The usual pleasantries here: I don't own Batman (or Bruce Wayne), Wonder Woman (or Diana), J'onn, Superman, Flash or Shayera. Nor do I own anything associated with the Justice League. DC does.
Thanks to Jenn who took the time and effort to look this over for me. Your thoughts, corrections and suggestions were greatly appreciated…as always.
Inspired by a chapter of "14 days of Valentine (A Drabble Series)" by Angelic Temptress. Thanks AT.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Takes place sometime after the JLU episode "The Destroyer."
The alter ego of Bruce Wayne stood in the main conference room of the Watchtower, slowly counting up to ten in an effort to calm the surging urge to strangle Wally West.
"Come on, Bats," implored the speedster somewhat childishly. "Everyone else has plans and won't even be on the Watchtower. It's not like you have anything better to do, and I really want to do something special for Linda."
Batman had to give him that point, as much as it galled him to do so. It would normally be true that neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne had anything important to do on what had to be one of the most hated calendar days for the billionaire crime fighter. This Valentine's Day was supposed to be different however. He had planned on doing something special for a certain Amazon Princess, unbeknownst to everyone, including said Princess. Oh well, there's always next year…
"Fine," he finally grated through clenched teeth. In the deepest and most neutral voice that he could manage after being pestered for nearly two hours he summarized their agreement. "I will take your morning shift of monitor duty on February fourteenth." Batman narrowed his eyes to reinforce Flash's part of the agreement. "In return, you will refrain from eating and drinking in the monitor womb for two weeks." Batman took a menacing step towards Flash, stopping a mere couple of inches from the younger man…close enough to see his Adam's apple bob up and down. "And you will take my evening shift on February sixteenth. Deal?"
Flash nodded quickly, managed to squeak out, "Thanks, Bats," then zoomed out of the conference room at his usual high velocity escape mode.
Bruce all but collapsed into the nearest chair and released a sigh of frustration truly worthy of the Batman. Unfortunately, he had a spectator.
"Rough day?" came an obviously amused voice.
Batman groaned to himself, painfully aware that the super hearing of the person standing in the doorway could probably even hear that.
Sometimes Bruce had to wonder about that.
Bruce looked over to see the Man of Steel in the doorframe, leaned casually against the left part of the frame with his arms folded across his chest. A brief glance at his face confirmed a bemused expression resting there as his tone of voice had initially indicated.
"This doesn't bode well," thought Bruce warily. To Superman he said quietly, "I have had better days." He once again narrowed the white eyes of the cowl, and immediately felt a stab of pleasure at Clark's instant discomfort.
Clark always hated the narrow eye stare.
"I have a feeling it's about to get worse," added Bruce. It was a guess, and a good one by the red flush that materialized in Clark's cheeks.
Clark stood up straight, took a step inside the room and closed the door. After making sure they were alone, he walked to the table and sat directly across from Bruce. He leaned over the table and folded his hands together on the table. He looked far too uncomfortable for his, and for that matter Bruce's, comfort.
"I need a favor," said Clark as he looked at his hands as though they were the most interesting things in the universe.
Bruce was about to lose his temper, but decided instead to count to ten. Another look to the way that Clark was avoiding his gaze forced him to amend that plan. "Better make it twenty."
He got to thirteen when Clark spoke again, though this time he managed to raise his head and look at Bruce.
"I want to take Lois out to a nice place in Metropolis," explained Clark a little sheepishly. Bruce and Lois had a history that Clark was all too painfully aware of, and despite the fact that everyone had moved on, Bruce knew it still managed to creep into the larger man's mind now and again.
Bruce stifled a sigh. "And this has to do with me how?"
"Well," tried Clark, "I have tried, but they're booked solid and, that is…I, well…"
"Clark," said Bruce so softly that Clark looked at him as though he were expecting a batarang across the forehead. "I'm really tired and, thanks to Wally, slightly irritated." Bruce leaned across the table and spoke in the lowest tone of voice he possessed, "What do you want?"
