Before you read:
Actaeon is the unfortunate mortal who accidentally found Artemis, one of the virgin goddesses, bathing naked. He was turned into a stag and eaten by his hunting dogs for bragging about seeing the goddess in the nude.
This takes place the same night as the last chapter, though they are now in Wayne Manor, not on some craggy mountain ledge.
Please review. I like reading and replying to them. Thanks!
The Starry Nights:
You are my shining star, Don't you go away
I want to be right here where you are, Until my dying day
I'll never leave you lonely, Give my love to you only
It feels so good when we're lying here next to each other lost in love
When we touch, Love you so much, You're all I ever dreamed of
-The Manhattans, Shining Star
Bruce turned over and looked at the woman lying next to him. The light shining from the windows made her skin glow in the darkness, and the small smile that rested on her lips made her look even more radiant. He kissed her shoulder, and then pulled the covers over her sleeping form.
Just as his foot hit the ground, her voice broke through the night.
The eyes she turned on him looked slightly frightened and more than a little hurt.
"I just needed to get a drink of water. Do you want anything?"
Her sigh of relief was audible. "No. Hurry back."
Returning with a glass, Bruce climbed back into the bed. "For a second there, I thought you were leaving me."
He just stared at her, thinking that if it were up to him, he never would.
"There will be times when I will have to leave. But not tonight."
She scooted over to his side of the bed, and rested her head on his shoulder. "I can't fall asleep. I keep thinking about everything that happened tonight—the picnic, the stars, the ring" she began to blush "…everything."
"It was pretty nice."
Diana buried her face into his neck, so he couldn't see her as she made a highly embarrassing admission.
"I'm so relieved to hear you say that. I was scared that…well, I don't know what I was scared of, but I was."
"Diana, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. I love you, I'm in love with you, and—
He made sure she was looking at him before continuing.
"You were wonderful."
Diana laughed in relief.
"Really, though I'm surprised that an Amazon would need my approval."
"If we were sparring, I wouldn't have asked for your opinion. But this was no battle, and this wasn't just about me."
"And it wasn't just about me either. Are you happy with your decision?" She heard him swallow as he waited for her answer.
Diana replied by kissing him softly on the mouth.
She sat up and stretched her left arm out in front of her, alternating glances between her ring and Bruce. "I still can't believe you gave me this."
"I've been meaning to for a while now."
"What took you so long?"
"You're Wonder Woman."
"I have wanted you to ask me since that first night we visited those highlands."
"Then why did you make me wait so long?"
"Just because I wanted to be with you forever, didn't mean that you did. I needed to know that if I joined myself to you, you wouldn't walk away."
"It's just sex."
She looked at him as if he had just slapped her. "Is that all it was to you?"
He was too stunned to answer her.
"If it were just 'sex' for me, then I would have slept with you long ago. But I wanted something more than that. I'm sorry that you didn't get as much out of it as I did."
Diana's back went ramrod straight, as she pulled the covers tightly around her. She was just about to get up when he pulled her to him, crushing her in an embrace that would have injured any other woman's ribs.
Even if he had tried, Bruce wasn't sure that he could have explained what their union had meant to him. His first time with Diana went beyond words; it was one of the few things his mind couldn't quantify. In that blissful moment, more than their bodies had been joined. He was convinced that his heart had been united with hers, and right now, because she was hurting, so was he.
"No, Diana, it was not just sex."
And because he couldn't say any more, he took her face between his hands. Their eyes met as he began to lightly kiss her face over and over. And when he stilled her trembling lips with his own, he hoped that, though she couldn't hear them, she would at least feel his professions of contrition and devotion.
Needless to say, Diana was soon overcome.
As they lied peacefully in one another's arms, Bruce offered his apologies again, though in a significantly less desperate manner.
"I'm really sorry, Diana."
"You can make it up to me by telling me what you named my stars and constellation."
Sensing his embarrassment, Diana tried to encourage him. "I'll love it no matter what."
Still he sat there mute.
Hoping to draw the names from his lips, she whispered against them, "Pretty please."
"Bruce Wayne and Batman aren't supposed to be sappy."
"And neither one of them would have made a life-long commitment to me. You've come a long way, Bruce. And you are not sappy. Romantic and thoughtful, yes, but never sappy. Besides, naming the stars after different parts of my body hardly qualifies as sappy."
"I did not name the stars after your body parts!"
She looked at him expectantly.
