Diana will not look at him. Instead, she stares out the window, into the clouds.
Had she not been angry, regardless of her justification; had he not felt stupid and contrite, and if he’s honest with himself, angry also,
he’d want to draw her right now: the folds of the oversized sweatshirt over her small frame. Sometimes he is astonished at how small she really is, in spite of height and muscle.
The way she carries herself is what makes her appear so substantial sometimes. He clears his throat.
“Don’t try to justify your actions again right now. I’m not in the mood to hear it.”
They’re somewhere over Canada. The sky is bright, and the sun through the window makes him squint. It gives the impression of light enveloping Diana.
Somewhere closer to home, it probably almost feels like winter is considering a change. He shields his eyes with his hand. “Can you close the window blind?”
She doesn’t move. “What do you think would have happened if Tony hadn’t checked on our status?” Her voice is low and even.
“We both know what would’ve happened.” He rubs his palms over his face. Man does he need a shave. “Do we really need to talk about this again? Right now?”
She whips around and stares daggers at him. “You used one friend and abandoned another, and now Tony’s in trouble and no one can find Bruce.
You couldn’t wait; you chose one hell of a time to defy orders and go AWOL.” Steve feels his neck warm and his jaw tense. Here we go, round three. “I. Didn’t. Think. It would go. That badly.
Diana.” He can do the monotone angry voice just as well as she can. His head begins to throb.
The armchair he’s sitting in bounces through some turbulence, making Steve grip its edges. “I saw the videos. I came to get you.
I’d like to think you’d at least be tempted to do the same thing had the situation been reversed.” For just a moment, he allows himself a sigh of satisfaction.
She can’t argue that his heart wasn’t in the right place.
“They were not going to kill me. It is unlikely they would have broken me badly. I was there. They needed me whole.”
“I needed you HERE,” Steve retorts. Unbelievable. She’s telling him how to behave and think like a soldier. He makes a fist only to realize he’s torn a bit of the upholstery on the chair.
“You looked pretty broken to me at the time. What was YOUR brilliant plan then, general?”
“To WAIT! To be PATIENT! I’d found my way through before I knew you’d gotten yourself captured out of some far-fetched idea of saving your woman! How did THAT go for you?” she shouts.
He stares at her. The only thing in his head is dry, searing heat. No thought, no language is getting in, so they just glare at each other.
He’s sure she knows she’s hit very close to a target whose location even he’s not totally aware of. The sun behind her is so bright she could be on fire right now.
He’s certainly on the verge of ignition.
“I meditated,” she finally states. “I prayed. I surrendered to my gods and they reminded me who I was.” She sounds like a teacher reprimanding a child.
“I took every lesson I learned from Bruce—remember him, the one who tried to help you and now he’s gone? I took every bit of advice he has given me and centered myself and was rational.
” She troubles herself to emphasize that last word. There it is again, the accusation of leaving a man behind.
How can she not get this? Who the hell is she to lecture him on how to go into battle for the right reasons? He’s commanded and lost men before. He was doing the right thing. Bruce was a target.
He’s told himself this enough times over the past day or so to absolutely believe it.
The righteous anger and indignation is a furnace now. He leaps to his feet and towers over her. She meets his gaze with warning in her eyes.
“Whose side are you on, anyway?” he practically barks. She smiles dismissively. He can tell she thinks it’s a ridiculous question. As if to confirm his suspicion, she laughs at him.
“You’re jealous!” She exclaims. “You might have told yourself you were protecting him from potential capture, but really, you didn’t want him near me!” She smirks and doesn’t break eye contact.
She practically dares him to deny it. Instead, he breaks eye-contact. It’s more comfortable to look past her head into the sun.
He realizes at that moment that he can’t deny it because she’s right.
The facts that she knows this before he does, that underneath utter fear of losing her was plain old jealousy and possessiveness, fill him with a mixture of embarrassment and irritation.
He might not have been willing to give up a different team member so easily, even though he changed his mind at the last minute.
