The trip back to Earth seemed to take forever. And he could not wait to get back home.
Clark had spent the last few weeks on a planet in another galaxy. The planet was on the brink of a global civil war, and millions of lives were at stake. Not wanting the countless bloodshed that would have taken place, the leaders of the planet sought an alternative to the escalating violence that had spread across their globe. They had heard about a Kryptonian living on Earth, who was a prominent advocate for justice and peace. And so Superman had been invited to be an arbiter of the warring factions. He listened to each faction's arguments and offered suggestions that were sound alternatives to all out war. After weeks of heated discussions and encouraged by Superman's recommendations and guidance, the factions came to a compromising treaty that they could all agree to.
As soon as he arrived on Earth, Clark went straight to League headquarters to check in. "Glad to have you back, Superman," J'onn greeted Clark at the control room.
"Good to be back, J'onn." Clark sighed and smiled at the Martian Manhunter. "Did I miss anything while I was gone?"
"Nothing that the rest of the League couldn't handle." J'onn replied. "There was an earthquake a couple of weeks ago in Armenia, 7.1 on the Richter scale, just outside the capital. Those who were immediately available aided in the rescue and recovery efforts, but several hundred souls were still lost. Only Wonder Woman and Green Lantern have been able to return almost daily to help the local government."
"I'm sorry wasn't there to help." The regret was evident in Clark's voice.
"You've just saved millions of lives by preventing a war. That is just as honorable a deed, if not more, my friend." J'onn gave Clark a reassuring look. "You can't be everywhere at the same time, Superman."
"I know, J'onn…I know. It just doesn't take away the helpless I feel about it." Clark nodded slowly. "Speaking of being in two places at once, how are things for me at the Daily Planet?"
"Clark Kent has been on assignment in Yerevan since the day after the quake, giving daily reports on the relief efforts." J'onn continued. "You should know that Ms. Lois Lane was none too pleased when Mr. White chose you over her."
Clark inwardly winced. Lois almost always got the prime assignments, whether they were handed to her or she would argue her points until Perry conceded. It was usually the latter. Clark sighed. Maybe he could offer to buy her dinner when he got back to the office. Sitting across from Lois, he would prefer to not have her look at him with daggers in her eyes all day. And he had been meaning to ask her out for some time now.
"I appreciate you covering for me. Do you know if Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are still in Armenia? I could stop by there and see if they need a hand."
J'onn shook his head. "No, Diana and Hal returned about half an hour ago. There was nothing more they could do." J'onn turned towards a console. "If you wish to speak to either of them, they are both in the commissary."
Clark nodded and started towards the doors. "Thanks, J'onn. Maybe I will stop over there and grab a bite, too. I miss the comfort foods of home, and right now anything in the commissary sounds great."
As Clark walked along the corridors in the direction of the commissary, a small smile spread across his lips. His thoughts had led to the prospect of seeing his best friend, and seeing her always put a smile on his face. A grumbling of his stomach turned the smile into a chuckle. Apparently, he had not realized how hungry he really was. He hoped that there was something in the fridge for him to make a decent sandwich out of. Or that Diana would let him finish off her meal since she tended to push her plate away in his direction whenever she had her fill. It was a habit that only the two of them shared. No one else within the League had that privilege.
Clark could hear the sound of laughter coming from the commissary. His stride faltered and his grin disappeared as he entered the dining room. Even though Diana and Hal Jordan were clearly just having dinner, there was something about the scene before him that Clark did not like. A slight crease formed between his eyebrows.
They were seated adjacent from one another. Diana had a hand under her chin as she appeared to be intently listening to Hal as he spoke. Hal was humoring Diana with one of his adventures in the Green Lantern Corps. Clark noticed that Hal had taken off his eye mask and was leaning in much too close to Diana. He also noticed the almost predatory look in Hal's eyes. To her credit, Diana seemed unaffected by Hal's gaze, as he was known to be quite a notorious ladies man. But what Clark found irritating was that Hal was eating what was left of Diana's dish!
Finally sensing another person in the commissary, Diana turned away from Hal and beamed when she rested her eyes on Clark. "Kal!" She got up and went to him, then threw her arms around him. "When did you get back?"
Clark returned the hug. "Just a few moments ago," he smiled down at her as he still held her.
