Disclaimer: I Do not own the DC characters
Claimer: I own my OC characters in this story
A thanks to Geeky BMWW Fan for her large part in contributing with this story. As always, a thanks to Bruce Timm and his team for the DCAU world of heroes.
-For a person who gave his everything to the people and never took anything in return-
Save Me from My Nightmares
Beginning of Nightmares
This was not supposed to be anyone else's curse to endure. The pain of what needed to be done to protect this city from the villains that plagued it was his and his alone. That was the whole point of this war; so no one else ended up like him –a person who would spend his whole life questing in avenging his parents' deaths. Yet, for all the worries and fears Bruce had about it, he could not come up with a really solid answer as to why he allowed others to join his fight against crime and corruption. They ran the nights with him, lived with him, and even faced the pain of death for him.
He promised himself to never let them get hurt, and to always be there to protect them. Even if keeping those promises cost him his life, he would gladly give it.
This was why he had to do this.
To break free and save her.
One of the hired help in tonight's theatrics held Batman in a bear hug tightly enough that it threatened to crack Bruce's ribs. There was an under the breath groan from Bruce as he forcefully shifting his weight around trying to break free from the vise. He would not allow Barbra to get hurt, no matter what the cost was.
No ease was granted in the Dark Knight's mind being held while he witnessed the figure of Scarecrow lurking over the injured Batgirl.
"I had hoped in Batman would be the first to experience the latest of my fear toxins. Then again, I suppose you will suffice, my dear." Scarecrow with his demented and otherwise rotten face smiled as he aimed his cane her. The deadman's eyes glared, anticipating the turmoil he was about to inflict on Batman's little friend. To make it even better, Scarecrow recalled that this one had already tasted his past fear toxins, and she had survived that.
She will not survive a second time. Not with this anyway, Scarecrow thought to himself.
"No!" Tim Drake, the young Robin, shouted as the thugs around him built up. "Batman, help her!" The boy's last words before Robin lost ground to his multiple foes.
This thug holding Bruce was obviously stronger then him and the idiot made the mistake of laughing about it too. Batman threw his head back at the oversize man. The collision of skulls was painful on both ends but nonetheless necessary for Bruce to escape.
The crony lost balance for a second to only have the Batman pound their heads together again and again. His nose shattered and the blood began to pour out. It was a terrible pain for the oversize man and he couldn't stand holding the Dark Knight captive a second more.
At last Batman was free.
Barbra had collapsed onto her legs which felt broken. Scarecrow had a firm grip on his targeted victim who was powerless to defend herself as the tip of his cane aimed at her face.
The young hero was terrified. She had already been caught once in the Scarecrow's horrifying toxic-induced world. There, she had seen her own death and the war between the two men she cared for most. If she had stayed there a few seconds longer, the ordeal would have killed her; instead, it unmercifully came to an end. She woke up from her nightmare, with Alfred, Tim, and Bruce staring down at her.
The idea of returning to that delusional state caused her body to quiver in terror. The reaction did not go unnoticed by the Scarecrow, who took a sick pleasure in causing it.
Fear is power.
He laughed at Batgirl's dismay, releasing her arm then activating the switch on his cane. She wasn't Batman, but the Dark Knight's time would come soon enough. Slowly a visible green gas emerging from its tip made Batgirl whimper. Turning her head away was the only strategy in avoiding the inevitable as Barbra prayed not to return to that fearful dream.
He continued to laugh until the fluttering sound of an all too familiar figure surrounded Batgirl. Given no second thought to the situation, Batman crouched down and with his cape formed a protective barrier over Barbra as the gas surrounded them. Barbra was completely safe from any influence of the gas, but as a consequence Batman wasn't.
The scent of the stuff came up quickly and aggravated Bruce's nostrils, but even still he was unchanged. His only reaction was to throw a death giving glare at the Scarecrow for trying, yet again, to destroy one of his partners. His glare became even more visible as the fog of the gas began to clear away.
