Author's Note: Sorry for the long delay. I did get your messages and thank you for your thoughts etc. I am aware that some of you are very keen for the chaps but if I could do it faster, I would.

Chapter 29

Steve pulled out his key to Lois Lane's apartment with his left hand, while his right hand held two bags with Chinese take-out and beer he had picked up on his way from the airport. Lois had never quite perfected the art of cooking because she simply never cared to be in the kitchen. Cooking bored her and she also had little patience to sit around and watch others cook. She could live on take-out and frozen dinners, or restaurant food if she had the chance. Time was always of the essence to this woman on the go. He wasn't sure if she was at home or at work with him having gotten in earlier than expected. He had barely gotten the key in the lock when the door knob tuned and the the door was yanked opened by Lois herself. She was in sweats and had the remote in her hand and looked a little manic.

"You're here! Jesus, get in here! Have you seen the news? It's insane! It's all they are talking about!" She flung her hands in the air as still if in disbelief.

Steve tripped in and followed her to the living room. He put the food down and looked at the TV screen. A talk-show has experts debating what could happen if Superman and Wonder Woman ever turned rogue.

"I know. That's why I was called in." Steve shrugged off his jacket and kicked off his shoes. "They're worried too."

Lois paced and gesticulated wildly. "Steve...Wonder Woman is in a relationship with Superman according to these people. The Justice League has yet to deny it. But you and I well know Wonder Woman is dating Smallville! So two things here...she's two timing my poor, clueless friend...or my poor, clueless friend isn't who I think he is. Now I'm more inclined to believe such a gorgeous woman wouldn't find anything so remarkable in a nerd from Kansas and using him to cover up her love affair with Superman. I mean, it's freaking Superman! Which woman could resist that? Now if this is the case I am not really happy with her. Smallville might have his faults but using him is uncalled for. He's not some player and this would really hurt him. The other option...I can't..." Lois came to a standstill and scowled. "It's think...but now I think..." She slapped her forehead. " What a blind fool I have been...right in front of my eyes...the sudden disappearances...the lateness...the lame excuses...out scooping me...That hay raking son of a...Clark Kent could not be Superman! I'll kill him!"

Steve sighed and went to the kitchen to get plates. "Come and sit down, Lo, you must be hungry. I got Chinese and the beer is still cold."

She came around to stare at the TV. "All these years...he says he's my friend and he lies! Why? Why would he lie to me?"

"I don't know." Steve was tired and hungry. Clark Kent being Superman certainly was not news to stop him from eating.

"I can keep a secret! You know I can. I wouldn't have spilled his secret. I supported Superman from the time he appeared in Metropolis. That boy even had a crush on me when he came to work years ago. I knew it. He always use to give me these puppy dog glances. But he was, you know, Smallville. I showed him the ropes and we even worked together!" she exclaimed.

"Lois, here." Steve handed her a plate and opened a beer for her. "Eat."

She sank down looking a little disappointed. "If I had known..."

Steve gave her a probing look. "What? You'd have dated him?"

Lois flushed because Steve had almost read the path her mind had taken. "No...I didn't's just not nice to be lied to." She took the plate and admitted wryly, "Maybe I might have if he asked me. Yeah, yeah, I'm as fallible as the next woman for a hot body under blue armor. But that was then. Not now. I'm with you now and wouldn't change that for anything. You got a hot body under that uniform too." She gave him a flirty, meaningful look and he smiled.

"I know. Even if you dated him, I think they'd have found each other in the end. No matter how long it took. When Diana was with me, I knew she was drifting and always feared it would be Superman she would go to. There was something latent between them even when we dated. She convinced me for a while it wasn't. I am sure she spoke the truth but didn't really know her own heart. And of course, they ended up together anyway."

"Did you tell them what you knew?"

"No. Of course not. I couldn't do that to her and I knew as mad as you are with'd never betray him either, would you?"

She made a face."No. Could have been a great scoop but no. I don't shaft friends."

"Me neither." He handed her chop sticks.

She took them and began to eat, more like eating for hunger than enjoyment, not really savoring. Her mind was too preoccupied. "So what did those stiff necked chiefs want with you? I know if it's classified stuff you can't say but it had to be something urgent to pull you out of bed at that time in the morning."

Steve twirled his noodles with his chop sticks slowly. "Interesting would be an understatement, Lo."

"Yeah?" She took a swig of beer. Steve looked a little uneasy. "Something you're not happy with?"

"A little complicated. I can't tell you my mission but there is something you might need to know."


"They were the ones responsible for the Superman and Wonder Woman leaked story. They wanted the world to react."

"Huh. The military gave TMZ the scoop? But why?"

"They think they could be very dangerous together. Too much power."

"Last I checked it was the government and military doing crappy things and those two saving our hides. Talk about hypocrisy. I hope your mission is not underhanded like what my father did, Steve."

"No. The President knows. It's actually, to be fair to them, in the interest of national security. But...babies."

Lois frowned. "Babies? Oh, come on. She's some demi-goddess and he's an alien. Two different species."

"Still, imagine what their combined powers could create. The military are not too happy they don't know what Superman and Wonder Woman's full abilities are and that means they can't identify weakness. But imagine that kid."

"So they brought you in to discuss ways to break them up? Is that what you're saying?" she scoffed.

"No. Just to prepare for the worse if it comes. And Lois...I really hope it never comes."

His eyes held hers gravely and she whispered softly, "Me too. Will you talk to Diana?"

"I'll give her a call and let her know her and Clark's secret are safe with me. Will you talk to Clark?"

"I should let him squirm and see if he'll come to me. Does Diana know you told me who she is?"


"Well, I guess I need to talk to him then."

