Disclaimer: As always, I don't own any of the Justice League characters. They belong to DC comics and their respective creators.
AN: This fic is more of a…"teaser", if you will. When I first got the idea for this I didn't want to do it so soon, given what I had planned fic-wise (plus I'm still working on my Power Ranger fics as well), but since I couldn't seem to get it out of my head or file it away for a while, I figured, what the heck? Just do it!
This fic was inspired by ben10987654321's story, Superman Returns: A New Vision. Now I'm not going to spoil it for anybody who hasn't yet read that story, but all I can say is that it's a great story, and what a certain Amazon princess does in Chapter 30…well, just read the whole story from start to finish. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Now I know that the holidays are still a few months away, and I had originally wanted to get this up this past January, but due to RL butting in a lot (work, college), it's been very slow in coming.
Baby, It's Snowy Outside
Whether you're from the big city, the suburbs, or even a place as rustic as a farm, Christmas is the one constant holiday you can count on if you're living in the USA (or at least in most parts anyway).
And even though a place like Smallville would fall in the "rustic" category, that didn't mean that the locals there took to the holiday any less enthusiastically than suburban or city folk did.
And in the case of one certain farm with the words KENT placed prominently on the mailbox, there was more than enough enthusiasm to go around. Particularly for one eleven-year old boy who was just about finished with replacing the last of the old icicle lights for the barn.
"I take it you won't be needing the ladder then?" Clark Kent said as he walked up to where his son was.
"Nope." Jason Lane-Kent replied as he finished hanging the last of the lights on the side of the roof. Once he was sure they were on correctly, he then took a good look at his handiwork before he hovered back down to the ground where his father was.
"And check it out: no power burnout this time either." Jason said as he beamed with a million-watt smile which his dad couldn't help but return.
"All right," Clark remarked as he gave a gentle clap on his son's shoulder. "One superpower down-"
"-a billion more to go." Jason finished with a grin that was all too much like his dad's.
As they both headed back to the house and met up with J'onn J'onzz, who had just gotten back from doing some small grocery shopping for Martha, Ben, and even for himself (since in his case he had noticed there were no Oreos) Clark then started to remember a few years ago, after the whole Luthor crisis was resolved once and for all, (and things between himself, Lois, and Richard were finally cleared up, which led to him and Lois getting around to talking again, and much more…) he took Jason to the Fortress of Solitude for the first time so he could learn more about his Kryptonian background, as well as learn how to control his budding powers (it had to be done there, since Superman and a kid both practicing their abilities in the open and flying in the sky in any other place would only draw a lot of unwanted attention, to say nothing of the women who were Superman fangirls, closet or otherwise). Naturally Jason took to the training-namely the flying-like a fish to water (a very enthusiastic fish), but the only problem (and one that Clark and Jason both learned the first day) was that after a certain amount of time, Jason's powers would somehow burn themselves out, namely when they would practice flying. Fortunately Clark was nearby to catch him right when it happened, so Jason never came close to hitting the ground. After the first flying lesson both came up with the idea to keep track of the time between when Jason was able to control his gravitational field on his own (the very ability that allows a Kryptonian to fly/hover under a yellow sun) and the moment his powers would burn out. That way the two could see how long Jason could maintain it, and how that time could be extended. At first there were no time differences after the next few sessions, but then as the weeks passed and the more Jason trained, the time he could maintain his flying on his own started to extend (having the Fortress channel sunlight right to him helped tremendously). When it came to visual abilities nor Clark nor Jason saw any manifestation in that area or even in super-strength, which was strange since Jason remembered that the latter power did kick in during that whole piano incident (something he still felt guilty about since he really hadn't meant to kill the person, even if said person was a bad guy). After some attempts to "wake" his super-strength up by trying to lift several things with no success, Jason then theorized to his dad (and Clark agreed) that since his adrenaline shot through the roof at that "flight-or-fight" moment (hence the asthmatic breathing he had) his budding strength kicked in just enough for him to push away the piano and stop Luthor's henchman from harming his mom, but then once his body calmed down, his strength went back down to that of a regular person's (or at least as regular as a half Kryptonian human, half Earth human's strength can be), which meant that unless he had another one of those "flight/fight" moments, his strength (and most likely his visual powers) would manifest themselves on their own accord, but that was only a theory, since nobody else had the kind of genetic mixture that Jason did, so it was hard for him and his father to know for sure how the former's abilities would manifest themselves (even to this day).
But even with the training, that still didn't keep Jason from having his own mishaps with his few manifested powers (super-speed, limited flight, slight invulnerability) at various points, namely one time when he tried to put on a burst of running speed just for the fun of it as he and his dad were heading back home from training at the Fortress. Unfortunately he overdid it and ended up making several kid-shaped holes in his grandmother's house before he finally managed to stop himself, at which point he found that he had also made a bit of a makeshift trench about 1 ½ feet deep and 10 inches wide leading from the barn all the way to his grandmother's house. Needless to say, it took some explaining to Martha Kent, but luckily though Clark had managed to fix it up before anybody else took notice of it.
"So dinner's ready?" Jason asked.
"Yep." Clark replied.
