My Secret Affair
by Tom Deja

It was all a ploy. That's what I kept telling myself. After all, I knew who my true love was. He was back in Star City, keeping the peace in the way only he knew how. As I wended my way across country, keeping touch with my holdings through cell phone and fax, I would read of his exploits on the Star City Gazette web page and feel my heart swell. I would study his photos and know the secrets he kept behind his eyes, the way he really felt and what he really needed. I knew why he felt he had to send me away. After finding out what my father did to me, what he made me do in his pursuit of political power- He still loved me. I knew he did. He just needed something to prompt him to profess his love to me. If I was to win my beloved Ollie's heart-my Emerald Archer, no matter what stunt he pulled with his plastic friend-I had to make him jealous, and I would do so with a man I knew had to be his friend.

Guy barrel-rolled to avoid the concussive blast. He twisted in the sky to face the armored man and sent a barrage of boxing gloves his opponent's way. The armored man was staggered, but only slightly; Guy took the moment's advantage to head up into the sun in an effort to blind his foe. On large screen monitors on the ground, the audience watching could see the view from inside the armor. For a moment, the sun did seem to interfere with perceiving the Green Lantern-until two lenses slid over the eyeslits, eliminating the glare and making Guy stand out like a vegetarian at a carnivore convention. The armored man flew upwards towards Guy. He raised his right arm as the distance closed between them. From a recess just above the wrist of the armored man's gauntlet came a stream of what looked to be rivets. Guy turned and twisted, throwing up a replica of a crazy straw to redirect the projectiles back at his attacker. However, two managed to slip past the construct and slammed into his shoulder. "Yeow! You don't play fair, do you, John?" Guy snapped. The shoulder was already going numb. Guy concentrated, and a large sledgehammer came in from the left. The armored man twisted and held out his arms. The air between him and the construct glowed, and the sledgehammer bounced off the spot.

John Henry turned to the gathered dignitaries. "As you can see, the Superhuman Tactical Environmental Exoskeleton Lancer Unit, or S.T.E.E.L. for short, is designed to provide a non-lethal but decisive response to Metahuman threats. As we near completion of the first units, we will continue to add equipment to respond to a comprehensive battery of metahuman abilities.

In the air, the armored man raised his left gauntlet. A near-comical glop sounded. Guy was suddenly pelted with a barrage of small gel-like capsules that splattered against his costume and covered him in something that resembled Play-doh. "This is humiliating," he muttered. A portion of this material had landed on his ring and hand. The stuff was unpleasantly cold as it squished through his fingers. He flew up and over the armored man and concentrated on a giant butterfly net for his opponent. The construct appeared, but the emerald light of which it was constructed wavered in intensity. Guy cursed under his breath.

"As you can see, the S.T.E.E.L. armor's refraction gelatin manages to lessen the effectiveness of Green Lantern without causing our city's favorite son any harm," John continued. He indicated the armaments on the schematic projected on the screen to his right. "The S.T.E.E.L. system is designed to be fully modular, with later developments in anti-meta tech being added on as they occur. Given time, there won't be a meta your city won't be able to protect against." John Henry brought the wrist mike to his lips. "Okay, guys, bring it down. Good show."

"The things I do for you, buddy," Guy shot back before heading to Earth. As he landed next to the man in the S.T.E.E.L. prototype, John Henry said, "Before we take questions, how about we give a round of applause to Baltimore's own Green Lantern for helping us out with the demonstration."

Guy waved, feeling like a doofus for allowing himself to be made a fool of in front of visiting representatives from foreign countries and the police departments of several cities.

"And I think some applause is in order for the best test pilot in the world, Hal Jordan, for flying our prototype. Take a bow, Hal."

Hal Jordan removed the helmet of the S.T.E.E.L. armor and waved to the audience. He turned to Guy and shook his hand. "Great show."

"No one I'd rather be made to look like an idiot by," Guy said, praying that he didn't sound too petulant.