Clark was sitting at his desk staring at his laptop screen lost in thought when something imperceptible touched him on the head. He turned to see Lois. She stood behind him with a rolled up morning edition of the Daily Planet and she'd apparently whacked him hard. Not that he felt it. His mind was lost still on Diana. He'd left her reluctantly to come to work. She was still quite upset but she had to hide her distress and get back to her job and city. She dreaded the inevitable barrage from the media that would go with it. He was luckier not to have to face that right away but he was sure when he donned his Superman armor he'd have his share of his privacy being invaded.

"Lois...," he sighed tiredly. She looked pissed. He could only guess she knew his secret because Steve knew Diana's.

She came around to drop in a chair at the side of his desk and hissed so no one else around could hear, "I can't believe you! All these years. You lied to me. Why? I thought we were friends. Looked out for each other. And here you are hiding the biggest truth imaginable from me."

He pushed his glasses up his nose. "Lois, I'm sorry. I did it for your protection."

"My protection? How do you justify that, Clark? Because I happen to be a reporter and we both know there are risks involved in our job. Hell, just being around a story puts me in danger. You know, like when I was in Berlin and Steve and I got caught up in your battle with that monster? But yet here I still am. Alive and kicking."

"I know. I know. I'm not questioning your ability to take care of yourself."

"Yet you couldn't tell your friend you're Superman? You couldn't trust me to keep a secret? You know how insulting that is considering I told you most things about me?"

"Lois, it's more complex than that. You know that. I value our friendship but my foes have always tried to get to me via the people I love and care about. From my parents to Lana to to Diana. I didn't want to subject anyone to that if I could help it."

"Yet you're with Diana?" she pointed dryly.

"I couldn't help that, " he admitted. "I tried to keep away from her too, believe just happened. It's way too late to regret being with her. I love her."

Lois blinked and seemed to digest that piece of information. "Oh. So it's serious between you two?"

"Yes, very much so. And the last twenty four hours have been very hard for her. Not only the invasion in our privacy but the loss of her mother and sisters." He told her about the Amazons and Lois covered her mouth. As someone who had her share of family problems she could empathize.

"Oh crap. I...didn't know...That lousy General Eiling. Steve did mention to me they were responsible for leaking the photos. I'm sorry, Clark. I hope something can be done."

"The loss of privacy is secondary to what happened to Diana's family."

Lois leaned back. Her initial anger had subsided. She said a little worriedly, "Clark, Steve was called into the Pentagon to discuss your and Diana's relationship. They are paranoid as hell about you two judging by what Steve could say."

"I can only guess. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. The priority is to get the Amazons back."

She sighed. "That's a little beyond the ability of a star reporter." She reached out and patted his arm. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you found someone. I always used to worry about you. And now look at've nabbed a princess no less. Very impressive, farm boy."

"Thanks, Lois. And I hope Trevor is treating you well."

"Zipper? He's great. Though do you think it kinda weird that your girlfriend used to date the guy I am with now?"

"She and he are long over."

"It doesn't bother you at all?"

"No. Does it bother you?"

She smiled. "No."

They smiled at each other. She got up and said, "Well, I have my own stories to chase, so you'll excuse me." She suddenly paused. "Hey, I think I can take some credit you and Diana hooking up?"

"That you can. You taught me that groveling works."

She laughed. "And never forget that. Later, Smallville."

Clark sighed to himself. His mind ran to Diana wondering how she was doing. He would drop in on her later. Maybe take her somewhere remote for dinner. Away from nosy reporters and cameras.

Diana was having a tougher day than he was. The press was camped outside the Embassy and the phones were ringing off the hook. Claire and William looked very harassed as they tried to deal with the influx of calls which were mainly from eager media houses. She had to switch off the TV to avoid seeing and hearing the silliness about herself and Superman. It wasn't that what they were saying upset her. Not really. They were no more absurd than when she was with Steve. It was the fact that she'd lost her mother and sisters. For the first time in her life Diana really did not know what to do next.

Diana sat at her desk in the study and stared at the pile of correspondence. She should be doing some work. Not moping. She picked up an invite from the UK for a cultural exchange between them and Themyscira and dropped it despondently. She was an Ambassador for a nation that had no one living to preserve its culture.

"I can't give up. There must be some way to restore them," she muttered. "But how?"

Her cell rang and she saw Steve Trevor's number. For a moment she really did not want to answer but then she shook herself. Enough with the moping. It was not his fault her family was lost.

"Hello, Steve."

"Diana. Hi. How are you doing?"

"How do you think, Steve?" she replied.

"I can only guess. For what it's worth, I'm sorry you have to go through this again," he said sympathetically.

She said pointedly, "I can live with gossip, Steve. But there is one truth that must be kept secret."

"I know and I want to assure you...and him that I will keep that one."

"Thank you, Steve. That means a lot to me. "


"Yes, Steve?"

"Be careful. You and Superman. Okay?"

"Is there something I should know?"

"It's not something I can talk about but the military are even more...paranoid now."

"Because of me and Superman dating?"


"I see."

"Don't put your trust too much in anyone."

"Would that include you?"

"Touche. I'm just telling friend to careful."

"I always am, Steve. It's the nature of the job."

"Diana, I have to go. But...if you need anything..."

"I'll let you know. Thanks, Steve."

"Bye, Diana."

Diana put down her cell phone with a shake of the head. She did not understand how anyone could view her being with Superman as something to fear.

"They fear what they can't control, daughter."

Diana spun around to see a handsome man appear as out of thin air. He was attired in a white shirt and white pants, his curly black hair in a neat pony tail, and his feet bare. The iris of his dark eyes were peppered with little sparks.

Her blue eyes darkened as she met the eyes of her father, Zeus King of Olympus. She sprang from her chair, her hand going instinctively to her xiphos.

"What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you, Diana. You can put down the sword. I mean you no harm. Not that it can harm me." He put a hand out and took a step forward.

