Author Disclaimer: MASH is not about superheroes, and Justice League is not about medics keeping from going mad. These stories are goofy fun. Please read them as such.
By Rob Morris
"Depressed? Well, sure, an argument could be made in that regard. I mean, Margaret, if you want to read the fact that I haven't left my Fortress except for business in the last month as a sign of depression, then you go right ahead! For me, it's just that I happen to really like Antartica at this time of year. The UV from the ozone-hole is just breathtaking...if you happen to have eyes that can detect UV rays, that is!"
Princess Margaret, aka Margaret Prince, aka Wonder Woman, was not having any more of Superman's avoidance and mock self-pity than she was his amorous jokes. At least those she found somewhat amusing. This was close to disgusting. She expected much better from Hawkeye Kent.
"Kent, you loved, and you lost! Get over it! Do you see Donald Trevor anywhere around here? It's happened to me! It's happened to you! Cha'arls wife and daughter were lost on Mars. I don't know how many times Catwoman can break Frank's heart of stone! My point is, you can't let Carlye breaking your engagement destroy you! Especially not you! The world depends on Superman!"
It was a concession that the proud Amazon didn't like to make to the sometimes-egotistical Man of Steel. But it was fundamentally the truth, and Margaret felt it was worth driving home, and it was a point that Hawkeye appreciated.
"Wonder Woman, did anyone ever tell you you're a SuperFriend?"
"I can not believe you just said that!" Margaret liked the joke, but felt it was just another attempt on Kent's part to hide his true pain.
Hawkeye gave in. His world-spanning duties as Superman had eaten away at the core of his relationship with Carlye Lane, til there was nothing left.
"The world needs Superman, and you need to be Superman. But I don't think you need me, Hawkeye."
That, and a kiss, were the last he saw of the woman once destined to be Mrs. Superman. The problems magnified when Carlye stopped in Gotham. At Arkham.
"Of all the damn fool stunts! She knew what kind of slime Frank Burns and that Robin kid spend their lives throwing into Arkham Asylum, but she went anyway. Top reporter. Corruption. Danger. The next day's headline : JOKER KILLS PLANET REPORTER: PLEADS INSANITY! Talk about redundancy!"
Kent's voice was starting to break up with held-back tears. Only the tag-team of Batman and Cha'arls Win'ch'tr had kept the next day's headline from reading SUPERMAN KILLS JOKER. As it was, Superman burned his hair off with heat vision. "Now you and Lex can REALLY team up! Mess with me and mine again, and I'll aim between your legs!" For once, the clownish maniac wasn't laughing. "Aw, no fair! I kill your squeeze, and you ruin my perfect do'!"
"Did you really expect to impress the Joker with violence? Hawkeye, he's nuts! Cha'arls and Sidney once tele-scanned him for 3 hours, and their heads hurt for a week! Poor Sidney. I'm told even the sharks noticed how upset he was."
"Margaret, why did she leave me? Why does love want to sock me in the gut with a Kryptonite boxing glove? I've always liked love. In fact, I sometimes love love. I mean, how about just a little back?"
Wonder Woman's face showed that this was a question she had asked herself. She didn't care much for the answer she found inside her, but figured it might help Hawkeye Kent.
"The fact is, neither of us were born from love. On Krypton, Don-El and Salla barely knew each other. They only saw you right before they sent the rocket off. In my case, the Gods had my mother forge me out of clay, because otherwise I would be the daughter of Hercules' rape of Hippolyta. He's apologized, but my soul bears the mark of transference from my mother's womb to cold clay. I ask you, Kent! Where the hell do you find the love in all that!?"
Wonder Woman saw quickly that her words had not helped Superman, and had merely worked to depress her, as well. She tried one last thing, something that she was sure would engage the playful little boy she couldn't stand to be around or live without.
"Kent, you're always going on about what I have under my uniform. So here, take a gander! Use your X-ray vision to see the REAL Margaret Prince! C'mon, I'll give you five minutes! One time only!"
Margaret knew what she did bordered on self-humiliation. But the world did need Superman. She needed the cocky world-juggler as a counterweight to Wally O'Reilly's nervousness about graduating from Kid Flash. She needed him to lift the dead weight that the JLA HQ became whenever Batman's grimness assaulted them. She needed his business-like personality in battle to combat the airy cheeriness of Soonlia Hol, Hawkgirl. Most of all, in her secret heart, she simply needed Hawkeye Kent. To have him back was worth it. His response to her Godiva-like offer, though, was anything but what she expected.
