Calling an Ex is Never Simple

July 19, 2017:

Kyle Rayner probably should have told his girlfriend that he was meeting secretly with an ex-girlfriend, if even for a good cause

Characters

NPCs: Soranik Natu

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Since the coming of the Red Lanterns, Kyle Rayner has been a busy, busy, busy little bee. He's had only mere hours, here and there, to spend with Starfire in between being rushed off to meet with the Guardians, then sent out on tasks, then search patterns for Power Girl. The busy life of a Green Lantern being what it is, he's sent regular checks back to the Tamaranean, and the apologies for having to push from one location to the next are beginning to stack up.

"I'm sorry, this is getting crazy. I'll explain everything soon. I promise."

But this next trip? This one…isn't one he's checked with the Guardians about, first.

Finding success on his search pattern, he's found Power Girl's rage keeping her body in a living state. The ring has replaced the function of her heart with the ring itself, and one carfully suggested hint by Bleez later, and Kyle has a need to find a proper surgeon to remove the ring…should Power Girl wish it.

There's one surgeon Kyle trusts above all: Soranik Natu, leader of the Sinestro Corps.

The same Sinestro Corps that are the enemies of the Green Lanterns.

This mission…is off the record.

Kyle flies off to a point in space not far from Soranik's last known location and drops a beacon. The tennis-ball sized relay beams his message for Soranik, encrypted with their old passcode of 'nebula', deep into space. It's a simple message, once past the encryption code….

«NEED TO TALK. URGENT. NEED YOUR HELP. PLEASE COME TO THE OLD MEETING PLACE WITH THE ROCKS.»

Two hours later, Kyle is sitting by his lonesome in a slowly turning asteroid field. Reclining on a rock, he faces the planetary body the field rotates around, watching the blue and yellow swirling clouds in the planet's toxic atmosphere. Fingers folded atop his belly, he leans his head back against the rock and sighs towards the planet before him.

*

After Kyle left, Soranik closed her eyes and touched fingertips to her lips where his lingering kiss of four heartbeats had lingered…

Now: Soranik stands within her chambers, overlooking Warworld in a pacification (of the emotions), as those within the cityscape below mill about and live their lives…

Within the citadel and the palace walls the warriors on duty plan, a cosmological map laid before them in a screen of black on yellow that projects in 3D.
"…They will come to us for safe harbor… Their world has been ravaged and their fear eminates…"

Much like when she passed by that mining planet….

The Beacon: 'Nebula' at first batters along lines of static that crackle and then shriek like a disconnected hearing-aid that has Soranik cringing before she flicks to the encrypted channel in time to hear the call come through.

"… I hope you can wait until late… " A whisper to herself as she leaves it blinking - that beacon - as if unheard (though unresponded to).

But once every shift passes, the city settles, and the night is omnipresent, Soranik steps to her balcony over the streets below and with a look to the stars and the mapped galaxy she needs to head towards she is lifting lightly, no trail until she breaks atmosphere and is speeding through the cosmos towards the asteroid field and its path.

The landing within the sector is silent, Soranik's approach similar to her departure of the planet that bears the Yellow Lantern's, formerly Sinestro Corps. Floating as if no throttle is pressed, Soranik is passing through asteroids, a weave and bob as well as a pressure of palm to a tiny scrap of space, permits her to land several yards from Kyle, watching him with a darker gaze then the red pigment of facadewhile clouds split around her as if the yellow had formed the unform she wears, now.

Yellow.

*

The wait is long; long past the point of worry where nervousness settles in. Would the message be intercepted? Would the wrong people, even members of the Sinestro Corps, come to collect him? Hours upon hours of theorizing turns to exhaustion.

He's lucky he packed a lunch.

When Soranik arrives, Kyle's eyes were just beginning to lull closed for a nap when the silhouette of black and yellow casts movement through the rocks. He blinks his all-white eyes through his sleepiness, blinking hard to make sure what he's seeing is true.

She wears Yellow. Still. It's no dream he's ever had of her.

"Hey."

The words whisper out quietly across the distance, as if prying eyes would hear. There's a softness in them, an awkward slow dance of 'how do we do this, again?', delivered with the same frictioness force that lifts his back from the asteroid to his full height.

He rises like Nosferatu, floating upwards as if a board against his back has been lifted. An old, favorite method of his.

Kyle looks over her shoulders, scanning for movement as he steps forward. His fingers come together and flatten against the digits, pressing tension into his hands at the points where finger meets palm.

"I know it's probably sooner than you would have liked, but I've got a serious problem and I didn't know anyone else better to turn to about it." Kyle swallows and looks to her eyes, coming to a stop. Even through the all-white eyes hidden behind a metallic-appearing mask, trouble can be seen. "Thanks for coming." Kyle smiles, weakly. "I swear…I'm not trying to pack on IOUs, Sora."

Kyle quiets, staring at her face. Anywhere but the Sinestro Corps symbol on her uniform.

"It might save someone's life."

*

Starfire has gotten the sparce communications, the rants, the ramble, and in turn she gave back nothing but a Heart Shaped Box.
Hey!
Wait!
I've got a new complaint..
Forever in debt to your priceless advice..!

*

Since the coming of the Red Lanterns, Kyle Rayner has been a busy, busy, busy little bee. He's had only mere hours, here and there, to spend with Starfire in between being rushed off to meet with the Guardians, then sent out on tasks, then search patterns for Power Girl. The busy life of a Green Lantern being what it is, he's sent regular checks back to the Tamaranean, and the apologies for having to push from one location to the next are beginning to stack up.

"I'm sorry, this is getting crazy. I'll explain everything soon. I promise."

But this next trip? This one…isn't one he's checked with the Guardians about, first.

Finding success on his search pattern, he's found Power Girl's rage keeping her body in a living state. The ring has replaced the function of her heart with the ring itself, and one carfully suggested hint by Bleez later, and Kyle has a need to find a proper surgeon to remove the ring…should Power Girl wish it.

There's one surgeon Kyle trusts above all: Soranik Natu, leader of the Sinestro Corps.

The same Sinestro Corps that are the enemies of the Green Lanterns.

This mission…is off the record.

Kyle flies off to a point in space not far from Soranik's last known location and drops a beacon. The tennis-ball sized relay beams his message for Soranik, encrypted with their old passcode of 'nebula', deep into space. It's a simple message, once past the encryption code….

«NEED TO TALK. URGENT. NEED YOUR HELP. PLEASE COME TO THE OLD MEETING PLACE WITH THE ROCKS.»

Two hours later, Kyle is sitting by his lonesome in a slowly turning asteroid field. Reclining on a rock, he faces the planetary body the field rotates around, watching the blue and yellow swirling clouds in the planet's toxic atmosphere. Fingers folded atop his belly, he leans his head back against the rock and sighs towards the planet before him.

*

After Kyle left, Soranik closed her eyes and touched fingertips to her lips where his lingering kiss of four heartbeats had lingered…

Now: Soranik stands within her chambers, overlooking Warworld in a pacification (of the emotions), as those within the cityscape below mill about and live their lives…

Within the citadel and the palace walls the warriors on duty plan, a cosmological map laid before them in a screen of black on yellow that projects in 3D.
"…They will come to us for safe harbor… Their world has been ravaged and their fear eminates…"

Much like when she passed by that mining planet….

The Beacon: 'Nebula' at first batters along lines of static that crackle and then shriek like a disconnected hearing-aid that has Soranik cringing before she flicks to the encrypted channel in time to hear the call come through.

"… I hope you can wait until late… " A whisper to herself as she leaves it blinking - that beacon - as if unheard (though unresponded to).

But once every shift passes, the city settles, and the night is omnipresent, Soranik steps to her balcony over the streets below and with a look to the stars and the mapped galaxy she needs to head towards she is lifting lightly, no trail until she breaks atmosphere and is speeding through the cosmos towards the asteroid field and its path.

The landing within the sector is silent, Soranik's approach similar to her departure of the planet that bears the Yellow Lantern's, formerly Sinestro Corps. Floating as if no throttle is pressed, Soranik is passing through asteroids, a weave and bob as well as a pressure of palm to a tiny scrap of space, permits her to land several yards from Kyle, watching him with a darker gaze then the red pigment of facade while clouds split around her as if the yellow had formed the uniform she wears, now.

Yellow.

*

The wait is long; long past the point of worry where nervousness settles in. Would the message be intercepted? Would the wrong people, even members of the Sinestro Corps, come to collect him? Hours upon hours of theorizing turns to exhaustion.

He's lucky he packed a lunch.

When Soranik arrives, Kyle's eyes were just beginning to lull closed for a nap when the silhouette of black and yellow casts movement through the rocks. He blinks his all-white eyes through his sleepiness, blinking hard to make sure what he's seeing is true.

She wears Yellow. Still. It's no dream he's ever had of her.

"Hey."

The words whisper out quietly across the distance, as if prying eyes would hear. There's a softness in them, an awkward slow dance of 'how do we do this, again?', delivered with the same frictionless force that lifts his back from the asteroid to his full height.