He had to clamp down hard to keep the grin off his face when the nervous reflex of the bobbing Adam's apple of the strongest man on the planet glared at him.
Clark swallowed the lump in his throat and answered the Caped Crusader. "I need you to get me a reservation at the Metropolis Ritz," he said in a rush, as though the sooner he got it over with the better, which was actually the case.
"Is that all?" asked Bruce, trying to hide the surprise in his voice. He had been expecting a lot worse, and was beginning to reevaluate his disbelief in luck, when a soft clearing of a throat put that reevaluation on hold.
Bruce focused on Clark, noticing for the first time that Clark had a very small smile on his lips. "What?" growled Bruce impatiently.
"I need someone to cover my afternoon monitor duty shift," he said quietly. "You usually don't do anything on Valentine's Day, so I thought…" He trailed off and looked at Bruce with a mixture of hope and dread.
"Usually don't, no, but you would pick the first Valentine's Day I've had something to do wouldn't you?" he thought. "I will do your shift," he held up his finger when it looked like Clark was going to jump up through the ceiling in excitement, "but you will, for the next two weeks, keep any speeches and comments you make in any meetings to under two minutes, and you will take my evening monitor duty shift on the seventeenth."
Clark looked at Bruce like he just kicked his puppy. "Two minutes?" he exclaimed incredulously. "I don't know if…" He stopped when Bruce simply sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest with that Batman patented smirk on his face.
"Fine…to all of it," agreed Clark reluctantly.
Batman nodded once. "What time do you want it for?"
When Clark looked confused, and after Bruce wondered (not for the first time) how someone so strong could be so dense sometimes, he said, "The reservation. What time?"
"Oh," said Clark hastily. "Doesn't matter." He stood up from his chair and looked at Bruce. "Do what you can and just let me know. Thanks, Bruce."
Batman nodded, and as Superman left the room he let his hands fall to his lap. Two days to get a reservation for two on one of the busiest nights of the year in one of the busiest restaurants in Metropolis. It was an easy chore really, but it was going to cost him.
He leaned back in the chair, closed his eyes and tried to ward off the headache he felt coming on with a little meditation. It didn't take long for his focused mind to work its own brand of magic, as it were, and the headache receded.
"Excuse me," interrupted a voice from the doorway.
"Damn it!" exclaimed Bruce to himself as the headache roared back with a vengeance.
"I am sorry, Batman," apologized J'onn sincerely, and Bruce had absolutely no doubt that his sincerity was…well, sincere.
"No need to apologize, J'onn," answered Batman. He opened his eyes and found the same stoic face he always saw when he looked at J'onn. It was a little frustrating for Batman, not being able to read a person from his facial features. "What can I do for you?"
"Never mind, my friend," replied the Martian as he turned back towards the door. "You have far too much on your mind as it is."
"J'onn," said Bruce in a tone that made J'onn turn and regard him once more. Bruce repeated, "What can I do for you?"
J'onn moved back towards the table, reluctantly Bruce could tell, and said, "I was going to ask if you…"
"If I could take your monitor duty on the night of the fourteenth," finished Bruce. He knew the schedule, and he was well aware of J'onn's relatively new romantic interest in a certain lady. "Two plus two usually equals four," thought Bruce amusedly.
"Yes," J'onn said quietly, and for a moment Bruce thought he was referring to his internal monologue, but it took only a second to realize that J'onn was in fact confirming his outward deduction. "However, I now know that you are going to be very busy, so I cannot…"
"Yes you can," interrupted Bruce again. If anyone deserved to be happy, it was J'onn, as far as Bruce was concerned. "And I will take your shift, on two small conditions."
J'onn inclined his head in gratitude. "Of course, Batman…name them."
"I will take your shift, if you promise not to eat any Oreos near the computers for two weeks." At J'onn's confused expression, Bruce added, "The crumbs are getting into the keyboards. And I would like you to take my evening shift on the eighteenth."
J'onn smiled. Well, he did what Martians passed off as smiling. "Very well, Batman. Thank you."
Bruce nodded in response and J'onn floated out through the door, leaving Bruce to wonder how he was going to do it all. So long as nothing else happened…
"Batman, we need to talk."
