Summary: The story Immortal Beloved (DC Comics) is one of those DC plots that have always bothered me . It was written by Joe Kelly and I think the story set up something interesting but ended up being more patronizing to readers and its characters. In short, it involves Wonder Woman being called away to Asgard,the land of the Nordic Gods,to help fight in a war of 1000 years. Superman goes with her. In the comic both help Thor and lead armies against monsters and during this time Superman is shown pining for Lois and adhering to his code of not killing. Now I get he would remain faithful to his wife in as much as he could. But a dead wife ? Maybe for 100 years, even 200 years and that is me being generous but 1000 years ? No. In the story it is shown he is struggling with feelings for Diana. And sure, why not? Your wife is dead and you are with a woman you use to be strongly attracted to and actually care for...what is so sinful in being able to love again? He also maims monsters and leaves them for others, like Diana, to kill. Now if that isn't a load of nonsense and quite selfish of Superman, I don't know what is. It was as if he was sheltering his own ego and letting others taint themselves. In this situation, the Superman I know would try other methods, yes, but he would just never let others do the dirty work .
So of course 1000 years draw closer and the final night before the final foray that may turn the war or where they may die themselves, he actually brings up the subject with Diana of them spending it as lovers. It is clear she would have accepted. Again, why not? She spends 1000 years with a man she respects, admires and cares for. That is no sin and how she reacts to me is honest. But here Kelly either chickened out or felt the heavy hand of DC editors. Superman changes his mind and says it will be Lois forever even if she is dead, a thousand years and beyond. Riiiight. It was laughable in my opinion. Superman wanted Diana but a sense of morbid loyalty kept him from doing what he wanted to do. Would Lois really have been very flattered at that kind of blind devotion? Of course, they win the war, get sent back at the time they left home and everything is all hunky-dory as if nothing ever happened.
It was a real cop out and lazy and I saw no point to it other than the most cliched way to try to make us accept Superman can go 1000 years without sex and even if Lois is dead he would remain celibate forever. Plus Lois, as I am aware, has always had her kicks(she has romanced many men) but Superman must act as if he is neutered. Not fair in my book. Why go there in the first place if you can't follow a story through to its logical conclusion? So with all this in mind, I am using part of the 1000 years Asgard plot. It has been done before by others and done really well (Djinn and Bob Clark jr...see the Superman Wonder Woman Fan Archive)
I titled the story Orchids and Fire. Those who have not read Immortal Beloved in the story Superman muses of Diana fragrance...she "smells of orchids and fire". It seems fitting somehow for this.
ORCHIDS AND FIRE
Kal dropped the blood stained Mjolnir to his side as Diana stood before the troops and lifted her own sword in triumph. A roar went up,as they acknowledged their victory and gratitude to both the Amazon and Kryptonian, for leading them in this battle against the darkness that had pervaded the kingdom of the Norse gods for the last thousand years. Kal watched her as she stood like a true warrior and royalty, and graciously smiled and acknowledged their cheers and shouts. Praise and worship use to bother him in the past; but now, although he had not reach her level of comfort with it, he could accept that it was because he had earned it in their eyes.
He took in a deep breath and acknowledged the men as he walked towards her. They slapped him on the back, and many even saluted. He had been their General and carried Thor's hammer after his death. He had been known as the Kryptonian with power enough to take down Gods, who had refused to even kill the dreaded beasts in the beginning. But time had hardened this soldier. Especially one that had faced forces that could not be reasoned with; that killed with little or no remorse and whose numbers seemed infinite. Time had worn him down and made him see how naive and foolish it had been to just weaken and maim demons and monsters.
Pain was pain in any world. And prolonged pain in life was worse than pain that ended in the peace of death. It had been that simple. One had no luxury of negotiation or peace. It had been winner take all. It had been brutal and bloody. It would always be that way in a land of gods and monsters. It had taken him several hundred years to come to that realization, and after having seen Diana nearly torn to pieces by these same creatures he spared so often, and her agony as she convalesced, had been unbearable and marked the beginning of him breaking his oath and seeing that sometimes one had to kill to survive.
He had killed the creatures of the night for the next four hundred years and it had surprised him he didn't feel guilt nor regret. Just as it had surprised him as he looked at Diana many years ago and realized he could not remember Lois' face or voice or smell and felt no sense of loss. It was a far off memory and he had mourned her. But a man could only grieve so much. And Kal was a man in many things, even if he had descended from an alien race of coldly scientific beings now long dead.
