Damned
By: Indy Croft. Copyright 2002.

This story was intended to be fluff, plain and simple, for those folks who just want to read a bit of romance. But now there is a story line that was thought up and developed upon by another story. That story was Moral Konflict: Kontinuation, by Biku. A fabulous, edge of your seat tale that I highly recommend. The first part of my story does come from the end of this one, and there may be some other scenes stolen from her story to fit into certain scenes here. So, if you didn't read MK:K, you won't get some of the things that take place, like why the two main characters are gods and can read each other's minds. There's also a reference to Biku's story, Johnny's Day Out, which is a great piece of comedy. Ok. That's that. Now…

My idea with this story is to explain why, once Johnny and Sonya declared they had feelings for each other, they weren't together in later stories. The beginning of the story is slightly out of continuity with the ending of MK:K. Also, I'm doing a bit of experimentation with characterization. While I diligently try to keep the two in character, I am also trying to explore some new sides that may or may not exist in our heroes. I just hope that in the end, you'll have found the story at least believeable, if not ultimately to your liking.

So, at the permission of the Elder Gods and the patrons of the Omniversal Bar, let the story begin…


Sonya and Johnny started back up the hill, leaving Rayden behind in his solitude, as he wanted. Johnny was all for teleporting, but Sonya reminded him that they would have to learn to suppress their powers, and the sooner they did that, the easier.

"I hate it when there's a lesson to be learned," Johnny muttered behind him as they climbed.

"Don't you ever find yourself at a loss of smart remarks?" Sonya snapped.

This time Johnny was hurt. "Yeah."

"Like when."

"Like when Nova died. And Hiko died. And Liu died. You might think I'm this flippant all the time, but that's not true," Johnny answered her, quietly.

Sonya stopped, and turned to look at him. He wasn't faking it. "You were really close to Nova, weren't you," she said softly. It wasn't a question. He nodded all the same.

"I'd like to think that I was in love with her," he replied. "I don't know whether it was true love or not, but it came close."

"I know that feeling," Sonya said, starting to walk again. Johnny jogged to catch up with her.

"Sonya--" he began, catching her arm. "I--"

"There's absolutely nothing to can say to me, Johnny Cage," she snapped. "Nothing is going to make me feel better."

"I love you too," he said simply. She stopped dead in her tracks.

"Except maybe that," she admitted.

"We never see each other, only when the world is in peril, I figured you had moved on, so I did too," Johnny continued.

Sonya didn't say anything. He left it at that. He started walking, and this time, Sonya had to jog to catch up with him.

"Johnny--I never told you why I was in China," she said, catching his attention. He turned, all ears. "It was to save you."

"Save me from what?" Johnny asked, curious. "I wasn't in any danger."

"That gangster, Lay Ho Ma, ran an international kidnapping ring. He kidnapped celebrities for the ransom money. He was a professional at it. And I found out that you were next on his list." She sighed, and looked to the ground, not willing to meet Johnny's eyes. "So I went AWOL to try and track him down. But when I got here, I just got this urge to see Liu, and well..." She trailed off.

"Jax was in it too?" Johnny asked, after a moment. She nodded.

"He said he'd follow me to the ends of the Earth." She chuckled slightly, a rare occasion for her. "I don't think he realized what he was saying."

Johnny laughed too, and reached out and took her hand. "Come on," he said, with a smile. "We've got a flight to catch in the morning."


The flight to LA was quiet and uneventful. The two warriors, champions of the realm of Earth, and now immortal gods of space and fire, sat stuffed in the comfortable but limited space chairs of first class, thanks to Johnny's unfathomable funding. Neither really had much to say, instead remaining distant in thought.

While Sonya could only imagine what, or whom, Johnny was thinking about, she herself couldn't help but feel bothered by their brief, honest conversation yesterday afternoon. She was worried for Rayden, and she mourned for Liu and the fire goddess Hiko… and then there was Nova. Sonya couldn't help the frown that came over her face. Nova was a brave fighter and a loyal friend. But to Sonya, she was also a threat.

She grimaced again, flinching as if she were struck. In a way, she was. Hurt by her own jealousy, Sonya wanted to hide her head in shame at her actions. True, she never attacked the goddess, verbally or physically, instead choosing to simmer under the surface and take her anger out on the one person who could handle it: Johnny. Which made perfect sense to her, as he was the cause of all the trouble. Going off and falling head over heels for a goddess he could never be with. What was he thinking? It was highly unlikely that anything could ever result between a mortal and a goddess except accepting the fact that one was going to grow incredibly old and die while the other remained eternally youthful.

Yet, he was a god now, wasn't he? Sonya glanced sideways at him ruffling through the plane's complimentary magazine, sighing heavily with boredom as he took another sip of his coffee and tried to flirt with the lovely stewardess who was about to pass by, which was amusing considering he hardly knew Chinese. About him was a slight glow, an almost heavenly tint that was barely perceptible in the bright light of the sun cascading through the plastic windows.

Sonya sighed inwardly. Yes, he was now the God of Fire; an immortal that could easily live with another immortal in total bliss, if both were so inclined. So that left Sonya to believe that if Nova had survived, the two would probably be off somewhere in complete bliss… right?

But Nova hadn't survived, and Sonya herself did. And she was a goddess now, too. The Goddess of Space. How odd it was to call herself that. A goddess. Wouldn't daddy be proud? Should she be proud? As much as she tried, she couldn't bring herself to do it. Her powers were only hers because Nova gave them to her. So no matter where she turned, it seemed the goddess was still with her, haunting her in a way; but not as much as Johnny's words.

"…I love you too… We never see each other, only when the world is in peril, I figured you had moved on, so I did too…"

…I figured you had moved on, so I did too…

As the simple phrase ran over and over in her head, Sonya felt a weight press upon her chest. She wasn't sure if it was sadness or doubt or defeat, but it bothered her immensely. Her main concern was that even after Johnny's confession, and the riddled one she herself gave, things would return to the way they were before. To the way they had always been.

Sonya shifted in her seat, uncomfortable with that prospect. In her mind, it was one step forward, two steps back. Nothing gained, everything lost. And as much as she wanted to say something to determine what was going to happen between them now, the carefree, we're-just-friends-as-always attitude Johnny was giving made her hesitate.

Better just to let go and move on, she convinced her thoughts with conviction.

If only her heart was convinced so easily.


The stewardess, called to the attention of another passenger, smiled and walked away from the actor. He smiled back, sighed again, and snuggled more into his chair, trying to make himself as relaxed as possible for the rest of the trip. He was tired and wanted nothing more than to sleep for the rest of the year, but the sudden turbulence of the plane changed his mind as his head couldn't stay in one place for more than a few seconds.

