Welcome No More by Djinn

You float on the gentle wind. If this were a normal day, you'd be on the island, enjoying the sun and the gentle swoosh of the sea rolling up the sand. But this is not a normal day. There aren't going to be any more normal days. The monarchy has been abolished by your mother's hand, and the new powers aren't so keen to have you around right now.

You aren't welcome on the island anymore. It's your only home, and you aren't welcome there. You have to stay like this, far out to sea, far enough that you aren't trespassing on their space. This is as far as you can come if you want to watch them rebuild.

You haven't told the League yet, have been avoiding going to the watchtower. They'll figure it out, no doubt, when you show up with no tiara. It shouldn't be that big a shock to them--it's not like political turmoil isn't a way of life in man's world. And this was a voluntary breakdown of the status quo. This was for the greater good.

You know all that. But it still hurts. You never expected to feel so bereft. Not about the crown--you've never cared about that--but to be this alone. Your mother is gone--still mad at you, still thinking she's the real Wonder Woman. Donna is busy with her own life, and you want her to enjoy it--she's known so little joy. And Arthur has run away from you, as he probably should have the minute you decided he was the one to set you free from Kal.

You are alone. Alone in ways you never felt in Asgard with Kal. Or when you died. This alone is different. Crushing. Bewildering.

The sea bubbles below you--dolphins are playing. Then you see a speck of gold shining at the water's surface, and a hand reaches out of the water. Smiling, you fly down to see if the gold is really blonde hair--it is. How did Arthur find you? You weren't even in his domain.

You land in the water, making more of a splash than you meant to.

He laughs, but his eyes are sad. "The dolphins are all aflutter with what's happened on Themyscira."

"Who knew they were such gossips?"

"Oh, they're terrible that way." He touches your forehead. "It looks so odd to see you without a crown."

You lay your hand over his. "It feels odd."

His hand feels good under yours. Solid and warm and familiar.

"You're just lonely, my love," he says, and you wonder when he added telepathy to his list of superpowers.

You let go of his hand and float next to him.

"I told Flash what happened," he says. "He's a gossip too. He'll spread it around for you."

You close your eyes. Arthur is still kind to you, still looking out for you. You did not expect that. "Thank you."

"One monarch to another." Moving closer, he pulls you to him, his mouth nuzzling your neck.

You curl into him, wrapping yourself around him without conscious thought. "Arthur, I miss you."

"I know. I miss you too."

He tugs your uniform off--he's become a master of that. His own uniform follows and then he is with you, and your body joins with his as if you never fought, never broke up.

He holds you closer, his fingers making you moan. "I watched you with him."

You frown. You haven't spent much time with Kal lately.

He smiles. "Not Kal. The other one. The mortal."

Trevor Barnes. He's seen you with Trevor Barnes.

"Then you saw me get shot down. He's not interested."

"Oh, he is. He's just afraid."

You close your eyes as he moves faster. "Did you warn him against me?"

He laughs, and the expulsion of air against your ear makes you shiver. "No. I wouldn't do that to you."

You kiss him then. It's a long, sensual kiss, and you wish you could stay in the water with him forever. "Why are you being so nice?"

"Because I love you." He smiles. "And because I'm a sucker for princesses in distress."

You quit asking him questions, just surrender to the age-old rhythm that he has taught you. When you both finally lie still, floating gently on the water, you say, "I do love you, Arthur."

"I know you do, Diana." He kisses you gently, then pulls your uniform back up. "I just can't--"

You wait, but there is no more. "I know."

"I'm going away for a while. I told Clark and Bruce, and not surprisingly they didn't ask why. I told Wally it was for personal reasons." He sighs. "I think J'onn knew exactly why I was leaving. I don't think he approves."

"Of us?"

"Of my running away." He shoots you a glance that is full of self-mockery. "He seems to think I should stay and fight."

"Maybe you should." You do not know if you are saying that because you really want him to stay and fight, or if it's only because you feel so alone right now.

He smiles as if he does not know either. "I'll never forget you, Diana."

"Thank you for coming out here. I didn't like the way things ended between us."

"I suppose I'm lucky Clark didn't kill me."

"Kal doesn't kill anyone."

"There's always a first time. And somehow, I think he might do it for you."

You laugh and shake your head. "I don't want him to."

"I know." He strokes your cheek. "My beautiful princess."

You return the favor, stroking his face, along the soft beard. "My lord king."

His expression turns so sad you wish you had not said that.

"It's okay, Diana. Someday, this won't hurt. Either of us."

You nod. "Be careful, Arthur. You're important to me."

"Stick close to Clark. He won't let anything happen to you." He grimaces, as if he hates that advice. "But not...too close."

You smile, but you can feel your chin trembling.

He shakes his head, as if he does not understand you, or maybe he just does not understand himself. "Goodbye, my love."

"Goodbye, Arthur."

He flips slowly, as if to make sure you understand he is no longer running away. This is the Atlantean version of the casual stroll. You watch him until he is out of sight, swallowed up by the depths. Then you take off, out of the sea, water streaming off you. The air is warm at first, but gets colder as you fly north--normally you would not notice the difference, normally you would not be wet with the water freezing on you.

"Been swimming?"

You hate that Kal's voice can make your heart speed up to double-time. You hate it so much you go on the attack. "Been spying on me?"

"No. But you're wet."

"I've been swimming."

"Like I said." He looks over at you, his smile gently teasing.

"Your powers of observation rival Bruce's."

