TITLE: Father of the Bride
CHARACTERS: Batman / Wonder Woman
WARNINGS: Author Chooses Not to Use Warnings
DISCLAIMER: I love Justice League, but especially Batman and Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, I do not own the characters and if I did things would be much different for them.
SUMMARY: Sequel to my fic Tried and True, Diana continues to struggle with the aftereffects of Luthor's brain chip as her wedding to Bruce approaches, but things don't go as planned when an unexpected visitor threatens to destroy their happiness as well as their future.
A/N: Well, we're at it again with another BMWW adventure! Before we begin I have to give a huge THANK YOU to DINASIS for his help and for letting me vent and bounce things off of him. Thanks just doesn't seem like enough, my friend, but that's the best I can do! Hope you all enjoy what I have in store for our favorite couple! :)
She sighed in reluctant acceptance as she opened her eyes to find herself home once again, a home that always left her feeling somewhat chilled to the bone, torn and lonely inside. She should have grown used to the change after all of this time and yet it was something that still left her feeling unsettled for several days after. It likely always would.
Even though she'd come to accept her fate, the life that had become hers, the adjustment was still most difficult. Steeling herself, she leisurely made her way through the castle, taking her time to notice any changes that had taken place in her extended absence.
She suppressed an icy shiver as she worked her way deeper into the gloomy castle that was her home, somewhat surprised that no one was around to welcome her. Passing by a small table, she allowed her fingers to lightly travel over a new vase, noticing the dark depictions etched around the rim.
Whatever was going on had somehow managed to capture the attention of many. It left her more than a little curious as to what her husband could possibly be up to now. Knowing him as well as she did, it likely wasn't anything that she was going to agree with or approve of.
A servant girl suddenly raced around the corner at that moment, immediately bowing her head at the sight of the woman before her. "Mistress!" she gasped in surprise as she came to an abrupt stop. "I did not know you had arrived. Welcome home."
"Thank you, Castra," the Queen replied with a small smile. "I would say that it is good to be home, but…well, I'm sure you understand."
"Yes, my Queen," Castra said, keeping her head bowed. "Still, it is a most joyous occasion when you return. You bring such beautiful light into this dark place. It's just not the same when you are not here. I know the Master would agree."
A knowing smile graced Persephone's face. "I'm sure my husband would agree with you."
"You are looking very well, Mistress," Castra told her. "Please let me know if you require anything and I will get it for you at once."
"Thank you, Castra," Persephone said, her hand coming to lightly rest on the young girl's shoulder. "Where is my dear husband?"
"He is in his throne room," Castra informed her, nervously hooking a lock of red hair behind her ear. "He is in the middle of something very important."
"So that is where everyone is," the goddess murmured more to herself than to the servant girl before her.
Castra shuffled her feet, putting her weight on one leg before uneasily switching to the other. "I'm afraid so, my Lady."
"Do you know what he is up to?"
Castra's green eyes grew wide with fear, her mouth gaping open. "No, my Queen," she gasped, quickly shaking her head. "I would not pretend to know what my Master discusses in the privacy of his throne room. I only know that he called a gathering to meet with him regarding something very important."
Persephone brushed her long flowing blonde hair over her shoulder, her instincts telling her that this was definitely not good. "Who is he meeting with?"
"I believe Melinoë, Thanatos, Hypnos and Keres," Castra carefully listed off on her fingers, her brow furrowing in thought as she softly bit at her bottom lip. "Charon might be there as well…oh, and I think Morpheus was summoned. Of course, you know Cerberus is always there."
Persephone felt her heart sink further in her chest with every name her young servant girl rattled off. "What are you planning, husband?" she whispered, her gaze narrowing with suspicion as she softly tapped her lips with the tip of her forefinger.
"There could be more, but I'm afraid I'm not sure," Castra explained. "I was called away to help prepare a feast for your imminent arrival. My Master wanted nothing but the best ready for your coming home, Mistress."
