DC owns all characters appearing in this story, and especially the ones that don't. Looking at you Ambush Bug.
As it says on the description thingy, this story is inspired by Kurt Vonneguts short story "Who Am I This Time?" Which means its, in typical Vonnegut fashion, completely devoid of semi-colons.
Here's to you Kurt.
What Do You Need Me To Do This Time?
I had been the de facto leader of the Justice League of America for a few years. It wasn't something I was overly excited about at first. I tend to be the kind of guy that's more than willing to let other people take charge, provided they know what they're doing and I feel as though I can trust them. My original vote for the Chair was Black Canary. Her mother was the tactician of the JSA, and she had all the smarts and spunk her mother did and then some. But the members voted for me, including Black Canary, and here I am, half a decade later, leading the greatest group of heroes the world has seen since the Second World War.
There are seven of us. Dinah, who I trust with all the tactical decisions I can't make. Barry Allen, who's filled the speedy shoes of Jay rather nicely. Hal's done the same for Alan, minus the odd susceptibility to wood, which is handy. J'onn J'onzz might just be the most powerful person in the room at any given time, but he's a big teddy bear, and isn't afraid of making sure we know that. Aquaman's the King of Atlantis and acts like it, but he comes in handy. Plastic Man is an all-around funny guy, good for morale, and most of us are fine to overlook his less than spotless past. And, of course, there's me, the Man of Steel.
Together we form the Earth's first and last defense against the big and slimy things that go bump in the night. Together, we're a family who's capable of doing anything.
Almost anything. That's where the unofficial eighth member comes in.
His name is Batman, though I call him Bruce whenever we're alone. He's a genius. He's driven. He's the most dangerous man on the planet. And he's also extremely unsociable and lonely, beyond anything I've ever seen before.
I can't bring myself to be mad at him though, not like some of the others, because I'm privy as to why he's that way. I'm blessed that I never really knew my real parents, and that Ma and Pa Kent, the family I grew up with, are alive and healthy and never happier. Bruce doesn't have that luxury. His parents were gunned down in front of him at the age of eight. What that must have done to a child, I can only imagine.
He fills a role that the rest of the League can't. Detective and sleuth. He's sneakier than Black Canary and he's better versed in criminology than J'onn. More importantly, his mind goes to places that the rest of us don't dare to go. So we call on him whenever we need him to uncover something insidious or to track a lead that's beyond our reach. Whenever I go to see him in that dank and dark cave of his, he's always alone, always hunched over a medical table or a computer keyboard, and he always gives me the same answer before I can even ask the question. And it's kind of sad when I think about it.
"What do you need me to do this time?"
Before I could approach him, I had to finish up something for my day job. I'm a reporter you see, for the Daily Planet. And I love it. I get to meet all kinds of great people, like Perry and Jimmy and especially Lois. And I get to help people through my words as opposed to my powers. It helps make me feel human.
Today, I was heading to New York, to the United Nations General Assembly Building. A new nation just declared itself to the world, and an Ambassador had been appointed and sent to New York. It was my job to interview her and find out how she ticks, no small task considering how guarded her and her people were.
I walked into the building, nodded and smiled at the security guards who did not nod or smile back, made my way through the concourse and human traffic, and found the elevator I needed. It was a quick ride up to her floor. The doors parted and I stepped out into a completely different world.
Bits and pieces of ancient armour and art dotted the walls, and busts of imposing female figures lined the halls that branched off from the receptionist desk. The bustling support staff was all females, being that they came from an all-female society, and they were all quite tall. I asked the receptionist where the Ambassador's office was, she asked for my name, I told her "Clark Kent", and she directed me towards my left, just past the first set of cubicles. I said thanks and started walking.
Her office was modestly dressed up, as was the Ambassador. She wore a plain navy blazer and a black skirt. She looked far removed from the decorations on the wall.
And she was strikingly beautiful.
I found myself more nervous than I anticipated, but finally managed to lightly knock on her door frame. She was too busy with her stacks of paperwork to notice at first, but eventually her head raised and she gave me a glowing smile.
"Hello," she said. Her accent was very Greek but also very easy to understand. "You must be the reporter from Metropolis."
"Clark Kent," I said, extending my hand. "You're Princess Diana, right?"
"The one and only. Please, have a seat."
