Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Duty Calls, Chapter 8, Beautiful Disaster by 311

This chapter is dedicated to my husband, John – thanks for the providing the inspiration for the end of the date (based on our own first date) and for helping me out with ideas and not begrudging the time I'm spending in front of the computer!

This chapter might be a little over the top, but I couldn't help it – and I love it! Don't expect it to last…

Bruce's perspective…

Taking stock of the afternoon, I still could not believe Diana's audacity. I wasn't exactly sure why her boldness came as such a surprise to me, I knew that she rarely hesitated before plunging into battle, but somehow I had not thought about how that could translate to a relationship. The woman was inexperienced and yet she had managed to figuratively bring me to my knees. Dangerous, indeed – the lady was obviously a hazard to my mental capabilities, especially now that I knew of what she was capable. It was a good thing that she and I were usually on the same side of the battle – the idea of her using her feminine wiles to distract me or to lure me was one that did not bear even considering.

Of course, this afternoon was also forcing me to contemplate and reflect on the merits of having a secret relationship. As things currently stood between us, a villain would have no reason to suspect that neither Batman nor Wonder Woman was involved with one another – there would be no hostage situations in the hopes of luring the other of us out into the open. But once the relationship went public, at any level, that potential existed and the idea terrified me. I supposed that was yet another bridge that would have to be crossed when the time came and once I had considered every angle of the situation. The Dark Knight was infamous for his detective prowess and I aimed to apply my skills to this relationship as well, to determining how to protect each other and our identities if the time came to make the relationship public.

But for now, I was content to enjoy our fledging relationship and to determine the surprise that lay in waiting for us, prepared by Alfred.

My lowly brain, at least in comparison with my butler's, could only imagine the kind of event that Alfred would have organized in order to cap off this afternoon in properly romantic and amazing style.

And once we discovered it, my mind boggled at the simplicity and the utterly charming appeal of what Alfred's mind had cooked up.

Walking hand in hand, fingers intertwined, we reached the back door to Wayne Manor, the main entrance to the kitchens, intent on discovering Alfred's current location and instead, we discovered a note taped to the door in Alfred's scrolling script. It read:

A surprise awaits you in the Rose Garden.

The Rose Garden had received its name due to the overwhelming amount of roses sprawling over the grounds of one of the side gardens. My mother had been the original cultivator of the flowers and since, Alfred had lovingly tended the blooms, even adding his own touches to the patch. The garden contained numerous benches and paths, even small waterfalls leading to a large lake overlooking the wealth of blooms.

I looked out of the corner of my eye at Diana, certain that I would see both curiosity and overwhelming excitement shining in the periwinkle depths and I was pleased to have my supposition proved correct. She turned her head, meeting my gaze, and flirtatiously winked at me.

"Lead the way," she told me, lips curving in an enthusiastic grin.

Letting my body brush against her blatantly feminine curves, I turned away from the kitchen door and headed towards the Rose Garden, located on the other side of the house, hands still locked.

A stone arbor heralded the main entrance to the garden, rioting with roses of all colors, all varieties of blooms. The effect of the colors rising against the stone and ground gave the entire area a feeling of lushness, of a paradise tucked away, a secret garden of pleasure and passion.


Feeling Diana pause beside me and hearing her soft words, I turned to her in time to catch the expression of admiration on her face, stunned by the beauty and colors. For myself, I was admiring the perfection of the setting for someone such as Diana, her beauty magnified by her surroundings. Her eyes were deeply lit with wonder, the wind whipped through her hair, bringing a few strands across her face that she absently pushed away, intent on the sight of the beauty before her. Both of us were, albeit in different ways.

Stepping closer until our bodies pressed together, barely enough space for a breath, I nuzzled my nose into her neck, breathing in her scent, mixed with the perfume of the roses. Pushing aside her hair, I kissed the side of her neck, just below the lobe, before withdrawing an inch to murmur in her ear –

"Like what you see?"

"Oh, Bruce," she turned to me, leaning into my chest and resting her head in the crook between neck and shoulder, "It's simply lovely. Like a paradise built by the gods."

We stopped there for just a moment, enjoying each other's company and the riotous splendor in front of us. I knew that at some point our first date would end, that there would never be another "first" like this and amazingly, I had yet to utterly screw things up and yet to fail to enjoy a single moment of the afternoon.

In my estimation, things were progressing rather well.

