Disclaimer: Still don't own Justice League, Batman, Diana, or any of the rest of them. Although wishes do sometimes come true!
To all my reviewers – Thanks! I appreciate all the reviews and the feedback and thanks for sticking with me through this story and others to come (I hope!)
Again, the perspective changes with –VvV-
Chapter 8, Falling in Love (Is So Hard on the Knees), by Aerosmith
Even after heaving my counterpart through the glowing green portal, I still had yet to come to grips with the feeling that had overtaken me when I had seen, slab of debris raised over her head, the other Wonder Woman advance on Bruce, intent on destroying him in front of my very eyes. Watching an alternate version of myself trying to crush Bruce, to defeat him in a way that would destroy both him and me, was something that I still had yet to completely process, and the rolling and heaving of my stomach provided evidence to the fact that I was still not completely over the shock. In fact, I had come to a realization sometime before I had deposited my double back in her world and the thought still left my knees watery and my body weak-limbed.
Consciously, I knew that we, Bruce and I, led dangerous lives with the possibility of death looming at every turn, or every villain, but this was the first time since we had become a couple that I had truly had to face the possibility of life without Bruce. And that future looked bleak and lonely indeed, tinged with uncertainty as it was. I had sometimes wondered if I was destined to be alone, to face an eternity of lonely, empty nights without the companionship of my sisters, without the fulfillment of love, someone to stand beside me in the years that spanned ahead of us.
But this relationship had given me hope, had made me realize that there was someone out there for me, to stand beside me not only in life, but in battle, and I was unsure if now Bruce and I could go back to simply being friends, to be nothing more than teammates and comrades. Our first date had been magical – a time filled with enchantment and affection – and my heart had truly been at peace for the first time in a long time that day. I had not realized the extent to which I had grown so lonely, how much I missed the beauty of Themyscira and being surrounded by my sisters. I had certainly made friends on the team, and outside it, with Audrey, but the bonds of thousands of years could not be remade in others in such as the short time it had been since I became a part of the Justice League.
Today had shown me what could have been, how indeed the team could have changed and developed over these last few years and I felt blessed by the gods that we had not followed the course that the Justice Lords had taken.
But my realization today had more to do with the budding relationship between myself and Bruce than the Lords and I was unsure of how to handle the next step, how to courageously face what I knew I had to do. And soon.
Rather than accompany my teammates to the portal to return the Justice Lords, I had instead decided to return to the Bat-cave, to give myself some time to prepare for my patrols this evening, to learn and discover what actions had taken place in my absence from Gotham and what I would likely encounter tonight. In all truth, I was eager for a simple night, one where I could return earlier and rather than wrestle with a foe or my thoughts, I could sleep, recharge myself and help to forget what had emerged between the Justice Lords' Batman and me.
These past few days had been fraught with emotion and tension and honestly, I was looking forward to having a few moments to process everything that had been coursing through me, to meticulously sorting out each detail and to again go over my plans in case of a rogue superhero. If today had taught me anything, it was that we were still in a delicate balance, a balance of the ordinary and extraordinary and each step, each decision could lead to failure in the mission, could led to an irrevocable transformation of ourselves and our world.
And today had illustrated to me that I was unwilling to make that change, that I was able to stand firm in the face of temptation, in the face of a world where, as the other Batman had put it, no eight-year-old boy could ever lose his parents because of some punk in a gun. It was certainly my greatest dream, the ultimate fulfillment of my purpose in the masquerade as Batman, but I knew that the methods of the Justice Lords went beyond morals, beyond the rights and freedoms that people should be allowed, be given as a birth right. And my parents would certainly have agreed with that statement, been proud of the work that I had done, both as Bruce Wayne and as Batman, in expanding Wayne Enterprises and the Wayne Charitable Foundation while doing my utmost, training and mastering techniques and skills in order to protect the people and Gotham City itself in the only way that I could.
Today, to put it simply, had been rough.
And although there was nothing I wanted more than to allow myself a few more minutes of relaxation and contemplation, outside, night had fallen on the streets of Gotham and it was time for my patrol.
I arrived via the teleporter at the Bat-cave, uninvited and unknowing of the time. All I knew in the instant that I had come to my realization on the Watchtower was that I needed to speak with Bruce, I needed to pour out my heart and hope that he understood my decision, that he to could feel that someone had changed in these last few days, in a quiet hotel room in Kasnia, in the magic of our date, and in the brutality of our clash with the Justice Lords. And I was on tether hooks waiting to tell Bruce, sitting on the edge of my bed in my room, when I comprehended that I had to tell Bruce now, that I could no longer afford to wait. I wasn't sure what Bruce's reaction to what I had to tell him would be, but I knew that I had to say it, that I couldn't simply wait and idly stand by waiting to the right time. The right time was now.