Crane waited eagerly as the gas cleared, hoping to see the results. His latest toxins were of sere genius in design. Combined with another component from one of his associates, this newest fear toxin would surely install Batman in his final resting place, after first tearing the hero's mind apart from the inside out. Scarecrow could hardly contain his glee at Batman's imminent demise. Not only would he be responsible for destroying the Caped Crusader, but he had turned the Batman's power—terror—against him. The hero who had made Gotham's criminals tremble in fear was now going to die from it. As he always said, fear was power, and now it belonged to him and him only.
Crane's anticipating grin dropped instantly once he saw the face of the Dark Knight beaming at him. He gasped in horror and his body jumped in fright. Batman just stared at him with those silently burning glares of his, not moving or caring. As Batman took his first steps towards him, Crane instinctively and steadily backed away. He was shocked and his body felt stiff under the Batman's gaze. It just wasn't possible.
Within a heartbeat Crane turned and ran for dear life. His breath had quickened erratically once making it to edge of the roof. The fire escape was the Scarecrow's only means of fleeing, unless he wanted a real quick introduction to the pavement ground below. He quickly began his descent on the metal stairs. He only traveled a few steps before he was grasped and lifted into the air by a phantom that came from out of nowhere. Batman's grip, which came close to tightening around his throat, was the only thing keeping him from plummeting fifteen stories to his death. Scarecrow was terrified.
"Crane," was all that Batman could muster at the moment. He wanted to hurt this man so badly right now that all words failed to escape the Dark Knight.
Standing there with Scarecrow's life in his very hands, the former doctor pleaded for everything that he was worth to live. Still the Batman remained silent. Words were not needed anyway; the Dark Knight's silence and menacing glare indicated the villain had crossed the line tonight.
A long lasting silence. Crane feared the worst was about to come upon him. Perhaps: This was the night Batman would start killing, and he was the unlucky bastard who had set him off.
Bruce played with the idea. How he hated people like this.
The unconscious body of one of Scarecrow's thugs slid face first across the roof and stopped next to Batman's feet. Having put the fear of death into Crane, Batman slowly turned his head to see that young Robin had managed to overcome his adversaries and was already at Barbra's side.
Thank God that the boy was alright.
They both were alright; it could hardly be said for Crane as Batman turned back to him. If there was one thing that Batman hated more than having villains hurting innocent bystanders, it was hurting his teammates.
Crane was one of the worst next to the Joker in Batman's line of enemies. In an effort to satisfy his need to understand fear, Crane gladly induced others with his toxins to produce fear in them like they were his little test rats. Some had gone insane while others had died from their own minds' horrors. A fate Crane had now tried a second time to force on one of the Dark Knight's female partners. How he wished at this moment to give the man a taste of his own medicine.
That was simply something Batman couldn't....
Wouldn't allow himself to do.
He would have to settle with the fact that Crane was terrified out of mind of him and that came all on his own without any toxins. As well he should be. Batman was going to make sure this was a night Jonathan Crane would never forget; the night he tried bringing harm to his teammates. He was going to put the fear of God in this twisted mind of man.
It was long ago, but the memory never died in Bruce's heart or in his dreams.
The movie was worth all the time waiting for Bruce as he and his parents stepped out of the movie theater. Their hearts content with their family moment together as they walked down the narrow alley. Dark and almost weary to look at. Yet Bruce's mind filled with the heroic tales of Zorro left him unaware of the human body sensation of danger.
"Beware my terrible sword!" Bruce declared with a happy grin. "Ha ha!" He gabbed at the air mimicking sword motions. "Let all evil doers beware my-" he stopped. The boy's jaw fell as he emerged from the shadows, with a gun.
He walked slowly up to Bruce and his parents with a glaring stare making his demands. Bruce felt his body grow cold within a heartbeat and then numb. Bruce froze in terror, but instantly found comfort in the hands from his parents that fell on his shoulders offering protection.
"We'll start with the pretty pearls around the lady's neck!" he demanded.
Bruce felt his parents grow closer to him, hesitant to do anything that might cause harm to their son. Bruce didn't realize the extent of all that was happening around him. One moment he was in the theater with his parents having the time of his life and the next moment he was outside with his imagination running wilded until he showed up.
