A/N: I Don't own these characters so don't sue me.
Here is Lady Isis's chapter of the story. Special thanks to Lady Isis for her agreeing to co-author this story with little old me. Also many thanks to DaisyJane for her input on the original idea.
This story takes places after the events of Paradise Lost episode of Justice League.
The Superman Paradox
Chapter 4: Realization.
Clark yawned for the seventeenth time that day - and it was only ten fifteen in the morning. He picked up his once-more empty coffee cup and wondered if he could be bothered to go over to the machine and get more. His conundrum was solved, though, when another cup was set down in front of him.
Holding his own espresso, the Dark Knight sat down opposite Superman. Clark smiled gratefully. "Thanks."
It was ignored, but then he'd expected it to be. They were silent for a few minutes. Any attempt at starting a conversation from his end would be met with hostile silence, so Clark waited for Bruce to talk. He didn't. It was times like this when Diana came really in handy. It was always easy to talk to her, and apparently as easy for her to draw Bruce into conversation. It was funny watching Batman realise he was chatting freely when he'd had no intention of doing so.
Thankfully, the aforementioned Amazon soon arrived. She stopped in front of the table, observing the two men in front of her with an amused air. "You two look terrible."
"Thanks," Bruce grunted.
She chuckled and sat down with a smile. Clark returned it, only then noticing the bandage on her forearm. 'What happened?"
Diana blinked at his vehement tone. Clark was a little surprised himself; concern over a friend's injury was one thing, but that protective edge was new. "Volcana got a little too close," Diana answered. "Ice was with me though, so she didn't present too much of a problem."
"And is she in custody now?"
Diana raised an eyebrow while Clark shook himself mentally. First protective, now frantic? "Yes," she said. "Don't worry, Superman, it's alright now. The burn doesn't even hurt."
"It was careless to let her get so close, Princess," Batman said briefly.
Diana straightened, frowning. "Yes, it might have been if I'd just been dealing with Volcana, but at the time I had my hands full with Giganta," she defended. "I have done this a few times before, thank you, Batman."
Clark heard Bruce reply, but he wasn't listening. Now he was imagining Diana kicking Giganta across New York, and feeling...proud? What on Earth was going on? Inspiration struck like lightning across his mind. The only thing that had changed since the last time he'd seen Diana was his...unexpected trip to Themyscira. Maybe rescuing the Amazons from Heracles and his men had caused these parental feelings in him.
Wait a second...parental?
Hippolyta, what did you do?
He blinked, realising he'd been staring at Diana. She was the one who looked concerned now. "Are you alright? You've gone pale."
He tried for a reassuring smile, but it didn't seem to have worked. Batman was also now looking at him questioningly. "Excuse me, would you?"
Before either of his friends could say anything, Clark was out of the commissary and hurrying down to the transporter room. Thankfully, it was mostly empty, especially of founding members. It was only they who'd recognise the coordinates for Themyscira. He typed them in quickly, then stepped on the pad.
A pristine beach and an intensely starry sky appeared. Themyscira, and it was night. There was little chance that there would be any guards around. To be on the safe side, Superman took to the air and flew toward the interior of the island. There was still a light on where he remembered Hippolyta's quarters being. He set down on the balcony and pushed aside the curtain. The time for politeness was gone; he was too angry for that.
The queen was in there, eating something from a plate of fruit. "I was wondering when you would come," she said, without looking around.
"Well, you were right. Here I am. Now explain."
"What is there to explain?" she asked, turning around to look at him finally.
Clark clenched his fists. "Don't play with me, Hippolyta. What did you do?"
"Nothing," she said, "but Aphrodite gave me the opportunity I had asked you to."
Somehow hearing it from her lips made the whole thing real. It wasn't something he'd imagined. Feeling shaky, he sat down on the nearest available surface. "How could you not tell her?"
Hippolyta regarded him with a steely gaze. "I made the choices that were best for my daughter."
"Well I have to tell her."
"No," she said sternly, "you don't, and you will not."
