"All right, rugrats, line up!" Guy sends a construct out of his ring--a rope with numerous loops woven into the sides. "Everyone grab hold, all right?" He points at the kid at the front of the line. "You're number one." He points to the kid behind the first kid. "You're number two." He continues down the line numbering all the kids and assigning them a buddy. "You lose your buddy, yell," Guy says. "Can you all yell?"
The kids mumble a little, looking at each other or down at their shoes, or at the rope.
"I said," Guy says, "can you yell?" The kids stay quiet. "Well, this is embarrassing. You guys show up, get to watch superheroes, and you can't yell?"
"I can yell!" One little girl says.
"Well, maybe you can, but I don't think anyone else can." Guy looks up and down the line. He holds up one hand. "On the count of three, let me hear you yell, okay?" He waits for the kids to nod. "All right. One." He holds up one finger. "Two." He holds up a second finger. He pauses and looks up and down the line again. The kids are squirming, flexing their hands on the rope. "Three."
The combined yelling of a dozen kindergartners is tremendous. Floating above them, Hal and John and Kyle wince. Down on the ground, Guy laughs and applauds for them, then starts to lead them away from the smoldering, tangled wreckage that was their field trip bus.
"I always forget." Hal says.
"Me, too," John admits. "Did you know it was special ed kids, too?"
Hal blinks. "Yeah," he says, and he sounds downright awed. "I forget that, too. It's just...it doesn't fit."
"You guys should come to Oa more often," Kyle tells them, not unkindly. "He bitches about helping Kilowog with the rookies, but he works with them one-on-one all the time. Especially the scared ones."
"He'd be a principal by now," John says quietly as they watch Guy pile the kids into a construct that looks like a cross between a cat and a bus. "Running around a school full of kids who'd probably think he was the baddest ass principal ever."
Hal and Kyle don't respond. Both of them considering the implications of what John is saying. The time Guy's given to the Corps in place of a career that he--as is evidenced by the smiling, laughing, yelling kids who have forgotten--for the moment--that they were nearly killed by a supervillian--was obviously very good at and downright loved.
Hal clears his throat hard and looks up at the sky. "I've got to get back to Coast City," he says. "I've got to be on base early tomorrow."
John and Kyle say their goodbyes and watch Hal fly off. "You've got a show?" John asks Kyle. "Connor mentioned it when I saw him at the last JLA meeting."
"Yeah. Someone showed some gallery owner the stuff I've been working on, and they've contracted me for a full show."
"Good for you." John claps Kyle on the back. "Get me an invite, all right?"
"I will." Kyle squints into the sunset. "That your building?" he asks, pointing a few blocks over where a structure stands half-finished. "I thought I heard you had a design chosen by the city."
"That's mine," John confirms. "Eco-friendly office building. Never thought I'd design one, but there it is."
Kyle doesn't reply. He looks back down at Guy and the kids. They're all in the cat-bus now, and Guy's at the wheel, yelling something over his shoulder as the bus lifts in the air. The kids squeal in delight, and Kyle notices that Guy flies them east, away from the wreckage and mayhem. He can't think of anything else to say, so he just nods to John and flies in the same direction. He wonders what it's like to be malleable in his life dreams, and he wonders if he'll ever come up with a way to ask Guy to explain how he does it.