"So is that the project Ferris is doing with Hespeastus?" Guy asked. He was sitting in Hal's car as it drove up the Martin Luther King Parkway. Obviously, Green Lantern couldn't show up in Guy's car without attracting suspicion; thus Hal had offered to drop him off at Lamplighter.

"One of them," Hal admitted. "Not the major one, I would think. This baby was already far along when we came on board-all we did was make some modification on the boot jets and the energy cells. And naturally, when they needed someone to pilot it, they thought of me." Guy shook his head. "Man, Hal-you have the best job."

Hal looked away from the road to glance at his new friend. "And housing the homeless isn't cool?"

Guy contemplated the statement. "Well, yeah, it is in a way... I can't get enough of that feeling I get when a new family inspects their new home, you know? But you-I mean, you get to fly for a living."

"... and risk being blown up every day. It's not that I would walk away from it, Guy, but there's nothing like the constant threat of death to keep you aware that you're alive." The two men felt silent. Ever since he discovered that Hal Jordan was the original wielder of the ring he now wore, Guy Gardener had felt a lot better about being Green Lantern. It felt good to be able to talk to somebody who actually had hands on experience, who actually had been in Guy's shoes. "Do you miss it?" he finally asked.

"Miss what?"

Guy held up his right hand. Even though the ring was concealed to the world, he knew Hal could see it. "This."

They were coming up on the exit where Lamplighter was. Hal shrugged. "I don't know if I was around it long enough to miss it. I was still being trained when I walked away."

"Did you pull Sinestro?"

"Did I ever," Hal replied, rolling his eyes.

The two men laughed. Guy paused then asked, "Did he strike you as a little... you know, snooty?"

Hal contemplated this. "Well, he did always come off a little superior."

"I'm not just talking about superior," Guy replied. "He seemed to really... .you know, hate me at times... and he really, really didn't care for the job."

"Huh... that's not the Sinestro I knew." Guy shrugged. "Maybe I was, I dunno, stupider than he expected."

"I don't think that's the case," Hal said immediately. "You and I are smart in our own ways... you're just not as technical as I am... " Hal turned onto the street where Guy's office was.

"Maybe you're right." Guy turned to look at his new friend. "I'm glad you're here, man. It's good having someone here I can talk to who understands what this is all about." "Anytime, Guy." He slid into a space a house down from the Lamplighter Building. "Catch you later."

Guy took Hal's hand and shook it. "You got it. Beer's on me next time."

"Great. I'll try not to beat you too hard next demonstration."

It's all about the research. That's how I found my way to Green Arrow (long before I knew he was Ollie), and that's how I'll find my new target. I buy all the newspapers from the newsstands across the street and pour over them. My head slips into Big Financier Research mode, going over every article carefully and making notations in the margins on everything, but everything relating to my new man. Yeah, he's not going to be my man for long. He's more like an investment to get my Ollie back. And you better believe I aim to get Ollie back by my side, forever.

Bitto sat in his squalid motel room-the only room Modavia could afford for this mission-and brooded. He could not understand why these... peasants... could turn Modavia away. Surely they recognized that the S.T.E.E.L. suits were perfect for the Modavian Air Force King Hugo (called by some, in whispers, "the Mad") had allowed Bitto to form. They were formidable weapons, but small enough that they could easily be stored within the limits of the country, a country that was only about five square city blocks in size. The cur Irons ranted something about unfair taxation and civil rights, but what did he know about the political situation of Modavia, where the economy was falling apart and the lower class was resistant to the hard labor needed to build a nation to be proud of. He did not understand the hard realities of living in a country barely the size of five of their city blocks, did not realize how hard it was to keep the peace when everyone was bound so closely to each other. Maybe, Bitto reasoned, John Henry Irons needed to learn. Bitto rose and opened the steel-reinforced suitcase he carried with him on diplomatic missions. He removed the official Uniform of the Air Force of Modavia and set it aside. He would put it on later and show this decadent country a man of true honor. Once Bitto fieldstripped and cleaned his Tuning Fork Gun.

