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A Life of Shadows

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Disclaimer: I own what rocks dream about.

Prologue

Hawk lunged forward, hurling himself at Blackguard, who laughed, and threw him to the ground. A cruel smile played over his lips, and his eyes glowed yellow. Hawk gasped on the ground, and in his mind, everything changed.

 

 

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Chapter 2

6 year old Hank came running up to his house. Er, former house. Seeing as it was currently on fire. "What's going on?" He screamed at the nearest fireman.

"We don't know how, but this house caught on fire. Are you Hank Hall?"

"Yeah, this is my house. You're saving it, right?"

"I don't think so. I'm really sorry kid, but this house is coming down. We sent someone inside to call if there was anyone inside, and no one answered so we think everyone's out. Not sure since the structural integrity was to compromised… ah, the building was too weak for our man to stay inside. But we think everyone's out"

"What about my brother?"

"Your brother?"

"You didn't get him? He's one; he wouldn't have called out to you!"

"Your brother's still in there?"

Hank flew forward, but the fireman caught him.

"Kid, you can't go in there! It's coming down, it's not safe." Don went limp in the man's arms, and the firefighter's grip loosened. Suddenly, Hank lunged forward, managing to break the man's grip. The boy sprinted full speed toward the house, as the fireman called out after him. "Someone stop that kid!"

But it was too late. Hank was gone, and no one could stop him.


"Don! Don!" Hank coughed into his arm as the smoke choked him, forcing tears from his eyes. He knew Don couldn't answer probably, but where would he be? Hank ran into his bedroom, which was upstairs, moving as fast as he could as the stairs splintered under his weight. He rushed into his room, where Don was sitting huddled with his teddy bear clutched close to his chest.

His Hank bear was something he would cuddle when the real person was away. He looked so small now, tears streaming down his face, opening his arms for Hank to save him. Hank rushed forward, running as lightly as he could, and scooping Don up. Suddenly, rafters from the ceiling started tumbling down, the embers burning Hank's neck and back as he shielded Don with his own body.

He ran to the stairs, keeping to the sides to keep his weight as light as possible. Then his foot fell through the floorboards. Don gave a cry of fear, and buried his face deeper into Hank's chest. Hank pulled his leg out, splinters of wood slicing at his flesh, and continued running. He was rounding the corner to the front door, when the ceiling started collapsing on the two.

Don clutched Hank as hard as he could, his 1 year old mind unable to comprehend what was happening. Hank felt a particularly sharp board slice at his face, leaving a trail of blood. He ignored it and pushed ahead as the building came down completely. He barely managed to make it out the front door, coughing and shuddering with pain. The firemen ran forward and lead him away to the ambulance where his parents were waiting. Don was pulled gently from his arms, but the toddler sobbed so hard the medics were forced to treat them together. Hank stole a glance over at his little brother, who was clutching his Hank bear as hard as he could. Hank knew then and there that he would never let anything happen to Don, no matter what.

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Chapter 3

"Hey Don." Hank grinned, kneeling by his 2 year old brother. Don looked up at him with innocent blue eyes, and gave that perfect little kid grin that just seemed to light up the world.

"Hay Hay."

Hank's eyes went wide. Don's first words!

"Hay Hay!" Don grinned wide, eyes sparkling with that joy that always seemed so present. "Hay Hay!" He reached up, obviously asking for Hank to hold him. "Hay Hay."

Hank smiled like an idiot. "Mom! Mom! Don said my name! Well, I mean, he tried. I'm Hay Hay now!" Hank smiled down at the form in his arms. "Wow. I love you, Don. I love you."

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Chapter 4

So, this I got from an argument my sister had with my dad a long long time ago, which my mom recorded in her journal. Many phrases here come from this, however she didn't copyright her journal, so I'm pretty sure I can do this without being arrested. :) So without any further ado, my story.

Hawk and Dove didn't just argue as heroes. No, they started much earlier. Much much earlier.

2 year old Don fingered the egg in his hand before looking up at Hank grinning. He was going through a phase, where everything round was a ball, and any kind of bird was an owl. Just try and convince him otherwise!

Don showed Hank his egg at the table. "Ball!"

"That's an egg, Don."

Don nodded knowingly, and said wisely: "Ball."

"Egg."

"Ball!"

"Egg."

"Ball!"

"Egg."

"Ball!"

"Egg."

This was too much for Don to take, and he disconsolately burst into tears. Hank's mother glared at Hank, and leaned forward to Don. "Don, you think it's a ball, right?" Don nodded, still sobbing. "Well then, why don't you pretend it's a ball?"

At this, Don stopped crying, wiped his face off, and turned smiling to his brother.

"Ball."

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Chapter 5

Oh, and by the way, Jasmine is Hank and Don's mom; something I made up myself; it is not cannon.

"Please can I go mom? Please?"

"Well, okay. But if you misbehave you are going to regret it."

"YES! I can go, I can go!" 8 year old Hank flew out the door, as 3 year old Don was walking in.

"Mommy, where Hay Hay going?"

"He's going to a friends house for a sleepover tomorrow."

"Seepover?"

"Mmhm. That means he'll be sleeping there instead of here for one night." Jasmine got the idea that Don still didn't understand. Oh well. He'd get it later.


"Hey Don, come here." Don looked up and saw Hank holding something behind his back. Don still wasn't sure what a sleepover was, but he didn't have a good feeling about it. He walked over to his brother in his tottering little kid steps, wondering what Hank wanted.

"Since I'm going to be gone, I got you something." Hank said with a grin. The he pulled a teddy bear out from behind his back. It was a lovely thing, cute and huggable, and about half as big as Don himself, not that that was saying much. Don's eyes lit up with joy as he held out his arms for Hank to place the bear into. Don plopped down and cuddled the bear in ecstasy.

"I wov him!" Don buried his face in the bear and rocked side to side. Then he looked up again and gave Hank a huge smile. "You're the best big bwother ever!"

Hank grinned back. Jordan's uncle had been in town, and he'd brought a bunch of teddy bears with him, since he worked for a teddy bear factory, and Hank had asked for one of the bears for Don. Seeing as it was free, and Hank hadn't really gone on a real sleepover before. This was because his parents had some kind of paranoia about sleepovers due to some weird experience his mom had had when she was a kid.

But now he was deemed old enough, and he could go. Still though, he'd thought it best to give Don something for when he was gone. And it was time to go now.

"Hey Don, I have to go now."

"'Kay, Hay Hay. See you soon!"

"See ya!"

Hank straitened up and ran out the door, leaving Don cuddling with new toy.


- 15 minutes later

"Mommy, when Hay Hay come back?"

Jasmine looked down to see Don with his new teddy bear in his arms looking up at her. "He'll be back some time tomorrow."

"'Morrow?"

"Uh huh."

"But needs to eat supper."

"He's eating at Jordan's house."

"Why?"

"Because that's what you do at sleepovers."

Don seemed to consider this, before looking scared and hurt. "Mommy, was I bad? Did I make Hay Hay go 'way?"

"No, honey, he's just playing with a friend."

"But you come back when you pway with fwiends."

"And he will. Just later that usual."

Don walked away, biting his lip. Maybe mommy said it wasn't his fault, but he knew better. He had been bad and made Hank go away. But what had he done wrong? He'd tried to be good; what did he do bad? Did Hank hate him now? Don walked to the front door, and sat there, hugging his bear to his chest. But Hank had given him the bear. Maybe Hank didn't hate him. Don didn't know. But he was going to wait for Hank to come back until he finally did. Then maybe Hank would tell him what he did wrong.


"Umm, Don, what are you doing?" Jasmine walked over to the small 3 year old who was still holding his newfound teddy bear. From his position sitting down, the bear was about level with his head.

