Raking a hand through her hair, she tried to sort through the myriad of unsettling thoughts scattered in her mind. They had slept for a time after making love, but Connie had not awoken rested. For a moment, she had been blissfully happy. After the moment had passed, however, she realized what she had done.
She had fulfilled her goal and bedded Bruce Wayne. The sex had been amazing and his face had looked so peaceful afterwards that she had fallen asleep with a smile on her face. When she had awoken to the sound of the shower running through the open bathroom door, she had not immediately panicked. It had taken a minute or two.
Pacing throughout the room in her bathrobe, she bit her nails and rebuffed herself. Her goal had been to sleep with the man and now that she had, she thought, she was starting to regret it. She had gotten to know him too well and sex was not just sex anymore, she told herself.
Wrapping a towel around his waist, Bruce rubbed his wet hair with another towel before draping it around the back of his neck. He had woken before Connie and for the first time in days had felt clear headed; he felt like his old self.
Part of him had to laugh at himself, though he did not consider the situation funny. His options, it seemed, were to either kill someone or have sex. He was pretty sure he would rather choose the latter rather than the former.
Putting thoughts of Talia and the pit and the atrocities he had committed out of his mind, he tried to focus on the fact that he was clearly thinking and no longer enraged. Grinning, he told himself he would bring Talia to justice and find a way to redeem himself in his own eyes and the eyes of his sons.
Today, though, he told himself, he would simply have to reconnect to sanity. He had enough of his wits about him to know he needed to be in a healthy frame of mind before facing Talia once again. If he could not control his anger, as he had not been able to do in the past days, he would surely do something he would never be able to forgive himself for.
There was no sense in going after an insane and murderous person if he himself was insane and murderous. He would have to gain his sense of himself as Batman before he could actually try and perform that role again. He was ready to get back to his home and meditate for a good long while before he started to train once again.
Connie was pacing through the bedroom. Scowling, he wondered just how inappropriate it would be to pick his clothes up off the floor, dress, and leave. By the look on her face, he judged it would be a very bad thing for him to do.
"You need to go," she whispered as soon as she saw he was in the bedroom with her.
Stopping in mid motion of sitting on the bed, he stayed in mid air for a moment before finally finishing the action. Breathing slowly through his nose, he looked at her with his confusion written plainly across his features. "I don't understand…"
She did not let him finish his thought. "You need to leave, Bruce. I'm sorry. This was…this was a big mistake."
Standing again, he went to her and took her arm. Going over everything he had said to her since he had seen her on the bridge in the park, he tried to remember if he had said anything offensive or offhanded to her. Failing to understand the reason for her sudden change in demeanor, he turned her towards him and looked into her eyes.
"Connie, did I do something wrong? I'm sorry if…"
"No," she interrupted, "no, you didn't do anything wrong. This was just a big mistake and you need to…to go before…" She seemed to loose her energy as she spoke.
"Before what? Connie, what happened? I obviously missed something."
Pulling from his grasp, she shook her head and distanced herself from him. "It was too much, Bruce. Everything…seeing you hurt and vulnerable and last night…and then we had the best sex of my life…my whole life. Bruce, it's too much. It was supposed to be just sex…"
The shock on his face was apparent and she turned away from him as he spoke. "Wait a minute…I thought you wanted to have sex. I thought you were…you seemed interested."
"I was! I was interested, but it got to be too much! I'm in too deep, Bruce! You have to go before I get in any deeper!" Tears were starting to form in her eyes and they started to threaten to spill onto her cheeks as she spoke.
"What are you talking about? Connie…" He suddenly doubted his own sanity again.
Throwing her hands in front of her in a gesture of total defeat and frustration, she screamed, "I can't fall in love with you!" Breathing hard, she felt hot tears streak down her face.
He was shocked into silence for a few moments before he found his voice again. "I didn't think we were going to…to fall in love, Connie. I never said…"
Cutting him off again, she shook her head hard. "I know you didn't say anything about it! I know…" Sobs wracked her as she tried to speak. "I'm saying it…you were so funny and witty and you flirted and…you're gorgeous! You're complicated and strong and I don't get you and that is everything I could love about you! I can't do…I can't do it…"
Collapsing onto the bed, she buried her face in her hands and wept. He had known he would hurt her in the end, but he had never imagined they would part ways like this. "Connie, I'm…I don't want to fall in love. I don't want to marry you or make sweeping statements of commitment. I want to have…I like talking to you. This doesn't have to be more than a casual relationship."