I did, and I started the interview. It went well, I would say, at least at the start. I asked her about her home and her people, about what she thought of our world and our people. She answered very positively with no malice in her words, even if she made it clear that certain parts of "Man's World" as she called it rubbed her the wrong way. But she said that she enjoyed the responsibility she was being given, and had lobbied her mother day and night to allow her to take up the mantel as her people's champion.
Then I asked her what she hoped to accomplish here, and if her first impressions made her cynical. She didn't answer right away. She didn't answer at all actually, instead she diverted the question. I was surprised to find that she had already been involved in several heated diplomatic conflicts, just like I was surprised to find out that, as per being an Amazon, she was granted extraordinary powers augmented by years upon millennia of training, and that these had already been put to use across the globe in regions I wasn't even aware had conflicts. She said that was part of her mission, that she wasn't just a diplomat and an advocate of peace.
She said that her mother expected her make a difference where it counted, and in many cases, making a difference didn't end well. Her disposition grew darker as she said it.
I didn't call her out for avoiding the question.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was getting late. I had a target window to meet and two state boundaries to fly over to get to Gotham. So I apologized that I had to cut the interview short, and thanked her for speaking to me. She nodded and her smile returned, and said she was happy to speak to anyone from Man's World if it meant increasing discourse. Before I left, I remembered what she said about her powers and making a difference. The way she had said it unnerved me, but from the admittedly brief conversation I had with her, she seemed like one of the good guys, like a kind gentle and loving soul. So I told her that I knew a guy by the name of Superman, whom she admitted that she had heard of, and I said that he was a member of this thing called the "Justice League of America", and that he was always looking for new members. I gave her a card, which contained a special transmitter to the Hall of Justice, and I told her that she should give Superman a call.
She flipped the card around in her hand, and stared at it for a long time. Eventually, she looked back up at me and said "yes" and smiled.
I left the UN Building, ducked into a phone booth, and shot into the air in a blur, heading for Gotham.
Bruce was sitting at his computer, half dressed in his bat-suit, scanning through a series of cases and files. I noticed the name "Harvey Dent" appear over and over again. He was Gotham's District Attorney. I felt the urge to ask why he was being analyzed like a criminal, but I quickly decided to kybosh that idea when I got a good look at Bruce. He looked my haggard than usual.
He turned in his chair to face me, and said, "What do you need me to do this time?" The same thing he said every time I saw him, in the same low, tired voice that he always used.
I flipped a brown folder of pictures and notes onto his lap. "Murder of a Kasnian Diplomat. J'onn says the marks on the body match those from other high ranking officials in that region."
Bruce huffed a little under his breath. "I was wondering when you'd come to me about that," he said.
"What do you mean?"
"I've been tracking these cases for about two months now. They're political hits, designed to send a subtle warning to anyone smart enough to pick up on it. That's why diplomatic traffic from the region has almost disappeared. They're preparing for a power coup of the entire Western Balkans."
I was shocked. I was always shocked he managed to do that, when he managed to worm through the fog and the lies and blackness before I even managed to ask a question. I wondered if doing that to me was the only thing that made him the least bit happy. Knowing Bruce, I doubted it. I doubted anything made him happy.
"Do you have any idea who's behind it?" I asked.
"Savage," he replied, emotionless as ever.
"Are you sure?"
"As sure as I ever am."
Vandal Savage. It made sense, enough sense that I felt sheepish for not seeing it myself. But that was the reason why we asked Batman to help us with these things. He never missed the answer, never had and likely never would.
Normally, I'd part ways with him and leave him to his city and his brooding. But with Savage, and the political implications, we needed a deft hand, the kind of deft hand that only a master of stealth and martial arts could provide.
We needed a shadow, and Bruce was a living embodiment of the shadows.
"Bruce," I said.
"Don't call me that," he replied, tense.
"Fine, sorry Batman. We'll need your help on this. If the flame is licking at the powder keg like you think it is, we need the kind of subtlety that you specialize in to prevent this from getting serious."
"You need someone who isn't with the JLA."
"I won't lie to you and say that it's not part of the reason I'm asking you, but your skills are more important." I looked at him with pleading eyes. "Please Batman," I said.
"Gotham comes first," he replied. "And I'm in the middle of something very important."
"I understand that Batman, but we need you, the world needs you. We can't do this without you."
