Author's Note: Wonder Woman/Superman fluff piece. Chronology of events in the DC Universe isn't followed exactly.
Reviews and constructive criticism welcome.
Standard Disclaimers: All characters are owned by DC Comics. I do this for fun and not money.
And now, on with the story.
Staring at the waterfall, Diana could see why he liked this place. It was a late spring afternoon in this part of the African jungle. Thick green vegetation crowded the banks of the small river at her feet, along with dozens of different types of flowers. The multi-colored blooms seemed to explode from among the dark green leaves surrounding them as they reached towards the bright sunlight.
The heaviest of the spring rains had ended weeks ago, but as she glanced at the lazy clouds overhead she knew that a late afternoon or early evening shower was likely.
Approaching the edge of the waterfall, she stopped and searched the immediate area. Far from any civilization, she wasn't looking for people. Then she spied it. A small cairn of stones on the far bank. He had told her that was how she would know she was at the right spot. She smiled as she strode through the waterfall and into the cave beyond. He didn't say so in his email, but Diana was sure that he placed the stones for her. They looked to have been placed there rather recently.
Once inside, she stopped to take in her surroundings. One of the first things she noticed was that no one else was there. She was first. The next thing was that there was a surprising amount of light, and turning back to face the waterfall she understood why. The cave mouth was facing west so the afternoon sun, filtered through the water, helped illuminate most of the cave. Not that there was a lot of cave to illuminate.
The whole of it was no more than 20 paces from waterfall to back wall. The ceiling was probably no more than 10 feet high. Not spacious, but it didn't give one a claustrophobic feeling either. Walking towards the rear of the cave, she pulled some of her hair over her shoulder and began to wring out some of the excess water. There was no furniture to speak of, but that didn't surprise her. She'd seen his apartment many times and knew that his tastes were pretty Spartan. Diana could relate to that.
Being an Amazon princess came with a lot of grandeur and lavish surroundings. At times she wasn't overly fond of all the ceremony, but it came with who and what she was. Given a choice, though, she preferred simplicity. She smiled to herself as she realized that was yet another thing they had in common. She had just never considered it before now.
Glancing down she saw that the stone floor was swept clean. She laughed out loud at the idea of Superman with a broom in his hand, dust flying around his head, as he tried to push the dirt out of the cave. No, he wouldn't have done it that way, but the thought of it was just too funny.
As she crossed the center of the cave, she passed by a small stack of firewood. That too was for her benefit, she was sure. While he had extraordinary night vision, he knew that hers was a bit more limited. And if Diana's suspicions about this meeting were correct, it was important that they both be able to see each other's expressions clearly. She just wished she knew what he had decided, if he had decided anything at all.
There was one thing she hadn't noticed at first as she made her way to the far wall. Two things, actually. First was the plain glass vase on a stone shelf on the back wall. In the vase were two long-stemmed roses. One was white, the other red. It was an odd touch for a barren cave, especially since roses didn't seem to grow natively in this area. The roses were fresh too, so maybe he was trying to brighten up the cave a bit for her.
It was just like him to do that. The man was thoughtful to a fault, if such a thing was possible. He was by no means a perfect man, but if there was a more thoughtful or caring one, she'd never had the privilege of meeting him.
It was a bit past their agreed upon time, so she reasoned that there must have been a last-minute emergency requiring his attention. Half his life was composed of emergencies he had to deal with. Diana could relate to that too. She could only hope that once he got here that he wouldn't be called away before they could finish their talk.
"Might as well get comfortable", she sighed aloud. A quick spin and a blur of motion and Diana was out of her red, white and blue Wonder Woman costume, into more casual clothes. A simple light blue blouse and a pair of brown corduroys covering calf-high black boots. A small brown handbag completed the outfit. She had picked up the outfit on a trip to Athens while she was there with Kal on Justice League business. They'd passed by a shop and saw it in the window. He'd casually asked Diana if she wouldn't like to not have to wear a costume or a official robes sometimes and relax in more comfortable clothes. She'd told him that she really hadn't thought about it. The next week, she made a trip back to that shop and bought the outfit. It really was comfortable, and the smile on Kal's face the first time he saw her in it made it more than worth that trip back to get it.
Her quick spin to change outfits also dried out her hair for the most part, so she pulled a brush out of handbag as she sat cross-legged in the center of the cave and worked on her hair while she waited.