"I never called on you. Stay where you are." She refused to put the sword down.

He looked a little amused. No one ever pointed a weapon at him. Well, her mother had. He could see she had Hippolyta's fire. But she was infinitely more beautiful than Hippolyta. Than Hera. And while Aphrodite had unsurpassed beauty, there was something infinitely purer about Diana's. Hermes had filled him in on Diana's life on earth and that it was dedicated to defending mortals. His daughter had courage and honor it seemed. Something lacking in many of his own offspring. "A father does not have to be called upon to want the well being of his children."

"You expect me to believe you care who I am?" She was not going to fall for that.

"Your mother kept your existence from me. If I had known..."

"What? You'd have acknowledged your bastard? You would have stopped Hera's heart from being twisted with pain and jealousy? Spare me," she returned tersely.

He folded his arms across his chest. "I know you are angry. I did warn her not to harm them...she defied me very cleverly. I cannot punish her for it nor force her to turn them back. I regret I cannot do more but I am here to try to make some reparation to you."

"Reparation?" Diana looked at him suspiciously.

"Yes. Hermes has told me about this life you lead here on the mortal plane. While I am aware that sometimes there can be things here that can fascinate, take it from one who has lived for eons...eventually those things wear out their welcome."

"You mean like your interest wore out on my mother?" she riposted.

He said without a flinch of remorse, "Your mother knew my situation. I never hid my intentions from her. I wanted her and she wanted me. We had each other. I would say an equal trade off. Hippolyta was not some naive virgin I defiled. Your mother is a proud woman and a Queen. She knew where her duty lay. I doubt your mother spent her time pining over me."

Diana said nothing. There was truth in his words. No one would expect Zeus to drop everything and play faithful consort to Hippolyta. But she knew he had, on some level, disappointed her mother. Hippolyta was a Queen but she had also been a woman with a heart.

He continued," You have lost your family and I am not indifferent to your pain. But you have other family."

"Other family?"

"Yes. Your Godly family. You have divine blood. MY blood. You are the last of my line..."

"That you probably know of, "she interrupted scathingly.

His lips twisted. Yes, fiery. Another time he'd probably bellow at anyone daring to be insolent, but he was inclined to be lenient for now. Beautiful women were always his weakness and that this one was from his loins made him a little sentimental and proud. He was glad to see she was not submissive and scared. A true daughter of Zeus.

"You do not belong among these mortals. I know the need to come at times and mingle but you'll never be one of them. You'll never age like them. You''ll never experience the weakness and decay they do. You'll always be misunderstood. Hermes told me your own tribe never fully accepted you. Calling you names. Mortals cannot process what it means to me an immortal with power like us. Your place is above. On Olympus. With your siblings and the rest of the Pantheon."

Diana put down her sword slowly. "You think your wife will be happy to see me there?"

"Hera does not rule Olympus. I do. She will abide with whatever I decree."

Her voice was tight. "My home is here. With those who have accepted me as their friend and hero."

"Hero? Hermes told me some mortals are afraid of you. I do not see that as acceptance. You are a demi-goddess, gifted, beautiful, and there is a life beyond this drudgery you call home. You are one of us."

"I am not one of you! I do not see myself above the people on earth. I came here to serve them with my abilities."

"Gods do not serve," Zeus stated firmly. The girl was not only naive but stubborn.

"I am not a God. I will never see myself that way. You are wasting your time. You owe me nothing. I am happy as I am."

He said dryly, "Hermes mentioned you have some strange alien being as a lover. No doubt you think he will adore you forever..."

"Maybe, maybe not but my life choices are not premised solely on whom I bed. I have my mission. Like my mother, if a man leaves me I won't spend it pining either. I know my duty. Good day to you."

"Very well. But it seems being with this creature has made them more fearful of you. Why risk your life for someone who is not even your equal?"

"He is a man, not a creature," she interjected curtly. "And he would never see himself as God. That makes him my equal."

"I could have helped you both."

"We do not need your help. We just wish to be left alone."

"Let us hope your stubborn pride does not doom you both."

Diana bristled. "If you dare touch him..."

He laughed for the first time. He had to admire her. She was like a tigress. Claws really unsheathed now, ready to tear into him, who could smite her at a glance. "I hope this "man" values your misplaced loyalty. And do not fear, I have no desire to harm the alien. Hermes assures me he is of no threat to Olympus. Yet." Zeus shoved his hands in his pockets and said confidently, " Good bye, daughter. I am at least glad to meet you finally. You are a child in years still. I expect time will temper some of your...idealism. When you want to come to Olympus, call on Hermes."

Diana sank down on the chair once he was gone and stared at her hands. Her father! She'd just met her father! And she'd denounced him, her birthright and her kin in his face. Gods, she had to be crazy to even be that rude to Zeus. But yet he'd tolerated her rage. In fact he'd look amused. She held her head and swallowed the lump threatening to engulf her throat. She never believed he would come. But what did he expect? Hugs and tears of joy? He was a stranger to her. It made her heart sink and bleed all the more for her loss of Hippolyta.

Hermes looked at Zeus curiously as he appeared alongside him in the clouds above the Embassy.

"She said no."

Hermes nodded as one not surprised.

"She was very angry and very insolent. Spurred my offer."

"I am sorry, my lord, but she is bereaved. Else I am sure she'd have been more...receptive," he began swiftly.

Zeus said dryly, "No need to fly to her defense so quickly. I am not about to punish her for not jumping at the chance to come to Olympus. At least she has conviction and loyalty to the ones she loves...something that is missing in many of my own self serving progeny. She is young and ignorant though. I expect a few decades of living in that ant's nest should open her eyes to the hardships living among mortals who are largely ungrateful beings. She will die for them and they still will be ready to deny and even destroy her. I have given to many over a millenia and they still have forgotten me." He suddenly looked tired. Older. He said as he faded out, " You and Hephaestus have helped her in her time of need. I want you both to watch out for her. Hera is still angry and might attempt to cause her more pain. Diana also does not realize the savagery of the world she has pledged her allegiance to. Mankind is still greedy and self destructive as of old. Their tools are only more sophisticated today. I cannot do anything for her while she denies her birthright."

