Man's World

by Artemis

Rating: PG

Author's notes: takes place after JL ep "Secret Origins."  JL doing non-world saving stuff.  Batman/Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl/Green Lantern, Superman/Lois.  And if you thought nothing could be more vapid or crappier, check out the sequel, "Ladies Night."  Humor, angst, romance, stupidity but not an ounce of action.  Thanks to everyone at the BB/JLA RPG message boards for encouraging plotless stories like mine!

Disclaimer:  I don't own them and I think we will all agree it's probably for the best.

Warning: Stupid premise thinly disguised as plot as well as shameless abuse of characterization.  This is so far removed from any sort of action.

**************************************************************************

Clark Kent rapped on the heavy oak door and sighed.  This was ridiculous.  Just because Batman was paranoid, why did he have to get dragged down into his mania?  Metropolis wasn't far enough away from Gotham apparently.  Clark removed his glasses, pocketing them and sighed.  He had returned from lunch to find a note on his desk notifying him that "Mr. Wayne's secretary called and Mr. Wayne would like you to meet him in Gotham at your earliest convenience."

Alfred opened the door.  "Welcome Mr. Kent, please come in."

"Hello Alfred.  Uh, I'm supposed to meet Bruce here apparently."

"Yes, Mr. Kent, he's been waiting for you.  This way sir."

Alfred took him into the Batcave and disappeared. 

"About time you got here Clark."

Bruce turned away from the computer and glanced at Clark before turning back to the screen.

"Oh hi Bruce, how ya doin?  Me?  Oh, I'm fine thanks.  Work's been ok.  Did you catch my article the other day on the Middle East?  Lois says hello."  This was as close to sarcasm as the farm boy could muster.

"Are you finished?"

"Not yet.  Bruce, why am I here?"

Bruce kept typing.

Clark walked closer to the monitor.  "Well?"

Clark took another step closer and repeated himself in his best "menacing" voice.  "WELL?"

Bruce smirked.  "Too loud."

"Huh?"

He turned in his chair, tilted his head slightly, eyes glowered up at the Clark and intoned, "'Well?'"

"Well?"

"Not deep enough.  'Well?'"

"Well?"

"Still too conversational.  'Well?'"

"Well?"

"No.  Like this 'Well?'"

"Well?"

"Gravelly.  'Well?'"

"Well?"

"Almost.  'Well?'"

"Well?"

"Ahem." 

Both men turned and saw Alfred standing there with coffee.

Clark's face was turning red.  "Oh, hi Alfred."

"Don't worry Mr. Kent.  I've seen a lot of things here.  I never ask."

After setting down the tray with coffee, the butler returned to the mansion upstairs.

"Why am I here?"

Bruce brought up some text on the monitor.  "We need to research these newest so-called 'superheroes.'"

"Research what?  I know it's hard for you to trust people, but we've seen them in battle.  They are all on our side."

"Things like strengths.  .  .  weaknesses.  .  ."

Clark couldn't hide the irritability in his voice.  "What are you really talking about Bruce?"

Bruce stood and faced Clark.  "Exactly what I said Clark.  We need to find out exactly who we're dealing with.  We know nothing about J'onn, Hawkgirl, and Diana.  What if any of them aren't what they seem?"

"But you trusted J'onn enough to play dead and help him with his plan."  Clark instinctively knew he didn't like where this was headed.

Bruce only stared back so Clark continued in defense of these heroes he only met, yet already trusted with his life.  "Hawkgirl is as straightforward as they come.  Diana comes from a warrior race.  They all possess traits I think you would respect!"

Bruce's face showed no emotion.  "That doesn't answer my question.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  How do we really know where they came from?"  His voice became mocking, "Because they said so?"

Clark only got angrier as Bruce reacted less.  "As a matter of fact, YES!  I DO believe them!  And I saw their abilities first hand so I know their strengths and God help you if you tell me why you NEED to know their weaknesses!"

Bruce's face finally softened.  "Clark, you're too trusting.  It's not that I don't want to believe them.  I just need a little more.  He turned to his computer and hit a key.  Clark realized he had been researching Greek mythology.

"Take Diana for example.  What she describes, well, it's myth.  As in NOT REAL.  These goddesses she kept espousing never existed.  How do we know we're not dealing with a meta-powered schizophrenic?"

Clark closed his eyes and shook his head.  He knew he shouldn't have come here.

Bruce continued.  "Or Hawkgirl.  Another planet?  Do we know anything about this Thanagar?  No."

Clark interjected, "But that's a simple matter of asking Green Lantern.  If he hasn't heard of it, then I'm sure he can find out, even visit it."

Bruce shook his head, "And what about J'onn?  He is a telepath, possibly as strong as you, can phase through substances, take on the appearances of anyone.  What do we do if someone gets control of his mind?"

Clark's shoulders slumped.  He really, REALLY hated it when Bruce was right.  "What do you propose we do?"

Bruce smiled.  "A little recon.  You will spend more time with J'onn.  Talk to Green Lantern and ask him to get to know Hawkgirl better.  Need to know only.  Lantern doesn't need to know whom else we're researching."

"And Diana?"

"Bruce Wayne will take care of that."

Clark rolled his eyes.  He hated it when Bruce/Batman referred to himself in the third person.

******************************************

John looked at the woman sitting across from him.  They were having their first meeting of the newly formed Justice League and Superman had already approached him beforehand asking if the former Marine could learn more about Hawkgirl.  Recon.  Yeah, he could handle that.

John stopped staring when the Thanagarian stared back.  Actually, glared would be more accurate.  Her lip was twitching in a sneer.

The Green Lantern played it off by glancing around the room.  Superman was droning on about duty and starting some sort of schedule of "Monitor Duty."

The kid looked confused.  John remembered him referring to himself as "The Fastest Man Alive" and snorted a chuckle.  He froze when six pairs of eyes fixed on him.