Diana was used to waiting for him. She'd already waited years, so a few more minutes wouldn't hurt. Waiting. Waiting for…She felt her face flush with the shame of what she'd been thinking. Well, hadn't she been a god for a time? A god of truth, among other things. Wasn't it time to be truthful with herself? She didn't need her magic lasso to know what that truth was. It was that she had been waiting for Lois Lane Kent to die. There, she finally admitted it. It was an ugly truth, but to try and dress it up in nice words would be a deceit in itself. It's not as if she wished Lois any harm, it was just that Diana knew that before she and Kal could be together, Lois would have to be gone. She had helped save Lois' life on more than one occasion and gladly. She would never let harm come to someone that Kal loved. The more she thought about it, the more those concepts got tangled, but she had made peace with herself over this long ago and that peace would just have to do.
It's not as if she hadn't had her chance. She'd met Kal, or Clark as he was called, first. She even had a date with him. For some reason it just didn't work on that first date and she'd foolishly moved on. There were times later that she could kick herself for that. Well, "kick herself" in the rhetorical sense. What she really did kick was two chairs and a sofa in her apartment. Those chairs had been reduced to kindling and the garbage man must still be wondering how that couch (he wasn't really sure it had ever really been a couch) could get into that condition.
She hadn't fallen in love with him at first sight, but the more she worked with him in his guise as Superman the more she appreciated what kind of man he was. His intelligence, caring and gentleness were what set him apart. Oh, he was handsome alright, but she had met plenty of pretty men in her journeys outside of Paradise Island. It was…well, it was something inside him that made him special. Lois had been the smart one and she'd been the fool. Simple as that. Having the wisdom of Athena hadn't seemed to help her that time.
It had helped her afterwards, though. After her "conversation" with the chair and sofa, Diana decided that since she could live for hundreds if not thousands of years more and Kal would live many human lifetimes, that she would just wait. In the meantime, she could get to work with him and they could get know each other even better. Neither Kal's nor her own honor would let them be anything but friends since he was in a relationship with Lois. She would not take a man from another woman. The gods knew that she'd been tempted more than once. She'd suspected that he had too.
There was that time she was trapped in her dreams in Gateway City. She still smiled whenever she thought of it. She'd fallen asleep and had been attacked in that sleep by a creature called Oblivion. Attacked in an odd way.
She was given her heart's desire in her dreams and was trapped because of it. She hadn't wanted to wake up. All her hard work in the world of men had paid off in that dream and she was ready to die at peace with herself. Then she realized that all her goals had been achieved but she had never experienced a loving relationship. Well, Superman and Batman had been sent by the Justice League to rescue her and they, in turn, were trapped in her dream as well. She had finally gotten what she'd never before realized she wanted….Kal. In that dream, she and Kal dated and were married. She had even gotten pregnant. It was the happiest time she could ever remember. It all came to an end, however, when Batman had slipped her a note at dinner, alerting her that something was not right. Later he explained that this wasn't all real. It was something their minds had cooked up, with outside influence, of course. Diana was crushed, but knew that the three of them had to set things right. And they did. Even with her dreams crumbling around her, she could not regret that they had ended it. As much as Kal did, she loved the truth. If she turned her back on that, then she could no longer be who she was. But, oh, it had been so sweet for awhile. She had hoped that it really could come true someday. Whatever Kal had to say to her tonight might give her an idea whether that was likely or not.
There were other times, too. The thousand years they'd spent in Asgard fighting demons and gods beside Thor the thunder god. A thousand years was a long time, even for her, but Kal had held that someday he would return to Lois and couldn't in good conscience cheat on her. She had broken down to temptation first, but he had held onto his vow anyway. She hadn't thought she could admire the man any more than she already had. She'd been wrong.
To make matter worse, she'd assumed that Kal had told Lois about their time in Asgard. When Diana had mentioned it to her, Lois was livid for a moment until it hit her what that could have meant. The anguish on her face was heartbreaking. Diana had offered her lasso of truth so that Lois could ask her what she wished about her and Clark, but Lois had declined the offer. She had gotten to know Diana well enough by then that she knew she would get the truth from Wonder Woman about anything she wanted to know. Fortunately for Diana, the questions were more about what had, or in this case, hadn't, happened in the past. No questions about what was in Diana's heart, thank Hera! They would never become good friends, but it was the beginning of a mutual respect. They didn't really like each other a lot, but that mutual respect eventually took hold. Kal, the typical male (in this instance, anyway), was thankfully oblivious.
Over the years, she began to believe that she and Kal were indeed just good friends. Best friends, even. They did tours of duty with the Justice League together and it was great. No matter the threat, the league always triumphed. Their greatest strength was their teamwork. And no part of the team worked as well together as Superman and Wonder Woman.
He was the acknowledged leader of the League and she was unofficially acknowledged as his second in command. She would follow no other man into battle. She neither trusted nor respected any other man enough to relinquish her rightful place at the fore of a battle.