"I Waiting for Hay Hay, mommy."

"He's not coming back for a while, sweety. And we have to have supper now."

"Not hungry, mommy."

"Well, you have to eat."

"No thank you."

Jasmine stifled a laugh. "You don't have a choice. Come on. Your teddy bear can come too. Have you named him yet?"

"This Hay Hay Bear."

"Hank Bear?"

"Uh huh."

"You named him after your brother?"

"Now I can hug him when Hay Hay isn't here."

Jasmine made a mental note to write about this in her journal. "That's very sweet. I'm sure Hank will love to hear about that. Now do you want to help me set the table?"

"Okay."

Don only picked at his food all meal, and as soon as he was done, he walked right back in front of the door (with Hank Bear) and sat down again. Jasmine sighed.

"Don, Hank isn't coming back tonight."

"In case."

Jasmine shook her head. "Don, do you want to hear a story?"

Don shook his head. "Not now mommy. I waiting."


 

"Hey, sport! Didja miss me?"

Don ran squealing into Hank's arms, dropping Hank Bear for the first time since Hank had left, and letting hank pick him up so Don could hug him around the neck tightly.. "Hay Hay! You back!"

"Sure am! Did you play with your present?"

"I not let go till you come home, Hay Hay."

"Wow. Really?"

"Yeah. I name it Hay Hay Bear."

"Hank Bear?"

"Uh Huh. I hugged it when you were gone, but you back now, so I not need it now."

Jasmine walked into the room. "Don's telling the truth. This boy would not be separated from the great and wonderful Hank Bear. It's good to have you back Hank."

"Sure. Say, Donny, you want to play cars?"

"Yeah!"

Hank grinned and walked away, still holding Don, who was chattering a mile a minute. He wasn't sure how Don had taken his absence, but he seemed to have done okay. But maybe next time he should have the sleepover at his house instead.

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Chapter 6

Hank climbed the next limb of the tree. Climbing was one of the joys of life, and he intended to live life to the fullest. He pulled himself to another branch, when he heard the sound of small footsteps running up to him. Probably Don. The 3 year old was very attached to his brother, and loved showing Hank everything he found fascinating. Hank didn't look over, swinging down to a lower branch so he could talk to Don.

"Hay Hay!" Don's piping voice was excited, clearly pleased with whatever he had found. "Hay Hay, I find worm with face!" Okay, what?

Hank looked over, and fell out of the tree. For there, in Don's bear hands was an alive, writhing, rattlesnake. Hank felt himself go white, as he struggled to his feet, still getting his breath back.

"Hay Hay, you alright?"

"I'm fine." Hank's voice was hoaruse, his only thoughts were what would happen if Don's small fingers moved away from restraining the head. Thank everything out there that Don had grabbed it by the neck.

"It was seeping Hay Hay. It was seeping and I brought it to you!"

That explained how Don had caught it.

"Hay Hay, my arms tired. I let go now."

"NO!"

"Why? It want free."

"I know, it's just... it's like a bee. You know bees?"

"Bee. Ow."

"Yeah. Ow. Well, this stings too, only with it's face."

"Not touch face. Ow."

"Right. Okay, I'm going to take the... worm, alright?"

"'Kay Hay Hay. But I not hold long. Arms tired. But not want get ow!"

"That's okay, I won't let you get stung, I promise. You know what? We'll play a game."

"Yay! Game!"

"Uh huh. So... first you need to give me the worm without letting it sting me. If that happens you lose. And if it stings you we both lose. Then you need to get mom. If you get her in 15 minutes; you win, and if I keep the worm for more than 15 minutes; I win. Got it?"

"Yes! We play game now!"

"Yeah. Alright, now we need to move the worm carefully. If we drop it, it'll run over and sting us."

"'Kay."

Hank slid his fingers about Don's hand, positioning himself carefully; trying to avoid the thrashing head. "Now when I say so, you need to drop the worm and run for mom, okay? Tell her you found a snake, and I have it now, and then bring her here. And Don... don't stop running. No matter what, don't stop running till you get mom."

"I not stop. Now?"

"Annnnd... now."

Don shoved the snake into Hank's hands, as Hank's fingers replaced Don's. Don turned and flew down the hill giggling at the new game, as Hank tried to flip the snake into a better position, because he hadn't perfectly positioned his hands, and the snake was getting loose.


"Mommy, mommy!" Don ran up to his mother panting hard, collapsing at her feet from the hard run. Jasmine picked him up and set him on her lap.

"You look like you ran a long way!" Some of her friends smiled at the cute toddler collapsing against his mother. They were at a restaurant, eating at an outdoor patio.

"I did. Mommy, I playing game with Hay Hay. He say tell you I find sake. I find worm with face mommy! Hank say tell you he has it now."

"Hank has a snake?"

"'S what he said."

"Don, where is he?"

"On hill with big tree."

Jasmine got to her feet, heart hammering. Some of her friends whipped out their phones and began calling their husbands, and others 911, in case Hank had been bitten. Jasmine gathered Don in her arms (in case she needed better instructions; Don had been known to be wrong) and ran.


Hank was still wrestling furiously with the rattlesnake, trying desperately to keep the snake away from his face. The thing had wiggled partially out of his hands, and was so close to sinking it's venomed fangs into his flesh. Given that he didn't know how long it would take before his mother arrived, and the car wasn't here to go the the hospital, a bite could be fatal. But somehow there was a calm, because Don was safe. Don would be fine, and that was all that mattered.

"Hank!" Hank gasped in relief at his mother's voice, accompanied by many running feet.

"Hay Hay? Why wesle with worm?"

Don was there. Oh no. But if there were people there, then Don should be safe. Please let him be safe.

"Hank, honey, be careful. We have a shovel so we'll get that off you. Be careful baby!" Jasmine sounded like she was going into hysterics. Hank tried harder to restrain the snake. Someone ran over and grabbed the snake by the back of the neck; having a better grip than Hank did, and yanking the creature away from the boy. Hank was scooped into Jasmine's arms, his mother gasping as the snake was killed with the shovel.

Don didn't understand the fuss, but as Hank seemed distressed he moved to comfort his brother. "Hay Hay, I here. Is okay. I here."

Hank choked on his sobs, pulling Don close, knowing big boys didn't cry but sobbing anyway. Don's innocent blue eyes filled with worry peered up at him, as small arms wrapped around his brother in the newfound family hug. Hank pulled the small boy close, sniffling helplessly as Don snuggled closer.

Nothing would ever harm Don, not while Hank was there to guard him. And he would guard him, because Don was the most important thing in the world. Hank would watch over him, and you didn't want to be the person who got in his way. Because they were going to be together for always. Forever.

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Chapter 7

Hank picked at his food listlessly. In his 9 year old mind there were more important things than mashed potatoes and green beans. His mother, however, seemed to have other ideas.

"Hank, are you planning to eat that?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah."

"Hay Hay, I have question." Hank looked over to his 3 year old brother, who was staring at him thoughtfully.

"Shoot."

"Why is it when you look at Seena your face change color? You know, go red. And you get weird look in eyes Hay Hay. Oh, and your face look like fever. Why you get sick around Seena?"

"What! I... I don't do anything weird around Selena. I don't."

"Selena's that girl in your class, right Hank? The pretty one?"

Hank glared at his mother. "I never said..."

"That's exactly how you described her. 'The Pretty One'."

"Just drop it, okay!" Hank stabbed his fork into the green beans viciously.

 

Don looked a little taken aback, at Hank's outburst. "Why?"

"Because..." By this time, Hank's face was as red as his hair. "You just wouldn't get it."

