- Puzzle Of Misfits – Episode 1 – Adrift
- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Dark Themes
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- No Beta
- Fix It
Metropolis is slowly being rebuilt. Hernan helps with the efforts during the day and pours obsessively through the Kryptonian files Luthor has left him during the nights. Kirk is somewhere in the wreck that is their tower and Bekka has been gone for a week.
Everything feels out of alignment and Hernan doesn’t understand if it’s because everything has indeed changed or because the Justice League has lost its heart to Bekka’s past.
Kirk has loved only one woman in his life and he’s lost her long before he knew he could have her. He’s pretty sure love is not something he can feel ever again, not when his desire to heal has turned him into a monster and his closest friend in an even bigger monster that he could ever be, but he can’t deny that he misses Bekka like a lost limb.
He and Bekka have never interacted much, not like her and Hernan anyway, but Kirk was used to her unwavering and kind presence in the tower. He and Hernan may have known each other the longest, but it hadn’t been until Bekka had joined their tower of misfits, that everything had clicked into place. And now… now that carefully handled balance is gone, probably forever.
Finally, the public is starting to accept them, but Hernan feels lonelier than ever. Kirk is still hiding in his lab, doing God only knows what.
Then one night Hernan comes across an interesting file on Kryptonian biology.
“I’m not a biochemist, but this could help you, am I right?”
Kirk’s eyes are still transfixed by the data on the tablet, but his body is unnaturally still, like when he’s in the field, waiting for his prey to show. Hernan knows him, knows what this means. He was right.
“Kirk?” Hernan prompts when Kirk’s stillness lingers.
Kirk blinks and then looks at him with his unnatural eyes, so familiar and reassuring to Hernan.
“It could. I need to run a few experiments, though.”
Of course he does, Hernan thinks dryly, but for the first time since Bekka left, he feels warm inside.
It takes more than Hernan expected. Despite the fact that Kirk is now impervious to almost anything beside his own tumor, he seems overly cautious. It bugs Hernan for days, but Kirk is completely taken by this new venue and won’t be distracted.
And he has to contact Trevor to find more about the Fair Play Project. Fun times.
Trevor – and whoever he’s taking orders from, but Hernan suspects it goes straight up to the president this time – is not happy with his line of questioning. Hernan is not known to be a patient man.
“I’m afraid I wasn’t clear, Trevor.” Hernan almost snarls fifteen minutes into the third video call he had to make that day to get some results, “I’m not asking. I’m demanding. I want everything on that project. Right now.”
“Right now, Trevor. Otherwise, I’ll call Ms. Lane. She’s very helpful when she’s on your side.”
Trevor’s face takes a satisfactory shade of red.
“You wouldn’t! After everything she said about you all over the years-”
“It’s amazing what a favorable public opinion gets you, Trevor. And don’t forget who the public is loving now.”
Hernan might not be his father, but sometimes it’s so good to behave like a bad guy on the right side and get away with it.
They get everything they ask for and Kirk disappears again in his lab. Hernan shakes his head and goes back to his own lab. The Kryptonian files are put aside and Hernan focuses on the plan the government concocted to kill them all. He should have asked for that information as soon as the dust had settled, as soon as Bekka had left.
He shakes his head again. Unconsciously he still feels invincible, but he’s not. He should remember that.
Bekka has been gone for almost five months now and still Hernan expects her to come and drag him out of the lab to talk or spar.
His heart still doesn’t believe she’s gone.
Hernan stops in his tracks and focuses on his hearing. A muffled curse. The second one in less than a minute if he heard correctly. His hands tighten behind his back and he sighs. It’s never good when Kirk curses.
With a fortifying breath, he enters Kirk’s lab, only to be met by a mess of glass and various liquids on the floor. It seems as if a hurricane has gone through the place. Even the photo of Tina, Will and Kirk that has survived Magnus’ ugly betrayal hasn’t come out unscathed from this show of furious helplessness from Kirk.
The man himself is sitting on the floor, slouched against a cabinet, head in his hands.