She would gladly follow him into Hades and back if he but asked it of her.
Between threats to the world, they would talk about things from the fantastic to the mundane. She'd laughed when he admitted to her once that his mother still did a lot of his costume work. "Kal, you're kidding! Why do you let Martha do all that extra work at her age? You should be ashamed of yourself!"
Kal had the good grace to blush.
"I can't seem to stop her from doing it" he rationalized. "You know her, Diana. Would you try to tell her to stop doing something she was determined to do?"
Diana had to admit that he was right. Martha Kent was one of the dearest souls she'd ever met, but with an iron will that might just be a match for her own mother. And her mother was queen of the Amazons.
"Point taken" she conceded, still laughing.
They still had arguments, of course. Almost always about their duties and how they should handle this situation or that. It was usually Diana that was set off about something. Kal never seemed to lose his temper in a discussion, and rarely did he lose it in battle. It would have been nice if he'd lost his temper every once-in-awhile when they argued, but he never did. That made her more frustrated, and in turn, more angry. At times she felt he kept a lid on his temper just because it annoyed her. At times she had to grind her teeth to keep from strangling him. Ares help him if he'd ever smiled at her while she was yelling at him because she really believed she would've slapped him.
In her darkest hours, he was there for her, whether it was a battle with an enemy or just wrestling with some personal problem. He was a shoulder she didn't hesitate to use. And likewise, she was a shoulder for him if Lois wasn't around. They were there for each other. She couldn't imagine having a closer friend. Mostly, though, they spent their time fighting against evil in its many forms. Together as teammates. As friends. It was a great time in her life.
Their friendship wasn't so strange, she mused. They had some basic things in common. She was from the gods. He was like a god. Her Amazon sisters had at one time truly believed he was, anyway. She was an alien in a strange land, while he was an alien from another planet. They both liked things simple, but could appreciate beautiful things. They both loved to travel.
They also had battles away from the JLA. Away from each other. They had lives away from each other too, but Diana thought of him often, wondering what he might be doing. She hoped that he thought of her from time to time too.
Eventually, they both left the JLA and went back to their respective lives. Even when apart they kept in touch, though. Diana went back into routine trying to fulfill her mission of bringing peace to the land of men, even if she had to clobber some of them over the head to do it. Life was still sweet and still fulfilling. At least it was until the unthinkable happened. Until Doomsday.
So many years ago, yet the memories are still vivid. And so very painful.
Having spent the previous day on Paradise Island visiting her mother and sisters, Diana decided to take a day for herself. She loved to travel, so she thought to do some flying around the earth for the day before getting back to her duties. She loved visiting home, but she found that her urge to travel was greatest just after such visits. After spending days on an island, it felt liberating to just fly around in open spaces.
She flew above oceans, mountains, farms and cities enjoying all the views she could drink in from just under the clouds. She felt calm and rested. Flying really was her favorite pastime. It was Kal's too, she'd recalled with a smile. While she couldn't reach the speeds that he could, it was just as enjoyable to feel almost weightless, gliding in and out of the clouds. She did have a secret from Kal, though, in regards to flying. There had been times during their stints with the JLA when they needed to get to a crisis as quickly as possible. Sometimes Kal would dash off by himself, leaving the rest of the league to get there as quickly as they could, but sometimes he would scoop Diana up and take her with him, carrying her in his arms. It was to save time, of course. He knew she couldn't keep up with him, so he would just pick her up and off they'd go…after a few half-hearted protests from Diana that he duly ignored.
Lois had once confided in her that she loved it when Superman flew with her in his strong arms. "It feels like being carried by an angel", she explained. And Diana knew this to be true, although she would never say as much to Lois. When flying in his arms like that, she would tighten her hold around his neck just a bit, forcing herself more firmly in his embrace. Now that she thought about it, he seemed to pull her to him just a bit more closely too. Or was that wishful thinking?
But on that day she was alone in the skies, with the exception of a couple flocks of birds. She spent the whole day flying around the planet enjoying the wondrous sights the earth had to offer and reveling in the exhilaration of flight.
By the time she'd gotten home she was feeling wonderful--until she turned on the news broadcast. They were just finishing up a recap of the fights and the destruction in Metropolis, with updates on the JLA. Diana couldn't believe what she was hearing and seeing. Fire and Ice had minor injuries, but Green Lantern was really beaten up badly. What on earth could do that to a Green Lantern? Maxima had a concussion and Blue Beetle was in critical condition! Whatever it was had decimated the League. Where was Kal? The newscast went to live action, as Superman and the monster they were calling Doomsday slugged it out in the streets. The thing was certainly ugly, with gray skin and a number of bony protrusions that looked wickedly sharp. It was heavily muscled and tall too. Taller than Kal. They showed a close-up of Superman. Clearly on his last reserves, he was still trying to stop the creature. His face was bruised and battered and he was bleeding. Something was terribly wrong. They had all fought bigger and more formidable looking creatures at times, but none had caused the damage that this one did.