"That's not funny, Margaret. I have two solid rules when it comes to sex: No married women, and no X-raying of women, unless it's a gun or bomb or something like that. You know, you generally don't try to cheer someone up by insulting them."
"Insulting You! I'm supposed to believe that you even have a rule like that?! You, the master of the bra-size comment? I mean, you tore off Plastique's clothing and made butt jokes!"
"She had enough explosives in her suit to take out Toronto, and maybe the rest of Ontario, too, Margaret! Whatever comments I made about her butt, I was more concerned with what an ass she was being as regards human life!"
Margaret held back at this genuine righteous anger. "You're serious, aren't you? Why this line and so few others? Don't tell me you haven't undressed women with your eyes, either!"
Superman merely shrugged. "Imagination is part of my privacy. Doing what you're suggesting destroys someone else's. Maybe if I weren't who I am, Id've been stalking the girls' locker room, scamming for flashes of skin as the door opened and closed. But these eyes can see a little too much, sometimes. Like they did once."
"So give." Wonder Woman saw that this subject was painful for him. But it had revealed a side of Kent that he so rarely showed. The offer she had made physically, he was now following through on mentally. It was not unattractive.
"As you know, Daniel and Martha weren't too happy with me being Superboy. After the way McCarthy went after the JSA, who could blame them? But SmallCove, and the rest of Maine, were more than ready for me. A ripped tendon deprived SmallCove High of Ben Kent, top athlete, but I didn't care. I had youth. I had power. I had fame. Best of all, I had Kellye Lang."
"She wasn't who I was 'supposed' to fall in love with. Being half-Japanese-Hawaiin, on her Mom's side, meant I heard a few more comments than I would have liked."
Margaret had never before considered a potential downside to Kent's over-enhanced senses. She said nothing, though. She had heard about Kent's mermaid. Carlye had been Wonder Woman's friend, as well. But she had never before heard about Kellye Lang.
"In insulting tones, the other guys would say how she was too short, too plump, and basically how, while she was a nice girl, I supposedly could do better. The girls -well, let's just say they weren't so subtle about all that."
"I won't hesitate to say that I wanted her. To me, she had always been what beauty was about-since we were kids. I desperately wanted my first time to be with her. I loved her. But she wasn't convinced."
"Convinced that you loved her? Or convinced that you wanted more than just a roll in the hay?"
Hawkeye took a moment to respond to her question.
"She was convinced I loved her, and she loved me. I saw in her eyes that she wanted to be with me, too. So badly it hurt her. But what she was not convinced about was my other belief about her."
"That she was beautiful. This sweet, wonderful girl who dominated my thoughts, in homeroom, bedroom, and while I was catching a train-Lex had blown up the tracks-didn't ever allow me to tell her how beautiful she was."
Wonder Woman stepped gently. "Self-image can be a real problem, Hawkeye. Even Amazons have it. Not the way American girls do, but it's there. One of my best friends left a suicide note saying how she couldn't compare to me. To this day, if someone leaves me a note, I have someone else read it first." Her voice broke. "I just couldn't take it if...if..."
At that, Superman gave her a brief hug. "It's all right, Margaret. You weren't at fault. Neither was I, for that matter. But it didn't make me feel any better, about what happened to Kellye."
"I'm a typical hot and bothered 16-year old. But anything much past 1st base was out with her. Not because she didn't want to, but because she felt unworthy of a guy who could barely think straight around her. I have very low standards concerning myself, Margaret. I may be able to do those dog-and-pony tricks helping the world, but I count every ounce of happiness that comes my way. It's just too damned rare. One day, I actually got to 2nd. Off came her sweater, and out bugged my eyes. I stared like a lovesick puppy, which is, after all, what I was. She cries, throws her sweater back on, and leaves. Doesn't speak to me for 3 weeks."
Without a hint of judgement, Margaret said, "You had gone too far, too fast."
Hawkeye nodded. "That's what I thought. If I wouldn'tve taken out the living room wall, Id've slapped myself silly. But she told me later she was ready to go all the way that night! "
Now the Amazon was confused. "What was it? Cold feet?"
"I wish. I mean, ya know, cold feet doesn't last forever. I can wait. For her, I would've waited. Hell, for her, I'dve flown us around til we found a Justice Of The Peace who'd marry us! Granted, my folks would've served me a Kryptonite-and-Jelly sandwich, but I wouldn't have hesitated."
"No, her problem was simple. When I stared at her---upper body---she thought I was disgusted! I was a lot of things, but disgusted wasn't one of them."
Margaret knew this particular tale wouldn't end happily. "So what did you do?"