“What is it?”
Kirk doesn’t move. He mutters something against his hands, but even Hernan can’t make out what it is.
“Kirk.” he huffs in fond exasperation.
Kirk’s crow-black hair shines for a moment under the unflattering lights of the lab when he tilts up his head and those pale eyes fix on him.
“It won’t work.” he exhales and looks away.
Hernan feels suddenly unmoored, separated from reality. He’d known since the beginning of their friendship that, somewhere down the line, he would lose Kirk, but it had never felt so real until now. Until now, there had been hope for a cure, for a new discovery. But this… this seemed it. Now Hernan knows there won’t be other options, other chances.
He has lost Bekka, and now he is going to lose even Kirk.
Irrational hate against his father, himself, the universe itself, rears its ugly head. Why had Zod created him, just to abandon him on a planet where the only people he fits with are going to leave him?
He takes a deep breath and tries to get back his rationality.
“Are you sure?” he asks Kirk. “A week ago you were sure my blood would cure you.”
Kirk lets out a disbelieving chuckle, full of bitterness and lost opportunities.
“A week ago I didn’t know your blood deteriorates as soon as it is out of your body!”
For a moment Hernan’s brain freezes, then it catches up with Kirk’s words and Hernan wants to hit him. It takes all his power of will not to fall into temptation.
“Are you kidding me?” he hisses instead.
Kirk, still seated on the floor like a petulant child, just looks at him, uncomprehending. Yes, Kirk’s fucking serious, it seems. Hernan is going to throw him out of the nearest window, he doesn’t care if the glass is proofed against everyone and everything.
“I said, are you kidding me, Kirk?”
This time Kirk’s eyes look more alert and the man tenses. Good, he must have realized Hernan is furious. But it doesn’t seem to get it yet and Hernan sighs, the anger suddenly going out of him like air out of a burst balloon.
“When is the last time you slept, Kirk?” he asks, finally giving in. “I swear you are not so dim usually. Here is a hint for you: you are a freaking vampire. I’m sure you can connect the dots.”
Kirk doesn’t like it. Of course he doesn’t. Hernan is not exactly thrilled either, but he’s not letting a friend die just because he’s a bit grossed out that he’s going to be someone’s food.
He thinks he understands why Kirk is against it. Kirk has never accepted what his and Magnus’ “cure” had made him into, and no wonder. He’s resisted for so long, that when Hernan had found him, Kirk had almost starved to death. Hernan had coaxed him back to life, obtaining blood bags from the Trevor of that time, a government lackey who passed along the President’s orders (or “requests”, as the man liked to call them. At the time the US administration didn’t want to officialize the use of an illegally immigrant super-powered alien).
At first Kirk wouldn’t feed if Hernan was looking at him. It took time to made him accept that blood was just a way for him to stay alive, that no one was hurt, that it wasn’t more abnormal than shooting laser beams through the eyes.
With feeding came an improvement of his body’s condition and Kirk found out his new endurance and strength. When finally Kirk decided to accompany Hernan in his missions-that-weren’t-missions, biting slowly became a way to defend himself. And sometimes feed, now that Kirk could accept it.
But that didn’t mean he could accept feeding from a friend. Friends aren’t food. Hernan can’t disagree with that, but in the great scheme of things, what was a bit of blood sucked out of his body compared to the life of his closest friend?
Now, how to convince Kirk of that?
Hernan could count on the fingers of one hand the time he and Kirk had argued so viciously. Oh, not to say they didn’t argue because they did, but their arguments were usually like disagreements, where people have different opinions but keep their cool heads and find clever but petty ways not to outright insult each other.
This… this is a screaming argument and it is ugly.
Hernan feels ugly when he loses control like that.
“You can’t force me!” Kirk snarls, eyes wild, almost feral. Now more than ever it’s clear he’s not human anymore.
Hernan would like to incinerate him on the spot. Panic is warring with rage inside his body. What will he do if he can’t make Kirk change his mind? What, what will he do?
How will he cope with no Kirk, no Bekka?