"Something you want to add Green Lantern?"  Superman was watching him carefully.

"Uh, it's John, and no, I'm good, thanks."  John turned his gaze to the table.  When he looked up again a smirk had replaced the sneer on Hawkgirl's face.

John resumed checking out the room.  Diana was smiling and nodding along with everything Superman said.  He shrugged internally and thought that it made sense, their costumes matched after all. 

His gaze shifted to her right and saw Batman hunched in his seat, his cape covering not just his shoulders, but most of his chest as well.  He was pushed back a little further from the table than anyone else.  He couldn't tell where he was staring.

Whoa—back to Hawkgirl.  John already knew she was wondering why he kept looking at her and if the way she was patting that mace was any indication, he was sure she'd be asking.

He quickly averted his eyes to J'onn, the telepath sitting between them.  J'onn was staring blankly at Superman when John heard a voice inside his head ask, "Yes?  Is there anything you'd like to know?"  He jumped.  Once again everyone looked at him.  He looked back at J'onn, but the Martian's eyes were still on Superman.

"John are you ok?"  The concern was evident in Superman's voice.

"Uh, yeah."  John went back to staring at the table until he realized someone was still staring at him.

He looked to his right, into the smirking face of Flash.

He glared at him, which only broadened the smirk into a grin.  John went back to watching and listening to Superman extol the importance of Monitor Duty.

******************************************

The meeting over, Superman followed J'onn into the kitchen.  Superman was sure he was being discreet, until J'onn passed through the wall, appeared behind him and said, "Why are you following me Superman?"

Superman turned and looked apologetic.  "Sorry J'onn."

J'onn's voice held no anger.  "No need to apologize.  I am not offended."

The two went into the kitchen.  Superman watched as J'onn pulled a package of Oreos out of the cabinet and started eating.

Superman just stood there.  He shouldn't have agreed to this.  He really didn't know what to do.  Bruce was so much better at finding out information like this.  Actually, Lois was pretty good at that too.  Hey!  He was proud of his new idea.   He would just introduce J'onn to Lois.  She'd be her tenacious self and ask all the hard questions.  All he had to do was read the morning edition.

Superman was still mentally congratulating himself when J'onn spoke.

"Who's Lois?"

Superman's jaw dropped.  "You were reading my mind?"

"Not intentionally," his voice retaining that same, even, patience, "You thought her name and I felt love."

Superman turned on the stove and set a kettle of water on it to make tea.  He smiled and told the Martian, "Yes, that's fairly accurate."

He then fell into conversation with J'onn, surprised at how easy it was to talk to him.  Superman felt saddened by his new friend's stories about his wife and family.

Things were going well until a flash of red flew into the kitchen and immediately out.  The Oreos disappeared with the blur.   An oven mitt fell onto the stovetop and flames flew out immediately.  It all happened so quickly.  Before Superman had a chance to blow out the fire, J'onn was in a corner screaming.

Superman put out the fire and looked around the room, taking note of the scared Martian in the corner.  The reporter in him noticed something else too, that explained J'onn frightening reaction.  Superman was very pleased that he already had news to report to Bruce.

*********************************************************

April 14, 20xx 8:48 am

TO: bwayne@we.com

CC: iamthenight@yahoo.com

FROM: ckent04@dailyplanet.com

SUBJECT: guess what I found out

B. 

MM reads strong emotions

MM wkness:  take away his oreos.  cries like a baby.

C.

-------------------------------------------

April 14, 20xx 1:36 pm

TO: ckent04@dailyplanet.com

CC:

FROM: iamthenight@yahoo.com

SUBJECT: IDIOT

SAW SECURITY FOOTAGE.  TRY "FIRE" GENIUS.  DO NOT WRITE TO THIS ACCOUNT AGAIN.  MY SECURITY'S BEEN COMPROMISED BY YOU WRITING HERE. 

B

BTW—IF YOU DO NOT DELETE THIS MESSAGE WITHIN 3 MINUTES OF READING IT, A VIRUS WILL INFECT YOUR COMPUTER, COURTESY OF ORACLE.

------------------------------------

April 14, 20xx 1:38 pm

TO: ckent04@dailyplanet.com

CC:

FROM: bwayne@we.com

SUBJECT: Favor

Hi Clark!

How are you doing?  Just have a favor to ask.  I heard you know Superman, who knows that Amazon Princess I saw all over the news lately.  Do me a favor buddy and see if Supes can put in a good word for me. ;)  I have a free Friday night coming up in a week and I'd love to see that lasso in action. ;)

Thanks buddy!

Bruce

----------------------------------------------

Clark pushed his chair away from his desk and shook his head.  He would never argue with anyone who claimed Batman was insane.  He did delete both messages, just to be on the safe side.

******************************************

"Why?"  Diana's eyes were narrowed as she stared at Superman

"It's called a date.  You said you wanted to learn about 'Man's World,' well, here's your opportunity."

Diana was in full Amazon mode however.  Her fists clenched at her sides and she glared at Superman.  "Who is this 'man?'" the disgust evident in her voice.

"He's, uh," Superman's mind couldn't help inserting "psycho," "nuts," "a few bats short of a belfry," but he said "a wealthy, successful bachelor" instead and hoped his words didn't sound rehearsed.

"What does one do on a 'date?'"  He could hear the curiosity in her voice, yet her fists remained clenched.

"Um, dinner, a movie, or the theatre, go to a bar get some drinks."  Superman was trying to recall the last time he and Lois went out, well, in his fantasies, "oh, and dancing!  um, the zoo maybe?  or a picnic.  .  .  uh, the beach."

Diana's eyes narrowed even more.  "That's a very busy day.  Do people often do all these things?"

"Oh no, usually just 2 or 3 of those things."

"Mother said men were not to be trusted.  My instincts are suggesting I follow her advice."

