Soundtrack: "Falling or Flying"-Grace Potter and the Nocturnals; "Everything" -Lifehouse
I didn't see him for several days after that confrontation in the training room, and I assumed he was avoiding me. As days turned into weeks, I started to think I may have burned a bridge irreparably, and began, to my own frustration, to regret what I had done.
One day J'onn delivered a message from Kal to the League-he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from Earth with no certain agenda-he would be back sooner or later, but until then he wished everyone well. I had sat there, stunned and immediately furious at him for responding to everything that had happened between us in such a rash and self-centered way.
Then Dinah told me about his divorce.
For a long time, I didn't know what to think. No one knew the details-the common understanding was that everything had been settled quietly, meaning either scandal or indifference. Most people said that they believed the latter, but I could tell everyone wondered if it was the former.
So did I. I had no idea if anything between us had been what brought the end of their marriage, but the incidents seemed too chronologically close to not been considered. This idea gave me a hope that I hated in myself, and I let myself for a brief time wonder what this could mean for us.
But very quickly, I realized it didn't matter.
He was gone.
And anything we had, or could have had, was gone with it.
The logical part of me told me that it was time to get over all of this and move on. But we had left too much unsaid, so much unresolved, that there was only so much distance I could put between myself and the feelings that continued to weigh me down. Of course I pragmatically kept those feelings pressed down inside, trying to starve them of air during the lonely months that passed in his absence. I reminded myself that I was a fool, that there was no hope left, and I did my best to keep any thoughts of him from my mind or heart.
So life went on, as it tends to do, without him in my life for several months. Until one night, when I returned to my home around dawn to find a note stuck to my balcony door.
Meet me in the Rockies whenever you can. I'll wait as long as you need me to.
It wasn't signed. But there was only one person who would ask me to meet him there.
I stood there for a long moment, holding his message in my hand, my thoughts racing. I hadn't even heard that he was back on Earth yet. If he had told anyone, surely I would have heard-which means that I was the first person he had come to see.
I realized with a loosening of the tightness in my chest that he wasn't waiting for me on my porch this time. Instead, he was asking to meet me on neutral ground- an invitation rather than an imposition. And he said he would wait. The least he could do after years of me waiting on him.
It was an invitation that was mine to reject. He couldn't blame me for denying him this grace- he hadn't exactly been the best of friends lately…we both know I don't owe him anything after all this…
Oh, who am I kidding?
Letting the note fall from my hand, I rose into the air and shot away into the sky heading west, already miles away by the time the paper fluttered to rest on the ground.
When I land in the Rockies, I am abruptly reminded that it is now the end of winter when my legs sink into four feet of powdery snow. Lifting myself quickly out of it, I instead hover above the ground and find a stretch of bare rock on the peak to perch on. It's still the middle of the night here, and the mountain range spreads out on all sides, illuminated only by the full moon glowing above, the snow reflecting its light right back onto the blanket of clouds concealing the stars. I take in the view in silence as the cold wind blows my hair about my shoulders. He could be anywhere out there, but I know I don't need to go looking for him. If he was serious about his invitation, then he will come find me.
And for once, I don't have to wait long.
"Diana." His voice drifts over the wind from behind me. My heart, of its own accord, flutters at the sound of his voice, and I instantly feel all the repressed feelings of the past year come rushing to the surface again. Damn his superhearing.
I close my eyes and take a breath, readying myself for whatever this meeting is about to bring, then turn toward the sound of his voice.
He's standing several yards away on another spot of exposed rock, his cape moving gently around his frame in the wind. He's not smiling, but he looks far more peaceful than he did the last time I saw him, which I take as a good start.
He doesn't move to come closer, so I don't either, just taking in the sight of him and waiting for him to speak. My mind, irrationally, goes back to when I first met him, so long ago that it feels like another lifetime. It had been a cold night, like tonight, in a secluded place, like this. Back then, he had greeted me with an impulsive kiss, something I had been horrified by.
And here we are now, not daring to even come close to each other, yet I would give anything to touch him again now.
"It's been awhile," he finally says, still not moving closer. The glow of the snow beneath and the moon above illuminates his features, and I see the faintest trace of apprehension, like he's not sure how I'm going to respond.
He's the one who is nervous?
"I know," I reply calmly, trying to sound indifferent.
"Thank you…for coming. I was afraid you wouldn't. I guess I wouldn't have blamed you for not wanting to see me. I'm sorry I left without saying anything to you…but I think you probably understand why."
"I heard about-"
"I thought you might have." He doesn't let me say it. Clearly it's still a sore subject.
"I'm sorry," I say quickly, not wanting him to think I'm attacking him. "I'm sorry things didn't work out."
