|Clean Hands and Broken Hearts
Author: Djinn1 PM
The ongoing Infinite Crisis arc has me down. This is my take, probably an AU one, on how it ends. If you are holding off on reading the Countdown to Infinite Crisis books until they are in one volume, best skip this one. Lots of spoilers. This is SMWW.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Words: 7,537 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-04-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2566530
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Clean Hands and Broken Hearts by Djinn
Clark watched as more of the enemy filled the sky. Glancing below him, he saw Diana fighting next to J'onn. She blocked an OMAC, but another got past her defenses, its sword-arm hitting her armor and bouncing off, missing her heart. But the blade skidded along her arm, leaving a bloody trail. It added to the blood already covering her. She stabbed the thing through the heart with her sword.
"They're humans," Clark yelled at her, dropping altitude. "Underneath that OMAC tech is a human being."
"I don't care. They're the enemy." She glared at him. "We're not all invincible. We can't all just turn the other cheek."
He sighed even as he knocked an OMAC away from him and into another one. They fell to the ground, far below.
"I don't see you going after them." Diana met another OMAC with a ferocity that Clark had rarely seen outside of Asgard. "I don't see you flying down to save them."
He closed his eyes for a moment. This was the old argument from Asgard. He'd left so many of the enemy nearly dead. But he'd never killed.
"They die anyway," he heard in his mind. J'onn was listening in to his thoughts? "She needs you." J'onn sounded exhausted as he phased in and out, putting down more OMACs than Clark and Diana did together, as the creatures stabbed each other when ever J'onn ceased to be where they thought he was.
"Diana hasn't needed me for some time," he said to J'onn in his mind, but he knew it was a lie. He'd turned his back on her when she'd killed Max Lord. He'd run away from her, judged her wanting, and left her alone.
So had Bruce. Her two best friends, and they'd abandoned her.
"I have never sensed such isolation in her."
"We're all isolated." Clark tried not to think of Lois. He felt J'onn withdraw from his mind, but not before Clark had played back their last conversation. Lois hadn't been happy with him. Lois was rarely happy with him these days.
Diana passed in front of him, knocking aside an OMAC as she went. "Pay attention, Superman." She'd stopped calling him Kal after he'd shut her out. After she killed Lord.
The group of OMACs they were fighting withdrew suddenly. Diana sighed as she watched them go. The cut on her arm was bleeding profusely.
He moved closer. "Will you let me help you?"
"Yes." She didn't move, didn't look at him, as he used his heat vision to close the wound.
He'd done it before--she was covered in small burns from his ministrations. Fortunately, she healed fast. "Do you want me to do the rest?"
She was drifting in the air, eyes half closed. He'd never seen her look so exhausted. "Diana?"
She nodded, still not looking at him.
"You need sleep," he said as he worked.
"Don't tell me what I need." Her voice was full of anger, which was an improvement over her normal coldness. Normal since Lord's death. She'd never been cold to Clark before then.
"You used to need me."
Her head whipped around, and he thought she was going to strike him. "Damn you," she said, pulling away from him and flying off.
He sighed--what the hell had prompted him to say that? He glanced over at J'onn, saw his friend shake his head. But he didn't comment, out loud or in Clark's head.
"What are you thinking about?"
Clark looked over at Lois. She had pushed her plate away and was staring at him.
"I'm nothing?" She was about to get up, so he put his hand over hers. "You were staring at me, Clark. With that tortured look you wear all the time now."
He looked away. He'd been thinking of the visions Lord had given him. Visions of Lois dying. Over and over and over. Each time different. Each time terrifying.
He'd wanted to kill for her. If he had, would Diana have judged him the way he judged her when she'd saved him?
"Do you even see me anymore, Clark?" Lois asked. "The real me, not the dead me?"
"Don't talk like that."
"That's the problem. You won't let us talk about this." She pulled away from him, but they both knew it was because he let her. She stared down at where their hands had been joined. ""You dwell on my death. No, you obsess over it, Clark. It makes it hard to live. I don't think you even know I'm alive anymore." She walked over to the window, staring out at Metropolis.
"Turn around, Lois."
"No. You'll just distract me with your forlorn puppy-dog look. And I won't be able to stay mad because I'll feel so sorry for you. But this is serious, Clark."
