Author's note: This fic is in response to the drinking fic challenge. If you watch Grey's Anatomy, you may recognize parts of the story as parallels to George and Izzy's similar situation...don't hate me for unoriginality, just consider it a compliment to writer Shonda Rhimes for figuring out a way to get two best friends together. There's plenty in here that could only happen between these two.
It's the middle of the night as I cut through the sky over the sea, a blanket of stars filling the blackness above me. I dip and bank randomly, taking my time with my flight, enjoying the sensation of the Mediterranean air on my skin- it's been way too long since I had time to enjoy this. Soon my little house on the cliffs comes into view, and I spin slowly in my flight over the waves, then dip low to splash up an arc of water with an outstretched hand before pulling up sharply to skim the rock face of the cliff on my way up to my house. I purposefully overshoot it and continue up into the sky, knowing I can go all the way to the stratosphere if I want to. I gradually slow several hundred feet into the sky however and let myself go into a freefall of flips and spins on my way back down. Finally I control my descent and land gracefully on the balcony, closing my eyes and sighing with contentment. Tonight is a good night.
"Quite an airshow," an amused voice says from in front my closed eyes.
I simultaneously gasp, shriek, and jump as my eyes snap open, instantly sending myself fifty yards into the air and away from the balcony.
Who is here?
The sound of surprised but friendly laughter allows my heart rate to slow slightly as I cautiously fly back towards my house. Is it…
The silhouette of another figure rising into the sky answers my question. I grin in spite of myself and fly forward again.
"Kal!" I shout with mock anger as I recognize my friend, zooming to meet him in the air and punch him hard in the gut. "You scared the living goddess out of me!"
He rolls with the punch and lets me zoom past him, and I bank sharply to come at him again, not really mad but wanting to make my point. As he turns to deflect me, however, the moonlight falls across his face and I am startled to see how sad he looks, in spite of the small friendly smile.
I brake suddenly in the air, then float forward, concerned.
"Kal? What's the matter?" I say as I come closer. He just looks at me as he hovers, his smile slowly fading, and I reach out to touch his shoulder as soon as I am close enough. He looks away at that point, so I just take his arm and turn us in the air. "Come on," I say, leading us back towards my house on the cliffs. "Let's go inside."
I hear him sigh as we glide though the air, then finally speak.
"I'm sorry I scared you. I know you didn't know I was watching, but it really was spectacular to see you flying like that."
"Were you waiting for me to get home?" I say, looking over at him, hoping that he can't see that I'm blushing. I notice that he's wearing plain clothes rather than his Superman suit. "I had no idea you were coming, or I would have been here sooner."
"Yeah…I hadn't been here long…I saw you coming on the horizon, so I thought I'd just wait for you…"
Super-vision. Of course.
Our feet touch down on the balcony, and I push open the sliding glass door that leads to my living room and flip on the lights.
"You look very nice, by the way," he says from behind me as he follows me inside.
"Oh!" I say, blushing. I had forgotten entirely that I was still dressed up. "I've been at a charity ball all night for the earthquake victims- I went the traditional route for dress…" I look down at the moss green Grecian gown and gold sandals, and self-consciously touch the jewels in my ears and the tiara on my head. He's never seen me dressed up like this.
"Let me go change," I say suddenly, though I'm not sure why it matters. "And no looking through the walls- you're a married man!" I remind him flippantly as I spin with lightning speed through my closet, reappearing in tunic pants and a plain shirt.
"Sorry, I…" I start to say as I spin back into the room, only to see him sitting silently on my couch, staring out the window. In the light I can see so much clearer the pain on his face.
"Kal, what's the matter?" I ask, moving slowly to sit down beside him. Close enough to let him know that I'm here, but not too close. Never too close. I lay a gentle hand on his arm.
He sighs and doesn't meet my eyes as he answers. "I just had to leave- I was tired of the fighting- I just needed to get away for a while…I couldn't go to the Watchtower. I can't take the questions there. And I didn't want to go to the Arctic just to vent by myself. I just…" his hand finds mine seemingly of its own accord, and I instinctively clasp it gently. "I need my best friend right now. I need to spend five minutes with a woman who's not going to pick a fight or ask too many questions..."
He pauses, but I'm too startled by the unexpected flow of words to say anything, so I just stare at him, concerned.
"I…" he breaks off, turning suddenly to face me. "I'm sorry I just showed up without calling…but would you mind if I stayed here for a little while? Just for tonight?"
The question gets my voice working again.
