A Blonde, a Brunette and a Dojo

Diana had just secured the belt over her Gi (the Japanese name for the light cotton pajamas worn for sparring and training) in the Watchtower dojo when she heard the door woosh open behind her. Inwardly she cursed at the sound, realizing the interloper might represent an alteration in her original plan to perfect the "Rider Tiger" Tai Chi movement she'd recently learned from Bruce. Like everything else about him, Diana found the forms fascinating, a perfect combination of balance in power translated into martial form. While the forms were a perfect complement to her considerable knowledge of the fighting arts, as a perfectionist she demanded that she quickly master the movement, lest Bruce get bored teaching her new forms.

Taking care to meticulously fasten the belt securely as Bruce had instructed, Diana finally shifted her glance to determine the identity of the intruder.

Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, waited just inside the door. She took two steps forward then unsure of herself, paused again. The silence hung awkwardly between them for a moment as Dinah's ears rang from the sharp sound of her heels echoing off the prometheum walls. As the echoes died away, only the light thrumming of the air conditioning system piped through the tower disturbed the air.

Diana nodded in acknowledgment of the other woman's presence, but didn't speak. Dinah pursed her lips, surmising it might be more politically correct to defer work-out time to the more senior member of the League. She was about to spin on her stilleto heels and walk out then abruptly reconsidered, rationalizing an opportunity to make an introduction didn't present itself every day. She stole another glance at the taller woman then finally broke the silence. "Sorry… am I interrupting?"

Diana realized that her concentration might be manifesting itself as an expression of resentment. She inwardly chided herself, noting that avoidance was increasingly a common reaction on the part of newer members to her presence. Only Batman seemed to inspire a more visceral response from new League members as they scurried to avoid crossing his path whenever possible. While he seemed to take secret delight in intimidating other members of the League, Diana wasn't so nearly aloof as other members believed. Since the League expanded more than a year before to include almost all the crimefighting metahumans on the planet, Diana had secretly hoped that more female members might present an opportunity to engage in female bonding activities similar to the sisterhood she'd enjoyed with the Amazons.

To date, she'd been somewhat disappointed other female members viewed her to be unapproachable. She knew full well that in whispered circles around Watchtower coffee tables, she had a reputation of being a somewhat intense personality, quick to criticize, reluctant to praise and never without an opinion. Given her aristocratic background, Diana was well aware she'd inherited the regal burden of her mother's strong will and stern countenance. Lately however, she'd been undergoing some introspection, asking herself if some of her "edge" was a result of the grudge she still held against Shayera. While she'd never spoken about it to Bruce or Clark, she knew her emotions were fueled as much by the loss of her only female friend in Man's World as it was by the betrayal itself.

Whatever the case, all of the new female members and most of the men seemed to shrink away from Diana in social settings. Part of it couldn't be helped. When the original members decided to build and new Watchtower and expand the League, the newer members (with the notable exception of Ray Palmer, The Atom) had since treated them as if they were royalty. Early during the expansion, Diana recognized the symptoms of the "royal treatment" as conversations would usually be halted in mid-sentence if one of them entered the commissary or other public spaces. Junior members would deferentially give up prime spots on the observation deck to senior members. As a Princess on Themyscira, to Diana, her higher status seemed natural enough, somewhat reinforced by the fact that J'onn made it a habit to send along one of the original members to accompany one or two new members on missions until they'd earned his trust. The other original members initially found their celebrity status amusing, anticipating that in time, people would learn to relax.

Oddly enough, since that time, things hadn't really changed. Given his natural affability, only Flash had been able to really connect with the new members. Accordingly, her best friends in the League were still the original League members, including Bruce, J'onn, Clark, John and Wally. She was still grateful for their friendship, but an inner part of her still longed for the friendships she sustained with her "sisters", especially since Shayera's betrayal.

Diana forced her expression to lighten, then smiled at the petite blonde across the room. "You aren't interrupting anything. I was just about to work my way through some of the Tai Chi forms Batman taught me last month."

Black Canary's face registered her surprise at Diana's admission. "Batman taught you the forms?"

"Yes." Diana responded simply, puzzled by the woman's amusement. "Is that a surprise?"