"What's special about Seena?"

"Well, Don, Hank just really likes her." Hank's father cut in a smirk on his face.

"He likes other people to, but he doesn't get fevers with them."

"Well he special likes Selena." Hank's father leaned in close and whispered dramatically: "He wants to kiss her."

Hank buried his face in his arms on the table, a certain primary color dominating his face.

"Does Seena want kiss Hank?"

"Sadly, no." Hank's father said wistfully, hamming it up for the 3 year old. Don considered this new information, before coming to a conclusion. He stood up on his chair, and started bridging the gap between his chair and Hank's. Hank sat up, ready to catch Don, just in case.

"That's okay, Hay Hay." Don reassured. "Seena doesn't have to kiss you. I will." Having said this, he cupped Hank's face in his small hands, and kissed Hank on the forehead. He pulled away, a bright smile shining on his face. "See?"

Hank leaned on one elbow with a sort of resigned sigh. "Yes Don, that's a great comfort to me."

Satisfied, Don made his way back to his chair. But Hank remained in turmoil.


- later that night

It was bedtime, and Hank was lying in bed face down, when the bed sagged slightly, indicating his little brother's presence.

"Hay Hay? Why do you want to kiss Seena?"

Sigh "She's pretty."

"But Hay Hay, she's not nice."

"That's not really how it works." Hank moaned woefully.

Don mulled this over. "I don't understand, Hay Hay, but I'm here for you anyway." Don wiggled up under Hank's arm, pressing his warm body into Hank's. And Hank smiled.

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Chapter 8

So this is a headcanon I have, that Don would be terrified of thunderstorms as a kid, and he would always spend the night with his big brother. (Which he can do because they share a room, as we see in the comics.)

Hank gasped as a freight train smashed into his stomach at mach 8. Or at least, that was how it felt. Unable to groan for lack of air, he sat up, the python like child in his arms squeezing the life out of him. Hank tried unsuccessfully to pry the small, blond, 4 year old off his body, before squeezing out: "Don, I can't breath." The grip loosened infinitesimally, and was back at full strength at the clap of thunder that reverberated through the entire house. Hank managed to slightly shift his younger brother in his arms to increase breathing capability, and pulled Don over to his side.

"Don, it's okay, it's just thunder."

"It's scary."

"It's just noise."

"It wants to eat me." Don seemed to believe that everything he deemed scary wanted to eat him, a list that included (but was not limited to) the vacuum cleaner, the furnace, the guy next door, the blender, and any kind of pineapple. No one really understood that one. In any case, Hank wasn't quite sure what to do at this point.

"Do you want to sleep with me? I won't let it eat you."

Don nodded fervently. Hank managed to turn over, and pull the covers over both of them, as the thunder cracked once more. Hank would never again make fun of his brother for being weak. If the kid didn't let up soon, Hank was going to have cracked ribs this morning.

"You're the best big brother ever." Don whispered, not easing his grip in the slightest.

"Well I do what I can. But you know it's just because I'd never live down letting my brother be eaten on my watch."

"You're kidding, right?"

"Yeah."

"Good." The thunder went off again, and Don gave a tiny shriek, before burying his face in Hank's chest once more. Hank didn't know where the kid got this kind of endurance, but he was sure that Don was going to be very sore tomorrow if he didn't let up soon.

"Don, you've got to let go of me. You're going to hurt yourself."

"It'll eat me."

"No it won't. I won't let it."

"But I'm scared."

"You don't have to be. I got you, Don. You don't have to be scared. Let go, I'll keep you safe."

Slowly, Don began to release his brother, when the thunder boomed again. Don flinched heavily, but threw himself into a ball beside his brother, shaking wildly. Hank tightly wrapped his arms around his brother, and pulled Don close to his chest. Don began to reach out, but Hank gently kept his arms away.

"You're going to hurt yourself. You don't need to hang on to me, Don; I won't let you go. Not ever."

Don shivered, and snuggled into Hank's body, still trembling desperately. Hank snuggled his little brother close and held him firmly, whispering comfort into his baby soft hair.

"It's okay, Don. I'm here. I'll always be here."

Don relaxed in Hank's arms as much as he could with the child eating thunderstorm raging, and tried to keep from squeezing the living daylights out of his brother. He shivered in fear as Hank held him but then… Hank had him safe. And then Don knew he didn't need to be scared.

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Chapter 9

"This is Melinda Monroe reporting, where there seems to be a catastrophic event taking place at Harver school. A masked man with a gun has taken 6 children hostage, and is demanding an insane amount of money for their lives that we have no way to meet. The children are Stephanie Fletcher, Billy Harkin, Peter Mobishi, Esther Thomas, and Hank Hall. All attempts to reason with the mystery terrorist have come to nothing; the deadline remains in place. And if nothing game changing happens, this may very well turn into a terrible disaster.

Michael shifted around anxiously. He'd never done this before. Hold up a school, or whatever it was called. When he was a kid, his older brother had been in a school like this. His name had been Jeffrey. And Michael had loved him. Right up until the day when his school had been held up by some punk with impossible demands or he'd shoot the kids. He had. Jeffrey died. Michael was crushed.

And if the stupid judge couldn't save Jeffrey, Michael would make him go through the same pain Michael had, for one of the kids Michael had was Judge Hall's son, Hank. Hall would suffer as Michael had suffered; that was a certainty.


 

"There seems to be no development with the situation." Melinda spoke into the camera. "Continued efforts to talk the potential killer down have so far not come to anything, and time is running out. Wait. A boy has broken through the police barrier!" The camera zoomed away to show a small boy dashing across the lot to inside the school where the masked killer was.


 

"Wait! I'm here to pay the ransom!" the boy cried. He held up what looked like a piggie bank to the terrorist. "It's not as much as you asked, but it's 200 dollars. That's a lot right?" Tears slipped down the boy's face. "Please don't kill my brother."

"Your brother?" Michael asked in shock. One thing he had not expected was for some kid to run up with his piggy bank.

"His name is Hank Hall, and I'm Don. Please don't kill him. I love him." Don held out the bank. "Please take it. You can kill me if you want, just leave him alone."

Michael stared at… himself. Younger, wanting nothing but his big brother to be spared, tears spilling down his cheeks. This wasn't the way. This wasn't what Jeffrey would have wanted. That said, there was no way he was walking over to the police, and he couldn't just leave without any money.

"I'll take it." Michael said, reaching out for the bank, and putting it in his pocket. "But I'll need you as insurance that I don't get nabbed by the cops. Don't try anything funny."

"I won't." Don promised, and walked over, allowing Michael to grab his arm, and hustle him out of the building.


 

Hank was holding Stephanie (who was the hottest girl in the school) in his lap, as they waited for the man with the gun to come back. She was sobbing, and Hank tried to comfort her. Hank was sure they were going to die. The only good thing was that Don was safe. Then the door started to open. They all flinched back. It creaked, and Stephanie buried herself further into Hank's body. Hank's eyes went wide as… Five policemen burst into the room.

"It's alright, kids. The terrorist is gone. You're safe now. Go on out to your families." The kids ran out, the police helping them go. "Hank, wait." It was the lead policeman again. Hank stopped, fear building inside.

"What… what's wrong? He's gone, right?"

"Yes, but he has a hostage."

"Who?" Hank whispered, hear pounding. No, please no…

"Hank… it's Don. It's your brother."

Hank fell to his knees, face drained white. No. Anything but that. Don in the hands of a trigger happy terrorist. It was Hank's worst nightmare. "No…"


 

"Stay here, kid." Michael warned. He pulled a watch off his wrist and gave it to Don. "In half an hour you can go to the police. If you try to move before then…"

Don shook his head. "I won't. I promise." Michael began to turn away. "Wait! I… I want to ask you something. Why didn't you kill me?"

