Redesign Remixed by Djinn
Clark stood at the window, staring out at the view that up until now had meant home and security and the chance to let down his guard. So much had changed in so little time. Being split apart from the Superman aspect of himself had been hard enough, but finding out that his wife preferred that aspect had been crushing.
Their little vacation to "get to know each other again" had been a disaster. Lois had tried at first. Tried much, much too hard. And the more she tried, the more he kept thinking about that night in the park with Diana. How it had felt to kiss her still-eager lips, how it had felt to see her smile at him as if nothing had changed.
The phone rang, startling him. In the past, he'd have heard it start to vibrate well before the noise hit the normal range. Nothing so mundane would ever have startled him. He wondered if Superman got any calls.
Lois walked out of the bedroom and handed him the phone. "It's Wonder Woman." Her face lacked most of the coldness that Diana's name usually brought to it--just one more indication that his wife didn't give a damn what he did anymore.
He put the phone to his ear. "Diana?"
"Kal?" She sounded utterly confused. Since Alcmaeon, he never called her when Lois was around, never asked her to call him back at a time when Lois might pick up.
"I need a favor."
"I'll be right there," she said, and he loved that she didn't even ask what the favor was. "The roof again?"
"Yes, the roof. I'll see you in a few minutes." He cut the connection, put the phone down, and stared at his wife. "You're sure about this?"
"I have to know." Her face didn't become any less stony as she turned and walked out of the apartment, heading for the roof.
He followed, not hurrying as she held the elevator with visible annoyance at his leisurely pace. When they got to the top floor, she hurried out and opened the door to the roof, leaving him behind in her haste to get up there.
Sighing, he took the stairs slowly. His life--what was left of it, anyway--was breaking apart, and he wasn't going to hurry to watch it crash and burn. Lois turned as he opened the door to the roof, then she looked away. Diana flew in a few moments later, staring at Lois as if unsure what to do.
"Clark called you because I asked him to," Lois said, her voice cold.
Diana wisely did not comment, just waited for more information. She didn't look at Clark, and he let Lois do the talking.
"I need to talk to Superman. In person. I know you can arrange that."
"Why would I want to?"
Lois's eyes blazed. "You visit Clark. Are you saying I can't visit Superman? Are you going to keep me away from my husband?"
Diana's face lost all expression. "Your husband is standing right there." She pointed at Clark. "Your husband is with you."
"Part of my husband is right there."
"And not the part she wants." Clark decided to help out, keeping his voice light, unwilling to give Lois the satisfaction of hearing his pain. "The vacation was a bust."
"I'm sorry." Diana's face lost its hard edge, becoming soft sympathy.
Lois looked a little angry at the idea that he was telling Diana their private things. "I want to talk to Superman."
"No, you don't." Diana took a long breath. "Trust me on this. You really don't."
"I don't trust you on anything."
Diana smiled tightly, but she looked stung. "I guess I deserve that." She turned, walking over to him, moving him away from Lois. "Are you all right?" Her hand was warm on his arm.
He met her eyes. There was no judgment, just worry and love.
"No, I'm not all right. She doesn't want me." He looked down, barely whispered. "Maybe she never did. Maybe all she really cared about was Superman?"
He expected Diana to tell him he was wrong, but she just murmured, "Maybe it was." Her hand tightened on him. "I'll get Superman, but only if you ask me to do it."
He met her eyes. "Do it, please?" He swallowed hard. "Then...will you get me out of here?"
She nodded. "Anywhere you want to go."
Anywhere but here would be fine. Anywhere but here and with Diana by his side would be even better.
As she took off into the cloudless sky to fetch Superman, Lois looked over at him. "How long have you loved her?"
He was tired of lying. He was tired of sparing her feelings. "I don't know. A long time."
"Then he loves her too, I guess." She looked up, as if she could see wherever Superman was if she just looked hard enough.
"I don't think he does. Diana wasn't trying to protect anything. You'll be disappointed with him, Lois."