“I can’t lose you too!” the truth forces his way out through the panic. It’s a deafening shout, that leaves in its wake only harsh breathing and raw pain.
Hernan looks from Kirk’s startled, gorgeous eyes, to the hands that have broken the chair he was gripping in a thousand pieces.
“It’s only blood, Kirk.” he says in the quiet of the room. “Just take it.”
Kirk looks at him, face completely blank. Then, after a few moments, or a few lifetimes, Hernan can’t say, Kirk nods.
“Okay, Hernan, okay.”
Obviously, it’s not so simple. Well, persuading Kirk wasn’t simple, but the next obstacle isn’t easy either: Hernan’s body.
“At first the idea was to hit you with the weapons built for Fair Play. To keep your body weak long enough for me to feed, though, we have to hit you a few times and that would debilitate your body too much. That, combined with my feeding… it’s not a good idea.”
“What do you mean?” Hernan frowns.
“It would leave you vulnerable for too long. I don’t like it.”
Hernan nods. They have defeated their latest foe, but by too narrow a margin and now they are a member short. They can’t afford to be caught unaware.
“I’ll come up with something.”
In a way, they are lucky that the whole clusterfuck of Project Fair Play happened because, otherwise, Luthor wouldn’t have given them those files and the government wouldn’t have hired those scientists for the project. And who knows when one of them would have thought about using Hernan’s blood and found a way to retrieve it in the first place?
Kirk says he should have thought of that, but even Hernan should have. It seems so obvious now.
But they are lucky. After years and years of trials and experiments, Kirk’s body is surely succumbing to the tumor. They have no more time to lose, but they finally have a way to try.
The drink tastes something awful and Hernan grimaces. The smell isn’t much better and Kirk quirks his lips in sympathy. Hernan isn’t fooled and wipes his mouth with a hand. He unceremoniously puts the glass on the small table beside the couch where he’s seated.
“Doctor Simms and I will try to make it taste better, I swear,” Kirk says, before flopping down beside him. “How do you feel?”
Hernan frowns and takes stock of his body. He feels normal, he believes, he feels… he feels something different. He tries to focus on it, but he can’t and he leans down fully against the couch. He looks up at the ceiling. The room tilts for a moment.
“Fine. But a bit… dizzy, I think?” he wonders out loud. “I’ve never experienced something like this before.”
Hernan shakes his head, but that just makes the room spin more.
“No.” he says then.
“Okay, good. What about cramps? Headache? Pain anywhere?”
“No, no, I feel fine.” Hernan reassures. “Just… the room is spinning.”
“A lot?” Kirk asks urgently.
“No… only a bit. I feel like I’m floating.” he says, turning his head.
Kirk has an oddly warm expression on his face, something Hernan doesn’t believe he’s ever seen before. It’s lovely.
“Okay, the effect should last at least twenty minutes, but it will start fading ten minutes from now.”
Then silence. Hernan keeps looking at Kirk and Kirk keeps giving him this weirdly affectionate stare. Hernan loses himself in it for a while, until he notices that the other man’s hands are fidgeting.
“What?” he mutters.
Kirk shakes his head and Hernan sighs. The dizziness is improving, but there’s something missing, he knows-
And then it clicks.
“Come here.” he huffs and sprawls more comfortably on the couch, half seated and half lying down. Kirk’s eyes widen and his skin becomes pinker. Hernan finds it hilarious and chuckles.
“Come on, Kirk, let’s see if your atrocious drink worked. It better did.”
Kirk waits a moment more, then he moves. He’s slow, almost hesitant, and Hernan frowns until Kirk looms over him and he understands. God, this is going to be uncomfortable, but it’s nothing compared to everything he’s willing to do for his friend. He turns his neck, tilts his head and waits.
First, he senses Kirk’s hand at the side of his face, and the other on his shoulder, then a knee on his right side and one between his legs. He takes a deep breath until Kirk’s breath tickles against the skin of his neck. Hernan tries not to shiver.
