Have You Heard..?
"Have you heard?" John whispered, almost mouthed since he knew very well two other people inside the cafeteria could hear a pin drop, even on a cushioned floor. But he knew the two people in questions' current pre-occupation would let his inquiry slide, as evident on the serious expression on Diana's face as the princess seriously conversed with Superman as he watched across from where he sat.
"Heard what?" Shayera tried her best to appear nonchalant.
"The news." There was a pause for more emphasis, his eyes never leaving the pair that, to him, sometimes, looked strangely like twins. "THE NEWS."
Shayera shook her head in disbelief. "News does travel fast."
"Not fast enough," John observed, looking at Superman's suddenly dumbfounded expression. He almost laughed at the implied "WHAT?" on the Kryptonian's face. There was even a moment in there when he thought the Boy Scout would chuckle as if slightly amused after the initial shock had subsided. Only the expression on Diana's face, the glare in the blue eyes that could only be picked up from spending too much time with one person, prevented him friend from doing so.
"Superman's usually the last to know," Shayera quipped. "Do you think…he knows?" The Thanagarian asked with a certain emphasis on the pronoun.
John seemed to consider. "He knows everything…but in this case, I don't think so. If he does, I'm sure he just found out just like the rest of us…mortals."
Shayera sighed. "Another nail in the complicate-your-relationship-further coffin. Just when I thought…"
"Thought what?" John appeared interested.
"Really? Because just the other day I caught him…smiling…" John mentioned. "I mean it's not really a smile, maybe a grin, thrown in the general direction from where she sat. And we both know that's a breakthrough coming from…him. Even if it was ten years in the making."
Shayera sipped on her milk tea, made a face, swirled the contents around and wondered why she let herself be convinced that she would like it. "The other day, I heard her…humming. Humming the tune of the song he sang for her…as if she was cooking or doing the dishes rather than hauling a big, fat rock out of the way." She smiled as John exchanged his coffee for her tea, liking the relationship she and John had now…the finishing each other's sentence and beverage stage…no hurries, no complications. Unlike her other friend's long running soap opera. "I knew then something was up. And now…this big…obstacle," she appeared frustrated.
"But when you think of it…" He tasted the tea. It was not as bad as Shayera made it out to be. "It's not that…farfetched."
"Not that farfetched?" She raised an eyebrow. "If…it was me…what would you think? What would you do?"
He almost gulped as the green eyes demanded an immediate answer. "Honestly…I'd have…reservations. Who wouldn't?" he shrugged. "But it would not matter much."
"That's sweet. But you're not…him."
He had to agree with her on that. "Do you think this…development will affect their…relationship status?" If there ever was a relationship…
"Knowing Bats…if not now, it will come up later."
"What will come up later?" Flash asked, with a voice louder than necessary as he took the seat next to John after a commotion somewhere else in the room. "Guess what?" He asked everyone before slurping on a tall iced mocha. "I beat Plastic Man to the last serving of this!" He held up the beverage in victory.
"Who's your daddy now?" Flash shouted in triumph.
Everyone else looked at him incredulously. Before Diana left the room.
A few minutes later, near the teleporter…
Batman, she's leaving. J'onn communicated.
She must not leave in her state. You know what to do, J'onn.
"J'onn…please teleport me to Themyscira."
"Please, J'onn." Her tone was more of a command now.
The Martian punched the coordinates of somewhere not Themyscira. And as her apparition disappeared from his view, he whispered in his mind.
Forgive me, Diana. This is for the best.
But there was a smile on his green face nonetheless.
"You're leaving." Batman's tone was accusing rather than inquiring.
She knew J'onn was up to something when the Martian did not put up much argument. She just did not know this was his solution, to teleport her to the bat cave.
"I have…issues." She looked at him impatiently. "Issues that need settling. Immediately."
He appeared unfazed by her slowly building temper. "So you're going to march to Themyscira and demand and explanation from your mother?"
He knew. Of course he knew. "And from my father, as it turns out I have one. Though I'm sure I would have to take a number before I could have an audience with him." She crossed her arms on her chest. "Can I go now?"
"No." His answer was straightforward. "I will not let you confront your mother in your state."
"Since when did you care?" she snapped.
As soon as the words came out, she wanted to take it all back. She did not mean to sound like she did. She knew he was taken aback slightly but he would never let it show.
"I'm sorry," she apologized.
He removed the cowl that covered half of his face. "Don't be."
The significance of his answer was not lost on her, the same tone like that of when they first kissed. If that was his strategy, to mellow her wrath…wrath was such a strong word, ire…ire was the right one, it was not working. Not yet anyway.
And strangely, she was starting to smell coffee.