Diana's first thought as she streaked out the window to Metropolis was "Why didn't you call for me, Kal?" Considering where she'd been that day she probably wouldn't have heard, but still, she knew he wouldn't have called anyway. Anger flashed briefly through her mind. "When we've taken care of this monstrosity, you and I are going to have a nice long talk about when to call for assistance, Kal-El!"
Minutes from the city, worry began to creep through her bones. Seeing the mindless destruction from television was one thing, but in person… She could feel the vibrations of what must have been an explosion.
In record time, she'd made it to downtown Metropolis. A hundred yards away from the center of the crowd, she spotted Batman who was signaling for her to land. As she landed next to him, he laid a hand gently on her shoulder. Looking into his eyes, she saw an immense sadness. "Diana, it's over."
She ignored the warning in his eyes.
"Good", she replied, "now where's Superman?" He jerked his head toward the center of town. "He's over there, with Lois. He's in bad shape, Diana." Diana floated up a few feet off the ground to get a better view, as Batman kept a firm grip on her ankle. She could see the prone and lifeless form of the beast in the street. And, just as Batman had said, Superman was with Lois. Laid out in her arms, more accurately. She had never seen Kal in worse shape. So badly beaten up that she might not have recognized him but for the remnants of his torn costume. He was barely conscious and Lois was talking to him, tears flowing down her cheeks and onto his chest. Diana couldn't quite make out the words.
Kal slipped out of Lois' arms as the last breath left his body. Wonder Woman knew dead when she saw it. The gods knew she'd seen enough of it. Lois' tortured scream merged with Diana's own. She could hear the hushed voices in the crowd around them saying "He's dead. Superman is dead!" Most in the crowd were too stunned to weep.
"This isn't real. It's not happening. I have to get to him", Diana whispered. Batman tightened his grip on her ankle. "Don't, Diana. You'll only complicate things." What was he talking about? Then it hit her. Lois. Lois was engaged to Kal now and wouldn't appreciate the 'interference' at a time like this. Diana was torn, but she understood. What she understood most right then, though, was that she'd been too late.
The EMS technicians had arrived and all manner of resuscitation efforts began in vain. Mouth to mouth and even electric shock were attempted, but nothing worked. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Diana, still floating off the ground, was numb. Breaking away from Batman's grip, she flew away from the nightmare as a worried Dark Knight watched her go.
The funeral was a blur. She remembered walking with the casket from the park to the crypt. Thousands of people lined the route, many of them in tears. Diana was shocked and amazed that she too, was in tears. She had never cried before in her life. She hadn't even believed she was capable of it. That's all she could recall. There were other things that went on, things that she was a part of, but…
Afterwards, she found herself on a Tibetan mountaintop trying to pull herself back together. So, she had lost a friend. She had lost many in all those years since she was created. Some fallen in battle, some to disease and many more to just old age. Yes, she had grieved for them, but then went on with her life and her mission. She still had that mission and would go on with it as she always had, but at the moment there was no joy in the prospect.
She let her mind go back to the times they'd shared together. Surprisingly, it wasn't all the fights that they shared that stuck in her memory. There were so many of them that they seemed to all blend together. It was his smile that came back to her. His laugh. Shared touches and long talks. How comfortable it was to be with him. The time that they kissed… Those were the memories that were dearest to Diana's heart. And now he was gone. She would never get the chance to tell him just how much he meant to her. The world would never be quite as bright as it was before.
In frustrated rage, Diana howled at the gods, the earth, the universe and even at Kal himself. At them for taking him away and at him for leaving her behind and taking her heart to that afterlife that he believed in so much. It was a long time before she was done taking them all to task.
Spent after her outburst, she sat down again. She had to talk to someone. She couldn't keep this bottled up inside or she would fall apart, but who? Her mother? No, she could never understand having feelings for a man. Not after what she had been through in her life. Even though the queen had thought the world of Kal.
Lois. As soon as the name popped into her head, she was racing back to Metropolis. Finding the reporter's apartment building, Diana flew into a window and landed in the main hallway. She knocked on the door. As soon as Lois answered, Diana knew she'd made a mistake. Lois' eyes were still puffy from crying and they hardened measurably when she saw who her visitor was.
"Lois, I…" That was all she got out before she was interrupted.
