Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Amazons are bringers of peace, but are also experts in the art of war.
Date Of Completion: May 7, 2007
Date Of Posting: May 8, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own 'em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1613
Author’s Notes: jen_in_japan requested, "I would love to see some version of Steve and Diana meeting! Any 'verse, any set-up. They hang around the edges of all your stories and always leave me wanting more…:)"
Well, here you go, Jen! I hope this two-parter satisfies some of that yearning! Both chapters can be found here. It’s also my first fic ‘made-to-order’, somewhat in the style of Victorian language. :)
THE GLORY OF THE MORNING
Steve wiped his face wearily. It had been quite the wild three days. The battle that had begun in the countryside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was finally over. The Army of the Potomac was trying to recover, though there were wonderings as to why they weren’t pursuing Lee and the Confederate armies to finish them off.
Steve trudged through the forest surrounding the open fields on his way to his division’s campsite. He took out a dirty handkerchief and pressed it to his nose and mouth, trying to block the stench of thousands of bodies, man and animal, that littered the battlefield in the hot July sun.
Exhaustion dogged his steps. He went deeper into the woods, desperate for some cooler air and to try and get away from the smell. At least the trees blocked the sun’s rays.
He saw a flash of color through some undergrowth and walked forward quietly. Neither Union blue nor Confederate gray. He parted a thicket of branches just enough to see into a clearing.
The Amazon stood there, her back to him. A brazier was lit and she held up her sword flat with two hands, its blade stained with blood. She spoke softly in a foreign language Steve recognized as Greek from his school days, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey coming to mind.
She lowered the sword into the fire, keeping it there for at least five minutes, then lifted it out, the blade clean and shining.
She sheathed the sword and lifted her face to the sky, arms upraised. The Greek came out again, and he heard the names ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Great Hera’ and ‘Suffering Sappho’. Feeling that he was intruding on a private religious moment, he slipped away and went back to camp via a different direction.
& & & & & &
Steve looked up and straightened from his crouch. He was tending a small fire in front of his tent. After very little food for the past three days, he was cooking some rations.
“May I offer you some food, Princess?” He remembered that she was Amazonian royalty. “I’m afraid it’s only some stew and hardtack.”
“That will be fine.” She sat on a smooth boulder and set her shield next to it, settling her skirts and cape around her. The skirts were still bloodstained. Steve hoped she had a change of costume. He boiled some coffee and offered her a tin cup, which she took and drank. “Very good.”
“Well, I’m not a bad cook, even with stores that might not be up to snuff.”
“It is difficult to preserve food in this heat.”
Steve nodded as he wiped his brow. Maybe he would go for a dip in the pond later.
“I want to thank you.”
“For what, Princess?”
“For saving my life.”
He thought back to the battle and smiled. “Then we’re even, because I thank you for saving my life, too.”
She nodded, smiling and taking the tin plate of hardtack and stew he handed her. Steve sat on a boulder opposite and they ate in companionable silence. When they were finished, she said, “I thank you for your respect.” At his quizzical look she explained, “For not disturbing me back in the grove.”
“Ah.” He drank his coffee. “It looked private.”
“It was, though of course with so many people about, it would not surprise me to be interrupted. However, I am grateful for your discretion.”
“Was that a…religious ceremony?”
She nodded. “I was giving thanks to the Gods. Ares, but Aphrodite and Hera as well.”
Steve felt a little uncomfortable. His Christian upbringing had always stressed the falseness of Pagan gods but then, he was lucky that his family had not been fanatical. He occasionally went to church and prayed more than usual as he tried to survive this war, but he disliked the ‘holy rollers’ who preached fire and brimstone.
“And Sappho? She was a poetess, not a Goddess, correct?”
Delight lit Wonder Woman’s face. “Yes. But she is someone dear to the Amazons.”
Steve remembered Sappho’s other claim to fame and blushed. Wonder Woman laughed in more delight.
The twitter of a robin sounded sweet in the summer stillness, Steve glad they were far enough away from the hospital tents so the moans and cries of the wounded could not reach them. He would be going by the tents soon enough to offer his help.
“Will you be staying with the Army of the Potomac?” he asked.
