Flannel Man Returns!
Barbara woke to find she was spooning between Kara and Xander. "Kara?" she asked cautiously.
"Yeah?" Kara replied unconsciously giving off a happy sigh as she absently squeezed Barbara's hand that was cupped around her right breast.
"I think we may have been dosed with something."
Kara turned so she was facing her. "You mean this wasn't a surprise for my birthday?"
Barbara cursed herself for forgetting Kara's birthday as she gazed into her deep blue eyes. "I—" She brought her lips down on Kara's rather than try and think of an excuse.
Xander had been a bit surprised when he awoke and recalled what had happened, but figured Ivy must have dosed them and listening to the two he could easily see why Harley planning something like this for Supergirl's birthday. "Ivy added the pollen to make sure everything went well," he said. "Sorry if it took you by surprise.
"Did someone peak at my diary?" Kara teased when she came up to let Barbara catch her breath.
Xander laughed. "Harley can be very perceptive," he offered figuring she'd be the only one crazy enough to come up with Supergirl's gift as well as being persuasive enough to convince Ivy and Barbara to go along with it.
"My name's Kara," she introduced herself, having heard about Xander from Barbara and seen him in the distance a few times.
"Xander," he offered leaning over to kiss her while using his right hand to do something that made her eyes cross.
"Well that's one way to introduce yourself," Barbara said, finding she didn't need any pollen to enjoy her present position.
"Are you sure you haven't seen him?" a redheaded woman asked anxiously.
"Sorry, hon," the bartender said. "He's weeks overdue for his shift."
"Yep, I've been waiting for him to show back up too," a blonde woman who looked to have just graduated high school replied.
"You look familiar," she said.
"So do you," the redhead replied thoughtfully.
"I used to go by The Living Doll," Lilly admitted.
"And I went by Cheetah," Minerva offered.
"Xander found a way for me to gain a decade and not be stuck as a child for all eternity," Lily offered.
"He gave me the key to regaining my humanity," Minerva said. "And now that I'm human I want to thank him as only a woman can."
"I know the feeling," Lily agreed.
"The only kind of man I could date was more interested in me being part feline than in me as a woman. You have no idea what it's like to have the choice between dating a pervert and being alone."
Lily laughed. "Think about who you're talking to, I was stuck as a preteen. The only way I could get a date who wasn't a pervert was by meeting them online and once they got a good look at who they'd made a date with it was all over."
Minerva winced. "You win."
"Thank you," the blonde young woman said. "It's only thanks to him that I have the opportunity to have an actual relationship, so I'm waiting for him to show back up."
"We should go to the cops," Minerva said, causing the entire bar to fall silent as they stared at her. "To report him missing," she explained. "We all know he's clean."
Two face flipped a coin and nodded as it came up scarred. "I say we put out the word and find him ourselves. I don't exactly trust the police to do right by him."
"He's got a point," Kite-Man offered. "I've yet to find a situation where I was glad the police had arrived."
"Everyone put the word out," Catwoman ordered. "I'll see if Batman will lend a hand."
"As much as I've enjoyed this, I think I need a break," Barbara said, sliding out of bed and stretching.
"Hate to see you go," Kara began.
"But I love to watch you leave," Xander finished.
Barbara laughed. A beeping noise from her discarded costume had her bending over to retrieve her bat communicator she blushed at the catcalls from behind her. "Barbara here," she answered, flipping open her communicator.
"You've been out of contact for a little over fourteen hours," Batman announced without preamble. "I trust in your capabilities, so I haven't searched for you, but you're usually considerate enough to check in when going off patrol."
"Meaning you have some sort of tracking device and sensors planted in my costume," Barbara replied cheerfully.
"I had you down as taking some personal time and not to disturb," Batman said, neither confirming nor denying anything.
"So, what are you calling me about?" Barbara asked.
"The denizens of Gotham and Bloodhaven are out in force searching for Alexander Harris," Batman reported. "He's extremely late for work and they have become... concerned."
"Xander, how late are you for work?" Barbara asked.
Xander stopped and thought about that. "Is it still January?" he asked after a minute.
"Nope," the two girls chorused.
"Well..." Xander shrugged. "Another week wouldn't make me any later then," he decided, leaning down to kiss Kara again.
"Ahem," came a voice from behind Xander causing the three to turn.
"You missed your birthday party," Superman said with a frown radiating disapproval like it was his new superpower.
Barbara covered herself with her cape.
"Do you always just burst into people's bedrooms when they're about to have sex?" Xander asked, his inner fanboy being stood on by his raging libido.
"I better go," Kara said with a sigh, clearly unhappy.
