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Between Us and Them

Chapter 1: Diana's Focus

"Someone broke into the Bat cave last night. And they didn't do it to get at me, Superman. They did it to get to you."

Superman had no problem hearing the words Batman had just spoken to him, yet he still didn't quite comprehend what he'd just told him.

But he did understand Diana when she turned on Batman, her voice and body trembling with anger when she said, "What's in the Bat cave that can hurt, Clark? What did you do, Bruce?"

Clark wanted to know the answer to that as well, but he was riveted by Diana's vehemence. Very few people thought or cared to stand between Clark and harm. No, most thought him invulnerable, incapable of experiencing true pain, or even fear. But he did. He had.

Yet here was his warrior princess, glaring at the Dark Knight with leashed fury but open challenge. Diana's heart, as Clark already knew, shown as glorious and bright as any shooting star. Her strength. Her weakness.

And it glowed luminous now, as starkly beautiful as it had when she told him of her intention to fly to Kahndaq and take on the Sons of Adam, a terrorist group known for its violent tactics.

Had that only been three hours ago? Surely more time than that had elapsed. But, no, Clark knew better. He knew that while he and Diana were saving hostages, someone was breaking into Batman's lair, presumably finding and absconding with something that could harm Superman. And, even with Diana's questions hanging in the air, her accusation crackling between her and Bruce, they all knew the answer. Kryptonite.

On a sigh, Superman looked away from Bruce and Diana and up to the evening sky. Gray and white streaks crossed the horizon. The smell of pending rain was heavy in the air, as was the roughened sound of two upset Leaguers.

This wasn't what he had in mind when he'd awoken this morning.

Without turning over, Clark knew Diana was no longer beside him in bed. He turned anyway, feeling stupidly lonely when, indeed, she wasn't next to him. Or in the room, for that matter.

They'd shared a late dinner last night. And, for once, Clark had managed to talk Diana into staying the night. She was in a good mood. She'd finally managed to find and return her friend, Zola's, baby to her.

Clark remembered how pained Diana had been when Hermes had betrayed her and taken the newborn. More importantly, Clark recalled how guilty Diana had felt. As far as he was concerned, she'd done all in her power to keep Zola safe. Yet sometimes one's best efforts are simply not enough. That was a truth he grappled with himself, a truth Diana, the Amazon and demigoddess, had yet to even consider.

But she'd kept her promise and rescued the child. Then she'd flown to the farm to share her joyous news with him. And, for the first time since they'd become intimate, Diana had shared his bed for more than a couple of hours, falling asleep in his arms and staying the night. But she'd risen early, denying him the pleasure of waking beside her.

Clark touched the spot where her body had lain, the sheet rumpled and smelling of her, of him, of them. A pang of something Clark couldn't quite define hit him. He'd wanted last night and this morning for quite some time. He thought Diana had wanted it as well. Yet she'd crept from the bed while he slept, leaving him alone when all he wanted was to see her radiant face and sparkling blue eyes shining in the morning light.

Clark shrugged off the chill of being abandoned and climbed out of bed. He knew he was being unreasonable, making more of it than it actually was. Diana hadn't truly left him. He could hear her heartbeat and her movements in the kitchen, as well as the television news program she had on. Diana had it turned down low, probably to not disturb him. Yet the crisp tones of the anchorwoman were clear, the report of more terrorist activity in Kahndaq typical and disturbing.

For a minute Clark contemplated strolling into the kitchen buck naked, hoisting Diana over his shoulder, and carrying her back to bed. He even envisioned himself doing just that. Then he pictured the shocked look on Diana's face and reconsidered. With Diana, he was finding, he didn't always know the best approach to take with her.

In many respects, Diana was a modern, fun loving woman given to surprising bursts of humor and laughter. On the other hand, she was an Amazon princess born and bred—serious, proper, and responsible, to the extreme sometimes.

Snagging his royal blue robe from his closet, Clark donned the garment and tied it at the waist. A few seconds later, he stood in the doorway to the kitchen. As he'd known, she was in the kitchen. She sat at the counter, sipping what smelled like jasmine tea and eating a croissant, eyes transfixed on the white kitchen television only a few feet from her.

"The Kahndaq government continues to deny requests by the U.S. to enter the country and confront the Sons of Adam, the terrorist group responsible for the recent bombings of its embassy in South Africa . . ."

The reporter went on, listing the groups numerous "crimes against humanity." Grisly pictures accompanied the report. It was more death and destruction at the hands of extremist, neither new nor acceptable.

Diana lifted her head and their eyes met. They sparkled bright and blue, but not in the way he'd dreamed. No, the spark wasn't of love, of passion, or even of lust. It was of anger and determination.

Watching as Diana pushed the Off button on the remote and stand from the barstool where she'd been sitting, Clark knew any ideas he'd harbored about returning to bed and going a round or two between the sheets with her, was well and truly dead.

She wore a mid-thigh length silk robe. He'd gifted her with it and a matching negligee for Valentine's Day. Instead of taking them home with her, she'd left them at the Smallville farm, typically throwing the robe on after they'd made love and she'd showered.

