Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 
THE LETTER
A KINGDOM COME ELSEWORLDS TALE

by David Schock


Love is the one thing you can spread around, and it never gets any thinner!



The child's older sister was doing her best to wipe some of the blackberry juice off her younger sister's face. She did her best, but it was hopeless. Besides her face, the young girl's hands, arms, tunic, and short skirt were equally messy. Even her red hair was covered in blackberry juice.

"Stand still and stop your squirming," demanded the five year old's big sister.

"Then stop trying to rub my face off," complained the five year old.

The nearby members of the palace guard all had smiles on their faces. Some of them were even openly laughing at the two young girls.

None of the ever present guards could understand the strange alien language the two siblings were using to speak to each other. But the comical sight of the two royal sisters fussing with each other was a language they all could understand.

The older sister finally gave up trying to clean up her baby sister and stood up over her. "I guess the only thing left to do is give you a bath," said the almost sixteen year old girl.

"BATH!" screamed the five year old in horror as she suddenly took to her heels.

She ran straight to a group of the ever present guards that were never too far from the royal children. For one so young, the five year old princess had a surprising number of close friends among the members of the royal guard.

These were the ones she made a dash to. They closed ranks and formed a tight protective circle around the youngest of their queen's children.

When the heir to the throne reached the ranks of the waiting bodyguards they closed ranks protectively as if to hide the young hellion in a circle made of their own bodies.

When the oldest daughter arrived she said, "Come out of there right now, you little brat."

Feeling very brave behind the protective wall her bodyguards offered, the precocious five year old stuck her tongue out at her big sister.

The captain of the guard smiled and said, "Sorry, your highness, but we all have sworn a oath to protect your sister - with our lives if need be."

The heir to the throne now realized from the smiles of the women warriors that the guards were now taking an active part in the game of give and take between the two sisters. Looking past the guards she could see her youngest sibling standing proudly with her arms crossed over her chest and her feet set wide apart. All the while as she stood there, she had a very smug look on her face as she stood safely and defiantly behind the circle of her personal bodyguards.

The five year old, as five year olds often do, had for the moment forgotten what her sister was capable of. One moment later she had reason to remember as the oldest of three children made a vertical leap of almost twenty feet, cleared the circle of guards by at least twelve feet and landed gracefully next to her shocked younger sister.

With a scream of terror mixed with delight, the young girl ran between the legs of the laughing guards and straight for the one person she could always count on to save her.

As she ran down the hill towards her mother, her oldest sister casually stepped out of the circle of warriors.

"Aren't you going to chase her, your highness?" asked the captain of the guards.

"Why should I?" she answered. "She's running straight to where I wanted to take her in the first place."

"Excellent my princess, a strategy worthy of your mother." said the captain of the guard.

"Thank you," answered the young princess as she walked slowly after her fleeing sister.

The queen had been watching her husband and consort stare out to sea for close to an hour. She found herself becoming increasingly concerned about his behavior.

She was going over these worries in her mind when she felt something bump into her right leg. The bump she felt was her youngest child clinging to her leg for support.

Looking down at her youngest child the queen smiled broadly at the sight of her berry-stained daughter clinging to her leg. She hugged her mother for protection as her older sister arrived.

Looking up at her mother, she told her, "Lois said she was going to drown me."

Putting a stern look on her face, her mother looked down and asked her, "Hippolyta, didn't we agree that you were going to stop making up stories?"

The five year old tried to win over her mother with her patented sad puppy dog face but failed. What worked all too often on her father, she discovered, almost never worked on her mother.

It was then that her big sister arrived. Turning to greet her oldest child, the queen asked, "What is all this talk about you drowning your sister?"

"I told her I was going to give her a bath."

"Same thing!" interrupted the five year old."

Turning back to the baby of the family, her mother smiled and asked, "Do you really think for one moment your sister would ever harm you or for that matter let anyone else even try to do you harm?"

With downcast eyes the precocious five year old said, "I don't know."

The young girl's big sister knelt down and with a smile messed up her little sister's red hair. The older of the sisters in return got a big hug from little Hippolyta.

Looking down at her youngest daughter, her mother the queen said, "You know your father loves blackberries."

"He does?" asked the youngest daughter.

