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This is just a bit of fun with some minor characters I was trying to develop. Again - there should have been a story involving Rathaway (Piper), Dick Grayson (Nightwing), and the Fiddler. That was before the Flash plotline got Rathaway arrested for murder. Oh well - maybe someday. In the mean time -see how many gay DCU characters you can spot.

Career Management

A pre-Power Company Story

by Darklady

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. DC does. too bad.

Cannon Slash: But only in reference.

Rated: G - Sorry.

Archive: Ask first

"Josiah Power." The young man called out, spinning off the dance floor to land lightly beside the buffet table.

Power had been in conference with the caterer, but at the approach of a the younger man that official had excused himself.

Powers looked over this guest. Tall, athletic, with light brown hair and not-quite-pretty features that just lacked the edge that would make then sharply memorable. In the back of his mind, he had the impression that he should recognize this man. Although from where? Certainly not a lawyer. Not an entertainer, although the man had the poise for it. Politics, perhaps?

The newcomer held out his hand.

He took it, responding automatically. Firm grip, firmer then the 'low five' most polictico's learned, and with slight callouses. Athlete? Powers took another look. The man had the body for it. Not perhaps for the main sports, like football or hockey, but perhaps for one of the more 'Olympic' disciplines. A runner, or a fencer.

"I was hoping to meet you," the young man continued, giving Josiah a smile whose wattage made him rethink the political option. "Jay said you were one of us."

What? One off...? Power looked around the elaborately decorated great room. Given the parties attendance? Two hundred and fifty two men - no women. Not to mention its theme? That matter had to be obvious.

The brunette stranger must have followed Power's expression, because he laughed. With anyone else Josiah would have taken it as a near insult, but this man made it music. Another point for politician. Or not, Josiah changed his mind. Because with his nearly magical charisma? If this man wanted votes, he'd be president right now.

"Not that us." The man chuckled again, this time in perfect C sharp. "I'm Hartley Rathaway." He paused a moment, expectant, before adding. "The Piper?"

"Oh - the..." Power held his hands up automatically, in a gesture he almost immediately regretted. Pray heaven it looked like the flute he intended, and not...

"Got it."

Either Power was a better mime then he expected, or Rathaway was familiar with that particular interpretation. Josiah suspected it was the later. "Then your ... friend... Jay?"

Hartley plucked two glasses from the table, handing one to Power.

"Blue Jay?" Hartley made a zooming gesture with his empty hand. "Killer Ken Doll?"

Rathaway was clearly a better mime, because the gesture instantly brought back memories of the blue-costumed meta in his well-filmed battle over Disneyland.

"Super... heroes... correct?"

Rathaway held out his glass. "Jay forever - me since I saw the light."

"Then no." Power accepted the toast, but followed with a slight shake of his head. "I regret I can't make that claim."

"That's not what the Big Blue said." Rathaway paused, savoring a sip of the fine champagne. "He was very impressed at how you handled yourself."

Power almost choked on his. "You... know..."He couldn't bring the words to his lips, desperately trying to wrap his mind around the idea that that... utter perfection.. could possibly... miraculously be....

"Just a professional acquaintance." Rathaway demurred. "A rather distant professional acquaintance."

"Oh." Power coughed. Partly to get the bubbles out of his nose, and partly because... well, he would never have had a chance even if ... if... but still. The mental image of... you-know-who... was somewhat...

"Agreed." Rathaway grinned, somehow catching the unspoken images. "Although I shouldn't say so - being rather paired up."

"As am I, but..."

"But.. yeh." Rathaway finished his glass, then reached for the bottle. "Sad to say- Kal-El strictly bats for the other team. Or so I've heard." He held out the magnum, retopping Power's glass. "Not quite the same social circles."

"Then..." Power wasn't quite certain what the question was, but...

Rathaway was apparently familiar with that response too. Or he could read minds. "Pizza Night at Warriors." He turned away, taking a plate from the waiting stack. "First Wednesday... generally at the Vegas branch." While filling the plate from the extensive display of finger foods, Rathaway glanced back. "Great place for gossip - and they know which job offers are legit. You might want to check it out if you're coming out."

"Coming out?" Again, Josiah Power figured he was missing something. Because if he was willing to host a benefit for the San Francisco Gay Men's Choral? OK, so officially Rupert was the chairman, but still? Josiah shook his head slightly. He was discrete, perhaps. Polite. Reserved. That didn't mean he considered himself closeted.

Rathaway scanned the room, marking out a just-emptied table. "As a meta, I mean." Heading over, he gestured at Power to follow.

"Oh - that." Again, Josiah want certain if he was in. Exactly. True, he hadn't wanted to bring up the matter. Had refused all interviews and follow up stories. Had threatened Cat Danvers with his not-inconsiderable legal resources if he ever saw his face or heard his name on her program again. But that was... a matter of good taste. Professionalism.

"I hadn't considered..." He paused, not certain of how to finish the thought. Truth be known, he had worked very hard not to consider the matter. And to keep others from considering it. Not that the last had much chance of success. After all, once you have shifted in open court - not to mention destroying a fair sized hunk of Manhattan real estate? It wasn't like one had any real secret left.

"Not that I would ever be quite the sort for... heroics... but..." He looked with a certain surprise at the open-faced young man before him. A man who had just introduced himself with both names. "Don't most of you world-saving sorts tend to have a secret identity or some such?"

"Most do. Some don't." Hartley pushed back a chair. "Most of the Flash's are open." He made a running motion with his fingers. "Wally, Jay. Barry back when he was alive. The west coast tends to be more open then the east." Setting down his glass, he added. "No surprise there." Placing the champagne bottle beside it, he went on. "I'm out because I don't have a choice. Slab time makes it very public record." Sitting in the other chair, Hartley looked up at Power. "Your's is... sort of blown. Unless you want to start over?"

