Disclaimer: I don't own the Justice League or the episode Starcrossed or the episode Initiation the characters therein.
For a note on what I'm planning to do after this, please read the section after the end of the story. Thanks for all the reviews and support you all have given me throughout this story! I ended up with an amount of reviews that I never expected and I'm so glad that you all let me know what you were thinking throughout this story and I hope that you continue! I appreciate all the feedback and I hope that you all enjoyed the journey through this story… -Heidi, ALSW
Thanks to LG and JLAFan for the help!
Chapter 22, Second Chance, by 38 Special
"Since you been gone, I've been in a trance; this heart needs a second chance; Don't say it's over, I just can't say goodbye…" – 38 Special
"You of all people, Bruce, should know that some things are worth fighting for."
Several days after the Justice League called their first meeting since the Watchtower had been destroyed, Diana woke early to the sight of the sun rising and a cacophony of birds outside her window. As of late, she had finally been getting her requisite amount of sleep, but this morning, she knew that the time for wallowing in bed was finished. Judging by what she could see out of her window, it wasn't a morning for cocooning herself into the warmth of the pillows and comforter, but a day to get outside, to finally rid herself of this funk that she'd been in for months.
Throwing back the covers, she yawned and slowly raised herself from the bed, grabbing her robe off of the bedpost and wrapping it around herself as she walked over to the window. Outside, she could see the city in all its glory, all the movements and people that it was compromised of. The early morning crowd of businessmen was striding down the streets, fast-paced, coffees and caffeine firmly in hand as their legs ate up the length of the sidewalk. A crew of construction workers was razing a nearby building, their bright yellow equipment and the noise it emitted grabbing her attention and suddenly, she realized that out there was the place to be this morning, out amongst the people and the world, not protecting or helping them, but simply being among them.
It seemed the perfect day to spend amongst the people, enjoying their company and just being an ordinary citizen. She couldn't remember the last time she had been ordinary, been something less than Wonder Woman. And while a small part of her mind screamed that New Year's with Bruce had only been a few months ago, the night having been spent protected by the secret identity Bruce had gifted her with, she didn't want to focus on that right now. She had shed enough tears on that man, spent enough hours in the training room beating her frustration out on anything that could handle the strain.
Which, she had discovered, was very little. Hence, the training room had been quickly depleted of any and all robotic resources and she had been reduced to taking her frustrations out else, like on any villain that happened to cross her path. Many had come to regret taking on Wonder Woman in her recent state of mind, but few, if any, knew what lay behind the mindset she'd been stuck in lately.
Well, that was done, she decided as she walked to the shower. Opening the glass door, she slid in under the rain of hot water that battered her skin, enjoying the steam that rose quickly to greet her. Once her hair was lathered and rinsed, her body soaped and washed, she grabbed a towel from the nearby rack, rubbing it briskly across her skin before wrapping it around her sopping hair with a quick and agile flip of the wrist.
She padded in bare feet out to the bedroom closet, naked having dried her hair a little and discarded the towel, her skin glowing dewy and fresh in the sunlight that streamed in through the window. Reaching into the closet, she unhurriedly pulled out a red t-shirt and a long black skirt, throwing them on before grabbing a pair of black mid-calf boots that resembled the style of her Wonder Woman boots and a black quilted jacket, perfect for a spring day in the city.
Tweaking a rubber band to tie her hair back and securing it around her wrist, she headed to the kitchen, eager for a little breakfast before her foray into the city.
"Good morning, Diana!" was Donna's greeting as Diana made her way into the kitchen. Her sister was dressed professionally, making Diana assume that she had a photo shoot that day. Donna, on the other hand, was pleased to see her sister looking so rosy and cheerful that morning and wondered what had brought about the sudden change in demeanor. Not that Diana had been moping around the apartment by any means, but she simply hadn't been her usual self in the wake of her relationship's demise.