"I'm sure he does," her mother answered. "Why don't you go back where you found them and pick as many as you can, and if you ask very nicely perhaps
your papa will bake us a pie for tonight's supper."

With a big smile and a quick good bye the five year old ran off, straight back to the berry patch to start her picking. When she left, the queen's oldest daughter asked, "Do you think it's wise letting little Hippo run off like that?"

"Whatever she doesn't pick she will eat. Either way she will be too busy to get into mischief," her mother explained.

"She will also be getting even more messy than she is now," warned the heir to the Amazon throne.

"I've seen worse," said her mother.

"Who?" her daughter asked.

Her mother replied, "You. When you were five you also discovered that same patch of blackberries."

She put her arm around her daughter's waist and pulled her towards herself. As they stood together side by side Diana turned to study the face of her first born child. She saw her own face reflected in it. It was a joke of the Gods or genetics that made Lois look so much like her mother. Just as Diana looked so much like her own mother Hippolyta.

As she stood next to her, she realized for the first time that her daughter was taller that she was. It was only an inch, maybe even less, but she still was taller. She marveled that her oldest child wouldn't turn sixteen until the following month, and already Lois was taller than she was.

Diana studied the breadth of her daughter's shoulders and her well muscled arms and legs. She took both a mother's and an Amazon's pride in her daughter. Diana came to the conclusion that when Lois finally filled out, combined with Lois' uncanny resemblance to herself, her daughter was destined to become a bigger version of Wonder Woman some day - if that was what she wished for herself.

Her size, Diana reasoned, came from her father, and thank whatever God was responsible that his compassion and respect for life came along with it. Her daughter's warrior spirit and determination was a gift from her mother, and as for the temper, it had to come from her grandmother. Over the last few years it was that damn temper that had worried Diana the most.

But it was equally strange that it was also her mother's greatest source of pride she had in her child. Not for having a volatile temper. But instead she took great pride in how her daughter Lois learned to control that temper in these past two years.

It was two years ago when Lois was only a young girl of fourteen that Diana began to worry about her oldest child.

Two of the Amazons that had been on the opposing side during the Amazon civil war developed the habit of making sure to talk about her and her family whenever Lois was close enough to hear. For days the young Amazon had been ignoring the insults that had been aimed at her. In their comments, they referred to young Lois as a half breed and her mother as a traitor to Amazon law and tradition.

These cruel comments about herself hurt the young girl, and the insults to her mother angered her. But her mother had taught the girl well. From an early age she was taught how to hold her emotions in check, and most of all, how to ignore the petty insults of fools.

It was well known in the Amazon nation that the queen's oldest child had always been exceptionally close to her father. So when the two Amazons failed to get a rise out of the young princess by insulting her or her mother, they decided to try their luck by concentrating on the girl's father instead.

It was not the first mistake they had made in their long lives, but it came close to being their last. They started to talk about her father in the most vile manner imaginable whenever they were sure young Lois would be near enough to hear.

It had all come to a head one morning when Lois, shaking with rage and with tears running down her face, walked over to them both and demanded an apology. The two Amazons had viewed the young princess with contempt. They saw her shaking form and thought it as a sign of fear and the tears that ran down her face as a sure sign of her weakness.

Once again she demanded an apology for her beloved father. What she got instead was laughter and another insult, this time aimed at both her parents, and her brother and even her baby sister as well. It was then that Lois had exploded in almost uncontrollable fury.

They may have been powerful warriors with centuries of experience between them, but that hadn't helped them against this enraged child and the incredible gifts she had inherited from both her legendary parents.

The result had been a battered fourteen year old girl and two badly beaten Amazons that needed to be rushed to the temple of Apollo for healing under the purple ray. Even with that treatment, they needed to take to their sick beds to recover fully.

It had been two days later when Lois herself was fully recovered. Her mother had ordered her to visit the two women in their sick beds and apologize to them both for what she had done to them. But her pride and the belief in the righteousness of defending her father and her family would not permit her to obey, even if that order came from her own mother the queen. So she stubbornly refused to obey a direct order from her own mother. Even when Lois was punished for refusing to apologize, Lois' pride refused to let her relent. It was this refusal which had led them to their first mother-daughter shouting match.

