Author Note: In the Third episode of Season #1 of JLU entitled "This Little Piggy", the Greek Witch (and one of the most prolific foes of the Amazons), Circe turns Wonder Woman into a pig. To help lift the spell, Batman enlists Zatanna, a mage and former girlfriend/associate League member. While other members of the League search for the missing Wonder-Pig (who ultimately ends up at a slaughterhouse awaiting her demise), Batman and Zatanna confront Circe on the island of Mykonos. Circe is there performing a nightclub routine in an attempt to show up her cousins, the Sirens. During the battle, Circe agrees to Diana's safe return but demands an exaction. Agreeing to her terms, Batman performs the song "Am I Blue?", thereby freeing Diana from pig-dom. This story assumes an alternate ending where Circe demands the revelation of Batman's identity.TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT Chapter 1 - Admission
Zatanna's attacks on Circe caused no apparent damage. After Batman and Zatanna had dispensed of Circe's counter-attack (which consisted of turning her five male background singers into man-eating beasts), Circe was about to resume her attack.
"Wait," Batman interrupted, raising his hand to signify a request for a temporary truce. "It seems that magic always has a price."
Circe floated down from her imperious perch above Batman and Zatanna. "Your point?"
Batman's voice softened suddenly. Zatanna slipped a quick glance at him, shocked by the fragile quality of his voice. "What would I have to give to release your spell on Diana?"
Circe immediately perked up and dropped even lower until she was looking straight into the man's eyes. "Well, now you're making it interesting," she gloated, then leaned in. "I want something of yours that is so precious, so secret that once lost, it will never be regained. Something so shattering…"
"I can sing a decent lounge act." He admitted, hoping her recent stint on the stage would fuel her interest in watching Batman belt out a tune.
"Are you sure you can't do better than that?" Circe taunted him. "I'm not sure I really gain any magic by listening to a bad karaoke act. How about you pull off those pointy ears for the whole world to see instead?"
Batman's eyes narrowed with fear since the first time since Zatanna had known him, then his head drooped in resignation.
"Fine," he whispered. "Tell the world my identity."
"Are you sure you're not holding anything back? Something juicy?" Circe taunted.
"It will be more than enough," Zatanna interrupted angrily, then her tone softened when she remembered that as a goddess, Circe would gladly transform anybody who dared defy her into a pig. "Trust me," Zatanna pleaded softly. "It will be enough."
Circe considered the request for a few seconds, then nodded with approval. Smirking with delight, she floated back to the stage. "I'm trying to think of the best way to share the good news with the world. Any suggestions?"
"You can always put an antennae on your head and follow the signal." Batman snarled, then dropped his head in resignation. "Just drop into a network studio and make the announcement whenever it suits you."
"It suits me now." Circe replied with a wink, then vanished in a poof of purple smoke.
Zatanna and Batman looked at each other glumly. Zatanna reached out and laced her fingers through his for reassurance, but she couldn't find any words of reassurance that would help the situation. He looked up, locking his now-fearful eyes on hers.
"Are you sure you can do this, Bruce?" she whispered.
"There's no other choice." He replied gravely.TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
Diana awoke with a start. She looked up and realized she was on a conveyor belt. By the smell that assailed her nostrils and the animal carcasses hanging by hooks above her, she realized she was in some kind of meat-packing facility. Sitting up, her heightened senses helped her narrowly escape the down-stroke of a scythe-like tool that by the looks of it was used for decapitation. Angrily, she took flight. Gaining altitude, she blasted through the wall leading back to the main processing room. Her arms were still bound by rope. Without a glance, the rope landed on the floor in tatters. Three men wearing butcher's aprons stood slackjawed, dumbfounded by her sudden appearance. They fled the room in fear, each carrying the memory of Diana's angry expression with them for the rest of their lives.
Diana watched the men flee. They were all clad in white butcher's aprons. Beyond them, the small herd of pigs squealed with fear at their impending slaughter. It didn't surprise Diana that she'd almost ended up as someone's breakfast.
She gritted her teeth then snarled "Circe," before exiting the slaughterhouse, furiously searching the grounds outside for the Greek Witch. Having no luck, she doubled back to check the slaughterhouse for any signs of Batman. There were no obvious signs that Circe had turned him into a pig but she decided to err on the side of caution, inspecting the next cage of animals. Satisfied that none of them had the brooding demeanor she knew would have carried on with him even into pig-dom, Diana elected to smash the remaining machines into rubble to save the pigs from slaughter.
She felt a momentary surge of relief flood through her before she realized Circe could have turned him into any one of the thousands of pigs awaiting their demise in the slaughterhouse. Realizing that it would take days if not weeks to identify a potential Bat-pig, Diana reached to trigger her comm link to the Watchtower then frowned, realizing the ear-piece was missing.
