Part Four of Seven

Once again, I'm up. I've worked out a proper storyline this time ... this tale will end, eventually.

Please note that if this story seems incomplete you're absolutely right ... I'm experimenting with FanFiction.Net's new chaptering system ...

Comic book continuity, except for current JLA storyline ...

(Thank you very much Mr. Waid, for screwing with my continuity ... mutter mumble ... seven-inch steel pole ... grumble ramble ... liberal amount of vaseline ... moan rant ... five hundred volts of direct current)

... I am simply not that good a writer.

Besides, I had a few ideas for other characters within the DC Universe, and decided to slip them in the overall storyline. Continuity Buggery, Character Trashing, Plot inconsistencies ... it's all mine (insert maniacal laugh here...)

Also, against all medical advice, I saw Batman and Robin for the first time.

Therefore, this is dedicated to whoever finds Joel Schumacher and hits him with the nearest convenient blunt object.


The sun had risen, it's rays gently warming the earth beneath it.

The rays shone on a large, sprawling mansion, on the outskirts of Gotham City. The residence was scarcely a year old, but was designed in a stark Gothic style, a choice that the neighbours thought was somewhat peculiar, but the main inhabitant was known for his odd behaviour.

The sun shone through the main bedroom window, on two people who were entwined in the covers and each other.

One of the inhabitants, a tall, raven-haired woman, felt the sun's rays on her closed eyelids, and stirred. Her eyes fluttered open, her limbs flexed, and her brain began that all-important booting-up process.

Morning. Warmer than usual.

Something warmer next to me.

Warm flesh. Warm body?

Body? Who? Has Cassie had another nightmare?

Too big.



Naked Male?

Chest hair. Funny ridges on the skin...

Memory returning.

Diana turned to see the eyes of Bruce Wayne looking at her. "Morning."

"Is it?" He looked blearily at the window. She looked at the whites of his eyes ... somewhat bloodshot...

"How much sleep did you get last night?"

"Left here at one ... patrolled till five ... watched you sleep for a while..."

"Not enough." She sat up and stretched her arms, checking the time on the bedside clock. "I have to leave before too long..."

A discreet rapping on the door. Diana immediately shuffled further under the covers. "Yes?"


She was about to reply in the negative when she smelled the food, her stomach rumbling. The door opened and Alfred Pennyworth entered the room, carrying two perfectly balanced trays of food.

Diana's eyes lit up at the sight before her; strawberries and chantilly cream. Freshly baked croissants. Mimosas mixed with an outrageously expensive champagne.

Bruce looked down at the scrambled eggs in front of him, and turned to his butler, about to ask where was his own usual minimalist breakfast, the daily newspaper, and just where was the TV remote so he could watch CNN.

The butler caught his eyes with an expression that stated the remote was in a place he would never find it, he would eat what was in front of him and like it, and he would interact like a human being or unspeakable things would occur.

Bruce picked up his fork and tucked in without comment. Alfred smiled, nodded once to Diana, and left the room.

Diana looked around the room until she saw what she wanted ... the white robe that had been discarded from last night's activities, not too far from Bruce. She leaned over him, and snagged the garment, shrugging it on.

As Diana pulled back to her previous position, she glanced over at Bruce's chest. Apart from the hair, his skin was a mass of lines, jagged spots and smudges. Ridges and valleys, unnaturally smooth areas. His right nipple was mangled beyond recognition.

Diana ran her hand over the mass of scar tissue. He watched her hand explore him, wondering. "Is something wrong?"

"It's just ... I've never seen so many..." She caught his worried expression and grinned. "You look like a roadmap."

"Reminders." He pointed at a faded circular wound on his right arm, just beside the elbow. "Got this rescuing a cat."

"You rescued a cat from a tree?" She couldn't stop the laughter in her voice. That didn't seem like the Dark Knight.

"I threw a cat out a window when it was trapped in the same room as me and a squad of trigger happy SWAT team members. Didn't know how to do that while not slowing down to do it."

That sounded like Batman.

"Any celebratory scars?" He lifted the sheet, but she swatted his hand away.

"I ... I don't scar."

"Really?" His hand moved again. As she tried to flick it away, his other hand flicked off the sheets leaving her exposed. "Better take a closer look."

As Diana was distracted by her sudden state of undress, Bruce leaned in and started kissing her, slowly building up the passion while his right hand started to do interesting things to her body.