It was only when her father had returned from a mission in deep space that things changed. The whole of the island nation tried to keep the facts from him, but how could you hide anything from someone who could hear the slightest whisper half a world away?

Lois' father had gone to see the two injured Amazons. He had been followed secretly by his oldest daughter. Silently she listened outside the room as her beloved father humbled himself before the two women as he apologized for what his daughter had done to them both.

Seeing her beloved father humbled in this manner because of something she had done had crushed the teenage girl. Weeping, Lois rushed back to the comforting arms of her mother. As her mother held her in her arms and rocked her back and forth, Lois told her mother of the shame she felt for having caused her father, for the first time, to be ashamed of her. It was right there and then that she had sworn to her mother to control her temper and herself from that day forth.

For the past two years, except for a few minor incidents, the young Amazon had kept her promise. Even as she held Lois close to her, her mother could feel the tension that was building up inside her daughter because of the child's worries about her father. Even with all that working against her, Lois still managed to keep herself under control.

They were both interrupted by the sudden arrival of Diana's eight year old son Bruce, who was named after a personal friend of both his mother and father. Running up to his mother he stopped short an pulled on his mother's short skirt.

Young Bruce was the favorite of the Palace guard. This was in itself a surprise because of his gender. He was treated more like a mascot by the women of the guard then as a member of the royal family. Perhaps it was his warm smile or his kind heart. But most of all it was his incredible knack of getting into all sorts of comical mischief that so endeared him to the elite warriors of the palace guard.

He had been sitting in his father's lap as his father had begun reading the letter that his wife had given him. It was after his father read it for the third time, that young Bruce slid off his father's lap and raced to his mother's side with important news.

Looking up at his mother he said, "I saw daddy crying, Mama."

Diana picked him up and asked, "You did?"

Concerned, he asked, "Is papa sick, Mama?"

She kissed him on the cheek for reassurance and told him, "No, your father
is just spending some time with someone he loves very much."

Putting him back down his mother told him, "Your baby sister found a whole patch of ripe blackberries. You better hurry before she eats them all."

"Where are they?" he asked.

"Very near where grandma is sleeping," she answered.

A moment later he was running off as fast as his small legs could carry him to join his younger sister.

Lois asked, "Do you want me to leave also, Mother?"

"No," Diana answered. "I want you to stay close to me. I think your father is going to need us both before this day is through."

A short time later Lois started to pace back and forth, occasionally turning her head to look at her father who was seated alone overlooking the sea.

Forty-five minutes had passed when the teenage princess took her mother's hand into her own and said, "Mama, Papa is beginning to frighten me."

She took her oldest child into her arms and held her close as she reassured her by saying, "There's no need to be worried, little one."

Lois replied, "He's just been sitting there reading that damn letter over and over! He must have read it twenty times, and now he's been staring out to sea for close to an hour."

"Don't worry," her mother told her. "Your father is only spending some time with a woman he still loves very much."

Her oldest daughter asked, "You don't resent that?

"Why should I? I also came to love her. She was a great woman, a wonderful wife to your father, and in time a good friend to me."

Her mother then added, "That is why I named you after her."

Just then the sharp eyes of her mother spotted her husband turning around and signaling. She said, "I think your father wants to talk to you, Lois."

Instantly young Lois rushed to his side. She covered the one hundred and fifty yards that separated her from her father in only two incredible leaps.

When she reached his side, she saw the letter was back in the envelope and that her brother had been right. Their father had been crying.

Perhaps it was all the pent up emotion that Lois had been trying to deal with that day. Or someone might say it was all the worrying about her father that brought it about. But if anyone was to ask Lois, she would tell them it was the sight of her father's dried tears on his cheek. Whatever the reason was, Lois also began weep.

He looked up at his daughter standing above him and smiled. She smiled back as he studied her face. He saw his wife in the face of his oldest child, but her eyes were different. Her eyes were the same ones that he saw every day in the mirror.

He reached up and gently touched the tears running down her face, smiled
and said, "Don't you know Amazons can't cry?"

She returned her father's smile as she answered, "Amazon half breeds can."

He gave a sad shake of his head and quietly said, "Don't you ever let me hear you call yourself that again, and never let anyone else ever call you that either."

