Title: Dragons, Demons, and Other Wonders of the Heart (1/??)

Author: Allaine

Email: eac2nd@yahoo.com

Disclaimers: DC Comics, Cartoon Network, Bruce Timm, the JLA animated series, etc, etc. No profit intended from my infringement.

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Up to the episodes "Wild Cards" and "Comfort and Joy".

Feedback: Please, please, please!!

Summary: With five of the seven members of the Justice League in relationships, the Flash is determined to meet someone now. But what will it do to the rep of the self-proclaimed "ladies' man" if he's the last to find love? The sequel you demanded to "Always a Bridesmaid".

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Chapter 1

Bruce Wayne sat in the back of his limousine and puzzled over the previous night's encounter.

Batman had found the Joker, and the Joker was now back in Arkham where he belonged. This had happened many times before, and undoubtedly would happen again. This was not what he thought about.

Batman had not fought with Harley Quinn last night. This in and of itself was not strange. He had faced Joker alone in the past. He had faced Harley alone in the past. Sometimes the Joker had kicked her out. Sometimes she'd walked out. And sometimes the Joker would escape from Arkham but leave Quinn behind. Even if she had been there, Batman was confident he would have defeated them both.

So this was not what he thought about either.

What he thought about was _why_ she hadn't been there. She hadn't been there because she had been in Arkham. Again, not the first time. But she had chosen to remain behind. There were indications that the Joker had wanted her to leave with him, and she had refused. All right, they squabbled constantly.

But she had remained behind to be with Poison Ivy.

Who, six weeks after her injury on an uncharted Pacific island, was still in a comatose state. Doctors felt this was not going to change.

They were fighting over a woman who would most likely never wake up. Admittedly, they were insane. But Harley Quinn was known for having a short attention span regarding all things not Joker. For her to sit by Ivy's bedside every day for six weeks . . . they were "friends", of course, and Harley would prattle on to anyone, even a coma patient. But it was unexpected.

Apparently the Joker had exacerbated the situation a few weeks earlier when, with a combination of his usual tasteless sense of humor and bad timing, he had suggested that Quinn should be happy for Poison Ivy because "she'd become what she always wanted to be - a vegetable."

Harley had clubbed him with a metal bedpan with enough force that he'd almost ended up in a bed next to Ivy's.

Wonder Woman had shared what she knew, and most of what she'd guessed, about the activities of the two women prior to the incident where Ivy received her injuries. Like her, he wasn't sure what it meant, but he agreed with her on one thing.

None of these people were emotionally equipped to handle a love triangle. It might be better for all parties concerned if Poison Ivy remained in her current state.

"Mr. Wayne? We're here."

Bruce looked up. He hadn't noticed the car had stopped. Some entrepreneur had finagled a lunch appointment with his secretary. He'd researched the start-up and found nothing out of the ordinary, nor anything worth his time. He'd listen to the pitch and then let it die on Lucius Fox's desk.

So when the maitre'd informed him lunch would be in a private room, he didn't think much of it. One didn't bring out papers and flow charts in the middle of a crowded dining room.

As the maitre'd opened the door, Bruce mentally prepared his genial, somewhat vacant smile. After all, it wasn't like Bruce Wayne did any _thinking_ at Wayne Enterprises. And you couldn't really expect him to be on time.

"Sorry I'm . . . late."

His hand hung suspended in mid-air.

"Hello, Bruce."

His jaw tightened. The smile vanished. So did the amiable exterior. The maitre'd was behind him and could not see. And he no longer needed to be polite, not when she'd weaseled her way into his presence yet again. "What are you doing here?"

"You can close the door," Talia al-Ghul said to the maitre'd.

"You can eat alone. I'm leaving," Bruce snapped before the surprised employee could go.

"Ten minutes," Talia said hurriedly. "Give me that much."

"Why should I?"

"Because otherwise, you might see me again. Somewhere a little more private? A little more personal?" She looked almost pained to say it. "I know you don't like seeing me there."

He glowered at her, and she nervously tapped her fingers on the table.

"You've got seven minutes," he said curtly, knowing that if he didn't, she would worm her way into the Batcave despite his express orders not to. Instead of taking the chair opposite her, however, he stood over by the window and looked outside studiously.

