Watchtower, Conference Room, 3.5 months later, 11:02p.m.
The sound of a throat clearing raised her from revising a space treaty the League was refereeing between two warring systems. A familiar dark presence peered over her shoulder examining the notes that she added to the document. He surprised her by not suggesting immediate changes to her revisions and continued to surprise her further by switching his chair with the one designated for her best friend. "How are the changes coming?" he asked remarkably in a normal but deep tone.
"Fine. Most items are resolved and agreed on by both parties. Now, if we could only convince both systems to end alien trafficking, we may actual achieve a long term peace in that sector of the galaxy," she summarized resuming her work.
"Are you free to take a short break?" he questioned her sounding more like Bruce with each syllable.
She raised her head looking at him with shock etched into her face. She mumbled, "I guess that I could spare a few moments." At her response, Batman rose to engage the locks on the door and block out the security cameras. Once his codes were entered, he turned back to face Diana pulling his cowl off to expose his face. Diana felt her mouth drop open when she looked upon his face. It quickly snapped shut when a familiar devilish smirk graced his lips.
"You find amusement in the strangest places," she stated annoyed as she crinkled her nose.
"Eye of the beholder, Princess," he mused in reply smiling. The term of endearment brought a large smile to her face.
"You haven't called me Princess in months," she whispered.
"Madam Ambassador just doesn't have the same ring to it. Besides, I thought that you hated it when I called you Princess," he posed.
"It's odd the things that we miss," she said thinking aloud.
"Diana . . ." Bruce prepared to dive into his readied speech.
"I'm sorry, too. I wish things could have ended on better terms," Diana cut to the chase allowing him to keep his precious pride intact.
"Where do we go now?" he asking looking truly lost.
"I think we already figured that out, Bruce. We work together when we need to for the sake of the League," she answered in a small sad voice.
"I'm not good with relationships but calling us co-workers is a pathetic way to describe our friendship, Diana," he complained.
"Friendship? Is that what its like being friends with you?" she cried in disbelief.
"Ask Clark. I'm no picnic, but he insists what we have is a friendship," he smiled.
"Alright. By the way, I'm not calling you Batman in private. I earned the right to call you Bruce," she stated her terms.
"Deal, Princess," he smirked. In a quick movement, he pulled a gift from his cape and pushed it in her direction. Diana barely caught the 'Happy Birthday' mumbled on his next breath. Cautiously, she unwrapped the gift and gasped.
"Bruce," she breathed, "Thank you. Its perfect." Her hands traced the image of her sister's smiling face posed in a handstand next to Robin.
"You're welcome," he replied when returning to his feet, "I need to get back to Gotham. Patrol starts soon."
"Be safe," she automatically responded unable to hide her concern. After he disengaged the locks, Diana called out, "Did you know Kal always told me the measure of a man is in the company he chooses to keep close and how he treats that company?"
"Some of the better Kansas Philosophy I've heard," he answered resuming the dark tone of the Bat.
"He also told me that if I wanted to see the greatest measure of a man that I should seek you," she smiled.
"You should talk to Lois. I prefer her spin on the wisdom of Smallville," he replied before exiting the room.
New York, Donna Troy's Apartment, 2 weeks later, Thursday, 3:28pm
Donna curled her legs in handing a bowl of popcorn to Diana, who was already curled up on the couch. She picked up the picture frame that Diana had set up on the coffee table. The photo brought a smile to her face. She recalled, "I remember when Alfred took this picture. Dick was teaching me to use the rings and parallel bars. I never appreciated gravity until I saw his excitement on the trapeze. I thought that he would laugh at me when I asked him to show me how to swing from the trapeze. It was just the opposite. He got so excited to share it with someone."
"He always was amazingly perceptive and generous to his friends," Diana smiled enjoying her reminiscences.
"Putting others before yourself seems to be a prerequisite in that family," Donna smirked, "He never stops amazing me. I still can't believe how well-rounded he is considered what he went through as a child."
