Disclaimer : I don't own these characters, I am not making any money out of this and copyright infringement is not intended.
Warning! Contains nothing but shippy-shippy BM/WW
Author's Note: It has been a wonderful experience for me to write this piece. And to make it even more worthwhile was the thought that it was well appreciated. Thank you to all of you for the time you have spared in following this story.
Well…here it is. The last chapter.
She closed her eyes with a heavy heart and accepted the heartbreaking truth. It was really and finally over.
Images of his face surfaced from the recesses of her mind…from the first time they met, and the first time she ever saw his face without the mask, his striking features when he held her close as they danced during one very special night in Paris. She could even recall how his voice tried to conceal the truth, however futile, about his true identity. And she could still feel the genuine concern when he admitted just a few moments ago that he cared for her.
"Because I care."
That was probably the last time she would ever hear that tone, the concern in his deep voice. She had successfully killed whatever that was left of any emotion that he might have had for her. From now on, she knew that it would be the curt, the rude, the cold voice of the Batman that would address her.
I should have waited.
Suddenly, she felt that having him on his terms, a little out of touch but still within her reach, was better than not having him at all. But it was too late for that.
For a while, she just stood there, losing track of time.
But then, something was not right.
She sniffed the air.
With dismay, she found out there was nothing left to salvage, every single piece was burnt. And there was nothing to do but toss the entire batch into the garbage and start a new one. A rueful smile appeared on her face at the realization that it was much like her life, she was tossing aside the part that lived with the dream that he could ever love her the way she did. Now, she was really going to start anew.
More than an hour passed by after she finished baking and later cleaning the mess she made. She hung the apron, replaced the mittens and dusted off the flour on her shirt and shorts. She had just removed her clip and was about to prepare for bed when she heard something that sounded like knocking.
Tentatively she walked towards the door. Someone was definitely tapping on the other side. But who could that be at this time of the night?
She debated with herself if she dared open it, knowing, with a somewhat excited skip in the beat of her heart, that there was a remote possibility that it was Bruce. But how could she be so sure? It was after midnight, and he was surely on patrol.
"Who is it?"
She braced her hands on the oak door and heard the faint sound of a rustle, a distinct sound of crumpled paper.
Instinctively her eyes closed when she heard his voice. She turned from the door, leaning her head and back on the sturdy oak wood, biting her nails in indecision, totally at a loss on what to do. A part of her was overjoyed that he came back, who was she kidding but herself if she denied that. But a part was also unsure.
"Diana…let me in."
No way! She should be yelling at him, but could not bring herself to do so. Instead, she slowly turned toward the door, a hand tentatively reaching for the knob.
She sensed a hint of pleading, a tone she seldom heard from the confident voice. She took a deep breath and hated herself for yielding. She gave the knob a turn and finally opened the door. "Bruce…it's late---"
When the opening was wide enough, he brushed past her without even a word, making a beeline to the kitchen, toting two brown paper bags in each hand. With astounded eyes she was left staring in the direction he took, dumbfounded by his audacity to barge confidently into her house, after what he did earlier, without even the slightest hesitation. Closing the door with a shake of her puzzled head, she followed after him wanting to find out what the man was up to.
But what she was about to see was something more astonishing, a phenomenon in itself.
She halted, or rather froze for several seconds on the doorway, then remembered to purse her open mouth. Other than that, she stood unmoving, motionless as if she just had the misfortune of looking Medusa in the eyes.
There he was, between the small center table and the oven, tying the bright red, floral apron that she was wearing a few minutes ago over the expensive white silk shirt. His sleeves were folded above his elbows, as if he was going to cook.
After making a knot behind his back he gave her a quick look, acknowledging her presence, but ignoring her later nonetheless and started rummaging for baking pans, not bothering with the common courtesy of asking for her permission. Finding two stainless steel pans he turned his attention back to the brown paper bags, extracting packages covered in foil. The larger one he uncovered, revealing something that resembled an already roasted chicken.
She had to suppress a sudden amount of amusement when, at his first try, he placed the cooked poultry on the wrong side. She almost interfered but kept her voice in check. There was something surreal and magical about what she was seeing, the man she knew as Batman experimenting with kitchen utensils, and she did not want the image to disappear if disturbed.