Something Dick had said recently had implied that he had taken matters into his own hands, at least a little bit, and had actually spoken to Bruce about the subject. Bruce, of course, had been his usual uncommunicative self, but to Donna, just the fact that he hadn't throw Dick out immediately gave her a little hope that things would work out between the couple. Anyone could see that the two were good for one another – they understood the job risks, they complimented in other in ways that Donna hadn't expected – not just the light and the dark, but the strength and the confidence that each of them possessed.
They were, however, as she had come to realize, also extremely strong-willed and stubbornly determined to have things their own way, the reason behind their falling out. But Donna knew that Diana still harbored feelings for the Dark Knight, that regardless of what had happened in the past, the future was what they would each make of it. Of course, that didn't mean she couldn't help it along just a little. After all, what else were sisters for?
"So," Donna began, reaching into the refrigerator for a glass of milk to cap off the omelet she'd managed to make that morning, "What are you up to today, Diana?"
"Mingling," Diana answered with a laugh. "I thought it was time I did a little sightseeing today, seeing the city outside of these four walls and actually enjoying it for once instead of fighting evil up and down its streets."
"That sounds great!" Donna exclaimed, setting down the now empty glass of milk on the kitchen counter and heading towards the door. She shrugged into her jacket, adding, "There's a great photography exhibit at the International Center for Photography if you're interested. I've been wanting to check it out, but I haven't made the time. I'd take you, but unfortunately, I'm pretty tied up with work today." Grabbing her purse from where it lay over the back of a chair, she slung it over her shoulder before turning to look at her sister once more. "Enjoy yourself, okay, sweetheart?"
"I will," Diana promised, smiling happily at her sister. Hearing the footsteps that signified her sister's departure, she glanced towards the cabinets, wondering what to make herself for breakfast this morning and suddenly missing the amenities of the Watchtower.
"Oh, Diana?" Diana questioned, popping her head back in the door. "I meant to tell you – there's this great little ice cream shop near the park that everyone has been raving about. Why don't you check it out and then decide whether it's worth a return trip for the Wonder Girls? We'll take Cassie and call it a girl's night out sometime if it's any good."
"Sounds like a plan," Diana answered, only half paying attention to her sister in her search for food. And thanks to her preoccupation, she never saw the mischievous smile on her sister's scheming face as she left Diana to make a phone call…
The morning had been filled with nothing but relaxation and exploration of the city that she had in recent months called home. She'd wandered through a few museums, bought herself an iced mocha, and even perused the local bookstores looking for something that caught her eye. In the end, she'd left empty handed, but the iced mocha and the people that surrounded her reminded her of the things that she loved about Man's World. She hadn't been entirely sure of what to expect after her arrival – she had simply known that she'd had to go, that she was receiving a summons that she intended to answer. And with that answer, she'd eventually lost her home and her contact with the women that she'd called sisters for so long.
But much good had come out of her time in Man's World, from the simple things like the taste of an iced mocha to the things that required so much more of her – her strength, her faith, even her heart. She realized now as she walked down the street, a part of that hustle and bustle, that she had become an element of this world and she wasn't sure that she'd ever truly realized that before. She fit here, sometimes a little awkwardly, but certainly she had made a place for herself in this world, protecting its citizens and spreading the Amazonian principles of peace, hope, and the dream for a better future, albeit in her own small way.
Hearing her stomach growl slightly, she remembered Donna's words from this morning about the ice cream place and decided to be decadent, to make the dessert her lunch for the day. Why not? Today was about Diana, about getting back out into the world and making time to be amongst the people and not just the nastier elements of this society.
Noticing an ice cream shop painted in bright colors along the outskirts of the park, she headed in that direction, suddenly in the mood for a chocolate ice cream cone. It seemed like the perfect day for chocolate. The weather was breezy, but still warm for spring and she relished in being out in the sunshine, enjoying the feel of the wind on her cheeks, feeling the tendrils of hair whip around from her ponytail, hitting her in the face as she continued over the green expanse of lawn towards the ice cream shop.
