TITLE: Suspicious Minds
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: Begins after the Justice League episode "Secret Origins". Batman is very suspicious of the newly arrived Amazon princess, but he isn't the only one. Beginning of BMWW.
A/N: Special thanks to Dinasis for the Beta on the first section of this. You're awesome, my friend.
Second, I started a poll on my account page here. Please vote to let me know what fic you want me to write next. Father of the Bride is starting to come to an end and I would love your input about what you would like to see next. There are three choices for you to choose from and you get to vote up to five times. Thanks for reading and supporting my fics! :)
Batman sat in the dark silence of the Batcave, an elbow resting on his desk with his hand supporting his chin as he intently studied the woman on his computer screen—the same woman he had been staring at for the last half hour.
It was actually hard to say how long it had been because for some reason time seemed to grind to a halt whenever he found himself looking at her. Everything around him seemed to fade into the background, leaving only her.
It was a rather strange phenomenon to say the least, one he couldn't begin to explain or understand. It had never happened to him with anyone else that he'd ever met before, only ever with her. It defied logic, a mystery he was more than determined to unravel.
Ever since meeting her for the first time a month ago, he had made it his business to learn everything he possibly could about this mysterious Amazon from a mythical island that was populated with nothing but women. He'd learned a little about the mythos of the Amazons in school, but had always just chalked it up to being just that—a myth.
Now, he had a living, breathing Amazon staring back at him with metahuman powers that rivaled Superman's, but without any obvious Achilles' heel that he had been able to ascertain as of yet. On top of that, she was supposedly a princess, but beyond that he knew next to nothing about her except what she had told them.
She was absolutely flawless which only seemed to help substantiate her claim that she had been sculpted from clay and gifted by the gods and goddesses themselves, but he still wanted more concrete proof then just her word.
Honestly, he didn't yet trust any of his new teammates, save Superman, and that was only because of their history and the investigations he'd already conducted into the Kryptonian. Though she'd proven herself a competent warrior during the invasion, Bruce wasn't ready to trust the Amazon…at least not yet.
Still, there was something about her that had aroused his curiosity and he couldn't shake it. He was suspicious of her and her reasons for coming to Man's World, as she'd put it. No one could be that pure of heart and that compassionate, naïve and yet extremely intelligent. She radiated light, drawing people to her like a magnet with her smile and her openness, her sincerity.
He even found himself being drawn to her, discovering that he wasn't immune to the warmth and charm that she exuded. To say it was unnerving was an understatement, but what was even worse was the fact that she wasn't intimidated by him in the least. His fiercest batglare and brusque demeanor bounced off her as easily as she deflected bullets with her bracers.
His icy bearing towards her didn't seem to affect her at all, didn't diminish the warmth of her smile or crush her optimistic spirit. Of course, it wasn't like he hadn't seen her dark side, the way her temper flared like an inferno or the pure passion that blazed in her eyes when she believed in something with her whole heart.
One day, though, her temper was going to get her into serious trouble, or worse, if she didn't learn a little patience and finesse. Not every situation called for a charge in with guns blazing mentality. He had to acknowledge the fact that she was very well trained, though. She was intelligent and fearless in the face of battle, thinking only of the innocent or her fellow teammates, but never herself.
Taking another drink of his coffee, Bruce continued to study her League picture, hoping to discover something about her that would unlock the mystery. Just because he was suspicious of her didn't mean that he wasn't impressed with her. Even he had to admit that her courage and fierce warrior's ethos was quite extraordinary even though he thought she could use some one-on-one training to help broaden her skills further.
The one thing he did discover was that the more time he spent mentally dissecting the princess over the last month, the more of a mystery she had become to him. With a snort of annoyance, he decided an intense workout might help him figure her out or at least sweat her out of his system for a little while.
Ever since those red boots had touched down right there in front of him, he hadn't been able to get her out of his head. She had lingered there in the recesses of his mind, sneaking up on him when he least expected it and it was frustrating him to no end.
There had to be a reason why she was having such a profound effect on him, some magical spell or maybe some sort of pheromone she was emitting. It was only serving to fuel his paranoia that there was far more going on than what she appeared to be. It was as if she was too good to be true, his mind refusing to accept what he was seeing in her.
One way or another, he would get to the bottom of the enigmatic Amazon princess and when he did, he'd finally be free of her, able to move forward and concentrate more fully on Gotham and his mission. He didn't have time for distractions and she was quickly becoming one that he couldn't afford.
She had somehow managed to work her way under his skin since meeting her which had to be a record of some sort. Very few had ever been able to do that. It was like he was being drawn in by her like Poison Ivy drew her prey to her, but Diana rarely paid him any overt attention. He wondered if she was even aware she was doing it at times, causing his suspicions about what her true motivation was for being here to intensify.
What was she really after? Could she be here in "Man's World" to gain their trust in order to eventually pave the way for a Themyscirian invasion? He wasn't putting it past her or even Hawkgirl at this point.
It sounded ridiculous and paranoid even to him as he made his way to the training room, but he wasn't taking any chances by overlooking a possible alternate explanation for Wonder Woman's appearance. He knew that J'onn had summoned her here like he had summoned the rest of them to stop the alien invasion, but could she have some hidden purpose for staying?
Donning his boxing gloves, Bruce began to attack the punching bag with a vengeance, channeling every thought from his mind into each pound of his fists against the dense leather bag. He was more than determined to discover what made Wonder Woman who she was, what made her tick, why she was here and what she was really after.
There was no denying her effectiveness in the face of disaster or her desire to work together with her fellow Leaguers as a team in order to promote peace and justice. At the same time, he couldn't accept it at face value. It might all be nothing more than a very convincing act.
He jabbed with his left before striking with his right, connecting with the bag in a punishing blow and causing it to shudder. Sneering, he growled with mounting frustration as he quickened his attack on the bag. He wished he could just come to some sort of an understanding about her, one that he could accept so he could just move on.
