Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.
Dedicated to: Everyone who has stuck by me through this story, ballooning my ego with reviews, and those who have given me support. I really do appreciate it.
A side note to reviewer korovan: According to something I had read by Bruce Timm, he said that Diana was the first on the team to figure out Batman's identity on her own (Superman had cheated, using his X-ray vision.) As to the others, I'm staying firmly within the JL world, especially since I haven't watched much of the animated Batman for awhile.
A Girl's Best Friend, Chapter 12, And We Danced, by The Hooters
I heard Batman speak my name and I stopped, turning towards him, and I was amazed at the sight before me. This proud, arrogant man had eyes shadowed with fear, but I could also see the love shining through, lighting his dark eyes. I stepped towards him, and slowly raised my hands to his face, smoothing my fingers and palms up his jaw line where I hesitated for a second before finally taking the plunge. I slid my fingers under his cowl and gradually pushed it back; removing the only barrier between me and the face of the man I love.
And the face of Bruce Wayne was revealed to me.
I let out a breathless sigh and let my smile soften, staring at the face of love. I ran my hands over his face, gently caressing the jaw line, forehead, even delicately closing his eyes with the tips of my fingers. I memorized his face with my hands, confirming the truth of this man to my eyes and to my sensitive touch. After one more sweep of his face, I replaced the cowl, knowing Bruce's discomfort with emotions and public displays of any kind. That was why he so often refused the credit that came with being a member of the Justice League – he preferred to remain anonymous in all quarters.
I left my fingers on his cheeks though and looked at him tenderly.
"I just wanted to see the real you again," I told him quietly.
"The playboy," he rasped harshly.
"No, Bruce, the noble man who would risk himself every night to bring hope to this world. The man I have respected as a teammate and almost a partner for months. The man whose intelligence and determination have been the drive behind the team since its inception, another feat you accomplished. You are so much more than a caped crusader or a playboy. You're a hero. And I'm proud to be here in this moment, right now, with you."
He had kept his eyes closed during my words, but at the last, he opened them again, closing the distance between us by inches and putting his hands over mine on his face.
"Diana," he said hesitantly, the first time I have ever known him to do so. "I'm not…very good…at this type of thing," he finished banally.
I just looked at him, my eyes filled with humor. "I can't say I've had much experience with it either," I told him, "but I'm willing to give it a try if you are."
He smiled faintly, but the expression did not seem to lighten up the worry lines on his face.
"You realize that this would change things," he said, not meeting my gaze, "not only between us, but between the team. The dynamics would be different and things could never go back to the way they were."
I stood still for a minute, turning the truth of Bruce's words over in my mind. It was true. Once the information that there was more than just friendship between Bruce and I made its way into the team, everything would change. I was still fairly new to this superhero business and I was unsure if I wanted the constant attention and surveillance that would come with being part of a relationship within the team. John still referred to me occasionally as the "rookie with the tiara" and the pressure to perform at a consistently high rate was a constant pressure.
But, on the other hand, I knew that I wanted a relationship with Bruce and now, knowing that he returned feelings for me as well, I could not back away from what we had already started here, both in Paris and on a Kasnian hilltop.
"Bruce, I want to be with you, I do know that with absolute certainty. But…"
As soon as I heard her utter that word, I immediately tried to step back, both physically and mentally, shielding myself from the inevitable pain that I knew was coming. Of course she didn't really want to be with me, once she realized that I was a creature of the shadows, a figment of nightmares. She would slowly pull back, away from me, and find someone else who could give her the light, an equal in optimism and good faith. And I would continue to live in the darkness, watching her.
She hesitated with her words for a moment, but Diana refused to let me step back. Instead, she dropped her hands, looking at me solemnly and with a little bit of insecurity lurking in her eyes. I braced myself as she began to open her mouth, still certain that she intended to break off whatever was between us before it even had a chance to flourish. And I would take it. But the words that I heard were not what I expected.
"But what if we didn't tell everyone else on the team about us?"
A secret relationship? An interesting concept and one that I had never entertained in my mind. Diana was usually a truthful soul and I was a bit surprised that she was putting forth this idea.
Disliking going into something blind, I asked her, "Why would you be willing to keep…us…a secret?"