"I'm tired, Lois."
"Then go to bed." She did turn, her expression hurt and angry. "Go to sleep, and I'll pack."
"Don't be like this." He rubbed his eyes. He wasn't physically tired so much as emotionally drained.
"Clark, I'm hurting, too."
He met her eyes, saw the hopeless look in them. "Lois, come here. Please?" He held his arms out.
Closing her eyes as if in defeat, she walked to him, letting him enfold her, letting him protect her and keep her safe. "I love you."
She just nodded and let him rock her. When he finally let go of her, she went into the bedroom and shut the door. Getting up, he walked to the door.
It was locked.
He could have broken through it easily. But he didn't. Instead, he went to his study and sat in his desk chair, staring out at the lights of his city, waiting for the next call to arms from the League.
The Watchtower was a siege area. Metas were coming from everywhere to get medical treatment, weapons, or instructions. Clark watched as Bruce briefed each new group on their objectives, then sent them on their way.
He saw Diana sitting by the window, watching Bruce. She sighed and looked away.
Walking over to where she was, Clark perched on the arm of a chair. "Hello."
She looked up at him slowly, her eyes red from lack of sleep, new wounds on her neck and arms. There was no welcome in her expression; no words of greeting crossed her lips.
"You should wear your armor. You're taking too much damage."
She looked down at her arms as if seeing them for the first time. "Am I less pretty now?"
He frowned. She'd never been concerned with that before.
Smiling bitterly, she met his eyes. "Would you have loved me if I was less pretty then?"
"I would have loved you no matter how you looked." The words were out before he could call them back. He and Diana didn't talk about things like this. Love was not something they addressed--not this kind of love anyway. Not love-love.
"Well, give the OMACs time, and we can put that to the test." She rose slowly, and he could tell she was nearly to the breaking point.
Pulling her slowly to him, he held her, shocked that she would allow it. He could hear Bruce on the other side of the room--his friend faltered in his briefing, stuttering as he must have caught sight of Clark holding Diana.
"Kal, don't." Her voice was broken. Low and soft and hurt. He'd never heard her sound so lost.
"I miss you," he murmured, burying his face in her hair.
She pushed him away despite how tightly he was holding on. She was one of the few people who could do that. "It was your choice. Your doing." She stared at him, and he saw her sway as if she might fall down.
"You need sleep."
This time she did not tell him that what she needed was none of his business. She just closed her eyes and said, "I gave my room to J'onn to use as an infirmary."
He knew she wasn't sleeping at the Embassy anymore. Knew that she didn't want to expose her staff to the OMACs and their relentless attacks. The OMACs might have been fighting for humanity, but they took an enormous number of humans with them as collateral damage when they fought the metas.
"Use my room," Clark said. "I won't disturb you. I give you my word."
He thought she would refuse, but then she swayed again.
"Diana, you're no good to us if you can't even stay on your feet."
Nodding, she turned and walked away from him. He followed her with his super-vision until he was sure she'd gone into his room. He waited until she lay down on his bed--nearly collapsed on it--then let her sleep unobserved.
"What are you doing?" Bruce's voice was beyond cold.
"What does it matter to you?" He faced his friend--his former friend.
"You have a wife. A wife you nearly killed me to protect, or have you forgotten?"
Clark sighed. "I don't know who you are anymore." He saw that Bruce was going to say something and cut him off. "Diana's going to get herself killed. She's too tired. I can't--I won't let that happen when I can help her."
He saw something in Bruce's eyes--was it jealousy? Or envy, perhaps, that Clark could forget his scruples when the woman they both loved was in such a dark place?
"You could help her, too, Bruce." Clark didn't think he and Bruce would ever regain the ease they'd once known, but if Bruce reached out to Diana now, it might be the first step toward detente for the three of them.
"She's a killer." But Bruce said it as if it was the last thing he had to hold onto. As if he wasn't sure anymore that what Diana had done was equal to what Diana was. Clark swallowed hard. He'd made the same mistake. She was who she'd always been. A woman who would make hard choices. A woman who would do hard things.
A woman he loved with all his heart. A woman he thought Bruce also loved deeply and irrevocably.
