Batman stood on the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises; a single boot propped up on the ledge. He studied the streets below with a sharp eye that diligently searched for the slightest hint of danger. It had been a horrible day, one that he'd sooner forget all about. He'd hoped immersing himself in patrol would help.
Unfortunately, it would prove to be difficult.
"Robin to Batman."
"Go ahead, Robin."
"It's pretty quiet tonight," he relayed with a grumble of discontent. "I'm following a couple of guys acting suspiciously. I think they're heading towards Robinson Park to make a drug deal."
"Keep me posted," he told him. "Contact me if you need backup."
"Will do. Robin out."
Batman drew a deep breath, taking in the scent of impending rain. His cape whipped behind him like a sail of a ship as a gust of wind invaded his private sanctuary. He hoped the approaching thunderstorms forecasted for tonight would hold off until they were done with patrol. It was a regrettably quiet night, leaving more than enough time to recount the events of the day.
"I haven't been a kid since I was eight years old."
His words echoed in his mind, a twinge of guilt pricking his heart as he remembered how coldly he had responded to Diana. He'd turned on his heel, walking away from her and the others without another word. He knew that she had deserved a better response from him at that moment, but he'd been unable to give it to her.
Being a kid again had only triggered a wave of memories that had assaulted him like crashing waves repeatedly pounding the rocky shore. He had been taken right back to his childhood, one that he'd sooner forget than remember or reminisce about. Talking about it was out of the question.
"What do you want, Diana?" he demanded to know, knowing that she was in Gotham long before she'd landed on the rooftop with him.
"I thought you might be hungry," she simply said as she approached him, the soft click of her high-heeled boots resonating through the stillness of the night. "It was a long day."
"You know you're not supposed to be here," he stated with as much coldness as he could muster. He did his best to sound angry, but it came across as anything but.
Diana came to a stop beside him, handing him a large Coke. "Here," she offered with a smile. She wasn't one to be bullied or pushed which only added to his irritation.
He grunted in annoyance, reluctantly taking the drink. The smell of the food in the bag she carried caused his stomach to growl against his will. He was certain that she had heard it, but she never let on that she had. Instead, she took a sip of her own drink.
"It's been a quiet night," she observed, noticing how unusually empty the streets were below them.
"Too quiet," he agreed. "Makes me worried."
Diana smirked at him as she turned to sit on the ledge, stretching out her long legs before her before crossing them at the ankles. "Bruce, I hate to tell you but that's nothing new," she lightly pointed out. "You're always worried about something. I think you would worry if you didn't have anything to worry about."
He pursed his lips as he cast a sidelong glance at her, doing his best not to notice her legs that he swore were a mile long. "I don't always worry," he insisted with a poker-faced expression that was visible despite his cowl. "Sometimes I brood."
"Did you just make a joke?" Diana sputtered, nearly choking on her drink.
"I don't joke, Diana," he stoically replied.
"Want me to wrap you up in my lasso to get to the truth?" she said, cocking an eyebrow in question.
Bruce momentarily bit his tongue, trying to decide how to answer that question. "Okay…fine," he snapped. "I worry and occasionally I make a joke. There's nothing wrong with that. You knowing worrying has kept me alive all of these years."
She chuckled as she reached for the bag of food, opening it up and pulling out a hamburger and French fries. It was his turn to look at her incredulously. "Not the healthiest of meals," he pointed out as she handed it to him before pulling out her own hamburger.
"Not one bit," she agreed with an adorable grin. "But we've had a stressful day and I was craving a hamburger and hot, salty French fries."
"It's easy for you, princess," he told her. "Food like this doesn't affect you. We mortals aren't so lucky. I'll have to spend an extra hour in the gym tomorrow to make up for it."
"How about we schedule a sparring match tomorrow afternoon?" she suggested. "I'll work it off of you in no time when I beat you."
"Beat me?" he repeated in undisguised surprise. "Do you not remember our last sparring session? I beat you three out of five falls."
"And you must have forgotten the time before that when I beat you quite soundly."
Batman snorted in amusement as he took a few French fries. "I don't know about soundly, princess," he corrected her with a demeanor that was beginning to relax despite himself. "I think it was more like luck."