He still believed it would have been easier to make a portal and go home that way. But at Sonya's logical insistence, he took the plane with her, to try and return to living a normal life. Normal. Heh. That was a joke in itself. What, pray tell, was normal now? In a world where humans fight a tournament every generation to protect the citizens of the planet, mortals can become gods, and those same gods can be killed by other gods from other worlds, where the hell did normal fit in? Did such a thing exist anymore? Johnny was afraid he was truly beginning to lose his sanity. And yet, he had no objections to being insane. He could even say it was fun at times, defending the earth along side his now closest friends. Yet, there were the sacrifices that accompanied such honor.

He shook his head. No. He wasn't going to do it again. He was going to move on from the pain, the guilt, the regret. Being the new god of fire wasn't going to make that easy to achieve, however. Every time he felt heat, each flame he saw dancing on a candle, he would remember who he was and what he'd become and who had given him the power. He was frightened a bit by this new development; worried he would slip up and cause a disaster that would send everything to hell in a hand basket.

A shudder ran through him. The phrasing of that last thought made him worry. It made him reflect on the power he had been given, and flipping the coin, the power yet that he could obtain with it…

The plane hit a nasty air pocket and banked sharply to the left. People cried in fear and surprise, Johnny being among them as his shoulder fell heavily upon Sonya's, incidentally pressing her into the window. Almost immediately the plane was righted and steady, the captain's voice crackling over the intercom with words of comfort and confidence. Johnny pulled away from Sonya with an apologetic smile and an intended teasing remark, when he took a moment to actually look at her.

Her face was a pale mask of resignation. She looked slightly ill, somewhat lost, but mostly defeated. For the first time on that flight, he took notice of the darkened mood coming from her.

Are you all right? He asked without speaking.

Sonya looked at him sharply, as if remembering he was there.

What? She thought back.

He gazed intently at her, concern etched in his brow. Are you okay?

She watched him for a moment, no expression readable on her face, before she gave a simple nod. "I'm fine."

Johnny's look didn't let up, and she didn't back down. It wasn't until the captain announced the plane's decent that Johnny shrugged and settled himself back into his chair. They said little else as the plane landed and taxied into the gate. Once they stepped into the airport, Johnny shoved his hands in his pockets and watched Sonya pull out her ticket envelope to check for the gate number of her connecting flight back to DC. He stepped a little closer to have a look, and noticed that her flight didn't leave for another three hours.

"Gate 17 C," she muttered to herself while looking around for any type of directional map.

"It's down to the left, about a ten minute walk," Johnny mentioned. "I know, I've been through here enough."

Sonya looked at him for a second and nodded, noticing for the first time that he had put on a pair of sunglasses. Not his trademark kind, which surprised her, but more of a laid back, I'm kick ass and I'm taken kind of style. However, it didn't really do much to hide who he was to the public. "Thanks," she replied. They stood quietly for a moment. Sonya cleared her throat. "Well," she said in a professional tone. "Thanks for the company, Johnny. I'll be seeing ya." She turned and walked away.

"He-hey! Wait a second!"

Sonya turned with an inquisitive expression on her brow. "Yeah?"

"Your flight doesn't leave for a couple of hours. What are you going to do until then, make small talk with the other passengers?"

Sonya almost smiled. "Yeah, Johnny, you know how great I am with small talk," she commented sarcastically.

"That's my point. The shops here bite, and you don't have anything to read or do or anything. So how about some lunch before you go?"

Sonya blinked. "You want to do lunch?"

The actor shrugged. "Well, sure. I mean, God knows when we'll see each other again," he stepped closer and his voice dropped a bit, "unless some new inter-dimensional demon tries to destroy the universe again-"

"Omniverse," Sonya corrected.

"Whatever. So, why don't we make good of our short time together?"

Sonya's eyes faded just a bit, for whatever reason Johnny had no clue, but then she seemed to return to her old self.

"Gee, I dunno, Cage. I'm not sure if I want to be seen in public with you. They might start suspecting things."

"You say that like it's a bad thing." Johnny threw an arm around her shoulders. "'Sides, it might do me some good, and clear up those stories that I'm gay."

"Damn, I hope not. They're best sellers in DC." She bit back a laugh at the crestfallen look on his face.

"Please tell me you're lying," he pleaded pitifully.

She punched his arm lightly. "Come on, movie star. You're treatin' me to lunch." She began walking away when a thought struck her. "And don't feel bad about the press," she whispered lowly. "Now that you're a fire god, they can honestly call you a flamer!"

Johnny merely groaned in response.


Miraculously, the two drew in few spectators as they walked through the airport and chose a restaurant at which to dine. They chose a table at the back, away from the windows and with Cage's back to the people. A couple fans came over and asked for an autograph, but luckily they made no commotion about the actor's presence. The first part of lunch was focused mainly on a karate championship tournament on the television. Though neither was familiar with the names, they made small bets on who would win each match. Johnny won the first two bets on Sodom over Charlie and Guy over Rolento, but Sonya won the last two on Ryu over Birdie and Chun Li over Dan. Then their food arrived, and they turned away from the television to eat and chat.

"So," Johnny began as he took a bite into his steak. "What's up?"

Sonya sipped her iced tea. "Nothing."

"Uh-huh," he nodded with flat enthusiasm. "And you intend on keeping this conversation going… how?"

"Last time I checked, you were the big talker. I'm just here for a free meal."

"You're not even here for my great company? My wounded pride."

"Nothing can wound your pride except a bad day at the box office."

"Like such a thing is possible."

"Well, when you choose to live outside of reality, I guess anything is possible."

"That must be why I'm able to put up with you."

Sonya's eyes lifted from her iced tea to glare at him, but she saw only amusement on his face. His insult was playful, just a mockery of their normal conversations, so Sonya let the jibe slip. "All right. You wanted this lunch so we could shoot the shit, so to speak." She lifted the glass to her lips, took a sip then pointed at him with her glass still in the air. "You shoot first."

Johnny nodded. "All right." He sipped from his vodka rocks and sank down into the chair. "What was bothering you on the plane?"

"What do you mean?"

"You were kinda out of it, or at least that's how I perceived you. I got the feeling there's something weighing on your mind. I'm curious about what it was."

Sonya shifted a bit. "Johnny, look at what we just went through. What do you think I was thinking about?"

He instantly felt stupid. Of course she was upset about the recent events of the past week. But then, there was something else. "I understand. You just seem more…"

Sonya gave him a hard look. "Yeah?" she challenged.

Johnny searched for the right words that wouldn't get him killed, but in the end he realized she was always blunt, so he may as well be the same. "More emotional."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Excuse me?"

"Well, not like weeping, oh somebody hold me close emotional. Just… more vulnerable than normal."

"Vulnerable?!" she snapped, making some close occupants look over at them.