Michael pursed his lips. "I had an older brother once. A terrorist killed him. He wouldn't have wanted me to kill you."

"I think he would be proud of you." Don whispered. "You had to be really brave to leave like that. To not get revenge."

"Thanks." Michael turned and ran away. Don waited.

"Calling all search units, this is unit 4a. We found him."


By the time Hank arrived, the cops had Don sitting down wrapped in a blanket.

"Don!"

"Hank?"

Hank rushed forward to grab his brother in a rib crushing hug, burying his face in Don's neck, sobbing. And Don hugged him back.

"Don't do that to me again, Don!" Hank demanded, shaking Don slightly. "You can't put yourself in danger like that! It's stupid!"

"I know. But I couldn't let him kill you. And it wasn't like he was going to shoot his hostage. I was safe."

"You didn't know that."

"Yeah. But if I saved you it was worth it."

"No. Nothing's worth that. Promise me you won't do that again." Hank pulled back, shaking Don by the shoulders. "Promise me!"

"I can't." Don leaned his head on Hank gently. "But I promise I'll be careful."

"I'm not going to convince you, am I?"

"Nope."

"Well… I guess I'll just have to take care of you then."

"And so begins the reign of the overbearing older brother." Don mumbled contentedly.

"Anyone dumb enough to walk up to a terrorist with a piggy bank needs someone to take care of them."

"I think I can live with that."

"I think you have to. Now let's get home."

"Yeah. I love you."

"Forever."

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

"What is wrong with you?" 12 year old Hank glared at his brother, anger radiating in waves. It was way past bedtime, and the two brothers were at the top of the stairs, in the middle of a heated argument. "You little rat!"

"So I told on you! You think I would let you keep doing that?"

"I think you're a snitch! I can't believe you sold me out!" Hank was gesturing wildly, fire burning in his eyes at his 7 year old brother.

"I was protecting you! That sort of stuff ruins your life, Hank."

"Well it's my life to ruin, and it's none of your business."

"Hank, no…" Don moved forward, hands out, attempting to calm his brother.

"Get away from me!" Hank threw his arm out, smacking Don in the chest, and throwing him off balance. Don fell headfirst down the stairs.

Don fell, tumbling, unable to break his fall, and then lay still. Broken. Eyes gently closed, as though in sleep. The world stood still. Time seemed to slow as Hank raced down the stairs, the sense of surreal numbing his brain. But as he touched his brother's limp form, the veil seemed to shatter. Everything flew into focus, screaming at his horrified mind.

Hank pulled Don into his arms, shaking him in terror. "Don, wake up, this isn't funny! I'm sorry, please wake up! Don! MOM! DAD!" Hank stopped shaking Don, and began to rock him instead, pulling the small form close to his chest; sobbing. "Don, I'm sorry, wake up!"

His parents came running into the room. Hank looked up. "I didn't mean to." He whimpered, tears streaming down his cheeks. Don was still, and the world was silent.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

Hank sat beside his younger brother's small form in the hospital, holding his hand gently. This was all his fault. Don was in the hospital because of him, because of his stupidity. Oh, how could he have been so stupid?

What if Don didn't wake up? The doctor said he was in a coma, and that he might wake up, but what if he didn't? Hank slipped Don's small hand into his own, biting his lip in worry. If only he hadn't gone to that dumb party. If only he hadn't been so mad at Don! All the kid had done was try to help him, and Hank had thrown his little brother in a coma for it. So stupid…

The machines beeped steadily, to the rhythm of Hank's tears.


One month. One month of spending every available moment by Don's side and praying that he would somehow wake up; two weeks of steady nightmares. He only did his schoolwork because they wouldn't let him see Don otherwise. His grades actually went up. How couldn't they? He somehow felt that if he was only better, if he only worked harder, sacrificed more, then somehow Don would be okay.

Sometimes he would talk to Don. Just tell him everything that had happened, what he'd learned in school; everything.

Sometimes he would finger the IV gently, even though he'd been scared to touch it before, as though if he put the slightest pressure on it, it would collapse. Now though, he could handle it, and the smooth feel beneath his fingers drove daggers into his heart.

And sometimes, he would just watch his baby brother; watch the rise and fall of his chest, watch as the doctors adjusted the IV or medicines; Don's limp form never resisting.


Hank was sitting by Don's side; head resting on the bed beside his little brother. Don's gentle breathing was little consolation against the ever increasing potential of his never waking up. Hank felt a tear slip down his face. This was almost worse than Don being dead. Because he didn't know if Don would wake up, and the hope was as painful as it was needed. He had to believe that Don would wake up, but that belief was tearing him apart from the inside. Smoothing Don's hand in his own, he felt his body rack with sobs.

"H-Hank?" Hank's entire body stilled, as his eyes flew open. His breathing stopped, as the quiet voice he thought he'd never hear again whispered in his ears. He sat up.

"Don?" Don's beautiful blue eyes fixed lightly on his brother, a smile beginning to touch his lips. Hank felt his heart stop. He reached out, gently cupping Don's face in his hand before something inside him broke, and he grabbed Don as tight as he could, rocking him as close to his chest in desperation.

"I love you, Don." Hank managed through the tears. "I love you so much, you're everything to me, I should never have hurt you, please forgive me. I know I don't deserve it, and I understand if you hate me forever, but please. Please Don, if you can't forgive me at least understand, please. I love you."

"I love you too." Don whispered, though the words were blurred; he was still coming out of his coma. "'Course I forgive you. What did you do wrong?"

Hank clutched Don closer, the smaller boy's words cutting to his heart. Don didn't know. Didn't know how long he'd been in that coma. Probably didn't even remember how he'd gotten to be in that state. That was the only reason he could forgive Hank like that. He didn't know. In a moment of clarity, Hank hit the call button for a nurse; they would need to know Don had woken up.

"You don't understand." Hank choked out, as he rocked Don slightly. "You were in a coma for a month. A month, Don! And it's my fault."

Don's eyes widened. He was becoming more awake by the second, and was now more able to process what Hank was saying. And what he was saying… a month of his life gone? But… more than that… "Hank… you had to live through that? Through me being in a coma?"

Hank felt the dagger in his heart twist. How could Don be thinking of him? He wasn't important. Don was the one who had been in a coma, and it was all Hank's fault. Don should be feeling sorry for Don, not for Hank! "Don… what are you talking about? Everything bad that's happened happened to you, and it was my fault! You're not supposed to be feeling sorry for me!"

"But I was asleep. I don't remember it. You were the one who was hurt. You had to be awake for it." Don weakly reached up and gave Hank a limp hug. "You were the one who was really hurt."

"But you lost a month of your life!"

"And what have you been doing for that month?" So used to arguing, Don was able to carry on the debate, even as the doctors approached and Hank looked away guiltily, because he really hadn't been doing anything.

"See?" Don asked, as the doctors rushed in. "You lost a month too. But it hurt for you."

Hank felt tears glisten in his eyes as he was gently pulled away from his brother so the smaller boy could be tested with all kinds of medical equipment and doctors while another doctor began interrogating Hank on exactly what had happened on the moment of Don's awakening.


- a while later

"Don?"

"Hey Hank."

Hank ran forward and pulled his brother into his arms. Then he pulled himself away, taking Don in. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah. They say I'll be fine."

"I know that; they told me. I'm asking how you feel."

"Like Sleeping Beauty. I'm never going to take naps again."

Hank gave a small smile, then his face fell. "I'm sorry."

"You didn't try. And I guess you won't be doing stupid stuff like that anymore?"

"Yeah. Definitely not."

