Wayne Manor; September 7th, 19:07
Diana released an anxious breath as she materialized on the transport pad of the Batcave. The emptiness that surrounded her caused a painful lump to instantly rise in her throat, but she forced it down. She needed to think of her children and the family that she had Bruce had made together. They were her first priority next to getting her husband back.
Stepping down off the transport pad, she spotted Alfred stepping out of the dark shadows of the cave, a weary smile on his face. His eyes were filled with affection and understanding, something that Diana did not feel she deserved at that moment.
"Miss Diana," he solemnly greeted her. "I'm so happy that they finally allowed you to leave the infirmary. I do hope that you're feeling better and are on the mend."
"Allowed to leave is probably not quite the right word to use," she tightly replied, forcing a smile. "I pretty much told them I was leaving despite their insistence otherwise. They wanted to keep me for another two or three days."
Alfred came to stand before her, his hands clasped in front of him. "I can imagine," he said, a small smile on his lips. "Obstinacy tends to run quite rampant in this household."
"I couldn't be away from my family another minute, Alfred," she confessed with a sigh, pausing to look around the unoccupied cave. It caused an unexpected chill to settle over her, one that she couldn't quite shake.
"We're more than happy and relieved to have you home," he assured her, his hand finding her forearm. "The little ones have been asking for you and Master Bruce."
Diana silently nodded as she swallowed hard, pausing to bite at her bottom lip. "I've…missed them terribly," she confessed. "I'm sure they're upset and confused with our sudden absence…not knowing when we'd be home."
"I told them that you and Master Bruce had to go on a very important mission," he informed her. "I believe they seemed to understand that to some extent."
"I swear to you that I'm going to bring him back, Alfred," she insisted, her voice growing stronger as resolve hardened within her. "They will not live without their father and I refuse to go on without my husband."
Alfred's eyes glistened a little too brightly as he drew a shuddering breath. "I know you'll do everything in your power to bring him back to us," he responded with a confidence he felt bone deep.
"I'm so sorry that I couldn't stop it," she apologized, tears brimming in her eyes.
"It is not your fault, Miss Diana," Alfred sternly stated. "Master Richard told us everything that happened. You allowed Master Bruce to win the fight between you, permitted him to hurt you by refusing to fight back more than what was necessary to stay alive. You could have beaten Master Bruce bloody, but you voluntarily chose not to. You were willing to allow him to take your life in order to save him. That makes you the strongest, bravest woman I know."
"I was trying to remind him of his ties to his family…to me," she explained, brushing away a stray tear that had escaped against her will. "I knew that I could get through to him, but I had to let him break me in order to break through Hades' hold on him."
"It was a very sacrificial act, Miss Diana," Alfred told her. "It more than proves the depths of your love for him. It's what brought him back to himself. Your love for him and his for you saved him."
"And now, it's time that I save him from my father-in-law," she stated, her voice hard like steel. "Hades is going to wish that he'd never left the Underworld in the first place."
"That's the Diana I know and love," Alfred affectionately said.
Diana wrapped her arms around the elder man, pulling him into an embrace. "I love him, Alfred," she confessed. "I won't leave the Underworld without him with me."
Alfred readily returned her embrace, knowing that truer words had never been spoken. Her decision to sacrifice herself for Bruce spoke volumes about her love for him as well as her strength of character. By voluntarily surrendering herself to Bruce, she had proven herself to be the strongest of them all.
"Come now," Alfred said, patting her back before releasing her. "There are two little ones upstairs who are practically chattering non-stop with excitement to see their mother."
"It feels like weeks since I last saw them," she confessed as she followed Alfred towards the stairs.
If she'd had her way, she would've returned home right after the battle with Hades, but Kal and Dick had insisted otherwise, pointing out the fact that it would only scare Nicholas and Kaia senseless to see their mother bruised and injured. She had relented to go to the infirmary on the Watchtower for a couple of days until the bruises had faded some and the broken bones had started to knit back together.
Now, she just wanted to see her family and hold her children close. She wished more than anything that Bruce was here with her. She missed him desperately, ached to feel his arms around her and his body pressed against the length of hers, but that wasn't going to happen right now. Soon, though, she reminded herself…soon he would be home where he belonged.
Entering the library through the grandfather clock, Diana easily picked up on the sounds of her children, deciphering each voice of the members of her family. She glanced down at her jeans and t-shirt, making sure that her bandages weren't noticeable beneath the fabric.