A soft smile touched the goddess's lips. Although she had eventually come to love her husband, it had been a long arduous journey for that affection to take root and finally grow. She suddenly found herself more than a little anxious to see him again despite the fact he was up to something she was certain she wasn't going to like. It had been far too long since they had last seen each other, since she'd last felt his gentle touch.
"Thank you, Castra," she finally said. "You may go see to the feast. I'm going to go find my husband."
Castra's face lit up with her words. "I know the Master will be most pleased to finally have you home. He's been miserable since you left. He's missed you greatly."
Persephone silently nodded her head as the girl hastily left to attend to her duties, leaving the goddess alone with her thoughts once more. "What scheme are you devising now, husband?"
Hades brooded from his seat on his throne, one hand casually stroking the back of his beloved Cerberus as he considered what his plan of attack was going to be. He did not like what he had seen; the way things had been playing out in the world of the living…Man's World as she called it.
He clenched his jaw tightly, beyond furious with what he had been witnessing. He had stayed out of things so far, allowing her to do as she saw fit as he watched from his realm, but the time to act had come. He couldn't allow things to go on much longer without stepping in and making his position known. It was his right as her father.
"So what have you decided?" Melinoë finally asked, growing weary of this drawn out proceeding. The time for discussions was over. The time to act had come and she was more than prepared to do her part in this.
"I want them both to know exactly what I think about this union," Hades stated, his voice as rigid as his body was at that moment. "I want my daughter to know that there is a very steep price to pay for what she has decided to do. I will not allow my daughter to continue with this without knowing if he is even worthy of her."
"Do you want one of us to bring him here?" Thanatos asked, more than anxious to begin.
"Soon," Hades decided, his lips twisted into a sneer. "This mortal man will be tested before he is allowed to marry my daughter. He will have to pass the trials that I will set out for him. Then and only then will I decide if he is truly worthy of my daughter Diana's hand. She in turn will have to pay a price for choosing to marry a mortal man should he even survive the tests."
Persephone could scarcely believe her ears as she stood in the entryway to her husband's throne room. Diana had found love in the form of a mortal man. She felt utter joy for the Amazon warrior, happy that she had found love at last. She truly deserved happiness especially after devoting her life to saving those who could not fight for themselves.
At the same time, she was most displeased to learn of her husband's planned interference in his daughter's life. There was no doubt in her mind that whatever tests Hades had in mind, they would be next to impossible to pass. If this mortal man did succeed in surviving them, there would no doubt still be some sort of deception in the end if he truly wanted the immortal Amazon champion for his own.
Persephone silently entered, her gaze locked solely on her husband, his dark handsome features twisted with fury and hatred as he spoke of this mortal man who had dared to lay with his daughter. She felt a measure of pity for the man even though she did not know him, hoping that Diana had chosen wisely or she would surely lose the one who had captured her heart.
It would take a warrior with great skill and intellect, formidable fortitude and cunning to be able to pass the tests and satisfy her husband's blood lust. She already purposed in her heart that she would do whatever she could to aid this man and Diana in any way she could.
Hades suddenly looked up; the darkness of his throne room abruptly diminishing as if the sun itself had just entered his dank sanctuary, thrusting the shadows to the far corners. It could only mean the presence of one person and one person only. His beautiful Persephone. His wife was finally home with him where she always belonged.
The dark scowl immediately fell away, replaced with a tender smile, his dark eyes softening as he straightened up in his seat on his throne. "We will discuss our plans in more detail later," Hades said, waving them all away so he could be alone with his wife. "For now, you know what you need to do."
Everyone quickly turned to leave the throne room, anxious for the games to begin. Things had grown rather boring and dreary in the Underworld. They were all looking forward to some much needed entertainment and they had no doubt that they were about to find it in Diana and the man she had chosen to give herself to.