"Why not?" she answered. "It's true, isn't it? Besides, now I'm proud when someone calls me a half breed. Because now I know it only means that I have you for my father."

'She has all of her mother's fire,' he thought to himself as Lois sat down on his knee, just as she had been doing all of her young life. Father and daughter began to talk together using the ancient and almost dead language of Krypton.

They always used this language when they were alone or had something important to say to one another. Strange to believe it was not Lois' father who insisted that she learn the ancient language of a long dead world. It fact, it was her mother the queen who had insisted she learn. When Lois was a young child and had struggled with the ancient tongue she had resented her mother for forcing her to learn it. Her mother in turn had explained to her daughter that the language of her father's home world should not be allowed to die.

Lois' resentment had quickly ended when as a small child she discovered the joy and wonder of sharing something with her father that no one else could share. At a very young age Lois discovered that they could talk as father and daughter and no one from the outside could ever intrude in their private little world. It helped bring this father and child closer together than any other normal father-daughter relationship ever could.

This was demonstrated when Lois was twelve years old and she had refused to take part in her first ritual hunt. It was then that Lois realized for the first time that it had been her mother's plan all along.

The young girl tried to explain her reasons to her mother and a disappointed royal council but couldn't find the right words. So instead she talked to her father in the great hall surrounded by dozens of Amazon warriors using a language only the two of them could understand.

She told him why she couldn't bring herself to kill a helpless animal as her right of passage. He in turn told her that he and her mother were still proud of her and didn't care if she ever did it. So instead her father talked for her and explained her reasons to the council, and they in turn accepted.

That was why her younger brother and sister were studying ancient Kryptonian. Not only to bring them closer to their father, but to strengthen the bonds of blood and family that tied each to the other as well.

Perhaps that was one reason why Clark and Diana's children were so unusually close to one another. Diana knew all too well the danger that jealousy between siblings of royal blood could create, and she was determined to avoid that at all cost.

Already Diana knew that Lois, with her gentle nature, would take after her father. Young Hippolyta, as she grew into womanhood, would be a true Amazon and perhaps in time be a better choice than her older sister for queen someday. As for Bruce, Diana knew that her kind, gentle, fun-loving, and mischievous little boy would grow up to find his own way.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of her friend and one time teacher Phillipus. Dropping to her knee, Phillipus bowed her head and placed her right fist over her heart in the royal Amazon salute.

"I wish you would stop doing that," said Diana as she asked the captain of the guard to stand.

"Old habits are hard to break, my Queen," she answered back.

Her queen then added, "You used to call me Diana."

"Yes, my Queen, but only when you were my pupil," was her simple reply.

Spying the short sword that always hung at her hip Diana asked, "Are you ever going to get rid of that old sword you carry?"

Phillipus answered, "I keep it as a memento to remind me of the first time I had the honor of meeting my queen's future royal consort."

Diana turned and stared at her old friend and waited.

"I mean your husband," she corrected herself.

Diana smiled in return and asked, "By the way, what brings you here?"

Phillipus then explained her presence. "The royal council has requested that your majesty return to make a final ruling on the new members of the trade delegation."

Diana told her friend, "Go back and tell them they have been elected by the Sisterhood to make such choices for themselves."

Phillipus pointed out, "It is not the way your mother ruled the nation."

Diana admitted, "No it is not, but it is my way."

She then added, "Also inform them that there is no better time like the present for them to start doing the duties that the Sisterhood elected them to do."

Phillipus turned to go but was stopped by Diana, who said, "And take the household guard back with you, including the honor guard at my mother's tomb."

"What of the children's personal guards?" asked Phillipus.

Diana looked into the distance at her two youngest children picking blackberries. She ordered, "Leave the two helping Bruce and Hippolyta pick berries and take the rest with you. I wish to spend some time alone with my husband."

"Is that wise, my Queen?" asked Phillipus.

It was an amused Amazon queen who asked, "Do you think I can no longer protect myself?"

"Of course not," answered the captain of the guard. "You're still the greatest warrior of us all."

Diana blushed at the compliment and added, "If the worst does happen, can you think of a better protector than him?" Diana nodded in the direction where her husband sat with their daughter.