"Whoa, wait a min-" Johnny protested.

"Vulnerable! How dare you imply such a thing! Do I look like some helpless housewife to you, in a little apron, who knows nothing about the outside world because the bastard of a husband keeps her locked up at home?!"

"I didn't sa--" Johnny replied, waving his arms near the table in a calm down gesture.

Sonya would have none of it. "Just like a man, believing a woman with compassion to be weak and vulnerable! Just once I'd like to know why in the hell guys feel the need to degrade women just because of their emotions!"

By this time, Johnny had given up trying to end her tirade, instead putting his elbow on the table and his head in his palm with a posture of embarrassment and defeat.

"And who the hell do you think you are, deciding how emotional I am?! You don't know anything about me, about who I really am! But then again, I should be used to that. You're always much more busy boosting your own image than caring about anyone else, so what would possible make me think you'd start caring now!"

"I'm careless?!" he suddenly exploded. "After everything we went through with the tournaments, after every single time I put my life on the line to help you, you have the nerve to call me careless!"

The restaurant became quiet around the two arguing occupants, and everyone was either turned in their chairs or standing up to see.

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason no one knows anything about you is because you're like a friggin' block of ice?! A person would have to blow torch, burrow, drill, and power saw his way through your ice barrier just to get close to you, and that's assuming there was anything in there worth getting close to!"

Sonya was too infuriated to think of an insult equal to the harsh one he released on her. She glared angrily and noticed subtle waves of heat coming off his shoulders. Oh, shit, she thought. The last thing they needed was for him to set the restaurant on fire. Momentarily putting aside the concern on the argument, she took her glass of iced tea and threw it in his face.

"Hey!" Johnny yelped, the sudden attack stunning him. He was about to retort, but a second yelp sounded next to him, and Johnny looked in time to see a waiter go sliding across the room on a cube of ice from Sonya's tea. Into a banister he went, and he flipped over onto a lower table, causing food, silverware, and occupants to fly in all directions. The waiter's unexpected trip set off a domino effect disaster, with angry customers causing mishap after mishap that left furniture, dishes, and diners on the floor. Arguments and fist fights followed.

The manager came out with some other employees, and as they attempted to break up the disturbance, they ended up being dragged to the floor in a bloody brawl. Dishes and partially eaten meals were being tossed around like a salad, knocking bystanders to the glassy, splintered floor.

As for the two who were to be thanked for the live entertainment, they stood in the back staring mutely at the free-for-all. As one, they turned to look at each other, all signs of anger from their argument gone.

"Oops."

Airport security showed up a few moments later. Johnny swore quietly, and Sonya knew her thoughts weren't much distant from his own. They shared another quick look before hightailing it out of there. Johnny stopped briefly to throw a lot of bills on the table and a bunch of napkins to wipe off his face and wet shirt, grabbed Sonya's wrist, and proceeded to drag her out a decently cleared side exit. The two walked briskly away from the ruckus, attempting the image of bystanders who lost interest in the fight.

It didn't work. Completely, at least. While the two escaped the possibility of being charged with starting the fight and paying the restaurant for damages, they were unable to avoid the inevitable clash with the public, and the fans who screamed at seeing a Hollywood movie star. At first sound, Sonya believed the airport to be under attack at the number of high pitched screams breaking out around them. Instinctively, she fell into a defense stand. For a mob of wild fans was something she wasn't prepared. They were surrounded in moments.

"Please sign this-"

"I can't believe it…"

"You're my favorite actor!"

"Are you single-"

"Is that your girlfriend-"

"I thought he was gay-"

Johnny smiled grandly, though frowned on one comment he heard, and took someone's pen to make a few quick signatures. Sonya just stood looking uncomfortable and annoyed.

"Don't go anywhere," Johnny whispered to her, just loud enough to be heard over the talkative fans. "We still need to talk."

"There's nothing to talk about, and I doubt I'd be able to get out if I tried."

"Look! Down there!"

"Aw, now what?" Johnny muttered when there were multiple cries from twenty feet away.

"Oh, shit," Sonya cursed. Coming in a small swarm with glinting cameras and hand held recorders, the American paparazzi of The Star approached the actor and his companion in hopes of making a new story. She gave Johnny one really annoyed look before attempting to push through the crowd.

Sonya jumped when her hand was seized and pulled sharply to the left. People around her were ruthlessly shoved to the side by the actor who seemed determine to run everyone over. Not far behind, the press gave chase, snapping pictures and shouting muddled questions at the couple.

"Johnny-what are you doing?" Sonya shouted when they were clear of the mob and running through the airport. His answer was cut off by more shouts, this time from security guards. "Shit, Johnny, stop!"

But he didn't. He continued to run, even with security after them, even when Sonya dug her heels into the few patches of carpeting they came across in an attempt to slow him down.

"Johnny! Stop!"

He didn't turn back as he answered. "Where's your sense of fun and adventure?"

"Adventure?" Sonya frowned. "How is this adventurous?"

"I've always loved chase scenes!" He let go of her hand, dodged to the side, ran a few feet ahead of her, and leapt a pile of baggage in his way with the pliability of a deer or gazelle. Ahead of him, the people in the airport began to clear when they heard the various yelling of cops, fans, and the press, all still being after the two.

"Race you to the end of the terminal!" Johnny shouted, a sudden burst of speed sending him about three feet ahead of the confused lieutenant.

Never one to resist a challenge, Sonya began running faster to catch up. For the first time that day, the stress that Sonya kept fighting was slowly lifting away. A vicious grin on her face, she leaned more into the run and pressed her heels into the floor. Quickly she gained, and began to pull ahead.

"Come on, can't you run better than that?! Your legs are longer!" Sonya mocked, her grin never falling, instead widening when she herself leapt over some bags. A feeling of freedom washed over her, and she began to run faster, needing the high speed. Johnny remained at her side, sometimes pulling ahead, sometimes falling behind. The escalators leading to the trolleys that transported individuals to the baggage claim came into view.

Sonya noticed Johnny inching her, and she shook her head slightly.

"Hell no, Cage!" Lungs burning and heart pounding furiously, Sonya pushed herself to the limit. The descending stairs were five feet, four feet, three feet, and she could feel the rubber of the handrail…

…and then three security guards were racing up the escalator towards them.

"Shit!" Sonya and Johnny yelped in unison. The actor veered sharply to the left while the lieutenant steered to the right. Most of the crowd followed Johnny, while about six guards chased her.

All right, genius, now what? Sonya asked when she lost sight of him.

Don't tell me you're worn out already? Johnny replied instantly, sounding the smirk on his face.

Johnny. We're in trouble with security. We get caught, we're screwed.

So what? I'll cover any fines.

