Five Years Later…
Clark Kent flew with immense speed towards the Mediterranean. Normally he would not fly out and be seen in fear he would upset many governments, so he would have to stay on the down low as much as possible. This was different though; he had heard something fall to Earth. By the trajectory of what he had heard the unknown thing had to have landed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Clark settled over an area and began scanning the waters with his x-ray vision. Nothing.
He shook his head in confusion. "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'm being overly paranoid. Nothing has fallen to Earth in a long time."
Clark scanned the air around him and then the shore in the distance. "I don't think I was seen getting here. I flew fast enough."
He was about to leave when something jolted out of the water and grasped his waist.
What the..? Is that a tentacle?
It pulled him under water. He began to wrestle with whatever it was, but it was strong, really strong, and it had hurt him, cut into his skin in fact, which meant it was alien. He continued to wrestle the tentacle which in return dragged him deeper into the ocean. Clark's eyes beamed red with rays of the sun hitting the tentacle; it only slowly cut through.
He pushed as he cut deeper until finally the tentacle snapped off and bolted towards the surface. He burst out of the water and hovered a few hundred feet above gasping for air. He did not have time to react back there. The creature was fast and strong.
It came out screeching at Clark exposing most of its full form. The creature had twelve tentacles, eleven now, and a giant head at the center with hundreds eyes. In the center of those eyes was a giant circular mouth. It stayed in the water flailing its arms around angrily.
"What are you?" Clark mumbled to himself using his vision on the alien being. "Organic so I'll have to find a way…" He had to dodge a tentacle. He said. "You're fast, but I'm faster." Clark blurred past the tentacles delivering hammer like blows. The creature roared in anger and in pain throwing all its strength and tentacles at him.
He dodged each tentacle throwing more blows at it. It was like a game to Clark and a hard one at that. He hadn't had this much of a challenge in a while. One tentacle finally connected. It felt as if a building had fallen on him, and the force of the impact sent him hurdling into the ocean. He sprung out of the water quickly so he would not be pulled down again. His body tensed in anticipation of the creature following him, but it never came.
"Where in the world are you?" Clark mumbled scanning the waters beneath him. The creature was no where underneath him. "What...?" He began but his question was answered by a roar in the distance behind him. Clark turned to find the creature rising on the shore and making its way towards a densely populated shore side carnival.
"No!" He shouted as he flew forward with lightning speed and put himself between the creature and the now panicked civilians.
He launched himself at the creature delivering blows to what seemed to be its head. "You...will...not...harm...them!" His voice rose with each blow as he slowly drove the creature closer to the water.
Clark's punches became more forceful hurting the creature even more. His heat vision seared the outer skin of the creature and occasionally cutting its tough, thick skin. His frozen breath only momentarily slowed its increased assault.
The creature screamed in pain and lashed out harder in retaliation. It was smart and learned its adversary's movements and techniques. Tentacles flung more precisely towards Clark sometimes barely missing pedestrians who were getting closer for a better look, picture, or video.
"Get back!" He shouted at them still only slowly driving the creature back.
It was strong and stubborn, and Clark was getting irritated. He could not let it hurt anyone. His blows became even more forceful to quicken the pace away from the populous, but they were also reckless leaving him slightly open. The creature took advantage of the opening and pounced on the Kryptonian sending him bouncing back and forth between the tentacles like a pinball. One grabbed his leg and flung him into the shallow waters.
Clark felt his head smash into the shallow ocean floor as his mouth took in water and sand. His head throbbed in pain. He expelled his breath the remove the foreign substances from his body. He tried to move, but something was pressing him down under the shallow shore and into the sand bottom.
Then it began: constant, massive, and forceful blows to the back of his head. With each blow his skull pounded from tentacle to wet compacted sand. It felt has if a building was being dropped on him. With each blow his head throbbed in extreme pain. With each blow he choked on water and sand as it forced its way into his mouth, lungs, and stomach. A human would have drowned by this point if not have already died from the blows themselves. He was no human, but he still had limits.