He told himself that the only reason he was doing all of this was because he wanted to make absolutely certain that she could be trusted, to ensure the safety of the world. He loathed surprises and refused to be caught unaware because he wasn't prepared for every eventuality.
Any other possible reasons for his interest in Wonder Woman would not even be considered or admitted to because they held no merit whatsoever. This was strictly professional. Nothing more. It could never be anything more. He didn't have time for anything else except for his mission.
He wasn't in the Justice League to make friends and he sure as hell wasn't looking for a girlfriend to get in his way or break his heart. He'd had enough of that in the past and wasn't about to go down that thorny path ever again.
No, this was strictly for security reasons only—both domestic and international. They couldn't afford to have a crazed Amazon on the loose, one that would be next to impossible to take down. They were still learning what she was actually capable of, what her exact skill set was composed of.
He had just finished designing a series of tests that everyone was going to take so they could record the level of each founder's skills, their degree of strengths and weaknesses. J'onn was going to help him run the tests as well as do full physicals on every one next week. He wanted thorough records of blood type, history of illnesses, and family histories. Nothing was off limits. If there was an accident, they needed to be prepared for all possible medical emergencies.
He had to admit that he was most interested in the Amazon's test results. It would definitely help to establish what exactly she was capable of, the results of her physical helping to prove where she really came from and her claim that she was immortal.
"What is it, Alfred?" Bruce asked between bone-rattling blows to the bag's exterior.
Alfred hadn't announced his presence, standing silently just inside the door waiting for his one-time ward to pause in his brutal attack of the poor punching bag that was once again taking the full brunt of Bruce's frustrations at that moment.
"The books that you ordered on Greek mythology and the Amazons have arrived," he informed him. "I placed them at your workstation for you."
"Thank you, Alfred," he replied in acknowledgement as sweat trickled down his face, neck and back.
Alfred stood there for a moment, studying the young man who continued his assault on the bag, punching and jabbing and grunting with the force of his blows. Bruce finally paused in his attack, grabbing a clean towel off a nearby rack and wiping his face with it before turning an annoyed glare at his butler.
"Is there something else?"
"Just curious about your current obsession with the Amazon princess," Alfred confessed with a cheeky smile that instantly raised Bruce's hackles as well as his eyebrows.
"It's not an obsession. It's purely professional—nothing more so don't even go there," Bruce heatedly insisted as he removed his boxing gloves before snatching the bottle of water out of Alfred's hands.
"Of course it is," Alfred said, his smile not waning for even a second. "I never would've insinuated otherwise, sir. Heaven forbid you ever consider pursuing someone as genuine and compassionate as she appears to be."
Bruce shot him an irritated glare. "Appearances can be deceiving."
"Ah, yes," Alfred agreed with a slight nod of his head. "You should know that as well as anyone."
Bruce released an annoyed breath. "What do you want, Alfred?"
"Just making conversation, Master Bruce," he innocently claimed. "I have to admit that it's very hard to believe that Wonder Woman is anything other than what she claims to be. Have you considered that she just might be telling the truth?"
"Yes, I considered it and then I discounted it," he snapped, adding under his breath, "…at least for now."
"Well, I think she is a very beautiful young woman," Alfred maintained.
Bruce snorted in response, rolling his blue eyes. "Young is the incorrect adjective to describe her, Alfred. She claims to be almost a thousand years old. She told us that she's immortal."
"And you certainly don't believe her," Alfred patiently observed, his hands clasped before him. "You know just because you hide your true identity from the world doesn't mean that everyone else does too."
"I'm well aware of that fact," Bruce coolly stated. "You know that I can't let anyone find out about Batman or Bruce Wayne."
"And now we're talking about ourselves in the third person," Alfred replied with a frown. "At what point do I decide this is highly abnormal and consider having you committed?"
Bruce leveled him a fierce batglare that silently dared him to try it, but the British butler was the only other person besides Wonder Woman who was obviously immune to it. "I know what you're thinking and the answer is an explicit no. I am not interested in a romantic relationship with anyone let alone an immortal Princess of the Amazons. It would never work. We're nothing alike. Besides, I'm not about to give up my mission for anyone, especially not a teammate."
Alfred nodded his head in response, a twinkle of mischief gleaming in his eyes. "Of course, Master Bruce," he replied. "How foolish of me to think that you might actually be interested in a stunning woman such as Princess Diana or would be willing to momentarily set aside your mission for even a morsel of happiness or normalcy in your life."
Bruce's shoulders sagged slightly under his surrogate father's sarcasm. He knew that Alfred worried greatly about him and the dangers that he put himself in every night, wondering if he would come home in one piece or not. There was a part of him that truly wanted to give Alfred that normal life that he knew the butler wanted him to have—a wife and children, being at home every night with his family instead of out swinging from one rooftop to the next fighting crime.
Maybe someday he could cut back on his patrols a little, find someone to actually love and build a life with. Right now, though, it was nothing more than a pipe dream that would probably never come true. For some reason, dying old and alone was the only thing he could picture in his mind, never seeing himself actually falling in love and marrying someone.
Besides, what kind of a man would he be to drag a woman of pure brilliance like Diana into the harsh gritty world that he immersed himself in every night? He couldn't taint her like that or diminish her light in any way.
Bruce mentally shook himself, unsure of where that thought had suddenly come from. Turning to his butler, he finally answered him. "I'm sorry, Alfred, but love and happiness is not meant for someone like me."
"Maybe it's because you just haven't found the right woman yet, one who isn't a thief or has a psychopath for a father," he said. "Seems to me that Princess Diana just might be what you've not been looking for all along."
"Alfred…please," Bruce groaned, raking his fingers back through his damp hair.
Alfred could tell that he had pushed his surrogate son far enough for one day. Knowing him as well as he did, he was positive that he'd be mulling it over in his head for a couple of days at the very least, trying to talk himself out of what Alfred knew in his heart that Bruce actually wanted, but was determined to deny himself as some sort of self-imposed punishment that he felt he deserved.
