The night is deathly quiet. Another villain vanquished, another world saved.
She looks over at him, the last one to leave but for her. "She's waiting for you."
She is always waiting for him. That other woman who loves him so.
"I don't...I don't want to."
It is not like him to hesitate. He is a champion, a hero. A superhero. Perhaps the mold upon which all of the rest of them are judged. And he does not want to go home. To her. To Lois.
"Do you love her?"
"You know I do."
"Then go. I'll finish up here."
She turns, walks away, back toward the city. They are only watching, there is really nothing to finish up. The others all left because the danger is over; she and Superman are only here to make sure that the planet's government doesn't fall apart in the crucial hours after the crisis.
"You go, Diana," he says. His voice is deep, deeper than she remembers until she hears it again next to her ear like now.
When they are alone, he always stands too close.
"I don't want to," she says.
"Don't you have anyone to go home to?"
He knows she does not; she is unsure why he asks. Except that they do not talk the way they used to, not unless it is after some crisis like this, where they have stayed behind like they always do. The very essence of a superhero, the others think. Dedicated to the last drop.
They stay for each other. To ask inane questions like "Don't you have anyone to go home to." When has that ever mattered? When has that not been everything that mattered?
She will not tell him the truth. That she has him, although she has never had him and she never expects to. Because it does matter to her that he is not alone. It does mean something that he is with Lois. It means everything that he is with her.
"Go on, Kal. I'm fine." When she reverts to his Kryptonian name, it is not fair. He loves it when she calls him that.
Love might be overstating it. Or just not stating enough. He loves it; he hates it. He loves her and sometimes he hates her.
But he has never had her.
Lois thinks he has. Diana knows this. Has seen it in the way the other woman looks at her, the way she subtly pushes Superman away from her at the Justice League gatherings, toward some less dangerous group of heroes.
She thinks Lois hates her.
She knows she hates Lois. If a superhero hates. Which, of course, she doesn't. So maybe...resents. Or envies. Those are better words but still not good words. Not heroic words.
Superman is sitting close enough that if she were to move just the slightest bit their arms would touch. A whole planet to watch over and he sits so close.
She does not move. He does not either. They have never moved, have sat like this time after time and never moved, their arms have never touched.
"I think about it," she says. "Sometimes."
He does not ask her what she means. It is a dangerous moment and she can feel her heart beating faster. It is always a dangerous moment, every time she says it, every time he answers.
"I do too." He is careful not to say it too loudly, not to move, not to gesture with a hand or shift.
To touch her now would be to change everything. They both know this.
"You should go," she says.
He does not move. He never does. They say this--this ritual of acknowledgment and release--every single time.
He continues the ritual. "I wish..."
Wishes are useless. He will wish this until he leaves and then he will forget this moment, will not revisit it until the next time they sit on alien soil and watch over a nearly destroyed world together.
Wishes are useless, and still she says, "I know. I wish it too. Sometimes."
She will force him from his mind as soon as she is home. Will survive lonely days and sleepless nights without letting herself think of him. It is only when she is with him, fighting on the frontline as they always end up doing, that she will look over at him and think, "This is my mate."
And she will look in his eyes, just as she is doing now, and know that he too is thinking it.
"You should go." He says it now. He will stay, she can go.
"No. It is fitting that I stay."
It is fitting for no good reason except that she is a superhero, and she will not take another woman's man.
Superman knows it. He leans away from her, ready to push to his feet. "I'll go then."
His hand touches her, and she sighs. It is a lie to say that she does not let thoughts of him in on some of those sleepless nights. But for the most part, she fights to keep him locked out, locked down, locked in--locked deep within her heart.
"--Don't." Her voice is fierce.
He tries to say it every time. She stops him every time.
"I'll see you soon." It is a lie. He will not see her soon, not until some terrible, earth-shattering crisis begins and they are thrust together again.
"Yes. I'll see you." It sounds as if she is letting him go, but her hand turns under his, her fingers seek his out. "You should go."
Their hands hold tight but only for a moment. Then he lets her go and flies away so fast it looks as if he was launched by one of man's rockets.
"Safe journey, my love," she says, knowing he can hear her even from so far away. It is the only time she will say it, when she can pretend--and so can he--that he never heard it.
It is a lie, but only a little one and only to each other. They will not hurt another.
They are superheroes.