The events in this chapter take place after the third chapter of "Leaps and Bounds."
Chapter 3: Lennox
Lennox absently listened as Hera and Zola argued over what to watch on the telly. Zola was all in a flutter about some sci fi show Lennox had never heard of and Hera, being Hera, wanted to watch an old American show arrogantly called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." He sighed. They made quite the annoying and odd pair. For all of their rocky start, Zola and Hera had actually managed a reasonable coexistence. Diana liked to attribute it to him, but Lennox knew otherwise. He did no more than keep the women from ripping each other's throats out, which, when the former goddess first moved in with them, had been a fulltime job.
Unnoticed, Lennox left the women to their argument and slipped into the kitchen. Going straight for the fridge, he opened the box and stared. He wanted a stiff drink. Living with three women was enough to send any man in search of the nearest pub. But, of course, this being Diana's home, there was nothing but bottled water, juice, and that damn tea she's been drinking lately. He slammed the door shut.
This was where Lennox got off. It was time he began thinking about next steps. After they found Zola's baby, Lennox had no intention of sticking around. He was no wet nurse, which was how he'd felt since joining Diana's band of misfits. Lennox didn't really do the family scene, although the women had grown on him. He was honest enough to admit that they'd carved a piece of themselves into his stone of a heart.
He'd had a sister a long time ago. She'd once owned a part of his heart as well, and looked as sweet and innocent as Zola, both blonde and beautiful. But looks and voices could kill, Lennox had learned that the hard way. Diana also had that sweet and innocent thing about her. She hid it well, and one who only saw her as Wonder Woman could easily miss the more vulnerable side of the young woman. Yet Lennox saw, Lennox knew, which was why he'd been so concerned about her as of late.
He pulled out a wooden kitchen chair and sat. Diana hadn't come home last time. She'd been moping around the house for days, and then she'd up and left last night, without a word to anyone. Now, at nearly eleven the next day, she still hadn't returned home. And here I am again, babysittin'.
Fists balled. Lennox leaned back in the chair and contemplated what he would say to Diana when she finally got home. He lived off no one's charity, particularly a female. But he and Diana had had that discussion before. She paid all the bills. Hell, Lennox never even seen one of her bills or Diana actually paying them, but there was always food in the fridge, clothes, shoes and other material things for Hera and Zola, and the lights were always on.
But the Amazon had no real job outside of her work with the Justice League, which left Lennox stumped as to how she not only managed to take care of herself but a household of non-contributors. Not that Lennox hadn't tried to contribute, he did. But Diana had refused his money, an unintended insult but an insult all the same. Her home, her rules. While he understood the principle of the thing, he also hated when he wasn't the one in charge, which was another reason why it was past time for Lennox to be moving on.
The women would be fine without him. He would keep his promise and continue on until Zola's baby was returned safely to her. He smiled at the thought. Reuniting the little family brought surprising warmth to a man who couldn't truly feel heat or cold.
But he wasn't a cold, unfeeling man of stone. That dishonor would have to belong to Zeus, for only a cold bastard could spill his godly seed in so many women, and then abandon them to raise his half-breed children on their own. No real man did shite like that, but, apparently, gods did.
The door that led from the backyard and to the kitchen opened and Diana strolled in. The trench coat she wore covered her famous Wonder Woman uniform. Lennox bit back the threatened snort. Hah, uniform his stony ass, more like a sparkling bathing suit that sent blokes' eyes ablaze with lust. Like that idiot Orion. If he calls her "legs" one more time . . .
Diana closed the door behind her before moving farther into the kitchen. She looked happy, though not particularly well rested. He wondered where she'd been. Or with whom. Because, hell no, Lennox wasn't a fool. There was a man in this equation, and he had a sneakin' suspicion Zola and Hera knew, which made him, literally, the odd man out. He didn't like it, not one damn bit.
"Where have you been?"
Diana's raised eyebrows told him what he already knew. His tone was too authoritarian and the answer was none of his business. Right now, he didn't care. If Diana thought Zola and Hera were the only ones in need of looking after, that only showed how little the Amazon chit knew.
"Where's Zola and Hera?" Taking off her coat, Diana hung it on the back of the chair next to where he sat, her question just as imperiously stated as his own.
"Their usual spot, in front of the damn telly, doing their favorite thing, arguing. Now how about you answer my question? Zola was worried when you didn't call." And so was he, but she needn't know that. But, the guilt he knew his statement would elicit showed quick and bright in Diana's eyes. That very reaction was the reason why Diana needed Lennox. The woman was too soft and gentle by half, not at all like the Olympian gods she too often battled.