"Also, Miss Lane called for you," Alfred informed him as he turned to leave. "I left her phone number on your desk with your books."
"Thank you, Alfred," Bruce mumbled as he headed towards the showers, wondering what Lois could possibly want from him.
Drying his hair, Bruce pitched his bath towel into the laundry bin as he made his way back to his workstation. His gaze settled on the large stack of books that he had ordered on anything that had to do with the Amazons or Greek mythology.
As badly as he wanted to know everything he could find about the Amazon princess in case she wasn't who she appeared to be, he also wanted to make sure he was prepared if her so-called Greek gods and goddesses decided to make an unexpected appearance.
He didn't believe in her gods, but he also didn't want Zeus suddenly showing up in Gotham any time soon. Diana was adamant that they were real, believing in them with her whole heart, but he had a feeling that she put her whole heart and soul into every single thing that she did or believed in. That was just the way that she was. All or nothing.
He had to acknowledge that he did appreciate that about her. He knew that if she were ever to fall in love with someone, she would give all she had to him, all the love that her enormous heart could hold. It almost overwhelmed him just thinking about it.
He scowled darkly to himself as he stood before his workstation, wondering where all of these thoughts kept coming from. He ultimately decided it was Alfred's fault for trying to plant seeds in his mind about being something more than just a teammate with the Amazon princess.
It wouldn't work, though. He was done with romantic entanglements of any sort. He was only going to do the bare minimum that he had to in order to maintain his famous womanizer status. He'd had enough of having his heart broken. He wasn't going through that ever again. No matter what it took, he was going steel his heart against anyone trying to get inside of it.
There was him and his mission. He had no need of anything else in his life.
Bruce began to sort through the pile of books he had ordered; trying to decide which one he wanted to start with first before getting ready for patrol later. His eyes fell on one in particular that looked very promising, containing the information that he was looking for.
Picking it up, he began to flip through it when his commlink went off. "Wonder Woman to Batman."
Bruce instantly froze, his body growing tense as his eyes narrowed. "Speak of the devil herself," he thought, wondering if she was somehow spying on him.
"Batman here. What do you need, Wonder Woman?" he deeply rasped.
"Superman asked me to contact everyone for him," she explained. "He is calling a League meeting for tomorrow afternoon."
Bruce ground his teeth as he thought for a long moment. "Why?"
Diana was momentarily taken aback by his bluntness, but took it in stride. "He did not say, but told me to tell you it was very important that you attend."
"I'm busy," came his clipped response, curious to see just how she would react to him.
"Superman told me you would say that."
Bruce couldn't help but smirk with her words. He could hear the amusement lacing her voice, could picture the smile playing on her lips. "He knows Gotham comes first before League business."
"He said that you would say that too."
Most people would be growing exasperated with him by now, but the Amazon seemed to be enjoying this little repartee. It intrigued him. "And you know nothing about what he wants, Princess?"
Bruce frowned to himself, unsure where the moniker had unexpectedly come from. It had held no derision or disrespect, no icy chill or scathing heat to it. In fact, it had held a certain fondness to it. He could tell by the silence that she had noticed it too.
"Honestly, if I knew I would tell you, but I'm just as much in the dark as you are about it," she confessed with a sign.
"Fine," he bit out a little harsher than he had intended in order to cover for the earlier 'Princess' moment. "I'll be there, but this had better be crucially important or he'll meet the little green rock I keep in my utility belt just for him."
To his utter amazement, beautiful lilting laughter filled his ear, causing all of the tension to melt from his body. "Kal said that you'd say that."
Kal? He felt a certain annoyance with the sudden familiarity she seemed to share with the Kryptonian. He found he didn't like it one bit. He was going to have to make sure that nothing but friendship developed between the Man of Steel and the Amazon Wonder Woman. Any romantic interest between the two of them would only lead to utter disaster that he was not about to deal with.
"Well, he obviously knows I'm serious then," he bluntly stated.
There was a moment of awkward silence before Diana spoke again, a certain tension he felt that he wasn't certain she did. "You know if you ever need help in Gotham, I'm more than happy to help, Batman."
"Stay out of my city, Wonder Woman," he snapped. "I handle Gotham myself."
"And somehow I knew you would say that," she teased with a grin that could easily be detected over the commlink. "My offer still stands. Wonder Woman out."
Bruce looked down at the book in his hand, finding himself staring at a picture of what Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons supposedly looked like. "What is it now, Alfred?" he asked without looking up.
"What is that on your face, Master Bruce?"
Bruce looked up sharply. "What are you talking about?"
"I do believe I saw a genuine smile on your face," he commented. "I don't believe I've seen you wear such a smile since you were a boy. I have to say that it's rather nice to see it again."
The smile that was on his face was swiftly replaced with an expression of pure exasperation. "Is there something I can do for you or do you have more commentary you'd like to add on my lack of a love life?"
"Answering the phone would be sufficient for now I believe," Alfred replied, unfazed. "Miss Lane is on the phone again for you."
"What does she want?" he asked. "I'm busy."
"I tried telling her that, but she said that you better make time for her if you know what is good for you or you might find your black boots in a rather unpleasant place."
Bruce snapped the book shut before dropping into his chair like an insolent child, huffing under his breath. "Fine, I'll take it down here."
"As you wish, sir," Alfred said with a slight bow of his head before turning on his heel.
Picking up the phone, Bruce immediately assumed his playboy persona even though the Metropolis reporter already knew his secret. "This is Bruce Wayne."
"You can drop the playboy pretense, Bruce. I know you, remember?"
"Always a pleasure to talk to you too, Lois," he said with a forced smile. "What can I do for you?"
"I want information," she replied, her voice holding a frosty edge even more so than it usually did.
"What kind of information?" He warily sat up a little straighter in his chair.
"I want to know about the new Amazon in town," she told him. She was never one for beating around the bush and yet she didn't like showing all of her cards at once either.