"He'll be Superman." She sounded very sure that Superman was the best thing for her now.
"Yes, he will be that." Clark turned and walked away. He stared over at where he knew the park was. There was a building in the way, but he could imagine his favorite part of the park--enclosed, safe, and the place where he'd kissed Diana.
He heard Lois's breathy, "Hi," and turned to see Diana and Superman land on the roof.
He moved closer, fascinated by the outfit Diana had described. He maneuvered so he could see the cut-out back. And...yes, those did seem to be ruffles. Diana was right. It was the lamest outfit ever.
"Miss Lane, Diana said you wanted to see me?"
Lois gave him the smile that had invariably caused Clark's knees to tremble. It was a devastating expression, especially coupled with her sparkling eyes as she looked up at his super-twin.
His doppelganger seemed immune. "What is the problem?"
Lois took his arm. "I'd prefer to discuss this in private."
"We were just leaving," Clark said, feeling less bravado than his tone indicated. He looked over at Diana, praying she hadn't changed her mind about helping him out.
She smiled--a smile easily as devastating as Lois's. Maybe more so because it was only for him. "Let's go, Kal."
Lois shot Diana a look, as if surprised that she would call him that. "He's not Kal." Then she looked up at Superman. "He's not Kal. You are."
"I am Superman." He shrugged her hand off his arm.
Clark thought that Lois's face turned about five shades of red.
"I'll refrain from saying she told you so," Clark said, a smile he knew to be very vindictive on his face. He turned to Diana as she snaked her arms around him.
"Ready?" she asked softly.
He nodded, then on impulse, leaned in to kiss her. She didn't push him away, and her arms tightened around him. It wasn't a long kiss, but it was a good one.
When he pulled away, he said softly, "Let's go."
As Diana took off, he caught a look at Lois and Superman. Lois seemed ready to strangle them both. Superman looked utterly indifferent.
Clark sat on the small sofa in his hotel room, trying to decide what he wanted to do. Diana would have let him move into the Embassy, but he didn't want to put her out or cause too many questions. And he needed to make his own life too. He'd already started on that--the editor at the Times had been thrilled at Clark's sudden willingness to leave the Daily Planet and defect to New York. Now, he just had to decide where to live.
And he had to decide which divorce lawyer to pick from the list in the phone book. Divorce--it would have seemed incomprehensible to him a few months ago. But now...now, it was the only road left to him.
A soft knock sounded on the door. Then there was the sound of the door opening. Smiling, he got up. He loved how Diana always knocked first, even though he'd given her a key-card to his room.
"Hi." She was dressed casually. Jeans, a white sweater, and sandals. She looked utterly beautiful.
"Hi." He held out his arms, and she dropped the bag she was carrying and went to him without hesitation, her lips lifting to his almost on reflex.
He could kiss this woman forever and die a happy man.
When they pulled apart again, he led her to the sofa. "I'm employed again."
Her smile was brilliant. "I had no doubt you would be."
"It was a risk. Just leaving everything the way I did."
She nodded. She never sugarcoated the hard things in life, and he loved that about her. "But you took the risk. It was brave of you."
"Super of me."
Laughing, she pulled him to her again. "I don't need super."
This time the kiss was different. Deeper. Harder to back away from. He gently took hold of her upper arms and pushed her away just enough that she had to look up at him. "Diana, you can't kiss me like that if you don't want to..."
"Did I say I didn't want to?" Her smile was mischievous.
"Well, no." He stroked her hair, trying to read her eyes, trying to figure out if now was the right time. If it would ever be the right time.
"You're thinking too hard about this, Kal."
"I'm not super anymore, Diana."
Her lips on his were light. "I don't care."
"I may not be that good."
Both of her eyebrows shot up. "Not to make light of your worries, but it isn't as if I have anything to compare you to."
Smiling, he said, "That's true." It was a silly thing to make him feel better, but it did. "Didn't you ever...on the island? With one of the other women?"