"Hippolyta, I'm her- Her father," he protested, feeling how completely bizarre the word sounded.
"Diana has no father," she shot back. "She is an Amazon."
"She has a right to know the truth!"
"And what good do you imagine the truth would do?" she asked. "Diana has been brought up to know that her strength, her abilities stem from her heritage as an Amazon, as a warrior descended from generations of warriors! To tell her otherwise - how do you think anything would change?"
"That doesn't change-"
"Do you think it would improve your relationship, if she knew?"
"I... Probably not, but..."
Definitely not, he amended privately. He was Diana's best friend, how could knowing he was her...father make anything better? She probably wouldn't be able to look him in the eye ever again, and it would also ruin the relationship between Diana and her mother. He hated it, but Hippolyta was right.
Hippolyta sat opposite him, her voice softening. "Diana does not need a father. She never has. She is, in blood and bone, pure Amazon. Do not take that from her."
Finally, Superman sighed heavily. "Fine. But if Diana ever has reason to suspect anything - you tell her the truth. The absolute truth, do you understand me?"
Hippolyta's jaw clenched in anger, but she nodded. "Agreed." She stood, raising her chin. "Now leave this island. I do not believe you are welcome here, Champion."
Without another word, Clark left in the same way he'd come; through the window. Unlike before, though, he didn't request a transport back up to the Watchtower. Instead he chose to fly across the Atlantic, taking the time to think. God knew he needed it. He had to tell somebody. If that someone couldn't be Diana... He needed someone he could trust. Someone reliable. Someone who could keep a secret.
When he arrived back on the Eastern Seaboard, Superman didn't head for Metropolis - instead he went to Gotham. He entered the Cave via the entrance for the Batwing; there were sensors all the way along it that would have picked up his arrival, so his wait wouldn't be a long one.
And Batman, being Batman, did not have to ask what it was Superman wanted to discuss. Instead, once out of the Batmobile, he stood, shrouded in his cape. "How long have you known?" he asked.
Clark shook his head in wonder. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?"
"Just after we repelled the Martian invaders. I took DNA samples from all of the League. Diana's half-Kryptonian," Bruce said, rattling it all off as though they were discussing the stock market.
"And you didn't think I needed to know that?" Superman demanded.
"No," Batman said simply. "Given the date you arrived on Earth and Diana's apparent age it would be impossible for you to be aware of it, and therefore you couldn't be deliberately hiding it. You were still trustworthy. Had I made you aware of it then, you would have steered well clear of Hippolyta, in which case Diana never would have been conceived, and thus unable to help with the attack on Earth. With the survival of the human race at stake, of course you didn't need to know."
Clark blinked. It was another one of those moments when he didn't know whether to admire Bruce or be terrified. He'd just rattled all that off with the same level of emotion as though he were discussing the stock market. "What do I do now?" he asked finally.
"What did Hippolyta suggest you do?"
Clark sighed, sat down. "Nothing. Diana has never had a father, and she doesn't need one now."
"There you go."
"You're not saying you agree? Bruce!"
"You're her best friend. Do you want to be her best friend in a thousand years?"
"A thousand-" Clark cut off with a deep sigh. "Can we keep this relevant, please?"
"It is relevant," Batman insisted. Unexpectedly, he pushed the cowl back, actually showing emotion in his gaze. "Clark, she's immortal. You're near enough the same. And the rest of us are going to be dust and ashes in a thousand years' time. She's going to need someone. Now, do you want to be there as a friend she tells everything to? Or a father whom she can't look in the eye?"
Clark looked at him for a moment. "You really care for her, don't you?" he asked quietly.
The wall came back up immediately, Bruce's eyes going opaque. "Which is it?" he demanded roughly.
"Fine. I won't tell her." Superman stood, then lifted about ten feet into the air, a small smile curling his mouth. "But one of these days, you and I are going to have a chat about your intentions concerning my daughter."
Bruce smirked as the man of steel flew off into the night.