Talia gestured to the other man a second time, and finally they were left alone.

"You're looking well," Talia murmured.

"Neither of us have time for pleasantries," he replied.

Her jaw tightened as she stared at his back. "You are angry with me because you deny your feelings," she retorted.

That got him to turn around, as he spun on his heel. "I pride myself on keeping my temper," he said evenly, "but when you consistently refuse to listen to me, it tests my patience, Talia. Any love I had for you is gone."

"Yes, you have stated quite clearly your position," Talia said. "And yet what am I supposed to think when you come to me for information about my father?"

Bruce placed both palms on the table and leaned down close to her. "When I grill the Penguin's flunkies for information about his next shipment of goods for the black market, none of them seem to think I'm interested in them," he said coldly.

Her eyes dropped under his relentless gaze. "So you wish me to leave you alone?"

"I'm seeing someone else, Talia," he told her. "Neither of us want one of my exes always dropping by."

Talia's eyes widened.

Bruce smiled grimly. "So your father doesn't know everything about me, does he? Or is it that he just doesn't _tell_ you everything?"

"Please, bel - Bruce . . ." She flinched as he leaned back. "I am sorry," she whispered, her eyes glistening. "I know you do not like it when I call you that."

He turned away, his anger spent. It was so hard to stay mad at her; by now, she mainly exhausted him. "What is it you want, Talia?"

"I would be willing to leave your life and never re-enter it, though it pained me greatly," Talia murmured. "But you must give me something first."

"I don't have to give you anything."

"And I don't have to abandon my pursuit of you, hopeless as you may think it," she said more calmly.

Bruce gritted his teeth. "What do you want? Or rather, what does your father want?"

"This is not about my father," she told him. "Or at least, not directly."

"Talia - "

"My usefulness to my father grew," Talia acknowledged, "when he decided you were a suitable heir. If I go to him and tell him that my quest has been fruitless, that I can never win you over, then you can never be anything more than a threat. And you must admit that with the knowledge he has, he can strike at you from twenty different angles."

"I have never been scared of what your father can do to me," Bruce replied, "and I'm not going to start just because you're threatening to go crying to Daddy."

"That's not what I meant," she hissed at him. "I simply meant that if you wish me to abandon my efforts to win your heart back, I must be able to take to my father some sign that it was not for nothing."

He looked at her suspiciously. "And what is that?"

She took a small card out of her handbag and offered it to him. He took it cautiously and looked at it. "What's this?" he asked.

"It's where I'm staying." Talia took a deep breath. "I'm ovulating tomorrow."

Bruce looked at her for a moment with pure incomprehension before his mouth twisted with rage. "You are repellent," he breathed.

"My father believes that our child could be something great," Talia said desperately. "If I could go to him carrying an heir, he would have what he wanted. And I could give our child the love and devotion that I want to give to you. I could raise him or her to be someone you could be proud of."

"I would never condemn my offspring to be raised by your twisted family," he said, his voice shaking with emotion. "And let's be honest - it will be your father raising the child, not you. He wouldn't dare let you interfere. Not that I'm convinced that this isn't some insane scheme just to get me into your bed."

"Just give me tomorrow night!" Talia cried. "Give me that, and you will never see me again. Even - even if I did not become pregnant, I would honor my word. I have witnessed you go out every evening with a different strumpet! Why can you not do the same for one who loves you?"

Bruce somehow managed to rein in his temper. He moved toward the doors, still gripping the card in a crumpled ball. "Talia," he said gravely, "if a complete stranger were to enter your room tomorrow night, undoubtedly he would find you in your bed, dressed in just the right amount of silk to heighten your alluring, exotic beauty. The room would be ringed with lit candles, and you would offer him your beauty. And there might be a time when he believes himself to be happy. But gradually he will understand that he has been sold a bill of goods. Because you can never offer yourself to anyone, not when you belong to someone else."

"I do belong to you!" she said helplessly. "And I will be waiting tomorrow night."

"No, you don't belong to me," Bruce responded sternly. "You belong to your father. Anyone else, even I, can only be your lover on the side."

Then he let himself out.