He rises like Nosferatu, floating upwards as if a board against his back has been lifted. An old, favorite method of his.

Kyle looks over her shoulders, scanning for movement as he steps forward. His fingers come together and flatten against the digits, pressing tension into his hands at the points where finger meets palm.

"I know it's probably sooner than you would have liked, but I've got a serious problem and I didn't know anyone else better to turn to about it." Kyle swallows and looks to her eyes, coming to a stop. Even through the all-white eyes hidden behind a metallic-appearing mask, trouble can be seen. "Thanks for coming." Kyle smiles, weakly. "I swear…I'm not trying to pack on IOUs, Sora."

Kyle quiets, staring at her face. Anywhere but the Sinestro Corps symbol on her uniform.

"It might save someone's life."

*

Starfire has gotten the sparse communications, the rants, the ramble, and in turn she gave back nothing but a Heart Shaped Box.
Hey!
Wait!
I've got a new complaint..
Forever in debt to your priceless advice..!

Kyle's words of whisper's upon a cosmic wind meet Soranik's spired ears, although the other side of her genetics rolls then back along-side her eyes to flick upon the ground beneath her feet.

But there is where Soranik focuses - not on Kyle, but a her own feet for the moment.

Kyle's 'method' of habit, does not go unseen, a light tilt to one corner of dark lips shows as much, because Soranik knows better

A smile can be shattered a thousand times!

So let's not forget the Tamaranean who did not want to leave Kyle alone in this time where a 'new war' wages…

"… Far soone—-" As Soranik floats closer towards Kyle a new crater is made into the face of the asteroid in a perse glow, emerald eyes blazing! as Starfire comes through the asteroid clouds in a solar blaze of unleashed rage!.
".. Kyle! Stay away! They do nothing but cause war!" And like an artillery cannon unleashed those starbolts litter the face of the planet to form a defined …

Line!

Soranik is pistoning back in a streak of yellow as the bolts fire in and towards her - right now warnings, but the heat is too close. " ….I only want…—-!!" Soranik is throwing up a yellow shield that spider-webs around her, while a cast of Yellow Light seeks to mesh over Kyle in protection!

But all Star sees, is fire!

*

The subtle twitch at the corner of Kyle's lips, so familiar a habit in dealings with Soranik, is light, indeed. The old habit was something often existing while working. Business, the ever-important thing, the desire to be good at being a Lantern, still afforded them little moments of inside jokes.

This smile crumbles into flat lips behind gritted teeth as Kyle jerks back away from the explosion between himself and Soranik. Confused, at first, his own ring not detecting any emotional energy. When he turns, his ring lights up, half expecting to see Arkillo or any other of the numerous Sinestro Corps members.

But that voice…Kyle knows intimately.

"Wait! Kori! Don't!" Kyle throws a hand up and an energy construct in the shape of a garbage can lid P-TANGS! when a starbolt connects with it, defending Soranik in the initial onslaught.

The energy holds for the first few shots, but Soranik's shielding chips away at the strength of Kyle's willpower-based energy. His heels dig into the rock and his lips peel back, baring in his low grunt to hold his construct together.

Such strain is hard to read, even if he's fighting to control his energies against Soranik's.

"Kori! She's a friend!"

*

Willpower.

Fear.

How long can they last against a rage of memories of Yellow…

…. A child clings to her mother’s leg as //fear is stricken to Tamaran with blows of yellow light striking down the guards and paving a way towards Royal quarters, and once they reach there during The Conquest of the Galaxies…//

The woman strips Kori from the clutch upon thigh as the door blows open, the child upon all fours on the stone floor only to look up as her mother stands her ground and there is nothing left but a White light against that of //Yellow!//

So many things lay shattered.
Minds.
Bodies.
A tiny crystalline…

And when Yellow flares against the engineered perse derived from her time in the citadel as a child slave shortly after… For peace…

Kori sees Red!
They will instill Fear and through it gain the cosmos!!

Soranik is blinking as the Starbolt hits the lid produced by Kyle just before her own shield sought to rise before her and project his way, her own force one that is a struggle with the Green’s and then the energy that comes from the power of the Tamaranean sweeping in before them and drawing a line in the asteroid’s face!

A grit of teeth…
A glance Kyle’s way with a lift of ebon brow…?
You know her?
….

Soranik’s construct for safety comes down, the network of Yellow web-work slowly deteriorates as what is spoken by Kori is accepted,the admission from Kyle - acknowledged.

No more risks of lives, Soranik came to save them, not to cause more.

Starfire hears Kyle. Heeds his words, but it takes a single moment to register them and draw herself to a pause after trying to blink away memories and a terminal level of rage that sought to lay waste to an enemy of…
A dead planet and it’s people.

Soranik has stepped from the shield she put up, and the one Kyle had struggled to keep as a barrier while he dealt with his friend

“I only want pea—-,” Soranik seeks to speak. No return fire.
No past.
Only Now…

Starfire impacts the Korugarian woman and in a tumble of bodies they burrow a trench into the face of the slowly-rotating asteroid…
… Solace?

Tawny on Carmine.

Violet on Golden.

A Blur!

“How could you call this a friend???” Kori is almost standing over Soranik in a manner that bears light-laden fists over outer thighs in her treat of further…

Soranik’s eyes are violet for a moment, paling in their darkness as she is just as lofted before Starfire, her own fists coated in gloves are casting a yellow glow. “You seek to protect? Choose your words, carefully..” Soranik does not want to harm a ‘friend’, circumstance understood… But how long her patience for this will last is limited.

Colors of sunset are about to clash, but from periphery of narrowed gazes, Kyle and his Will os regarded!

*

Kyle's own shielding comes down. His proverbial lean against his own shielding straightens. Past the closing of the shield he glances to capture Soranik’s look and nods silently to her, in turn.

Yes. I know her

The distraction is all the time needed for the blue to streak past him and leave the Lantern in a showering wake of rock. The explosive force draws a line in the asteroid’s face that paint him towards where the two women went. He nearly stumbles back into the crater formed in his frantic turn to chase after them, but instead slides down the foot of missing rock and skids his way into a sprint after them.

“Kori! Stop!” Kyle yells, unsure as to why he is running and not flying, but the aching slam of rock against his heels feels like enough penance for the trouble he's caused. “She's been my friend for years, we went through cadet school together; she is a good person!”

Kyle mentally calls up his ring to scan the Knowledge Bank for incidents involving Tamaran and the Korugarians, or Sinestro himself, in the last few feet he races towards Koriand’r’s back. He frowns as he reaches out for the first time for her tawny shoulder to pull her body away from above Soranik’s with a hard yank.

“I asked her to meet me here! She and is maybe the only person who can save Power Girl,” Kyle adds with an apologetic frown to Starfire as he tries to work his way around to the front of her body. Face to face, he defends Soranik on one front, eyes pleading with Starfire on another. “She didn't come here to hurt me, or you, or anyone. Please…”

Blinking quickly, Kyle looks down the plane of his shoulder to Soranik, giving her a quick nod for the moment of safety he has bought her.

“I present to you Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran.” Kyle snaps his eyes back to Starfire’s. “And she is Soranik Natu who…” Fuck. “…saved my life when the reds burned me.”

*

Sector 2828: 15 Years Ago
Tamaran:

Mostly lush jungle, but woven in between are small dwellings of occupants, mottled here and there beneath the canvas of green that umbrellas over the top of them, that is until the City-state where those of nobility reside. Or, at least, those ‘related’ to nobility.

A massive palace resides along the side of a mountain, built into the crags, balanced upon ledges, and bearing massive porticos where the guards, warriors, and royalty can overlook the face of the planet that sprawls beneath them - as well as the cosmos above.

Most nights it is pleasant. Most nights as such, because of agreements and accords.

But one night…

All there was, was the Yellow blow of many cratered into the minds of the Tamaraneans.

Fear.

This was when Sinestro sought to leave his mark and dominate the cosmos - post Green. But the child the Queen clutched to her dress as guards closed in and warriors lunged from balconies to the ground….

Only saw yellow in the backdrop of reflective green gaze, even as Komand’r steps forward clad in armor, only a yeenager then, but tried, trained and knowing of far more arts of war that the child princess tangled in the robes of her mothers regal state.

Even her father left, ensuring the guards pushed his wife and child into the royal quarters to be closed off behind heavy doors that latched in an echoing manner of a vault.

Kori raced to the window and watched below….

Now:

The look down upon Soranik is one of war-laden vengeance even as a hand laden in the solar energy flares in a draw back to try and bring a slam into the red-skinned jaw… Red. Skin.

Teeth chatter in a clench as she hears Kyle behind her, then feels him just before the solid jerk to carry her back and away, and for a moment she flails like a blind raged fighter that was stripped of her quarry before the tap-out could occur, but once words register it is a slow moment before the knotwork of alien muscles beneath start to ease and relent fight, the woman before her recognized for a woman, recognized for age, but that Yellow still does nothing to relax the flare of nostrils and wrinkle upon bridge of nose that is purely feral and nearly showing the felinistic attributes Tamaranean’s were renown for. Lithe, supple, athletic, jungle hearty.. Predators, hunters, warriors… But only desired sometimes for their heartiness and beauty.

