Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Steve/Diana, Ma Hunkel, Alan Scott
Genres: Angst, Drama, Historical, Holiday, Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: Diana and Steve do their best to enjoy the holidays before Steve ships out to England.
Chapter Summary: Ma Hunkel supervises the baking for the JSA Christmas party.
Date Of Completion: January 15, 2019
Date Of Posting: January 25, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1924
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The entire series can be found here.
Senator Mitchell Truman (D-MI)
Speaking To Reporters
December 16, 1942
Diana picked up the dropped ornament and placed it back on the tree branch. She inhaled the heady scent of evergreen as she admired the gaily-decorated tree.
Here in Ma Hunkel’s humble abode, Christmas had exploded. Swags of holly and wreathes with red bows were festooning the mantel, banister, and front door. The kitchen counter displayed paper snowmen and Santa Clauses, and presents were heaped under the tree. Every window had a candle that Ma turned on every night through the magic of electricity, each bulb a different color.
Diana was determined to enjoy the holiday. Steve was shipping out to England after New Year’s, a change from his original orders listing his departure date as December 26th. They were both thrilled with the extra week and intended to make the most of it. Extra week or not, the time would go by quickly.
Christmas carols were playing softly on the large Philco radio here in the living room. They soothed her, just as Yule songs did back on Paradise Island. She tried desperately to keep a sense of calm. Steve was a Warrior, and Warriors went off to fight.
She sat down on the worn couch. She was planning to visit the European and Pacific Theaters, though it was perhaps more appropriate to say North African Theater instead of Europe. Her visits were always working ones as she participated in battles.
Time enough for my battle plans. For now, I must treasure my days with Steve, short as they are.
Diana watched the play of lamplight on the tree ornaments. They sparkled prettily, reminding her of the Yule tree back home. The log crackling in the fireplace was a Yule log, another shared tradition. As the song on the radio wound down, the announcer began to speak.
“1942 was a year of disappointment and struggle as the North African landings led to difficult battles across the desert, and the Battle of Stalingrad raged on four our Russian allies, and continues to rage. The brave people of Russia will never give up, just like the Marines at Guadalcanal.
“Here on the homefront, gas rationing was instituted and people have flocked to war factories as unemployment has gone down appreciably for the first time since 1929.
“There are glimmers of hope for 1943. Rommel and his Afrika Korps is surrounded in Tunisia, and there is a possibility that the battle for Guadalcanal will turn out for the best in the early months of the year. Tell it to the Marines!”
Diana leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. She cupped her chin and listened to a wrap-up of the year’s political events after the war news. After the shock of Pearl Harbor and the adjustment of the country to all-out war footing, America was still struggling with rationing of food and gasoline, and most of all, the first coffins coming back from the battlefields.
War always means war dead.
Diana rubbed her eyes, leaning back on the couch. She kept her eyes closed, listening to the pop and hiss of the fireplace as swing music began to play on the radio. The scent of evergreen was even stronger, soothing her nerves. She was worried about the war.
The Allies are trying hard, but the Nazis and Japanese have their conquered peoples in a deathgrip. It will take so much sacrifice to defeat them. The Americans have no conception of what will be demanded of them.
She shivered. She knew the cost of war, as told around the campfire by her sister Amazons. War was never cheap. It always cost dearly.
Perhaps I am wrong about these Americans. Steve steered me toward several good books on their Civil War. They certainly endured great hardships for four, bloody years. The numbers of casualties were staggering, and yet the North would not give up until victory was achieved. The South wanted to continue fighting but had come to the end.
She tried to relax. Her mother always counseled enjoying the day you had. The past is rich and the future bright, but all you really have is the present.
Diana fell asleep as snow began to fall outside the windows.
A key jiggled in the front door lock as Diana drifted up from sleep. She expected to hear Ma Hunkel’s cheerful voice, but the person entering the front hallway was quiet. Diana smelled a distinctive cologne and smiled.
Diana opened her eyes and her smile widened as she looked at the handsome man standing in front of her. He was wearing his military greatcoat over his uniform, brass buttons gleaming. A light powdering of snow sprinkled his hat and shoulders. His blue eyes were bright and his cheeks were pink from the cold. He removed his hat and starry snowflakes sparkled in his blond hair, looking like a Hollywood movie star.
“You look comfy,” he said.
Diana stretched with a yawn. “Extremely.”
Steve went back out to the vestibule and hung up his hat and coat. He shut the door and ran a hand through his hair.
“Cold out there.”
“Come here to warm up.” Diana opened her arms in invitation.
“You don’t have to ask me twice.” Steve sat next to her on the comfortable couch and Diana laughed. “What?”
“You smell like snow.”
“I do, do I?” He drew her close as he nuzzled her neck.
“You smell fresh and clean, like a winter’s night.”
“Not cold, I hope.”
“A little.” Diana smiled. “But I will warm you up.” She drew back.
His smile was pure brilliance. Diana felt a little skip of excitement. Truly she was blessed by the Gods!