John Stewart placed the results of the survey in front of Guy. "Look it over first, Guy. But if you ask me, this tract would make perfect homes."

Guy gave it a quick glance. "It seems a bit out of the way."

His friend grinned. "Not quite. According to Congressman Bloch, Transportation Bill CR-636 is going to go through in the next quarter-which means an expansion of the nearest highway, including an exit two miles from the land, and an expansion of bus routes into the area. I know, it's still a bit suburban for people who have lived in the inner city all their lives, but still... ."

"And it's going to cost us?"

John's grin widened. "That's the beauty of it! The land was seized for non-payment of taxes from the Marder Estate. It'll go on the block in the next week and a half. We could get this for a steal."

Guy nodded. "Sounds good. How many housing units could we squeeze onto it?"

Kyle came up behind his two bosses. "The sketches I'm doing allow for fourteen units, Mr. Gardner. There could be more if we made some of them tri-levels."

"I don't think we should do that," John replied. "This potentially could be our flagship development-the development we show to potential satellite offices."

"Still sounds good," Guy said. A smile slowly developed. "I'd like to take Hal down there if that's okay." John paused. "If you have to." The distaste John Stewart had for Guy's new friend was evident.

"He is our contact with Ferris Aircraft, buddy. He can get us proper funding."

John shrugged. "Like I said... if you have to."

Guy could see Kyle over John's shoulder, wavering between speaking up and keeping silent. "Well, in this case, I think I have to," he told his best friend.

"Fine."

"Fine. I'll see when Hal's available."

'If you have to,' Guy thought to himself. What was up with that?

He had been patrolling for over an hour. The night sky had begun to darken noticeably, and the streetlights were slowly coming on. Guy was drifting away from the Loop, and was making his way toward the lower income part of town. It was a neighborhood Guy was very familiar with; before John Stewart came up with the financial plan for Lamplighter, this was where Guy worked as a social worker. The people on these streets were the people Guy knew the best, and the people Guy wanted the most to help. Guy wondered why John Stewart was acting so upset. His sharpness in discussing Hal's role was what was making Guy restless tonight. He knew John Stewart disapproved of John Henry Irons, whose living was made putting his intelligence to work making weapons of war. But Hal was different; his position made people safe. Sure, he tested military planes, but he also tested civilian aircraft-and that wasn't even considering how innovations tended to trickle down into the commercial market. Guy would have to talk to his friend lest things get totally out of hand. From below, he heard raised voices. Guy's ring flared, producing a wide green beam of light. He raked the makeshift beacon along the ground, illuminating the backyards and alleyways beneath him. He saw the source of the disturbance: three boys in an alley, a two on one situation. Guy's heart fell when he saw the two aggressors cornering their victim. The reason for the encounter didn't matter: it could be a forced gang 'recruitment' or a mugging or just an old fashioned case of 'beat down the not-we' (the victim was noticeably smaller, after all). But when it all came down to it, it was the same thing he had seen every day when he was a social worker: the strong seeking to impose its will on the weak. He formed a curved wall between the victim and his victimizers. As Guy came in closer, he began to put more of the pieces together. The poor kid had on a down jacket that smacked of newness; chances were the two other kids decided the jacket would look better on one of them. He formed the image of a giant, monstrous cop car, preparing to plunk it down at the mouth of the alley when everything... . Well, everything went to Hell.

