Author Note: Be warned – this is planned as a rather dark and angst-ridden ship-fic featuring Wonder Woman and Batman. Of course, the characters may decide differently and this could end up as something else entirely!
For the purposes of this story, Batman has not yet revealed his secret identity to the JLA. Some of the events of this story may take place during "JLA: A League of One", "The Hiketeia", and possibly "Kingdom Come".
I don't own these characters, and I'm not making any money off of this fan-fic (or much from anywhere else), so please don't sue me.
This is also my first fan-fic, so any feedback is GREATLY appreciated.
Bruce Wayne, billionaire, playboy, and Dark Knight of Gotham stifled a yawn as he waited for his Monet to make an appearance. The air of the auction house was one of quiet luxury and old money. Gotham City's wealthiest were present for the annual charity auction. He suspected most of them were there more for public relations than the goodness of their hearts. These were people who wanted the world to know what good deeds they did.
I suppose Bruce Wayne's one of them, he thought cynically. At least the gossip at the cocktails and dinner is usually good for a laugh or two. If he was lucky, he'd manage to be the subject of that gossip. If he was really lucky he could milk it for a month or so before he had to venture forth again to maintain his playboy reputation. It amazed him sometimes how much more tiring this sort of thing was than his usual nocturnal activities.
Nightwing was on patrol in Gotham, freeing him to pretend to get drunk on club soda and carouse all night. He grimaced at the thought, but quickly smoothed his features back into his usual half-smirk.
He shifted in his cushioned chair, fidgeting with ill-disguised impatience. The elderly banking mogul seated nearby gave him a disapproving look. Good.
"Item number fifty-three," announced the auctioneer. "A partial bust of the Amazon queen Hippolyta in marble by unknown artist, circa 1250 BC. This was found at the excavation of the seventh city of Troy last September and authenticated by Princess Diana, Ambassador of Themyscira, and daughter of Hippolyta herself. The Themysciran Embassy has graciously donated this very rare find for our auction today. Princess Diana, would you care to do the honors?"
Murmurs and whispers rippled across the room and intrigued society members craned their necks for a better look. What the hell? Bruce frowned. What does she think she's doing in my city? Aren't there any charities in New York? He suppressed the urge to grind his teeth and tried to make himself look just as excited as everybody else. Over the heads of the crowd he could see Diana moving toward the stage, graceful as ever.
She was dressed in ankle-length red robes, wound around her body and held at the left shoulder with a golden clasp. A golden cord snugged the material to her torso and he wondered for a moment how she could dare to use her golden lasso like that. He finally decided that not even she could wrap herself in the magical rope all day, no matter how honest and pure she seemed to be. Her bracers glinted like blued steel under the lights, drawing attention to her tautly muscled arms. Her sable hair was swept up and held in some impossible confection by more golden cord. As she ascended the stage he could see more gold glinting off the criss-crossing straps of her flat sandals.
Quite the Amazon princess, he thought sardonically. Giving them the expected. He'd only rarely seen her out of her uniform, but he knew she often chose to wear modern clothing. On the other hand, both Batman and Bruce Wayne know all about giving the public what they expect to see.
"Thank you," Diana said in her rich contralto. She looked out over the crowd, reminding herself to make eye contact. Public speaking was one of the less enjoyable of her ambassadorial duties.
"As you may know, we of Themyscira may not part with the art and culture of our island. However," she continued, "as this was made of Man's hands, I find it only fitting that it remains part of this culture. I am most pleased by the craftsmanship, which has stood the test of time almost as well as the subject herself."
Quiet laughter made her smile as she moved to the column that had been placed center stage. A linen cloth covered the object, which she removed with a small flourish.
Gasps and applause showed the audience's appreciation. Bruce had to agree the bust was indeed a work of art. A beautiful woman's head was half-chiseled out of a slab of rough marble. He noted with some surprise the resemblance to Diana's own face, although the features were slightly harsher.
Diana acknowledged the applause with a nod. "Thank you," she said, and gestured to the auctioneer. She descended the stage to more applause and whispering to sit several rows ahead of Bruce. Short of standing, he couldn't quite see exactly where she was.
The bidding was brisk and enthusiastic. Bruce himself bid on the piece, but eventually bowed out in favor of a collector known for keeping his treasures for a few years before selling them to museums.
He found himself wondering what Diana would think of Bruce Wayne, so different from Batman. He'd been careful to keep his identity a secret from the rest of the Justice League. He considered the JLA a necessity born of global dangers, but there had been no real temptation to reveal himself. He knew that the others, Superman and Wonder Woman in particular, tended to view his methods with a certain self-righteous distaste.
