A Little Help.
He could sense, not by the suddenly tighter grip her small hands had on his broad shoulders but, by the audible deep breaths she was trying to hide albeit in vain and the faster skip in the beat of her heart, not to mention the way her eyes became a darker hue as they stared at him, subtly concealing her awe and wonder, that she was a little…afraid.
But, as he sighed within the silent walls of his mind, after all the times he had invited her to fly with him, she would never admit to this truth.
"So…why did you invite me here in the first place?" Lois tried to appear unperturbed, her raven hair softly dancing to the enchanting song of the wind, as they rose above the penthouse, past the giant globe atop the Daily Planet building.
He wanted to chuckle at the desperate way she was clearing her sight of the strands of hair that disturbed her view by facing in just the right direction where the wind blew because she did not dare let go of her hold on him as they floated like night clouds, her face radiant against the subtle glow of the moonlight.
"I just…" His hand was steady when he tucked the wayward strands into her ear. "Wanted to be with you."
A brow rose before a rueful expression settled on her features. "Unfortunately…the only time we can be together is when the world is…half asleep."
"Are you going to argue with me on that? Because you are only going to lose."
He understood what she meant.
But what could he say that he had not said yet?
A thousand excuses could only mean one thing…
But before another could escape his lips, before he could stammer another reason, he felt a familiar presence nearby and was somehow glad for the intrusion. True enough, as if it was needed to be done, someone was coughing louder than usual not very far away.
And from the sudden change in Lois expression, he knew she heard it too.
"Your twin is here," Lois whispered. "Doesn't she ever get gold in that…outfit?"
He smiled. He knew very well that the remark was not lost on Diana, but his friend was used to all of it already. "I don't think so."
Lois looked at the slowly approaching female. "I bet she doesn't even need to shave…" she remarked through clenched teeth.
All he could do was chuckle.
"Good evening, Lois."
He was trying to hide a smirk at the way the greeting felt flat as a pancake.
"I hate to…interrupt but Kal…"
"Just give me a moment. I'll be with you soon."
Diana understood and flew away a distance but definitely not out of earshot. And with an apologetic countenance, he returned his attention to Lois.
"Saved by the princess…" Lois muttered regretfully as they slowly settled to safer ground. "…Again. I can't count how many times she has managed to…pry you out of this predicament…like she knows when just to…" Lois turned away and looked desperately at the night sky. "…like you two have this special connection…"
The reporter sighed, wanting to reach out into her purse and light a cigarette just to get back at him because she knew he did not like her smoking. "I used to be jealous of the whole world, because it represented something that will always be between us." It was almost a desperate whisper. "And now…here she is. The embodiment of exactly what I…"
"You're jealous of Diana."
She finally faced him and shrugged. "Like every other woman on this planet. Not to mention even some of the men, though a few of them are still under denial." There was a sad smile in her face as she lifted her gaze to his amused expression. "Is there…something I should know about between the two of you?"
"You know that you're…" It felt like something was stuck in his throat.
"Know what? That I'm special? Everyone in this planet to you is special. I just get…a free tour of the night sky every once in a while." A hand rose to touch the side of his face. "Someday…we have to talk about this."
"But now…you have to go." To her.
He inched forward and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
And as he flew away, she did not even bother to watch until his vision faded from her view. He knew it was not a good sign, because after all of the excuses, the explaining, he was starting to lose her to the reality that he could not face.
He needed someone to help him badly.
"I…don't exactly know how to say this…" His blue eyes met hers as the soft glow of the candlelight outline her stunning features gracefully. "…because I've never said this to anyone before…"
"Say what, Kal?"
He took a deep breath, fanning the flickering glow of the candle.
"There's…something I need to tell you."
Diana smiled, awaiting his words. "Kal…what is it?"
"I'm really not so very good at this."
Her smile widened. "Yes…you're definitely not."
He broke free of her smiling eyes for a moment and stared all around him, as if silently harnessing a power inside the fortress, the courage to get him through this night.
He was strong, there was no question about his courage. But when it came to his feelings, he felt like a slab of kryptonite was dangling from his tongue, rendering him unable to speak his mind, his heart.
And another deep breath escaped from him as his eyes once again settled on hers.
"I…care for you…" He whispered.
Diana frowned a little. It was not the response he wanted to elicit. Maybe…she was not expecting it.
"I said…I care for you."
"Oh…" she looked relieved. "You care about everyone else, Kal."
That sounded familiar. "I mean…I care for you more than anyone else."
