Author's note: Insert normal disclaimers here, please. Again, while not a sequel to either of my other stories, since I thought of it after the others, it is next in the series of my Batman/Wonder Woman relationship pieces.
What you are/Is missing a piece/What you are/Is a puzzle to me: Dave Matthews Band
She had said that she would be in the cave when he returned from patrol. She was not. In the world of super heroes, being late for an appointment was neither unusual or note-worthy. However, Batman had been looking forward to seeing her.
You've got work to do anyway, he thought. His post-patrol routine had changed of late from processing and restocking to romps with his Amazonian princess and it was probably too regular for either of them to get any work done. So, he processed and he restocked and considered recently crime trends, looking for a pattern.
When he was done, the clock suggested it was nearly sunrise. He quickly calculated how much sleep he could get before he was due for his first Wayne Enterprise meeting. He sighed and rubbed his eyes.
It's been worse, he thought.
He stood, removed his cowl and prepared to enter the mansion when he heard Diana coming through her normal entrance.
"Good morning, Princess," he said before he could actually see her.
"How do you do it?" she asked, walking into the cave. She was wearing a short blue dress that accented her eyes perfectly and a matching pair of strappy sandals. "How do you stay up all day and then all night? I could sleep for a week and I slept well last night."
She kissed him gently and sat down in an empty chair. She slipped her shoes off so that they were only on her toes and began to rub her ankles.
"First of all, I do not go out with Queen Audrey," he said dryly, "which makes a difference."
"I wear more comfortable shoes."
Diana laughed. "Oh, that reminds me," she said. She opened her handbag and handed Batman a cream envelope. "Batman has been invited to Audrey's wedding. She asked me to see that you got it. You and I are the only two League members invited. Lantern and J'onn will probably be relieved but Flash will be heart broken."
The Dark Knight held the envelope as if he thought it might explode. "She doesn't expect me to accept, does she?"
Diana looked serious. "Of course she does. But don't go. I am convinced she is going to try to unmask you. I may be wrong but don't risk it."
He glared at her. Diana shrugged her shoulders.
"When it comes to parties, she is as spoiled as she was when I met her. In a lot of ways, she has grown up and matured, but not in terms of this wedding. She is marrying for love and she wants the party of the century. She is going to do whatever it takes to make it unforgettable. Repercussions really don't bother her."
"That is what worries me."
He was never pushed on the topic, but if he was, Bruce Wayne would have to admit that he believed that as a country, Kasnia was more trouble than it was worth. The same could be said for its queen. She and Diana were good friends and violent conflicts in Kasnia had reduced dramatically in number but there too much trouble per square mile coming out of the country.
Queen Audrey had recently become engaged to Prince Gergely who was the second in line for the throne of Kasnia's Southern neighbor. He was of noble birth but there was little risk of his becoming king of his home country and therefore, there were no obvious problems with the two of them marrying. The rebels in the north were displeased that she was marrying someone with what appeared to be sympathetic ties to the southern fighters but no formal protests had arisen from the announcement.
Diana was asked to be a member of the wedding party – a move that even Diana acknowledged was as much to generate buzz as a sign of their friendship but she accepted. Audrey clearly meant to use the wedding as a means to get positive coverage for the country.
"Well, please don't see anything in this, but I am going to say good night," Diana said standing up. "I am exhausted, I smell like cigarette smoke and heaven only knows what else and I need to get out of these shoes. Can I get a rain check on tonight?"
Batman kissed her tenderly. "You could use a shower," he agreed.
Diana glared at him then smiled and left the same way she came in. Batman was asleep 15 minutes later.
When Alfred entered Bruce's bedroom later that morning with coffee and the paper, there was a cream-colored envelope on top of the newspaper. This one, with its striking resemblance to the invitation Diana had given him last night, was addressed to Bruce Wayne.
"She must have invited the Forbes Top 100," he said to Alfred when he opened the invitation and confirmed what he already knew. He was invited to a royal wedding. And he was invited to a tour of new and improved research facilities at Kasnia University the morning before the ceremony. He looked at the special insert and smiled at Alfred.
"I'll bet Batman didn't get invited to the tour," he said reaching for his coffee.
"I suspect you are right, sir," Alfred said. "Will you be attending then?"
Bruce considered for a moment. It was an excuse to check out how things were going in Kasnia and perhaps curb any trouble before it started. And the more Diana and Bruce Wayne were seen meeting together in public, the better it would be should a time come when they wanted to go public with their relationship.
When you want to go public, his inner voice corrected.
"Assuming my calendar isn't too crowded, I will go," he said. "I ought to talk to some of the Wayne Enterprise researchers to see if there is anything worth investing in at Kasnia University."
"Very good, sir. Shall I handle the gift arrangements?"
"Wait until after I speak to the researchers. If I am going to spend a lot of money at the university, that is going to have to do as their gift."
"Very good, sir," Alfred said and left Bruce to begin his morning routine.
"Are you kidding me? I nearly died because of that stupid country and I don't get an invite?" Flash hollered at the staff meeting later that evening. Diana had mentioned the invitation and had asked if there was anything in Kasnia that might be worth investigating while she was there.
"Flash! That isn't why we do things," Green Lantern barked at the Speedster. When Flash pouted, Lantern sighed. "Go as Diana's date. I, however, am glad to be spared."
"Oh! That's a great idea. Can I?" Flash asked Diana.
She gave Lantern a dirty look but then turned to Flash. "I am not allowed to bring a date. The best man, Andris, is single and so Audrey wants me to keep him company."
"What do we know about the wedding party?" Batman asked. Since no one knew of anything in Kasnia worthy of note, he hadn't mentioned his invitations. In fact that was the first thing he had said at the meeting, now 45 minutes old.
Superman turned to Batman. "That is a good point. We probably ought to check them out. Queen Audrey has surrounded herself with questionable people in the past."
"Excuse me?" Diana said, half-joking.
"Present company excluded, of course," Superman amended.
"I don't know the entire group, but I can easily find out," Diana offered.
"Everyone needs to keep their ears open about Kasnia. With that country, just because we don't know something is going on doesn't mean there isn't anything going on," Superman said.
"Can I get an 'amen'?" Flash said with a sly grin.