Chapter 2: Clark's Realization

"Welcome back to Channel 52 News! I'm Bethany Snow. Coming up, we'll bring you part one of our investigative report on out-of-control Trillionaires who could pose a menace to society! And we're not talking about rogue CEOs or evil dictators! That's right! Our own children are out of control! We'll show you the proof.

But first we're going to head out to Metropolis where C52 reporter Vartox is ready with a follow-up on the recent alien attack by creatures we understand are called 'Suntarians.' Var—Wait a second! I'm receiving a report that a battle has erupted between two superpowers—Superman and Orion! Vartox, can you tell us anything?"

"Maybe we should watch something other than the early morning news. Channel 52 has been playing this since last night. One would think they would've moved on to a new topic by now."

Clark knew Diana was right. When they'd flown to the Fortress last night, Clark had immediately turned the television on, Bruce having already contacted them both. The Batman was none too pleased that two of the League's founders were on the news again, their not so secret relationship fodder for sensational gossip.

Diana hadn't been pleased either, particularly since much of the speculation surrounded her being in a love triangle with Superman and Orion. Orion, the big, red jerk.

"Don't turn it off, it's almost over."

Diana sighed, turned back over in bed and pulled the covers over her head mumbling, "Suit yourself, Clark. It's far too early to be up watching the soap opera of news programs."

Clark smiled down at Diana, who, he was almost positive had never watched a minute of a daytime soap in her life.

"What do you know about soap operas my Amazon princess?"

"Plenty. Thanks to Zola and Hera." She peeked her head from under the covers. "Did you know some of those shows have been on for decades? Decades, Clark. It's unbelievable. One minute a child is five and the next she's twenty-five and married to her mother's third husband."

Clark laughed. He tried not to when Diana got like this, but it was difficult. Sometimes it was easy for Clark to forget that Diana had only been in Man's World for five short years. She did her best to learn and acclimate herself to the diverse American cultures. It helped that she was open-minded and fluent in several languages. But the woman was just too cute when an aspect of American culture, especially pop culture, baffled her. In truth, soap operas baffled Clark as well.

"And the characters never really die. There are funerals and tears but six months later the character is back. Or sometimes it's the long lost twin, triplet, or something equally as strange. I don't pretend to understand any of the storylines, but Hera and Zola are addicted. They fight over everything, including which soap opera to watch."

Clark wished he could awake like this every morning, with Diana snuggled next to him. She'd stayed over last night, concerned about his fight with Orion and that Hector Hammond had taken up residence in his head. And, Clark, not too proud to take advantage of a doting Diana, accepted all her unexpected womanly pampering. It had been nice having her to talk to, a woman who understood his unique place in the world because she too was just as unique.

"What was that, Bethany? I can't hear you! Those fools Superman and Orion picked a fight with each other, and the sonic booms from their punches are knocking out windows all over Metropolis!"

"Ugh, I can't believe that guy. He actually stood in the middle of wrecked cars and falling glass. I saw him when I flew overhead."

"I wondered how you found me."

"I didn't have to be Batman to track you and Orion."

"Followed the trail of destruction, huh?"

"Pretty much."

"I guess," the reporter continued, "they can't agree on who is the better king for Wonder Woman! That's how it works on this planet, correct? Hah, they're crashing toward the waterfront! Well played you two! Beware that Vartox doesn't put this microphone down and come over to that battleship to teach you both a lesson."

There was now a picture of Superman and Orion on the screen, Superman rushing headlong at the helmet wearing Orion on his kiddy tricycle. Rao, how Clark disliked that guy. Whoever in the hell he was.

"That Bethany woman said we were your suitors. I don't know how they come up with this stuff." Grabbing the remote control off his nightstand, Clark clicked off the television. Diana had been right; the news wasn't worth watching.

She sat up in bed, her hair long, dark and wild. He loved it. Even after all their bed play last night and several hours of sleep, Diana was still the most gorgeous woman Clark had ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on. She was just plain beautiful, and the woman, at most, wore lipstick when they went on a date. That's it. Everything else was just all demigoddess sexiness. And the woman had on one of Clark's T-shirts, and damn if he didn't like seeing Diana in his too large shirt.

Maybe he could convince her to bring a few items of clothing to the Fortress and the farm for times like last night when she stayed the night. He'd been wanting to discuss that with her but didn't know exactly how Diana would view such a suggestion. Hell, Clark didn't know how he viewed the thought, what it would mean to their still new relationship.

"We should probably talk about Orion."

Clark had told her last night that she owed him no explanation. And he'd meant it. Well, he mostly meant it. It was clear that Orion would've continued his attack if Diana had not shown up. Orion had taken one look at Diana and had gone all mushy, soft, and willing to listen to reason. Diana had that effect on many people, which had served the League well when diplomacy was needed instead of fists. But Diana had simply stood there, appearing as shocked to see Orion as he was to see her.

