Water, Water Everywhere by Djinn
The water laps at your feet as you sit and watch the waves roll onto the beach. It's quiet here, warm and peaceful. As it always is whenever you come home to your island--to your paradise. The breeze tugs gently at the light shift you've put on in place of your uniform. You relish the unfettered feel of it, the looseness and the cool brush of the fabric. Your hair floats unrestrained; no earrings hang from your lobes. They lie on your dresser next to the lasso and the tiara. You are free here, feel like just another woman among many exceptional women.
"Diana," you hear from far behind you. You turn and wave at Mala and see her lift her hand in welcome. You will spend time with her later, after the meal you'll share with your mother. It is how your first day back always goes.
It is why you love it here on Themyscira. Your days have a certain rhythm, a sameness that is comforting after the manic pace of the League.
You can predict this day to the minute. You will sit here in the sun for about half an hour before the peace of the island claims you and you lay back, sleeping happily. The sun will move, and the tree behind you will shade you, keeping you comfortable as you doze the afternoon away. No one will disturb you. No one will call to you once you lie down. You will awaken with the setting of the sun, turn so you can watch it disappear into the sea. Then you will go in and change for dinner.
The meal will be lively; your mother will smile frequently. She is always glad to have you back. The food will be exquisite--no one cooks like Themate and Floris. Then, when dinner is over, you will hurry out of the palace and make your way down to the beach, where Mala and the others who have been your closest friends all your life will be waiting. You will drink wine and laugh and tell tales and listen to their stories. And then you will creep back into the palace--as if your mother does not know where you have been--and fall asleep in your own bed.
That will be your first day back. You already feel sleepy, already feel ready to lie back just a little bit early and fall asleep in the comforting sunshine. You close your eyes, ready to let Wonder Woman go while you revert to a fairy princess who falls into an enchanted sleep.
"Hello." A male voice? And from in front of you--but only water lies in front of you.
Your eyes fly open. This is not part of your first day back. There should be no interruption, no man who says "Hello" in such a husky way.
He is floating near your feet, a wary grin on his face. His blonde hair shines in the sun.
"Arthur. What's wrong? Did something happen to the Tower? Is that why you're here in person?"
He waves your worry away, his casual gesture sending beads of water to land on your legs in a fall of warmth. "There's nothing wrong. I..."
You move closer, unused to an Arthur so reticent, an Arthur who blushes.
His hand closes on your foot, the touch gentle--and sensuous.
You try not to notice. "Is this about the other day?"
He nods. His normal arrogance is gone. He does not meet your eyes. "You never said if it would stay between us."
It is a lie. You did say it, just not in words. You are unsure what to say to him, decide to go light. "I put it in my log report. Batman corrected some grammar. Kal wants a word with you."
His head jerks up--he is not amused. His hand tightens on your foot, the touch no longer sensual. Now it feels...desperate.
"I'm kidding, Arthur."
"I did not mean to say those things that day." He lets go of you, begins to float away, back out to sea.
You do not think; you simply follow him into the water, swimming until his foot is close enough to grab it the way he held you.
He jerks away, turning on you in a flash, like a moray eel doubling back on an attacker. "I do not even like you."
You just smile. "Yes, you do."
He looks down, and you realize that your soaked shift has become heavy and virtually transparent as it drapes tightly over your body. You try too late to cover yourself, and he looks away, but then his eyes are drawn back to you. You give up, let your hands drop, let him see what he claims to want so desperately.
You are not sure why you do it. You are not like this.
He does not look away, just whispers, "I do not know why you move me."
You laugh, and he finally pulls his attention away from your body.
"I think my charms are rather obvious at the moment." You move closer to him, touch his cheek the way you did in the water the day he first told you he wanted you. "It's just lust, Arthur."
You nod. You have grown accustomed to the looks you get, the feelings you can see rushing over faces wherever you go. You sometimes wish you were not quite so striking, not such an object of desire. Your life is often lonely, and to be so desired and still lonely seems a cruel irony.
"I am not sure that it is." He moves closer, his gaze settling on your face this time. His eyes glow turquoise in the bright sun, and his hair gleams like the gold of your lasso. "I...understand you. You understand me."
"You said we did not."
"I said we had little in common. That just because we are both royal does not mean we are alike. But I did not say I did not comprehend who you are, that you do not understand me."
"We're friends, Arthur."
"Yes." He pulls you close, and you notice that he has switched the harpoon for a glove.