"Awesome!" Jason exclaimed. "I had a feeling having our 'special' guest help Grandma was gonna do the trick."
"I'm surprised you're that stoked about it." Clark replied, remembering the first time he and his son had said guest at the apartment in Metropolis for dinner one time and the guest tried to help with the cooking. The end result? The whole kitchen in the apartment nearly went up in flames and the threesome found themselves having to order Thai instead (after they tried to explain to the fire department how they were able to put out a fire that left smoke marks all over the kitchen along with what looked like traces of melted frost).
"Indeed." J'onn added, remembering Clark telling Wally about it a few days later up at the Watchtower.
"Well…" Jason said as the trio entered the house and took off their jackets. "If those cooking lessons you gave our guest is anything to go by, I think it'll be just fine dad. Plus, I know for a fact that you showed her a lot more than just how to make a good iced mocha." He then smelled a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen.
"That would make two of us." came Martha Kent's voice as the three went through the living room and to the kitchen where she, Ben Hubbard, and another person were just finishing laying out the last of the dinner on the table. As the guest heard Clark and Jason enter she then turned to greet them, revealing a tall, voluptuous woman with dark raven hair, an exotic, Mediterranean face, ocean-blue eyes, and a figure that gave the word "perfect" a whole new meaning.
"Of course, it did help having a certain little boy's faith in me on more than one cooking occasion." Remarked the guest as she gave Jason a warm smile which caused a heated blush to spread up his neck.
"Although I do have to wonder about his father though, given that he has been the one to actually show me, I wonder what he genuinely thinks, seeing as how he hasn't said much in regards to that." She finished with a tone of feigned annoyance.
In spite of himself, Jason couldn't help but give a slight chuckle at what he was seeing. Though there weren't that many people that could put his dad (as well as himself) on the spot, his late mom, his grandmother, and their guest…Princess Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a Wonder Woman-were among the few that could.
"So tell me Kal." Diana said with her arms crossed and a hint of a small smile tugging on the corners of her mouth. "Do you think I've improved on my culinary skills somewhat?"
Clark didn't even need to think on it. Right when he had smelled the food just before he had gone outside to get Jason gave him his answer (Of course, hearing Diana call him by his Kryptonian name with that slight Greek accent helped too).
"Honestly?" He asked with a warm smile. "I think you've done a lot more than just somewhat."
"And you can tell just by what you saw?" Diana asked, her smile starting to widen.
Clark gave a slight laugh. "Senses like mine don't miss much." He said with a slight tease in his voice.
"If they actually did miss something, it would be strange." Martha said. "Now, let's all eat before it gets cold." She said as she looked between her son and Diana with an amused look on her face.
"Will do and gladly." Jason said happy to chow down on a nice Christmas feast even though watching his dad and Diana do their little "tango" was just too amusing to miss.
As they ate, Clark and Jason realized that what the former had said in regards to Diana's improved cooking skills was an understatement. The food wasn't just good, it was delicious, particularly the stuffed Mediterranean chicken that Diana had done herself (with a little help from Martha, of course). When Jason had first smelled it cooking it had taken every ounce of his willpower not to go over and "sample" it. Had he actually done so, his dad and everybody who knew him best would have been shocked since Jason always comes across as a reserved yet very kind and helpful kid who, even when he got enthusiastic about something, never got a look of glazed rapture on his face the way he did when he had smelled the chicken. However, a warning look from both his grandmother and Diana (and seeing Ben soothing an aching hand from trying to "sample" some food himself) quickly snapped him back to reality and he then remembered that though the Christmas lights for the house and barn were up, the ones for the barn were not working properly (his dad had been meaning to fix them when a surprise attack from Toyman put a damper on things), so he then left the kitchen, reached for his denim jacket and gloves (he didn't really need them, but he saw the need to keep up appearances to any neighbors that weren't Ben Hubbard) and headed outside to finish up with the lights to keep his mind off the food.
"You know Martha, I can't tell who has the bigger appetite: your son or your grandson." Ben said as he saw the boy and his father savor the food like starved men that hadn't had a meal in weeks.
"Indeed." Martha replied.
"Diana…this was beyond incredible." Clark said as he placed his plate in the sink after they had all finished. "Thank you so much."
"I'll second that in more ways than one." Jason said as he put his fork in his mouth in an effort to wipe clean any traces of chicken and sauce. He then moaned in satisfaction as he got the last of it from the silverware. "Heaven."
So with favorite foods it's Thai with my son (and with Diana too, now that I think of it), and with my grandson it's any food that's Italian or Mediterranean. Martha thought to herself as she, Ben, and J'onn cleaned up what was left from the kitchen table.
"I'm glad you liked it." Diana replied warmly. "Although I have to confess that some of my sisters back on Themyscira are actually better cooks than I am."
"Really?" Jason asked. "So who among your sisters is the best cook?" Jason asked he placed his own plate and silverware in the sink.
"I can't single out just one, but there are a few that know their way in regards to food and a nice fire to go along with said food." Diana replied.
"So some of them are warriors and cooks?" Jason asked, remembering the first time he had met the Amazons, which had been a pretty…interesting experience, to say the least.