"It doesn't matter, I'm home now."
Lennox glanced at the lasso she wore on her hip. Even without its magical truth properties, Lennox knew Diana to be a woman free of lies, but that didn't also make her willingly forthright. Lies weren't needed when one, like Diana just had, tactfully avoided a straightforward question. But the time of his departure was fast approaching, something in him telling Lennox they would find Zola's baby soon. So he would push the issue this morning. He needed to push the issue, find out whom Diana was seeing and if the bloke was good enough for his little sister. If not, well, a stone fist to the face might be in order to send the scurvy fellow packing.
Diana sat in the chair where she'd placed her coat. She was such a beautiful woman, but so very young and naïve in ways of the world. In battle, Diana was wise and formidable beyond her years, but otherwise, she was still but a babe compared to him. She'd led a sheltered life, only five years into a world so different from how she'd been reared. An Amazon culture devoid of males and all that made the gender both extraordinary and vile. If Diana truly comprehended men and how most of them thought, she wouldn't walk around in so little and then be surprised when arses like Orion stared at her like the demigoddess she was, only rivaled in looks by Aphrodite herself. Not that Lennox thought that reason enough to excuse Orion or any other man for his sexist behavior, but Lennox simply understood men all too well. We can be pigs. I just hope Diana was smart enough not to fall for one.
"I didn't mean to worry Zola. I'll go speak with her." Diana made to stand but Lennox placed his hand over hers.
"Wait, we need to talk."
She sat back down. "About what?"
"You know what. I want to meet him. The man you've been secretly seeing, I want to meet him." When put that bluntly, Lennox knew Diana would respond just as directly. She didn't disappoint.
"I don't know if I'm ready for that step, Lennox. It's too new."
Too new? While Lennox had no idea how long Diana had been dating her mystery man, he also knew it couldn't have been such a short period of time if Diana was sharing his bed. Lennox knew all the signs of a woman who'd spent the night with a man, the lack of a considerate phone call to a friend only being one, the undeniable happy lethargy being two. But there were others, like the fading whisker burn across her jawline, the red bite mark on her collarbone, and the scent of soap and shampoo Lennox had never smelled on his sister before.
Zola, Hera, and Diana had their unique scents. Zola always smelled of fresh citrus, lemon and mandarin, whereas, Hera reminded Lennox of classic floral notes of white flowers and roses. Yet Diana's fragrance was more woodsy in nature. It had to be her natural scent because, as far as Lennox knew, she wore no perfume and the soap she used was unscented. But Diana's fragrance was unmistakable – amber with a hint of patchouli. All of which was now covered by a masculine scent of sandalwood and sunshine.
"If you can stay out all night with him, then you can bring him home to meet your family."
Blue eyes stared at him, a bit of rebelliousness at his unusual high-handedness shining through.
"As you well know, Lennox, I've never had a father and I'm a bit too old for you to start acting like the one who didn't bother to raise either of us."
Diana was only partially right. Lennox didn't want to be her father nor did he think they'd actually missed out on anything having not had dear ole Zeus around when they were growing up. But every girl needed the perspective of a wise older man when it came to affairs of the heart. If not Lennox then whom could Diana turn to? War? Eros? Hephaestus? He didn't think so. Males they might be, but they didn't live in the real world like Lennox and Diana. They knew nothing of human emotions, the human heart, human fears of inadequacy and the need to find that special someone to trust and love.
Lennox held Diana's hand a little firmer. "Invite the bloke to dinner, Diana. I wanna check him out. Unless" —he released her hand— "yer ashamed of us or he doesn't want to meet yer family."
"You're trying my patience this morning, brother. You know I'm not ashamed of our family, strange as others may think us." She paused, her eyes shifting down and away from him, and then she sighed. "He has asked to meet all of you, questioned why I haven't invited him here."
Lennox was liking the guy already. Maybe he wouldn't have to kick his arse after all. Then again, Lennox thought when Diana rose and walked towards the fridge, glimpsing another fading bite mark on the back of her thigh, so close to her . . . He gritted his teeth. Yeah, he definitely wanted to meet the man who'd thought to claim his little sister, marking her body for all and sundry to see. No matter the blemishes would soon be gone, her healing metabolism superior to the average human. That thought sent Lennox's mind to questioning. No human male's mouth could have done that to her. Her skin, while not as durable as mine, is far too tough, too resilient to succumb to a normal human's bite.
