Most of the men were keeping their distance from the female warrior, but she didn't mind as it gave her time to herself. Heavy foot falls and the roar of a few engines accompanied the sounds of soldiers celebrating their freedom from Hydra. Diana was alerted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. She turned her head to see Bucky walking a few paces behind her.
"Bucky," she gave him a warm smile. "How are you feeling?" He looked terrible. He was rather pale with large bags under his eyes. His clothes were torn in multiple places and covered with dirt and ash everywhere else. The Sergeant seemed a little weak, but he was keeping good pace with everyone else so Diana didn't feel the need to badger him.
"Good enough. I wouldn't recommend getting tortured." It was said jokingly, but he winced at the memory. Diana nodded, her gentle smile never leaving her face.
"I will keep that in mind for the future. Thank you." He was quiet as if he couldn't quite decide what to say. In the silence, Diana's mind drifted. She was contemplating her new situation. What would happen to her now that she had revealed herself? Would they make her fight? Would they try to lock her up and do experiments on her? She scoffed at that notion. Let them try, she mused. She also wondered if they would completely disregard her contributions to the rescue, seeing that she was a woman. That tellingly irritated her the most. Her musings were unknowingly interrupted when her companion finally decided to speak again.
"Did you really flip a tank by yourself?" Bucky tilted his head, curious to see if the other soldiers were exaggerating or not. Diana looked up and nodded her confirmation. His eyes widened in surprise and he let out a low whistle. "Damn." He chuckled. "Next you'll tell me pigs can fly!" Diana raised an eyebrow as he laughed at his own joke.
"They do not here?" Themyscira did not have flying pigs either, but the look on Bucky's face was priceless. He choked on his laugh and looked at the Amazon in astonishment. She let out a genuine laugh at Bucky's expense before shaking her head. "They do not fly in my home either. I'm only teasing."
Bucky's expression turned into a grin as they began an amicable conversation. They kept the topics light, not touching on anything too deep after what they just went through. Diana didn't know Bucky well enough to tell him the whole truth about herself, but she was able to change the topic without any fight on Bucky's part. He would shrug and go with the new direction of the conversation without mentioning the sudden topic change and was tactful enough not to bring it up again. Diana appreciated that and returned the gesture.
The march back to base took most of the day, but when they arrived they were greeted with cheering, applause, and much needed medical attention in some cases. Diana was mostly unnoticed; she had acquired an extra trench coat from one of the soldiers, who was more than happy to hand it over to the unusually strong lady warrior and then move far away from said lady warrior. It wasn't her fault the soldiers had over exaggerated her heroics, and were now scared to anger her in some way. Diana made her way to Steve's side as he was turning himself over for disciplinary action. When she was noticed, Phillips' faced morphed to one of complete surprise. He gave a quick look to Peggy as if to say I thought she jumped out of the plane without a chute, but Peggy, who had also noticed Diana alive and well, had the same expression on her face. The Colonel quickly schooled his features back to his normal stoic.
"Ms. Prince. I thought I told you to keep him out of trouble," he admonished while nodding his head in the Captain's general direction. Peggy had told Colonel Phillips how Diana had jumped out of the plane after Steve's parachute was hit and rendered useless. It was one thing to see the genetically modified Captain was in one piece, it was another to see the modelesque, foreign consultant in one piece as well.
"Well, he is alive," she replied cheekily. "Apologies for my… unconventional method of doing so."
The Colonel sighed, shaking his head. He began to massage his brow, "This had better be a damn good story." Diana and Steve shared a knowing and guilty look. "I expect you both at my tent by 1900 for debriefing."
The Amazon simply nodded her acquiescence while the Captain gave a picture perfect salute. "Yes sir."
After being given permission to leave, Diana left Steve to give Peggy a chance to talk to him. As she made her way back to her shared tent, she could hear Bucky calling for everyone to cheer for Captain America. She smiled at the returning approval.
Several hours later, after a much needed shower and warm meal as well as some basic medical treatment, Steve found himself standing outside Colonel Phillips tent a little early. Night had fallen and there was a dense fog throughout the camp. He was dressed in military casual, all khaki with a buttoned up black jacket and combat boots caked in drying mud. Steve arrived only moments before Diana. He took in his friends appearance as she made her slow approach. Diana had opted for her normal attire of a long skirt and a matching button-up tucked in the top. She sported a similar jacket and her heeled boots were only in a slightly better state than her friend's. The warrior was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn't notice that Steve was already there.