Men are creatures of habit. They mark their territory and tend to stick to it. And one of my primary tasks was to determine what my new man's territory was and keep tabs on it in preparation for our first meeting. First meetings should be particularly memorable when it comes to romance. I'll admit it-he cut a pretty impressive figure. Maybe because he wasn't wearing the usual spandex leotards I'd seen these super-heroes wear (oddly enough, Ollie's the only other one I've never seen dressed in spandex... .all's the pity, too). There was something about the leather jacket (okay, I could've done without the central panels being dyed green but still) and the black jeans with the white racing stripe, the green motorcyclist boots with all the buckles... it just screamed of manliness to me. This wasn't going to be like my affair with Ollie, all courtly and chaste. No, I could imagine that this was a man who took what he wanted. It looked like this was going to be a fun diversion. I reached into my quiver. Being on the road, I didn't have the opportunities to replenish my trick arrows. I've had to conserve what I've got left. Lucky for me, the crooks in question wouldn't require any trick shooting or special handling. I notched my shaft, aimed and let fly.

There was a twang, and then for a hum filled Guy's left ear. Then one of the attackers screamed-a scream that started out as one of surprise, than rose into an all-out squeal of pain. An arrow had pinned the fleeing kid to the wall. Through his hand. There was another whizzing noise that buzzed in Guy's ear and the second crook screamed and fell to the dirty alley floor, a shaft stuck in his right calf. Guy spun around and caught a brief glimpse of a decidedly feminine form retreating from the edge of a roof several buildings away. He floated to the first aspiring criminal. Underneath the dirty dress, the boy kept screaming.

"Calm down, I'll get you free."

"What kind of a freak are you, man?" he asked in a panic before starting to scream, "Police Brutality! Police Brutality!"

Guy produced a pair of garden shears and snipped the shaft in half. He gripped the man's wrist and pulled it away, freeing him from the wall. "I'm not a cop."

The boy held his injured arm. "Super-hero Brutality! Super-hero brutality!"

"Good!" shouted the short, bespectacled kid who Guy had saved. "Beat the s#^% out of him, Lantern."

"I didn't beat on them!"

"Super-hero Brutality! Super-hero BRUTALITY!"

Guy made a muzzle and a set of jailhouse manacles. "That's enough out of you." He went to the other crook and inspected the wound. The arrow had gone clean through, so Guy was able to free him.

The kid-who looked younger than either his partner or their aspiring victim-looked up at Guy with terrified eyes. "Don't hurt me!"

"I'm not gonna hurt you-in case you didn't notice, these arrows aren't green."

"Don't treat their wounds, Lantern-let your partner f#%& 'em up some more!" shouted the potential victim. "I don't have a partner!" Guy shouted. He pointed at the 'victim.' "Now be quiet or I'll drop you off along with these two."

"If you don't have a partner," the kid with the too-wide eyes asked, "who the f#%& shot me?"

"Damned if I know," Guy muttered.

It was simple tracking him. How difficult was it to keep tabs on a guy who flew around in a green-and-black leather letter jacket? I waited until the Lantern had dropped our catch off (It felt really good working side-by-side with my man again-even if this was just my temporary man), following him a ways behind along the rooftops and the alleyways. I stuck to the shadows, knowing that my uniform would make detecting me difficult unless he was actively searching for me. Which he wasn't; that would happen soon enough, after I've worked my charms.

The boys were dropped off at the local precinct. Guy had lingered a few minutes to sign autographs for a few patrolmen-what was so special, he wondered, about what he did in the costume that he was treated like a celebrity?-and then launched himself into the sky to go home. He got five blocks before the shapely archer flagged him down. Guy's first instinct was to grab away her bow with emerald hands. She did not seem too perturbed by the action. "Did you shoot those two boys?"

The archer just smiled coyly and nodded, one foot kicking around the dirt like a cartoon rabbit caught being naughty.

Guy lowered himself to face her. How tough can she be without the bow? He thought to himself. "Are you nuts, lady? One of those kids is going to need surgery thanks to you. This isn't... ."

The woman traced the Lantern symbol on his chest slowly with one finger. She still had the same silly, mock-flirtatious smile pasted on her face. "I stopped them, didn't I?" she asked in a voice that was one half Betty Boop, one half Marilyn Monroe.

"That's not the point! You injured them, and you almost injured me... .and... who are you, anyway?"

"What, Arrow didn't mention me? I'm hurt." She crossed her arms across her chest and pouted like an old-style movie ingenue.