"I wonder if I can change my name to something that no one can pronounce," thought Bruce tiredly. He looked up to see Shayera framed in the doorway. She was wearing her usual outfit, that is to say the outfit she had been wearing since her admittance back into the league. He wouldn't confess it to anyone, but he found her new form fitting costume very attractive on her. Her wings were tucked tightly to her back, and her hands rested on her hips.
There was no sign of her mace.
She strode into the room and stopped just before plowing into the table. With her hands still on her hips she stated brusquely, "I need someone to cover my early morning monitor duty on the fifteenth."
Bruce stayed perfectly still and didn't say a word. She hadn't asked, though he knew what she wanted, but she hadn't actually asked and he wasn't going let her off the hook that easily.
For nearly four minutes the two of them stared at each other, until Shayera mumbled something that Bruce suspected was a Thanagarian curse on his parentage, then said with more than a little irritation in her voice, "Well?"
"Well what?" grated Bruce. Was it wrong of him to enjoy tormenting her?
Shayera raised her right hand to her forehead as though she were trying to contain something, like frustration or anger. Maybe even both.
"Will you do it?" she asked loudly.
Internally, Bruce smiled widely. "Do what?"
Some more Thanagarian cursing. A lot more, actually. "Will you take my shift?"
"Why didn't you say so?" replied Bruce. Shayera took a deep breath, the kind of thing he'd seen her do on a number of occasions just before she was about to hit something very, very hard. "There is one condition, however." He knew he could ask for just about anything from Shayera for this little favor. She and John had only gotten back together a short time ago, so she'd be wiling to do almost anything to make this cursed night special. "I will take your shift, if you promise not to destroy any of the training drones for the next month." When Shayera looked at him with a furrowed brow, Bruce said, "They're expensive to replace…even for me."
"Fine," mumbled Shayera, who then left without as much as a thank you.
Batman placed his hands palm down on the table and pushed himself to his feet. He took a quick glance at the door and was relieved to find no one there looking at him. He walked to the door and scanned the hallway, found no one there then walked quickly to the teleporter before anyone else could ask him anything.
"Didn't you have anything special planned?" asked Diana as she sat down to Batman's right in the monitor womb of the Watchtower. It was almost 11:00 PM on Valentine's Day.
Batman covertly glanced over at the Amazon, something that the opaque lenses of the cowl allowed him to do more frequently than he liked to admit, even to himself. She wasn't in her uniform, which wasn't entirely odd, though it was happening more and more when she wasn't doing anything Wonder Woman related. He had never seen the classic white t-shirt and blue jean combination look so damn good on anyone as it looked on her. Never. "No."
It wasn't a lie really. He had planned on doing something, but hadn't actually gotten around to actually executing the plan.
Diana's eyes narrowed as she leaned towards him. "You mean Bruce Wayne didn't have any plans for the most romantic night of the year?" She sat back and adopted a slightly scandalized expression. "I'm shocked."
Bruce turned to look at her. "No." Then he turned back to the screens and tried to forget the very cute way that her lips were trembling from trying not to laugh.
Deciding that the whole 'give and take' thing was worth a shot, Bruce decided to give some. "What about you, Princess?" he asked in a casual tone of voice, which he knew would irritate her as much as anything. "No special plans with that special someone? I figured they'd be lined up for blocks." He was playing with fire and he knew it. She had hoped that the progress they had made in their budding relationship had meant that they would be together on Valentine's Day. So had he, actually. Another subtle glance verified it…her blue eyes had narrowed and the fingers of her right hand began tapping on the computer console she'd rested her hand on with a force that almost dented the panel.
"I was hoping," she started in a forced calm voice, "that you and I would be able to do something tonight, that is until I was informed by, first Flash, then Clark, then J'onn and finally Shayera, that you had agreed to take all their shifts for today, tonight and tomorrow morning." She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. "Twenty-four hours of monitor duty, Bruce?" She straightened up, placed her left hand on his right shoulder and asked in a whisper, "Do I scare you that much?"
