Title: I Take My Chances

Characters: Justice League Original 7

Synopsis: Set before Wild Card. The stakes in the Justice League poker game get a little high once there's only two of them left...

Thanks to JLAFan for the help! Unbetaed.

"I take my chances, I don't mind working without a net/I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get" – Mary Chapin Carpenter


This story stemmed from one of my drabbles. #3 – I Feel Lucky. Here's the drabble:

"Hot dog, I feel lucky tonight/I feel lucky/I feel lucky, yeah!" – Mary Chapin Carpenter

Peering down at the cards in her hand, she struggled to keep the curving smile from her lips before looking around the table at the other six occupants. She wasn't entirely sure who had initiated Justice League poker night, but whoever the idea had stemmed from, it had provided some much needed relaxation time for the seven of them.

Batman included.

His being there had surprised her and yet, time and again, he showed up. His ability to bluff was unparalleled, but somehow, she was less than surprised.

Tonight, she was going to up the ante. She was feeling lucky.


And here's the story it spawned: (my longest one-shot ever, by the way)

She peered down at her cards before idly glancing about the table as she struggled to keep the curving smile from her lips, trying to read the expressions of the other occupants of the table while keeping her face blank, keeping her thoughts from showing in her sparkling blue eyes.

Biting her lip, she leaned back in her chair, relaxing from her previously stiff position of more or less hovering over the table, letting her back rest on the chair pulled up around the round table in the kitchen of the Watchtower.

Somehow, it had become a tradition for the Justice League to have a poker night and Diana still wasn't entirely sure who had initiated it. All she knew was that it was a night filled with both fun and relaxation. It was a way for all of them to get away from the stresses of the job, the seemingly endless missions, but most importantly, to simply enjoy spending time with one another. Snacks, bluffing and the occasional mindless bit of chatter or taunts, typically from Shayera, had proven over time to be a refreshing way to work of the tension.

Looking over at her friend, Diana watched as the winged warrior thinned her lips, flicking her thumb over the edge of the cards in her hand and glancing at Green Lantern seated beside her, currently in the midst of placing his bet. There was something in Shayera's eyes that Diana couldn't quite read, couldn't quite name as she saw the Thanagarian eye John Stewart. It was something similar to desire, a spark between them that seemed to have been growing for some time; just as their fights had been escalating as well.

Unresolved desire and tension, she supposed. They were each still trying to hide those feelings, but there was something in the glance that Shayera shot John that made Diana wonder if something was about to bubble over, if they could no longer contain the feelings that raged and roared inside them.

She understood those feelings, having put a hold on them herself, having tried to tamp them down for some time now, every since she had found out that the man behind the mask of Batman was known as Bruce Wayne. He had revealed himself to her in a way that she had never expected – in a dance.

It had taken one night in Paris to make her realize that she wanted something from him, even if it was something that he wasn't particularly ready to give. Glancing over at him, she smiled softly: she wanted his heart.

Diana was pulled from her reverie as she heard John's deep voice intone, "I'll see your bet and raise you fifty pretzel sticks."

Diana was nothing if not surprised by John's bet. Their typical stakes were closer to the one or two pretzel stick mark. They never actually played with real money, which made it easier for those at the table like herself: without any job other than being a hero, without any real way of making any money. So, instead, they played the game with things like pretzel sticks or chips, things that could be easily divided in the beginning of the game between each of the players without anyone getting too upset about losing their loot.

They had tried once to play with a certain chocolate and cream-filled sandwich cookie that one of the members had such an affection for, but had quickly realized that J'onn's tension level was actually raised when he lost even one of the cookies.

Of course, Diana mused, inevitably Wally would end up consuming his pile of loot, leaving him high and dry and causing him to look around the table sheepishly before each of them chipped in and helped him restock his pile.

The man was constantly hungry, she thought with a laugh, looking at him out of the corner of her eye, watching as he laid down his cards before zipping over to the fridge and emerging with his arms filled with whatever food had been placed in there. She was never exactly sure who stocked the fridge, but she had a sneaking suspicion that it was simply another line item in the Wayne Enterprises' budget.