The surrealness of the situation was making Guy's head swim. "Forget about who you are," he eventually said, throwing up his hands in exasperation. "You're nuts."

And suddenly, the woman jerked his head around to face hers and kissed him long and hard. Guy's arms waved wildly in shock. When she was done, she pulled away with a smile. "Your friend used to call me the Midnight Archer. But you can call me yours, handsome."

"I don't want to call you anything!"

She walked away slowly, throwing him a coquettish glance as she bent to pick up her bow. "Oh, but you will, partner-man."

"Partner?" Guy stood dumbstruck.

The Midnight Archer rose slowly, the curve of her body on the way up seemingly designed to give him a long, lingering view of her shapely legs and derriere.

He finally started striding toward her.

"No, no partner. Quite frankly, I'd prefer you to give yourself up... for, I don't know, psych evaluation or something."

The Midnight Archer squealed-actually, honestly, squealed like a freshly goosed schoolgirl and fast skipped away. She reached into her quiver and pulled out a curious looking shaft, notched it in one fluid motion and let fly. Before Guy could react further, she was sliding out of site on a guy wire of some sort. Guy stopped and shook his head. "I got groupies now?" he muttered to himself.

I laughed with the thrill of the first meeting. My hunky new hero was resistant-but then, so was Ollie at first. Even as I slid away on my Skyhook Arrow, my mind was filled with the sensations of him. He was built like Ollie, but his five o'clock stubble, the refreshing unpretentiousness of his cologne (Old Spice, for God's sake! Old Spice!), his decidedly all-around blue-collar nature, told a different story. My ringslinger... oh, my ringslinger was like something out of a classic romance novel. He was the rough brute to my delicate princess, the cad to my genteel lady. This was going to be fun. I could see it now. Here I was, being stolen away by the rough-hewn brute with a spirit borne of honor and principle... taken away from my one true love until he, having had enough, would need to act. It was the perfect scenario: two men of valor from different walks of life, entwined in a mad battle for love. And in the middle of it all was little ol' me, the spoils for the victor. I felt positively faint as I made my way back to the hotel. Guy had to stop at Union Station to wash the lipstick off his face. Luckily it was late enough that no one bore witness to the scene. It was humiliating enough. It still didn't stop Kari from frowning when he came home. "You okay?" she asked.

Guy could feel her studying his person with the scrutiny of a jeweler presented with an expertly done fake. "Yeah," Guy said with a shrug. "I've had a pretty rough day."

She walked up to him, arms crossed in a self-hug. Her eyes slowly ran up and down his form. Guy felt like squirming. Finally, she said, "What's that smell?"

Guy suddenly realized what was wrong. That ditz must've left her cologne on me. His mind raced to come up with an explanation. "I was doing some community outreach with Kyle," he managed to stammer out, "And I got a too-close dowager hug."

Kari stayed silent for a moment. A very, very slight smile curled her lips. "The danger of being adorable and soliciting."

Guy laughed. "You got it."

Kari's smile remained for what seemed to Guy for a longer than normal time. Then the smile disappeared and she motioned toward the shower. "Well, clean up, honey. I shan't be sharing our bed with your Secret Crush." She laughed warmly, but Guy wondered if it sounded too forced.