Clark tried to push up but his body didn't seem to want to move against the brute force against him. The blows just continued for several minutes which forced him deeper into the watery sand. If he did not try something soon, he may...
Clark shook his head. He had to push his way out. He wedged his hands between his back and the tentacle that was holding him down. He gritted his teeth and with all his strength began pushing his arms upwards. The creature pressed down on him harder sensing Clark's struggle to get free. Clark pushed back harder. To his surprise the tentacle began to lift, and the poundings stopped all together. Soon the creature was off him entirely.
His body lay at the bottom of the shallow ocean floor. He wanted to move, to shoot upwards out of the water, and to gasp for air, but he could not; he could not move. His body would not let him.
He felt his muscles starting to give way. He felt blood vessels starting to burst. He was now seeing red though his now injured eyes, and then, he began seeing less as his vision blurred. He felt his strength starting to completely drain. He felt his senses failing. He felt stupid: one for impatience which left him open for attack, and two for using all his strength to free himself and none for saving himself after. He was drowning, and he felt stupid for it.
Then he felt something else. It was something foreign. It was not a tentacle, but he struggled to sense what it was that had just grasped him. He could not move his hands to feel, and the only thing he could see were blurs of light and thousands of multicolored dots. His instincts told him to struggle, and with whatever strength he had left he tried to. As he did, something gentle touched his shoulder. For some reason he felt more at peace and he stopped struggling. His mind raced to comprehend what he was feeling. Was that a hand on his shoulder? Was that an arm around him? Another body pressed against his?
Suddenly he was out of the water being dragged onto the shore. Clark began to convulse as his body heaved the water and sand from his lungs and stomach. He coughed for air and gladly accepted it as it entered his lungs again. His body shook vigorously as his senses slowly started to tingle again. He could feel the rays of the sun hit his skin. He could feel an arm around him. He could feel himself being rolled onto his back, being cradled into someone's arms. He could barely hear someone speak his alien name.
He looked up responding to the muffled call, and then he saw her. It was an angel; it had to be. At least he thought it was. His vision was still blurred as he was still seeing very bright spots and now doubles maybe even triples of everything.
Of all the things, an angel had saved him. He started to see the tone of her skin: it was an endless sea of smooth milky caramel. Her hair was dark but not opaque; it seemed to glisten proudly in the sun. Her eyes were warm and filled with compassion and concern as they stared down at them; he knew those eyes. Her lips were crimson, like fine red wine, and moved to speak his name again; he knew that mouth. Her face was serious and strong yet delicate and smooth; he knew that face.
"Kal, thank Athena you are all right!"
He knew that voice! Oh how he had not heard it in so long. It was sturdy and soft. It was beautiful. It was addicting. He could get lost in it; in her...
A booming roar interrupted his daydream. His vision began to better as the angel turned her head towards the challenge. He saw her now in full view. He saw that she was indeed the woman from his slight daydream; she was in fact the most beautiful of them all. He saw her silver tiara and her silver choker. He saw her red, silver, and blue outfit. He saw the sword and the lasso at her waist.
Was he dreaming? Was he dead and this was heaven? Yes, it had to be, and if he was in heaven, well, then maybe dying was not so bad. For some reason he doubted the reality that she was really in front of him cradling him and looking away as if to protect him. She couldn't be here; she shouldn't! His gaze followed down her arm to her wrists. She was wearing silver bracers, and for some reason, seeing his eyes in those bracers brought the reality of the situation. She was real.
"Di…" He began but she flew off after the challenging roar. He propped himself up with his elbows staring after her. His vision and hearing had nearly fully recovered.
She was charging the creature and it was charging her. They clashed on the shore. She seemed to be wining the whole time. Her poise, her confidence, and her command of the battle was like a rock. She was not reckless, nor did she waver; she was precise. Each blow to the creature, be it the tentacles or head, seemed fore planned and done so with purpose. She next strung her lasso around the creature and out of nowhere she produced a sword and precisely struck with it.
