Janus: Down the Middle
New York, Early Morning
Diana bolted upright in bed breathing raggedly. She grazed her hand over her cheek surprised to find it still flushed. Her hand migrated down her neck till it came to rest over her heart. The intense beat pulsated down to her toes. "By the gods," her mind mumbled as it tried to catch up to the reaction of her body, "dreams are not suppose to be so intense."
She glanced over at the clock. It was two minutes before seven. "Dammit! Meeting in fifteen minutes." she ran through her daily schedule in her head, "Maybe Bruce has it right with Alfred. It would be nice if someone woke me up with a steaming hot cup of coffee and enough time for a decent shower." Her lips turned up as she visualized Bruce's pampered morning routine in her head, but her thoughts soon drifted to him in the shower. Diana quickly padded into the shower hoping a cold shower could dim her renewed flush.
Gotham City, Same morning
Bruce awoke trying to catch his breathe. Instinctively, he drew upon the disciples of his martial arts training. He grabbed the watch off the nightstand. "Dammit! Only 6:58. Stupid unrelenting dreams," he murmured recalling the intensity of it.
His thoughts turned to Diana and his admission the previous night. He didn't just fall down the rabbit hole; he had dived in head first. How the hell could he date this woman as Wayne and work with her as the Bat without her figuring out both are the same man? She'll peg me within a week. Maybe it's worth it. Diana had been pleasant enough. She even saw through the Wayne act. But what if things turned south? Could Diana and he still work together in the league? All he could do was sigh. Wayne wouldn't give up Diana while the Bat would not compromise his identity.
He rolled over in disgust trying to ignore the excuses raging through his mind and turned to more pleasant thoughts. He returned back to his dream and naked images of Diana. He still had three hours till Alfred got him up for the Wayne Tech meeting.
New York, UN, Cocktail Hour
Shuffling through the latest security files describing the endless headache in the Middle East, Diana slipped them into her attaché. After three hours of running over the situation, she decided her couch at home was a better place to discover world peace. The sudden sound of soft footsteps and smell of roses brought a smile that warmed her face. "Here I was just expecting a simple phone call. Frankly, the call would have brightened my day," she replied turning to the man approaching her.
"The extra effort was worth it to see that smile on your face." Bruce responded gently pecking her on the cheek.
"The roses are lovely. I've never seen this breed of rose before. Is it some rare breed you flew in from an exotic location to impress me?" she teased. She inhaled the fragrance as Bruce handed the bouquet to her. Her smile only widened when his hand ran up her arm coming to rest on her shoulder.
"Not exactly. The roses are not exotic, but it is a rare subspecies." he answered, but his expression wondered off to another place.
"Sorry. Just remembering."
"Where did you go?"
"No where. Let's go. I have to be back in Gotham by later tonight, so let's head to dinner. How does . . ."
"Bruce, I thought that we got past this last night. No more lies or guessing. Where did you go?" Diana insisted.
Bruce released a heavy sigh. "I was remembering my mother fussing over the roses in the greenhouse. It was a special breed that she cultivated. They are called Martha's Bloom. Alfred tends them now." he spoke barely above a whisper unable to look Diana in the eye. He felt a hand cup his cheek and felt his body warm when he saw her eyes glowing. She brushed her lips across his softly.
"Thank you. It is the most beautiful bouquet I have ever received," Diana beamed. Her smile turned wicked as she asked, "I never took Bruce Wayne for shy. What would your hundreds of admirers say if they knew?"
"I don't know, Princess. You could answer that better than I since you're one of my thousands of admirers," Bruce corrected her.
"Very humble, Mr. Wayne. Where were you taking me to dinner?"
They entered a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away from the UN headquarters. "This place is pretty empty. We mat actually get away with a quiet dinner," Bruce commented on the sparsely filled restaurant. "Unless your presence will start a riot, Princess," he smirked into her ear as he guided her towards their table.
"At 5:45, you'll be lucky if anyone besides the waiter bugs us. It's a little early for the New York crowd," Diana jested.
"Strange. Don't people hit the restaurants after work?" Bruce asked noticing three waiters watching the game from the bar.
"They hit the drinking holes. It's uncivilized to eat dinner before a decent cocktail hour," Diana stated pretending to poise as a debutante from any number of the charity functions that she had to attend, "Besides, aren't you the resident expert on these manners?"
"Suppose I should be. Things are just different in Gotham, I guess," he responded.
"What do you mean?" Diana queried intrigued.
"People, decent people, don't wonder the streets after dark much. People eat early, so they can be home before the whack jobs come crawling out of the wood work. The night crowds drop even more when some nut job breaks out of Arkham. The majority of people out late are typically affiliated with the mob or run in my circles. If I was paid a dollar for every function I attended that was held up by some psychopath, I'd still be a billionaire without the business meetings," Bruce gave a running commentary about his city as if it was typical for any urban dwelling. Diana widened her eyes in surprise, equally shocked by his casual reaction and knowledge of the streets.