Persephone slowly made her way across the large room to stand before the throne of her husband, her eyes never leaving his as she gradually approached. Her lips softly curved as Hades stood to his feet, descending the few steps that would take him to her. It had been far too long since he had last seen her…felt her soft silken skin pressed against his. It was as if time slowed to a near crawl every time she left his domain.
Coming to stand before her, Hades loomed larger than life as he reached out his hand to tenderly caress the delicate curve of her cheek, losing himself in her eyes filled with such purity and innocence. "My love," he softly murmured, a smile slowly spreading across his face. "I'm so glad you are finally home at long last."
"It is good to be home, husband," she replied, knowing deep down it was only partially true.
Hades leaned in close, pausing momentarily before finally brushing his lips against hers, savoring the taste that he'd longed for, but had never forgotten in her long absence. Once he had been able to taste the perfect fruit of Persephone, he had not been able to get enough, always wanting and craving more.
Persephone moaned softly into the kiss, remembering the passion and love that he had always shown her. Despite being imprisoned in the Underworld for four months out of the year, this man had truly become her husband though she would not have chosen him if she'd been given the chance to decide for herself. In the end, though, he had managed to win her affections.
"So what is it that my Lord Hades is planning and plotting now?" she asked as she fought to catch the breath that he had just stolen away.
A smile played on her husband's lips as his hands settled on the curve of her hips, keeping her close to him. "What makes you think I'm planning anything?"
"I heard you talking when I first arrived," she casually pointed out, trying to keep her curiosity out of her voice. If she appeared too interested, he would shut her out completely about what he was up to and then she'd never be able to help Diana or the mortal.
"My daughter Diana is planning to marry a mortal man in two weeks," he informed her, his lips ghosting along her collarbone to her shoulder. "I plan on making sure that he is worthy of my daughter."
"Hmmm…" Persephone hummed, her eyes falling closed with the feel of his hot mouth against her skin. "And what else do you have up your sleeve, husband?"
Hades chuckled softly as he grasped her waist tighter, his fingers digging into her flesh as he pulled her against him. "Nothing you need to concern yourself with, my wife," he attempted to placate her. "Just looking out for my daughter."
Persephone went willingly as Hades backed them up to his throne, settling down on it and greedily pulling her onto his lap. Her knees came to rest on either side of his hips as her arms slid around his neck. She gasped as his mouth latched onto her throat, her head falling back as his large hands braced her back.
She knew there was more to all of this than just the tests of a mortal man. There was something else that he was planning in order to make Diana pay for choosing a mortal man to join herself with instead of staying pure and true to her Amazonian race or choosing to join herself with a god. She just needed to find out what that was before it was too late.
Bruce Wayne turned down the long driveway that led to Wayne Manor, a mixture of concern and excitement swimming inside of him. Worry about his fiancé continually gnawed at his heart, keeping him from noticing the vivid change in the leaves as autumn fully descended upon Gotham.
His dark eyebrows were knitted together as he lost himself even further in his troubled thoughts. It had been months since Diana had regained her memories and yet her speech continued to be impaired, leaving her more than a little frustrated and discouraged at times.
There were good days and bad days depending on how angry or upset she became, always worse when she was tired or when she hurried to get out what she wanted to say. The more at ease she was, the better her speech seemed.
He could see the heavy toll that it was taking on her, the way it was shaking her confidence and causing her to begin to withdraw from those around her including him. He hated to admit it, but it was beginning to affect their relationship now too. He was losing his princess, the pain of it cutting deeper than any knife's blade ever could.
He was more than a little hurt and frustrated by how she repeatedly kept pushing him away, putting up walls around herself and pretending as though nothing was wrong with her. Feelings of helplessness and anger had been steadily building within him for several weeks now, but he was not about to give up on her no matter what.
He'd taken her to the foremost neurologists, every single test known to man performed in an effort to help her regain her speech. The cold hard reality of it all was that her speech may never return to normal or it could improve on its own. He'd just hired the best speech pathologist to work with her at home, but only time would truly tell if this was permanent or not.
