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Battle of the Sexes

Chapter 1

Diana couldn't believe she'd agreed to this. Her reluctant acquiescence had come in a weak moment, torn as she was between knowing a plan of action was likely necessary and the truth.

"This is going to be so much fun," Zola squealed, clapping her hands in child-like anticipation.

"I cannot believe you agreed to let this one" —Hera hooked her thumb in Zola's direction— "help you. She is the absolute last person you should be taking relationship advice from."

They sat in their living room, Diana on one end of the loveseat, Hera on a beige club chair, and Zola on the coach across from Diana, baby Zeke next to her, eyes open and taking in the scene before him.

"Speak for yourself, Hera."

At this point, three months ago, maybe less, Zola would've added a dig about Hera being unable to keep her husband's interest long enough for him not to stray. And, in return, Hera would call Zola a whore, slut, or homewreaker. The fact that the little disagreement hadn't devolved into a messy cat fight almost made tonight's gathering worth the headache Diana was courting.

"Diana, listen to me, the last thing you should do is pretend to be someone you're not."

"She won't be pretending, not really."

"She is a princess and demigoddess, for goodness' sake, Zola, not—"

"A mere mortal? Like the two of us?"

Hera shuddered at the truth of Zola's words, but, like the former Queen of Olympus she was, Hera's chin lifted, pride and stubbornness holding it aloft.

"Yes, like us. She's not like us. Diana is more."

"Diana is a woman. It doesn't matter that she's also a princess or the daughter of a god. Diana is no longer on Paradise Island or lives on Olympus with the rest of her freaky family. She's decided to live among the average Joe and Jane Doe."

"But as Wonder Woman not some fictitious Diana Prince."

"True, but Wonder Woman and Superman can't go out without being bombarded by nosey news reporters. They can't keep doing what they've been doing these past months. They shouldn't have to hide their relationship."

"And Diana shouldn't have to hide who she is. Not for a man, not for anyone."

The two continued to bicker, keeping it civil and their voices low as to not disturb little Zeke, whose eyes were beginning to drift closed.

When the doorbell chimed, Diana didn't bother excusing herself to answer the door, the women were clearly too engrossed in their argument to have heard the bell or notice when Diana left the room.

As annoying as it was to sit through yet another argument between Hera and Zola, today's disagreement was made worst by the fact that each had voiced Diana's own conflicted concerns. The secret part of her and Clark's relationship had never sat right with Diana, especially after it became clear that their relationship was more than just two lonely people deciding to spend time together.

Despite Diana's desire to become a full part of Clark Kent's world, the thought of having to do so through lies and half-truths had her stomach roiling with disapproval, rejecting the idea outright.

Yet she'd decided to try, to give it her best Amazonian effort. Clark had invited Diana to a housewarming his best friend and former colleague, Lois Lane, and her boyfriend were throwing for their friends. Outside of the impromptu trip to Smallville and the old Kent family farm, days after their first kiss, this was the first time Clark had sought to merge his life as Clark Kent, Metropolis resident and blogger, with his relationship with Diana.

The bell rang again, and Diana realized she'd been standing in the foyer, gazing at the door, mind a million miles away. Giving herself a mental shake, Diana got her legs moving, made it to the door, reached for the handle and opened the door.

There, on the other side, was Clark Kent, hair mussed, nonprescription glasses on, shirt and slacks a bit rumpled.

He was absolutely adorable in his boy-next-door guise. Diana could admit that much, although no amount of superficial covering could mask the true man beneath. And when he smiled his happy-to-see-you smile and Diana's heart lurched in her chest, she knew this was the real reason why she'd agreed to tonight.

Clark made her feel emotions she'd never experienced before. It was exhilarating but also frightening. A man shouldn't have this type of effect on an Amazon, and, in some ways, it discomforted Diana knowing Clark did.

"Hello, Diana."

Realizing, once more, that she'd drifted off, Diana stepped aside, permitting Clark to enter. Closing and locking the door behind him, Diana returned his greeting. "Good evening, Clark."

His boyish smile was back, but, as always, a glimmer of naughty Clark lurked beneath. The way his blue eyes drifted languidly down her body had Diana blushing and warming at the same time.

"We're not alone," she thought it necessary to remind him.

"I know. Three heartbeats." He pointed to the wall that separated the foyer from the living room. "In there. Hera, Zola, and the baby."

Clark stepped closer, shredding the few feet between them with his hard, masculine body. A hand rose to her waist then slipped around to her lower back. With a single tug, Clark had Diana pressed against him, their thighs, hips, and chests touching.

He felt so good, strong, the way a man should be, Superman despite the Clark Kent veneer.

"I figure if I don't do it now, I may not get a chance to."

"Do what?"

"This." Clark's mouth took Diana's in a hungry press of lips. For a powerful man, Clark's lips were tantalizingly soft, his kiss wicked but tender. His tongue peeked out, tasting and sweeping from one lip to the other, from one end of Diana's mouth to the other.

