Authors note: Hello again. I was trying to write another story, when this entirely bizarre and unfounded idea popped into my head. I went a little hyper and wrote in a very short period of time. I haven't sent it to anyone wise first this time, so criticisms accepted with good grace. Another short one, planned only as a one off. Hope it's worth the 30 seconds or so it should take you to read it.
"I used to wish I was Superman."
"What?" Her tone is incredulous. Two minutes ago they had been talking about him leaving. Thinking, she corrects herself sternly. Thinking of leaving. That's what he had said, and she considers it an important distinction to make.
It had been a stilted, awkward, painful conversation with plenty of unfinished sentences, and dodged questions.
And despite its seriousness, he chose now to talk about Superman?
"You know, Superman? Slicked back hair, underwear on the outside?"
"Well, you're half way there." She can't help it. Old habits die hard, and this is one that she hopes never will.
His hand goes to his hair before he can stop it, and he has a slightly affronted look on his face. She laughs.
"You could be Lois Lane."
"The nosy reporter with the alter ego of damsel in distress? I think not."
"You know comics. Huh. Never would have guessed."
"Everyone knows Superman, Tony. It's genetic."
He doesn't respond, and as the silence draws out she thinks he is having trouble coming up with something to say. He usually tries, though. He can't seem to handle quiet, or stillness. She wonders why this time is so different, but knows she won't ask.
For once, the silence eats at her instead.
"I would have thought that was obvious, Kate. Superman can fly."
"And I suppose asking why you would want to fly is a bit obvious too?"
"Oh come on, Kate. Imagine the possibilities. No traffic, no rush hour. No travelling with Gibbs and his insane driving habits, feeling the cold hand of death at every –"
"How could you, Tony? How could you even think of leaving?" The question comes out in a rush, and she hates that her voice sounds so desperate.
"Oh Katie, you do care." He sends one of his ridiculous, flirtatious grins her way, and that just fuels her anger.
"Damn it, Tony! Can you ever be serious?"
"To be honest, I didn't think it would bother you this much." His sudden change in tactic floors her, and she is left speechless, which seems to prompt him to continue.
"It isn't you."
"You think that's my problem? You think I'm actually worried you're leaving because of something I did?"
"Why else would you be this…stroppy about it?"
"I am not stroppy!"
"Bent out of shape? Annoyed? Grouchy?"
"I've never met anyone so smart act like such an ignorant…dense person!"
"Ignorant dense person, Katie?" The laughter in his voice is mixed with surprise. He has never seen her this stuck for words before. It's sort of scary. Then he realises the other thing she said.
"You think I'm smart?"
"You're doing a good job of proving me wrong at the moment. Now stop trying to distract me and answer the question. Why are you leaving?"
"Thinking, Kate. Thinking of leaving." His correction is the perfect mirror image of her earlier internal one.
"Sorry, Tony. Let me rephrase that for you. Why are you thinking of leaving?"
"Don't you ever get restless? Staying in the same place for so long?"
"You've been here a little over two years, I wouldn't exactly call that a long time, Tony."
"I didn't ask you for your definition of longevity, Kate."
"No, I don't get restless. I don't have issues staying in the one place for more than two years, and I sure as hell don't try and walk out on my friends without telling them why."
He is suddenly very aware of just how ridiculous his 'thinking' excuse sounded. There is an open box on the living room floor, and a plane ticket on the coffee table. Upside down, thank god. He would hate for her to know where he had planned on going.
"Whatever it is, Tony…whatever made you want to leave…you can get past it. And if you can't get past it you can ignore it. I don't care if it's hard and I don't care if you don't want to. You have to, because I'm not letting you leave. I will not be left alone to deal with Gibbs. He would be intolerable without you here. Whose head is he going to slap if you go? Definitely not mine, I can tell you that much. You're staying. You don't have a choice. I won't let you leave."
She had let all her frustration and annoyance at him out in one breath, and now, she had nothing left. There was no more she could say. She stood, walked to the door, and was through it and gone before he could even blink.
Picking up the phone, he orders a pizza, staring at the ticket sitting on the table the whole time, reading the words over and over in his head until he almost orders a first class Hawaiian. He isn't sure what to think of what Kate said, and he isn't sure he wants to. For now, though, he has a pizza arriving in thirty minutes, and the daunting task of finding the twenty he knows is shoved in the pocket of his pants. Once he figures out which pair of pants that is, everything will be fine.