"Then I guess I succeeded."

"You're being really calm about this." Hank said worriedly.

"I think I'm in shock." Don admitted.

Hank wrapped him in his arms, letting Don's head rest on his older brother's chest. "It's okay. I'm here, and I'm not letting anyone hurt you. Not ever."

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

"Hey Don." It was midday, and 7 year old Don looked from reading on his bed to see his older brother approaching.

"What is it, Hank?"

Hank tossed Don a toy gun, one that shot those little toilet plunger thingies. "Let's play war!"

"War?"

"Yep. I shoot at you, and you shoot at me, and however gets hit is dead."

Don looked down at the gun in his hand. "What if I don't want to fight you?"

Hank blinked as if Don had just said something ridiculous. "That doesn't matter. We're fighting."

"Why are we fighting?"

"It doesn't matter; just shoot at me!"

"But I don't want to!"

"That's not the point. We fight until someone dies."

Don glanced again at his gun, before tossing the weapon on the bed. "I surrender."

"But… but you can't just surrender!"

"I don't want to fight." Don picked up his book again. Hank would go away soon.


 

"Hey Don!"

Don suppressed a groan; how many more times was Hank going to ask him to play the stupid game?

"Hank…" Once more, Hank tossed Don the weapon.

"I surrender." Don said before Hank could begin. Hank threw up his hands and glared at the ceiling in exasperation. Then, there was a sudden pressure on his forehead. He looked down, and saw Don with gun extended. There was no ammo in his gun. "I win."

"You shot me?"

"I back stabbed you in the middle of negotiations. In the interests of a faster bringing about of peace."

"But… but that's not fair!" Hank pulled the dart off his head. "And you're a pacifist, you're not supposed to kill me!"

"I didn't kill you. I shot you with a toy dart. If it had been real, it would have been covered in a sleep potion. But now you get to play with me. Come on Hank, let's go have actual fun."

Hank followed his younger brother out of the house, a newfound respect emanating. Next time he would be more careful not to underestimate Don. A pacifist view would seem to make someone more creative in their victories. Hank cataloged this. Who knew, it could come in handy.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

"Come on, it'll be fine!"

"Hank… I don't think we should."

"Stop whining, baby. I do this all the time."

9 year old Don was hesitantly following his older brother up on the roof, glancing fearfully at the ground looming below him. "Hank…"

"I said come on!" Hank gave a sigh of exasperation, and grabbed Don, pulling him up, and causing the smaller boy to cry out in fear; instinctively latching onto his older brother as everything seemed to spin.

"Hank no!"

"Will you come off it, crybaby? There's nothing to be afraid of." Hank climbed further up the roof, pushing Don away, though the blond's fingers remained embedded in his shirt. Hank scowled, reaching the top of the roof. "Don, let go!" Hank shoved the smaller boy's hand away, and Don slipped.

For as long as he lived, Hank would never forget Don's face when he fell, how his hair was blown forward, his blue eyes wide, mouth open in surprise. Hank heard Don cry his name, and felt a stab of numbness slice through his heart.

"DON!" Hank rushed to the edge of the roof, not worried in the least about safety. And there was Don. Lying on the ground, his leg bent in an unnatural position, his face still. Hank jumped off the roof into the bushes, and threw himself at his little brother. Gently he pulled the boy into his arms, sobbing helplessly. Not again. How could he be so stupid as to do this twice? Surely things wouldn't work out as well this time. Not again. Not again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

"Come on, Hank, we got to get home. Nownownownownow!"

Hank laughed at his now 10 year old brother. "Birthday boy can't wait to get to his spoils, huh?"

"I'm doing better than you! Remember when you turned 10? I still remember when you turned 10."

"That was not my fault."

"Sure it wasn't."

"Well why don't you go home by yourself?"

"It's too far! Leg broken remember? Something about you dragging me up on the roof and sending me hurtling to my doom?"

"It was not that bad!"

"It wasn't as bad as when you hospitalized me for a month. But it was bad. And seriously, you'd do better on crutches than me. No arm muscles, remember? These things are tiring."

And despite the fact that Hank was doing his best to look indifferent, he could barely quell the rising in his throat. Because it was his fault. And he was so so lucky Don wasn't dead that he didn't have any right to make him suffer anymore. Don shouldn't be hobbling along on crutches, especially not on his birthday. He shouldn't have been hospitalized, or have to hide his tears every night because he didn't want anyone to know just how much his leg hurt.

Only Hank knew about that, from when he'd accidentally walked in on Don squeezing a pillow to death. Don had looked up, eyes wet with tears, and his quiet words, that he hadn't wanted anyone to worry, had broken Hank's heart. No. Nothing else would happen to Don no matter how mundane, especially not on his birthday

"Fine, fine, I'm a sucker for birthday boys, okay?" Hank scooped Don's light frame into his arms. "Let's go home, huh?"

"Yeah. And Hank? I chose to go up there. It wasn't all your fault."

And Don believes it, Hank knows. But it was his fault. Don followed his example, and was hurt because of it. No, Hank blames himself, and rightly too. And Don's sweet face looking up at him only serves to twist the knife.

"Maybe you're right Don." He says it to ease Don's feelings, to make sure the boy thinks that Hank has somehow forgiven himself for what happened, when in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. "Maybe you're right."

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

Hank looked up in surprise from his phone as Don walked over. It was late, and Don looked like he was about to collapse. He should be in bed. "Uh, Don, what are you doing…"

Don started slipping himself into Hank's lap, pushing his arms to the side. He gave a sleepy moan, and snuggled up to Hank chest, twining his fingers into Hank's shirt.

Hank stared down bemusedly. At 13, you would think Don would be out of this phase. You know, the one where when he was tired he'd walk up and fall asleep in Hank's arms. Hank gently began running his fingers through Don's silky soft hair, smiling gently at the slightly squirming form in his arms.

Don twisted into a more comfortable position, and buried his face in Hank's neck, giving a contented sigh as Hank stroked his face and neck. Hank always felt an uncontrollable surge of protectiveness when Don did this; the kid always seemed so vulnerable. So innocent. Hank wrapped his arms around Don's warm body, Don was long asleep by now.

Don had the strangest habits sometimes, not that Hank could judge. But to be honest, at times like this, that only made him more adorable and lovable. Pretty soon, Hank knew, he was going to be fighting a never ending battle of keeping all manner of female vermin away from his brother.

As much as Hank wanted Don to find a girl and settle down, there was also a part of him that wanted to keep Don forever. Not in any sort of romantic way, but to protect him. To protect him from a hard cruel world he didn't understand.

Hank pressed a gentle kiss to Don's forehead, and Don gave a subconscious squirm, pressing deeper into his big brother.

"It's okay Don." Hank whispered. "I've got you. You're safe. I won't ever let anything hurt you."

And he never would. He knew that, and he always would.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

Hank grinned, leaning out over the boat, the cool sea air slapping him in the face. He laughed into the wind; there was nothing like this in Eldon. The smell of salt, the foam, the wind; you couldn't find that there. Don didn't like it though; he'd never much liked water. He could swim, but boats made him seasick as they'd just found out, and he'd never really liked swimming anyway.

Oh well. Hank wasn't about to let his squeamish little brother ruin his trip. The world didn't revolve around him. Hank heard light footsteps behind him.

"What're you doing up here, Don?"

"You might want to come below deck. Radio says there's gonna be a big storm coming."

"I'll be fine."

"Whatever you say." Don walked below deck again, really not liking this ship thing.


