Betwixt Heaven and Earth

February 01, 2016:

Katar and Shayera reunite in the skies, sorting Past from Present, memory from moment…

Skies Above Metropolis

A shining beacon of light in startling contrast to the dark city across
the bay, Metropolis is very much the City of Tomorrow. With its gleaming
skyscrapers and shining spires, its whole nature is a testament to the
uplifting achievements of humanity, their potential as a species. As long as
Metropolis stands, there's hope, they say, and, in the crisp, clear air
above the city, it's easy to believe that may, in fact, be true.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Sunset.

Metropolis is beautiful this time of day. The skyscrapers gleam in the fading light, occasionally reflecting muriad colours as fingers of sunset fire reach out and touch them as if in farewell. So few down upon the streets would ever get to appreciate the view from way up here. Unobstructed.

Upon the rooftop of one of the taller buildings lies a dusty satchel, and a pile of books on ancient cultures — mainly Egypt. Next to them sits a lunchbox with a half-eaten sandwich, but an empty bottle of wine. Old wine. Very old. A bird circles that building, high in the sky — rich brown feathers, a golden beak, golden armour… for it is not really a bird, but Katar Hol: prince of Thanagar, prince of Egypt, riding the wind on his way back to that high rooftop.

And the sun continues to set.


Everything was beginning to get a little too crowded in the Watchtower. So much so that she nearly yelled at the nearest person to find her a way out of that hell hole and other expletitives that would have made a grown man blush. In fact, it did make him blush, and his eyes watered, fingers were shaking as he ejected her clear into the sky.

It starts with a fall, free of wings and armor, the chill of the wind nearly freezing into her skin, her arms struck out to try to catch a cloud as her eyes close, reveling in the feeling. That terminal drop that would end almost everything..

*SNAP*

Her wings unfurl within an instant sans armor; catching the air which jerks her back up and into position to fly as she would, up.. over and between a building of Metropolis, straight into the air and the waiting sun that slowly sets in preparation to say goodbye. She was going to greet the night with a fierce cry and a shake at the stars. All because she could.


Eyes of a hawk.

That was the common expression on this planet.

Funny. Until now, Carter Hall — Katar Hol — had never thought of Earth as 'this planet', in reference to another. Until now, it had been the ONLY planet, at least the only planet that mattered to him. But he knew better now. He was not human. Still…

Eyes of a hawk.

That is what people said. What they SHOULD have been saying is, 'Eyes of a Thanagarian' — if they only knew — but it didn't have quite the same ring to it. As Katar banks right, wings outstretched fully in glorious freedom, his eyes catch sight of another wing-ed person in his sky. Instantly he knows it is not a bird. There is no mistaking her. And as the failing light again reflects off his armour, he is certain she can see him also.

Katar's wings catch a thermal, propelling him higher into the heavens and he drives himself forward, breaking the sound barrier with an almighty <CRACK!>.


Shayera stops as soon as she clears the essense of a cloud; her wings fanned out into the air as she watches the sunset, the chill suddenly striking her bones which causes the Nth to bleed forth through her skin to armor her bare arms and chest. The mask solidifies, creeping along her cheeks, the pointed ears glinting in the light as she watches the last remains of the sun fade…

..yet she saw him, even as she was mesmerized by the rotation of the Earth to bring the night, even as the first hint of the Northern star twinkles within the distance, she still sees.

Her hand slowly draws to her side, gold, like molten lava pooling upon the surface of her palm to shape and form itself into her mace, kept and gripped tight as arms cross along her chest, feet parting within the air to create a stance of Authority. And her jaw steeles so much that she could feel her teeth shift under pressure.

"Hold.." She says quietly, though she was sure that it couldn't be heard. She intended to be a pillar of will as he approaches to warn him away from this world, but right now she felt like running.


Something shifts inside Katar Hol.

If he had the time to ponder it, he might figure out what it was. For now, however, there is only what his heart knows — even if will take some time for his head to catch up. He hears the voice. It does not so much waft toward him upon the evening breeze as it pierces through the wind like a lance of Nth-metal, striking him in the chest even from so far away.

His jaw sets like granite.

"None may tell the Prince of Egypt — ," or was it Thanagar? " — to hold," he replies haughtily, and in moments, his left arm is clad in the Claws of Horus — his taloned buckler — and his right hand bears a trident. The Prince tucks in his wings and swoops toward Shayera…


His words stung. It stung like a distant memory, far too distant. Over many moons and years ago on the same very soil of this Terra. So very long ago. And for a moment, she thought she was free of those memories, the flashes, becoming fully realized and pushing them back to the point where death was the only option now because you just.. need to start over. And then his weapons drew..

