Diana, dubbed by the media—and thus the world—as Wonder Woman, sat in front of the consoles of the monitor room of the Justice League “headquarters” at S.T.A.R. Labs. A few minutes more and her monitor duty shift would end.
It has been weeks since she, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Flash decided to work together as a team after the President of the United States introduced them to the world as one. It wasn’t their idea at that time, although just as Batman said, their alliance helped their individual causes. They decided to call themselves the Justice League, which was, Diana mused, much better and more respectable-sounding than the “Super Seven” Flash enthusiastically suggested. Although more heroes were appearing in different parts of the world doing their own share of superheroics, the fact that there were only seven of them in the Justice League stretched their shifts to the limit. And since most of the League members also live among the people, it meant more work to those who don’t have dual identities. However, no matter the circumstances, all seven of them were devoted to what they stand for, and the world always comes first.
Diana quietly watched the screens. She silently thanked her gods for the quiet evening. It hadn’t been too quiet—there were still a few minor incidents that called their attention here and there—but it was nothing compared to Darkseid’s invasion. For the so-called heroes, this was almost a break to them.
Diana smiled. There was also another reason why she felt the need to thank her gods. Although she has been only around for months, she was still slowly starting to discover and learn new things about Man’s World, the world she’s been dying to visit since she was the adventurous Amazon child, and the same world the Queen and her Amazon sisters warned her about. In her short stay, she got to know both wonders and dangers of Man’s World. In some points, her mother was right, but that was the exact reason why she left Themyscira: to serve as an example and to instill the values of truth, peace, and justice to Man’s World as an ambassador of her people.
On the other hand, Man’s World had wonders, too. One of such wonders was ice cream. Mmm. After a young sister named Raquel introduced her to ice cream, the said dessert easily became her favorite food. When she goes back to visit her sisters in Themyscira, introducing them to ice cream will be the top of her priorities. Diana was confident that they’d love it just as she did.
Not a long time ago, Steve also took her to an ice cream parlor in Washington, just as he had promised. She gleefully discovered that there were different flavors of ice cream, ranging from simple colors to mixed ones. However, in Diana’s opinion, there is nothing more delicious than her first flavor of ice cream: strawberry. Despite having tasted the more ‘colorful’ flavors, she ended up consuming more of the strawberry-related ones, much to Steve’s amusement.
However, much to Steve’s chagrin, their ‘date’ was interrupted when curious, insistent onlookers, who easily recognized Wonder Woman, wanted either an autograph or a picture with the famous heroine. Diana, on the other hand, didn’t mind. But their date came to an abrupt end when the paparazzi came barging in, leaving a disappointed Diana (who unfortunately hadn’t had enough of her strawberry ice cream) and giving the media a glimpse of her personal life, which resulted to an onslaught of rumors about Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor dating.
That incident consequently resulted to Diana questioning Steve about the concept of “dating” in Man’s World, the term being foreign to her, though the idea of courtship wasn’t. Diana wasn’t completely foreign to the idea of romantic relationships, either. In Themyscira, some of her Amazon sisters chose to have romantic relationships with each other, but they don’t go out to watch movies or eat dinners in restaurants (or ice cream parlors) like the men and women of Man’s World do. Amazons court each other in their own way, in their own culture. Diana realized that there aren’t too many differences between the two cultures, but there still are. In Diana’s perspective, it was still strange to see men and women holding hands, kissing, and doing things lovers do. They were supposed to be at war, and yet…
In her eyes, that was the most major of the differences.
Diana almost jumped on her seat upon hearing her name. She had been too engrossed in her thoughts to even hear of the arrival of the owner of that familiar voice. Being the only female in the midst of six men, she could easily distinguish through the different baritones of her male colleagues.
She turned and met the approach of her closest friend in the league. Granted, they were not that close, but he was the one who talked to her the most.
“Superman.” She smiled a little.
“I wasn’t expecting you to be here. Where’s Cyborg?”
“He’s getting his systems upgraded. I took his place.”
Superman walked towards her, stopping behind the chair on her right. He looked up and noticed something on the screen. “And what is that?”
“Oh, I have been doing some research,” Diana replied. “There are still a lot of things I don’t know about Man’s World.”