"Not in the sense of cooks here in the Patriarch world, but in their own way, yes." Diana answered.
"Clark, you don't have to wash the dishes." Martha said as she noticed her son getting the dishwashing detergent ready.
"I just don't want you to do all this by yourself." Clark said. "It is Christmas after all."
"All the more reason why you should let me and Ben handle that." Martha pointed out. "I know that you and Jason are used to washing the dishes yourselves back at Metropolis (and I'm glad you drilled that habit into him as well), but given that it is the holidays, I think a mother/grandmother should be allowed to spoil her respective son and grandson at least once."
Clark sighed in concession. When his mother spoke in that all-too-familiar tone, he (and his son) knew better than to argue.
"Besides, it's only 7:30 right now," Martha pointed out. "And I know there's still a great deal of things going on in town. Plus, if I remember correctly, you had been telling me you had wanted to show someone around Smallville so she could see what the festivities involving Christmas is about, or…something around those lines." She finished with a sly grin.
That I did. Clark thought as he then looked over to the living room where Jason was showing Diana and J'onn his cover of "Carol Of The Bells" on the portable piano he had brought with him.
"Go on ahead Clark." Ben encouraged as he put a hand on his shoulder. "We'll take care of things here."
Clark then smiled back at Ben and at his mother before he then walked over to the living room and joined his friends and his son.
"So what do you think?" Jason asked once he finished playing.
"It's beautiful." Diana said, amazed that a boy Jason's age could play the piano so well.
"If you had been on Mars when the rest of my people were alive, some of them would have wept to hear this." J'onn said.
"You should hear him on the saxophone and guitar." Clark said.
"Dad!" Jason said, embarrassed.
"What?" Clark asked innocently with a teasing tone in his voice. "I'm only saying what I've seen and heard."
"So you can also play those other instruments too?" Diana asked. "Not just the piano?"
Jason's face then turned several shades of red.
"…yeah, I can." Jason replied with a boyish grin. "Although I gotta say that the guitar part was really thanks to dad."
"How so?" Diana asked.
"Let's just say one time I heard him playing a cover of Journey on it."
And here I thought he had been fast asleep that night. Clark thought, instantly knowing what Jason was talking about.
"Which song was it?" J'onn asked, already knowing who the rock band was based on some music he had been browsing through some time back and ended up stumbling onto their music.
"'Lights'." Clark and Jason said at the same time.
"So it isn't just the son that's a bit musically inclined, but the father too." Diana noted.
"Well, you don't have to be super-powered to have hidden talents." Clark said. "And speaking of non-powered talents, I know there's a bit of that still going on in town right now." Clark said as he looked at Diana. "Would you like to…come along and see it?" He asked, getting a little sheepish as he rubbed the back of his head with his hand.
Though she has gotten to know him quite well over the past year since she first met him, this was one part that still surprised (and intrigued) Diana a great deal: someone who has enough power to put even Zeus to shame can still be shy around a woman. Granted, those moments weren't often, but every now and then, she would see them, and those moments, along with the interactions that she's had with his son Jason at various points would unravel what her mother had told her in regards to the un-trustworthiness of men a bit more.
"Of course." She answered.
"Okay, great." Clark said, inwardly breathing out a sigh of relief. Okay, that wasn't too hard.
"Ma, we'll be back in a while." He said.
"Have fun you two." Martha called back from the kitchen.
As the two reached for their jackets (and Diana grabbed her own makeshift glasses so as to downplay her appearance a bit) and then headed out the door Clark and Diana didn't notice Jason looking at where they had been with a warm smile on his face before he then turned to J'onn, Ben and his grandmother, who had all seen the same thing and were sharing the same smile on their own faces.
Go get her, dad. Jason thought as he looked at the door where his dad and Diana had been one last time before he then reached for the remote and switched on the TV set, which was just about to show "A Charlie Brown Christmas".
"Kal, I have to admit, I've been here a few times before, but never during this holiday." Diana said as she and Clark stepped out of the latter's truck and made their way to the town.
"I know. It's one of the reasons why I'm glad you were able to come." Clark said. "Granted, I know it's not like Themyscira, but Smallville's festivities have definitely got a life of their own."
"Oh, they do." Diana agreed.
As they walked Diana was amazed at some of the decorations she saw. The red-green color scheme that seemed to permeate the town square was enough to put a smile on even the most Bah-Humbug of people. Plus seeing children run around and engage in snowball fights was just too hilarious and fun, especially since she herself had never seen actual snow, having grown up on an island that had a tropical climate year-round.
Clark and Diana then turned at the sound of the voice and the former, already knowing who it was once he heard the voice, instantly saw the face of an old friend he hadn't seen in years. "Pete!"
"Hey!" Pete Ross said as he and Clark then shared a manly hug. "It's definitely been a while, man." Pete continued.
"Only by about a year and a half." Clark said. "Oh yeah, this is Diana, Diana, this is my old friend Pete Ross."
"Nice to meet you Pete." Diana said politely as she extended her hand.
"Likewise." Pete replied as he found he couldn't take his eyes off her in spite of himself.
