Author's Note: Though this story is meant to be a continuation of A New World, it is a separate adventure and focuses more on Diana learning about the world outside of Themyscira as she explores a relationship with Clark Kent. Please read, review and most of all, enjoy!
Clark kept a loose hold on Diana's hand as she strode beside him down the sidewalk. He felt his heart beating a steady rhythm in his chest and he couldn't fight the smile she brought to his face, the happiness of Themyscira's princess was unbound and spreading to all that glimpsed her laughing eyes. The sight of her was creating a slight stir; every person they passed took second, third looks at Diana- curious, assessing, enamored.
The man was happy to be back in Metropolis again though it was still difficult for him to believe that he was really and truly back in his city. Had it only been a day since he'd left Diana's island? Was he really walking down the street, holding the hand of a woman who hailed from a race imbued with magic, and she herself a product of Olympic divine intervention?
Impossible! He had to have been dreaming. Magic didn't exist and there was not a corner of the world left undiscovered, there was no race but the human race and-
Despite all he knew, despite all his powers and despite all he'd seen, there were still times when Clark was forced to remind himself that he was not human; that he was, indeed, the last son of a dead race. He was an alien with the face of a man, and when the occasion called for it, he dressed in the garb of his ancestors and became the hero that Earth so desperately needed. A far cry from being the simple son of Kansas farmers, but this constant duality had become his everyday life.
It was that duality, the secrets he had learned to live with for most of his life...and now he held the hand of one more great secret. Could Diana learn to embrace that same duality in her own life that he had created in his own? Clark felt that she would have to, because the world certainly wasn't ready to learn of the Amazons! The world was still very suspicious, and in many places, hostile toward Superman. He was an unwelcome outsider, the constant reminder that humanity was not unique to the universe, the evidence that had disproved both religion and known science. He hadn't meant to become exposed to the world, Superman had been born of necessity.
Diana and her people, by contrast, had been waiting to see the world beyond the shores for centuries; the princess truly had no idea of the impact her revelation would create on the human landscape of history. To learn of one Superman had changed everything, but an entire race of magical beings...?
Clark smiled as he held Diana's hand, though his mind was quickly becoming troubled by encroaching thoughts. With an effort, he pushed them aside. For the moment, he wanted only to witness her excitement. The woman was amazed, purely dazzled by everything he had become accustomed to. Every man, woman and child they passed on the street became a source of fascination, every storefront and sidewalk café an instant curiosity. Diana was so like him in those first days of amazement on Themyscira, though her memory had thankfully remained intact.
Clark quickly tightened his grip on her hand once he felt Diana lifting, her body rising with her joy.
"Try not to fly off, Diana." He whispered quickly to her, trying to suppress the desire to fly away with her. Truly, there was nothing he wanted to do more, but they had things to do. "We need to blend in, not show off what we can do."
Diana tempered herself and remained standing before him. She'd only been an inch off the ground, but with so many people about, someone might have seen. "I'm sorry, Clark. I can't help it- I've never seen anything so wonderful. I wish my sisters could see…there are men here, men and women living together here in peace. And look there, children! I've never seen a child before and here there are so many!"
Clark smiled, but what could he say, really? He was happy just to be there with her on the sidewalk and know that she was with him, that she knew what he was, that for once in his life he didn't have to hide. It was so different, but such a wonderful thing.
"I'm sure they will, when the time is right. And speaking of time, are you hungry?"
Clark had promised her a lunch, as everything in his apartment had either gone stale or sour in his time away. Lunch and some new clothes for her, definitely. The princess of Themyscira deserved better than the oversized t-shirt and sweatpants he'd grabbed for her on the fly the night before. He tried and immediately failed to stifle the swell of happiness he felt in the realization that lunch and shopping would be he and Diana's first "date" in Metropolis. There would be many firsts shared between them, he hoped.
Diana raised her brows and smiled hopefully. "Can we find some ice cream?"
