A/N: Finally the glitch is gone... bout damn time too, this was written days ago and I couldn't upload it. Most of you will probably hate how this arc ends, simply because its not ending the way you want it to. Hell, most of you will probably hate the swerve it takes too... But, if you look deep into it, you'll realize its for a purpose. Afterall, for this story to continue (and it almost got the plug pulled), it needed a hard look at itself.
Bah, anyway, enjoy.
The Watchman II
"Wish I could feel like that for once."
Blue, tranquil, not a care in the world, the world spins and Garfield Logan is but the observer. Though storms rattle the green and brown landscapes, and shadow envelopes the planet's surface, it still looks so serene and blissful.
Not like the numerous scars and slashes across his frame. Some covered in wraps, others light enough to be left untreated. Eyes staring hard at the planet floating below, he gazes silently, hardly an expression on his well-worn face. Just like the planet below, however, the placidness is offset by a deeper, hidden truth..
Dodging the cards was easy enough. For his vaunted aim, it seems Baptist wasn't only aiming for Watchman's flesh. Some of them pass by him, aiming at his allies and begrudgingly bitter "associates". Outside of a near-hit on Question, they're equally as lucky as Gar finds himself. That gesture alone sets the powderkeg in motion. Within seconds, five vigilantes and four villains find themselves charging into the smaller, though equally dangerous, "Desade Gang".
Blue takes the first shots, bullets bouncing off a pair of defensive screens from Dr. Light and Raven. This sets up Mr. X, leaping into the battle and crashing down on Slade's bo-staff.
Growling, Boomerang unleashes a duo of his own boomerangs at Mr. X, hoping to catch him off-guard. No dice as the Australian instruments of destruction run afoul of a pair of pocket 5's. Cards slicing through the explosives, they're instantly set ablaze before it can throw Mr. X away. As Rouge snaps her extended arm forward to grab X, he pivots on his heel and slashes through her palm with all the excitement of an empty room. Her shrill, howling scream of pain registers across the room, Slade returning the gesture with an attempted thrust at the assailant's face. His opponent's other arm simply deflects the blade away, muted eyes matching Slade's screaming one.
Blue's guns spark in open defiance though the shells seem to bounce harmlessly off Dr. Light and Raven's screens. Of course, there's one thing they don't consider. While they're busy keeping Blue from shooting Question or Huntress, they're effectively drawn out of the fight against the Baptist. For his lack of super-powers, he's wisely making use of his human abilities.
Laughing happily, the Baptist twirls and spins, throwing cards by the handful at Watchman, Question, and Huntress. They streak past, narrowly avoiding their targets by mere inches, some even ripping shreds of Q and Gar's coats away. With each toss, the holyman seems to laugh even more, directing the shots with his hands, making Huntress use up more and more of her limited amount of arrows. For Watchman, however, the bigger problem is the sight beyond the Baptist.
Desade and Red are standing away from the contest, allowing the other three to continue their job unimpeded. With Baptist throwing cards like a man possessed, keeping most of the group at bay, and Mr. X busily distracting Slade's group, there seems to be no reason to join in the fray. Smile still on his aged lips, Desade seems ecstatic at the view before him. Nine of the "best" in the hero/villain community before him and not one of them can break through to reach him. If only things had been like this three years ago, he surely never would've suffered defeat at HIS hands...
"Baptist!" Desade calls out to the man enthralled, his deck-dealing uninterrupted. "Its been too long since Mr. Watchman and I have spoken. Let him go, I think he's getting a bit upset."
Red smiles a bit, licking her teeth at the thought of the coming fight.
"Are you sure, sir? The boy's quite a clever one after all." Baptist's words, though coming with mirth, seems to indicate a tiny hit of concern. Gar nearly had him beat on top of the hotel of course.
"Oh yes, I'm sure. The others are simply a nuisance anyway." Smile vanishing like a spectre, the sadist warns. "I want no interruptions. Keep those other shits out of this, got it?"
Taking two handfuls of cards between his fingers, Baptist smiles, eyes wide and manic. "I got you, Desade." Facing the three before him, he warns. "HAVE A STRAIGHT FLUSH, YOU BASTARDS!"
"Excuse me, Watchman?" A female voice asks quietly, barely shaking him from his fixation. "Green Lantern will see you now."
Looking back at the woman, eyes looking at his battle scars like a frightened child, Gar manages the smallest of smiles to ease her anxiety. "Thank you."