"Ready to face the fire?" Steve inquired softly. Diana jerked her head up and gave a small smile upon seeing her friend.
"I guess I have no choice." They spoke quietly so as not to attract the attention of the Colonel or any passing by soldiers.
"How much will you tell him?"
"As much as I need to, I guess." She ran her fingers through her hair in agitation. "I've spent all this time trying to help without fighting. I do not believe that is an option any longer. I didn't want to interfere, but I can't seem to suppress my need to help." Steve placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"No offense, but I'm glad you did." He smiled warmly and continued, "I would be a star-spangled splatter without your help. For what it's worth, I appreciate you risking your anonymity for me and I won't let them do anything to you." Steve's smile morphed into a grin. "Not that you need my help anyway."
"Thank you, Steve." She appreciated his attempt to lighten the mood. Diana smiled back and steeled herself for the confrontation. "Let's face the fire. And Steve," she stopped him with a hand on his arm, "you tell Phillips whatever you need to." She had a determined look on her face as she pushed open the tent flaps.
"Alright," Colonel Phillips intoned, leaning forward to rest his arms on the desk. "Who wants to start?"
"If I may, Colonel," Diana began, "I have something I would like to say before we begin." Phillips furrowed his brow, but nodded his consent and gestured for her to continue. "I have a… complicated history. It is difficult to explain and often even more difficult for people to accept. I have shared some of my story with Steve, and I don't expect him to keep secrets from his country." She took a deep breath. "I understand that you both have people you must answer to, and that certain details must be included in your reports. With this in mind, understand that there are things that I will not share. I only ask that you keep an open mind and use discretion with who you discuss my past with.
"My skills are my own and I will use them as I see fit. Every person that I share my history with has my trust that this information will not be used to further their own purposes. I have personal reasons for not stepping in until now, and several things I am still working out for myself. I would prefer to remain anonymous," she turned to her left and a wordless understanding was shared with the Captain, "but what I want isn't always what can happen," Diana finished with an ironic half-smile.
Colonel Phillips was silent for a time, his brow furrowing farther. Of course he had heard the rumors surrounding the young lady sitting in front of him, but how accurate could hundreds of exhausted and famished soldiers really be? "I can't make any promises."
Diana nodded knowing that this was the best she was going to get. How could she tell an intelligence division not to collect intelligence?
Steve ran his superior officer through the circumstances of the rescue, with said superior officer occasionally raising an eyebrow and shooting incredulous looks at the Princess. Diana corrected several mistakes and misconceptions on Steve's part and filled the Colonel in on the finer details of her training on Themyscira.
"What is a good way I can put this?" Diana considered her options. She could be brutally honest and tell the already confused man infront of her that she was a literal demigod, born of Zeus to slay the tyrant Aries for his transgressions, or she could try to keep things simple. Colonel Phillips took to frequently massaging his temples as the three were talking. He truly looked like he was fast approaching his information threshold. Save that for another day then. Simple it was. "I was born to stop a threat to my people," mostly true, "similarly to the Captain being created to stop a threat to yours." She emphasized her point with a gesture of her head to said Captain.
The Colonel let out a heavy sigh and removed his hands from his face. He looked between the two sitting in front of him and closed his eyes. "I've had enough for the day. Soldiers back from the dead, a German madman with a skull for a face with similar abilities to Rogers, and a warrior princess from a hidden island long thought to be a myth." He shook his head as if to clear it and opened his eyes. "We are heading back to our base in London. Our reason for being here seems to have been taken care of in one night, so there is no reason to stay in this shithole any longer." Another sigh. "We are rolling out at 0800 sharp." He leaned forward and pointed at Rogers. "You will be coming with us. No more dancing in tights, Tinkerbell. Let's see what this serum can do."
Steve's face split into a smile before he remembered something. "Oh wait!" He pat down his pockets before reaching into an inside compartment of his jacket and producing a cartridge of some kind emitting a familiar eerie blue. "I found this in the Hydra base before it exploded. I'm not sure what it is, but hopefully it can help. And thank you, Sir. I won't let you down."
"Yeah, yeah." He dismissed with a hand wave. "I'll get this to Stark. Now get!"
I am so sorry! I really don't have any good excuses for my absence, but I am on a superhero kick again and I wanted to get more done. I have part of the next chapter done and the rest of the story mostly planned out. Please leave reviews and/or constructive criticism! Thank you to all my follows, favs, and reviews!