"You came to do this," you say as he moves in to kiss you. If he were out patrolling his kingdom, he would have had his weapon with him.
His lips taste salty, his beard feels like the gentle brush of seaweed, and his skin smells of blue water. When he pulls you closer, you feel as if you are surrounded by seafoam and crashing waves.
He finally draws away. "I should go."
You touch his hair, so soft and slick. It feels good against your palm.
Closing his eyes at your touch, he says, "I will return tonight. When the moon is up."
"I will not be back out here."
He touches your lips with his fingers. "You lie." He looks over at where you will sit with Mala and the others.
"You've watched me?" You know Kal watches you more than he should. Bruce too probably. But it is somehow unsettling to think that Arthur has been peering at you as well.
"I do not know why I want you so badly. Why I have wanted you so badly for such a long time." He stares at you hard, looks as if he wishes he could push you underwater and not let you up until you drown. "I just know I do."
Then he flips backwards, a human dolphin rushing away. He disappears under the water, away from you. Back out to sea.
Climbing out of the water, you sit back down, letting the sun dry you. You try to recapture the peace of the island, try to recapture your day. But it is gone. The day passes, the tree shades you, and then the sea swallows the sun, but you do not sleep, you are not relaxed. You sit, hands clenched, and stare out at the sea, wondering how Arthur knows you will go to him when the moon is up.
Mala and the others wave as you pretend to sneak back into the palace. Once you are out of sight of them, you move lightly around dwellings and temples and the other buildings of Themyscira until you come out at a place far away from the beach where Arthur came to shore.
If he wants you, he will have to find you.
You wade out to the rock that Phillipus calls the Sirens' Stone. Sitting on it, you let the breeze blow the sleeves of your dress around you--the bottom of the dress is wet and sticks to your legs.
"Ah. How archetypal you look." He rises out of the sea like some male version of Aphrodite. His hair glows silver in the moonlight. His eyes seem dark now; you suppose your own do too.
"My lord king."
"Do not mock me, Diana."
"I will do as I please. And perhaps here you should call me your highness."
He only laughs, pushing himself easily onto the Sirens' Stone, crouching in front of you like a hunter surveying his prey. You have a sudden urge to push him off the rock, to send him flying out to sea.
"You are afraid," he says.
"I am afraid I've gone crazy. Coming out here." You start to get up, but he captures your wrist pulling you back down.
You look at him--wondering for a moment if he plans to try to take what you have not yet decided you will give him.
Then he lets you go. "Don't be afraid of me."
"I'm not afraid of you."
"You're afraid of something."
You sit back, then lie back, wondering why you do this, why you taunt him with your body. "I am afraid of me, Arthur."
He lies down next to you, on his side, his hand slowly caressing you, starting at your cheek, running down your neck, to your chest. He lingers there a long time.
You groan. The sound makes you close your eyes.
"You are afraid of this," he says. "Of what you become when I touch you."
"I am afraid of why I'm letting you touch me."
He pulls away as if you have burned him. Sitting up, he stares out to sea, and you hear a long sigh escape him. "You can't have him."
"I didn't say--"
"--You don't have to. We've been friends too long for me not to see what's going on." He turns to look at you, and you can see his compassion for you as his friend warring with a less sympathetic emotion. "He's married, Diana."
"So are you," you say, smiling at him.
"I am not with my wife. I do not sleep with my wife." You cannot cajole him from his mood. He only stares at you, his gaze hungry, his lips half parted.
"Kiss me," you say, not meaning for those words to come out, not meaning to reach out and tug him back to you, back down. Your hand finds his, pulls it back to where he left off on your body. "If you want me, take me. I'm offering myself."
"Why?" He is staring down at you as if you are the greatest mystery of the universe. His hand does not move, although he is pressing it firmly onto your dress, the thin material hardly a barrier between his skin and yours.
"Does it matter why?" you ask.
You are suddenly tired of this and you push him off the rock. He hits with a splash and comes back up with a roar. The king of the deep is definitely not amused. Leaping out of the water, he lands on his feet before you, water pouring off him, onto you, like some ancient ritual of the sea.
You arch your body. "If you want it. Take it." You are unsure why you are doing this. Is it just that you will not say that you want him? That you cannot say it?
He pulls you to your feet. "Tell me why."
"I haven't been able to stop thinking of what you said."
"You lie again."