She had to tell herself that she was still irked with this man. However, the feeling of ire was gradually dissolving due to the fact that he looked so endearing in her apron.
After pouring some sauce on the chicken, he opened the next package full of small, roasted potatoes. Carefully, he placed the contents on another pan, but a somewhat wayward spud managed to escape and jump from the pan to the table to the floor and roll a good distance from him. Finally moving and offering assistance, she walked towards the potato and threw it in the trash.
"Excuse me." He squeezed between her and the oven to get to the refrigerator to place package number three that she labeled in her mind as dessert. Then he turned on the oven.
She was starting to feel like a stranger in her own house while he made himself busy, without any trace of uneasiness, feeling totally at home. And she felt like it was the opportune time to speak her mind. But when she turned to face him, he was bending, putting the pans inside the oven. And the view of his firm tush momentarily erased her ability to speak, a naughty recollection invading in her imagination.
She put a lid on her emotions and cleared her throat, more to keep herself in check, rather than get his attention.
"Bruce…what are you doing?" Her vocal chords were finally functioning.
He straightened up to finally face her. "I'm…uncomplicating things."
"Uncompli---" She stopped when she remembered her exact words asking him to do just that. Her heart was beginning to beat in an erratic rhythm. "By reheating…food?" She had to prevent her lips from forming even the slightest of smiles.
"Unfortunately, I don't know how to cook. That, I'll have to learn from Alfred soon enough…before he ventures into another career in…real estate." He wiped his hands on the apron with a knowing smile. "I certainly won't just stand by and lose you to anybody else's cooking. Not to Wally's…not to Kal's."
My…he looked so sure of himself. "While we are at the topic of you learning how to cook," she started as he removed the apron. "It's always wise to pre-heat the oven before you put anything in there."
"I'll remember that…next time." He gave her this disarming smile before asking, "Where do you keep the china?"
She pointed to the cabinet with her finger, "Just over there." Wait a minute…why am I playing along with this? "Bruce, wait…" She waited for him to face her, dishes in hand. "What is all this?"
"This," he answered while placing two plates on the center table. "…is our first dinner." His eyes met hers. "Together."
When he said the last word, he looked at her intently, searching for her reaction. Her heart was singing inwardly with joy, but her mind could not command her eyes from showing doubt. Everything that had transpired in the last few minutes were simply too perplexing for her. Didn't I just close my door?
"Courtesy of Alfred, of course." He probably thought that the mention of Alfred's name would help enlighten her as he turned and searched for silverware. It did not.
"I thought…" she recalled for the words he said earlier. "This was a mistake."
From across the room, even with his back turned to her, she felt the weight of his guilt, noticing a droop in the always confident broad shoulders. When he faced her again, regret was mirrored in the blue eyes. "I was wrong."
"Bruce…you're confusing me."
He looked down, in quiet contemplation, as if her silverware was the most interesting object in the planet at this exact moment. It took him some time to finally face her.
"I'm not very good at this, Diana." The deep breath he took was loud enough to be heard by her. "I thought being Bruce Wayne would help. But it's certainly a lot difficult…when it's not an act anymore. So please, bear with me."
She placed her right hand on the table as if to prepare for the impact of whatever he was going to say.
For several seconds, he just regarded her thoughtfully. She even thought he would not go through with whatever he was planning on telling her. When she could not hold the intensity of his gaze anymore, she looked at her right hand on the table, while her left tucked strands of hair behind her ear. It seemed that she was the one more tense and nervous.
Then he started speaking.
"For a time, I've convinced myself that I can live without…emotional attachments." His voice was deep and even, but not like the voice he used as Batman.
Emotional attachments, that was the Batman's clinical term for love or something similar to it. He could not even bring himself to say the word, her mind deduced.
"I won't deny that there were women…in my life as Bruce and even as…Batman."
She swallowed hard as a stab of jealousy coursed through her. The truth, coming from his lips, was harder to accept. And she knew some of those women.