"Well, it's not like you can't defend yourself.  If he does anything, ANYTHING, don't be afraid of hitting him.  You're strong, I know you can handle him." 

Superman had to consciously suppress his chuckle as he said this.  Yes, he just found his revenge for being forced into this charade by Batman.

************************************************

John was having no luck with Hawkgirl.  He tried talking to her.  He tried sitting next to her at their next meeting.  He tried making her breakfast.  He tried to train with her.  He tried accidentally bumping into her.   Nothing from her but an angry glare.

He was also starting to feel irritation towards the Man of Steel for getting him involved.  Why does he need recon on Hawkgirl anyway?   He slumped further into the couch and sipped his Rolling Rock and continued to feel sorry for himself.

He heard someone behind him, expecting it to be Flash, he gave a half-hearted "Hey man, cold ones in the back."

Sounds of walking out, refrigerator opening, then footsteps returning.  He looked up when he realized Hawkgirl was sitting on a couch across from him, Rolling Rock in hand. 

"With the amount of time you spend staring at me, figured you would have noticed I'm not a man."

"Sorry, Hawkgirl, thought you were Flash."

She grimaced.  "You have to work on your compliments.  Oh, and call me Shayera."

John put his beer in his left hand, extending his right. "I'm John."

Shayera laughed derisively.  "Oh, I remember you, 'Chuckles,' from the first meeting."

John frowned, feeling embarrassed.  Were the others calling him 'Chuckles' now?

Hawkgirl smiled at his uneasiness and something wicked inside her decided to prod him a little more.

"So," she started casually as she sipped form the bottle, "Why'd you stop stalking me?"

John spit out his beer.  "Why did I WHAT?!"

Shayera smirked and leaned into the couch, the very picture of calm and collected.  "You were stalking me.  Today you haven't.  What changed?"

John shook his head.  "No.  No.  Not stalking."

Shayera only stared back, looking amused.

John was still adamant.  "No.  Maybe I wanted to know more about you, but that wasn't stalking."

Shayera shrugged.  "So what do you want to know?"

Inwardly, John groaned.  He hated being put on the spot.  He recalled what an ex-girlfriend told him once about her new man (which wasn't him), that he asked "open ended questions."

"How are you?"

Shayera didn't even blink.  "Fine."

And then she smirked.

John's heart was beating a little faster.  Was she CHALLENGING him?  The nerve of this winged freak.  He sighed and attempted another volley.

"What's Thanagar like?"

She blinked.  Inside he cheered and did a celebratory touchdown dance.  She blinked!

He smirked.  He couldn't resist.

She blinked again and stood up abruptly.  "Uh, I have to go."  She looked everywhere but at him and let the room, leaving a feather behind.

His id stopped the celebratory touch down dance when he realized what he just did.  Dammit-dammit-dammit!  She was ready to open up and he ruined it!  He only hoped Superman didn't have a deadline for this info. 

He was back at square one.

************************************************

Lois stared at the women before her.  How did Clark finagle her into this?  He owed her big time.

She sized them up, literally, because they all had to fit into her Camry somehow.  Diana was as tall as a supermodel, but with the chest of a Playboy playmate and the arms of a linebacker.  Shayera wasn't as tall, but those wings.   .  .  yep, Shayera was definitely in the backseat.

"How about we put that in the trunk?" Lois asked, gesturing to Shayera's mace.

Shayera glared at her, clutching the medieval weapon harder and Lois conceded.  "Um, let me open the door for you then."

Why was she helping Diana shop?  She had to remind herself why this was worth it.  Smallville had foolishly tried to play matchmaker and arranged for a date between Diana and Bruce Wayne.  Ever since she saw Diana next to Superman on the news, she considered the heroine competition for Superman's affection.  But if Diana were tied to Bruce, then Superman would be free for her (Lois).  Besides, glancing at the star spangled underwear, golden eagle breastplate, and red boots; this woman definitely needed something to help her blend in.  She wasn't sure why bird girl wanted to come.  From the way Diana kept looking back at her and smiling, despite Shayera's scowl, Lois was pretty sure Hawkgirl didn't know why she was here herself.

All too soon for Lois, they reached the mall.  As people gaped openly at the trio as they walked across the parking lot and into the mall, Lois reminded herself that she was getting exclusives with the Justice League's only female members.  Well, she better get exclusives.  Smallville promised and she would hold him to it.

************************************************

CRASH!!

Lois jumped and looked behind her.  A certain Amazon and Thangarian were doing a poor imitation of looking innocent about the bikini clad manikin at their feet.

Lois was exhausted.  She had already stopped Shayera earlier from swinging her mace at one and shushed Diana when she started screaming about "The saddest atrocity in Man's War against women is the loss of women's self esteem!" or something like that.

Regardless, Lois was catching on that these two weren't fond of the depiction of women in manikin form.  She grinned inwardly as she thought about how strange it was for two women wearing costumes that left very little to the imagination.  .  .

She stopped chuckling when she realized the security guard was giving her a hardened stare.

Diana realized Lois was getting blamed and started to interject, "No you've made a mistake—"

She was stopped when Shayera grabbed her arm. 

"What the Princess is trying to say, no one was at fault.  It's these wings."

Hawkgirl paused and opened up her wings to their full span, for effect of course, but also toppling the remaining symbols of woman's internalization of man's Pygmalion ideals.  .  .  or whatever it was Diana was shouting about earlier.  Lois regretted not turning on her tape recorder.

Shayera opened her mouth in a perfect "O".

"I'm so sorry!  It happened again!  I'm so clumsy!"

"Yeah, can't take you anywhere," Lois muttered and froze when she saw Diana turn around.  So she has super-hearing too, Lois thought to herself, making a mental note to jot that down as soon as these two weren't looking.

The security guard told them to just get out, so the trio left.  Lois could hear the two giggling like schoolgirls.

"I cannot believe you did that sister!"