Diana did not mention anything about Zeus to Clark until they were having dessert. The restaurant he'd taken her to was a favorite floating one in Phuket. They were digging into pineapple and banana fritters with local coconut ice cream, when Diana took a breath and blurted out, "Oh...I forgot to mention... the King of the Gods dropped by the Embassy today."

Clark uttered, "You met Zeus?!"



She ate a bit of fritter absent minded and sighed, "He's a douche."

Clark put his bowl down. "Um, o-kay. What did he say?"

She grimaced. "He wanted me to come live in Olympus."

Clark's brows flew up. "What?"

She filled him in on the details of the meeting. Clark's listened closely and observed her expression, trying to figure out how she was feeling about it. She was a little subdued but he knew that was down to her recent loss. Now he could understand why at times she looked distracted. He wasn't shocked she'd refuse Zeus. Diana never saw herself above anyone. Even though she was a princess, she always believed in helping and using her gifts to better the world. But it did not go pass him the magnitude of the offer. She was a demi-goddess. Divine, royal blood flowing in her veins from Gods of old. In many ways he was a commoner compared to her.

He mused, "Hmm, what does one do on Olympus though?"

She shrugged wearily. "Drink ambrosia and play with the lives of mankind? I don't know. Even since I found out I was one of has affected my faith. I used to pray to them as a child, Clark. I used to ask Hera for her blessing...Now...there is no putting one's faith blindly in any deity."

"Well, Ma and Pa were Methodists. But they knew their way wasn't the only way. Heck, the moment they found me was a confirmation that the universe is vast and there are sources of power we don't often understand. They never stopped me in embracing a sort of eclectic approach to faith. End of the day what's important is how we live our life and how we treat others and the world. Ritual is exactly what it is. Just a method to connect to whatever that's out there."

She looked wistfully into his eyes. "Your parents were wise, Clark. I don't know why Zeus would even want me there."

"Well, he is your father and maybe he considers it his duty to bring you into the fold. They are your only remaining kin. Also, he could have reacted differently. It's been often said he had a temper and would never have his will crossed."

She put down her bowl and confessed, "I was a little surprised he didn't get mad too. I wasn't exactly cordial when he approached me. Maybe he isn't a total douche."

Clark took her hand. "You mother must have seen at least one good thing in him apart from all the obvious power."

"It really doesn't matter. I want to have nothing to do with Olympus. My place is here on earth. With you." She squeezed his fingers as if to press home the point.

He leaned in and kissed her gently. "If you're sure. But it still remains you have half siblings out Hermes and Hephaestus and Eris and, Diana, which you cannot deny."

"Hermes and Hephaestus have been kind to me and are not destructive. I would not deny them. Eris and Ares...they are harbingers of strife and war. They are the forces you and I fight on a daily basis. I do not think there will be any chances of me accepting them, shared blood or not."

Clark nodded with understanding. "Yeah. I can understand that. You want anything else?"

"No. I'm full." She'd tried to eat as much as she could but her appetite wasn't all that good.

Clark paid the bill, left a tip and he and Diana took a long tail boat back to the main land.

"You want to go home?"

She shook her head. "No. Let's just walk for a while."

It was a lovely night. The moon was large and bright above them, the beachfront was busy, with lots of people eating or just hanging out. It was easy to get lost in the crowd and pretend to be a young tourist couple just taking in the sights. So that was what they did.

As they walked they did not notice the woman in the short dress and bare feet stepping out of a boat that was just behind theirs and vanishing into the crowd.

Eris looked at Ares with a mock sigh.

"She said she'd never accept us. I am hurt. Our baby sister has so much anger and pride, my brother."

Ares frowned. "So he went to see her."

"He actually offered her to come to Olympus. How hospitable of father."

"Our mother would love that," Ares snorted.

"I will make sure she knows," promised Eris.

Ares strolled out of what was an opulent living room and stood out on a balcony looking at an ocean view. "He is not even bothered about the Kryptonian. He is growing lazy and losing his touch. He cares nothing for Olympus' glory. Why else would he offer a bastard half blood to sully our home and not even care she takes a thing like that to her bed?"

Eris gave a mock sigh. "Standards have indeed dropped."

"No one worships us as they used to. We're lucky we still exist because of the nature of man. But no one cares about Olympus these days. We've failed as Gods. No thanks to our father who only cares about his loins."

"We could do something. Bring Olympus back its former glory. The days when people killed virgins and bulls for us was fun," she reminisced on a sigh.

Ares turned and faced her. His voice dropped. "We have to be very careful."

"Of course."

"No telling anyone. Not even mother. I mean it, sister."

Eris rolled her eyes. "Oh very well. What have you in mind? Father might be lazy but he is not stupid. And he is merciless when he is crossed. I have no desire to spend eternity having my innards ripped out."

He stared at the horizon. "It will take some doing but I know of a way we can deal with father and our little sister and that creature she calls her lover."

Eris' eyes gleamed. "Do tell."

The Gem Hall in the Gotham Metropolitan Museum was silent save for the echo of the footsteps of the security personnel doing their rounds along the first floor at midnight.

In the middle of the large chamber that hosted hundreds of variety of mineral stones, jewelry, ornaments crafted from precious and semi-precious ores, was the big draw of the day-a pair of black jade cats encrusted with ruby eyes and platinum collars studded with diamonds. They were loaned to the museum from an unknown patron and were there for the rest of the summer. They were under reinforced glass with lasers around the periphery of the display.