Of course, Kal. You're always welcome here." What else could I say to this?
He smiles, the relief evident. "Thank you, Diana. I'm glad I can always count on you," he says, looping an arm around me and pulling me against his side in a familiar embrace. I hug him back with one arm and savor the moment of his warmth and the feeling of my body fitting perfectly into his, but make myself pull away first, repressing the desire to just stay there all night.
I get up and go into my kitchen. "Can I make you some tea?" I call as I start opening my cabinets.
He leans back into my couch and takes off his shoes. "Anything that you think would help me unwind…I can't tell you how uptight I feel right now…"
I chuckle, knowing that any alcohol I have will do nothing for him…but why not? "Well, I do have some wine, if you'd rather…where did I put it?" I mutter as I try a different cabinet. I don't see it anywhere…
"Kal, would you mind? It's a tall green wine bottle…" I look over and see him coming into the kitchen, his bright blue eyes sweeping across my cabinets and shelves. "Top shelf of the pantry," he says, eyeing the closed door.
"Oh of course…" I say, opening the door and reaching for the bottle.
"Here," I say holding it out to him. "Why don't we give this a try?"
He takes it from me, and I go to the cabinet hover a little off the ground to reach my wine glasses on the top shelf. "What is it?" he asks, eyeing the bottle, brushing the dust off the label.
"It was a gift from a friend across the galaxy. Maybe it will help you calm down a little…" I lift two glasses from the shelf and rest my feet on the ground again.
"You know, this probably won't affect me in the slightest," he says, looking up at me.
By his face, I can tell that right now, he wishes it would.
I smile and take the bottle from him, carrying it and the glasses out onto my balcony. "Help me drink it anyway- it's been sitting around for too long. And even if you don't have wine, you've got the view to distract you. The stars are gorgeous out here."
I float over the wide rail and seat myself on it, uncorking the bottle and filling the glasses with the sweet-smelling drink. It doesn't take long for him to join me, seating himself on the stone rail and dangling his legs over the edge.
"To the opposite sex," he says, picking up a glass and holding it out to me, a small smile on his lips.
"May we never understand each other- it keeps life interesting," I respond with a smile, clinking my glass against his. We both drink our glasses down in the first sip. It tastes like no wine I've ever had before- otherworldly. The taste is incredible and sets my senses abuzz immediately with the captivating texture of flavors.
He notices it too.
"Wow," is all he says after swallowing, picking up the bottle to examine it again, as though he might learn something from the etchings in alien language. "What did you say this was?"
I turn to answer and am startled to feel my head spin a little- my, this stuff works fast.
"Myona told me it was the made from the first harvest on the new planet. Remember when I was there about three years ago? Helping them start over after they had to relocate to another planet? She said there were a few bottles set aside for those of us who helped them back then. A little memento of our work there."
He fills our glasses again. "It may not do anything for me, but I'll certainly help you enjoy it."
We touch glasses and drink again, staring out across the endless sea, the low moon dancing across the waves as it rises higher in the sky. While we sit, I point out ancient constellations to him, choosing to forget that he knows far more about the stars than I do-he could name the galaxies I'm pointing at to draw pictures and tell stories with. He listens anyway, a faraway look in his eyes, matching me glass for glass as we enjoy the bottle.
"I keep waiting for a falling star," he says at one point when I stop talking, his eyes searching the darkness above us. "Someone told me once that it's a good omen. I could use one of those right now."
"Actually, falling stars have always been kind of depressing to me," I say, sipping from my glass again as I lean back on my other hand.
How many glasses have I had now? Three? Four?
"Why do you say that?" He turns to me.
"Think about it, Kal. It's a meteorite, just a rock, nothing special about it. It may have been floating through space for thousands of years, insignificant in the cosmos, something pointless and unremarkable in a world of exceptional, glorious stars. It could have floated in the universe forever, but chance brought it too close to our atmosphere, and as it falls, it disintegrates into nothingness. But that disintegration, that death…that's the one time it gets to shine a light of its own. The first time anyone notices it. But it lasts for just a moment, and then as quickly as it is seen…it's gone."
He says nothing for a long time, so long that I look over at him aware of how much my head is buzzing.
He's staring at me. "I never thought of it that way before," he says softly, turning his eyes again to the sky. "I always thought of it as a message from the heavens, a little piece of them being shared with us. You know, my ship brought a meteor shower when it crashed here when I was a baby."