Soranik is slowly rising, no part of her tender as a webwork of yellow flickers, crackles and fades from the absorption it took from the harsh blow that drug the two female bodies across the asteroids face. Even as Kori’s eyes rage, Soranik’s do not back down in their lock upon Kyle and Starfire, waiting patiently for the next outcome of this meeting-gone-sideways. “I am Soranik Natu, of Korugar - Current leader of the Yellow Lantern’s and here on an urgent matter that will save a friend of yours and maybe more.” A flick of gaze towards Kyle, and a deep breath heaves her chest against the split of yellow suit, exhaling the tension while he holds the Tazmanian Tamaranean and they both try to strip her of that Guard. “I only took leadership a little over one year ago and seek to bring something new to the cosmos in regards to my people, now.”

Starfire’s breathing is in gulps, pressing plexus against the purple straps of armor, the opening in purple chest-plate one that could almost show the hammer of her heart between, but she is unwinding, slowing, the final breath one akin to a bull squared off in a fight that is moot. She would not hurt Kyle in this, but…

What is this, exactly?

The woman before her even appears her age, so perhaps the same when it occurred?

Who knows in the cosmos.

Two Years after Yellow Attack on 2828:

The child princess Koriand’r was sold to the Citadel to maintain peace for Tamaran….

Now:

Tamaran has been gone for years but if she could have stepped in and fixed things….

The green traces that swept around Kori’s eyes pulse out and leave only a green reflective surface to mirror Soranik’s image. There will be no apology, but…
“How can you save her? What are you going to do? Can you take her burn away like you did…” A glance back towards Kyle and drops to his arm where the burn had lain. “Kyle’s?” Even if she is winding back, she is careful, motions going from enraged to that of cautious, lithe, sleek. Once she moves it will be more of a careful stalk than that of motions to sink another tiny planetary body.

It’s not about her, Kyle, Hal, or them, right now. It is about everyone else.

And once Kyle releases her, she will not move, instead she will remain as-is and hear this out. Maybe later the apologetic look will hit her eyes and make its mark.

*

Kyle Rayner’s face is half of Starfire’s vision. A blockage in the camera that eats up half of the shot, with the floating cookie crumb nightmare of crushed asteroid floating about the background. Like a horrible selfie on Instagram, the ghoulish planet swirls in the distance, and if it weren’t for the lightshow all three of them were producing, Soranik Natu, leader of the Sinestro Corps, would be wreathed in backlit shadow.

The mask covering Kyle’s face and eyes does little to hide his talent for expression. All-white eyes steal the direction of focus his irises normally make so clear. His hair floats about his temples, upset and waving in the lack of gravity from the fury of pulling Starfire free from Soranik, but somehow it floats in some club-grade manner of style. Though he frowns to Koriand’r, he pleads with tight cheeks and the tiniest grunt towards his girlfriend.

No, this isn’t fun.
I’m sorry.

“I was ambushed at the mining colony by the Red Lanterns. In all of the fear, it drew the attention of the Sinestro Corps.” Kyle begins, spreading his palm over Koriand’r’s shoulder for balance as he straightens and, ultimately, lets the woman go. “I was burned, still scarred, but there was no time.”

Kyle takes a step back and twists his neck, eyes lifting over his shoulder to cast a careful look Soranik’s way. Trapped between two extreme forces, he extends his hands low to his sides, palms pressing down, pantomiming the same gesture he makes every time he tries to break up a fight between large aliens with tusks.

“Soranik Natu was a Green Lantern, and even though we haven’t had that pot of coffee and long talk about the Sinestro Corps,” Kyle looks back to Starfire, his head on a swivel, testing the tepid waters of the meager peace that has formed. “I trust her, implicitly, and had not her expert surgeon skills been on hand when I got fire-puked on…” Kyle holds his breath dramatically. “…I probably wouldn’t have an arm, right now.”

Kyle lifts his hands to his face, pressing the palms and fingers flat together, as if praying. His index fingers tap against his lips.

“You are understandably upset about Tamaran, Kori, but that wasn’t her, and…I’m going to ask that we worry about that another day.”

A construct forms from Kyle’s ring. A flat of light the size of a circular beer coaster floats into the space between the three of them. A hologram lights up from it in the shape of one blonde-haired woman with a red cape and a rather gaping hole in her suit over her bosom. Thin streams of light layer beneath her skin, but where her heart should be, there’s a shaded organ, as all of the streams of light come and go…from her finger.

“The Red Lantern rings attract to rage, and I’ve learned that since rage has no room for a heart, in the most poetic way, the ring becomes the heart.”

Kyle quiets and looks between the two women. His expression has now turned grave, a simmered moment of severity that the other aliens have come to find a distinction between himself and Hal Jordan.

“Power Girl, or anyone who attracts these rings, or anyone overcome with fury within parsecs of any of the Red Lanterns who do manage to die while wearing the rings…will die if the ring is removed. If their rage falls to low that the ring removes itself, or they try to remove it, they will need a miracle or…”

Kyle folds his arms across his chest. The Lantern symbol on his upper torso brightens while he sucks in a cleansing breath. He takes a vacation to his own little place of Zen, where there are no ex girlfriends, no angry girlfriends, no Red Lanterns.

It ends with his eyes swiveling to Starfire, to Soranik Natu.

“…or some intense medical assistance.”

A beat.

“Power Girl has given me time to see if it’s possible, but she won’t wait forever.”

*

Starfire’s breathing is measured and calmed immensely, if not for necessity, for the camera held slightly aloft and the small-lensed view of a narrowed crosshair that requires no flash ( emerald eyes faded of their glow), and no other direction to capture the moment and the expressions of reality instead of posed smiles, and fake expressions.

A blink.

The look from Kyle slides to Soranik behind him, the blurred image in yellow and shadow coming into focus as further stories illuminate the entire picture just a bit more. Kori’s chin tips down slightly, the grim line of deep plum lips loosening with a slow exhale after the deep draw came through flared nostrils and seemed to be a breathe through every tight-wound muscle.

A nod.

Soranik watches the exchange and let’s Kyle finish his own exchange that gave them both information, but her, a bit more that she needed to know exactly what she is dealing with..

Red Lanterns themselves are a newer introduction and the sudden sightings and rising in numbers needs attention, especially when they are not like them. A lift of those eyes slowly fading back to violet rest on the projection Kyle lays before them, moving slowly towards it as her eyes peel from one to another, a hand lifting, the one without the ring, trailing the arterial line blackened from ring to heart, slipping over the projected contour of ventricle and back. A careful study as if she is sewing a pattern into her mind by tracing it, memorizing it, committing to it.

“I’ll need a few more hands than my own. I can do this, but her survival of the process is based on her own will after that. Without a ring, is she strong?” The question not meant as insult, but where some are strong others are not, with or without rings. Now Soranik is looking between them, as they know Power Girl, and she does not.

Kori steps to the side now, forming another point in the placement and positioning of the three of them on this tiny hurtling asteroid, watching as Soranik traces her own path along the hologram, the display that makes Starfire’s eyes narrow, but more so in a cringe, lowered for the moment to cast a glance towards Kyle - the mended arm, and up. Noticed or not, there was a moment of that look.

I’m sorry.

Not to just one, but both before her chin tips back up and her stature is reassured, tall and straight. “It is a pleasure to meet you Soranik Natu,” Bypassing the wear of uniform and just taking her as the surgeon their friend needed. “Power Girl is strong, I have no doubt she can survive.” A glance towards Kyle then, his trust in Soranik she will back so let him be the one to divulge more.

*

Kyle watches with the full force of his own blood’s pulse pounding at the backs of his ears. It’s an imperfect keeping of time, with beats that travel quickly and slow with every passing second, but as he explains, his count nears a hundred, with a throbbing of the major vein in his neck that usually is only visible in…matters of greater exertion. Yet, tension is no stranger to Kyle Rayner. What diplomacy he can muster he hips behind his lips with his fingers, all-white eyes swiveling between the two, swallowing down the gentle signs of his careful approach.

And when his eyes find Starfire’s to nod his own it’s okay towards her, there’s a tension still prevalent upon his lips.

There’s something else at play.
Something he hasn’t explained.
Or hasn’t felt important enough to divulge.

The puff of breath that whistles past Kyle’s teeth is relieved, however. Raw lines of tension blur from his shoulders, making his green and black ensemble smooth once again. The hologram is left floating in space between the three as he looks down to his hands. He presses his thumb into the dead center of his palm, flexing his fingertips, working out the tension.

“She’s a Kyrptonian; one of the last survivors. Put her near a yellow sun and she’s likely to survive anything, provided she doesn’t punch one of us hard enough to send us flying to the other end of the galaxy.” Kyle replies with a shift of his head, calculations flying in front of his eyes, cast down towards the rock. “If she wants to survive, she will, but she’s not going to be the best example of how anyone else would survive the procedure; chances are the others aren’t so strong.”

Kyle hooks his thumb against his knuckle and cracks three fingers, then looks up once more.