"Shush Princess!  Or Mom's gonna tell on us!"

That only made Diana laugh harder.  Lois stiffened and turned around.  The two superheroes immediately straightened, their faces red and lips twitching from containing their laughter.  Good lord, they are like a couple of teenagers, and, she sadly admitted, was acting exactly like her own mother did.

Lois flashed them a conspiratorial grin and said, "Wait until I show you Frederick's of Hollywood."

************************************************

Batman was about to leave the Watchtower and head back to Gotham for patrol when the League received an urgent message from Oracle.  He opened the file attached  and sat back stunned.  As he watched the screen, his lips starting twitching and his eyes were watering.  He cried out.

The other members of the League heard him, and ran in afraid something was wrong.

Flash was there first, of course.  Batman couldn't speak; he was holding his sides, hunched over.

"Bats?  What's wrong?  You're freaking me out more than normal dude."

Batman reached up with one hand and managed to click on the file again.  Flash soon fell onto the floor.

Green Lantern and J'onn entered the room.  J'onn, perceiving their thoughts, started laughing.  GL didn't get the joke until he looked at the monitor, and said file was now in a constant loop.

A grainy black and white film from a security camera revealed the two female members of the League inside a lingerie shop.  John recognized it as Frederick's.  Hawkgirl was swinging her mace around at manikins, oblivious to the bras and thongs that stuck to her wings, courtesy of static electricity.  Diana was holding up a thong and yelling at a saleswoman.  Then she suddenly stopped and ran to the dressing rooms, pushing a man out of the way and grabbing his girlfriend's selections and tossing them to floor.  She was now yelling something else.

John managed to ask, "Please, somebody here can read lips!"

Batman composed himself enough to supply, "Run free sister!" before dissolving into hysterics again.

************************************************

Lois sipped her Diet Coke and watched Diana, stunned.  The Amazon Princess was munching away at her triple (TRIPLE, Lois's hips screamed) quarter pounder with extra cheese.  Lois has always seen those on the menu, but never believed anyone actually ordered one.  It was huge.  Yet, being a princess she supposed, Diana still managed to eat it gracefully, occasionally grabbing a fry from her super-sized order.

Hawkgirl finally looked content as she sipped her Mountain Dew.  Lois knew addiction when she saw it.  Shayera hadn't gotten a real meal per se, but wandered from restaurant to restaurant in the food court getting anything sweet.  Her tray was a collection of Mrs. Field's cookies, a McFlurry and a Blizzard (to compare, Shayera claimed), sesame chicken, and a really big cup of Mountain Dew.

Lois took advantage of the Hawkgirl's now subdued state and discreetly turned on her tape recorder in her bag.  She was going to get something to write about.

"Why do you wear a mask?"

Hawkgirl looked up from her Dew, a little glassy eyed.  "Whuh?"

Lois tried again.  "Your mask.  Why wear one?"

Hawkgirl shrugged.  "Superhero stuff, secret identities, and all that."

"Diana doesn't wear one."

Diana put down her triple quarter pounder with extra cheese, curious about where this was headed.

"She doesn't need to, no one looks at her face!"

Diana threw a fry at Shayera.

"It's not my fault men are fools!"  Diana proclaimed defensively.

Lois tried to bring Hawkgirl back to the "interview."

"But why do YOU wear one?"

Shayera looked confused.

"So no one knows who I am."

"But you have wings."

"Yeah?"

"You have wings."

"I heard you.  What's your point?"

"Wings."

Shayera looked to Diana for help.  Diana avoided her glance and hid her smile by taking a bite of her triple quarter pounder with extra cheese.

Lois sighed and gave up.  She looked at Diana and realized the Princess was staring at her own chest and then Lois's.

Lois was tired.  "What's up Princess?"

"I think I should get a bra," she announced in a loud clear voice. 

Lois grimaced and blushed.  Now they were getting even more stares.

"Shh—are you always this tactful?"

Diana's brow furrowed and sat up even straighter.  "I am not ashamed of my body."

"May I ask why? About the bra that is, not about your, uh lack of shame," she hastily added.

Diana was feeling a little defensive.  "It is customary here.  And since I will be wearing this dress we purchased, it makes sense that I wear the proper undergarments as well."

"You've certainly changed your tune."  Lois was thinking about Frederick's of Hollywood.

Diana looked a little embarrassed.

"I don't want to look foolish, or out of place, on this 'date.'"

Shayera laughed.  "You're going on a date?!"

Diana nodded, smiling.  Even she had to admit the irony.

"With who?"

"Bruce Wayne?"  Diana shrugged.  "Superman asked me on his behalf.  I don't know anything about him."

"He's actually a nice guy, don't believe the tabloids," Lois supplied, but simultaneously wondering how Batman and Wonder Woman could possibly get along.

"Do you know him?"  There was no jealousy in Diana's words, only curiosity.

"Mm-hm.  We dated, briefly.  He doesn't exactly commit."

Shayera gave Lois a knowing look.  "We have men on Thanagar like that as well."

Diana's eyes were darting back and forth between the two women, as this was all very interesting to the Amazon.

"Mother has spoken often of the evil of men."

Lois grinned.  "Oh, they're good for some things."

Shayera was staring off.  "Yeah.  .  ."

Lois chuckled at Hawkgirl.  "What's his name?"

Hawkgirl blushed and looked at Diana.  Lois looked at Diana.  Diana gave Lois a look and shrugged.

"I would rather not say.  What about yours?"  Hawkgirl deflected the attention to Lois.

Lois laughed, this time at herself.  "It's not exactly a secret.  He's always rescuing me from something."

The female Leaguers, having no idea of Lois's track record for getting into trouble, continued to look at her expectantly.

"Superman," Lois said, rolling her eyes.

Shayera pondered aloud.  "Interesting.  Superman asked Diana out for this Bruce Wayne.  Your friend Clark bribed you into taking Diana shopping for this date."