He said nothing after that, not for a while. He just looked at the ground. His face was steely, impossible to read. Finally, he looked at me with those bone white eyes, and said "Fine. I'll meet up with your team in Kasnia. But I'm working alone." He lowered his voice into a growl. "You don't get in my way, I won't get in yours."
"Understood Batman," I said. And then I took to the sky, out of the cave, and back into Metropolis, where the JLA had already been organized.
If I was lucky, our newest recruit would be there too.
I was lucky alright. Diana was there, standing sentinel to the table when I arrived. She was decked in a red and black uniform, with a silver and stared tiara. Silver bracelets encircled her wrists, making me wonder if I had missed those during our first meeting. She had a sword strapped to her left thigh, and a lasso belted to her right hip. She still looked stunning, and I think most people save J'onn were thinking the same thing.
Introductions were short. She was friendly and personable, and answered all questions patiently and openly. Except when Hal complimented her sword and said that she could probably shave the electrons off an atom with that thing. She grey quiet and didn't answer his question.
I told them that I had it on good authority, which was code for "I talked to Batman", that Vandal Savage was plotting a massive set of war games in the most volatile region in Europe, and that we had to find him and stop him before things got out of hand. There were no disagreements. Black Canary was surprised when I offhandedly mentioned that Batman would, in some capacity, be joining us in some capacity. To be honest, I was too, even though I didn't give him much choice. I felt bad about that, but I had to make decisions every now and again that I didn't like, that was the trade-off for being elected leader. I'd talk to Lois about it later. She knew enough about Batman from my talks with her, and she was brutally honest.
The flight was quick and mostly uneventful. Diana wanted to inform the Kasnians-she said that she had personally talked to the Princess and was on good terms with her-that the JLA was undergoing a training exercise in the region. That way we could fish out the people on Savages payroll, make them nervous that we were in the area, and not arise any further suspicions if we were caught. Black Canary thought it was too risky, as did J'onn and Hal, and I had to agree with them. We decided to lay low as long as possible until we heard from Batman, who'd likely be scouring the area with his own gadgets trying to find the stereotypical villains lair. Then we could assault Savage and his forces head on and wait for the rest of his infrastructure to crumble around his imprisonment. Plastic Man, in the most transparently flirtatious way possible, told Diana that she shouldn't worry, and that she'd be able to use her "kick-ass" sword before she knew it. She didn't reply, just unconsciously twirled its handle in her palm.
Hal asked her where she got that, and Diana replied that it was forged by Hephaestus, and that her mother had required her to take it to Man's World in order to effectively punish the wrong doers she'd be facing. Arthur asked how many times she had used it, to which she said "a few". She said that solemnly, with a low voice. Arthur said he would talk to Poseidon about getting himself one of those. She shifted slightly, and held up her lasso, showed it to the group, and was about to speak when Hal asked if the sword could cut through one of his shields.
Before she could answer, the wall of the plane behind her exploded and she was sucked from the plane. I called out after her, but soon found myself engulfed in flames. I heard the scream of a missile heading our way. I positioned myself to absorb the blow.
And that's when I blacked out.
I was knocked out- it was a missile laced with enough Kryptonite to put me under but not kill me, you see- so everything that happened after this was told to me by Diana, or Wonder Woman as she likes to be called now. We were in a bad spot. The JLA was captured, very much alive but also very much banged up, and we were being held deep under the Kasnian forests by a certified mad-man bent on igniting an international incident large enough to drag in several world powers. The kind of conflict a man like Vandal Savage, who was in the process of creating his own supergroup, would be more than able to solve considering how they were ultimately pulling the string. The kind of conflict, he made it perfectly clear to us, that would catapult him to a kind of power he hadn't felt since he walked the primordial plains as a caveman.
He figured that nothing could stand in his way now that we were indisposed. After all, there were seven JLA members present in front of him, bound and gagged, and it was common public knowledge that the JLA consisted of seven superheroes.
Which was why no one went looking for Diana after she tumbled out of the plane, dazed and unable to properly slow her descent when she hit the ground like a piece of wreckage. And no one was looking for Batman of course. Savage assumed was and always would be still in Gotham. The truth was that he was desperately trying to reach us to warn us about the inevitable trap we would be springing. Obviously, it didn't work.
