Paper Hearts, part 1

By Darklady

Disclaimers in "part 0"



***Beeeedinggg***

The tight green cone that was the Martian Manhunter looked up. High on the curving, screen-covered wall one of the displays had begun blinking. Incoming call. Oracle.

J'onn thought at the switch. "Watchtower. "

The face icon that marked The Oracle froze on the screen, then vanished, revealing the far warmer image of Barbara Gordon. "Hi, J'onn. It's you."

"Problem?" J'onn morphed into his most conventional form. "I was just about to transfer over, but if you...?"

"No." Barbara waved away his concerns. "I was just calling up to say I was going off line myself. Titans Tower will be taking over. Unless...?" She hesitated. Barbara really did want the time off tonight. It was February 14th, and Dick had made dinner reservations at Club Terpsicore. And he had enlisted Cassandra to track down what even Babs had to admit was the perfect dress. So she honestly wanted to go out tonight. She wanted it - but she didn't need it. Not really. Not if the world was in danger.

"No." J'onn smiled carefully at the screen. "The Watchtower is quiet. One small volcano in Belize, but Kyle is taking care of that."

"Oh." A moments pause, then, "That's good."

"But?" J'onn leaned forward. "Since you called? I would like to thank you for... arranging matters."

Matters? Barbara blinked. Oh, that. "The roses." Her smile grew into a slightly over-wide grin. "No problem. And even if it was - it was so worth it. You should have seen Bruce's face when he walked into his office. Not that it was anything but blank, but..." Barbara's words caught on a giggle.

"I know," J'onn answered. "I felt it up here."

The giggle turned into a snort. "Be warned, though. The Bat doesn't get mad.."

"He gets even." J'onn finished the quote. "I know. Lavender orchids and ten pounds of Godiva. No record in the transporter logs, so I think he got Kyle to bring it in."

"Thus the volcano duty?"

"Please." J'onn tried - not too successfully - to shift his expression into one of offended dignity."I would never assign holiday duty based on... personal considerations." When that failed, he tapped the box in question and added, "Besides. I like chocolate."

Evidently, Barbara thought, chuckling even harder as several empty paper frills flew up, spinning slowly in the lessened gravity.

"Ten pounds?" she made a show of peering at the screen. "I didn't know Godiva made a box that big."

"I didn't know they made them heart-shaped." J'onn held up the box, giving Barbara a clearer view of the lace-covered lid. "That is a rather disturbing image, you know. Plucking treats out of a representation of a vital organ. The sociological implications are..."

"Eeew." Barbara's grin twisted. "Sorry J'onn. It never occurred to me before, but.. eww." She slapped her ear, as if to reset the thoughts beneath. "Maybe I'm glad now Dick just sent the gold box variety."

This time it was J'onn who blinked. "I didn't think you particularly liked..."

"I don't." Babs reclaimed her smile. "Cass ate it. With Tim. But that doesn't mean I don't like to get it."

J'onn shook his head. "Have I mentioned that Terrans are incomprehensible?"

"Regularly." Barbara pushed back, giving J'onn a view of her green velvet gown and bunny slippers. Although Dick insists that it's just me."

"No." He considered making a remark about the slippers, then let it pass. Not from kindness, but because the ammo would be more useful later. One of the advantages of sharing thoughts with a master tactician. So for now he contented himself with assuring her, "It's the species. I have enough experience to judge."

Barbara flicked a rubber band at the screen. "I'll remember to tell Dick that next time he complains."

*treeezeeep*

"Problem?" Barbara's face was serious again.

"Transporter signal." J'onn answered. " But it does mean I willhave to go. Bruce is taking me out tonight - and I need to change."



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