Lois blushed at "bribed," but remained quiet, curious to see where Shayera was going with this.

Shayera grinned proudly.  "Batman's not the only detective in the Justice League.  Clark is a friend to both Bruce Wayne and Superman.  Obviously Bruce Wayne is Superman!"

Lois snorted.  "Sorry honey, but Bruce Wayne is no Superman.  I wish though, but no."  She was dying to tell them who Bruce Wayne really was, but managed to bite her tongue. 

Instead she thought about the other pieces Shayera mentioned and thought about them in a different pattern.  All this time, Lois thought to herself, a smile forming on her lips.

************************************************

"Where are we?"

John stepped around her wings and gestured to the pool table.

"This is called 'pool,' or 'billiards.'  You'll like it.  You get to hit things with a stick."

As he said that he realized, she's probably enjoy baseball more, but he was never that great at baseball and really only wanted to play things he could win.

J'onn had disguised himself as a human.  John found it a little creepy, but fortunately, J'onn was content to just sit in a corner on a stool and watch.  John would have preferred that J'onn wasn't there at all but he had to make it sound like he was inviting everyone.  The League had just fought and stopped a murderous ring of illegal arms dealers.  Green Lantern needed to blow off some steam and spotted this pool hall as he used his ring to shield the near-by businesses from falling debris.

John did invite everyone, but Batman was gone before he had a chance to ask, Flash was headed back to Keystone City for a date with some girl Linda, Superman said it was already pretty late and he had to be up early, and Diana had Monitor Duty.  J'onn, unfortunately, had no other plans.  Shayera agreed once J'onn did, with a little push, literally, from Diana.

Shayera took in the smoky atmosphere and dim lighting and grinned. 

"I like this place.  Reminds me of some of the seedy bars in Thanagar I used to shake down informants in."

"I can see that" he chuckled and handed her a cue.

As he racked up the balls, he explained the rules.  "I'll break, just so you can see what you're supposed to do with that," pointing to the cue in her hand.

Shayera merely raised an eyebrow, her lips smirked in amusement, and biting back a non-PG response.

They started playing and Shayera was actually having fun.  Of course they teased each other constantly, but she wasn't offended as she was that time he tried to speak to her in the lounge.

He was also an excellent teacher.  He helped her perfect her technique by standing behind her (she tucked in her wings as tight as she could) and guided her arms and hands with his own as he illustrated the perfect way to hit a billiard ball.

She had to admit, she enjoyed the lesson.

John was enjoying Shayera's company as well.  He stopped thinking about Superman's stupid assignment hours ago.  He was ashamed to realize he was employing an old move on her, "teaching" her how to strike the ball with the cue, but why give up on a classic?  Besides, the lesson was enjoyable for him too.

As John's thoughts strayed (he was reconsidering baseball, that batter's stance could be a fun lesson itself) J'onn continued to pretend to sleep in the corner, as a smile slowly spread across his face.

************************************************

Meanwhile, Flash sat in the Monitor Womb, complaining about women, to of all people, Diana.

Linda couldn't wait to end their evening.  Flash had no idea why.  He was frustrated because he genuinely liked Linda.

Granted, initially he was interested because he thought she looked hot.  But as he got to know her better, he really did like her, so he told her as a compliment, but never got to say the "good" part.

He said as much to Diana, ending with "I could use your advice as a hot chick," and her look of horror melted into laughter.

She was still laughing.  Flash stood up to go.

"Sorry Wondy" he started to say, but she grabbed his arm.

Her shoulders stopped shaking and she dried her eyes. 

"I'm sorry Flash, but you really need to work on your compliments."

"What was wrong with it?"  He sat back down.

"Flash you meant well, but if you really want to avoid annoying women, you have to stop treating women as objects."

Flash tilted his head to one side and stared at her.  "Wondy, I know you say that a lot, but I could use something more specific here."

Diana took a deep breath and tried to avoid the urge to rant as she did a couple of days ago in the mall. 

"Well, how about you stop referring to women as 'hot chicks?'"

"Hotties?"

She shook her head.

"Babes?"

Diana buried her face in her hands.  Why did she bother?  She was going to vocalize it when someone spoke first.

"Flash, you're clueless."

Flash and Diana turned to see Batman had, as usual, appeared out of (seemingly) nowhere.

Flash smirked.  "Oh this just gets better.  First I was soliciting advice from Wondy, now Bats!  Hey guys, I'll be free for Monitor Duty every Friday night now!"

Batman just glared at him.  Then turning to Diana, he picked up her hand, kissed it, and simply said, "Hello" staring at her intently with a slight smile.

Diana just stared at him.  Batman glanced at Flash, smirked, and left the room.

Flash laughed, "Yeah that'll work!"

"Yeah that works," she mumbled still staring at the doorway.

************************************************

Diana's Diary

April 25

GREAT HERA! 

But I have to describe tonight in the order events occurred.

As I sat next to him in the car, I remember feeling surprised to admit I was enjoying myself for most of the evening.  Bruce was very polite so far.  Sometimes I caught him staring at me strangely, in a way I was definitely not accustomed to, but that may be partly due to whatever I was saying at the time.  I am already WELL aware that my ideas about a lot of things go against popular opinion here.  And then there are all the things that I still do not understand!

For example, I was surprised to receive a bouquet of flowers when I arrived at his residence.  I accepted them with an admittedly confused thank you.  Bruce laughed at me, which only confused me more!  Hera help me, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with these, so I sat in the car holding them awkwardly in my lap.  Bruce must have noticed my discomfort, because he took them off my lap and reached around me, his arm brushed across my lap so softly; his face was so close to mine.  .  . And then placed them on the other side of me, smiling the whole time.

I suspected he was laughing at me a lot more than he let on.