That's not the point. You really want the press to see you in trouble with the law, or at least more in trouble than you are now?

Oh. Right. Ok, yeah, I think it's time to make our exit.

Yes, and you plan on doing that how? It's not like we can just walk out the front gate.

Can you get away from them?

Can you? You have half the airport chasing you!

I'm fine; I'm used to it. Can you shake them?

Sonya looked around and noticed a crowded restaurant. Yeah, she answered him. I should be able to.

Pivoting sharply to the left, she pushed through the people, keeping low all the while. Grunts and shouts of protest rewarded her forceful shoves all the way to the ladies room at the other end of the restaurant. A quick glance behind her was all she left before dodging into the bathroom.

It was a small coral colored tile room with two stalls, both open and empty. Two sinks, one long mirror, and a small plant finished off the décor. There was no place to hide, and no window to escape through. Backtracking wasn't an option, and she certainly couldn't stay where she was. That left only one other escape route, whether it meant breaking her promise or not.

Something seized her waist from behind and everything around her shifted into blurred colors and jagged edges. When everything returned to its normal tilt it was to be in a new environment, one that was more pale white than pink. New objects shifted into spaces that were once bare and the sounds of rock and roll from the chatty restaurant melted into the sounds of silence.

The kitchen was in a U shape, with the stove, cabinets, microwave, and refrigerator against the one wall. It curved into the sink and dishwasher, and completed its track with a long clear counter top and bar stools tucked underneath. Past the bar was a set of glass doors leading to a deck, and next to that was another room dividing from the kitchen by a half wall banister. The living room, as Sonya assumed it was, had pale beige carpeting, a tan love seat and two twin tan recliners, a glass table diving them. A simple metal based reading light sat atop the glass, and a few scattered coasters topped off the decorations. Across from the recliners a flat screen three comb digital filter television with a 5.1 surround sound stereo system sat on the floor, waiting for an entertainment center to be set upon. No pictures hung on the walls, but a lone plant sat wilting in the corner.

Looking down the hall to the left of where she stood studying the interior, Sonya could discern a stairwell leading up to the right, and another room off to the left. Continuing past, there was a panel wood floor that expanded both left and right all the way to the wall that ended the hallway. Everything about the place resonated with a peaceful solitude of someone who had no interest in bright colors or in attention demanding decorations…

…though it did scream man and single with one loud, and rather shrill, voice. Sonya rolled her eyes at the laundry scattered about the floor.

"Don't tell me," Johnny quipped from behind her. "You like it."

She turned, blinked, and threw a right hook into his jaw.

"Ow!" he yelped with a stagger. "Damn, I didn't think the interior was that bad!"

"You broke your promise," Sonya said with a cross of her arms.

Johnny sighed. "Well, we were kind of stuck in an uncompromising position."

"Which you got us in when you ran from security."

"We were being chased by the media."

"Because you thought it would be fun to run through an airport!"

"Wasn't it?"

"No!" she lied in the attempt to hide the enjoyment she had of doing something so foolishly entertaining.

"Liar."

She observed his tiny smile and challenging glance.

"You loved it and you know it."

Sonya glared with disdain. "Like you would know anything I love."

"You love me." Johnny grinned at Sonya's shocked expression, but she quickly covered it with a scorn and replied,

"Oh, you wish."

"I don't wish. I know," he replied while turning away, and he could feel the scorch of her gaze burning right through his shirt. He walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a bowl of cherries and some pineapple chunks. He set them on the counter, took a cherry by the stem, and popped it into his mouth. "Mmm, yum. Cherries are a wonderful thing. Tasty and fun to play with." He offered her the bowl.

"Did you bring me here for an intelligent reason," Sonya questioned carefully when she declined, "or just to discuss your food fetishes?"

Johnny put another cherry in his mouth before putting both elbows on the table and leaning closer to her. She felt provoked to move back but wouldn't give him the pleasure of her discomfort. Yet it was almost like he could see through her. He stared at her thoughtfully, provoking her to stare right back. "If you're really uncomfortable being here, you're welcome to leave, ya know."

She sighed heavily and turned, her body leaning back to press into the counter. "I don't see why you bother bringing up conversations if you're never going to finish them."

"All right," Johnny allowed, "I did bring you here for a reason."

"And that was?"

"What was bothering you on the plane?"

Sonya turned sharply. She stared him down again, this time with a more calculating glance than a curious one. "Didn't we already go through this?"

"Perhaps," Johnny allowed with a shrug. "But you never really answered my question."

"Yes, I did," Sonya countered briskly. "I told you I was bothered by what we just went through. What more do you want me to say?"

"The truth," he answered simply. "Sonya, I've been thinking a lot, about everything that has happened, and I've realized that with Liu gone and Rayden in such a catatonic state right now… well, we're the only two left. Yes, there's Jax, but he wasn't in on the first or second tournaments, and doesn't understand the struggle we all went through to protect the earth." In a casual gesture of concern, his hand reached across the counter and lightly gripped one of hers. "We've been through so much, and now with being gods and stuff, we'll have so much more to go through… and I just want you to know I'll be here for you if you need help, and I hope you'll be there for me, too."

Sonya blinked at him a few times, a blank expression on her face that soon turned into disgust. "That," she spat while removing her hand, "was the biggest line of bullshit I have ever had the patience to listen to."

"Why do you insist on making this so difficult?" Johnny asked in exasperation.

Sonya shook her head, voicing her confusion through her gestures. "What?"

"All I want to do is tell you that I care about you, and ever time I try to be nice, you always push me down," he commented quietly. "It's like you've made it your own personal quest to degrade me. Don't you ever get tired of being a bitch?"

Sonya felt odd in reaction to his words. She felt warmed by his patient tone, and frozen by his rebuke. Two emotions warred inside her, fighting to reply to his patient silence. She wanted to lash out, cut him down with her own bitter remarks. But his question made her hesitate, because his point was valid. Shang Tsung had seen through her on that cursed island so long ago… Was Johnny seeing it, too? She was tired, just so tired…

And her pride was ruining everything.

"I can't," she answered. "I just--" She rolled her eyes to the ceiling, closed them to regain her composer, and slapped her hand on the table. "Forget it. I should go." She turned away from the counter, her mind already focusing on making a portal for her home, but Johnny's arms circled her from behind and kept her rooted firmly to the spot.

"Wait, don't run away from this, not when we're getting somewhere."

"Getting somewhere?" Sonya questioned, struggling only slightly to break from his embrace.

"What did you want to say? What were you going to tell me?"

"Cage." An edge colored her voice.

"What can't you do?" he persisted. "What are you running from?"

"I'm not running from anything!" she snapped, a burst of anger making her fight to get away. "Damn it, let me go!"

"I thought the other day meant something," Johnny countered. "Was I wrong?"