How does Clark do it? First it was Lana, then Lois, and now this woman? And people say that Bruce Wayne is the Casanova of the world? Pete thought. Come to think of it, she does look familiar…like I've seen her somewhere.
"So what brings you back to Smallville?" Clark asked, remembering the occasional conversations he and Pete had over the years (namely after he got back from his five-year odyssey to Krypton) and knowing that his friend moved around a bit before he settled in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, working as a managing editor for New Jersey Monthly Magazine.
"Well, my grandmother wanted the whole family to celebrate Christmas here, so I made my way here." Pete replied. "And I'm guessing you and Jason decided to do the same, huh?"
"Yeah, we did," Clark answered. With some extra special company. He thought as he looked at Diana with a genuine smile.
"You've never seen snow before, have you?" Pete asked Diana.
"No." Diana replied. "This would actually be my first."
"Well then, both of you come on and follow me, with what I just saw a moment ago, you haven't seen anything yet, snow-wise."
"Wait, are you talking about the-"
"Shh! You'll spoil it!" Pete said as he guided Clark and Diana over to another part of town where people were setting up stands along with crates that had various decorations next to each stand.
"So what's going on here?" Diana asked.
At that moment part of Clark wanted to just play along and not say anything until Diana saw it, but another part of him just felt downright mischievous.
"Well…" Clark began. "It's basically Smallville's annual snowman contest."
Pete then gave Clark a look that clearly said, You really know how to be a killjoy sometimes, don't you? To which Clark responded with a look of feigned innocence on his face.
"What they do is have the contestants that signed up for it (up to twenty can do it) and then they compete for who can make the best snowman within forty-five minutes. Anything goes, as long as you are creative with it as possible."
"That's it?" Diana asked.
"Yep." Clark replied.
Almost like the times me and Donna would play on the beach and we would try to build things out of the sand. Diana thought. Only with no time limit, of course.
Once the contestants were present and the snow was placed on the stands next to each contestant, the MC then signaled to everyone to begin and it then became a mad rush to make the best snowman within the forty-five minute time frame. After time ran out the MC then called for everyone's attention.
"Okay everyone, time is up! The judges will now come over and see the snowmen for themselves."
After the judges finished looking at the models completely and then deliberated amongst themselves for a few moments, they then came to a decision regarding the top three snowmen. The ones that came in second and third were good, but the one that ended up winning first prize (and one that amused Clark, Diana, and Pete) was the snowman that looked like a snowman version of Superman, complete with red cape and a makeshift wig with a fake spit curl. The winner ended up winning a free 8 GB iPod touch.
After that wrapped up Pete then remembered he had to buy something for his folks and decided to head over to some of the shops. Clark and Diana needed to buy some gifts themselves, so they went along with him.
When they got a clothing shop, Diana then branched off to one part of the store while Clark and Pete went to another.
"So Clark…" Pete began. "How did you and her meet?"
Clark then looked around and focused all his other senses to make sure there wasn't anybody else within earshot.
"Have you heard of the ambassador from Themyscira?" Clark asked in a hushed tone.
"Yeah, that's the island that's made up of all women-wait a second…hold on, you mean to tell me that she's…THE ambassador herself?" Pete asked as he gestured towards Diana.
"The super heroine in the star swimsuit?"
Clark nodded again, this time with his index finger on his lips so as tell Pete to keep it on the down low.
I knew she looked familiar! Pete thought.
"Clark…I…I'm really at a loss for words here." Pete said as he was just in complete surprise. The only other time he had been this shell-shocked was when he had learned of his friend's abilities during a small camping trip years ago when they were still teenagers. He had kept it to himself until sometime later Clark came to him on his own accord and confided to him his powers and everything else. Pete had then told him that while he already knew of his powers he was still nonetheless glad that he finally told him, as well as his "foreign" origins, which Pete did not know.
"Does she know you're Superman?"
"It wasn't hard for her to figure it out." Clark said.
"So there really is more to her than just a pretty face." Pete said.
"You don't know the half of it." Clark agreed.
"And here I thought that photo shoot you had done with the Sports Illustrated supermodels was bold."
Clark then smiled and blushed slightly as he remembered that day. Initially he hadn't wanted to impose on the ladies' photo shoots at the time, since he had just helped save their plane from crashing, and once he was sure they were okay, he was all set to go when it was revealed that the guys the ladies were supposed to pose with were delayed, and as such Brooklyn Decker, Daniella Sarahyba and the other models were in a pickle until one of the photographers suggested that Superman do the photo shoots with them. Clark was tempted, but he didn't want to impose on what they were doing. But then when one of the models gave him what Clark would later call "the look", he decided to throw caution to the wind and just do what he really wanted to do at that moment, and that was do the shoot with the ladies. Needless to say, it had been the most fun he had had in quite a while, and he had ended up making more than just an impression on the models. Plus, the magazine issue that featured him with the models was still selling like hotcakes to this day, and Clark would still hear that other magazines, including Adult magazines like PENTHOUSE were asking that he do a shoot with their women, much to the amusement of Bruce, Wally, and Ollie, who would take any chance to tease him about it whenever they could.
"Well, it had been a lot of fun, more than what even I thought." Clark admitted.