He doesn't seem to appreciate the compliment. "Were you swimming with Arthur?" His look is bland, but there is something in his voice. Something jealous. Can he smell that you've had sex?

"Yes. With Arthur."

"So. You two have reconciled?"

You stop, and he flies on without you, then doubles back.

"Diana?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"Look, if you're back with him, that's fine."

"Fine? What--are you giving me permission to be back with him?" Sometimes Kal is a mystery to you. You spent one thousand platonic years in Asgard getting to know him, and he is still a mystery to you.

"I didn't mean it like that." He sighs. "I wanted to make sure you were okay after that interview with Lois. You seemed a little...strange when you came back to the apartment with her that night."

"Lois and I got along fine. Once we ironed out our differences. Funny how they all had to do with you."

"You just seemed a little hyper around her, ironed-out differences notwithstanding."

"Maybe you just felt guilty at having me around her?"

He sighs. "I didn't expect you to tell her about Asgard."

"And I didn't expect that to be the first time she'd heard about Asgard. You never told me not to say anything."

"I was going to tell her..." He shakes his head, and you think he is getting frustrated with you.

You are not sure what he wants you to do. "I gather I made things rough for you?"

"It's been an interesting few days since you told her."

"Do you want me to say I'm sorry? Well, I'm sorry that you're an idiot for not telling your wife the truth." You can't stand it anymore; you take off, flying faster than you ever have, trying to outdistance him.

It's no use. He's still faster.

"Leave me alone," you yell, the words torn away by the wind. "I hate you."

"I hate you too." He snatches you up, pulling you into his arms. "Damn you, Diana. I'm trying to forget you."

You struggle, cannot break free. "Well, spying on Arthur and me when we're making love is probably not the way to do that."

"I know. God help me, Diana, I know that." He stares at you as if he is drowning. Then he pulls you closer, his lips finding yours the way they never did in Asgard.

You stop struggling. You stop fighting him and just kiss him. It is only when he pulls away that you realize you are weeping.

"Oh, sweetheart. I'm sorry." He kisses you again, and again. Soft, melting kisses that break your heart.

"Kal..."

He holds you, and you bury your face in his neck so he won't kiss you anymore. He flies slowly, taking you places you cannot see because you will not pull away from him to look. You don't want to do anything now except cry in his arms.

"Wally told me what happened on the island." He touches your forehead, tracing where the tiara would have been. "I'm sorry."

You realize Kal doesn't know about Trevor--that's probably a good thing.

"Everything's different."

"I know." He wraps his cape around you and pulls you closer.

You can feel how much he wants you. You understand that now. Arthur has taught you those things. You always thought it would be Kal who taught you; you spent much of your time in Asgard wondering when Kal would break and come to your tent. But he never did, not till that last night, when he almost did but pulled away at the last moment. You were happy he didn't break, even if being stuck with only him to depend on was a favorite fantasy of yours. You were happy he didn't break because you'd like to think that he'd be that faithful to you, once you are together. Even if it is awful of you to think that way.

Kal kisses you again, and you believe that if you wrapped your legs around him the way you did with Arthur, he would make love to you.

He looks down at you, as if he knows what you are thinking. "It's getting more difficult, Diana. To say no to what I want with you."

"You went a thousand years, Kal. You can go a few minutes."

He looks down, and you realize he has tears in his eyes. He blinks them away, but not before you tilt his chin up so he has to look at you.

"Kal?"

"I think it's because I went a thousand years that this is so hard. I think I believed that if I just made it through that, then what I feel for you would go away. I wouldn't love you anymore. I wouldn't want you anymore. I'd have triumphed over myself. Over this terrible desire."

"Terrible?"

"Terrible because it's not going away, and I don't want to wait anymore. I don't want to..." He looks down. His face is pained, and his hands clutch your sides so tightly it hurts. If it were Lois he was holding like this, he'd snap her ribs in two.

"I've met someone," you say, trying to give him something good to hold onto, something that isn't you and the way he wants you--and the way you want him.

"Other than Arthur?"

You nod. "A normal person." At least you think Trevor is normal. "Not a superhero."

"Not a superman?"

You shake your head. "Just normal."

"That's good. Normal is good."

You resist telling him that Trevor isn't interested in you, or that being normal isn't doing Lois much good.

He closes his eyes, then he pulls you in and kisses you again. The kiss is frantic, as if he is getting a lifetime's worth of love from this one embrace.

When he pulls away, he stares at you, and his eyes seem to bore through you. "I love you, Diana."

His fingers touch your face, and you feel as if his skin is searing yours. Will there be a mark? Something to show that you belong to this man no matter how many other men come along?

"I love you, Kal." You lean in and kiss him, keeping the kiss tender and easy. You need this. A kiss that you started--and that you will end. Pulling away, you exhale slowly, as if you are letting go of more than just air.

He lets you go, and you catch the wind as he flies away quickly. Looking down, you realize that he has flown you back to the spot where you made love with Arthur, and for a second you are tempted to dive into the water, to swim down and down until you find Atlantis and can stay with Arthur. But that is silly. You can't stay in Atlantis for any length of time. You need air to breathe, no matter how much you love the water--and its king.

Turning, you can see Themyscira in the distance. You smile at it, your home--your former home. Maybe someday it will be your home again.

Maybe someday Kal will be yours.

You hate the idea of living your life for maybe someday. But for now, it is all that you have.

Turning, you fly back to New York. Away from paradise, and away from love.

FIN