"I really have to go." She turned away from him. She needed to get away from those eyes, those deep, blue eyes. "J'onn, to Themyscira…or else."
"J'onn is not listening."
"Yes he is," she countered.
"Maybe. But not to you." The chair squeaked slightly as he sat.
She knew he was studying her profile, taking his time, looking for the opportunity.
"You're going to leave without telling me."
"I told Kal to tell you, tell everyone else I'll be gone for a while," she answered, her face still turned away. So this was his strategy, lower her defences with the Bruce Wayne mode. It was not going to work this time. "I really need to go Bruce."
"Would it matter much if you found out the reason why your mother lied?"
There was that truth again, her mother lied to her. She took a deep breath. "Yes. I want to know why she lied. Why she made up that wonderful lie about me being made from clay when it turns out I was made the old fashioned way like everyone else, except for the minor detail that my father is…Zeus!"
Her footsteps echoed around the cave as she walked towards the railing, her eyes forward but looking beyond the dense, cave walls. "All these lectures against men…and yet…"
"She fell in love with one."
"I'm not sure if there's love in it," she whispered.
"Maybe…maybe not." He was standing near. "Maybe, she just wants to be a mother. Maybe that part was true, when she asked the gods for a daughter, when she asked them for you."
She remembered her mother's face in her mind as his words echoed…maybe, she just wants to be a mother…
For the first time, after all the confusion, anger and the feeling of betrayal that clouded her mind, she was beginning to see her predicament from a different perspective, her mother's view. Her mother had asked the gods for a daughter, and may have sacrificed her Amazonian ways just to bring her into this world.
"My little sun and stars…" she spoke softly her mother's term of endearment.
"No matter what her reason…" he broke her reverie. "Always know that she loves you."
"And the league, just the same. We all…"
She turned to face him after he left his sentence hanging. "Thank you. If they can all hear you now."
"I'm only saying the truth, and keeping you from marching with guns blazing to Themyscira."
"Still…thank you. I know how much it pains you to mention the word love but you've said the word twice in a span of a few minutes."
She knew he heard him grunt, albeit good-humouredly.
"And it just has to be said that I think it's a new record for you. I'm even surprised you did not choke on it." She allowed herself the luxury of a smile now. And was rewarded a fleeting glimpse of a genuine care that reflected in his eyes, before she looked away again.
"I have to go."
"Don't worry. I'm not in the same mood I was earlier," she sighed. "You can tell J'onn it's safe."
"In five minutes."
It was hard for her not to smile.
"Since you'll be away, I'm advancing our…date."
"I'm sorry but…" she pretended.
"I don't have coffee."
His cape swirled as he walked back to the consoles and produced two tall cups of coffee and a box from somewhere. "I ordered coffee and donuts," he sounded smug. "Though I failed on the…less stinky criterion."
She gave him a look.
"I knew you would be in a bad mood and would run off to Themyscira without batting an eyelash. So I asked J'onn for a favour in case I was right. And I was right."
That was why she had been smelling coffee. She welcomed the feel of warmth against her palm as she cradled the cup in her hands.
"Honestly…when I found out the truth about my parentage…" she began after sipping on the hot liquid. "I thought you'd…rescind the…agreement. Back out…"
"You've known me for ten years. I am not a coward."
"True," she replied. "But there's that…one thing that makes you one."
He stood closer. "Do you know what happened to the last one who called me that?"
"Yes." She stood her ground. "Nothing much. I'm still waiting for something to happen."
It was his turn to smile. He just did not know what his smile did to her.
"You thought I had another…excuse."
"To add to the long list of excuses…you're from a society of immortal warriors, yada, yada, yada…" Then she suddenly was shaking with mirth at a thought.
"Nothing…" She was able to say before another round of chortles.
"I'm glad you're laughing now…even if it's probably at my expense."
"No…I just…pictured Darth Vader and Luke. Then…Zeus and me…and the long "Nooooo! That's impossible!" line." He was not laughing and was just looking at her intently so she composed herself. "Either you find it corny or you don't have any idea what I am talking about."
"It's one of the most iconic dialogues. But…" he was even more serious now. "…let's get this straight. You thought I was going to make another excuse."
She felt sorry for ever bringing the topic up. "Yes."
"Because Zeus is your father."
She took another sip. "You made an issue out of me being an immortal before. Naturally, I'd think that my being the daughter of the god of Olympus would be another issue."
"You want to know what I really think?"
"Maybe…" A part of her did not want to know. If he was going to distance himself again with this revelation, it was better that she did not know. "…it is better that I didn't know."
"So I could hold on to the what-could've-been," she simply stated. "It's better to hold on to that than to nothing at all. Why am I even telling you this?" She turned to the cave walls again, wondering if there was something in the coffee that made her too honest for her own good.
