Back with another chapter of my favorite couple in the DC Universe! And hopefully my writing hiatus is over! I'd love to know what you guys think I should pick back up next – what story do you want to see updated the most???
Unbetaed. My beta doesn't have any internet right now! See what moving does to you, people???
Chapter 6: Tango Maureen
"Wait! She's three hours late…" – Rent
He glanced down at his watch, his blue eyes resting on the ivory face as he watched the seconds slowly pass off, the tension that rose with each tick almost palpable and he wondered what had possessed him to agree to this evening. Finally succumbing to the nerves dancing through his stomach, he ran tensed fingers through his hair, combing the jet black strands and letting his eyes close for a minute as he remembered the reason that he was here tonight, subjecting himself to this torture that others would call "a date"
A smile lingered on the edges of his lips as he remembered the last time that he had seen Diana, wearing her battle regalia as she pierced Cheetah with that look of arrogance and aggression that seemed almost innate to her. And truly, those characteristics were a part of Diana, a piece of her that stemmed from her years on Themyscira and the warrior culture that she had been raised with. She had never been one to let herself take second place and Bruce could see the light of battle in her eyes every time they found themselves taking on a villain, no matter how small or insignificant they might appear to the general public. Diana put herself on the line, full steam ahead, for everyone that they encountered who threatened the safety and existence of not only her home, Themyscira, but the new home that she had made here in Man's World as well.
It took courage to do what she had done, to deprive herself of one home in search of ideals and truths, the never ending fight that few in this world could understand other than the select group that had taken it upon themselves to become "heroes".
How he hated that word.
And he knew that Diana shared those sentiments – she didn't consider herself a hero, but simply a woman who did what was right in the circumstances where it was most needed, most necessary. She had been born into a dichotomous culture of peace and war, raised among women who wielded swords and slings just as they wielded the powers of truth and justice, always believing that those qualities would triumph in the end.
Diana was a woman who held in her palms war and peace and tried her best to use her judgment to exercise each when necessary. She had left her home in order to save it and in doing so, had lost that same home.
And while he hadn't been part of Themyscira, didn't always understand the culture in which she had been raised, he understood like few other could how losing her ties to home had ripped her heart out of her chest. And no matter how much time had passed, he knew that the wounds were still fresh to Diana.
That he understood without words, without any acknowledgement of the fact. It was simply implicit between them, that they'd both lost something precious. Perhaps it had even helped to lead them to each other, if one believed in fate.
He did, however, see the connection between the two of them. Diana had become a hero in the eyes of the world when she had left Themyscira, a woman warrior whose strength and smile had captured the hearts, and lusts, of many. He, however, had been forged on a dark night when he'd knelt by the bodies of his parents, watching the creamy pearls of his mother sprinkle and spray across the blood soaked pavement as a tear slowly slid down his face, shock in his every motion as he'd heard the sound of gunfire blast through his memory, filling his mind and shutting down his heart.
Batman had been born of the night and of terror. Wonder Woman had been born of sun and steel, the culture of the Amazons.
And yet, they'd come together, slowly but surely gravitating to each other, no matter how hard he had tried to fight his attraction. It was more than physical – there was something in her smile, but he also found himself drawn to the woman who put herself on the line time after time and yet, still maintained that same smile, never letting it fade or weaken as they continued to fight and fight, without any sort of true ending in sight.
Shaking his head slightly, he stared across the table at the empty seat that faced him. A single candle flickered and sputtered, ensconced in a fluted bowl, and he fought the urge to check his watch again, knowing that it certainly wasn't helping the situation.
His expression vacant, he glanced once again at the empty seat before forcing his eyes to the survey the room, preferring to look at anything that wouldn't continually spark his nerves like that unoccupied seat. Unaccustomed to nerved dominated his body, he wondered what was it about this time, about this woman, that made things so different, that made him feel so differently.
He'd decided early on, when he'd first donned the mask, to dedicate his life to being Batman, to fighting the horrors of Gotham, and with that decision, he'd known that any life outside the cape and cowl would be severely curtailed.
Gotham came first. It always had come first. Always would.
Even tonight, he knew that after this dinner, he would again become the Dark Knight of Gotham, quietly striking terror into the hearts of any that threatened his home and the little bit of security he'd managed to eke out within his city.
And that priority, that rigid sense of discipline, while it hadn't made him shun a social life or an active sexual life, it had changed the way that he viewed the women who entered his life. There were few he had trusted with his dual identity and fewer still would could handle the revelation and all that baggage and emotional burden that came with it. That, indeed, was a lesson that he had learned through years of entanglements and failed relationships.
But this time, they were both going in with eyes wide open. And perhaps that was the difference, the fact that she not only knew, but she supported him in his mission to protect Gotham. She understood the meaning of home, of what it could mean and what lengths a person would go to in order to ensure its safety and protection.
She raised her fists and her strength in the name of Themyscira and he in the name of Gotham. She would never demand that he curtail his life in the darkness and depths of Gotham, but rather, he knew that if he were ever to ask, she would join him in battle, fighting at his side just as she did with the League.
And the woman was a formidable ally and opponent, both sides of which he appreciated and, somehow, cared for.