Hank was beginning to wish he'd listened to his 15 year old little brother. The wind and rain poured down mercilessly, stinging his face and hands with an unwavering persistence that was close to driving him below deck with his brother. But the thought of being able to tell his friends that he'd been doing all that ship stuff in the middle of a storm, like in the movies was enough to motivate him to stay up. He was sure he looked very heroic up there, fighting the motion of the boat, as water poured across the deck.

He may not have been strictly needed up there; it wasn't like he was the one driving the boat or anything, but he sure wasn't going to run away! But there was something, some sound calling barely over the storm. Hank turned, and saw the outline of his brother, against the rain. He managed over to the smaller figure, and gripped him by the shoulders.

"DON! What are you doing?"

"You need to get below deck! It's not safe here!"

"I'm fine!"

"You don't know how to work on a ship! You need to get below deck NOW!"

"I don't have to do anything!"

Suddenly, Don looked up and gasped, seeing something behind his brother. "Hank move!" Don managed to shove Hank to the side, only to find himself thrown overboard, smacked by the falling material.

"DON! NO!" Hank dove straight into the raging sea, terrified for his brother's life. Life jacket propelling him to the surface, he tried desperately to see his little brother through the raging storm. Thankfully he was wearing a life jacket, but he wasn't yelling… probably he'd been knocked unconscious.

There. A flash of orange. Don's life jacket. Hank managed to swim over to his indeed unconscious brother, who was being tossed like a rag doll by the pounding waves. Hank managed to grab his brother and hold his face above the waves, even as he was tossed by the swelling waves. There should be an island somewhere around here… it was where they were going. But Hank didn't know where it was anymore. He was too disoriented. But he wouldn't fail. Not with Don's life counting on him.

Hank fought against the waves, focusing on keeping Don's head above the deadly water. And then he saw it. A bird. Flying. In the storm. The thing looked like it was struggling, but that wasn't what caught Hank's attention most. A bird. It must be headed to land, and that land had to be nearby!

Hank followed after, strength renewed. It was incredibly hard work, swimming with his brother in his arms, but he had no choice. And yet… it was so far. His arms and legs burned with pain, as he tried with everything in him to keep moving. The waves battered him, shoving him underwater time and time again, the rain all but blinding him, water drenching his clothes and eyes, making the bird nearly invisible. Don's dead weight made it nearly impossible to move. Breathing was hard, what with the water spraying into his mouth and nose. The only thing that kept him at all going was the precious form in his arms. But finally, not even that was enough, and Hank started sinking.

The waves battered him into near senselessness, rising up, grabbing him and throwing him back into the sea, water was getting into his lungs, and he didn't have the strength to cough it up again. Another wave, larger than the rest, grabbed him, and pulled him up into the air and crashing him onto… land. The grainy feel of sand smacked against him, sticking to all of him, Don's limp body still pressed against him.

Hank coughed helplessly, the rain still beating at his prone form. Gasping, he managed to drag Don farther up the beach, finally finding something that must be covered by some tree or something, due to the decreased amount of rain. Hank's last thought was at least Don was breathing, and then he passed out.


Hank never went boating again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Hank walked into the living room and stared. Don appeared to be in some kind of trance. Hank walked in front of his 17 year old brother and waved his hand in front of the boy's face. Sigh. Don did this sometimes; just stare off into space, and for some reason if he was interrupted during this time, he got a massive headache and was disturbed for days afterward. Hank just shook his head. But Don looked so alone just sitting there.

Hank walked over to the closet and grabbed a blanket. Gently he spread it over Don's shoulders. Without snapping out of his trance, Don pulled the blanket around himself tightly. Hank turned on the video game system, sat on the couch, and waited for Don to wake up.

Hours later, Don began to snap out of his trance, mumbling softly as if waking from a deep sleep. Hank, who had started reading a book on wrestling, put down the book and walked over; scooping Don up in his arms. Don's head limply fell onto Hank's chest, and he snuggled unconsciously into his big brother's chest. Hank's fingers gently smoothed over Don's hair as Don sighed in contentment.

As he lay Don in bed, Hank brushed a hand over Don's face. The teen looked so peaceful. Besides, no one could ever prove that Hank had done it. Tough guys like Harold Hall didn't handle their little brothers so gently. And Hank would never tell anyone differently.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Hawk roared his anger, his fist crunching into the villain's face again and again. Fury was turning his vision red, and there seemed to be nothing but his anger, his hate, his chaos. He pulled his fist back again, when suddenly there was something in front of him, and some instinct kept his fist back. He growled at the blue and white blur, as his eyes began to focus. He needed the thing to move so he could punish the villain. What was it doing?

Then, there was a pressure on his chest, soft and light, gentle to a fault, and he trembled. Not in fear, but as if he was coming out of hard exercise; it felt like he was waking up. His eyes focused, and he saw Don, or Dove now, in front of him, eyes full of worry and fear. He was gently holding Hank back, biting his lip, and looking thoroughly scared.

"Hank… you beat him. Just… let him go now, okay?"

Hank gasped, the adrenaline fading from his system. He looked down. There, under Don's arms, was his victim, beaten to a pulp.

"We need to get him to a hospital." Dove offered uncertainty, still worried about his brother.

"Yeah…" Hank dropped his enemy, knowing he should feel worse about what he had done. There was something… inside of him that whispered that he hadn't killed the trash. And even if he had… they were evil. They would only hurt someone else. Being a superhero wasn't about being nice. That scum deserved it. And besides… honestly… it was fun.


 

"Hank, we need to talk about what happened today." Newly minted Dove looked worriedly at his brother, his 17 year old eyes showing deep rooted fear.

"There's nothing to talk about." Hank knew Don wasn't going to let it go.

"Nothing to talk about? Hank, you nearly killed that man. And this isn't the first time you've lost control. Just the worst. Talk to me. Please."

"It's nothing, Don! It's just… it's like… it's like there's something inside me. You know? There's something there, and… and… you know what? I didn't do anything wrong. They deserved that. I did the right thing. Crime fighting is just that. Fighting. It's not tea and cookies time, Donny. Maybe you don't get that, but I do. They deserve everything I did and more."

"Hank… no… this isn't you. Something's wrong. That's wrong. Crime fighting isn't crime killing. And you don't need to almost kill them either. You just need to win. And I know we disagree on some other stuff, but Hank, even if you think that we should be beating people up, you can't think that! You can't think that it's somehow right to hurt people so much! That's not our job, Hank. We don't have any right to do that! Hank… people look up to us. We need to be their role models. We can't go randomly killing bad guys because we think we're better than they are. We have to be above that, Hank."

"I don't have to do anything."

"You have to be a hero. If we just take the law into our own hands, that makes us no better than that which we fight. Hank, people need heroes, and if we become the villains, they'll look to other places. The wrong places. We have a responsibility to those people, and we need to be their heroes. We need to be their superheroes."

"I… I know that… it's just…"

"What Hank? What is it?"

"I want to kill them, Don! It's like there's something inside of me, something that wants to kill! Something that's telling me they deserve it, and it's alright, and Don, I enjoy it! I… enjoy it. Something's wrong with me. I know that. I just don't know what to do about it. I can't stop it, Don. It's taking me over. There's nothing I can do about it."

"It's the chaos, Hank. From your powers. It's not supposed to be part of being you, and that chaos is taking you over."

"But it's good! I fight crime with it!"

"The powers are good and all, but you can't let them control you. That's too much of a good thing, Hank. It's becoming bad. You have to control it."

Hank leaned against the table, head dropping in defeat. "I… can't. Not by myself, Don. I'm not… I'm not strong enough. I can't fight it. It's too strong for me."

"Hank," Don whispered, "you don't have to fight it by yourself. You don't have to be strong enough. I'm here for you. I'm Order. I'll help you stand."