"Luck?" she said with a chuckle. "I would hardly call that luck. I've been training as an Amazon warrior for a thousand years. Did I ever tell you about the time my mother sent me on my first survival mission?"
"No," he said with a shake of his head as he turned to sit on the ledge beside her. "How old were you?"
"I was nine," she replied, her blue eyes sparkling with excitement. "I had to go into the woods alone and survive with nothing more than my knife."
Shocked, Bruce could hardly hide his curiosity. "For how many nights?"
"Three nights," she relayed. "The first night was a complete disaster. It started to rain and…"
"Wait," Batman interrupted her. "Does it rain on Themyscira?"
"Only if my mother asks Hera to send a storm to test me," she told him with a frown.
"Wow," he said with a true laugh that warmed her heart. "That's just cold."
"Tell me about it," she agreed, pausing to take a bite of her burger, groaning with delight.
Batman's lips quirked in amusement as he watched the Amazon eat with gusto. "So, what happened?"
"I was drenched from head to toe," she continued, popping a couple of French fries into her mouth. "It's a little difficult to build a shelter when all you have is a small dagger. Thankfully, I found a cave."
"What did you do for food?"
"I caught a rabbit," she proudly replied. "Skinned it myself and built a small spit. It's rather hard to build a good fire when everything is all wet. That took a little doing to make it work."
"I can imagine," he said. "Did it go better the next day?"
"Yes, until I got bit by a snake," she revealed. "That was painful."
"It sounds like you had a horrible time."
"No, it was great!" she exclaimed. "I snuck out of the palace many times after that to do it again."
"Only you, princess," he replied with a smirk.
"You never did anything like that?" she questioned him.
"My father took me camping once," he told her. "I was six and he thought it would be so much fun for the two of us to tent camp. It stormed for us too…lighting and thunder all night. I was scared to death."
"Did you have fun though?"
"I had a blast," he softly said. "The whole trip was a disaster from start to finish, but I had the best time because I was with my dad."
"What was your favorite part?"
"We tried to fish the next day," he informed her, laughter unexpectedly escaping. "My dad lost his fishing pole when he fell into the river trying to help me wrangle my fish in that I had caught. The fish wasn't even that big. He and I laughed and laughed. That's when we decided it might be better to go into town for a burger."
Diana's smile was dazzling as she listened to him tell her about his childhood. It eased the heavy ache in her heart that had settled there, knowing that he'd lost his parents when he was eight. It was wonderful to know that he had some special memories with his parents before he lost them.
He'd been forced to grow up so fast when his parents had been murdered right before his eyes. He'd been plunged into an abyss of unrelenting sorrow and anger. She was hoping by sharing parts of her childhood with him he would remember the good parts of his own.
"So, did you stay for another night, or did you call it quits?" she asked, taking a sip of her pop.
"We gave up after that," he told her, "but we tried it again a couple of months later and it was a little more successful."
"No dips in the river?"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," he sheepishly replied. "I took my turn falling into the river that time."
"Oh, Bruce," she laughed, covering her mouth in an attempt to stifle her pleasure.
"It turned out alright," he replied. "I had a change of clothes. We ended up back in town again for a burger. After that, we decided that maybe camping and fishing wasn't for us."
"Fishing can't be that hard," she told him. "I'll have to teach you how to spearfishing."
"You never fished with a pole?"
"No, we used spears or nets," she revealed.
"I'd like to see you try fishing with a pole," he decided. "It's not as easy as you think."
"I'm sure I could handle it," she confidently said with a smirk. "I am an Amazon after all."
Batman just shook his head as he took a sip of his drink. "Cocky, princess…very cocky."
"Confident," she corrected him, holding up her index finger. "It comes from growing up with adults. They imparted some of their best qualities into my training."
"Weren't there any other children on Themyscira to keep you modest?"
Diana grew thoughtful as she recalled her childhood. "I was the only child growing up on Themyscira," she softly said. "I didn't have any friends except for my Amazon sisters who were all like my aunts."
Bruce felt sympathy for the Amazon princess, realizing how lonely it must have been for her on Themyscira without any friends her own age. He understood that loneliness all too well. After his parents had died, he'd pretty much withdrawn from any friends that he'd had, Alfred becoming his everything—his friend, his mentor, his surrogate father.