"For dessert, sure. But for the meal, I've got to have something a little more filling." Clark said, picturing either a nice thick steak or a plate of tasty fried chicken. He often missed the hearty cuisine of the Kent farm.
Diana nodded beside him. "Ah, yes, we must hunt down a wild boar, then glaze its flanks with the seeds of a ripe pomegranate over a fire…and then ice cream. The pink flavor, mixed with the brown."
Clark moved forward and she followed after him, eager to see more of his city, his world. "The lady has interesting tastes," he mused. "We won't find a boar on this block, but I'm sure I can find something you'll like. How about seafood?"
Diana's eyes were riveted as they passed an older woman hailing a taxi. The yellow machine quickly stopped at the curb and the woman slid inside before moving off again, amazing!
She blinked, realizing he'd asked her a question. "Oh, yes, I love fish! On the island we capture eels and stuff them with herbs and the fattest of the sea snails-"
"I was thinking more along the lines of coconut shrimp," Clark cut in. Just picturing Diana digging into a big plate of eel and snails was enough to turn his stomach. "Or maybe you'd like some chicken?"
"Just so long as there is ice cream at the end!" She sang out happily.
Clark laughed. "You're the boss- but we should get you a few things to wear first. Something befitting a modern princess. A friend from home, she dresses the Queen of Jordan so maybe you can wear something from her line." He said, thinking of his first love and longtime friend, Lana Lang. He owed her a phone call as soon as he had the chance.
"You mean, more of this?" Diana asked, indicating the loose sweatpants and t-shirt that Clark had bought for her the night before. She wrinkled her nose slightly and confessed to him, "I would prefer my tunics."
Even Diana's uncommon beauty was diminished when covered by cheap, shapeless clothing. Clark felt determined to show Diana a time in Metropolis; she wanted to explore this new world and he wanted to walk every block with her, show her to every museum, landmark, park and restaurant the city had to offer. Still, to do all those things, he had to help Diana fit in- she was a beautiful woman, and the beautiful women of Metropolis had a reputation for looking their best. He couldn't even recall a time when Lois was without her lipstick.
Clark shook his head regretfully, recalling how easily the colorful linens of the island tunics had draped her body. Tunics and sandals, the simple island clothing only worked to accentuate Diana's beauty. He'd been under her spell from the moment he first saw her. "So would I, but they're not practical for the city. No worries, the salesladies will help you find things to wear." He said, thinking of the shops a few blocks from his building.
"And where will I find these things?"
Clark was glad to see that Diana was so agreeable, so eager to immerse herself into his world. It would make keeping her a secret much easier.
As Clark and Diana made their way through the city, the man began to think. After the return of his memory on Themyscira and in leaving the island, returning to Metropolis and establishing the alibi for his two-month absence from work, there had hardly been a moment for him to reflect on the fact that he was now responsible for the cultural instruction and the protection of a foreign nation's mystical princess. Hardly a small thing!
He rubbed the back of his neck.
The irony of his situation was not lost on Clark. He had practiced certain habits for years in the effort to conceal his abilities and to keep his identities separate: the drawer he kept full of costume glasses; he prentended at being clumsy and a too naive for his own good; he was always polite and helpful to his co-workers and neighbors, but there were few in the world who could claim to truly know much of Mr. Clark Kent, and even fewer who knew anything of Superman. It made for a lonely life, but how could he live any other way?
But now, Clark was in charge of taking care of a woman who was like him in so many ways. Diana was new to his world, vulnerable and naïve, just as he'd been washed onto the shore of Themyscira with no idea of how to behave in a culture that had been, essentially, a different world. She would have to learn to hide her powers, to build a human identity and begin to live as a human woman before she could reveal herself as an Amazon of Olympic descent.
And when she shows the world what she really is...
Clark tightened his hold on Diana's hand as he thought of the public reaction; to learn that the gods of Olympus were real, to learn of a hidden matriarchal culture, to learn of Diana and her magic…Hell, there will be riots all over the world!
"Are you all right, Clark?"
He blinked and looked to Diana and tried to give her a reassuring smile. "Oh, I'm fine. Sorry, just thinking my big thoughts."