Making her way to the entertainment room, she stopped in the doorway to see everyone there…everyone except for Bruce. It hurt her heart, but she steeled herself against that pain. "Hey, what's going on in here?" she asked, displaying a bright smile that she didn't wholly feel at that moment.
"Mama!" Kaia yelled, jumping off Dick's lap and racing towards Diana. "Me miss you, mama."
Diana bent over and picked her daughter up, holding her close to her. "I've missed you so much too, my little sun and stars," she softly confessed, closing her eyes as she savored the feel of her daughter in her arms again.
"Me hurt my finger," Kaia told her, holding up her forefinger to show her the small Wonder Woman band aid wrapped around it. "Me pinched it in the door."
Diana kissed the tip of Kaia's finger as Nicholas ran to greet her. She knelt down, scooping her son up with her other arm and receiving disapproving glares from each member of her family. "I've missed you, my little warrior," she confirmed, kissing his temple. "I'm sorry we had to be gone, but it was very important."
"I know," Nicholas said, nodding in understanding. "Pappoús told us."
"Should you be lifting anything right now?" Tim asked with a frown, walking over and snatching Kaia out of her arms. "I'm sure you have restrictions that you're not following."
"I'm fine, Tim," she tried to reassure him.
"Right," he muttered, clearly not believing her. "I think you better let us be the judge of that. We all promised Clark to keep an eye on you and make sure you didn't over do it."
"Mommy, are you hurt?" Nicholas asked, his little face scrunching up in concern.
"No, I'm fine," she told him. "Your brother Tim is just being overly concerned."
"Where's daddy?" Kaia asked, looking around. "Me want daddy."
Diana knew the questions about Bruce would be coming. She'd tried to prepare herself for it, but it still proved to be far harder than she had thought it was going to be. "He's still away for a little while longer, baby girl," she replied, reaching over to caress her cheek. "I promise you that he'll be back before you know it."
"He told me he's going to pick me up from school and take me out for lunch one day…just the two of us," Nicholas announced, his brow furrowed in thought.
"He'll do that just as soon as he can, Nicholas," Diana assured him. "He has to be Batman right now, but I know he's going to want to spend time with you and Kaia just as soon as he gets home."
"Me have to show him what we made," Kaia excitedly said, clapping her little hands together.
"What did you make?" Diana asked.
"Pappoús showed us how to make slime with glue," Nicholas revealed. "It glows in the dark."
Diana smiled affectionately at her son as she stroked his hair, his excitement contagious. It felt so good to be home once more. Seeing her family had definitely lifted her spirits somewhat, making her resolve to bring Bruce home that much stronger.
"You can show it to me tomorrow," she told them. "Right now, you two need to start getting ready for bed. It's getting late."
"Oh no, mama," Nicholas grumbled, laying his head on his mother's shoulder. "I don't want to go to bed. You just got home."
"I know, but I'll tuck you into bed and read you each a book," she promised him. "Tomorrow, we'll spend the whole day together. After that, though, I need to go help your father for a couple of days."
"Okay," Nicholas agreed, wrapping his arms around her neck. "Can you read me two books?"
"We'll see," Diana said with a chuckle. "Come on, Kai."
"But me didn't get my snack," Kaia grumbled.
"Yes, you did," Tim reminded her as he set Kaia down. "Alfred made us ice cream sundaes, remember?"
Kaia's face lit up as Diana grabbed hold of her hand. "Me love ice cream."
Tim watched as Kaia went with Diana and Nicholas out of the entertainment room. "Do you think she'll be able to bring him back?" Tim asked as he returned to his seat on the couch.
"If anyone can rescue Bruce from the Underworld and bring him home, it's Diana," Artemis adamantly declared.
"It's not Diana that I'm doubting," Tim confessed. "It's Hades that worries me. He's not going to just let her waltz into the Underworld and bring Bruce back home. I mean he had Bruce and Diana fight each other to the death. How sick is that? That's his own daughter and he still pulled something like that."
"Well, Hades isn't exactly known for being nice," Donna pointed out. "It doesn't matter who he's related to or not. He'll do whatever it takes to bring about his own sick enjoyment."
"I'm going with her," Artemis stated, her voice broking no room for argument.
"If you're going then I'm going too," Jason declared, his arm tightening around her shoulders. "You scared me enough fighting Aresia without you going to the Underworld with Diana to take on Hades."
