I need so/To stay in your arms see you smile hold you close/And it weighs on me: Dave Matthews Band
Diana returned fifteen minutes later in a black cocktail dress. The party was back in full swing, although the crowd was smaller. Flash was enjoying himself, eating and dancing with bridesmaids. Bruce was mingling with the dwindling crowd of extremely rich people who had taken part in the earlier tour. She decided she would join Flash before chatting with Bruce when Andris joined her.
"I can't believe you did all that!" he said, clearly still a little shaken by everything that had just occurred.
She had no response so she just looked at him waiting for him to continue. He took a deep breath, clearly still trying to calm himself.
"Thank you. Thank you for protecting us," he said finally.
"Of course," she said lightly.
"I had heard from Audrey about how you had helped her but I had no idea. I guess I just needed to see it to believe it," he said.
Diana felt her smile fade a bit. She had heard that tone of voice before but not from him. It instantly separated them. She wasn't a person anymore. She was a hero. He was a fan. A sense of unworthiness flowed off him that Diana found repellant. One of the reasons why she and Audrey had remained friends was because the queen had attached to the person and not the powers. Diana sighed. She treasured the idea of friends outside the League and as time passed, she realized it was nearly impossible.
Flash joined the pair. "Hey guys," he said warmly. "Is this a great party or what?"
Andris gushed over Flash for a bit which Flash seemed to enjoy but eventually, Andris wandered back to the wedding party who were clumped together chattering quietly. Flash smiled at Diana.
"Hope I wasn't interrupting," he whispered. "Bats said you needed help losing the puppy." He nodded towards the bridal party. "How are they holding up, you think?"
Diana considered. To her, it hadn't been particularly challenging. But she understood that her "normal" and their "normal" were completely different.
"They will be all right," she said. "They didn't actually see anything and they really were not in any real danger. More than, perhaps, they are used to, but nothing real."
Flash grinned. "Ah, but they think they were. There is at least one bridesmaid who thinks I saved her life. And she thinks I'm hot."
Diana looked at him, a bit confused. "But she doesn't know what you look like."
Flash looked wounded but then winked at her. "I know. Isn't it cool?" he said and wandered back over to the bridal party.
The bride and groom made their departure 45 minutes later. Diana and Andris were left to perform maid of honor and best man duties. As far as Diana could tell, that primarily consisted of making sure the bridal party and the guests were sober enough to get to their rooms. She also made sure those guests who were leaving were being driven or flown away from the castle by someone else. She realized she hadn't seen Flash or Bruce leave.
Finally, when Diana and Andris were the only two guests left, he brought her a glass of wine and motioned to a couple of chairs. They sipped in silence for a few moments as they watched the staff cleaning up after the party.
Finally, Andris broke the silence.
"I think it was a good party," he said blandly.
"It was," Diana answered quickly. "Audrey and Gergely seemed happy. I am sure their honeymoon will be quite the celebration."
They sat in silence for a few more minutes when finally Andris excused himself and headed off to his room. Diana finished off her wine and then left the room.
Figuring that he was no longer welcome at the brunch the following morning, Bruce decided that he would head back to Gotham that evening. Diana had been busy with various duties and had not been able to talk to her. He made sure he slipped away unobserved; he changed back into Batman and flew the Batplane back to the Cave.
He wandered around the Cave, not particularly interested in his work when his cell phone rang. He recognized the number.
"Bruce Wayne here," he said.
"Bruce! Where are you?" Queen Audrey said. "I saw you after the little incident but now you are gone! I wanted to let you know that we still want you at the brunch tomorrow even though obviously Peterlin will not be there."
"That would be fine. I am looking forward to it," he said.
And realized he was.
Diana unlocked the door to her room, trying to decide if a long bath was what she wanted or if she just wanted to go to sleep. Neither sounded right.
"You're keeping late hours," she heard a familiar voice say with a bit of a smirk.
He was sitting in a straight back chair in a dark corner of her room. He actually was dressed as Bruce Wayne but it was the Batman voice he was using. Diana actually found the combination quite desirable.
She smiled and decided to play along. She took off her shoes. "You should talk," she said. "Are you checking up on me?"
"Yes," he said, softly, standing up and crossing over to her. "I wanted to make sure you were alone tonight."
She smiled seductively at him. "And why would that matter to you?"
He smiled back. "Because it would be a terrible waste and I would want to rectify it immediately."