To Soranik. His brows soften and he nods a silent apology to the woman, then steps over to Starfire to squeeze her upper arm and direct the three of them to the hologram.

“If the Red Lanterns are anything like the Green Lanterns or Sinestro Corps, those rings are going to seek out people and become the ultimate fishhook, like…” Kyle waves a hand in the air to gesticulate as he speaks, an old holdover from his Hispanic heritage three generations back. “…some kind of serial killer telemarketer service. And if these rings can get onto Power Girl, who’s next?”

Kyle frowns deeply to Starfire.

“Superman? Darkseid? Doctor Doom? This Red, she didn’t mention her name, but she said her Lord’s name is Atrocitus, which doesn’t exactly sound like a pleasant name to go along with a pleasant person. After we’re done here I’ve got to find Hal and talk to Ganthet about this.”

Kyle looks back to his feet, rubbing his hand at the back of his neck. The held-over nervousness that has kept him on edge since the first punch was thrown on the asteroid simply isn’t leaving.

“Soranik, if this is going to end up with a handful of surgeons from the Sinestro Corps, Hal and the rest of my support network aren’t going to like it, but I believe this is one of those times we need to work together. A lot of people will end up at stake if they are making rings and try to spread out to bigger numbers. So…what do you need.”

Kyle looks up, from Soranik, to Starfire, then back again.

“From us. From Hal, too.”

*

Starfire already knows it is okay, or at least to her - but to him? His actions and the tension there has her head tilting back in his direction ever so slightly, a felinistic motion in that curious observation of his demeanor even as he tries to unwind part, but another still remains in smaller gestures down to the curl and press of fingers.

A brow slowly rises as a concern slips into place even as he gently moves her into position around the holograph projection and fills Soranik in further about Power Girl. So her trusted her enough, but they trained together as Greens, right? Now that look carries towards Soranik, the up-lifted brow falling slightly as she catches a similar look from the red skinned woman.

Soranik’s lips part slightly, a small jump comes to the skin where black ink lays small angles over the ridge of cheeks, only the beginnings of the markings of Korugaran lineage and placement. A slight flick of gaze to Kori and back to Kyle, speaking slowly as she looks back towards the hologram and listens closely about the Kryptonian. “… I see…”

Two words say everything and nothing at once while another holo-projection emerges in a light flash of yellow, beside Kyle’s with mappings of Star Systems, flicking away those lacking yellow suns or those of ‘neutral’ keeping. This has to be far more careful if two Corps seek to collide with a third lead by… “Atrocitus?” A pause and she is staring at Kyle. “May want to speak with Hal and Ganthet sooner than later, how long do you think you can do this without it being noted?” But even in those words there seems to bear a double edged blade.

Kori is observing for the moment, more between them then what is being projected and discussed, a slow blink and the moment seems to glaze over and then clarify, the small curl to one side of her lips is no smile, nor a frown, it comes with a light dip of red brows to angle just over the bridge of her nose.

“Who do we have to tell and why? We find a place with no known occupancy, but… I suggest we take her there unconscious as awake and vitalized… We’ll need all the help you two do not want involved.” A small inhale and a huffed exhale. “Or you both just out with it and stop trying to hide the reality of it.”

Two can play at that game.
(Poor Kyle)

“I need another capable hand to aid in the rerouting of arterial passage until I get the ring removed to keep blood flow to her heart, a hand to massage it and get it back to beating on its own… And several to hold her down apparently. One she trusts…” Soranik is going over the procedure that she can visualize right now - but everything is subject to change like right now, when she looks from Kori to Kyle at her suggestion, a cringe at the corners of eyes.

“It’s a long story, Yellow and Green have been at odds for a long time under my father…” And she took over just over a year ago when Sinestro was taken into Guardian custody, but then again over a year ago.. A long exhale to blow a downswept strand of black hair from over her eye.

“Stop doing that, Kyle!” The pop of knuckles drawing her to cringe. “Always hated that sound.”

*

Kr-POP

The last popped knuckle comes with so sudden a cringe from Kyle Rayner. Lips lift and part, forming a square block framing white teeth. There are no nails on chalkboard nearby, but it’s an apology as if he’d caused such a thing. The Green Lantern almost laughs under his breath as he waggles his fingers down to his side, freeing up the last of the tension.

“…sorry. It’s a habit, Sora.” Kyle replies, comfortable enough to shorten her name, on the fly, unlike Tomar-Re, who becomes cross with Hal and anyone who dare forget the Re with the full of his name.

Kyle folds his hands behind his back. Fingers interlock at the base of his spine where, gods willing, he won’t feel the urge to crack at them anymore.

“Yeah, it’s a long story; a complicated one.” Kyle hooks his sharp jawline towards Starfire, eyes softening. He opens his mouth to speak, spares a gasping glance to Soranik, then commits with his returned attention to his courted. “The Sinestro Corps are considered by the Guardians and many, many of the Corps to be an outlaw syndicate. Hal’s stories of fighting Soranik’s father are talked about all of the time back on Oa.” Kyle turns to squarely face Starfire, pressing a hand to the center of his chest. “I’ve fought Yellow Lanterns, myself, we all know each other by name, like two separate gangs that, when you put them all in the same room, will just be waiting for a fight.”

Kyle pauses.

His eyes, white as they are, seem to bounce from point to point on Starfire’s face, catching the near-frown the woman wears. His chest stops rising and falling as he holds in his breath, reading her expression, ending in a flattened buttoning up of his lip and the tightened cheeks of a returned apology.

“I’m risking my ring on this.” Kyle sighs and turns to the side, lifting his chin Soranik’s way. “Hal is risk incarnate and Power Girl is his girlfriend. She trusts him and he trusts me. I don’t know, I figure Iolande, maybe Kilowog, but he’d throw me through a wall after all of this went down, but he’s with Hal, no doubt. All of us and Kori together might be able to hold her down while you and Iolande work your magic. If it works, we’ll have what we need to make sure this doesn’t end up one of the Corps’ secret to hide from the other.”

There, at this moment, Kyle’s hopes escape him…

“Maybe, if we’re lucky…”
“…you can prove the Guardians you’re better than your father ever was.”

Standing alongside Koriand’r, he looks to Soranik Natu with a face awash in one part concern for two parts hope. He still can’t bring himself to look to the Sinestro Corps symbol upon her breast, but instead her face. The veil over old history becomes thinner, and though Kyle doesn’t like the color she’s chosen in her power, one can hope she hasn’t fallen to darker emotions.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t explain where I’ve been going, Kori, but I needed to know if this was even a possibility before we tried to bring Karen to the Guardians. But-” Kyle huffs and looks from Soranik to Starfire. “-there is a chance that the Guardians would quarantine Karen rather than try to free her. I want to try to avoid open war.”

*

“I know,” A shake of Soranik’s head as the discarded strand just falls right back into place and is shaken off to the side for now, still too short to tuck behind an ear but long enough finally to resist the urge to cut it off again. “Always has been when you’re nerves have hardwired to your muscles instead of..” A tap to her temple and Soranik casts a light smile his way, that slowly fades when she looks towards Kori and then between them.

Soranik is not blind, nor daft and looking sharply towards the holo-projection it is running through many sectors and galaxies, the data and the coordinates discarded as it narrows down, it veils with flickering light the slight downward tip of lips and a moment of closed eyes.

“My father believed his way was the ultimate way, where leading or gathering through the Free Will was wrong. Fear was his way, if they feared you, fealty is guaranteed, you can possess through fear. It’s not my belief, never was… Is. Never will be. So you see, Free Will, Will alone of Green is opposition to ruling by a crush of Will and instillment of Fear. Yellow. What you knew or saw, was his doing, mine is…” A light tip of her head and she looks towards Kyle, but at Kori. “Through fear stricken to our opposition, we will triumph to save those in need.” But a light inflection at the end is asking if it made sense at all, to both of them.

“I miss my father, but it was necessary. Me stepping up, was necessary, none of it was an easy choice. Such is the burden of Lanterns.” A light cut of eyes towards Kyle and the moment of tension comes to Soranik’s shoulders. “But it can be forgiven.”

A cut of hand and the scrolling projection returns to her ring. “I will finish it and discuss with those I trust after a few rounds of Khundish Ale.”

Starfire is understanding, her gaze softening a bit at the thought of Kyle losing his ring, Hal being imprisoned, or similarly stripped, and PowGee gone to a group of Guardian’s obviously powerful enough to retain Sinestro and others. In essence, she would lose them all. So in this absorption she does not catch Soranik’s hidden look quite yet.

But she does not have to catch it to know. How would Kyle react around Dick, especially if they spared the same glances? One she does note is the sharp tactile jab of gaze when Soranik speaks of necessity, a small bit of flesh at the back of lower lip is pulled in and clipped between teeth, held there… Kyle can see his reflection in the corner of emerald periphery.

“I draw from solar energy as well, if you find a place as Kyle suggested, I can be sure to retain for necessity if it goes,” A waffle gesture. “Sideways. I will keep it as contained as I can.” And there it is, even Soranik gets a look of apology from Kori as finally the captured skin is released.