"Diana, I don't mean to brag, but I've learned from some of the best martial artists in the world. As a matter of fact, early on in our careers, Batman and I both learned our hand to hand fighting from Wildcat, and he was the former heavyweight champion of the world."

"Your point?"

"My point is, only one of us who went through all that training with WildCat THEN decided to perfect himself in the other martial arts, akido in Japan, Wu-shu/Kung-Fu in China, Capoeira in Brazil, to name but a few."

"Batman?" Diana asked dryly.

"But after some of us witnessed him in action in Gotham, we ask him to train us. He refused, especially when he realized that we were all metas."

"I still don't understand all the fuss." Diana said sharply. "It's just a Tai Chi form."

"A Tai Chi form which is the basis for almost every martial art to be developed in Asia. You're the first Meta Batman has decided to train to fight like him." Dinah answered succinctly. "Apparently he trusts you enough to let you in on all of his secrets."

"I hadn't thought about it that way." Diana replied lamely. Trying to maintain her best poker face, Diana quietly elected to start working through the forms of the "Ride Tiger" Tai Chi movement. Dinah watched her start the form, suppressing a smile. She'd heard whispered rumours of something going on between the Dark Knight and the Amazon Princess, but knowing Batman's paranoia of metahumans as well as she did, Canary had always held reservations as to whether the rumours were true. Her conversation with Diana just changed her mind. Intrigued, she decided to continue her further her conversation with the taller woman. Her curiosity demanded she figure out how Diana had managed to gain the trust of the most paranoid individual on the planet.

Diana worked through the 15th movement in the Ride Tiger form. Despite her concentration on the task at hand, even Diana was surprised when she spied Black Canary shrug out of her corset and stockings, momentarily standing naked until wrapping herself in a slightly smaller Gi than the one she was wearing.

Diana finished the form, face slightly flushed with the exertion, then decided to approach the Black Canary. She'd heard her own whispers in the commissary that Dinah and Green Arrow had recently returned from a secret mission, but details were sketchy. While the blonde had originally kept their mission secret, it was impossible to disguise the aftermath. Oliver (she had a had time referring to anyone as 'Ollie') Queen had returned with broken ribs, a separated shoulder and a torn-up knee administered by Wildcat and was now on "inactive" duty until his body could heal up.

Diana stopped a few feet away from the smaller woman. She remembered that during the vetting of new League members, Bruce had immediately attested to Dinah's ability to generate a substantial amount of power despite her small frame. Lethally combining blazing speed, delicate balance, C-level meta strength and pinpoint accuracy in her strikes, Diana knew the woman could present an interesting training opportunity.

"Just stretching or are you up for some sparring?" Diana asked, hands at her hips.

Black Canary didn't respond, instead laying on her back to complete a series of stretches which ended with her feet behind her head.

Diana waited a few more moments. Finally impatient that Dinah hadn't responded, the Amazon turned to walk away.

"Wait," Dinah called between gritted teeth. "Sorry…I'm almost done here. I need to get fully warmed up to make it worth your time."

Diana waited a few more seconds then Black Canary popped onto her feet with agility that Diana thought was almost unrivaled, even by her Amazon sisters.

"How's your friend?" Diana asked, innocently staring at some of the art-work on the walls.

Dinah smiled to herself, instantly realizing that the bigger woman had her own ulterior motive for requesting the sparring match. "Ollie? He's fine. How's Bruce?"

Diana instantly stopped in her tracks, surprised by the woman's insider knowledge. "You know… ?"

"I've teamed up him on a number of cases over the years in Gotham," Black Canary replied. "It didn't take me long to figure out that all of those wonderful toys in his belt carry a high price. Only a billionaire like Bruce Wayne could afford to pay for all of those wrecked jets."

"Touche." Diana replied, impressed by the woman's knowledge. "But then again I don't think he's the only billionaire in the League who fights crime."

"Touche yourself." Canary replied, then assumed a fighting stance. "You ready?"

"Ready." Diana replied, automatically assuming a classic attacker's stance. She was about to launch a leg sweep then frowned. She relaxed her stance for a moment. "Sorry. I forgot to ask. Powers or no powers?"

