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Working My Way Back to You

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Exactly a week after the war officially ends, Steve Trevor opens his eyes to find himself soaking wet and flat on his back on a very familiar beach, with a large crowd of angry Amazonian women staring down at him.

“Oh boy,” says Steve.

Desperately scanning the sea of faces around him for one particular woman, he pushes himself up on his elbows, then abruptly realizes that his shirt is torn and soaked with both blood and seawater, his entire body is covered in cuts and bruises and he may also very possibly have a cracked rib or two. Groaning, he collapses back onto the fine white sand, curling up pitifully.

“Diana?” he gasps. “Where’s Diana?”

Queen Hippolyta strides forward, towering over Steve’s huddled form. He squints up at her, momentarily blinded by the bright sunlight. Her face is stern and remote as always, but there’s a frantic light in her eyes that speaks volumes of her deep love for her daughter.

“You do not know where Diana is?” she demands.

“She’s not here?” Steve manages, then squeezes his eyes shut against the rush of memories that assail him. That too-brief moment holding Diana in his arms, pressing his pocket watch into her hands, then jumping into the plane with its deadly cargo of mustard gas, lighting a flame once he was sufficiently far from the mainland...

Hippolyta falls to her knees beside him, taking his shoulder in a grip of iron. Steve bites back a gasp of pain as her fingers dig into the abraded skin on his shoulder, but knows she isn’t hurting him deliberately. Her eyes are searching his, her mouth a tight, unhappy line.

“What happened?” she says. “Tell me how you ended up back here on Themyscira without Diana.” It is not a request.

“The last time I saw Diana, she was...fine. Fighting,” Steve says slowly. “I got into a plane full of tanks of mustard gas, flew it offshore and blew it up. It was the only way to get rid of the gas, or it would’ve killed everyone there.”

He pauses to suck in a breath. “I don’t understand. I should be dead...”

He shifts slightly, then groans again as another wave of pain assails him at the movement.

Hippolyta rises gracefully to her feet and nods at the two women who have come up behind her. For a brief moment, Steve wonders if he’s going to be left to die on this beach. He wouldn’t blame Hippolyta one bit if she left him there; he’d taken her beloved daughter with him off her island, then completely and utterly failed to protect Diana.

Suddenly, he feels very small and useless.

But then the two women leave Hippolyta’s side and kneel down by him. One takes his shoulders and the other his legs; gently, they lift him between them, careful not to jar his injuries. They bring him into a large, airy room of marble and stone, bathe him in cool water and dress his wounds, binding his cracked ribs. He makes an attempt to talk to them but they remain stubbornly silent, leaving him with a pitcher of cold water to drink and a plate of meats and cheeses to eat.

After some food and a lot of cold water, he’s finally feeling almost human. Shortly after he’s finished eating, Hippolyta enters the room.

“Althea tells me your injuries are quite severe,” she says. “Burns, two broken ribs and numerous abrasions. They will take at least a month to heal. You may rest here in the meantime.”

“What – I can’t wait a month!” Steve protests, aghast. “I need to get back to Dian – er, get back to everyone and see if they’re alright.”

Hippolyta raises an elegant eyebrow. “And if we let you go now, what good will you be to Diana dead?”

“I won’t die,” Steve mutters. “Don’t be so dramatic.”

Hippolyta sighs. “How well do you think you can sail,” she says, “with two broken ribs?”

Steve has to concede the point, but in the end manages to bargain his stay down to two weeks. Grateful for the Amazons’ help, and painfully aware that he has nothing to offer them in return, he spends the first week of his stay on Themyscira volunteering to run errands for the Amazon women, fetching and carrying, and doing any other odd jobs that he can manage without aggravating his broken ribs.

The women are wary of him at first but gradually warm to him, and by the end of the week, some of the younger ones start telling him stories about Diana at his request, about the cheerful, mischievous child who’d run away from the classroom to watch the warriors train.

After hearing one of these stories, he turns away, still smiling, to see Hippolyta watching him, an odd expression on her face, as if he’s surprised her somehow. When she sees him looking back at her, she acknowledges him with a little nod, then glides away silently.

The next story he hears from the Amazons is of a teenage Diana, stubbornly sneaking out at night to secretly train with her aunt Antiope against her mother’s wishes.

Steve laughs, his eyes bright. “That sounds like Diana,” he agrees.

 

***

 

He’s summoned to Hippolyta’s rooms at the end of the week.

“What,” Hippolyta begins without preamble, “are your intentions toward Diana, exactly?”

“Uh,” says Steve, freezing up for a second or two. “She’s a strong ally in battle,” he says. “She cares deeply and conducts herself with integrity and honor, and I admire her very much for that. And, um. I'm aware that I haven’t known her for a long time, but.” He pauses, and steels himself. “I, um. I’m in love with her,” he mutters.

Hippolyta doesn't even blink. An awkward silence hangs between them.

“What?” Steve says defensively, because admitting to Diana’s mother that he’s in love with Diana while he’s pretty sure Diana herself is still blissfully unaware of the fact, is quite possibly the most awkward thing he’s ever had to do in his entire life.

“Hm,” says Hippolyta, and regards him coolly.

“Er. You haven’t changed your mind about kicking me off your island?” Steve asks helplessly. He really should’ve kept his mouth shut.

“I confess that you are not what I envisioned for my daughter,” Hippolyta tells him tartly. “However, your words took courage, and I respect that. As I have been forcibly reminded recently,” she purses her lips, “my daughter makes her own choices. If you are able to convince her of your worth as a suitor, then that is her choice to make.”

She regards him keenly. “You were willing to give your life to save your countrymen. That, I think, speaks in your favor as well.”