“But maybe you two should get that drink and catch up.” A drop in shoulders is straightened. “I am sorry I did not fully understand, but now that I do, I think apologies have been said or passed and need to be corrected.”

Perhaps it is a cold move, or one that went without thought, but how perceived and the truth are two different things. Kori is thoughtless and in the moment, so leaning towards Kyle her lips press to his temple in a light affection before giving space. “You know how to reach me.”

*

Kyle busies his arms further, trapping knuckles that scream to be cracked against his chest in a fold of his arms. He’s not so understanding as Starfire is, caught between thoughts he hasn’t yet to process and the leftover aura scattered around the asteroid that will bear the line Starfire tackled Soranik through for over a thousand years, if not more. Space is a fairly easy place to leave your mark upon for the rest of eternity, if you only know where to do it.

But while Soranik explains herself to Starfire and himself, Kyle lifts his shoulders into a self-hug that reaffirms the grasp he has upon his ribcage. He remains quiet, stealing tiny glances to Koriand’r when he isn’t looking out into literal space and the thousands of smaller asteroids orbiting the planet with them. While Starfire is sympathetic to the idea that he may lose his ring, the selling of the Sinestro Corps on Kyle Rayner is, if anything, an uphill climb.

But he’s a few feet higher on the climb than he was a few hours ago.

Kyle looks to Starfire, teeth letting go of the hold they had on the inside of his lips as he seeks out some measure of solidarity from the woman. Soranik’s explained herself, and he has to say something. It’s what people do. One foot digging in the dust, he pivots to look to Soranik, holding his gaze long enough to choose his words.

“I trust you, Sora.” Not the Sinestro Corps. “And I have faith that you know what’s best for you.”

Tactful. Careful. Diplomatic is a way to disagree without disagreeing, and likely the very sort of behavior that’s made him the more logic-driven Guardians’ favored human pet.

Which leaves him entirely off-balance when Starfire begins to make her exit. Kyle blinks and lightly flinches at the kiss to his temple, turning at once to watch her first lift of flight.

“Wait, what?” Kyle’s hair floats about his face as he looks up to her. His lips part and his chin lifts, casting the cat-out-of-the-bag hope that he’d buy an extra ten minutes before needing to explain. The Lantern furrows his brow and scratches the side of his head.

“Kori,” The back of Kyle’s neck turns a slight shade of red as flustered emotions line his skin with human blood. Both women know the discerning look on his face, the damage control of seeking out emotion he seems to know so well. “I think she meant get a beer with her other friends, and we’ve got friends in trouble and…” Kyle tugs a strand of hair to fall back over one ear and looks Soranik’s way.

Kyle halts himself, lip catching in the corner of his mouth between two teeth for a quick bite. His brows flit upwards to Soranik, casting subliminal conversation her way.

I didn’t get to explaining that, yet.
Yes, I know what I’ve gotten myself into.

“I won’t be far behind, Kori, I wanna talk and we’ve gotta find Hal.” Kyle calls up with a set of eyes trying the same, imperfect silent language of hundreds of facial muscles speaking in his stead.

I didn’t get to explaining that, yet…
…I will explain.

*

Starfire will be with AYA, it is where she has been now for a time and has managed to try and get the AI to bring up games, old games from an Atari age and while Star explains they pass the time while sensors span outward…

… But this time her return takes her directly back to her room where after a sudden flare of heat there is silence.

AYA: I sense a sudden overdrive in….
… Perhaps a bad read.

Soranik is forming a look of passing placidity, neutrality as Kyle speaks in regards to her allegiance and those that were Sinestro’s, and now her responsibility. “We are now the Yellow Lantern Corps…. Or will be. Even I have yet to fully gain their trust and vice versa, but it will come by whatever means necessary.” Unspoken problem is the massive Arkillo who for now is pacified in training of their new approach, but it is a matter of time…

… One remaining unspoken.

“I know what is best for me, and it is what will keep less people hurt. Myself included..” But suddenly a purse comes to dark lips, taking away from the flash of teeth that would have clipped off the final sentence if not cut away by Starfire’s words and exit bidden on the tail end of a comet’s trail with Kyle’s words and the flash-forward variance of expressions.

A breath Soranik had been holding unknowingly is released, but it shudders and in mirror of Kyle’s own gesture her arms fold over her chest, shoulders rising almost like defensive hackles to block out the rush of pulse she hears in her ears. There is another draw of breath inward, heaving her chest as eyes close and chin tilts upward to cast her own eyes above the green hologram dancing before her and beyond.

“Oh, Kyle.” Those two words can be seen moving her throat upon inflection that only came upon the wavered exhale. “Women are better at the games and knowing them for what they are. This is where you should have picked up some of Hal’s moves.” Sora is trying hard to keep it light(er) than it really is.

“I was inviting you both to a drink with myself and Iolande,” But the more she spoke the more her voice died and neared a whisper. Her throat worked over a lump, one she well knew after he left the last time with his arm on the mend. No it did not hurt any worse having the knowing become confirmed, no more than when he first left, but the same.

“Everything has to be set aside eventually as I feel this one move, all of them, even hidden, will start a war. One Red woman, unnamed already knows, another attacked you. We need to take this carefully.”

A pause and she won’t look at Kyle directly while she tries to redirect.

“Very. Carefully.”

*

“If I had Hal Jordan’s moves, I wouldn’t be me.”

That Starfire didn’t stop, that she’s flown off at the speeds she’s capable of, leaves Kyle dumbfounded and helpless on his floating mound of rock. His spine, facing Soranik, tightens against the contour of his suit, and when the tension mounts to unbearable levels, he rolls his shoulder in its socket and rubs it from the front, kneading the muscles that ache, there. His head lulls forward, feeling heavier than the eight pound weight he’s used to.

He’s tacking on more conversations, deep conversations, that need to be had.

“But maybe that’s why the ring chose me. Oh, the troubles I’ll endure to maintain my self respect.”

Kyle’s arms shoot down in a washing motion. His body scrubs downwards, trying to slough off the leftover tension as what is done is truly done. His green-clad fingers swat a floating pebble out of the empty space before him, and he turns towards Soranik. He walks forward, towards her, ruffling his fingertips through his black hair and tries to push it away from his eyes.

“About three months ago, Kori and I started spending time together. We’re courting, as her people call it, but things are just moving way too fast out here to stop and explain things that don’t matter as much on a cosmic scale as red rings and redistributed arterial flow.”

Kyle comes to a stop before Soranik and looks up to her face. A black lock flows down into his eyes, which he blows out of the way with a huff. The exhaustion is written even in the all-whites of his eyes, but there’s an apology offered there in a brief look before he looks down to her shoulder and…

…no, there’s the Sinestro Corps symbol there.

PAST her shoulder, to the line of rock she was dragged through.

“I am not,” Kyle states boldly, dipping his chin and then slamming his eyes towards Soranik’s purple orbs. “…taking on Hal’s dating habits.” One hand cuts through the air, killing the idea of that being a reality right there. “I apologize if that was sudden. I’m going to have to apologize to her, too, but we haven’t had five minutes to catch our breath since this started.” Kyle wets his lips and the metallic mask that covers his face dissipates, freeing his green irises for view. The black pupils in the center tighten; his look is pointed. “It’s standard for being a Lantern, but I do…apologize.”

Space, silent as it is, makes the silence that falls over Kyle Rayner all the more empty. There’s no creak of fabric or pebbling sound as he sets his feet into place. His eyes flit, from nose, to her eyes, to her ears, to her cheek, as eyes never truly stay in one place. Even in staring, eyes are restless.

Silence, still, as Kyle briefly closes his eyes and let the air from his lungs.

“So.” The silence breaks as eyes begin to open.

“Are we talking about our problems or the universe’s problems, first?” Kyle murmurs. “I don’t want a war between us.”

*

Soranik watches him, but in flicks of gaze from dust her toe slides through to disturb as it lifts from the asteroid in a slow motion like someone was filtering it through the slender fit of an old egg timer, finding the space to spread in the hover before her.

Cheeks draw in, shadow cast beneath the defined ridge of cheek bones, cutting angular jaw even sharper while teeth bite the inner flesh and eyes clench closed. Her redirection did no good, even her attempt to lighten it and not ‘Do This Right Now’ has failed.

A brief crackle splits over violet eyes as they meet Kyle’s…Green? A slow blink as yellow is about to form on the backdrop of black sclera, but fades and that moment of sheer confusion and ire at the situation draws Soranik to tense. “I did not mean for you to be… Hal..”

Soranik exhales and with it she wants to recoil from his approach… Nearness of touch… How many times??

But the surgeon in her just finds another redirect, as he is her patient and this is not pertaining to… (HEPA?!)

“I just meant the facial,” A sweep of splayed hand and fingers back and forth over her own facade, a practice she should use and not preach! “Kyle…”

It takes her this long to look up, to look at… “I do not want your relationship history, all I care is she makes you…” A swallow, a silenced hiccup of words. “Happy….. Finally.”