I hiccup and cover my mouth, embarrassed. "Well don't let me spoil those stars for you, I think that's another good way of looking at it- far more optimistic at least…" I take another swallow of the fantastic drink. "I had a friend who saw it a lot simpler. In her mind, whenever a star was falling, a hero or some great person had just fallen from glory, or an innocent had just fallen from grace. Beauty lost to darkness."
As if on cue, a ray of white light streaks across the sky, disappearing almost as soon as I see it.
"So which was that?" He asks, turning to me. "A death, a message, or a fall?"
I shrug. "Guess we'll have to wait and see how the rest of the night goes, and then decide."
We both fall silent for a moment, so I acknowledge the elephant in the room.
"So what was she mad about this time? The late hours? The life-or-death missions? Another woman?"
He sets the glass down, leans back on his elbows and sighs. "This time, you could probably say 'all of the above'." The pain in his voice is evident.
I cringe inwardly. How can such a simple woman hurt him so deeply?
"What brought it on? I mean…sorry…you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to…" My speech is already getting away from me…
"No, it's fine," he says, waving away my words. He doesn't face me as he speaks. "I suppose it was the last time you were at our apartment to meet me for a mission. That was her excuse for blowing up when I came back a few days later. I mean, I think you know how she feels about our relationship…"
Do I ever.
"And then it turned into a little of everything else…or I guess a lot of everything else…" He bypasses pouring a glass and takes a sip straight from the bottle this time, then holds it out to me. I take a sip mostly out of pride-I probably shouldn't drink any more, but it's so annoying that he can out-drink me.
"I'm sorry Kal. I'm always the one causing trouble. If that woman would just believe that I'm your best friend and nothing else…" I trail off because I have to focus on where I'm putting down the bottle- I just came close to letting it fall over the edge of the balcony. "Life would just be so much simpler."
I'm startled by the loudness of his laughter and I look up sharply, fighting the vertigo. He's smiling as he pushes himself upright again, swaying ever so slightly as he does.
Wait, is this affecting him too?
"'That woman.'" He laughs as though it's the funniest thing he's ever heard. "I'd say that's the most appropriate term now. It's just funny because that's how she kept referring to you- like saying your name was too difficult for her…" It takes my brain a moment to register that he's stopped talking because now he's drinking from the bottle again. I pull it from his hands with a small laugh, highly entertained by his behavior.
"You know, I think you've had enough of that, Mr. 'It-won't-affect-me-in-the-slightest.'" I hold it out of reach and take another drink for myself, only to find that there's not very much left.
How did this bottle get empty so fast?
"What are you talking about?" he says with a grin, reaching for it, playing my game. "I'm still sharp as a whip!"
With a flash of a smile, I hook both my feet around one of his knees and snap my legs downwards, which pulls him sharply off the rail and into thin air. His startled expression as he falls is just too priceless, and I find myself laughing hysterically, setting the bottle aside and holding the rail for balance.
"Sure you are, Mr. Lane!" I call down as he finally catches himself in the air several stories below and flies back up again. There's a cocky grin on his face.
"You're not holding your liquor so well yourself, partygirl," he says with a gleam of mischief in his eyes, and grabs my dangling foot.
I can't make my limbs move fast enough as he pulls me off the rail, can't make my hands grab for something…I'm falling through the air to the sound of his laughter…for some reason, this whole thing strikes me as funny, and I laugh too as I fall…
The cold water of the ocean slaps my face as I splash into its darkness, and I gasp in surprise, inhaling a mouthful of saltwater. My legs kick instinctively, a single powerful stroke propelling me to the surface…
I gasp as my face breaks the surface, lifting myself out of the water and into the air. He's at my side in a nanosecond, his face concerned. He holds my arm as I cough up the water, brushing my dripping hair out of my face.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry Diana, I thought you were going to catch yourself," he apologizes sincerely. "I guess we're both a little too far gone…" He takes my hand as my breathing returns to normal and begins to lead me back up to my balcony. I'm still a little dazed, but I suddenly smile, already forgetting the trauma of the past minute and having too much fun to let this moment pass.
"At least we're keeping life interesting!" I break away from him suddenly and streak across the water, arcing into the sky beneath the endless stars. "Chase me, Kal!" I shout, streaking into the clouds, willing him to follow.
My pattern is random- nonsensical loops and turns- and I hear his amused laughter as he follows me through the air. I have never felt so carefree and wild…
It's fun while it lasts, our ridiculous game of tag over the sea, but my equilibrium is so off that it's only a minute or two later that I fly too low and crash into the water again.
This time we're both laughing as he pulls me out.