And then there was Superman, sensing the unspoken tension between them. As well as the trust. And maybe that was why Clark kept watching the damn news, hoping to see something different than what he'd witnessed last night. But, of course, the footage was the same. No reporters had caught the byplay between Diana and Orion, or the way the jerk had narrowed his gaze at Superman as if he wanted to begin the fight anew for an entirely different reason.

"I already told you, Diana, that—"

"Yes, I know, and I appreciate what you said. But you must have questions."

He did. But they hadn't had the "exclusive" conversation yet; although he wasn't dating anyone else and Clark damn sure wasn't sleeping with anyone other than Diana. And Clark knew Diana wasn't the type to string one man along while showing interest in another. But there was something between Diana and Orion, Clark neither naïve nor blind.

"Okay, yeah, well tell me about the kiss Orion mentioned."

Her serious eyes said she'd known he'd overheard her and Orion talking.

"So," the jerk had said while Diana tended to her lasso, looping it into a circle so she could place it back on her waist.

"So," she'd responded, not sounding as if she was interested in a thing Orion had to say. And while they stood in awkward proximity, Clark had sat on a boulder fifty feet away, his mind on what had just happened to him but not so focused on having Hammond expunged from his mind to miss what was transpiring between the so-called "friends."

Orion had rubbed the back of his neck, shy and nervous and nothing like the bold creature who'd attacked Superman only minutes before. "Still not talking about, you know . . . the kiss?"

"Still." And that was all Diana had said to Orion, her eyes focused on the lasso instead of the guy staring intently at her, with far too much interest in his eyes.

"It wasn't a romantic kiss, if that's what you think, not the kind of kiss that we share. It was never like that."

"So what kind of kiss was it?" For a man who'd claimed he'd wanted no explanation, Clark's tone was anything but uninterested. He didn't like the idea of Diana kissing another man, regardless of the reason or the type of kiss it had been. And, hell no, from the obvious tension between Orion and Diana, the kiss hadn't been a chaste one.

"I kissed him to prove a point."

"You. Kissed. Him?"

"Don't snarl at me, Clark. The kiss meant nothing."

"I'm not snarling, and why in the hell would you kiss him if it meant nothing to you?"

"Because," she said, shoving the covers away from her and standing, "sometimes a man needs to be put in his place, made to understand that a woman isn't to be objectified but respected."

"And you thought to teach him this lesson by putting your tongue down his throat?"

He was now on his feet as well, the king size bed—and an absent Orion—between them.

"Now you're just trying to piss me off. I didn't kiss him like that. It was to make a point. I just told you that."

"So, no tongue action? You mean to tell me you kissed a guy who looks at you like you're made of the finest Bavarian chocolate he can't wait to devour and he didn't—"

"Okay. Okay. He did. But I pulled away before . . . Look," she said with exasperation, "Orion has no real clue how to respectfully treat a woman. He thinks he can say and do whatever he wants with no consequence. So I decided to turn the tables on him, show the sexist pig how it feels to be objectified."

That made no damn sense to Clark. "So you kissed him?"

"Yes."

"And what else? Because I know better than to think that kissing him only was the way you objectified him. Kissing you would only make a man har— you didn't."

Oh, but the unabashed look on Diana's face said she had.

"I'm an Amazon, Clark, don't ever forget that. Combat will always be my last resort, but when talking doesn't work, other tactics need to be employed."

Clark was officially amazed and angry and temporarily speechless. Diana had kissed a guy she clearly was not sexually interested in and, once aroused, had taken hold of his man part and . . .

It should have been funny. And if he'd seen the scene in a movie or if it involved anyone other than his girlfriend, Clark would be churning out laugh tears and bellyaches. But it wasn't a movie and the woman involved was most definitely his girlfriend. Who, with her hands on her hips, wasn't the least bit apologetic about having grabbed another man's balls to . . . make a point?

"He deserved it and the punch that followed. You have no idea how many times I'd told him to watch how he spoke to me, how many times he'd called me 'Legs'."

"He called you what?"

"It doesn't matter. Orion has the maturity of a thirteen-year old going through puberty. But he's also been an ally when I needed one. He's selfish and crude but he mostly means well."

"I don't like it. I don't like him."

"I didn't think you would. And I don't particularly care for Orion myself."

"So you decided not to tell me because you knew I would get upset?"

She shrugged. "From my experience, most men would. I'll never come to you with something so petty. I didn't need you to protect me from a sexist Orion or give me advice on how to handle his unwanted advances. That's not who I am. It's not who I will ever be."

"Because you're Wonder Woman?"

"No, because I'm Princess Diana of Themyscira, daughter to Queen Hippolyta. I may now live in Man's World, Clark, but I'm not of Man's World. Men like Orion will be made to understand. A slow process to be sure, but thousands of years of misogynistic thinking cannot be undone overnight."

