March 5th 2029: London, Diana's apartment
Diana Prince's life seemed to be a steady stream of screwed up scenarios and alternate endings to the cracked film reel of her life. This stupid world. There was no peace with it. The Gods gathered up the good ones, or orchestrated it so that one was doomed to be stuck in a cycle of never ending anguish.
Diana was twenty years old when she was promised the world.
She remembered her first love. Remembered herself in a thin chiffon dress, head to toe magenta back when it was pink or die in the words of Julia Kapatelis. Clark Kent had sat her down in the modern little sitting room in his apartment, pressed the wrapped package in her dainty palms, and waited for her to rip open the silky gift wrap. She'd been hopeful when she was young, wild-hearted and ambitious in a city that held so much promise for who she was destined to be. So when the package opened to reveal a golden locket with diamond-encrusted globe at it's center, Diana had held it close with wide eyes.
"I love you, Diana." Clark had promised. "I will love you, forever." Clark gave her a sweet kiss, a tender one, and his nose brushed hers, he stroked her dark curls with his fingertips. Then tickled her into submission, but that was before, back when Diana was at the tip of the world, when she had fallen head first for Clark Kent and believed that she was untouchable with him at her side. Of course it wasn't easy, nothing ever was in their world.
But she had continued to fall, beyond him and beyond herself, spiraling into a collision so sharp that the view would never again be the same. Diana had never held the world in her hands at all. She was just another victim of its crushing weight. The most dangerous thing about young love is that it's hardly taken seriously. It is a cacophony of first times, nervous glances, whispering to flushed cheeks, fumbles and trips before the full leap. It is a sweep of emotion that carries you through passion so red that it hides beneath your skin for the rest of your life, reminding every other shade that it was your first. And the end of it . . . hearts fall like vases, tears flood the world into an apocalypse so torturous that the scar remains long after you convince yourself that you're alright, that you've grown and gone from the naive youth you were, that you know nothing of the past as you were too innocent to understand.
Old loves move on, get married apparently. Old loves leave you in their dust, and old friendships drive you away. Diana Prince learned that the hard way. A lot can happen in one hour. In one hour it had taken one moment, one decision and one choice to transform everything that Diana had ever known into the unknown.
Now, ten years later, hours before she was to step back out into the world of man. Diana Prince held her breath under water, sinking down until she was resting against the bottom of her bathtub. She left her eyes open, watched as the water danced over her skin, a tangle of dark brown hair pulling across the stream like a storm. She lifted her fingers to catch the light, a pointless thing she used to do as a child. And though Diana was not a poet - nowhere near it - she decided that the sight was sort of beautiful. Things looked so amazing when you were underneath, on the other side. Things were so different.
Until those lines were blurred, of course.
Diana laid there until her throat hiccuped in protest and her hands jerked up of their own accord to seek safety. She broke the surface of the water, gasping for breath, wild, wet hair stuck to red cheeks as her phone trilled on the edge of the tub. She picked it up, soaked the screen with wet fingers. It was another text to the symphony of messages she'd gotten since landing back in London.
Diana swallowed, pinching the skin just under her thigh, and pressed the delete button next to Shayera Hol's name. She'd done an easy job of avoiding her, avoiding all of them on her travels. Punishment by exile, the idea had seemed appropriate at the time – and that's exactly what she had subjected herself to. But now that she was back, she was stuck. Diana would have to face them eventually, would have to face him.
Diana stepped out of the bath, leaving a trail of wet footsteps behind, and threw on the towel Donna had laid out for her. She couldn't quite remember the point at which her sister's voice had faded into a broken song of nothingness. Perhaps it had been when mother had told her that Diana had vanished from the greens of their homeland and was not to be seen again.
After that Mother had perished three years later, and Diana had found herself being beckoned back to Themyscira. Responsibility had fallen to her lap, and she had learned that in the end, death was the only thing that stood between a queen and her court. There were those who feared and others who were afraid of everything.
But then, maybe Diana had ended up being both.
"Donna?" she called out, waiting for her sister's chirpy tone to pipe up at her name. Dammit, she thought. Donna had just invested in a supply of rare beauty products and she was keen to try them out. Diana huffed, pulling open her bathroom door. She glanced up and was greeted by wide green eyes and -
By the Gods.