Bitto watched, and Bitto planned. It was not as if he had anything pressing to return to Modavia; political affairs there moved so slowly he could be abroad for a year and nothing would have changed. Of course, the fortunate thing about that was that Bitto could plan his revenge against those at Hespeastus leisurely. The cur John Henry Irons might expect retribution immediately after his besmirchment of Modavia's honor-but Bitto would strike him when he least expected it. Or at least Sonar, the National Hero of Modavia would. Wherever Guy was when he was patrolling, there was the Midnight Archer. To be fair, there was a time or two he actually didn't mind her presence. When a bozo calling himself The Bug-Eyed Bandit tried to break into the First Maryland Credit Union, she was helpful in skewering the many robotic insects the idiot set loose on the grounds. But for a change, super-villain activity was at a lull in the Greater Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, and it took every ounce of energy to keep the Archer from inadvertently killing a suspect. Guy spent most of his time conjuring up shields and deflectors and other devices to keep the Archer's shafts from ripping into human flesh. And after the fighting was done came the flirting. The Midnight Archer seemed to spend all the time she wasn't injuring fleeing felons sliding herself against him and trying to force him into a kiss. While he had to admit that he didn't altogether hate the attention (It was a nice body to have rubbing up against him after all), it made him nervous. More importantly, it made Kari suspicious-at least that's why John Stewart told him one night.

One night, after barely saving a stick-up crew from being accidentally skewered, he pulled his perpetual shadow up to the roof of one of the movie theaters near Fisherman's Wharf.

"Look, not that I don't appreciate your help-'cause I don't," Guy said sharply, "But don't you have somewhere else to go?"

The Midnight Archer leaned against his chest and pouted in some exaggeration of 'coyness.' "Why, Lanty, it's like you didn't want me around."

Guy shuddered at being called 'Lanty.' "You think?"

"Oh, come on," she said with a wink. "You're not going to tell me that it's a lot less lonely wandering the skies with that toy of yours."

"Toy?" Guy pointed to his power ring. "You think this is a toy? Man, what I wouldn't give to know what you played with-on second thought, I don't want to know."

The Archer locked her arms behind Guy's neck. "Why are we wasting our time up here with arguing?" She leaned in for a kiss.

Guy gently pushed her away. "No. No. No." He kept her at arm's length. "You have to stop doing this, following me around and stuff."

The Archer traced the inside of his leg with her bow. "Oh, Lanty, you love the attention. Admit it."

"No." Guy paused, his mind racing with possible excuses before deciding the best way was the truth. "I have a girlfriend, okay?"

"Not much of one if you've been hanging around with me," she replied with a beestung pout. "You've been hanging around me! You're the one who's been muscling in, following me around with the cow's eyes and the, and the J-Lo moves... .I'm happy with my girl, thank you very much."

The Midnight Archer shook her head. "That's not the way it is, Lanty, and you know it." She started backing away from Guy, bow behind her, a silly smile pasted on her face. "We both know you want me bad, and you'd die without me... well lucky for you I ain't going nowhere."

"By all means, please go somewhere," Guy muttered.

The Archer reached the edge of the roof and stepped off. Guy bit back the impulse to rush to her aid; he knew damn well she had launched one of those 'skyhook' arrows and was already sliding her way to freedom.

It was better than I could have imagined. Lanty, that big lug, had some problems expressing his feelings, and that resulted in a case of the Hard-to-Gets. It didn't dampen the flame in belly; if anything it made it leap higher with the anticipation of the next encounter, the next exchange of loaded dialogue. Of course, I didn't take too kindly to his insistence that he had a girlfriend. But the advantage of dating a hero who doesn't even bother with a mask is that it makes it so easy to figure out whose nightstand contains a certain green piece of jewelry. He wasn't too hard to uncover. It seemed Lanty-Guy-had a pretty big reputation for being a hero out of the union suit. The building he operated his firm out of looked like it could use a couple of walls of paint but it had its certain charms. Making a few calls and dropping the Dare name got me a nice detective firm who watched Guy when I was otherwise busy. I also dropped the Dare name in the ears of a couple of friends of mine in Baltimore Society, so it wouldn't seem like I was coming from out of nowhere with an enormous gift for my lover. I loved my world. I loved my Guy. I loved my secret affair, even without the added bonus of imagining Ollie going insane with jealousy. It all went away when the bald, smelly detective brought me the photos. John Henry Irons' mind was not where he was when the attack happened. Even though he was talking about ways of minimizing the overheating hazards from the S.T.E.E.L.'s thermocouple power cell array with Dr. Stein, his thoughts were on the drive home and the Wizards game that was on at 8:05 p.m. EST and the cheesesteak platter he was planning on picking up from Big Belly on the way home. And because his mind was elsewhere, Bitto took him totally by surprise. One minute he was walking through air, the next he slammed into an invisible wall that buzzed like a pack of bees and a guy in a band uniform was yelling at him. "You sought to besmirch the good and noble name of Modavia," Bitto proclaimed to the skies and the camera for the six o'clock news (which Bitto, of course, had tipped off himself; Modavia may be a piddling postage stamp of a country, but even it understood the uncanny power the press had over the people of America), "but you have become undone. Now weep, cur... weep and beg forgiveness of the pride of Modavia-Sonar!" (Sonar being the name that had come to Bitto in the heat of the moment.) Sonar stood in mid-air, his uniform containing sonic emitters that allowed him to stand on perpetual 'stilts' of sonic waves. His cape flapped proudly in the wind, his Tuning Fork Gun drawn and glinting in the setting sun.

