Sunday Dinner at Wayne Manor
In JLA 78, Bruce and Diana made a date to discuss their kiss during 'The Obsidian Age' storyline. Since Joe Kelley then immediately sent Diana off into space on a mission, I have no idea when he will get around to showing the 'date'. I couldn't wait, so this is how I think it should go.
All characters are the property of DC Comics. No money is being made on this story and no infringement of copyright is intended.
I waited until it was fully dark before I landed. Bruce would not appreciate my being spotted. Fortunately, this time of year, it gets dark early. Bruce didn't say what time dinner would be and I didn't want to keep him waiting. I took a minute to look over the manor. I had been in the Batcave but, in all the years I have known him, Bruce had never invited me to his home before. Then I gathered up my courage and walked up the steps to the front door.
The door opened before I had a chance to knock. I looked at the stately, gray-haired man who had opened it. I had never met him, but I couldn't fail to recognize him from Donna's description.
"Good evening, Alfred."
"Good evening, Miss Diana. Would you please come in?"
An elaborate chandelier illuminated the entry hall and a double staircase. A full suit of armor stood in one corner, a Ming vase on a pedestal in another. I spun around, taking in the splendor of 'stately' Wayne Manor. I had been in many a mansion and government house, but few with such a sense of quiet elegance. It was also immaculately clean. I doubted a speck of dust would dare to linger in this house.
I turned back to Alfred, who lifted a single eyebrow in inquiry. I had seen the exact same expression on Bruce's face many times and I grinned, recognizing this as the original he had copied.
"Magnificent," I told him.
"Thank you, Madame." The slight quiver at the corner of his mouth was familiar as well. I had known that he wasn't just a servant, but only now realized how much of the Bruce I knew came from this man.
"You raised Bruce after his parents died."
"To a considerable extent. I had assistance from Doctor Thompkins, his legal guardian." I didn't need the slight emphasis on 'legal' to know who had been his guardian in reality, if not in name.
"I hardly know whether to consider that a compliment or a rebuke."
I laughed. "Too bad he didn't get your sense of humor, Alfred."
"A grave shortcoming, I am sure."
I smiled and lifted my bag. "Where can I change?"
The look of approval in his eyes made me glad I had brought a change of clothes. It was clear that the Batman's world was not allowed to intrude up here. I wondered if that rule were Bruce's, or Alfred's.
Alfred showed me to a bathroom larger than many bedrooms.
"There are combs in the right drawer," he commented before closing the door and I glanced in the mirror. I hadn't realized how straggly my hair had become from the flight. I quickly stripped off my costume and put on the gown. It was my best gown, normally reserved for diplomatic soirees, and it looks good on me, if I say so myself. I gratefully took one of the combs from the drawer (I hadn't thought to pack one) and shortly looked perfectly presentable.
I had just stepped out of the bathroom when, as if by magic, Alfred appeared to lead me to the drawing room. I wondered how he managed it, as I was fairly sure Bruce did not allow magic in his house.
The drawing room was small by Wayne Manor standards. A crackling fire in the fireplace, an oversized chair and a settee gave it a homey feel. A large portrait on one wall caught my eye. The man had graying hair and a bushy mustache; he looked like an older version of Bruce, except there was a sense of inner peace about him that his son lacked. The woman had a vivacious smile; her eyes sparkled with an intensity that I knew very well.
Alfred had moved next to me and was watching me.
"Did you know them?"
He nodded. "Their absence is sorely felt by all in this household. There is a larger portrait in the Study which I expect Master Bruce will show you, if you ask. That is his favorite, but I am partial to this one. I feel it captures Madame's... energy... better. Now, I had best see what is keeping him."
"No need, Alfred."
Alfred did nothing so gauche as start at Bruce's voice, but a tick in the corner of an eye told me he did not appreciate being caught off-guard. Evidently Bruce Wayne could move as silently as the Batman.
"Very good, sir. Then I will go see to dinner."
"You are looking as lovely as ever, Diana."
"Compliments, Bruce? How unexpected."
"Merely stating a rather obvious fact. As a former Goddess of Truth, I assume you approve of facts."
I shrugged, smiling. "Facts do not require my approval, surely? They are, whether we approve of them or not. I would say you are more handsome than usual; but then I rarely see you out of costume."