"You did!" He laughed, kissing her in delighted surprise. "Was it good?"
"It felt great." Her blush deepened. "But it wasn't love. She was my friend, and we were just fooling around. Just making each other feel good when the mood struck us."
"Nothing wrong with that." He kissed his way up to her ear, whispered, "Have you ever been in love?"
"Yes. With you."
It was the best answer. "Do you want to make love to me, Diana?"
She pulled away, staring at him, her smile growing. "I've wanted to for years."
He laughed. "Yeah, me too." Pushing her back a bit, he pulled her shirt up, exposing her stomach. "I want to make you feel good. I want this to be great for you."
"It will be, Kal. I'm with you." Her fingers were tangled in his hair, raking his scalp in a way that sent shivers of the best kind down his spine.
He kissed her skin; it was warm and soft and smelled of spice and lemon. "If I do something you like, let me know. Smile, moan, or maybe scream." He grinned as she laughed at the last bit. "And if I do something you don't like, try not to break any of my bones, okay?"
She laughed again. "Okay."
He pulled her shirt up, following the trail of fabric with his lips. The last time they'd been in this position, he'd worked his way down, pulling her uniform off before she'd told him to stop. Now there was no uniform. He wondered if she'd done that deliberately.
Looking up at her, he said softly, "You left your uniform home?"
Smiling as if she understood what he was getting at, she shook her head. "I never wear it off duty. It's in my bag though." She moaned softly as he went back to exploring her body.
He stood up, holding his hand out. "The old me would have swept you off your feet and carried you to the bed."
She let him pull her up. Then the mischievous look was back, and she suddenly swept him up, carrying him to the bed and tossing him onto it. Laughing, he grabbed her arm and yanked her down to him. She fell on top of him, and he rolled so she was underneath him.
She kissed him, her mouth open and questing, her body pushing up against his in a way that was a long way from innocent. "I love you," she murmured as she pulled his shirt off.
"I love you more." He pulled her shirt off too.
"No way." She pushed him over onto his back, and went to work on his pants. It was clear that she lacked experience in the rapid removal of button fly jeans.
"Want some pointers?"
She bit her lip and shook her head.
"Now is probably a good time to remind you that parts of me need to be handled with care. So no ripping the pants off in frustration."
She glared up at him. "All of you needs to be handled with care. That's not the point. I will get this." She bent back to the task. "I wear these. It's just harder from this angle."
"So, I see." He crossed his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. "Wake me when you're done."
Suddenly, she was kissing him again, climbing on top of him. "Let's see you do better with the bra."
He reached behind her with one hand and flipped the hooks free with a quick move of his fingers.
She stared down as he pulled the white cotton from her. "Not super, huh?"
"Oh, I learned that back in Smallville."
She laughed. "With Lana?"
"A gentleman never tells." He went to work on her own button fly. It was open in moments.
"Okay, Kal. What's the secret?"
Rolling his eyes, he buttoned her back up. Then, as she watched, he flicked each button open. She crawled off him and repeated the motion on him. His fly fell open.
She looked as pleased as if she'd just defeated Darkseid and all his evil minions.
"Happy now?" he asked.
She nodded, then looked down at him. "Are you?"
"You're lying next to me half-naked on a bed, and you're about to make love to me. Happy does not begin to cover it."
It was the right thing to say. He could tell by the way her smile went from slightly tentative to very seductive. It was also the truth--happy did not begin to cover it.
Pulling her down to him, he pushed her jeans and underwear off as she stretched out next to him, her chest against his. Skin to skin finally. Somehow, she managed to pull his jeans off too.
He met her eyes. "You're sure about this, Diana?"
Her fingers deftly removing his underwear were one answer.
Her lips meeting his as she pulled him to her were an even better one.
But the sensation of their bodies joining after having been denied for so long was the best one of all.
Diana lay curled against him as Clark stared up at the ceiling, lost in a dreamy haze. He looked over at her, saw that her eyes had closed and her breathing had slowed. She was asleep in his arms. Naked. Tired. Happy. Satisfied.