Unfortunately, this might be something that even her Meta healing couldn't begin to repair.
He loved her more than his own life regardless of her struggles with her speech. If she never got better, he could never love her any less. He'd tried reassuring her of it many times, telling her that it didn't matter to him how she talked or if she couldn't talk at all, but he wasn't entirely sure she believed him. He wanted to marry her, to be with her no matter what because she was his whole world.
As much as he wanted her to be healed, he actually found her stutter to be rather cute at times especially when she was really riled up. Unfortunately, he'd made the horrible mistake of letting that tidbit of information slip out. It had taken a dozen red roses and a whole lot of explaining what he'd meant by that before she'd actually forgiven him.
Bruce smiled to himself as he exited his Aston Marten, remembering the very heated make up sex that had followed. That was his favorite part about arguing with the fiery Amazon Princess. The makeup sex was always mind-blowing.
Entering the manor, Bruce immediately tossed his briefcase and suit jacket on a nearby chair, more than anxious to find his fiancé. The wedding was a little over two weeks away now. He didn't think that he could hardly wait another moment let alone another day to finally marry her.
He was just furious with himself for pushing her away for so long despite what his heart had been telling him. It had taken her nearly dying in that alien attack for him to finally let his walls down and let her in. But now, she was the one putting up the walls, but he was more than determined to break them down.
Approaching the dining room, Bruce removed his tie and unbuttoned his shirt, hoping that he'd made it home in time to talk to Diana's speech therapist. He wanted to see if there was anything more that he could be doing to help her.
She was talking less and less now especially at public functions, even on the Watchtower interacting with other teammates or during League meetings with just the original founders. She was too afraid that she'd stutter through what she wanted to say, coming across sounding foolish.
Although he hated it, he was growing frustrated as well. He wanted his Diana back, the confident vibrant Amazon that she was keeping hidden deep beneath a thick wall of fear and reticence. She had told him once that everyone in the League was being kind and patient with her, but it was the pity in their eyes that always angered her or when they tried to help her out by trying to finish her sentences for her. It only seemed to be making things worse.
"Try it again, Diana," Carly patiently encouraged her.
"I…I ap…appreciate all your tttime and ef…effort, but I…I…I don't think it's hhhelping," the Amazon finally managed to say, suddenly standing to her feet and walking to the window.
Bruce came to stand beside Alfred who was eavesdropping from the doorway to the dining room. "How is she doing today?" Bruce softly asked.
"Come on, Diana," Carly firmly said, not backing down as she stared at the Amazon's hunched shoulders. "I know you can do it. Now, come sit down and try it again."
"Not a good day I'm afraid, Master Bruce," Alfred confessed with a disheartened frown. "She's been struggling more than usual because she's gotten herself all worked up."
"And the more upset she gets, the harder it is for her to talk and the more frustrated she becomes," Bruce said with a heavy sigh, recognizing the vicious cycle that refused to be broken.
"Exactly," Alfred replied, wringing the dish towel in his hands with the worry he felt brewing inside as he watched the young woman who had become like a daughter to him. "I wish there was more that we could do for the poor thing. It's most difficult being forced to watch her struggle like this and not be able to help her."
"I know the feeling," Bruce grimly murmured, finally entering the dining room. "How's it going in here?"
Diana turned away from the window to smile at him, but it didn't reach her eyes that were twin cobalt embers of heated irritation. "Do you rrreally wa…want to kkknow?" she challenged him with a warning glare.
The edge in her voice was not lost on him. Neither was the sympathetic expression on Carly's face as he settled into the chair next to the one Diana has just vacated. With a reluctant sigh, Diana finally returned to the table, sitting down next to him with a huff.
He gave her a quick kiss before taking her right hand in his in hopes of helping to calm her frustration some only to find it had been bandaged by Alfred no doubt. He'd recognize his surrogate father's handiwork anywhere.