John looked up at this man and had two thoughts. The first was, who the Hell is this guy? The second was I gotta get out of here. He tried to push past the invisible walls, but met resistance that hummed and vibrated. Sonar laughed at his efforts. "Fool! My sonic jar adjusts its frequency in response to the pressure you exert! And with one twist of the dial on my sonic emitter, it will start constricting, and when it constricts-you die!"

Sonar, never being a man to threaten lightly, proceeded to do just that.

"Hey, Guy! Your friend's on the television!"

Guy poked his head out of his office and asked Kyle, "What do you mean?"

Kyle pointed at the small portable on the receptionist's desk. "Take a look."

Guy did. There, on a live feed, was some goofball who looked like a reject from a high school band competition proclaiming his intention to kill John Henry.

"Man, that's gotta suck," Kyle suggested.

Guy clasped the intern on the shoulder. "I-I'm going to call the cops." He rushed back into his office, his mind already calling out to his power battery, summoning it to his side. The second the door closed, Guy touched the ring to its faceplate, took a deep breath and intoned the Oath. "In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, No Evil Shall Escape My Sight. Let Those Who Worship Evil's Might Beware My Power... Green Lantern's Light!"

By the time Kyle looked up from the screen and asked, "If it's on television, don't you think the cops know already?," Guy was gone.

I sat there for a long time, the photos spread before me. I didn't care particularly who the slut with the auburn hair was in the pictures. The detective had provided a full report that would have filled me in on details like that, but all I could think of was that my Lanty was making time with her. So he did have a girlfriend after all. That bastard. On the television, some guy in a badly fitting band uniform was facing off against my-decidedly now ex-lover. He pointed some weird looking tuning fork thing at my (ex) boyfriend and sent him reeling. I couldn't help noticing that the fork seemed to intensify sonic waves to a deadly intensity. If only I could- But no, he didn't deserve it.

It felt like he had been slapped with a brick wall shoved into an armored glove. Guy went head over heels, pinwheeling through the air. And of course, the six o'clock news was getting it all.

"Aha! The famous Green Lantern," Sonar gloated as he ran through the air on a cushion of sound waves. "I anticipated your interference."

"G-goody for you," Guy mumbled and sent out an oversized emerald boxing glove the villain's way. It looked like it was about to connect before it suddenly refracted into a riot of thin green slivers.

"Yes, Lantern. That is why I have secreted on my uniform a sonic emitter that thickens the air around me with its soundwaves to a point that your light constructs are refracted to uselessness. You cannot affect me, but I-I can affect you!"

To prove his supposition, the tuning fork gun emitted a high pitched whine, and Guy was once again slammed by a beam of sonic force. His insides buzzed with the power. "Do you like it, Lantern? Can you feel how each blast from my SED Gun is setting up a counter-vibration in your body that will ultimately shake you to death?"

Did he just call that tuning fork thing a sad gun? Guy thought and put up a riot shield to keep the beams from him. But he knew it was only a delaying tactic.