It was over before Bruce knew what had transpired. The blast from the gun echoed twice and echoed a thousand times more as the bodies of the only people who loved Bruce fell lifelessly beside him. His mother's scream and his father's grunts running in sequence with sounds of the rounds being shot off. Darkness surrounded Bruce; the pearls of his mother's favorite necklace fell around him. Not even remaining for another second to pick at the spoils, the killer that took his parents' lives ran back into the shadows. All of it was gone, all of it. The two people that Bruce held so dear to him were gone. Bruce fell to his knees in horror and went into shock to what had taken place.
He wanted to scream, nothing came out. His hands fell open to either of his parents' sides and his body shook from what his mind had just inhaled. His parents, gone.
"Mommy!" his voice quivered in terror. "Dad!"
Silence. All Bruce heard before everything that was and everything he was suppose to be with them was then and there lost.
Bruce's nightmares were the constant reminder of what had been taken from him and the reason why he lived this way. Through self discipline the dreams could be suppressed or simply avoided during his waking hours. Something Bruce had become accustomed to doing all the time if only to maintain his sanity.
Yet for the past several nights the dreams had become a thing too much to ignore- intensifying and beckoning to break the mental prowess of the Dark Knight's mind with every passing moment. There was nothing from any of his previous nightmare experiences that could begin to describe it. His heart racing when waking violently at night; sweat on his brow and utter terror gripping at Bruce's heart. He wanted the nightmares to go away and tried every technique he had learned in suppressing and controlling such things.
Nothing worked until.....
He had awakened many nights calling for her; her name which sounded so sweet being rushed into the air had soothed every last one of his night horrors. She had nothing to do with this, but Bruce found a soothing comfort when thinking and speaking her name. Her name that when spoken chased away the demons that were now torturing him. There had to be a reason for it and Bruce swore to himself he would find the reason her name had tamed his nighttime terrors.
Diana, Princess of Themyscira and acting ambassador to her people, strolled out of one of the many Metropolis women's department stores with feelings of contentment and personal pride in her selections. The Amazon had made a point of learning about fashion in Man's World, and she enjoyed it most thoroughly. A few new outfits here and there for those days trying to have something of a normal life on earth and a few new dresses in line for various public occasions Diana was expected to attend. It hadn't been too difficult of a task really; a few tips in styles from Vixen that went well with Diana's features. Which in the Princess's case, was nearly everything.
Walking out a side entrance to a back alleyway with shopping bags filled to the top in each hand, Diana treaded carefully, hoping not to be noticed. Her efforts in avoiding the massive crowds on the streets who would have made the shopping experience extremely difficult to manage had paid off. Diana reminded herself with a pleasing smile to thank Kal for making arrangements with the stores she visited to be opened solely for her today. What person in this city would say 'no' to a request from their city's Man of Steel?
It was a colorful and warm day, just like any other in Metropolis. Even the city's back alleys were lit, allowing Diana to roam comfortably. With such ease and warm feeling weather, Diana made it a point to dress just the same. A navy blue sports coat covering with a matching white tank-top and pants with a golden necklace to top it off. Something Diana had worn before and found to her liking. However that day was ruined with a bank robbery and worsened with a battle against Ares. That day made so long ago was like this one; a day set aside so Diana of Themyscira could just simply be Diana for a moment.
For the most part, having the day to herself was a welcomed blessing. The Amazon couldn't recall ever having taken a vacation which didn't lead to a crisis on her time. That little fact brought a happy smile to her face, which grew even wider as she looked up at the sky. The skies of Metropolis, though beautiful for what it was worth here in Man's World, were hardly compared to the heavens above her homeland- where the eye of the gods were upon them and the fellowship that Diana had with her sisters while training with them was irreplaceable. How wonderful those days were; almost like today.
Diana returned her sights to a more earthly level, particularly to the streets connected to the alleyway. Metropolis was a big city and was always filled with life from the businessmen to the everyday family roaming the streets of their proud city.
As well they should be, Diana thought to herself.
Metropolis was not like any other city where the day and night never ceased to amaze the Princess and the works of man to it. There were good people here who lived good lives. Families who worked together in this bright city were worthy of all of the admiration that flowed in the Amazon's blood. Just like her friend and colleague Superman.