He cleared his throat before continuing. "I named them after my ten favorite things about you, but I gave them Greek names, in honor of your heritage."
"I thought you got me eight."
"Two of them are binary stars."
He cleared his throat again before brusquely reciting the names in a perfect Grecian accent: Tharsos, Sophia, Pneuma, Dunamis, Euprepeia, Philanthropia, Semnotes, Alethes, and Gelos.
Her eyes started shining as she quietly uttered, "See, romantic and thoughtful." With a stronger voice, she added, "But you only listed nine. What is the name of the last one?"
At that she started laughing. "But you said-"
"I said I didn't name them all after the parts of your body. That is not the same thing as naming one star after all of your body."
"And the name of the constellation?"
"Have I ever told you that I love you?"
When he wouldn't look at her, she brushed his hair away from his face, and moved her face so close to his, he could feel her exhalations. As she peered into his eyes, she softly spoke her forgiveness and apologies. "Bruce, stop feeling badly about earlier. It was a very beautiful and highly emotional experience for me, and when you said that, I overreacted, that's all. Please forgive me."
"It was a stupid thing for me to say, especially since I don't really believe it. I'm glad you made me wait for you. It makes this--"
He tightened his arms around her
"So you finally admit that you've said something stupid?"
"It's hard to think straight when I'm around you, especially when you're naked."
"Well, you fared much better than Actaeon. At least you aren't dead."
When Bruce looked at her, the desire and insinuation she saw in his eyes gave her goose bumps, which he of course noticed. To her delight he started trailing his hands down her arms, before his lips began a full-on assault of her neck.
"No, I'm not dead, but not through any help of yours, Diana."
Feeling empowered, she decided to tease him back. "Perhaps we should stop. I'm not sure you could handle any more."
"I'm not complaining. There are worse ways to die."
She left the circle of his arms, and covered herself with the sheet. "Well, I would hate for Gotham to lose its hero."
"Some sacrifices must be made. At least I would lose my life for a noble cause."
He raised his arms to reach for the cover.
"Aren't you tired?"
Bruce dropped his hands to his sides, so that Diana knew he was giving her question the consideration and attention that it deserved.
"I have spent my entire adult life fighting crime at night, and pushing my body past endurance during the day. I have mastered every form of martial arts known to man, practicing hour after hour to increase my stamina and strength. I have lived through the most tiring of conditions, forcing myself to work through the freezing cold, scorching heat, broken bones, wounded limbs, various sicknesses, insomnia, and many other things that would have killed a lesser man. And now the woman that I've loved for the past two years, the woman who has been mercilessly teasing and taunting me, the woman who until about two hours ago was my virgin girlfriend, is lying naked in my bed. Do I look tired to you?
She laughed. "Not exactly."
"Besides, it's only one right now. I'm accustomed to working until daybreak."
With that he reached for the sheet again.
"We're just getting started."
Diana raised her hands to the sky. "Hera, help me," she jokingly pleaded before throwing the sheet aside.
"I think you meant Aphrodite."
As he pulled her back into his arms, his lips made it impossible for her to answer him. But before Bruce demonstrated to her just how "untired" he really was, she was able to offer up a quick prayer to all of her goddesses.
And that's the end of that.
I used Strong's Concordance to find the meaning of these words. It's actually New Testament Greek (circa 1st century A.D. Greek), so it might not be what is spoken by the moderns. I might have used it incorrectly, so if there was a better word that I missed or my translation is slightly off, I apologize.
Names of stars: Tharsos (Courage), Sophia (Wisdom), Pneuma (Spirit), Dunamis (Strength), Euprepeia (Beauty, Grace), Philanthropia (Kindness; love to mankind), Semnotes (Honesty, Dignity, Purity), Alethes (loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful), Gelos (Laughter), Soma (Body).
To all my reviewers: Thanks for your kind words. I hope you enjoyed the ending. I'm now going to write the last chapter of A Grief Observed, but it's slow going. I also have another story in the works, that tries to explain how Diana and Bruce fell for each other/took the risk to start dating each other.
To my anonymous reviewers:
marie- I hope you're right, and that more people will become BMWW fans, though it seems there are quite a few of us. I tried to email you, but the address you left kept sending it back.
anonymous - thanks for the tip. Maximum Zero Fuel Weight, I think, sounds cooler, though I know it's incorrect. That's why I haven't changed it. :)