To do something I could not before…

Not now…

“If I can help it, we will all fight together, and there will be no war… Between. Us. “ A pause and Soranik extends a hand to the arm she had mended, but not touching. “Have you healed?”

A different business, but one that matters…
… to her…

*

Finally.

From the apple in his throat to the tops of his eyebrows, the word itself brings silence to the wavering aura of Kyle Rayner. His lips soften and his eyes drift away from Soranik’s to a wisp of hair hanging across her brow. For one such as himself, accustomed to living within his own head for hours each day, the word is a pinprick and the blood that flows freely from the wound is…introspective.

Kyle Rayner falls to his meditative state, a state he’d spent hours on one of Iolande’s balconies in with a sketchpad in his lap.

Finally.

He’s endured the absence of his father, still, and was he happy in the move from Los Angeles to Gotham, minus one parent? His high school years began being shoved into lockers and ended dating the captain of the cheer squad. He may have been happy then, moreso when he first received his ring.

Now, Alexandra was dead.
His mother, killed by the same man.
Soranik and himself, separated, then.

He’d returned to Earth to tend to the graves and hunt down Major Force, to no success, and had found Starfire along the way. She, of pure, unbridled joy, had kept his life in a present tense state long enough to never question such things. Happiness? Finally? Koriand’r is a beacon, one who had saved him, in part, from himself.

He’d always assumed his attraction to the ring was for his pure ability of willpower, to endure, or to hold the entire spectrum of emotion deep within his skin and to know himself.

Healed?

“-What?” Kyle blinks and looks out to Soranik’s fingers, their tips directing to his shoulder. Healed. “Oh…it…hurts beneath the skin. Healing, I guess? I don’t know how long it’s supposed to take but the ring’s working on it. It’s better than it was.”

Blinking past his interesting choice of words, Kyle’s black and green suit peels back to reveal the black tank top he’d chosen that morning. His gloved fingers pull the shoulder of the top aside to reveal the ridges of pink skin left behind from the burn. Without more help, or some magic from the ring he bears, it’ll be a reminder, forever, of his first meeting with the Red Lanterns.

“I guess I wasn’t going to get through this job without eventually looking a little bit like Kilowog somewhere, wasn’t I?” Kyle muses softly, chin tilting towards the wound, but eyes lifted to Soranik’s to gauge her reaction. He pulls the strap aside from more so that she may inspect.

Kyle sighs gently towards his shoulder and lowers his eyes to it, swallowing and wincing at the eyebrow as he considers Soranik’s words.

“She’s great. Passionate, fiercely loyal, caring, everything that you and Iolande would have appreciated in a Lantern back in the day. We haven’t really talked about why I came home, about Major Force, about all of the stuff you would probably both agree on about the crosses I like to carry all over the place, everywhere I go, my little Catholic martyr complex.” Kyle trails off, shaking his head wistfully in his inward manner, his self judgment.

“I still haven’t forgiven myself, if that’s what you’re asking,” Kyle finishes, looking back to her face. “Maybe after we solve this next round of the universe’s problems.”

*

Forgiven…

Soranik is watching a space of air, one that is his wounded shoulder and just above, just over….

//She remembers clutching that tense layer of skins over defined musculature, but it laid differently, an artists, a softer touch unbridled and yet to be unleashed with the sheer Power…

Fingers of red curl from beneath and crest upward, holding him in embrace while her cheek rested upon the slope of skin…//

The suit of Green and Black peels away, and in a shutter of lashes her eyes go from violet to a flash of yellow… Then back.

//Part was choice, she gave up the will to fight when Sinestro approached at first, but once the murmurs passed to her ears even within the Halls, she went to her father….

Green became Yellow, the place claimed and accepted. She had Feared the placement within Lantern Corps to begin with, but now it was a choice through force, and one she had to do.

Family.

Obligation.

Justice.

In Yellow on Black, bearing the emblem Kyle’s eyes intentionally skip across like a stone on a river’s surface, she stood on the balcony over Warworld, and made her place…

… Just in time.//

Sometimes empty does not feel so bottomless until you cannot talk to your best friend as much, your ex is gone and silent, and your ‘father’ is under Guardian’s keep.

Slowly, Soranik snuck back to Betrassus, and now… Kyle returns and empty did not feel so…

Echoing in depth..

A slow swallow tenses lines along the center of throat and she is watching as the markings of Napalmic Red are borne to the air and she can see the markings remaining, the scarring on the surface that is far more easy to cope with. His words however, are another thing completely.

Lips part slightly, and for a brief moment her eyes meet his while he searches for, something from her. The only motion is a curl in her dominant hand, fisted, nails biting crescents into palm before she reaches forward and pads of fingers search over the faded marrings, the razed scarring, and lines that cross through the skin…Searching for heat and only pressing to watch for any pain, but tracing along the valley of bone, tissue, and muscle the pressure point just at the bow where neck meets collar, fingers lift…

“None of us will get out of this unmarked, but one more step closer to Kilowog would be an honorific… For you. (But not her…)” None the less, Soranik smiles her head tilts as she watches him and notes the ath his eyes traverse while her own draw from the slow lift of fingertips to his jaw, to the place where artery bears a pulse.

“I do hope you stop carrying those crosses, they occupy your hands where they are needed, and I hope the appreciation your… she,” A pause, a struggle for words, a name, a title of another with him. “I hope you find it in yourself finally to forgive or the burden can be shared and not as alone…” Soranik’s words cut off as fingers hover in a pause just beside his jawline.

… then the duo of middle and index hammer in a swift rapid motion testing for reflex.

“But one at a time. You always have to heal.”

*

Kyle looks down, away, eyes holding to her maroon fingertips as they test his scarring. There’s no heat beneath the skin, at least not a strange, infectious heat save for the heat of his own blood. His lip twitches when her fingers press near the cap of his arm, an ache in the joint there, but nonetheless, he’ll keep his arm. Another story for a beach, but without a mother to demand who hurt him, few people to have to explain it to.

The double-bass tap of her fingers draws a tightening of the skin lining his jaw. A smile in the human tongue, not that either would know their native word for it as the Rings translate the language for them. Without the rings, they’d be foreigners to each other. The dimpling in his cheek catches her upper finger, creating an imbalance to her drumming.

Something funny, Mister Rayner?
The rest of the classroom, clad in neckties and plaid skirts, giggled as all eyes turned
“I’m sorry Ms. Clausson, you said ‘Ball Joint’.
Alexandra DeWitt laughed louder than she should have.
Both spent the afternoon cleaning chalkboards.

“Oh, come on,” Kyle laughs against her fingers and tries to shrug off the depth that’s formed to their conversation. NOW, of all times, he chooses to try to not be serious. “Sora, if it was your ex or your dad, you know you’d kick yourself in the ass for years if someone hit them to get to you. You should just be lucky your ex knows how to take care of himself.”

The dangling fingertips on Kyle’s side twitch, second guessing themselves, but the Lantern turns towards Soranik Natu and reaches out for her opposite shoulder. Fingertips flick the lapel of her uniform, and with a lift of his eyes past hers, he looks to her forehead and sweeps at the hair above her eye, grinning lightly to play with it and hover it over her orb, dangling over the tattoo that symbolizes her house of status on her cheek.

The sketchpad was dropped aside as the blankets were opened and Soranik climbed into his lap.
Fingers looped around her spine, drawing her in with the press of her breast to his
When their foreheads parted and the stare began, Kyle reached out to brush her hair artfully over her left eye.
Why do you do this, Kyle?
I like it…with the tattoo it’s…
It’s what?
I don’t know. Something dangerous about the look. Something emo.
Emo?
Yeah, it’s a thing, back on Earth.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.” Kyle breathes and rolls his eyes. “Over a year and I didn’t mean for seeing you again to be all about the same problem that didn’t solve itself over the last year. It’s getting better,” Kyle smears his thumb over her cheek and holds her head, making sure their eyes meet. The widening of his green eyes makes her blurry, but the expression on his brows is his reassuring look he’s yet to perfect. “I can’t be everywhere at once. There’s too much to do, too little free time, these things happen slowly because I’ve got to focus on this, that, the other thing, and cut my headspace time from where I can find it while not having to schedule sleep, meals, and hot showers.”

Kyle smiles a half smile, brows tilting in the center, a growing curiosity.

“Am I allowed to ask if you’re happy, too?” The question dangles in the space between them. “I’m not looking to throw another cross onto the load, but if I have to beam you Netflix all of the way from 2814, Sora, I will.” A beat. “You would love, and I mean LOVE, Fringe.”

The fingers buried in the short hair at the back of Soranik’s neck tighten as he genuinely laughs.

“Denethor of Minas Tirith? Pacy from the Creek? Mister Spock?

*

The world was on fire,
And no one could save me but you….

The rapid and sudden beat of fingertips upon pressure point bringing forth just as Sora expected, a twinge in muscles, and his own universal critique of laughter.

There is no need for Rings when it comes to the amusement shared and the mirth that can etch itself for history along every defined line of his body from shoulders to jawline, and the fractal break of smile from the corners of his lips…

… Lips kissed as she crawled into his lap and nearly crushed herself against him, as if they were a breathable pair, one air shared between lips and captured therein with a mutual mirth, legs trapping his from the outside while he brushed along inner..