"You need to stay here to help Dick and Tim take care of Gotham for Bruce," Artemis countered, rubbing his thigh. "Besides, I know how to take care of myself."
"You're still healing from Aresia's attack," Jason reminded her. "You're going to need me to watch your back."
"I can help cover Gotham too," Damian announced, refusing to be left out of the debate.
"I don't know if Bruce was ready to let you into Gotham yet," Tim pointed out.
"I can fight, and you know it," Damian stubbornly retorted.
"I guess there's only one way to find out if you're ready is to let you out in Gotham," Dick told him.
"I'll need my own uniform," Damian replied.
"You can be Robin," Tim informed him.
Everyone turned to look at Tim in stunned disbelief. "Are you serious, Tim?" Dick asked, frowning.
"I've been thinking it's time that I changed things up," he said. "You know…new costume…new name. I mean I'm not a kid anymore. I'm a sophomore in college. It's time to be known by a new name."
"What are you thinking?" Donna inquired.
"Red Robin," Tim revealed, watching each of their faces for their reaction to his choice. "In fact, Alfred and I have already been working on a new costume design. He'll have it ready in a couple more days."
Dick nodded his head as he thought about it, glancing at Damian to see his reaction. "I like it, Timmy," he told him with a smirk, knowing how much he hated being called that. "It looks like we'll be refitting the Robin costume for Damian then."
Damian could barely contain his excitement. The thought of being Robin…being his father's partner out in Gotham was actually a dream coming true. Now, though, they just needed to get his father back. No one had any idea where his mother was or had actually happened to her during the fight with Hades.
As much it hurt him, he wasn't sure that he cared. She had abandoned him, left him behind to follow his grandfather's crazy scheme. In his mind, that was akin to betrayal and that wasn't something that he could so easily forgive or forget. He had a new family now, one that he wanted to be part of.
"I guess that's settled then," Donna said. "I wish I could come with you and Diana, Artemis, but I'm sure Dick would have a heart attack if I went to the Underworld with you to bring Bruce back."
"A heart attack would be putting it mildly," Dick uttered with a roll of his eyes as he dramatically placed his hand over his heart. "I'm think more along the lines of a full-blown panic attack and a stint in one of Arkham's padded rooms."
"I'm sure Alfred would appreciate the help with Nick and Kaia," Tim suggested.
"Already assigned myself that position," Donna replied with a smile.
"That's a relief," Dick muttered, flopping back against the cushions of the couch.
"I still don't like the idea of you going down there," Jason softly groused in Artemis's ear.
"I'm not letting Diana go down there alone," Artemis told him. "She'll need the backup."
"I know…I know," Jason agreed. "It's just…promise me you'll be careful."
"Aren't I always?" she said with a smirk he wanted to kiss right off her face.
Gotham; September 7th, 23:55 EST
Robin stood on top of the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises, gazing down at the destruction below as his cape whipped softly in the wind. Crews had already begun the work of repairing the damage done in the area, but it was still a painful sight to bear witness to, especially knowing it had partially been caused by his parents' battle against each other.
He was having a difficult time accepting what had happened, that Hades had interfered in their lives and taken his father away. He knew that Nicholas and Kaia were too young to truly understand what had happened, but they were smart enough to know that something bad had taken place, leaving them confused and missing their father.
He felt an inexplicable need to fix it all, to try to put what had been broken by Hades back together again. He hated seeing his family hurting so much, especially his mother. Though she did her best to hide it, he could see how deeply her heartache ran.
His fingers balled into fists, determined to help hold his family together no matter what it took. He felt it was his role to take on, being the eldest still living at home. It was his job to watch out for them, to help hold things together when Bruce and Diana couldn't be there to do it, and he wouldn't let them down.
"Hey there, handsome."
The corners of Tim's lips curled slightly with the familiar voice that tickled his ears. "What are you doing here?" he asked, turning around to see his girlfriend approaching.
"I wanted to check on you and see how you were holding up," she replied, coming to stand before him.
"I'm worried," he softly confessed as he averted his eyes. "It's pretty bad, Cass."
Her hand came to rest against his cheek, forcing him to meet her gaze. "It'll get better," she reassured him. "Diana is the strongest Amazon I have ever known…strongest woman in the world for that matter. She's not going to just sit back and let Batman stay in the Underworld."
"She and Artemis are going after him," he informed her. "They're leaving for Themyscira tomorrow."