Intent on playing the role of the gallant knight to perfection, I slipped Diana back to my side and guided her into the heart of the garden. Reaching for a blossom, I plucked one of the partially developed roses from the mass of thorns and bramble and suavely handed it to gently, even mockingly bowing before her so that she could show me that the princess found favor with my chivalrous gesture.

Smiling beguilingly, she extended her hand to me, slowly the cadence of her voice as she murmured, "Thank you, Dark Knight."

Looking up into her periwinkle gaze, I blatantly winked at her. Straightening, I placed her hand in the crook of my arm and we began searching in earnest for the surprise that Alfred had planned for us.

We hadn't gone more than twenty steps before we came upon a sight that left both Diana and I completely speechless. The lake and the area that lay beside the rose garden had been transformed – music wept softly from a small stereo, something utterly laced with romance and violins that I was sure I would recognize if I put my mind to it. Minute white lights twinkled across the expanse of the lawn and around the edges of the lake, creating an effect of softness and radiance, interspersed with enchantment, a fairy tale scene come to life. It was unlike anything I had ever seen and at the center was Alfred. Just at the shore of the lake was a replica wooden gondola and my butler, in true form, was dressed for his part in the traditional gondolier's outfit, complete with the hat, the black pants and the striped black and white shirt. I almost couldn't believe that my stoic butler was wearing this ensemble, but somehow, on Alfred, the outfit worked because of the panache that he used to carry it off.

At the head of the gondola was, rather than a more traditional mast of an equine or dragon figure, there was instead a bat, a subtle nod to my nighttime activities, I supposed. I almost began laughing in earnest at that point – I was constantly being teased at work about my penchant for bat items – Batarang, Bat-plane, Batmobile, and more of the same. If word ever leaked out about the bat-gondola, I knew that even my reputation would be unable to stem the amusement at my expense.

For the moment though, I was content to let it slide and instead focus on the charm of the scene laid out in front of us.

Stepping closer, I noticed that the gondola contained a small black-velvet lined settee and courteously escorted Diana to her seat in the boat before securing my own position. Relaxing, I laid my arm around Diana's shoulder, allowing her to snuggle into my side, sharing a warm and tender embrace as Alfred began piloting the gondola out into the open water of the lake. I should have known that Alfred would manage to concoct the most amazing of endings to this most amazing of days. For the first time in a long time, I would head into tonight more stress-free than I could remember, my mind cleared of its typical apprehension, but I knew that as night crept up, my paranoia and restlessness would return. Luckily, I still had the afternoon to savor.

"Bruce, look," said Diana softly, pointing to a line along the side of the boat, "I think it opens." She reached over and drew down a small compartment door and I realized that the boat was lined with similar compartments. We began opening each of them, eager to see what Alfred had lined the boat with for our pleasure. We unearthed a small bottle of wine, a corkscrew, two glasses, along with a platter of cheeses and various crackers, a veritable feast to conclude our day. I filled the glasses, then we clinked them together, content to enjoy the solitude of the moment, the peace that surrounded us as we munched on the spread that Alfred had arranged.

I was sure that no one had ever given Diana a first date like this, and although I couldn't claim the idea as my own, I knew that I had played the part of the gallant knight to perfect, showering my princess with affection and kisses. Hopefully our time together today would last in both of our minds for some time, especially knowing that the day was drawing closed and that our responsibilities would pull us apart again for an undetermined amount of time.

But our afternoon came to a close much sooner than I had anticipated with the arrival of one J'onn J'onnz in my head -

"Batman, Luthor is on a rampage again – we need your help." I sighed and swiftly drew away from Diana, looking at her disappointed face and feeling the sentiment echo inside my own heart. I could see from her expression that she was already shifting into warrior mode herself, ready for battle and whatever lay ahead.

I started to say, "Sorry", but Diana cut me off in mid-sentence, acknowledging with her eyes that she understood what I had wanted to say.

"Bruce," she said with the faintest of smile, "I greatly enjoyed today, but…"

We answered simultaneously, "Duty calls."

That's the end for this story, folks! I hope that you enjoy it, I appreciate all the reviews, and keep them coming! I get so encouraged by them and then I get so excited with new ideas pouring into my head, so thanks! It's thanks to all of you that my writing is moving at such a rapid pace.

And speaking of moving at this pace, for those of you who want to keep going, the next story in this saga will focus on the episode "A Better World" with the Justice Lords and it's already got a title: "One Spark".