Diana debated getting more of what she'd got last night versus her schedule for the day, and after a protracted internal struggle between her sense of honour and her rousing libido that the commitments she'd made earlier had to be fulfilled, and her boyfriend was big enough to cope with a brief loss.

" are not..." she was distracted by some insistent kissing "...Artemis is still convinced you're the living embodiment of patriarchal oppression ..." she gently but firmly peeled his left hand away from a sensitive part of her body "...and this is not helping your case ..."

"Really?" He started doing something to her ear, which threatened to blank her schedule from her mind. "How is Artemis, anyway...?"

"Here's a tip; don't talk about a girl's friend while you're making out with said girl."

Bruce stopped his ministrations. "I have an image to maintain." He stated with as much offended dignity he could muster.

Diana pushed her hair back and tried to get her pulse rate back to normal. "She's finally got the hang of baking. Then ... she tried to find ingredients for Alfred's cookies and discovered about the price of food. When she asked Helena about getting money, Cassie said something along lines of her 'sponging' off them ... to make a long story short, Artemis got a job."

"Not a fast food establishment, I suspect?"

"I think the stories I told her put her off. She found something more along her lines of thinking." Diana checked the bedside clock. "Actually, she's working right now."

"What is she doing?"


The redhead stalked around the charges. Her eyes narrowed at the sight ... flabby, weak, the shallow end of the gene pool. However ... she vowed to turn each of these men into passible warriors before they left her charge.

"You ... you are all here to prove yourselves as fighters. To demonstrate to yourself as well as your fellows as great warriors. You think that all you need are the basics, the elementary skills, and you will become masters of the art."

"You are wrong." She stopped for effect. "The basics were explained to you, any simpleton can perform those tasks ... but I doubt if you can even qualify as simpletons. What you need is the heart, the honour, the very soul behind the warrior, which will drive your blows to your enemy ... guide your hands..."

Artemis looked to the sky, then to the people gathered around her in the morning light. "I have said what I can say ... there is no more."

Her voice sharply raised. "Now get out there ... and start paintballing!"

The Executives vs. Engineers teams of Gateway LexCorp gave a half-hearted cheer, and began to gather into their individual groups. Bill, ex-navy and owner/operator of Fields of Paint, clapped his hands together. "Now! Remember the safety rules ... and..."

" no mercy!"

"Do y'mind?"

"Not at all. Destroy your enemies! Avenge your fallen!"

As the deskbound gave a half-hearted cheer, Bill pondered the wisdom behind hiring his latest employee...


"That sounds like a field she'd be ... enthusiastic about..."

"Not to mention she'll be getting out more." She finished off the croissant while gulping down the last of her champagne. "Who knows? Maybe she'll meet someone there."

Bruce's mouth twitched as he watched her eat. "So you're playing matchmaker now?"

"It could happen. She's a very beautiful woman."

Bruce's hand flexed suddenly. "Well ... if your tastes include the ... more aggressive..."

Diana looked at him, her head cocked to one side ... Bruce's body language was becoming more discomforted by the second...

"You're wondering, aren't you...?"

Bruce looked away.

"You're wondering about the rumours. About someone who came from an island of women ... all spending thousands of years with nobody else for company."

"I didn't want to bring it up." He turned back, meeting her eyes. "I didn't want to ... "

Diana touched the side of his face, slightly smiling. "Let's just say Themyscira isn't the hotbed of Sapphic passion that it's rumoured to be..." She took a breath, marshalling the facts. "Yes, some of the Amazons have spent ... time together. And Themyscira's isolation from the rest of the world, there's probably a higher concentration of that kind of activity than what's reflected in other societies."

"I'd gathered..."

"What seems to be largely ignored by those who perpetuate those rumours are a number of important facts." Diana pushed aside the breakfast tray. "First ... I'm royalty. That always affords you a certain amount of distance from everybody else ... " She looked down, then steadfastly back at Bruce. "More importantly ... I grew up there. In fact, I was the only child there."

"You mentioned something along the lines of five thousand younger aunts..."

"I was practically everybody's little darling ... guess I still am, in a way. They all know me as the first child in millennia." Diana got up, and crossed over to the mirror, inspecting her features. "The long and the short of is, the opportunities for..."

"...judicious experimentation ..."

"Yes ... were personally very limited. Despite what others might say, there's not that many women who are willing to engage in ... an extended demonstration of the facts of life with somebody who's practically a child in their own eyes. Add the fact that she's virtually your de facto niece..."