He turned his head towards her slowly, and when he faced her he fixed one of best glares on her and muttered, "Hardly." Her gaze, instead of hardening with anger or frustration, softened with her eyes shining and a smile tugging at her lips.
"I'm glad of that," she said and gave his shoulder a quick squeeze before lowering her hand to her lap. Diana sat back and looked around. "I can't remember the Watchtower ever being so empty. The new Watchtower, I mean." She looked to Bruce again. "Almost everyone wanted to be off tonight? Even the civilians?"
Bruce grunted his affirmation. Of all the nights, all the occasions in the year, Valentine's Day was the one that everyone absolutely had to have off. The prevailing theory floating around in Bruce's head about it was that it was that special night to be with that special someone, and being superheroes, sometimes a special night was needed. Some of them hadn't been able to spend any time with their partners for weeks, what with missions and the like. While it was extremely inconvenient for him, he couldn't find it in his heart to begrudge it to them.
For the civilians, there was technically a graveyard shift of them working, but mostly in the commissary and lower sections of the tower.
"Well," stated Diana with her voice tinged with disappointment, "I guess I'll go read a book or something." She stood up, then looked at Bruce as he watched the monitors, and then headed to the door. When she was about to step through she stopped, turned around to look at Bruce once more and froze. The chair was empty.
"Be back here in one hour," he stated in his standard rough voice from behind her, near the door.
Diana whirled around, her long raven locks flowing around like a short cape and coming to rest on her left shoulder, and wondered just how he kept managing to sneak past her.
Bruce looked at Diana, who looked so extraordinary in her more than ordinary outfit, and developed a plan on the fly. To disarm the stormy look developing on her face at his 'order' he added softly, "Please."
It worked like a charm. He saw the anger literally dissipate from her eyes, and after she nodded once she moved to step past him, stopping when he reached up with his gloved hand and touched her right cheek. His mind registered and filed away the slightly shocked, yet absolutely ecstatic look in her eyes as he leaned in towards her and covered her mouth with his. The kiss lasted only five point four seconds according to his internal chronometer, but it felt like so much more. It almost felt like a lifetime.
When he pulled away, slightly breathless despite the brevity of the kiss, he whispered, "One hour, Princess."
Before she gathered her wits to respond to him, he brushed past her and walked back to his chair. He hid his grin when he heard her repeat softly, "One hour."
Exactly one hour after she left Bruce alone in the monitor womb, Diana walked into the womb to find Batman exactly where she had left him.
"It's been one hour," she stated unnecessarily.
"Yes," he agreed. He stood up without further comment and walked up to her, holding out his gauntleted right hand when he reached her. Without any hesitation at all, she lifted her left hand up and placed it in his, receiving a curt nod and a slight pull on her arm as he moved towards the teleporter.
"What? Where are we going?" she asked as they stood on the teleporter pad. "What about monitor duty?"
He looked her straight in the eye and whispered two very important words. "Trust me."
And she did, of course. More than anyone, perhaps.
A moment later the world dissolved in a wave of sparkling lights until everything went dark, followed again by the sparkling lights and new scenery. She looked around and realized that they were on the roof, or nearly on the roof, of a very tall building. At first glance she thought it was Gotham, but two distinct items of interest told her otherwise. One, it was morning according to the freshly risen sun in the sky, whereas it was just after midnight in Gotham.
Two, and perhaps slightly more telling, was the sight of the Eiffel Tower off in the distance.
"Paris," she whispered, astonishment and the memories of her last visit to Paris with Bruce flooding her mind and affecting her voice. She walked slowly to the edge of what she now realized was a penthouse balcony, and placed her hands on the waist high safety wall that ran along the balcony. The view was breathtaking.
Bruce watched Diana, immensely satisfied at her response when she realized where they were. He had intended on a night out in Paris, with a romantic dinner, dancing and the whole works, but it wasn't to be.
