The Bat and the Eagle
The doors to S.T.A.R. Labs' containment facility open as a lone figure walks in, cape flowing behind him. His formerly gray armor now shined a bright silver, a large black bat emblazoned across it. Though he no longer wore his iconic cowl, everyone knew his name: Batman. The world's new greatest hero had stepped into the light, merging the public life of Bruce Wayne with the nightly crusade of his alter ego, removing his mask for a public that now idolized him for his role in bringing down High Counselor Superman. He'd even helped S.T.A.R. Labs design the very containment cells that he walked by now. But today wasn't a consultation visit.
The cells, each custom-designed, held someone that he once called a teammate, some he even called friend. As silver-black boots clacked down the hall, disgraced former heroes couldn't help but look up. Shiera Hall – Hawkgirl – grimaced and laid back on her bed, no doubt lamenting over her long-dead husband Carter, Hawkman. Barry Allen – The Flash – tapped on the shatterproof glass and smiled. Gravity emitters slowed him down to "normal" speeds, a countermeasure the Dark Knight himself had developed. Batman turned his head and nodded at the Scarlet Speedster, who had turned on Superman's regime and aided Batman's insurgents in the final days of the conflict. With only a year left on his sentence, Barry would be free to apply to the reformed Justice League soon, and he would be welcomed. Rachel Roth – the former Titan known as Raven, let off a near-inaudible growl, eyes flashing a brighter yellow at the presence of her jailor. She tried to curse at him telepathically, to reach into his mind and give him a piece of hers…but instead got a head full of feedback, courtesy of psychic inhibitors implanted in her brain, created by S.T.A.R. Labs with the assistance of Deathstroke's files on the Titans. Batman didn't even glance in her direction.
"FATHER!" The shout came from a cell to Batman's left. He stopped and faced the long-haired young man inside, pounding the triple-thick glass. He face was a twisted mess of anger and tears. Damian Wayne – son of Batman, the former Robin, the false Nightwing. "Please father," the man's voice broke, tears running freely now as he spoke, "I...I'm sorry. Please, just let me out." His father glared at him for a moment, his youngest boy, the reason why his oldest son Dick was dead. He turned heel and kept walking. Damian's sorrow vanished, replaced by pure rage. "Get back here, you coward! Let me out, or I swear I'll kill you with my own hands! Father! BATMAN!"
Batman stopped at the final cell on the hallway, newer by comparison. The woman inside stood up from her cot, but didn't come to the glass like Barry or Damian. Ice-blue eyes stared intently at her visitor. "Hello, Bruce."
"It's Batman to you, Your Majesty." Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, former Queen of Themiscyra, noted the snarl in Batman's voice.
"Sixth visit since I got here a year ago. Every time, I answered your pointless questions. What more do you want from me, Batman?" She paused, adopting a taunting smile "Unless you're just here to see me? After that night in the Hall of Justice…"
"A stupid mistake. An uncalculated risk." Batman silently wished he had the cowl now, not for the look, but to hide some of his facial expression.
"Selina had abandoned you, Kal was too hung up on Lois to notice me."
"It was just a moment of stupid weakness, Diana. You're reading into it too much."
"We still had feelings for each other." Diana's icy glare fixed on his eyes, but she felt her malice start to buckle. These visits had stirred something in her.
"There were no 'feelings.'" His gaze hardened. He knew how to control himself, how not to show weakness. So why was it so hard to do now?
"Then what do you call that kiss? The one all those years ago, before Tezumak and Gamemnae struck us down? A moment shared by warriors on the battlefield?"
"…yes." He could hear the pain in her voice, the unsaid want, but he couldn't break. Not with his former comrades all listening from their cells. Not even if he knew he was lying to himself.
"You're lying, Bruce. It was a desperate attempt to reconcile years of emotion in a fleeting heartbeat, and you know it. The same happened in the Hall of Justice."
Batman gritted his teeth. "Why didn't you hand me over to Superman right after, even though I was effectively your prisoner?"
"Is that what you came all the way here for? Because I think you already know the answer, World's Greatest Detective. It's the same reason why you really keep visiting. The same reason why you went after Selina after we resolved to remain friends all those years ago."
Batman slammed an armored fist into the glass, frustration burning behind his eyes. "What do you want me to say, Diana?! That it was more than just a moment?" Composing himself, Bruce turned to leave. "We're done here."
"I know you won't say it, not out loud," she said, pausing thoughtfully. "That night…I'd hoped you would join me. I was prepared to turn on Superman if you were prepared to leave your rebels. We could have overthrown him together. I could have been at your side as you remade the world. Yet here we are."
"Yet he we are," he repeated to himself softly. Batman spared himself one last glance at her as he walked away. He could barely hear the scornful laughter of his son as he passed by him. His head felt heavy, as if the truth were weighing it down. He needed time alone, to brood like in the old days. But he would return here, the seventh time. They were as different as a bat is to an eagle, but he would return, to see her.