He watched as Diana washed her hands, grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with the tea Hera had made for her a few days ago. Interestingly enough, for all that the women shared, Zola and Hera never touched the tea. It was as if they'd all accepted that the tea was only for Diana, and the one time he'd deigned to pour himself a cup, Hera had snatched the cup from his hand and glared at Lennox as if he were cow dung she'd just noticed on her expensive shoes.
Then, he'd thought it was just Hera being her uptight, former goddess self. Now, he wondered if there was something more to the tea that his stone brain was missing. The fact that Diana was faithful to drink a glass a day told Lennox the drink, like her lasso and bracers, must have magical properties the women was keeping from him. And if Lennox was correct and Diana was dating a metahuman, then he knew precisely what was so special about the tea and why Hera had so rudely shooed him away from it. Damn women.
Diana looked at Lennox over the top of the rim of the glass, a considering gaze that let him know she was contemplating his words. Setting the glass in the sink after she drained the contents, Diana turned again to face Lennox. "If I invite him to dinner tomorrow night and let you play big brother and interrogate him without me killing or maiming you, will you do me a favor in return?"
Lennox stood, not liking where this conversation was going. Diana asked few favors of anyone and only from those with whom she deeply trusted. In that respect, they were indeed alike. In truth, Diana and Lennox were a lot alike – independent, tough, fighters, loyal. And he'd once been as morally naïve as Diana, but life, as it so often had a way of doing, knocked that bit of fancy out of him long ago. Now his outlook on life was probably too hard, too jaded, which, all in all, was a good balance with a sister like Wonder Woman.
"For how long this time, Diana?" He knew precisely the favor she would ask of him. He wouldn't waste their time pretending otherwise.
She ran a hand through hair that was windswept and a riot, her blue eyes embarrassed when she smiled at him. "The weekend."
So, the mystery metahuman lover wanted more, one night clearly not enough to satisfy him. And, from the discomfited way Diana's eyes kept evading his, she was just as eager for more of her man's claiming love bites.
"If I agree to play nursemaid for the weekend, you promise I can ask yer bloke whatever I want and you won't interfere?"
"You'll like him. Clark's very nice."
Finally, a name. "Clark what?"
"Kent. Clark Kent. And, yes, I promise."
She was smiling now, all youthful, female adoration.
Clark Kent. He'd never heard of the man. It didn't sound like much of a metahuman name. Maybe he's not a superhero.
She beamed at Lennox. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me. I already don't like this Kent fellow. When I see him, I'll let him know you're not his personal chew toy."
Diana's face turned crimson, probably the original coloring of all those damn love bites, care of one Clark Kent.
Lennox stared up at the man Diana called Clark Kent. What game was the woman playing? Lennox was expecting some big-toothed metahuman with vampire issues . . . not bloody Superman. But that was who in the hell was staring down at him with muscles and height to spare, black hair glistening, blue eyes shining.
And Zola and Hera were drooling. They had been ever since the Justice Leaguer blurred in through the balcony door Diana had opened for him. The women were starstruck but neither seemed surprised that Diana's mystery lover was none other than Superman.
No, apparently, only Lennox was the one not in the know.
Always the gracious hostess, except, of course, with Orion, Diana made the introductions. Superman . . . Clark Kent was just as cordial, smiling his dimpled smile at the ladies and shaking Lennox's hand with far too much enthusiasm for a superhero who could bench press the bloody moon.
"So let me get this straight," Lennox said as they ate dinner, "you left a respectable job as a reporter and now you . . .?"
"Have a blog site."
"You blog?" Lennox frowned. "I have no idea what that even is, but it doesn't sound like a job that pays much, if anything at all."
Diana snapped her disapproving gaze to Lennox, but per their agreement, she said nothing. Lennox smiled to himself. He should make deals with Diana more often, if this was the result. A man could get high off this kind of power. Playing big brother was so much fun.
"I get by." Superman shrugged before taking another forkful of mashed potatoes and steak.
"What does that mean? Are you independently wealthy like Diana or do people pay you for your superhero services?"
Everyone at the dinner table gaped at Lennox, even Hera who'd never had any compunction about speaking her mind, no matter how inappropriate. He was being rude, he knew, but Lennox didn't like the schoolgirl way Diana looked at this Clark Kent, a.k.a Superman. If she wasn't already, Diana was at least half-way in love with her teammate. And while it was clear Superman was attracted to Diana, because, dammit, the Kryptonian took every chance to touch and caress Diana, Lennox couldn't tell if he felt the same for his little sister.