Whoa, did that sword just pop out of her bracelet? Clark thought in bewilderment. Man, I must still be seeing things. I'll have to ask her about that later.
The creature lashed back at Diana in full fury, but she dodged each attack retaliating with multiple counter blows with her magical sword. Tentacle by tentacle began to fall until there was only a head. The creature reared back in pain and began to retreat into the ocean.
Clark sat back and watched it all. His strength had returned for the most part as had he just sat there staring at awe. She was here. Princess Diana of Themyscira or Wonder Woman was here. Why was she here? What was she doing? Wait, what was she doing?!
"Diana!" He shouted bolting in the air after her. His plea was ignored as she plunged her sword repeatedly into the head of the creature. It gave one last wailing cry before becoming still and sinking into the ocean.
Clark crossed his arms as he hovered towards her staring at the creature as it fell deeper into the abyss. The look on his face was of slight disapproval, and even though she was not looking at him, Diana could feel 'slight disapproving' stares in the back of her skull.
"It could have killed you, Kal-El." She responded to his unspoken displeasure staying turned away from him while putting her lasso by her waist. Her sword had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
"It tried, and I know but still. That's not how we do things." Clark said.
"That is not how you do things, and besides it seemed you needed my help." She retorted still facing away. "I could not have let it kill you."
He let the matter drop knowing it would only ensue in an argument that he would most likely lose, but she was right he had needed her help. He had underestimated the creature, and it had been five years since he had had a challenging fight as such.
He wanted to be mad at her because he hated killing, but seeing her up close for the first time in five years he could only smile and hover every so closely behind her. Clark could feel the heat coming off her body. Something inside of him began to nudge at him.
"I'm sorry. You did just save me. Thank you, Diana. It's…it's...good to see you again." He said slightly off as he tried to push down the uncomfortable feeling. It wasn't working; he placed a hand on her shoulder.
She turned to him as he touched her. It was like someone had flipped on a long forgotten switch. As her eyes met his she felt a surge of electricity jolt through her entire body. Her knees weakened; she was sure that if she was not floating she would have fallen.
The sun's rays seemed to dance upon Kal's skin. It playfully poked at every pore of his exposed skin; it was as if was an extension of him. The heat that generated off his body onto hers, it was like she was standing next to Apollo himself. Those beautiful soft blue eyes shone just as bright with that wonderful grin on that perfect chiseled face under that wonderful mess of hair, and is that a beard? He was wearing normal clothes for some reason; they were tattered from the fight. She noticed his chest and abs were slightly exposed.
Oh Hera he was still perfect!
She blushed as she tried not to stare, but his eyes held her gaze. She remembered how it had felt five years ago: how they held each other and comforted each other, and how her lips felt against his. Five years ago…Oh, the elephant in the room!
Clark saw her blush and then her expression change uncomfortably. He knew what she was thinking about. He backed away shoving is own emotions aside sensing the sudden awkwardness between them. He was thinking about the elephant too. He was also thinking why she was here.
"I can't go home." Diana said as if knowing was Clark was thinking again.
"What? Why? You went home the other times."
Diana smiled. She had not stayed in total seclusion on Themyscira for the past five years. Once a month for, two days and night, she would travel back to man's world to patrol and discreetly assist that in need. She couldn't truly ever stay away; it just wasn't in her to do so. She would just bring enough money for a disguise, food, and a hotel. As her silent reoccurrences had went on she had felt a presence watching over her, and eventually, each time when she would wake up in her hotel, she would find a bouquet of flowers with a small note that read: I'm Sorry.
"You know," she began pointing at him. "People here would call that stocking."
Clark laughed at the misuse of her vocabulary. "I believe the word you're looking for is 'stalking."
She narrowed her eyes and pouted her lower lip muttering the word 'English' under her breath.
