Here is yet another installment to my "Under The Shadows Of A Portrait" series.
The stories can be found here and are as follows:
Legacies (entire series)
A great big thank you to HeyBats for the beta. :-)
Legacies - The Beginning
by DC Lady
Diana stood on the Watchtower's deck in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. She gazed absently at the stars that shone bright in the blackness of space, hoping the serenity of the view would provide her with a sense of calm she desperately craved. Unfortunately, the view offered little relief as her thoughts would haplessly return to that which was causing her such grief.
She'd left him briefly to visit her mother a week before. During that time she was certain that he'd thought and analyzed and planned. He had time to justify his loneliness – to embrace it instead of her. But she was warm and tender while the loneliness he'd encased himself in for so many years was cold and harsh.
A shiver ran down her spine, and as she rubbed her arms to ward off the chill, she wondered if she'd ever felt quite so burdened - so alone. She'd taken a chance, pursuing a relationship with Batman. But, she had chosen to do so with her eyes wide open – hopeful, but tentative as to the outcome of such a pairing. Now she was hopelessly in love with him. Her emotions ranged between the extremes of joy – she'd seen a side of him that he'd buried as an eight-year old boy – to despair, crushed at the distance with which he now kept her.
He'd pushed her away on more occasions than she cared to remember. But, he'd always returned, giving a little more of himself each time. Although tempted, she knew that she could not continue playing this game.
It was tearing her apart.
Diana shivered again, then steeled herself with resolve to make him choose - love her fully or let her go.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a shadowed reflection briefly crossed the thick glass wall of the Watchtower's view deck. He made no sound, but she knew he was there, watching, waiting, contemplating – always contemplating. It was an asset for Batman, but not for Bruce Wayne. Thinking and analyzing were tools Batman used to squelch any emotions that stood in the way of his mission. Tools Bruce Wayne used to justify being alone.
She knew he would come to her eventually. She wanted him – needed him – to reach out to her - to stop pushing her away. She also knew that he wanted to love her, to build a life with her. He just hadn't learned how to do that, yet. Her pride, and the realization that he needed to make the decision for himself, meant that she couldn't – no, wouldn't - make this easy for him. He must choose this. Must choose her.
"What do you want, Bruce?" she asked, not turning to face him. She was afraid of what she might see – love, joy, happiness – or worse - fear, regret, loss. What would he choose?
She heard the soft rustle of leather as his fingers tugged the cowl away from his face.
She turned to him, confused. "Why what?"
He lowered his head, staring at the space between his shoes. "Why me?" He sounded young and immature. It was an adolescent's question.
"Because I love you." She studied his face. The lines were deep from lack of sleep. His eyes shadowed from contemplation.
"Why?" he asked again, but this time it was a whisper. A whisper of disbelief.
The insecurity of the question startled her. Then she remembered one of her many talks with Alfred. The Batman was confident in who he was and what he did. But part of Bruce Wayne – a bigger part than his teammates ever realized - was still that little boy who lost his parents years ago.
"You are my hero – both as Batman and Bruce Wayne."
He said nothing.
She moved closer. She stood facing him, with several inches between them. She was meeting him half-way, the rest was up to him.
"What do you want, Bruce?"
There eyes met as the Batman answered. "I want a partner I don't have to worry about. One I won't have to see beaten to death, shot…killed." His jaw was set and his fists clenched and she saw the pain of the past reflected in his eyes.
She wanted to embrace him, tell him everything would be all right. But, she wouldn't do that. She couldn't do this for him.
"I cannot promise that I will not someday die. I have been blessed with immortality, but at times even that is tested. I am not invulnerable."
He nodded slowly, but said nothing.
"I cannot do this for you, Bruce. It is your decision. I will honor your choice. But, make it now. I will not continue to have my emotions torn at your whim."
Her words stung. He'd known that his actions had hurt her deeply, but never had to confront it until now.
"I never meant to hurt you," his voice whispered in reply, soft with regret.
She sighed. "I know." She lifted his face to meet her gaze. "You told me what Batman wants. What of Bruce Wayne? What does he want?"
He didn't hesitate in his answer. "Bruce Wayne wants a wife." He reached for her hand tentatively, trembling. "I…I'm not sure how to do this, but I can't walk away from you. I want you, Diana. I need you and that frightens me."
He held his hand up to stop her from responding. "What I'm trying to say is…that I…I love you." He reached into a compartment of his utility belt and pulled something out. He held the object with great care, as though it might disappear at any given moment and then dropped to one knee. He held her hand tight and her breath hitched when she saw it - a ring.
His head rose and their eyes met.
"Diana, will you marry me?"
She saw the fear. Fear that the happiness that he was finally embracing would somehow be taken from him – like his parents and Jason and so many others. She smiled warmly and lovingly. She had never seen him this vulnerable. She loved him all the more at this very moment knowing how difficult it was for him to give himself to her.
"Yes, Bruce. Yes, I will marry you." She dropped to her knees meeting him on the floor. He placed the ring on her finger – a perfect fit. Diana smiled at the omen. The gods must be pleased, she thought.
"It was my mother's and my grandmother's before her. I think they would be pleased with you having it."
"I will honor them - and you."
He drew her into a tight embrace and she felt the need in his kiss. The need to love and be loved. She would love this man forever, she had no doubt.