Shayera, her face a little sulky, sent John a fulminating look before angrily meeting his raise, tossing the necessary amount of pretzel sticks into the pot in the middle of the table and adding to the growing pile. "I'll see your bet," she added and Diana could tell immediately from her tone that her friend had only bet since John had, unwilling to quit while he was still in the game. It was an inevitable part of Shayera's relationship with John – she had a constant need to beat him. Or at least do her best to damage his ego and stiff formality a little bit.

John, for his part, just seemed to enjoy the competition. They all did, in a way. They all thrived off of winning, of striving to do their best everyday at every moment, and she supposed that it was no different when they were just sitting around enjoying each other's company and playing a supposedly friendly game of poker within the team.

Flash, in between sips of his drink and munches of his snacks, threw his requisite pretzel sticks onto the table, muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like "This sucks," before filling his mouth with another long slurp of his iced mocha. Diana eyed the drink for a moment, wondering if she was in the mood for her favorite beverage, but she quickly decided that she wasn't particularly interested in sending yet another jolt of caffeine through her system.

She had enough energy racing through her body right now, especially when she took another glance at the hand of cards she possessed.

After Wally, it was J'onn's turn to bet and he simply laid down his hand, placing the cards face down on the table. "I'm out," he said quietly in his typically stoic voice.

"Me too," said Superman, tossing his cards casually to the table and standing up, stretching his arms out in front of him and giving the other occupants a goofy grin as he explained. "I'm out for the night. Valentine's Day. I have…plans…" He blushed, his face flushed with embarrassment as he added, rubbing the back of his neck with a hand,"Anyway, enjoy the game."

He gave a little wave and then he turned before anyone could ask him any questions, striding out of the room and towards the teleporters, presumably on his way back to Metropolis and whatever lucky lady Diana assumed was the recipient of his plans for the rest of that evening. Something about the flush that had fallen over his face told Diana that his plans involved a woman – it wasn't like Superman to be unsure about anything other than the women in his life.

But Diana wasn't entirely sure what he meant by Valentine's Day – was today some sort of holiday that she knew nothing about? Another Earth holiday like New Year's or Thanksgiving that she had yet to learn about?

She glanced around the table in frustration, meeting Shayera's questioning eyes as well. The Thanagarian shrugged her shoulders as if to say, "I have no idea" and then turned back to her cards.

So Diana asked. "Valentine's Day?"

"Oh," Flash said with his mouth full, little bits of potato chip spewing across the table, "It's supposed to be this day that celebrates love. People usually go out and stuff." He wiped his hand across his mouth and smiled engagingly at her, "Wanna give it a shot, Wondy?"

She gave him a look of confusion. "Go out?"

"He means a date, Diana," John said quietly in his deep, strong voice. "Couples traditionally go out on dates on Valentine's Day, spending an evening at dinner or some other activity, enjoying one another's company and remembering the reasons that they're in love."

Diana looked at him thoughtfully – it was unlike John to speak of things like romance and love, and yet, somehow, she had a feeling that deep inside the military man was a sentimental soul, one that she only hoped that Shayera could appreciate. And, looking at her friend's face, she thought that perhaps Shayera would. After all, the Thanagarian needed someone to hone her edges, to soften her rough and tough ways a little bit and help let the loving woman Diana suspected was inside out.

"So," Flash continued, zipping around the table and laying his arm around Diana's shoulders, "What do you say, Wondy?"

"Sit down, Flash!" Batman barked from his position next to Diana without even looking up from the cards in his hand.

"You can't blame a guy for trying," Flash retorted and Diana watched as he then raced back to his seat, glancing over at Batman for a few seconds before bolding daring to stick out his tongue at the Caped Crusader.

"I saw that," Batman intoned quietly, eyes still on his cards. After taking in Flash's flabbergasted expression, Diana's attention was immediately riveted back to the Dark Knight, even though she tried to hide it as best she could. He was sitting straight up in his chair, but his shoulders were hunched a bit over the table, protecting his cards. His face was, as always, totally unreadable, and Diana had a feeling that he could have made a killing at poker if they ever played for money or something with more value than a few pretzel sticks.

