Movements of Fire and Shadow
A Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes
by 'rith (with a considerable assist from Dann-El)
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What we have done with them is ours.
Archive: Ask first, please.
Warnings: Non explicit m/f sex.
*Apologies to: J. Michael Straczynski, for the theft of a title that was too appropriate not to swipe.
Dirk Morgna, the Legionnaire called Sun Boy, lay on a diagnostic bed in the MedBay. The solar radiations that he commanded blazed unchecked, threatening to blind or burn any who came too near.
"So what's the verdict, doc?" Through the brightness came Dirk's voice, cheerful as ever.
"You'll live. And do not call me 'doc.'"
"Whatever you say, Brainy."
Brainiac 5, the Legion's resident genius, looked at the readings again and frowned. His patient's voice belied the truth reflected in the stress monitor; Morgna had admirable control over his destructive powers under most circumstances, and this sudden loss of that discipline had obviously upset him a great deal. Of course, it would be a grievous lapse for Dirk to actually admit to such fear. Legionnaires were a stubborn lot.
But more to the point, there was nothing more he could do. The radiation the Legion mission team had encountered was reacting oddly with Dirk's biochemistry. The same process that gave Sun Boy his powers in the first place and continued to fuel them was now running out of control. Though Dirk himself was in no danger, anyone who approached him was. With possibly one exception.
Brainy reached for the comm. "Shadow Lass to the MedBay, please."
She arrived within moments. "Brainy, you called?"
Before he could answer, Dirk's voice broke in again. "Hey, Shady lady. Come to enjoy the bonfire? Hope you brought marshmallows!"
Tasmia shook her head at him, amused. "Hush, Dirk! Brainy, you were going to say...?"
"Yes. Thank you. Here is the problem..." he waved toward the readings displayed on the wall. "Sun Boy's, er, flares need to be contained, and I believe your powers would be the most expedient way to do that."
"Can't you do anything for him?"
"I'm afraid not. In this case, there is no cure but time: five point three hours, by my best estimate. Anything I might do could create greater problems with Dirk's biochemistry."
"Well, I'll help however I can." She moved closer, shading her eyes against the brightness.
The shadows enfolded him.
From the bed came almost a whisper, so removed from his merry tone of a moment before. "Oh, man...oh, man...."
Fear. Rising to panic.
"Dirk? What's wrong?"
"The dark...oh, man. No offense, Shady, but I'm not real fond of it, you know? My powers and all...."
"There's nothing here to hurt you." Outside the zone of shadow she glanced at Brainy, concerned. He sighed, and typed out on a dataslate: Nyctophobia. Recurrent under stress. Reluctant to use drugs.
Dirk's voice went on behind them. "I know, I know, it's just...keep talking, all right? Don't..."
"I won't leave you." Tasmia glared at Brainiac 5 even as her voice remained level. She grabbed the 'slate. Wish you'd said something. NO other option? Querl shrugged in response. Shady let out a hiss of breath between her teeth. Sometimes even her patience with Brainiac 5's disregard for certain niceties hit its limit. Low-voiced, she said, "Fine. If you can't help, get out."
He started, astonished, and forgot to keep his voice down. "You're kicking me out of my own lab?!"
"This is the MedBay, not your private lab. And yes. Go tune a time bubble or something."
They both heard Dirk suppress a laugh at that. Brainy raised an eyebrow but inclined his head. It was almost a short bow. "Very well. Tasmia, if his condition changes in any way, let me know immediately."
She turned away from him, annoyed, and heard the door slide shut.
A soothing tone. "I'm still here."
"Okay." A moment, and then his voice rushed in to fill the dark. "How'd you do that, anyway? Pretty smooth, how you handled him."
"Oh, you just have to be firm with him."
Dirk snorted. "Not likely. I've seen Imra smack him down verbally, and Nura once or twice, but he just ignores everyone else no matter how 'firm' they are. What's that about? You have some good gossip on him you've been holding in reserve?"
She laughed. "No."
"Dirk, it's really nothing...."
"Hm. A mystery."
She said nothing, thinking of the reasons that lay between she and Querl Dox. Ancient history that still resonated, a mutual attraction that never evolved into more but left behind a little more politeness on his part and a little more tolerance on hers. Valuable commodities when dealing with Brainiac 5, who was more essential to the team than perhaps any other Legionnaire but whose brusque manner exasperated many of them.
A particularly violent flare from the bed caught her by surprise, and she deepened her shadows to compensate. "Dirk, I'm here."
"All--All right. Grife, I hate this!" His voice still hovered on the thin edge of panic.
"...yeah. Sorry, Shady."
In the darkness she watched him settle back and try to relax. It wasn't easy for him, that was plain to see. Reaching out, she took his hand and his grateful sigh signaled his appreciation. It was difficult for her to understand, this fear of the dark. To her, raised in the shade of her Ancestors and the soothing peace of cool shadow, the darkness was home...a place of comfort and familiarity, and the source of all her power.
But to him it was a frightening...lack...the uneasiness that lay just beyond the edge of the campfire, an unknown place of demons and nightmares. That common theme in Terran myth only made her powers more effective, sometimes. But she did not intend such here, with a fellow Legionnaire.
She concentrated on her voice, pitching it to calm and distract him. "It's all right." Her quiet laugh was only to keep him at ease. "I won't take it personally!"
"Thanks." He snorted suddenly. "Wouldn't Tinya love to see this. Sun Boy, afraid of the dark. She'd hold that over me forever."
Through the shadows she saw an embarrassed blush spread across his face. "Oops. Talk about foot in mouth. I forgot she's your best friend. Dammit, where the hell did my manners go?"
She squeezed his hand slightly. "It's all right, Dirk. Really."