"Me too," he responds quietly, heavily. But he keeps staring at me with that inscrutable gaze.
Please Kal, just speak…I will him…for once, don't let anyone speak for you except you…
"That whole situation-I guess you must have heard the whole story by now-that's actually…why I asked you here." He finally says.
I haven't heard the whole story, but those aren't the words I'm dwelling on now.
My heart thuds. "What are you talking about, Kal?" I can't take him dragging this out.
He glances away as he takes a deep breath, then turns his eyes determinedly back to me as he answers.
"I owe you an apology Diana. An apology for a thickskulled man's ignorance. And for a lot of things that I don't expect you to forgive me for, but I hope you will. Most of all though, I am sorry that I wasn't willing to listen to you. I was so set in my ways, so sure of what I thought to be true, that I wouldn't listen to anything, or anyone, that contradicted it. Not even my best friend. And for that I am truly sorry."
His voice is both soft and powerful all at once, and I can only blink in response to this, willing him to continue.
"You were right. What you said the last time we saw each other. That maybe I was trying to get my mind to contradict my heart. It took me a while to realize it, but I finally saw how true your words were. When everything fell apart with me and you, and with me and Lois" I wince a little as he says her name so easily "you both said a lot of the same things. That was why I left for awhile. I knew I was going to need to get away from any of the reasons that I had wound up in this situation in the first place-any people, circumstances, or obligations. But even after all this time away, I still haven't been able to figure it out. I've spent so many years keeping everything pressed down inside and telling myself that everything was fine the way it is that I think I had convinced myself that what I thought was right was right. That way, nothing had to change and no one had to get hurt. And after all this searching, I'm just right back where I started: A part of me still feels like I should be with Lois, but another part of me says I belong with…someone else." At those words, my heart betrays my aloofness by pounding harder. He goes on though, his eyes locked earnestly into mine.
"The reason I asked you here is because I…I want to know the truth."
His eyes flicker to the golden lasso at my side and I understand.
Oh. So that's why he wanted to see me…
"Are you sure you want to do thisthough?" I ask seriously, my response acknowledging nothing he has said except is final request. "You know there's no going back once you know the truth. No more claiming ignorance or confusion. You'll have to accept the truth, whatever it is, and find some way to live with it." I don't mean to jab so roughly at his previous actions, but I also don't want him to go into this lightly.
Nonetheless, he meets my eyes with a look of determination I haven't seen in a long time. "I'm sure."
Well, here it is at last. The proverbial moment of truth. I unlace the lasso from my side.
I could have draped the magical rope over his hands and it would have had the same effect, but I get a little more satisfaction from throwing the lasso expertly around his torso and cinching the loop about his shoulders. I wouldn't admit it, but I'm also afraid to venture any closer to him- throwing it from a distance is better for me. It binds him in, and it occurs to me that this is the closest we have come to touching each other since that fateful night. Even now, we are far from each other but finally connected by an unbreakable, shining bit of truth.
He gently touches the silken rope against his chest and looks solemnly up at me, trustingly waiting. I don't know if I can focus with his eyes on me…
"Close your eyes, Kal."
He obeys. And maybe I am imagining it, but I think I feel the lasso warm in my hands, as though it too is anticipating the revelation.
I think I know what to do. Deep breath.
"To see past the obvious and discern truth, you have to look past what you cognitively know. You have to free yourself of the things that you believe to be unchangeable- you have to be able to see the world without coloring it as you already believe it to be. So for this to work, you must stop looking at your past. Stop looking at the present. What I am asking you to do is to look at the future."
He says nothing, and I continue.
"I want you to imagine yourself at that point in your life when you believe everything to be accomplished. You have done everything you set out to do. Picture yourself looking at the world around you and wondering how life could possibly be any better than this…Can you picture that, Kal?"
His brow furrows, but a smile plays at his lips as he nods soundlessly. I wonder what he is imagining…but I press forward, my words even and deliberate, a brave march to a cliff's edge.
"Then answer your question, Kal. Look at that life, that most perfect life that you're imagining…look around, and see…who is the person standing next to you?"
He gasps, and I see the lasso suddenly glimmer slightly brighter- truth is imparted. His eyes fly open and lock into mine, his expression stunned.
But he says nothing.
I draw a deep breath and ask, "Do you see the truth now?"
My voice wavers, just a little. I blink and am startled to feel a tear slip down my cheek, so irrational for this moment.
He doesn't say a word, but he nods, his face serious. I nod in return and attempt a smile as I quickly brush away the tear. My voice is strong when I speak.
"Then you can be free."
…For the truth shall set you free.