Diana forgot to breathe. It wasn't Donna, it was . . . Bruce Wayne. She straightened, instantly on alert.
Diana's frosty stare, trapped Bruce. "How did you get in here?" she murmured, harshly.
Bruce glanced up from the special edition hardback of Sun Tzu's The Art Of War, that earlier Diana had placed on the table by the far wall on a storage trunk made of cherry wood, and quirked a brow. "Do you really have to ask?" he quipped, Diana pressed her lips together, taking in the solemnity of his expression. No, she didn't. His inhale was sharp and loud, "You don't write, you don't call."
Diana sucked her lip between her teeth, trying and failing to imagine the way she would respond. She half considered slugging him, but Gods knew how that would end. The man before her was only one in the many of symptoms that had set her on her course to begin with. But it was not within his right, Diana had truly underestimated just how hideous the world of man could be and a part of Diana thanked Bruce for the callousness he had shown her a decade prior, even Clark to some extent.
Diana squared her shoulders, rolling her eyes as she pointedly let out a sharp breath. Bruce was pissed, it didn't take Einstein to figure that out, but Diana was more enraged and the longer Bruce stayed in her presence the more the cauldron of her fury seemed to boil. An angry flush begun to spread over the back of her neck, "Bruce . . ."
"You look good, Diana." Bruce stated, his voice toneless. His eyes ran the length of her body brazenly, and his tongue poked out to wet his lips. In the gold ember of her quarters, he caught pieces of her - the crescent shaped birthmark kissing the curve of her shoulder, the twists of dark brown curls sticking to her back. Diana felt her cheeks flush, suddenly conscious of the thin drape preserving her modesty. "But I'll chalk that down to the divine blood."
She tensed, unappreciative of his crudeness, and her expression darkened to a glare that was nearly lethal. Bruce's words were like ice water, it drenched her to the core forcing Diana back to herself, she clenched her jaw, turned on her heels and disappeared into the adjoining bathroom to yank down the silk kimono that hung behind the door. The house robe clung to her like a Grecian toga, in fact it felt like a second skin. She stepped back out, chin raised slightly in an attempt to maintain her dignity. The dim light cast shadows across their faces and Diana found herself fumbling for the twist cap implanted into the crevices of the wall, rotating it until the glare was blinding.
Diana pursed her lips, "Time, has also been in your favor." she murmured without the slightest inflection.
"Humor me, Diana." Bruce hissed, with venom so acidic that it might've burnt her alive. "I'm not as young as I once was."
Diana looked hard, really hard, sure enough the dark hair that had once mared his temples were nothing more than silver strands of thread. His jaw was set firm, his hair tastefully slicked back, his eyes glinted with bits of chartreuse and noir. But his lips, slightly thinner now, were set in a firm line. Diana parted her lips, the breath almost locking up in her lungs, but she did well to school it.
Bruce pressed his lips together, his eyes tracing the lines of her face. "You're an open book."
Diana smiled, weakly, her eyes casting a shadow against the apples of her cheeks. "How did you get in here, Bruce?" she repeated.
Bruce stared at her for a moment, and she could tell that he was not going to give anything away. "I'm surprised I didn't set of your senses. You're getting sloppy in your old age." he pointed out, then paused to take in the air. "It's good to see you, Diana."
Diana's heart gave an angry stutter. The small quirk at her lips dropped in the space of a second until it was nothing more than a wisp of chiseled glass. The skin around her eyes smoothed out, her lips twitched before setting themselves straight. She whistled out an incredulous breath, "Now that I find hard to believe."
Bruce continued to watch her, as if he'd predicted her reaction would be exactly this. Good, he thought to himself. He needed her anger, would need it for what he'd need her to do next. Bruce snapped the book shut, and placed it on the tea table before him. She stared down at the brown leather cover, The Art of War glinting up at her in silver script. She recalled Clark's airy tone as he described his copy of his special edition years back.
How only one other person held it's twin.
The two books matched, much like their owners did - different from the rest of the world, but burning just the same.
Two of a kind.
Bruce's ribbing tone shocked her back to the present, dragging her away from the farthest recesses of her mind, from the depths of painful memories unchecked, and for a moment she was grateful. "You're the goddess of truth, Diana." He challenged, his voice as stern as an older brother's would be. "You yield the lasso of Hessia, you of all people can decipher a lie from the truth."