The pair of Kryptonians vanished in a blur of speed, a ghost of a kiss lingering on Xander's cheek after they'd gone.
"That's a major downer," Barbara said.
"I guess it's just you and me," Xander said, refusing to let Superman ruin the mood.
"*Ahem!*" came Batman's voice from her bat communicator.
"Sorry I'm late, boss," Xander apologized.
Mary groaned. "Late doesn't begin to describe it."
"In my defense, I was kidnapped," he offered.
"You were kidnapped?" she asked surprised.
"Yeah," Xander agreed. "Harley asked Ivy to pick her up something and somehow she decided I fit the bill."
A number of customers gravitated towards the bar, sensing a story.
Mary and Xander started passing out drinks while he continued, "Now normally I am pretty good at keeping track of time, but there are a couple of activities were I do get a bit distracted."
"Doesn't Poison Ivy secrete poison from... places?" a man dressed as a rabbit asked.
"She gave me a shot for that," Xander replied, raising eyebrows and causing murmurs from the crowd.
"I'd think you'd be a lot more upset at being kidnapped and used as a sex toy," Catwoman said dryly.
"That's because you don't have a penis," Xander told her causing a great deal of laughter to break out among the patrons.
"I know you men are easily controlled by it, but really, women can just drag you off the street and you're OK with it?" she asked.
"Millions of years of evolution have gone into ensuring that we males are ok with nearly anytime and anywhere," Xander explained. "And this was a lot better than the last time I was kidnapped for sex."
"This has happened to you before?" Bane asked as he picked up his drink.
"A couple of times, though I was in high school at the time."
"You expect me to believe this has happened to you before?" Catwoman asked, doubtfully.
"My science teacher... I think his name was Gordon or something similar, I can't recall. Anyway—" Xander began.
"You were kidnapped by a guy for sex?" The Penguin asked in horror.
"Hey!" The Mad Hatter complained.
"No offense," The Penguin apologized.
"Different strokes," Xander told him. "Anyway, his body was found, with its head missing, in the school."
"What kind of —" Catwoman stopped. "Sunnydale, I forgot. Go on."
"And his replacement was a drop dead gorgeous woman named Miss French," Xander said.
"What was her first name?" Catwoman asked.
"Shhh! You'll ruin the fantasy," The Clock King said.
Catwoman rolled her eyes but remained silent.
"And she invited me back to her place to help pull up my grade a bit," Xander said, getting a chorus of catcalls from the listeners. "But when I got there she slipped me a mickey and I woke up chained to the wall in her basement in my underwear."
"Sounds like the start of a letter to Penthouse Forum," a mobster offered.
"Except for the fact that there was another student in a cage next to me and that Miss French had the ability to smell virgins," Xander said, waiting for the laughter to subside. "It turns out she wasn't human or even a mammal. Miss French was a giant praying mantis that would kill and eat virgins after mating with them."
"How'd you escape?" The Penguin asked.
"Well after she transformed into a giant bug and nipped the side of my neck, injecting something that would make me perform despite any fear, my two best friends burst in," Xander explained.
"The tiny blonde cheerleader and the redheaded hacker," Catwoman recalled.
"Willow had a recording of the sounds bats make and apparently that paralyzes praying mantis'. So Buffy beat her to death with a baseball bat and I developed a major attraction to blondes and redheads."
"Do all your stories end in death?" Catwoman asked.
"Story's not over yet," Xander replied.
"Did one of your friends relieve you of that pesky virginity?" a red-haired woman who looked vaguely familiar teased.
"I wi— would have preferred that," Xander said. "No, however when I was helping dispose of Miss French and all her possessions so no one would know she was killed, I discovered a sack full of fertilized eggs."
"Your previous science teacher had been a virgin?" Catwoman asked.
"I guess so, since we didn't find any headless students," Xander replied.
"What did you do with the eggs?" Mary asked while mixing a drink for the scarecrow.
"I know I should have destroyed them, but for some reason I boxed them up and stuck them in my basement," Xander said with a sigh. "It's cold enough down there to keep them dormant."
"That's either really sweet or really stupid," Mary said. "Probably both."
"Probably," Xander agreed.
"So when was the next time?" The Penguin asked.
"I was dating a girl who dumped me on Valentine's day right in the middle of the dance," Xander said, chuckling at the groans and winces. "So I decided I would get back at her by having a witch cast a spell to make her fall in love with me so I could dump her the way she'd just dumped me."
"And how'd that work out for you?" a henchman asked.
"A word of advice; Never call on Aphrodite's power when you plan on betraying love," Xander said. "Instead of making her fall in love with me, Aphrodite made every woman in town, except her, fall in love with me and it was the obsessive 'If I can't have you then no one will' type."