Steve smiles at Hippolyta weakly. Every time he thinks about that, he is reminded once again that he has no idea what has happened to his friends, to Diana. If they’re even alive.

“There is something about that which has been bothering me,” Hippolyta says. “Tell me again, about what happened to you just before we found you on the shores of Themyscira.”

Obediently, he recounts the whole story to her again. He still can’t figure out how he survived the experience – any way he slices it, he should have died in the explosion.

“You must have the protection of Zeus himself,” mutters Hippolyta, almost to herself, then she frowns, deep in thought.

To Steve’s surprise, Hippolyta’s expression clears. “That is the only explanation for your survival against all odds,” she declares. “Your very presence on Themyscira now means that Diana yet lives.”

“I don’t understand,” says Steve.

“You could not possibly have survived that explosion,” Hippolyta says. “The reason you survived it was because Zeus himself intervened.”

“Er, okay…but why would Zeus care about me?” asks Steve, bewildered.

“Not you,” says Hippolyta. “He did it for Diana. His daughter. Which means that even now, she lives, for he would not have saved you otherwise.”

“...wait, Diana is Zeus’ daughter?

“Yes.” Hippolyta looks at him impassively. “And apparently you mean something to Diana, for Zeus to save you for her sake.”

“Oh,” says Steve. He can feel a silly grin starting to form on his face, and manfully tries to fight it back. Then something else occurs to him. “So – Diana is a god? Er, goddess?”

“Demi-god,” corrects Hippolyta. “I, after all, am mortal.”

Steve blinks, processing this.

“You have not changed your mind about Diana?” enquires Hippolyta.

“No,” Steve says. “Why would I? I’m just wondering why she would want me.”

“Diana, despite being impulsive, has generally shown good judgement,” says Hippolyta blandly.

Steve’s eyes widen. “Wait, are you endorsing me?”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” says Hippolyta.

 

***

 

Steve spends his second week on Themyscira doing more odd jobs, observing the Amazons’ sparring sessions and learning more about Amazonian culture. Some of the women have even unbent to the point of stopping to exchange a friendly word with Steve when he passes them. His ribs haven’t healed enough for him to participate in the sparring sessions, but he isn’t too upset about that. From what he’s observed, he’s pretty sure that even the youngest warrior could wipe the floor with him.

At the end of the second week, he packs his things and goes to Hippolyta’s rooms to bid her farewell.

“Thank you,” he says to her, “more than I can say. You and your people had no reason to trust me, or to care for me, but you did.”

“You have shown us nothing but respect, humility and openness,” Hippolyta replies. “I may yet be able to believe that even in the world of men, there is goodness to be found.”

She looks away briefly, then back at him.

“Take care of my Diana,” she says. “I have already lost a sister who was very dear to me. I would not lose my only daughter, too.”

Steve nods, swallowing around the lump in his throat.

“Come,” says Hippolyta, rising gracefully, the faintest trace of a smile on her lips. “We must return you to Diana’s side.”

He walks out by Hippolyta’s side as the guards push the heavy palace doors open, using his hand to shade his eyes against the glaring sun, then gasps. From the base of the palace steps all the way to the ocean’s sparkling blue edge, the Amazons have formed two lines on either edge of the path to the sea. Their weapons are tucked away, and they nod and some of them even smile as he passes them.

Steve ducks his head, deeply touched and immeasurably humbled by the gesture.

When he reaches the boat they’re giving him to sail back to London, he turns. “Thank you for everything,” he says simply. “I won’t let you down.”

 

***

 

He reaches London a few days later to find the city still in a state of giddy jubilation over the armistice which had been signed three weeks ago, ending the war. He pauses at the docks to take a deep breath then lets it out, allowing a smile to spread over his face and feeling a great weight fall away from his chest.

They’d done it. They’d actually done it.

He makes his way through the city to his old office and finds Etta sitting at his desk, sniffling a little as she sorts through his papers. When she looks up and sees him, she lets out a shriek fit to wake the dead, then faints dead away.

Steve blinks. “Damn.”

Etta revives shortly after, then, as he’s trying to press a glass of his stock of emergency brandy into her hands, knocks the glass away and in a decidedly un-British move, throws her arms around him, sobbing incoherently.

“They told me you were dead!” she wails.

The door opens and Diana pokes her head into the room, looking mildly alarmed. “Etta? Are you alright?”

She spots Steve, and her mouth falls open.

Steve just lets himself look at her for a minute, and can’t help the wide smile that curves his lips at the sight of her, perfect and unhurt and alive. She’s replaced the pair of glasses that got broken, the ones he made her wear, with an identical pair. Her dark hair is tied back neatly, and she’s dressed in prim but stylish office wear that he hasn’t seen her in before – that was probably Etta’s doing.

One of Diana’s hands is pressed to her lips, her eyes bright with unshed tears.

Etta detaches herself from Steve, glances at Steve’s expression, then at Diana, then back at Steve.

“Right,” she says, stifling a giggle. “I’m just going to go now.” Neither Diana nor Steve notices her leaving the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

Steve strides across the room to Diana, gathering her fiercely in his arms, holding her close. He buries his nose in her hair.

She chokes back a sob, her arms coming up around him. “Steve.

He draws back gently, taking her hands in his. She grips his hands tightly, as if afraid he’s going to disappear if she lets go.

“Do you remember when you asked me what people do when they’re not fighting?” he asks Diana. “And I said that I had no idea?”

“I remember,” says Diana. She’s still clutching his hands tightly.

“Would you like to find out?” he asks hopefully. “Together?”

“Yes,” says Diana, with a half-laugh, half-sob, leaning forward to kiss him. “Yes, I would love to.”

 

– End –