All's Fair, part 1

by Chicago

Disclaimers in "part 0"



"Dude, do you run three laps of your apartment every time you arrive there, too?"

Wally West, aka the Flash, stopped abruptly to hitch his hip on the edge of the conference table. "Nah, blows Linda's papers all over and pisses her off. You gonna finish those cheese doodles?"

Kyle shot him a look. "Get your -"

"Got 'em!" Wally announced, returning to his spot and gleefully tearing into the oversized bag. "I'll totally restock next shift. Whatcha workin' on?"

"You keep those orange covered fingers on the other side of that table, Wally. I've got to get these pencils done by tomorrow."

"Can I see?"

"When you're done with the orange stuff. There's a reason I left my cheese doodles on the other side of the table."

"Hey, easy, Kyle. I know about deadlines and stuff. I'll be cool."

"Better be."

"You're testy. What gives?"

"Look, I'm behind schedule and our man Eel already wrecked a finished page by trying to figure out if he worked like silly putty and could pick up the image and -"

"Ouch. I'll take your next shift with him if you want."

Kyle looked up with a mix of wariness and potential gratitude. "Why? Who'd you get stuck with?"

"Oh, no, it's not Bats or anything. I got the cakewalk shift with J'onn. I just got a chance at a couple of tickets for this singer Linda's been dying to see and the concert's the night of my duty -"

Kyle's face relaxed into a grin. "Hey, thanks, man. I think I might ring Plastic Man into the air circulation system just to see if he shreds or stretches if I have to spend another monitor duty with him."

Wally chuckled. "I'd bet stretches and it'd be like gum on your shoe, but let's not find out. Working with J'onn always just bores me to tears anyway. He can cover the monitors and handle any maintenance emergency and do all the dispatch duties and beat Oracle at chess and I end up feeling doubly redundant."

"Uh huh," Kyle replied distractedly, sketching in another figure on the panel in front of him. "Sorry, I know what you mean. Any idea how much longer we'll have to do this overlapping shift gig? Now that J'onn's back in action, I mean?"

Wally shrugged, crumpling up his now empty bag and looking around. "We need a garbage can in this room," he complained before dashing out and returning sans bag in the space of a breath. "I think we're going to talk about it next meeting. I think Superman wanted to sort of break us of the habit of leaving J'onn up here by himself, though. After - you know. At least until he's really 100% and all that."

Kyle looked up from his drawing. "Y'think that had something to do with it? J'onn's feeling alone? I mean, you've known him longer than I have, so maybe -"

"I think it's more the whole last of his race thing, really. 'Course, he's kinda hard for me to read. Here's this guy who'd throw himself into the fire faster than anyone for any of us, but he still feels so isolated? I just kinda thought he liked having time to himself, y'know?"

Kyle finished a line and set down his pencil, eyeing the page critically for a moment. "I know what you mean. I've been thinking I should spend more time with him off-duty or something, but it's like - hey, J'onn, wanna go get some beers and a pizza and catch Monday Night Football? I don't think so. I think this page might actually be done."

Wally inspected his hands, scrubbed the back of his hand over his mouth and brushed his fingertips against the sides of his legs. "I'm cheese doodle free now - can I look?"

"Sure."

"He might actually like football. Powergirl and I were talking the other day - ooh, now there's a hot number!"

"You like? I use Jade as a model for that character."

"Very much. Anyway, we were talking about how we didn't get to know J'onn so well during the Europe days, but she was talking to Gypsy-"

"Gypsy?"

"JLA - from the Detroit group. She was with J'onn's task force a while, too."

Kyle shook his head. "I'm glad we don't have to pass a Justice League history test to get this gig."

"Don't say that too loud - Batman's probably got the place bugged. I like the triangle theme you've got going on the panels here."

"Wally, my man - when did you develop an eye for comic art?"

Wally blushed faintly. "Kinda had a big collection as a kid. This is good stuff."

"You were saying about Gypsy?"

"Right. I guess she was saying how J'onn really bonded with that group. They were all kids - and I mean literally, a lot younger than you, and the Justice League was a mess, and they're in this bunker in Detroit of all places. I guess they kinda saw J'onn as a father figure, gettin' 'em through some tough stuff, and it sounds like he'd sit and watch games with them or whatever. These the last pages then?"

"Yeah, just need to bind 'em up and deliver them in the morning. The Detroit group. Wasn't that when Ivo -"

Wally sighed. "Yeah."

"Dude. That was like the whole league down, wasn't it?"

"Active at the time. Only ones lived to tell about it were J'onn and Gypsy and Vixen." Flash's tone was heavy.

"Damn. Maybe I should -"

Kyle was cut off by a sudden blaring alarm which left him stumbling into a run to catch up with Wally in the monitor womb. By the time he got there, Wally had already isolated the problem. "This is weird. The water level in Lake Titicaca just rose two inches."

"Another one? That is weird."

Wally turned and stared. "Another one?"

"Well, yeah," Kyle fumbled. "Alarm went off earlier for Loch Ness, but that triggers the water level alarm at least once a year anyway. And before that Lake Victoria went up."

"And you didn't tell anyone?"

"Ease up, Wally! That Victoria thing - there was just a major heat wave in Kenya, snow cover on the mountains down there was already flooding the feeder streams. We figured the flood swell just finally hit the lake. And you know as well as I do that Loch Ness is always setting off Aquaman's sensors."

"Still, Kyle." Wally's hands were already flying across the keyboard. "You are so lucky I'm not Batman or Aquaman. You've gotta at least log this stuff and alert people it's going on."

"We logged it. But what are we supposed to do - just get on the comm and say, 'Hey, Batman, Lake Victoria just rose?' I don't -"

The Oracle mask was suddenly on screen. "Go ahead, Flash."

"Oracle, we've got anomalies in standard water table levels suggested on three continents. Downloading data now."

"Any ideas on source?"

"Some possible natural explanations, but otherwise, negative."

"Martian Manhunter's already in South America - I'll have him check it out and I'll run the patterns. I'll keep you posted. Oracle out."

Kyle looked pained as Wally turned back around. "Please tell me we aren't going to end up doing more playbook drills."

"I'm not. You are. Geez, Kyle, you're not a rookie anymore."

"It's lake levels, Wally. Let's try this is a job for the EPA, not the JLA."

"And that whole oxygen depletion thing on the last big gig? That seems pretty EPA, too."

Kyle groaned. "Fine. Reporting to quarters until the end of the world is upon us - again."

"Don't even, Kyle. Just run the drills."

With a heavy sigh, Kyle left the monitor womb, and Wally - after grabbing a snack - settled down to watch the world go by.



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