Batman found Wonder Woman in a crater of her own making. He, of course, already knew who she was, having seen blurry footage of her in action and having connected the dots that the newest member of the UN was also a meta moonlighting as a hero. He did tell me that the footage was far to grainy for him to make out anything that might give him some impression of her abilities or skills, or even her personality, and generally it was before or after any action she involved herself in, the kind of action that cost thousands of man hours for him to find, let alone decipher. So no, he didn't know about the sword. He started tending to her wounds, but found that unnecessary as her healing factor kicked in.
She told me she came to and found herself staring into the shadowed face of Batman, the famous face of terror for every criminal within the city limits of Gotham. But she said she wasn't afraid. In her travels too, she had heard of Batman, and while there were many things about him that she found odd, she knew that she was staring at someone who fought for good, even if he used darkness as a tool.
She might have been the first person in the world to have ever figured that out.
"What happened?" she asked him, starting to stand. He offered her his arm to lean on, but she managed on her own.
"You fell into a trap," he replied. "Savage knew the JLA would charge in guns blazing. Would have been like shooting fish in a barrel for his AA guns." He paused. "You should have talked with the Kasnians. That would have at least thrown him off guard."
She chuckled. "We're in agreement there." She surveyed the bushy tree tops in front of her, as did Batman, both of them completely silent. She turned to Batman and asked him "What's your preferred way to handle these things?"
She said that Batman stared at her inquisitively, like he was unsure what had just happened and wondering if there was a double meaning behind her words, which she found odd since honesty was one of her most cherished values. Eventually he answered, saying to her that "I tend to work best from the shadows. Pick them off quietly. Helps to keep the chaos down, and if I'm lucky, I can be in and out before people like Savage have the chance to change their plans."
He turned his vision back onto her, less confused this time, and added that "I can handle myself in a direct fight, but I prefer to end things before that happens."
"Interesting," she said. "I usually favour the direct approach. It tends to draw attention away from important areas and people and redirect it towards me."
"Well we'll have both bases covered then," Batman said. He apparently had a bit of a smirk on his face, though I'm not sure I believe her when she tells me that.
"I'd like to talk to these people first, Batman," Diana added. "There might be trapped civilians less than sympathetic to what Savage is trying to do in there, and I don't want to involve them in the coming battle if it can be avoided."
Batman paused again, then said, "Good call. Savage likes to think of himself as an honorable man, that might just save some lives." He made no mention of her sword. He added, "I can sneak in while they're busy talking to you and get into position."
"You don't think I can talk them down?"
Batman shook his head. "I never do. No offense intended, but I prepare for the worst."
Diana chuckled again. "I tend to hope for the best. Perhaps we'll meet in the middle then?"
"Perhaps," he said, and again she insists that there was a small upcurl on his lip. He rummaged under his cloak and pulled out a small black device. "This is a two-way communicator," he said, handing it to her. "We can keep in contact." She nodded and said thank you, then inserted it into her ear. He fired a grapnel into the shrubbery and disappeared, just as Diana began deftly running through the thick forest, deciding that taking to the air would be too dangerous until she was closer.
After this point, the events are a lot easier to describe, since I was there, staring out on a specially prepared cell. There was enough metal wrapped around me to gift the Eiffel Tower a sister, and a large glowing chunk of kryptonite was straddled between my legs. Savage seemed to have plans to incapacitate all of us somehow, like he knew our weaknesses. To this day I still don't know how. Maybe I should ask Batman about it sometime.
All I know is that by now, everyone was suspecting that we fell into a trap. The fact that we were all alive was a dead give-away, even Hal, who I have to admit I thought would be the first to go if a situation resulted in the deaths of superheroes.
Savage had been ignoring us, content to know that we were at his mercy. He wasn't the type of villain to ramble on about his genius plan. He said that the only reason we were still alive was because he had a series of experiments in mind that, to him, "Justified the risk".
While he was still working away, the roof of the underground complex collapsed and in poured concrete, metal and rock. A body followed the debris. It was Diana.
Barry, O'Brian and Hal, weakly, began cheering, urging her to start chopping heads, while myself and J'onn breathed a sigh of relief. Then Black Canary pointed out to us that she wasn't moving. She stood like a statue, her arms crossed, in the middle of the large chamber we were in, staring down Savage and his men. Savage approached her, trepidation in his step, though he seemed more surprised than anything else. He kept eyeing her sword.