"He fought all day, Diana" she said softly. "After the Justice League fell, he kept right on fighting. I begged him to stop and wait for some help, but he couldn't bear to see anyone else killed or injured by that monster. You were his friend. Where were you when he needed you most, Diana? Where were you?" She slowly closed the door in Diana's face.
No shouts. No anger. Diana was stunned. And hurt. Like a knife that found it's way through flesh and bone and into her soul. It hurt because she believed that Lois was right. She should have been there and she wasn't. She wished that Lois had yelled at her. It would have been less devastating.
Diana took off again into the sky, trying to banish Lois' damning words from her mind. Before she knew it she found herself flying over Kansas. Taking this as a sign, she adjusted course towards Smallville and Martha and Jonathan Kent's farm. She couldn't think of anyone else to turn to. They should have been who she went to first anyway.
Landing behind the Kent's barn, she spun around in a blur to shed her Wonder Woman costume for something more appropriate. Now clad in jeans and an oversized football jersey, she walked towards the house. The clothes were a gift from Ma and Pa Kent. The jersey had been Kal's, of course, as the shoulders were too big, even for her large shoulders.
Diana had been to the Kent's farm many times before, often with Kal, but also many times without him. The Kent farm was a very soothing place for her, quiet and calm. She loved the company too. The Kents were very down-home, earthy people. They never told you what you wanted to hear, but what you needed to hear. Very wise people, indeed. She had been welcomed here as a daughter from her very first visit. She was a friend of their son's and that was enough for them. Of all the stupid and petty things the gods had done in this world, at least they had gotten this right. They had guided baby Kal's rocket ship to land at the best home that he could have hoped for. And Diana knew that she was honored to be accepted by them, Princess of Themiscrya or not.
Apprehensively, she walked up onto the small wooden porch. She realized suddenly that she had no idea what to say to them. They'd just lost their only son. An adopted son, yes, but their Clark meant as much to them as if he had been born to them. They couldn't have been more proud of or loved him more. They were a humble Midwestern couple, but when they had spoken of Clark, their eyes lit up with all the love and pride they felt for him. He was very fortunate indeed. They loved to hear news of what he was up to and Diana was more than happy to oblige. Especially if it was something funny or embarrassing to him.
And now he was gone. Diana didn't know if she could face the pain and heartbreak that must be in their eyes now. With that, she began to have second thoughts about staying and turned away to leave when the front door opened. There was Martha wearing her favorite apron with red hearts embroidered haphazardly all over it. It was a gift from a young Clark and it was the only one that Diana had ever seen her wear. By the little clouds of flour on it, she'd just been making some of that wonderful bread of hers.
"Diana! Thank goodness you're here!" Over her shoulder she called to her husband, "Jonathan, come out here! Diana has come home for a visit." Turning back to Diana she said, "Don't just stand out there, dear, come in before you catch cold." She always said that, even when it was summer, like it was now. "I was just baking some bread to go with dinner. It should be ready soon." She led Diana into the living room, where Jonathon was just walking in. "Welcome back, dear." He said as he smiled at her and gave her a quick hug.
Diana didn't have to say a word, and it was just as well. She didn't really know if she could speak just then. Martha eyed her up and down as if checking to see if she was eating well, and then she met Diana's eyes and held them. It was as if Martha was trying to read into her heart to see what was there. Indeed she must have succeeded, because the old woman's face softened as she nodded once and held up her arms to Diana and quietly commanded "Come here, child." Diana fell into those waiting arms and did something she had only done once before: She cried. With surprising strength in such a small body, Ma Kent held Diana firmly yet gently as the Amazon Princess let out the frustration and pain she'd been feeling for so long.
"I wasn't there in time, Martha", she wept. "I didn't know what was happening in Metropolis or I would have been there, I swear! By the time I found out it was… it was… Oh, god, Martha, it was too late. Now she was crying so hard that Martha couldn't make out anymore of her words, so she just held on and softly stroked Diana's back. "There there, dear, let it all out" she cooed. "It's all right now. We're here for you." Diana was usually so stoic, and it took the Kents by surprise seeing her nearly hysterical now.
With a glance at Jonathon, she brought her guest over to sit down on the sofa, while Diana held on like a drowning man would hang onto a life preserver. After awhile, Diana's sobs had lessened enough so that Jonathan and Martha could understand her again.
"Great Hera, I've failed him, Martha. When he needed me most, I wasn't there. Now he's…he's… I can't even say it!" she cried. "Can you both ever forgive me?"
Martha took her shoulders and pushed Diana gently from her shoulder. With a hand under her chin, she lifted the tearstained face up so they could look each other in the eye. Even in her pain, Diana knew that look. It was that look that said 'you listen to me, young lady and don't you dare argue'. Martha sternly instructed, "You listen to me Diana. This was in no way your fault. You said yourself you didn't know what was happening, so there's no reason to blame yourself. We don't blame you and we'll be darned if we let you blame yourself! Do you understand me, Diana?"