Before any more could be said, The Riddler stumbled in looking like he'd got twelve rounds with Doomsday. He was quickly helped to a chair and after some first aid and a beer he told them what had happened to him.
"I need a break," Xander told Mary, taking her lead filled sawed off pool cue from beneath the bar.
"How long?" she asked.
Xander picked up The Riddler's broken cane and crumpled hat. "I'll be back after lunch; I just have to check on a few things."
Batman keyed up the video footage on the monitor and the founders of the JLA watched 'The Jackal' take down The Riddler using an excessive amount of force and brutality. The Jackal seemed wholly unrepentant as he stood before them, grinning beneath his fur lined mask.
"You seem more concerned with causing him pain than apprehending him," Wonder Woman said, having seen grudge matches between her fellow amazons that had gone much the same.
"That's because I had an idea," Jackal said enthusiastically. "You see, no matter what we do, when they get out of jail they go right back to committing crimes, so obviously imprisonment is no longer a deterrent."
"Go on," Superman said, clearly he disapproved, but he was listening.
"Conditioning," Jackal blurted out. "Just like Pavlov, we can condition the criminals to associate crime with pain which should cut down on repeat offenders."
Silence fell for a few minutes.
"It's too close to torture," Hawkgirl spoke up. "In certain unique cases, pain is used, but adding it to our regular methodology when dealing with criminals in general isn't just treading on a slippery slope, it's greasing our own feet while doing so."
Batman examined his communicator and tapped a few buttons before putting it away. "And the reason you chose Gotham for your experiment?"
"You use fear as a deterrent, so you'd be the best person to evaluate my actions," the Jackal said hopefully.
Batman nodded. "And you didn't ask in advance because it's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission," he said in understanding. "Why The Riddler?"
Gaining confidence the Jackal explained, "Target of opportunity. Gotham has the most violent and most aggressive repeat offenders of anywhere, so if it worked on The Riddler it would work on anyone!"
"The Riddler suffers from OCD," Batman explained. "Occasionally his shrink will find a combination of drugs that works for a while and he'll stop, but even at his worst Edward takes care not to harm the elderly and the innocent."
The Jackal frowned. "OK, I definitely picked the wrong target. I really should have done more research, but my idea is sound."
"The idea is sound," Batman agreed, but Hawkgirl is also correct in that it is a very slippery slope and more importantly it crosses a line that we, as heroes, can not touch. Our job is simply apprehension, anything beyond that makes us the criminals."
"And I crossed the line," Jackal said as he realized what he'd done. "Am I under suspension?" he asked.
"No," Batman said, surprising everyone. "However one thing you should remember is that harming others can have unintended consequences and engender others to harm you in return. You're dismissed."
The Jackal nodded and left, torn between feeling he was right in his actions, if wrong in target, and that they did have a point, but mostly just relieved Batman had been so lenient.
A broken cane with a question mark on the top landed at his feet making him realize he'd absently followed the line of lights on the wall into a training room. Looking up he found himself facing a hero he thought was a bit of a joke. Flannel Man didn't have any powers and was still training in the basics, skill wise, not to mention he'd rather help an old lady carry her groceries home than catch a high profile cat-burglar like Catwoman.
Batman ignored everyone staring at him, shocked at how lenient he'd been, and hit a button changing the monitor to a view of Supergirl and Batgirl hacking into the system.
"Re-directing the Jackal to training room one," Batgirl said.
"He'll be there in a moment," Supergirl spoke into her headset. "Remember his stats waver between two and three times human norm, so be careful."
"Good, I won't have to hold back," Flannel Man's voice came over the speakers as it split screen to show the training room. Xander stood there holding a crushed top hat and broken cane.
"What's going on?" Superman asked.
"The Jackal has pointed out that pain is an excellent tool for teaching. He's about to learn what it's like to be on the student's end," Batman replied.
"Didn't we just go over how using it was wrong?" Flash asked.
"In criminal cases where there are other options," Wonder Woman pointed out. "This is an internal discipline matter where the person in question is asking the question, 'Why don't we use it on a day to day basis?'."
"Oh," the Flash replied in understanding.
Xander limped into the Busted Flush and dropped a box in front of The Riddler.
Edward opened the box and cheered up a little. "You fixed my cane, thanks!"
"No problem," Xander said limping behind the bar. "But the thanks should go to Supergirl."
"A hair extension?" Catwoman asked, looking in the box.
"The Jackal sends his apologies and promises it'll never happen again," Xander told Edward, ignoring Catwoman's question.
Edward pulled a blond ponytail out of the box. "Is this the Jackal's?"Typing by: Stephenopolos