"You're….new," he said.
"I am," Diana replied.
"Aren't you going to attack?" he asked, legitimately curious, as we all were. Her posture and face didn't change.
"Only if you leave me no other choice," she said, and I caught the startled look from both her cheerleaders. "There are innocents here against their will, people you've forced into work despite their protestations. Release them please, they are not combatants."
In that moment, there was only tension. No sounds or movements from anyone, not even Savage or Diana. I don't think we had ever seen someone so brazenly challenge a villain like that, not diplomatically at least. She just watched and waited for his response, made no move towards her sword or any other weapon she might have on her. She just waited. Finally, Savage sighed.
"Well I suppose word is already out if you're here," he said, resigned. He turned to a heavily armed man next to him a gestured for him to hand him something. The guard produced a radio, which was connected to the central PA system. "All civilian personal are to leave the facility immediately," he said in Kasnian. "Any who choose to stay behind will from then on be considered combat ready. Any who are caught taking anything with them will be shot. Don't mistake this for mercy." He clicked the system off. His gaze had never left Diana. "So, what next? Is my skull to be made a trophy?"
"No," she replied. No hesitation. "I'll give you a chance to surrender. If you release my friends and shut down your operation now, no harm will come to you."
"How quaint," Vandal said. He sneered and walked towards a large computer screen. Diana remained rigid. "That's an awfully nice gesture, but I'm afraid I'll have to ignore it."
"You had your chance, then. If you won't reconsider….."
"Oh trust me, at this point, there's nothing you can say or do to me that'll stop what's already in motion." Savage pointed at the screen. "You see, we 'villains' as the general public so often likes to call us, fall into such simple traps. They gawk. They explain their mischievous machinations in such detail that one need only recall our own words when dismantling the bomb. Why they include a countdown clock just to motivate the hero that much further as time ticks away. No, uhm, New Girl, you and your friends have already lost." The screen filled with numbers and algorithms vanished into a cut out of Southern Europe, with each capital highlighted in red and black. Vandal turned to face Diana and our captive selves.
"And no 'plan b's' either. Such oversight. My original plan will never work now, but that doesn't mean I haven't prepared for the unlikely situation we find ourselves in. There are enough canisters filled with the most vile airborne diseases known to man. They'll kill millions and plunge the entire region into chaos, forcing the world to act lest it face insurgency, refugee crises, or a collapse in trade. Giving me," the sneer was back, "enough time to slip away and watch. Maybe insert a few new agents or two while eyes are elsewhere." Diana's posture did change this time as she prepared to dash for, presumably, the control panel, but Savage stood in her way and pointed at the PA system. "That radio I was using contained the activation key for the canisters. So don't even try to stop it. To bastardize Alan Moore, it already started five minutes ago…..shall we watch?"
He turned, still sneering, to the computer screen, and I can remember vividly that we all prepared to grimace. We expected to see carnage and blood and hear the screams of hundreds of thousands in pain. Savage did too.
Diana, however, knew exactly what was going to happen. She was smiling.
The screen showed nothing but serene countryside and some light to medium traffic depending on the city. No deaths, no air choked with toxin. Nothing had happened, not a single, confounded thing.
Vandal was furious.
"What!? People should be choking on their own blood by now!"
"Not going to happen," boomed a voice from the rafters. Diana's smile grew wider. My eyes were doing the same. Batman, in a cloak of shadows, dropped down next to Diana, his face scowl, and pointed menacingly at Vandal.
We'd all have been cheering at this point if we weren't so completely and utterly shocked.
"I did some snooping, Savage," he said. "Found out about your 'Plan B'. It didn't take me long to jam the signal, just like it didn't take me long to transmit your confession to INTERPOL."
"It's over Savage," Diana said, her hands on her hips. "So I'll say it again. Surrender and no harm will come to you." Batman just growled next to her.
Savage matched Batman's growl with a screech of his own, a screech of pure anger. He pushed aside one of his guards and grabbed his gun from the holster. He fired a volley of bullets towards Batman and Diana, the latter of whom deflected them with ease with her bracelets.
"Free the others!" Diana called to Bruce over the pinging and panging. "I'll deal with Savage."
Batman said nothing. He just nodded and leapt towards us. He looked so much less demonic. For a while I thought it was just the lighting, but the more I think about what I saw after, the more and more I doubt that's the case. He ignored the hail of bullets and stopped only to knock a few heads together. He reached us in a time that even impressed Flash.
