Phantom Ache

A Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes

by Greenygal


She's here.

The room's pitch-black, but it doesn't matter; I can feel her even breathing, the warmth of her skin against mine, the tangle of long silky hair spilling onto my neck. She's here, real in my arms.

I hug her a little tighter; she doesn't stir. Asleep or awake, she never minds my touch.

"It's nice to be held," she said once--just that. Nothing about months as a living ghost. Nothing about thinking no one would ever be able to hold her again. She just leaned in against me, and didn't say anything else.

But then, she didn't have to. I knew.

She knows about me, too; I can see it in her eyes. Knows how I feel. Knows why I get twitchy whenever we're apart. I keep expecting her to push, to fight it, but so far she just smiles and stays within arm's reach.

If I didn't love her already, I would, just for that.

I don't think anyone else realizes, though it's hard to tell with Imra. But mainly they just laugh at how married we are, always together, always kissing and hugging, aren't we lucky? And I grin and tell them yes, real lucky--which is true--and leave it at that.

Old habits, I guess. Act tough, talk loud, never let on that you're scared--

--no, not scared. Terrified.

Terrified to let her out of my sight. Terrified that if I lose track of her for even a minute, it might happen again.

She almost stopped my heart when she wanted to fly Brainy's machine. Not this time, that was all I could think. Not again. Not ever again.

It was over so fast. A flash of heat. A scream. Her scream. And I was there. Too late.

Five seconds. Enough time for everything to change. For me to realize what she was to me, that all those dumb romantic things about hearts and souls were true. That I loved her--too late to tell her.

For weeks, my dreams were instant replay. The flash, the scream, the body. I still see it, but not as often. Now the image that haunts my dreams is Tinya, slowly fading out....

I wish I could just lock her up somewhere, and keep her safe from everything.

The thought makes me snort. Lock Tinya up. Right. Might as well try to talk Gates into working for McCauley. My girl's no wallflower--it's part of why I love her. She's strong and brave and proud, and, okay, at least twice as smart as me. I know that.

I know she's good at this, too. That her powers are perfect for defense, that she's nowhere near as reckless as--well, me. I know.

But I can't tell that to my dreams.





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