Bruce's eyebrows furrowed despite the surprise that her words had created. "What kind of information are you looking for?"
"Everything and anything," she flatly stated.
He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his desk, his gaze falling on the Amazon in question. Her picture still filled one of his computer screens. "Why the sudden interest in Wonder Woman? If this is for a headline for your newspaper, just ask her for an interview."
"It's not for a headline, Bruce," she revealed, worry creeping into her voice. "Let's just call it professional curiosity."
There was a long pause before Bruce eventually responded. "Superman wouldn't tell you anything, would he?"
"Not a damn thing," she bit out in overt exasperation. "He has shot me down at every turn. It's like he's protecting her or something. I don't get it. What is he hiding about her?"
"What? No!" she exclaimed with growing frustration. "I'm just worried, Bruce. I mean what do we really know about this Amazon princess who just showed up out of nowhere to help save the day. I'm sorry but no one can be that perfect or look that incredible and not be a complete fake. Something is very off about her. What if she has some sort of magical power and is gaining control over Superman's mind to turn him against us?"
Bruce considered her words, knowing that he could find no real argument with her. She shared some of his very same uncertainties, voiced some of his same concerns. If Diana ended up capturing Clark's heart, there would be no stopping him if anything happened to her.
"What do you want me to do about it, Lois?"
"You know what you can do," she hissed into the receiver, knowing that he was just toying with her because she couldn't come right out and say it over the phone. "Just do something already. Spy on them and find out what's going on."
Bruce chuckled softly as he leaned back in his chair once more; picking up one of the books again as he propped his feet up on the desk. Holding the phone to his ear with his shoulder, he began to flip through the book once more, anxious to learn more about the enigma known as Wonder Woman.
"You can rest assured that I'm already looking into things," he cryptically admitted.
"So you're suspicious too, aren't you?" she quickly gathered. "I should have known that your dark paranoia would get the better of you.
"Flattery will only get you so far, Lois," he flatly said.
"Just don't let her get her claws into you too."
"So you are jealous," he snorted with amusement.
"For the last time, I am not jealous," she ground out through clenched teeth. "I'm only looking out for Superman and the welfare of mankind especially if she turns out to be a crazy spy or something."
"If she's a spy, Lois, I'd certainly love to know where she hides her mini voice recorder and camera in that uniform of hers," he told her, a smirk curling his lips knowing he was getting to her.
"You are impossible, Bruce Wayne!" she growled. "Just get back to me when you have something."
Bruce was met with an angry dial tone…if a dial tone could ever be angry. It most definitely was when Lois Lane was the one slamming the phone down. Hanging up the phone, he turned his attention back to the picture on the computer screen.
"Just who are you really, Princess?" he thoughtfully murmured to himself.
Batman exited the Javelin Bay, his black cape swishing behind him as he made his way down the long winding corridor that would lead him to the monitor womb. He wanted to see what more he could find out about Wonder Woman before this supposedly important meeting that Kent had called.
He had been trying to keep a particularly close eye on her, but it was difficult with Superman hovering near her most of the time. The Man of Steel could hear him coming long before he actually landed the Batwing in the Javelin Bay, adding another degree of difficulty when it came to tracking them on the Watchtower. Thankfully, the visual feeds in the security system had helped to provide some measure of reassurance that he could keep an eye on things.
With a frown etched on his face, the Dark Knight silently slipped into the monitor womb, hoping to gather more intel. He immediately spotted Diana sitting on the edge of the large desk, her red boots gently swinging back and forth. She had a huge dazzling smile that lit up her whole face as she talked to Superman who was supposed to be focusing on monitor duty, not the Amazon.
It caused Batman's frown to deepen even further. He definitely didn't approve of how friendly the two were becoming. He was beginning to think that maybe Lois's concern wasn't so misplaced. It was obvious there was some sort of connection between the two. How far that connection ran still remained to be seen.
The ramifications of a romantic relationship between the pair were not lost on him. To say that it would be a catastrophe if it ever fell apart would be an understatement. He feared that if the two strongest people in the world became involved, they would choose each other over the safety of the world.
He scowled to himself. Dating within the League should be absolutely forbidden, but he knew Superman would never go for any such rules nor would the Flash for that matter. Wally was nothing more than raging hormones in a flashy red suit.
Resting his back against the wall, Batman folded his arms against his chest, his jaw tensing and relaxing as he listened to them talk. The familiarity they shared put him on edge in a way that he hadn't anticipated. It annoyed him to no end that the Boy Scout was so trusting all the time.
"So what did he do then?" she asked, her hands lightly gripping the edge of the desk.
Superman laughed as he thought back on that day. "Batman wasn't very happy with me after that," he revealed, his blue eyes shining with pleasure. "He dove headlong into a scathing lecture about invading his city and ruining his reputation. I just nodded my head. If I hadn't flown away, he'd probably still be there lecturing me now."
Diana shook her head, her raven curls bouncing gently with the movement. "I can imagine," she sympathized, her forehead creasing in thought. "He's a very hard man to understand."
"You have no idea," Superman said with a roll of his eyes, his voice abruptly growing louder. "Right, Batman?"
Bruce instantly grew rigid, his lips twisting into a sneer. He should've known that Kent had known he was there. He immediately glanced at the Amazon, a perplexed expression replacing the relaxed amusement of just a couple of moments ago as she met his cowled gaze.
A smile tugged at the corners of her red lips as she stared at him. She didn't seem to be the least bit annoyed that he had been there listening in on their conversation or unsettled by his unexpected appearance. She continued to swing her legs back and forth as he approached them, completely unruffled by him.
"Hello, Batman," she pleasantly greeted him. "Didn't expect to you see before the meeting this afternoon."
"I had some things I needed to check up on before the meeting," Batman flatly replied, turning his attention to the Kryptonian. "Anything exciting happening in the world or are you too busy talking to notice?"