Following her through the dimly-lit hallway, Gar finds himself back at the familiar doorway of the League's resident "Marine": Green Lantern. How lucky is he?
Stepping inside, behind a simple desk with a chair before it, Watchman can't help but wonder if he's back in the principal's office again.
"I heard about your report to Superman." Lantern points out, busy looking over some details on a holographic computer screen. Eyes burning brightly green, opposite to Gar's own dimly lit ones, the old marine looks less than thrilled about this.
"I wanted the League to understand how I felt." Gar answers, forsaking the Rorschach voice for the sake of understanding. There's a time for psychological issues and..
"How you felt? That's a polite way of putting it." John Stewart's reply, though snapped back a bit, is reserved for the time being.
Nodding slightly, Gar admits "I didn't come to the decision lightly."
"Did you consult your teammates or did you just blurt it out like always?" Screen turning off, the Corp member's attention is fully fixated on Gar now. Lucky Gar.
"The issue's been a major dividing factor in the team for awhile now, sir. To bring it up in assembly would.."
"Still, its a pretty big issue to consider. Are you sure she'll go through with it?" Lantern inquires, recalling the suggestion in the report.
For once, Gar's head bows away from a person's stare, despite his urges to the contrary. "Considering the other issue in the report, she'll either go through with it or end up leaving."
Sighing, Lantern finds himself in agreement. "You have a point, Watchman. Still, its your relationship to consider..."
"I know that. But, on the other hand, its either my happiness or the world's safety."
Surprisingly cautious, Lantern warns "It could also cost you your sanity."
Returning his forest eyes back to the glowing orbs of the elder hero, Gar suggests "I either lose it willingly or I lose it at the wrong time and end up hurting her."
"You mean because of what happened with Desade?"
"Come on Watchman! You have to do better than that!" Desade taunts, each of Gar's claws missing their mark by more than six inches away. Even with the last beams of light from the sun on their backs, Gar's attempts seem to inspire nothing but dark hopelessness in his efforts. In the distance, Red watches anxiously, arms folded and a wry smile on her face. Creepy, that one is.. Desade, however, simply leaps about the outside of the warehouse area, hands blocking some thrusts in defensive posture while evading others. From all of his exertions, Gar's sweating face only peels back in rage. When did Desade...?
"What? Did you think three years in jail would make me slower or something?! This body is nothing but amazing, Watchman, and you should know it by now!" Taking a moment to adjust his leather vest, Desade reminds. "Granted my bones might be a bit metal-heavy, but that weight has made my muscles even stronger! I can fly around this yard faster than one of those Dragonball characters!"
"Happy for you." Gar points out though his toothy snarl betrays the opposite.
"It seems three years living with those friends, however, has made you slower. Look at you, Watchman!" Smiling again, Desade crosses his arms to his chest and snickers. "You've aged, yes, but you've also become slower. Your hair's grown out but your lack of drive has faded. Three years ago you were the most fearsome opponent I ever had. Now you're no better than a Teen Titan."
Eyes blazing green, the fiery pits of an emerald hell in each orb, Gar leaps forward with fangs barred. How dare he... how dare HE EVEN..
Diving away from the impact forthcoming, Desade casually remarks. "And you want to fight Ripper... in THIS condition? You're a waste, Watchman! In fact, you're not even fit to fight ME!"
As Gar hits the ground in a kneel, Desade stops his movement to request borededly. "Red, please entertain the young man while I remind him of somethings he's forgotten."
Removing her slim coat now, Red practically giggles to herself, though not the cutesy kind seen so often in television and movies. No, this one possesses the same kind of "sanity" found in those with a fanatical tick of an eye. Shoulder's bare, hair flapping in the surf-driven wind, fingers elongating to form claws fit for a nightmarish dream demon, Red seems pleased to begin.
"You see, Watchman..." Desade points out though his opponent's gaze now turns to the quickly-approaching woman. "You've spent so long trying to work your way to the top of Jump City's hierarchy by pretending to be evil, badass... But in the process, you forgot that you're still a "hero". No matter what you do, you'll never be evil enough to scare us." Snapping his fingers, Red pounces with a terrific scream. "After all, how can a dog chained up by his masters ever hope to scare us?!"
"Yeah, because of what happened with Desade."
"We don't always win, Garfield. It happens sometimes. Even the best of us get knocked around now and again." Lantern offers. Although Jonn might be the League's resident "psych", the old leatherneck still can offer some advice from time to time.