The ever loyal Phillipus grinned as she replied, "Not since the first day we met in the royal gardens and he brushed away myself and a dozen of my finest warriors like we were made of smoke."

Diana thought back to the time when as Superman he had arrived on the island of Themyscira carrying her badly injured mother. He had been the first man in two thousand years to step foot on Paradise Island.

He had carried her mother home to have her injuries treated, only to be mistaken for the person responsible for their queen's injuries. This led him to be mistakenly attacked by the brave Phillipus and her ever faithful guards to avenge and rescue their queen.

Diana smiled as she remembered how much her late mother enjoyed telling the story of how as she was being carried in the powerful arms of the mighty Superman, he had kept trying to surrender to her warriors as they attacked him.

It was only when he feared that they might injure their queen accidentally in their enthusiasm to get at him did he allow himself to fight back. Hippolyta would always begin to laugh out loud as she describe how her finest warriors were blown around the garden like leaves in a winter wind by the Man of Steel.

Diana always smiled at the story of how Phillipus broke her sword on the hide of the man she would one day marry. He himself had welded back the broken pieces together for her. That was the reason she carried it today and would always carry that same sword at her side forever.

As quickly as the happy memory came it quickly faded away as the pain of her mother's loss almost overwhelmed her.

As Phillipus began marching the royal guard back to the palace, their queen waited patiently for her husband to finish his conversation with their daughter.

As she sat on her father's lap, Lois put her head on his broad shoulder as he held her close.

"It's nice to hold you this way," he told her. "Much too soon for me you will be all grown up and you won't want your tired old man to be doing this for you any more."

"I will always want you to hold me like this, papa," she promised.

Silently Clark thought to himself, 'I wish that were true.' Picking up the envelope with Lois' letter inside, he handed it to his daughter and said, "I think this belongs to you now."

Lois took it in her shaking hands and asked, "Is this from her?"

"Yes," he told her. "You know who you were named after. This will help you understand why your mother gave her name to you."

"Do you still miss her, Papa?" she asked.

Her father answered, "Every day."

"And you still love her?" his oldest child asked once again.

"Of course," he answered.

"But you still love Mama?"

"With all my heart," he told his daughter.

Seeing the confused look on the face of his oldest child, her father said, "Your grandfather once told your mother; 'Love is the one thing that you can spread around and it never gets any thinner.' He shared this wisdom with her at a time in her life when she was hurt, confused, and not sure which way to turn for help."

"I wish I could have gotten to know my grandparents," Lois said as she hugged her father.

He began to stroke her hair as he said, "So do I, pumpkin." He kissed his daughter and told her, "Read that letter when you're alone and save it for your brother and sister to read when they are old enough to understand."

She promised that she would as she placed it beneath her tunic for safe keeping.

"Now," he said, "go find your brother and sister and take them home to the family compound. I think your mother wants to talk to me."

After kissing on her father's cheek, Lois made a high speed dash to find her brother and sister. Covering the half a mile distance in thirty seconds, Lois reached the side of her younger brother and sister and their two bodyguards.

Lois had expected her brother and sister to be a mess, which in fact they were. But what she didn't expect to find was their Amazon bodyguards with their mouths full of blackberries. They both snapped to attention at her sudden arrival as each of them quickly swallowed what ever was left in their mouths.

She saw at their feet on the ground the basket and two helmets filled with blackberries. Trying her best to keep herself from laughing, Lois asked the guards if they would be kind enough to deliver them to the family compound while she was taking her brother and sister home. Lois then told her younger brother and sister that it was time for them to be going home. They naturally complained until Lois promised to play Kangaroo with them on the way. Picking up Bruce with her left arm and Hippolyta with her right, Lois held them both tight as they rested on her hips with their little legs holding tight around her thin waist.

Thus like the legendary three headed dog Cerebus, Lois took her brother and sister on a wild ride back to the family compound. She bounced along the road towards home, making twenty foot leaps as she went, as the three young Kents screamed and laughed with childish delight.

He was staring at the blue sea once more when his wife reached his side. She placed her hand on his broad shoulder and left it there until he reached up and took her hand into his own. He continued to hold on to her hand as she sat down beside him.