She opened for him, letting him in, allowed Clark to own and control the kiss. Not because he was so demanding and Diana a passive recipient but because he'd silently requested and she'd silently consented.

He drew the kiss out, taking his time and thoroughly exploring her mouth. Hand dropped to her backside and, like Clark's tongue, it too explored, knowing just how to touch, how to make her—

Diana moaned.

Yes, Clark's proficient hands knew how to make her do that so well.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Diana pulled Clark even closer, deepening the kiss, their contact, adding to the rising heat between them. All thoughts of the three people in the other room and the reason for tonight's visit were forgotten under the onslaught of Clark's passionate kiss.

She wanted more, wanted to forget Zola's plan and fly Clark to her room, stripping them both bare when they got there. But she'd committed herself to tonight and the housewarming party. Diana wouldn't permit lust, hers or Clark's, to distract them, no matter how great the temptation.

With a determination that came with being the daughter of an Amazon queen, Diana broke off the kiss, and slowly disengaged herself from Clark's embrace.

Eyes the color of a starry night stared down at Diana, blue-black with unfulfilled desire, but also with dawning comprehension.

Clark visibly shook himself. "Right, right. Umm, sorry. I didn't mean to take it that far. It's just, well, it's . . . never mind." He combed a hand through his hair and took three deep breaths. "Never mind."

Diana couldn't help but smile. Clark was unaccountably sexy.

Grabbing his hand, Diana led him out of the foyer, down a short hallway and into the living room.

Zola and Hera, thank the gods, were no longer bickering. But Zola stared at Diana then skewered Clark with an even harder visual inspection.

A pixie smile creased Zola's face then she turned away from them and to Hera. "You owe me five bucks. I told you they were making out."

Hera's gaze settled on them, but not nearly as long or as interested as Zola's had been. She touched one manicured fingered to her mouth. "There are always tells, Zola, even when a man thinks he's thought of them all."

Tells? What in the world is she— Diana looked at Clark, whose face was beet red from embarrassment, and there, on his delectable lips was his tell.

Grabbing a Kleenex from a tissue box on a table near the door, Diana wiped her lipstick from Clark's mouth.

He gave her a grateful smile.

"Hello, Clark, nice to see you again."

"Hi, Hera, good to see you as well. You're looking as lovely as ever. That green dress brings out the color of your eyes."

Hera beamed at Clark's blatant compliment.

"And hello to you, Zola. How is Zeke? Ah, sleeping I see."

"Yeah, well, for now. But I'm sure he'll be up and wanting you to play with him before the night is over."

Clark, Diana had discovered, was very good with babies. He knew precisely how to hold them, could even tell a cry of hunger from one of boredom, agitation, or fright. Clark also didn't speak to Zeke in an annoying baby babble voice Diana had seen some adults do with children, especially infants. He spoke to Zeke as if he were a person, just smaller in size, capable of understanding him, if only in time.

Diana found that she liked that, liked how comfortable Clark was with someone so much smaller and weaker than himself. It was what made him such a wonderful and beloved superhero, what made him an even better man.

Diana returned to her spot on the loveseat, and Clark joined her. Surprisingly, she found herself becoming nervous when Zola pulled out a stack of small, white cards from a red-and-yellow "Battle of the Sexes: Couples Edition" box.

"Where did you get that?" Diana asked, irritation replacing nerves.

"From your bedroom closet."

"I meant why were you in my room, going through my belongings?"

"I was looking for that book you said I could borrow. You have that storage chest in your closet full of books and miscellaneous Amazon crap. I found it in there. I thought it would be perfect for tonight. I mean, well maybe not perfect since it's meant to be played with at least one other couple. But it will do; I think. The questions are still good, no matter how we decide to use them."

"You should've told me we would be using questions from that stupid game."

"Stupid? If it's so stupid, why did you buy it?"

"I didn't purchase it; Steve did."

The statement was out before Diana had a chance to consider that blurting such a thing in front of Clark probably wasn't the wisest of ideas.

She sensed, rather than saw, Clark stiffen beside her.

Zola's eyes flew to Clark and no one spoke except, of course, Hera.

"Now that you've both made what's sure to be an awkward evening more so, why don't you all just start. The sooner you do, the sooner this lunacy will be over and I can turn in for the night."

"No one's stopping you," Zola said. "You can go up to your room now."

Hera huddled deeper into the soft cushions of the chair, a throw cover over her lap.

"I think not. I doubt anything I'd read in a book or watch on television will be as entertaining as the three of you."

"We will go on. Just keep your opinions to yourself and don't interrupt."

"Perhaps we should do this another night," Diana suggested. "Clark and I know each other pretty well. We don't need—"

"It's all right, Diana. Just relax and try to have fun. We're all here, might as well do this now. The fact that you played this game before with Steve doesn't bother me."