Okay? Is she kidding? He had just spilled his feelings to her and all she could say was…okay? "Okay? Am I supposed to take it as a positive sign?"
"It's nothing I don't know yet."
She was definitely not making this any easier and for a while he wondered how Bruce's patience fared with all the females he had to woo. And thinking like his famous teammate, he tried a different approach by reaching across the table to gently hold cover her hand in his.
"From the moment we first met…I knew there was something about you. Something that…set you apart from all the rest."
Her eyes finally showed a little interest. "And…"
"You're not just like anybody, Diana. You…see through me. You understand me," he explained. "To you…I'm not just a superhero…but a person underneath the costume, the enigma, the symbol."
Silence settled as he searched deep within for the words to flow freely. "I want to be with you."
Her eyes regarded him thoughtfully for a while. "I want to believe that there is a chance for us, Kal. But with the whole world between us, can we make it possible?"
"I know there will be limits to our relationship. But if you care enough for me, you will understand."
"I don't know Kal…"
"Please, Diana. Give me a chance."
He looked at her intently for several seconds. Then in all frustration he burst out, "Oh, come on, Diana. You're giving me a hard time."
"Hard time? You asked for it."
"Even Lois will not ask me a ton of questions after I've asked her to be with me."
Diana raised her perfect brow. "And what if she does? After all…you've kept her waiting for so long that I doubt if she'll even believe you're sincere." She looked at their still joined hands. "And some pointers, Mr. Superhero, if you hold her small hand like you're holding mine right now, I'm sure she won't be able to take down notes for a long time."
He pulled his hand away and cradled his chin in desperation. "Am I that…terrible?"
"Kal…" Diana looked at him in a mixture of pity and amusement. "Your introduction was dragging…the confession was heartfelt…but you keep whispering. Please remember that she doesn't have super-hearing like I do."
"Oh please…don't worry about hurting my feelings," he complained.
"I kept waiting for the word love to be mentioned."
He sighed. "It's…it's such strong word."
"You men are such cowards," she sounded exasperated. "And for simply putting up with your excuses after all these years don't you think Lois deserves to hear that from you?"
"If you're angry with a man in particular…"
"Believe me, Kal," she leaned on the chair. "You may have differences, but you and Bruce react exactly the same way when it comes to…these things."
"At least…I'm making an effort…"
"Yes you are." She tapped on his hand. "Just forget this, forget we even rehearsed. Just say what you want to say. I'm sure she loves you enough to see through your stammering." The Amazon's face lit up. "I bet she'll even like you stammering, pitifully searching for big words to impress her."
"And I'll just wow her with my charm."
Diana laughed. "But don't forget the hand, Loverboy."
He laughed for a while and watched as his friend prepared to leave. "I can't thank you enough, Diana."
"If she takes you on your lame offer, that's enough for me," she pinched his cheek. "I'll call you tomorrow when Alfred informs me that the contraband is ready. But you have to buy the wine yourself."
"You're going to the manor, then?"
"No. You have to pick up Alfred's cooking instead." She sounded irate. "I'm not going to set foot in that place again. Just say hello to Alfred for me."
Diana relayed her coordinates to the Watchtower. And before she disappeared, she was able to say, "You can do this, Kal. Stand up for your kind."
He smiled. And a few seconds after, sure that she was safely gone, he tapped on his communicator.
"She hates you."
"She's just mad. She doesn't hate me," a baritone replied.
"Well…the good thing is, she still feels something for you even if its anger," he turned on the lights and put out the candles. "The worse that could happen is that she outgrows this…feeling she has and moves on."
"You think that's possible?"
He paused and smiled at the uncertainty in Bruce's voice. "Al I can say is, from my point of view, she is starting to pack her bags already. And if you don't make your move soon, consider her gone."
"Where is she?"
"She already left for the watchtower. Tomorrow, just before dinner, she'll probably drop by at the manor."
"The manor, why?"
"To send her out on another errand that I'll conveniently not be able to do, for your sake." He arranged the chairs. "And it would not hurt to drop the L word."
"That's such a strong word."
"You will not be talking to me about this if what you feel is not as strong." Wow…meaningful words were not that hard to come by after all. "Besides…she's probably heard all your excuses by now."
"Talking from experience."
"Yes." He sighed and it all finally fell into place. "Only now, I know I'm ready for that strong word. Because I cannot lose the woman I love."
"Well…I wish you the best."
That was something new from Bruce. "Thanks."
"So…aren't you going to give me some pointers?"
This was going to be longer than he thought. He pulled up a chair and sat down. "Well…for starters, she hates long introductions…"