They did not look at each other, instead each stared at the sparkling lights dancing on he water. Diana was first to speak. Without turning her head she said, "This time next year Lois should be flying."

He answered by explaining to his wife, "She is maturing faster than I did, so it should be even sooner."

"Can you ever forgive me?" Diana asked, as the one time Wonder Woman finally turned her head to face him.

In turn he asked, "Forgive you for what?"

"Perhaps what I should be asking is can you ever forgive the two of us?" she asked.

He asked, "Us?"

She answered, "By us, I mean how Lois and I both conspired together to deceive you."

He thought for a moment, then as he placed his arm around her waist he finally said, "There is nothing to forgive. You were right, Lois was right, even your mother in her own way was right."

"My mother!" Diana almost shouted. "How can you ever bring yourself to say that?" she asked. Diana then added, "When it was my mother who helped my own Gods manipulate our minds to put a stop to what we were just beginning to feel for one another."

Clark explained to her, "Because whatever she did, she did because she loved you and didn't want you to ever suffer at the hands of a man the way she suffered at the hands of Hercules."

He looked into the ageless face of his wife and said, "I know how much she cost you. But I can't bring myself to hate her. It might have been her fears for you that allowed Lois and me to fall in love, and I will always be grateful to her for that."

Diana turned to gaze at her mother's tomb. For a moment she thought she was about to cry but couldn't. He put his arm around her shoulder as she rested her head on his broad chest.

She was listening to the beating of his heart when Clark said, "I'm glad that you and your mother were able to settle things between the two of you before she was taken from us."

"She died as she would have wished," said Diana. "Helping to rescue her granddaughter from Olympus itself. No Amazon, no queen could ever ask for a better death than that."

Superman's face grew dark with rage as he remembered the kidnapping of his oldest child, as he exclaimed, "DAMN Gods!"

"Hush, they could be listening," warned Diana.

"Good. I hope they get an earful," he spat out.

With a feeling of pride in her husband the Amazon queen remarked, "I don't think they would wish another confrontation with you. Especially after the last one."

Wishing to change the subject he asked, "How long had you been holding on to that letter?"

"Eighty-five years," she answered. "Lois asked me to wait twenty-five years after she passed on before I gave it to you."

"Why so long?" he asked.

His wife answered, "That was the way she wanted it. But most of all I think she wanted us to have enough time together to learn how to be happy before she told you everything."

Clark had a very sad smile on his face as he said, "Lois has been gone for a quarter of a century and she is still managing to look out for me."

"Because she still loves you and love is the one thing that is truly timeless," Diana explained.

He blew his nose and wiped his eyes and asked, "How did all of this come about?"

"I'm sure it's all in the letter," his wife answered.

"It is," he told her. "But I need to hear it from you."

Diana took a deep breath then explained, "She had discovered the feelings I had for you and had always kept hidden from everyone, including myself. But I couldn't keep them hidden from her."

Superman smiled and said, "Now you know why the boys in the news room called her Mad Dog Lane."

Diana laughed and said, "It was when my mother opened up Paradise Island to the outside world for the second time that it finally all came out. Lois was one of the members of the press corps covering the event. She wanted to know more about all of those stories about us that appeared in the media before the two of you ever got serious."

"Well to make a long story short we had words. I tried to convince her that no matter how much I loved you or how deeply you once cared for me, it was she and she alone that you loved now. She then asked me if we were having an affair and I told her that you would never do anything like that to hurt her. She then asked me if I could be so resolute. When I couldn't answer right away she accused me of lying to her."

His wife then bowed her head in shame as she continued with her story, "It was then that I lost my temper. I told her if she couldn't appreciate what she had then she should go find someone that she could appreciate. That was when she slapped me."

Her husband laughed and said, "Leave it to my Lois to get physical with a woman who could pick up an army tank and walk away with it." He then added, "She always was braver than me."

Diana smiled and continued on with her story, "When she apologized to me, I was so moved I broke down and told her everything that I discovered. I told her that my own Gods with the help of my mother had manipulated our minds to end our budding relationship. I told they did this thing because they feared a union between us would threaten their own power."

"Lois wanted to tell you everything that I had discovered. But I convinced her that the better woman had in fact already had won and to tell you now would only complicate two lives that were already far too complicated."

