The audience was a massive collection of the universe's worst. They were the elite of Darkseid. They and their grim lord viewed with sick pleasure the titanic battle between two old, dear friends. Superman whirled his weapon, sharp on one end, blunt on the other.
"Hey, Wonder Woman! Waddya say we ditch this kinky armor and watch the submarine races? Amazon au naturel is one of my favorite dishes!"
He then flew at her, severing one of the metal bra-straps. Enraged, Wonder Woman knocked him back, catching him full in the chin with the blunt end of her weapon.
"Are you tracking what I'm saying, Kent? Is anyone? I'm pulling the carpet out from under you, and your bikini briefs of steel!"
Hawkeye Kent smiled.
"Oh, I'm tracking you all right, Princess! You want us to just drop out of sight, take our liaison underground."
She ran at him, getting in seven blows before he countered, knocking her back and simultaneously grabbing her metal bra. Dangling in his hands, he held it.
"Now THIS is what I call a slingshot!"
"I cannot believe even you would sink to humiliating me, exposing my chest like this! Do you want me to respond in kind?"
"Well, hey, we're both giving off the signals. Why not. Ta-da! Super-Flasher!"
Unbelieving at the sight before her, Princess Margaret, aka Wonder Woman, grabbed up a huge slab of the arena grounds, and held it over her head.
"I am going to slam you at least 800 meters straight down, Superman!!"
Superman's face grew stern.
"I am SO tired of playing this game with you!"
He grabbed up his own slab, and held it above his head. His heat vision then cut off her remaining armor bottom. Each face fuming, they raised up their burdens. Darkseid grinned, quite satisfied with his show.
"Now one will kill the other. You see, Desaad? With enough prompting, these heroes will turn on each other like rabid wolves. They are no different than we."
Simultaneously, Hawkeye and Margaret slammed each other with tons of mortar and steel and stone. The wicked crowd cheered as they and an arena full of guards were buried by the debris.
When a half an hour had passed and neither hero emerged from the rubble, Darkseid shouted out the obvious, red energy dripping from his eyes.
"THEY HAVE ESCAPED!!!!!!"
Approximately 800 meters below, Superman and Wonder Woman hurriedly finished dressing in guards' uniforms.
"Clever idea, Kent. The armor may be bugged, but why would Darkseid care where his guards are? I didn't know you knew anything of the warrior's path."
"I saw it in a movie once. 'Porky's Goes To Girls' School.' A real classic."
"One, you can turn around, now. Two, this is no time for your dumb jokes. We're lost behind enemy lines on Apokolips, in case you haven't noticed. Three---thank you for not gawking, during the battle."
Hawkeye attempted to shrug off the compliment.
"If I had gawked, our plan wouldn't have worked. Besides----if I start looking you over, I'll be lost entirely."
Just as her face glazed over from one of Superman's rare free-and-clear compliments, Wonder Woman saw his shoulder bleeding.
"Kent, you're hurt--is that even possible?"
He lightly pushed her stomach, and she cried out.
"I could ask you the same thing, Margaret. I think we're losing our powers."
She began to shake.
"Kill me, Hawkeye."
"Never on a first date."
"SHUT UP! Listen to me. I was born from rape. The thought of being taken, and maybe forced to bear a child---especially Darkseid's child---is more than I could ever hope to bear. If you are my friend, you'll make sure that never happens."
He regarded her. He then breathed in, and hoped to God that she would forgive him for what he had to do next.
"You weakling! You dare call yourself an Amazon?"
Hearing no humor in his voice, Margaret was stunned.
"You heard me. You are the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, the first Wonder Woman. You are the daughter of Hercules, who has willingly spent an eternity trying to negate his sins in life. Good thing they're not here right now, though. Because you would make them sick, just like you're doing to me."
Her pride reasserted itself.
"You listen up, you Kryptonian Neanderthal! I deserve better than..."
He interrupted her.
"Than to be making plans for your rape and death?"
Ashamed, she put her hand to her face.
"What's happening to our powers? And how do you remain so steady in all this?"
"My steadiness is as much a fake-out as those glasses I sport at work. But I can't give in, and neither can you. Do you know what it does to me to see someone as strong as you reduced to jell-o? As to our powers, well, this place has no sun, and I'm drained from that arena fight. You probably can't contact the Olympian Gods on some level, and that disrupts that very balanced psyche of yours. You once told me that over half of an Amazon's strength comes from simple self-confidence and self-image. This place isn't conducive to either of those things."
Wonder Woman was fighting a losing battle with a smile.
"You seem to remember a lot of things I've told you, over the years."
The Man Of Steel was tired, and no longer sought to guard his words.
"Only every sweet syllable."
The tender moment begun, they braced for its interruption. They didn't have to wait long.
"SUPERMAN AND WONDER WOMAN!! HEAR NOW THE WORDS OF DARKSEID. SURRENDER OR ONE PERCENT OF MY SUBJECTS WILL BE PUT TO DEATH EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR. THEIR BLOOD WILL BE ON YOUR HANDS, 'HEROES'."
As the words echoed across the planet, Hawkeye began to contort in pain. His hearing was still super.
"Oh, my God, Margaret. He's doing it. Women, children...I can hear them all. I can't shut them out!"
Superman sat on the ground, and uselessly covered his ears. He was in agony.
"Maaaakkee it stopppppp!!!"
Princess Margaret now understood what seeing her earlier weakness must have done to him, because this sight was killing her. Her own fear returned in waves, but she fought it as she sat beside and held him.
"C'mon, Kent! I need Superman right now."
But the face that turned to meet hers was that of a very mortal man in a great deal of pain. Pain she would do anything to alleviate. Even expose her heart.
"Kal-El, I Love You."
He almost stopped sobbing.
"I wish to God you meant that. I felt like I was cheating on poor Carlye Lane every time I even thought of you. I Love You, Too. My, God, Princess, I've loved you since the day we met. But super-wimp couldn't find the guts to say it. Typical little boy, huh?"
"Kent, I am just a piece of clay with attitude. I am such a failure in understanding man's world or my world, its not even funny. But you--at least I know how I feel about you. And there's a lack of guts on both sides, here."
Then, the wailing of the tortured reached a din that required no super-hearing to detect.
But by that point, all the rumors had come true, at long last, and Superman and Wonder Woman used a deep passionate kiss to begin a night of passion such as they had both ached for. The core of Apokolips was being violated by sensations of true love.
On Apokolips' sister world, New Genesis, The Justice League Of America tried to form a plan of rescue for their missing leaders. All but one. BJ Hunnicutt stood apart from his dismissive comrades. With a chip on his shoulder, the new Green Lantern recited his oath, while charging his power ring.
"By Lantern's Light And Guardian's Charm; I First Will Try To Do No Harm; Not Glare Of Day; Nor Still Of Night; Shall Keep Dark Evil From My Sight; Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might; BEWARE MY POWER; Green Lantern's Light!."
Now, Hunnicutt turned the mind that launched a thousand collegiate practical jokes toward the best way to get his friends back without being captured or killed himself. He used his ring to form a green lightbulb over his head.
"Hang on to your long johns, kiddies. I'm going in."