He reached out, laid a hand on Bruce's arm. "Bruce--"
His friend shook his hand off and walked away without another word, gathering the next group together. Clark listened in on the briefing just long enough to decide that Bruce was missing his normal edge. Then he went back out into the fray.
Lois walked along the edge of the cliff, not close enough to make Clark nervous, but he still watched her. He had visions of the OMACs attacking, pushing her over the cliff in the first wave of fighters.
"You're doing it again."
He realized he was staring at her, his hands clenched so hard they were white. "No, I'm not," he said, as he relaxed his grip.
She walked to him, her gait steady, but he could tell by the expression on her face what she was going to say.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"No, I can change."
"I can't do this anymore," she whispered.
If he hadn't been a meta, he wouldn't have heard her. Was that a good sign? That she could barely get it out? Did that mean he could save this? "It'll get better. I promise."
She slowly rolled up her sleeve, showing him a livid bruise on her forearm.
He was to her in an instant, practically yelling. "Who did this to you?"
She smiled, a half-smile, bitter and sad. "You did."
"When?" Had he gripped her too tightly while they'd flown somewhere? Had he done that in the throes of sex?
"Two nights ago. You were dreaming. About my death, I suppose. Awake or asleep, it's all you think about."
He bent down, kissing her arm, trying to make the bruise better the way a child believed his parents could. Lois jerked her arm away.
"Lois, please. I didn't mean to."
"I know. That's what makes this so hard. I know you're doing this because you love me. But...it's not a healthy love, anymore, Clark. It's sick." She swallowed hard. "We're sick. And we're never going to get well together. We'll just keep reinfecting each other."
"Take me home, Clark. I'm leaving in the morning." She was crying, seemed to stumble blindly into his arms. "I love you so much, but I can't do this, anymore. I'm sorry."
"But you'll be in town. We can see each other, can't we?"
She couldn't meet his eyes.
"I've accepted a job in London. It's for two years. Maybe...once it's over and this war is done...maybe we can see if..." She looked at him, shaking her head.
"Two years? I can fly there. It's only a few minutes and--"
She held up a hand. "You have to leave me alone, Clark. I want your promise that you'll leave me alone."
"Promise me!" She was yelling and crying all at once, and he could feel her pain as if it was a wave of OMACs beating up against his heart.
He rose in the air, already taking them home. "I promise I'll leave you alone."
Lois nodded, not watching as he took her on what was probably their last flight together.
"You can have my room," Clark said to Diana as she walked into his quarters. "I'm moving to the Fortress."
She didn't say anything, so he turned to look at her. She had a shallow cut on her leg, and it was bleeding slightly. She was very pale, as if she'd lost blood--more blood than could have come from a wound that mild.
She didn't answer, just slowly slid down the wall to the floor. Above her, on the wall where she'd touched it, was a long streak of blood.
"Diana, what the..." He moved to her as she fell to her side, coughing up blood. Through her back was a deep stab wound. He followed it with his super-vision, found that it went all the way through--the breastplate had stopped the OMAC from puncturing the front of her uniform. "I told you to wear your armor."
"I loaned it to--" Her voice broke as she coughed up more blood.
Picking her up, he cradled her in his arms and walked to the teleporter. He had to pass Bruce on the way, and his friend looked at Diana in alarm.
"Don't let him--" More blood, this time spattering Clark's uniform.
"I won't." He wasn't sure what she didn't want him to let Bruce do. But he didn't care. He just wanted to get her to the Fortress. He abandoned walking, flew to the teleporter, leaving Bruce in his wake. He and Diana materialized in the air over open water, and he flew the rest of the way.
"Kal..." Her eyes were strange, and he wondered how much blood she'd lost.
"It's going to be all right."
"I had to do it. I didn't betray you."
He knew she was talking about Max Lord.
"Kal, I know you hate me, but I did what I had to do." She coughed again, harder, nearly throwing up the blood this time. "I'm dying." She seemed to want to say more but was gagging on blood.
"No, you're not." They were inside the Fortress now, and he rushed to the healing ray, ripping her uniform off as quickly as he could without hurting her.
She moaned as the ray started to work, then she began to shiver violently.
He couldn't cover her with a blanket, not with the ray working on her, so he raised the temperature in the room by blasting the wall tiles with his heat vision. The room was soon sweltering, but she finally stopped shivering. She'd stopped bleeding, too.