He grinned harder. "And besides, it's not like you changed your routine any. You came out every four weeks on the same exact day. It's like you wanted someone to take notice." He paused for a second thinking about the flowers and cards. "I just wanted to let you know that I was…am sorry…I, uh, um, look Diana…"
He was stopped as Diana put two fingers on his lips. There it was again: the surge of electricity tingling down her fingers, down her hand, up her arm, down her chest, down her stomach, and to her…She regained focus. "You have apologized enough, Kal." A part of her did not believe the words that came out of her mouth. A part of her felt he needed to win her trust over with more than just flowers and cards, yet a part of her just wanted to fling that trust at him and for things to be what they once were.
"Okay, okay Princess!" he said putting his hands defensively slightly backing away receiving one of her trademark irritated looks. He knew she hated to be called Princess and a many other things as well. "But that still doesn't answer the question why you can't go home."
The smile disappeared from her face as she slightly backed away. "Do you not want me here?"
"No. It's just the way things are now…"
"I just can't go back." She said now holding herself. "There are some things that happened, and some things that I discovered that has forced me to return to this world. I cannot go back to my people, not for awhile at least. No Kal, no argument. You will just have to trust me."
Clark sighed. If there was one person alive in this universe he could even think about trusting, it would be her. "You want to talk about it?"
"In time maybe." Was all she gave. She wanted to change the topic. "I need, uh, need a place to stay for a little while until I find a place of my own suiting."
Clark's face registered complete shock as his mouth fell open and his eyes widened. He scratched his head in confusion as he fumbled for the right words. "I, uh, um well…Oh boy." He didn't wake up thinking this would happen today. "I'm not really sure, but I guess you could stay at the farm."
Diana looked up at him eyebrows raised in question. She was trying not to smile at his bafflement. "With you?"
"Oh, um well, not exactly," He began to babble. "I, uh, sleep there most of the times yes, when I, uh, work on the farm, but really I've leased the farm to these nice people, but I help them out when I'm not off working, except for the house of course, I still have that, and I, uh, well lately, I, uh, um, well have been staying at the fortress tinkering on some things."
"Okay, I shall stay at the fortress." Diana declared.
"Huh? With me? And why there?"
"No, I want to be alone. I need to think about some things. Besides, people would be suspicious if they saw Wonder Woman or Princess Diana going in and out of the Kent farm."
"It's Smallville Diana; I really doubt anyone would see you." He offered.
"You said you leased the place out, right? What if one of the workers saw, or worse, what if someone came up to the house and saw me there?"
"You have a point, I guess, but I don't let just anyone into the fortress."
She raised an eyebrow at that. She had been to his fortress before. Surely she could go there now.
Clark shook his head. Women! Well it was mostly her. "I haven't even really seen you in five years…you could be a different person…I could be a different…Diana, please stop giving me that look…Oh, all right, why do I even bother."
She beamed at him with seemingly innocent gratitude.
Clark sighed closing his eyes and placing a hand on his head to run it through his hair. 30 minutes in five years and she already has you whipped around her finger. What's wrong with you Kent!
He stopped as his ears honed in on a distant noise: Helicopters. He turned and stared in the direction the noise was coming from. "It looks like someone is coming out to investigate." He turned as his ears picked up snaps from cameras. He turned the other way. Curious bystanders and news people were taking pictures and video of him and Diana. She had distracted him so much he had forgotten where they were and what had just taken place. "We should leave now."
"Where are we going?" Diana asked.
"The fortress." He responded taking off to the north.
Diana followed beside him constantly stealing glances at him. She was doing her best not to look over, but noticed again the clothes he was wearing: bland shoes, jeans, and a black t-shirt. They were ripped up badly from the fight.
"What happened to your armor?" She inquired.
"I could say the same about yours." He countered. "You've changed your look."
"That may be, but you are not even wearing any armor." Diana observed.
"I haven't worn it in five years…" He blankly responded continuing to stare ahead as they flew.
"Because Superman took the blame for it all." That was partially true. The main reason he would not say though.
Diana's face registered slight shock as they flew on. "They did that to you?"