Superman glanced up at the Dark Knight's forbidding presence now standing to his right looming over him. "Actually, it's been rather quiet. A little too quiet if you ask me. Makes me wonder when the other shoe is going to drop?"
"Other shoe?" Diana inquired, her face revealing her confusion.
"It's just a saying," Batman explained. "It means that inevitably something bad is going to happen sooner than you think."
Diana still looked rather puzzled as she mulled it over in her mind, but accepted Batman's explanation for the moment. "I guess there is an element of truth to that. There will always be evil in the world that will need to be defeated."
"We can only hope the day will come when we won't be needed," Superman said with a measure of hope.
"Wishful thinking, Pollyanna," Batman huffed under his breath as he turned on his heel to leave.
"Is he always so pessimistic?" Diana asked Superman as she watched him leave.
Clark laughed in response as he leaned back in his chair. "That wasn't Batman being pessimistic," he explained with a smile. "That's just Batman being Batman."
Diana pursed her lips. "There's a difference?"
"Not much some days," Clark admitted with a shake of his head.
J'onn entered the monitor womb at the same moment the Dark Knight exited, both silently nodding to one another in acknowledgement. The Martian Manhunter smiled to himself. Though he was unable to read Batman's mind, he gathered enough to know that he was annoyed with the two superheroes already occupying the monitor womb.
Well, more annoyed with one than the other. The other had become a rather intense obsession and source of interest for reasons that the black-clad superhero had yet come to realize. J'onn had a feeling it would only be a matter of time before Batman discovered the real root for his curiosity and suspicions.
"I am here to relieve you," J'onn evenly announced.
Superman glanced at the clock at the bottom of the computer screen. He'd completely lost track of time. Talking to Diana had made his shift fly by faster than normal. "Great, thanks," Clark replied. "I needed to take care of some things before our meeting this afternoon."
J'onn bowed his head stoically as he took the suddenly unoccupied chair. "I will notify you if there is trouble."
"I'm sure that sandal will drop sooner than later," Wonder Woman confidently said as she left the monitor room with Superman.
Clark couldn't contain the laughter that spilled from his lips as they began to make their way towards the living quarters on the Watchtower. "Its shoe, but you get the idea."
"Oh, sorry," Diana replied. "Man's World is much more confusing than Themyscira ever was."
Hidden behind them in the dark shadows, a certain Caped Crusader couldn't help the slight upturn of one corner of his mouth with the Amazon's word choice. She was definitely making a good case for having been raised on a magically protected island away from society, untainted by the world.
She was so naïve and pure that it was surprisingly endearing in a way that he hadn't anticipated. Following them from a distance, he couldn't help but notice the way she walked with her arms behind her back, her fingers wrapped around her opposing wrist as she fell in step next to the Kryptonian.
Clark was so at ease with her, so natural. He wondered what his friend thought about the Amazon princess, what his true intentions and feelings towards her were. He was going to have to corner him sooner or later if he didn't get to the bottom of this soon.
Following them, he picked up on bits and pieces of their conversation, trying to stay far enough back so as not to get caught and yet close enough to learn what he needed to know. He hoped that Clark would be so deep in conversation with her that he wouldn't pick up on the fact that he was being tailed.
As they made their way towards the living quarters, Bruce felt tension begin to settle in his muscles, his hands curling into fists. What were these two up to? They couldn't be involved in a romantic tryst already. Clark had drooled over Lois for years before he'd ever acted on it. He couldn't imagine Kent bedding the princess within four weeks of meeting her.
Batman hung back as they slowed to a stop outside of Superman's quarters, his narrowed gaze practically boring through the Man of Steel as if his eyes were made of pure kryptonite. His hands were clenched in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
He watched as Superman said goodbye to the princess before turning and entering his quarters. Diana continued on, heading towards the kitchen at the far end of the corridor. He felt his body begin to relax a little as he followed her, curiosity getting the best of him.
He didn't know what he could possibly learn now, but he lingered outside the kitchen anyways, peering through the doorway to see what she was up to. He studied her as she picked up the blender, examining it closely before she began pressing various buttons on it. It was obvious that she had never used anything like it before, her forehead creasing in confusion.
Setting it down, she turned her attention to the coffee maker. Taking the full pot, she poured half of the caffeinated contents into the blender before replacing it on the coffee burner. She folded her arms across her chest, biting at her bottom lip as she studied the blender for a moment as if silently willing it to do whatever it was she wanted it to do.
Bruce tilted his head as he continued to watch her, his curiosity skyrocketing. It was clear that she was trying to figure something out, but what in the world was she trying to do?
She finally unhooked her arms, reaching out a finger and tentatively pushing a button on the blender. It quickly whirled to noisy life on command, the gears spinning and causing coffee to splash everywhere. Greek curse words filled the air as she began pushing buttons in an effort to stop the blender as coffee sprayed all over the place.
Reaching for the electrical cord, Diana quickly pulled the plug, growling to herself as she grabbed a nearby towel. She began wiping up the coffee that dripped off the counter and onto the floor, causing a slight smirk to play on the Dark Knight's lips.
Unable to bear it any longer, Batman entered the kitchen. "What you doing?"
Diana nearly jumped out of her skin at the unexpected appearance, her surprised expression turning into one of sheer frustration. Her uniform was soaked in coffee, her hair wet and hanging in limp curls about her face. She attempted to blow a curly lock out of her eyes, but it refused to comply.
"Nothing," she insisted as she grabbed another towel before kneeling on the floor to clean up her mess.
"It doesn't look like nothing," he bluntly stated, careful to keep his amusement out of his voice. "It looks like a mess."
Diana looked up at his tall forbidding form looming over her, blowing again at the offending curl that refused to move from her line of sight. "I was just getting some coffee," she claimed.
"Do you always drink your coffee out of a blender?"
Diana could feel the heat rising to her cheeks, a combination of both embarrassment and anger. She didn't particularly care for his mocking tone or the fact that she had been caught in such an awkward situation where she wasn't at her best.