Bruce leaned back, assimilating the information. "That's a good summary...but you haven't really answered the question."

"Let's just say that if you had any thoughts of seeing me with another woman ... it'll be a long time before that will actually happen, Mr. Wayne."

Bruce held up his hand, in a reminiscent fashion of taking the oath. "I swear that I have never had any thoughts along those lines."

... at least not before now...

She pushed him down back on the bed. "Go to sleep. You insist on taking the night shift."

Bruce struggled to get up. "I'm fine ... at least let me see you out..."

Diana sat down next to him, and kissed him solidly for twenty-odd seconds. When she disengaged from his face, she traced his face softly. "I'm telling you; go to sleep. Now."

His eyes rolled back in his head, and he collapsed on his back. Diana started to removed the loop of the Golden Lasso that she placed around his wrist, but stopped, struck by a thought.

"Stay asleep for at least eight hours." She told the insensible figure, before removing the rope.

Diana turned to the doorway, to see Alfred waiting for her. The butler gave the Lasso a quick glance before looking back to Diana. "I never knew you were in the habit of sleeping with your weapons under your pillow."

Diana bit back the exact reason one of the prizes of her arsenal was in Bruce Wayne's bedroom, feeling a warm flush come over her cheeks.

She suddenly remembered an issue she felt needed addressing. "Err ... Alfred?"


"I wanted you to know ... if I'm ... that is, we ... we're ... keeping you ... awake..."

Alfred made eye contract with her for a split second before returning to his duties. "Miss ... this is a very large house, and the walls are not the paper thin varieties found in shoddy hotels. Whatever you want to say to Master Bruce in the middle of the night will stay between the two of you."

Diana processed the information. "You're sleeping in the cave, aren't you?"

Alfred froze for a split-second, then smoothly continued. "It's very nice there this time of year..." With deft skill honed from decades of society balls and other assorted occasions, he changed the subject. "You wouldn't have one of those ropes spare, would you...?"

"I'm afraid not..." Diana quickly glanced at the slumbering figure " could just try a sleeping pill..."

"You can't use the same trick twice on him, I'm afraid. It's getting to the point where sneaking up behind him with a lead pipe is becoming a reasonable option..."

"There are times where it's extra-ordinarily tempting."

The butler made an affirmative mmm-ing as he followed Diana out of Bruce's room and into an adjacent guest room and ensuite that Alfred had prepared earlier, her uniform laid out and cleaned on the bed. For some reason she didn't feel comfortable using Bruce's ensuite. "There are many times where I have to remind him that I did not have to be a butler ... you know, I strongly suspect if I kept up my acting career, I might be where Patrick Stewart is today...."

Diana entered the bathroom, closing the door behind her. "Well, think about all those conventions you'd have to attend."

"I can think of worse events than having hundreds of people paying to hang on my every word..."


Two rings. The receiver picked up.

"Wally West...." A very loud yawn.


"Donna? Hi!"

"Have you..."

"Heard about Diana? Oh yeah."


"Well what?"

"Don't you have any opinion?"

A muttering in the background.

"It was ... you know, unexpected..."

"That's one way of looking at it..."

Another round of muttering, some words discernible this time; a female's voice querying.

"Oh, it's Donna. Want to say hello?"

A brief rustling. "Hi Donna. How's things?"

"Er ... great Linda. What about you?"

"Apart from Wally, I can't complain." A muffled protest. "Got anything about your sister dating Bruce Wayne?"

"Actually, that's what I was talking to him about..."

"Listen, if you want to make a statement, come to me, okay?" A slight whisper. "Met him a few years back. Pinched my ass right in front of a crowded room. You want to roast him, it's okay by me."

"Tempting. Put your excuse of a husband back on."

A brief pause. "Excuse...?"

"I tell it as it is." An intake of breath. "If they knew what we did..."

"...then it wouldn't be a secret, okay?" His voice suddenly grew more urgent. "No names."

"I know ... it's more for Dick's sake than ... his."

"And a whole bunch of others ... what are you gonna do?"

"I don't know ...maybe you can talk to..."

"Count me out."

"What? Don't tell me you actually approve..."

"Do you recall the state of my love life before I started dating Linda?"

A brief pause. "It was ... interesting..."

"You're being very diplomatic there..."

"Blame my sister's influence. Okay. A complete train wreck."

A grunt. "Maybe not quite so direct..."