She opened her eyes, and her expression was wounded--he'd never seen her look so alone. He leaned down, wanting to make her feel better, wanting to ease her pain. Brushing back her hair, he kissed her forehead.
She began to cry, shocking him. "I'm so lonely," she whispered, as he continued to stroke her hair.
"Don't be. Shhh."
She didn't say it again, but her tears didn't stop.
"Diana, I don't hate you. I love you," he said, then he kissed her, slowly and gently on the lips.
She kissed him back for a moment, then stopped and he let her go.
"Lois," she said. It was all they'd ever had to say in the past.
"Lois left me." It was something he'd never said before. He saw Diana's brows knit, as if this was hard to understand. "She left me."
"But what you did for her. You..." She coughed again, and Clark was relieved to see much less blood. "Why?"
"She said I was obsessed with her dying." He looked down. "She wasn't wrong."
He leaned down again, kissing her on the forehead again. "Sleep."
She didn't argue; she was already halfway asleep. He took her hand as she slept, watching over her as the ray did its work. As her breathing leveled out and her color improved, he studied her, noticing the new scars that peppered her skin, over and under where her uniform covered--more of the OMACs had gotten to her than he realized. He'd stopped checking, had found it depressing to see the damage to her and knew she didn't like him spying on her.
He heard footsteps coming down the hall, was not surprised to see Bruce come in the room. He'd always suspected his friend had programmed this supposedly secret location into the teleporter. "Trespassing?" he asked softly.
"Checking up on a wounded soldier."
"She's out of the fight for a while."
"We need her."
Clark let go of her hand and got up, blocking Bruce's view of Diana's nude form. "Get out."
Bruce's face went tight. "That's what I told her." He seemed to slump against the doorframe. "We shut her out."
"Yes, we did."
Bruce looked up at him. "We shut each other out, too."
Clark just nodded.
Straightening up to his full height, Bruce backed away. "Lord won, then. He won, no matter how this war turns out."
"Lois left me." He wanted Bruce to understand how things were.
"I wondered." Turning, his friend studied him. "Does Diana know?"
"She does now. The real question is does she care?"
"I think she does." Bruce closed his eyes for a moment. "I better get back."
"When did you last sleep?"
Bruce looked at him in surprise.
"I'll tell you what I told Diana. You're no good to us if you can't even stay on your feet." He turned Bruce so he was staring at a darkened room. "There's a bed in there. Use it."
He didn't wait to see if Bruce was going to cooperate, just walked back to Diana. But he listened, and finally he heard his friend walk across the hall, heard the sound of bedsprings as Bruce lay down. A few moments later, he heard Bruce's breathing change to the rhythm of sleep.
"Will we be all right?" Diana's voice was barely a whisper.
He hadn't been aware she'd awakened. "We will be, love."
She smiled and closed her eyes, drifting back into sleep. He hoped her dreams were gentle ones.
The Fortress was quiet as Clark limped in. There were enough OMACs in this latest wave that even he was feeling the pain tonight.
"Diana?" he called, staggering to the common area.
She looked up, an alarmed expression on her face. Then she was up, moving too fast across the thick rug.
He tried to wave her away. "Don't. You're still weak--"
She caught him as he collapsed. But she was still too weak to hold him, and they crumpled together to the carpet.
"You're exhausted," she said, not resisting as he pulled her closer. Reaching up to the chair she'd been sitting in, she snagged the comforter he'd wrapped her in before he left, pulling it around them.
"Just need to sleep," he murmured as she relaxed against him. They lay like that for a while, then he whispered, "Sleep with me, Diana."
But she was already asleep, her soft breath warm against his neck.
He closed his eyes and slept, too. When he woke, Bruce was sitting in the chair Diana had abandoned. She was still pressed against his side, sleeping deeply.
"Guess you two have patched up your differences?"
"Not yet. We're getting there." He had a feeling Bruce was asking if they'd made love. He and Diana were still working out how to relate after the ice age that had sprung up between them when she'd killed Lord. This was the closest they'd been, and they'd only gotten this far because he hadn't known when to take a break and rest.
Thank God he hadn't known when to rest. The feeling of her next to him was heaven.
"Why are you here, Bruce?"
"I was actually worried about you. You looked terrible when you left the Watchtower."