"I need to get back to the airport. My flight--"

"Was I wrong?"

Sonya sighed, let her chin lower to her chest. Though her resistance faded, she remained quiet.

"It did, and I think you know it just like I do. But I don't know why you are so obsessed to avoid it."

"I want to go back, Johnny," the Space goddess whispered, not clarifying to where she wanted to return.

His head lowered to her left shoulder, where he rested his chin. "But I want you to stay here."

Sonya closed her eyes in an attempt to calm the thrill that went up her spine. She was confused at what Johnny wanted, or was getting at, but at the moment, she simply felt comfortable in his embrace. Maybe things could work out, even if she wasn't confident of where they would go. Her chin tilted to the left, and as her head turned to look at her companion, his lips brushed hers unexpectedly. She jumped. Again, he kissed her. It was soft and yielding, but something about it made Sonya stiff and unsure.

What are you doing?

What should not have taken this long to happen.

It sounded valid, but it still felt wrong, until another gentle kiss made Sonya shiver in appreciation. It may not have been right, but it felt so good, so good to be wanted by another. With ease and a soft sigh, she relaxed into his arms. Moments later, when brushing lips became something more, she turned to face him, and gentle caresses developed into harnessed fire. Touches burned her skin; made her blood sizzle and her body perspire like so many saunas. He was all flame, and she all space, ready to consume his heat in an attempt to fill the void she had been damned with for so long. It was thrilling and spectacular and everything the lieutenant wanted from him. Though it frightened her beyond belief that she would suddenly be so willing to risk her heart and trust for something as foolish as this man, that was what made it so sinfully good. For the first time since her partner died, she let herself go completely and pushed aside the doubts she'd been fighting for countless years. He had told her he loved her, now he was proving it, and only with this firmly set in her mind did she allow him to take her to his room.

Johnny was simply content to get what he had wanted for so long.


Her cell went off.

"Damn," she muttered. "I was comfortable." Johnny just smiled. "What?" she asked him as she reached for the pile of clothes on the floor.

"Nothing," he said with a grin.

"I doubt that."

"Don't be too long on the phone. When I'm ignored, I get bored, and then I get evil."

Her eyebrow arched. "You better not try anything if this call is important, or you and me gonna be sharing some words." She checked the number. "Oh, shit!" and Johnny jumped at her outburst. "Shit, shit, shit!"

"What?!"

She flipped the phone open and pressed it to her ear. "Hey, Jax," she answered as casually as possible.

"Where the hell are you, goddamn it?!" Sonya and Johnny both moved away from the phone while a pleasant list of profanities flew from the receiver. When the Captain's monologue ended, Sonya slowly returned the phone to her ear.

"Having a good day there, Jax?"

Johnny, who was trying not to listen, couldn't help but hear the Captain complain about Sonya not showing up with her flight.

"Oh, yeah." She chewed her lip for a moment. "Yeah, I missed that." She ran her hand over her face, a look of 'I'm fucked' shining in her eyes. Then her body tensed. "Oh, thanks for getting my bag for me." Her head turned to look at Johnny.

We forgot your luggage at the airport.

Oops, Johnny smiled back. Guess I'll hit the lost and found tomorrow.

Jax then asked for a reason why Sonya missed her flight.

She was momentarily at a loss for words.

Jax supplied for her.

"Well, yeah, that's part of it. We were talking, we had lunch, I missed my flight, and I forgot to call you."

Johnny covered his mouth when the Captain's next comment came over the phone.

"NO, I'm not having sex with him!"

The actor quirked an eyebrow at her, and she glared back. Don't say anything, she thought to him fiercely. Then her hand went over her eyes as Jax argued with her on the topic.

Being the new god of flames, Johnny decided to throw some gasoline on the fire. He carefully moved close to her and spoke into the phone. "Hey, Jax."

Sonya barely cut off her panicked cry, and she gave him such a heated look, he was wondering if he would burst into flames at any moment. But then again, that didn't bother him one bit.

"No, Jax, yes, he's with me right now-Not like that! Jax, I told you, I missed the flight, and he offered a room until I could get another plane tomorrow."

"You coming back to bed?" he asked loudly.

By this time, Sonya was fuming and energy sparked around her while she sent him very mean and painful sounding threats telepathically. "No, Jax, it's not how it sounds. He's joking around, trying to make me sound bad. You know how this miserable son of a bitch is and-Jax, I don't think we should-" She stopped as a thought entered her mind.

I'm getting bored.

Annoyed with the intrusion, Sonya flicked the fire god off and went back to finishing her sentence. "Jax, the stuff that happened in China, don't talk about on the phone. Just understand I'm trying to keep things like they were, s-Aah!" Sonya stopped abruptly, a yelp passing her lips when a sharp tingling sensation rose from her chest. She looked down to see Johnny sucking lightly on her breast, the smallest of grins upon his face.

"No, no, I'm all right," Sonya replied hurriedly, and a little unsteadily. "I burned my hand when I was pulling a plate from the microwave." Her free hand tried to push his head away from her, so he took the wrist and pressed it into the bed, keeping it pinned there. His tongue, meanwhile, never let up on his gentle administrations. A quick lick here, a languorous lap there, a nibble, a bite, a tiny tug. Soon Sonya was melting under him, her body tensing and tingling while she attempted to keep up with Jax and his unimportant words. Finally, as Sonya felt herself about to lose control completely, and just from a simple caress, she couldn't believe, Johnny pulled away to begin nuzzling her collarbone. His tongue trailed up her neck to kiss under her chin, and bite gently at the very tip of her jaw.

She realized she was panting ever so slightly, and quickly controlled herself again. "My flight number?" she asked her superior in a slightly dazed voice.

Johnny's weight pressed closely to her side, his head moved onto her pillow, and his lips came so close to her ear that the hairs on her neck blew gently with his breath.

"Get off the phone," he demanded softly. A second later, his lips closed around her earlobe and he bit down.

Sonya's eyes closed; she shifted her body until it was strung tight like a bow, leaving her neck completely open to his unforgiving kisses. Low moans echoed in her throat, though she tried to restrain them from passing her lips. The hand on her stomach lifted until only fingertips touched, and danced across her smooth skin. They moved up to the top of her ribcage where they flattened and gripped her body, scorching her skin with their individual weights. Another sigh escaped her before she turned her head away from the phone to bite down on the pillow.

Beneath the sheets, Johnny's hand slithered between her legs, caressing only the outer skin of the apex of her legs. Two fingers traced her upper right thigh, then her left thigh, then the navel, while his lips again seized her pert nipple.