The Princess lowered her head as she replied "I understand, Mrs. Kent".
"What was that, Diana?" said Mrs. Kent, clearly expecting a different answer this time.
Diana looked up and met her eyes which were now filled with love and compassion for her. "I understand…Ma"
Martha smiled that warm, loving smile of hers and said "There, that's much better". Diana could only offer a weak smile in return before bowing her head to stare at her fingers, trying to regain her composure..
Jonathan had come to sit on the other side of Diana and added "That's right, honey. There was nothing you could have done. The only consolation that we can take is that Clark died doing what he wanted to do above all else; save lives. He saved maybe thousands of people by stopping that monster. Try to keep that in your heart when you think of him."
Lifting her head she saw Ma and Pa reaching over her to hold each other's hands. Holding hands and looking at her with worried expressions. She smiled at them again, a wider smile this time. She clasped her hand atop theirs. "Thank you both. I've been lost since…since that day and I didn't know where to go or who to turn to. I feel much better now and I owe you a great debt for that."
"Nonsense!" Martha admonished. "That's what family is for." Diana felt she might weep again at hearing those words, but this time for joy. Quickly, she pulled herself back together, though.
"I feel selfish now, having come to you at a time like this when it must be even harder for the both of you. How can I help you?
"Just your being here has helped us, Diana" answered Jonathan. We've had each other to lean on during the worst, but having you here reminds us that others loved him too. Besides, a shared pain is a lesser pain or so I've heard told. What do you think, Diana?"
She looked into those wonderful old eyes of his and said "With all my heart, Pa. I believe it with all my heart."
And to her surprise, she did feel better. She was still wracked with grief for the man she loved, but it didn't feel like a crushing weight anymore. She didn't think she'd ever be quite the same, though. How do you mend a hole in your heart?
"Well, it's time to start seeing to dinner" Martha said as she rose from the couch. Diana got up to take her leave. "Enjoy your meal, and thank you again."
"I'll bet you haven't eaten much in the last few days, have you?"
"I don't want to impose…"
Martha just gave her that look again. Wonder Woman or not, she wasn't going to win this fight, so she surrendered before it started.
She sighed with a smile. "You're right, Ma. I haven't had much of an appetite lately and now that bread smells heavenly." Hoping to win a small victory, she added "But I get to do the dishes or I'm leaving right now."
Martha reached out and took her shoulder, nudging Diana towards the kitchen. "We'll talk about that while I peel potatoes". So much for small victories, she thought.
"Guess I'll just go out to the barn and muck out the stalls" Jonathan said to the now empty room.
Two female voices answered him from the kitchen "And don't forget to wash up before dinner!" Diana was laughing so hard that she almost dropped the potatoes.
Putting her brush back in her handbag, she saw through the cave's watery curtain that it was getting on towards dark. He should arrive soon. She began to pile the wood to make a fire.
Soon after his death came the news of the new "Supermen" showing up around Metropolis. It was disgusting and bordering on profane. She really wanted to go back there and vent some rage on those impersonators, but resolved to just let Supergirl and Lex Luthor handle it. She still had her own job to do and couldn't just go running off to teach some idiots a lesson.
Not long after that, she heard reports that the real Superman, Kal, had really returned. She didn't allow herself to believe it until she saw Cat Grant interviewing him on the news. Afraid to hope, she called the Kents to see if they'd watched the show. They confirmed that it was indeed Clark and that he really was alive! Kal was alive! She didn't even have the words to convey the utter joy that she felt. She determined to go see him when she could, but he found her first.
She was finishing the dinner dishes in her apartment one afternoon when she heard that familiar WHOOOOSH that signaled his arrival. Drying her hands, she quickly went over in her mind what she had decided to do after finding out he was still alive. Nothing had changed for her and Kal, she reasoned. He was still engaged to Lois. Diana knew that she could only wait. And that was fine too. Now that he was back, waiting for him would be easier. There was one thing she knew she had to do regardless.
She turned to see him in her living room, his red cape swirling around him as he stopped in the middle of the room. On the outside, she was smiling at him calm and collected. On the inside, however, as Jonathon had been wont to say, "Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs". Indeed. A very long-tailed cat at that.
Before he could say anything, she warned him "Kal, after I do this, you're going to forget it ever happened. Understand?" Clearly, he didn't, but Diana went ahead anyway, rushing over and kissing him firmly on the lips, letting her hands glide through his thick hair. When she felt him start to respond, she pulled away. "Welcome back, Kal" she breathed. "I missed you".
