“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” –Willa Cather
“I take it he said no to my suggestion,” Audrey said idly.
Beyond the walls of Audrey’s bedchambers, the palace was relatively quiet. The guards had vacated the queen’s wing in deference to Diana’s visit, and even the general night noises of the palace were too distant to reach Diana’s ears.
Diana reclined upon the bed, half-asleep. Audrey rubbed a slow circle against the small of Diana’s back; Diana heard her chuckle as Diana arched into Audrey’s touch like a cat.
“Well?” Audrey prompted. She let out a loud, exaggerated sigh, and dropped a quick kiss to Diana’s shoulder. “What did he say?”
“I didn’t invite him,” Diana said.
Audrey’s hand stilled for a second. “Oh?”
Over the years, Diana had watched laughing, vivacious Audrey withdraw behind a regal mask as she’d accepted her duties as queen. Her mirth and wit had become rare experiences, only emerging in appropriate diplomatic instances and in private moments like these.
When Diana turned her head and studied Audrey’s features now, she saw with dismay that Audrey wore the mask she donned for strangers and unpleasant foreign dignitaries. Merciful Hera, was it Diana’s destiny today to hurt both of her lovers?
“Superman is…a bit more rigid in his views of love,” Diana explained, searching for the right words. She had never experienced this situation back home, where everyone understood that affection need not be restricted to one lover.
She remembered the hurt in Clark’s eyes, the disappointment in his voice as he’d said, But I love you, Diana, isn’t that enough? and asked Is it something I don’t do…well enough? He had been bewildered by her desire for both him and Audrey; Diana, in turn, had been bewildered by his failure to understand how she could and did love them both equally.
It seemed this was yet another aspect of Man’s World she failed to truly comprehend. “I believe,” she said slowly, “that he has always equated love with fidelity and monogamy. The idea that I can love both of you is a difficult concept for him, although I believe he has begun to accept it.”
“And I take it suggesting a threesome would have sent him flying back home to Metropolis, never to be heard from again,” Audrey said. She was smiling now, a soft, sympathetic quirk of her lips that warmed her blue eyes. “I’ll survive the disappointment of not having both Superman and Wonder Woman in my bed.” She made a tsking sound. “Though I have to admit I was looking forward to seeing what was under that costume of his.”
Diana chuckled. “Perhaps someday,” she said, briefly enjoying the vision Audrey’s words had inspired. Audrey and Clark would be beautiful together. Diana grinned up at Audrey. “But for the moment, I am quite content having both of you to myself.”
Audrey’s smile turned a little wicked at that. “Greedy girl,” she murmured, leaning over Diana so that the cool, pale strands of her hair brushed Diana’s shoulders. “Well, as it so happens, I like having you to myself as well.”
Diana smiled and tilted her head up for a kiss.
When Audrey peeked into the palace corridor to assess the situation, she was greeted by smoke.
Her eyes stung and she swore viciously under her breath as her vision blurred. Not exactly regal, that particular bit of language, but there was no one around to hear her. All the guards had rushed off at the first sound of trouble, leaving her to cool her heels in her bedchamber and wait for the all-clear.
She tried not to agonize over her guards or the servants being in harm’s way, but it was impossible not to worry, especially not when there was clearly fire somewhere in the palace.
A large shape loomed out suddenly from amidst the smoke, and Audrey tightened her grip on the door, ready to slam it in the newcomer’s face should he prove a foe rather than friend.
“Your Majesty,” Superman said. His eyes were unreadable as they flickered over her in a cursory assessment of her state. (Her state happened at the moment to be red-eyed and furious, but that was neither here nor there.) “Terrorists have attacked the palace.”
Audrey’s heart leaped into her throat, but she forced all expression from her face. “I thought as much. My people?” she asked.
“A few casualties, no fatalities. Your chief of security believes we have apprehended all of the terrorists, but I want to get you away from here while he makes certain he’s correct. There were also a few small explosions, so he wants to go over every inch of the palace for bombs.”
Relieved, Audrey almost laughed at the way he spoke, each word intoned like something out of a holy book. Was this what Diana liked best about him, his sincerity and low, steady voice, how he seemed to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders? Here was a man that begged to be teased and put into disarray, so that a wild look came into those dark eyes and his handsome face grew flushed with passion.
“I hear that Paris is lovely this time of year. We could go dancing,” she said, unable to help herself. She tried to imagine him dancing with Diana atop the Eiffel Tower and failed.
She was rewarded for her remark by a slight wrinkling of his forehead, though the expression in his eyes didn’t change. After a moment, Audrey bit back a sigh and gave in to propriety. “I had planned to oversee the opening of a new factory today,” she told him. “Perhaps you could take me there. It might seem odd, but morale will improve if my people see me cutting the ribbon to a new factory as though nothing’s happened.”
Superman nodded. “I’ll take you.”
Audrey gazed ruefully down at her casual clothes, which doubtless smelled of smoke. “I suppose I don’t have time to change? There will be some disappointment when I show up wearing jeans and a blouse.”
“I’m sure that they’ll be too relieved to see you unharmed to bother about your clothing,” said Superman, and Audrey giggled before she could quite stifle the sound.
“You are darling,” she informed him, and then stepped forward and linked her arm in his as he blinked at her. “In some circles, Superman, fashion makes the queen.” She resisted the urge to pat his cheek as his brow wrinkled further.
“I’m beginning to see what Diana likes about you,” she added thoughtfully.
She might as well have said ‘open sesame’—Superman’s expression opened like the entrance to Ali Baba’s cave; his eyes widened, his cheeks flushed, and he stared at her like she’d just said something truly scandalous. It was a look she sometimes missed now that she’d given up night-long parties that left her with a hangover for diplomatic parties that left her with migraines from all the inane and not-so-inane politics.
“I—” Superman said, a little huskily, and stopped. After a moment he swallowed and added stiffly, “Speaking of Diana, she sends her apologies. She wanted to come herself but she’s in the middle of rescue work in South America.”
Audrey waved her free hand and leaned against him, enjoying the way he tensed a little. “I understand,” she said. “Duty calls.” She closed her eyes for a moment. It was her turn for a deep breath. “No fatalities, you said?”
“None,” Superman said, his voice soft with an emotion she couldn’t put a name to. There was a pause before he cleared his throat. “Well, Your Majesty, if you point me in the right direction, I’ll get you to the factory.”
Audrey smiled up at him and watched as the pink remained in his cheeks. She didn’t know much about Superman other than he could fly, apparently wasn’t human, and loved Metropolis and Diana, but he obviously hadn’t been raised in Metropolis. That was a bashful country expression if ever she saw one.
“Oh please, Superman, if you’re going to be flying me somewhere, you should use my first name,” she said. As Superman frowned but slowly nodded, Audrey reminded herself to send a thank-you later to Diana for sending him here.
Superman might still be stuck on monogamy being the truest form of love, but he’d put aside those beliefs to ensure Diana’s happiness. Audrey could work with that. She let her cheek rest briefly against Superman’s arm. “Give Diana my love, will you?” she said quietly as Superman’s arm tentatively came to rest around her waist and she felt her feet lift from the marble floor.
This time when Superman spoke, there was an undercurrent of warmth that made Audrey hide a victorious smile against his arm. “I will.”
Yes, she could definitely work that that.