She wasn't exactly sure why he ever showed up – he wasn't exactly a social creature and more often than not, he said less than ten words the entire night, usually consisting of "bet", "raise", and "ante". Somehow though, he always showed up, and he always managed to walk away with the majority of the pretzel sticks or potato chips before retreating back to Gotham and the mysterious Bat cave she'd heard tell about.

She had a feeling it was something in that mysterious demeanor that had initially intrigued her. Diana wasn't used to mysteries – everything on Themyscira was an open book. She had known her sisters for thousands of years, knew each and every one of them as a friend and confidant, a fellow warrior she'd trained and practiced with.

Sometimes she missed that, that feeling of camaraderie and sisterhood that had been so much a part of her time on Themyscira. Now her world was one of the unknown and the unusual; things were different than before and she was still acclimating, still adjusting. She didn't know the things that so many others did – simple things like Valentine's Day or Christmas.

But she did enjoy learning and that's what her time in Man's World had been all about so far – learning about the culture, the people, and about herself, her heart.

And then she realized that the others still at the table were looking at her and she flushed, embarrassed at having been caught daydreaming and in the midst of a reverie rather than paying attention to the game around her.

"Sorry," she said, smiling guiltily. "I will meet your bet and raise you ten additional pretzel sticks," she said as she plucked them out of her pile and threw them in the middle of the table. There was simply no way that she could lose on this hand, she thought with an inward smile. It seemed that the luck of the gods was with her this evening.

Without any hesitation, Batman threw his requisite amount of pretzels sticks into the middle, never even bothering to look up or speak a single word to the others gathered at the table. Diana glanced out of the corner of her eye at him, wondering what exactly he held in his hand to make him so confident. Then again, she mused, knowing him, he could have absolutely nothing in his hand and still bet just as assertively; it was simply the type of arrogant man that he was, always intent on proving that he was at the top of his game, no matter what the game was, even poker.

From across the table, J'onn murmured, "If you all do not mind, I shall be in the Monitor Womb."

"Awww, c'mon," Flash pleaded as he leaned back in his chair, propping up his feet on the table. "Just one more hand, J'onn?"

"I am sorry, Flash, but I believe that I am needed elsewhere," J'onn said quietly, standing and looking over at the scarlet speedster, his face as serious as it always was, and yet, there was something in it that made Diana stare at him for an extra long second, something that resembled a sparkle in the depths of his orange eyes as his eyes glanced from Batman to herself.

But before she could pinpoint exactly what was different about him, Flash interrupted her thought process, demanding excitedly as he tossed his cards into the air, "Is there a problem? A mission? Let me go!"

J'onn stared at him for a moment, his orange eyes glowing, and then stated, "We are needed in Central City."

"What about the rest of us?" John challenged, his back straightening as he snapped to attention.

"I believe that Flash and I can handle the situation, Green Lantern." And with that, he phased out through the wall towards the teleporters; Flash little more than a red streak as he raced through the doorway to follow J'onn, ready for whatever trouble faced him.

Diana looked around the table to the small group that was left, watching as Shayera stared out the door, her face lit with that battle readiness that only she seemed to be able raise so quickly and mercilessly. John too seemed to be utterly distracted, his body language telling her that he was there in body, but not necessarily in mind.

Batman, however, still sat, doing nothing more than looking at his cards. She wasn't even sure that he had looked up during the entire byplay between J'onn and Flash, instead just focusing on what was in front of him. She assumed that he simply didn't want to head out for any missions right now knowing that he was needed in Gotham later that evening, as always.

Otherwise, she knew, he would have been the first to volunteer, the unofficial leader taking them on yet another mission, leading them to another victory, just as he always did.

Instead, he was tonight going to lead himself to a victory here at the poker table, surrounded by those she thought he might just call friend. But then again, with Batman she could never be too sure exactly what was running through his mind. So instead, she turned her attention back to the game at hand, watching John as he decided what to do.

He grumbled a bit and finally laid his hand down on the table, aiming a surreptitious glance at Shayera as he said, "I'm going to call it a night too. Take over in the Monitor Womb until J'onn comes back."