She was still trying to get to know her fellow teammates, Batman proving to be the most difficult to get to know out of all of them. He barely spoke to her and if he did it was curt and usually contained three syllables or less. She didn't know why but she felt an overwhelming need to make him see that she was meant to be a part of this team and knew what she was doing.
It was disconcerting and aggravating to say the least. She'd never truly felt the need to prove herself to anyone least of all some arrogant man who dressed like a flying rodent and yet he made her feel that she needed to do just that.
Straightening up to her full height, Diana looked him directly in his cowled face as a hand found her hip, her bright blue eyes practically daring him to continue down this path he had chosen. "I was trying to make a coffee drink. It obviously didn't work out so now I am cleaning up the mess I had made."
"That's abundantly clear," he retorted with a snort. "What were you trying to make?"
She drew a deep breath in an effort to calm the swelling anger that was brewing inside of her before responding, more than stunned that he was actually talking to her. "I don't remember exactly what Flash called it," she replied indignantly as she laid aside the wet towels before turning to face him once more. "It was some chocolate coffee that was very cold and very good. I was trying to make one, but that is clearly impossible."
"Iced mocha," he flatly stated.
"What?" she asked, taken off guard as she watched him turn towards the freezer.
"It's an iced mocha," he repeated, retrieving a tray of ice cubes. "To make iced mocha, you need ice."
She watched in amazement as he began to put the ice cubes in the blender that now had barely enough coffee left in it for even a sip. He turned back towards the refrigerator, pulling out some chocolate syrup and some cream. He proceeded to put the ingredients into the blender before adding the rest of the coffee.
"You also need the lid," he told her as he reached past her to pick up the top to the blender, noticing how she smelled like coffee and jasmine. It was an unexpectedly intoxicating combination.
Diana blushed as he put the lid on the blender before pushing the button, realizing what she had forgotten. She leaned forward, resting her elbow on the counter with interest and propping her chin up with her hand as she watched him work. Her anger was suddenly forgotten as he stopped the blender and poured her sweet concoction into a glass for her.
He turned and handed her the iced mocha, a faint smirk tugging at his lips. "Enjoy."
"Thank you," she softly replied, surprised by his willingness to help her.
This was the closest thing to friendship that he'd ever displayed towards her as well as the longest amount of time he'd ever spent with her outside of a mission. She took a long drink, her eyes falling closed as ecstasy washed through. She knew Batman was still there watching her, but she didn't care. She'd discovered paradise in a cup.
"Where did you learn to—" she finally began, opening her eyes to find herself standing alone in the kitchen once more.
She cursed again, this time a "Batman" added into the Greek mix of expletives. He totally and utterly infuriated her to no end and at the same time she felt such an intense draw to him unlike anything she'd ever known before. She'd never experienced his feeling before and it made absolutely no sense to her.
Maybe someday she'd be able to figure him out, but for now she was going to enjoy her drink.
Batman swept into the medical bay like a black hurricane, more than anxious to get Diana's testing started. They had done Superman's yesterday. He hadn't learned anything new that he hadn't already known. Today, however, would be a different story.
Once he learned what he needed to know, he could finally let go of his suspicions and move on to other things like his never-ending work to clean up the streets of Gotham. Nothing was more important to him than that.
Making his way to the back where they had set everything up, he nearly faltered in his steps when he spotted Diana standing there talking to J'onn wearing nothing but a black sports bra and fitted shorts. The outfit only seemed to accentuate her god-given feminine curves, covering even less than her star-spangled uniform.
She was running her fingers through her jet black hair that shined like spun silk before pulling it back into a high ponytail. She turned at that moment to notice him standing there, a bright smile forming on her face. "Batman," she greeted him. "We were just talking about you."
"About what?" he coldly asked as he made his way to the computer station, avoiding making any eye contact with her. He couldn't let her get any further under his skin than she already was.
"I was wondering when your testing was scheduled for," she replied, her hands finding her hips.
"I've given J'onn all of the necessary information already," he informed her as he settled into his chair. "There is nothing else I need to do."
"Oh really?" Diana asked with a curious tilt of her head. "I thought we were all required to perform these tests."
"You are," he brusquely confirmed.
"As a founding member, I believe that makes you one of us which means you should perform the tests as well," she continued.
J'onn forced his face to remain emotionless despite the amusement he was finding with this conversation. "She has a point, Batman."
"Fine," he spat out. "I'll take the tests too. Let's just get this done so I can leave."
"Oh, right," Diana said with a smirk. "Gotham. I'm beginning to think that this Gotham is not a city, but a woman you must be dating."
Batman's head shot up from the computer he was typing on, the white lens of his cowl narrowing. "I assure you Gotham is a city and there is no woman. I can't be distracted from—"
"Gotham," Diana interrupted with a sweet smile. "Let me see if I understand you correctly. Gotham is definitely not a woman because you have no time for them, but it is a city, one that I'm not allowed to enter or help you with and occupies all your time."
"Correct, Princess," he snapped.
"You are an unusual man," she replied with a sigh as she walked towards the treadmill.
Batman stared at her for a long moment as he watched her step onto the treadmill. "You're going to do this test with bare feet?"
Diana gave him a confused look before staring down at her feet. "Yes, is that a problem?"
"It's your test," he retorted with a shrug. "I just would've thought you would do your best with shoes on."
The Amazon princess leveled him with a deadly serious glare that actually gave him pause. "I always give my best, Batman."
He curtly nodded his head in response, mildly impressed with her response. He was glad that she was intent on giving her all, but to be honest he hadn't expected anything less from her. She was wholly committed to her duties and viewed her responsibilities with a serious determination that rivaled his own.
It made her a very valuable teammate, but it also made her a very dangerous enemy if she ever turned on them.
"Let's get this show on the street," she happily announced.
"Road, Princess," Batman corrected her with a slight smirk, deciding she'd been spending far too much time with Flash. "It's get this show on the road."
"Oh, well then that too," she responded with an unruffled grin that was endearing even to someone as dark and grim as he was.