When he kissed her, she decided that perhaps a little jealously, while stupid and pointless, wasn't all bad. She noticed he had a small black duffel bag under the chair and she laughed to herself.
A knock on the door woke them both the following morning.
"Diana," Andris voice called through the door. "The brunch is still on. You need to be downstairs in an hour."
"Invite him in," Bruce whispered to her.
She smacked him lightly on the chest. "Grow up," she hissed.
"Thank you," she called to Andris. "I'll be there."
They listened as his footsteps continued down the hallway. A moment later, they heard him giving another room a similar reminder.
Diana rolled over so she was facing Bruce and propped herself up on her elbow and rested her head on her hand. "I don't want to go to brunch," she said with a groan.
"I have to go," Bruce said with a sly grin. "The queen invited me personally."
"Did she," Diana said in a teasing tone. "Whatever did you do to gain such favor?"
"Hum," Bruce said lightly, walking his fingers up her side. "I am not sure I should tell you."
Diana smiled at him, a vision of innocence and understanding. "Well, I am only a princess. I understand that queens get special favors."
Bruce growled in mock anger and the two wrestled playfully for a few minutes before they realized they needed to get ready for the brunch.
Before they left for the brunch, Diana kissed Bruce tenderly. Then she slipped out into the hallway and walked towards the reception hall. The hallway was empty. She activated her communicator.
"Hallway clear," she said and turned it off. A few moments later she heard the door open and the familiar sound of Bruce's footsteps.
The brunch was dull, just as Diana was sure it would be. The bridal party members were too tired and, in some cases hung-over, so the conversation was light. Bruce, who Audrey had placed between Diana and the queen, had laughed when he saw his place card. Diana did not understand why.
Andris was across the table from her.
Bruce primarily spoke to Audrey, Andris spoke to Gergely who was sitting next to him and Diana made small talk with the groomsman on her other side.
Bruce gave her a quick farewell at the brunch table before he returned to Gotham. Andris said goodbye quickly and quietly. He clearly was more afraid of her now than he had ever been interested. Once again, Diana felt the sadness of a friendship lost.
She was thrilled when the event was over and Audrey and Gergely left for their honeymoon. She packed in a matter of seconds and was transported back to the Watchtower.
When Batman walked into the conference room for the staff meeting the following morning, Flash and Diana were once again looking at a newspaper and laughing. Flash was laughing so hard, the exposed portion of his face had turned red. Diana was not laughing as hard but clearly was trying to keep up. In fact, Batman realized that she was only laughing as a cover for Flash.
"Bats!" Flash laughed. "Look! Now the paper has you and Wondy as a couple! As if!" Flash slid the paper over and there was a photo of the two of them leaving the brunch together. The caption suggested that Diana had "left" the duke for Bruce.
Superman, Green Lantern and J'onn arrived before Batman had time to do anything other than glare at Flash. When Superman saw the photo he smiled and teasingly suggested she looked happier when she was photographed with Andris. Lantern agreed. J'onn looked at Batman with an expression he could not immediately place but said nothing. The meeting was underway.
After briefing the team on the relevant events from Kasnia, Batman leaned over the table slightly.
"Whoever was funding those two will find someone else to fund. I need to deduce what the purpose of the research was and who would want it for what. This cannot slide off the radar. This will come back."
On that note, Superman adjourned the meeting. As Batman made his usual bolt for the door Diana said "Batman, a minute if you please."
"Only if it is a minute. I've got work," he snarled.
They waited silently for the room to empty out. Batman glared at Diana who looked mildly bored.
When they were alone, Diana looked at him for a moment.
"That is why the gossip about Andris didn't bother me," she said. "Because no one believed that and no one believes you and I could be together. It gave us some cover in case we were photographed."
He looked at her but didn't say anything.
"I just wanted you to know," she said. "I don't know how long we will be together. I hope a long time. But I am going to have male friends. You need to know however, that my heart is as loyal as the rest of me."
Again, he didn't answer but his body language told her he was processing everything.
"We can't be in here too long," she said and walked towards the door. "I'll see you soon."
"Diana," he said finally. His voice was gruff but not angry, more desperate and unsure.
She turned and smiled.
"I know. I love you too," she said just before the doors opened.
AN: I hope you enjoyed it. My life is crazy now so the next story which will be a sequel to both this and "Seven Days" but it will be slow in coming.