"Bruce, that's terrible. No wonder Batman seems put-off most of the time," Diana said softly. Saddened by his description, her face veered down to stare at the floor. She felt a warm hand brush her hair off her shoulder. She looked up to meet a soft smile on Bruce's face.
"So the rumors of our dark knight are true," he changed the topic of conversation. A simple nod of agreement confirmed his statement. "Do you think that he really helps the situation in Gotham, or does he just escalate the crime rate?" he asked trying to ignore the sweat building on his brow line. Her opinion did not matter to him.
"Difficult question to answer. His intentions are completely noble and honorable. He only wants to help the city," Diana commented on her teammate.
Unintentionally, she began her own commentary on the man that she only knew as Batman, "He is a warrior in the classical sense. He doesn't rely on strength or weaponry to win the battle. His technique is flawless in all eastern and most western fighting styles. The strategies and detective work also live up to whatever rumors that you may have heard. I have never seen him fail to unearth the truth behind a mystery."
"World's greatest detective lives up to his reputation. I still sense a but in there," he urged her to continue fearing the response.
"His need to stand alone infuriates me. His foolish pride causes him to be arrogant and makes him believe that he needs no one's help. He has proven his valor countless times. I would proudly stand by him in battle or embrace him as a friend in victory or loss, but he refuses to allow such contact. He will not even allow his comrades to aid in his crusade in Gotham. Every juncture is a battle from writing league manifests to deciding on an attack plan. Yet, I trust him completely and would follow him without hesitation." Diana finished.
"Sounds lonely the path your friend has taken," he responded.
"He has family to rely on out in the field. I just wish that," her words lowered below a whisper.
"You wish what, Princess," Bruce pushed.
"I wish two things. First, I wish to prove him wrong just once. I also wish I knew his name. His real name," Diana concluded.
"Wait, you fight with this bat nutso in life and death scenarios for years, and you don't even know his name. Sounds like an ass to me," Bruce grinned at her wishes hoping to grant the second and figuring out how to always avoid the first.
"I prefer to refer to him in terms of the size of the animal's posterior, so he knows just how big of an ass that he is being. Rarely works. Trust me, if you saw him in action, you'd put your faith in him as well," she defended the Bat with a chuckle, "New topic. What are you getting to eat?"
"You know this could turn into a date even my mother would approve. Dinner finished by seven. If we see a short movie, you could still have me home by nine," Diana stole a quick glance at her watch.
"Funny. Tell me do they teach sarcasm on your island or did you pick that up here," he asked his charming companion. Bruce cut off Diana's curt reply, "By the way, I don't go to the movies. Please don't ask. Just Google Wayne and theater. Besides, I have something much more physically simulating planned for this evening." He smirked wickedly with all his playboy bravado while hailing a cab. He saw Diana's eyes widen at the audacity of his suggestion. As she regained her composure, she grabbed him under his arms and took off above the crowded streets. She asked for their next destination when he was dangling three stories above the boulevard. His smirk only grew wider as he told her the cross section.
Diana arched her right eyebrow and shot a confused look at her date after she landed them in front of a classic ten story brick building. She had been shocked by Bruce's initial reaction to flying; he was completely at ease. There was no tension in his body, no yelp, or retort when she held him loosely above the street. Did this man trust her as she did him, or did he have experience flying with other heroines? She felt jealousy creep into her thoughts at another woman flying with him. The emotion formed on her face as she snapped, "What are we doing here?"
His face was still locked in wicked playboy leer and did not change even as her demeanor suddenly had. "It's a surprise, Princess," he told her as he pulled a blindfold from his pocket. He moved to tie the blindfold around her head when her glare stopped him dead in his tracks. "No tricks. Cross my heart," he promised as he motioned for her to turn around. She compiled after staring him down for a full minute. As he tied the blindfold around her head, he whispered in her ear, "Don't worry. I promise no cad tonight. I think you'll enjoy this. I've wanted to take you since the charity auction."
After he led her through the entrance and up the elevator, they came to rest inside a room on the fifth floor of the building. To her relief, she heard other couples chatting in the background and salsa music playing softly in the background. Her heart jumped at her next thought. He's taking me dancing. She felt the blindfold loosen and blinked at the flash of bright light in the room.
The room was actually the entire fifth floor. It had been transformed into a dance studio lined with full length mirrors and hardwood floors. A beautiful brunette with the grace of a seasoned ballerina approached Diana and Bruce. She kissed Bruce on each cheek and handed him a box. Bruce turned to Diana and introduced the woman, "Diana, this Arianna. She used to teach dance at a youth facility I fund in Gotham."
"Pleased to meet you," Diana beamed at the dancer extending her hand.
"Enchanteè," Arianna responded with a heavily accented voice, "It is truly a pleasure to meet someone that Bruce holds in such high regard." Diana was stunned when the woman embraced her shoulders and kissed both her cheeks.
"You are from France, originally?" Diana inquired curious as to the exact relationship that Bruce had with this woman.