Superman smiled. “Fireworks?”
“Yes. Steve told me he wanted to take me to watch a ‘fire-works’ display later,” Diana said. “I didn’t know what this ‘fire-work’ was, so I decided to read up on it. According to this Mr. Webster, it seems a ‘fire-work’ is a ‘package of manufactured chemicals designed to make a loud explosion when lit’. This Mr. Webster seems to know a lot of things,” Diana commented. “Is he your Oracle in Man’s World?”
Superman chuckled. “In a way, he is.”
Diana frowned, her expression a little puzzled. “I still do not understand what the fuss is all about. I am not that enthusiastic about watching explosives.”
“Well, in my own experience, fireworks are beautiful,” Clark told her. “Have you tried looking for pictures?”
Diana typed on the console—she was still getting better with her typing—and afterwards, pictures of fireworks stacked up on the screen in a grid. There were of different colors, sizes, and shapes. Her eyes brightened. Superman was right.
“Your technology never ceases to amaze me, Superman.”
Clark simply smiled quietly. He finally sat on the chair beside her. “And how is the Amazon Princess faring in Man’s World?”
“Better. I’m discovering new things, new things that I’ve actually come to like. Ice cream, rock and roll… there are so many wonderful things I’ve yet to discover I’m sure. I also stumbled upon this ‘soap opera’. I initially thought it had something to do with soaps… only to embarrass myself in front of everyone.”
Clark looked at Diana talk with a perfectly serious face that he almost laughed.
“Nonetheless, I have received a lot of help. And I am curious about this fire-works display Steve will be taking me to.”
“And I hope our technology will continue to amaze you then,” Clark said, as if cheering her on. As a reporter himself, it didn’t escape him that the Amazon princess has mentioned Steve Trevor’s name in a certain context gossip columnists would not get enough of. He wanted to ask if it was what he thought it was, but Clark knew it wasn’t his business, and she deserved her privacy.
Diana responded with the smallest of smiles. Out of curiosity, she asked, “Will you be going to see it?”
Clark lowered his head to acknowledge the question, saying, “No, er, I’ll be staying for monitor duty, Princess.”
“Oh,” Diana said as if suddenly remembering, “right.”
“Besides, I don’t think I can watch the fireworks alone. I’d rather spend my night here.” Clark went around the chair he was holding and took a seat. They were sitting beside each other now.
“Maybe you can have someone to go with?” Diana asked. There was not a trace of suggestion in her tone. It was simply an innocent question by an innocent woman.
Clark turned his head to look at her. There was a pregnant pause. They stared at one another in those few moments. Innocent blue eyes against caressing blue ones. Looking at her at this proximity, Clark was once again mesmerized by her magnificent beauty. And if it was possible, he felt exactly the same awe the first time he saw and met her. She was an exotic creature, a beauty with novelty, and in another time and place, she might have been revered as a goddess. And if he wasn’t so aware with himself—around her? (Now that is something he needs to ponder more about…)—maybe he’d admit to doing that himself. Despite all her qualities, there was still a kind of innocence in her, a childlike innocence that was easily juxtaposed by her ability to “kick his butt” without a sweat.
Diana raised her eyebrows, urging him to answer. Clark coughed awkwardly before answering, “Well, I do have monitor duty.” He smiled at her. “And maybe through one of these monitors I can easily watch the fireworks display from here.”
Sitting beside him, she simply stared at him. Clark wasn’t sure whether she didn’t get the joke or she was thinking about something else. There was a partial expression on her face; it was almost a smile with the slight tug of her lips, but it was also almost a frown with the slight furrow of her brow. It was almost like she was stuck between the two expressions, not knowing which one to show him. Or maybe it was a look of sympathy, the expression with a smile and a furrow of the brow all in one. Clark wasn’t sure, but that look on her face was almost hypnotic to him.
Clark cleared his throat. “Wouldn’t you be late to your fireworks engagement?”
Diana’s undeterminable expression was finally replaced by a small smile. “Oh yes.” She closed all of her ‘research’ tabs on the screen and stood up from her chair. She faced him and said, “Thanks for the company, although it was only for a brief time. Maybe we can spend time like this again. It was nice talking to you, Superman.”