I don't need to know his answer, I tell myself as I slowly approach him, gathering the length of the lasso in my hands. He doesn't have to tell me. In fact, it's probably better that I don't know.
I come up to him, not meeting his eyes, and loosen the knot around his shoulders, my hands hovering closer to him than they have dared to in a long time. I am startled when he suddenly covers my hand, and the lasso, with his own, and I look up at his face.
He doesn't say anything, just stares fixedly into my eyes. His gaze is so intense that I look away.
What is he thinking? Doesn't he know how hard this is for me to be so close?
His hands over mine slide the noose of the lasso wider, and I go to lift the circle off his shoulders. His hand stops me again, and I again meet his eyes. Staring solemnly at me, he lifts the rope away from around his chest, but instead of shrugging it off, he instead pulls it wider and drops it over my shoulders, so we are both encircled by it. My heart races. What is he doing?
His hands slide along the knot and tighten it around us, pulling us in together until I am drawn up against him, my arms tucked in over my chest as a last barrier between the two of us.
"And now I have to ask you something," he finally says in a voice more sincere than I have ever heard from his lips. His hands rest lightly on my forearms, his fingertips barely touching the pile of golden rope gathered in my hands. "When you picture that perfect, complete life, full of everything you set out to do, better than you thought was even possible…will you tell me, Diana…who is standing with you?"
His eyes look into mine with earnestness, but I close mine, pursing my lips against the tearful smile threatening to break across my face.
He didn't need the lasso.
I draw a breath and find the words.
"I see you, Kal. You and I, together. It's always been you…" My voice breaks, and I duck my head to hide my tears. I am afraid to open my eyes as I feel him cradle my cheek and thumb the tears away gently.
I look up and gaze into his eyes, savoring it, knowing it may be the last time he ever holds me this close. His face is still unreadable, but he holds my gaze unwaveringly as he speaks.
"When I looked at my future," he whispers, "I didn't see you."
My heart twists painfully in my chest, but I nod silently. All things are laid bare. All truth is realized.
I should go. He needs to let me go…
But then he goes on.
"I didn't see you…because what I saw was us. Together. That's the life I long for, have only dared hope for. And I know now without a doubt that it's the truth."
I don't remember moving, but the next thing I know are his lips against mine, my arms around his neck, his arms around me, our bodies pressed together with not a thing left between us. There's not a trace of fear, or alcohol, or inhibition to hold us back this time, or to keep me from feeling every facet of this moment in every fiber of my body. Months, years, lifetimes of pent-up emotion are at last loosed, spilling out of me from long-forgotten places inside of me. I feel tears on my cheeks still, but for a different reason now. Against my chest, I feel his heart pressed next to mine, our pulses falling in sync with each other.
The last time, everything had been writ slow and meaningful by the alcohol, and small details were blurred from my memory, but now I take in every facet with elated intention. The texture of his face beneath my hand, the lightness of his hair as my fingers weave through it, the warmth of his body enveloping from all sides, the taste of his lips as they move against mine…There is no reason to hold back, so I don't, and as every fragment of fear and hurt leaves me the longer we embrace, I feel nothing but joy displacing it until I am certain I couldn't feel any happier. But then he draws me closer, and I do.
I lose track of how long we embrace, and when I do finally draw back and open my eyes to look into his, I am startled to see clouds beneath us-our feet have left the ground. We are miles into the sky already, surrounded by stars on all sides. They were there all along, we just needed to get through the clouds to see them.
I also see the lasso, still wrapped around us, glowing with a light like it never has before. The rope seems to have left my hands and woven of its own accord around our bodies from shoulder to ankle, shining with all its brilliance and illuminating every part of us with its light. To anyone on the ground who looks, we might look like a star floating through the sky, but rising rather than falling. At long last…
He notices the lasso too as he tenderly runs his hands over my arms, shoulders, waist, passing his hands over the silken strands. "It looks like your gift of the gods is rejoicing," he murmurs with a smile, looking up at me, his eyes twinkling in the golden light.
I just smile and weave my glimmering arms around him again, and his encircle me. My cheek rests against his thudding heart, and my eyes close of their own accord as I let out a breath I might have been holding for years. The two of us float through the starry sky, bound together at last, never to be separated again. Perhaps there were sounds around us but I did not hear them, and perhaps the air was cold but I didn't know it. Within this circle of truth, within his arms, within this moment, there was only peace.
Perfect love drives out fear.
Ancient words of wisdom, long forgotten but so appropriate, come unbidden to my mind as his lips brush my forehead, and as he tips my face up and kisses me again, I feel against his lips that we are both still smiling…
Love rejoices with the truth.
Fade out: "Shine" –The Wilshires