"I'll join you," Shayera quickly added. "The stakes are getting a little rich for my blood." Diana watched as the two of them walked quickly out of the room, wondering to herself if perhaps the two of them would finally be able to overcome whatever obstacles lay between them and begin the relationship that she knew was what they each wanted.

And then she looked at the last remaining occupant of the room, smiling softly to herself as she realized that for once, they were alone, together, just the two of them and a world of possibilities, especially with the poker game still going. Something about him bespoke of a confidence that was typical in Batman, but somehow seemed a little different tonight, even more self-assured. And when she saw him tilt his head every so slightly towards the cards in his hands, she considered the fact that he quite possibly believed that he had a better hand than she did.

And she was willing to bet that he'd be wrong. In fact, she had a feeling that he didn't think much of her poker skills and perhaps tonight was the night to prove him wrong – in all aspects.

Taking another peek at her hand, she inwardly grinned and decided that this game had just taken a very interesting turn, one that she could potentially use for her own benefit.

And so, she decided to up the ante.

"Do you mind if we raise the stakes a little?" she asked him softly, glancing at him over the top of her cards.

"Anything particular in mind, Princess?" he returned, finally glancing over and letting their eyes meet. Well, her eyes met the lenses of his cowl, but still, she felt the connection spark between them, the desire and anticipation building in her stomach as she contemplated all that she could raise the stakes to, all the possibilities that lay before them.

"How about something a little more…interesting than pretzel sticks?" she inquired casually, raising an eyebrow at him as she placed her chin in her hand, giving the impression, she hoped, of casual interest rather than of the fire racing through her blood, pooling in her stomach and causing all her senses to tingle.

His eyes raked over her self-assured and poised form before quietly stating, "You seem pretty confident, Princess." He paused for a moment, his gaze once again traversing her body before continuing arrogantly, "But I'll win in the end."

"So you say, Batman," she replied with a smile creasing the edges of her lips. "But maybe this time I've got the upper hand in the game."

His lips quirked in what could almost pass for a smile and she could almost feel the attraction sparking between them, the current of electricity that arced between them as they sat side by side, each trying to outdo the other in what was about to become a high stakes game of poker.

The only question was the stakes.

And before he could make some type of arrogant return statement, she inquired archly, in what she hoped was a boldly flirtatious manner, "Is there anything in particular that you'd like to play for?"

"For instance?" he asked her, finally turning in his seat to give her his full attention, keeping his cards firmly hidden in his hand.

"Let's see," she began, and then named the first innocuous thing that came to her mind, hoping that he would immediately turn it down in favor of more interesting stakes.

"Our next shift on Monitor Duty?"

He looked at her with a face that somehow managed to convey disbelief and firm rejection without ever moving a muscle, his face remaining firmly set in its Batman lines.

"Let's see," she murmured, tapping a finger against her chin, "Is there something that you have in mind? Or am I to come up with something on my own?"

"You wanted to raise the stakes, Princess."

What should she do? She had asked herself that question so many times concerning this man – whether or not to make a move, whether or not to let him know that she cared about him, whether or not to boldly ask for that dance, the one she had promised him she would get after their time in Paris and Kasnia. And yet, even after this moment, she was wracked with indecision. Should she ask him for something simple – like taking off his cowl – or something a bit more provocative – like a kiss?

Leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs, she let the slightest of smiles cross her lips as she glanced down at her cards and then again at the man seated next to her, dominating the room with his dark, mysterious, and incredibly intriguing presence.

She bit her lip for a second, watching as he jerked with her movement, and suddenly inspiration struck.

And Diana decided to shoot for the moon.

"Let's play for wishes," she told him, reclining comfortably in her seat, incredibly interested in what his reaction would be to her proposition. No matter how he tried to hide what emotions and thoughts were flitting through his mind, she usually managed to decipher them and she hoped that this time would be no different.

"Wishes?" he asked, his expression arrested and she got the distinct feeling that underneath his cowl, he was blinking in surprise, apparently having expected something different as a request from her.

She delighted in surprising him – it was so rare. And to make that look flit across what little she could see of his face brought a smile to her lips and to her heart. Something about him touched her and she wanted to make him realize that, to bring those feelings out into the open, once and for all. And if it had to be through a game of poker, she was more than willing to take that chance, to open herself up – her emotions, her feelings, all the wishes that were floating though her; to make them concrete and real.