Diana was not impressed. "If you have come here to insult me . . ." .
"Relax, Diana." Bruce murmured, sharply. "I'm just stating the facts."
"You don't have all the facts." Diana said, her voice colder than she'd ever heard it. She stared down at her nails, picking off a stray inch of polish. She would've had to be an idiot to take the bait that Bruce was dangling for her and the strong moral part of her refused to indulge Bruce in the pointless game of tit for tat he thought he was playing. It'd do no good dredging up the past, or rubbing salt in old wounds for that matter.
Bruce was trying to prove a point, trying to break her this way before something bigger could. "You snapped a man's neck." he stated, matter of factly. "It's that simple."
Diana swallowed, thickly. Her jaw working for words. The thought of it made her nauseous, unsteady on her feet. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't I?" Bruce challenged, just as stubborn as she was.
Diana held in a hiccup of rage. "I forgot how charming you were." she deadpanned, raising her chin proudly, just to spite Bruce.
Bruce's eyes were cold and dead when he stared back at her, "You ran away, Diana. You're a coward."
She said nothing, but she could almost feel an ache, a hollowed pain from her silent screams. Diana drew in a breath, and fought for composure, she seemed defensive now as she looked up at him through her lashes, sparks of Alice blue burning in the dim light. She shook her head, willing the memories away. "How dare you." Diana murmured, lividly. She paused, wetting her lips. "That isn't fair."
"The world isn't fair." Bruce mused, apathetically.
Something broke within her then, "Your right it isn't." Diana said, sharply. There was more venom in her voice than she'd meant for there to be, but Bruce didn't even flinch. "I learnt that the hard way."
Bruce regarded her expression for a moment. "Where did you go?"
Diana narrowed her eyes. "Home."
Bruce shook his head, scowling at her lie. "If that's your story." he seethed out, "Donna told us that there were no traces of you found on Themyscira, at least not until recently that is."
"You . . . The league . . . Superman -" Diana cut off, letting out an empty breath. "You all lost the right to know that when you publicly renounced me from the team."
Bruce's jaw twitched. "You left, Diana."
She was silent for a moment. Diana was startled by the blatant anger in his voice, all piercing and hurt. Nails prickled her skin as she shrank back, but she persisted, "Loyalty." Diana said, her mind suddenly conjuring up a passage she had once read. It was a random thought, but it seemed almost fitting. "It's the opposite of loneliness." she continued, like this was all too unpleasant for words. Diana paused, shaking her head. "I expected more from you." Diana swallowed down the livid lump that began to form in her throat. "Both of you,"
"You and I both know that you're not an idiot." Bruce quipped, dryly. "What did you expect?"
"Exactly what I got." Diana rasped, a bitter smile on her lips, she wondered how she had once had feelings for this man. "Nothing."
"You killed someone."
"I put down a monster." Diana spat, exasperated. "Lord was a psychopath, he may have been a mortal but he was powerful enough to corrupt the mind of the strongest man in the universe."
"You had a responsibility, Diana." Bruce argued, "Lord could've been contained. You went against every moral in The Justice League."
Diana laughed, incredulous. "You're still the same, old friend. Incapable of seeing things from anyone else's perspective but your own." She pushed away from the door, and dropped into one of the wicker chairs, stretching her bare legs out in front of her. Her manicured fingers uncurled from a fist, and her usually postured shoulders slumped only slightly. "Your worst enemy has always been yourself, Bruce."
Bruce hummed, callously. Examining the nail of his pinky. "Tell yourself what you need to, Diana."
"You're a bastard." Diana retaliated, shocked at her own slip of profanity.
At her words, Bruce smirked and got to his feet. He braced himself for the blow, pinching his own skin where she couldn't see until he drew blood. "Kiss your mother with that mouth, Princess."
Diana's head whipped up in hushed anger, stricken by his words. The emotion drained from her face, save for a single tear that rolled down her cheek. "Beast!" Diana hissed, darting from her place in the chair and raising a hand to strike him across the face.
And from his lips escaped a word so low that only Diana could hear it. "Lois Lane is dead."
Diana blinked, "What?" she rasped. Her voice was weaker, and her hand slid from the air and down to her side.
