Pairings/Characters: Steve/Diana, Robert/Ivan
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: In June of 1968, Steve and Diana struggle with violence in-country and back home.
Summary: Wonder Woman visits St. Theresa's orphanage and meets an old friend.
Date Of Completion: August 2, 2007
Date Of Posting: August 5, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1321
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: jen_in_japan requested "Steve/Diana in Vietnam, sometime in the mid-to-late ‘60s" from my DCU GSB Fic Request Meme. All chapters can be found here.
(June 4, 1968)
Diana was enthusiastically greeted by Sister Madeleine, the nun in traditional garb of long robes and wimple. Her bright green eyes sparkled as she shook Diana’s hand.
“How are you, Princess?”
“Fine, Sister. How is everyone here at the orphanage?”
“Oh, not too bad. Many of the soldiers donate food and money to help us keep going, and come to play with the children. I think it helps them as well as us.”
Diana followed the nun into the interior of the orphanage, the shabby building worn but clean. The furniture was minimal, but everyone had a seat at the long wooden table in the kitchen courtesy of benches, and there were old sofas and chairs in the living room. Every child had a bed, and they traversed the corridor until they reached the courtyard, Diana nodding and receiving a smile from the nuns in the kitchen preparing lunch.
The children spotted her and yelled and ran to her, eyes sparkling. She greeted them with a smile and listened to their chatter, nodding and speaking when she could get a word in. She played games with them and read them a story, and as she read she noticed the appearance of two men at the entrance to the courtyard. She recognized one of them right away and finished the story, Sister Madeleine helping her to extricate herself and turning the children’s attention elsewhere.
“Ivan! How wonderful to see you!”
“Hello, Wonder Woman. May I present to you my nephew, Bob Anderson?”
“Hello, Bob.” Diana shook hands with the lanky young man, who smiled back. “Hey, wait’ll my buddies hear that I met Wonder Woman!”
Diana laughed. “Good to meet you, Bob.”
He nodded and then went off to help Sister Madeleine.
Ivan laughed. “My sister likes Robert, what can I say?”
Diana smiled and directed Ivan to a bench under a small shade tree. “How is Robert?”
“Pretty well, considering.”
“Hurts like the devil some days.”
Diana nodded, seeing the anguish in the depths of Ivan’s dark-brown eyes. She knew how deep the love ran between Ivan and his former commanding officer. Coming from an all-female island, such relationships were just matter-of-course for her. Her shock at the vilification such partnerships received in Man’s World had made her cautious.
Ivan was a very handsome man, his dark hair beginning to be sprinkled with gray but his face remained remarkably youthful despite the stress of what he had been a part of in World War II and the strain of Robert’s capture in Korea and its aftermath.
“How’s Steve? I heard he received a promotion, the lucky dog.”
She smiled with pride. “Yes, he was promoted just before he left to come here.”
Ivan crossed his legs as he watched his nephew playing with the children. “Is he assigned here?”
“No, just observation.”
“Hmph. ‘Observation’ is a tricky thing in a war.” He looked at her. “Is that why you’re here?”
She blushed. “I don’t always appear in the same war zone as Steve, you know that.”
“No, but you like to check things out once in awhile.”
She said nothing, but Ivan’s warm eyes telegraphed his understanding. She knew how protective he was of his Robert, how when one loved another, there was always concern and desire to keep that other person safe.
“What do you think about this war?”
She frowned. “War is war.”
Ivan’s smile was gentle. “I know that, Princess, but this war, while sharing similarities with all the past wars out there, still bothers me.”
She tilted her head. “How so?”
“It’s a quagmire, as the saying goes. The conventional ways of fighting won’t work here. These people will continue their guerrilla warfare, and simply melt back into the shadows after their hit-and-runs.” He rubbed his eyes. “Tet should have woken up the big brass.”
“I take it Robert shares your view?”
Dazzling smile. “You know those New Deal Democrats. Always ready to jump into the political fray.”
“I thought that was an Irish-American trait?”
Ivan’s eyes twinkled to match hers. “Combative, headstrong, loyal, brave, courageous, stubborn as hell…”
Diana laughed. “Your assessment of the Irish-American personality is ‘spot on’, as the British would say.”
Ivan leaned back against the tree trunk. “Think we’ll have an Irish-American President again?”
“We might.” Mischief laced her voice. “I can vote so I’ll see what I can do.”
“That’s right, you were given citizenship back in the ‘50s.”
“Yes.” Diana felt very proud. “My first presidential election was 1960.”
“Well, there you go!”
“Lunch!” called out Sister Bernice as she stood at the entrance.
Ivan stood and offered his arm. “Shall we?”
Diana took his arm and they walked into the kitchen together.
& & & & & &
The kitchen was filled with the sounds of chattering children, some of them happy, some of them quiet. Diana was an old hand at war, but she didn’t have to like Ares’ hobby. People were damaged physically and mentally by war, and the children were sad cases.
Diana ate the plain but tasty Vietnamese food, noting the worn but clean clothes the children wore. She would see if she could get some donations to ease the tight budget. Bruce and Ollie would be happy to help, she was sure.
“You’re really crazy about him, aren’t you?”
“Wha…?” Diana blinked, Ivan smiling at her.
“I was thinking about all the times I’ve seen you and Steve together.” The hubbub covered their conversation. “He’s nuts about you, but you’re the same. You two look like forever.”
Diana restrained herself from saying, “As you and Robert are?” but was aware that Ivan’s nephew was too close and might overhear. She smiled and said, “Steve is the other half of my soul. I could live my immortal life and never find someone quite like him.”
Ivan looked pleased. “I’m betting he knows the depth of your love?”
She nodded. “I don’t hold back in matters of the heart. The Amazon way is honesty and openness, as we appreciate the beauty of life and how it can be short.” At Ivan’s puzzled look she laughed. “Yes, my sisters are immortal as to lifespan, but accidents and illnesses happen. No one is guaranteed Forever.” A small chill went down her spine at that and she gripped her fork tighter. Steve was far more vulnerable than she was to injuries and illnesses. Her immortality was gone and she would age with him, though more slowly, she suspected, but giving up Aphrodite’s gift as a condition for coming to Man’s World was not a problem for her. It meant that she would not have untold centuries to live without the man she loved.
This war worried her. All wars were dangerous, of course, by their very nature, as war’s purpose was to conquer and kill. Steve was an excellent pilot but even excellent pilots could be shot down.
Not only did losing him to death worry her, but what if he was permanently injured? Robert Hogan had served his country time and again in two wars and had been maimed forever for that service. He had Ivan to love and care for him and Steve would have her, but could he face the loss of flying and independence? Robert had seemed to adjust, but she was certain there were times when he railed against the unfairness of it all.
Or maybe he had found peace through love.
& & & & & &
After lunch Diana, Ivan, and Bob left the orphanage, Bob returning to his unit, readying himself for an afternoon patrol. Ivan hugged him, whispered, “Be careful,” and watched him go.
“It never ends,” he said softly.
Diana felt the chill down her spine again.
They were back at the hotel and ready to enter when they saw Steve and Robert approaching, and both of them smiled with happiness.