He smiled the foppish smile he wore in public. We stood smiling at each other. I wondered if he was trying to put me off balance by making me stand, then realized he was waiting for me to sit down first. It was a courtesy I rarely encountered and might, I suppose, be considered sexist. But I was raised in a culture that placed a high value on tradition and courtesy. I smiled and sat on the settee, as the chair was obviously sized for him. He sat and we smiled at each other some more.
Growing tired of this, I blurted out: "You kissed me."
I had intended it as a simple statement of fact, but I didn't have to see Bruce's face close down to realize it had come out sounding like an accusation.
"It won't happen again," he stated flatly. "Given that fact, I see no reason why a momentary aberration should interfere with our future teamwork." He stood, obviously intending to bring the conversation to a close.
"Not even if I want it to?" I asked.
He glared at me, sudden emotion filling his eyes. It looked like hate, but what reason would he have to hate me?
"Not even then," he answered evenly. "It takes consent, unless you are into sexual assault, Princess, and I don't consent. Now, I imagine Alfred has dinner ready and I don't think we should keep him waiting."
"Alfred knows where to find us," I told him, "SIT DOWN."
He glared at me and I glared back. I was afraid he would walk out on me but finally, grudgingly, he sat.
"I know you don't hate me," I told him with more conviction than I felt, "so why are you acting like you do?"
"I don't like being toyed with, Princess. It makes me... testy."
I wished he would quit calling me that; he knew I had forfeited that title some time ago. I was taken aback by his words.
"You think I'm toying with you?"
He gave me a look of angry accusation. "I was there, remember? The odd man out in our little menage a trois in the Wonder Dome. I saw your fantasies about Superman brought to life."
"My fantasies?" The light dawned. "That is exactly what it was, a fantasy. A girlish fantasy left over from when I first came to Patriarch's World, before I ever met him. That alien, or whatever it was, wasn't interested in true feelings, only something he could use to fashion a plausible dream world, something that would hold our attention and divert our suspicions. Not that it worked on you. Always the detective, Bruce, always ferreting out the truth."
His eyes said more clearly than any words that he didn't believe me.
"I have no desire to be your 'consolation prize'." He stopped, then added with deliberate malice, "Or am I a diversion while you wait for Lois to die?"
The pain of his words tore through me. I held his eyes with mine, returning glare with glare, as I pulled out my golden lasso from my bag and wrapped it around my wrist. My lasso of truth, which makes lies impossible.
"I do not, I have never loved Kal, not in that way. He is a dear friend – perhaps my best friend, after my sister Donna – but I have no desire to marry him or to replace Lois. I hope they have a long, happy marriage."
Bruce tore his gaze away. He sat back down, shielding his eyes with his hand. I wondered if he were crying, but then he looked up and I saw, not tears, but a terrible pain in his eyes. I wanted to rush over and soothe the pain away. I wanted to... I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Not even my lasso can elicit truth when you don't know what the truth is. Suddenly I blushed and turned my gaze away.
"You don't find him attractive?" His tone was the flat, expressionless tone of the Batman.
"Of course I do. He is a very attractive man. But attraction is not the same as love, or even liking. And it is not a sufficient basis for a relationship. Kal and I would drive each other crazy in short order. For one thing, he is too polite when he should be bluntly honest."
That got a lip quiver out of him. I smiled. "Your turn."
I almost offered him the lasso, but knew instinctively he would reject it and might clam up afterwards. He might anyway. I held my breath.
Then he twisted his face up into a prissy expression and replied in a nasal voice, "I personally have never found him the least bit attractive."
I laughed. On the rare occasions when he lets it out to play, Bruce has a wicked sense of humor.
"Then all those rumors about Batman and Robin?"
"Really, madam," he continued in the same voice, "you should not listen to gossip."
"Hmmm. But that doesn't answer my question. I am not letting you wiggle out of answering, Bruce. Why did you kiss me?"
He looked at me warily, then suddenly stood and walked over to the settee. He urged me to my feet and turned me to face the portrait of his parents.
"I don't really remember my parents very well. Alfred says the artist caught her eyes, so I guess it's a good portrait."
"I think Alfred is right about her eyes, for her son inherited them."
"Funny that you say so. I never realized, until I first met you, that she had an Amazon's eyes."
I turned suddenly to look at him and found him studying me intently. "I think that was the moment I fell in love with you."