This was her chance to make her wishes come true.

"Wishes," she stated confidently, her back straightening unconsciously with the regal air that so clearly a part of her background, of Diana herself. "I believe that you're familiar with the term, Batman."

He muttered something indeterminable under his breath, the sound suspiciously like a growl before he gave her a hard look, stating, harshly, "What kind of wishes?"

"The usual kind," she answered with a broadening smile. And then, before he could launch into another series of indiscrete and indistinguishable mumbles, she continued, her mind having latched firmly onto her idea of betting on wishes, "How about a nice even number of wishes? Three, perhaps?"

He sat still for a moment, obviously reflecting on her idea, his mind considering all the possibilities, just as she had earlier. Only this time, she wasn't sure that he would consider her winning a positive; she wasn't sure that his mind, if he won, would leap to the same type of wishes that she had.

"Alright, Princess," he said, bowing his head slightly to show his acquiescence. "I agree to the new stakes."

Inwardly, her elation rose to propositions she'd never felt before, her body tingling with a knowledge and expectation that she hadn't felt since that night underneath the Parisian moon those long months ago. Outwardly though, she let the smile remain tight on her face, not wanting to let him know how eagerly she anticipated earning her winnings on this particular bet and having him fulfill her wishes, whatever she chose.

"Do you want an escape clause?" she asked him, her smile changing to a smirk that she knew would provoke him into accepting her bet at all costs. "In case I demand something of you that you are ill-prepared to give?"

"You're looking at the master of escape, Princess." He pushed his chair back a little from the table, the sound of the chair scraping against the floor echoing through the room.

"And you're sounding a little too cocky, Batman. Scared?" she questioned, tilting her head to the side a little and adopting a thoughtful look.

He let out what sounded suspiciously like a snort and flicked his cards up to shield his face.

"You first, Princess," he murmured, never letting her see the glimmer of a smile that teased his lips, hiding his expression behind the cards, knowing that she would fall into his trap.

Without hesitation, she laid her cards down on the table, leaving them up to show him the four queens peeking up from alongside the lone five. She gave him a smug smile before adding, "The luck of the gods was with me."

He laid his cards face down on the table, standing as he told her smiling face, firmly but briefly, "You win."

"But what did you have?" she asked quietly, wanting to see if she had bested him narrowly or completely: her warrior side demanded no less.

"Nothing," he murmured, "I was bluffing."

"But-"

"Diana," he retorted harshly, snapping her to attention. "What are your wishes?"

He stood there, looking utterly uncomfortable and obviously wondering what she wanted from him and she blurted out the first thing that came to her mind. "A kiss."

Batman seemed to go utterly still for a second, processing her wish and letting it seep into his system, letting conscious thought return to his brain after his initial reaction to kissing the luscious Amazon Princess currently seated in front of him. He strode over to the door to the room, shutting and quickly locking it while simultaneously disabling the camera feed of the room and rerouting it to the Batcave instead of the Monitor Womb. Everyone always thought of Clark as the Boy Scout, but he had long ago learned the value in anticipating every scenario and situation, in being prepared no matter how paranoid or farfetched the situation.

He looked across the room at the Amazon Princess, sitting in her chair, her legs crossed, and the vision nearly shut down his system and he wondered for a moment if perhaps escape wasn't the best plan of action here. And then he realized that he'd been running for too long, trying too hard to escape from the hold that Diana had on him without success.

It was time to face her, to face the connection, the spark that flared between them, and see just what that would translate to when actual physical contact was involved.

His heart nearly stopped at that thought.

And so, he pushed himself forward, somewhat unsteadily jerking his cowl back from his head and revealing the face that he had tried to hide from Diana, albeit unsuccessfully. She'd seen through the guise of Bruce Wayne with an immediacy that had sent him spirally into surprise. So few others had ever managed to determine his identity behind the mask and to have Diana do it in mere seconds after meeting him sans mask had amazed and shocked him.