He seemed to sense her pain when he paused for a while. She faced him, a silent plea for him to continue.
"But none of them came close to making me feel…the way you do." The openness in his eyes was starting to get through her defenses. "You make me feel as if something has been missing."
You made me feel that too, she wanted to say.
It was his turn to look away, her calmness prompting him to go on. "But you know me. I won't allow myself to be distracted. Then…" His eyes were far away, his fingers feeling the stem of the spoon he was holding. "There came the incident with the missile." He looked down at his hands, as if remembering the mud, the dirt when he desperately clawed at the earth to look for her. "I thought you were…"
"Dead?" She finished for him when he could not bring himself to utter the dreaded word.
"The feeling that I've lost someone again…" he shook his head. "I told myself that I can't afford to…fall for you. But then, there was Paris…"
In her mind she could not help but think, as her heart beat faster, holding on to his every word. Why is he saying all this? Is this the big prelude…to an even bigger heartbreak? Or is he finally..?
When his eyes settled on hers again, she noticed that they had a deeper hue, bluer than any ocean she had ever seen. And she could feel herself slowly drowning. She abruptly averted her gaze to her finger that was absently tracing an invisible pattern on the table, as if trying to find a lifeline to hold on to before she was caught in a whirlpool of conflicting emotions, her other hand clasping and unclasping.
And with dismay, she noticed that her hands were clammy. I don't have clammy hands…
"Diana…please say something."
Her voice was almost a whisper. "What do you want me to say…that you haven't heard yet? I've opened myself so many times to you…you've stated your reasons over and over again, that I'm starting to believe…you're right."
He walked over to her, turning her to him, lifting her chin so he could try to read her mind through her eyes as he searched her face. And at this close, she had no way of disguising what she truly felt.
She loved him still. And she did not care if her eyes told him just that.
And for the first time, as she looked back at him, she knew that he was not hiding anything anymore either.
"I'm prepared to finally leave you alone," he admitted. "Then I realized…I was a nothing but a coward."
How can he say that? "You're one of the bravest men I have ever met."
"How can I be brave when I was walking away?" He took hold of her clammy hand. "But I'm trying to be brave now. I can't give you up without telling you the truth."
He inched his face away, and intently looked into her eyes. His eyes…they were so full of sincerity that it touched her so deep she wanted to cry.
"I love you, Diana."
Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the words, his words, echoed in her mind. "I love you, Diana…"
His voice…the words, the very words that she had waited for so long to hear from him. She had been dreaming of this moment most of her life in this world, that when it finally arrived, she was speechless, and suddenly doubtful that it even happened. But she was certain she saw his lips move and utter the words.He just said he loves me…
As if to confirm what he just said, his face slowly moved closer to hers. And with its own volition, her head tilted to an angle, awaiting the descent, the feel of his lips. Ever so gently, his lips touched hers, kissing her as if she was the most fragile, that she would break under his touch. It was the very first time he kissed her with such uncertainty that it touched her more. To erase his doubts, she moved and responded just as softly, matching his movements before finally opening her lips and accepting him inside.
It was the sweetest kiss they ever shared. Because he finally admitted that he loved her, and that truth made all the difference.
Finally pulling away gently from her, he studied her face. In turn, she looked at him, cheeks flushed, still reeling from the wonderful experience, delighting in the moment…their moment. Her eyes told him the happiness she felt. She sighed a happy and contended sigh.
He loved her. Bruce loves me…the Batman loves me…
It was all so unbelievable. She closed her eyes for a while and slowly opened them. Then she blinked a few times. He appeared to be amused but confused at the same time with what she was doing.
"I'm just making sure that this is not a dream…that you are not a dream," she admitted.
To prove to her that everything was real, that he was flesh and blood, he took her into his arms and held her close. "I'm sorry if I took so long," he whispered, his cheek pressing against hers.
"It doesn't matter." It was selfish to think that nothing else mattered. But for the moment, she did not try and think about anything else but the arms that held her securely. For the moment, she had an ordinary life. And she was loved by an extraordinary man.
"You know," he interrupted her thoughts and looked at her once more. "From what I've seen in romance movies…you're supposed to say something similar to me." His eyes were smiling at her.