"Five years ago." Bruce explained at her confused look, he retrieved a crumpled piece of paper from his breast pocket and held it out for her to see. She glanced down at the slip of paper in his hands, comparing it to the gold plaque on the door behind her. "It was a heart attack."
Diana flinched, visibly jerking back as if he'd just slapped her across the face. Her features twisted, and Bruce folded the article neatly before putting it back where it came from, he forced himself to go on. "Clark, he . . . he isn't good. He abandoned the League, he abandoned the world. There is no Superman, not anymore. He's at The Fortress now."
Diana parted her lips, but not a sound came out. The pause reigned heavily, building to a point where Diana could hardly take it anymore. She forced her expression to be cold, her voice distant, her eyes vacant. "I missed the part where that's my problem."
Bruce frowned, the bastard actually had the good graces to look shocked. "Diana . . ."
"That's the reason why your here, isn't it?" Diana murmured, the penny finally dropping. Bracing herself, she continued. "The infamous Bruce Wayne . . . The protector of Gotham city. You came here to ask for my help, you want me to bring him back."
Diana breathed a small sigh of anger as they exchanged a blank stare. She pursed her lips, then shook her head. "No."
"Diana . . ." Bruce trailed off, suddenly worried by the expression on her face, her guarded eyes.
"You come into my home, you insult me. . ." Diana spat, "You insinuate that I am a cold blooded murderer who killed for my own benefit. You have developed not even an incline of grace in your old age, Bruce."
Bruce blinked, "You finished?"
Diana's eyebrows slanted, her lips curling into a mean snarl as she glared at him, "He has hurt me. More than I thought anybody possibly could." the response was curt, monotonic.
Bruce watched her for another long second, then shook his head. "It wasn't his fault, Diana" he said. "It was Lord. He got inside his head."
Perhaps not but Diana could still picture Clark's face as he rejected her, as he pummeled her to a pulp. She dreamt of the moment, sickened, woke up sweating as one hand clutched at the tunic stuck to her breast. It was appalling. But it happened every night just the same. She pursed her lips, "What makes you think that I can bring him back?"
Bruce rolled his fingers in the pockets of his suit jacket, and quietly said, "I think you and I both know the answer to that question."
Diana barked an incredulous laugh, she swallowed hard, her throat constricting, her jaw tightening. Bruce stepped closer to her, his eyes were serious as he murmured her name. "Diana." he implored. "I am asking for your help."
Diana hesitated, she felt tears burn in her eyes, but she blinked them back and wet her lips for the second time that night. "Get out." Diana said, her voice settling into an eerie calm.
September 12th 2005: Medical Bay, Watchtower
(Ten years prior)
After subsequently saving the day, Diana found herself stepping into the Watchtower's medical database, and present were the unshakable nerves that plagued her when she thought about the news that she was about to deliver to one of her most trusted ally's. She'd fled from Clark, shortly after doing away with Maxwell Lord. It was strange, this feeling, as an immortal Amazon fear had only touched Diana's life a handful of times. She wasn't sure she liked this sudden urgency, this fluttering that had commenced in the pit of her stomach.
Diana walked in on her pensive friend, who, as always, appeared empiric as he sat upright on the examination couch. Bruce looked up sharply, his emerald eyes nearly cutting Diana down.
"Diana." Bruce said, clearing his throat. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."
Diana swallowed, Bruce Wayne was too beautiful, too tragic to hold in with a simple glance. "I need to tell you something." she whispered. By the time she had recited to him the whole happenings of the day Bruce had gone eerily quiet.
"I let him go. He was right I had no cause, no justification for holding him." Diana rambled, she avoided his eyes as she looked down at the limestone floor. "I have told I am not ashamed of what I have done. I did what was required to save not only Kal, but countless others. But I know there is a price for my actions."
Diana ran her fingers through her hair, "I know there will be many who will not understand." She continued, "And more, perhaps, who will not forgive."
She pressed her lips together, forced herself to go on. "But I wanted you to know. That it was important that you heard it from me first. Important to know if I have killed this friendship, as well."
Bruce remained unmoved.
"Bruce?" Diana's voice went hoarse at the rejection.
A beat. A breath. "Bruce . . . say something . . . please."