Diana's brows drew together. "No, I can see it. You're worried."
Clark shook his head, then rubbed the back of his neck again and gave a nervous laugh. "A little, sure. Amazons coming back to the world is sure to upset the status quo."
She nodded. "This I understand, but you need not worry yourself too deeply. It will be some time before I make the bridge my queen and sisters will cross to renter your world. I want to know more of this place."
Clark smiled at her. Even in the sloppy getup of a t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, Diana was anything but common. He offered her his arm. "Then as your first representative of Metropolis, I promise that I'll show you all the city has to offer."
She smiled back at him and looped her arm through his, "Today, Metropolis. Tomorrow, the world?"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, even with our speed we won't be able to do everything in a day."
Clark was not much of a shopper, he preferred to pick up the few things that he needed and be on his way. Hours of shopping held no appeal to him, but even he had to admit that there was a need to head to the shops near his apartment building. The wardrobe needs of a woman were always more complicated than a man's, and Diana was starting from scratch.
He'd only grabbed a few things for the princess, and what he'd bought were clearly the wrong size, mismatched and better worn as pajamas than anything else. A woman like Diana deserved better, and if he was honest with himself, Clark wanted to see her in clothes that better showed off her figure. Just walking down the street, he'd noticed the awed looks that men had thrown at Diana, and then to him, indicating their silent admiration. It wasn't often that Clark- Clark Kent, not Superman- had won looks of genuine approval and respect from other men for the beauty on his arm. Of course he didn't see Diana as a trophy, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't proud to be seen with her.
"Clark, what is this place?" Diana asked beside him.
Her eyes were wide as she took in the enormity of the structure he'd lead her into. There were people all around them, hustling back and forth, many of them carrying brightly colored paper bags. Single men, single women, women with children, young people were walking in groups, laughing loudly; a group of young men passed by, lingered looks at Diana and whistled.
What does that mean? She wondered, catching the glare Clark had sent their way.
They were standing in what seemed to be a great corridor with doors leading into separate rooms that housed clothing. Farther down, Diana could see a large fountain, its water shooting into the air. The corridor was wide enough for hundreds of people to shuffle through, their footsteps and excited words echoing off the walls to create a hollow buzz of sound that she did not favor. The scents in the air- sweet, spicy, floral, greasy, minty, bitter- were confusing her senses.
Diana blinked, shaking off a spell of dizziness as the crowd bustled around them. It was overwhelming her, but she fought to control herself and the sudden longing for her sisters. She was in the world now, and she would see so much more than what she had seen in the short walk to this place from Clark's home.
Control yourself, Diana. This is but a taste of what lies ahead.
The man noticed that Diana's face had gone a few shades paler, that she seemed as hesitant as he'd ever seen her. Clark took her hand into his once more. "Diana, are you all right?"
"I'm…yes, I'm fine. It's just so much." She said, her eyes still taking it all in.
These foreign colors, those flashing looking glasses, this noise, the smells...
"Do you want to go back to the apartment? We can try coming out again later." He suggested. Inwardly, Clark kicked himself, he should have known better than to take her into such a busy place before she'd had time to get used to the city.
"No, no. I was made to come into your world, I cannot turn away." Diana replied, shaking off her confusion.
He tried not to smile at her words. Any of the other women he knew would be excited to have a man take them shopping, but here Diana was steeling her nerves like she was about to face a gauntlet.
"All right. Let me know if you need some fresh air though, all right? You look like you're about to faint."
At his gentle tease, Diana pulled her hand from his and scowled. "I am an Amazon, we don't faint from an attack of nerves." She looked about them once more, "Why, this place is no different than the Themysciran marketplace, it will be no trial to spend the whole day here if need be!" To prove herself, Diana forced her feet forward and moved with the crowd to the doors of the nearest shop.
Clark only smiled as he watched her fire flare back to life. "That's my girl."