Dinah's face knotted in consternation. "That is tricky. I've been working out with Ollie so much lately I'd forgotten that I can take it up a notch."

Diana nodded. "I haven't told Bruce but now that he's taught me akido, I have to pull my punches sometimes or I might take a chance on breaking some of his ribs."

A muffled laugh escaped Dinah's mouth. "Broken ribs? You should have seen Ollie hanging out in the commissary earlier today. He's trying to act like those six broken ribs Wildcat gave him don't hurt, but I know for a fact that he keeps digging his nails into the bottom of the tables to keep from screaming."

"How long will it take him to heal up?"

"J'onn said about two months." Dinah replied. "Why?"

"Bruce did the same thing a few months back. Remember Mongul?"

Dinah nodded, having heard that the large alien had almost succeeded in taking down the three most experienced and powerful members of the League in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

Diana continued. "I went after him in the Fortress. He landed a punch that blasted me across the room. While I was getting up, Bruce jumped on his back, trying to get Mongul into a choke-hold. Needless to say, given Mongul's strength, it didn't work too well. Bruce went flying. Anyway, two days later Superman told me that he'd secretly x-rayed Bruce to see if there was any damage, knowing full well that he'd never tell us."

"Bad?" Dinah asked.

"Four ribs, bruised kidneys, damage to the spleen." Diana responded with a shake of her head. "He was out on patrol the next night."

"You'd think a billionaire playboy would find a better hobby." Dinah mused. "On our mission, Ollie gassed me so I wouldn't have to fight Wildcat. The dumb bastard almost got himself killed when I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself."

Diana nodded in understanding. "Bruce and I were on a mission in Kasnia two years ago. Somehow we ended up taking on the entire army and air force at once. Bruce thought I was pinned down so he took out an entire brigade by crashing his plane into their position."

"As if you were incapable of handling it!" Dinah snorted. "The nerve of some guys…"

Diana's face darkened as well, recalling her wounded pride after Bruce rescued her from the Kasnian dungeon. Not that she wasn't grateful, but a part of her had always wanted to even the score sometime so that she wasn't always playing the damsel in distress. The image of Bruce kissing her in the Tandori restaurant suddenly flashed through her mind, banishing those thoughts from her mind. A wide smile broke out on her face as she recalled her eagerness to slip into his embrace.

Dinah had a similar moment, recalling her mounting amusement during the past six months as Green Arrow surreptitiously stole glances her way in the commissary and everyplace else in the Watchtower he could find her. He'd always positioned himself just right so that he could pretend to be looking somewhere else, but Dinah knew the way he looked at her that he'd developed a crush on her. She felt a pang of regret, knowing that she'd used his desire to motivate him to help save Wildcat. The pang subsided as she realized that she'd developed her own crush on him. She glanced at Diana, who seemed to be in a daydream of her own.

"Do you realize that instead of sparring on the mat, we've been verbally sparring to determine whose boyfriend is a bigger jerk?"

Diana laughed immediately, then leaned in closer, glancing conspiratorially around the room to see if there were any hidden surveillance systems installed in the walls. "The problem for me is that I just find it so damned attractive." she admitted sheepishly. "They could be hanging out on a yacht with twenty year old supermodels fawning at their feet but instead they're here, trying to protect us. It's kind of sweet, really."

Dinah nodded, appraising the taller woman in a new light. "You know, for a Princess with a reputation of being kind of stuck-up, you seem to have a pretty good perspective on all of this."

"Thank you. I think." Diana grinned, then settled back into her fighting stance. "You ready?"

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In a small office in the engineering section, the Bat and the Arrow leaned back in their chairs. On the table between them, a flat screen monitor projected the image of the two women sparring in the dojo.

"Is it me, or is the image of the two of them sparring really, really hot?" The Arrow asked with a leer.

"I don't know what you're talking about." The Bat growled. He wiped a sudden flood of sweat off his brow however then leaned in closer for a better look.

"I take it you ARE recording this however." Ollie noted wryly. "I'll take mine in DVD."

THE END

Author's Note: I wrote this as a one-shot but then I realized that there are a few directions it could go. Let me know if you guys like it and if so, I'll try to come up with a fun follow up.

HB