"Do I want to know what happened?" he asked with a scowl as he tried to inspect her injured hand through the thick white gauze and tape.
"It's nnnothing," she murmured, pulling her injured hand free to hide it beneath the table.
Bruce was unconvinced, but decided not to press it at least for the moment. "You're too hard on yourself, Princess," he reminded her. "The doctors said that it could take months to see any improvement."
"He's right, Diana," Carly agreed with a smile. "You can't beat yourself up over this."
Diana's frown deepened, her eyes falling to the large diamond engagement ring on her left hand. She wanted so badly for everything to be amazing in every way for their upcoming wedding…to be absolutely perfect for him.
Bruce Wayne deserved a wife who could talk and interact at social functions and not sound like a bumbling imbecile, a bride who could recite her vows of love and commitment to him without stuttering and fumbling through them like some child.
He deserved better than her and it broke her heart that she couldn't give that to him.
Carly and Bruce shared a look that Diana missed, the speech therapist slightly nodding her head in silent acknowledgment as she suddenly stood to her feet, gathering her things and stuffing them into her bag. "I need to get going, but you keep working at it, Diana," Carly encouraged her. "I'll be back next week to check on your progress. Don't forget to do the homework I gave you. It'll really help."
"Th..thanks, Carly," Diana softly responded to her, her eyes fixed on the pile of homework she'd been assigned, the flashcards that she'd been given to work on this week. She felt like a child being forced to relearn things that should come naturally.
"See you next week, Carly," Bruce pleasantly said, wrapping an arm around Diana's shoulders. He leaned in close, his breath warm against her ear as he spoke again. "Talk to me, Princess."
"A…about wwwhat?" she absentmindedly asked, avoiding making eye contact with the blue-eyed gaze that seemed able to touch her very soul, the one that was intently studying her now as she hid her bandaged hand under the table.
"What has you so upset today?" he clarified with a kiss to her cheek in hopes of enticing her to open up to him. She had been slowly withdrawing from him over the last couple of months and he didn't like it one bit. In fact, it was crushing him.
He knew that she loved him and that hadn't changed since he'd proposed to her, but she was keeping things hidden from him, holding thoughts and feeling back that she didn't want to talk to him about. He was determined to find out what it was, hoping he could help her deal with it and maybe bring her back to him once more.
"It's nnnothing," she tried to reassure him, turning in her chair to face him and forcing a smile to her lips. She had missed him today and was anxious to spend time with him without having to talk about what had happened to her. "T…tell mmme about your ddday."
Bruce pursed his lips as he studied her, knowing deep down that it was not just 'nothing' like she tried to tell him. Her hand was evidence enough that something had happened. "No, you first, Princess," he insisted. "Something has you upset and I want to know what it is."
Her eyes grew hard, her anger flaring with his persistence. She loved him more than anything in this world. She didn't want to hurt him or burden him with her stupid fears and insecurities. He'd already been through far too much because of everything that had happened to her in the last year.
"I…I jjjust had a ba…bad day on ttthe Watchtower," she told him, hoping it would placate him but knowing deep down that he would want to know more. Damn detective.
"Did something happen?" he questioned her, concern permeating his azure eyes as he gently pulled her injured hand up from beneath the table to inspect it. "It's okay, Princess. Take your time. I've got the rest of the day and it's all yours."
Diana drew a deep breath, trying to calm her frustrations in an effort to control her stutter. "Difficult mmmission that didn't g…go well."
Bruce frowned with her response as his worried gaze roamed over her. "Were you hurt more than just your hand?"
Diana shook her head, her annoyance still clearly evident. "N…nnno, it was just everything went wr…wrong, but wwwe were fi…finally able to fi…finish it in the eeend."