Diana passed through the nearest set of glass doors and stopped, looking about herself in confusion. On tables and shelves all around her, there were scraps of clothing in different colors. On the walls there were images of women in shades of black and white. Around her, other women were lifting garments, inspecting them, setting them down to look at others. Her eyes were assaulted with shades of vibrant pinks and scarlet reds. Heavy scents of floral spices hung in the air.
And suddenly, a blond pixie of a girl was smiling up at her. "Good afternoon, is there anything I can help you find?"
From behind Diana, Clark felt color rising to his cheeks but he tried to ignore his embarrassment. Of course, Diana just had to walk into a Victoria's Secret. Was he being punished for his teasing her earlier? He wasn't a prude, but all the same he felt a little embarrassed to be in the store. Then again, surely Bruce Wayne wouldn't be blushing at the prospect of buying a woman some lingerie, so why should he?
With that thought in mind, Clark cleared his throat and addressed the young saleswoman. "Yes, please. My friend here, she just arrived from Romania and the airline lost her bags."
"I am Romanian." Diana agreed helpfully. She remembered the little story he had invented for her, though she had no idea of what the word "romanian" could mean.
The pixie smiled. "Oh, I understand. You're in luck, we're having a sale through the end of the month."
"Great, thank you so much." Clark turned to Diana and took her hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "Pick out whatever you want and this saleswoman will help you with anything you need."
For a split second, Clark saw worry cloud her eyes. "You won't help me?"
He raised his brows at her. "What, help you pick out lingerie? I'd give my right arm, but some things are best left to professionals."
Diana didn't seem to understand, but the young saleswoman smiled at him. "She'll be in good hands, sir."
He nodded to them both. "I'll be back in just a little while."
After making a call to thank Bruce for his help with the forged hospital records, and then another to assure Perry that he would soon return to work, Clark found himself buying a small box of Godiva chocolates for Diana.
How had it all happened? They had grown close on her island, closer than he had ever been with another woman. For the first time, Clark had been able to be truly honest with another, and he'd been accepted for it...ironic then, that he'd had nearly no memory of his life in Metropolis, and now that he had returned, he would have to explain to Diana that a large part of his life was spent lying to those around him. There were things that Diana did not understand about him, things he was sure she would disagree with, but for the time being Clark felt happy to have Diana with him as his welcome guest and student.
He thanked the cashier and glanced into the bag he carried, smiling to himself. Diana had fallen for ice cream so quickly, he felt confident that she would adore the chocolates. He felt like a dope, smiling as he thought of Diana, he probably looked like some lovestruck teenager...but for once, he felt he was free to be the dopey kid he once was, before his powers had awoken and he'd taken the weight of the world onto his shoulders.
It was a quick walk back to the shop where he'd left Diana. Clark stepped into the store and waved to the young salesgirl that he'd met earlier. "Hello again, sir."
"Hi. She didn't wander away, did she?" He asked, smiling.
The girl, Amanda, as listed on her name-tag, shook her head, "Oh, no sir, Miss Diana is in the dressing rooms. I can't allow you to go back there of course, but I can bring you to the entrance."
He nodded and gestured the girl forward, "Sure, lead the way."
Clark followed and paused a respectful distance away from the dressing rooms entrance so as not to make any of the other women customers nervous. He could hear Amanda knocking softly on a door, and then the quick exchange of female voices.
"Miss Diana? Mr. Clark has come back."
"Oh, thank you sister, I can't wait to let him see!"
The next thing Clark knew, Diana was before him, as close to naked as he had ever seen her. He stood, rooted to the spot, letting his eyes get their fill of her. Blessed by Aphrodite...
All fine curves and lean muscles, pale, luminous skin that begged for his touch. She stood in crimson lace that cupped her breasts like an offering, that only hinted at the apex of her thighs. She truly was the ultimate woman; Clark felt dumbfounded, he couldn't do more than stare at her. He was hardly a hound, but Diana had his blood pumping and his mind tempted into all thoughts of sin. He felt his mouth begin to water and his body begin to tense in arousal.