As the footsteps faded to the elevators leading to the second floor, a sleek, black silhouette appeared on the multifaceted glass dome in the main atrium. The figure raised a hand and from gloved fingers lethal claws flicked out. Using the index finger the curved claw cut the edge of a pane and then carefully produced a suction from the palms of the gloves to eased the glass up.

A lithe, female figure shimmed down to the ground using a grapple. Then very carefully the intruder headed towards the Gem Hall. The code to the chamber was punched in opening the doors easily.

She headed towards the cats and stood on the periphery of the exhibit and purred in appreciation.

"There you are, my darlings. Come to mama. There are perks to dating museum curators."

She watched carefully while the red lasers shifted, crisscrossing each other, like a lattice work and with the grace of a dancer and contortionist she eased her way over and under the lasers. She reached the exhibit and produced something that looked like a small torchlight. She smiled. "A little tool I "borrowed" from a certain overgrown rodent."

The laser cut the top of the reinforced glass case and her hands went in to pick up the two cats from their perch.

The moment she did an alarm went off.

"Oh crap!"

She grabbed the two figures and slipped them in a satchel slung over her shoulder and then she headed for the doors. They were closing and she managed to dart out before they closed. She skidded on the corridor and could hear sound of footsteps rushing towards her and shouts. "Intruder in the Gen Hall!"

She headed for the grapple and line that still hung from the domed roof and she reeled herself up swiftly. She nimbly darted off the roof and down the side of the western facade and headed for a wall that led to a side street. She could heard the two guard dogs barking and sirens in the distance. Using her whip on the branch of an elm near the wall, she hoisted herself up and swung over. She landed on the top of a passing removal van. She dropped down flat as two police cars went pass them towards the museum. When the van reached the next block she jumped off and vanished down an alley.

Half an hour later she was climbing through a window on the third floor of a tenement building that led into a small kitchen. Two cats lounged on the counter tops. She let out a smug laugh and undid her feline hood. A lovely face with brilliant green eyes and dark hair in a pixie cut was revealed in the light filtering in from the street.

"Hello, my darlings. I brought you company. Two beautiful sisters for you." She undid the satchel and pulled out the two jade cats. The animals jumped down to come and rub against her calves.

The pretty cat burglar strolled into the living room and her hand flicked the light switch.

"Good evening, Miss Kyle."

Selina Kyle spun around, her hands already pushing the jade cats back into the bag and unfurling her whip. She saw a blond man in a uniform with an insignia with something like an eye in a triangle sitting on her couch. She knew who he was. He was a high profile enough having been the boyfriend of not only Wonder Woman but currently involved in a case with the state against Lex Luthor. What would this military hero want with her? She wasn't waiting to find out!

She turned to head back out the way she came only to run into the barrels of two rifles. Two other men stared at her barring her route down the fire-escape.

Steve Trevor stood up and said calmly, "Your exits are blocked, Miss Kyle. There is nowhere to run."

She looked at him over her shoulder. "You're trespassing in my home for what reason?"

"You know that's rich considering you have two priceless objects you just stole from the museum in your paws."

She laughed. "Ha. Paws. I like that. Seriously, you expect me to believe the military cares about two stone cats?"

"You're right. We don't. That's not why I am here."

She stiffened. "Why are you here?"

"I'm here to strike a deal. Give you something you might want in exchange for something you could do for us."

She folded her arms across her chest. "Really? I doubt the military has anything I want."

Steve sat down and gestured for her to do the same. She remained standing.

"You'll be well compensated."

He gestured to a file sitting on her coffee table. Warily she picked it up and opened it. It contained everything about her. A copy of her birth certificate, the orphanage and foster homes she lived in, the high school she dropped out of, the different mug shots and police reports when she was arrested as a young adult for petty crime which had mainly consisted of petty fraud and robbery. The aliases she took while working different places, sometimes getting involved with mobsters, or contracted out by private collectors. She was mainly interested in jewelry or priceless ornaments. She derived a kick when planning a heist. It took wit and skill. She had to be a consummate actress and athlete. But her lifestyle became increasingly risky over time and she had been in many dangerous situations. She'd even had to kill to survive. She saw the warrant for murder. The law did not care that the drug pusher tried to rape her. All it saw was that the man was found dead from asphyxiation. She'd strangled him with her whip when she'd managed to break free from his hold.

"You've made a lot of enemies, Selina. Trying to keep your cover is not easy, is it? I know many mob bosses who would pay highly to get their hands on you and your real identity. You have warrants out for your arrest in ten states. You can't even stay in one place long. That must be a horrible way to live. To be on the run all the time. You've settled in Gotham only because you can be Catwoman. No one knows Selina Kyle is she."

She glared at him now. "What do you want?"

"If you help us, we can clean the slate for you. Drop every charge. Build you a new identity. If you want to relocate and start over we'll do that for you too."

She stared at him as if he'd grown another head. But her green eyes flashed with something. It was hope. Dare she believe him? To have a new life. To not have to run. To start over. She shook her head cynically. Nothing comes without a price.

"And what would you want from me?"

"You've been known to be...familiar with a certain cape crusader of Gotham."

She said dryly, "I know no more about Batman than you do."

"That maybe but you've been known to team up with him and help bring down some of the filth in Gotham. It's probably the only reason Gordon or Batman hasn't dragged you into custody. There is also that. Last page."

She flipped to the last page and sure enough on a roof top was a snap shot of her and Batman kissing.

Her jaw dropped a little. Then she said wryly, " Why is the military perving on the superhero community? First Superman and Wonder Woman. Now Batman."

"Eyes are everywhere, Miss Kyle, in the digital age. Especially rooftops."

"That all you got?"

"Should there be more?" he wondered, giving her a probing look.