"I'm glad that you weren't hurt any worse than this," he replied, reaching out to stroke her raven hair that was like the finest spun silk as he gently pressed his lips to her bandaged hand. "I promise it'll get better. Please just don't give up."
Diana smiled softly, nodding her head in response. She leaned into him, laying her head on his shoulder as her bandaged hand settled on his silk tie. "I…I hope ssso," she softly murmured.
Bruce wrapped his arms tightly around her, holding her close to him as he rubbed her back, savoring her intoxicating scent that always turned him on. "If there's something wrong, I want you to tell me, Diana. You can talk to me about anything no matter what it is. We'll work through it together."
"I know," she whispered, her arms snaking around him and holding on to him as if he was her only lifeline in a stormy sea of chaos. He always made her feel so safe and secure, so loved. "I…I lllove you, Bruce."
"I love you too, Princess," he replied, tilting down to press a kiss to the top of her head. "Don't ever forget that."
"Tell mmme about your day," she said, snuggling deeper into his hold on her, drawing a deep breath and relishing the wonderful scent of his aftershave. "How did you ggget to come ho…home early?"
"I finally talked the board into going ahead with the Paris deal," he told her, loving the feel of her in his arms, the way that she made him feel inside – so complete, so whole for the first time in his life. "It should make the company another billion dollars if all goes well."
"So th…that's why your ho…home early," she lightly teased, hoping to lighten the mood. "Thought you deserved the rrrest of the af…afternoon off?"
"Exactly," he said with a chuckle. "Besides, I wanted to see my beautiful fiancé. I thought she might want to reward me for my good work."
"Oh rrreally?" she purred in response, turning her head to nuzzle his throat, brushing her lips against his warm skin. "What did you ha…have in mmmind?"
"Whatever you want to do," he said. "I'll do anything that might put that smile that I love so much back on your beautiful face."
Diana suddenly paused as she kissed his neck, her heart falling with his words. She knew she was letting him down, hurting him, but she was sure that letting him again would only hurt him more. "Being with you always p…puts a sm…smile on mmmy face," she told him as she pulled back to look into his eyes.
Bruce tenderly caressed her cheek, seeing the truth of her words shining in her eyes. He leaned in, kissing her slowly…thoroughly as his hands slid up into her hair, holding her close to him as he took his time tasting her and exploring her mouth.
Diana moved from her chair without breaking the kiss, settling herself on his lap as she straddled him. She cupped his face with her hands, her tongue tangling with his as she poured what she felt in her heart for him into that passionate kiss. She only wanted him to know happiness now, no more heartache or pain especially because of her.
She broke the kiss to create a sensual trail along his jaw to his ear and down his neck to the opening in his shirt as his hands roamed over her back, losing himself to the desire that she was rapidly building deep within him. "We could go for a walk or take the horses out for a ride if you'd like," he suggested, his voice low and husky and breathless.
"Or w…we could sp…spar and then take a nice hot sh…shower tttogether," she recommended, biting at his neck and sucking hard, earning a hiss of pleasure in response as he tightened his hold on her. "You can help me ffforget about mmmy bbbad day."
Bruce's hands came to rest on her hips, gripping her firmly and relishing her playfulness. "Tim won't be home for a little while yet and dinner isn't for a few more hours so I guess we could," he thoughtfully replied, his thoughts growing more muddled with the desire vibrating through him.
"Race yyyou to th…the cave," she breathlessly said as she captured his bottom lip between hers, teasing it mercilessly before abruptly releasing it.
She suddenly jumped from his lap and ran for the door much to Bruce's surprise. She had left him more than a little aroused and anxious for some much needed relief. "No fair, Princess!" he growled as he took off after her, finding it a little difficult to walk with how uncomfortable he was at that moment.
He might not have been able to discover the real reason why she had been so upset this afternoon or how she had hurt her hand, but he wasn't about to give up. He would get to the bottom of why she was pulling away from him sooner or later, but for now he was just going to enjoy spending some time with the woman that he loved.