It was a call Kyle always expected to get, given Hal's reckless arrogance, but when it finally came it was a shock, like a punch in the gut.
John contacted them, telling them that yet another alien menace had tried (yet again) to take over the Earth, and though they were repelled (yet again), Hal had been hurt. Badly. He had gotten in over his head, his ring had been drained, and if it wasn't for Superman finding him in the nick of time, he would be dead.
Salaak showed an unusual amount of flexibility in letting Kyle and Guy go to Earth on such short notice, and Kyle wondered if even Salaak was worried about Hal. And while Guy hid his worry behind jokes about Hal needing someone to hold his hand in a fight, Kyle remained silent. The last thing he wanted was for Guy to figure out just how distressed he was about Hal. And why.
Hal was unconscious when they got there, pumped full of pain meds. Kyle stopped in the doorway, shocked by the cuts and bruises that covered Hal's face, by the casts on his legs, by the bandages that seemed to be everywhere. He listened while Dr. Mid-Nite gave them a rundown of Hal's injuries, his nails digging into his palms and his jaw clenched. The visible injuries were negligible considering the number of broken bones and internal injuries Hal had, and thoughts of how things could have ended differently gnawed at Kyle. He almost died. I nearly lost him…
Hours passed and the others drifted away until it was just Kyle sitting in the chair next to Hal's bed. Once the hallway had emptied of voices, he reached out to touch Hal's battered face. The tears came in a sudden rush, his pent up emotions finally given release, and he bent over, pressing his cheek to Hal's hand.
Kyle had figured out he was in love with him not long after Hal had returned. Actually, there hadn't been much to figure out— he got aroused just being in the same room with the man. It was why he had moved to Oa. He didn't want to watch Hal with someone else, and it was getting harder to hide how he felt. Kyle didn't know what Hal would think about his feelings for him and the last thing he wanted to do was jeopardize their friendship. He had hoped that the separation would change his feelings—he had learned the hard way that absence can make the heart grow colder—but nothing had changed. He was still in love with a man who was never going to return his feelings.
But he was going to have to make himself move on, no matter how hard it would be. Kyle sighed heavily and brushed his lips over the back of Hal's hand. "I love you," he said softly.
He startled when Hal's finger moved, brushing along his damp cheek. Kyle lifted his head. Hal was watching him with bleary eyes. Kyle sat upright, heart pounding. Oh God, did he hear that? He quickly scrubbed his hand over his eyes and cleared his throat. "How are you feeling?"
Hal took a breath and winced. "Hurts."
"I can go get Dr. Mid-Nite. He can give you something—"
"No." His eyes drifted closed and for a moment Kyle thought he had passed out again. Then they opened a crack. "Said you loved me."
A wave of fear flowed over him. "Hal, I…" Kyle looked away, embarrassed. "You weren't supposed to hear that."
"S'okay," Hal slurred. "Love you, too."
Kyle sucked in his breath, his heart in his throat. He looked up at Hal, but Hal's eyes were closed again and his face relaxed in sleep. Kyle sat back in his chair, watching him. He was probably too drugged up to remember any of this, and even if he did, he'd probably pretend he didn't remember it. And maybe he'd only meant it in a brotherly way. But maybe he didn't… Kyle tipped his head back and sighed. So much for trying to move on. Things had just gotten a helluva lot more complicated for him.