Kirk’s quiet voice is uncomfortably intimate and Hernan feels like they are the only two beings in the whole universe, enclosed in a room too small. Hernan feels imprisoned and excitingly free. The room spins faster until teeth pierce his skin, and the room fades away.
He feels energized and drained at the same time. Powerless and extremely powerful. Without realizing it, his hands grab Kirk’s shoulders, hard. Kirk keeps sucking. Time floats away. He floats away.
It’s the most peaceful Hernan has felt in all his life.
His hands tighten their hold on Kirk, then fall away. He doesn’t notice it. He doesn’t notice anything for a while.
When he comes to, he’s not lying on the couch anymore, but in Kirk’s lab. He blinks his eyes a few times, while a machine changes its beeping rhythm. Kirk’s face appears in Hernan’s line of vision, skin tightened around the eyes and expression tense.
“How do you feel, Hernan?”
Hernan blinks his eyes again and sits up. Nothing in the room moves, aside from Kirk who looks even more worried.
“Good. How about you?”
Kirk purses his lips.
“Me? You are the one who went into la-la land.”
Kirk takes an aborted step forward, as if unsure if he should enter into Hernan’s space or not. It’s ridiculous.
“Do you remember what happened?” Kirk asks and Hernan focuses on the question.
“You gave me that thing to drink and then fed from me.”
Kirk winces minutely at the world ‘fed’, but that is exactly what happened. Hernan won’t let Kirk skirt from a truth he must accept.
The other man nods.
“And then-” Hernan starts, then stops. What he remembers are not facts, but sensations, emotions… the most wonderful sense of contentment he’s ever felt. He doesn’t know if he can say it out loud even if Kirk is his friend. Something in him is reluctant.
“What?” Kirk prompts urgently. “What, Hernan?”
Hernan shakes his head. Even now those feelings are powerful.
“It felt like a trance.” he says and that is completely true, “Nothing bad, just peaceful.” he adds hastily when Kirk seems about to object.
“How do you feel?” Hernan asks, trying to steer the conversation in a safer direction. After all, how he feels is not the most important matter here.
Kirk sighs and passes a hand through his hair, in one of the most human gesture Hernan he’s seen from the man.
“Amazingly. Your blood works wonders.”
A smile threatens to blossom on Hernan’s face, but he suppresses it. His face is not for smiling, he knows.
“Are you sure? Does this mean we are on the right track?” he asks, barely hiding his eagerness.
Kirk quirks a smile.
“We are, my friend.” he nods, smiling fully now. “It appears we really are.”
Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Hernan manages to convince Kirk that his falling into “trances” is not a problem, but even Hernan’s blood stops working after a while. In twenty-four hours it kills off the tumor completely, but once it dissipates the tumor starts growing back, slower than before, but still there.
Yes, it’s a bit disappointing, but Hernan doesn’t understand Kirk’s sudden return to despair.
“I don’t understand,” Hernan says to the other man’s back, “it’s not like I’m going anywhere.”
Kirk turns and there’s something raw in his expression, something open and a step away from breaking.
“Are you sure?”
Hernan frowns. He doesn’t understand Kirk’s doubts. What does he believe Hernan was going to do after everything they’d done until now, after everything they’d fought for?
“Of course.” he says, instead of voicing his own fears.
It takes a while and many other tries. The drink that lets Kirk feed from him has to be perfected until the effect is weaker but more lasting. While Hernan doesn’t mind being out of it in front of Kirk, that is not something they can afford. It takes almost an entire month and the drink changes many times. What doesn’t change is its fouling taste and smell and the way the feeding happens. As much as Hernan doesn’t mind, Kirk tries to find other locations, other positions where he can feed from him, but, in the end, the couch and lying down is the best option. Hernan’s body is not under the stress of keeping itself upright and there’s space enough for two, without becoming too intimate.
But that is a lie.
Oh sure, a bed would be worse, more intimate, more hinting to something else, but the couch is bad enough.