His lips twisted into a self deprecating smile as he admitted those words to himself – he did truly care for this woman. And that, he supposed, was the ultimate reason that he had let himself venture into this relationship. Even with his eyes open and his secrets out upfront, he knew that they still had a future together that was full of potential minefields and troubled spots, just like any relationship. But there's had the added element of danger and most certainly the potential for death or disaster to strike at any time.
They'd never be a normal couple. But then again, they'd always known that. Whoever entered into a relationship with either of them would always have fears, trepidations, worries that something could happen – but in their case, there was a mutual understanding and appreciation alongside those other emotions.
Originally, when he'd realized that he was beginning to care for Diana, he'd struggled to push her away, to find reasons for their relationship to never take flight, to never even gain any ground. He'd told himself that he was pushing her away for her own good and for the good of his cause, but even then, a part of him had known that he was running scared, that he'd simply been pushing her away to make sure that his heart remained intact and whole.
Diana, of course, in her typical fashion, had continued on in her mild flirtations, continued to act the part of friend and confidant, showing him without actually saying it that she was a fixture in his life, someone important to share things with, whether it was a smile at the end of a battle or a kiss in the middle of an Indian restaurant while they were on the run.
She'd simply taken his recalcitrant attitude in style and, never pushing, had shown him that her feelings, and his, weren't going to dissipate simply because he didn't want to acknowledge him. Slowly, she'd shown him that, indeed, they were something that he couldn't purge and couldn't help but go along with and try to control.
And so, thanks to her stubbornness, her obstinacy that might even rival his own, he was sitting here, staring at his watch and watching the seconds slowly tick by, the pounding beginning to echo in his ears the longer she took to arrive.
The logical part of him realized that Diana could be late for a multitude of reasons, including her work as Wonder Woman, but somehow, he couldn't seem to grasp onto that and keep it foremost in his thoughts. Nerves dancing up his spine, he shifted, trying to alleviate the unfamiliar sensation as he noticed the waiter approaching, his expression somewhat pitying and overall ingratiating.
"Are you awaiting a guest, sir?" the waiter asked, his brown eyes lit with a curiosity that Bruce couldn't help but be irritated by. Clamping down on his feelings, he simply replied, his charming social smile coming to the forefront, "Yes. She should be arriving shortly."
Then, rolling his eyes slightly, he engaged the waiter in a shared smile, "Women."
The waiter nodded, his understanding apparent as a twinkle lit his eye. "Shall I bring you a drink while you wait, sir?"
Bruce shook his head, knowing that he wouldn't have anything stronger than water tonight, but preferring to wait until Diana had arrived before ordering anything. For all he knew, she had run into some trouble and it could be some time before she arrived.
Leaning back in his chair, he looked the epitome of the handsome playboy that the tabloids claimed him to be, dressed to dazzle in formal black. Inside, however, he began to run through the active criminal list, analyzing the intel and data that he'd put together the evening before, after he'd returned from patrol.
Unfortunately, his musings were interrupted by a memory, by a flash of a smile that had become imprinted on his brain. It was a smile of smug satisfaction, one that had lit her face as she had began to hum a familiar tune, a song that he equated with the night that he'd spent frantic over her. It wasn't often that he tangled with sorceresses, particularly one as infamous as Circe, but he couldn't find it in himself to regret any action that he'd taken that night, particularly since it had been, in hindsight, so easy to make the decision to do anything to save Diana.
Sacrificing his dignity seemed to be the least he could do. He didn't have her strength, her gifts blessed by the gods, but he had a reputation and an analytical mind and that night, he had used his strengths in order to satisfy the witch.
And as he had watched her walk down the hall, the soft echo of her humming trailing behind her, he'd realized how well they knew each other, how deeply they'd become ingrained in one another's lives.
So many times in the Watchtower, he'd heard men like Flash and Green Arrow discussing Diana's looks, her bountiful charms, and her beauty, but he knew that those men didn't see the side of her that he did. He saw a warrior who split from her clan in order to save them, who stood for what was right no matter the odds or the danger, a woman who smiled with patience and hit first and asked questions later. He couldn't help but care for a woman who stood up to him, argued passionately with him, when so many others couldn't even look him in the eye.
He lived as Batman on their fear, but he admired those who discarded his reputation and stood toe to toe with him. Who couldn't admire a woman who wore a ball gown and battle regalia with equal panache?
Somehow, he had a feeling that if Diana had ever actual shown any interest in a man like Flash, Wally would have been shocked to his toes, unable to handle the warrior woman that was Diana. A small part of Bruce was still unsure if he could handle her in his life, both as Batman and as Bruce Wayne.
To his surprise, he hadn't completely worked out mentally how they were going to proceed in this relationship, particularly with his dichotomous lifestyle and their mutual notoriety, but perhaps with a little patience and a good public relations story, they could work something…
And then a figure appeared in his vision, framed in candlelight and shadows, a smile in her eyes and an apology on her lips as she murmured, "Sorry I'm late…"
Next chapter ???
I'm still not quite sure where to go with this story, so I want some input!
A: A wonderful and romantic evening. You know, that fantasy date that few of us ever manage to actually achieve. Or, at the very least, a great first date.
B: An evening that's going well, little touches of romance and sweetness, interrupted by the appearance of some villain hoping for a little chaos and cash. Pick your villain.
C: Something else! And no, Bruce screwing things up isn't an option!