That admiration and the very life of the city however had not been present for the last couple of weeks as Diana quickly found out after arriving for her shopping spree. The devastation and trauma of Darkseid's attack left a gaping wound in Metropolis, one which the city had yet to recover from. Business was bad and families happily roaming the streets just to take in the sights was becoming a rarity. They were boarded up in their homes, coming out only to gather necessities for themselves and to go to work, if they still had work.
To Diana, the empty streets of Metropolis in the daytime were depressing. She could only image how Kal felt seeing his city in such dismay and was unable to do much about it. In fact the daytime life was becoming no short of ironic to Diana as it drew closer to the city of Gotham at night. Superman swore he would not let his city fall to the levels that Gotham was recovering from but the damage from the invasion had made that task even heavier for the Man of Steel.
It was disheartening to think about, but Diana quickly replaced her feelings of remorse for the city with a grand sense of hope for it. Unlike Gotham City, Metropolis had a unique sense of unity and a strong sense of pride among the populace. The people worked vigorously as the damage was substantial and amount of repairs needed to get the city back on its feet was dire. And to fully meet the funding for such repairs, a massive fund raiser was soon to be held to help.
There had been a few such as Lex Corp. Under Mercy Graves's leadership, the company had done all they could, but now was time for some outside assistance. And it would come in the form of a charitable ball in Metropolis Central Park. Of which everyone had been invited: foreign investors, the social elite, and of course the Justice League. Anything to attract more people to the event.
It took some time in planning but the idea caught on when word got out that the Justice League was supposedly attending.
Among the elite that were attending the event was one that Diana was hoping to run into again. Someone who the Amazon found to be among the few males she admired in this world and was the sole owner of her affections. One Bruce Wayne, known foremost to Diana as Batman.
While Diana thought of her plan, a devious smile grew on her face, followed by a quick glance into her shopping bags. As an Amazon and as a woman, Diana had tried to get the Dark Knight to open up to her, just enough for that certain something that was between them to have a chance. Each attempt had ended in a disappointing failure. However, Diana wondered, if Batman was not willing to let down his stubborn guard, then maybe Bruce would. The public was already aware of their meeting in Paris years ago, making another interaction between the two far less difficult on both their parts, especially his.
Diana didn't recall how she had developed such affectionate feelings for Bruce; her culture and upbringing scorned men in all shapes and forms. Yet, time after time, Batman had proven her beliefs about men wrong; he had demonstrated how there was nobility and honor among the ranks of the male gender. Indeed, on more than one occasion, he had ignored the fear of death or pain to save her life. It was just another reason why she had easily accepted her friendship and respect towards Bruce, even before all her other male counterparts.
The reasons for continuing to hold such admiration and feelings for someone like this man was beyond Diana's willing resolve to understand. She settled for the reasons she told Shayera once, sometimes faith is all that someone has to rely on in times of uncertainties. But getting close to the dark hero had proven more difficult than Diana had bargained for. Batman was by his nature a mystery and held everything inside tightly locked up. He willingly and knowingly ignored her flirtatious advances, and had even gone as far as to give silly reasons for them not to even try to date.
Even with faith, Diana knew she was putting her working relationship with Bruce in jeopardy. She was gambling on everything they had together for something that might not exist. They worked well when paired up, and they held the utmost respect for each other's abilities as crime fighters. Maybe that was how this had all started, Diana thought. Their constant pairing up together on missions had eventually caused something of a connection between the two.
Or perhaps the feelings for Bruce began on that random day, on that random mission. One as such where the mortal man tried to save her in Gorilla City. Just thinking about it now, Diana was struck by his nobility. As she lay buried under the core of that missile, Bruce had tried to save her, all the while knowing how physically limited he was. There wasn't much he could do, and yet he still tried. Exposing his hands to the heat and weight of the rocket's shell in total disregard for his own body's safety. A feat of odd and unseen courage that deserved a single kiss in return. Wherever all of this had started wasn't all that important. All that mattered to the Amazon now was where this "thing" between them was going.