Her lip quivered as she sat there. "But he took the card," she whispered to herself. "And he will come to me. And perhaps he will finally understand what he has kept from himself."

She reached for her water glass, but her hand shook, and eventually she let her hand drop into her lap.

______________________

"I am most annoyed," Audrey said in mock outrage. "It has been three weeks since you and I began appearing in public together, and not one person has commented on it."

"I'm not sure being in darkened clubs, dancing in the middle of sweaty mobs in casual attire, is the best way to get other people's attention," Diana replied, smiling.

"Yes, but this is Europe, and the paparazzi are supposed to be _so_ good at smelling these kinds of things." Audrey looked distinctly peevish. "Perhaps I am not as famous as I thought I was. The other day, someone asked for my autograph, and then they were disappointed afterwards because they thought I was Paris Hilton. Diana, I don't look like that awful nouveau riche girl, do I?"

"You're much better looking," Diana assured her. "And from what I've heard, much smarter. Also shorter."

"Diana!" Audrey gasped, laughing. "You're teasing me!"

"I'm flirting with you," Diana corrected her.

She laughed again. "I have corrupted you completely, my dear." Then she sighed as she looked into the mirror. "Maybe we should try something a little more obvious. I could always say something before the Kasnian assembly. 'I had sex with Wonder Woman last night, and it was the best four hours of my life.'"

Diana choked, but then she caught the devious glint in Audrey's eyes. "You're awful, Audrey," she said, shaking her head. "You sound like you really do want everyone to know about us."

"Don't you?"

She realized too late that this was a tricky question. Yes, she had decided to begin taking their relationship in a direction that invited discovery, but Diana still feared for Audrey's safety to the extent that she didn't want to actively push for an announcement! "I want to walk the streets openly with you," Diana said truthfully. "But while I am willing to be reckless with our secret, I am not quite ready to be audacious."

Audrey sat next to her. "I know," she said soberly. "I am half-teasing you, you understand."

"You are coming to Metropolis in just a few days, you know," Diana added. "And the press there can be positively rapacious."

"My speech," Audrey groaned. "I haven't even finished it yet."

"Don't you have speechwriters for that kind of thing?"



"Let someone else put words in my mouth?" Audrey asked, shocked. "No paid hack can capture the essential qualities I possess."

"I captured them," Diana murmured.

Audrey grinned. "I did not fight you. In fact, as I remember, I practically had to make you."

Diana coughed. "It did take a good deal of courage," she admitted.

"And did you enjoy conquering me?" Audrey asked. "Breaching my walls?"

"Must you always be so provocative?" Diana asked in response, flushing slightly.

"Only until I decide you don't need my help."

Audrey caught her breath as she suddenly felt Diana's hand rest upon her thigh. She looked down quickly, then back up again, only to find that Diana's face seemed much nearer than before.

"I think you'll find," Diana murmured, her eyes dark with need, "that I'm extremely good at breaking through someone's defenses."

The Kasnian princess shivered as their lips met.

_______________________

The Flash was indifferently flipping through pages of a magazine when the Martian Manhunter entered the monitoring room. "Anything?" J'onn asked.

"Nothing," Flash replied, bored. "The natives are quiet."

"What?"

"Just an expression, J'onn," he mumbled.

Sometimes J'onn had no idea what he was talking about. And if he endeavored to understand by looking into the Flash's mind, J'onn would probably come away more confused than ever.

"You and me, J'onn," Flash sighed. "We're stuck in the League."

As he was saying . . . "I do not understand," J'onn said. "Yes, we are both in the Justice League. What do you mean we're stuck?"

"Not that league," Flash replied. "The League of Lonely Hearts, my friend."

"Oh," J'onn answered, sitting down. The Flash always had been a little too obsessed with members of the opposite sex.

The Flash counted fingers on his hand. "Superman and Lois Lane. Wonder Woman and Princess Audrey. Hawkgirl and GL. Heck, _Batman_ is going out with Catwoman. Rowr!" he said. "When Batman's getting some before me, you know the world has gone mad, J'onn."

"I'm sure," he agreed, rolling his eyes.

"We're happening guys, aren't we?" Flash complained. "We're heroes! Chicks love that about us, right? So how come you and I don't have girls of our own?"