Power sat down... hard. "You mean?"

"It's possible. So I hear. Just another service of your friendly DEO." Hartley pushed the plate into the center of the table, offering Power an appetizer even as he picked up a caviar-stuffed shrimp for himself. "I wouldn't recommend them useless you're desperate - because that bunch really doesn't come cheap. Or easy."

"So I've heard." Powers replied without thinking. "I mean - I've worked opposite them." At Rathaway's raised eyebrow, he explained. "The Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire matter."

Power shivered slightly. A rough case - but before today only one he considered in terms of it's resume potential. Not one he considered in terms of his own life. But if he was like Carol Ferris? Christ. Worse, he realized. She had only destroyed her own property. He had trashed? He hadn't considered it at the time, being more worried about the prospect of criminal charges, but someone had to have owned that ruined factory. He reached for his drink.

"So I know." Hartley reached for the bottle, again seeming to read Power's mind.

Power busied himself with the snacks while his mind raced. He didn't think this Piper was a telepath. Quite. But wasn't there something about..."

"Hey - It's not that bad. Really." Rathaway gave him a shrimp and a reassuring smile. "The trip from the Slab to recognized hero wasn't exactly... painless. Or free. But I did manage it - and - while I don't love the DEO - they did help. If you are sure you want out completely?"

Powers took the shrimp, then held out his glass. "I think I'll stay me."

"Good choice." Rathaway shifted his eyes to the crowded dance floor before adding just a touch too casually. "So - what are you planning on doing with the life you're going to keep? If you don't mind my asking?"

Was it Rupert the other man was watching? Hard to tell in the crowd, although Rupe was now on this side of the floor. Burning the floor - as always. God, the man could dance! But if that was this Rathaway's focus? Power didn't think it was just because Rupe was cute. Not given the topic at hand. If it was a threat?

Power leaned forward, eyes narrowing. Rathaway was slick, but no slicker then Lex Luthor or Lucius Fox or Rex Tyler, and if he had gone toe to toe with them? He wasn't going to accept intimidation tactics from some... flute player. Even if the man probably could... whatever it was he could do. Josiah cleared his head. Better not to go there. "And if I do?"

"OK." Rathaway glanced back, unimpressed. "Even if you do."

Damn, the man was smooth. The again, he probably could take out one lawyer. Even a meta-type lawyer. Or perhaps the building, Or the planet. Power had never paid much attention to the details of the meta-community before. He had meet a few. Now and then. Even before... recent events. But that had been t the usual civic fund-raisers. Wonder Woman at the Children's Fund Dinner. A Green Lantern at one of the March of Dimes parties. Celebrity places. They hadn't been real part of his world. He was beginning to think that might have been a mistake.

He gave the relaxed young man a far more careful assessment. "You care because?"

"Like I said." Rathaway lifted his glass. "You're one of us. For good or ... otherwise."

Power set his champagne back on the table. Slowly. "And you are here to make sure it's not otherwise?"

Rathaway kept his apparent gaze on the dance floor, although Power caught the movement at the corner of the man's eyes. "You'll hear from the opposition soon enough. In fact..."

Power cut him off. "I think I've rather heard from them already."

"Not everyone takes such a... heavy handed approach to recruitment." Rathaway chuckled, leaning back even further in his chair. "I should know. I was a rogue."

"I gather you are not here to recommend it?" Power dropped his voice into the growl that - in his experience - tended to send opposition a litigators into full retreat. Too bad, he thought, if had apparently no effect on flute-playing ex-cons.

"In the long run? No." Rathaway picked up a chocolate dipped strawberry, raising it to the light as if it were the ruby it resembled. "Not that I'd deny the attractions, but..." The slim young man let his glance drift openly around the well decorated expanse of architecture. "You have a nice life here."

"And I had best behave if I wish to keep it that way?" Josiah Power finished the thought. He dropped his voice still further, from 'rumble' to ice'. "My distinguished but ill advised colleague for the plaintiff' ice. "Thank you, Mr. Rathaway. But I did not need the...warning? I've spent enough time in criminal defense to be quite dissuaded of any potential."

"J'onn said as much." At Power's uncertain expression, he added. "Martian Manhunter. The green guy?"

"My thanks for his complement." Power frowned, Honestly this time. "I'm not sure I appreciate being a topic of..."

"Pizza night." Rathaway reached for another dipped fruit, this time papaya. "What else are we supposed to talk about? Football?" He ran the slice lightly between perfect teeth, stripping off the chocolate before swallowing the bright orange flesh. "Seriously. The JLA was very impressed. Not only with your... shall we say effectiveness?... but with your restraint." He reached for the last strawberry, but after a thought passed it over to Power, settling on a bunch of purple grapes. "We've all of us spent too much time talking even the 'heroes' down after some young hot-shot's 'debut'. So thanks for not trying to take Manhattan - as it were."

Powers nibbled at the strawberry. "So - if this is an example of a 'light handed' recruitment? I'm not..."

"Neither am I." Rathaway held up his hand. "And no - I don't recruit. In either life." He set down the grapes and reached into his jacket. "This is just a ... welcome. And." Hartley held out a card. "Perhaps a name to contact, if you do decide to ... develop an interest. Or in case the next contact from the... other side... isn't as polite as one might hope."

"Then." Power stared at the card for a long moment before pulling out his wallet and tucking the pasteboard rectangle carefully away. "Thank you, Mr. Rathaway. And I do mean that. But... I really don't see myself in spandex. Or whatever you heroic types wear. I think I'm better suited to the suit-and-tie side of the law."

"Your choice, Mr. Power." Hartley Rathaway lifted his glass. "We need good men in either place."

KKR 2003

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