Last Refuge of the Lost and Alone

by Chicago

Characters owned by DC Comics, borrowed for fun but not profit. A small protest against Kyle's exile to space by the PTB after the events of the Obsidian Age.

The Watchtower was designed with one of the most sophisticated communications systems imaginable to the inhabitants of Earth. There was no corner of the moonbase where a remote feed could not be set up, where a message could not be sent or delivered.

J'onn J'onzz was certain that Batman would be appalled to discover what use his Martian teammate had made of that system.

Take now, for instance. Inspecting the hangar space to wassailing music was undoubtedly on the list of "inappropriate use of Watchtower equipment." Somehow the fact that the Christmas carol cut into a cheerful Hanukkah song probably did not make the infraction any more excusable.

Of course, it was J'onn on monitor, and it was Christmas eve, and the rules were designed with concerns for human distraction rather than with an eye toward the kind of vigilance a telepath was capable of. And while J'onn would never use it, he was sure that the guilt the others felt at letting him take yet another Christmas on the moon would buy him forgiveness. He was smiling faintly when he finished in the hangar to the sound of African drum beats.

He truthfully didn't mind having monitor duty over the winter holidays, although he was touched that the others worried for him. Nothing he could say would make it better for them. Even the truth - that being alone without duties to perform during the family oriented holidays only intensified the aching emptiness in his heart that belonged to M'yri'ah and K'hym - even that truth would only make them feel worse. He did not want to taint the joy they felt at being with their loved ones with even a passing thought for his loneliness.

A celebratory chorus for the end of Ramadan filled the Watchtower when he reached the central meeting room. The low lighting in the room flared to brightness at his entrance, leaving no shadow to muddle his inspection.

It also drew his attention to the red and white hat sitting on the table in front of the Flash's chair.

Of course it would be Wally who would forget something at the Watchtower. J'onn believed the young man's occasional forgetfulness was half-conscious, a habit developed for the sake of having excuses to run back somewhere and burn off some of his endless energy. And perhaps only Wally among the current JLA would appear at a meeting in a Santa hat. The next most likely suspect was Kal-El, and the inevitable frown such adornment would get from Batman was enough to prevent it.

J'onn crossed to the table to pick up the hat, his fingers rubbing across the fuzziness of it. It was made of some synthetic material, undoubtedly intended to evoke fur. Never mind that fur could never be made so bright a shade of red.

A whim struck him, and he settled the hat on his head.

Wally must have bought it large enough to accommodate the wings on his costume, because the hat actually fit J'onn's larger skull. It was an odd weight against his skin, strangely warm and a little heavier than he expected. It was rare for him to wear more than zo'ok, and he had forgotten the way human clothes felt against his body. He shook his head and noted the way the weight of the hat shifted with the swaying of the white ball of fluff that graced its tip.


J'onn started slightly at the alarm ringing through the Watchtower, his senses reaching out, back toward the hangar he had left moments before and catching a glimpse of the mind now there just as the alarm shut itself off. Or rather, was shut off by a quiet command. It wasn't an emergency, but he still wasted no time, heading back through the halls toward the hangar and ...

"Kyle," he greeted as he entered the launch bay. Then he frowned and stepped closer, sensing the other man's unsteadiness. "Are you-?"

A weak laugh cut him off. "You look like Santa."

J'onn took another step forward to catch Kyle under a shoulder and prevent him from collapsing. He was shivering, but a swift check revealed only exhaustion, not injury. "We have missed you, my friend," J'onn said, letting his body radiate warmth against the chill of Kyle's skin.

Kyle slumped against J'onn wearily and raised a hand to touch the Santa hat. "I promised myself I'd be home for Christmas. This means I made it?"

J'onn nodded and felt the ball on the Santa hat bob. "You made it, Kyle."

He felt relief flood through Kyle's mind, and he began to walk with him, steering him gently toward the hangar exit and his quarters. "Not much of a home left," Kyle murmured, and the ache of six months in space that had cost him more than he had gained rose over the relief of being home.

J'onn gave a reassuring squeeze with the arm that supported Kyle's weight. "The League is always home," he promised, knowing it was not enough for the long term, but it would do for the moment.

He felt Kyle smile against his shoulder, and a finger tapped at the ball of the Santa hat, sending it swinging again. "At least its familiarly surreal," he pronounced, allowing J'onn to guide him toward the bed in his quarters.

There were stories there behind Kyle's words, but J'onn would ask another time. For now he simply pulled the covers over Kyle's body, feeling oddly paternal as the mask faded from the young man's face and he snuggled against soft sheets. J'onn patted Kyle's shoulder gently and quietly made his way back out of Kyle's quarters. He was at the door when Kyle spoke again. "J'onn? You're better than Santa."

J'onn did not know how to respond, but he did not need to. Kyle's bare mumble faded into the deeper breathing of sleep. The strains of "Silent Night" were filling the hall, and he felt the click of the Watchtower chronometer to midnight.

It was Christmas on the moon, and the Earth's Green Lantern had returned home. J'onn reached up to remove the hat on his head and thought better of it. He could be better than Santa a while longer. end

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