Entering, she heard the jangle of bells from the door overhead and couldn't help but smile. The shop was about half filled with people – mothers with babies, fathers with toddlers, and the occasional lone adult such as herself enjoying something that she imagined reminded them of their childhood.
Stepping up to the counter, she heard the backbeat of some catchy pop song playing in the background as she perused the gallons of ice cream behind the glass window just below the counter. Everything looked delicious, but she finally elected to stick to her original choice of plain old chocolate. Sometimes there was no reason to mess with a good thing, she decided.
Ordering the cone, she continued along the shuffle of people until she came to the register. Reaching behind her to pull her wallet out of her purse, she was surprised to see a familiar hand pass through her view, a crisp clean five dollar bill in clasped in his elegant fingers. A shiver running down her spine, she turned to see the handsome face of Bruce Wayne staring at her as he told the cashier, "Keep the change."
Her stunned fingers somehow managed to retain a hold of her ice cream cone as Bruce took her elbow, reaching behind her to grab a fistful of napkins, never once taking his eyes from hers. Once her surprise managed to fade, she realized that they were halfway outside and she had no idea what was going on, why Bruce had invaded her life in this way, and what he was doing here, clutching her elbow and paying for her afternoon treat.
"Bruce?" she stuttered and then stopped dead in the middle of the park, trying to get a hold of herself and a hold on what he was doing here, why he was here, beside her, looking for all the world as if he were relaxed and almost content. Content for Bruce, anyway, she mused.
And then he turned back to face her and she could see a hint of something else in his eyes that hadn't quite translated to his unperturbed body language, something that looked to her like nerves or hesitation, each of which were things that she wasn't even sure she could correlate with Bruce.
Then she realized, he wasn't here as the confident, domineering Batman or as the foppish, debonair playboy – he was here just as Bruce. He was dressed casually, at least according to Alfred's standards, in pressed khakis and a white button down shirt opened at the collar. He still had that rakish air of Bruce Wayne, but something about him told her that this was Bruce, the one that he had for so long tried to hide from the world, even from her. But she knew this man – they had spent Christmas together, entwined in each other and enjoying the solitude – yes, she knew this man.
Looking him directly in the eye, ice cream cone still in her hand but forgotten as she demanded, "What are you doing here?"
He stared back at her for a moment before, in an uncharacteristic movement for his counterpart, closing his eyes for a second and rubbing his hand along the back of his neck in a restless movement. Glancing up at her, he asked, "Do you mind if we sit down for a minute?"
She strode over to the nearest park bench, Bruce on her heels. Taking a seat on the wooden slats, she took a lick of her ice cream cone, deciding to enjoy it even if she wasn't entirely sure what was going on.
After a few moments of silence, the only sounds those of the children playing around them and the wind whipping through the trees, Bruce finally said, "I should have said something that day. I shouldn't have let you walk out like that."
She turned to him in surprise but only got his profile. This was the first sign she'd received from the man that he had any regrets over what had happened between them. She supposed that this was his way of clearing the slate so that they could develop a working relationship that didn't include totally ignoring each other.
"At the time," he continued, staring out over the park, watching the toddlers on the swing set, the teenagers tossing a Frisbee, and the dog barking happily as he contemplated his words. "I thought you were asking too much of me, asking too much of us. I've lived my life in a certain way for a long time, Diana, and it's difficult to make adjustments to that lifestyle."
Saying nothing, she continued to lick her ice cream cone, letting him speak, letting the words pour out, wondering if this was in fact going the way that she had expected it to.
"You fit in better than I'd expected," he murmured, still staring ahead. "You didn't make demands, you understood what Gotham means to me, you charmed Alfred, and brought me into the light in a way that no one else has ever done."
"You scare me," he said, finally turning to her, a slight smile twisting his lips. "And if you ever repeat that to anyone, I'll deny it profusely."
"I scare you?" she reiterated, quickly finishing the cone so that she could concentrate on what was going on around her, on the words that Bruce was saying, words that she'd never expected to hear.
"I'm a loner, Diana. The past has shown me that it's easier to be alone and being who am I has taught me that emotions can get in the way of duty."
