This throbbing in her skull is not new. She comes to anticipate it, like any other routine. Now, the panic only comes when she searches and does not find it there, where it is expected, where it is meant to lurk, lying in wait. Dormant, like her. There are weeks when she sleeps and dreams of nothing and then she returns, like a newborn, pulled out of another place, another time, crying for relief, hiding from the light.
It is almost poetic that her powers first manifested this way, when she was simply Katherine. Singular. One. Pretending like it isn't an annoyance to share everything with her host has become the ruse now -- trying to evolve with the change, hidden behind a reflection that is not her own. A grimace made out of lips that are bruised from kisses she does not want to receive from the man that shares the bed of the other her.
A foreign body still, but the face has grown familiar; splashing it with water in the morning, mimicking the regimen of her host as she lathers expensive skincare products against supple skin that feels like it might belong some day. She cannot deny that she is far prettier here. Her hair is more agreeable. The humidity is kinder. Perhaps that is why her host does not go to bed alone as often as she does. She does not allow her thoughts to linger there on comparisons for long. It is the thief of joy, so they say.
She has been here so many times and she has learned how to adapt, how to keep herself sane and how to survive, to go on. In order to, she must keep her focus true. To thrive is something else entirely. Perhaps it will never be hers, that feeling of safety (for herself or for them both?) when she is awake. It is so much harder, growing every time she returns -- there used to be only one unknown and now there are so many. When she stops to notice, her hands shake. And so, she does not allow herself to stop.
They come for her, brazenly in the light of early morning. At first, she has them mistaken for surveyors, squinting behind heavy lidded eyes and a body that groans for another hit of caffeine. They have tailored suits and crisp white shirts. It is only when they draw near that she realises something is wrong. Her first instinct is to run, but this body -- though lithe -- is much slower than her own. Her muscles do not remember the danger room, or the years spent in Tokyo and the gruelling training that birthed an assassin; skilled and quick.
This body doesn't move like it's supposed to. They are on her in a flash, pulling at limbs and binding her between them. Too quickly for her to escape. It happens in an instant and the woman has already shackled her when she remembers her powers. She pushes at her assailant and electricity blasts through the cuffs. The old thoughts swim in her head. Worthlessness. Uselessness. Disgust. Anger. Guilt. She tries to push past them, to keep one foot moving in front of the other. Her chest hurts, feeling like it's going to explode as her heart hammers wildly in a hard casing of ribs. She is sent reeling. Backward. She remembers falling, screaming, scrambling for a hold as the foundation beneath her feet crumbles. And then, darkness.
Caitlin cries out his name and somewhere far off, he hears.
He comes for them. There are strong arms, strong hands, superhuman in their design. The debris is flung away, revealing her crumpled body, breath so shallow that it almost goes unnoticed. Both halves of her self have been spirited away by the pain. It is a small mercy. The right arm is broken, jutting out and swollen from the impact of the fall. The fingers of the other hand are twisted and bruised. The knees are scraped, clothes torn and dusty.
Later, when she wakes, the concussion will reveal itself. For now, she is lifeless, unconscious. The day has moved on and the light isn't as sharp, but time does not reach behind her closed eyes and neither one of them answers to his pleas of "Wake up". Neither one responds when he lifts the body up gently, cradling the head against a symbol of hope, the heart of a god beating steadily behind it.
When she finally stirs, she catches sight of him, confusing dark hair and blue eyes for another. It is her first love. In his rightful body. In his rightful place. He has come for her. She presses her cheek to his neck, curling purple fingers into his hair, the scent of him is reassuring, his proximity allays her fears. She says his name and darkness swallows her up before she can say any more. If this is death, she is glad he is the last thing that she sees.
Kitty is mistaken.
Waking up, she realises that she is alone. Here, in this room, in her head, in this body, her host cannot be found. Caitlin is gone. The abandonment should not sting so much, but it does. The pain medication works like a truth serum and she forgoes it. Having spent a lifetime biting her tongue, she will not burn all her bridges now. Her new warden advises her against it. He is there every day and will not leave her alone. He will not leave her be.
The pull of desire and affection brings their hosts close to one another every time. They are insatiable and she hides away under layers of consciousness to keep from witnessing what they do together in their bed. Apparently, they are in love. Clark tells her so, but it does not help. It is not her life and it is not her body, so she understands that it is too much to ask for them to stop. She remembers what it is like, to be overwhelmed with longing. With need and it is cruel to pretend that it does not hurt -- when she is left with her loneliness and the emptiness that she refuses to acknowledge, that she fills with self-righteous anger, spurning her savior when he tries to help.
Part of her is glad that the pain has Caitlin subdued, glad to be at the forefront this time. It gives her control of their body, however useless it is now, broken bones to complement her broken spirit. I'm not her she tries to say with puffy, red-rimmed eyes. If he knows, it does not seem to deter his care. He says that her safety is his priority, that it is the right thing to do and she scorns him for it. She does not need the pity of the Superman. She does not want him so close. She flinches when he reaches out a hand to check her head for fever. Her face contorts in discomfort as he brushes the hair away, pressing his palm to her brow. His calloused fingers are only a reminder.
And yet, when Clark pulls his hand away, Kitty is the only one awake. The only one who feels the severing.