Unfortunately, we're not all blessed with super strength and the ability to fly, he thought. The rest of us mere mortals have to use the wits that these demi-gods seem to lack. A slow grin crossed his face. She did ignore the warning to stay out of Gotham.
Suddenly Bruce was looking forward to cocktails and dinner.
Bruce cradled a glass of club soda in one hand and the blonde wife of one of his competitors in the other. The woman had been chasing him for months now, and he could maintain their flirty repartee in his sleep. He allowed himself to admire her cleavage, on abundant display this evening in a stunning green sheath, but kept one eye on the crowd for his target.
He felt adrenaline coursing through his veins, knowing he risked exposure even by thinking about meeting Diana as Bruce Wayne. He wondered briefly if he was so jaded that he needed the thrill of deceiving someone who was, if not a friend, at least a colleague. He decided to view it as a live-fire exercise.
His gaze sharpened when he saw Diana across the room. The blonde took his new intensity for arousal and pressed her bounty against his arm.
"So, Paris next week?" she said in a throaty voice, thinking an assignation was all but assured. He shifted his gaze down to her heavily kohled blue eyes.
"Sorry, Marilyn," he smiled, lifting her hand and kissing the tips of her fingers. "I just hate crowds." He left her to wonder whether he meant her or Paris and moved across the floor. People were merely obstacles to be diverted with a handshake here, a careless grin there.
He smoothed his hand down his suit jacket and smirked when he saw whom Diana was speaking to. Dominica Parsons was a twice-divorced society matron with more money than sense, and a femi-nazi if he'd ever seen one. He'd been on her hit list ever since he'd turned down a night at her "cottage" in the Catskills. Probably thinks she's found a kindred spirit with Diana being an Amazon. Boy, is she in for a surprise.
Diana listened politely as long as she could. She recognized the underlying anger and resentment boiling beneath the woman's polished surface and respected the woman's viewpoint. But really, I know many men who are not the "back-biting snakes" that Ms. Parsons makes them out to be. The woman seemed to be under the impression that Diana shared her rather militant belief of female superiority.
"I have to disagree," she told the woman, "I think that men and women both have excellent qualities to offer this society. True peace will occur when the leaders of this world discover unity and friendship together, which are not female-specific. We Amazons have had our own share of civil unrest, and we certainly cannot blame it on the male influence."
"Civil unrest?" a baritone voice interjected. "I'd sure love to see that. Scantily clad women in a catfight? Who wouldn't?"
Diana turned with a frown to the man who stood behind her, assessing him in a glance. He was tall and solidly built, dressed in a suit that had obviously been custom tailored for his large frame. Dark hair waved gently over his high forehead, and light blue eyes sparked with intelligence tempered with humor.
"Of course you would, Mr. Wayne," Ms. Parsons all but spat.
Bruce gave the woman a cheeky grin and decided to add fuel to the fire, "Only if they're all as beautiful as the princess here, of course."
Diana saw the humor in his eyes and realized he was baiting the poor woman. She raised her chin, conflicted by her instinct to defend and her own annoyance with the prejudiced female.
"I don't believe I've had the pleasure," she said coolly, choosing the middle ground.
"Princess Diana, meet Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy and sexist pig extraordinaire," Ms. Parsons said. "Isn't it time to slither home, Bruce?" she added nastily.
Diana decided she'd had enough of the woman's evil tongue. "Mr. Wayne. You bid on the Trojan bust this afternoon, did you not? And that was a beautiful Monet you donated." She turned to Ms. Parsons and gently excused herself. "Perhaps I will see you later this evening?" She laid her hand on Mr. Wayne's arm and allowed him to lead her away.
Bruce traded his soda water for a couple of flutes of champagne. He didn't plan on drinking his, and didn't think Diana would either, but Bruce Wayne did have appearances to maintain.
"You're welcome," he offered, looking down at her.
Confusion clouded her face. "For what?"
"For rescuing you from the clutches of the Black Widow," he said in an ominous voice. "I always was a sucker for a damsel in distress."
She glanced back at Ms. Parsons, looking for evidence that she was a meta-human. He noted her look and laughed. "I was kidding."
She smiled with amusement at herself. She had been in Patriarch's world for some time, but still sometimes had difficulty with the male sense of humor. Her interactions with men were usually of a rather more serious nature. Perhaps this would be a learning opportunity.
"Champagne?" he offered, holding a flute toward her.
"No, thank you," she demurred. "I do not drink alcohol while I am performing my duties."
"This is a duty, is it?" he teased. "I thought it was a party." He set the glasses onto a passing tray and turned back to her with a smile. "Well, if I can't ply you with champagne and have my evil way with you, may I at least have this dance?"