Prince of Egypt..

Her eyes widen slightly as her wings arch dangerously, both hands uncurling from her chest, her mace slowly swung with the easy rotation of her hips, a soft 'humm' spurring the life of the electricy that coats the Nth like a dangerous flame. And she didn't move. She couldn't move. She was ready to fight but.. she couldn't move.

"KATAR HOL!" She snaps out, trying to catch her body up, to fight out the fear and the reluctance of fight.. to.. stand still and take the strikes that come.

Maybe, just maybe.. this endless life would be over. And her arms lift in acceptance, the mace slowly winding to a stop which was returned to the vambrace upon her wrist.


Prince and Priestess meet in the skies above the City of Light.

A thousand memories accompany Katar as he dives toward Shayera, too many memories for him to process. Something felt… right, in attacking. Had they done this before? Danced this dance? It felt like they had. He could picture in his mind the first defense she would use against his intended strike.

Yes.

They had danced this before.

But Shayera had not countered. Surprised, Katar's wings fan out at the last second, buffeting Shayera with air but effectively stopping the Prince dead in his flight path. Another benefit of Nth. And the flight skills of a master.

"Priestess," he tells her, hanging in the sky as day turns to night. "You… I… I don't remember." As his words start like the words of a Prince of Egypt, in command of himself and his surroundings, they finish like the words of an archaeologist who has forgotten his lunch.


He was so close, she could see the trident rise. The anger and look upon his face. Yes. She wanted it all. The first strike that would cut her skin and the impalement of the blades, the prickling pool of blood that would possibly form among the prongs and the last inch of breath there after..

There was a flicker of a memory..

..the flash of Shayera in battle, a nurses uniform tattered and burned as she reaches a hand out for another.. his helmet cracked and damaged, mouth hung open. She shrieking cry of a bomb gone off around them as she just touches the very tips of his finger tips until her own life ends..

And she snaps out. Priestess. Which.. era was that? The one where she loved him first or.. he found her first or.. were they together?

She didn't hide her disappointment well but she does float closer towards him, her hand reaching out to grasp the trident to aim it just below her ribcage. "I do. Some of it." She confesses, as if he knew her all along. But, he did right? Maybe not in this lifetime but he did.

"Most of it. Maybe all of it, I'm not sure.." She shakes her head a touch, her jaw steeling. She knew what it would take for him to fully remember, for everything to fully return to him but she wasn't willing to do it. He was better off this way. He was.. safer. They were safer without each other in the end. "Honor me." She presses hard against the trident, her gaze intent.


"What… madness is this?"

Katar Hol looks agape at the woman he knows — loves, even? — seeing both her, and… a stranger. Her grip upon the trident is like iron, and the colourless fire in her eyes… He blinks as realisation dawns upon him in this moment, wings beating against the air. It is unnecessary — the Nth would keep them both aloft even without their wings — but with each beat of them, Katar wonders what it would be like to enfold them around the woman before him, to draw her to him…

The trident turns to molten gold once more and merges with the warrior's body, as does the buckler on his other arm. He stares at Shayera, shaking his head without realising he is doing it, until there is nothing between them but empty air, and nothing them but the starlight canvas of twilight.

"There is no honour in this," he tells her, not sure from whence the words come. "I am… remembering. Pieces. The change comes upon me more often now, and with it… more. Why? Why would you wish death upon yourself? Shayera…" In part, he thinks he knows. "I will remember more… without you. You know this. There is no holding back the tide; the Sea will come in. It always does…"

How he wishes he could touch her.

Phantoms of memory haunting the present, offering promises he is not sure they can keep.

But if he could just…


There was a near fury that hit her bones but never reached her eyes. Her fingers finally clenching into a fist as the trident dissapates, the claws tapping against the gold as her shoulders slump. There.. was nothing there. Even the gaze that slowly lowers as the rest of his armor disappears, straight down towards his feet and the cloud that he interrupts, her head slowly shaking as she lets out a soft sigh.

"I'm tired, Katar." She says quietly.

"The fighting. The dying. The .. losing you.." Her hand reaches up, and with a flick of the wrist the vambrace disappears into her skin, her fingers grasping her helmet to take that off to hang beneath her arm, her head shaking with a whip left and right, her eyes pressed upon him. "I know this. I know you will remember more. I know that you've already started to without me as I started without you. And even still. I tried to move on. Tried to forget you. To marry someone else. Because I believed that if I lived a life separate from you, you would be safe. You would find someone to love, to grow old.. to have children.." Her wings curl in a sense that she slips closer to him, her head leaning forward to press against the shoulder that was once armored.