"I'm already married," J'onn said quietly.

Flash stopped for a moment. "Right, sorry," he mumbled. "Although your wife might have wanted you to move on some day."

"Perhaps," the last Martian conceded. "And I wanted her to live. Obviously we couldn't always give each other what we wanted."

"Ohh-kay," Flash said. "How about we concentrate on me then?"

"I'm sure it won't be a problem," J'onn replied.

"I'm sensing sarcasm, but I'll ignore it," Flash said loftily. "Because this is an emergency. Flash, favorite of ladies everywhere, cannot allow this to go on. I will not be the last member of the Justice League to find a date!"

J'onn nodded. "You do have the advantage of speed."

"Yeah, but I'm stuck out in space," he grumbled, leafing through his men's magazine again. "As soon as Bats shows up with the Javelin for duty, I'm heading for the nightlife. I just gotta boogie."

Before the Martian could form a response to that, the Flash did a double take and held the magazine up in both hands, staring at something inside. His lips widened into a big grin. "I love being right," he said.

"What is it?"

"I don't know which is better - what I'm looking at now, or the look on Diana and Hawkgirl's faces when I show it to them," he said, chortling as he passed the magazine to the Manhunter.

J'onn took it gingerly, almost afraid to see what bit of juvenilia had attracted his attention. "She is very nice," he said first, looking at the swimsuit model in the advertisement. "But I don't . . ."

Then he looked again. "That's not a tan, is it?"

"Nope," Flash said, smiling hugely as he shook his head.

"That is - what was her name? The Tamaranean?"

"Koriand'r," the speedster reminded him. "What did I tell her that day she announced she was going to stay? I said she could be the next Victoria's Secret model, remember?"

"This does not appear to be a lingerie advertisement," J'onn pointed out.

"I congratulate you, grasshopper, for knowing that Victoria's Secret sells lingerie," Flash said wisely, bowing his head.

Embarrassed, J'onn passed the magazine back. "I have read articles about them," he muttered.

"Anyway, the point is, the ladies of the JL got pissed off when I suggested it," Flash said. "They went into the whole spiel about how it's demeaning to women. But who was right in the end?" he asked.

"I suppose you were," J'onn said, willing to indulge his pride.

"_I_ was," Flash crowed. "I'm clipping this out and putting it in the meeting room!" Then he stopped. "Oh, hey, hey!"

"What?"

"We probably have her address, right? She is rooming with that Raven girl, and they are alien visitors, so we're keeping tabs, right?"

"Uh-oh," the Martian thought. "Maybe," he said hesitantly.

Flash dashed over to the computer and began typing. He was quickly rewarded with information on the screen, which he printed out.

"I do not think that is what we are supposed to use that data for," J'onn reminded him.

"Destination New York City," Flash said triumphantly. "As soon as Bats gets here, that is. Man, him and Catwoman. How does he get women to throw themselves at him? Is it the brooding?"

"If you want them, you can have them."

Flash and J'onn turned, startled. Batman loomed in the doorway. "We did not hear you arrive, Batman," J'onn said.

"What was that supposed to mean, Bats?" Flash asked.

Batman let a crumpled white card drop from his gloved hand onto the table. "The girl of my nightmares is going to be waiting for me tomorrow night. If you want, you can have my spot. You'll be sorry, though."

Then he stormed out.

Flash and the Manhunter looked at each other. "One guess," Flash said.

"The Demon's daughter," J'onn replied instantly.

"She is hot," Flash admitted, the Justice League having tangled with Ra's al-Ghul once or twice. "Too bad she's a stalker."

"Don't you have a girl of your own to ask out?" J'onn asked, wanting him off the station before he brought Talia al-Ghul up in front of Batman.

Flash regained his grin. "Thanks for the heads-up, J'onn," he said, pointing a finger at him. "You're a great pal. I'll ask Raven if she's looking, if you want?"

J'onn grunted. "You'd better hurry. She's famous now."

"Hey, don't worry. Fastest man alive, remember?"

He vanished in a familiar red blur.

J'onn sighed and stood up. Perhaps he could help Batman with his latest run-in with a woman Superman had once called "the Mr. Mxyzptlk of Batman's life".

To be continued . . .