Sonya was nearly mad with pleasure, mouth agape and eyes sealed tight. She wanted to cry out so bad it hurt yet she couldn't while Jax was still on the line. And there was no way she was going to let Johnny make her lose it while talking to her superior. Jax would never let her live it down! She swallowed and focused her mind not on the heat coursing through her, but on the words of her friend and partner.

"Yes, Jax. I'm still here. I was distracted-what did you want to know?" Her eyes opened and focused back on Johnny, who grinned like a mastered trickster after he placed himself over her. She glared back. As if believing that to be a challenge, Johnny lowered himself to his forearms, pressing his bare chest to hers, leaving his face not an inch away. With the softness of a feather, the actor pressed his lips to the corner of her pouted mouth, down to the tip of her chin, across her forehead. Sonya merely laid there, quiet and still below him. When his lips moved from her, she looked up into the sparking blue eyes above her. From those eyes she found a serious face, filled with something she couldn't quite identify. Whatever it was, it made her mind go black for just a moment, made her heart speed up just a beat, restricted her breathing for just a second.

Hang up, he thought to her.

"Damn, ya know what? The ticket's downstairs. I gotta get it, hang on," she remarked quickly. She tossed the phone on the bed before Jax could reply and pulled Johnny's head to hers.

The gap between them closed, his hot lips covered her slightly parted ones, and Sonya never knew such tenderness. There was no fire in the kiss, no demand or desire; the term compassion did it no justice, and love was too simplified. It didn't rock her to a new level of awareness, or grant her the most pleasure of any man she shared her sleeping quarters with. It was just everything. As mysterious and questionable as their own existence, it merely held an innocence she thought dead, an answer to which she knew no question, and a promise of an unspoken plea.

When Johnny pulled away, she didn't even realize until her mouth became cool. Without opening her eyes, her one hand brought the phone to her ear while the other was set firmly at the nape of Johnny's neck. The tiny voice drifted over the cell as Jax tried to get Sonya's attention.

"Wait, I'm still looking," she responded, slightly breathless.

The phone was tossed again into the sheets and this time Johnny didn't wait for Sonya's permission. Immediately he kissed her with something more primal and complex than the last. The room temperature increased steadily with every passing moment as they pulled each other closer in the demand to touch and taste everything. When Sonya pulled away for air, Johnny didn't stop. His kisses kept moving over her hot skin.

Blindly, Sonya reached for the phone. "Jax. Something has just come up. I'll call you back later." The phone beeped off, bounced on the bed, clattered to the floor, but neither noticed nor cared.


When their lovemaking was through, Sonya curled into his side and drifted between distant dreams and close reality. The two said little, letting instead their caresses speak their thoughts. Johnny felt a distance in Sonya's touches. Curious, he squeezed her lightly as he spoke.

"What are you thinking about?" he whispered, never taking his eyes from the ceiling.

Sonya sighed, waited a moment before answering. "You."

He smiled. "Good thoughts or bad thoughts?"

"What's the difference?" she chuckled.

"I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult."

"Have I ever given you a compliment?"

"Yes."

Sonya sat up and looked at him with a frown. "No way. I don't remember ever giving you the pleasure of a compliment."

"Your recent screaming would state otherwise."

"… Oh."

Johnny laughed at Sonya's sudden silence and slight blush. "Now I know how to put you in your place," he said with a chaste kiss to her wrist. "Future ammunition."

"Oh, you're one to talk," Sonya snapped back. "As I recall, you were yelling a few compliments yourself."

Johnny laughed again. "So I was."

Sonya smirked and lied back down, placing her head on the pillow next to his and spooning into his side.

"Sonya?"

"Hmm?"

"Good thoughts or bad?"

"C: Undecided."

"That doesn't sound good."

"Don't worry about it, Johnny."

"But I do worry. I want to make sure everything is all right."

"All right with what?"

Johnny shifted. "Well, with us."

Sonya sat up again, propping herself on her elbow and staring at him, confused. "Us?"

"Yeah, us. I was kinda hoping that all of this," he gestured to the bed, "would kinda mean there was an us." Johnny looked at her carefully. "Do you want it to be something different?"

Sonya shrugged slightly, her gaze shifting to the sheets. "No…"

"…But…"

She shook her head making her blonde locks sway. "Nothing." Her eyes met his. "But nothing." A smile replaced her frown and again she lay down, but this time she turned and pressed her back to him. "Everything is good here. Us is good."

"But not at first thought."

"No, that's not what I was saying."

"I don't recall you saying anything. You left the thought hanging."

"Don't worry about it."

"That's what got us into this conversation in the first place!"

"It's nothing important."

"Sonya. You're important, therefore anything you think, feel, and believe is important, too."

Sonya said nothing.

So Johnny sat up and began pushing the sheets off, making his way to climb out of the bed. "You still don't trust me." He felt her stiffen then once again sit up sharply, but paid no heed. Instead, he wrapped the comforter around his waist and placed his feet on the soft carpeting of the room.

"I do trust you." Sonya's voice was soft, and the movie star flinched inwardly at the hurt in her tone.

"Enough to tell me what's on your mind?"

Again, Sonya was silent. Johnny stood. "Fine."

"Nova."

Now Johnny froze and was quiet.

"I've been thinking about Nova."

"And?" Johnny asked, his tone flat.

"And what you said the other day. At the temple, on the hill." Sonya waited, but nothing was returned. She cleared her throat slightly, trying to ease the sudden swelling. "You said you loved her."

"I said I loved you, too."

"You also said you'd moved on." She looked down at the sheet scrunched tightly in her hand. "Did you?"

He scoffed slightly. "Well obviously not, if we just made love, not to mention the fact that we just classified ourselves as a couple."

"And if she was alive?"

He frowned. "What?"

"If Nova was alive, would we still be together?"

At this, Johnny tensed. Slowly, he turned to her, but she didn't look at him. Her focus remained completely on the sheet in her hands. "Sonya…"

"I trust you."

Johnny breathed quietly, didn't move at all as he waited for her to continue. She didn't, and he didn't know what to say. Eventually, he looked down also, and hoped that his honesty would be enough.

"I don't know," he answered softly.

"You would be with her."

Johnny looked up, anger brewing beneath the skin. "I didn't say that."

Sonya sighed. "You didn't have to."

"Would you rather I be with her if I was given the choice?"

Sonya's eyes flicked to his momentarily, shock evident in the blue depths. But as soon as they caught his, they were back to her hands.

"Would you?" he persisted.

"No."

"Then don't bring it up. Nova's dead. Give both her and myself some peace, and just leave her that way."

She shook her head. "I can't."

Hands tossed high in the air, Johnny gave a great sigh of frustration and turned from her to walk the few paces to the window and lean against the glass that looked out onto the crashing ocean. The sun was setting, making everything pastel colors of pink, purple, and gold. It was soothing to him, being just enough to make him momentarily forget the crisis of the heart taking place in his bedroom.