"Wasn't that difficult not having anyone around that was your age growing up?"
Diana shrugged a shoulder as she popped a couple of French fries into her mouth. "It was hard at times, but I had my Amazon sisters and my training to keep me busy," she explained. "I remember asking my mother about it once. She told me that I was a special gift from the gods, so I didn't really question it. It would have been nice to have someone to play with and talk to, but I usually just created my own trouble."
Bruce snorted in amusement. "Why am I not surprised?"
"What is that supposed to mean?" she demanded to know, the sparkle in her blue eyes belaying her tone of voice.
"You are trouble, princess," he reminded her. "I'm not at all surprised you were constantly in trouble during your childhood."
"I wasn't constantly in trouble growing up," she insisted. "Just maybe two or three times a week."
Bruce's baritone laughter rumbled out of his chest, bringing a warm smile to Diana's face. "I have a feeling it was more often than that."
"Okay, so it might have been more," she admitted, hoping to hear his laughter again. It was a rich, warm sound that came from his soul, making her heart flutter. "I had a bad habit of jumping from extremely high places, bringing animals into the palace, or hiding from my mother."
"I can imagine that you almost gave your mother a heart attack," he decided.
"Very close," she agreed. "You can't tell me that you never did anything that scared your parents."
"I never said that."
"Spill it, Dark Knight," she stated, playfully elbowing him in the ribs.
Bruce grunted in response, the corner of his lips quirking slightly as a particular memory rose in his mind. "I may have shaved off my eyebrows when I was five," he revealed.
Diana almost spat her drink out, her laughter uncontainable. "You…you're kidding," she managed to utter.
"No, I wanted to shave like my dad, but I didn't have facial hair, so I shaved off my eyebrows," he told her. "The worst part was that my mom had arranged for family pictures to be taken the next day. She had to reschedule the photo session for several months later."
"I can only imagine how well your mother took it," she said with a giggle.
"She actually took it fairly well," he replied. "Alfred, on the other hand, nearly had a stroke. He's never let me live that one down."
"I wouldn't either," she responded. "I think that's pretty nice ammunition to keep in reserve just in case."
"I didn't tell you that so that you would have ammunition, princess," he stated, leveling her with a threatening glare.
Diana laughed as she threw a French fry at him. "Don't try to intimidate me, Bruce," she said. "It won't work."
The feel of rain falling interrupted their impromptu date on the rooftop, one that Bruce wouldn't admit was like a date. Diana looked up at the stormy night sky, raindrops wetting her face. "Come on," Batman said, picking up their dinner.
She quickly followed him to a small alcove on top of Wayne Enterprises. There was a small bench hidden inside, giving them a safe haven from the storm that was rolling into Gotham. She sat down next to him, his wet cape clinging to her leg.
"Sorry," he murmured, pulling his cape off her leg.
"It's okay," she reassured him, finding their close proximity making it quite warm in that little alcove.
He looked at her, finding her tantalizing close. Too close…or not nearly close enough. "I should get back to patrol," he softly said, his gaze falling to her red lips.
"It's a severe thunderstorm, Bruce," she pointed out. "I don't think anyone is going to be out committing any crimes right now."
"You don't know Gotham," he reminded her, the corner of his mouth ticking up. The police scanner went off at that moment, alerting him of an armed robbery in progress. "Told you."
"Go," she told him. "I'll clean all of this up."
He was already on his feet, reaching for his grappling gun as he exited the alcove. He paused, turning to look at her over his shoulder. "Thank you, princess," he softly said, "for everything."
With that, he was gone, racing across the rooftop and jumping off the ledge into the stormy night. She smiled despite his abrupt departure, feeling as though she'd been able to make a small breakthrough with the Dark Knight. He'd actually opened up to her, giving her a small glimpse of his heart and his childhood.
It was far more than she had expected to get from him tonight, knowing how hard it was for him to open up about himself and especially his past. Gathering up the empty containers and wrappers, she hoped that remembering happier times as a child would help ease some of the ache that the day had brought him.
Hopefully, it wouldn't be so painful remembering what it was like to be a kid again, and maybe…just maybe, he'd let her be there for him again someday.
A/N: Just a little something sweet to brighten your day. Family Crisis update coming this weekend! :)