He didn't deserve this. He really, really didn't deserve this. But how could I stand by and let it happen to him. Even if he did break my heart, I claimed I was a hero...I thought I had left Star City to redeem myself from what my father made me do. So I notched my gimmick arrow. I aimed. And I fired.

Sonar ran in a zig zag pattern The hum that accompanied him was getting on Guy's nerves, as was the constant barrage he was staving off. But then an arrow flew through the air-an arrow with a tuning fork head. The humming stopped. Sonar looked down on his person. He muttered a, "What the... ?"

"Not what-who!" Guy exclaimed, socking him in the jaw with a green boxing glove. This time it was the bandleader's turn to go head over heels. Guy had to set up a net under him to break his fall. It seemed that Sonar, the Pride of Modavia had a glass jaw.

... once I realized he was broadcasting sonic waves on a certain frequency, I was able to set my tuning fork arrow to broadcast a counter vibration that cancelled his wave out."

"well, thanks... .you did good."

The Midnight Archer turned on guy and planted a finger in his chest. "Damn right I did good. And I shouldn't have, considering how you betrayed me."

Oh God, Guy thought with an internal groan, here we go again. "What do you mean, I betrayed you?"

She pulled back and put on her pouting face. "You have a girlfriend."

"I have a... .Hello! I told you I had a girlfriend! Weren't you listening?" Guy threw up his hands and walked to the ledge of the rooftop they were using as a makeshift meeting place.

"I know," she said with a sigh. She then walked up slowly behind him, the words coming out in a torrent. "and, you know, maybe I wasn't all that honest with you because I sort of have a boyfriend too, and I was using you to get him jealous."

Guy rolled his eyes and glanced over his shoulder. "Did it work?"

"Well-you'd know before I did."

"How the Hell would I know before you did?" Guy's head was beginning to hurt trying to follow her logic. "Well, you've talked to Green Arrow by now, right?" A hopeful light glinted in her near-to-tears eyes.

Guy was stunned. "Green Arrow-you mean that guy on the West Coast?"

"Well, yeah."

"What makes you think I'm talking to Green Arrow?"

The Midnight Archer paused. She opened her mouth, then closed it. There was another long silence, then she opened her mouth again, then closed it. Finally, she said, "But you guys are friends."

Guy's mouth dropped open. It was his turn to be silent for a moment. When he did recover his faculties, he asked, "What ever gave you that idea?"

"Well, I figured," she answered in a tiny, faraway voice, "you know, you're both like-heroes, and you've got that green thing going for you and-"

Guy held up his hand to stop her. "Trust me on this, lady-the first time I've ever thought about Green Arrow in my life was just now. I don't know him. I've never met him. And, if you're his girlfriend, I don't think I ever want to meet him."

It was amazing how quickly she extricated herself from the conversation.

Guy entered the Lamplighter offices to whoops of stunned, happy amazement. John Stewart and Kyle were standing over the reception desk. The mail was still only partially gone through. The two of them held what appeared to be a check in their hands, and their eyes were kid-on-Christmas-wide. "What are you two gawking at?" Guy asked, half jokingly.

John Stewart looked up. "Guy, I don't know what she did to you, but thank you." He went to join his fellows.

"What did who do to me?"

"Take a look at this check, Mr. Gardner," Kyle said. "This is enough to buy that land outright without bringing Ferris aircraft into it-and we'll have enough left over to scout out office space in Metropolis."

John handed Guy the check. It was from Diana Dare, the Star City CEO of Double Dare Incorporated. The three digits that preceded them only exceeded the impressiveness of the number of zeroes. But the mysterious part of the check was what was written on the memo line. For Inconveniences to Mr. Guy Gardner It took a moment for two and two to come together, but when they did, Guy's mouth dropped open for the second time that week.

"So what's the story?" Kyle asked.

Guy folded the check in two and tucked it in John Stewart's shirt pocket. "Kyle, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."


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