Vandal, however, had other ideas. As Diana was grappling with his goons, he pressed a large button on the control panel, and myself and the rest of the Justice League found our world turn into a searing matrix of pain. The cages were electrified with enough volts to power a city, and all of it was coursing through our weakened bodies. I could feel my muscles tense and give, and my skin start to burn and boil. Throughout all the pain, I was barely able to make out the look of utter horror on Batman's face, but it didn't hit me until later what that actually meant.
He turned towards Diana and screamed, with none of the growling of his usual voice, to "Destroy the control panel! Quickly, before the hit cardiovascular arrest!"
I'd try to joke with him later that our hearts would likely just explode, but he didn't seem to find it very funny.
Diana nodded and threw away one of the guards she had been battling. She started flying towards the control panel, when Savage pulled out a nasty looking rocket launcher, clearly specially designed for maximum hurt. He fired it at Diana. Problem was that he was too close, so while Diana rocketed backwards, he too was caught in the shockwave, which, after bouncing hard off a wall, resulted in him landing just a few feet away from her, half unconscious and bleeding heavily. Her sword clattered to the floor next to her hand.
Batman grimaced and called out to her, but she was on her feet quickly. He reminded her about the control panel, said they were running out of time, which was perfectly true. We were all just barely hanging in there. Diana was standing next to the bleeding Savage, her sword in her hand. It almost glowed, like it was calling out to her to strike the man down. Maybe it was, I don't know. The Greek Gods were never my speciality, neither was Amazonian culture. She had the opportunity, he was right there, at her mercy. If she was to kill him, she'd do it right then and there.
But she didn't. She flung her sword towards the control panel and picked up the nearly limp body of Vandal Savage in her arms, putting pressure on a gaping wound in his side. The sword cut open the control panel in a shower of sparks, which then ignited into a full blown explosion. They leapt out of the way, while Batman covered himself in his cloak. The pain stopped and the bars descended, and we all collapsed to the ground, shaken. Everyone's special weakness was connected to the control panel, except mine, but Batman made sure to kick the kryptonite as far away from me as possible the moment I was free.
That was when we heard the bubbly gurgling, and we all turned to Flash. He was going into shock, foaming at the mouth. Too much electricity, it almost managed to eat away at his veins. Batman was already at his side, and this was the second time I ever saw him look concerned.
He pulled of his utility belt and laid it on the floor, then demanded that J'onn and Black Canary hold down his arms. "If he starts tapping into the Speed Force, we might lose him!" he shouted. They did as he said.
A syringe was in Barry's arm before we could even see where it came from. It was a solution to get the blood circulating again, enough that his heart would start beating normally. Averting brain death by the skin of our teeth, that's what Barry would say later. The solution calmed the shaking slightly, but Barry's eyes were still rolling around in his head, and his skin was still pale. Batman swore.
"C'mon Allen, stay with me!" He started doing chest compressions, then, pushing Dinah and J'onn away, gave him mouth to mouth. He repeated back and forth, back and forth, looking more and more like he was going to lose control.
Then Barry started breathing. And smiling. We all sighed in relief.
"I could hug you, you know that Bats?" Barry said, regaining his breath.
Batman didn't respond. He just looked around, and I swear that he looked a bit sheepish. Maybe Diana wasn't wrong about him and emotions. Either way, he simply grabbed his utility belt, put it back on, and made his way over to Diana, who was holding the unconscious Savage in her arms. A bit of her costume was torn, used to wrap his wound to stem the bleeding.
"He's stable," she said to Batman, who nodded.
Hal walked up behind him. "Wow," he said, "huh, you actually saved him."
"And what else was she supposed to do, Lantern?" Batman bit out. It caught him off guard. It caught me off guard, even if I should have been used to surprises at this point. Hal could only raise his hands in defense. He might have tried to respond, but Dinah roughly pulled him away, told him to simmer down and ignore him. Batman was still talking to Diana.
"Good work, Diana," he said.
"You as well Batman."
They stared at each other a little longer, neither of them moving. I felt like I was intruding on something, like I was a peeping tom or something. But they said and did nothing, not until Batman finally spoke up.