“Just for a short time. I must go and see General Meade, then I will help those who seek the living among the dead on the battlefield, and finally assist at the hospital tents.”
“Ah, an Angel of Mercy.”
She laughed. “I suppose that is true. Miss Clara Barton has been most welcoming of my help.”
Steve thought of the exemplary young ladies who served as nurses in the new profession that Florence Nightingale had promoted in Great Britain. Some people objected to young, single women in such an unseemly profession. What would they see as soldiers were in various states of undress? Fortunately there were people who also scoffed at such notions and thought it was a good thing for women to practice the profession of nursing. And they were all strictly supervised, and only young ladies of good morals and character were accepted into the programs.
Wonder Woman seems quite the fit as an Angel of Mercy.
“After that I go to see Father Abraham.” She tilted her head. “You are amused by my choice of name?”
“You seem to have picked up the soldiers’ nickname for him pretty quickly.”
She laughed. “Yes. It fits, does it not?” At his nod, she said, “Of course, I am not familiar with father figures.” Steve remembered that she came from an island of women only. “He has been touched by the Gods.” Her smile faded. “The darkness bears down upon him.” A sigh. “It is always so with one who is a living embodiment of an ideal.”
“What do you mean?” Steve’s curiosity was afire.
“He carries the soul of your nation.” She looked at him with sadness. “He bleeds at every death, pushes forward even when it is darkest, and refuses to give up the idea of the Union. It is a mystical force in him.” She looked off into space. “People so touched by the Gods give so much of their life forces. It is their Destiny.”
Steve felt worry skitter along his mind. He had met President Lincoln and knew that he was a great man. Father Abraham, as Wonder Woman and his fellow soldiers called him, had exhibited great kindness while talking to him, genuinely interested in his welfare and that of his colleagues. The soldiers knew that he cared. He frequently visited the Army hospitals and was always looking to make things better for those fighting this great war. The stories of him poring over documents in order to find legal means to pardon soldiers sentenced to death were legendary. He more often than not pardoned them, a bane to his military men who claimed that discipline against desertion could only be maintained by execution. He could not blame a young man frightened for fleeing the horrors of war, and often those pardoned were sent right back in the thick of the battles and acquitted themselves with honor.
Wonder Woman touched her shield. “The one destined for this shield in the future will be a living embodiment of your country. Until then, I wield it with pride.”
Steve looked at the round shield with interest. He had never seen anything like it before.
She smiled and handed it to him. Surprised by its weight, he touched its smooth surface.
Wonder Woman stood. “I think I will see you again, Steve Trevor.” He stood, too, and she approached him, reaching out and cupping his chin, lifting his head so that their eyes met. “You are a fine warrior and one whom I am honored to fight beside. And, you are extremely fair of face that pleases me in other ways.”
Her frankly appraising gaze shocked him. Accustomed to the reticence of Victorian ladies, this openness was more like a…a bawdy house strumpet! He blushed furiously, ashamed of categorizing this beautiful woman as such. Her blue eyes seemed to see into his soul. He hoped that one of her powers was not the reading of minds!
Her lips curved into a smile and her eyes sparkled. She let her hand drop and took back her shield.
Church bells pealed and she looked around with interest. “A celebration of the victory?”
They heard shouts off in the camp.
“The Mississippi’s ours!”
“The Rebs are defeated again!”
“This is great news,” Steve said. “Appropriate, too, on the Fourth of July.”
“Ah, yes.” She caressed her shield. “May I ask why your troops are not pursuing the enemy?”
Steve sighed. “I wonder about that myself. I don’t think President Lincoln will be too happy about it.”
“Yes, the President searches for a great warrior-leader.” Her expression grew thoughtful. “Perhaps this victory at Vicksburg will be two-fold. I attended the Siege there. General Ulysses is a worthy bearer of the name. He is a warrior. Perhaps he will be the one Father Abraham seeks.”
“I hope he finds a great General soon.”
“I go to Washington City now to see Father Abraham. May Hera grant you safety of life and limb, Steve Trevor.”
Then she was gone, Steve left standing in the small clearing with a pounding heart and tingling veins.
Yes, if Fate was kind, they would meet again.