He turned towards her, just a little, and added, "And then you squeezed your way into my life in a way that I haven't yet begun to understand. You didn't need me to make adjustments because you just worked your way into the holes in my life, holes I refused to believe were there."
Placing his hand gently on her knee, he continued, "Then you asked for me to make an adjustment, to let the team know about us, and I backed away, pulling back into the suit and the shadows because it was easier."
"It's hard to admit that my son may actually have proven me wrong in anything, but Dick told me something that stuck in my brain until I couldn't help but analyze it and consider it."
"And what did he say?" Diana asked softly, placing her hand over his on her knee and linking their fingers in a gesture of understanding. He looked down at their joined hands for a second and then looked her in the face and as blue eyes met blue eyes, he murmured, "He told me that some things were worth fighting for."
With the boldness that so often characterized Wonder Woman, Diana asked, "Are we worth it, Bruce?"
Taking his free hand, he raised it and gently let it brush down her cheek in gesture that made her think that she'd finally managed to pierce the tough outer shell, that she'd finally gotten through to the man that lay beneath the Batman. It had certainly taken long enough, but somehow, she had the feeling that it was worth it.
The months they'd spent apart faded with the honestly of his face, in the truth what he was saying, and she knew now that she had pushed him that day and he hadn't been ready. Truthfully, she hadn't been either. It had been the emotions of the day talking, the hours spent wondering if they would survive the day, if they would continue as the Justice League, and it had taken its toll on her emotions, on her mental state.
She still wanted them to open up to the team about their relationship and that wasn't something she was willing to compromise about. She was ready to emerge from the shadows with their relationship and she still needed to know that he felt the same way, that he was ready to tell the team.
"Yes," he said shortly, reverting to his usual monosyllabic ways. Then, squeezing her hand for a second, he continued, "And I'm willing to tell some members of the team, at least now. J'onn already knows, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for Flash to have that kind of knowledge, that kind of ammunition for hilarity at my expense."
Leaning over and pressing a firm kiss to his lips, she pulled back smiling as she said, "You know, Clark has a birthday coming up…"
The End of the BMWW saga. For now.
Any suggestions for one-shots that you'd like to see in the future? I have a bevy of them, but I'll definitely take suggestions as well!
And just to clear this up – I do plan to eventually get back into this saga and keep writing it. I just want a little time away to do some other stuff and try new things. I'm coauthoring a story called What Might Have Been which should be coming out relatively soon and I'm trying to write an original story about how BMWW got together as well. So don't expect me to fade away!
To Reviewer butterflyV – Thanks for the review! I hope that you like what I did with this chapter, that Bruce did in fact take Dick's words to heart and finally do something about them! He does need and want her, doesn't he?
To Reviewer Ariana – Okay, it's really less about you all losing interest and much, much more about me losing interest in the story. It's getting to the point where I just didn't want to write the chapters. The last one I'd planned to go much further with and couldn't, just wasn't in the mood. I'm not sure what happened. And as for reviews, I wasn't expecting a number anywhere near what I have now, so I'm thrilled and very pleasantly surprised! So, I'm sorry, but I'm still not doing the other two chapters – I'm ready to move on to some other stuff – some one-shots and other stories as well. But I appreciate your review and it's nice to hear how much you all appreciate my writing! I try my best!
To Reviewer SSJO4 Mewtwo – A lot of people, I think, give up once the story becomes longer and more involved, once it goes past a few chapters. I'm not sure if I prefer reading long stories or one-shots either and I certainly don't mind writing either. Yup, too many annoying plot bunnies to continue this story! I think I have a list of about thirty one-shots…Thanks for the review!
To Reviewer T – Thanks! I'm glad that you liked the last chapter. I wasn't entirely sure where to go with it, other than to show his regrets and that he's at least considering Dick's words.
And for those of who without fan fiction accounts, I beg of you – please get one or leave me an email! I feel so badly when I write one-shots and I can't respond to your reviews!