Superboy was off staring at the birds again when Kaldur arrived at the headquarters that Saturday morning. He would visit once a week, when he could, they all tried to, and every time he showed up Superboy was out here looking into the sky with that sad, wide stare of his. Kaldur wondered how often he came here, found himself thinking about it on warm summer nights as he lay on his back in the sand, counting the stars. Seawater would lap cool at his bare feet, and he would wonder what it would be like to have to look out into the waves with that same naked longing in his eyes.
After several weeks, Kaldur had finally come to a decision. He touched Superboy’s arm, softly, to get his attention. “Connor,” he said, still uncertain, “If you wouldn’t mind coming with me for a moment, I have something I would like to show you.”
Superboy finally broke his his long gaze at the sky and looked at Kaldur. Instead of longing he just looked bored, now, and for the briefest of moments Kaldur worried that maybe he’d gotten it wrong. “No thanks,” Superboy said flatly.
“Please,” Kaldur said, “It’s important to me,” and with a scrunch of his mouth Superboy finally relented, nodding.
Kaldur beamed, his smile small but bright, and headed to the shore without another word. Superboy, curious now, trotted off after him. “Where are we going?” he asked.
There was no answer at first, just the crunch of twigs and rocks under Kaldur’s bare feet. “I cannot give you the sky,” Kaldur said after awhile, and he glanced over his shoulder, “but I will give you what I can.”
“I don’t understand,” Superboy said.
They were at the shore now. Kaldur took Superboy by the wrist, pulling him toward the water. “It would be a good idea to take off your shoes,” he said, laughing, and Superboy toed them off in the sand. “Let me know if you need air.”
“Oh,” Superboy said, and took a deep breath, moist air making him want to cough. Did Superman have super breathing? He couldn’t remember. And then they were under, warm water rising past his chest. Superboy realized he’d never been swimming, somehow, and he almost panicked save for Kaldur’s firm grip.
There was a shelf where they entered the water, only ten feet down, and in the distance blackness where it dropped off. The salt water stung a little, but Superboy wouldn’t close his eyes. Kaldur was grinning wide now, free in his element as he pulled Superboy into that darkness.
It was… wonderful. They plunged down, down, like a rocket into the deep. Superboy felt the water rushing past him, soft on his face, his stomach left behind on the shelf, his body light as air. There were deep enough now that the darkness pressed against his eyes, far away from the rays of a yellow sun, he thought with a wry smile. He could have been plunging through empty space were it not for the tug on his arm.
Suddenly, they changed direction, veering upwards, then rolling to the side, then in a breathtaking loop. Kaldur’s tattoos were starting to glow faintly, though whether to let Superboy see or an unconscious reaction to the thrill of underwater acrobatics, Superboy could not tell. Kaldur wasn’t looking back, not this time, but Superboy could still see his face. He looked radiant, there was no other word for it, like he was lighting up the deep with his goodness.
Superboy tugged on Kaldur’s arm. He had suddenly found himself unable to breathe, so he tamped his chest. Kaldur nodded and Superboy braced himself for the rush back to the surface. He didn’t prepare for Kaldur’s hand on the back of his neck, though, or the press of his lips as Kaldur breathed into him. Nothing, in fact, had prepared him for this, his stomach surely at the bottom of the ocean now, like it was in that elevator shaft, that moment before gravity pulled him down to earth. He remembered the solid feeling of his arm around Kaldur’s waist, and the warmth where their bodies met. He’d never felt warmth like that before, how had he forgotten that until now?
When Kaldur pulled away, Superboy, unthinking, gripped the front of his shirt and pulled him roughly back. He needed to feel it again, that warmth, that soft press against his mouth. It was important, somehow, like there was a puzzle there he itched to solve. Kaldur splayed a hand against his chest, hesitant, and maybe Kaldur didn’t understand this either, but they both knew that something was changing between them, down there in the deep.
When they surfaced, some time later, they stripped off their wet clothes and lay naked in the warm sand, side-by-side, breathing hard.
“When I learn to fly, I’ll take you up there,” Superboy said after awhile, staring up into the clouds.
Kaldur turned his head to look at Superboy. “I would like that,” he said, his expression warm and soft. He reached out and brushed their fingers together, and Connor forgot about the sky, for the moment.