Diana frowned at her comment, "Bruce told me that his parents died in a trapeze accident. It's hard to believe that Bruce could raise a boy to be as friendly as Dick."
"Bruce left out some details," Donna's voice darkened at the memory of hearing the story, "His parents didn't die in an accident. Alfred said Bruce tells people that so Dick doesn't have to answer questions about the murders."
"Murders?" Diana widened her eyes.
"A mobster sabotaged the trapeze lines. Dick watched from the top of the trapeze as his parents fell to their deaths," Donna finished the story.
"Like Bruce's parents in the alley," Diana suddenly understood why Bruce felt so compelled to protect the boy.
"Yeah. After a few rough months, Bruce spilled the whole 'I am Batman' secret and allowed Dick to help solve his parents' case. Apparently, Dick was a natural and trained to become Robin," Donna revealed the evolution of their partnership.
"The police solved the Wayne murder case. Why does Bruce carry their death like a cross while Dick seems to have moved on?" Diana wondered.
"Dick had Bruce. He said no matter what happens between them. Bruce just understands that," Donna whispered, "Bruce didn't have that."
"I wish he could have told me some of this," Diana sighed in frustration.
"Everyone always says not to judge him by his words but by his actions," Donna tried to comfort her.
"He walked away," Diana responded angrily at the statement that had been repeated to her several times.
"When Dick tried to exert his independence, Bruce fired him as Robin and replaced him with Jason," Donna tried to explain his patterns, "He pushes away those he cares about."
"I wasn't ready for it to end," Diana admitted.
"I know. At least he seems to care about the aftermath. He's not avoiding you anymore. He went crazy trying to find Circe after what happened on Aeaea," Donna swept her hand up and down her sister's back.
"Donna, she said," Diana took in a breath and sighed, "She said that the dreams weren't her doing. They came from my own mind."
"Are you sure? Circe gets off on screwing with you," Donna interceded.
"She was in the lasso when she said it," Diana confessed.
"Oh," Donna stated surprised.
"Did you ever have . . . concerns when you married Terry?" Diana asked her sister in a pleading tone.
"Do you mean was I afraid I would go ancient Amazon on him? Turn him into a sex slave or try to dominant our lives?" Donna gave a gentle smile. Diana nodded. "Maybe somewhere deep down those fears lie, but I wouldn't trade a moment we had," Donna answered holding back the tears of lost years.
"Do you still have the nightmares?" Donna inquired.
"Rarely, but the dreams have lingered," Diana looked for answers.
Metropolis, Daily Planet, 3 weeks later, Tuesday, 11:58pm
"Wow," Batman watched as the city protector turned as his friend emerged from the shadows.
"Knock it off," Superman snapped apparently with a very short fuse that evening.
"Something brothering you, Clark," Batman responded adding a hint of threat into his tone to remind Superman who he was dealing with.
"It's freaking me out. First, Diana. Then, you agree to meet every couple of weeks to talk. To talk. You actually attend League meetings with regular frequency. You worked cooperatively to train Young Justice. I can call you Bruce when you're dressed as Batman, and you don't ignore me. You haven't insulted me once in weeks. Who are you? I want to know what happened to the real Batman," Clark went off on a tangent without assembling his thoughts or realizing who he was revealing them to at the moment.
"Not that you know of at least," Bruce smirked at the ranting superhero. His evil plan to be proactive and cooperative was definitely throwing everyone off. Nightwing couldn't form a coherent response for five minutes the last time he dropped by Bludhaven. "For nearly 10 years, you accuse me of fighting dirty and not playing well with others. Maybe I finally just listened to your advice, O wise one of Smallville," he deadpanned at Clark.
After contemplating his words for a few seconds, Clark burst out laughing. "I'd be careful. Lois is very possessive about her endearing nicknames for me," Clark relaxed as Batman's ego filled the air.
"She might be the only one that could give Dick and me a run for our money," he admitted.
"So, what has the infallible Caped Crusader so amazed in this sickeningly safe haven of Metropolis?" Clark asked.