"..and you would have never known violence, only love. I wanted that for you."


"You have a strange view of archaeologists if you think they find love, easily," Katar replies in a manner far more indicative of his Carter Hall persona, than a warrior of Thanagar, or prince of Egypt, or detective of 1920s-Chicago, or captain in the first fleet to the Americas… Katar almost smiles. Almost. There is so much he does not understand, and his eyes search Shayera's face for that very same understanding. Any hint. Any clue. Are their lives so truly — so wholly — cursed?

The man's chest heaves, letting out a breath. The winter cold sets in, especially this high in the air, but he shrugs it off. There is something in the weather's bite that suits him, helps him feel alive. For reasons he does not entirely comprehend, the pain of the chill appeals to him.

Katar extends a hand toward Shayera.

"Come," he says gently. "Fly with me."


For once, Shayera laughs, drawing her head away from his shoulder to fly back just a space to get a look at him. "I do not know what they do. I admit." It was easy now, the smile there yet slowly fading, the wind catching her hair just right, her clawed grip shuffling the few strands from her face as she turns to take chance of the sky. Even though it was cold, it was beautiful. The snow below created a white landscape filled with sparkling lights from the passerbys in their cars and the lights from the buildings and beyond.

His request was met with a slow gaze, her eyes searching his, then down towards his hand as she turns, her own reaching out to gently place her hand into his own.

"Where?"


Katar's hand encloses about Shayera's, just firm enough to convey his confidence — even if his eyes betray his surprise. For an instant, he sees her with the eyes of a thousand lives, all different at the same time, but it is Katar's eyes that win out in the end. Katar's and Carter's. He shifts his grip slightly and with a beat of his wings rises higher into the winter sky. Black above. White below.

And the two of them caught in the grey betwixt them.

"Anywhere," he replies. "There are memories, voices, in my head that tell me these skies once belonged to us. But my heart tells me… that we rather belong to the sky. That is all that matters to me, right now, Shayera. Whatever we do or do not remember — wherever those memories may or may not take us…"

His wings propel them both on a swift course in no particular direction.

"We will always have the sky."


The touch alone draws a faint memory. Their hands joined together upon a balcony, coated bronze with the birth of new colors, his headdress an effigy of the times as her own glittering jewels line her neck, the fine silk draped and tickling her bare feet. She could smell the sand in that instant, the sand and the oceans mingling together, the sound of horses whinnying below, a loud laughter from Katar as she says something sly that tosses his head back in a fit.

And her smile, it was wide. The grin felt deep as that grin fades into the now, her head whipping away to take her sights from him to focus on the direction of which he pulls her.

"Sometimes, Katar. The sky isn't enough." Shayera admits.

"There is still that struggle within'. The struggle to become fully realized that you're fighting against. Your heart tells you that we will always have the sky.. but do you know why?" Her grasp falls from him as she pushes hard, her wings a furious beat as she stops his path by interjecting with a stance in front of him, both hands out to grasp upon his shoulders, her jaw tensing.

"You are Katar Hol. Prince of Egypt. You are also Carter Hall. Archaeologist of the old worlds. Have you, both of you accepted this reunion.. I could feel the inner battle within your grasp."


Katar/Carter gives Shayera a look.

It says, 'Why can't I just have this moment? Why can't I worry about whom I choose to be… another night?' But it also says, 'You're right, and I can't argue with that.' The warrior-born takes a deep breath and lets it out, forming a cloud of vapor that the wind quickly steals away.

Like his momentary joy.

He lowers his gaze for a while, hovering in the air with Shayera's hands upon his shoulders. Slowly, he raises his face and his arms at the same time, placing his own hands upon her shoulders as well, letting their arms touch as he looks into her eyes. The second his fingers connect with her skin, they settle into the kind of gentle but firm grasp of one who knows every contour of that body.

"I can feel the battle in you as well," he tells her simply. "You're right. What are the heavens without the earth? You do not want Katar and Carter to become one, so how can you be one with yourself? I… want to remember, Shayera. There are memories crying in the depths to be released, to see the sky. Carter — I — he… I am also afraid."

How THAT grates against him. No warrior would admit it, but a simple archaeologist? He sighs. "Are not battles fought better, side by side? Should we not face THIS one… together?"


A chill stills the moment of hardness, allowing the frown to cover her lips as she gives a slight shake of her head. "My battle is with our home. Who we have become as a people." But that was something to remark on later. The hand draws from his shoulder to press against his cheek, that loving look nearly there but it fades almost instantly. He was afraid. That was something that took more courage than she's ever had to admit.