The idea that nothing more would come of pursuing Bruce made Diana feel very cold. Even if their relationship only lasted a short time, it was still something to be wished for. Bruce Wayne, though he was not known for having long-term relationships, was an amazing person at heart. Surely he could show Diana what it felt like to be close to someone and evoke the feelings she had seen in others. As Diana set her bags down, she curled her arms across her chest.
As wonderful as those feelings were, Bruce also had the ability to produce loneliness and sorrow within her. She never did question herself or her actions; that was not the Amazon way. Then again, neither was pursuing a man. But she still had to ask, was it really worth it?
That question was at the back of her mind, as she considered why Bruce was the only man who had interested her romantically. He had proven himself as a warrior who could hold his own in difficult situations. Having fought the worst the world had to offer—from the deranged criminal minds of Gotham to the aliens, warlords, and creatures with unprecedented powers the Justice League routinely faced—Bruce still had not given up the fight. He was a great and honorable person and at the same time sadly broken of a man, who forced a harsh and dismal life on himself. As much as he hid from the world, Batman was one of its greatest heroes.
A hero she found herself unmistakably drawn to.
Diana looked back at her shopping bags. She smiled, picking them up from the ground. The moments she had shared with Bruce during their missions together had not lasted long. Yet each one of them was special, and those moments were something Diana wanted to continue to share with him. To be the arms again that many a times scooped in to save her. To feel safe and warm, wanted by the only man she desired. Her thoughts trailed off on a memory not more than three months old that feed to this wanting of the man ever more.
And again, Diana asked herself, was he worth pursuing?
The man that is Bruce was worth the heartache. If not for her own sake, then for his. And if Diana's plans worked as well as she hoped, then she would only have to deal with her unsatisfied heart for a few more days.
Diana took a few more steps into the alley, the same pleased smile still on her face. She would make Bruce see that the two of them had something worth pursuing. Something that even his unfailing stubbornness couldn't hide from forever.
"Gotta say, lady, having the whole store for yourself is kinda selfish, don't you think?" a voice said in mildly amused tone.
Diana turned to the familiar voice, her smile fading into a line that clearly conveyed her annoyance. She hated it when people snuck up on her, and the list of people who could pull that off was very short. "Agent Faraday? What are you doing in Metropolis?"
King Faraday, with his white hair and blue suit stepped into view. His hands were in his pants pockets, as he was chewing and popping his bubble gum. "Well, I had the day off, and thought I'd drop in town for a visit."
Not believe a word the man said, Diana's face turned grim. He smiled at her, noting that his attempts at humor were a no go with the Princess.
"Okay," he put his hands up in submission. "My units in town watching over the increase in criminal metahuman activity. Safe to say that Metropolis is ripe for the picking these days."
"So that brings you to the back alley of a women's department store?"
"Hobby of mine?" he joked. Tough crowd, Faraday smiled as Diana looked thoroughly annoyed. Not to say that she wasn't one of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Too beautiful to be real. "When I heard that several stores were closed at Superman's request, I figured I should look into it."
"Still spying on us are we, Agent Faraday?" Diana asked harshly.
"Spying?" Faraday walked beside the hero. "No, just keeping an eye on you."
Diana raised an eyebrow. "I fail to see the difference in the two."
Faraday's smile grew wider. "I never said I was keeping an eye on the Justice League, lady."
Diana's annoyed face lifted into surprise. Was he flirting with her? "Meaning?"
"Geez, you are new to this whole thing, aren't you?" He turned so that he was facing her. Noticing the multiple bags he had to ask, "Treat yourself to a little shopping spree?"
Diana looked at her belongings. Honestly, there were a lot more things she had bought that the Princess had no intention of having. The store was more than kind enough to offer Diana almost anything in there at little or no charge to her. There was a lot, but what harm was there in having a few clothing opinions?
"They're just for the events I'm attending in the next few weeks," and to catch the attention of a billionaire who will also be attending, Diana silently added. Her eyes drifted from her belongings back to the person standing in front of her. "Planning on attending the city's fund raiser event?"
"The city ball? Not really," Faraday said flatly. "Not something I'm in to, but knowing that members of the Justice League are going to be there I am sure my superiors will tell me to go anyway."
