The light flutter of the sheer balcony curtains was due only in part to the light breeze blowing after the brief autumn shower.
Only in part.
Kat knew that he’d arrived. He’d landed on her balcony.
Now usually, she would immediately stop whatever she was doing to go and greet him with a kiss. As a matter of fact, she would stand on the balcony, her robe clutched tight, waiting for hours for him to make an appearance. She was always happy to see him. His presence always made her heart flutter.
But not tonight.
Instead, she sat at her vanity table painting her nails a bright fuschia color. She’d decided against using her usual clear polish. Tonight, she wanted to do something different.
Tonight, she felt feisty.
Tonight, she felt free.
“Kat,” she heard him call out. His voice was as smooth as hot melted chocolate. Still caused her to shiver, even as it did the first time she heard her name roll from his lips.
“Super.man,” she replied, her voice flat.
“Kat, how are you this evening?”
“I’m fine, Super.man,” she said. She examined her nails, trying to decide if she needed a second coat of polish. “I’m doing just fine.”
Super.man hesitated before speaking again. He knew something was wrong. She didn’t run to greet him and fall into his arms like he was accustomed to. She just sat there, giving her nails all of the attention that was usually reserved for him.
He walked over to the bed and removed his bright red cape. He folded it and lay it gently at the foot of the bed. It’d been a long day and he’d thought about spending the entire night with Kat, instead of a few hours. He glanced Kat’s way, hoping that she would express a little more gratitude for his choice of spending time with her tonight instead of carrying out his usual surveillance of the earth and the moon for any signs of trouble.
Kat peered at Super.man through the vanity mirror as she gently blew her nails to help them dry faster. She hummed to a love song playing on the CD player. She didn’t know the name of the song, but she liked it. LadyLee had given her a fresh batch of CDs earlier that day, and the love songs were setting the mood for the date she had later that evening.
Super.man walked over to where Kat was sitting and stood directly behind her. He wanted to massage her shoulders but decided against it since she was behaving strangely.
“That’s, um, nice, Kat. That color you’re um, painting your nails,” Super.man complemented. He actually thought the color was a bit too loud and garish against her brown skin, but he would never suggest such a thing. “What color is it?”
“Fushcia,” she exhaled.
“It’s very nice,” he said.
“Thank you,” she replied. “Matches my dress. I thought I’d try a little something different
tonight. Tonight is a special night.”
He frowned. “You have plans tonight?”
“Yes,” was her simple reply.
He folded his arms across his chest. “You never go out, Kat.”
“That’s changing, Super.man,” she quickly replied. “For the past month, I’ve been going out.”
His heart sank. Last night at the Hall of Justice, Won.der Woman had asked him if he’d seen or talked to Kat lately. He’d said no. He knew by the way Won.der Woman quietly walked away without elaborating that there was a problem and that he needed to go check on his woman. He needed to check on Kat.
“I don’t want to sit around here waiting on you, Super.man,” she continued. “I’ve been writing in my journal, chronicling this whole so-called relationship we have, trying to work out my feelings, and it’s just not working out for me.”
“What do you mean by ‘so-called relationship’?” he spat. He realized his voice was a little louder than usual. He took a step back. He just knew she wasn’t saying what he thought she was saying.
She placed the nail polish brush back into the bottle and tightened the cap. She picked up the bottle and shook it vigorously. The sound of the small metal bead in the bottle was as loud as a demolition ball hitting the side of a building in the midst of the silence that had occurred after her announcement.
“Kat,” he interrupted. “We’ve had this discussion before. I’m busy. I’m out saving the world. I’m out stopping disasters, squashing wars, fighting crime. I’m out there doing my job. I’m out there saving the world. I’m out there―”
“Saving Loi.s Lane everytime she gets in a bind,” Kat said, completing his little soapbox declarations. “And I have no problem with that. It’s just that I need more.”
His eyes narrowed. “Kat, when I do come by, I take you flying. You’ve seen Paris, Italy, all of Europe. We’ve seen the beauty of the Swiss Alps, the majesty of Egyptian Pyramids, the wonder of the Great Wall of China and so much more.”
He looked her way when she didn’t immediately respond. She was sitting there, starting in on her nails again, giving them her full concentration, the concentration that was usually reserved for him.
“Kat... all those wonderful long nights we spent at the Fort.ress of Solitude.”
“I need more,” she repeated. “I just need more.”
He exhaled deeply, his super breath completely freezing a small plastic wastebasket sitting below the bedroom window.
Kat chuckled lightly. “You see, I can’t deal with this. The last time you were here, you burned a hole in my headboard with your laser vision, and now this. Now I have to go buy a new wastebasket. I really liked that wastebasket.”
“Kat, you’re upsetting me. You’re really upsetting me.”
She stretched her hand out in front of her face and examined it at eye level. That second coat of polish was just what her nails needed. She blew her nails again to accelerate the drying process.
