Chapter 2: Forbidden

How shall I hold on to my soul, so that

it does not touch yours? How shall I lift

it gently up over you on to other things?

I would so very much like to tuck it away

among long lost objects in the dark in some quiet unknown place, somewhere

which remains motionless when your depths resound.

And yet everything which touches us, you and me,

takes us together like a single bow,

drawing out from two strings but one voice.

On which instrument are we strung?

And which violinist holds us in the hand?

O sweetest of songs.

-In Love Song by Rainer Maria Rilke


Diana stretched out her limbs and glanced over at the mirror. The image staring back at her was pale and tired. Dark shadows sat under bloodshot eyes like tiny crescents in an eclipse. She rearranged her lank, lifeless hair and tucked a few errant strands behind her ear.

She felt tired and worn-out. It had to be the long hours and the endless fights that was taking its toll. She had been at it for days with little rest and little time for anything else.

She got up painfully, feeling every muscle groan in protest and looked at the clock resting on the mantelpiece. 11 o'clock. How was that possible? She had only napped for a few minutes surely yet three hours had flown by in the blink of an eye.

She reminded herself that she was an Amazon of Themyscira and a warrior of her race never allowed herself to give in to physical weaknesses. Her spine straightened in response to the reminder, albeit bringing forth yet another wince from the sharp pain.

She had monitor duty to perform and nothing was getting in her way.

Fifteen minutes later, she was walking down the long corridor, stiff as a board, silently muttering her thanks to Hera that she had not bumped into anyone yet. She was not in the mood for friendly conversation or any other sort of interaction. In fact, the thought of having to communicate with human beings seemed to be inducing murderous thoughts for reasons she could not quite fathom.

Feeling a little prick of guilt for her irrelevant inclination to violence...imagined violence rather, she told herself that it was just the fatigue robbing her of her senses and goodwill.

Finally, reaching the room, she let out a little sigh of longing as she thought briefly of the warm, cosy bed she had dragged herself off minutes ago. There was no hope for it. Her hand closed over the metal knob and she twisted reluctantly, pushing the door open.

She looked up into the monitor room and froze, her brain suddenly numb.

There he stood. He was in his suit but he had pulled off his cowl. She felt the sudden rush of emotions that she had come to experience every time he was in close proximity. Human emotions. Her lips curled in distaste.

Excitement, caution, attraction, confusion, more excitement and then a good dollop of panic. She looked back at the corridor and wondered if she could flee unnoticed.

"You're late."

There was no hope for it. She stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.

"Even superheros need to sleep some time," she retorted, feeling a touch annoyed at his cool professional demeanor.

Was a "Hello Diana" or a "I missed you Diana" too difficult for the brute! He did not bother to turn away from the computer. She felt a tug of disappointment and then promptly reminded herself that she certainly did not look like a goddess this night.

"Anything to be concerned about?" she asked nonchalantly, wanting to take her mind off her less-than-presentable appearance.

"No".

Once again, she felt the irritation build up inside. She sat down on one of the comfortable swivel chairs in stony silence and watched him work.

Despite her irritation, she could not help the irresistible magnetic attraction drawing her to him like a loadstone. He was such a beautiful man. Never had she imagined a man, could ever have such a powerful effect on her. The thought brought about a frown as once again she felt uncomfortable at all the feelings he could so easily invoke in her without even trying to.

Her gaze swept over him, casually assessing his profile. He was a very tall man. Taller than her by a head and that was saying something since she was a very tall woman. She took in his strong defined arms, clad in his usual black skinsuit and knew those hands were capable of gentle loving caresses.

She felt a little flutter in her belly as her eyes swept across his wide chest and down his hard, muscled torso. She saw, in her mind's eye, the light dusting of midnight black hair dusted across his chest, in a trail down his mid-section. Her hands itched to touch him, to feel the warmth of his skin, and to trace all the definitions of his body. Her ruby lips curved in a secret smile at the memory.

She took in his legs, booted feet...up to his calves and thighs, heavily muscled and strong, up...up. As the memories assailed her, she felt a warm rosy blush spread across her cheeks as she remembered in splendid detail, his magnificent male form.