Her imagination got the better of her as she pictured him watching a sappy movie, popcorn in hand. And suddenly found herself stifling a giggle at the thought. "You watch romance movies?"
"Actually…" He took her by the waist and hoisted her up, sitting her on the countertop adjacent to the table, positioning his body between her legs. "Those are Alfred's tapes."
She eyed him suspiciously, with a matching smirk. "If you say so."
He was smiling as he played with her hair, contenting himself with just looking at her. It was the smile that he seldom showed the world, the smile that was only meant for her.
But impatience was soon getting the better of him. "So?"
She raised a hand as a finger traced the outline of his lips. "So…what?"
Her palm now touched the side of his face. "I'm not stalling Bruce…I'm just enjoying the moment." The smile she had from the moment he admitted his feelings was still on her face. "It's not everyday that I get to feel like this." She actually felt like glowing from the inside out. "Can you say it again?"
"I love you."
He kissed the tip of her nose. "I thought so."
"You got me that time." Seriously, she added. "Please…say it again."
"I'm not fond of repeating myself." He chuckled when her eyes tried a halfhearted glare. "But only for you, I'll make an exception. I…love…you." He punctuated each word with a kiss.
Another happy sigh. "I love you too, Bruce Wayne…Batman."
Her hands snaked up to the back of his head to pull him in. It was her turn to return the favor of a long and lingering kiss. He let her play with him for a while before taking over, his experienced lips dictating the pace to a slow and sensual caress, his left hand skimming the smoothness of her right thigh.
"Bruce…" She breathed into his lips, trying to stifle a giggle.
Eyes glazed with passion looked back at her. "What?"
Her right hand stilled his left from sensually moving up and down her outer thigh. "Stop…it tickles."
A lazy smile faced her. "You didn't seem to mind when you were…"
"Babe?" Then her eyes widened. "You were petting me then, when I was a…in front of Zatanna?"
"She knows how I feel about you."
"You told her then…when you almost never told me?" she said in mock hurt.
"I didn't tell her. She just knew." He tucked a strand of her behind her ear.
Looking through his eyes and talking about that matter made her remember what he had to surrender to fight for her. "Thank you."
She pretended to fix the top button on his shirt before looking up at him. "For the song."
"She told you."
"Like you said…she knows, and she was just…helping." She suddenly remembered something as she fidgeted with his collar. "I think another ex of yours has an idea also."
"She told me to stay away from you."
"So that was why you were avoiding me."
She laughed at his joke. "I have been avoiding you even before she suggested it." A smirk appeared on her lips. "Besides…I'm not that intimidated by her." A brow rose. "Any more ex girlfriends I should know about? You seem to have quite a lot of them."
"All of them won't be able to hold a candle to you." He looked seriously at her. "It's me who should be worried. I must admit, I am no match for a…jealous Kryptonian."
She laughed. "Kal…he is my best friend. I must admit that I love him…but in a way totally different from the way I love you."
As an answer, she pulled him into a tight embrace. Holding his face in her hands, she dropped feather light kisses on his forehead, over his closed eyes, his temple, over the tip of his nose, before finally settling to claim his lips. She showed him just how much she desired him, by applying what his own lips taught her earlier. She was a fast learner.
"I think I need more convincing," he teased a little breathlessly when they pulled apart for air.
"Don't push your luck," she pressed a finger on his chest. He grabbed her hand and placed it over his heart and she felt its erratic rhythm under her palm.
"That's how you make me feel."
She knew then the effect she had on him, all this time, and realized that it really must have been difficult for him to come to terms with his feelings and finally admit all of them to her. He was the Batman, and he had to be another man totally different to guard this secret. And above all, he had his city to protect.
To have a life, his own life, and to have a love, were the luxuries a man like him could not afford. But still, he was taking the chance.
Because he loved her.
"This isn't going to be easy," she admitted.
"Now you're telling me?" A grin escaped his lips.
"But then again, whatever is easy with our lives?" she shrugged.
He regarded her. "Diana…I'm not the easiest person to live with."