“Likewise.” Clark simply nodded with a small conceding smile and listened as she walked off out of the monitor room. As he heard the doors of the monitor room close, he let out a sigh.
It was his turn for monitor duty.
There was a soft rustle of wind as Wonder Woman in a flowing knee-length red dress landed on a vacant park in Washington, DC. A blond man in a casual suit was staring up at the sky but looking the other way. The moment he turned and saw her land before him, he smiled.
They walked up to each other and met in a brief embrace. He was holding her by the waist when he kissed her left cheek.
“How’s your day?”
“It’s relatively quiet.”
Steve led the way. They were walking away from the benches and towards the exit of the park. They were the only people there.
“I have plans for us tonight,” Steve said. “I’m hoping it will relax you.”
Diana looked at him excitedly. “You mean the ‘fire-work’?”
Steve laughed inwardly. Her innocence can be very appealing. “Yes, the fireworks. I’m taking you to this restaurant overlooking a lake. Maybe you’d like it there.” They were now approaching a black car whose name Diana couldn’t remember. “After our dinner, we can watch the fireworks. Afterwards, we can do whatever we want.”
Diana offered, “Oh, Steve, I can take you there in minutes.”
“Well, I don’t think I want to be seen carried by Wonder Woman, Diana,” Steve replied, chuckling a little. “Besides, I’d like to take you there myself.”
They arrived near the car. Steve opened the door of the passengers’ seat and let Diana inside. A long time ago, Diana had learned that men liked to do these things for women. It used to bother her before, but now not anymore. And as she slipped inside the car, she couldn’t help but feel excitement for the rest of the night. For her, this was another one of those learning experiences in Man’s World, and one she’s looking forward to.
Superman was alone doing monitor duty. An hour had passed since Wonder Woman left for her date with Steve Trevor.
Her first appearance as a superhero had been a curious one. Her origin was that of myths, of magic. Although she didn’t openly flaunt her origins in the media, background checks were mandatory in the league, with the government being wary of metahumans and Batman being careful. Others might be unbelieving about her story. A mystical island hidden out of nowhere? Immortal Amazons of myth? Greek gods and goddesses? Clark himself might have found it bizarre, were it not for his own origin as an alien from Krypton. And she was a goddess molded out of clay, and she was real.
He admitted, he was quite impressed when he’d first met her. If there was something better than “You’re strong,” he would have said it instead. But back then he had been impressed by her strength and beauty. And the same could be said to the other members of the league—Hal even called ‘dibs’ on her—and it didn’t help that she was the only female, too. And Clark bet, Steve Trevor probably felt the same thing when he had first seen her. Clark didn’t exactly know how they’d met—not that he’d want to know everything about Wonder Woman’s personal life—but he was curious, and he became even more curious after the conversation he had with her an hour ago.
It was almost like a story for the papers: a romance between a goddess and a man.
“Steve, this is beautiful,” Diana marveled as she looked around them.
Steve and Diana were sitting on a table in an indoor-outdoor restaurant. The restaurant was elevated on a hill. Meters below, they could see a vast lake. It was night, and it perfectly set the ambience of the place. Everything was candle lit, and it was dim. There was slow music playing in the background. The tables were covered in very elegant-looking ornaments. The tables inside were prepared for families and large groups, while the ones outside were specifically prepared for two people only. It was clear that the restaurant was particularly designed for romance.
Steve looked at Diana. He couldn’t believe how she seemed to belong in the place. He thought that someone as beautiful as she was could only belong in something like this.
“I’m glad you like it.” Steve smiled.
Diana finally looked at him after spending the first few minutes of their arrival looking around. “These all look so expensive.”
“Anything for you, Diana,” he replied.
“Don’t you think we could have had something less extravagant?” Diana asked with a reluctant smile.
“It’s not extravagant when it’s for you. Besides, men like to do these things for the women they like once in a while.”
“It’s kind of you to this for me, Steve, but we could have gone to other places and done other things.” Diana’s face started to light up. “You asked me before what it was that I liked to do in Themyscira. We could go hunting,” she suggested. “I like to hunt. And then we could cook our meal over a fire.”
