TITLE: Hesitation Change

AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass

AUTHOR'S EMAIL: [email protected] Feedback is better than chocolate.

PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Sure, just let me know.

CATEGORY: Romance/angst, Bats/WW

RATINGS/WARNINGS: PG for mild bad language

SUMMARY: Wonder Woman is still waiting for Batman to take her dancing.

CONTINUITY: Somewhere after "Maid of Honor" but before "Hereafter."

DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to many people other than me, such as DC Comics and the Cartoon Network.

NOTES: Spoilers for several S1 and S2 eps, although the only major ones are for "Fury." (There's also a shoutout for people who've read the graphic novel JLA: Divided We Fall.) Thanks to: welshwitch for the beta, themorningstarr, rogue, and kyanoswolf for providing crucial episode information, and Avi for helping me understand Bats. Um, I don't write stories like this. I don't. Really. But I hear tell some people like this kinda stuff.

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Meetings were the most stressful part of being a member of the Justice League, Batman thought as the latest meeting ended on a sour note. The others, tired of beating issues instead of supervillains, gradually dispersed.

What to do now? Head back to Gotham and work out his aggressions on some crooks? He hadn't made an appearance in a few days and they might be getting bold.

He could always stay at the Watchtower and improve the security system. Dick had made a few excellent suggestions about--


He paused for a moment before turning, unwilling as ever to let Wonder Woman know that the sound of her voice affected him. "Yes?"

She smiled at him--a dangerous smile, the one that belonged to Diana--and it took most of his hard-fought control not to smile back. Or do something else. "Take me dancing," she said.

"Why?" He asked, trying his usual intimidating glare, accompanied by the crossed arms.

Her smile dimmed not a whit. "Because I want to and Audrey's otherwise occupied."

She was *definitely* laughing at him. "Take Flash. He likes to dance."

An elegant eyebrow arched. "You *are* joking, I hope."

Behind the cover of his mask, Batman's eyes darted around looking for help, but she'd timed it perfectly and the rest of the team had already left the room. Even worse, she stood between him and the door. Not that he'd consider fleeing from her. Of course not. Strategic retreat was another matter, however...

She slid an arm through his and tugged with a fraction of her enormous strength. "Come dance with me, Batman."

Damn it, he could practically *hear* the unspoken 'Bruce.' This was totally unacceptable. Bad enough Clark knew who he was. "No. I don't dance."

Diana laughed aloud and he almost shivered. "One as graceful as you? I find that *difficult* to believe."

He pulled away, angry. "Whatever the game, I'm not playing."

"Batman..." She paused, looking contrite. "I'm sorry. I..." She stopped, biting her lip.

He turned away, even angrier when he realized he'd been staring at her lip. She had no idea what the secrecy meant to him, how important it was. Damn superpowered beings. Damn them all to hell.

She was still behind him and he stalked to the nearest computer and punched a few random buttons.


"Still there?" His harshest tones, the ones usually reserved for villains who'd gotten him mad.



A long silence and he abandoned the pretense of playing with the computer, turning to face her. The compassion that filled Diana's expression nearly undid him.

"I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't think. I've never needed a secret identity and--"

"We're not discussing this here."

"But we *are* having this conversation."

He wanted to say no, yearned to say no. "Yes." She had to be made to understand. It was important for some reason that he was sure he'd think of any moment now.

Hesitating, he decided his rooms in the Watchtower were as safe a place as he would find, since he certainly wasn't taking her back to Bruce's home or the Batcave. He didn't speak, just swept out of the room and she followed with uncharacteristic meekness.

They didn't pass any of the others, just stalked down one cold and shadowed corridor after another; for a wild moment he wondered how she felt about that. He had seen her home after all, and it was so very different...

Not important right now, Batman told himself, as he opened the door. Her eyes were a bit wide but she was silent, simply glancing around the room, expression unchanging as she took in the computer equipment and bare walls.

Closing the door gently, he took a calming breath before turning to look at her. It didn't help.

His breathing, apparently tired of taking orders from his conscious mind, sped up. The fact that he'd seen her in her minimal costume a thousand times made no difference.

Diana broke the silence. "I'm sorry."

"There are reasons I don't reveal my identity," he said, growling a bit to cover up his breathlessness.

A slow smile. "Then you should never have danced with me...Bruce."

He couldn't help it--he swallowed sharply. It didn't sound the same when Clark said it. "Diana..."

"I'm not going to reveal your secret. But I know it. You can't change that." She pulled the chair away from his desk and sat. He kept his eyes fastened on her face, even though she couldn't see where he was looking. His ordinary wheeled office chair looked different with her in it, he thought.

"You're right...I shouldn't have danced with you."

His tone was almost venomous but she neither flinched nor stopped watching him. "Why did you?" she asked.

The beautiful princess in unfamiliar surroundings, so becomingly flustered by the media attention; in a moment of weakness, he allowed himself to be the handsome prince. It was, after all, Bruce's first meeting with Diana, and Bruce was swept away by the moment. "Personal reasons."