"Oh, it more than showed." Pete said as remembered reading the issue and buying two copies of it right after. "If they only knew you were also a single dad as well as a superhero/journalist/farmboy."
"Yeah." Clark said as he gave a slight chuckle.
"But anyway, going back to Diana…I'm glad you're out there again, dating-wise." Pete said truthfully.
"Thanks, but I wouldn't say me and Diana are an item yet." Clark said.
"You're not dragging your feet, are you?" Pete wondered.
"Believe me Pete, I'm not." Clark replied honestly.
"Then come on, what are you waiting for?"
"Well…I'm not gonna say that I'm completely nervous, because I'm not (not a lot anyway), I'm just trying to take it one step at a time (albeit all over again) and figure out how to take those steps." Clark answered as he looked through some potential gifts. "Granted, one would think having being married once would help in having a better handle on stuff like this (and it does), but all women are different, and Diana is definitely not Lois or Lana."
"Good, because I think I'd freak out if she was exactly like them." Pete said as he slicked his blonde hair back. "But then again, the only thing you had to worry about was minding your strength around Lana and then Lois, I'm guessing with Diana that's not the case, is it?"
"No," Clark said as a warm smile crossed his face as he remembered the sparring he and Diana had done over the past year. "It's not."
As he was hearing his good friend talk, Pete found himself getting more and more intrigued. As much as he has considered Lana a friend (even to this day), and as happy as he was to have heard that Clark had married Lois a few years ago, he always had the feeling (ever since he learned of his friend's powers and later his origins) that try as they may, nor Lana nor Lois would ever be able to truly understand Clark one hundred percent because of what he does as Superman. Heck, in his own case, he knew he'd be lying to himself if he understood Clark completely because of that, but based on what he's heard of Diana/Wonder Woman, and from what Clark had said, Pete had a feeling his friend may have found someone that can truly understand him (and even his son Jason) in all facets of himself.
"The part that's…interesting is her mother and her entire sisterhood from the island." Clark said.
"So all the women there are her family?" Pete asked.
"In a lot of ways, yes." Clark replied.
"How'd you first meet them?"
"That's kind of an interesting story…"
As she looked through the clothes in the women's section Diana was at a bit of a loss. Though she had been in the Patriarch's world for a year, she still had no clue in regards to fashion trends, unlike her younger sister Donna, who immediately latched onto said fashion trends with a vengeance once she had read some fashion magazines the first time. For Diana, she still did not see the point of wearing the clothes in magazines like Cosmopolitan just for the sake of wearing them. Being an ambassador, she understood the importance of presenting oneself in the proper way, especially if one was representing a nation, but just for the sake of wearing it was something Diana didn't get, having grown up on tunics and sandals most of her life.
"Can I help you?"
Diana turned and saw a woman in her mid-thirties standing right next to her with a name tag that said "Sally" and with an expectant look on her face.
"Yes." Diana replied as she adjusted her glasses with her left hand. Although she could tell that the other woman only had a look of surprise upon seeing her face and not the usual "Oh my gosh! You're Wonder Woman!" reaction, Diana then knew right away she wasn't recognized, which meant the glasses were working, even though Diana didn't have her hair up in a ponytail or bun. "I'm looking for something to give as a gift for a younger sister of mine."
"And you don't know what specifically, right?" Sally asked, knowing the feeling all too well from her own experiences and from various customers that came by.
"Yes." Diana replied honestly.
"Well, come with me, I think we might be able to find something."
The rest of the night went by pretty briskly, with Clark, Diana, and Pete each getting at least one gift for their family members/loved ones/friends, along with just seeing the sights around town (especially in Diana's case). At around 11:15 Clark and Diana came back to the house after saying goodbye to Pete and wishing him a Merry Christmas. Once they got in Clark saw that his mother and Ben had already gone to sleep, as well as J'onn, and Jason had fallen asleep on the couch with the TV still on. Not wanting to wake his son up Clark quietly walked over, turned the TV off, picked Jason up and carried him to his bedroom upstairs before making his way back down to where Diana was.
"So his super-hearing hasn't developed yet?" Diana asked.
"No." Clark replied. "He was pretty much out like a light."
"So he doesn't have to try to tune everything out?"
"Nope." Clark answered as he looked up to his son's makeshift room with a fatherly smile. "In Jason's case, he's able to actually sleep without needing to hear everything in stereo."
"How do you manage with that specific power?" Diana asked. "I mean-to be able to hear almost everything going on not just around you, but everywhere else in the world…?"
"Honestly? With practice." Clark answered genuinely. "Over time, you just learn how to tune things out. Plus you learn how to focus on one thing to the point where it's no more annoying than light rain on a window."
"That's true." Diana admitted, remembering her training sessions with Phillipus way back when and the General's words about being mindful of one's surroundings in all senses, not just by sight, and to learn to tune out all distractions when focusing on the task at hand, whatever it might be.
"So anyway, are you sure I can't just sneak a peek?" Clark asked. "I promise I'll still act surprised tomorrow."
"Kal, I think there is a reason why it's called a surprise gift." Diana answered matter-of-factly. "Now you'll have your chance to see your gift tomorrow morning, after you've opened it. Not until then."