For a moment, Steve could only stare at her. He coughed. “Er, well, if that’s like what you would like to do… But we need a license for that to happen…”
“License? What do you mean?”
“Well, we need a permit that will allow us to hunt.”
“Oh,” Diana previously lit face started to gloom. “I forget that things aren’t how they used to be. Sometimes I forget that I no longer am in Themyscira.”
Steve understood what she meant. Diana was missing her home. He reached for her hand on the table and covered it with his. When Diana looked up at him, he smiled at her and said softly, “Hey, shouldn’t we be enjoying the dinner? There’s still the fireworks, remember?”
Diana smiled back apologetically and nodded.
The sound of the door of the monitor room opening and closing alerted Superman of Cyborg’s arrival. The night had been quiet, and even more so that he was alone.
“Good evening, Superman.”
Clark acknowledged him with a nod.
“How long have you been here?” Cyborg asked as he walked towards the chair beside him.
“At least an hour. Wonder Woman was here when I came.”
The door to the monitor room opened and closed once again.
“Good evening, Supes, Cyborg.” It was Hal Jordan. “Wow, there are actually three of us here,” Hal noted. “And it’s not even a meeting. It would’ve been better if Bats himself was here. Haven’t seen him lately.”
“He’s in Gotham,” Cyborg answered.
Hal stared at the two of them for a minute with one of his brows raised, and then shrugged. “Huh, he’s busy all the time. Hmm, yeah, now that I think about it, there are three of us here, maybe one of us can take a breather.”
“Great! I’ll go ahead—”
“And no, not you, Green Lantern, you just came here.”
“Oh, come on, I have a lady waiting…”
“Superman? You’ve been sitting there for an hour.”
“Didn’t he say he had a lady waiting?”
“If he has a date, then why did he go here in the first place?”
“The ball is in your court, Superman.”
With that, Superman stood, leaving a disheartened Green Lantern glaring at Cyborg.
“Way to go, Roboto.”
Dinner was lovely. The dishes were tasty, and very exotic to Diana’s tongue. There were many great cooks in Themyscira, but she was eager to experience new cuisines in Man’s World.
Dinner conversation had been lovely. Steve and Diana talked about their jobs, particularly Diana’s work in the Justice League. After the formation of the Justice League, a lot of the metahumans acting as superheroes have been appearing. The government started to get more concerned about the dealings of the league. Although the league have been acting under state laws (and have been especially careful with damage control), the group started to become more independent, and their sheer power intimidated the government. This was something Steve wanted to talk to Diana about, but he wanted to talk about something else.
“We’re not going to talk about our work all night through, are we?”
“Diana, this is a date. If this was any other appointment, we could be talking about our work.”
“A date? Oh.” Diana started, “I read that on a first date, men and women start to get to know each other. I don’t know if we know each other well enough, but I think we do. I mean, I have met your sister, Tracy—”
“Do you remember when I took you to that ice cream parlor?”
“That was our first date.”
“Oh.” Diana was silent as she took that in.
Steve reached for Diana’s hand on the table and put on a nervous smile. “Look, Diana, I don’t want to rush things between us, but I want to know where we stand. I mean… I don’t want to pressure you, but… What I’m trying to say is, I want to see where this goes. I don’t want this to be our last date. I want to keep seeing you, like this.” He looked down anxiously. “I told myself I wouldn’t talk about this until the fireworks,” he chided himself, “anyway, Diana, I’m trying to say that… I would like to go out with you.”
He was looking at her now. “Would you like to go out with me?”
“I know we’re friends right now, but I was hoping, maybe we could be… more.”
“You mean, you want to court me?”
“Er, yes, if you put that way…”
Diana swallowed. For the first time in her life, she didn’t know what to do. “I… I don’t know, Steve.”
Steve finally let out the breath he’s been holding. He could feel his stomach swallow his heart down.
“I read that if a man and a woman like each other, they ‘date’,” Diana stated. “I like you, Steve, and I think you like me—”
Not ‘like’, Diana. I think I’m way past the ‘liking’ stage.
“—but you’re the only man I know personally, and I don’t know that many men,” she continued. “And I have a mission, Steve. You must understand that my mission comes first, because it is the reason why I came to Man’s World.”