She seemed pleased simply by the fact that I had not dismissed the idea out of hand, looking me in the eye and logically listing her reasons for a clandestine relationship.
"Bruce, I'm still considered a rookie on the team, with everyone checking over their shoulders to make sure that the princess is still holding her own. Trying to balance a relationship with a senior member of the team…"
I coughed a little at that, looking at her with a smirk to my mouth, "Diana, I don't even have full-time member status. How could I be considered a senior member?"
Her expression tinged with disbelief and exasperation, she retorted, "That's not true and you know it. Although you'd be the last to admit it. You're the leader that we all respect, the general leading us into battle and the detective solving everything with his mind and determination. You are the senior member."
She paused for a moment, allowing time for her words to sink into my brain, clouded with emotions.
"I do not want the added pressure of the entire team staring at us, dissecting our actions and reactions simply because we are together. Everything that we do will be fodder for the team to gossip about, particularly Flash. If we have a disagreement, if we're spending too much time together, where I'm spending my nights or where you're spending yours."
She paused again, then giving me an impish grin, deadly at this close range to my heart, and added, "And I know you're not much for the spotlight."
I began to pace back and forth in small, measured steps. What she was saying made good sense and I appreciated her logical approach to the situation as well are her concern for me and for our relationship. When explained in this manner, having a secret relationship was a good judgment on our part, allowing me to just be the Batman on the team, the unofficial member, and allowing Diana freedom of action, keeping the team off of her back and permitting her to continue defining herself within the team as Wonder Woman and not as a part of the Batman-Diana combo team.
The beginning stages of a relationship were always difficult and it would be nearly impossible for the two of us to truly define ourselves away from the team. We would be falling in love under a microscope, a prospect that made me itchy under the cowl just thinking about it. I demanded privacy for my actions and I respected Diana's need for privacy within the confines of the two of us. But I had to make sure that she understood the burden of exactly what she was getting in to, with me and with a relationship. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her with an uncompromising expression.
"You won't be able to see me out in public either," I told her harshly, "My life as Bruce Wayne would have to be completely separate from that of the Princess of Themyscira. No dinner dates, no society functions, no public outings of any kind where we could be portrayed as a couple. Paris was a one-shot."
She nodded solemnly, "It would just be us. I understand that and I still believe that this is the best way for the two of us to be together in this capacity."
I considered everything she had mentioned and ran it all through my head, looking for potential pitfalls and difficulties. The hardest part of the entire endeavor would be to keep it secret, but I knew that once we both agreed to it, both Diana and I would keep to our agreement of how to handle our relationship. And this seemed a viable compromise for the both of us, enabling me to keep my privacy and Diana to define her own role in the team, separate from me. The prospect of a secret relationship was complicated, of course, but I thrived on problem-solving and complications. And I thrived on the potential of being with Diana. Besides, I was never one for full disclosure anyway.
"Diana," I whispered softly, walking over to her and taking both of her hands in mine, "I accept."
Her expression said it all – filling with overwhelming joy as she smiled at me, lighting her face up brighter than I had ever seen before. She looked…happy.
And somewhere, deep inside the suit, I could feel my heart swell and began beating rapidly, stunned at the sight that my words had evoked within Diana. She seemed almost effervescent and now, she was mine. The idea of being responsible for all this joy seemed daunting and I knew that we had a long road ahead of us, but I also knew that right now, I too, was happy. A seldom felt emotion, but one I recognized nonetheless, and at that moment, I embraced it.
Eyes shining, Diana slowly raised her eyes to mine, and the sparkle in them was so bright it almost blinded me.
"Bruce," she said murmured, and the smile on her face softened as she tenderly ran her hands again over my face before linking them behind my neck.
I looked at this creature of light and joy and put my arms around her waist, pulling her in closer until she fit against my length, melding perfectly into my side. And suddenly, my neurons began to fire once again and my brain lit up with a brilliant idea and a great way to start off our relationship.
"Diana," I whispered softly, waiting until she raised her head from the crook of my neck before continuing and thinking back to where the magic between us had started – on a Parisian dance floor. "May I have this dance?"
Stay tuned for the continuing saga of Bruce and Diana's secret relationship! I believe I'll do the episode "Hearts and Minds" next, even though they're not in it. It's the next episode and we could see the early stages of the relationship. Agreed?