"Yes. From Nice. I came here on a ballet scholarship through the Wayne Foundation. After I completed three seasons with a traveling company, I wanted to give back. Spread the good fortune that Bruce afforded me," Arianna explained sensing Diana tense at the comfort level that she shared with him.
Bruce concluded the story, "She ran an after school dance program for two years. It became so popular that we expanded it to nine cities nationally. Arianna runs the program here. She was kind enough to let us join her final class of the night." Arianna excused herself to begin the class. Diana admired Bruce with a profound sense of awe. She was well aware he sponsored countless organizations, but she underestimated his involvement. He was more than a walking checkbook for charities. He smiled at her expression and gave her the box, "You may need these for our lesson. I hope you don't mind. We have to pretend that we're senior citizens tonight. It's her seniors' salsa class."
"Don't worry. Technically, I'm the oldest person in the room by a margin I would rather not divulge," Diana mused as she opened the box. Inside the box was a pair of heels perfect for the occasion. She slipped them on and took the hand that Bruce held out for her.
Walking through the park, the couple recounted the finer points of the mambo lesson from earlier in the evening. "Not what you expected, huh?" Diana questioned as she slipped her free arm into the nook of Bruce's elbow.
"Not exactly. When Arianna told me that it was her seniors' class, I figured that we could find a quiet area and glide across the room. Who knew this group competed in dance competitions? Alfred would be appalled if he knew how bad my dancing is."
"No worries. Your secret is safe with me. Alfred will never know about your questionable technique," she grinned. Diana giggled at the memory of ten women sixty-eight years and up scolding society's golden boy for having poor arm position.
"Don't laugh. Alfred would take personal offense considering he was my teacher," he confessed.
As the image of a teenage Bruce Wayne learning the tango from his butler formed in her head, Diana's quiet giggles erupted into roaring fits of laughter. Between laughs, she managed to say, "Poor Alfred. I bet his technique is perfect, though I can't picture which of you held the rose in your mouth. You just don't practice enough. "
"I was a marvelous student. At least compared to Dick, I was. Alfred still winces whenever anyone brings up Dick and waltz in the same sentence," Bruce remembered how well his ward picked up aikido but failed at ballroom, "I videotaped a few lessons. It's the single greatest piece of blackmail I have if that kid ever gets out of line."
Diana turned to look at him with a stunned expression. She nudged him in the shoulder, "Bruce, you wouldn't. That's just plain cruel. Plus who knows what Dick has on you. Just accept the fact that you need more practice."
"I don't recall you complaining the first time we danced. Why didn't you get reprimanded as much as I did tonight? I believe your technique had problems as well," he complained.
"I corrected myself right away and didn't continue to mess up unlike my partner."
"I never saw any problems in the way you move," a familiar leer crept onto his face. He shifted behind her as she led him to the front door of her home.
"We seem to move incredibly well together. All those couples said it looked like we had been dancing together for years," she smiled almost comfortable with his gaze as his eyes raked up her body as she opened the door to the embassy. She turned back to face him silently praying that her next question was received as intended, "Do you want to come in for a tour and tea?"
"Unfortunately, I can't tonight. I have a business meeting tonight. I have to get back to Gotham by 11:00. That's why you're home at a mother approved hour," he declined backing her into a corner of the embassy doorway.
"Oh," the princess sighed surprised by the disappointment she felt.
"I would like to see you again," he relieved her discontent, "There is a museum collection at the Gotham National History Museum that I think you'll enjoy. How do lunch and a private tour sound on Saturday?"
"Wonderful. Shoot, I can't monitor duty."
"It will have to be after 2:00, but it works."
"Great. Now, show me the entrance of your embassy," he insisted pushing her through the doors of the building. He kicked the door close with his heel.
"But I thought you had to leave," her words were lost once he had her out of public view. His lips closed over hers muffling any words. Her eyes lit up in delight and fluttered shut as the kiss deepened. He intended to kiss her once, but she moved in closer pressing her body to his. Then, he felt her tongue softly invite his into the kiss. Before he could rationalize, he was guiding her backwards pressing her body into the door. When he felt a familiar twinge and heat surge south, the red siren alerted in his head. Bruce pulled back to see only what he could describe as a willing princess.
"Diana, I really have to go. See you on Tuesday," he pecked her cheek and flew out the door. Diana shut the door behind him and drifted to the floor. She held her hand on her cheek, where Bruce had kissed it. She sat there with a goofy grin plastered on her face until the warm fuzzy feeling subsided.
A/N: Janus is a reference to the Roman God of Crossways. The story has nothing to do with Two-Face. Janus is a look at Batman and how he lives in two roles. Bruce Wayne is usually reduced to the level of a moron. I wanted to give the character some depth. The crossroad is in the decision to either hide or expose himself to Diana. Most of the exploration is done through interaction and dialogue. No inner monologues here. Enjoy. Plus let me know what you think. Ciao.