Her hair, her smile, her body, her voice...I'm a dead man...
"Clark, did you hear me? I like this red lace, Clark. Scarlet is such a vibrant color!"
He could hardly believe that Diana was standing before him, wearing little more than a few scraps of lace in the middle of the store; she was entirely too naive of her own allure, a fact which had the bizarre effect of arousing Clark further. He wasn't sure why Diana, flaunting herself without realizing how tempting she was, had this power over him but he was damned if he didn't like it.
Some of the women in the store were simply staring, perhaps amused at the daring of Diana. The few men in the store were staring as well, less amused and more aroused.
"It…it's great, Diana." He finally managed. How the hell am I going to manage sharing the apartment with her?
Their young saleswoman tactfully cleared her throat. "Miss Diana…if you could please just return to the fitting room…"
Clark turned to her as Diana returned to the room and he handed over his card. "I'll take a set in every color."
"But why would your people sell clothing that's meant to be worn and not seen?" Diana asked.
She carried a bright bag, several sets of lingerie tucked neatly inside, and sipped lightly at the hot drink Clark had bought for her. A latte, he had called it; a hot, sweet drink of mingled vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. She liked it, but she would have preferred the ice cream he'd promised would follow their meal later in the afternoon. She felt better now than she had upon first entering this vast place, the Metropolis Mall, as Clark called it. Her senses had adjusted to the noise and the crowd, though she still felt confused as to why everyone they passed seemed to double glance her.
Clark smiled lightly as he lead her to a café table and set her other bags beside their chairs. He'd treated her to several changes of clothing, items that fit properly at the very least! He was having a fine time with Diana and couldn't wait to see her wearing some of Lana's designs; he had come to care for her a great deal and her company was remarkable. It surprised him, the realization of just how lonely he'd been before having met her.
"Some things you just wear under your clothing. It's not meant to be seen by everyone, just you and…well, the man you want to show it to." Clark explained.
"Men can see the lingerie?" Diana asked, to clarify.
Clark shook his head. "Not all men, just me."
"Why just you?"
"Because you and I…we're together, aren't we?" He asked. He wouldn't presume to dictate to an Amazon about her place, but he wanted to understand how Diana saw things in relation to him.
"Of course we are."
He shook his head. "Not just that we're staying together in my apartment, or just sitting here at the table with each other. I mean that we're in a relationship together, romantically."
Diana raised her brows at him and nodded sagely. "I know what you meant. I'm beginning to understand many things already. You care for me, Clark, and I care for you. Did you think that I have forgotten our kisses on the island or all our days spent together? No, I have not. You are the first man I have ever seen or touched and I did not intend for it to end with our time on Themyscira."
He smiled. Speaking so openly was truly refreshing, and Diana made him feel so...
Clark reached across the table and took her hands. "Yes, I do care for you. I don't even want to go back to work, I want to spend all my time with you."
God, I'm right back to sounding like the kid I was in high school!
"I cannot ask that you ignore your work for me. You have many important things to do. And I, it may be for the better that I can explore your city on my own for a time."
"Well, I hadn't expected that you'd want to sit around in my apartment while I was at the office all day." Clark took a deep breath, thinking. "All right. I don't go back to the Planet for a few days, but until then we can have some fun around Metropolis. When I go back on Monday, I'll give you some money and a city map. I…wait, can you read English yet?" He asked.
Diana smiled, a touch of smugness in her expression. "Yes, I can."
For a moment, Clark could only stare at her. "That truly is amazing. I could barely manage a B- in Spanish when I was in college, and you're fluent in English after a few hours."
She laughed at him and raised her hands, "I cannot claim credit for such wit, my ability to learn so quickly is a gift from Olympus. As I am immersed in your language, this culture, I can learn. Athena's wisdom is no idle blessing, but a gift of her strategy."
"It's been a day. You can already speak English so well, we don't need the Romanian tourist cover story anymore, and you can read the language…Diana, if you could bottle that wisdom you'd be a billionaire before the week was out." Clark mused as he took a sip from his coffee.