"We should probably get out of this cave. It might not be stable." He said this to all of us, even though he was looking only at Diana. It was a good idea, and I said as much, urging us out of the cramped and smoke filled cavern. Hal had the guards encased in a green bubble, transporting them safely, and unconsciously, out of trouble. Diana gracefully added Savage to the pile, as both she and Batman were confident that he wouldn't bleed all over the others.
Plastic Man trotted up behind her before we could leave. "Found your sword," he said, handing it to her. "It looks pretty much good as new. Nice throw by the way. You'd make a good QB."
"Thank you, Plastic Man," she said. Her voice was low again. The blade was glowing. Most of us had exited the cave already as Plastic Man ran after Barry and Hal, leaving Batman, myself and her alone. Eventually, Batman and I started walking too, but I glanced back just in time to see her stop staring at her sword, and break it over her knee.
She spread the shards around on the floor, threw the handle into the fire next to the destroyed console, and flew after us.
The rest of the day was a complete blur.
Batman's tip off meant that we were greeted by swarms of lettered agencies when we emerged above ground. Generals and Colonel's and a few men and women in nicely pressed dark suits congratulated and questioned us in equal measure. We managed to do some congratulations ourselves, celebrating Barry's good health and our newest teammate, who we owed our lives. Batman had sulked off already, which lead to Diana asking where he was going. I always wondered that myself, but I felt like the man wanted privacy, so I never bothered asking. Diana felt differently.
Aquaman dismissively told her that he hated people, and was probably going back to his own cave to hang with the bats. She didn't like that answer, nor did she like the comment from Plastic Man that we'd have more fun without him. She took off in his direction, and managed to catch up with him just out of eyesight.
Now I don't know what she said to him. I didn't want to listen in, that would have been rude. And I'll never ask her, not unless she wants to tell me. But whatever it was that she said to Batman, it set a whole lot of unexpected events into motion.
She returned alone, but with a smile on her face. A very bright smile. The other's asked about it, but she didn't say anything. She just pulled out her lasso and started telling stories about how it was created, how it worked, what she could use it for. I admit, it was pretty interesting. Black Canary said she wanted one herself.
A few days later, I dropped by the batcave, just to see how Batman was doing. Lois had told me that I should try to check up on him more as a friend than a co-worker, see if that changed his attitude. I don't know if it did or didn't, but when I next saw him, he was a little bit happier than I remember. I joked that it scared me when he's smile that reserved, tiny smile. He told me that he'd remember to try that on some thugs next patrol.
He told a joke. Batman never told jokes. Not even Lois believed me.
I went back a few more times, dropped off a few cases for him, said hi to both him and Alfred, who was hanging around the cave a bit more than I remember. Or maybe I was just catching him at different times. Diana also joined the League full time, and devoted herself to using both her powers and her diplomatic position to help forward the mission of peace and justice for all.
I noticed a few times when I was at the batcave that the training area was constantly being upgraded and repaired, just like I could catch the faint wiff of a familiar cologne when I next interviewed Diana, who was now coming out to the world as the new hero Wonder Woman. I have my suspicions, I'd be a crappy reporter if I didn't, but again, I'm too bashful to intrude.
And a little two afraid. Of both of them.
A few months later, Batman put forward the idea of him joining the League full time as well, for "Administrative reasons, purely." I told him that was a great idea, and that I'd table it at the next meeting. The rest were surprised but supportive, especially after a speech from Diana. Plastic Man voted yes immediately after he found out Diana supported his inclusion in the League. I think he has a crush on her.
The next meeting we had, Batman and Wonder Woman walked in together, chatting and challenging one another. This also surprised a few people, especially to see the slight smirk that Batman carried with himself. He took his new seat, right in between myself and Wonder Woman, and stared out over the faces seated around him. Aquaman cleared his throat.
"Good timing Batman," he said. "Looks like another of your surface politicians was murdered last night."
Batman looked at Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman looked back at Batman. The smirk on Batman's mouth grew a bit wider, a bit more into a smile.
"Alright," he said. "What do you need me to do this time?"
I should start adding "The Ends" to stories. They look nice.
Anyways, here's an alternate meeting and formation of the Justice League, complete with some hints at something between two characters. I could have put this in Fair Verona, but I kinda wanted to see how it holds up on its own.
Hope you guys enjoyed it, and let me know what you think in the comment section thingy!