The former Wonder Woman then added, "In the end she finally accepted the simple truth that she was in love with you and you were in love with her and nothing would ever change that. Her anger for me turned instead turned to pity as she felt the pain I was in from living my life without you. It was then she confided in me her greatest fear."

"What was that?" her husband asked.

The Amazon queen explained, "Lois had always worried about what would happen to you when it came time for her to finally leave you. She was terrified that you would be all alone in the coming centuries to follow. She wanted to be there to help you even when she was gone."

"So she made me a promise that she wouldn't tell you what she had discovered or what happened between us. In return, I had to promise her that when the two of you finally parted I would not let her ghost come between us. That I would do my best to make you happy and ease your loneliness and in doing so make myself happy as well. She explained everything in the letter and asked me to give it to you on the silver anniversary of her passing."

They both sat together holding hands and taking in the view when Clark said, "I had sixty-five wonderful years with Lois and I wouldn't trade anything for those years I had with her. Even after she had gotten old and I didn't. It made no difference to me, she still made my life worth living."

He turned once more to face his wife and told her, "And I wouldn't trade what I have with you to have them back and Lois wouldn't let me."

Diana's eyes began to well up with tears as she kissed her husband for what he had said and for the memory of the friend and wife who had done so much for them both.

"What's this? More weepy Amazons," he teased. "First the daughter and now the mother."

His wife protested, "Don't be foolish. You know Amazons cannot cry."

"Try telling that to someone who doesn't know any better," said her husband.

She laughed and held on to his arm all the harder. After a few minutes of mutual silence she blurted out, "Clark, I want to move back to the States with the children."

"Wow, what brought all this about?" asked her surprised husband.

"I want Bruce and little Hippolyta to both know what it is like to live with normal people before their powers start to manifest themselves. I want Lois to go to high school like any other normal sixteen year old, and most of all, I want them to know how their father was raised to become the man that he is."

He asked, "What about your duties here?"

"I thought about that," she said. "If we do go and there is an emergency, I will never be more than hour away from home. Besides I have made sure the Amazon nation now has embassies all over the world and consulates all over America. I have finally come to the realization that as long as I am here to rule as their queen, my hope for political reform and the establishing of an Amazon constitutional monarchy will never blossom and bear fruit."

Clark smiled and asked, "Did you give any thought to where we all will live?"

"My friend Cassandra found a farm for us. Using her contacts she developed as the Amazon ambassador to the U.N. she secretly bought an option on a fine farm with a big house."

He asked, "What's the house like?"

She answered, "It has four bedrooms and a guest room, A large kitchen, living room, basement, finished den."

Diana waited a moment then in a shy voice added, "and a nursery."

Clark thought for a minute, then with a sly smile told his wife, "You will want to convert the nursery into your armory. You'll need a place to store your swords and shields and weapons and such."

Diana began to blush as she said, "To tell the truth, I thought we might put it to better use if we simply just left it as a nursery."

Smiling, the legendary Man of Steel said, "I see you already have everything planed out."

With a knowing smile he asked, "Can I at least ask where this farm is located?"

Diana smiled in return as she said, "It's not Smallville, but it is in Kansas."

"Do you know what this means?" he asked. When she didn't answer right away he went on, "It means sneaking around. Establishing new secret identities, it also means having to train the children to hide who and what they are."

"You are the resident expert in all of that," she pointed out.

He took her hand and kissed it as he said, "All right, my queen, we will do it your way."

She threw her arms around him and gave him a big kiss. When she caught her breath she said, "When Cassandra comes home next week, she has agreed to move into the family compound along with Phillipus to watch the children."

"Why?" he asked.

For an answer Diana said, "So we could take a little vacation together. Just the two of us."

"Anywhere particular you want to go?" he asked. "Paris? New York? Lunar City? How about visiting John on Mars?"

"How about the Fortress?" she asked.

"The Fortress? Why the Fortress?" he asked.

"I miss my little robot friend Ke-lex," was her reply.

Her husband asked, "Is that all?"

"We also had our honeymoon there," she answered. "I always remember how happy we were the first year we were together. When it was just you, me and the baby."

"Besides, that is the one place we can let our hair down. We can workout together like we used to do," Diana replied.