"Ah." Her expression was still pleasant, but he couldn't read it, couldn't tell what she was thinking or what she might do.

He couldn't take it anymore and Diana accomplished what countless villains had failed to do: She made him speak without thinking.

"What do you want?" The moment the words were out, he wanted to take them back, but backtracking would only imbue them with greater significance. He wracked his brain trying to think of something else to say.

"I want no more than you are willing and able to give," she said.

"I have nothing to give." A statement of fact, delivered with all the chill of his frustration.

Diana shook her head. "I don't believe there is nothing. I may not know Bruce Wayne, but I know Batman."

"Then what's the difference between Diana and Wonder Woman?"

"Nothing." She toyed for a moment with her lasso, the braided gold looking harmless on her hip. "I have no secret identity, no split in my personality. This may be why I have such difficulty grasping the importance of it to you."

"Bruce Wayne and Batman are both...necessary."

"Which one is the real you?"

Damn the woman.

He didn't answer.

She shook her head and stood. "I shouldn't have asked that. It doesn't matter."

He practiced his best blank face as she came to stand in front of him. She held out her hands, every movement graceful and enchanting. "May I have this dance?" she asked.

All rational thought fled and Batman watched someone else reach out and draw her close. The music in his head was a stately waltz; she seemed to hear it too, her steps falling in with his as if she'd attended the same long-ago dance classes.

Left closed change. She was the perfect partner.

Natural turn. So graceful.

Right closed change. Strides matching.

Reverse turn. Her hair floated around her.

Whisk. She smiled at him.

Promenade position. Their hips touched just as they were supposed to, and he imagined he could feel her smooth skin even through the Kevlar.

Chasse. It wasn't a slide, more like freefall as he lost himself in the moment, in the joy of partnership, of silent communication.

Even without music, the dance had to end eventually. Batman let her go and stepped back, already regretting...the dance? Or that the dance had ended? It didn't matter.

"Thank you," she said, inclining her head.

He didn't answer, hands clenched at his sides.

"I know how you feel about me. You've never been able to hide that."

Every muscle yearned to retreat, tell her she was wrong, but he couldn't. In Gorilla City, when she'd seen his hands, filthy from trying to dig her out. The way he ran to her when she was injured. Their dance the night she met Princess Audrey. The way he called her name. He was just as obvious as Lantern was about Hawkgirl. So much for his vaunted control.

Frozen in place, he suddenly understood why those idiotic deer stared at vehicle headlights instead of getting the hell out of the way. Her sympathetic eyes frightened him and he couldn't move, couldn't escape, could only wait for his doom.

She stepped close again, one hand lightly cupping his jaw. "What I do not understand is why you deny it."

"You're dangerous," he whispered past the crushing pain in his chest.

"Dangerous?" The answer seemed to startle her and she dropped her hand.

"To me." He swallowed. "I...act without thinking. When you're..." He closed his mouth. Damn it, he thought, wanting to bite off his tongue.

Her lips curved just a bit. "I learned several very important things from Audrey. One was that sometimes spontaneity is a good thing."

"Not for me."

She let out a puff of breath and retreated to the chair. This time he didn't quite manage to avoid watching her long legs cross.

"When Aresia attempted to destroy man's world," Diana said, "there was a small piece of me that wondered if she was right."

Of course, he'd assumed that. And they called him paranoid.

"Hawkgirl and I spoke, after the rest of you had collapsed. I was distracted by the sight of the female firefighters and police and paramedics, all working together, and I said it felt just like home." Diana folded her hands in her lap and looked down. "Hawkgirl was aghast at the thought of living in a world without men and I wondered aloud if men were really that essential."

She looked up at him. "Then I remembered how you stopped the bus, collapsing as I watched. I had held your unconscious body in my arms, and perched on that building with Hawkgirl, it came home to me that *you* would die if we did not stop Aresia."

There was a ringing in his ears and he realized he was holding his breath.

Diana shook her head several times, as if to shake out the memory. "That was when I understood. It was not men that were necessary, but you."

His head tried its best to implode. 'You're my life,' he wanted to tell her. 'You're air and water and shelter and nourishment.' But Batman couldn't, he wouldn't. Silent and unmoving, he waited for her to finish.

She stood again, chin high, every inch of her Diana, Princess of the Amazons. "I said before that I would not take what you were not willing or able to give." She paused. "I have come forward. The rest is up to you."

A long moment as the two of them stared at each other, and Diana bowed her head slightly and walked toward the door. She would not beg, he knew, it was not in her nature--just one of the things he loved about her.

Batman's hands moved of their own accord, pulling back the cowl.

He felt naked.


Diana turned, eyes widening when she saw his bare face. "Batman?"

"Please don't go," Bruce said. He stripped off his gloves and held out his hands. "Stay and dance with me again."


* * * * *

Final Author's Note: Yes, I've read Te's Batman/Flash fic "Date Night" and no, I wasn't thinking of it when I wrote this. ::grin:: I thought of it *after* I'd finished. Great story, though :)