"No… I can't accept that. I can't. You… you can't do that. I'm not good enough. I need to be… better. Then you can help me. I don't deserve it yet."

"Hank… I'm not asking because you deserve it. I'm offering to help because I love you. You don't need to better for me to help you. I love you because you're you. I love you because you're my brother, and you're who you are. You could be the next Adolf Hitler, and I'd love you anyway. Let me help you. I can't do it if you won't let me. But don't you understand? I want to help you."

Hank looked over his shoulder. Don. His order. His peace when everything else was chaos. "I guess I'll take it."

Don pressed himself into Hank's arms. They didn't let go for a long time.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

Hank howled in fury, smashing the villain into a wall, the wall crumbling. The scum would live. He didn't deserve too. Hank ran back to the limp body on the ground, scooping it into his arms.

"Don?" His choked whisper, so desperate, was barely audible, as he cradled the broken form in his arms. The suit was actually torn, the blue and white stained with so much red. He hated red. "Donny? Can you hear me? Please?"

Don didn't respond. Hank sobbed. He couldn't move his brother. Don was so broken… he would never make it to the hospital. But Hank couldn't lose him! There had to be something… there had to be! But Don's breathing was growing more ragged. Blood was soaking Hank's own suit, the red quickly replacing the white. Hank stroked over Don's face, barely able to see anything through the tears. And then there was light.

"Dovelan. He saved us." It was one of the aliens Don had saved. Right now, Hawk felt like tearing the things head off.

"We can save him." Everything froze.

"You can save him?"

"Yes. Our species is quite advanced in healing."

That made sense: they were from a very advanced civilization, and were good at pretty much everything except fighting. They were apparently advanced beyond fighting.

"We shall take Dovelan to our world. It shall be everything he has ever wanted. I regret not being able to take you also, Hawklan."

Hawk still wasn't used to Hawklan, the "lan" at the end was used to show respect. But the message stood. And that life… no violence, just peace. It was everything Don had ever been trying to accomplish. And he would live. He would live. And Hank would die. Because he needed Don. Needed him more than anything else in the world, needed him to be there to love him, to fall asleep in his arms, to keep him steady, to smile. He needed that. Needed it more than anything else in the world. But Don needed to live. And Hank had to let him go.

Still crying, he offered the broken form to the alien, and buried his face in Don's chest.

"I love you, Donny." He whispered, shattered. "I love you so much. Be… be safe. I'll always love you."

And then Don was taken away. And Hank was broken.


Hank lay in bed, unable to sleep. Don. He should be here. His small body should be pressed against Hank's own the way it always was after something terrifying had happened, and they both needed to know that the other was there; real. It was something they never told anyone else about, there were already enough rumors they were in love.

And they weren't. But even after he wasn't scared of thunderstorms, when something else happened; someone died, or after a particularly scarring mission, Don had always slept beside his big brother. Hank always drove the nightmares away, and Don's small form always reassured his brother that everything was alright.

But now nothing would be alright again. Because Don was gone. And nothing would ever change that. Hank felt his tears soak the pillow; his arms felt so empty without his little brother there to fill them. And then there was a flash of light. Hank bolted up… and there was Don. Whole, smiling.

"Don?"

Don smiled, and threw himself into Hank's arms. "Hank!"

"DON!" Hank wrapped himself around the boy's body, sobbing in relief, and nearly crushing his younger brother. "You… you came back! But… that was everything you ever wanted!"

"Not everything." Don whispered, snuggling in deeper. "They didn't have the most important thing of all. They didn't have you."

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

Not all their missions ended in some kind of tragedy. In fact, most didn't. Most of the time, they were just two brothers protecting civilians and each other while defeating rather low key villains, like muggers, or someone's lackeys.

Hawk laughed as he smashed another gun toting minion into the wall of the warehouse. Things like this were so good for relaxing.

Dove grabbed one of the minions rushing him, and placed him right in the path of one of his buddies. The two collided, and Don tossed the thug into another goon trying to sneak up on his brother. Hawk grinned and smashed the couple's heads together.

Apparently the thugs decided that Hawk was the really dangerous one, whereas Dove was obviously a wimpy no account. They promptly rushed at Dove, who blinked in surprise at the onslaught, as Hawk rushed forward to help his brother. The lackeys probably planned to hold Dove hostage and so get away from the Hawk.

Dove didn't seem to like this plan. Not stupid, and knowing there was no way he could defend himself from so many thugs at once, he backflipped up onto the wall, and sprang off, flipping over the thugs into a handspring that landed him beside his brother.

He grinned. The thugs blinked. They knew they were dead. Nothing stood against the great and mighty team of Hawk and Dove.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

"You idiot."

"Hank…"

"You idiot."

Hank was gently rubbing medicine on Don's wrists, rubbed raw from Ares's ropes. They'd just got back from Kasnia, and Dove's wounds from the Annihilator had transferred over to Don. Something about the not - quite - mortal nature of their infliction or something like that.

Point being, Don's wrists and ankles were bleeding, and there was definite pain from his shoulders and back.

"Why do you do stupid things like this?" Hank asked, growling, as he dipped his fingers in the medicine again. He was kneeling next to Don, who was seated on a chain, and looking down at his lap. He knew he'd scared his brother; his chest still twisted when he remembered the way Hank had screamed for him back in Kasnia, as he'd been held helpless by Wonder Woman.

"I'm sorry. You know I had to. And it worked…"

"What if it didn't?! What if you died?"

Don gulped. Hank was fighting tears, Don had been right there, as the Annihilator raised his arm, preparing to end Don's life once and for all. And Hank was helpless. He hated being helpless. And Don had almost died too many times for Hank to be able to bear losing him again.

"I'm sorry…" And he was. Not that he had done it; he'd do it again, a million times. But he was sorry that he'd hurt his brother. He was sorry that Hank was going to have nightmares because of him. He was sorry that Hank had been so terrified because of something he'd done. He was so sorry…

Hank straightened and tilted Don's face up. "You did the right thing." Don knew Hank meant it, but he also saw the pain his brother's eyes. "You did the right thing but… it still scared me. I love you Don."

Don stood up and hugged Hank as tight as he could burying his face in Hank's neck. "I love you too."

And Hank held his brother in his arms, feeling the pain fade, as Don healed the terrible gash in his heart.

ALERT: Next chapter and all is revealed, as the plot twist you never saw coming comes! As the conspiracy you never knew of comes together! OH, the humanity!

Chapter Text

Chapter 22,   End of the Beginning

 

Don’s eyes were vibrant as he reached out, offering Hank taffy with a smile. Hank reached out, and his hand closed and he couldn’t stop looking at Don’s eyes. They almost seemed… faded. 

 

“Hank, you should really read this. I know you don’t get it, but Alice in Wonderland is a masterpiece, it’s not just for kids.”

 

“Anything that rediculous tapps out at the 6 year old range, Don.”

 

“No it doesn’t!” He seemed… quiet? Threadbare, was that right? “Don, is something wrong?” 

 

“You may not believe this, but there are lots of adults who love this. Sometimes people read it in college.”

 

“I can’t see why.”

 

“Because… honestly , not everything has to be serious or gruesome. Alice keeps this niavette throught the whole story…”

 

Hank struggled to hear. And, his eyes… they’d been blue before, right? Bright blue not… 

 

“Don, didn’t I ask if something was wrong?”

 

“She is not rediculous! She’s a model of childlike innocence-”

 

“I didn’t call her rediculous!” Hank flew to his feet and glared. Don’s gaze didn’t move.

 

“-she stays truthfull and optimistic…”

 

“Don, talk to me !”

 

“You can’t possibily believe that.”