The only sound between them for several moments is breath and the jet engine’s low hum. “Say something, he says, letting the sun burn into his retinas.
“I was kissed by Apollo when my consciousness slipped dimensions.”
He loses his balance and staggers back. “Excuse me?”
“It was chaste, like a brief conversation. Artemis sent me to him, and he presented to me his hand and his naked truth. He brought me to the edge of the sun in his chariot.
He kissed me and I knew every truth that mattered, and everything else burned away. He and Artemis cured me and returned me to you. Did you see me? I saw you.”
Somewhere, in whatever tiny part of his brain is still rational and compassionate, he knows this is her way of explaining her point of view and offering an olive branch.
Most of him can’t get past the obvious, though. Furthermore, he doesn’t especially see this inability as a problem. “You let him KISS you? He was NAKED?”
Diana rolls her eyes. “If you don’t want to know what I learned, I will not tell you.” She moves to push past him, but he grabs her forearm and pulls her back.
He moves a hand to each of her upper arms and holds her a few inches away from him. “Do you really understand what ‘married’ means, Diana?”
“There was nothing sexual or even worshipful about it. It is a way this god communicates.
Would it help if I told you he delivers his important messages to Zeus this way as well?” She tries to extricate her arms but he holds them firmly. “I didn’t tell you this to hurt you, my love.
You asked what my plan was, and I am explaining it.”
He squeezes her arms tighter. She winces, but doesn’t fight back. “Had he faced me or spoken to me, I would have been obliterated.
He is the god of the sun and light and poetry and truth, and he is NOT MY HUSBAND. He is NOT YOU.”
“You had your mouth on another man’s mouth, and you didn’t push him away. I don’t care if he’s a god!” He can’t tell whether he’s yelling at her or crying. Probably both.
Diana looks down at where he’s pressing his thumbs into her biceps. She takes a slow breath again. He knows Bruce taught her that centering technique and it annoys him.
There is more turbulence as they fly through a thick cloud. Her voice is calmer, but still very firm when she speaks again. “You are my husband, and I love you.
I love you with everything that I am. I am multitudinous. I love in many ways. I love my friends, so I love Bruce, just as I love Tony, and Natasha, and Pepper.
I love my gods even when they allow me to suffer. My love for you is unique and sacred, Steve. You cannot both love me and possess me though. It is a betrayal of trust.
If you want to be a god to me, if you want my unquestioning worship, be prepared to forgo any tenderness between us.
The gods are sometimes merciful, but they do not love their supplicants; they are not tender toward them unless it is their whim.”
He wants to close his eyes, or look past her again but she will not break eye contact.
“How do you want me Steve? Shall I get the lasso? I should think we’ve had enough constraint for some time now, but I also know you enjoyed it more than you’d anticipated.
Tell me what you want from me.”
Something inside him starts to break open, as if some small egg had been warming in his chest.
Every time he’d hoped she was ‘his girl,’ or thought of her as ‘his fiancé, his wife,’ is represented in a small crack in the shell.
Every time some agent or friend or stranger looked at her with anything but regard or respect, and the tamped-down desire to hit that person is a crack.
What leaks through makes him feel slightly sick, and he loosens his hold on her arms. He is in contact with her only so his legs don’t buckle. The dry heat in his head thickens and liquefies.
He can’t stand up anymore, so he eases himself to the floor and she remains standing and only their fingertips touch.
She kneels in front of him and guides his face to her chest so he can hear her heart beat. She pulls him into her lap and rocks him, gently wipes away the tears, strokes his face, his beard.
“I just want you to be my wife, Diana,” he finally whispers. “I’ll try harder. I swear I trust you. I really mean it. No more shackles.”
She leans down and kisses him. Her mouth is so warm, and he inhales her scent: the beach-musk of her hair and skin, her cardamom breath.
She breaks off the kiss and stands, and leads him back to their dorm room on the SHIELD jet flying them home.
For the first time since their rescue, they find each other’s skin again; explore the boundaries between love and need and possession. They begin the long journey of finding their way home.