"The general calm of the city amazes me. I figured you would either be out trying to maim Luthor or be taking it out on unsuspecting criminals," Bruce crossed his elbows over his chest preparing to assess any change in the Man of Steel's persona.
With a heavy sigh, Superman replied, "Maybe after I recover from the shock. I thought you would get to him first considering his campaign manager dubbed him the savior of Gotham."
Bruce scowled at the slogan, "Jim Gordon deserves the first shot at the bastard, though I heard he is being considered for upper level security jobs if Luthor is elected."
"Do you really think people would elect Luthor as President after all the crap he's been connected to in the past," Clark asked incredulously.
"I already donated 10 million to his major challenger. Donovan is the best at twisting the media. He can make someone even like Luthor look good. I'm trying to work out a corporate opening for him at Wayne, but Luthor probably has some form of blackmail on him," Bruce responded honestly.
"Rao help the earth," Superman whispered at his assessment.
"Oracle is on it. She's dig till she finds something. At least the land deeds in Gotham are secure. Wayne and Kane still own the majority of real estate in Gotham. Luthor only holds a few bargaining pieces," Bruce gave a ray of hope to the worried Kryptonian.
"Sometimes, I really wish that the League didn't agree to remain neutral in politic affairs. I could probably guarantee a landslide victory over Luthor if I could endorse his challenger," Clark complained.
"Diana is the only one immune from that amendment. She could challenge Luthor on the politic stage, but she usually refrains from involving Themyscira in U.S. politics," Bruce sought a solution to the Luthor problem.
"Speaking of Diana, she showed me her birthday present," Clark veered off topic with a sly smirk.
"About as subtle as breaking through a brick wall, Superman," Bruce grimaced.
"Seems a bit personal for a man that gave his ward cash for his last birthday so he could buy himself a motorcycle," Clark probed.
"So I'm the official measure of a man," Bruce countered.
"I was wondering when you going to bring that up," Clark responded.
"I need to get back to Gotham. I'm late for patrol," Bruce shot a decel line skyward.
"Why do you always leave when it gets interesting?" Clark began to lift off the roof.
"Keeps my aura of mystery," Bruce answered as he was swept away by his jet.
JLA Headquarters, Training Room, 7 Months later, Monday, 6:48pm
"Nice move, Princess," Batman flexed his neck after breaking a chokehold.
"I wasn't sure if you were going to get away. Normally you're faster than that," Diana teased him.
"Maybe I was enjoying how tight you were holding me," he responded in a seductive tone. Diana swung her head around staring at him in shock. Batman angled his body on his Bo staff before launching both his legs into her side. Distracted by his comment, Diana didn't set to block his kick and stumbled back absorbing the force of the kick. He followed by swinging his staff underneath her retreating legs. The graceful Princess went down in a heap.
"Trying to distract me," she narrowed her eyes at him. She kicked the back of his right knee before he could retreat to a safe distance from her. Diana quickly rolled on to her side and pinned her body above his.
"I think that's your tactic, Princess," he smirked as he raised his head off the floor to peer at the heaving chest inches from his face. Relaxing back on the floor, he waited for her to release his arms. It was their first sparing session in over a year. They agreed to restart whenever they pinned each other or had a potential death blow. When he looked up into her face, he saw Diana searching his cowl for some reaction. Her hands released his arms, but she didn't move to stand. He stiffened as he felt her body shift down slightly. Her chest came to rest on top of his chest. His hands involuntarily settled on her hips.
"Diana," he breathed.
"Shut up, Bruce," she answered.
A/N: That's literally all she wrote. Done. Finished. Finito. Thanks for reading and for reviews. All were greatly appreciated. You were all too kind to me. There were some serious flaws in my writing, but most of you were incredibly generous about my story. I know the end is a bit Sopranos. Just use your imagination and remember Diana is a very persuasive woman especially in close quarters. ;)
P.S. I know the last chapters need some serious editing. I promise to get to it later.