"I take it that all went well with the negotiations?" Diana finally pulled away from his embrace.
"It took longer than I thought it would. But, yes, the end result was accomplished." He did not know why, but Clark suddenly felt bereft. Perhaps he had been gone too long and missed his friends even more than he realized.
"Hey, welcome back, Clark." Hal had gotten up from his seat to greet Clark with a pat on his shoulder.
"Thanks, Hal. You know what they say…" Clark glanced back at Diana. "…there's no place like home." He looked back at Hal and gave him a steady look. "I see you're both having dinner. Mind if I join you?"
Hal gave Clark and Diana a wry smile. Though it rarely happened to him, he knew whenever a woman was not interested in him and to move on to 'other' possibilities. And when it came to Wonder Woman, no one could compete for her attention whenever Superman was around – even if they were just friends. "Uh…actually, I was just leaving."
"But you haven't eaten your dessert yet?" Diana said. "You said it was your favorite."
Hal continued to back away towards the door. "I just remembered I got an early flight test tomorrow morning."
"Okay. I appreciate you keeping me company during dinner all week." Diana's smile was genuine. She had enjoyed having another comrade around to share a meal with.
Hal darted a glance at Clark before waiving them goodbye. "No problem."
Diana thought Hal looked peculiar as he rushed out of the commissary.
Clark raised his eyebrows. "He's been having dinner with you every night?"
"Yes, Hal and I have been sharing meals together every day this week, much like whenever you and I do after a hard day's work. With everything that's happened in our attempts to help the Armenians, we've come to find some things we have in common."
"Such as?" Clark asked.
Diana turned and walked back to her table. "You know I can't cook, but I do enjoy a good meal. And, apparently, he knows a lot of restaurants. He brought this chocolate torte thinking that I would like it. Actually, he picked up this entire dinner from a restaurant he recommended to me last week."
Clark followed her to the table and stood next to her. "Is that so?"
Still standing by the table, Diana dove her fork into the torte and took a bite. "Umm…this is delicious." She held out a forkful of the delectable dessert. "Would you like to try some?"
Clark looked at the morsel on the fork, and then back at Diana. "Yeah. Sure. Just a taste."
He leaned down. Instead of taking a bite off the fork she held out for him, he brushed his lips against hers.
Shocked, she reflexively opened her mouth to protest. But as his tongue met hers, she forgot what she was about to protest.
The kiss sent miniscule electric charges through them both. Neither one of them heard the soft clatter of the fork as it hit the ground. Crumbs of the chocolate torte littered the otherwise clean floor.
Clark held her tightly with one muscular arm as his other hand was buried in her raven locks.
Diana pulled him close. A hand gripped his shoulder as the other raked through his hair.
Clark was not exactly sure why he did it, but he was sure it was not something he regretted doing. When he first met Diana, and before they became friends, he had briefly wondered what it would feel like to kiss her. Now that he had, her full lips did not feel like how he had imagined. It was far better. She tasted wonderful. But it was not enough. He found he wanted more. More of this beautiful woman in his arms. More of his best friend.
His best friend! Alarm bells rang in his head. Clark reluctantly pulled his mouth away from hers. He slowly opened his eyes to find her gorgeous blue ones staring back at him. They reflected what he felt. Wonder. Confusion. Passion.
Clark cleared his throat. "You're right. That was delicious." He untangled his hands from her and stepped back. He hesitated for a moment before quickly brushing his lips against hers once again. Without another word, Clark walked out of the commissary.
Diana stood where she was, dumbfounded at what just happened between them. Her best friend had kissed her. And she liked it. A lot. The way his mouth seemed to breathe new life into hers as his lips and tongue sought and claimed possession over hers. She did not realize she had it in her to return his passion with equal fervor. And she relished the feel of his muscular frame against her own form, his hold on her so intimate. How long she simply stood there staring at the doorway, she did not know. What Diana did know was that her lips were still tingling.
She suddenly remembered the fork in her hand. Except it was not where it was supposed to be. When Diana looked down, she was surprised to see that it was on the floor. As she bent down and picked it up, Diana realized she no longer had the desire to finish the chocolate torte.
As Clark walked out of JLA headquarters and took to the sky, the taste of Diana lingered on his lips, and he found he was no longer hungry for food.