Diana was pretty sure the last sentence Clark had spoken was, at most, a self-delusion, at worst, a lie. For a reason Diana had yet to figure out, Clark always bristled when someone mentioned that she and Steve used to date. There was, as Clark knew, nothing between Diana and Steve, barely even the friendship she valued. Yet, on occasion, an irrational haze of jealousy would pass his eyes.

"Steve thought it would be fun, but we never really played. We thumbed through the cards and asked each other a few questions."

And then they'd gotten distracted by other things, beginning with Steve tickling Diana and ending with them undressed and on her bed. Clark didn't need to know all of that, no more than she wished for him to regale her with memories of his past relationships.

"You're right, you came all this way, might as well go through with the plan."

The smile Clark gave her seemed forced, and Diana wondered if he'd glimpsed the rest of the story in her eyes.

"Okay, great, let's begin." Zola plucked a card from the stack she held in her hands. "I went through all of the cards and pulled out the ones I thought people at a housewarming might ask, as well as general questions a normal couple should know about each other."

"They aren't a normal couple," Hera said from her spot in the corner. "Am I the only one who remembers this crucial fact? He's an alien and Diana an Amazon with divine blood. Those people she'll meet aren't worth all this effort. Why should she have to pretend to be someone she's not, someone far less than who she truly is? For that matter, why should you, Superman?"

Again, no one spoke, not even Zola in challenge and opposition. The awkward silence lingered until Clark leaned into Diana, placed a chaste kiss to her cheek and said, "Thank you for doing this. I know it's more for me than it is for you. I just want you to know how much I appreciate your effort. If we date and go out as Clark and Diana, we'll have far more privacy and freedom to do what we want than we would as Wonder Woman and Superman."

Funny how, for the first time in her life, Diana questioned how much freedom her powers afforded her. In most things, they gave Diana tremendous freedom, but in this, not nearly as much as she would like, as she and Clark deserved.

"You two are so cute." Zola glanced down at her still sleeping son then back to Diana and Clark. "But, really, on the weird bordering on incest side of things, the two of you could pass for siblings. I mean the dark hair, blue eyes, tall bodies and muscular builds, to have so many similar features is kind of bizarre. Even the red-and-blue of your costumes match."

Diana could only stare at her friend. Had she just compared them to a brother and sister who have sex with each other? Diana was pretty sure Zola had done exactly that, in her tactless way.

Hera laughed. "And here I thought I was the only one who'd noticed. Moon and Apollo have nothing on the two of you, and they're twins." More laughter floated from Hera's side of the room.

"Clark and I look nothing alike." She shifted to look at Clark, only to see Hera's mirth had infected him as well. "You can't be serious?"

"What? It's funny because it's obvious and true. Not the incest part, that's just nasty on so many yuck factor levels. But we do resemble each other. There's nothing wrong with that."

This night kept getting stranger and stranger, and Zola had yet to pose the first damn question.

"Just read the first card." Diana slumped against the cushions, sensing a bout of moodiness coming on.

"Okay, this one is for Clark. Does your partner prefer winter or summer?"

"That's an easy one." Clark glanced at Diana, taking in her tank top, shorts, and bare feet. "Summer. Definitely summer."

"You would have to be a total idiot to get that one wrong. For goodness' sake, the girl grew up on an island that's perpetually in summer. And here it is, the middle of winter, and she dresses like she's going to the beach."

Zola raised an annoyed eyebrow at Hera. "Are you planning on commenting all evening?"

"I wouldn't have to if you asked better questions."

"So that's one point for me," Clark said.

Diana narrowed her eyes at him. "We're not keeping score."

"Why not?"

"You're so competitive, Clark. It's not about points but getting the answers correct."

"I know that, and every correct answer is worth a point. The way I see it, I have one to your zero."

"Stop trying to goad me into your little battle of Superman versus Wonder Woman. I'm not taking the bait. Besides, you don't want to challenge an Amazon."

A strong finger poked her in the shoulder. "Sure I do, Diana. Let's up the ante of this game. Make it truly interesting."

The challenge almost piqued her interest, but Diana wasn't in the mood for Clark's games. That was until he said, in a voice so low that only Diana could hear, "If I lose, I'll do that little strip tease and dance number you like so much. I'll even wear the frilly handcuffs and let you—"

"Just because I can't hear what you're saying, Clark," Zola interrupted, "doesn't mean I don't know what you're talking about. And Diana is blushing furiously. So, yeah, cut out the sex talk so I can ask Diana her question."

Recalling Clark's last mouthwatering dance he'd treated her to, Diana mouthed "Deal," to Clark when Zola peered down at the white card in her hand.

Clark grinned with triumph, then Diana realized her mistake. Dammit, she hadn't heard what she would have to do for him if she lost. No matter, she simply wouldn't lose to the Man of Steel.