"I missed you too, Diana" he replied, still confused. "Diana, why did you…"
She put a finger to his lips. "Forget it happened, remember?" Then she changed the subject. "So, tell me how you managed to cheat death yet again. Forgive the pun, but you had us all worried to death!"
Superman smiled as he explained the whole thing. While she calmly listened to his story, she shuddered inside thinking how close he was to not being able to come back at all. All too soon, it was time for him to get back to Metropolis. Still, Diana could feel that hole in her heart begin to mend.
Soon thereafter, things went back to normal. They went back to their respective cities, occasionally teaming up when great dangers loomed. They never spoke of that kiss, though Diana would catch him looking at her with a pensive expression from time to time with a question in his eyes.
He and Lois did get married, and seemed to have a very happy, if unorthodox life. How can you have a normal life when you're married to the Man of Steel? But Diana was truly happy for him. For both of them. Other than a meeting or two, she avoided Lois when she could, however. Thankfully there were no more tragic incidents for quite a few years.
Time passed, and after 40 years of marriage, Lois Lane Kent passed away. It was a heart attack. Not even Superman could prevent that. Heartbroken, he grieved for her for 5 years after the funeral. Diana grieved with him. Despite her desire for him, she felt no joy in Lois' passing. While they didn't get along all the time, Diana found she did have some sisterly feelings for the human woman after all. It hurt her to see him in pain, but she knew there was nothing for her to do but be there for him through the worst of it. It was what he needed and what she wanted.
During that five years, he gave up his alter ego Clark Kent. He didn't have a lot of choice. Clark would be over sixty years old now, but Kal still looked like he was in his late twenties or early thirties. People were already beginning to comment on how young he looked for his age and he told Diana once that he feared that soon his secret would come out if he didn't do something. While Ma and Pa Kent had died almost 30 years before (They had cried in each others' arms after the funeral), he still had friends that he was afraid for. Friends that might be hurt if his enemies found that Clark Kent was indeed Superman. So, with a little help from Supergirl, Clark Kent died. Supergirl was a perfect mimic and stood in as the dead Clark. The mourning for such a well loved public figure would go on for months, but Kal wasn't around to watch much of it.
He'd explained to Diana "I have to leave. I need to spend some time alone to straighten myself out. I don't know where I'm going or when I'll be back, but I will be back, I promise." He held her hand in his and added "When I do come back we need to talk, Diana". She nodded in response and kissed his cheek "I understand, Kal. You take all the time you need. We'll all keep an eye on Metropolis while you're gone." At least she knew that she was part of his future one way or another. Whether he decided to be just friends as before or try again to be more for each other, she was prepared either way. She would not ever give up her friendship with him no matter what, though. It was too precious. But, if he wanted more, well, she was certainly willing to try again!
Superman made numerous public appearances before he left. It wouldn't do to have Clark die and then have Superman disappear. That would defeat the purpose of his mock death. He had also asked Supergirl to shape-shift into Superman from time to time and be seem in Metropolis since he'd done such a fine job at Clark's funeral. She'd been more than happy to oblige.
While he was gone, she thought about him often. Hoping that, if nothing else, he would find the peace he sought. If anyone deserved that peace, it was him. Her duties called her though, and she tried to concentrate on that.
After six months went by, she began to worry. Well, she began to worry more. He hadn't sent word to anyone about where he was or if he was alright. It wasn't like him to make others worry about him. She asked everyone in the League, past and present members, but they hadn't heard anything either. She was seriously considering having the League mount an all-out search for him, but Batman talked her out of it. "He'll be back", he said, "for you if for no other reason."
Six months later, she was indulging in her new habit of searching the internet for any mention of him when she got an email from him. It said simply "Could we talk tonight?" He signed it simply, "Kal". No clues about what he was thinking or what he may have decided. At the bottom of the message were the directions to the cave she now stood in.
The fire was going quite nicely by the time she heard the WHOOOSH of his arrival outside the cave. It had just turned dark. She stood up, waiting for him to come into the cave, but for a good five minutes, he stayed outside. Puzzled by his behavior, Diane started toward the mouth of the cave to see what was keeping him. Just as she started to move, he walked in.
She'd had months to prepare for this, to brace herself, but looking at the water dripping off his black hair onto his chest, she felt her legs shake a little and her heart begin to race. She always knew she wanted to be with him, but until that moment she hadn't realized just how badly. She cursed herself for her lack of emotional control. But then, she didn't want to control her emotions when she was with him. She'd been doing that for too many years already.