"What are you thinking about?"

Johnny sighed. "You."

"Good thoughts or bad thoughts?"

"Is there a difference?" Johnny asked with a slight grin, copying her words.

"There is now."

He turned again and looked at her. This time, her eyes were trained on him, studying every move he made. "What is this really about, Sonya?"

"I want to know about you and Nova," she said quietly but confidently.

"Why?"

"For my own reasons."

"And these reasons, I suppose, outweigh my own reasons for wanting to drop the subject entirely?"

"I don't see why you have any reason to object unless you have something to hide."

"What the hell?!" Johnny half shouted. "I have something to hide?!"

"I'm getting the impression."

"This is bullshit," he snapped, his body suddenly becoming warm with the rush of anger. "I never got involved in your past, so do me a favor and stay out of mine."

"I am a part of your past, Johnny! I knew you before Nova ever came into the picture. And I'm not stupid, nor am I blind, Cage, and I could clearly see that you felt for her. You said yourself that you loved her, which means for a time you didn't love me. Now I need to know who your heart really belongs to."

Johnny stared in shock. "Wha… Wait a minute. You want me to compare you to a dead woman?"

Sonya gave him a withering glance but said nothing.

"All right. Hmmm, let's see," he started, in mock deep thought. "If I had to chose between a dead woman and a live woman about who I would want to spend the rest of my life with, who would I choose? Damn, that's a tough one. You, of course!"

"Just because she's dead?"

"No!" he groaned and covered his face with his hands.

"Because I'm alive."

"Sonya, that's no different than your last response."

Now she was getting frustrated. "But that was exactly what you said."

"Yeah? Well it isn't what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?"

Johnny's sigh sounded like that of a defeated enemy. He rubbed his eyes again. "What do you want me to say?"

"I want an honest, clear answer."

"Perhaps if I had an honest, clear question."

Sonya stared at him for a moment. "If I tell you what's bothering me, will you answer my question truthfully and seriously?"

Johnny nodded. "Yes, if you will just get to the point of this confusing conversation so we can actually get somewhere."

For a moment, her eyes shot daggers for the smart remark. She turned her head away, fiddled with the sheets a bit, and began. "We've had a rather… odd… friendship together since the first tournament, and over time I came to enjoy your company, as annoying as you can be. For a while, I was hoping something would come out of our short time together. But as you said, our social lives seemed to keep us separated, and nothing came of it. And then we were called to save the Omniverse yet again, but now there's this goddess involved who seems to have some type of history with you, as quaint as I'm guessing it was, and I'm off on the sidelines trying to figure where I stand." She paused.

Johnny said nothing.

"I understand that it's not really my business to know what went on between you two," Sonya continued in a controlled voice. "But in an obscure way I'm still involved. If Nova hadn't of died, we may not be here. For all I know, she could have been the one in your bed at this very moment."

The Fire God began to protest, but Sonya held her hand up, chewed her lip for a moment. "And from all of this, I… feel strange, Johnny."

"In what way?"

"Like… like I'm a fulcrum, and everything I do tips the balance one way or another. And it's like, right now, everything I'm doing is throwing everything else off balance, including myself."

"I don't understand."

She set herself back against the wall, bringing her knees somewhat close to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. "I don't really understand it myself," she supplied. "I don't even know where to begin to explain."

"Then just begin."

Sonya nodded. "I'm confused about this bizarre love triangle we're in. You love me, you love Nova, we both care for you, but now she's dead, and we have her powers so she's always with us, in a way, reminding us of her sacrifice. And I mean, what if things didn't work out the way they did? What if she lived, and she took back our powers? Where would we be?" She looked at him. "If Nova hadn't have died, I don't think you would have told me you loved me, and I wouldn't have reciprocated. But I would still be hurt knowing that you'd be with Nova."

"That's assuming I went with Nova." Johnny shook his head. "There's no way of knowing that's what would have happened."

"But we both know we wouldn't be together right now, be it she was alive."

Johnny gave her a sharp look. "Why do you say that?"

"You didn't tell me how you felt until after she died, because I questioned your feelings. I wouldn't have said anything if she were alive. And if I didn't ask, you wouldn't have answered, and we wouldn't be here."

Johnny shrugged. "Ok, perhaps. If things were different, perhaps what you say is true. But Sonya, things didn't happen differently. We are here, we are now, because what happened is over with. There's no point in brooding over a past event you can't change."

"That's not the point!" Sonya argued with a toss of her blonde hair.

"Then what is?!" he asked in quiet exasperation.

"I need to know where I stand with you!" she snapped, her hands pounding into the sheets, making soft thumps into the mattress. "I need to know that I'm the most important person in your life, that you love me because of me, and not because she's no longer available!"

Johnny looked stricken, her words clearly stinging him more than any physical attack. Hearing it was like getting smacked with ice water. For the first time since he received the power of Hiko, he felt cold. This was something he wasn't expecting, and now that it was staring him in the face, he wished he could have seen it coming. "Is that what you think? That you're here with me because you're convenient?"

"Aren't I?!" she retorted sharply.

For a moment he was speechless, and then he was angry. "Jesus Christ, Sonya, of course not!" he shouted. "Goddamn it, what kind of a man do you take me for? How could you possible think something like that?!"

"All I know is that you loved her, and now that she's gone, you suddenly come clean about your apparent feelings for me, and you sweep me away from the airport and bring me to your bed, your bed for Christ's sake, and I just came along willingly! I just let it all happen while trying to convince myself that this wouldn't happen if you didn't love me, but the doubt didn't go away, Johnny!"

He half sighed and ran his hand through his hair, obviously trying to calm himself. "Did everything that happen in this room today mean nothing to you?"

"That's not the point," Sonya hissed.

"Yes, it is," he replied sharply. "And you're either too blind or too stupid to see it."

The Space Goddess recoiled slightly. A sour look crossed her face to be quickly replaced by confusion. "Then explain it to me, because your seemingly bottomless bag of tricks is leaving me lost to what's real and what's not."

Johnny sat on the bed, leaned back onto his side, brought up his hand to her cheek, and pulled her head to his for a gentle kiss. A moment later, he pulled away. "Was that real enough for you?" He shook his head and continued before letting her answer. "There are no tricks here, no smoke and mirrors. You're here with me because I want you here with me." He lightly stroked her chin. "Wanting Nova and having you is not the same as having her. I wouldn't want you to replace her, or even attempt to. You are here, as you, and that's good enough for me."

Sonya's face fell slowly from quiet contemplation to a soft anger. She lowered her head with a quiet sigh.

Johnny, confused and a little worried, frowned as he moved to look her in the eyes again. "What? What is it?" he asked gently.