He smiled as he remembered how she'd bucked under him. It hasn't been fake--he didn't think she could have pretended to nearly break his neck as he'd pleasured her, or that she could fake the red flush that had covered her chest as she'd come down from the very nice place he'd sent her to--multiple times. She'd gotten better at controlling her more dangerous reactions with each time they'd done it. Which was crucial for him if he wanted to survive the sex.
He might not be super, but he felt pretty damn close. Moaning softly, Diana shifted, the motion bringing her body against his more securely. He was too tired to do anything about it other than to reach over and stroke her arm gently.
She opened her eyes, staring at him blurrily. "Are you all right, Kal?"
He laughed. "Just enjoying this. I didn't mean to wake you."
"It's okay." Her hand began to travel up and down his leg.
"Love, there is no way that doing that will have any effect right now."
Her smile was silly, and he leaned over and kissed her. Her mouth opened; her tongue found his, and as she pressed against him, her chest bumping against his own, he felt life stirring in the southern continent.
"Then again," he murmured, as he pushed her to her back. "You're a very bad influence, your highness."
Her face clouded, and he remembered that Bruce had called her that sometimes when he wanted to mock her.
"I say that with the utmost affection," he said, nuzzling her neck, as her hand continued its dastardly work.
"Maybe so. But you need to find another nickname for me."
"Fair enough." He nibbled on her ear. "Later."
Laughing, she pulled him onto her.
"You are insatiable, my love," he said. "If you're not careful, you'll kill me with pleasure."
"No, I won't." She laid a hand on his chest. "Thump. Thump. Thump. Nice and regular."
He shot her a look.
"Okay a little faster than that."
"That's your fault," he said.
"Shut up and make love to me." Before he could say anything else, she kissed him and made it impossible to talk anymore.
New York spread underneath him as Diana flew them to the spot they'd discovered out in the mountains to the west. She landed, her hand joining with his as soon as she let him down onto their favorite walking trail.
He watched her for a moment, and she shot him a shy smile, the way she always did when he admired her with a certain look.
"Uncomfortable?" he asked.
"No. It's just so...intimate the way you look at me sometimes."
She moved closer, her hip bumping against his. "No, intimate good. This is still new for me. It's still a bit of a revelation. I didn't expect to have more communion with you than what we already had as friends."
He nodded, smiling happily. "I know." He wondered sometimes if he and Lois had lacked something he and Diana had, or if his relationship with Diana had always been too much of an obstacle for any true intimacy--any true trust--to develop in his marriage.
Or maybe he just shouldn't have nearly cheated with Diana and then lost his powers. Not a good combo of events.
"What are you thinking?" She laughed at the look on his face. "It can't be good."
"I was wondering if maybe the way I feel about you jinxed Lois and me. From the beginning, I mean?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so. I think you were right, if you were still Superman, she'd have forgiven you."
There were times he almost wished Diana would sugarcoat things. "Not very complimentary to plain old Clark."
"You've never been that to me." Sighing, she dropped his hand and wrapped her arms around him. "I said that badly. Or too bluntly."
"No. You're honest. You've always been honest." He kissed her hair. "I hate that she loves the 'S' more than Clark...or Kal."
"Kal's always been mine," Diana said with no uncertainty in her voice. And she was right. Kal had always been hers.
"My divorce will be finalized in five months. Lois isn't contesting." It had surprised him a little. He'd thought that she might make overtures when Superman hadn't proven interested. But she hadn't.
It stung his pride a little that she still didn't want him. But the woman beside him--the woman who loved him with such fierceness--took that sting away entirely.
She looked up at him. "And...?"
"And...I was wondering if you wanted to get married."
She seemed to think about it. "I'm not sure."
"Wow, that's flattering, Diana."
Smiling, she pulled him to her and kissed him soundly. "I'm not sure how I feel about marriage. I'm not ruling it out."