They were looking at each other. There was longing in Steve’s eyes, and in Diana’s sincerity. Steve thought, Diana’s eyes were always sincere. Every time she talks, and when you glance at those blue orbs, you could never even force yourself to doubt whatever it is that she says. Her sincerity and honesty were the things that drew him to her—apart from her obvious features, of course. Over time, as he learned more about her, he fell into her spell. Because what guy wouldn’t? And he fell. Hard.
“I understand,” he said dejectedly.
He looked up. “Yes?”
“I would love to see the fire-works with you.” Diana smiled at him.
Steve smiled back, feeling lighter on his shoulders.
Diana’s soft expression turned into a concerned one. She turned her head looking towards the indoor part of the restaurant. “Hmm, Steve, do you smell that?”
“The smell of burning…”
At that moment, an explosion could be heard from inside.
Superman had been flying over Metropolis when Cyborg and Green Lantern let him go. He stood on top of the Daily Planet globe. The evening was still early, the night quiet, and the sky was clear. He looked up. It was a perfect night for fireworks, he thought.
Fireworks. He remembered Wonder Woman having a fireworks engagement tonight with Steve Trevor.
“Maybe you can have someone to go with?” she had asked him then.
Where was it? Washington DC, most likely.
Hoping the night will continue to be quiet, he headed for Washington.
He didn’t have anybody to watch the fireworks with, but it didn’t hurt to watch the fireworks alone.
It didn’t take him too long to arrive there. He couldn’t see any fireworks anywhere yet. But as he looked down from above, he could see black smoke billowing from a particular spot. Clark was sure it wasn’t fireworks.
“Somebody call the ambulance! Somebody’s hurt!” Diana, after having changed in her Wonder Woman costume, shouted. She was carrying a young girl in her hands and put her down before her agitated parents.
“I’m doing it!” Steve said just as quickly.
“There are still people inside!”
“Let me help—!”
“No! You stay here, Steve, and keep them calm.”
Wonder Woman sped back to the burning restaurant. The fire was scorching. It was impossible to breathe inside the room with the fire taking all the air supply. Planks from the wooden ceiling were falling down. The fire seemed to have started from the kitchen, and the stove exploded. The room being made of wood had been easily set on fire and it spread. It took only a few seconds to set the whole room ablaze, preventing all the customers from coming out. Even some of the restaurant staff were still confined in the kitchen.
As far as she could see, there were no more people in the dining area. She hurried to the kitchen.
“Help!” Cough. Cough. “Help!” Cough.
If it was difficult to breathe in the dining area, it was even more difficult to breathe in the kitchen. The whole room was practically on fire!
Diana found the source of the voice. It was a man in a white uniform—probably one of the cooks. “Shh, I’m here. Hang on.”
“Wonder Wo—!” Cough. Cough.
She easily gathered the man in her arms, and hurried out of the kitchen. But when she kicked the door wider for them to fit, a burning plank had fallen from the ceiling. She flew over the burning plank, and sped her way towards the restaurant door. The fire had gone worse, but everybody had been brought out safely. But before Diana could step near the exit, she could feel a strong gust of cold wind blow on her face and whole body, and she didn’t realize, it blew the whole restaurant as well.
The fire had stopped and was replaced by the cold.
When she walked through the exit, she could hear the people calling…
Diana nodded to him. The ambulance had arrived. She placed the man she was carrying on a free gurney. Nurses were performing first aid on the harmed patients. Luckily, everybody either came out or was saved on time. Steve was talking to an officer, who Diana surmised was the man in charge. Superman touched down in front of her.
“Superman, you came just in time.”
Clark looked at her and noticed the dust and soot on her body.
Diana smiled at him. “Thank you for coming and for putting out the fire.”
Clark looked at the patients. “I think I came in too late.”
“It’s alright. Everybody’s safe. Hopefully, no one suffered any serious burns.”
Diana looked at the scene of nurses and doctors fussing over the patients. Steve was still talking to the people in charge. Families were too engrossed in the safety of their members. The men and women who sat in the same area as Steve and her were doing the same as well. The firemen were surveying the restaurant, which was still intact, but some parts were a mass of rubble. The fire was an unexpected event, and it affected them all.
