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Lifted Spirits

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Superman talked until the Captain fell asleep. It didn’t take long, and Clark was glad that the other hero was getting his rest. He sure looked like he needed it. 

 

He stood up, floating a bit to stretch his legs. Taking one last glance at Marvel, the dark circles under his eyes and his pale complexion made him look worst for ware, he started making his way home.  

 

This was usually the time they started tracking down the contacts of whoever was injured during a mission. There was always someone worrying, be it family or friends. Normally the few other heroes closest to the injured party knew who to inform and reassure. Sometimes when the situation was very bad, they’d allow them on the Watchtower to visit. It made a lump form at the back of his throat when he thought about how there was no one to find for Marvel.  

 

He was always at the Watchtower. Never really disappearing for long. Captain Marvel was fully immersed in his hero persona, if he wasn’t patrolling Fawcett, helping out in a battle or volunteering to take up someone's Monitor Duty shift, he was in the rec room. It made Superman wonder if there really was someone behind the cape. Someone with a family.  

 

The more he pondered on it, the more he doubted it. At the beginning, when Marvel first joined the League, he disappeared at the end of the day like the rest of them. He watched the clock tick by on debriefings like he was excited to be somewhere else, there were people waiting for him. His presence at the hero community wasn’t that abundant. Something changed. Now, Captain Marvel was on his own.  

 

A new sense of determination overtook the gloom Clark felt. It wasn’t going to stay that way. They were his team and they were going to step up. 

 

---- 

 

When Billy woke up again he didn’t feel much better than before but it was notably easier to concentrate. Superman was gone from his bedside but he wasn’t alone. The slight sound of tapping filled the room. Cap strained his eyes to see Flash at the other side of the med-bay, twirling on the same chair Superman had sat on and playing on his phone.  

 

It took Marvel a few tries of his throat failing before he made a grumbling sound. The red speedster was alerted instantly, his eyes snapped to Cap and went wide like saucers. In a snap he was beside his bedside and talking with energy that was making Billy’s head spin, “Ohmygod you’re awake! You’ve not been awake for a long time, like, worryingly-long-time. But Batman said he already told you that but still! You’re okay! Wait, are you feeling okay? Everyone’s been so worried! Oh yeah, I was supposed to call someone when you woke up! They want to check you! Hold on- I'll be right back!”  

 

Just like that he was out of the room, leaving Billy behind, blinking and trying to put together what the other hero had said to him. Before he could do that, Flash was back with a very disgruntled looking Green Lantern and, in another blink, Cyborg too.  

 

“Stop doing that! We agreed, only in battle situations where it was necessary not whenever you feel like- Cap?” The Lantern immediately dropped his annoyed voice and rushed to his bedside.  

 

“M’okay.” he croaked out.  

 

“You don’t look so good, man.” Cyborg sat on the bed nearest to Billy’s, his legs made a little clink sound as they connected with the metal bed frame.  

 

“Better than before,” insisted Flash, “When Supes brought you in, you looked  dead .” Billy wasn’t sure he liked the imagery but it was probably true, when considering how burned out he still was but less than before. Even if it was just by a nudge. Keeping his eyes open wasn’t as big of a problem for now. 

 

He made an acknowledging sound and yawned a bit.  

 

Flash pushed a cup of tea towards him and set it beside his head with a straw sticking out before settling around Cap’s bedside with the others. Billy was grateful to note that the tea was just how he usually made it: with a ton of sugar.  

 

They didn’t let the silence last long. Green Lantern pulled out a deck of cards and started shuffling them, “Any of you know how to play Hearts?”  

 

Cyborg answered negatively while Flash nodded enthusiastically. Billy thought the name sounded familiar. Maybe it was the one played by those guys who always hung around the front of the shop. That didn’t give Billy an inkling about the rules so he shook his head. 

 

If anything, the Lantern sounded cheerful at the news, “I can teach you. You feel up to playing, Marvel?”  

 

Slowly, he shook his head again. “I’ll watch you,” Billy said while snuggling into his pillow and keeping his half-lidded eyes on the cards being shuffled.  

 

While Green Lantern was explaining the rules to Cyborg, Flash leaned in to whisper to Cap. “Me and the big blue took up your patrol around Fawcett for a while. I gotta say, that city is something. I mean, which other city can say they have crocodiles up to no good while also dressed in suits? I’m pretty sure that’s just Fawcett.” Cap giggled a bit. The speedster took that as an invitation to tell him stories of all the weird things he encountered while there. 

 

---- 

 

The rest of Billy’s week in the med-pay passed in similar fashion. He was never alone for long. Whenever one of the heroes were in the Watchtower, they came to visit him. Over time, Flash accumulated more and more bean bags onto his bedside, to the point that Cap felt like he was back in his room.  

 

Billy couldn’t be more grateful for them. His thoughts tended to wonder when he was alone. It was easy to associate this incident with another that landed him in a hospital months ago. The ache in his chest from missing his family came back with vengeance. But this time around, there was always someone beside him, asking how he was feeling, telling him how things were going. He clung to the warm feeling he got from them, it made everything feel okay.  

 

Being cared for like this made him think, maybe they’d care about him just as much if he was Billy Batson instead of Captain Marvel... He could recover from the car accident with them beside him- He could go back to school- Maybe they’d tell him stories on those nights he had trouble falling asleep-  

 

Billy shut that trail down before it could fester too much. Or maybe they’d tell him to go because kids weren’t supposed to be up here. Couldn’t risk it.  

 

---- 

 

He was still condemned to bed rest once the next movie night rolled around and he couldn't complain. The task of standing up seemed taunting so he was prepared to not show up but apparently the League had other plans. 

 

Superman showed up and gently lifted him up like a feather. He flashed them through Watchtower, causing Billy to groan slightly at the strain on his muscles, and placed him on the extra couch that wasn't usually there during the movie nights. 

 

When Billy blinked at him, confused and admittedly a little dizzy at the sudden change of scenery, the older superhero had the audacity to  smile  innocently and sit beside where he was laying. When one of the others who were already there threw a horde of pillows and blankets over him, he accepted his fate and relaxed under the soft bile. The warm body next to him and the dim light made dozing off before the movie was done so easy. He didn't even remember what the movie was about, only that it was funny.