"You asked."

"Anyway ... the string of failed relationships, plus that one extra-martial affair ... it has led me to conclude that I should never, ever, interfere in another person's relationships, because, frankly, I am in no position to make any form of judgement, and I suck at romance in general, okay?"

"Coming from the guy who gives his wife a box of her favourite chocolates on the same day of the month for when you met?"

"What can I say? She's the master of unsubtle... ow!"

"What was that?"

"A practical demonstration of my brilliant observational skills." A pained murmuring. "Look, this is between him and Diana, okay? If you've got a problem, you have to take it up with her. Or him."

"Yeah. I'm going to do that. Today."

"Need some moral support?"

"No ... girl's gotta do, yadda yadda yadda. ... see you 'round."

"Yeah. Bye."




Diana walked down the staircase in full costume, Alfred following her closely, holding her trenchcoat.

"...he really did that?"

"I'm afraid so. The plumbing was never the same since."

"Sometimes I don't know how you manage to stay on."

"Tell-all biographies don't write themselves."

As they crossed past the sitting room near the main entrance, something caught her eye, making her slow.

A large oil portrait of two people, a man and a woman, hung over the fireplace. The male was in his late forties or early fifties, with thickened features and a large moustache. The woman was seated, brown hair, and a faint smile. The man was holding her right shoulder with his left hand.

The man had Bruce's jaw and hair colour. Of course, he didn't have the physique, but the resemblance was obvious...

"That was painted three months before..."

Diana turned to Alfred. "How well did you know them...?"

"Nearly five years."

"I've wanted to know ... did ... does Bruce hold them ... I mean..."

"Is the devotion that Master Bruce show them undeserved?" Alfred looked at some distant point. "Does he make them to be something else in his mind ... idealise them to unrealistic levels ... are they in fact, worthy of their son devoting his whole life to justifying and avenging their deaths?"

Diana nodded, unsure where she was treading. This was one question she didn't want to ask Bruce.

Alfred smiled, remembering times gone past. "Master Wayne became a Doctor ... not a prominent and socially prominent surgeon, but a general practitioner, trying to alleviate many people's illness. He could have easily made himself richer because of his practice, but avoided that sordid little trap. He even broke into a pharmacy one night to get medicine.... Mrs. Wayne was one of the kindest, most caring individuals that it has been my pleasure to know." He sighed. "Two state governors attended their funeral. The then President sent a personal telegram."

The butler turned, expression downcast. "Every ounce of effort that Master Bruce has given, gives and will continue to give in their memory is justified." He looked back to the painting, giving a wistful sigh. "Unfortunately, it makes arguments for him to ease his efforts all the much harder, when you know who he fights for."

Diana digested this knowledge as they left the manor. As they stepped outside, the crisp morning air hit her lungs. She squinted her eyes in the morning light. As Alfred placed the coat around her shoulders, Diana covered her mouth and locked down her jaw, but her yawn was still audible. Alfred looked at her with concern. "If you like, I can arrange the jet to take you..."

"No, no ...I'm fine."

"Is he keeping you awake...?"

Diana turned away, slightly. "Well ... after the ... you know, the third time, he..."

"I was referring to the habit of his talking in his sleep."

"Oh." She stopped to process this. "He does?"

"Normally." His eyebrow was raised slightly, an indication of surprise. "You haven't heard him saying a word?"

"No ... I mean ... does he?"

Alfred simply gave one of his tight-lipped smiles.

"That is not fair."

"I've said too much as it is, Miss Diana."

Despite her intrigue, the appointment was in ten minutes, and she resolved to find out another time.

Alfred watched her lift into the air, waving to him, as she quickly accelerated into the distance.


Artemis stalked over to the tagged executive. "Pathetic! You left your right flank wide open! I knew children who had more common sense than you have!"

He got up, flustered. "Listen to me!"

"I suspect that too many people have listened to you! Too many people have 'carried your end'! Now in the field of battle..." Her voice rose to a fevered pitch "...your true inadequacies have surfaced!"

The executive turned a dangerous shade of red, and his voice grew low. "If I wanted this kind of abuse ... I would pay you to wear a leather costume and a whip."

Artemis' voice matched his. "At this point in our relationship, I would not need to accept money." She dragged off the field by the shoulder. "Now let the real warriors fight!"

The Engineer who had tagged his boss looked at the ground and muttered. "And I thought I could get away from my wife this weekend..."