"Well, thank God for small favors." He pretended to sulk so she'd kiss him some more.
She appeared to be wise to his devious plan because she just laughed at him and pulled him after her down the trail.
"I love you, Diana. I will always love you."
Turning, she smiled tenderly and seemed about to say something when the silence of the trail was shattered by the JLA alert going off.
It was Arthur. "Diana, come to the watchtower. And bring Clark."
She turned to Clark, her smile dying as she nearly whispered, "You've found a way to put them back together?"
"I'm not sure," Arthur said. "Just hurry."
She looked like she was going to cry as she gathered him up in her arms and flew back to the city to get the suit he'd need to make the trip to the tower.
"I love you, Diana. I'll always love you."
"If it works, you may not even remember this, Kal."
He hadn't thought of that; they'd never talked about it. "That's why you won't talk about marriage, isn't it?"
She didn't answer, just turned her head--probably so he couldn't see her tears.
"I'll love you forever, Diana."
"You said the same thing to Lois, Kal. Which one of those promises will you remember when you and Superman are one person again?"
Kal flexed his fingers, amazed at how even the most subtle motion felt different, felt bigger. He was super again. He was whole again.
He saw Diana watching him from the other side of the room, then she turned away slowly.
Walking over to her, he put his hand on her shoulder. "I have to go out for a while."
"Just for a while?"
"Yes." Turning, he walked away from her. But he heard a strangled sob, so low that he would never have caught it when he was just Clark.
He walked back to her, turning her so she was staring at him. "I'm sorry, Diana. I have to do this."
She nodded. "I have things to do in New York. Go do what you have to do." She sounded like she didn't think she'd ever see him again.
He teleported to the roof of his apartment building. Instead of flying to the window, he took the stairs. Walking, one foot in front of the other. The human way. Clark's way.
He knocked on the door, resisting the urge to use his super-vision to see if Lois was there.
The peephole suddenly darkened, then she opened the door slowly. "Superman?"
"It's me. It's Clark."
Joy suffused her face, and she threw herself at him, her arms wrapping tightly around his neck. Her smile as she stared up at him was the one that had always brought him to his knees.
He pulled her arms from around his neck, taking care not to hurt her. Then he stepped away. "I just wanted you to know I was back."
"I told you, it's me. It's Clark. The Clark you didn't want." He touched the "S" on his shirt. "This is just a costume, Lois. And the powers--they're just enhancements. The real me is buried deep. The real me is a small-town boy from Kansas--or a Kryptonian. But not a superhero. That's just what I do."
"No. That's who you are. The image, the icon. The symbol. You give people hope."
"Do I give you hope?"
He stared hard at her. "If I give you so much hope, then where were you when I needed some?"
"I tried, Clark." She held a hand out. "You were just so different without Superman."
"Diana didn't think so."
Her hand dropped. "She wanted you. She'd take anything." She seemed to realize how mean that sounded. "She knew you were mine. You'll always be mine." Moving toward him again, her smile had a hint of desperation buried in the seduction. "Come inside, Clark. Come home."
"I'll always love you, Lois." He held up a hand. "But it's not going to happen. This isn't home anymore. I'm with Diana. She made me feel super when I was just Clark. You...you never let me forget I was lacking something special." He turned to go.
"I could contest the divorce."
"Don't," he said, and he could hear something in his voice, something resolved, something from deep inside him, from just Clark.
He shot her a look and saw her step back. Apparently, just Clark was scary.
Turning, he walked back up to the roof and stepped off the building, letting himself fall the way that Diana had when she'd first taken him flying. Then he surged back up, flying over Metropolis for a few minutes, relishing having this back, before turning to head for New York.
She was on the roof when he got to the Embassy, her arms wrapped around herself as if she couldn't get warm in the sweltering summer heat. He didn't land, just let loose a sharp whistle.
Her head shot up, then she launched herself into the air, joining him quickly. He grabbed her hand and flew with her back to the mountains they both loved.
They landed, and she was in his arms, kissing him frantically.
