, he's got no respect for the rules either; you two will make perfectly good partners if and when you get your heads together. And you *know* you like him."
"*Liked*," Lyle corrected. "I tried and I tried and I didn't get anywhere, so I walked. That's *your* interpretation of the canon, you can't argue with it. So what makes you think I've suddenly developed a masochistic streak between now and then?"
The Writer winced. "Brainy?" she called, knowing that given the hyperintelligent nature of this particular character she wouldn't have to specify which one she meant. "You want to defend yourself here?"
He didn't even bother to look up. "No."
This time he turned. "I have *seen* your ideas for this series, Writer. Angst, flashbacks, socioemotional traumas, dwelling on how nobody has ever cared about me and how miserable my entire life has been--you even want to bring my mother back and let her torment me *again*! And my great reward for this, apparently, is that I get to fall in love with *him*? Would you care to explain to me why, exactly, I should be interested in this?"
"My point exactly," Lyle agreed, then frowned. "Wait a minute..." Brainy smirked.
The Writer rolled her eyes. "You know," she remarked, "I'm getting *very* tired of this. I know you two are smart-mouthed and stubborn and secretive and don't play well with others, but I don't care. I am going to pair you off if it kills all three of us, and I want a little cooperation here."
"Or?" Brainy challenged, echoed almost immediately by Lyle.
She smiled. Well, sort of. It was really far too gleefully sadistic an expression to simply be classified as a "smile." "You remember that idea 'Rith mentioned, that I changed a bit? 'Weird Coluan biology'? Tell me, how would you two like to be expectant parents?"
Both Lyle and Brainy stared at her in absolute horror. "You...you wouldn't." Brainy was trying for his usual smug certainty, and not having much luck.
"Right. I mean, that's...that's BadFic. *Evil*Fic. And we're your favorites, right? You wouldn't do...that to us."
"I'm an *angst* writer, Lyle. Torturing my favorites is what I *do*." The smile got even more intense. "You don't like Brainy's attitude? Imagine him with mood swings, cravings, morning sickness...." The two Legionnaires had both gone pale. "I'm afraid it's going to interfere with your work, Brainy--but don't worry, Lyle will be there for you--won't you, Lyle? It *is* your fault, after all. Though I'd work on those evasive skills. Learn to dive under consoles, that sort of thing. Always assuming they aren't rigged to blow..." The smile was getting seriously sharklike by now, and Ayla and Cham were having difficulty controlling their expressions. "And just imagine what *fun* you'll have trying to take care of the kid once it's born..."
"Okay!" Lyle interrupted. "Stop! I'll do it already!"
"I always knew you were a smart boy. Brainy? You in on this too, or do I have to declare the Coluan gestation period to be a year and a half?"
Brainy's eyes widened, and he shook his head hastily. "Ah, no. I don't believe that will be necessary."
"Good," the Writer declared. "Now maybe you should go work on the togetherness bit, all right?" Brainy's eyes got even wider, and she grinned. "Not *that*, Querl. Not yet, anyway. Just, y'know, talk. Get to know each other. Find reasons not to murder each other in your sleep."
The spy and the genius glanced at each other, shrugged, and headed off into one of the aforementioned dark corners. "...no, not *that* one, dummy, can't you hear it's occupied? This fic would go NC-17 for sure..."
After a slightly less hazardous corner to retreat to had been selected, the Writer looked curiously at Cham and Ayla. "Who *is* in the corners, anyway? My PWP-ers are over at the poker game..."
Ayla smirked. "Vi and Zoe."
"And Zoe and Vi," Cham added.
The Writer's eyes widened. "What, *all* of them? Together? Good Lord."
"No, separately," Cham explained.
"Not that they didn't try," Ayla inserted.
The Writer snorted. "Remind me not to underestimate them. Or their creative minds. And they say Vi's too timid..."
"Oh, she's definitely not," Ayla sighed.
Cham tapped her hand. "Uh, Ayla? Postboot, remember?"
Ayla blinked, then blushed. "Ooops, sorry. Wrong timeline for a moment there. I'm back."
"Not a problem," the Writer murmured, eyes alight with amusement. "So what stopped them?"
"It was some sort of bizarre effect on reality," Cham explained with a frown. "Every time they got too close, they just sort of...merged, into two people instead of four."
"Which was kind of distracting," Ayla chimed in, "so eventually they took it to separate spaces."
"Yes, I can tell," the Writer commented wryly. "I hadn't actually planned them as lovers yet, but I see they had their own ideas." She grinned. "At least there's *one* couple I don't have to browbeat into it."
"True, although it sounds like they're not seriously differentiated yet...it's the AU thing, you see, one of them's canon--well, sort of--and one of them's off in the Divergence Arc--none of which is even written yet, gah--but they spring from more-or-less the same event, and what they're doing isn't significantly different. I expect that's why they're having this little...identity crisis." She frowned. "I suppose that could be a problem, if people can't tell them apart..."
"You could always merge them for real," Cham suggested.
"Nah. The differences in setups aren't big, but they're there, and what's the point of setting up an AU if you can't rearrange the timeline? I'll just have to see that it comes across in the writing." She sighed. "Not tonight, though, I think I want to relax a bit. Have fun, you two." She waved at the couple,then headed back over to the poker table. "So, Roy...is that offer still open...?"