"We workout together now," her husband pointed out.

"But in the Fortress I can risk removing my bracelets when we have our workouts," she explained.

"Oh no you won't," he said. "I'm too old, and you play way too rough without them. Among other things," he added.

"What other things?" she demanded to know.

"The last time you got the bright idea to fool around without your bracelets you got so wild that nine months later little Bruce was the result," he reminded her.

"One has nothing to do with the other," she said. "And if you don't believe me, then how do you explain our youngest daughter Hippolyta?" Diana asked.

"That was different," he admitted.

"See," she said sarcastically.

"No, Hippolyta was the result of the festival of Bacchus, god of wine and joy. A festival that, I may remind you once again, I am forbidden to attend."

"It's one of those Amazon things," she apologized. She then added, "So tell me, what does our youngest daughter have to do with the festival?"

He explained, "It was the second night of the festival when Cassandra came to our apartments when we still lived in the palace. It seemed you were making a spectacle of yourself that night, and she wanted me to come and take you home. According to her, you were ruining the party by standing on the table singing bawdy barrack songs and challenging all your sisters who were present to a wrestling match."

With great dignity, Diana said, "I have no recollection of those events."

"That's not too big a surprise," said Superman. "My father had a name for your condition. He called it being tipsy. My mother, being a more practical soul, called it by its real name. She would have described you as being drunk!"

"I will have you know, my loving consort, that the queen of the Amazons neither gets tipsy nor drunk," explained Diana.

Clark knew that the only times his wife addressed him as her consort was when she was about to start an argument. But that didn't stop him from asking, "Then what would you call the condition you were in that evening?"

"I was simply overly stimulated," she answered him.

"You were so stimulated I had to carry you to bed that night," he said. He then added, "I got you out of your clothes and into bed."

"Where you took advantage of my helpless condition and had your vile and evil way with me," she teased him with a smile on her face and love in her heart.

"Oh you were helpless that night, all right," he remembered.

"I put you to bed and covered you up. You went right to sleep and you looked like an angel sleeping on a cloud."

Pausing for effect he than continued, "I went out to check on the children. I made a sandwich, came back and walked into our bedroom. No sooner was I through the door than you jumped down from the ceiling where you were hiding and landed on my back, naked! You then proceeded to knock the two of us into bed, which by the way broke, and then if that wasn't enough, you then started to rip my clothes off."

Then in a mocking voice he added, "Oh yeah, you were real helpless that night all right."

Diana elbowed her husband in the ribs. As he let out an audible "Ooof!" she said, "You promised never to bring that night up."

"I didn't, you did," he defended himself with a sly smile.

"You also gave me a promise that you wouldn't speak about what I did in public."

"Do you see any one here but us?" he asked.

She tried to keep the argument going but failed. Diana never could stay mad at Clark for any length of time. No matter how hard they fought and argued at times, they always made up the same day.

To tell the truth, she finally admitted to herself, she had been guilty of celebrating a little too much that night. That was why she soon found herself smiling once more at the man who had finally made her life complete. It was there they sat side by side on that bench holding each other's hands as they watched the sun sink back into the sea.

Just as the sun was about to set, Clark told his wife, "If you want to dump the bracelets when we're alone in the Fortress I won't mind."

"Are you sure you're not too old?" teased Diana as she brushed his graying temples with her hand.

For a moment Clark was silent. Then suddenly he smiled and asked, "Let's find out."

Before she could react, he snatched her up in his arms and took off straight up. Diana screamed out of pure joy as they climbed higher and higher.

Diana had always loved flying under her own power. But even with the speed of Mercury, she could never hope to match her husband's incredible speed and raw power. That was why streaking into space in her husband's arms was one of her favorite pastimes.

She remembered to take a breath before they left Earth's atmosphere. They floated weightless for a moment in the eternal blackness of space. Then as they kissed, they fell back into the atmosphere. When they were a thousand feet above the water they let go of one another and dived head first into the wine-dark sea.

Clark and Diana broke the surface of the water almost as one. Diana swam over to her husband and splashed water in his face as she said with a grin, "I'm convinced you are too old."

Hand in hand the two of them slowly rose from the sea and flew home to be with their children.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 2000 by David Schock.
 
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