Superman dropped his fork, all the charm he'd been displaying for the women gone. That was good; Lennox was tired of the pretense. Superman or not, if the guy was toying with Diana's heart, he would have Lennox and his stone fists to contend with.
The red-and-blue giant leaned over and whispered something in Diana's ear. She nodded then Superman stood.
"Let's go outside and have a little talk, Lennox."
They went, leaving, what Lennox knew to be, a fuming Diana behind.
Once outside, Lennox wasted no time letting Superman know exactly what was on his mind. "She's young and inexperienced and I don't want to see my sister hurt."
"I have no intention of hurting Diana."
"Maybe not, but you clearly have more experience than she does, and a few extra years on 'er to boot."
"I'm not that much older than Diana, but, yes, I do have a bit more experience."
Lennox thought Superman would be more of a challenge. Not that he truly wanted to fight the man, but he didn't expect such easy acceptance of his concerns about their relationship. Diana, as far as Lennox could see, knew very little about men in the carnal way. And if he weren't mistaken, Diana had been a virgin up until a day ago, which made her emotionally vulnerable and open to heartbreak if the man before him didn't tread carefully.
"Look, Lennox, I understand your concern. If Diana were my sister, I'd feel the same way. But I care for her. She means more to me than you can possibly know. What we have is new, but I'm not a man to play games. I don't pretend to know where this relationship will go, but I do know I have no intention of taking advantage of Diana or letting her go unless that's something she wants."
Superman spoke with the same sincerity he'd heard time and again from Diana. His conviction was hard to ignore.
"So you care about Diana?"
"Yes, of course."
"And you know who and what she is?"
"She told me."
"And you're fine with that?"
Superman laughed. "I'm an alien, Lennox, having a god as a father can't be any weirder than that."
Well, that was true.
"We've known each other for five years. I admire and respect Diana, and I respect you for wanting to protect your sister. For so long she was out in this world by herself, her mother and sisters on Themyscria. But now they are gone and she has you, a brother she never knew about but one she clearly loves, respects, and trusts."
Lennox thought about Cassandra and the way their relationship had ended. It had broken his heart when he'd been forced to rip her murderous, manipulative throat out. After that, he didn't want another sister, didn't want to love and care and need the familial bond that seemed to come so easily whenever he met another one of Zeus' castoffs. Despite his stone exterior, Lennox, like Diana, was too soft of heart.
And he would leave. He had to leave. Men like him weren't made for the gentler side that good women and stolen babies brought out in them. He would go, but he needed to be sure that this Superman was as trustworthy and pure of heart as he was strong.
"She's special, Superman."
"Too special for me, the Olympian gods, but I hope not too special for you."
There was the dimpled smile again. "I'd like to think Diana considers me just as special as I think of her."
Finally, there it was; the look Lennox needed to see. In the depths of his cobalt eyes was the same glitter of budding love he'd witnessed in Diana yesterday when she'd spoken of her Clark Kent. No longer hidden, the emotion of love fairly sparkled as Superman continued to speak of his intentions towards Diana. But the words didn't matter to Lennox, for words hid much, unless, of course, one wore a Lasso of Truth, like Diana. Short of that, Lennox relied on gut instinct and all the ways the soul and heart eventually revealed themselves through a man's eyes.
Superman's eyes were speaking volumes to Lennox, and he was listening. Superman did indeed love Diana; all but the actual admission was there. Now leaving didn't feel like such a betrayal. He would miss the women, but having met Superman and knowing of his feelings for Diana, somehow lessened his guilt.
Lennox extended his hand to the man who'd stolen Diana's heart.
Lennox tightened his grip then narrowed his eyes. "I don't wanna know what the deal is with you and your goddamn teeth, but I don't like seein' bite marks on my little sister. That's way too much information. You may heal superfast, but she doesn't."
Superman said nothing but his cheeks did turn as red as his flowing cape.
"I'll . . . umm, keep that in mind. But, in all fairness, Diana left plenty of her own marks on me. Bites. Scratches. Hickies."
"Bloody hell," Lennox snarled. "Diana," he yelled, turning away from Superman and stalking back into the house, "please take yer boyfriend and fly him far away from here. And don't forget yer tea. The last thing I need is you droppin' off a super Amazon baby for me to babysit in ten months."
Author's Note: Sorry for the delay in completing this story. I was bogged down trying to finish "Corporate Leaguers" that I put this story to the side. For whatever it's worth, it's complete. I hope that, in my rush to finish, it didn't suck too badly. Thank you for reading.