"Okay," Clark conceded. "But just so you know, I'm gonna be pouting occasionally until then." He said with a teasing tone.
In spite of herself, Diana couldn't help but give a slight chortle at what Clark just said.
And they say Jason got his mischievousness from his mother? Somehow I don't think he inherited it all from her. Diana thought as she remembered having to keep Jason from "sampling" the chicken she had helped Martha make.
"You really aren't that much of a 'Boy Scout', are you?" Diana asked sarcastically.
"Me? Surely you jest." Clark said in mock shock as he walked towards one of the closets, opened it, and pulled out several wrapping papers and gift tags for him and Diana to use. Diana had no idea how to wrap gifts, so Clark pulled out his gift for his mom and used it to show Diana how to do the wrapping properly. It took some trial and error, but eventually Diana got the gist of it, to which Clark then took his shopping bags with his gifts in them and used the living room floor by the Christmas tree while Diana used the kitchen table. That way the other would be less tempted to go and see what gifts the other person had. No matter whether you were from an island cut off from the rest of the world or a farm, that child-like desire to see what gifts were for you and what they were was universal to everyone.
Not wanting to just hear the sound of wrapping paper, Clark then reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone (which thanks to his own tinkering and Kryptonian technology at the Fortress, was now a lot more than an iPhone) and walked over a small docking station where he switched it on, placed his iPhone in it, and set it to shuffle, to which Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" started to play.
Once they were done, Clark then showed Diana where around the tree to place the gifts, as long as it didn't mess up the decorations.
As she placed her final gift under the tree, Diana then took notice of the figurines that made up the Nativity scene.
"This is the 'Nativity', right?"
"Yep." Clark replied.
"You know, I've studied up on different religions/beliefs since I came here to Man's World, but I have to say, this one stands out more than anything I've read up on." Diana said.
"What do you think of it?" Clark asked as he and Diana sat down on the couch.
"I don't really have an opinion, to be honest." Diana said softly. "Even though I have Gods and Goddesses for patrons instead of just one, I'm only an ambassador, not a priest. My mission is about imparting the Amazon way of life to people-love, peace, justice, mercy and truth-not to, as they say, 'shove religious ideas down people's throats' to get them to act on something."
"However, the idea of an all-seeing, all-powerful God taking on human flesh through His own Son and helping and serving those lost in apathy, greed, fear-and never once flaunting His power and authority…to be able to humble Himself that much, even when everyone persecuted Him in the worst of ways…I have to say, though I don't worship Him, it's still really incredible and very humbling to me."
"Mm." Clark said with a nod.
"So how about you?" Diana asked.
"Well, I'm not a religious person by any means, but I do believe in God." Clark answered.
"Plus, the idea of genuinely serving people-to where one can really make a difference in another person's life in the best of ways, even if only in the smallest-that's something that, even as a little kid (and before I had my powers), was something that I wanted to do and even now, I still try everyday to do, but not just as Kal-El, but also as Clark Kent, and as Superman. Granted, even I don't always get it right, but I still go forward and keep trying."
"Good. I'm glad." Diana said. "Because I'd kick your butt if you actually did stop trying." She finished to which Clark then laughed.
"If I ever end up getting to that point, please do so princess." Clark said genuinely to which Diana then "gently" punched him in his shoulder.
"Indeed I will." Diana replied with a semi-teasing tone. "But seriously, Kal. You do a great deal more than you realize and more that what you give yourself credit for." Even with life having thrown obstacles at you what with losing your wife nearly three years ago and raising a son by yourself. "If I could do half of what you've managed to accomplish so far, I'd have considered my mission complete."
Clark smiled. If there was one thing he was realizing about Diana, it's that she wasn't someone who beats around the bush. She was someone who can tell it like it is, but she didn't do so in a way where it was demeaning. She was pragmatic, but not harsh. Yet she also had a kind of genuine warmth and kindness about her that young people, namely children gravitated towards instantly without needing to think much on it. Even Jason was not immune to that feeling when he had first met her. The fact that she also could understand what Jason was going through with his budding powers (having had her own mishaps as a little girl on Themyscira) was also a big plus.
All that, plus on a personal side, she was somebody that Clark found he could confide in greatly besides Bruce. He didn't have to put on a front to some extents like he would with other people. He could be completely relaxed around Diana and be himself in ways he didn't think he would ever be with any other woman. Not even when Lois was alive had he ever been this relaxed.
"Thanks Diana." Clark said.
No sooner had he said that did the song tracks change and the intro for Vanessa Williams' and Bobby Caldwell's cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" start playing.
"Oh man, I love this song." Clark said as he heard the song. As he looked to Diana he then got an idea and stood up in front of her.
"I know it's a little late, but seeing as how we still have a couple of minutes before it's officially Christmas Day, (and since you did tell me you wanted to learn more about it having seen other couples do so) would you like to dance?"
Diana then looked from his face to his hand and got a flashback to a dream she had had occasionally over the years in Themyscira long before she arrived in Man's World. The way he was holding his hand out was almost the exact same way she had seen before…
Quickly snapping herself out of her trance, Diana then looked back to Clark's face before she then smiled and took his hand with her own and joined him in the center of the living room.