While the sight of her in the scarlet temptation normally led to him quickly divesting her of it and finding the closest bed, floor, or wall, her resolute countenance bespoke of a woman whose mind was definitely not on bedroom play or her lover's lascivious gaze.

Wonder Woman stood before him. Diana . . . his lover was lost to the horror she'd just watched in HD. Her words of, "I won't let them kill those hostages. I have to do something," not even surprising him. And it also didn't surprise Clark when she didn't ask him to go with her.

Nope, that hadn't surprised him either. But it did piss Clark off. What made her think he would simply say, "Okay, let me know how it goes, and I'll see you when you get back, honey"?

Did Diana seriously consider, for even a moment, that Clark would return to bed and get a few more hours of sleep while she traveled to a hostile country with violent ideologues who had little to no respect for women or law? Apparently she did, because the single-minded, stubborn Amazon made to walk past him as if that was all that needed to be said.

Clark tempered his irritation at her easy dismissal of him when he spoke. "I'm coming with you."

She stopped in front of him, staring as if she had only tangentially registered his presence in the kitchen before now.

"I said I'm—"

She shook her head. "That won't be necessary, Clark, I can handle this on my own."

He didn't doubt it. But that really wasn't the point. The point, as far as Clark was concerned, was that Diana was constantly forced to take care of things on her own. Outside of League business, Diana was an Army of One. Going into battle with gods with little more than herself to rely on. That, too, pissed him off.

But what really grated was that Diana had absolutely no idea what it meant to be in an equal relationship. If she did, she would have known that no man worth his testes would passively sit by while his woman put herself in harm's way and did nothing. That wasn't Clark Kent's way, and it damn sure wasn't the way of Superman.

Clark allowed his eyes to sweep her body, lingering at the most interesting parts. "You're wearing nothing under that robe."

She didn't speak, just stared dispassionately at him.

Clark stepped closer, reached one arm around her waist and pulled her fully against him. "We will save the hostages together, Diana. And after we do, we'll come back here and try that staying overnight thing again, without the leaving my bed before I awake part, of course" He allowed his free hand to wander to her cheek, her nape, her hair.

She sighed, a sweet, sexy sound that threatened to undue his good intentions.

They were still new to this relationship business. Clark was no expert, to be sure, but Diana had yet to learn the couple dance of "us." She was still working from the singular perspective of "him" and "me." That simply wouldn't do.

"Us against them, Diana. Us against them."

She nodded, then wrapped her arms around him and held him tight.

Clark returned the warm embrace, radiating in the knowledge that, for once, he was the focus of Diana's undivided attention. Such a singular focus could make a person feel inordinately special. That was as much a power of Wonder Woman as her courage and strength. And she wielded it without knowledge or thought. It was simply . . . her.

"Thank you. I would be honored to have your assistance."

And now all that focus was on Bruce, but Clark damn sure knew that what Bruce felt was anything but special. Yet in the midst of learning that some villain was probably in possession of the one item that could kill him, Clark indeed felt special . . . loved.

After discovering that Bruce knew of Clark and Diana's relationship, Diana had given the Batman a no-nonsense response of, "We connected, Bruce, it just happened."

No apology.

No excuses.

No details.

Connected. Yes, they had. Nice to know she feels the same way.

Us.

"The two most powerful beings on Earth." Batman's words.

Us.

"They're going to come gunning for you."

Them.

Without a word, Clark took hold of Diana's hand and lifted them into the air. She didn't resist or even question his abrupt act, she simply allowed herself to be flown away.

Us.

When he finally stopped, Clark could no longer see Batman or Kahndaq. They would have to meet back up with Batman and the rest of the League soon, but not just yet. Clark wanted a few minutes alone with Diana.

Us. Not. Them.

"We'll get to the bottom of this, Clark," she assured him, Diana's voice a fierce huskiness he'd heard many times over the years. It was the voice of an Amazon ready to go into battle, but not the voice he wanted or needed to hear.

No, that was Wonder Woman; Clark wanted Diana.

He kissed her. Diana lips, as always, were supple and full. She tasted of sage, sex, and sunsets.

Grabbing her hips and pulling her forward, Clark deepened the kiss. Diana responded, twining her hands in his hair and opening her mouth for his deep tongue kiss. Magic seemed to sparkle between them, heightening the sensation even more.

Us.

After long minutes, Clark reluctantly released her mouth. Their breaths came in hard gasps, their hearts thrummed, and the scent of their mutual arousal was unmistakable.

Us.

"Better?"

Diana arched a perfect eyebrow at Clark. "Do you think to control this Amazon with your delectable kisses?" Ah, that voice, velvet laced with good humor.

All Diana. All. Mine.

"I wouldn't dream of it."

Diana's fingers found her lasso, her knowing eyes trapping his.

He laughed. "Okay. Okay. No need to break out the truth serum."

Clark pressed a quick, hard kiss to Diana's lips. "Ready to go back now?"

"No, but it is time we faced the inevitable."

Clark held out his hand to her. "Together?"

Without hesitation, Diana took the offer. "Of course. Always."

Yes, always.

TO BE CONTINUED

Author's Note: This story will be updated when this plot continues in Justice League #20.