"Probably because I felt terrible. I'm all right now."
Bruce glanced at Diana, then back at him. "Yes, I'm sure you are."
Diana moaned softly and pushed against Clark, then she opened her eyes, blinking in the light. "Kal?"
"We have company," he said softly, looking at the chair she'd been using.
She turned and stared at Bruce. "Hi."
"Hi." His expression softened, and Clark wondered if Bruce had ever told Diana how much he loved her. "How are you feeling?"
"Better." Her voice was tentative, and she pressed up against Clark a bit more--unconsciously, he thought.
Bruce looked away. "Good. That's good."
"How are you?" Clark asked him.
"I'm all right." Bruce got up, pacing away from them. "It's hell out there. I need you two back as soon as you're fit."
"I'm fit now." Clark sat up, pulling Diana with him, suddenly feeling vulnerable lying on the rug. The blanket fell away from them, and Clark saw Bruce's expression relax as he realized they were clothed.
"I'll be fit soon." She pushed herself up so she was sitting on her own, not leaning against Clark. "Two days, I think."
Clark thought three.
"Take as long as you need," Bruce said, his eyes soft, his voice tender.
"Why are you being so nice?" Her voice wasn't gentle, anymore; it was hard and cold. A voice Clark hadn't heard since he'd brought her here. It made him irrationally happy that she was using that tone on Bruce. Then it made him worried--did that mean she had stronger feelings for Bruce than she had for Clark? Should he wish she was mean to him, too?
"Because I regret this distance between us." Bruce's honesty surprised Clark.
It seemed to surprise Diana, as well. She was silent for a moment, then she said softly, "This distance was never my idea. I came to you..."
"I know." Bruce took a deep breath. "What you did is in the past."
"Not good enough. Not if you still hold it against me."
"Are you sure Clark doesn't hold it against you?"
She turned and looked at him.
He knew this was an important moment. "You did what you did for me. And for Bruce. And for Lois. For everyone that you loved and for a billion people you don't even know. You did what had to be done. I was a fool to think that made you someone I didn't know anymore." He touched her face, was grateful when she didn't pull away. "I watched you kill for a thousand years. I know you can kill. Just as you know I can't."
"You won't. You nearly did." Bruce's voice was soft, as if he knew this was an important moment too. As if he knew he'd just lost.
Diana closed her eyes. Clark wasn't sure if she believed him or not, but she lay back down and curled up, her head in his lap.
Bruce nodded slowly, as if conceding the fight. "I'll see you when you get back."
"Yes, you will." Her voice was not cold any longer. But she was not looking at Bruce with the same wounded expression she had earlier. She was looking at him as if he was a close friend and nothing more.
Bruce walked away, leaving them alone. For a moment, Clark was afraid that she would try to seduce him, and he would never know which of them she really wanted. But she stayed curled up in his lap, and he pulled down a cushion from the couch to lean against. Playing with her hair, he watched her slide back into sleep, her hand resting warm and strong on his thigh.
The war was different now. Diana and Clark stayed close, fighting as a team. Looking out for one another. Taking care of one another.
They looked out for Bruce, too. Whenever he was out fighting and not running the show from the Watchtower, Clark found himself making sure that his friend was all right. It felt good to want to do that, to know that the interest was, if not welcomed, then not hated.
"Kal!" Diana was fighting off six OMACs, and Clark rushed in to give her a hand.
As one of them lifted its sword-arm to stab her, Clark sliced off the arm with his heat vision. It wasn't killing, but it was damned close. Nothing was going to hurt Diana the way she'd been hurt last time. Not on his watch.
"You're getting rougher," she said as the last of the OMACs fell away from her. She met his eyes, her look strange and possessive.
They wanted each other. They wanted each other and they hadn't had time to do anything about it yet.
"I would kill for you." It was a terrible thing to admit, but he knew it was true. He would destroy anything that tried to hurt her. He knew she would do the same for him--she'd already done it. "Diana. When this is over...?" He was not sure if he meant the war, or just this battle.
"Yes, when this over." She touched his lips with her fingers, the fleeting caress sending shivers down to his toes. Then she turned to go. "J'onn needs help on the western flank."
He had a sudden image of OMACs overtaking her, killing her, before she could become his lover. "Diana."