"I, I, I don't believe you."
I blushed furiously and broke away from him. I quickly unwrapped the lasso from my wrist. There was a difference between honesty and rudeness, but the lasso doesn't recognize it. I stuffed the lasso back into my bag and turned back to Bruce. He was standing in front of the fire with the set face of the Batman.
"I'm sorry, I..."
"Don't. If facts don't need approval, they certainly don't need apologies. Why don't you believe me?"
I didn't know what to say. I tried to sort out my feelings.
"Is this about the protocols again?"
Suddenly, anger flooded me. "Is that the act of a lover, or even a friend?" I demanded.
"If not a lover or a friend, then who? Who else do you count on to step in when you need to be stopped? Or don't you believe we can be corrupted? Even after what happened to Hal?"
"So we're not to be trusted, but you are?"
He laughed a bitter, ironic laugh. "Believe me, Princess, if I went bad, the last thing you'd need to worry about are those protocols."
"Don't call me that!" I saw the glint in his eye and realized he was deliberately pushing my buttons. I forced down my anger and other, less recognizable, emotions. Once I was in control again, I asked him, "Why? Why shouldn't we worry about the protocols?"
"Because those were designed to stop you, not destroy you."
Bruce got a far away look in his eyes. "Superman would be the easiest. There are so many people he cares about, so many vulnerabilities. For the Flash, it would have to be Linda Parks, of course." He looked me in the eye. "You would be more challenging. You care about people, but you have a warrior's heart. If someone died because of you, you would mourn them and then you would throw yourself back into the battle. As you did when your mother died." He suddenly shook himself, as if coming out of some horrible dream. He glanced at the portrait and then glanced upward. It took me a moment to realize that he wasn't seeing the ceiling but the spot in the second floor hallway where Vesper Fairchild had died.
He sat back down, looking away. "So you see, Diana, there are worse things, darker things in my mind that those damned protocols. But that doesn't mean I can't crave the light," he looked at me, "that I can't love it."
He sighed. "You flew into our lives with that light, that zeal in your eyes, on a crusade as impossible and hopeless as my own. Only, you didn't think it was hopeless. You came knowing, believing in, only the good in men as I knew and believed only in the evil men do. Your belief drew out the best in people, just as my mistrust drew out the worst. Of course I fell in love with you, how could I not? But I never intended to burden you with it."
I knelt down next to him. "Bruce, how could such a gift be a burden?"
He looked down at me sardonically. "When it comes unasked for and unwanted. I notice you said nothing about your feelings towards me. Am I a friend, too? Like Kal, only further down on the list? After Trevor Barnes, I imagine; but ahead of the mailman, I hope; although maybe not. HE never plotted against you."
"Bruce, stop." I took a quick breath, then continued. "I don't know how I feel about you. You stir emotions in me I've never known before, never expected to know, emotions I have no names for. I love you as a friend. How could I not? Seeing you fighting the good fight, with no powers to help you and needing none; with no concern for yourself, only for those around you; your heart bleeding at every injustice, trying to help everyone in need or pain." I took his hand and kissed it tenderly. "But you stir other feelings in me as well. Feelings I don't really understand. I think I need your help to understand them." I smiled mischievously. "I need the World's Greatest Detective to unravel this mystery."
He smiled back at me, a glint of something more in his eyes.
I jumped guiltily to my feet.
"I apologize for the intrusion, but I have postponed dinner as long as I can. It must be now or never."
"And when were you planning to mention the Batsignal?"
Alfred sighed. "I had thought, sir, this once...."
"You know it doesn't work that way," Bruce told him gently. He turned to me. "Stay and have dinner. Alfred's Chicken Marengo is a real treat, and it's not fair for both of us to stand him up."
I considered offering to assist Batman, but I knew what his response would be. Instead, I nodded glumly.
"She will be out in a moment," Bruce told Alfred. He shut the door and then I was in his arms and he was kissing me. He was thorough about it and by the time we came up for air, my feelings had clarified themselves considerably.
"To be continued," he whispered in my ear.
"Definitely," I told him.
Then he was gone. It was not going to be an easy relationship, I thought, but then the truly worthwhile things rarely are. And I could count on getting some excellent meals out of it. I shared a commiserating look with Alfred and went in to dinner.