Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, nor do I lay any claim to the series and intellectual property they're a product of. No money is made off of this.
Author's Note: I'm thanking you for your help anyway; can't help it. ;-)
By Mark Question
It was like some delicate act of super-villainy. A scheme subtle enough in its parts and planning that they never saw it coming. Not from a foot, not from a mile. But mostly, it was that they were just really good at lying.
Better than they thought, at least.
It was small, it happened so slowly. The signs were easy to miss.
He'd touch her hand when he didn't really have to. They would pass each other in a corridor, after a crisis, and there'd be the slightest, incidental contact, beyond what was needed to say hello and goodbye. They'd be debating something; it could be an argument, a fundamental, philosophical difference of views, but his eyes would stay longer than was probably, absolutely needed.
And she'd allow it.
But they were just friends.
Which isn't a tongue-in-cheek way of saying they weren't, or that they couldn't be 'just friends' without being anything more. It is to simply say, that they were just – friends.
It was always more than was necessary. Whatever the occasion; whatever their reason to be near, it was always a few degrees above that basic, a little outside that operational temperature you were supposed to maintain. It was warmer than warm, but not enough to be hot.
She found herself looking forward to when they would be – usually in a battle; a crisis – more than usual, or was warranted.
She found herself gravitating towards him when they were together, as a team. J'onn kept them linked, so that at all times they were a clean, humming machine of operatic efficiency. And even apart from that, naturally, she kept a picture of the field of battle firmly in mind at all times. She'd find herself nearer to him than was necessary, always a little closer, just in case he needed her.
Or she needed him.
It was unconscious.
When they passed one another, it couldn't be accidental, because she'd always find a reason to touch him. Casually. Naturally. Their orbit would bring them closer. His cape would conceal her hand as it brushed his, and he'd look down at her as she was looking somewhere else, almost comprehending, but not really seeking an answer, and so never really questioning.
He'd come to her for counsel, in search of advice, and she'd give it freely. She would catch herself smiling. Other times, when the dilemma precluded the warmth of a smile, and the luxury of happiness, it would still be so, her lips would instead find themselves fighting the impulse, or she would find herself enjoying his presence too much.
He'd look at her, take her hand in a genuinely platonic way and say: 'Thank you. I needed that.' or 'You're as wise as you are beautiful.'
And she'd blush.
She didn't blush. At least, not easily. She'd make others blush sometimes; forcibly, most of the times.
They'd rise; hug goodbye, because he'd come to visit her in her city – gone out to lunch – or she'd come to visit him in his. But she'd let the hug continue a little longer than was actually socially advisable for two people that were only just platonic.
And he allowed it.
But they were just friends.
By this, I don't mean to disingenuously say they were anything more than 'just friends' or 'good friends'. It is simply to say that they couldn't be so easily pegged. Whatever they had went beyond friendship, not encroaching on that dangerous 'R' word. They loved each other, in the way that two people deeply compatible in a non-romantic platonic way most certainly did. They were – friends.
There were others not as discretely ignorant of the warning signs as they. The details were there, if only calculable by a third party. The details piled, they built a house with walls that could talk, each saying something of the whole. If their team members noticed, they didn't give themselves away. If they noticed, he didn't hear them, and he heard a lot. Or maybe he just pretended to not notice.
He did that a lot, too.
It was easy not to notice, to just walk along and pretend you were ignorant. There was an innocence to it, innocence tinged with self denial and a lot of her.
He liked to watch her.
He liked to listen to the sound of her voice.
He liked to hear her when she laughed. He took great pride in making her. It seemed easier now than it ever had before. Not that he'd ever really been trying before. But at the same time, trying had never felt so fraught. Her not reacting had never seemed so important before.
Most of all, it mattered when he found his eyes invariably finding her, across a room. When he watched, and found her watch him back. Best of all were the occasions she spoke of him. He liked hearing her say his name. He'd step off the teleporter pad, he would pass Wally, he would greet J'onn, he would greet Lantern, he would greet Bruce, he'd even greet Arthur – when he was around.
And he'd say hello to her.
She'd turn, there'd be this immeasurably deep moment that would pass between them. She'd call him by the name familiar to most. Other times – most times – she'd use his other name.
She had a beautiful frown.
It made him want to disagree with her sometimes, to throw a wrench in the chemistry of their moments for the sheer principle of watching her brow, and the way her eyes crinkled, how her lips so predictably behaved when surprised, perplexed, or otherwise befuddled. It made him want to lower his head, and kiss it away. He wanted to do it so much that a funny thing happened one day.
And she let him.
He didn't, actually – kiss her that is. Not according to her. It actually went like this:
The man had a handsome smile.
More than any other thing about him, it unnerved her. Partly, because she noticed it. A little bit, because she liked it. Largely, because he noticed none of the above. It was interesting, due to the fact that in summation of all of his powers, it was the thing least extraordinary which had trapped her, and set this whole thing in motion. It was a microcosm of it all. The irony of their whole come to be dynamic, in one thing.
He was a fool to tell it that he'd kissed her. It was a testament to his maleness that as fair as he was, he could get something so absolutely, positively wrong.
He hadn't kissed her. She had kissed him.
Fear nearly made her not go. Hesitation almost made her stop before she started. Nothing was supposed to hold that much power over her without being a physical, immovable obstruction. Nothing was supposed to make her react, instead of act, without her letting it. But he had, and he did. Once she'd stopped being afraid, and after she'd stopped hesitating, even if only for that brief, fraction of a soon-after-forgotten-second, she'd let go, and made the move for the exact reasons she'd almost not.
But they were only just friends.
The best of friends.
By this, I mean to say they weren't just good friends or even best friends.
I mean to say, they were damn liars.
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