Of course, the one time I'm actually allowed on a solo mission, I get trapped in some dingy cave. Wonderful, Shayera thought angrily as she tried to pry a boulder from the blockade that prevented her from leaving the cave.
She had gone on a solo League mission to check on a disturbance call from the planet Tamaran in the Vega system. According to the Tamaraneans there was an ongoing feud between the Citadelians and Karnans. Their claim was some of the fighters may have moved onto their turf. The Tamaraneans were threatening to counter with military action if the situation wasn't dealt with immediately. So it was up to Shayera, who thought of it laughable, to play diplomat and try to not let the warring races kill each other or any Tamaraneans while also keeping the Tamaraneans from declaring all out war. The Tamaraneans were not helpful at all in that aspect, especially since they saw their help was a Thanagarian, a species they viewed less than filth. They seemed more than willing to just go to war than try to see reason.
In Shayera's perspective it should have been John or some other Green Lantern dealing with this, as they were in all essence an intergalactic police force but no; the Guardians didn't want to get in the middle of a war, especially since the Vega system was generally off limits for most Green Lanterns. This meant that Shayera had to go on her own, despite her protests. She knew the Vega system was home to the Gordanians, who worked for the Citadel, and she had no desire to run into any.
Even with an overwhelming protest in the Tamaranean council, she was the one in charge as she held the meetings and kept the Tamaraneans from killing everyone. The past four days had not been easy on her nerves and her patience had been repeatedly tested.
Shayera had agreed to take a survey of the area to determine if any Citadelians or Karnans had moved their fighting to Tamaran. And of course there had been a cave-in when she had checked for any signs of a shelter or a pseudo-command post. She had been close to the exit, ready to leave the blasted cave. It was then she heard a loud booming noise and the entire cave had shook and rocks had tumbled down from the ceiling, encasing her in a space about two feet wide on all sides. It was a miracle that she hadn't been crushed.
Unfortunately the small space meant that she couldn't move around. If she had more room she would have taken a swing at the rocks with her mace yet it was buried beneath the rubble with only the end of the handle sticking out and it was impossible to even dislodge it.
Just as equally unfortunate, the small dark space was getting to her.
It wasn't that she was going to admit she was claustrophobic, it was just that small spaces made her feel cramped and very uncomfortable. Particularly small underground spaces. They smelled of dirt, the air was stale, and, invariably, dust found its way into her lungs. The only other time she could remember being trapped underground was when she got lost in cave on Karna, the Gordanians' home world.
That part of her was currently trying not to panic. Even then it was different. For one thing there was light. For another she was just lost, meaning there was a lot more room. Here she was trapped in a space barely big enough to be considered a closet.
To top it off Shayera wasn't in a very comfortable position. The cave ceiling was low and she was forced to half crouch, squishing her wings against her back and rocks. She was trying to pry out rocks from the walls but she was failing miserably. She couldn't stand up all the way, she couldn't sit down all the way due to the rocks that littered the small two feet by two feet space, she wasn't sure if her commlink was getting through to the Watchtower because all she heard was static, her foot was caught between two rocks, she thought she might have broken her ankle, and she was sure she had been stuck in there for over eight hours.
Yeah...not pleasant at all.
She was tired, she was hungry, and she could swear she could smell the fresh air outside. Torture, she decided, pure torture. A part of her almost wished that John was there but the rest of her smashed that notion into bits before it was there very long. She didn't know if she could face him just yet, not right after Mari left him, and especially since they really weren't on speaking terms with each other after he told her about seeing Rex Stewart and deciding to stay with Mari.
Besides, it wasn't as if people weren't trying to dig her out. She could hear them; some people were on the other side trying to move away the rocks. However the rocks were big and heavy. She then paused, Tamaraneans shouldn't have a problem with that. What was taking them so damn long? It was a bit of a problem since she now recognized the voices and realized it wasn't Tamaraneans out there. She now knew that her distress call must have gone through as a few Justice League members were out there helping, mostly because she could hear them arguing with each other at the top of their lungs.
"I got dirt on my clothes!" That was Stargirl, definitely.
"Dirt?!" That voice had to be Atom Smasher. "Hawkgirl is stuck in a rockslide and you're worried about dirt?"
