Speed of Light
AN: Sorry this got a bit soap boxy... You can tell what I'm majoring in.
"You know, every student in the school is afraid of you."
The man in front of her continued tapping away at his keyboard.
"It would be easier to convince kids to switch majors if the head of the department didn't scare the ever loving Tartarus out of them."
"And that's when I told them neutrinos have no mass and travel at the speed of light."
Bruce looked up and opened his mouth to correct his colleague. He glared when he saw Diana's smirk.
"So you were listening."
"You sound idiotic when you say Tartarus instead of hell."
"I didn't get my second masters in Greek Mythology for nothing, Bruce."
He mumbled something about fruitless pursuits before going back to his project.
"What are you doing anyway?"
"Stopping the end of the world."
Diana rolled her eyes. Man's inflated sense of self-importance never ceased to amaze her.
"I did actually have a reason for coming in here."
"I'm sure you did."
"There aren't enough women in the department."
Bruce pressed the key to begin the simulation and gave Diana his full attention. She stood tall and lifted her chin. He hated that she was a good three inches taller than him and she would hold it over them until they died.
"We've been over this. I can't kidnap women and force them to become physicists."
"Yes but there's something to be said about encouragement."
"You're too optimistic, Princess."
Diana growled and crossed her arms. She could deal with the nickname in a friendly setting but now it only furthered her anger.
"And you're a centaur without a human half."
"Is that your way of calling me an ass?"
"Yeah I thought it was pretty creative."
Bruce took a deep breath and changed his focus back to his work. Diana growled and stormed out of his office.
This wasn't over.
Diana loved teaching the Quantum mechanics class.
The material was exciting, all the students cared, and the best thing of all;
She unpacked her laptop and notes while the TA, Zatana, searched for the HTMI cable.
"What were you and Bruce arguing about?"
"His approach to teaching." Diana said as she pulled up her slide show. "And how he scares new people away from physics."
Zatana laughed and took her seat toward the back of the room. At this level the classes had only 15 or so students so the TA was there more for different perspectives than controlling the class.
The students started trickling into the room. Diana mentally practiced their names. Most professors didn't bother to know their students but she wanted to encourage the kids that made it this far.
Oliver and Dinah nodded at her as they entered the room. The odd pair became the talk of the department as soon as they started dating. Their joint presentations on Newtonian and Lagrangian mechanics brought in crowds well into the triple digits.
Nathaniel smiled and greeted her in his cute southern drawl. The former officer turned undergrad had an unstoppable passion for nuclear physics. His current research in fission took up most of his time.
Victor or, as many of his friend call him, Cyborg entered. The computer science major was explaining his new program to Kara as they both took their seats.
The rest of the students filed in as Diana turned her attention to fixing the projector.
Wally West, the track star, dashed in the door ten seconds late as usual. For the fastest man on the east coast the boy couldn't be on time for anything. He plopped into his chair just as she started speaking.
"When two particles states are dependent on one another it's called Quantum Entanglement. Can anyone tell me why this phenomenon is important?"
Wally lifted his hand.
"Because messages travels faster than the speed of light."
"No it's not." Diana and the rest of the class' eyes darted to the back of the room where Bruce leaned against the doorframe. "There is no message. That's what the theory proves."
Diana glared at him.
"Yes but the idea is the same. The basic concept is that their dependency breaks the rules of relativity."
"Basic isn't good enough."
"You know what?" Diana stepped out from behind the podium and crossed her arms. "You're wrong. Basic is good enough. Basic is something. Do you know the percentage of people who could tell me even that? It's not very high." Bruce stood a bit taller as she came closer. "You may know everything there is to know about Astro-particle physics but you have no idea how to teach." With that she returned to her spot behind the lectern. "Get out of my class."
She expected Bruce to yell, maybe suspend her from teaching and take over her class, but without a word he exited the room like it was on fire.
Diana took a deep breath and continued her lecture.
"Diana's right you know."
"How would you know that, Clark?"
Clark raised an eyebrow.
"You know my cousin is in your department right? Well that and I'm a journalist." Bruce rolled his eyes so Clark continued. "Kara is one of six, including Diana and Zatana. Women make of less than twenty percent of bachelors of physics. Not to mention the inherent sexism when it comes to things like tenure and-"
"I know it's a problem, Boy Scout."
Clark put down his sandwich and picked up his coffee.
"Then why fight Diana so hard?"
"Because I don't want to get her hopes up. If she thinks it's my fault new people aren't coming in she won't lose any of her optimism."
Clark raised an eyebrow. Bruce's logic was… well it was stupid but it proved he cared about his coworker. He can't believe he hadn't seen it sooner.
Bruce liked Diana.
That's what John talked about all the time.
"You should ask her out."
Bruce looked taken aback for a moment but recovered quickly.
"I don't like her." Clark blinked. "She's a remarkable physicist, a friend, and a colleague but I don't want to date her."
Clark let the subject drop at the boldface lie but continued to think about his friends. Bruce chose Diana as his assistant department head because she could argue with him. Her wit only rivaled by her knowledge and her striking personality fit in well with the rest of her colleagues. Bruce, ever serious, stuck out like a sore thumb among the "Original Seven" as much of the faculty called their group. He wasn't afraid to shoot down any idea if it didn't benefit the school.
Bruce's world consisted of his computer and his office. Why not factor Diana into that equation? They had no shortage of things to talk about (most of those things were so far above Clarks knowledge level it made his head spin) and thought Bruce was prickly to say the least, the man was driven to the point of excess.
They were drawn to each other since the beginning and now that Clark found out the only two left to notice were Bruce and Diana themselves.
Bruce thought over what Clark said. If the innocent Boy Scout could tell he lo- liked Diana then everyone on campus knew.
When he was an undergrad he made three rules. No dating in the department, no military labs, and no private funding. If he dated Diana he broke one of the rules that got him to his current position. His fingers hovered over his keyboard but didn't move.
Would it be so bad to break that rule?
Diana was every student's favorite professor. Her smile lit up a room and her eyes sparkled whenever she talked about physics. She worked as hard as he did and juggled four times as many classes. Her pet project of bringing more people to the department (especially minorities) was making a positive impact.
Bruce sighed. Just as he was about to start working again the object of his affections stormed in.
"What the hell was that for Bruce!?" He flinched as the door slammed. "You just had to embarrass me in front of my class. Not only that but you just had to make the blow to Wally's confidence. You know he's only in that class because I thought he'd enjoy it? He wants to drop now because he doesn't think he's smart enough." Bruce stared intently at a fleck in the wood grain of his desk. "I really don't understand why you're so, so-" She broke off when she realized he wasn't even looking at her.
"I'm sorry, princess." That stopped her in her tracks. He as good as admitted he was wrong. "I'll call Wally in as tell him I'm sorry too."
Her jaw dropped. Bruce apologizing to a lowly undergrad? One that isn't even a physics major? It knocked her off balance.
"I want to take you to dinner." He blurted. Bruce seemed surprised by his own actions but made no move to take it back. He just asked her out.
Diana blinked and tried to take everything in.
Bruce apologized, promised to apologize to an undergrad and asked her out in the span of twenty five seconds.
She should probably give him an answer.
"S-sure." She stammered.
He took a deep breath.
"Ok. I'll pick you up at seven?"
She nodded and turned to go. As she grabbed the doorknob she turned and dashed over to his desk and pecked him on the cheek.
"Tonight at seven."