"Oh no. Just wondering." She looked around her living room and remembered a passionate encounter right on the carpet with Batman. Masks on. Bodies writhing in passion. Least no one would ever know that. Except her and Batman. After that night he'd been careful with her. Not allowing her in too close. Even though she tried breaching his defenses he was always ready for her. She sighed. What she felt for him was so confusing. He was so irritating too. Always preaching at her.

"So what does all this have to do with me?"

"I'm building a team. I want you on it."

A tall man in a gray coat and hat trudged up the staircase to his small apartment on the fifth floor. The lift was permanently out. The landlord wasn't really that keen in fixing it. He walked pass children playing on the second landing.

"Evening, Mr Jones," they called.

The man looked at the children with a small smile. "Good evening."

"Did you catch any crooks today?"

John Jones shook his head. The children were always under the false impression he was a cop. When he was simply a private investigator. And business was really slow. He had only one person come in to try to get him to trail her unfaithful husband. "Not today."

"Aww. Can we see your gun?"

"Now, children, you know I can't do that. Please don't play too close to the edge. The balusters are shaky." He continued up to his floor. He would have loved to stay and chat more but as with everything in his life he couldn't afford to get too close to people.

They did not know who he was and if they did, they would more than likely be terrified. The current attitude towards aliens was not favorable. Superman who looked like them and who spend most of his time saving lives was still under suspicion. What would they do if they knew who he was and what he really looked like?

Life was lonely though. All he had was memories. Memories of a wife and child and a happy life. Until his home and family were destroyed by a pestilence than he prayed would never come to Earth.

He opened the door to his cramped apartment. It took him a nano second to register the presence of someone sitting in his arm chair before his one joy, his TV.

"What do you want, Steve Trevor?"

Steve stood up in the darkness. "I want a word with you, John Jones...or should I say J'onn J'onzz."

He flicked on the light switch and faced the Colonel. He morphed from the human man to a green skinned alien. "You want my help."

"You are one step ahead of me, I see."

"I am a telepath. I can see into you mind. Why should I help your government to deal with the Justice League? They are not a harmful force."

"Not but they could be and we need to be prepared. You are one of the most powerful beings on this planet. Possibly the only one who could really have a chance against the likes of Superman should he go rogue. You've spent a large part of your time hiding, J'onn. That must be difficult. You are isolated. A being without a true home. You can become a part of something that would make you one of us. One of our defenders. You can become a hero. You can actually call earth home openly without hiding."

Amanda Waller stood with Steve on the other side of a two way mirror looking into a meeting room that was slowly filling up with the recruits for their new Justice League of America. It did not go pass her that many of those new recruits were not American. Not even human in some cases. But Steve had dismissed her concerned with the immigrant dream speech and the fact that the aliens did not have a home or anywhere else to go.

"They all need acceptance and a chance to belong. That's the common thread. It is a huge motivator."

Waller folded her arms. "As long as they can follow orders, I don't care. I have no need for loose canons. The Justice League have been around for years and they are a strong unit. The senior members are no pushover."

Steve turned to the wall behind them. There was a chart with some of the most powerful members of the Justice League.

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Zatanna and Cyborg looked down at them.

"You have selected opponents for each of them?"

Steve nodded. He pointed to Catwoman who sat down next to the staid looking Martian Manhunter. "She's got an emotional connection to Batman. I think that more than anything else gives us the edge. He's skilled and clever but he is a man. And she is a woman. The mere fact he can't even bring her in...when he easily could...says it all."

"And the Martian? He is susceptible to flame, I understand."

"His weakness to fire is no different to Superman's to kryptonite. He can shape shift, phase though any material and invade minds. He'd fry your brains cells before you could speak."

Her eyes drifted to the powerful man and lithe woman with a Hawk mask and wings. "The Thanagarians are fugitives for treason."

"Both long serving soldiers who refused to bow down to a dictator and usurper. He is a perfect opponent for Aquaman. A tank like the Atlantean and his mace just as powerful as the trident. She can take on the cocky Green Lantern."

"I don't really think we needed to have a child among us," she fretted looking at the excited grin on the one called Shazam whose eyes were darting everywhere and trying to chat up Catwoman and interfere with Hawkman's mace.

"He might be immature but he is powerful. He is magical based and has access to Godly powers, I think he can handle the sorceress. Besides he's another keen to prove himself and belong."

Waller looked at a couple standing in a corner of the room near the window. One was a tall woman. She looked to be about seven foot and her male companion a whole foot shorter. But she had her arm linked with his and one could see clear affection for him in her eyes as they conversed together and looked around the room at their new colleagues with some curiosity and amusement.

"Another pair of alien refugees."

"Willing to work for the government in return for sanctuary from Apokolips. Barda is a skilled warrior and a worthy opponent for Wonder Woman. Scott Free equally can deal with anything Cyborg can throw at us. He is not only skilled warrior but well versed in Apokoliptian tech."

"And finally the Flash. You think that young lady can handle him?"

Steve looked at the young woman. "Jesse Chambers' father was a speedster. She has enhanced speed, strength, stamina, can emit sonic vibrational pulses and is an excellent hand to hand combatant."

"I like her. She's the only one out of this bunch that looks like someone the public might not feel uneasy about. She will be the face of the JLA and it's spokeswoman," Waller decided.

Steve shrugged. "Sure, if that helps."

"Go and talk to them and let them know what we expect of them. I want to publicly launch them in one week."

The Justice Legaue of America launched as planned, with much fan fare and media coverage. They even managed to get some super heroics in by going out to deal with an invading herd of monsters from another dimension when most of the senior Justice League were off-world helping the Green Lanterns in peace negotiations between two warring planets.

Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Cyborg had only just come from that deep space mission and most of them were heading out to the teleporters when the Atom on Monitor Duty gestured to them.