"Well, what do you think I did? Something stupid, of course! I was angry, full of desire, and unable to make my first true love acknowledge something that was so obvious to me."
"I flew to the roof over the girls' locker room. I had been avoiding it, but I was determined to see Kellye as I dreamed of her. Then, I let loose with ol' X-Ray eyes. I was thrilled. There was Kellye, so hot looking as she entered the shower I had to keep from flying through the roof. More, it seemed like every good-looking girl in the school was there. All the stars in the galaxy, and my bright center, whether she knew it or not. Primeval adolecesent meets primeval adolescent fantasy. Then, it happened."
Margaret guessed. "You were caught".
Hawkeye shook his head. "Me? Nah, never! I move faster than light, when I want to. No. I wish I had been caught. It would have been better than what followed. I saw the Head Cheerleader talking to Kellye, with all the other girls, standing behind her. So I listened in."
"You know, Lang, eventually, Hawkeye Kent's going to wake up and put out the dog. Why don't you just leave town and make it easier on yourself. In case you don't get the message, here it is : GET OUT! You and your kind are not wanted here!"
Margaret was agahast. "Well, so much for sisterhood! My mother would've ripped those girls' heads off- Literally! Please tell me you at least pretended to be a clothes-eating Hurricane at their next practice!"
Superman had to smile. That Wonder Woman would suggest that, even jokingly, meant she understood Kellye's pain.
"I can honestly say, Margaret, that, when it came to those girls, I had seen enough. They could have all been Marilyn Monroe clones - which did happen later on in the school year, by the way- and I wouldn't have given a damn. They made Kellye cry. That was all I cared about. She sat, with the showers running, and kept crying for an hour. Five days later, her folks had sold their house. Except for right before she left, I've never seen her again."
Margaret was now fighting back tears of her own. "That's why you don't use your X-Ray Vision that way?"
Hawkeye nodded. "You just never know what you're gonna see. And there's a good chance that you won't like it-even though you're certain otherwise. To this day, if a Porky's-type movie comes on TV, I go scan the Pacific. Bugs the hell out of Sidney. He says the woooshh! keeps the Orcas awake,"
"Kent, I don't want to pry, but that last time you saw her-did you---do it?"
"I'm already pouring out my soul, Margaret. But, no, we didn't go for a hayride. We-went--"
Despite herself, Wonder Woman asked, "You went what--skinny dipping?"
Kent smiled. "I took her flying, Margaret! By the time she had to leave, I had shown her the world. More importantly, I had let her know that she was Superboy's first girlfriend, his first love. That my ducking out during our dates at odd times had a reason. I could see in her smile that she felt important-maybe for the first time in her life. That made me feel important. More than Presidents, Kings, etc., I had my Kellye's smile." He noticed a smile on Margaret's face a mile wide. He then noticed his own smile. Suddenly, two people named Donald and Carlye left the demigods' minds and hearts for the first time in a long time. "Good story, huh!?"
Hawkeye Kent could have tried a billion pick-up lines on Princess Margaret, and not one of them would have created the quiet, tender moment that existed between them now. Their quiet attraction might well have bubbled to the surface then and there....but for the explosion.
Superman bitterly stirred. "Anyone who didn't see that coming, please turn in their brains at the door. Thank You!"
Frustrated, Wonder Woman flew with him toward the spot of the explosion on the Justice League Of America's sattelite headquarters. "If it's Darkseid, I'm going to reach down his throat and..."
Superman motioned for her to stop. "It's not Darkseid, Margaret. Unless Apokolips-puss is heavy into Red, that's the Flash."
"Hawkeye, that's impossible! Sherman Garrick and Wally O'Reilly are not even in this dimension! They're off with that Access character, and that smart-mouthed Spider-kid! We'd know if they'dve returned!"
The man in the Flash uniform looked up. It was neither Wally "Radar" O'Reilly or Sherman T. Garrick, the third and first men to call themselves the Flash. No, this was the second man to use that title. Only it couldn't be.
"Hawkeye, Margaret, watch out! He's gone nuts!" The man then fainted, from exhaustion.
Superman and Wonder Woman spoke only two words, together. But those two words spoke volumes about the situation.
A figure stepped from the shadows, a figure in green and black. Another former comrade.
"I brought him back, Hawkeye. I can bring Carlye back, San Francisco, everything! You may have given that loser Hunnicutt my ring, but I am still powerful! I AM PARRALAX!"
The duo stood in silence, at the grim change in the man once known as Harold "Hal" Francis Xavier Jordan. Hawkeye spoke first. "Gee, Welcome Back, Trapper! Love the suit! Oy Gevalt!"