Ah...what a beautiful man.

She silently thanked Hera again, this time that he did not turn to look at her. The man was terrifyingly perceptive that she sometimes wondered if his secret superpower was reading minds. She knew that he would take one look at her and know that her thoughts were...impure. Oh alright...unholy!

After what seemed like an eternity, Bruce finally heard her steady, even breathing and turned. She had fallen asleep. He was indeed terrifyingly perceptive. He had felt her eyes boring into him and instinctively knew that she was reminiscing. A slight smile touched his lips.

He usually had full control over his emotions and thoughts but every once in a while, he remembered her smile, or the way her slender fingers felt on his skin, the way she smelt...always freesia. She had put a spell on him. The enchantress! Somehow, because of her, he had allowed himself to entertain the notion of love and of romance.

Preposterous for who...for what he was. He was the batman. He was untouchable, unlovable, almost mechanical. His life was all about order and efficiency and tactic. He had no time, desire or inclination for these kind of privileges. He was too far gone to be normal.

Yet, something deep inside of him liked it, yearned it...craved it. It was unsettling and made him both reckless and cautious at the same time. He knew what he wanted...no, at least what his body wanted. He would not admit to himself that it was much more than just a physical attraction. One that would fade away in time. A forgotten memory. And then everything would be back in order. Everything would be right and familiar and focussed. Once again, he felt the contradiction within him. One part of him was convinced that he needed that order back in his life and yet, he could not ignore another part of him that had a sense of longing and intrigue for what could be.

She had enchanted him. And now that spell was taking root, slowly entwining its smoky wisps into the special places of his heart that had been cold and empty for as long as he could remember. He knew it would disarm him, knew that it was dangerous, knew that it would put them both in jeopardy. And yet it seeped into his consciousness, slowly awakening his very mortal desires like slow acting poison.

"An elixir", he amended. Fit for the Gods. He was no God. He was just a man carrying his boulder like Sisyphus. A never-ending burden that he could not share or be released from.

What to do? He looked back at her, once again feeling a strange longing spring up from within. What had she gone and done to him? His princess..

And then, the smile disappeared. He braced himself for what he knew was coming.

He stiffened as the images that he had no control over appeared in his mind swiftly and mercilessly.

The shots rang loud and clear...

He felt the fear, tasted it in his mouth.

He saw the dark alleyway...the blood splattered walls

A sickening image of a limp body lying in his arms.

But this time, it was not his mother. It was Diana.

He turned away from her, feeling the rush of unwelcome emotions swell up within him like a furious avalanche, threatening to swallow him whole.

Anger, outrage, pain...lots of pain, fear, anguish and then the worst of all...helplessness. He hung his head between his shoulders and gritted his teeth, willing the horrifying image away. The nightmares that once tortured him on long silent nights were now frequent and came and went when it pleased, paralyzing him.

As if to say, "So, you think you can just forget...just move on? Is this the price you're willing to pay for love?"

Slowly, he came back to himself and the shock receded. It will never happen. He would not allow it.

Once again, he was cool and collected. No, none of it was for someone like him. He was beyond reach. Tainted by a past he can never erase. She deserves better.

He turned back to her sleeping form and assessed her with unfeeling, faraway eyes. She looked tired. Exhausted.

He wished he could once again be the man he was just a few minutes ago. The man who would have wanted nothing more than to gather her in his arms and tell her that nothing could mar her beauty, not even fatigue. The man who would have wanted to make sure that he tucked her back in bed to have a good rest. Of course, that man did not show his affections freely either because he knew it would be threading on thin ice. But he wanted to...

He was not that man. His barriers were up. A wall of ice so thick that its coldness was impenetrable. He did not feel anything, did not desire anything, did not require anything. This was his blessing, this was his curse.

He took a good long look at her and opened the door to let J'onn in. His shift was over.


So...i guess the phrase "better late than never applies here?" I apologize for the very, very long wait but there was so much going on in my life that i did not have the inspiration to get back to writing...until now that is.