"Don't I know," she remarked. "But…aren't we moving a little too fast, I mean…living together?" She eyed him mischievously and leaned backwards on the table using her arms for support, tilting her head a little in the process emphasizing the smooth neck and her womanly curves, teasing him, as if testing the newfound powers she had over him.
She heard him grunt before giving in, leaning over and sensuously kissing the left side of her neck. She closed her eyes and felt goose bumps all over her body when she felt his tongue tracing small patterns on her skin while a hand slowly sneaked up her shirt. It took her a while to feel the light sucking of his lips.
"Bruce!" She gently pushed him away when she felt him marking her. She gathered her hair over her left shoulder, exposing her right neck, feeling for the warm skin where his lips just touched, unaware that a part of her anatomy was revealing how much on fire she was at the moment. "Good thing…I heal easily."
His hand was still comfortably feeling her skin. "This is not really going to be easy," his voice was a bit husky.
"That's what I was saying," she smiled at him. "Are you already having regrets?"
"Never." He smiled at her innocence. "But what I mean is…" His hand inched a little higher. "It's going to be difficult keeping my hands off of you."
She was not aware of the extent of her excitement until his eyes traveled downwards from her face, to her neck, and lower, devouring the sight of her, a part, or rather…parts, of her straining against her shirt for attention. It was easy to notice a certain wicked gleam in his eyes as he looked at her before his head dropped again and lips sought the sensitive flesh of her neck once more.
She felt like floating in the strange but exciting sensations that she was experiencing. Though she stopped his hand in time before it got to second base.
"Two words, Mr. Wayne…self control." She eyed him through slightly glazed eyes. "I always thought you had that mastered by now."
"I thought so too," he quipped. "But then, a ravishing Amazon princess came along."
She felt a little guilt, thinking that she had been a distraction to him all this time, putting him in a torturous predicament. "Is it that hard?"
He laughed at her choice of word. Another innocent question, but his mind was busy entertaining other thoughts. "You can't even begin to imagine."
"What's so funny?"
A silly grin was still present on his attractive features. "I was just thinking that I'll have to content myself ogling you with my eyes during meetings. That's the advantage of having a state of the art costume."
She looked at him suspiciously. "What else do I have to worry about regarding your costume?"
"That's top secret." He said against her lips. "You'll find out soon enough."
"One day at a time, Mr. Wayne?"
"That's right," he replied. "Speaking of days…can you have a day off tomorrow?"
"Why…are you going to orient me with the Bat costume?" Her eyes twinkled, batting her eyelashes at him, adding in a deep and sensual voice, "How to…take it off?"
He definitely had to rethink the whole self-control issue again, later. "That…among other things," he whispered huskily against her pliant lips before kissing her passionately once more.
There was no urgency in the kiss, as if they both have all their lives to enjoy the moment, this precious time. And when it ended, his arms went around her, his hands meeting at the small of her back, embracing her securely, protectively as his cheek rubbed against the soft side of her face. In turn she linked her arms on the back of his neck, pulling him close, resting her head against his, feeling the beat of her heart sing with the beating of his in a melody audible only to the two of them.
Body to body, heart to heart, soul to soul.
"Bruce…" she had to interrupt the tender moment.
"Yes?" he whispered into her hair.
"What about the…" she felt embarrassed. "…food? I think it's close to…burning."
She could feel him smiling. "Give me five more minutes."
Five minutes more would not hurt. "Okay." She closed her eyes once more, enjoying the feel of finally being able to hold him this way.
"Diana…" he whispered.
His embraced tightened a bit. "For loving me, a mere dysfunctional mortal…when you can have any man you could ever have."
"You're welcome." She rubbed her face against his.
"And Diana…" he whispered again.
"I can stay like this forever."
She smiled and sighed. "Me too."
They both knew that what they dreamed of was the impossible. And if that dream came true, forever was not enough. But for the moment, nothing else mattered, not the food that was almost burning in the oven, not the opinion of their friends when they found out, not even the world outside that always needed saving. All that mattered at the very moment was that…they had each other.
And it felt so wonderful. It felt so beautiful. And in this one short and fleeting moment, everything was perfect.