But there was something about them, something about their pull, their connection that simply couldn't be denied, no matter how he had fought and lashed out at the bonds that held him to her. They'd held fast, only tightening with the months and the moments they'd spent together, the missions and the quiet times in the Monitor Womb.

He glanced at her shell-shocked face and noticed that she looked rather unsure for the brazen Amazon Princess he had come to know so well, the woman who had so confidently demanded that they raise the stakes of the game. And a part of him wondered that she wasn't just as nervous about finally facing this moment, even if it was little more than a kiss.

It had potential. It had possibilities. And it was time to take that chance.

He leaned down slowly, anticipation sliding along his spine and flowing through every vein as he faced his dream and his nightmare head on, gently making contact, teasing her lips with his own, brushing his lips across hers in series of short, soft kiss to get acclimated to one another. And then he set his lips firmly onto hers, letting the taste and feel of her seep into his mind, his bloodstream, his heart.

He brought his hand up to gently cup her cheek and felt her slide a hesitant hand around his neck, grasping the nape of his neck and pulling him ever so slightly closer as the seconds bore on and their closeness lingered. Deciding to take a chance, to explore the possibilities, he traced her lips with his tongue – long, slow sweeps that gave her a chance to either reject him or welcome him and finally, her mouth parted and he explored the wet honey of her mouth, letting their tongues caress and slide, getting to know one another as intimately as they could with only their mouths.

It was unlike any kiss that he'd had before, slow and sexy, but also hot and passionate, an echo of their feelings for one another, the pounding in each of their blood, the sparks that raced along their spines, and the quiet moments spent getting to know one another that had culminated in this, even if it had taken a poker game to bring it about.

Finally, after long minutes, he pulled back just slightly, bringing his left hand up to brush a soft finger across her closed eyelids before tucking her hair behind her ear, smoothing the strands that felt like watery silk running through his fingers.

"Does that satisfy, Princess?" he murmured in a raspy voice, still trying to catch his breath. His body stilled and rejoiced at her breathy return moan of "Yes," and his blood began to pulse, the beat quickening with every glimpse of her pleasured smile and her shining eyes, a the happiness and desire that lurked within them.

In an uncharacteristic move, he sat down in his chair again, pulling it towards her and placing his legs on the outside of hers, cocooning her between his muscled thighs and preserving the intimacy between them. Her mind raced at his action and she began to wonder if things were indeed changing, if he was opening up and perhaps even accepting that there was a connection that flared between them, some spark that even his mental prowess and stubbornness couldn't deny.

He reached over and stroked a gloved finger down her cheek before placing it under her chin, exerting a small amount of pressure until their blue eyes met, desire pulsing and leaping in the stillness around them. It felt for a moment as if they were alone, as if it were only the two of them in this little world and no one else; no monsters, no villains, no teammates, nothing but two people learning to love one another and show that affection in the quiet of a room set amongst the stars.

"What's your next wish, Princess?" he asked gruffly, the affection almost palpable in his words and she wanted to smile at the look in his eyes, the mixture of discomfort and overwhelming emotions, until she realized that the same things were reflected in her own blue eyes.

Diana swallowed and slowly let her hand rise until it gently took possession of the hand still on her chin, pulling it away and linking their fingers, letting their clasped hands rest on her knee as she pondered her next wish. The first wish she had requested had seen so many of her dreams come to life and she still wasn't sure if Morpheus had somehow snuck into her dreams and planted this wish, this fulfillment of what she wanted between herself and Bruce.

She wanted to pinch herself, but instead, she comforted herself with the feeling of Bruce's hands clasped in her, the texture of the gloves against her skin and the look in his eyes that told her that this was no dream.

And her next wish revealed itself to her.

"I want to know this: why now? What changed?" Diana asked him softly, gently squeezing his hand so that he understand that she was talking about them, about these last few moments and the fact that he was opening up to her, that he was willingly (somewhat) and almost easily showing his emotions.

"I've been fighting you for months, Princess, determined not to let you have any place in my life other than as a teammate."

Diana nodded, appreciating his honesty, but trying to mask her hurt at his words even though she had known this for months now, known that he was desperate to keep her safely out of his heart and his life, for whatever reasons he had decided so long ago. As they had grown steadily closer despite his wants otherwise, Bruce had pushed harder and harder at the bonds that connected them, forgoing missions and using harsh and hurtful words, anything to put out the spark and stop the fire before it reached raging propositions between them.