The couch is bad because once Kirk lies on him and starts feeding, it’s the most intimate act Hernan has ever participated in. Hernan can’t lie to himself about it. There’s still a strange sense of detachment to the whole thing, like Kirk is not feeding from his body, but just sucking on him. But the drug Kirk has perfected doesn’t make him float away anymore. Hernan is there and feeling all of it.
Hernan likes it.
He likes the peacefulness, the sense of well-being, the contentment. He likes the feeling of a body atop his, keeping him still, but not imprisoned.
He likes the idea that he’s keeping Kirk alive with his body, that he is the only one able to do this.
Hernan likes all of it, and he’s not sure he’s ready to face what that means.
For his part, after the first time, Kirk is unreadable. He looks at Hernan with impassive eyes before lying on top of him, touches him the less he can and doesn’t linger when he’s done.
It’s as impersonal as someone can make it and Hernan knows it’s all an act, but what this act hides, he doesn’t know, and for the first time in his life, he feels like he’s on precarious balance with his longtime friend. A leaf could shatter their house of glass and Hernan doesn’t want to be the one to tip the balance.
Their strange balance goes on for weeks. Kirk feeds from him in the middle of the afternoon once every two days without fail and Hernan doesn’t object. It’s too early to say, but the tests Kirk performs seem to hint the tumor is slowly losing speed in growing, but so far they have no conclusive data.
Then Earth is invaded and their routine is shattered.
It takes them a whole month to stop and push them back. Hernan is the only heavy hitter the Earth has and he feels Bekka’s absence keenly. Not that Kirk is a slouch in fighting, but Batman has more of a stealthy hit-and-run approach.
They barely have time to stop and Kirk’s feeding routine is soon disregarded. Hernan lets Kirk feed when they have a few hours to spare, when they are sure to have that kind of time window. It doesn’t happen often, nor regularly. They do it wherever they can and there’s something desperate now when Kirk clutches at Hernan’s uniform and bites him. His sucking is more forceful, more frantic, like Kirk can’t bear to let Hernan go once he’s holding him.
On his part, Hernan finds Kirk’s hold, his feeding, his hands grasping his body, reassuring, a proof they’re still here, that they haven’t lost yet. It’s a reaffirmation of life and the security of a partner.
They both don’t mention when Kirk starts lingering after feeding, leaning his head against Hernan’s neck for a few moments before pulling away.
Once Earth is saved and they go home, it takes them only five hours to understand something has changed. They are out of sync. Hernan can’t find a comfortable position, Kirk can’t find a way to get near him without pushing or hitting a part of him. They are skittish like they haven’t done this hundreds of time now. They are ridiculous and Hernan huffs in tired amusement. Then he takes Kirk’s shoulders and leads his friend down where he wants him. The position is more intimate than usual, Kirk’s body lying perfectly aligned against him, chest to chest, legs to legs.
Hernan is suddenly aware that maybe he hasn’t made the smartest decision and opens his mouth, but, before he can say anything, a tongue flickers on his neck and Hernan shudders. The moment after is embarrassing because Kirk must have felt that and-
He feels a delicate kiss on his neck and then teeth sink into his skin. Hernan lets it go and relaxes on the couch, but his mind is taking him somewhere he’s never thought he would go. Not with anyone. Not with Kirk.
But hasn’t this been a long time coming?
Later Kirk doesn’t even pretend to move, just lies on top of Hernan as it’s the most natural thing in the world. Hernan’s arms slowly embrace him and Kirk just relaxes more against him.
Hernan’s eyes are looking at the ceiling, but they aren’t seeing anything.
This is what peace feels like.
“Do we-” Kirk starts him out of the moment. Hernan glances down, but Kirk is resolutely looking at Hernan’s chest. “Is there anything we need to talk about?”
Hernan squeezes Kirk for a moment.
“No, I don’t think so.” he says.
There’s an unspoken understanding between them, something they don’t need to talk about because they both know each other.
They both know there’s a missing piece that completes them. It’s that piece that they are still waiting for, in this dance that has begun when their more human heart has gone away.
But Bekka will be back one day. They are both sure of it.