She turned, and he saw the blood of the OMACs who'd tried to take her down spattered all over her. "What?" she asked, absently cleaning off her sword.
The image in his mind changed. He saw her killing OMACs, and then coming to him unharmed. His equal. More than his equal, in some ways. "Fight well."
She looked confused--it was not what he would normally say. "You, too." Then she flew away.
"My love." He thought for a moment of Lois. Wondered how she was doing in London. He hadn't spied on her. Hadn't wanted to, not since he'd carried Diana to the Fortress. Not since she'd never left. Even though she was healed, she was staying with him, not his lover but close.
She'd given him back his life when he'd saved hers. It wasn't much of a trade. He wasn't a prize.
She didn't seem to care.
After six weeks of nearly nonstop fighting, Brother Eye had been destroyed, the OMACs finally defeated. Clark flew with Diana, searching for stragglers--the odd, lone OMAC that might infect others if left without treatment. Unfortunately, OMACs weren't easily taken to treatment; they seemed to prefer death to capture.
"Look," Diana said softly, pointing to where a group of people clustered around a downed OMAC. The tech was gone, giving way to human flesh again in death. One of the people looked up at them, then he said something and they all looked up.
Clark zeroed in on them with his vision--they were angry. Hate colored their expressions. The metas had done this. Even Lord could be considered a meta. He'd started this; the others had finished it.
"They'll hate us no matter how this comes out," she said.
"Some of them will."
"Maybe all of them." Her voice was bleak. "Maybe it's time to go to ground? Let the least meta of our group be seen and heard?"
"It's not like you to be a coward." She'd led more than her share of charges on the OMAC. Wore the scars of all those battles proudly.
"It's not cowardice. It's pragmatism. This will die down, as long as we're not constantly in their faces, fanning the anger back up." Sighing, she moved closer to him--from below, they probably looked like one person as they flew off.
Their patrol rousted four OMACs, three of which would not surrender. The last they took back to the facility J'onn had set up to help the OMACs rid their bodies of the tech that turned them into these killing machines. They found Bruce there, walking the wards.
"Is the procedure going to last?" Diana asked him.
"I think so. J'onn thinks so." He turned to Clark, then indicated a young woman lying in the ward bed asleep. "Will you check this one? She's the one you first brought in."
Clark examined her with his super-vision. There was no trace of the tech anywhere, no matter how deep he went. "She's clean."
"I think we'll be okay." Bruce sounded exhausted. "It might be for the best if you two took a little break from the limelight."
"She's one step ahead of you." Clark smiled, glad that Diana had chosen him before Bruce realized she was perhaps the one person in the world capable of keeping up with him mentally. But Clark had a feeling that Bruce was already fully aware of what he had let slip away.
"You were leading most of the charges," Bruce said with an apologetic grimace that was probably supposed to be a smile. "It won't be for long." He looked like he knew what they'd be doing and wished it would only be for a nanosecond.
"We're fully capable of staying busy." Diana said. Clark and Diana had several projects underway at the Fortress. Projects to find and destroy the last of the Checkmate legacy. Bruce didn't know that, though. Bruce probably thought she meant they'd be having wild sex the whole time.
They'd only be having wild sex part of the time.
"Good. Keep busy. That's good." Bruce was stumbling over his words--a sign of how tired he was, or how much this was hurting him, Clark wasn't sure which.
"Get some sleep," Diana said gently, then she turned to Clark. "Ready?"
It was a loaded question, and all three of them knew it. A strange hush descended in the ward, as if they were the only three people in it, as if this moment was all there would ever be.
"I'm ready," he said, reaching out for her.
She took his hand and, with a last soft smile for Bruce, flew out of the ward with Clark. They could have walked. They probably should have walked. But it sent a message to fly this way. A message that Clark thought Bruce needed to see. They were in this together. They were alike. They were...one.
Or they would be once they got back to the Fortress.
They flew fast, but it seemed to take an unnaturally long time to get there. The place was still and a little musty--it had been some time since they'd been there. The war had heated up and, like in Asgard, they'd grabbed sleep whenever and wherever they could. Diana had always been by his side, or he had been by hers, when the fighting subsided enough for them to curl together and close their eyes.