"See?" she said with a warm smile. "She'll get him back."
"I know," he relented with a sigh. "It's just…nothing ever seems easy for them…or for my family for that matter. There's always something happening…some catastrophe or nightmare awaiting us."
"And your family always comes out winning…stronger for it in the end," she reminded him.
"Yah, I guess we do, but I'm worried that one of these times we won't," he confessed, drawing a deep breath to calm his worried heart. He forced a smile to his face. "Thanks, Cass. I'm glad you stopped by. I've missed you."
"I've missed you too," she admitted, pressing her lips against his.
He returned the kiss, his arms wrapping around her waist and drawing her close to him. Breaking the kiss, he brushed his nose against hers. "You know this is probably the last time you will see me in this uniform."
Cassandra's expression revealed her shock with his words. "You're not quitting, are you?"
"No, I'm just changing things up…new name and new costume," he revealed. "I felt it was time for a change. I'm not the kid that I was when I first became Robin. I feel it's time for me to grow up and take on a new identity."
"And let Damian have the old one," Cassandra finished his unspoken thought.
"Yah, he wants to be Robin so badly," he replied with a shake of his head. "I can still help out and be a part of the team, but it's time to let someone else have the mantle of Robin."
Cassandra gave him an affectionate smile, her eyes softening with the love she felt for him. "You have the biggest, kindest heart of any man I've ever known, Timothy Drake," she softly murmured.
His lips broadened into a grin, more than pleased with her compliment. "Just being a team player, Cass."
"No, it's far more than that," she said with a shake of her head. "You have a very noble heart, one that loves his family and friends fiercely. I'm just glad that I noticed it."
"I am too," he replied, his lips finding hers once more.
The sound of an alarm going off broke the tender moment, forcing Tim back into Robin mode. "Go be a hero," she told him with a soft smile.
"And you had better get out of Gotham," Robin warned her as he stepped up on the ledge of the roof, glancing back over his shoulder at her. "I'm sure Bruce will know you're here even from the Underworld."
Cassie shook her head in amusement, knowing he was right. She had no doubt about it. Taking to the air, she watched as he leapt off the side of the building, his grappling line finding purchase and taking him away into the night.
She sighed with a dreamy smile on her face as she began to make her way back home, finding that she already missed him. There was definitely no denying the fact that she was falling pretty hard for the handsome Boy Wonder. She hoped that Diana would be able to bring Batman home soon, not only for Tim and his family's sake, but for the sake of the whole world.
Wayne Manor; September 8th, 01:22 EST
Diana laid awake in the large bed she shared with her husband, an unrelenting restlessness gripping her and keeping her from finding the sleep that she so desperately needed. Though she was loathe to admit it, she was still sore from her battle with Bruce, knowing that she needed the rest in order to recover.
Rest, however, would not come to her until she had Bruce back in their home and in their bed where he belonged.
She couldn't help thinking about the others they had lost that night. Not only had Bruce and Ra's been taken away by Hades, but several League members had been severely injured and were still recovering in the infirmary.
Both Black Canary and Fire had taken pretty severe hits but would thankfully make a full recovery in time. Unfortunately, Shining Knight and Elongated Man had not been so fortunate, both losing their lives in the end. Vigilante was currently on life support, the chances of his survival decreasing with every single day that passed by.
It made her sick to think that her father was the cause of their pain, the loss of life that had taken place. If it weren't for her father, her friends wouldn't have been injured, her teammates would still be alive and well. She couldn't help the overwhelming guilt and sorrow that invaded her soul, wishing that Bruce was here to share in her grief with her.
Turning onto her right side, her gaze fell on the empty space where Bruce should be right now. She missed him so deeply it nearly crushed her heart, especially knowing where he was at that moment…what he could possibly be going through because of her father.
Sickening scenarios paraded through her mind one after another, taunting her with what Hades could be doing to Bruce…the unspeakable things that he could be enduring. It made her ill to her core the longer she thought about it, wishing it was her in the Underworld right now instead of him.
She should have known Hades was going to try to take Bruce away from her like that. She should have been faster, should have tried harder to get to him. Her mind continued to replay the events of that over and over again, trying to figure out what she could have done differently that would've prevented this from happening.
Tears blurred her vision as she lightly ran her fingers over his pillow, the longing inside of her growing stronger by the second. It was as if Hades knew of her pain and was using it to taunt her with his victory. He was going to learn that crossing her was the worst mistake he could ever have made.