He came up to stand before Diana. Like her,his furs were splattered with blood and his skin coated in grime and soot. She smiled a dazzling smile. His lips turned up. He caught her up in one strong arm and swung her around. Another great cheer went up.
Diana laughed for the first time like a giddy girl. It was over. The war of one thousand years was over and peace had come to Asgard.
After the dead and injured had been cleared came the celebrations. Bonfires were lit and laughter, singing and music pervaded the streets. Diana and Kal had made their way back to Valhalla,to sit with the new rulers. Magni, Thor's son, and his wife,s at on the throne now. There was to be a great feast and celebrations. Both were shown to their old chambers. Chambers they had left years ago when they had gone to fight the war in the wilderness.
Diana came out of her bath chamber, wrapped in a towel and went to the bed where a gown had been had been left for her. It was a white silk. She lifted the fabric to her cheek. She had forgotten what softness had felt like. She had been in her Wonder Woman armor and furs for decades and held metal weapons and grown use to the smell of dirt and blood. She couldn't remember the last time she had worn a dress or felt like a woman. Her hair, which had grown past her waist, had been cut by the maid servant and now rested as it always had on her back. The smell of flowers surrounded her from the oils in the bath. It was all overwhelming. It made tears come to her eyes. It also reminded her that this was now her home and there was no going back. The world that she and Kal had left would have changed beyond recognition. None of their friends would be alive, but Diana's mother and sisters would be. The thought of not seeing them made her ache inside.
"Is your Highness well?" the maid-servant asked.
Diana turned and blinked."I...yes."
"I have your undergarments and slippers."
"Oh yes. Please, put it there. I can manage now."
"Are you sure? I was sent to attend you."
"I am, and thank you."
The elderly woman nodded and withdrew. Diana sighed and began to dress.
She stood before the long mirror on the wall as she snapped the bracelets on her wrists and stared at herself. She could barely recognize the face in it. She touched her hair and smoothed the dress over her hips nervously. She looked soft and feminine and incredibly beautiful. She swallowed, almost longing to tear it off and run and hide in armor and ragged furs. Hera, this was what life was going to be like now and she must get used to it. She was an honorary Asgardian, her and Kal, and they now belonged to the Pantheon of Norse gods.
Diana sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. It was nearly dry, and she simply brushed it out and left it open. She took up her tiara. The rest of her Wonder Woman uniform had long been torn and irreparable. The tiara, bracelets and lasso were all that had been left. The lasso laid on a chair. For once there was no need for it. She was about to put the tiara on when there was a knock on her door.
She called, "Come in, Kal."
The door pushed open and he entered as she was facing the mirror adjusting the tiara. Their eyes met in the mirror and Diana felt a heat creep up her cheeks. He had shaved the ragged beard and his hair had been cut. The chiseled plains of his face and lips were now evident for all to see. It was as handsome as she remembered but there was something more compelling now. It was wisdom, pain, experience, knowledge, that gave him an aura of maturity. Gone was the vulnerable look, and the uncertainty. There stood a self assured man. He wore blue robes and looked like royalty. She felt a strange flutter in her stomach as she saw the look on his face when he saw her. It had been years since she saw that look.
It had been there off and on throughout the years but battle and honoring Lois' memory had made him school and control himself. The thought of having Diana had been powerful and very hard to resist and all he had to do was take her in his arms and he knew she would have surrendered. It had been offset, however, by the thought of losing her. He could not bear to have her and lose her in a war that had daily threatened their lives.
Happiness was a fragile, elusive thing. To think of it or want it then had been too risky.
Now he was immobile with admiration. Gone was his comrade in arms. Gone was his equal in command. Gone was the weary, embattled warrior. A woman stood in her place. Her beauty took his breath away. It was like seeing an encased bud that had suddenly bloomed. But this vision was his friend, not a stranger and he smiled.
"Are you ready?"
She turned."One moment. I need to put on my slippers."
He watched her lift the hems of her gown and slip her feet in the satiny slippers. He found himself thinking that simple action simply oozed grace and appeal. Diana, ironically, clothed from head to toe, was far more dangerous than if she wore skimpy battle armor. It would be best to go to the great Hall quickly before his thoughts ran from reverential to impure.
