Joan Hayes was in her bed looking at the night sky. Two years ago, she would have been able to see thousands of stars from her small little country home away from the city lights. Two years ago, the moon would have been as bright as the sun when it was full. Two years ago, there would have been wild dogs howling and the trees rustling in the wind.
Two years ago, the Reach weren't there.
The stars were gone, not visible throughout the smog cover that covered the earth because it was now a production planet for the Reach. The moon was a faint gray circle that could occasionally be seen, but it isn't as stunning as before with the Reach Chancellor living there. The wild dogs had starved to death or been killed by the Reach as they were a threat to their production means. The trees were still there, but they no longer danced in the wind, silenced with the rest of humanity by the Reach.
Joan looks at these upon indifference. At first, after the Justice League had fallen, she had been scared and had cried then. Her parents and younger brother were placed in charge of an hundred acre farm that was part of a larger plantation. At the time, Joan remembers bitterly her defiance which evolved into a full on fist fight with the Reach that had assigned them. She had done well, but after she was knocked down for the dozenth time, she spat in the Reach official's face. She doesn't remember anything after that. Her family says that the official hit her unconscious and she was lucky to be alive. But Joan didn't believe in luck. She was only alive because the official had allowed her to.
A bird flew to the windowsill, a little red bird which Joan knew naught the name of. Recently, it had become her only friend and only visited her at night. She opened the window just slightly and the bird fluttered in. Joan looked around and listened carefully to her silent house before daring to take out a match and light the candle that was strictly forbidden by the Reach as it might hurt their production. The bird hopped over to the candle and seemed to sigh. Joan smiled. The bird was not much bigger than her palm, yet looked more like a falcon than the usual sparrow that should have been its size. There were oranges, yellows and a few splashes of smoky black feathers over the eyes creating a mask. And for whatever reason, though pets were strictly forbidden, Joan was compulsed to feed this bird at night. Perhaps because in the darkness of her life, it made her smile.
"You know, if you aren't careful, then the Reach will find you," she whispered almost inaudibly.
The bird ruffled its feathers and seemed to glare.
"I know, you're too smart to get caught by them. After all, you have wings. You can fly away anywhere. You can escape to the trees and hide." Joan felt the familiar burn of the beginnings of tears in her eyes. "I can't escape and fly away. God, I wish I could. He knows I pray to Him every night to for wings just like yours so I can get out of here. I would give anything to get out of here." She wiped away the crystal water had almost leaked out from her eyes. The bird cocked its head and she knew it was listening. It always listened to her. "If I could get out of here, I would help others escape. I would help the very people who are fighting to bring down the Reach. You know, there have been rumors going around of a team across the world who are trying to send the reach away. I think they are calling themselves Young Justice because most of them are teenagers. The Reach say they don't exist, but rumors still get spread around. I guess they're right, though. After all, everyone needs a some hope. I guess that's all they are, hope. "
The bird blinked, assuring her that everything was alright. Joan was about to speak her gratitude when a light knock at the door startled her. She blew the candle out, and closed the window. She walked downstairs, knowing that if it was the Reach she would be punished for not sleeping. However, as of this moment, Joan needed a reason to get in a fight and take her anger out on someone else.
As she opened the back door, she expected something brutal, perhaps a punch in the face if the Reach were kind. She didn't expect a man standing before her in a black uniform with a blue v down his chest. He had blood dripping down the left side of his face and bruises covered every inch of visible skin and Joan imagined much more lay underneath the costume.
"Help me," he coughed before collapsing on her kitchen floor.
Joan dragged the man who looked a couple years older than her to the back of the house where he room was. She knew he was not Reach, but she did not quite understand why she was hiding him. Perhaps because he looked like someone part of the League even though everyone knew that the League was gone now. He was a memory of a time past, a time before the Reach. Perhaps that was the reason she hid him as if he was secret treasure.
She tiptoed to the bathroom where as quietly as she could, she got a tall glass of water and a towel wet under the sink. Back in her room on her bed, was the stranger. She slowly, methodically, began to wipe the blood off of his face. It wasn't as bad as she had thought, but she still knew he would need stitches from her own experiences. With a feeling of knowing that he couldn't be brought to a doctor, she found a needle from her mother's sewing kit and thread. Feeling her stomach turn with every stitch, she carefully knit together the man forehead. She was grateful that he didn't need many. She snuck a package of frozen peas from the freezer and rested it on his bruises, only long enough to bring some of the swelling down. By the time the peas were little more than mush, she put them back in the freezer, hoping they would be solid again later.
When she came back, the man was slowly coming to. His eyelids flickered slowly, dreamily. His eyes were hazy as if trying to recall a pleasant dream or trying to escape a nightmare. He turned his when he heard her quiet footfalls and focused in on her.
"You shouldn't have helped me." His voice was still hoarse.
"You came to my door. What was I supposed to do? Throw you out? The Reach would find you before you got a quarter mile. We both know the rules. No leaving the home after dark."
The man chuckled a bit, but started coughing again. Once he stopped, his voice seemed a little more solid. "Thank you, but I must leave before they catch your family-"
"Nonsense. You are staying here until you can at least stand on your own."
"I can stand..." The man fell back to the bed after trying to simply sit up. Hime being irked was an understatement. "Nevermind..." he growled.
"It's okay. I won't give you away. Just stay in here and rest so you can get better." She helped him sip the water. "My name is Joan, by the way."
He took a while to respond, but before he closed his eyes to a fitful sleep, he whispered something.
"You... you should call me Nightwing."
Author's Note: Well, what do you think? I kind of had this crazy idea of what if the team fail and the Reach took over? This is what resulted. Please read it to the end and review!