"Money? No, true wealth will be gained when I can bring Amazon ideals to your people." Diana declared. She knew that she was getting too far ahead of herself, but she could not help it; reuniting Themyscira with the world was a dream that Diana had carried for centuries and now she was so close.
"What kind of ideals?" Clark asked, curious.
"Faith, sisterhood, the sense of oneness with nature…"
"If you can bring what I saw of Themyscira to the world, then you have my support all the way. But you should know, Diana, you will meet many stubborn people. People who will be repulsed by all the ideals that you've held throughout your life. People who will fear you, even hate you." He said delicately. He didn't want to stomp on her dreams, but he felt that he had to make her understand that the revelation of her culture will be a difficult, if not impossible, task.
"How do you mean?" That Diana had no idea of the obstacles she would face only further proved her ignorance of his world.
Clark swallowed. "It's just…you'll be confronting a world that has lived for generations with a mindset of how the world is. To suddenly learn that there is an entire race of magical women, ruled by the Greek gods, well, it won't be welcome news."
"But you did not resist the truth of us." She pointed out.
"I was one man with no memory, remember? Even I didn't fully believe it until you used the lasso and proved you could fly."
Diana thought on what he said. It was true, Clark had not seemed to understand the truth of Themyscira at first, she'd had to show him; Metropolis was not another island, it was one large city in an even larger country that held a powerful place in the world ruled by men- and men never welcomed a challenge to their power.
"You believe a touch of finesse will be needed in revealing myself and my culture."
"Finesse, yes. I think you have every right to let the world know that you and the other Amazons are ready to come out of hiding, but the way you go about it will have a huge impact." Clark said quietly, mindful of the people around them. "If you spend time with humans, study our history and culture, you'll start to understand a little better and then you can plan out how you want to make your move."
"I see. Well, I don't care much for it, but I will keep up this charade of humanity until I can develop a strategy for the world's reunion with my sisters." Diana decided. In truth, she wanted to jump ahead and reveal all, to bring her sisters and her queen forward into the world, but she knew that there was no choice but to reign in her excitement for the time being. So many wars had been lost on impulsive battles, she could not fail for her unbridled enthusiasm.
"Do you miss home at all?" Clark asked carefully. He didn't want to upset Diana, he just wanted to know that she was all right with being so far from her people for the first time.
Diana nodded. "Yes. I've never been away from the island, never lived a day not surrounded by my sisters. My mother, my queen…but what I'm doing here is more important than my personal feelings. I will see them again. Until then, I can be content in learning your ways."
Clark clapped his hands together, "Exactly! No harm in waiting a little longer. And who knows what you'll be able to learn while you're living as one of us?"
She furrowed her brows at his words. "You must mean, one of them. We are more than human, Clark."
The man regarded her for a moment, wondering how best to explain himself. "I…no, Diana. My blood is alien, but I'm just a man in my heart. No more, no less."
"And yet you call yourself the Superman." She countered.
He shook his head, "No, no. The press came up with the name, I just never challenged it. I can do things that no other man can, but I'm still just a man. I was raised as a man, not Superman."
"This is a challenge to understand." Diana said plainly. Deceit was an unwelcome trait in her culture; the Amazon heritage urged honesty in most all dealings, both personal and divine. She'd believed Clark to follow the same tenants, and yet now she found that was not so. She tried to hide her disappointment, but she would not challenge how he lived his life; she cared for him and she needed his guidance in this world.
"I know. I have trouble understanding it myself, sometimes." Clark said with an ironic smile. "I'll explain it further, I promise. But not here, it's too crowded." He stood up, mindful of the people near their table who might overhear.
Diana finished her coffee and stood to leave the cafe with him. "I will follow your lead for now, but when the time comes, I will reveal my true self to your people."
Her words held an underlying determination that Clark could only admire.
"And I'll be there with you every step of the way." He said as he fell into step with her.
Clark kissed her then, and Diana welcomed it, thrilling to his touch.
"I think I'll enjoy my time in your world."