They walked to the living space, and he wondered if she was as nervous as he was. She turned and smiled at him, but it was a tentative smile.
"Scary, isn't it?" He grinned at the relief in her eyes as she nodded quickly. "For me, too."
"I've thought about it for so long. Then, after I killed Lord, I forced myself not to think about it."
"Which means you were thinking about it, or you wouldn't have had to stop." He grinned again at her annoyance. "Sorry. You have the floor."
Moving closer, she said huskily, "No, I have you."
"That you do." He pulled her the rest of the way, kissing her slowly--there was no rush now. It was why they'd waited. They could have snuck a moment together here and there, but neither of them had wanted to hurry through sex after so long not being able to consider it. They could wait a little bit longer now that they were free to enjoy the experience.
She wrapped her arms around him, pressing herself against him in a way he found heart-achingly sweet. "I love you, Kal."
"Diana. I've wanted this for so long." He began to peel her uniform off. He'd seen her naked many times, but this was the first time he could take his time, touch and kiss anything that he wanted to. This was the first time her moans accompanied the disrobing. He had the uniform half off when he couldn't stand it anymore and scooped her up in his arms, carrying her to their bedroom. She kissed him the whole way there.
He put her down by the bed, pulled off her uniform the rest of the way. They made short work of his. Then they were falling onto the bed, bodies joining faster than he expected as if their flesh had a will, and a need, of its own.
She had her head thrown back as he moved, faster and harder, and he let go, secure that she could take whatever he did. And it struck him that Lois had been in danger for much longer than he had thought. Every time he'd made love to her, he'd had to hold back. Every time he'd roughhoused or exercised with her, he'd had to be careful not to hurt her. She was fragile, and he'd been her greatest enemy, even if his love had tamed that danger.
Diana was in no danger. In fact, as she pushed him over, riding him with a look of total abandon on her face, she seemed to be having the time of her life.
"I love you, Diana," he murmured as he rolled her back under him, the action becoming a game. They took turns trying to master the other, neither winning, but both relishing the contest.
When they finally lay still, temporarily sated, she cuddled against him, running her fingers lightly down his arm and over his chest.
"It was worth waiting for," he said, a lazy smile playing at his mouth.
"It was." She eased up so she could kiss him. When she pulled away, she stared down at him, stroking his face tenderly.
Drawing her back to him, he kissed her for a long time, pulling her on top of him. When they came up for air, he brushed back her hair and said, "I have to tell you something."
"You sound awfully serious. Are you going to break up with me?" She kissed him quickly, a silly smile on her face.
"No. I'm not going to do that." He took a deep breath. "It's about something that happened a week ago. During the war."
"I'm listening." She eased away, probably so that she wouldn't distract him when he talked. Silly woman--she could distract him from the other side of the planet.
"I need more kisses first." He rolled her to her back, pinning her arms and kissing her the way he'd wanted to for so long. She fought him playfully, but playful turned to serious, and they finally found out that he was in fact stronger when they were battling with no dirty tricks allowed.
"So," she said, "now we know."
He nodded. He'd never been sure.
"I could get away, though. If I weren't so concerned about not ruining you before round two."
He laughed. "I believe you." Kissing her tenderly, he let himself enjoy the moment before he let go of her arms and felt them come around him, pulling him closer.
Round two commenced before he could tell her what he needed to.
"Sorry," she whispered, as she lay collapsed on top of him.
"No reason to be. My confession can wait."
She perked up immediately, her expression concerned. "Confession? Should I be worried?"
He realized she must think this had to do with Lois. "Not worried. Just...vindicated."
She slid off him, got comfortable on her side, facing him, her head resting on one languidly outstretched arm. "I'm listening."
"You said that last time." He took a deep breath. "It was that day just after J'onn and Ray discovered the formula that would get rid of the tech permanently."
She nodded. It had been an important breakthrough for the League. All the other attempts had beaten the tech back only to dormancy. Nothing had eradicated it from the host's system until this discovery.
"The fighting heated up, as if the OMACs knew we'd come up with their salvation and they weren't having any of it."
"I remember. We had to call in everyone."
Clark nodded. "Even Ray and J'onn. And J'onn was so tired--he'd been working with the recovering humans when he wasn't crashing with Ray on the cure."