Fraught with anxiety, she rushed into the now-abandoned manager's office and located a phone. By rote memory she dialed a number, waited for the pager beep, then dialed an access code which forwarded automatically to the Watchtower Monitor Womb.
"J'onn are you there?" she sighed with relief when she heard his deep baritone inquire her identity and pass-code. "It's Diana. 51554."
"Where are you?" the Martian inquired.
"I'm in a slaughterhouse," she admitted ruefully, then had a quick thought. Glancing down, she realized the LCD display on the phone showed the number she was calling from. "The area code on this phone says I'm in Gotham."
"Wait one…" J'onn responded. "Confirmed. The trace shows you near Hell's Gate. Do you require transport?"
"Negative. Where is Batman?" she asked, carefully measuring her next move. "I'd prefer a direct transport to his location."
"He's on a mission. I'll bring you here to wait for him. Teleporting in two, one…", then the world dematerialized in front of her.TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
Circe's quick disappearance after Batman's identity confession left Zatanna and Batman flat-footed on Mykonos, without a viable means of transport. Zatanna had used most of the magic at her disposal to engage Circe in battle and literally had nothing left in the tank for pursuit. For her part, Zatanna was somewhat relieved as she was in no mood to engage a sorceress who'd demonstrated measurably more power than Zatanna had ever aspired to. A few seconds after Circe disappeared, Bruce gathered his thoughts then had glanced at Zatanna, hoping they might follow a fresh trail of magic. One shake of Zatanna's head told him a second battle with the Greek witch would have to wait another day. Frustrated, they stared at each other for a moment, trying to determine their next course of action.
"What do we do now?" she asked, forcing a smile. "I've spent too much of my powers to take us anywhere past the door."
"Let's find Diana." He replied with a shrug. "Then we'll figure out later what Circe has planned in her future."
Batman triggered his comm link. "Watchtower… two to transport from these coordinates."
A moment later, Batman and Zatanna materialized on the Watchtower transporter pad. Diana stood in front of them, waiting impatiently for the final stage of the materialization process to end. Zatanna privately smiled when she saw Diana's eyes light up when Batman appeared before her. Given the raw emotion displayed on the Amazon's face, Zatanna's first instinct was that Diana was going to kiss Batman in front of the assembled crew of Leaguers and technicians. Diana took two rapid strides toward Batman, hesitated, then stopped when she realized Zatanna had accompanied Batman on the mission. Zatanna realized that the Amazon was experiencing a moment of doubt about whether her appearance with Bruce signified anything more than a professional relationship.
For her part, Zatanna was torn between her feelings of relief that a teammate had been rescued juxtaposed against the jealousy she felt toward the Amazon. Zatanna was jealous that her relationship with Batman had never moved past the initial lust they'd experienced as young adults. Zatanna looked fondly back at those memories but as a woman, she was jealous that Bruce and Diana were looking at each other in such a way that was reserved for only the truly intimate or those who were about to be.
"Thank Hera you're okay." Diana finally whispered, electing to maintain a professional distance from Bruce. "I was worried Circe had done something to you." Ignoring Zatanna completely, Diana finally gave into her initial desire and almost pounced on the Dark Knight, wrapping her arms around his neck in a quick embrace.
Zatanna bit her lip choking back the laugh screaming to escape her mouth. Knowing Bruce as well as she did, she knew the "PDA" (public display of affection) in front of such a large audience was probably killing him inside. He stood quietly with his arms at his sides, not responding to her embrace but to Zatanna's surprise (and regret), not shrugging out of it either. A moment later, Diana meekly withdrew her arms from around his neck then took two steps back to give him a little more space. He gave her a quick once-over inspection, looking for signs of damage. Finding nothing wrong with her, Bruce almost allowed himself to show a sign of relief however a stern expression maintained its hold on his face. "Circe ignored me entirely." He shrugged lamely. "Apparently, I didn't hold much interest for her."
Diana nodded with understanding even though she had no memory of anything since their original encounter with the Goddess outside the Natural History Museum. She spied Zatanna standing off to the side. Realizing she was being somewhat rude, she warmly nodded a greeting, returned in kind by the petite brunette.
"Did Zatanna help?" Diana asked, confused as to why the Dark Knight would be dragging along a part-time member on his mission. "What did I miss?"
Before he could answer, Zatanna stepped in front of Batman. "Everything," she answered casually. Zatanna linked her arm inside of Diana's, then started the two of them off with a stroll down the corridor. "Why don't we go back to the infirmary and let me give you a quick once-over? I want to make sure that Circe didn't leave any residual spells on you."
Diana nodded in agreement, then swiveled her head back to look at Batman. "Guess I'll see you later? I'd still like to know what I missed."
"Zatanna can fill you in," he replied in a professional monotone which raised the hackles on the back of Diana's neck (it infuriated her that everything she thought the two of them were making a breakthrough, he found some means to delay their big "talk" for another time). Turning his back on the two women, he huddled with J'onn. Diana's expression clouded with uncertainty as the two men started discussing what looked to be a private matter when Vibe interrupted their conversation.