"Let's go," he said."I think Magni has some great presentation for us. It would not do for the guests of honor to be late."
"No. It would not."She smiled and took his offered arm.
The feast was preceded by Diana and Kal being presented with garlands and symbolic swords to honor what they had done for the kingdom. A prayer was said for the fallen and then the banquet and celebrations began. Both had places of honor at the main table on the dais and sat on the right hand side of Magni. When the dancing began many men came to beg for Diana's hand and she had no choice but to graciously accept.
Magni looked at Kal as he watched her walk along the line of dancers and met her partner, hand to hand and moved in that regal, upright manner that was so much a part of her.
"She has many admirers, Kal-El."
"Yes, she does."
"Many will want to pursue her."
"I can see that."
"I cannot say I am surprised. She looks ethereal. I myself did not realize such beauty laid beneath all that dirt and bloodied furs. If I were not wed and happy I too would be tempted."
"Well then, it's good you are, isn't it?" Kal's tone was slightly acidic.
Magni laughed."I suspect you would not be too pleased if she accepted anyone's suit."
"Diana is her own woman. She's free to court anyone."
"None will court her unless they know where you stand."
"They have a deep respect for you and for all that you have done for Asgard. Brotherly honor means that if you want her they step aside, willingly."
"But I don't..."He halted abruptly. What did he mean to say?
Magni said,"Remember,Kal-El, you and she are one of us now. The war is at an end. We are at peace and do you intend on pretending to be her brother or just her friend for eternity?"
Kal said nothing. Magni said, "I know you had a wife. I am amazed at your loyalty. Not even I could hold out so long and for what?"
"I'm not holding out for my dead wife. I made peace with that many moons ago."
"Then what is it? One thousand years of a monk-like existence must drive a man crazy."
Kal gave him a wry look and even managed to jest self deprecatingly, "That's an understatement. Let us say sexual frustration can make a man fight that extra harder. It may be why we won."
Magni chortled."You surprise me, Kal-El. So there is fire in the blood than runs in those veins."
"I think most people think Superman is some sort of saint and has no urges. They would not know how wrong they are. I just manage to control myself very well, that's all."
"You have no reason to now. Stop circling and make a move, friend."
"She and I have done this dance for so long, it's difficult to comprehend life any other way. I value and treasure our friendship. I can speak to her of anything and she understands. She tells me what I need to hear, not what she thinks I want to hear. She makes no demands on me other than to be the best man I can be. To never give up. She understands the burdens of being a hero and sees the world the way I see it too. We never seek to change but inspire each other. I would hate to lose that. Sometimes physical sharing disrupts intellectual and emotional bonds..."
"By Odin,you two cannot see it, can you? You were fashioned by the Gods for each other. You have allowed humans to dictate your destiny too much, Kal-El. Your sense of loyalty to them is admirable but you are not, nor will ever be, normal and neither will she. That is not a sin or anything to be ashamed of, to see that your mate could be something other than the woman you once bound yourself too. It is not disloyal to live on and persevere and love again. Are you so sure your woman, when you left her, would remain celibate and loyal to you until she died?"
Kal pondered that. Lois was too full of zest to remain alone. He conceded."No. Lois would have no doubt moved on. She's a survivor."
"Do not ponder too long, Kal-El, or you will lose any chance at happiness to a morbid sense of loyalty."
Diana looked for Kal in the crowded Great Hall. She could not see him. She furrowed her brow in confusion. She had just seen him ten minutes ago as Baldur had asked her for a dance. The God of Light and Beauty was probably the most handsome male being Diana had ever seen and she knew many of the females in the room envied her. He was also heroic and generous and Diana enjoyed his conversation. But that was all. Her heart was impervious to all but one.
She did not know where he could have gone to. She asked around. No one knew until one of the men, who had served under them, said,""He is outside on the battlements, Princess."
Diana nodded and walked out the Hall. She flew outside a large window and went up to the high battlements. Sure enough he was there, hovering and watching the bonfires around the castle and country-side and listening to the musical notes in the air. The wind ruffled his hair and robes. In the moonlight he looked like the demi-god he was.
"There you are. I wondered where you got to." She floated up to hover alongside him
He turned."I needed some air. It's a bit too much revelry, even for me."