"Not really, I'm just saying-"
"Well don't!" He sounded the most aggravated out of the two.
"We're right next to each other Al! You don't need to yell!"
"You're the one yelling Court!" He retorted.
"What is going on here?" Shayera gasped then winced as her ankle let out a protesting throb. That voice...it couldn't be.
"Oh hey GL!" Courtney sounded very surprised and like she knew she was in trouble.
Just her stinking luck, John Stewart. Despite the fact that Shayera wasn't sure she could face him no more than five minutes ago, she was now filled with a definite longing, combined with a nearly uncontrollable panic and another flash of pain from her injured ankle. Being trapped alone in the dark, in a small, enclosed space...she needed him. Her logical side, the side of her that refused steadfast to this reaction, was trampled over by her emotional side.
She opened her mouth to call out, breathed in, and immediately inhaled a large amount of dust. Shayera began to cough, her throat sore from lack of water and disuse for over eight hours. Through her coughs, she heard Stargirl and Atom Smasher, who had been taking turns, in other words, interrupting each other and talking over the other to explain what was going on, fall silent.
"Shayera?" She heard John call through the stone. "Are you all right?"
"My foot," Shayera replied, a note of panic seeping through her normally calm voice. She mentally slapped herself for that and continued, "It's stuck. I think my ankle's broken."
"Other than being buried alive under tons of rocks, muscle cramps, and a lungful of dust?" She asked. "Not really." Except for the panic, she thought wryly. She had amazed herself that she had lasted so long in such a small space to begin with. She was sure she was going to have a heart attack at one point or another.
There was hesitation from the other side.
"All right," His voice held a hint, just a hint of knowing, meant for her and her alone. He knew about her panic, especially since she was in a small confined space. When he spoke again, it was without that hint. "The stones are nearly cleared away. You'll be out of there soon."
That lifted her spirits but only a bit. After all she was still trapped in the cave and her ankle was throbbing again. As the rocks shifted they dislodged dust, forcing Shayera to place a slightly bruised hand over her mouth so that she wouldn't have a repeat coughing fit. When it was clear that the dust wasn't going to settle, she removed her hand and pushed as hard as she could against the stone.
Her fingers were not met with stone but greeted by a gloved hand. She drew her hand away quickly. A green object wrapped around the last of the rocks and brought them away with a thud. The rest of the rocks, without those ones to hold them up, tumbled to the ground, kicking up a great cloud of dust. Shayera closed her eyes and tried not to breathe in.
The pressure on her ankle faltered and then it was taken away entirely. Shayera felt unsteady; her knees that she had been forced to kneel on gave out on her and she collapsed. A pair of arms caught her before she hit the ground.
"Are you all right?" John asked her softly.
Without once opening her eyes, she slid her arms around him and leaned into him. "That's a stupid question," She murmured, faint with relief and exhaustion.
"C'mon kid," She heard Atom Smasher say. "Let's go."
This was obviously meant for Courtney, because a moment later Shayera heard an indignant, "What?" coming from the younger hero. Shayera opened her eyes and she and John turned to look at the duo.
"We have some things to talk about. Mostly how to respect authority," Al informed her tartly. "Let's go." And with that, the older hero wrapped his hand around her wrist tightly and dragged the younger hero behind him in the direction of the Javelin, with many complaints on Courtney's part.
"It never ceases to amaze me how people can both hate and love each other at the same time," John commented after a moment.
"That reminds me of a few other people," Shayera said lightly. "Us for one."
"Can I respectfully decline an opinion on that?"
"If you help me up, get my mace out of the rubble, and get me some medical treatment for my ankle."
"That I can do," He helped her to her feet and then gave her a look. Despite his words before, she knew what he was going to say, and she also knew that it was her fault for bringing it up. "So was that a reference to the past?"
"Perhaps," Shayera answered carefully. When the look did not change, she sighed. "I don't know if I can do this yet John. I honestly don't know."
"Then I'll just shut up about it and simply enjoy your presence in the mean time."
Shayera rolled her eyes but smiled slightly, nodded, and limped with him to the Javelin. When John snaked his arm around her waist for support, she did not protest. Nor was she able to fully hide the faint blush that tinted her cheeks at his touch.