Sea and Sky VIII:

Bitter Waters

by 'rith

Archive: Ask first, please.
Warnings: M/M slash implication. If this concept disturbs you, read no further.
Fandom: Modern comicsverse. Eighth in the "Sea and Sky" series, the previous parts of which can be found at
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.

"We must swim through the bitter waters to reach the sweet."--Atlantean proverb

I don't know what color Dick's eyes are.

I understand they are called "blue," but my vision, adapted for the ocean depths, does not differentiate between blue and green and black. Still, they usually have a quality I recognize as something other than "black," a lighter shade that looks more like the sky at midday than at night.

When he returned from his patrol, his eyes were dark.

Before I can even ask, he says,

"This can't go on."

My first thought is, something in his city has gone bad; but no. He is looking at me with a strange expression, strained, and--

"I don't think we should do this anymore."


"I mean, I don't *want* to, it's been terrific, but I think maybe...this isn't good for either of us."

I don't understand.

"We've been friends so long, I don't want to lose that...."

Like a cold wave it hits me.

This is Dick *leaving.*

I cannot speak.

"I just think it'd be best if we called it quits."

Why this, after what we have shared, after I have *just* realized what he means to me, how very much I have come to love him?

"And I don't want to hurt you, but for your own sake I--I mean, we just shouldn't make a big deal about this...."

*My* sake! How could he ever think--

No. Oh, Pallais, no.

He says that we should end this; that I have become too attached, and that he doesn't want to hurt me. That we have been friends too long, he will not risk losing that in a vain attempt--he actually uses those words!--at being something more. That he never intended....

The rest of his words are lost in the rise of my anger, and I have to turn away.

The very fact that he *dares* to try to dictate what is best for me--no, and not again. I had enough of that from Arthur. Even Atlan tried to shape me for his own purposes, to be some kind of destined "undersea protector." That may be; but I will not spend my life waiting for destiny to unfold around me. Now, I choose. I have learned to choose.

He says, "see, just look at how angry you are"--as if my anger was an ill thing, that I should care so deeply that this upsets me. It is *proof,* because anger is a rare thing for me, a difficult thing, for any number of reasons. The power I hold, for one; a mage must be controlled, calm, lest the forces he commands command him. And there is Arthur, himself an even more compelling argument. I have seen his anger, a rage that at times neared madness, and suffered the effects of it as well.

But if Dick--if *love* is not worth this, I don't know what might be.

He speaks of friendship and I want to weep, because he has done such a *fine* job of convincing himself that is all that has grown between us. So divorced from his own emotions, just like--

Yes. Just like *him.*

I breathe deep, and realize: these are the lies Dick tells himself, to hide from his own fear. I finally turn to tell him so--

--but he is gone.


(Titans' Tower)

So I came here.

Here is where it began. Not physically; we five had nothing so fine as a Tower when we became a team. But this place has become the Titans' sanctuary, and I have a home here.

I still do. Despite what...has....

Oh, you gods of sea and sky, Pallais and Suula; how you must be laughing now. That a sea mage should love a son of the sky. "And never the twain shall--"

I don't believe that. I can't.

If I knew a magic to return him here, I would use it. If I had a spell to erase the fears in his eyes, I would cast it. It is only fear that makes him run, I see that--not lack of...caring, for me. Just fear of being left again, lost again, of being rejected again.

I never thought I could be stronger than him in any way. He was always our leader, my friend, an inspiration. But I said goodbye to Tula and was willing to stay with him, and he--

He cannot forget what happened with Kory. He hasn't forgotten the hurt of losing love. And even worse, he cannot acknowledge the greater love that has never been returned. The difficult thing he barely admits even to himself.

And there I stood, hearing him say all those things born of self-delusion, and *said nothing.*

The taste of that truth is a bitter thing indeed. The reasons why...lie in the shape of my own fears. For all I have learned, it seems I am still...afraid....

I never had an angry word with Tula, nor the Titans when I was younger. How could I? Right or wrong, I owed them too much; a home when I'd had none, love to fill the empty places. And I never, never raised my voice to Arthur. I did not *dare,* for fear I would be abandoned again. A child's fears, and unfair, because I know that he never would have done such a thing.

I know that *now.* Then....

But the patterns that shaped me linger, though I had been so proud of how I have changed by assuming my magical birthright, in letting Tula go, in *choosing* the Titans over being Arthur's councilor and bound to Poseidonis, whose citizens still whisper that the color of my eyes marks me for evil.

I left those things behind for the friends who love me, and a life on an alien surface where my power may still be used for good. I'll stay for these reasons; I won't leave this home I've chosen, not even for his sake. No matter how difficult that may be.

I could find him, track him to tell him how wrong he is, but I won't. Pride...pride be damned. It simply would do no good, because Dick needs to find his own truths.

But I swear: Given the chance...if he *gives* me the chance, I will find the words. This time, fear of losing love will not stop me from saying what needs to be said; because if he cannot bear to hear it, then perhaps there is nothing worth saving, after all.

And I believe, with all my heart, that there is.