”I would like to see your Earth some time.
Your placement there..”

”it is not the same, Sora..”

”How is it not? You have a name…” Fingers trace along inkwork at his fore, drawing along it blindly to latch fingers in a twine.

”You live for them…” The sector of 2814. He bears the Ring for them, the cross for them…//

He left for them…

Strange what desire…
Would make foolish people…
… do…

Sora closes her eyes as his touch comes in contact, hair swept aside in that familiarity that has lips parting and yet another inward draw of breath to accent the sweep along her collar as it rises in the accent of emotion and yet… The withdrawal from it… That feeble attempt.

Emo indeed….

A finger rolls over that dimple while she refuses to look directly upon him.

Not yet…

Not while she feels him beneath fingertips.

//A painted effigy upon paper that rests beside them, a silhouette that -should- be captured coming as their bodies meet in a bow and arch of a twine that should only be told in such a display, or one of epics of olde.

Fingers lock and tangle into black on red tangles, despite the painting upon ips of noir meeting paler skin coming in a yin to a yang. A hidden meaning…

A hidden art…

A hidden romance.
“As long as it makes you happy….”

Breath taken away….//

Was Soranik happy? His question is met with a solid stoicism from those violet eyes, slowly striking through with a golden light as she thinks long and hard on that. A light turn-away from him and her eyes close.

“I am alright, better now.” A light lift of fingertips to brush along the back of his hand and hold it while darkened lips of that familiar shadow cast across his fingertips and away, just holding him there.

His laughter though has her blinking it all away, tilting her head to stare blankly at him in a manner that feigns and yet shows the curiosity, and ignorance of his words.. “Net…Flicks?”

Oh sweet mother of…
… even Kori, no Star Trek, no Star Wars…

Dawson’s Creek.

Fringe.

The Rings.

But when her eyes spark the depth of Yellow on Black rimmed lids of noir…

Fingers capture his and wrap in a hold endeared..

//Braced beside hips in meet while bodies paint a ride of neap and ebb.

Teeth flash in smiles that could shine with moons.//

“We will make sure everyone is safe. I may not be your color, but I am no different beneath the suit, Kyle. I promise.”

*

The way Soranik stares blankly at Kyle in response has him laughing a little more, but he throws an anchor on the laugh, trying to hold it back to the point of growling his way through it and squeezing the back of her neck. He shouldn’t be laughing; it shouldn’t be funny. All of the little things taken for granted, he was endeared to find that Beltrassus, when hosted by Iolande, the planet was less concerned about material possessions and more about the exploration of life and duty. Earth? An entirely different set of fads, pop culture references, pop stars.

Most planets don’t have rock stars, nor sold out rock arenas.

“Shit; I’m sorry.” Kyle breathes out and accepts her fingers with his at the base of her neck, forcing her arm into a bend to hang on while he squeezes her digits and knuckle-clenches with her. “Before I went away, Netflix was this…entertainment channel, like the video feeds on Oa. Only there’s entertainment from all over Earth in dozens of languages.” Kyle huffs the last of his laugh and seeks her eyes, though one is hidden by the dark hair that he’d placed there.

“Fringe,” Kyle swallows and scrunches his face. “It’s a show about a drug addicted fringe scientist who did all kinds of mind altering drugs to think of new scientific methods…and then he becomes this detective of sorts…only he’s loopy and crazy.” Kyle slows his voice to a crawl, no longer smiling. “Brain synaptic transfer systems, shared dream states. His mid suffered for his work…”

Kyle ticks his head downward a measure, looking to her in a slightly uphill manner, though proximity nearly butts their heads together.

“I thought you…”

“I’m no one there, Sora.
Just another person.
Not a Queen like Iolande, or the daughter of a legend.
I’m not a crazy pilot ace like Hal.
It’s not the same.
Without the ring I’d be just…a hungry artist.
I’d probably have to move in with my mom until I got set up.
But she’d like that.”

Kyle leaned upwards, brushing his lips over Soranik’s in a slow drag.
An understanding kiss. A message in a bottle. A form of trust, of explanation.
Not every kiss is a wedding kiss or a honeymoon kiss.
Kyle has a thousand ways to express himself; he always finds a way.

“I’m not ashamed.” Kyle whispered against her lips.
“…I’m just not important, there to anyone that isn’t family.”

“…would like it.”

Kyle steps forward. His green eyes hold firm from his downwards angle, reading her face and pressing forward with his own quieted expression. His cheek glides smoothly against hers as he finds a place between her feet for one of his own and slithers into Soranik Natu’s personal space. He wraps an arm around her hips from behind and balances the heel of his hand around the trim of her body. Even if their arms are left bent above each other’s shoulders, fingers locked and half buried in the back of her hair, it’s a worthy embrace for their history.

Kyle never was one for the superficial.

Kyle’s chin-length hair swept across her cheeks in the darkness, smile illuminated by the green glow of their rings, casting shadows upon their skin. When she smiles, he smiles back to her. So many rules being broken in one simple act, but so personal a statement of being free of the Guardians’ control for something that was theirs. The devious wave of his eyebrows and the capture of her lip were such a statement. A little bit of rebellion to go along with the slow way his back arched and backside dimpled at the edges around the frame of her heels.

“…I never thought I’d sleep in a palace, much less…” Kyle laughed softly, eyes filled with sweat.
He held his fingertips to hers like a game, splaying his fingers, keeping them together at contact points. He turned to nuzzle past the lock of hair over her eye to press a kiss to her sweaty brow. “…someday I’ll show you Earth, Sora….”
“…but Earth is a cruel place, and we live in cramped spaces.”

“I know you’re not Sora. We never were the ring, who we are is how we hold it.” Kyle mutters against her jaw and squeezes a little harder to her, stealing some of his own breath in the constricting message of importance he shows her she still has. He sighs down the upright collar of her jumpsuit-shaped suit and closes his eyes. “I said that I trust you implicitly and I do.”

Kyle pauses, holding his breath enough to lean up and rest the orbital bone of his eyebrow against Soranik’s.

“If things go bad, you can come to Earth. Just…tell whichever superpowered being that comes to you that you’re a friend of mine; if I don’t get to you first. If…things go bad that’s where I’m going to be, too, but-” Kyle pauses, eyelids surging to the corner of their closed sockets behind a coverage of eyelid, seeking the words. “-You don’t have my permission to be a cross.”

Kyle quiets.

“We’ve survived worse.”

*

// … And I never dreamed that I’d..
…Lose somebody like you..
The laughter rising from Kyle has Soranik staring at him and slowly forming a smile, until it fades upon his apology. But by then even Soranik is laughing at her own //foolish-ness
. A lack of knowledge, a lack of knowing that even she cannot suppress..

But what stops her mirth is the knot of his fingers at the nape of her neck tangled into the (in)finite hairs there, making her catch a breath in a hitch that almost paints across his facade while he finds his place so… close..

”You are someone to me…
A friend to a Queen..
My…

//Soranik’s lips capture his and hold.
A whisper-wind there…
Once he finished.

“But you are someone…//

Soranik listened to his summarization of his ‘Fringe’,a slight lean of her head that does not govern further weight into the constricted grasp of hands and bodies. “So you are telling me, there is a medical show of fallacy on the dreamscape of a medical professional whose world becomes real? Or the fact that it was always real and that is his coping mechanism to make himself feel more…sane?”

Because they would never believe…
The shadows cast in razed edges of black come to meet by the draw of foreheads in mate,
A contour of flesh upon flesh is wrought in the caress of shadowed crags, bated breaths…
Slow embraces…
Carefully planned tumults…

“How afraid was he?” The inquiry is innocent, but the trail of her cheek against Kyle’s in one that borders lips into a place that wavers precariously on a precipice of breathes; and meticulous caution, but in a mingling of Yellow and Green..

A ‘Fringe matter’ in regards to what hovers about them and remains painted in patterns toes burrow within. The small crater-line formed by another alien brought to offense and yet involved despite the history before pock-marks were laid upon the asteroids ‘face.

Between them there is no difference in hue at this moment. No opposition, no lies in a flare of color, glow, and caste. He stands taller, broader, and there is no sign of offense when his thumb brushes along the tattoo mark upon the ridge of cheekbone. When the match of facial ridge comes to bring them eye to eye, lashes flutter against his skin in that proximity and she stares directly upon him though he can see the flicker of gaze shooting to and fro in small sharp motions.

Hands had remained almost completely to herself save for duty, but now his hold upon her nape reminds her, sends memories in a synapse of sensation…

… Her own hands finally make contact, but upon shoulders, care taken over one, and in the slow slide back they twist to tie behind his own nape in an embrace that kept him just as close while he offers, gives her words of care. “Is it still cramped and cruel there, not that they have people like you, Hal, and your new…?” Her cheek brushes along his now, to rest her face along the crook of his neck, that sweep of short black hair a sensation that comes to rest there in a splay over that single eye, only lightly veiling the gaze upward she has for him, in her ‘Emo’ fashion.