She waited, her eyes calm. He swallowed hard. This was difficult to tell, but of all the people he might share what happened with, she was the only one he owed the truth to.
"I was fighting behind J'onn. He was having a hard time phase-shifting, and one of the OMACs came up behind him fast. It looked at me, Diana. Kept its back to me so I couldn't laser off the sword-arm. As if it knew everything about me. As if it knew that there was no way I could reach it in time for a non-lethal solution. As if it knew that I would never kill it."
"It probably did know."
It probably had known. Bruce had plugged all their information into that infernal satellite. "And somewhere inside the OMAC was a human who would be helped by what J'onn had been doing. He'd run himself into the ground because he wanted so deeply to save the humans inside those monsters." Clark took a deep breath. His voice was rising with his remembered anger, and he was clenching his fists. "You told me once that sometimes you have to slay the monster."
"Yes, I did." Diana didn't try to soothe him. She just waited; his anger didn't scare her at all.
"I always thought that this decision would be forced by you." At her frown, he corrected. "I mean that you would be in danger, and it would be no decision. I'd kill to keep you safe."
She nodded; she understood.
"This was, if anything, easier. I didn't even stop to think, really. I lasered right through the OMAC's back. Stopped its heart instantly. It fell without a sound. J'onn never even knew what kind of danger he'd been in." Clark looked down, then met her eyes. "I killed."
"You killed." She reached out, touching his cheek lightly. "You never said anything."
"The less people that know I can kill, the better. I'm not sure it would comfort anyone else the way it comforts you."
She smiled. "You're right."
"At first I didn't tell you because I needed to process it. I thought I'd have guilt and pain and be tortured."
She looked thoughtful, then said, "I don't remember you being any of that."
"That's because I wasn't. The OMAC was going to kill my friend--a friend that held its salvation in his hand--and I had one shot to stop it, so I took it. And I slept fine that night." He touched her face, where a scar ran down her cheek. The burn he'd given her that she'd never bothered to remove. "Did you sleep the night you killed Lord?"
"No. But that wasn't because of Lord. That was because of you and Bruce."
He sighed. "I'm sorry, Diana. I was a sanctimonious pig."
"Yes, you both were." She kissed him, and it took a lot of the sting away.
But some of it should stay. He'd deserted her when she'd needed him the most. So had Bruce. They were lucky she was the kind of woman she was. Forgiving. Merciful. Pragmatic.
Deadly. They were both deadly now.
"Are you going to tell Bruce?" she asked.
"Do you think I should?"
She pursed her lips, then shook her head very slowly. "He's our friend, but the days of the Trinity are over. We are just three of many who fought."
"And you and I are not three. We are two." She leaned back lazily, stretching, which threw all her delicious lady-bumps into focus. "We can be one, if we want?"
He was already moving over her. "Oh, we want. We want very much."
Laughing, she tousled his hair. "My killer." Her eyes weren't laughing, and he thought this was a test.
"Don't spread it around." Then he pinned her, letting her try to fight him off. "God, that's sexy. You can't get away."
Suddenly he found himself flying off the bed, landing hard on the floor. She peeked over the bedsprings, shrugging playfully. "Oops."
"Not so concerned for me getting to round three in one piece, huh?"
She laughed. "I'm used to fragile men. You can probably take more than I thought." She pushed herself to her hands and knees, leapt like a wolf off the bed.
He caught her before she could land on his chest, rolling and pinning her again. This time he made sure to cut down on her maneuverability. "What now, love?" He felt her hand in his hair. "No hair pulling."
It was too late. He yelled, gave ground and she wriggled out from under him and sat on his belly, pinning him down. "Now what, Kal?"
He didn't try to push her off. He pushed her down, and she laughed when she saw what he was doing. "Giving up?"
"If this is giving up, I'm the envy of every man on this planet." He threw his head back.
"Try to get away." She was moving as she said it, and he could barely understand her words. "Kal, try or I'll stop."
"Shrew," he said with a smile, fighting her, trying to get his hands away without interfering with what was going on lower down.
"I don't think your heart is in this."
"You're very wrong about that, Diana. My heart has never been more into this." Then he quit worrying about anything and gave himself up to her. "I surrender--at least until round four." He smiled up at her. "I'm your prisoner."
She was a very gracious victor. But then he'd known she would be.