Unfortunately, I hadn't taken Bruce's nighttime proclivities into account and I arrived at the Bat-cave to an empty, cavernous room, devoid of all human life. I nearly stamped my foot in aggravation. Here I stood, poised on the brink of a major, life-changing decision and Bruce wasn't even here for me to enlighten him with what I had learned, what I had determined would change the course of our relationship.
Instead, I was once again alone. I had a feeling that I should probably get used to the feeling.
I wandered over to the main computer, tracing the back of Bruce's chair with my fingertips, feeling the warmth that still remained in the furnishing. Apparently, I had just missed him, I thought, taking a deep breath and comforting myself by taking his seat in the chair.
But I knew that I didn't want to return to the Watchtower, not right now, not tonight – I wanted to remain here, to surround myself with things that reminded me of Bruce while I pondered over the right words. I had left the Watchtower in a flurry of anxiety, confused and yet sure that I had made the right decision – I hadn't considered the words, other than the obvious ones. And now, here surrounded by Bruce, I was comforted and able to really think, to grasp exactly what I planned to do when he returned.
Lost in my reflections, I didn't hear the sound of footsteps echoing through the cave as someone approached. But I jolted at the feel of fingertips touching my shoulder, and turned quickly, seeing a face staring down at me with evident concern written into the wrinkled lines.
"Princess Diana? Are you alright?" Alfred asked me, removing his fingers and returning to his standard, formal stance. However, the look remained on his face and his eyes were glowing with sympathy, disguising the shrewd brain hidden behind the aging skin and white hair.
In desperation, I grabbed at his hand, knowing that Alfred would be willing to hear me out, to listen to my revelation and to offer his advice in any manner that he could. And feeling the warmth of the human connection, I began to talk.
An hour later, each of us had shed a few tears and I felt much more at peace, a much better grasp on myself and my emotions and not the vulnerable Diana that had first arrived here at the Bat-cave. I myself had never had a father figure in my life, but now I understood why Bruce cared so much for Alfred and the wealth of sentiment and understanding that existed between the two men. A stirring instance of that bond now existed between myself and the older man, filling me with an emotion that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but seemed to be a small slice of what I felt for my mother, that maternal affection.
He had pulled a chair over to sit down besides me and I was grateful for the chance to talk, to sit with someone in quiet companionship. I looked down at our entwined fingers, the withered knuckles resting side-by-side with my olive, youthful skin and I gave his hand a gentle squeeze and met his eyes with a tentative smile.
"Alfred? Would you mind if I waited down here for him?"
"Of course not, Princess. But I do suggest that you get some rest if you plan to remain here." He pointed toward a medical cot in one of the alcoves and I rose to my feet, grateful for his suggestion and his compassion in the light of my revelations. Staggering towards the bed, I collapsed onto it in desperate need of sleep and exhausted, mentally and physically, asleep before my head even fit the pillow.
It was going on three a.m. when I arrived back in the Bat-cave, parking the Batmobile in its usual spot before emerging from the top hatch, restless and at ends, ready to grab a few hours of sleep. Today, Wayne Enterprises could wait. After all, it was a Saturday and the hapless President wasn't needed to make an appearance in the office today and I fully intended to use that to my advantage.
I pulled back the cowl, letting the air hit my face and, walking back to the computer, I noticed a stirring, a slight movement from one of the alcoves just off to the side and immediately began my defensive maneuvers. But, materializing from the shadows wasn't a villain; instead, it was Diana, looking tousled and sleep rumpled and my heart sped up a bit at the sight. Obviously she had arrived early and decided to wait for me, even stealing a quick nap in the process. I looked at the long, tangled black hair, the right cheek red from being pressed into the pillow, and the feet, bare and utterly innocent without the red boots she normally wore.
Very softly, afraid to startle her, I questioned, "Diana?"
"Bruce." She emerged from the shadows, walking hesitantly towards me before wrapping her arms around my waist and lifting her face to mine for a kiss. Our lips met and immediately, I could sense that something had changed, that this wasn't the same Diana that I had kissed during a gondola ride on Wayne Manor grounds. Her lips held the same hesitation that her body had just seconds ago walking towards me from the gloom of the Bat-cave.
After several moments, we drew apart, our arms still encircling one another and I looked into her eyes, surprised to see tentativeness in the depths of the blue staring back at me.
"Could we sit down for a moment?" she asked me, and I noticed that there were two chairs in the Bat-cave, placed side-by-side as if another heart-to-heart conversation had occurred here earlier as well. I led Diana to one of the chairs and immediately sat in the other, pulling it towards her so that my knees were on the outside of hers, gently clasping her legs with mine. Reaching for her hands, I felt the chill in them, as if Diana were completely devoid of heat and began to rub them, trying to bring revive her warmth before gripping both of her hands in mine.