“If it ever comes to that… I could not run to hide in your home, but I will call, at least.” The final two words lowering as well, a tenor that wavers while through simple motions and the tension in caressing hold that even causes muscles to cast small pulses of unsure tremors.

There is no hiding the meaning.

*

A heat forms.

It’s a moment of realization that comes with a strange, unsummoned warmth that is old, familiar, toned in ways that come from so many jogged-up memories. Really, it’s a blanket of shared body heat and warm breath trapped in a small space and shared protective fields doing their best to assume the coat around the two people that works for them, but it’s tangible and comes along slowly, like a fog.

“See…the way you make Fringe sound, it sounds less awesome.” Kyle replies slowly, his voice lowering to a muttered tone. “It’s…really just a festival of former medical malpractice that turns into plugging wires into coconuts to travel…dimensions or get data from brains.”

Oh, god, it does sound lame on paper. Kyle fails to sell it.

A low, rumbled sigh presses out from Kyle’s chest into the crush of Soranik’s as he rakes his fingers through her hair and tightens into their squeeze. His jaw scrapes the edge of her nose, opening his neck to her vision in the way he curls his arm over her shoulder and envelopes the smaller, thinner woman for a moment of (un)necessary safekeeping.

“They gave me a room at a mansion, a castle, in the city.” Kyle breathes to the air above her head. “Earth has welcomed me as a protector, a room in a mansion in trade, but…” Kyle closes his eyes and lowers his chin. “…I only stop there between patrols for showers. I’m a servant, not a celebrity.”

A cross-bearer. Though Kyle, despite the grumblings of other lanterns, believes in the book of Oa and its poetry. The chosen of Ganthet in a dark, dark time.

Deep within the coal-black, straightened cuts of her hair, a finger twitches. A tremor, a stress-quiver seemingly from nowhere, but unable to be avoided. Heat seeps into mortar, forming cracks, between memories formed and the sensation of familiar breath that shares a similar ache.

Kyle’s fingertips begin to curl. The tips of his fingers press out through the mane of hair to scrape behind the back of Soranik’s ear. His face begins to drip downwards, lips parting as if an unseen force is pushing a weight against his shoulders, forcing him down into the shadows where her one-eyed emo gaze waits for him. The fabric of their uniforms hisses as his hips turn in, towards hers, the slow constriction of a snake amidst ten thousand warning bells setting off within the mind and a hummingbird’s pulse kicking bass notes into the back of his head.

The edge of his lip catches against her cheek, dragging on a path towards her lips that…slows.

And stops.
Ever-closer than he should be.
This is a fire they tempted.

His fingers wrap the rest of the way around her ear to grind Soranik’s eyebrow against his in a mote of silent, toiled frustration. The long, slow, heated breath that reels past his teeth is shared for her. It’s more heat thrown on the fire, but a silent language she knows from a year of his life shared.

“…we need to leave this asteroid.” Kyle swallows. “Or Atrocitus needs to attack. Right now.”

Kyle’s hold on Soranik’s neck loosens and the tension in his arms begins to slowly loosen, a sign of the slow way he’s beginning to extract himself from Soranik Natu.

“We should go.”

*

Sora is at a stand still, it is like in a movie where everything else around them is moving, the dust, the moon-rock kicked up from the asteroid, the stars…

.. Her single gaze not crested against his collar, shines through the veil of noir strands.

“It sounds like a new take on life,” Soranik swallows and tucks her head a bit lower, her gaze shifting away from Kyle’s while she breathes him in, in a manner he can feel. “Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with that.” but every syllable is breathed against him and the skin of his collar while lips nearly crest over his exposed and scarred collar.

A parting of lips…

… an intake of breathe…

Her hand fists at the back of his shoulder, gathering that tank top fabric within.

“Like what you have been given as a savior to your sector,” A sudden collapse of her grip upon his own loosening. “Not a slave, Kyle. A slave is given…. Nothing.” tattoos of status are reminders, one bared to him as lips part the way and path with a slow drag of fore’ against skin.

A lean, a cast of shadow that brings her lips to his, takes what she wants, needs, truly desires…In a breach of lips upon lips. It’s a moment of hunger, a moment of truly breathing him in once more while nostrils flare and nearly vibrate an exhale against his cheek where the very bridge of her nose draws along in a reminding path, but one to linger for her own…

Moment.

“Let’s not have it,” A pause and Soranik swallows, slowly drawing back at first from Kyle Rayner. Green Lantern. Artist. Former Lover. Still Heart. “Happen so soon.” A draw of her hand over his shoulder. “We need to fight side-by-side again first…”

But as words are spoken, fingertips of a Ring-laden hand touch upon her lips that dared… Head lowering slightly to cast tips of black silhouette across a gaze that slowly crackles to a yellow hue. “For the same purpose.”

But those words seem strained, and the thick swallow is evident in the flux of skin along the shadowed contour of her throat.

*

The shadowed hang of Kyle’s face doesn’t move when she doesn’t reel back or turn away. Damn his eyes and Kyle Rayner knows it.
Too slow. Too soon.
They could have spoken with their backs facing each other.
He placed himself in this state with Soranik Natu.

The way his muscles in his shoulders turn to jelly at the sudden onrush of her lips, and the lack of his resistance in the returned kiss that he gives her is punishable in some circle of Hell. It’s a footnote in a future conversation in a confessional when he returns to Earth. His breath washes out against her tongue and his mouth parts, accepting the kiss after it’s been taken in force. At first.

Kyle Rayner’s body weight shifts and melts against her shoulders. Forearms droop and hold to the lapel of her suit for balance as he sighs, wistfully, into the lash of her tongue and the tap of her teeth to his. A tiny coil, deep within Kyle Rayner, twists and rends at his heart when it happens. Guilt upon guilt, but within it a modicum of truth, and within that truth is both a sin and the cold, logical harsh realities he’s come to associate with Soranik Natu.

The scorching wash of breath that cuts through the thin line of saliva between their teeth when she pulls away snaps it in half.

Kyle hoods his eyes half-closed and peers quietly at the triangular tattoo on Soranik’s cheek in her closeness. A lock of his hair falls down, tangling over her eye, a mix of black hair as he looks down, firmly pinching and tugging at the angled label…to see the Sinestro Corps sigil staring up at him against the upward slope her breast forms beneath the suit, held by a line of cleavage on ruddy skin.

Another conversation with the priest.
Though…he’s not married.

For the first time since the long stare the two gave each other before their first kiss, Kyle Rayner is speechless.

“This is going to get a lot darker before it gets better.” Kyle finally admits, sprinkling his own grim reality over the fight ahead…or perhaps referencing his own relationship with Koriand’r. Nonetheless, he laps his tongue over his lips, returning the taste of Soranik to his mouth before he leans in and presses a kiss to her jaw and glides their faces together in a feline manner. He begins his step back, smearing his hands over her shoulders and lifting them just before the swell of her breast.

“Who would have thought after all of these changes and all of this time we’d end up fighting side by side again under these circumstances?” Kyle flexes his fingertips, dispelling the itch from them as he takes a step back.

Then another.

Then another.

Kyle eventually lifts his eyes to the watchful gaze of Soranik Natu as the suit begins to reform over his skin. The scarring washes away in a field of green and black, as if painted on, and the energy glow of the shield around his skin that was weakened in the presence of her Yellow element strengthens.

“I’ll be listening for you.” Kyle holds his breath as he turns and begins to flow away from the asteroid. “Luck for both of us.”

*

Should have.

Could have.

Would have.

But hindsight is 20/20, and when Soranik pulls back from Kyle and their shared embrace it is a blurred revisit to past - now present.

Soranik Natu, over one year ago, did not get the chance to say goodbye. Instead she chose to fight her Fear. Tonight…. She gave into it, as her “new” nature, one that embraces Fear and uses it for strength, warping a weakness into ‘indomitable Will’.

…Or so is her vision. Not to weaken the barrier of Green that coats Kyle in his parting distance between them, her hands falling from him in a weightless manner that carries the rubble of the unearthed asteroid beneath them into the cosmos of anti-gravity around them.

“I will help save your friend,” A deep inward draw of breath. “Prove that Yellow is not what my Father desired it to be. Not now. Not anymore.” As her own Fear has her here…

… Watching as Kyle lifts from the face of the small spiralling deadstar.

“Let Atrocitus come.” A light loft of chin and her jawline lofts with a pride, bearing skin not-so-long-ago departed from Kyle’s lips - breath… “They cannot burn the cosmos and take everything away now….”

Even then, as she speaks, that barrier cast in net streams in pulses around her, in and out of visual as she ascends from the neutral gravitational pull of the asteroid, opposing direction of Kyle.

But there is a moment, a single span of a few heartbeats where determination is replaced by a smoke-screen of sorrow….Apology. A look down to her hand as it rises, the one bearing the ring placed there by Sinestro, and kept by …. Her desire to prove everyone wrong. But fingertips touch her lips that utter in a near whisper, but the cadence carries the span of space between them.

“… too late.”

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