He struck me at that instant as a most thoughtful man, very much like Superman or Batman, except when Batman's giving people that stare of his, which never works on me.  I always find it so amusing, part of me still chuckles at the thought of a mortal man as a warrior.

Bruce had a wonderful smile, and no silly stares from him (not YET anyway!).  At this point in the evening, when he looked at me, with those blue eyes, my body felt odd, like when I'm in battle and I've just beat an opponent.  I don't know how else to describe it.

I noticed under his suit he had a very fit, muscular body.  As a warrior, I can certainly appreciate that.  Watching him move and detecting the muscles moving under his finely tailored suit also led to thoughts I am too embarrassed to write, let alone think again!

But how can I help wonder about such things when all the imagery in Man's World are obsessed with it?  I must remind myself I am merely curious, that is all.

Did I mention he had a wonderful smile?

Ah, yes.  Now free of those cursed flowers, I was thinking all these things as I smoothed out my dress across my lap.  It was red and a silky material, but wrinkled so easily!  This dress was completely Lois's idea.  I had no idea what to select.  I must remember to "do lunch" with Lois and tell her what transpired tonight.

Bruce asked me lots of questions about Themiscyra and thus encouraged, I offered story after story about life there.  I was so eager to talk about home, and finally someone was asking me about it. 

Bruce was a good listener. 

He seemed very surprised to find out how educated I was in terms of Western Civilization.  I have read a lot of great writers and philosophers, but none of that prepared me for the culture shock I continue to experience here now.

He asked me question after question about my religious beliefs or "mythology" as he called it (I can just hear the goddesses now—"impetuous man!")  Hera forgive my honesty!  This was during dinner and he nearly choked when I described meeting them during that short time I was the Goddess of Truth.

The strangest look from him during the evening occurred towards the end of our evening, before he changed, when he asked me how I was born, if there were no men on the island.  I answered his question honestly, starting with how my mother crafted me of clay, and the goddesses' roles, on up to how I got my name.  His face turned from amused to serious.  Maybe he realized I was serious?  Or perhaps, his beliefs that I was insane had just been confirmed?

Honestly, that I didn't mind.  I was just happy to talk to someone about home, and it was nice to be away from the Watchtower for a while.  I hate to admit it, but I feel a little pathetic sometimes with how homesick I am.  But perhaps what's more pathetic is that I would tolerate ridicule just for the chance to talk about my home.  But he had yet to be rude to me. 

UNTIL he leaned against me in the car.  His face was very different at this point.  This was not his gentle ministrations earlier, but acted like a drunkard.  I sometimes caught Flash looking at me in a similar way.  His hand was on my thigh and he was not being gentle at all-- very sudden and abrupt.  I grabbed his hand and squeezed hard, but all the while never losing my smile.  Foolish little man!  I would not allow him to see me upset.  Yet his behavior worsened!  Through clenched teeth he whispered in my ear some very inappropriate thoughts about "rough" and ideas for my lasso that I do not dare repeat, even here.

This new behavior was in such contrast to the man I had been enjoying an evening with.  Frankly, I would not have refused a kiss with that Bruce, but the one looking at me now was too forceful, too crude.  Suffering Sappho!  To finally understand the wisdom of my fellow Amazons!

But then I remembered Superman's advice, and did this next part guilt free.  I could easily hear any one of my sisters saying the same thing. 

My fist snapped out, quicker than he could flinch, to punch him in the nose.

As Bruce sat there with his hands holding his nose and his strong jaw exposed, I stared at him for a moment, admittedly dumbstruck at what I was seeing, but acted quickly with a retort (Wisdom of Athena comes in handy every now and then!), lest he should interpret my pause as concern for his welfare.

"Bruce, if you want an accurate idea of Amazon strength you should have worn your bat suit."  I smiled sweetly before adding, "Then I wouldn't have to hold back.  .  .  as much."

I have taken a moment to re-read all of this with him in mind and I remain shocked.

There were two men on this date?  Which man was which?  And which is the real him?

************************************************

Superman was running late.  He had to meet Lois in an hour, but he was still in the Watchtower.  He, J'onn, and Hawkgirl had a late night helping Flash evacuate people from a burning apartment building in Keystone City.  Superman stayed to help with the debris, long after sending Hawkgirl and J'onn home.  It didn't require the whole team however, so John remained on Monitor Duty and they didn't bother notifying Batman or Diana.  But Superman's other reason for not notifying the two was that he knew about their date and he knew Bruce would make his life difficult if Diana discovered he was Batman because of him.

Part of him wondered, why he should care.  He has his own life.  This whole recon business was Bruce's idea anyway.  Superman started to feel a little guilty.  Bruce can't help how he is, and he is right most of the time. 

"'.  .  .  method to his madness,'" Superman reminded himself when John appeared in his path.

"Don't you have Monitor Duty?"  Superman was ever mindful of the schedule he was responsible for making.

"J'onn's in there now.  Look Superman, I need to talk with you."

"Can it wait?"

Superman tried to sound friendly, but he was too tired and he was in a hurry.

John didn't notice the barely there, albeit substantial for Superman, impatience in the Boy Scout's voice.  John pulled Superman into the kitchen.  Superman was kind enough to let him.

"I can't do this spying crap for you."

Superman rubbed a hand over his face.  A cup of Earl Grey would be nice right now.

"What are you talking about?"

"That 'recon' business you asked me to do on Shayera."

"Oh, right.  That."

"Well, I won't do it!  I don't care.  I don't want to know why you need to know her weaknesses!"

"Ok John.  .  ."

"NO!  Let me tell you a thing or two about MY strengths and weaknesses!"

"John—"

"You don't want me to know why you need to know her weaknesses!"

"JOHN!"

Superman grabbed John's shoulders.  "I.  Don't.  Care."

Superman let him go and scribbled something on a piece of paper and thrusted it at John.

"Here.  Complain to him."