When she turned to look back at him, the smile on her face warmed his body and soul, and he knew then that the works weren't necessary…all he had to do was show an effort, give her a sign that he cared for her. Before he knew it she was hugging him tightly, her arms wrapped around his neck and her body pressing against him, awakening feelings he long thought had been expunged from his being. As he brought his arms up to enclose around her waist, he thought for a second on how she got to him so quickly. She didn't run; he couldn't recall hearing any footsteps. She had to have flown.
His thoughts were interrupted by her soft voice in his ear. "What about monitor duty?"
He tightened his hold around her waist and nuzzled his face into the crook of her neck. "The teleporter is on an automatic recall for ten minutes," he said after taking a second to inhale the scent of her hair. "And I set up the Watchtower's alert system to activate my communicator if anything happens." He sighed regretfully. "We have about seven and a half minutes left." He leaned back to look at her. "Enough time for a dance or two."
Her smile was brilliant. "I would love that," she stated excitedly.
Batman reached to his belt and pressed a button. Music, soft and slow, filled the balcony from speakers that were very carefully hidden away. He held out his arms in the start position for a waltz. Diana moved into position and took his hand and he began the movements of a slow and subtle dance.
He looked into her eyes and immediately knew that something wasn't right and he stopped their movements. She opened her mouth, presumably to ask what was wrong, but she said nothing as he slowly, tentatively even, reached up and pushed back his cowl.
Now he could see her with his own eyes. No cowl. No lenses. No visual enhancements.
Just his own mortal eyes, with which he gazed upon the most divinely beautiful face he had ever seen.
He smiled as she said quietly and in a tone of voice that told him she had hoped he would remove the cowl, "Much better."
They resumed their dance, moving fluidly without any inhibition whatsoever and without haste. They danced, cheek to cheek, until Bruce stopped and whispered against her warm cheek, "It's almost time."
He smiled sadly as she sighed and whispered, "I know."
Bruce moved his head back so that he could look into her eyes again. The deep blue that her eyes had become was nearly intoxicating to him. He couldn't speak, nor did he want to for fear of ruining the moment. Her mouth opened a little, not much at all really, but his own mouth took it as an invitation, a plea for contact, and he took it, gently leaning over and kissing her as tenderly, as lovingly, as he knew how.
They were still in that position when the teleporter took them from the rooftop eighty-five seconds later. They rematerialized in the Watchtower and ended their kiss. Bruce was not all that surprised when Diana reached up and pulled the cowl back up, hiding Bruce Wayne and revealing Batman. She understood more than anyone his desire, his need, to keep his identity secret.
"Thank you," Diana said softly as she cuddled against him.
Batman nodded, then asked, "You're not scheduled for any missions or monitor duty this weekend are you?"
Diana eased back from Bruce and looked at him strangely, as though he should have known the answer. "Bruce," she whispered, "you made the schedule. You know I'm not."
The right side of his mouth edge up a quarter of an inch. "Yes, so I did. Did the others tell you what the prices were for me taking their shifts last night and this morning?" When Diana shook her head, he said, "For Flash, the price was two weeks of not eating or drinking in the monitor womb. For Clark, it was keeping his speeches under two minutes for two weeks." He shared a small smile with Diana at that one. "For J'onn the price was no eating Oreos around the computers for two weeks. And for Shayera, it was a month without destroying any of the training robots."
Diana looked confused. "Why was Shayera's…price…for a month while the others were for two weeks?"
Batman smirked his best 'I am the greatest' smirk. "That, Princess, is because Wally, J'onn and Clark also had to agree to take my monitor duty shifts this weekend, leaving me free to," he searched for the right word, "compensate, a special someone for a less than spectacular Valentine's Day."
Diana's face lit up like a supernova and she couldn't quite contain her glee as she asked coyly, "And do I know this special someone?"
"Oh yes," deadpanned Bruce. "You know her very well." He looked at her inquisitively. "How about it, Princess? A nice weekend in Paris, just the two of us?"
She kissed his cheek and then walked past him towards the door. "Sounds like a great plan to me," she said casually over her shoulder as she disappeared through the door.
Batman sighed somewhat contentedly. "Yes…the Batman always has a plan."