Diana hesitated, thinking through the ramifications of dancing with one of America's most notorious bachelors. The gossip columns would have a field day, especially since she usually gave them so little grist for the mill. She decided the Themysciran reputation could handle the wagging tongues. Besides, she hadn't danced at one of these functions in ages. Most men seem to feel an Amazon is above such things.
"That sounds lovely," she agreed, pleased with the thought. Music and dance were important parts of her culture. She missed the evenings spent with her Sisters drumming the traditional tales. Themysciran dances were more physical, frequently recounting the deeds of heroines past, but Diana could appreciate the more structured dances of Patriarch's world as well.
He led her onto the dance floor where couples were dancing to a slow jazz tune. He pulled her into his arms, and she was struck by his sheer size. Few men in Patriarch's world stood eye to eye with her. This man topped her height by at least a few inches. The shoulder she rested her hand on was solid with muscle, but he moved with a lithe grace. She wondered if he employed one of those exclusive celebrity personal trainers. There was more to it, though. There is intensity to him that he hides well, she thought to herself.
He was, of course, a superb dancer.
She was pleased that he did not disturb the companionable silence with small talk. He seemed to content to hold her loosely as well, with no hint of possessiveness in his grip. Occasionally their thighs would brush together, but he was careful keep her at a discrete distance. She wondered with some amusement if his reputation would suffer for it. She smiled at the whimsical thought.
Bruce wondered why he was surprised that he was enjoying himself. Diana was and athletic and graceful warrior and sparring partner, why should she be otherwise as a dancer? Probably learned as part of her ambassadorial duties, he thought. He caught the quirk of her lips but any comment he might have made was interrupted by the change in music to a lively salsa.
"Up for this?" he asked instead, setting up the standard partner position frame.
"Oh, yes," she replied, her face lighting up with a genuine smile. She'd learned many of the dances of Patriarch's society, but truly enjoyed the Latin dancing. Bruce stepped back on the 6th beat and Diana followed in perfect unison.
Bruce could feel the muscles of her torso working beneath his hand as they performed complicated turns and shines. They moved together as if they had been partnering for years. Her grip on his hand was gentle but firm. He was well aware that she could have crushed the bones of his hand in one careless moment. Her face was slightly flushed with exertion and the full skirts of her robes swirled around her legs.
With sudden shock Bruce realized he was half-aroused. He brutally tamped down the heat in his groin and concentrated instead on enjoying the intricacies of the movements. He told himself it was a natural reaction to the passionate dance, and chose not to dwell on it further.
Several sets had passed before Diana was aware that she had spent an unseemly amount of time with this one man. She was ambassador of Themyscira and sole representative of the Amazon race. She had a duty to "work the crowd" as they called it, not spend her time amusing herself with a man who was probably only looking for an evening's conquest.
"Thank you for the dance," she said, stepping out of his arms with a gentle smile. "I truly enjoyed myself."
"Of course," he said. He proffered his arm and led her from the floor. Glancing around the room, he saw several of the more notorious hens looking their way. He took her hand in his and held it close to his chest, bending slightly over her. Give them the expected, he told himself.
"Any time you're back in Gotham," he purred, giving her his practiced leer. That should keep her from pursuing further contact. He saw a look of annoyance cross her features. A brief stab of something another man might have called regret stuck in his throat.
"My work rarely bring me to your city," she said, hoping he was not about to spoil the evening with a sexual proposition. "Batman does not welcome others." Stay out of Gotham, he'd said to them. "Perhaps I shall see you later." She was fairly certain that he would move on to the next attractive female the moment she left.
Bruce heard the dismissal for what it was.
"Wait!" he blurted out as she turned from him. He stared at her a moment, shocked by his own impulsiveness. I'm the Batman, he thought. The Batman is never impulsive. I will not endanger my identity by continuing to consort with Wonder Woman as Bruce Wayne.
"I really would like to see you again," he said. He'd planned on giving her another patented Bruce Wayne farewell.
Diana searched his handsome face for any sign of dissembling. She had genuinely enjoyed dancing with the man, and suspected that at least part of his notoriety was purposefully cultivated. On the other hand, she couldn't help but feel she was somehow being deceived. Men can be very complicated for all that they seem so simple.
"Very well," she said finally. "When?"
He was slightly taken aback at her acquiescence, and then thought furiously, trying to remember the schedule at the Watchtower's monitor station. "New York, next Saturday? I could pick you up at the Embassy at seven." That would give him time to intimidate and/or bribe Nightwing into patrolling for him again.
"Agreed," she said. "I shall see you then."
Bruce watched as she bowed her head to him and left to speak with the man who had purchased the bust. What the hell am I doing?