"No, I did that to myself."
"WHAT?!" Diana said flabbergasted stopping in mid flight. Clark kept flying. Diana bolted after him in frustration. She struggled to keep up with him as his pace quickened. "Why would you do that?" She shouted after him as they neared the fortress. Her question went unanswered. "Kal-El will you stop?" Still no response as he flew ahead of her towards the fortress.
Clark landed on the front steps ignoring Diana's constant pleas as to why he had took the blame for what had happened in Metropolis five years ago. He smiled at her bickering. He had kind of missed it. He pressed his hand on a console hidden within the ice and ran his fingers along the screen. As Diana came over to him, still bickering, Clark grabbed her hand and placed it on the console.
"What in the name of Zeus are you doing?" She asked.
"I'm getting your DNA into the system so you pass security and can freely roam around the fortress." He responded blankly. His hand was rested on top of hers, it felt right and good, but forced down those sudden feelings. Removing his hand stepped through the opened doorway.
"Hey, I'm not done with you." Diana continued her scolding. "What gives you the right to take the blame for what happened? What happened is on all of us."
"I was the leader." He whipped around now in her face. "It was my responsibility."
"We were a team. It was our responsibility. We agreed that whatever happened we would share responsibility."
"It's my fault."
"It's our fault."
"I started it Diana!" His voice rose. "I hit you, of all people, you, and then I fought with the others."
They were now in the central room of the fortress. Clark walked over to the command console and began pressing random command keys. He kept his face away from hers and towards the console to mask the emotions that were present.
Diana stared after him. She was not sure what to say next. The memories hurt her all so much. It was why she had to be careful, especially around him, but being around him seemed right. She had to keep herself in check for now. She was pretty sure the memories hurt him too.
"Diana," Clark began his voice now soft. "I took responsibility because I could handle it. I took it so the others, the one's that had no choice but to stay around, could continue their good works in a way sort of. They were vulnerable; I'm not. Bruce, Barry, and even Victor have been active in the community in their own ways. I took the blame, all of it, so they didn't have to…so you didn't have to."
"I can't believe they let this happen."
"They didn't know until it was done." He responded continuing to input commands on the console. "There now you are officially in. You should have to access anything you may need while staying here. I'm sure you still remember where everything is at."
"I won't let you take all the blame for this." She said ignoring his change of topic. "I'm just as responsible…"
It was Clark this time that place his fingers on Diana's lips. "No, not this time, and don't argue with me. For once put aside your stubborn and haughty pride," Clark knew that would get him into hot water but he continued nevertheless. "and let me take the blame on this. It's better for everyone, trust me."
There is was again; that word: Trust.
Diana was about to let him have a piece of her mind when she was interrupted by a loud beeping. It came from a small screen watch Kal was wearing on his wrist.
"It's the president. I have to go." He began as he walked towards the fortress entrance. He spoke over Diana's attempts to argue with him over the previous topic. He continued. "No doubt about what happened today. We were seen, and I'm sure we are all over the news. I was stupid to leave that poor creature there in pieces as well."
"I'm sure the UN won't be happy about our appearance either."
"They're still apprehensive about our kind."
"I really need to go handle this by myself." He said before taking off in flight leaving her behind at the fortress.
He had asked her to trust him, and it had pained him to do so. The problem was he wasn't sure he could trust himself. In fact, he had several doubts about himself. They had plagued him for the past five years.
As he flew towards Washington D.C he kept his ears honed in on the fortress. Maybe Diana was thinking the same thing or maybe now. He had been kind of a jerk, but she had pushed a nerve in him. He listened for her response, and finally he got one.
"I'm not finished with you Kal-El." He heard her angry whisper.
No Diana, we are finished. We were finished five years ago.
Emotional pain strained across his face as he continued his way to the White House. He knew Diana had not meant what he was thinking, but he couldn't help but think about it, about them. He had had ruined that and so much more. Deep down inside he truly believed it all was his fault.
AN: Thanks for the reviews.