 

Hank growled in frusteration and glanced down at himself. Still in the chair, even though he was standing up. A ghost image a phantom…

 

He grabbed Don’s shoulder and moved through him uselessly. “What?”

 

Everything was fading. The room, Don, even the sound of voices - was that his own voice, coming from the ghost in the chair? 

 

Hadn’t this already happened?

 

Wasn’t something wrong? 

 

Wasn’t… Don… who was this ghost? Where was he? Shouldn’t he know? Shouldn’t he… should should… something… 

 

He was nothing and nowhere. Everything was too pale to see or touch or hear and then there wasn’t even the paleness. But he was solid. But he was solid no where and everywhere at once, because if he was the only something in the middle of nowhere then there was no anywhere that wasn’t there to be somewhere. And if his was the only anywhere, then he must be everywhere. 

 

He didn’t like it there. But there was no where to go.

 

And no one to go to.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 23

 

The nothing was enveloping. And Hank didn’t like it. Stupid nothing. Not letting him be anyplace or with anyone. Surely there was something other than this to life. This ballance and order . Hank had never cared for order. Something tingled at him, a memory of a memory, perhaps, and he latched onto the something that hadn’t come entirely from withen himself. 

 

After all, he hadn’t made the memory by himself had he? No. He must’ve had someone to help him. Right now all his memories were the same, but this was different. 

 

He held on to the memory, with it’s strange fuzzy feelings that felt like a pipe cleaner being rubbed on his brain. It was not a plesent sensation to think about. But it was better than no sensations, and it might lead to more. 

 

Which was more than worth the risk.

 

The memory was bright and vibrant and he couldn’t see anything, could barely get anything out of it except for sensations and… and the link to not here

 

The feeling split his mind and the darkness at once and the light poured into his mind at the same time that he realized it was his mind pouring into the light. 

 

And suddenly it was very bright and very confusing and there were a great many sensations from everywhere, and even though he couldn’t do anything yet, he liked it a great deal better. 

 

He gasped, and the air was cold and burning, which wasn’t nearly as confusing as he thought it would be. 

 

He blinked, and slowly, very very slowly, the world took on color and the noises turned into sounds. He sat up and could do that because he wanted to, and sitting up was different from lying down and that was a relief as well. 

 

He felt like cold water was being poured over his head, and slowly he could think about specific things, real things, instead of awfully boring things that didn’t exist.

 

Someone landed beside him, and he looked up and knew who it was. “Manhunter.”

 

Man, his voice sounded bad. 

 

“Hawk. You should take it easy. A psychic attack is not somehting to be brushed off lightly.” 

 

“Meh. I’m fine. Just dizzy.” To prove this, Hawk pushed himself to his feet, and, though swaying, stayed upright. “See? No problem.”

 

Jonzz looked disapproving, but Hawk could not care less. But there was… right! How could he have forgotten something so important?

 

“Where’s the guy? Apokalips, or whatever? I was just taking him down!”

 

“Hm. Well, after he easily incapacitated you completely you were unconcious for a few hours. He was subdued and is being incarcerated in the Phantom Zone. Dove and some of the others are working on damage controll or helping those affected by this attack. The rest have gone.”

 

“Uh huh. Well, how’m I gonna get home then, if there’s no one left to bash?”

 

“Dove can go with you on a shuttle. Or, perhaps, a plane if we have one available.”

 

“Dove, huh? Man, what kinda weirdo names themself ‘Dove’ and pretends to be any kind of superhero?”

 

Manhunter gave Hawk a sidelong glance. “Ask him yourself, I suppose. I called for him telepathically when you began awakening.”

 

Hank turned, following Jonzz’s gaze, and found a blue and white streak hopping down from the rubble of a building. 

 

“Hank! You’re alright!” 

 

Two seconds later, and Hawk had his arms full of a very relieved poorly named superhero.

 

“Woah, woah, woah!” Shoving him back, Hank scrunched up his face in annoyance and confusion. 

 

“Question one, what are you doing? And number two, how do you know my name?”

 

Dove’s face fell, unguarded eyes widening in confusion and shock. “I… Hank, what?”

 

“I dunno if you know this or not, but I don’t take kindly to random strangers making like a spider monkey on me . What do I look like to you, a-”

 

“Hank, I’m Dove . Don. You can’t-”

 

“Whadd’re you doing interrupting me? This is why I work alone. If I’d wanted a sidekick, I’dve gotten a partner a long time ago!”

 

“Hank?”

Chapter Text

“You don’t- Hank I can’t- no, no. you have to remember .” 

 

Hank stared at this person, this small, blond haired, blue eyed person who was supposed to be important to him. 

 

But if he died tomorrow Hank wasn’t sure he’d feel a thing. The way Don talked about their relationship, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. Sure, family was nice and all, but… but he just couldn’t imagine being that vulnerable for anyone. 

 

If half the things Don talked about were true… this small, weak, extremely vulnerable person in front of him was a weakness, a soft spot, chink in Hank’s armor that he just… wasn’t willing to have. 

 

He was sorry for the kid. He looked nice, and if Hank had really cared about him he was probably a good person, too. But if Hank had forgotten him, could he really have been that important? 

 

Either he was a weakness or had never been important to begin with. Hank didn’t know which he was, but neither exactly sounded like a desirable option. 

 

“Hank, do… do you even care ?”

 

And what was he supposed to say? He couldn’t possibly care like the Hank Don was remembering. He didn’t have anything to care about! He was an only child, he’d never had a sibling or a younger brother and he didn’t know how to relate to him. 

 

But he didn’t want to hurt Don. It wasn’t fair that he had to lose someone important to him and Hank didn’t want to make it worse. 

 

“Of course I care. Why wouldn’t I?”

 

Evidently, it was the wrong thing to say, because Don stopped pacing and stopped so still Hank jolted in surprise. 


“Yeah, Hank. Why don’t you?”

 

“I… look it’s not that I don’t want to care.” It might be though. “I just… I don’t have anything. To remember. You’re a stranger to me and you’re asking…”

 

The look on Don’s face was enough to stop Hank cold. “I’m sorry.”

The clear blue of Don’s eyes clouded over and shimmered pale under the incandescent lights. Hank’s fingers itched to do something, but he didn’t know what. They twitched. He kept them by his sides.

 

“No, you’re not. No, you’re not.”

 

Hank shifted, an uncomfortable humming in the base of his skull. Don could read him. He couldn’t read Don. Not that it was hard right now… 

 

“You aren’t sorry. And why would you be? Why should you care more about me than any other stranger on the block…?”

 

Hank strained to hear Don’s voice, stepping forward and ignoring the twinge in his chest when Don stepped back. 

 

“Look… it’s not you, okay? It’s all me… heh, why does this feel like a bad breakup… not that we’re breaking up! Wait. I mean, we’re still bros, I guess… I mean…” Hank glanced up. Don didn’t seem inclined to save him. 

 

“What I’m trying to say here is that nothing’s your fault. Knowing me, I probably just ran into something like some kinda knucklehead and got myself in more trouble than I knew what to do with. And, um… and I bet we can still work something out between us. To be… bros or friends or something.” Hank tried to grin, but whatever he’d come up with must not have been picture of convincing. 

 

“Bros… or friends or something…” Don clapped a hand over his mouth and bent over, his other arm covering his stomach and what if he had medical problems? What if he had stress issues or panic attacks and Hank just made him have an aneurysm? Hank moved forward in aborted clumsy motions that couldn’t have been anything near reassuring but Don backed away again and Hank was left empty handed. 

 

“This can’t be… it…”

 

Don bit his lip, and Hank just knew he was about to cry, but he spun around and Hank was left wondering if he’d run in the direction of his bedroom in this strange new house.