"Or with one tongue kiss," Clark added sarcastically, his eyes trained on the feminist demigoddess across from him.

Diana turned away from him and began scanning the room. She found her boots first and picked them up. "I think I'll shower then leave. I don't want to argue about Orion and that stupid kiss."

"So I guess you'd be fine with me kissing every woman who hits on me?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Clark. And I don't kiss every male who shows an interest in me. You're oversimplifying what happened between Orion and me. But, sure, if you want to kiss a bunch of random women, go for it."

Before she tugged her lasso from the bedpost where he'd allowed her to tie him last night, Clark flew across the bed and to her side.

"You're so damn stubborn."

"Yes, I know, which is why I'm leaving. And you're unnecessarily jealous, which is also why I'm leaving. Orion is a non-issue. The kiss was nothing more than a tactic. I felt nothing. He means nothing."

Without warning, Diana pressed her lips to his, swiping her tongue over his lips, surprising and delighting Clark. He opened for her, accepting her persistent tongue. And she kissed him, a tactic opposite to the one she'd used on the jerk Orion. Diana was making a point, a point he was loathe to resist. So he didn't. Pulling her closer, Clark wrapped his arms around her waist then worked one knee between her legs, rubbing and sliding his thigh against her center.

Diana moaned and deepened the kiss, exploring his mouth with unrushed strategic advantage. Her boots thudded when they hit the floor, but there was no sound when Clark lifted them off their feet and placed them on the bed.

"Kissing you," she said against his mouth, "make me feel, make me want, make me burn. And you, Clark Kent, mean so much to me. You are my kryptonite."

Clark swallowed, recalling Bruce's words to him two weeks ago.

"Wonder Woman doesn't have a kryptonite, Clark. The hard truth is that if she ever crosses the line, you're the only one who can stop her."

Clark hated Bruce for stating the obvious. He hated him for shoving that blade of mistrust between his ribs. And, of course, Clark hadn't shared that conversation with Diana. He had, however, told her that he'd been the one to give Bruce the kryptonite that had been stolen and used against Clark. She'd been upset, with Clark and Bruce. But how could he tell her that Bruce viewed him as the best chance the world had of stopping an out-of-control Wonder Woman?

He couldn't. He didn't. And now she had just said he was her kryptonite.

"What do you mean I'm your kryptonite?"

She kissed his cheek, his chin, his throat. "You make me weak in all the ways an Amazon warrior should never allow. I shouldn't feel guilty about Orion, but seeing your hurt face forces me to question myself when I know I shouldn't. I didn't betray you or what we have with that kiss, but I also didn't think how it would make you feel if you learned of it. I shouldn't care, but I find that a part of me does care."

"And caring for me makes you feel weak, vulnerable?"

"Questioning my natural warrior instincts makes me vulnerable, Clark, not caring for you. But, having you in my life as more than a friend and colleague, means I have to now consider how some of my actions will impact you."

"And you don't like that?"

"It makes things complicated."

"It's called being in a relationship, Diana."

"I know."

He wasn't sure if she truly did. In fact, Clark was pretty certain this same type of "complication" was the reason Diana broke things off with Trevor.

"I don't want you running away every time we have an argument or disagreement. I may be from another planet, but I grew up on Earth and I'm just as possessive as any other male. I'm going to get jealous, probably more than I should admit. There's no help for it, so we'll both have to deal. And you're not going to stop being your warrior feminist self because we're together, and we'll just have to deal with that, too."

Clark slid one hand under the T-shirt Diana wore and stroked thigh, hip, stomach, then lower. She arched into his touch, opening her legs to accept his gentle probing. He kissed her neck, enjoying the soft moans he was coaxing from her.

"No matter what, Diana, it will always be us against them. I may have my kryptonite but I don't want to be yours. Being in a relationship shouldn't make either one of us feel weak or vulnerable."

"Y-you're making me feel pretty weak now. Gods, Clark, deeper."

Oh, he could so go deeper. Withdrawing his fingers, Clark quickly divested Diana of his shirt and himself of his boxers. Settling between raised thighs, Clark went deeper, in one satisfied slide.

They both groaned their pleasure of being joined once again. There was nothing like it, Clark reflected. There was nothing like being with Diana, so close, so free, so wild. If she thought he made her vulnerable, then the women had no idea how much she impacted him, how far he would go to protect her, how much he adored and cherished her. To hell with Bruce and his contingency plan, if Diana ever went rogue Clark would be right there beside her, pulling her back from the brink, reminding her that Amazon warriors fought on the side of angels, on the side of the righteous.

No, because when it was all said and done, when the trumpets and horns blared, two would always be left standing.

Superman and Wonder Woman.

Us. Not. Them.