Bruce glanced up, a tight line etched onto his lips. Diana tensed, biting her lip, inside she was trembling. Bruce's eyes darkened, a familiar spark of anger lighting his eyes and then, "Get out . . ."
Diana's breath nearly locked up in her lungs, and she swore that she could hear her heartbeat thumping in her ears. She stared into the eyes of a man who stepped on lives and tainted hope until it's definition was lost. Diana raised her chin, scrapping the scraps of her dignity of the floor before backing away, she forced down the lump in her throat and with that she had fled from all of their lives.
A Cinderella bleeding heartbreak.
March 5th 2029: London, Diana's apartment
Bruce blanched, he didn't understand the words at first. She watched his expression sink slowly, his eyes narrowing, his jaw tensing until he looked nothing like the placid man from before.
"Sound familiar?" Diana asked, icily. She let out a crisp sigh. "Like I said earlier. Loyalty, Bruce. I trusted the League to be loyal to me, I trusted you and above all I trusted Cl-" she cut herself off, shaking her head before continuing. "My mother perished in the war of Veld not to long ago. My loyalty as a monarch is to Themyscira, I am their Queen and this isn't my problem."
Bruce regarded her, skeptically. He looked forlorn. "You've changed."
"People change, Bruce." was all she replied. "You of all people should know that." Diana focused her eyes on the wall, held up her resolve. This wasn't the Golden Age for the heroes of the Justice League Of America - especially not the ones who clung to one another for sanity then went mad when they were finally together.
Bruce took all of this in until he found a newfound sense of drive within himself. "A new enemy is on the rise, I fear that it is powerful enough to destroy all of mankind as we know it." he said, weighing his options. "We need him, Diana. We need you."
"I don't owe the world anything!" Diana snapped at last.
There was a desperate moment, the quake of her heartbeat, the rush of heat across Bruce's skin. "Diana . . ." Bruce said evenly, his voice as close to a plea as he would let it be. "I need you." She had been waiting for it, dreading the words. The tears came quickly, brimmed at the corners of her eyes. Diana, blinked, blinked again then moved past him en route to escape. She walked over to the door and gestured to it.
Diana closed her eyes. "Just go." she whispered, her voice high-pitched, rather hysterical.
Bruce nodded once, then stepped closer to her until he met her at the door. "Loyalty" Bruce echoed, in a voice so low she might have imagined it. "It's the opposite of loneliness" Her own words came back to her hitting her right between the eyes. She gaped at Bruce disbelievingly. "The pair goes hand in hand, Diana. You should think about that."
Diana rarely took advice from anyone who was not her own reflection, but there was something about the way Bruce had said the words. She straightened, sniveled, then glanced to the far wall. Bruce leaned in to press a chaste kiss to her rosy cheek then, "I trust that you'll make the right choice, Diana."
Diana choked on her breath as he vanished, wondering if she imagined the whole thing. If it had been some kind of dream conjured up by delusions of grandeur. Her fist clenched around the belt of her robe, fingernails cutting into her skin.
She pushed away from the door, and dropped her face into her hands.
Diana plopped down onto her bed. It was a downward spiral into a tragedy that she had down to a T, heart fought against mind and in the end heart won out, just as it always did. Diana stood corrected, Bruce was right. Bruce was always right . . . her conscience was to strong. Diana held her breath in silent surrender, laying her head back against the pillows in defeat.
Come the following morning, Diana's bags were packed, that day's fundraiser was cancelled and the sky bled as she soared towards a road she knew all to well.
Diana had made a choice, but had it been the right one.
A/N: Okay, so I have been working on this for weeks and I finally got a few minutes to edit it before I posted. I just wanted to throw it out there (as promised) to see what you guys think of it. So reviews will be MUCH appreciated. I'll definitely be focusing more on Chapter 6 of Centuries this week now that this is out of the way, I have a lot planned for the chapter and I'm very excited for you guys to finally read it. This is based on the Superman Sacrifice/ Wonder Woman #219 issue, if you guys haven't read. But I have always been pissed off about the way Bruce and Clark treated Diana, especially since she did what any human would do in that situation. The man was a bastard haha, but yes anyway, I hope you enjoyed it.
Special Thanks: I'd like to say a special thanks to Arcadia81 for guiding me few a few things with this story as well as Masso 2010. You guys are quality!