He just shook his head as he started the program. "Begin, Princess."
J'onn settled into the chair beside Batman, doing his best to ignore what he sensed between these two. It was more than apparent that there was an underlying tension between them though neither of them realized it. It was subtle, but it was definitely there and would no doubt build with time.
He just hoped that Batman would allow it take its natural course.
Diana quickened her step as she made her way to the kitchen on the Watchtower. After an extensive workout session in the training room, she was in dire need of an iced mocha and now that she knew how to make them thanks to Batman, she was more than anxious to try her hand at it for herself.
It couldn't possibly go any worse than it had a week ago when Batman had walked in on her and the mess that she had made. It had been embarrassing to say the least, being caught standing there drenched in coffee. And of course, it had to be him of all people.
Why couldn't it have been Kal or Flash?
Even now a week later, she left herself flush with the memory, her cheeks growing warm with mortification. Batman was the only one who had ever captured her attention or fascinated her like that, piquing her curiosity and desire to know everything about him.
Getting to know him had proven to be quite tricky so far, but she had always loved a challenge and he was already proving to be the most difficult that she'd ever encountered.
It wasn't romantic interest in her teammate by any means. It was merely professional. She was intrigued by him. He was a mortal man with no Meta powers, relying solely on his mind and gadgets as well as the various fighting skills that he had learned over the years.
He was a true warrior in so many ways, fearless and self-sacrificing for the good of mankind. He never ceased to amaze her with his bravery, allowing not even preconceived physical limitations to keep him from doing what was necessary in order to protect the world. He always pushed his body and mind beyond what any seemingly ordinary human being should be able to do, always without a second thought about the cost to himself.
But, of course, he was anything but ordinary.
She knew that she had so much to learn in Man's World and while the others had been helpful, she felt she could learn the most from the dark hero of the night. The problem was cornering him and asking him to teach her what he knew.
Entering the kitchen, Diana made a direct path for the blender and coffee pot only to discover a new appliance she'd never seen before sitting on the counter beside the others. With a curious tilt of her head, she inspected it to find a label on the side of it that read "iced mocha machine".
Diana quickly looked for a glass, unaware that the superhero who had been occupying her thoughts was secretly watching her at this very moment on the security feed that he had linked into the Batcave. A smile attempted to break through the stony expression currently cemented on his face. He studied her as she filled her glass to the top with the cold treat, a pleasant smile on her face.
Her happiness filled him with an unusual sense of peace, a contentment that he hadn't felt in a very long time. It was startling to him.
Her tests the other day had proved very valuable, revealing the true extent of her strength and abilities. She was actually far more skilled than even he had first realized, confirming what they were truly up against if the princess ever went rogue or proved to be a spy for the Amazons.
His suspicions, however, were diminishing the more that he learned about her. He'd informed Lois yesterday that Diana was definitely not brainwashing Superman nor did she possess any magical abilities save for her Meta powers instilled in her by her gods.
While somewhat relieved to learn that nothing was going on between Superman and Wonder Woman but friendship, Lois was still skeptical, as was he. There was no denying that they appeared to share a familiarity and closeness that he didn't quite understand nor did he want to right now.
There was still more investigating that needed to be done before he would allow himself to trust her. "What is it, Alfred?"
"Still contemplating the princess's credibility, sir?" Alfred asked as he set down a hot cup of coffee and carafe, noticing the way he was watching the princess on the Watchtower as she exited the kitchen.
"Just covering all my bases, Alfred," Batman informed him as he cut the security feed to return to the research he had accumulated on the Amazon. "She still might not be who she appears to be."
"Yes, I'm sure she's a monster underneath all that charm and beauty. She's certainly a hideous looking creature, isn't she?" Alfred commented, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"She could be a wolf in sheep's clothing," he snorted with a glare.
"She's a very exquisite wolf," Alfred pointed out. "It almost seems to me as if you want to find her guilty of something so you can remove her not only from the League but from your life completely."
Bruce's head snapped up from his computer with Alfred's observation, an incredulous look on his face. "That couldn't be furthest from the truth, Alfred. I'm investigating each of the new members, not just her. I can't just sit back and hope these Metas don't suddenly turn on us someday. I want to be prepared for every eventuality."
"Funny, I don't recall the Flash taking nearly this long to investigate," Alfred innocently murmured to himself with a small grin as he turned to walk away.
Bruce scowled at his butler's retreating form. "I heard that! I never said Diana wasn't beautiful," he yelled before adding to himself, "God knows that I'm still a man."
He began punching at the keys of his computer in irritation, inputting the information he had gleaned from Diana's tests into his own set of files. Hearing the sensor alerting him that someone was approaching the manor, Bruce immediately checked the security camera to find a certain red caped superhero rapidly approaching. He scowled at the image of the Kryptonian, wondering what he wanted now.
He closed the open files on the Amazon before opening a current case file he had also been working on in Gotham. He didn't bother turning around as Superman flew through the secret entrance to the Batcave. At least he hadn't used the front door this time.
Bruce typed on his computer as Clark approached him from behind. "What are you doing here?" he gruffly demanded to know.
"I'm doing well, Bruce," Clark responded with a grin. "Thanks for asking."
"What do you want?"
"I want to know why you're spying on Diana," he replied, crossing his arms against his muscular chest, "and don't deny it because I know you have been for the last couple of weeks."
Bruce never missed a single keystroke as he continued typing, his jaw set like granite. He should've kept his investigation confined to monitoring from the cave through the security feeds. He should've known Clark would become the overprotective brother—or worse—boyfriend. The thought grated on his nerves, causing all sorts of warning signals to go off in his paranoid mind.
"Are you in love with her?" Clark asked after receiving no response save for icy silence.
That caused the Dark Knight to pause in what he was doing. "No, I am not in love with Wonder Woman," he grated with a rasp. "I'm just making sure that she is who she says she is."