"Um, I think you all might want to see this before you leave,"Ray announced.

"What?" asked Vic, coming to stop before the screens.

"There is a new Justice League in town."

Hal's head snapped around. "What?"

The others turned as well and they looked up at the screens. Sure enough there were dozens of stations with different news reports about the Government's new team.

Amanda Waller was taking questions on CCN. Ray turned the volume up.

"So what makes this different from the Justice League?"

"This is a team we know and trust. A team whose mandate is to protect American interest."

"Your team has non Americans."

"All who want a home and have pledged their allegiance to us. Who will adhere to our rules and regulations and is accountable to homeland security and the people of America. Steve Trevor will be their field leader and coordinator. And everyone knows he is a hero. Well loved and respected but importantly, experienced. The teams' spokesperson is also Liberty Belle."

"So will they be dealing with any international matters?"

"Only if called upon."

"Where is their base?"

"In our nation's capital itself. There will be no floating satellite above our heads for our protectors. They will be where we can see, hear and touch them."

"Can you introduce us to the members?"

"Certainly." Amanda began to go down the list of names.

"What a load of bull. What the heck are they pulling?" began Hal. "Since when we need two Leagues?"

"They need one they can control, that is why," said Bruce.

"Did you know about this Diana?" asked Clark, frowning.

Diana looked at him a little taken aback. "What? Why should I know?"

"Trevor is their field leader and you and he are back on speaking terms."

"That does not mean he is obliged to tell me anything. He just warned us to be careful. Did Lois tell you anything?" she asked dryly.

"," he conceded. "Sorry."

She folded her arms over her chest. "If it's any consolation, I'm as stunned as you."

"Look at that lineup, "whistled Hal. "How did they even get those guys to agree? Half of them are aliens."

Zatanna said coolly, "And one cat burglar."

Everyone looked at Catwoman's face.

Victor mused, "Why would they even hire her?"

Hal looked at Bruce. "Bats?"

The Dark Knight's voice was curt. "I really don't know what they're up to. Half of these recruits are loose canons and in her case, a law onto herself. I can only assume the monetary compensation is high."

Zatanna's eyes were fixed in his face as if looking for some sort of emotion. She said, "Some of them can still be deemed as altruistic and even disciplined...but somehow I don't see that they hired her to play hero."

Atom remarked, "You never know, sometimes people just need a chance to see they can do better. Help others."

Superman said, "I'm all for that. Frankly, I don't have to have any problem with this team...if that is what they are here for. Our mandates are not that different. If they want to help the world, then by all means let them."

"Somehow with Waller behind it I don't feel that it's that simple," said Diana. "Steve himself might not even be privy to all that she has planned for the team. I know how these government agencies work. I was part of the agency once when I first came out into the world. I did some of their dirty work for a while."

"I know. But there's little we can do about them now." Clark looked at Batman knowingly. "But of course that won't stop you from finding out the abilities of them all, will it, Bruce?"

Bruce replied, "We'd be stupid to just assume this is all a benign set up. Look at them. They are a powerful team."

"Okay. You and Victor can do some digging on the members and you can brief us at the next meeting. I think we're all a little cranky and need to go home for a break."

Bruce turned and headed back toward the door. "I'm going to the resource room for a while."

Zatanna began, "But we've been on a week long mission. You need to go home and rest or least check on Alfred."

Bruce said, "He's fine. I'll go when I'm ready."

Victor shrugged, "Well, I don't really sleep or eat...sooo I guess I'll go with him."

Zatanna rolled her eyes. "He's impossible!"

Clark shrugged and looked at Diana who nodded and they both headed towards the teleporter.

Hal began to follow them. "You don't need to tell me twice. I'm desperate for a good steak."

Zatanna watched as the cowl vanish and then called to Hal. "You want some company there, Jordan?"

Hal stopped and turned. "What?"

"I'm going back to an empty apartment. My toaster doesn't even work. Could do with some company and some decent food. Unless you have a hot date lined up?"

"Well, I have my little black book I thought I'd consult, seriously?"

Zatanna nodded. "Sure."

Clark asked, "You two coming?"

Hal waved at him. "You two go on."

Clark and Diana beamed out.

Hal frowned at her and glanced at the direction Batman had just vanished. "Look, Zee, you're smoking hot but I'm not into playing games with the Bat. He already warned me about dating you and you shouldn't drag in a third wheel into this thing you have..."

"Hal, we have no "thing". I thought at one point maybe...but his heart is walled up. He' friend but there is not much beyond that I can have and I'm okay with that. I'm not asking you to make Bruce mad or jealous. I'm hungry. I've been away for a week from earth. I could do with some company and chat with someone who isn't going to talk about work or scowl all night."

Hal grinned. "Well, I'm a happy kind of a guy. I have been know to have all my dates smiling at the end of the night...and other things."

She poked his chest with a finger. "No trying to make passes or stick your tongue down my throat."

"Hey, I'm hurt. I don't have to try. They just fall in my lap. Just so you know, I'll stay four feet away from you at all times but if you feel you want to violate it...I won't take offense."

She shook her head ruefully. "My god, but you're such a flirt."

"Me? This coming from you? That's rich. Next to me you're the biggest flirt here!"

"I'm not!"

"Are too."

"God, you're such a...a..."

"Hottie? Yeah, I heard."

She burst out laughing. "You're a fool. But in a good way."

He smiled." You got a beautiful smile, Zee. You should be with someone who brings it out often."

She tilted her head and studied him for a minute and smiled. "Yeah. You're darn right. Come on. Let's get out of here."

Clark and Diana teleported to Washington and then flew towards her Embassy. When they landed on the roof, he looked at her inquiringly. He wasn't too sure what she wanted to do. While she seemed a little better overall since the loss of her mother and sisters, grief had dampened the stars from her eyes.