And for once in my life, no matter what I've done and how hard I've pushed you away, you're still there, inside me, nudging at my heart and pulling me closer to your beauty, your wit, to you." He gazed down at their clasped hands for a moment, letting Diana getting over the shock of hearing the analytical and hard assed Batman speak from the heart for once rather than once again retreating, pulling himself into his shell and ridding himself of the emotions and feelings that surrounded him.

"You don't give up, Princess, and I refuse to fight a losing battle. So I'm victorious in defeat," he added, his lips tilting up at the corners and his eyes alighting on the cards that lay on the kitchen table, signifying his ultimate defeat, in poker and to her.

He leaned forward, kissing her again, a little more heatedly this time, before pulling back resting his forehead on hers and asking, "And your third wish?"

She smiled softly, leaning back and running her free hand over his tousled hair, pondering what she should ask him for with this, the last of her wishes. Potentials ebbed and flowed from her mind as she considered the best way to use up the last of her wishes, particularly since this was the first time that she had seen this side of Bruce, that she had been able to witness the easy, charming smile and the softness that was an innate part of his nature that he strived so hard to hide from the world, even from her. But that seemed to be over, at least for now. And she wished that it could last, but she knew that was impossible – he still had to be Bruce Wayne, still had to be Batman, still had to be all the sides and facets of the man that she loved.

Diana wasn't sure how to answer him, what to ask for now that everything between them was going so well, now that the intimacy and affection had been allowed to bloom and grow rather than hiding in its usual secrecy.

Looking down at their linked hands, she smiled. "And if I told you that my third wish was to see your cards…?"

He looked slightly taken aback by her request, his gaze sliding over towards the cards that he had lain face down on the table before returning to her blue eyes. Their faces only inches apart; he let the corner of his mouth curve as he answered, "I'd tell you not to waste your wishes."

Thoughtfully, she glanced at his cards one last time before letting their eyes meet again, but this time she could see something hidden in the depths of his, something that told her that he was never going to let her see what hand he had held. She turned suspiciously towards him, her mouth opening on an accusation when she heard a noise coming from his cowl and saw his face change, watched as his eyes and mouth settled into the harsh lines of determination and tenacity that were part and parcel of the Batman mask. He pulled the cowl up to his ear, listening to whatever message was coming in through the ear piece. "I'm on my way," he said, his voice deepening into that tenor that he used when he had, in actuality or subconsciously, put the cowl back on and assumed the guise of Batman.

"Diana, I -" he began, his eyes filled with contrition even as she could tell that, in his mind, he was already out the door, solving his next mystery and catching the criminal responsible this time for wracking havoc in Gotham City.

"Go," she responded, giving his hand a squeeze before relinquishing it, letting him leave in order to be the man that she had first fallen in love with, the hero who put everyone else ahead of himself, particularly the denizens of Gotham.

He stood, immediately moving towards the exit before hesitating as he unlocked the door, simultaneously restoring the video feed to the Monitor Womb, and glancing back at the Princess with the slightly dreamy cast to her regal and beautiful face, he added, "Just hold on to that last wish, Princess."

Diana smiled as he disappeared through the door, on his way back to Gotham and whatever trouble awaited him there. Night would be falling in the city, she mused, and it could be hours before he would be able to return, if indeed he didn't just keel over with exhaustion.

Her eyes alighted on the cards he had, surprisingly, left on the table, and she decided that it had to be some incredibly urgent situation or utter emergency for him to be so careless with them. She stood, heading over to the table, her fingers just touching the cards when she heard his voice over the comm-link in her ear, "And Diana? I wasn't bluffing."

Turning the cards up, a smile burgeoning on her face at his arrogant words as she looked in stunned amazement down at the cards.

Four kings and a seven.


Reviews, Criticism, Comments - all of them appreciated!

I wrote this for a Valentine's fic contest on the Heroes forum (my homepage.) If you love the world of DC comics, check it out! Plus, I imagine we'll have another contest in March...