She turned her head to the direction of the lake. She remembered telling Steve how beautiful the scene was. She flew upwards to get a better view. The lake was still beautiful, but the restaurant had lost some of its man-made beauty.
Superman followed her up. He found her gazing at the lake, and he did the same.
“What is it?” he asked gently.
Diana looked at him. She felt almost surprised that he knew she was thinking about something else.
“The lake is beautiful,” she told him, stating a fact. She looked back to the lake.
“I was just thinking about what I told Steve when we arrived here,” Diana went on. “I told him how beautiful the scene was.” She paused. “Later, the fire happened.”
Clark understood. “There’s almost something poignant and poetic about it.”
There was a stillness. They were still looking at the lake. And then Diana flew higher up. Clark wasn’t sure whether to follow her or not, but he did anyway.
“It’s quiet up here,” she said.
“It is.” Clark looked down at the activity below them. Tonight was a night of oxymorons, it seemed.
Superman and Wonder Woman were on high alert as they heard the sound of a rumble, and then there was an explosion. But it was a different kind of explosion.
The two heroes were greeted with the sight of a pyrotechnic display. It came from the other side of the lake.
The display started from orange to blue then green and red and many other colors. Diana admired the marvel before her eyes. She was amazed at how they simply started off as gushes of light that flew higher and higher to reach their peak, and finally exploding into various shapes and sizes. Some looked like flowers in the sky, others looked like sprinkles of water, and others like fans… They made the quiet black sky look lively.
Superman was right. However, the preview she had seen on the monitors of the headquarters hours ago had nothing compared to the wonderful spectacle before her eyes. She simply stood on thin air, gaping at the display.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It’s beautiful, Superman. It is just as you told me. It’s even better than what I have seen on the screens!”
Clark smiled at her enthusiasm. He looked down below them, and he could see that the people were admiring the fireworks, too. A while ago, they had almost been destroyed by a different kind of fire.
“I wish my sisters could see this. They would be most impressed.”
He smiled. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen fireworks, and he admitted he’d seen better, but when he looked at Diana, Wonder Woman, at that moment, gaping at the fireworks upon seeing them for the first time, with all the smudges of dirt and ash on her exposed skin… there was something about the vision that attracted him to it. It wasn’t the best fireworks he’d seen in his life, but this scene, it was… there was an unusual kind of beauty in it.
Then he remembered Steve Trevor. Wasn’t Trevor and Wonder Woman in the middle of a date? Suddenly, he felt that he was intruding into something. It suddenly felt inappropriate to gaze at the beautiful vision.
“Would you rather see this with Steve Trevor?” Clark asked.
When Diana stopped looking at the fireworks to look at him with a confused expression, he immediately regretted breaking her reverie for an intrusive question.
“Weren’t you having a date with him?”
Diana merely gave him a small smile and went back to admiring the fireworks display.
“I don’t mind having this moment with you, Superman,” she answered softly. “Do you?”
Clark didn’t say anything. Instead, he looked ahead and admired the fireworks with her.
It turned out that the display was a brief one. It lasted for a good five minutes before it ended with a big colorful explosion in the night sky. Diana hadn’t moved at all. She watched quietly, and the amazement in her eyes persisted until the last light from the fireworks disappeared. When silence came roaring back, he lightheartedly asked her if Man’s World’s technology had impressed her then, to which she answered positively that it did. A call for Wonder Woman from below caught their attention. It was the young girl that she had personally saved from the fire. She looked at him, as if asking for his permission, and he nodded to her in response. He watched as Wonder Woman descended onto the ground to meet the small arms of the little girl. As they embraced, the other patients eagerly went to her to give their thanks for saving them.
Superman watched quietly from above. He came for the fireworks and he’d watched it to the end. He came to save and he came just in time to put out the fire. He had done what he meant to do, but for some reason, there was something else that bothered him. It was the same emotion that he feels every time he writes an article and doesn’t finish it to the end.
He took one last glance at the setting below him. He saw Steve Trevor approaching Wonder Woman.
And he flew back to Metropolis.