Voice beginning to drop to a familiar pitch, Gar reminds. "Of course we don't always win... I understand that. Doesn't take away from the facts. Desade was right. Can't scare anyone while I'm still held back. His gang doesn't fear me. They don't fear me, no one will. Unacceptable now."
Hearing the shift in the voice, Lantern finds himself inwardly cringing at the Watchman's face. Although originally shy, almost depressed at the loss, Gar now stares into his own eyes like a statue. Not just any statue either but a statue of an old gladiator, cold and stoic. Ready to kill but without the facial expression to show it. That fire in those eyes without the aid of a snarl, smile, or snicker...
"The League will never let you do the things you suggested in the report, Watchman. We don't allow killing and we won't change our stance on that."
Green Lantern might be trying to cover up his emotions on the subject but its too late now to change the course.
"Was correct then: League has become soft. Become too concerned with its image. Don't want to dirty its hands but asks the impossible."
"Watchman, that's not fair and you know it."
Eyes narrowing slightly, Gar continues knowing that it could lead to a very harsh argument, and eventual reprimand. "Fair? All month met people effected by Desade's kind. Live in slums, shelters.. poverty. Most will never survive to see old age. Fair? Desade gets rich off the drug, told to stop him... Impossible to stop someone without tools to do so. Longer they live, the more influence they use to control Jump City's underworld. They used to fear me.. now only bottom feeders do. Lost their fear, lost their compliance. Fair?"
High tide's coming.
"Three years in the League's made me soft.. Made me weak. Can't even fight Desade anymore. Can't even stop one woman. Can't protect friends. Need Slade's help to protect teammates. Honor? Morality? Useless. If the enemy wins, our sacrifice is useless."
"The founding seven have already decided, Watchman!" Lantern nearly shouts, the monotone in Gar's voice starting to punch through even his thick exterior.
Standing up now, Gar turns towards the door. "Then useless to continue working here. Too weak to act, too weak to protect those needing protecting."
"WATCHMAN!" Lantern shouts, standing up from his desk and glaring at the back of Logan's head. "Don't be ridiculous! If you walk out of this group now, you're on your own! No League assistance, no support from the Watchmen, and we're not going to protect you from the police either! For God's sake, don't forget you're a hero and not a.."
"Hero?" Gar's voice, still dry and monotone speaks as if in thought. "Hero protects others without concern for their own well-being. Risks their life despite the danger. When did politics and morality ruin that word?"
"What?!" Lantern hisses, feeling as though physically struck.
Walking towards the door, Gar asks "When did the word become corrupted? A hero protects without desire for fame. Call me a hero? By the real definition maybe I am. By your definition, I'm nothing."
Door sliding open, Green Lantern tells Garfield with aggravation heavy in his bass voice. "You think you understand the League, don't you? Well if you want to call us all a bunch of hypocrites, fine, be my guest. Go out and protect people like you say you'll do. But if you step over that line and start acting like one of those degenerates out there, then.."
"You'll come after me too?" Gar counters. Looking back, his tired face replies in the normal voice he always has. "Sir, you're the second person now to tell me that. If I could prove the Titans wrong, why not prove the League wrong? Besides, the people still need people like me."
"And what makes you so special, huh? What makes you different than us?!"
Voice returning to dark and monotone, Gar answers. "I'm not a hero."
As Gar walks into Question's room, filled with his now former teammates, he dreads the upcoming conversation and the implications it will have on his life.
"You're back. How did it go?" Huntress asks, voice quiet with anticipation. Despite a bad-looking cut on the side of her face, she seems less battered than Gar does.
"It went..." Voice seeming distant though fishing for the appropriate word..
"You don't need to say it." Raven tells him, seeing his expression and knowing full well what it contains. "You tried to get permission to kill again, didn't you?"
"Gar, they're never going to let you kill someone. No matter how many times you ask, they.." Huntress begins.
"Even if all five of us have tried it in the past, they still won't let us under their watch." Light adds though not as distressed as the two women seem to be.
"Still justified at the end of the day.." Question points out, both to Gar's dilemma as well as his incident with Luthor oh so long ago..
"I resigned." Gar heartlessly announces, colder than an Antarctic night. "With the teleport back to Jump City, I'm out of the League."
"What? What the fuck are you talking about?" Raven curses, incensed that he would even joke about..
"I'm not joking, Raven. Lantern left me no choice."
Light even seems amazed at this situation. "You mean he forced you to?"
"Tell me you're joking, Gar. Tell me this is a really bad joke." Huntress asks, eyes wide while Question retreats his hands to his pockets, head tilted down.