"I think that's enough moonlighting for one night," he says, locking me against his chest and steering us back to the cliffs where my little house waits. I don't protest his control, though I know I normally would hate for him to order me to do anything- clearly I've lost a lot of my awareness now. Instead, all I feel is sly pleasure from the fact that he's holding me so closely against himself… But the other half of my brain fights to push these thoughts away. It wins the battle, but only barely.
Once I feel solid ground under my feet, I stumble inside, into my bedroom, and grab a robe, wrapping it around myself to hide the second skin that my clothes have now become.
"Where'd that bottle go?" I say, turning to look at him but swaying madly on my feet.
"Careful there," he says, gripping my shoulders to keep me upright, but his balance seems terribly off too, and we both stumble.
Laughing madly, I push him back. "I think I need to sit down…" Somehow I stagger across the floor and find my bed, letting myself fall facedown onto it. He laughs and helps me sit up, then sits down next to me. As he does, I can't help but notice how much I like the feeling of his hands on my waist…
"So, what do you think you're going to do about Lois this time?" I ask, pushing myself up onto the bed and leaning against my headboard, desperate for some stability in the spinning room. My head is buzzing, my thoughts muddled.
I can only hear parts of his response.
"…just so sick of always trying to please her…love her, I do, don't get me wrong…she's just so hard to live with sometimes…she knows what I am…can't forsake my duty for her…thought she understood that…maybe she thought she did too…guess we were both wrong…"
He laughs out loud again, and I'm startled by how close he is- when did he move to sit beside me? I turn to face him and see the glaze in his eyes- he's either crying, or laughing harder than I realized…or he's just very, very drunk…
"You have to apologize," I say, trying to sound serious but aware that my speech is slightly slurred. "Just go back there, with your tail between your legs, and grovel on your knees…"
"Come on…you can't be serious…I am sick of apologizing…" he interrupts with a groan. "I mean, I can't always be wrong…there's no fairness in this…" he's slumped against my pillows now, taking another drink.
"Share," I command, reaching for the bottle, but he holds it out of reach with a grin. I break into giggles again as I climb across his broad chest to try to grab it, and finally he relents and holds it out to me. I push myself off him and lean back against the headboard.
"She… is a tough woman, Kal, but I think this is how she… reacts to feeling insecure," I say, fighting for my balance as I tilt my head back for another sip. There's not really anything left in the bottle, but I get another sip out of it…
He laughs again. "She's very insecure…" He says slowly, and looks meaningfully at me, a silly grin on his face.
I smile awkwardly, fighting to see straight. "What?"
He laughs again and grabs the bottle back, throwing back what I assume is the last of the wine before answering. "Come on! Tell me!" I say, still laughing as I shove him on the shoulder. He tries not to laugh as he swallows the wine before turning to face me.
"She is convinced that you're… in love with me." The look of incredulousness on his face shows that he doesn't believe this could possibly be true.
I laugh obnoxiously, mostly because of the irony of it all, but partly to cover my true reaction of shock. Even drunk, I'm a skilled liar. "In love with you? Where would she get an idea like that?"
"And," he goes on, "that I …desperately… want you…"
I laugh again, and hear him laughing too. Well, Lois Lane is a better news hound than I give her credit for. But of course he doesn't need to know that…it's actually funny that he's so oblivious…I begin to laugh even harder at the hilarity of it all…"Is she crazy?" I rock forward, I'm laughing so hard.
But an all-too-clear stab of pain makes me suddenly stop and just stare at him, my fake smile fading.
Does he really find the idea so impossible?
Of course, that stab of pain may have been because I just knocked my head against the headboard as I rocked back against it.
"Owwwww…." I giggle-groan, holding my head and slumping down into my pillows. He laughs at my clumsiness and slips a hand between the board and my head to cushion it, saying something about being careful. I look over at him with a grateful smile, and realize then that his gesture has brought our faces suddenly very close together…
For some reason though, his smile fades as our eyes lock.
It's hard to say what happened in that moment- I wish I could remember it better, but I was feeling it through a fog of alcohol...
…but I know in that instant, something clicked in both our minds.
Outside my window, a star fell.
And in that moment, we understood everything.
When I wake up several hours later to bright sun streaming through my windows, I am immediately aware of three things.
The first is the splitting headache that is waiting to greet me, wages for the wine of the night before.
The second is the sensation of skin against skin as I see the broad chest I'm sleeping against, the arms holding me, and the face of the man they belong to.
…is the instant knowledge that we have just changed everything.
And this time, there is no going back.