Wonder Woman's physical injuries were superficial enough that they would heal in just one day. Upon learning this, she was almost ready to dismiss J'onn's suggestion of staying off duty for the next two days until she remembered Hawkgirl's face upon seeing her return from Metropolis to the Watchtower. While Diana shared no deep friendship with Hawkgirl, she did hold her opinion in high regard. The two always pushed each other to fight beyond their limits, but Hawkgirl's earlier expression had indicated that the extent of Diana's injuries had crossed a line.
With a sigh that only just concealed her impatience, she acquiesced in J'onn's advice. Yet even after she had been cleared to leave the medical bay, she lay in the hospital bed, absent in thought.
The last two days had been challenging, to say the least. The nature of her injuries was unprecedented. First, she carried the full impact of one of Superman's forceful expirations. Then, she struggled against Livewire's incessant blasts of electricity; Superman's Kryptonian physiology could withstand such assaults, but J'onn had noticed that Wonder Woman's body was still faintly trembling. Perhaps most troubling were the wounds she had sustained from the brief moment she had existed without her divine protections. Her mother and later Hephaestus had warned her about the weakness in her armor, but it was not until today that she had had her first encounter with mortality. It put her in mind of Batman – Batman, who had come to find her of his own accord.
Earlier, as J'onn had applied a cooling salve to her burns, she had asked him why he had sent Batman for her instead of another League member, for she knew that Batman was off duty for the week. J'onn replied that he hadn't; Livewire's magnetic fields served as a weak stasis field, so all he had heard from Diana was that she was all right. He and Flash were soon occupied by another disturbance, and later when he finally noticed that her comm. link had been stationary for an inordinate amount of time, Batman was already on his way.
Diana had been unsure of how to react to this revelation. As her eyes followed the path of the circuitry in the medical bay ceiling, she was still unsure. She was perfectly aware of the fact that Batman kept an eye on her. When she first became conscious of this, she grew angry that he didn't think she was a capable warrior. When this idea faded as a possibility, she grew angry that he didn't trust her to exercise control over her abilities. A year ago, this notion too lost its tenability, yet another one had not occurred in its place. Her eyes had sought J'onn for guidance upon hearing of Batman's gallant gesture, but he had only nodded at her with exasperating benignity.
The next day, Diana still performed her scheduled maintenance duties in the monitor womb. However, in order to convince her concerned teammates that she intended to remain off duty for some time, she wore Themysciran dress as she worked.
Batman was also there on monitor duty. The two hadn't spoken since they arrived in the Watchtower together after her confrontation with Livewire and Luminus. Such long stretches of agreeable silence between them were nothing unusual, but during her lengthy reflection in the medical bay, she decided that there was one thing she did not want to leave unsaid.
Whatever Batman's grounds for keeping watch on her, she assumed that they were similar to her reasons for staying mindful of him. She never let him out of her sight when they went on cases together because she knew that he was exceptionally gifted but also exceptionally proud; it offended his honor to ask for assistance in the rare instances he required it, no matter how dire his need. Diana was no different. She wanted him to know that she was aware of this.
As he observed the monitors, she crossed her arms and rested them on the head of his chair to watch him work. It was a familiar pose to everyone who knew the two. After a pause, she began. "I wanted to tha—"
"You don't have to say anything," he said gruffly. Diana pleasantly tapped her finger on his chair to silently communicate her thanks. Without shifting his eyes from the screen, Batman continued, "I'm surprised at how well you handled your first major encounter with tabloidization."
Somewhere underneath that remark was a compliment, she noticed with a raised eyebrow. "Did you think that I would demolish the Daily Planet building with my bare fists and save the best for Catherine Grant?"
"Mmh," Batman replied. Even Diana couldn't suppress a laugh.
"The culture of fame is very curious in some parts of Man's World," she reflected aloud after a moment. "I have noticed that in the societies here which blindly follow reason and rationality, celebrities are exemplified as the telos of modernity and progress." She watched him clench his jaw; he was uncomfortable that she had summarized the fundamental premise behind his carefully planned alter ego in one pithy sentence.
Her feeling of satisfaction quickly turned lukewarm when she heard a pleasant voice greet them, "Batman, Diana." Now it was her turn to tense. She stood up straight and turned to face Superman, whom she had also considered during her ruminations in the medical bay.
He was visibly upset. "Diana," he said, "I'm sorry about Luminus and Livewire. I've told the people at Stryker's over and over again that those two aren't like their other prisoners. I—I'm sorry."
She had expected him to say this. "It's not your fault, Kal. Everything negative that happens in Metropolis is not your fault," she said firmly but kindly. She sensed Batman hold his breath for a fleeting moment, which made her second-guess her statement; he must have heard the same admonishment countless times about his relationship to Gotham.
The look in Superman's eyes was unfathomable: a mixture of confidence and defeat, loyalty and indifference. Not for the first time, she wondered how someone as pure as Superman devoted himself so faithfully to a city like Metropolis. Metropolis, for all its steel and glass brilliance, was stifling. Hidden under a glittering guise of progressiveness and well-being was a kind of discredited desperation. Diana thought of Livewire: in a town where the Lois Lanes were paraded as the norm of women's experiences, there were just as many Livewires whose experiences were ignored in favor of cultivating an artificial culture of equality and prosperity. There was also the slow gentrification of Suicide Slum, the monopoly of Lexcorp on civic life. Metropolis's architectural beauty and endless supply of meta-human incursions only pushed its underlying difficulties even further out of consciousness. Surely Superman felt this more often than he betrayed.
"You're right," he said with a sad smile, "Sometimes I forget."
She was overcome with feelings of admiration and compassion for her friend, and guiltily she approached the next topic. "I must say something else. You behaved very strangely in the medical bay when we last spoke. I assure you that I harbor no romantic intentions towards you," she said evenly, with an air of authority that was not diminished by the petty subject of her declaration.
Superman blushed. "Can I say I'm sorry again? Let's just say that I was pretty embarrassed for myself and for 'Man's World' after I read that article." He paused, and then added honestly, "And I was afraid of what Lois would say."
"What did Lois say?" Diana wanted to know. With a grunt, Batman signaled his disinterest in their conversation and glowered at the control panel.
Superman didn't notice this, for his face softened and his eyes turned starry. "Lois knew it wasn't true. I went straight to her after Lantern and I finished up in Ryjel-9. I didn't have to say much, she knows how important she is to me." Upon hearing this, Diana was determined to keep herself from stealing a curious glance at Batman.
The subject of Lois had put Superman in a good mood. "Anything you want to say to me too, Batman?" he joked.
"Get to work," grumbled Batman, carefully avoiding eye contact with Diana as if exempting her from his command. With a sly smile, she returned to running diagnostics of the Watchtower's security system. He didn't have to say much; she already had her suspicions.