And she would never admit something so serious.

Which is mightily funny, she tried to get him to kill her.

"Yes. They are." She finalizes, drawing in close as her wings would allow, her arms encircling his neck as they suddenly vanish, leaving him the one with the flight capabilities and her to lean on him as a show of togetherness. Trust. Familiarity. Was it.. love?

"Nearly one hundred years ago.." She starts, ".. or somewhere in that time.. I remember a ship. A vessel that carried us to these new lands…" Her words drifted off, even though they were quiet. She wanted to gently coax him into finishing -their- story..


Katar's arms fold around Shayera, drawing her close to him in an embrace as strong as it is warm. He would not let her go. Not even if the very elements turned against them. As his wings fold down and around both his body and hers, he places one hand gently behind her head, and the other across her back.

Was he smiling?

Was that? — surely not. He was.

He hesitates for a moment as she gives voice to this particular memory, but only for a moment. Leaning his head forward slightly he replies: "It was called the Anna-Maria. The captain named it for his lost wife — I know, because you asked him about it. That was a life in which we found each other… before either of us remembered who we truly were. The Past fascinated you. It…it… terrified me."

Ah, how those words grate against him now. Part of him balks against such a confession — while the other part of him welcomes it. What is a quest for truth worth if one cannot look it in the eye, speak its name, embrace it for its beauty and rob it of its power?

"It was a good life, that one," he murmurs into her hair.


He probably couldn't see it. Her own smile. The way her eyes close as she recounts that brief memory. He speaks the words and she sees it happen, and the tightness at which she grasps him alludes him to that fact. "It was." Shayera softly admits, feeling the warmth there in that moment, her head lilting just a touch to the side so that she could keep the side of his cheek within her gaze. Her own looked nearly vacant. The memory fading of that life. As he said there were bits and pieces.. but there was one..

"..There was this small chest. Something that I could hold in my hand. Something you brought from.." She couldn't remember. "But you said that you made it with your own hands. And it was something that you've never shown anyone." She was careful with her next words. It could have been a dream, a memory. Or perhaps wishful thinking, but the words came forth as if a song was song from her lips to the cosmos.

"Inside of it was a necklace. Carved upon that necklace was a hawk.. and inside.."


"It was yew," Katar replies. "Yew wood — the chest. From England." He utters a chuckle as his embrace around Shayera tightens. By now, should anyone be able to see them, they would likely only see an angel with his wings folded around something. Or someone. "In Celtic lore, yew is meant to possess magical properties," he continues, speaking more in the tone of voice and words that Carter Hall, Archaeologist, would use. It's the 'patriarch of long-lasting woods', representing a gateway into eternity. Paradise everlasting."

Suddenly, tears form in the warrior's eyes, and shielded by his wings they fall into Shayera's hair. "You told me that. I just carved it." He frowns a moment later, pondering his next answer. The hawk necklace. The wind bites at his skin and his wings again, colder now that the night has fully set in. The 'time between times' has all but passed.

Something new has begun.

Quietly, Katar takes his hand away from behind Shayera's head, and moves to his belt. From a pouch within it, he withdraws… the hawk-necklace and holds it up. "I have had this for longer than I can remember — of this life, I mean. I never knew until now, how I came by it — but you must have given it to me." He smiles, looking at the hawk-image etched into the silver locket.

"Inside… is a tiny plait of hair — yours and mine, from our first incarnation. I know that now. I… couldn't remember before." And he holds it out to her. "It's yours, my Beloved Shayera. Imi-Ib."


"Yew.." Shayera echoes, drawing her head back towards the sky, minding the tightness at which he holds her but the memories were returning. When she first presented him with the stump of wood, how he settled down to listen to her speak, fingers tracing along the smooth bark from which it was sheared by an axe.. who.. held that axe..

Her head drops yet again to rest upon his shoulder, her hand drawing little circles around the angle of his jaw, towards his cheekbone, the tear that fell into her hair left a bit of a trail that she could feel upon her fingers. And she wouldn't dare dismiss it by claiming it was morning dew or prespiration from the cloud.

As he moves his hand, this gives her free range to look and watch, her lips curling into a frown. He.. he found it? Or has he had it all along, she jerked slightly at the realization of it, both arms curling from around him to grasp at the locket..

His words, they brought a fire to her heart as her own tears began to form. Whilst she would mock anyone and call their shared moments like this foolhardy situations for the cunts of the land.. she melts. "Carter.." She manages to squeeze out, in that little moment, where one would be surely convinced that the stars have aligned and the fates began to sing to the heavens, she kisses him. With her entire selves that span across the ages.

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