"You need to trust me, Diana."
"I'll work on that."
"See that you do." He picked her up in his arms. "I believe I need to return this favor?" Then he carried her off the trail, to a small swimming hole they'd found on their early trips to the mountains. Grinning, he tossed her in.
He dove in too, swimming out to her. She dunked him as soon as he came in range, and he pulled her to him, kissing her underwater. They both came up breathless.
"Ever made love in the water?" He smiled. She and Clark had done it often.
"Yes. With you."
"With me-Superman? Or with me-Clark?"
"It's the same thing. It's always been the same thing for me." She kissed him as she pulled off his uniform--or tried to.
He laughed. "Do you want some pointers?"
"No," she said, jerking up on the fabric.
"May I remind you," he said, his voice rising sharply, "that some parts still require a certain amount of careful handling."
She stopped what she was doing. "Fine. What's the secret?"
He showed her.
"Ingenious," she said, dragging it the rest of the way off even as he removed her uniform.
Then they were together again. Bodies joined, lips pressing against each other, just the way they'd done before.
Kal grinned. Aside from super-stamina and super-strength, it wasn't all that different--it was still great.
"What?" she asked as they dragged themselves out of the water and lay down on their sopping uniforms.
"I love you." He nestled against her. "And I'm happy."
"Are you sure? You could have her back."
"Yes. I know." He kissed her. "I find I'm quite content with my current partner."
"You are, huh?"
She curled into him, her hands running over his chest, the way he liked, glancing lightly down in the way that usually made him shiver.
He couldn't feel it as well now. "Do it harder."
She pressed down more, and he felt the familiar shudder begin at the nape of his neck and travel to his spine. "Perfect."
"Once you're divorced, if you ask me to marry you, I'll say yes."
She nodded and went back to inducing shivers. "And for the record, I'd have married Clark too, if I hadn't been so worried about what would happen with Lois once you were re-integrated."
"I get that now." He kissed her, was about to pull her onto him, when both of their JLA alerts rang with the general call to assemble for some incoming danger.
They dressed quickly, and he dried her hair for her with his super-breath. It ended up tangled, and he realized there were a few leaf remnants in it. He had a hard time keeping his hands off her as they waited for the teleporter to take them--she'd never looked sexier.
It looked like Bruce thought so too. He couldn't take his eyes off her. Kal kept close to her throughout the briefing, and, without thinking, he put his hand on the small of her back. She leaned back into his touch.
Bruce met his eyes, tipping his head as if conceding a contest. Then he smiled at him and mouthed, "Congratulations."
Kal mouthed back, "Thanks."
Suddenly, Plastic Man extended his neck over and over and over, until he was behind them and watching Kal's hand on Diana's back. "What's this?"
Diana smacked him the way she always did, catching Kal's hand as he started to pull it away. "Get over it, Plastic Man." Her voice invited no debate.
"Damn it. Off the market before I even got my shot. And can I point out he's a married man?"
This time it was Bruce who walloped him. "Shut up, pea-brain." He pointed to the screen where about twenty unknown entities were headed their way. "Big time trouble coming and I'm looking forward to it. Didn't like being split apart."
"Oh, it had its advantages," Kal said, causing Diana to laugh. "But I'm glad to be back." He held out a hand to Bruce. "Glad to be back with the people who mean the most to me."
Bruce took his hand, gave it a firm squeeze. Then he looked over at Diana. She laid her hand over their joined ones and squeezed gently.
"My best friends," she said softly. Then she let go of them and looked over at J'onn. "Are we ready?"
"Let's go kick some alien butt," Wally said, doing a quick lap around the watchtower. They could hear him laughing the whole way around.
Kal thought he might even have heard a very un-Flash-like "wheeeeeeee!" buried in the laugh. He looked over at Diana, saw her grin too. Even Bruce looked amused, although he was watching Plastic Man warily, as if waiting for another chance to bop him.
Kal couldn't help it; he laughed.
It was great to be home.