As they danced, Diana found it wasn't much, given that it was only a ballad, therefore that made it a slow dance and they didn't need to move as much. However, even in spite of that, Diana saw that Clark was surprisingly a very, very good dancer. The moments where he would slowly twirl her around Diana could see that whether Kal realized it or not, he had a grace that one would not associate with him. There was a subtlety about him that combined grace and power to where he moved like liquid, to where even if he didn't have the ability to fly, one would think he actually was.
For Clark he found that even during a ballad Diana's grace could be seen easily. If he didn't know any better he would have seen her movement as almost like a quiet seduction: very subtle, almost non-intentional, yet enough to enrapture any guy around her. Plus, the scent of orchids and fire seemed to permeate the air around her. It was intoxicating, and while Clark couldn't get drunk easily…in fact, he couldn't really get drunk at all…but having someone like Diana-somebody who has come to be a great friend/confidant to him, someone who seems to understand him more than even he does himself-and the fact that she looked like a goddess in human form…
Face it Clark. He thought to himself. You're drunk…on her.
"Wow." Diana remarked after the song was done.
"Yeah." Clark said as he felt a warm feeling spread up his face.
"Kal, what's that?" Diana asked as she looked up.
Clark then looked to where Diana was looking and saw what looked like mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.
How in the world…?
At first he mentally ran through the possibilities of who could've put that there, but then he knew that neither J'onn nor his mother would do that (even though Martha loved Diana right away when she met her) and Ben was out of the question, so that left only one possibility…
He's definitely my son all right. Clark thought as a smile appeared on his lips and an image of Jason with a small boyish grin and a hand in a "thumbs-up" pose appeared in his head.
"It's mistletoe." He said to Diana.
"Yeah." Clark replied. "During Christmas, if a couple is standing underneath some, or if one is holding it in their hands (or if it's in their pocket), then they can kiss if they want to."
"Under a poisonous plant?" Diana asked, confused.
"Yeah." Clark said.
"Okay, that does not make a whole lot of sense." Diana said.
Clark then shrugged. "I don't get it either, but that's what I've been told and from what I understand. But again, that's really for couples more than anyone else."
"So friends shouldn't kiss under mistletoe?" Diana asked.
"They don't have to not kiss." Clark replied. "But to see a guy and a girl who are just friends and not a couple kiss under mistletoe…yeah, it's definitely good for laughs and whatnot, but it's still kind of strange and it does take a little of the intimacy out of it."
"Mm." Diana said as she glanced one more time at the mistletoe hanging on the ceiling before she then looked to Clark. For some reason, even though the song had ended and Celine Dion's cover of "These Are The Special Times" had started playing, she hadn't taken her arms off Clark's shoulders, and neither had he taken his hands off Diana's waist.
And stranger still…they didn't feel bothered by it at all.
As she looked at Clark Diana then started to think back to when she had first met him to now, how of all the new friends she had made since arriving in Man's World, it had always been Kal that stood out. He had been the first person to extend a hand of friendship to her…the one to always lend a sympathetic ear if she needed one…the one who understood better than most what it meant to carry a heavy responsibility…the one who, even in his "bumbling" guise (or not so bumbling these days) she could still see the genuine compassion that radiated from him and people picked up on that and weren't intimidated by him, which allowed Kal to help the common person more closely without having to resort to his Superman facet.
With all of this going through her mind, and remembering the talk she had with Nessie sometime back, Diana was starting to feel…something. She wasn't sure what, but it wasn't an unpleasant feeling, just the opposite. And as she looked deep into Kal's cerulean blue eyes she then realized that what she was feeling wasn't something that just happened all of a sudden. It felt like it had been already been there, building ever so slowly, but very surely.
Making a decision, and not knowing for sure what the end result might be, but still determined to go through with it, Diana then spoke.
"But what if…one of the two friends wanted to kiss the other?"
Clark's eyes widened slightly in surprise, but then as he looked at Diana's sea-blue eyes he then saw the honesty there and as much as he wanted nothing more than to kiss her, the last thing he wanted was to force her. Plus, he wasn't sure if she was asking him that because she wanted to kiss him (regardless of them just being friends), or if she was just asking a question.
"I guess…it would depend on why." He answered.
Nice job Kent. He thought. Way to put your foot in your mouth.
"Should there be a reason?" Diana asked, her face beginning to get close.
"No, but since they are just friends and not…more, it would be nice to know why." Clark said, his face closing in as well.
"Several reasons." Diana answered softly.
"Because the first friend had been there almost from the start, whether he realized it or not."
"Because the first friend offered a hand in genuine friendship to the second friend and not a hand in wanting to treat the second friend as a 'party favor', as they say here in the Patriarch world."
"Because the first friend opened his world (his family and few friends) to the second without being obligated to."
"Because although the first had to go through some adverse circumstances a few years back, he still managed to go forward in his life and overcome those circumstances, which to the second…is perhaps the most inspiring thing."
"Because the first friend unknowingly challenged everything the second friend thought she knew, and surprisingly enough…the second was glad for that."