They kissed and petted, Diana’s taffeta skirt crackling as her body shifted. Steve ran a hand through her hair, stroking her neck and shoulder. She stroked his chest, resting her hand over his heart. The steady beat reassured her.
How fragile these mortals be.
The world had gone mad. These fragile mortals put themselves at such risk, storming beaches and flying over flak-ridden skies or suffering kamikaze attacks at sea.
Steve will be flying bombing missions over Europe, a hazardous duty. He possesses courage, which I admire greatly. My beautiful Warrior.
She kissed him hard, and who knew how far they would have gone if the vestibule door hadn’t opened at that moment. They broke apart as Ma Hunkel said, “Well, now, what is going on here?”
“Hello, Ma,” said Steve, rising from the couch.
Steve took the heavy bag of groceries from the elderly lady and went down the short hall to the kitchen. Diana blushed a little under the older woman’s knowing gaze. She adjusted her skirt.
“Come on, dear, we have a lot of work to do before the party tomorrow. Alan is coming over to help.”
“That is sweet of him.”
“He’s a sweet kinda guy.”
In the kitchen, Steve was putting away the groceries. “The icebox will be jammed.”
“Yeah, it’ll have to hold the cold cuts until tomorrow. I had to get the fresh bread today because the bakery will be a madhouse tomorrow. People will be picking up cakes and pies for the big day.”
“Yes, the bakery and other shops will be doing a land-office business.”
“Good thing we can bake our own desserts, right, Diana?” asked Ma cheerfully.
“Under your supervision, Ma,” said Diana with a smile.
“The JSA is bringing over food and drinks, Ma.” Steve put a jar of French’s mustard in one of the cabinets. “Probably desserts, too.”
“I’m sure but this is my house that the JSA uses for headquarters, and I like to have some goodies already on the table when they arrive.”
Diana gently hugged the husky woman. “Dear Ma.”
Ma patted her on the back. “C’mon, now, we got work to do.”
Alan Scott arrived a half hour later. He rolled up his sleeves and soon all three young people were working under Ma Hunkel’s jovial supervision. The kitchen was warm as the smells of baking gingerbread filled the room. Diana decided that gingerbread and kitchens were a perfect match.
Alan cut up apples while Steve kneaded dough on a cutting board. Diana put sprinkles on freshly-baked molasses cookies. They all had sampled cookies right out of the oven. Ma was mixing a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade, adding fresh sliced lemons. When asked how she got the out-of-season lemons, she merely winked. She did say she had hit her limit for sugar rationing for the month, so had substituted molasses. The radio was playing The Andrews Sisters singing I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time.
Diana put the cookies on a plate and put wax paper over the dish. She started on the next batch.
The music faded away and the radio announcer said, “News at the top of the hour: Allied forces have surrounded Rommel at Tripoli. General Montgomery is confident in their operation.”
“Rommel surrounded? That sounds promising.” Alan took a new apple and deftly sliced it.
“If Monty can capture the Desert Fox, it could be all over in North Africa.” Steve pushed back a lock of hair with the back of his hand.
“Maybe we can open the Second Front sooner than expected.” Alan cut his apple a little more savagely. “If it wasn’t for that damned Spear of Destiny…”
Steve tapped Alan’s arm. “Hey, we all know what Green Lantern could do, but Hitler possessing the Spear keeps all the heavy hitters away. You’ve got important work to do here and on the front. On two fronts, as we’re fighting a two-front war, lucky us.”
Alan nodded, stifling a sigh. “Let’s hope 1943 sees the tide turn.”
“It will. Evil has its day, but the whole world is against the Nazis and Japanese. They can’t stand against us forever, Spear or no Spear.”
“Hear, hear!” Ma said.
Diana remained silent as she decorated cookies. The war was nearly cosmic in its scope and suffering. The world had never seen a war so all-consuming. Could even Paradise Island be safe from this war?
Is that why you sent me here, Mother? Because you knew that left unchecked, men’s madness would eventually touch our shores?
It was an unsettling thought. Of course her mother had framed Diana’s journey as bringing the Amazon Way to Man’s World, in addition to fighting the war, but she had never mentioned the possibility of the war spilling over into Paradise.
Diana watched the two blonds as they talked and worked. Their domesticity pleased her. Gender roles could be so rigid here. Seeing two very masculine men kneading dough and cutting apples for pies was quite charming.
“How many pies are you planning on, Ma?” asked Alan.
“Two. Apple, that is. I also want to bake a cherry pie and a mince one.”
“Okay, I’m Simple Simon, your Pie Man.”
Christmas carols began playing on the radio and Diana pointed at the window.” The snow is increasing.”
“Oh, that’s pretty,” said Ma.
“Christmas snow is the best,” said Steve.
“It is magical.” Diana sprinkled the latest batch of cookies with a flourish.
“Ha, you’re right, Diana," Alan agreed.
“Pie crust is ready,” said Steve.
Alan stepped aside for Ma, who expertly filled the crust and added flour and cinnamon.
“Mmm, mouthwatering goodness.” Steve started the second pie crust.
“It’s gonna be a great Christmas Eve party,” Ma said happily.
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