"Uhhhhh Bats, you may want to check Monitor #10." Vibe announced. "The screencrawl might interest you."
Batman strode over to the control panel. He flipped two buttons to slave the signal from that Monitor to the larger screen displayed on the wall, then turned up the volume. Diana glanced over her shoulder one more time then stopped in her tracks. Exasperated, Zatanna gave up trying to lead Diana down the hallway then turned to figure out what was piquing everyone's interest. Given their distance, the two women could only hear flashes of what was being broadcast, so they started walking back to the Monitor Womb to hear the news broadcast.
A male reporter on CNN was seated in a chair overlooking the studios near the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.
Opposite the reporter sat Circe. Clad in a tasteful two-piece suit that looked like it came straight off the rack from Diane Sawyer's wardrobe, the Greek Witch had gone to great lengths to appear fashionable for her interview. She'd even daubed some makeup on her nose to avoid the shine caused by the bright lights on fair-skinned people. The reporter nodded at the camera then intoned:
"We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this exclusive interview with Circe, the legendary Goddess of Homeric mythology."
"Do I look like a myth to you?" she asked, eyes narrowing sharply.
The reporter gulped, then reconsidered his approach. "Circe, probably the most powerful Goddess to appear in our world to date, has dropped by our studios today." He sat back in his chair then took a moment to wipe his brow. "I understand that you would like to make an announcement?"
Circe pursed her lips at the man, drumming her fingers on the armrest of her chair as she debated whether to change him into a sloth, then finally dismissed him with a wave. He vanished off camera with a puff of smoke, reappearing in his dressing room a moment later, then soiled himself in shock.
Circe faced the camera head on, cleared her throat with a smile, then started to speak, "Earlier today, one of your so-called Justice League members decided to pay a price for his teammate's freedom. I didn't think he'd have the guts to go through with it, but a deal is a deal so I get to share an interesting tidbit of news with the whole world."
Circe waited a moment for the drama to build up, then purred, "Ladies and Gentlemen: there is a man, a mortal no less, who likes to dress up in a cape and cowl at night to prowl the streets of Gotham. I don't know much about him except for one juicy detail that a few of you might find interesting. Batman by day is known by another name: Bruce Wayne."
The crowd of superheroes watching the video screen collectively let out a gasp when Circe revealed the secret. Unsettled murmurs and stares immediately settled on the Dark Knight. Those who weren't in the know as to his identity processed the news, shocked that such a brilliant deception could be carried out for such a long time while his original teammates winced as they knew a bombshell had just landed on their doorstep. For his part, Batman took the news stoically, cataloguing Circe's babble onscreen for a few more seconds before finally switching off the Monitor. To no one's surprise, Batman displayed no visible reaction to the public revelation of his identity.
He flipped an intercom switch then barked "Computer, acknowledge deep command Omega, Omega, Omega."
"Confirmed. Password please."
"91939," He muttered, then turned to walk out of the Monitor Womb to make his way to the Transporter. Diana intercepted him before he could leave. Gently, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, enveloping him in an embrace from which he could not flee.
"Why didn't you tell me?" She whispered, all the while knowing Bruce would be loathe to chance another encounter between Diana and the witch.
"Couldn't be helped." He murmured in reply. Lightly shrugging out of her embrace, he gently nudged her out of the way so he could make his way to the transporter. "We'll talk later, I've got to get to the Manor before anything happens to Alfred."
Diana nodded in understanding as he increased his pace towards the transport pads, then smiled when Superman appeared almost out of nowhere in front of the Dark Knight's path. "Do you want to lend me a Batsuit? We could have a joint press conference to debunk the story."
Clark was surprised when his counterpart reached out and grabbed his shoulder, an intimate a gesture as he'd ever seen his friend make. "I appreciate the thought, Clark. I do. You're good but you're not that good. Unless you want to become Batman for the rest of your life, it would only delay the inevitable. Your reporter cronies would be chasing me 24 hours a day, waiting for me to pull on the cowl the one time you're away in Metropolis." He released his grip on the Kryptonian then started his path to the transporter again.
"But it would at least delay the inevitable." Clark protested to the retreating figure. "Besides, you've worked so hard and long to protect your identity."
"Delay is the deadliest form of denial." Batman replied with his usual smirk, "Besides, Bruce Wayne was just a cover to pay for all of my expenses." He dematerialized on the transport platform as Superman looked on in shock at the statement.
Diana and Zatanna approached Superman as the transport process completed its cycle. "What's going to happen to him?" Diana asked.
"I wish I knew." Zatanna replied, nervously drumming her fingers against each other to quell her anxiety. "But I for one don't like that statement one bit. Does he really think he's not Bruce Wayne anymore?"