Superman stormed off, leaving John dumbstruck.  He snapped out of it when he glanced at the paper.  Resolve renewed, he headed to the nearest computer. 

************************************************

"Clark! Over here!"  Lois waved him over to their table.

Clark froze when he saw Diana at the table as well.  What was going on?  Would she recognize him?

Diana turned and smiled in recognition, her mouth starting to form the words "Suuu" when she noticed his panicked face and clamped her mouth shut.

Lois had been watching Diana carefully the whole time.  She grinned, pleased with her clever idea.  She considered this a fact now; confirmed by a second source, yep, perfect textbook journalism.

Sure she wanted to hear about Diana's date with Bruce, but she also couldn't pass up the opportunity of confirming the biggest story of her life.  .  .   that she'll never, ever get to write.  .  .  Suddenly this wasn't as much fun anymore.

"You look beat," she commented to Clark (or Superman!  This was amusing again).

He only nodded, and gestured to Diana, "Hey Lois, uh, aren't you going to introduce us?"

Diana stifled a giggle at his behavior.

"Right, almost forgot!  This is Diana.  Diana, Clark."

Lois grinned broadly as she watched the two worst liars in the universe pretend to meet and exchange small talk.  Lois wanted to gloat however, let Clark know it was over, so she tried to speed his breakdown along.

"Clark, Diana's in the Justice League."

He looked at Diana and realized this was the first time he had ever seen in her in normal clothes.  Guess the ladies had luck shopping.  .  .

".  .  .Superman," Lois finished.

Clark looked up, the shock evident on his face.  What did he miss?

"I said, Clark, she knows Superman."

"Well, of course she does Lois," attempting to grin, "They apparently, uh, work together."

Lois leaned towards him.  "Don't YOU know Superman too?  Clark?"

She smiled and continued, thinking of Hawkgirl in the food court.

"And both of us (gesturing to Diana and herself) know Bruce-and-Batman."  She purposely said those words close together.

Clark stiffened.  Was this woman insane!  Batman would kill her!  Probably chuck some kryptonite at Clark first, but then he'd definitely go after Lois next.

Clark gestured with head towards Diana who was watching Lois with a small smile.

"Uh, Lois?  Not everyone KNOWS Bruce-and-Batman."

"Yes she does."  Lois smiled confidently.

"KNOWS, Lois?  As well as you do?"

Lois smirked as she said, "Well, it was only their first date!"

Clark blushed, Diana's mouth dropped as she slowly got it, and Lois regretted going there.

Fortunately she was saved by the waitress taking their orders.

She decided she put him out of his stammering misery and in her no-nonsense tone of voice, "Clark, Diana already told me about her date.  She found out."

He looked back at Diana stunned.

In all the confusion, he had forgotten that Clark didn't know that Bruce and Batman shared a body.

Lois remembered though.

Clark looked at her wolfish grin and knew.  She had set him up.  He tried to look concerned, but he couldn't be mad at her.  Her tenacity was what he adored about her.

Diana tried to ease the awkwardness by telling the circumstances of how she found out.

Lois stole the punch line however.

"And then she socked him!  HIM!  Right in the nose!"

Diana didn't mind.  She found Lois hilarious.  Diana wrapped up her story in a whisper.

"When he was holding his face, he covered the same part the mask does.  It took me a second, but then I knew."

Her smile faded.  "The only problem is, which is the real him?"

The server returned with their food.  They all remained silent until she left.

Clark tried to clarify, also in a whisper, "Whether he's really Batman or Bruce?"

Diana shook her head.  She looked so miserable.

"No.  Whether he's the man I punched, or the man I fell in love with."

Lois gave her a sympathetic smile.

Clark sat back absorbing all of these events.  He was sure of one thing though.  Clark was definitely visiting Gotham this weekend.

For his own safety, Bruce better be lining the Batcave with Kryptonite.

************************************************

April 25, 20xx 11:27 am

FROM:  greenguy@yahoo.com

TO: iamthenight@yahoo.com

CC:

SUBJECT: I KNOW!

Now you know that I know, but I won't tell you what I know so you don't know!

HA!  PUT THAT IN YOUR SECRET FILES ABOUT US!  OR YOU KNOW WHAT YOU BAT FREAK?  PUT IN MY FILE THAT I LOVE FEATHERS AND MACES AND REDHEADS AND WOMEN WHO SWEAR MORE THAN ME!

HA!

----------------------------

Batman read the message again.  At first he thought it was the Riddler, but as the World's Greatest Detective he realized that GL was in love.  Pathetic.

Batman shook his head, and started typing, right hand only, since his left was still in a cast from last night.  He would have snorted derisively too, except he didn't want his nose to start bleeding again. 

---------------------------

April 25, 20xx 11:30 am

FROM: iamthenight@yahoo.com

TO: greenguy@yahoo.com

CC:

SUBJECT:  :P

Bring it on Lantern Boy.  You bet I got a file on you.  And if you ever threaten me again I will personally take your little ring and.  .  .

---------------------------

Green Lantern read the rest of Batman's message in silence and awe.  He had no idea Batman was so schooled in anatomy.  He kept scrolling as the description went on and on.  Flash was right.  Bats was crazy.  Just to be on the safe side, John deleted his account with yahoo and started a new e-mail account with hotmail.

************************************************

Superman stood on a roof of a nondescript warehouse and watched the Dark Knight in action below.  Superman noticed he was favoring his right with his punches.  Although he knew about the injury, he was still surprised--usually Batman was more careful.  Sure enough, the thug he was fighting must have noticed too and grabbed for Batman's left fist.  Batman was waiting for the move though and swung out his left leg, his shin connecting with the perp's ribs.  Superman could hear the ribs snap.  The man grabbed his side in obvious pain.  But he still tried to swing a left hook at Batman, who deflected it easily with his right arm, simultaneously hitting the thug's jaw with a left jab.  Superman winced, that was his injured left hand.  Batman restrained him, waited until the flashing lights of a GCPD patrol car were in sight and he backed into the shadows of the alley and disappeared

A minute later, Superman heard his quiet footfall onto the roof.  He turned, waiting for the inevitable grumbling about staying out of his city.

