1. I do not, much to my chagrin, own Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, J'onn or anything associated with them or the Justice League.
2. Thanks to Alittlesummerwine who corrected a few things for me and encouraged me to post it.
3. I envision this taking place a short time after the end of JLU. This particular chapter is centered on "Starcrossed", but following chapters (if there are any) will center elsewhere.
4. Any feedback, be it positive, negative or indifferent, would be most appreciated.
The battle raged on around the Thanagarian command ship. She flew like a missile, tearing through the Thanagarian ships with relative ease, her fury, thirst for revenge and knowledge that the mission had to succeed adding to her already formidable strength. Finally, she entered the Thanagarian fortress and began to mete out her punishment to the Thanagarians in a more up front and personal way…just the way she liked it. One by one, and sometimes in groups, they fell by her hand until she reached the shield control room just after the Green Lantern and Shayera lowered the shield around the hyperspace bypass and the Watchtower impacted the Thanagarian structure.
It was then that the Thanagarians ceased their occupation.
When Diana left the Thanagarian ship a short time later, her heart soared to see their objective successfully achieved in the burning wreckage that was the bypass. A few moments passed and she found Kal, J'onn and Flash looking at the destroyed hyperspace bypass.
She knew immediately that something was wrong…dreadfully wrong. She approached her teammates, her friends, and when she saw the grim set of their faces she realized with an ache in her chest that Batman, Bruce, was nowhere to be seen.
Seeing the look of realization appear on her face, Superman stepped forward and gently put his massive arms around her pulling her into a protective and warm embrace.
"Bruce…Bruce stayed on the Watchtower to pilot it down and make sure it hit the target." He hugged her to him more tightly, and then added in a whisper, "I'm so sorry, Diana…I couldn't save him."
Diana pushed away from her friend enough to look past his broad shoulder to J'onn. The Martian understood her request immediately without needing to hear the words or even hear her thoughts. He and Flash had accompanied Batman to the Watchtower. They were the last to see him, to be with him, to hear his voice, and now she wanted to see and hear what they did. He couldn't ignore the plea in her moist eyes, initiating a mind link and replaying his memories of the mission for her.
They got aboard the Watchtower and easily dispatched the Thanagarians keeping watch there.
"Okay…the Watchtower is ours again. So where's your secret weapon?" asked Flash of the designer of the Watchtower.
"You're standing in it," replied Batman as though it should have been obvious to everyone.
Flash was shocked. "Wait. You mean we're gonna…"
"Take the Watchtower out of orbit and drop it right on top of their little science project." Batman hesitated for only a millisecond. "Get them to the escape pods."
That is what they did. J'onn and Flash lowered the last of the Thanagarians into the pod. J'onn spoke first.
"Is that the last of them?"
"Yeah. The tower's completely pest free," replied the speedster.
Neither of them noticed Batman quietly stepping back out into the corridor.
"Good," he said as he punched the ejection button.
"Hey!" shouted Flash after the airtight doors sealed and the first movement away from the Watchtower could be felt.
"What are you doing?" demanded J'onn as the pod moved quickly away from the Watchtower.
"I can't risk having the Watchtower burn up on reentry. I'll have to guide it in manually. Gentlemen…it's been an honor."
Diana felt the briefest sense of J'onn's overwhelming grief as he suddenly terminated the link. She shuddered at the serenity and reverence she had heard in Bruce's voice. 'It's been an honor.'
She looked into Superman's blue eyes, the eyes she trusted almost as much as Bruce's and saw confirmation in the dullness that his grief had made of them. 'It's been an honor.' His words echoed in her mind as she cuddled into Kal's chest and moaned the name of the man she respected so much…the man she may even have loved.
"Bruce." It was a pitiful moan as the ache settled throughout her body and reached inward to smother her soul. Soon however, the ache turned into anger, which grew into unadulterated rage, forcing her to throw back her head and scream his name with every ounce of her being. "BRUCE!"
Diana sat up in the bed of the man whose name she screamed with a force that had nearly driven her upward into the ceiling of his bedroom. Her hands braced themselves on his bed, clutching at the blue satin sheets on either side of her. A thin film of sweat covered her forehead and cheeks, mixing with the tears that finally slid from her eyes and before she knew it, tiny droplets were hitting the sheet that partially covered her.
Her senses and memory told her everything she needed to know. It had been years since the Thanagarian invasion. Years since he almost died saving them all. She was in Bruce's bed in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor, waiting for him to return from his nightly patrol. She had wanted to wait up for him but she'd fallen asleep reading…well, she couldn't remember what book she had been reading. She looked at the clock and was disheartened to see that it was still only one in the morning.
It was a dream. A nightmare. It was one of a variety that occasionally plagued her sleep, though over time those occasions became more and more rare. This had been the first one in months. They were always recreations of events, battles, or missions where Bruce had nearly died. That, of course, gave her subconscious plenty of material to work with.
Only, in her nightmares, he did die and every time she had one of the nightmares, she felt the pain of losing him, even if it was only for a moment. The inconsolable pain was enough to physically hurt her as nothing else could, tearing through her like she imagined one of Zeus' lightning bolts would, ripping into her heart and shredding what strength she had to pieces.
She didn't bother to wipe away the tears as she lowered herself back down onto the bed. She stared up at the ceiling and tried to think of anything but that nightmare, but she couldn't.
She didn't know why that nightmare in particular affected her so deeply. Perhaps it was because Flash had told her what had happened aboard the Watchtower when it was all over and the Thanagarians were gone; and then she asked J'onn to share his memories with her, which he did after a tremendous amount of persuasion. He realized that she had to know what had happened, how Bruce had stayed aboard and only Kal's timely intervention kept Bruce from dying that day.
That was part of it certainly, but she knew that there was something even more personal at work, something more basic: love.
She had loved him then though she hadn't yet realized it. She loved him even more now, and the thought of him dying was as terrifying as anything she had ever felt before.
It wasn't that he couldn't take care of himself. She knew him much better than that. Bruce Wayne had been Batman long before she came into his life, and though he often had close calls and serious injuries, he always prevailed. But he was still mortal.
Diana brought her hands up and let them lock together behind her head, feeling the relaxing stretch in her shoulders and neck. The window was open and a chilly breeze fluttered across her bare arms and shoulders.
The dream, "Nightmare," her inner voice corrected, was probably her subconscious telling her that she was in no way ready to deal with his loss, when it happened. Whether it was six months down the road at the hands of one of the maniacal super villains he routinely faced, or forty years hence when time would finally claim him, she would never be ready.
As her eyelids once again began to succumb to Hypnos' will, she vowed not to let her fears affect her life with the man she loved with all of her heart…not ever.