Looking into his face, she could see why he delayed. He looked very nervous. Whether that was a good sign or bad, Diana couldn't tell. Was he nervous about telling her he wanted to just remain friends? Or was it because he wanted to ask more of her and feared she would reject him? Ha! She almost laughed aloud at the idea, but in his current state he would certainly misunderstand. There was no room for misunderstandings. Not tonight.
She could understand his nervousness. Other than a couple of kisses, she had never let him see how she truly felt for him. That would have pitted her against Lois in his mind, and she wasn't going to risk that. If she had let him know then, this wouldn't be happening now. She was sure of that.
Taking a deep breath, he visibly gathered himself as he strode towards her and the fire.
"Hello, Diana." He was trying to sound normal, but this was an awkward situation and that came through in his voice. They hadn't had an awkward discussion in a very long time. Until they talked this out, there was nothing that was going to make it less awkward. Her heart was hammering in her chest, and she was sure he could hear it too. She could definitely hear his. Like two teenagers with a crush on each other, they stood there looking at each other. Two teenagers that weren't quite sure if the other felt exactly the same way.
"Welcome back, Kal. Did you find the answers you sought?" He nodded. "What did you wish to talk about?" There. Prod him a bit to get him talking. The ball was in his court, after all. He called the meeting, let him set the agenda. If her mind came up with one more stupid analogy like that, she felt she might scream.
"I've been thinking about my present and my future, Diana. After Lois died, I didn't know what I was going to do. I felt lost. If you hadn't been there for me… well, then you always were there for me."
"Anyway, the more I thought about my life and what I wanted to do with it, the more I realized that whatever came next for me I couldn't imagine doing without you. I tried to remember everything we've done or said together and I realized something else. Something that really shocked me."
Diana held her breath, praying to every god she knew, hoping…
"I'm in love with you, Diana."
Diana felt her knees weaken, but what he said next almost put her on the floor.
"When I remembered out times together, I finally understood that I have always loved you. I can't honestly say I'd trade my time with Lois for anything, but I've come to understand that I've loved you just as much as I loved her. Your courage, your compassion, your wisdom--everything that makes you who you are."
His eyes went down to the cave floor. "I know that makes me sound like, like some kind of jerk, loving two women like that, but I couldn't help it."
Diana desperately wanted to tell him that wasn't true and that he acted with honor and integrity. She tried to say the words, but found that she couldn't speak. Let this be real, she thought to herself. Please, don't let this be some god's attempt at humor.
Kal saw her trying to speak, but put his hand up to forestall any interruption. "If you don't feel the same about me, I'll understand. We could still be friends. I don't want to lose our friendship over this, but I felt it only fair that I tell you how I feel about you." He put his hand to his forehead in frustration. "I know I'm not doing this very well, Diana, and I'm sorry. I just don't know how to put it. I love you and I want to be with you. Though it sounds trite, it's true: I can't imagine going on without you and I don't even want to try."
She fought down a surge of euphoria even as she smiled at his predicament. She had dreams of him saying these things to her. She had the irrational urge to make him say it again, but she suppressed that too. She had one thing to make clear before she committed to him, however.
"Kal, I will not be Lois for you." A simple statement, yet at the same time a question. Simple, but the future of their relationship hinged on his response.
"No, Diana, you won't. And I don't want you to. That's one of the things I had to sort out. I had to know that I wasn't just replacing Lois with you. And I'm not. I love you for who you are. I always have. I just didn't realize it until recently. I love you for who you are, Diana, and that is the truth. You can wrap me up in that lasso of yours if you want to make sure I'm being honest."
"I don't need that to know you are being truthful, Kal. You never could lie to your friends." She smiled a wicked little smile. "As for tying you up… maybe later."
He blushed. A very nice blush too.
All her questions answered, Diana went to stand within arms' reach of him. She had her own declaration to make. A declaration she had been practicing in her dreams for a very long time.
"I love you too, Kal. More than I can say. I, too, would like us to be more than friends. I have loved you for a very long time." Not sure whether to say it or not, she went ahead and added softly "I've been waiting for you for years."
Then they were in each others' arms. With his right hand, he gently caressed her face. Looking deeply into his eyes, she told him softly "Don't ever leave me again, Kal-El".
"Never again, Diana" he replied, just as softly.
She reached up and kissed him. He returned her kiss. It was their first real kiss that they both fully participated in. It was better than her dreams and her dreams had been exquisite. Her body responded and she felt his respond too as they pulled each other closer. She could feel that his need and desire matched her own. It was intoxicating. The firelight reflecting in his eyes mesmerized her.
Now they had each other as she'd always dreamed. Her fantasy had at last come to life for real. Idly, she ran her hands through his hair as she locked her lips on his again. For a man of steel, he certainly had soft lips.
It was definitely worth the wait.