"It was a…relief."
"When I found out Zeus is your father. It was a relief."
She looked at him in amazement.
"When I had the misfortune of meeting Hades when he almost got out from the Underworld with the help of his minion, I thought that he was your father."
"What?" She stared at him in disbelief.
"I didn't buy the made from clay story the first time. Sorry, but I didn't," he smiled an apology. "So I knew you had to have a father. And it was not hard to notice the family resemblance."
"Hades? My father?"
"That would also explain the temper."
"So when the truth came out. It was a relief."
"And why is that?"
He looked at her knowingly. "It just is."
"Nevertheless…" she shrugged in contemplation. "I still feel that I deserved to know the whole truth. Regardless of who my father is."
"And we're back to square one," he could not help but mention.
"I mean…really. I'm too old for this…melodrama. Now my family tree is too…complicated."
"What would you have wished the queen would've done? Mention your ancestry in passing?" he mentioned in an even toned voice, not the voice that usually came from him. And she had to admit, he had the ability to erase some of her concerns away. "It's not something that could be discussed over dinner."
It was his turn to sigh. "If it's any consolation, I understand you."
"Thank you. Finally!" It was nice to be on the same side this once. "If that happened to me, if I were in my mother's place…I'd tell my daughter who her father is because she has every right to know." She was on a roll. "Even if he's not the ideal father or…if he turns out to be the scum of the universe or a total…jackass…"
"Or an ogre with a lot of issues."
It was only after she saw his amused look that she understood that she fell right into the trap, realizing a little too late the implication.
"But that's…too farfetched. Too…" All she could do was drown herself with the rest of her coffee.
"Unlikely?" His eyebrow rose before his expression softened. "Maybe."
She turned towards the cave walls for the umpteenth time as if it was her ally when she was out of words. He seemed to feel the same as his stance, more or less, mimicked hers.
"Highly…improbable," she whispered.
Another long pause. She could hear the soft rustle of wings.
"But then again…the god of Olympus having a daughter with the Amazon Queen seemed as impossible. Until yesterday," he stated.
She studied him closely. "And you…saying what you are saying. This is impossible." And since they were on the topic of being blatantly candid, she mustered the courage to ask. "If I ask you, and I want an honest answer…if you were an ordinary mortal…"
"Man. Ordinary man. Mortal sounds…discriminatory."
"Sorry…" she apologized. "If you were an ordinary man, who somehow…" She was searching for words that would not sound self-assured. "Was…attracted to me. What would you think of my…family?"
"Zeus as my prospective…father-in-law. Hercules as my half-brother-in law, a number of gods and goddesses…" he seemed to consider his answer. "It will be intimidating, to say the least."
"Deal breaker," she sounded dejected.
"But I am not an ordinary man. And I've already met some of your family members." His eyes were all seriousness when he answered. "It will take a lot to intimidate me."
As if to prove his point, his eyes never left hers.
But she did not expect J'onn to spoil, or save, the moment.
"Diana, the coordinates to Themyscira are ready."
"Thanks, J'onn," she replied before turning to him, a little apologetically. "Sorry…J'onn must have a timer somewhere. Our…five minutes are up."
"I should have said ten." He took the empty coffee cup from her. "Next time."
She could not wait for it. "Next time."
"I'll try to make the surroundings more…bearable."
It was a stretch, but since they were talking of the impossible a little earlier, she did something nearly as improbable. She planted a soft kiss on his cheek, so dangerously close that if he tilted slightly their lips would meet. But before he could even move the slightest, she pulled her face away.
"Thank you. You just saved me from a long argument with mother."
He did not seem surprised at all with her gesture. As if he was comfortable with it. And his hands seemed to have found their way to her arms, gently holding her in place. As she studied his face, she noticed the lines that were not there before. But he was still the most handsome mortal, or man as he aptly put it, that she had ever met. And his eyes…it felt as if he was daring her to make a move, inching her closer.
But what would a kiss in this situation mean? She did not have the excuse like she did before.
"Ten years…" he whispered, his breath fanning her cheeks. "And I'm still thinking of reasons why I should not kiss you."
It was a rare moment, that his voice could echo such emotion. As if he was fighting with himself whether to give in or to let the moment pass.
"Diana…are you ready?" J'onn interrupted once more.
"For a telepath…" he shook his head. "J'onn certainly has the worst timing," he complained before giving her breathing space.
She smiled and motioned for him to be silent because the Martian could surely hear.
"Give the queen my regards."
"I will." She stepped away.
"And…don't be gone too long."
"Or else you'll start to miss me, I know." And to J'onn, "I'm ready."
She smiled a goodbye but just before he was gone from sight, she heard him say. "Nothing is impossible."