"I just don't know why I get this way, I can't concentrate, I can't stand this. Little kids are afraid of the dark. Not Legionnaires!" His face turned to hers blindly, and she wondered if he knew how much his expression gave away. Probably not; most humans forgot to guard themselves in the dark. But it was there that she saw most clearly.
The intensity of his reaction raised a memory. Years before they had battled the "psycho-warrior," who attacked the Legionnaire' deepest fears. Dirk's...had been a crawling blackness that swallowed his light. Ever since then, she and Dirk hadn't shared that many missions between them. If this been extant all along, the mission assignments had been made to compensate...and keep them apart. Why hadn't she noticed?
...Too bound up in her own life, with Mon-El, and it had been easy to forget her other teammates' fears. That it should take a crisis to remind her...was shameful.
Dirk's head tossed against the pillow in frustration. "I'm sorry, Shady. I thought I'd gotten over it, and then something like this happens...."
"Never mind, then. Just tell me what I can do to help."
"I don't--just talk to me, all right? Don't leave--don't leave me alone."
The moment he said it the associations came clear. So like Lar, fears all apparent under the right stress, raw emotions showing without barriers. The cause was different, but the effect the same.
And that, she knew how to deal with. Sometimes they just talked, sometimes they only sat together in comforting silence. Most often they made love, the pure physicality of it relief against Lar's memories of the emptiness of the Zone.
She considered what she knew of Dirk Morgna. As Sun Boy, he was a stalwart Legionnaire: dedicated, determined, crucial to the team's makeup not just for his powers but also for his earnest resolve. More personally he was a very physical man, given to casual liaisons--perhaps for that very reason, to keep from being alone?--compassionate, honorable, and kind.
And a friend.
There was really very little Tasmia wouldn't do for her friends. Sometimes the other Legionnaires--particularly the Terrans, like Dirk--were too cautious, too bound up in their society's rituals, to ask for comfort when they needed it. As he did now.
She pulled down her deepest shades against whatever visual monitors Querl had in place.
Dirk felt something caress his face, and then a warm breath in his ear. "But this isn't working. We'll just have to find another way to distract you, don't you think?"
Wetness touched his earlobe.
"Not that I'm not, y'know, interested, but I like my limbs where they are. What's Mon-El gonna think about this?"
"He'll understand that I'm helping a friend in need. And I want to help you."
"Yeah, but Shady...."
A finger touched his lips. "Shhhhhh." And then, amused, "Do you give all your lovers this much trouble? I wouldn't have thought so, given the rumors we hear about the Legion's playboy...."
"Grife. You go on a few dates and suddenly you're the slut of the galaxy."
"I didn't say that. That title wouldn't go to you, anyway. But you're not paying attention, here." A lithe weight settled across his hips.
A smile crept onto his face. "Never let it be said I insulted a lady by ignoring her intentions." He reached up, touched her face, and drew her down into a kiss.
Images of fire and shadow melded across the ceiling, dancing in patterns of light and dark.
Her answering laughter was like tinkling wind chimes. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I did also, very much."
He kissed her cheek. "Any day," he told her, "any day. Mon is a very lucky guy." Mention of her lover's name seemed to make him uneasy and he fell silent.
"You're still worried about what he'll think, aren't you?" Beside her, his restless shrug confirmed it.
"Yeah," he confessed, "I guess I am. I mean, okay, I was only kidding about the liking my limbs where they are thing...mostly, anyway. But Mon is a friend and teammate, Shady. Look, I may not be a monk but I don't want to hurt anybody here, either."
His concern--belying his reputation--warmed her. "Don't worry, you won't," she reassured him. "I love Lar, make no mistake about that. And he loves me." Cool fingers danced lightly through the fire-gold hair spilling onto the MedBed's pillow. "But that doesn't mean that either of us owns the other, Dirk."
Silently, he settled into a more comfortable position, cradling her in the crook of his arm. Several moments passed in companionable silence before he spoke. "That must be...nice. I mean--ah, I shouldn't pry."
She smiled to herself and kissed his temple. "We anchor each other. But you've reminded me that we both should pay more attention to the other people in our lives."
The sly grin reflected in his voice was so eminently Dirk she might not even have needed her dark vision to see it. "That'd make both of you more popular, I bet...."
She burst out laughing. "Not like this, you--oh, what an image!" She forgot her dignity and clutched at him, giggling. His chuckles echoed hers, warming the darkness.
Finally she wiped her eyes, still hiccuping. "Oh, I can't wait to share that with Lar. He'll appreciate it."
"You have a lovely laugh. You should let us hear it more often."
"Flatterer." She snuggled against him, smiling. "Silver-tongued devil. Say on."
He considered for a moment. "'She walks in beauty, like the night....'"
She bit at his side. "Cheat! I call foul! Even I recognize that one."
"Yow! Sharp teeth. But 'foul', huh? What's my forfeit?"
"Mmm. You're the creative type. I'm sure you can think of something."
Silence again, and then:
Unheard by either of them, the door slid open and Brainiac 5 reentered his lab. His intended greeting died on his tongue as he registered the circle of absolute blackness, and Dirk's laugh. Then something that sounded suspiciously like a moan.
His voice took on an acid tone. "I assume you're feeling better, Sun Boy...."
Dirk's voice, suspiciously muffled. "Private therapy. Go 'way, Brainy."
Querl could only sigh and shake his head. "When you're quite finished, I hope to find the MedBay in working order." He turned and left, the faintest smile--despite himself--creeping over his lips. Normally he despised unpredictable events, but with Legionnaires...well. One learned to be flexible.
Perhaps he should write a paper. "The Effect of Love on Phobias." Or sex, rather. He snorted and shook his head again. Perhaps not.