She took his hand. "Can you stay?"

"Sure" He was willing to sleep over any time she asked. Since the loss of her family, nothing intimate had happened between them. It wasn't because he didn't want it to. He did. But he knew it was not sensitive to push for intimacy when she was grieving. If she just wanted him to hold her all night, it was what he would do. As it was she'd made no overtures to him she wanted anything beyond his understanding, love and warmth.

An hour later, both were lazing on the large sofa in the lounge. On the coffee table lay a large, empty pizza box and two empty soda cups. After a quick shower and change of clothes they had ordered in and now bellies sated, relaxed quietly together.

Clark sat with his back propped against some cushions at one end, feet up, Diana between his thighs, her back against his chest. She dropped her head on his shoulder with a sigh. "So nice just to relax. "

He gently stroked the curling hair at her brow."It is."

She mused after a minute of peaceful silence, "Clark, I'm thinking of shutting down the Embassy."

His hand paused and he looked down at her, trying to see her expression. "What? Why?"

She shrugged. "I have no reason to be an Ambassador."

"You have Themyscira."

"A country is nothing without its greatest wealth. Its people."

" can't just give up."

She shook her head. "I'm not giving up. I'm being practical. Who am I representing?"

He turned her face to his, cupping her cheek. "You represent compassion, wisdom...peace...things your people possessed. Don't give up hope, sweetheart."

She smiled gently and put her hand on his and leaned into his touch, then turned back to rest against him. "I'm trying not to. But I don't see the point of me going to functions and meetings and galas dressed up and living in luxury when I'm not really representing my nation."

"So what do you want to do? Shut it down?"

"No. It's paid for. But maybe I could take the opportunity to rent it out for a year and just go out into the world and try to connect with it. Try to do what you do. Not be Wonder Woman all the time. But be Diana as well. Learn how regular people live. To understand them better. I'll never forget what you told me, you know, about effort and sacrifice."

"I was a jerk. I didn't know how hard you worked and how earnest you were. You do put in effort and sacrifice everyday. Please don't say you're doing this because of what I said," he began looking guilty.

"Yes and no. I'm not apologizing for who I am. I know I work hard but you had a good point...I do it from a position of luxury and well...fame. People will always defer to me or treat me differently because I am Wonder Woman and royalty. I don't want to be treated as if I am special. Normal people do their jobs every day without fanfare. I really want to know what that feels like. You do it every time you're Clark. I won't be changing who I am but need to walk in another shoes to really understand." Her voice dropped. "This is the first time I really lost something that pains me so much. People suffer loss all the time. Every day of their lives is a struggle. Yet they carry on, even in trying circumstances. I just want to see that from the ground. Not from the sky or behind a limo or with the press behind me."

It was something he could empathize with. When he lost his parents, he too went looking for answers. He couldn't deny her that. He asked softly, "What do you want to do?"

"Maybe I can go and really teach like my Diana Prince ID."

"Where would you go?"

"Maybe London for starters.

"You want to leave the States?" he uttered bemused.

Her fingers touched his reassuringly as if answering his unasked question. "You can fly anywhere in this world in seconds or minutes so you can see me anytime. But yes, I feel a change of scenery would be good. A different country, culture. Maybe I'll do six months there and another six with a charity. It will give me the chance to learn more."

He said, "You're sure?"

"I am. You traveled the world when you were younger. You cherished the experience; you said it was life changing."

"I did and it was."

"Then that is what I will do. My job with the League will not be affected too much. You'll just have to put me on more night and weekend shifts."

"And what if your mother and sisters are restored before the year?"

She sighed. "If that ever happens, I will be overjoyed but I am determined to do this. I would appreciate your help. I need to do some job hunting and find an apartment. I mean, I can't just go live out of hotels or get a penthouse...that will sort of defeat the purpose, won't it?"

He dropped a kiss on her head. "You have it. What will happen to William and Claire and the other staff?"

"I'll have to break it to them tomorrow. Won't be easy but I must. They are really good at what they do and I'm sure will get jobs easily."

He nodded and then glanced at the TV. "Want to watch a movie?"

She followed his gaze. "No. I couldn't concentrate on anything right now."

"How about some music? Something relaxing?"

"I don't think I can abide any extra noise right now. Mediating between two stubborn kingdoms and listening to them bicker was enough."

"Well, I guess we could go to sleep." He looked at the clock. "It's nearly midnight, I have work at the Daily Planet and we had a long"

"I'm not sleepy."

She moved to settled against him, and reached up to pull his head down to kiss him. It was slow and steady and sensual by degrees. Clark wrapped his arms around her and dragged her into him. It'd been two weeks since they had kissed like this, and he could feel her heart thudding in tandem next to his own.

He felt her lips on his neck, nibbling and suckling, and her hand inside his shirt caressing his warm skin, and nipples. Normally he'd never question her desire but he still wasn't one hundred per cent sure if she wanted to go all the way or simply make out. He wanted her. He was already aroused. But that quiet veil of sadness still clung to her. He hadn't heard her laugh for weeks. She'd smiled. But not laughed.

"Diana...?" He tilted her chin. She moved to straddled him and looked down into his eyes.

Her lips hovered above his. "Make love to me, Clark," she whispered.

"Are you sure?" He cupped her cheeks and ran his fingers through her hair.

Her lids dropped and she let out a small moan of pleasure, loving the feel of his fingers on her skin and massaging her scalp. "Yes...I need to feel something other than grief...if only for a little not think of anything but us..." She opened her eyes and he saw the blue of her eyes were smokey with need. "I want you...please."

Clark did not reply but what he did do was bring her lips down to his own with a passion that had them both moaning and clutching hungrily at each other. The compulsion to be as close as it was physically possibly for a man and woman taking a hold of them. He lifted her in his arms and blurred with her upstairs.