“There’s someone else, isn’t there?” Super.man asked, not really wanting to know the answer.
“Who is he?”
“His name is Mel,” she replied. “And I like him a lot.”
“Kat he can’t do for you what I can do for you,” Super.man said.
“No, he’s not a superhero. He can’t keep volcanoes from erupting. He can’t foil bank robberies. He can’t keep a bomb from exploding and causing mass destruction.”
She felt a small prick of pain on her arm and out of reflex smacked it with her hand. A lone mosquito flew in the air around her, probably upset that she’d interrupted its evening meal. She chuckled. “Hell, he can’t even stop a mosquito from biting me.”
“What can he do then, Kat? Because you gotta admit, what I do, no mere mortal man can ever do.”
“He can love me,” she declared, her voice low.
Super.man got up and walked towards her slowly. “What was that, Kat?”
“Super.man, don’t act like you can’t hear me. You have super hearing strength, right? You can hear me from way across the city if you wanted to.” She stared up at his reflection through the vanity mirror. “I said, he can love me.”
Kat rose from her vanity and straightened her slip. She felt a little shy all of a sudden, standing there in her black bra and half slip in front of Supe.rman. She didn’t know why, since he’d seen her in way less many times before.
She realized that she was a sight for Mel only, and no longer a sight for Super.man.
Kat walked over to the closet and grabbed her white terry cloth robe from the closet. While she was there, she removed the brand new fuschia dress she purchased earlier that day from the closet and lay it across the bed.
“I love you, Kat,” Super.man said. He’d never said those words before. Never thought he had to say them.
“Sure you do. Just like you love that Lois Lane.”
He smirked. “Oh, I can see what this is all about. You’re jealous. Jealous of Lois. Lois and I are just friends. We have a working relationship, and that’s all.”
Kat shrugged. “I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that you’re constantly getting her out of situation after situation. Wish I had it that good.”
“That’s why you’re with this Mel character?” Superman spat. He was doing his best not to sound angry. His best wasn’t good enough.
Kat walked over to him, not the least bit affected by his tantrum. She looked him up and down.
“You know Super.man? Sometimes, I want to see a fine man in a Bro.oks Brothers suit and a pair of Stacy Adams. The only clothing you wear… those tights and that body suit. It gets tired. It really does.”
He took a step back. He didn’t know how to respond to what she was saying. He wore what he wore because it was comfortable, and it allowed him to do his job more efficiently. There was no way he could do what he did in a suit and tie. No way at all.
“Sometimes,” Kat continued, when Super.man didn’t respond, “I like to be taken out to a nice dinner and a movie. I like to be taken out for drinks. I like sitting on a park bench and just talking, about my goals and dreams, even about something as simple as the weather. Those things mean more to me than being swooped up by you and flown over the Alps and the Great Wall.”
He was speechless. He wasn’t expecting this at all.
"And you always smell like smoke, pine trees, or the ocean. I like a fresh smelling man. You could use a splash of cologne or aftershave, you know."
"Kat, I spend my days and nights rescuing people and preventing disasters," he said through clenched teeth. "Excuse me if I don't have time to put on a suit and aftershave."
“Oh, don't get all mad, now. Like I said, I need more. Won.der Woman and I talked about this the other day. I’ve been journaling, writing down my thoughts. It was time for me to make some decisions.”
“Oh, you can talk to Won.der Woman, but you can’t talk to me?” He was glad that he’d found his voice, however weak it was at the moment.
“Won.der Woman is my friend. She gets tired sometimes, and comes over to talk and rest. Plus, we are journaling partners.”
Super.man just stood there at a loss for words.
“I don’t see you that much, Super.man. You only stop by when it's convenient. Remember, you have the whole world to take care of.”
Super.man lifted his folded cape from the bed and slowly put it back on, securing it tightly around his neck with the leather string. He was never a man given over much to emotions, but right now he was crushed and had to get away.
“So this means it’s over?” he asked. He already knew the answer, but he needed to hear it from her lips.
“Yes. It’s over.” She felt a weight lift from her shoulder from saying those three words. “I think I’m going to give Mel a chance. He deserves a chance.”
Super.man nodded. He’d failed. He’d failed to do whatever he needed to do to keep such a phenomenal woman. And he wasn’t use to failure. Not at all.
He reluctantly walked out onto the balcony. Kat followed him. Once out there, he turned around to face her, hoping for one final kiss. He was met by an outstretched hand. He took her hand in his and enjoyed its softness for what he knew was the very last time.
She belonged to another now.
He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it gently, even kissed her fuschia fingertips. He looked back up at her and saw something different in her eyes.
“It’s been a pleasure, Kat,” he conceded. “It truly has.”
She responded with only a nod.
He turned and rose slowly from the balcony.
All of a sudden, saving the world had lost its color and flavor.