Right when she said that both Diana and Clark's faces were so close one would think that they actually were kissing, but right when she finished her sentence Clark then took a leap of faith and gently kissed her first.
It was a small kiss, but to Diana, she felt as if though she was actually floating on air. Her toes had curled up so much she felt like she would burst at any moment, if she hadn't already. She had wondered for the longest time what it would be like to kiss someone, but what she had imagined did not even come close to this. It was more wonderful than anything her dreams could ever describe…
For Clark, he felt like he had gotten shocked the moment his lips touched Diana's. Though he had kissed Lana, Lois, and an SI supermodel or two (which is a whole other story) before, nothing, absolutely nothing could compare to this. As much as he had fantasized about this after he met Diana, part of him never thought it would happen. But when she reciprocated he really did feel like he was going to faint, and not in a bad way. In a lot of ways, it had seemed like all of the moments he and Diana had from the moment they met-from just talking to each other, getting her to laugh even if the joke was on him, having each other's backs during battle, sparring whenever they could and getting slightly turned on when Diana had him beat-it felt like it had all led up to this. There was no second guessing, no needing to think on it, no need to worry about controlling one's strength, just being in the moment with Diana and feeling every bit of that moment-it was way more than what Clark had ever expected.
They stayed like that for a while, but then they gently broke apart, their faces both flushed and goosebumps running up and down both their bodies.
"And honestly… I just wanted to." Diana said once she found her voice again.
Clark didn't say anything after that, he just looked into Diana's beautiful sea-blue eyes, smiled a warm, bright smile, and gently pressed his forehead against hers as Kenny G's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" started to play.
Unbeknownst to the two, Jason, Martha, Ben, and J'onn were watching the whole thing from up the staircase, each with warm smiles on their faces.
The next morning, which was Christmas Day itself, nothing but sheer happiness and joy was radiating throughout the entire house. Jason had been the first to wake up, followed by his dad and then Diana and J'onn and then Martha and Ben, and they (namely Jason) went straight for the Christmas tree where all the gifts were. Needless to say, everyone loved their gifts. Clark's gift for Diana was a brand new copy of "To Kill A Mockingbird" (which Diana had only read bits and pieces of from Clark's own copy and liked it), Diana's gift for Clark had been a nice Tommy Hilfiger Navy Stripe suit with a sky blue tie to go along with it (she had pointed out once how while he obviously didn't play up to his bumbling persona as much these days, his dress sense in public was still not what it could be, and that although she understood why Clark had to act the way he did as the bumbler, that didn't mean he deserved less), J'onn's gift ended up being a very nice cashmere sweater from Martha (he had wished he could have bought something for Martha and Ben, but Martha said it was okay), and Jason's gift ended up being a saxophone cleaning kit from both his dad and Diana, and an iTunes gift card from Martha and Ben, while his gift for everybody was a CD recording he had done of himself doing covers of different songs on his portable piano, from Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" to Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here".
Of course, there were more gifts, but the aforementioned ones were the ones that truly stood out.
As they put all the wrappings together in a garbage bag to later toss out, Clark then looked at Diana as she shared a hug with Jason, thanking him for the CD.
If anybody else had come up to him at that moment and asked him if he was "enjoying the view" (or in other words, looking at Diana when he thinks no one is looking), Clark would've just chuckled slightly and said no, but after last night…after that kiss that he and Diana had…under the mistletoe…he actually would genuinely say, "Yeah, I am."
Though he wasn't sure exactly what would happen now, there was one thing Clark did know for sure, and it's that he wasn't going to chalk it up as just being a "spur of the moment" thing, it was so much more than that.
Though he had long since grieved over Lois and moved on with his life, Clark never really allowed himself the chance to date; raising Jason took precedence over his own desires. And as much as he was attracted to Diana the first time he laid eyes on her, he didn't want to make like a five-year old and place a kiss on her at that time. Plus the friendship he ended up having with her ended up being way better than that fantasy kiss anyway (or so he thought up until last night). And now…having felt like he had crossed a threshold from friendship to something more…Clark didn't want to waste a moment. He now wanted to see if there could indeed be more between him and Diana than just friendship (and from Diana's own reaction, it looked as if she felt the same). Though he had been married before and was more confident now, part of him still felt a tinge of nervousness. Not just in regards to her mother Hippolyta and all the rest of the Amazons (both Greek and Bana), but also wondering if he can truly be the kind of man Diana would want alongside her. After all, as he said to Pete, Diana was not like the previous women in his life. However, he then remembered something Pa had told him once in regards to changes.
"In life, change always comes when it's supposed to; never before or after. And with change always comes new challenges. Never fear those challenges when they come, son. Face them."
Thanks Pa. Clark thought to himself. Thanks.
As he joined the rest of his friends/family Clark knew while he wasn't sure what the future would hold for him and Diana, he was sure about one thing: He wasn't going to face it being intimidated or being afraid of taking a chance-and in this case, taking a chance on love again. Although he knew it wasn't going to be easy…Clark wouldn't have it any other way.
AN: Massive props to Ben10987654321, HELLACRE13, Cael-El, Wentworth360 and the rest of the SM/WW writers for inspiration.