He didn't like the words coming out of his mouth. He had never had to say them to anyone before. Most women tried to convince him into either a casual sexual relationship they hoped would lead to marriage or, the more honest of them, tried to get him to marry them right away. Receiving the exact opposite of that argument was disorienting.
She shook her head and quietly begged him without looking up. "Please just go, Bruce. Please just go."
Anger was eclipsing his confusion. "Connie, you have to explain this to me. Make me understand what happened here!"
"No! No, Bruce, I can't!" Standing, she stalked to the opposite side of the room, putting as much distance between her and Bruce as possible.
"Why not?" He knew he had roared at her, but he could not convince himself to care. Following her to the corner of the room, he grabbed both her wrists and brought her face very close to his. "What is going on?" He asked in a low and dangerous voice.
"We can't be together…"
"I'm not saying we should be…" He started.
Shaking her head, a sob escaped her as she spoke. "But I'm so close to falling…I could, Bruce. If I hadn't seen so many sides…if I didn't know…you're not who you pretend to be," she finished lamely.
"What does that have to do with anything?" He asked.
"If I fall in love with you…Bruce, if we fall in love…it would be…"
He cut her off, "Is this about your ex-husband? Connie, I'm not the marrying type, really. Even if I were, Connie, I wouldn't hurt you like that."
Her voice was a whisper as she responded. "I'll hurt you."
At the tone and sound of her voice, he dropper her wrists. He spoke in a suddenly calm and soothing voice, recognizing the pain and fear written on her features. "What do you mean, you'll hurt me?"
She swallowed hard and looked away. "I can't get involved. That's why I picked you. I thought…I read the tabloids and I listened to what they said and I didn't realize. I didn't know you Bruce and then I met your family and I saw the way you were last night and I can't figure you out and I know that means you are so much more than what you make people believe. There's just too much to you and the more I get to know the more dangerous this becomes…"
Pulling away from her, he shook his head. "You need to stop playing with me, Connie. Tell me, now, why you are so frightened of this."
He didn't want a relationship. He wanted to heal his mind and spirit and kick the living daylights out of Talia, he thought. He wanted to patrol his city without fear of loosing control. He wanted to help people and fulfill the mission he had set out for forty years ago.
In addition to those wants, though, he knew he needed to know the thoughts behind her neurosis. He had to understand this intelligent, beautiful and deeply broken woman. A part of his male ego could not stand the sting of rejection, especially when there was no reason for said rejection.
Her parted lips quaked and her eyes widened. Her lips moved of their own accord as his eyes seemed to draw the words from her bosom. "I'm dying," she finally managed.
The emotions that traversed his face were lightening quick and unidentifiable to her tear blurred eyes. His eyes widened and then hardened in quick succession. He seemed hurt yet deeply engrossed in a calculation at the same time. As if, she thought, he was trying to decide whether or not she was telling the truth by cataloguing evidence to support her statement.
"You're what?" His voice was carefully calm and devoid of emotion. As if pulling his hand of cards very close to his chest, he held his emotions in check.
"I have cancer…" Her voice was soft and for a moment he thought he had misheard her.
At her stricken face and raspy voice, he approached her. Doing the only thing he could think to do, he pulled her into his arms and let her cry on his chest. He could feel the hot tears trail down his bare skin. She sobbed and shook in his arms and as he lead her to the bed and pulled her to him so they could sit, he realized with a sudden sick feeling in his stomach that Connie had been right.
The possibility of falling in love with her was too great. She was everything he thought a woman should be, and that meant she was everything he could not have. Kicking himself mentally, he knew that forcing her hand meant that he was now trapped. He could not very well leave her now that he knew the truth behind her fears.
Closing his eyes, he warred with himself. He should go away from her, he said internally, and never come back. The other part, though, wanted to comfort her and save her and stay with her. Both parts were in agreement that leaving would mean he was a selfish and unfeeling bastard.
Sighing quietly, he rested his cheek on the top of head and whispered comforting things to her. He had never been good in situations such as these, he knew, but from somewhere within himself he remembered kindness and comfort and he strove to emulate it in that moment.
They rested together as her crying slowly calmed and then stopped altogether. Even when she had no more tears left to cry she let herself he held by the strong and gentle man who had his arms around her. Inhaling his scent and entwining her fingers in the hair on his chest she allowed herself to feel, for a moment, safe and secure. In his arms, she told herself, she was protected, and at the moment that was all she wanted from him.
There will be a sequel, for those who are interested; just give me a few days to polish it! Thank you all who have read this story and a special thanks to those of you who have reviewed it! I so appreciate it! It took me years to work up the nerve to write this and I was happy with the response of the readers. I can't wait to read the responses to this chapter and I look forward to posting the sequel!