Instead, Batman just stared back-- face as impassive as always.

Superman nodded to the alley below.  "You used your injury to your advantage."

"Diana talked to you."

Superman sighed.  Nothing got past Batman.  "Yeah, one of a few reasons I'm here."

Batman only stared at him, jaw muscles still tight.

"Lois figured out who I am."

Batman's smirked, and then his face resumed its previous expression.

Superman was getting frustrated, which only frustrated him further, as he knew that's exactly what Batman was trying to do.

"Look, this spying thing was your idea.  I don't what good came of it.  My opinions of these people certainly haven't changed.  But, both of our identities have been compromised—or didn't you realize Diana figured out who Batman was?  John's a wreck.  Oh and you've hurt Diana, need I go on?"

Batman's only response, "Not here."  He looked at Superman, then repelled down the building to the Batmobile, which was now waiting below.

Superman waited a couple of minutes then followed discretely.

************************************************

Inside the Batcave, Batman already had his mask and cape off. 

Superman saw the bruises under his eyes and the butterfly tape across the bridge of his nose.

"She broke it, huh?"

Bruce gave a terse nod, but Clark could see a slight smile tugging at his lips.

"I already contacted Robin.  He'll take care of the rest of tonight's patrol.  I'll meet you upstairs."

Alfred greeted Clark as he opened the door.

"Mr. Kent, would you care for anything to drink?"

"No thank you Alfred.  Where should I wait for Bruce?"

Alfred led him to a small room with a spacious couch and a couple of chairs.  Clark sat in one of the chairs.

"I will let him know where you are, sir."

"Um, thanks Alfred."  Clark still felt a little awkward around Alfred.  He thought he was a wonderful man, and knew he was a surrogate father to Bruce, but could never get accustomed to someone older than he, calling him "sir" or "Mr. Kent," especially when he was wearing his Superman costume.

Bruce walked in a few minutes later in black sweatpants and a gray t-shirt and headed straight for the couch.

Clark opened his mouth to speak, but Bruce beat him to it.

"This didn't exactly go as planned, did it?"

Clark looked at him in surprise.  Bruce was actually grinning.  He would never understand this man.

Clark shook his head, "Not one of your finest, Bruce."

They sat there for a moment.

"Sorry Lois found out."

Clark gave him a pointed look.  Bruce was smirking.

"No you're not."

"Ok, yeah, she would have figured it out anyway."

"Not necessarily!"

Now Bruce gave him a look.

"Clark, you can't hide anything from me."

"Ok, fine, I'm a little relieved she knows."

"A little?"

"How's the nose?"

Bruce raised an eyebrow at the abrupt and obvious change in subject.

"As long as it heals straight, Bruce Wayne will be happy."

Clark rolled his eyes.  Bruce was talking about himself in the third person again.

They sat there in companionable silence for another minute.  Clark was trying to figure out how to ask Bruce about his behavior with Diana.  Bruce was waiting for the question.

He got tired of waiting.

"She's really charming you know.  I didn't notice that about her before."

Clark remained silent, letting Bruce collect his thoughts.  He knew this was difficult for his friend.

"I didn't intend to make this a real date, but I was having an enjoyable evening."

Clark smiled and nodded for him to continue.

"I asked her question after question and she didn't mind.  I was learning a lot.  It's been awhile since I dated an intelligent woman."  Bruce smirked at that and his face became serious again.  "I also realized she must have been really lonely since she came here."

Bruce sighed and leaned into the couch.

"What happened?" Clark asked, his voice low.

"An epiphany."  Bruce smiled ruefully.  "There was chemistry between us.  I'll admit I was definitely attracted to her and maybe, because of her loneliness, there was some attraction on her behalf."  He paused and added, "Did you know she was a goddess?"  

Clark raised an eyebrow at him.  "I recall you referring to her as a 'meta-powered schizophrenic.'"

Bruce grinned briefly before stating seriously, "I've already researched some of what she told me, and I believe her now.  She knows too much detail that isn't known outside of academic circles, and even then, few people, all old professors who spent their lives studying the Ancient World, have as much knowledge."

When he paused, Clark asked, "Your 'epiphany?'"

"I realized first, a relationship wouldn't work, and second, I had no right to try.  I asked her out—"

Clark interrupted him by coughing.

Bruce gave him a good Batman Stare and then continued, "You asked her out for me, so I could find out her strengths and weaknesses."

"And that's when you decided sexual assault would be a good idea?"

Bruce's jaw dropped, but he quickly closed his mouth.  "That wasn't—that is how it appeared, isn't it?"

"Honestly, I was shocked and furious when I first heard about it, but I figured later that you had some crazy plan in your head for how it would all turn out."

"We were getting too close and I, like I said, I remembered what my purpose was in procuring a date.  To complete my mission, I needed to provoke her, make her angry."

"Your 'mission?'  A 'weakness?'  This was a date!  You've been on more dates than I ever will!  You couldn't just ask her what her pet peeves were?"

Bruce gave him another BatStare before saying, "Batman does not say 'pet peeves.'"

Clark shook his head trying not to laugh, "Fine.  What else?"

Bruce nodded and swallowed.  "I also needed to know, or so I rationalized to myself, how strong she was, her reflexes."

"Congratulations, now you know."

"Shut up Clark."

"You hurt her feelings.  She's confused about which man was the real you."

Bruce was silent for a few seconds.

"Bruce?"

"I'll fix it Clark."

************************************************

THE END!  Can the story can get any worse?  Yes it can!  Check out the sequel "Ladies Night" coming soon. . .