"Right," Clark drawled, shaking his head in amazement. "Because Diana is probably really a man parading as a woman with her sights set on conquering earth. You really have got to get a grip on your paranoia, Bruce."
"You can never be too careful," Bruce bit out, unamused by his analogy. Diana was most definitely a woman in every sense of the word. There was no disputing that.
"Has Alfred considered having you committed?" Clark asked with a serious tone.
"Joke all you want, but we don't know much about her except what she had told us," Bruce shot back as he stood up from his seat before making his way to his supply locker to prepare for patrol.
"Actually, I know a lot about her," Clark revealed as he followed him. "You'd be amazed what you can learn just by talking to someone instead of secretly stalking them like a psychopath."
Bruce snorted. "You should for as much time as you've spent with her."
Clark's gaze narrowed with the jab. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Just seems to me that the two of you have grown quite close…Kal," Bruce replied, emphasizing Superman's Kryptonian name. "I can't help wondering how Lois would feel about it if she knew."
Clark's anger began to simmer as he leaned forward, placing his hands firmly on the table that separated them. "Diana is nothing but a friend and Lois knows that."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Sure about what? That Diana is my friend or that Lois knows about her?"
"Either one," Bruce evenly said.
"Are you jealous, Bruce?"
Bruce stopped sorting through his various batarangs to glare at his friend. "Diana is nothing more than a colleague. I do not now nor will I ever feel more for her than professional respect and admiration. I have no time or need for a romantic involvement with her or anyone else for that matter."
"If you say so, Bruce," Clark replied, not buying it. Something was definitely going on with him. It seemed that the Amazon had gotten under his cowl whether he was willing to admit it or not. "Since you want to know all about Diana, I'm more than happy to tell you, but you better have your notebook handy to write it all down so you don't miss a thing."
"Funny," Bruce growled as he began to check the compartments in his utility belt one by one. "Tell me what you learned so far, detective."
"She's lonely and is looking for friends," Clark confessed. "She feels lost and she misses her home, but knows she can't go back just yet. She doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. She's filled with questions about the world and is anxious to learn everything she possibly can, but do you know what she asks me about the most?"
"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me," he snapped, feeling an unexpected sense of guilt weighing him down with what Clark had told him so far.
He had never considered that she might be feeling lost or alone, trying to figure out where she belonged. He had known that feeling soon after losing his parents. It still haunted him at times now even with Alfred, Dick, and Tim in his life, his mission.
"You, Bruce," Superman simply stated as he watched his friend for a reaction. "She asks about you."
Bruce looked up sharply, nearly dropping his batbombs in shock as his eyes narrowed into a suspicious glare. "Me? Why me?"
"I have asked myself that very same thing, but for some crazy reason she's fascinated by you," Clark told him.
Bruce stared at his friend in stunned disbelief as he tried to process what Clark had just revealed to him. What could be her motivation behind her curiosity in him? It made absolutely no sense to him. He rarely carried on a conversation with her, giving her a cold shoulder and keeping her at arm's length.
Clark studied him, wondering if he was going to respond as he returned to checking his utility belt. He was about to give up and walk away when Bruce's voice broke through the eerie silence of the Batcave, his tone surprisingly softer than he had expected.
"What have you told her about me?"
"I told her some basic things, but never your identity or why you became Batman," Clark reassured him. "That is not for me to reveal or discuss with her. It's up to you if you feel the urge to reveal that information."
Bruce thought for a long moment before abruptly stiffening, the mask of the Bat returning to his face despite not having his cowl on. "There's no need for her to know that," he decided. "It's irrelevant to the League. Besides, the fewer people who know who I am the better."
Clark shook his head, not the least bit surprised by his reaction. "Somehow I knew you would say that," he said. "Just please give her a chance, Bruce. I think you'll find a very devoted friend in Diana, one who would protect your identity no matter the cost and I know you of all people could use more than just me and Alfred as your friends."
The Man of Steel watched him a moment longer before eventually turning to leave the man alone with his thoughts. Bruce paused what he was doing, a batbomb clutched tightly in his hand as he began to consider what Clark had just told him.
Maybe he could learn to trust Diana someday.
A year and a half later in Paris…
He stood talking to a fellow business man from America, biding his time for someone to make their appearance. He had known she was going to attend tonight the moment she had sent in her reservation. He had been keeping close tabs on her since the moment the alien invasion had ended; needing to learn everything he possibly could about her.
It had started out as nothing but pure suspicion and curiosity, a necessity to know everything about her in case she turned out to be someone she was not. However, over time, that suspicion had morphed and grown, becoming something altogether different.
What had started out as suspicion had become admiration and respect, followed by trust and true friendship, finally leading to something that he had not anticipated or seen coming—attraction and desire and could it be…love?
He scoffed at the notion of love. He didn't know for sure how it had happened or when, but she had somehow managed to not only capture his attention but his heart along the way. While he was not willing to admit it was love to anyone, least of all her, he had been forced to acknowledge that it might actually exist.
After all, admitting it was the first step to eradicating it, right?
Bruce sipped his glass of champagne as he made small talk, his eyes constantly searching the room, not wanting to miss her entrance as if that would have been possible. The sudden eruption of chatter, the flutter of excitement that abruptly permeated the room told him that she had arrived.
He turned slightly in order to face the door, finding her surrounded by a mob of cameras and fans all barraging her with questions. It would have been overwhelming for anyone in her position, but for someone unaccustomed to the ways of the world it had to have been downright disconcerting to her.
He felt that all-too familiar tug inside of him, that powerful draw to her that overpowered him every time she entered the room…the need to protect her despite her not needing it. Excusing himself, he quickly set his drink down before making his way to her.
Bruce knew that it was dangerous, but he lived dangerously. He knew that he shouldn't do it and yet he wasn't sure he could've stopped himself if he had wanted to. He was falling in love with her and as desperate and determined as he was to stop it; his heart was equally determined to see it through to its sweet ending.
He wondered which side of him would ultimately win the battle.