Thanks to Djinn and DC Lady for the betas.

Comrade in Arms

by Athena Phoenix

After she and Kal had destroyed the giant robots, stabilized the last building, and calmed the shocked survivors, Diana sank gratefully onto a chunk of concrete. She couldn't see her reflection – there didn't seem to be an unbroken piece of glass within two miles – yet she knew she was dirty, scraped, sweaty, and generally bedraggled.

Some glamorous superhero. If Lois could see me now…

She and Lois rarely talked, aside from that one memorable interview. There just didn't seem to be anything to say. Occasionally, Lois had asked her for her comments on a League situation, but otherwise she seldom approached Diana.

I guess neither of us is good at – what do they call it – "girl talk"?

Perhaps, Diana thought, she intimidated Lois. After all, despite having enough attitude for three metas, Lois was merely human herself –

And what's wrong with "merely human"? Bruce –

Diana deliberately shoved thoughts of Bruce away. She didn't want to think about him now; she had enough trouble with men already. Even though Lois had never come right out and accused Diana of trying to steal her husband, she had implied plenty with some snide remarks just a few days ago at the UN ecology conference. The expressions that had accompanied her comments had been nothing short of caustic.

After the usual volley back and forth of small talk, Lois had lobbed her first hard question. "It seems like every time I see Superman in the news, you're always cozying up to him. What's the story, Princess?"

Of course Diana had replied that she and Kal were friends, only friends.

And of course Lois had refused to believe it. "Friends don't have cute little pet names for each other," she had spat, snapping her notebook shut. Most of the attendees had already made it into their respective conference rooms, but Diana had been lingering outside, studying the agenda – a sitting duck for an ambush interview

"It is not a pet name," Diana had retorted. "It is his Kryptonian name. Why are you so uncomfortable with Kal's heritage?"

"We're not discussing me. We're discussing you and how you and Clark always seem to be carrying each other off the battlefield, patching up each other's wounds, and whatever else you might do up there in that…orbiting love nest of yours."

"It's not ours –" Diana had begun, before she realized that the ownership of the Watchtower was hardly the most important implication she should deny.

Lois had – predictably – pounced on her omission, "So you admit that you and Clark –"

"Stop trying to earn your next Pulitzer, Lois," Diana had snarled. She lowered her head until she was face-to-face with the reporter. "This. Isn't. An. Interview. It's you having an attack of jealousy. If you want to know what your husband does on the Watchtower, ask him yourself!"

Lois had seemed ready to retaliate when Diana saw her gaze shift slightly. Out of the corner of her eye, Diana noticed the Japanese ambassador coming toward them. Lois's reporter instincts were apparently stronger than her possessive instincts, as she called out, "Ambassador Oshima!" while briskly walking away, her head held high. And Diana had turned around and headed in the opposite direction, fantasizing about Lois falling off the nearest tall building, with Kal being too occupied to save her. Damnable woman. If the Furies ever need a replacement…

Diana squirmed on her makeshift seat. She had to admit to herself that her discomfort wasn't only because of the concrete's roughness. Lois's accusations – both explicit and implied - had stung, for some reason. She wasn't sure why. After all, she and Kal weren't doing anything wrong.

As she had told Lois, they were friends. They were also comrades in arms – they worked together, fought side-by-side, watched each other's back… What could be wrong about that? Did Lois somehow see her as a threat to their marriage?

Marriage had been an alien concept to her when she first arrived in Man's World. Amazons didn't marry – in fact, any bond between two people that grew too close, too intimate was deemed a threat to their society. Amazons were warriors, first and foremost, and one person's deep commitment to another placed the cohesion of the entire unit at risk. The role of the warrior was to protect the nation, and forming a lifelong bond with another almost guaranteed that a conflict of interest would someday ensue.

She remembered Wally's astonishment when she had told him of this belief. "You mean you're from an island of drop-dead-gorgeous women and no one is – I mean, you all never…" Shaking his head, he had concluded, "No wonder you're all so…fierce."

Diana hadn't bothered to correct his misperception. Amazons did occasionally take lovers, although it was discouraged. Her own mother's experiences with Hades and Heracles were cautionary tales in themselves. Though men could be pleasant diversions, they were not to be trusted, and certainly could not be integrated into the fabric of Amazon society. Her fellow Amazons also sometimes paired off, but knew that making a longstanding commitment would limit their ability to rise in rank. All in all, affairs tended to be short-term, out of necessity.

As Princess of the Amazons, Diana had known that her sisters were closely watching her behavior and expected her to set the standard for proper deportment. She had been careful, always following the rules – until the day she had stolen the magical armor and lasso and left Themyscira.

Even off the island, she had still been wary of commitment, though she had learned by experience that some men, at least, were trustworthy. She considered it an honor to serve with the men of the Justice League, who possessed honor and compassion equal to their strength and skill. All of them were fellow soldiers and some were also friends.

Two, in particular. Despite their differences, Diana had grown close over the years to both Kal and Bruce. There was something about them that had encouraged her to lower her defenses and to nourish the growing bond between them. Though Kal always winced when his super-hearing picked up someone's reference to the three of them as "the trinity", that designation never bothered her. She liked the idea that the three of them shared something special, something unique.

She hadn't worried about her closeness with Kal and Bruce hurting their ability to fight. Bruce had always made it clear that his main commitment was to his mission of bringing justice to Gotham City and elsewhere. Perhaps Bruce had been even warier than she of establishing too intimate of a connection.

Kal, on the other hand, was too openhearted and too…honest to be anything other than a man who treasured the love and friendship he received. She knew he loved Lois – she'd thought it had almost been tangible at their wedding, like an aura surrounding him. Though Diana had been happy for him that day, the few quiet tears she had shed were not just of happiness, but of mourning the need for their own relationship to change.

Except that it hadn't changed, not really. Oh, for a while he'd spent less time on the Watchtower, begged off a few impromptu pizza runs, but before too long he'd come back to us.

To me

Diana caught her breath at that last possessive thought. She and Kal were friends, nothing else.

Except…

Except that she hardly dared admit to herself how much she missed him when he was away, and that she felt loneliest of all not when he was on a mission in some distant galaxy, but when he was home in Metropolis.

Except that there was a feeling, an electricity between them when they touched that wasn't present when any other male bound her wounds.

Except that she felt whole in his embrace, like they completed each other.

Kal was more than just her comrade in arms.

He was the comrade in her arms.

Sudden footsteps jolted Diana from her thoughts, and she looked up to see Kal standing next to her. He looked concerned, asking, "Diana, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

She pasted on a smile. "Nothing that won't heal shortly. I just needed a break."

"Are you sure that's all?" Kal sat down next to her and started to put his arm around her, comforting her in his usual way. But when his hand reached her bare shoulder, he jerked it back quickly, as though it had been burned.

"Kal?" She searched his face for a clue to his odd behavior. Before he glanced away, she thought she saw sadness in his eyes. Or was it resignation? "Kal, look at me."

"I can't. You're too – it's – she –" He swallowed hard. "I'm sorry, Diana."

"Kal, wait!" But he was already soaring away, probably heading home to Metropolis. Probably heading home to her.

Diana lowered her head and closed her eyes as a sudden wave of exhaustion swept over her. She knew she was on duty for another few hours yet, and silently implored Athena to postpone any more actions until after her shift ended. She wasn't ready to fight again, not yet. Was this why Amazons were discouraged from closeness, from love?

She opened her eyes to see the wide bracelets on her crossed wrists. Forged by Hephaestus, they were designed to help protect her from any missile.

All but one.

The End