Sullivan Kent/Barri Allen futurefic
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to Look to the Sky.
Oh, the power to be strong
And the wisdom to be wise
All these things will come to you in time
On this journey that you're making
There'll be answers that you'll seek
And it's you who'll climb the mountain
It's you who'll reach the peak
Though there's no one there to guide you
No one to take your hand
But with faith and understanding
You will journey from boy to man
-Phil Collins (Tarzan), "Son of Man"
When Sullivan Kent finally awakened, thick, quiet darkness surrounded him. He blinked sleepily, trying to remember where he was and what he might be doing here.
Oh, yeah. Right. He'd been abducted by the redhead he'd been lusting after for a year and a half, who'd turned out to be a fellow child of the Justice League. She'd stripped his powers from him, using some device created by Batman to stop Sully's dad, the original Superman. And then she'd gone out to patrol Metropolis for him, while he'd slept-- for how long?
He turned his head, looking for a clock, and saw glowing numerals. 2:20 A.M.
Oh, great. His mom must be wondering where the hell he was. He'd had a couple of free days, so he'd headed home, and he'd been supposed to spend a quiet afternoon at his mom's house, working on his Shakespeare paper.
And instead, he'd gone AWOL, which Mom was almost certainly going to interpret as hanging out with friends and loafing. She was probably pacing the floor and cussing a blue streak by now.
And in fact he had been loafing, but not intentionally. He'd spent the morning flying patrol over the city and saving people, but he'd been seriously worn out, and when Barri had captured him and brought him back to her dorm room-- well, he hadn't fought against sleep very long.
He'd been beyond exhausted, he thought, realizing that he'd slept over twelve hours.
He felt a lot better now. He indulged in a bone-cracking, muscle-popping stretch... and his outstretched arm brushed over something warm and soft.
It dawned on him that someone was in the bed with him.
He froze, and turned his head, very slightly, inhaling the fragrance of strawberries. Barri, he thought. She'd apparently finished patrolling the city, and when she'd come back to the dorm room she presumably hadn't wanted to wake him up, so she'd just sort of squeezed in next to him.
He wondered if she was still wearing her red, skintight costume, or if she'd changed into something a little looser. At the thought, his body reacted in the predictable male way.
Down, boy, he thought to himself. Barri had done him a huge favor today, by capturing him, and then enabling him to sleep when he hadn't been able to turn the inner superhero off. The last thing he needed to do was make things weird and awkward between them by putting the moves on her. She'd already made it very clear she wasn't interested in him that way, anyway, so...
Her voice was very soft, and very husky, with a sensual quality that sent a shiver down his spine.
"Yeah," he answered, ignoring his natural impulse, which was to climb all over her. Celibacy and Sullivan Kent were two terms that rarely occurred in the same sentence, but he couldn't just pounce on her. He liked her too well to treat her like she was some random girl. "But if you're done patrolling, I guess I'd better get back to work..."
"No," she said. "You don't need to do that. I called in a favor from a friend. Metropolis is in good hands, believe me."
"Well..." He shifted under the covers uncomfortably, thinking that Barri could be in good hands, too. His hands. "I'm supposed to be spending the weekend at home, and my mom is probably wondering where I am..."
"Sully." He heard a trace of laughter in her voice. "I never thought you were a Boy Scout."
She moved even closer to him. She felt very soft and pliant, wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants, and a strange ache began to curl in his chest. It was, he thought, lust, but not any sort of lust he'd ever felt. It was more like a craving, an intense need he couldn't explain and had never before experienced.
He thought maybe it was the difference between wanting a pretty girl, and wanting a pretty girl you admired like crazy.
He closed his eyes and tried to do polynomial equations in his head, with limited success. "And I thought you weren't interested in me."
"Oh, I've always been interested in you." Her hand reached down, under the covers, and closed around his. "Ever since the first day of college, when you sat down next to me and really listened to me when I told you about how much I missed my mom and dad, I've always thought you were a sweet guy. But I also thought-- I thought--well..."
"You thought I was a lazy bum," he said, aware that there was a slight tinge of bitterness in his voice.
Her hand squeezed his in apology. "I was wrong, Sully."
"No, Barri. You were right."
"I should have trusted my instincts," she said. Her voice was very soft, but he could hear the regret in her tone. "I should have realized that deep down, you were something more."
He didn't blame her. Thing was, he wasn't sure he had been something more. That was the problem. If Dad hadn't died, leaving a vacuum that needed to be filled, would he have just wandered aimlessly through life, always taking the easiest path, always playing when he should be working, always treating life like one big party?
Or would he one day have heard the voices crying out for deliverance, and tried to help them on his own?
He honestly didn't know.
But what he did know was that he wasn't good enough for someone like Barri Allen. Not yet.
Anyway, he didn't have room in his life for a real relationship, not even with a shapely, smart superhero. Sex was one thing, but a genuine romance was another-- and he simply liked Barri too well to settle for casual sex. If he and Barri got involved, then he was going to want more than just occasional sheet wrestling. A lot more.
And right now... he just didn't have time.
He thought about his city, which he'd left in other hands for over half a day, and an odd throb of longing hit him. He suddenly realized he missed patrolling, missed the work he'd been doing, missed saving people.
There was a time, not too long ago, when the phrase lazy bum had fit him very well indeed. He'd loved to loaf, to kick back and relax, to just hang out.
But nowadays... well, God help him, he was turning into a workaholic.
Even so, he knew that Barri was right. Even with all his abilities, he couldn't handle the biggest city in the world on his own. He needed to put his pride and his fears aside, go to the Justice League, and ask for help. But in the meantime...
"I have to get going," he said, more firmly. "Take this thing off me, Barri."
He heard a faint sigh, and then her fingers touched his throat, removing the blue kryptonite-studded collar she'd fastened there earlier. She tossed it aside, and suddenly the world changed, filling with sounds he hadn't been able to hear while the collar had been around his neck. Suddenly he could hear sirens wailing, screams and gunshots, the sound of flesh being punctured by knives and pummeled by fists.
The sound of a city that needed him.
Metropolis might be in good hands, he thought. But it wasn't in his hands. And now that he was rested, and ready to go back to work, he didn't have any excuse to be lounging around in bed, not even with a gorgeous redhead.
He untangled his long cape from around him, then sat up, leaned over, and brushed a kiss over her forehead.
"Thanks," he said simply.
"Don't make me put that thing on you again," she told him. "From now on, you sleep when you're tired, or I'll kick your ass."
"Yes, ma'am," he said meekly. He climbed out of the bed, not without reluctance, and headed across the room. Light spilled into the room as he opened the door, and he looked back over his shoulder, seeing her curled up in bed, warm and soft and desirable.
Part of him really wanted to stay with her. She was beautiful, she was kind, and she was, much to his surprise, interested in him.
But he couldn't stay. The cries of people who needed help were loud in his ears, and anything he might want out of life had to be put off, perhaps indefinitely.
Maybe, he thought, if he was able to get help, he'd have a little more spare time. And then maybe he and Barri could explore whatever this attraction was between them.
But right now... right now, he couldn't. People needed him.
He turned away from her, and blurred out into the night to protect his city.