She drew a shuddering breath, brushing away a tear as she pulled his pillow against her and wrapped her arms around it. She inhaled deeply, drinking in his masculine scent that she adored and that always stirred her soul. She knew it was the closest she was going to get to him for the moment.
She did her best to fall asleep, knowing that she had a very dangerous task ahead of her. She was going to spend the day with her family tomorrow, making sure Nicholas and Kaia were all right before leaving for Themyscira the day after that.
Diana longed to see her island home…to see her mother again. She hadn't had a chance to contact her mother yet but was more than anxious to return to Themyscira to see if things had quieted down at all. She knew that tensions had been growing more volatile by the day. Hopefully while she was there, she could help settle the discord before it exploded.
She knew that Artemis had already decided that she was coming with her to the Underworld to bring Bruce back. She didn't think that she could've talked the Bana-Mighdall Amazon out of it even if she tried. She found herself comforted by the thought of having Artemis with her. It more than ensured her success in getting her husband back.
She softly ran her fingers over the satin pillowcase, her bottom lips beginning to tremble. "Please hold on, Bruce," she softly murmured. "I'm coming after you and I'm bringing you home."
Underworld; September 8th, 02:00 EST
Hades lazily lounged on his throne, a twisted grin adorning his face. Things had definitely not gone as he had hoped or how he had planned. His freedom had been too short-lived, his plans barely even getting off the ground only to be crushed by the Justice League.
Taking a drink of wine from his challis, he mulled over the events that had taken place, not entirely unhappy with the outcome. While he hadn't been able to stay in the world of the living long, he'd been able to teach his daughter and son-in-law a lesson they wouldn't forget any time soon.
His daughter had dared to keep him from seeing his grandchildren, standing in the way of what he wanted. Now, she was paying a steep price for her interference in his plans. He downed the last of his wine, setting his challis down on the table next to him.
Hades smirked as he glanced down at his personal guest chained to his throne. He may not have accomplished what he had wanted to, but he didn't come back to the Underworld alone. He had brought two prisoners home with him.
"Fill my cup," Hades ordered, handing the cup to his newest servant.
"Yes, my lord," Batman solemnly replied as he stood to his feet and bowed his head in humble obedience.
Taking the challis, he walked across the room, the chain around his ankles allowing him only to go that far. He filled his master's challis with red wine, returning it to him with head lowered in a subservient manner. "Here, my lord Hades."
"You do well and maybe someday I'll remove the chain that binds you to my throne," Hades told him, taking the offered challis.
"Yes, my lord," Batman responded without lifting his head.
"You may sit," Hades said, nodding his head to the spot beside his throne that he had given to his son-in-law, Cerberus occupying the spot on the other side of Hades' throne. "Do you think that my daughter is crying tears into her pillow without you there occupying her bed?"
Batman sat on his heels, his palms resting flat on the tops of his thighs. His expression was emotionless, his tone flat and his body rigid as if awaiting his next orders. He appeared to be completely drained of all emotion, his mind emptied and filled with nothing by thoughts of serving his master.
"I do not know, my lord," he stated.
"Do you even care about your wife?"
"No, my lord."
Hades' smirk broadened as he took a sip of his wine. "Good boy. Women are only good for one thing. After that, they're nothing but trouble."
"Yes, my lord."
Hades harrumphed in annoyance, a sneer on his lips. "You certainly aren't much of a conversationalist, are you?" he asked, not really expecting a response. "Makes me wonder what Diana ever saw in you, but you did prove yourself in some ways. You battled her like a true warrior."
"I failed you, my lord," Batman stoically said, his head lowered in shame.
"No worries, my boy," Hades responded with a chuckle, patting the top of his head as if he was nothing more than a dog. "You'll have plenty of time to repent and pay for your mistakes."
Hades stood to his feet, his back turned to the Dark Knight of Gotham as he began to roam about his throne room. Batman lifted his head as he stared at his master, the lens of his cowl narrowing to dangerously thin slits.
TO BE CONTINUED…
A/N: Well, there you have it! I really hope that you enjoyed this. I was super happy with how it turned out.
Please go to my profile page and vote for what fic you want to see next. In the meantime, please check out my newest fic Deadly Intentions. I'm writing it a little differently than my other fics, but Bruce and Diana are definitely in for a surprise they never could have predicted. Really hope you like it! :)