"Okay." You try for truth this time. "I...I'm stuck in a place that I don't like."
His eyes soften. "That I believe." He touches your face, his fingers leaving a trail of salt water. "I'm not the only one who would like to get you unstuck. Why me? Why now?"
"Because you are here. Because now is when you are here." You move closer to him. "This island has nothing to do with the League. This water has touched it for centuries. Your water, Arthur. Atlantis and Paradise Island--how different are we?" You touch his face. "This has nothing to do with the League if it happens here."
"And nothing to do with Kal."
"I didn't mention him. You don't need to either."
He shakes his head.
"Arthur, under the lasso's spell, you didn't say you loved me. You only said you wanted me. And that's what I need. That's what I want. Your desire. Why are we talking about this?" Pressing up against him, you let your body try to convince him of the futility of speech.
He moans. "The lasso came off too soon, Diana. I do love you. You're my friend; we've been fighting together too long for me not to care about you."
"Just don't say you're in love with me."
But you can see in his eyes that he's lying. You turn to walk away, to jump back into the water and wade to shore, leaving the king of the seven seas alone in his domain. But you take one step, and he grabs you and pulls you close, leaping with you into the sea, carrying you far from the Sirens' Stone, far from the island.
You could fight him, but you let go, let him carry you away. When he stops, when you float together under the gravid moon, you don't say a word as he pulls you closer to him, your back against his chest. You can feel that he wants you, but he just holds you, his lips occasionally touching down on the back of your neck.
You hear the sounds of the sea all around you as first one, then another of his creatures ventures near to pay homage. Fish peer at you. The interloper, their eyes seem to say. But they move away, as if respecting his wish to have you near him.
You float forever before you realize you are crying, adding more salt water to his already colossal kingdom.
"You can have me, Arthur," you say, but the words come out broken.
"I think this is as much of you as I'll ever have, my love."
His voice is gentle. It makes your heart turn over, and you wish that you could make yourself turn over, that you could kiss him and not imagine dark hair, and eyes that look more like the sky than the sea. You wish you could forget Kal.
But you can't.
"He doesn't deserve this. I'm not sure he even wants this, Diana." Arthur's tone is very even, as if he is trying not to upset you. "He loves you; we all know that. But I don't think he expects you to wait."
"I'm not waiting," you say, but you are. You're waiting for life to change, for things to change, for Kal to let go of your heart just enough for some other man to squeeze inside.
"Okay." He turns and kicks softly, carrying you back to the island, to your home and your bed where you will sleep alone and dream of a man whose bed is not so empty.
"No." You turn violently, more violently than you meant to, kicking Arthur away by accident.
He recovers instantly, swimming back to you, but staying out of range of your feet.
"I won't," you say.
He misunderstands. "I'm not going to...we're going back in, Diana."
"No, we're not." Then you grab him, pulling him to you. Your lips meet his this time, you touch him first, and he stiffens in surprise.
"I want you too," you say, letting him hold you up as you pull your dress up, and somehow pull his pants down, dragging one pant leg off him entirely before wrapping yourself around him, and onto him.
His eyes close and he says, "No, Diana, not like this." But he is moving and kissing you, and his hands feel sweet on your body.
You give up trying to set the pace, let him do it, and it's a good thing--he is used to the water, doesn't fight it the way you have been. His motion sends you skimming gently over the water as he shows you what it means to make love.
You start to cry, from relief and from sorrow. You are giving up on Kal. This means you are giving up on Kal.
Arthur licks your tears away. "My princess," he murmurs, his lips touching down tenderly on yours. "I do love you, Diana."
And it is what you need to hear now--that this is not just revenge or a scrubbing of the heart. That this means something else, something good and strong.
He loves you. You love him. You tell him so. It's not a lie. You do love him--you're just in love with someone else. Neither of you feels the need to point out the distinction.
You bob together gently in the water, kissing softly, and you hope the sounds he made you cry out did not carry well over the water.
But he is smiling gently and whispers, "Everyone will want to swim out here now."
The Sirens' Stone is looming above you and he lifts you onto it, joining you as before, lying on his side, staring down at you.
"Are you all right?" he asks.
This time it is you who is tracing his body; it is you who lets your hand linger on his chest, over his heart.
He smiles, then he looks down at his pants, the one leg still trailing off the rock.
"Tomorrow, wear shorts," you whisper as you pull him to you again.
And he smiles. A smile nearly as bright as the moon.