"No joke. The League's become too soft, too weak to do what's right. Didn't expect them to let me kill but didn't think they'd willingly hold us back to keep their "honor"."
"I imagine Lantern didn't take it very well?" Question asks, his curiosity ever present despite the questions now flooding his brain.
"No League membership means I'm on my own. No Watchmen, no League support, no police protection."
"How heroic.." Light mutters, looking away.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Raven snaps at Dr. Light, begging for a reason to unleash her rage at the situation.
"What's that supposed to mean? It means that the instant someone wants to do their job around here, the "heroes" above them set the rules in opposition! Instead of letting us protect people, they keep us on the backburner like a bunch of rookies! That's what I mean! How is THAT heroic?!"
"Because murdering and torturing people isn't heroic, LIGHT!" Raven warns angrily, objects beginning to levitate in the air. "ITS THE SAME SHIT THEY DO!"
"You're right." Gar points out. "That's why I suggested a transfer to Dr. Fate's group in my report."
The simple statement, delivered in such a plain way, has implications far beyond the ordinary. As Raven turns, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, she meets the man she loves with a look indescribable.
"Of the five of us you're the least likely to do what's necessary to stop Desade's kind." Gar points out against the stunned expressions of Huntress, Question, and Light. No way could Gar ACTUALLY be doing this.. not to Raven... not like this... No way.
Raven herself can't find the words to speak, much less the means. Stuttering isn't something she's used to but even now image is nothing compared to the shock of it all.
"Out of all us, you're the one with the best chance of making it in the League without being forced out in disgrace."
"H.h..how could you..." she finally begins, drawing on each syllable with anger seeping in. "How could you do this.. to us... to me.. Garfield.. HOW COULD YOU?"
As she closes the gap, ready to strike him with all her might. Sending her away, calling her weak.. calling her unable to do what's necessary... How could he.. Raising her fist, she swings at his face, ready to beat some sense into this dreadful, green..
Arm caught half a second before impact, Gar's voice never waivers as he tells her. "Because I won't ask you to become a monster like I'm becoming."
"That's it? That's your fucking reason? You don't think I can handle what you're becoming?!" She shouts, trying to rest her arm away from his iron grip.
Releasing her arm, Gar embraces her now in a hug. "No. Because its already too late. I've already become that monster you warned I'd become.."
Tears are expected, even if they are through burning eyes and clenched teeth. "You're not a monster.. you're just mixed up.. that's all."
"No, Raven. For the first time in years, I know what I have to do. To stop Desade's gang, I know what I have to become. I can't be a hero like you to protect everyone. I have to walk a different road than you from now on."
"Gar, please... don't..."
"Don't let me down, ok? You'll help more people than I ever can with Fate and I expect nothing but the best from you."
Though wet droplets rain down on the leather coat from below Raven's eyes, a few bits of water splashing on her hair surprise her.
"Why are you doing this, Garfield? Why now? Why do you have to do this to me?"
Eyes feeling the sting of tears, he looks at a sad-looking Huntress, expression-less Question, and resolved-looking Light. "Same reason as I told Lantern: Because I'm not a hero.."
As Gar lies on the floor, bleeding and beaten down, Red and Desade stand within his line of sight. Their laughter, combinations forming a symphony of degradation and despair, echo in his ears mournfully.
"You will never win, Watchman. As long as you stay in that Justice League, you'll never have what it takes to save your precious city! We'll spare your friends and "allies" today.. I hope you feel every inch of shame you made ME feel all of these years!" Desade warns though trying to keep a smile.
Red leans down now, staring into his own green eyes with her dark orbs, looking vampiric with the eyeliner. With a playfully evil smile, she tells him "Its a shame you're still pretending to be a human. No matter what you do, you'll always be an animal. Next time we meet, I'll have to put you down for good."
Staring up at the darkening sky, Gar's eyes close sorrowfully as they fade away from sight.
For now, Garfield Logan must sleep.. From those dark dreams, the Watchman will rise again.
A/N2: So, Gar's reeling from an admittedly bad defeat. He's not one to lose lightly, especially considering who he's facing. Thing is though, how will he proceed from here? I'm already starting the next series (I'm thinking about writing these things in seperate stories to make these more one-sit friendly.)
Oh, and yes, I DID do that to BB/Rae. Why? Because their relationship became that way, and not even shippers can change that.
Will give you a heads up though. Where Gar's going, he goes alone... though I imagine there may be some whiskey involved..