"Bruce," she began quietly. I noticed that some of the confidence had seeped back into Diana's voice and the coolness was rapidly fading from her skin. She withdrew her hands form mine, taking each and interlacing our fingers, and I echoed my movements from days before where I had rubbed her palms with my thumbs, creating a subtle and sensual connection between us.
"I realized today that life is too short to be wasted and infinitely precious and that with that preciousness comes certain obligations."
She paused for a moment and I pulled one of my hands from hers, running the pads of my fingers up her jaw in a sweeping motion before placing my thumb next to her eye, just along the hairline, combing my fingers through her hair, forcing her to meet my eyes. They still held a hint of trepidation, but I could see something else in the depths, some emotion that I couldn't quite name, but was beginning to blaze through the fear, something I wanted more than anything else and I could almost taste it, so close I was to receiving it.
"And one of those obligations is honesty – with ourselves, and…and with our feelings," she said, leaning into the fingers I had placed on the side of her head before opening her eyes wide, directly at me – and the truth I could read within them lit my soul with hope and a lightness that I had never felt before.
"Bruce, the honest truth is that I love you. And after what happened today, I knew that I had to tell you, that it was my obligation and…and my pleasure."
For the first time in recent memory, I couldn't move, completely stilled and at the same time, floored by the flood of emotions racing through my body. I couldn't answer the question in her eyes; just stare at her while hope flashed in its intensity in my eyes. The dreams of finding a woman to love me, to provide me with the light that would overshadow the darkness, at least for a time, would becoming a reality I had never expected, especially not in so short a time. The fight with the other Batman had left me somewhat vulnerable, and now my confidence filled me again, inundating the very marrow of my bones and it was due to the woman sitting across from me, staring at me with a wealth of love in her eyes. I wasn't even sure how to process the sensations engulfing me, couldn't find the words to answer Diana's proclamation.
So, instead, I fell back on action, wrenching her out of her chair as she gasped in surprise, and gathering her under her knees, I pulled her onto my lap, feet dangling over the side arm of my chair and head nestled into my shoulder. Contentment and peace filled me as I wrapped my arm around her waist, drawing her as close to me as possible, breathing in her scent as we nestled against one another.
"I wasn't sure how you would take it," she told me in a soft whisper. "I've been worrying about it all day, even talking to Alfred about it earlier."
"Diana," I told her, finally finding my voice and knowing that I needed to reassure the beautiful woman I held in my arms, "Nothing could have made me happier."
I felt that I needed to give her more, to explain my feelings and emotions in better detail. "When I had to face off against the Lords' Batman, it was like going against another part of myself, the darkest part of me. And I was tempted, I understood what he wanted, why he had made those choices and in some ways, I couldn't fault him."
I remembered the moments earlier when I had felt the lure of what the other Batman was telling me, when I had relived my parents' deaths and remembered what it had felt like to lose them to a punk with a gun.
"And then," I murmured, trying to find the right words to explain, "And then I saw you. I saw our team and what we've built in this world, and I couldn't give up that dream. And now, you've given me a spark of hope in the darkness I'm accustomed to. And for that, I love you as well."
The moment was lit with tenderness, in the contentment that laced our bodies together as we sat, our bodies and thoughts tuned to one another. While a part of me knew that this couldn't last, that something would eventually throw a wrench into the works, for now, I was surprisingly able to live in the moment, to enjoy what I had right now.
And suddenly, Diana yawned, the sound echo booming in the darkness and the moment was broken. "I guess I had better be getting back to the Watchtower," she said in her normal tone, yet she was unmoving, lying still in my arms and I could tell that she did not really want to return just yet.
"Princess," I whispered affectionately into her ear, "Would you do me the honor of sharing my bed this evening?"
She pulled back, looking at me with a trace of astonishment on her face. "Really?" And then that astonishment changed into worry – "Bruce, I'm not quite ready to…"
I cut her off, mid-sentence, giving her a little hug as I pulled her to her feet. "I'm not asking you to. I just want to hold you tonight."
She looked at me, and then a teasing look entered her eyes and she placed her hands on her hips, just as she had done in hotel room in Kasnia. "Keeping an eye on me?" she asked.
"Both," I told her with a leer before taking her hand and leading her up the stairs and into Wayne Manor, where she belonged tonight.
Thanks for reading this story and hopefully, no one minded the ending and that they didn't tell Shayera or J'onn what's going on! They'll get there, I'm sure…
I'm hoping to get as many reviews for this story as I did for Duty Calls: 56. 7 to go! Help me out!
Next story: Every Word, set during the episode "Secret Society" where the Justice League faces serious internal friction and Gorilla Grodd sets up a team of villains to exploit it. Another BMWW first in the story! Just guess…