She sighed."Well it is getting slightly bawdy .The wine is flowing freely now. I think a fight or two has broken out too."
What may have bothered him ages ago certainly didn't now. His self righteous indignation in the first one hundred years had been replaced by a kind of mellow tolerance. He said, "They deserve to let their hair down after all the darkness, I guess. You finished your dancing?"
She said wryly,"Yes. I have had more than enough. You didn't dance though."
He chuckled."The only person I would dance with is you and you were too booked up."
She smiled." I'm free now, if you still want that dance."
Kal regarded her, amused."Well, I guess we have music ..."
They faced each other and he gently slipped an arm about her waist and took her hand in his. They were slightly touching and she could feel the warmth coming off his body. They slowly turned with the air currents.
Kal said simply, "You look wonderful, Diana. I had almost forgotten how beautiful you were..."
It was pure and honest and the truth. It also had to be said.
Diana returned candidly, "You look beautiful as well."
He laughed."Thanks, but I did not have scores of eyes following me all night. You even impressed Baldur."
She said pensively, "He is very handsome, isn't he? I ought to be flattered but I am not. I know you have several female admirers as well, who, if I am not mistaken, were admiring you all night too."
Kal grinned. He knew that. In fact, at times his face burned as he heard whispers of women who commented on his physique and what they wouldn't give to be bedded by him and what they would have liked him to do to them. He had been propositioned by the bolder ones as well.
"Asgard women are aggressive," he admitted."Way more than earth ones. At another time, maybe, when I was a teenager, I would have been flattered. It just feels rather excessive and silly judging someone by their looks."
"Now you know how I feel as Wonder Woman." Diana's eyes grew serious."Kal, have you thought about what we would do?"
He frowned."What do you mean?"
"We are here now. Forever. Our former lives are a world past and gone. Have you come to terms with that?"
He sighed."I accept that there's no going back and those I cared for are long dead and gone. I cannot dwell on the past. We need to think of the present."
She said softly, "I miss my mother and sisters. They would be alive...I will never see them again. The thought hurts."
His hand touched her cheek. So soft and smooth. "I know and I'm sorry, Diana."
Her voice sounded wistful and sad."I am so glad it's you here in Asgard with me. I don't think I could bear it if it were anyone else. I don't know how I can thank you for sacrificing the life you knew to come with me. You must have hated every moment of it."
"If I had to choose again, I would make the same choice."
"Yes. Don't ever doubt that."
Suddenly tears spiked her lashes and spilled down her cheek. She tried to wipe it away. The last thing she wanted to do was cry. She had never allowed herself in one thousand years and everything felt raw now that the clinical, pragmatic warrior side of her could stand down.
He drew her close and stroked her hair."I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
She shook her head and confessed huskily against his chest, listening to the beat of his strong steady heart," I love you, Kal."
Kal's heart throbbed at the sound of that. He had often wondered in dreams what those words would sound like off Diana's lips. It warmed and thrilled his soul and he could only say what he had wanted to say five hundred years ago.
He took her face in both hands and looked at her in the pale moonlight. He whispered, "Diana, I have battled a love I have felt for you for centuries. I wanted to keep it pure and untainted from the darkness around us. It's what kept me alive and motivated. If at times I was cold and distant it wasn't because I wanted to be elsewhere. It was because it was all I could do to not succumb to the temptation of having you. Losing you would have been made all that more unbearable. The war made it possible...but now...I don't know if I can be strong. I don't know if I want to be strong. I don't know if I deserve this."
Diana whispered, "Love is not weakness and neither is giving into it. I know of no other man I want to be with but you. I am ready if you want me."
"If I want you...?"he muttered."That's like asking me if I breathe..."
His mouth brushed hers. It was soft and delicate, testing, teasing, tasting her full, soft lips. Diana's arms moved to go around his neck and she sighed. His hold tightened and his lips became more hungry more demanding. Her lips slowly parted, allowing him to penetrate the inner recesses of her mouth. Eventually they had to stop mid-air. Breathing heavily, they looked at each other, delighted if somewhat amazed at the passion flaring between them.
Kal's fingers traced down her jaw and throat to rest above the exposed skin of her scooped neckline. He looked at her with eyes that were dark with desire. "I want you to be sure, Diana."
"I am sure."