"I don't think I can live with that. I appreciate your honesty, but… I just can't," she answered flatly, and began moving from the bed. Johnny caught her wrist.

"Whoa, wait a minute. What do you mean you can't live with that? I want you. I love you. What else do I have to say to make you believe me?"

Her eyes, soft blue and broken, searched his. "I do believe you, but you're right. I am not Nova. Having her and having me is not the same. Not at all. And I can't live my life in her shadow." She regarded Johnny, as his eyes grew large. Her face became composed and her voice strong if not stern. "I gave you a choice, you made it. As thrilled as I am to know how much you love me, it obviously can't compare to the love you had for her. And second best just isn't good enough for me."

Patiently, she pulled her wrist from his grasp and again attempted to stand.

This time, Johnny made no move to stop her. Silently, he watched her gather her clothes and walk into his bathroom. Something in the quiet click of the closing door made him shudder with a coldness he couldn't seem to get rid of. Strangely unable to stare at the door, he turned to the sunken sun and the disappearing colors of dusk that faded into darkness. Realization made his happiness melt into melancholy.

After finally gaining what he had wanted for so long, he had to face the possibility of letting it go.


Breathing was key to everything. It kept things alive, it relaxed the body and mind, and it helped fade the redness around Sonya's eyes. Water helped, too, but only if she scrubbed her skin to a pinkish hue so her eyes didn't stand out. Damn, she hated crying. It didn't accomplish anything. It was a useless tool that made a person messy and weak looking. Yet no matter how hard she scolded herself, she couldn't seem to stop the few rebellious tears that kept falling. But she would stop it, if she had to stay in the bathroom all night. Letting him see her pain would do her no good. She'd just have to tuck it away like everything else, and use it for a nitrogen burst when things went bad at work.

She smiled ironically. Like things were anything but bad at work. That was her job, though, cleaning up scum. She was good at it, and happy with it, even if it cut off her social life completely. It did the same to Jax, so she wasn't totally alone, though she preferred it that way.

Was the solitude so preferable now?


Wood rustling carpet brought Johnny out of his hypnotic stare into the night. His gaze shifted to the blonde lieutenant who seemed adamant about avoiding his eyes. He granted her wish, and turned his back to her again. He said nothing, she said nothing, and it wasn't until she began making her way to the door to slip out quietly that he broke the silence.

"If it makes you feel any better, things probably would not have worked out between us anyway."

Sonya paused in the door, a stone of unwanted acceptance sinking her stomach to her feet.

"Assuming she remained alive, we wouldn't have kept our powers, for what reason would we need them? She would have taken them back, and again we would be mortals, plain and simple. What type of life could I have had with her? A mortal and an immortal in love?" Johnny sighed. "It hurts… because it's true. It wouldn't have worked."

Heart in throat and eyes widened, understanding slowly worked its way into her mind. Johnny wasn't talking about Sonya and him; he was talking about Nova. Words began to form on her tongue, but didn't pass her parted lips that trembled slightly.

"I loved her, Sonya. I won't lie about that. She was a touch of every element, with a passion and brilliance and innocence that was playful and deadly. There was just something about her that was so attractive, so… perfect, and it's so hard to discern because no words in human tongue could describe it." He shook his head. "And I think that was the problem. She was too perfect. She was something so much more than human, much more than mortal, and I could never match that."

After a moment, Sonya found her voice. "If she didn't take back your powers, you might have. I mean, you already believe yourself to be more than human now," she replied, her tone soft but tinged with a bitterness she couldn't hide. "And I think we both know she would have let you keep Hiko's powers, so you could be with her."

"Don't do that," Johnny chastised. "Don't pretend in the present."

The admonishing tone in the actor's voice made Sonya feel like a reprimanded ten year old, and it set off her temper in a second. "For some, pretending is a lot easier than facing reality. You would know, you've made a living out of it," she remarked snidely. She observed the sudden tensing of his back and shoulders. He stood and turned on her with fire glowing behind his blue eyes.

"I don't think I'm the only one here who deserves such a compliment," Johnny glowered, acidic tones warning Sonya of the dangerous territory she was treading. "You've been cowering from reality since I met you, maybe even before that, trying to escape all of your fears by pretending to be the unbreakable one. Only now you've trapped yourself in your own cage of solitude, keeping you shut off from everyone who cares because you're afraid of getting too close; because then you might just get hurt." Johnny paused with a harsh glare, challenging her to deny everything. "And you just can't handle that."

"I can't handle people I can't trust," Sonya argued.

"You said you believed in my honesty! How can you say that if you don't trust me?!"

"With my life, I will always trust you, as you have proved again and again that you will come to my aide when I need it, as I would do the same for you." Her gaze met his and held it; her chin remained high and her back went straight. "But I can't trust you with my heart. Look at what happened when we split after Agri. You met Nova. And what happened after that? You fell in love with her. Even when I was standing right next to you." Slightly away the lieutenant turned from the actor to lean her back against the frame of the door. "How can I trust you not to do that again with another woman?"

"I didn't know you loved me, and now that I do, I have no reason to try and find love in another."

Blonde locks swayed with the shake of her head. "Things didn't change between us in the past, why would they change now?"

"Because I want them to. Because we're done playing guessing games."

Gaze refocused ahead of her to the opposite door frame, Sonya said nothing for a moment. "With you, the guessing games never end, and I'm tired of playing."

A loud chirp shrilled under the bed.

Sonya walked over, kneeled, and pulled the ringing cell phone from below. It flipped open and was pressed to her ear without having the number checked. "Blade." A few moments passed with Sonya conversing to the unnamed caller, the professional tone in her answers clarifying it was all business.

"Yes. I'm on my way." The phone beeped off and was pocketed. "I'm needed at a meeting in fifteen minutes."

"I don't want to lose you, Sonya," he pleaded, more with his eyes than his voice.

"As far as I'm concerned," replied the goddess with a turn to avoid his hurt stare; "you never had me to begin with. And I think I prefer it that way." She applauded herself on not cracking. She set aside her distraught emotions and focused on forming a portal. "Take care, Cage. See you at the next Earth Realm crisis."

One unprovoked thought crossed her mind as she passed through the portal leading to DC.

I love you.

No response linked back to him as she disappeared, and Johnny realized he had lost the only thing he wanted all along: Her heart.


End


Feedback is welcome, but not required. :o) Send all comments, compliments, and complaints to Demona3870@aol.com

Special thanks to Biku and Bento for the constructive criticism, advice, and extra confidence in my writing. You guys are a blessing come true.

This story is dedicated to Biku and Johinsa and the folks at the Omniversal Bar for making wonderful stories that have inspired me to thinking, if not writing, in terms of the gods and goddesses of the other realms. Thanks for your great work, guys!