"Its to help Metropolis recover from the invasion, I thought someone like you would want to help with something like that."
"Let's not forget that I work for the government there, lady. I hardly have a paycheck. Besides I hear that the Gotham billionaire is going to be there. What good are my two cents against a pocket as deep as Bruce Wayne's?"
Diana smiled. Yes, Bruce was going to be there, and with any luck, she would run into him again. Still, by Diana's standards, Faraday was selling himself short. "I hope you do attend, Agent Faraday. It would be a shame if you didn't come."
"As liaison to the Justice League or as Agent Faraday?"
"I was thinking more on the lines of King Faraday. Who knows, if you show up I might just save a dance for you," Diana said with a smile which King reciprocated.
"I'll hold you to that, Princess."
They stared at one another in pleasant silence for a moment until King's radio buzzed. He reached for it, and while placing the device next to his ear, King made a point of smiling at the wonder standing in front of him.
"Agent Faraday," he calmly stated. Diana surmised the news must have been grim, judging by how quickly the man's face turned sour. "I'm on my way."
"Yeah, a real hot one this time." He turned away but paused to add. "See ya around there, Princess."
Diana smiled at the way he referred to her as 'princess'. It was almost the exact way Bruce would say her nickname from time to time. Once King Faraday was out of sight, Diana took to the skies with her belongings in tow, heading for a place far away from curious eyes.
As she flew, she could not keep her mind off the valiant Batman/playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Metropolis S.T.A.R. Labs
To but touch the metal door with his hand; demonstrating the results of his powers as the barrier between the object of interest and him melted away. The remains of the steel door bubbled and glowed with life on the floor as the assailant walked into the safe room. His eyes caught sight of a vein of technology that the room contained, but one item was his objective and was of any real interest. It was easy to find in its metal boxing and to acquire; just as the entrance to this vault was.
Not much was left afterwards: the guards were down, the cameras destroyed, and it would take a fairly decent amount of time for the Metropolis police to arrive. By then he would be long gone and his mission would be complete.
He stepped lightly through the labs holding the metal box ready to make his escape through the front door. It was a quick and easy job: to get in, grab the targeted item, and get out. Like any other assignment preformed many times before, this one gave him a sense of pride in the ease of the robbery. The job was done and there was nothing that could go wrong.
The confidence of another task done quickly changed when a whirling noise came at him. The assailant looked and quickly removed himself from the oncoming projectile that stabbed into a pillar.
He recognized the projectile. Almost smiled when he turned in the direction the batarang came from.
"Batman," he calmly said.
"I highly doubt that belongs to you." The shadows moved and stirred as the figure of the Dark Knight emerged. His cape covering him, easily taller and much more built compared to his leaner opponent, who looked unafraid of the cowled figure.
Bruce's detective mind went to work in storing the appearance of the thief in his mind. The man's hair was a dark blond; exact details of his face were hindered by the darkness of the building. He was wearing a slick black attire, hugging tightly enough to show the toned form of his body. It looked for more of something worn for melee combat than for stealth of a robbery. And his hands were not covered; a odd mistake for someone who looked like he knew what he was doing.
With a curious eye he stared at the Batman. "I was wandering when our paths would cross not that I ever saw it being in Metropolis. Oh, and how I have so been looking forward to meeting you."
Batman slipped further out of the shadows noting that his opponent did not react to seeing him entirely. His form suggested that he could not be more off from Dick's age from the size of him. His voice suggested he was just leaving his older teen years behind. Still a kid in comparison and surprisingly well grounded, considering he shown no signs of intimidation when Bruce revealed himself. Instinctively by the show of the young man's confidence, the Dark Knight had a bad feeling about him.
"Hand it over slowly." Batman stood motionlessly.
The assailant looked down at his prize. "And if I don't?"
"Then," Batman stepped a few feet closer. "We can do this my way."
"Sorry," he replied flatly. "Don't have the time for it." He resumed his walk to the door.
Batman almost pitied the young man, obviously he had not done his homework if he was expecting to run into him someday.
With a spring in his footing, Batman leaped into the air towards the foolish man. His cape sprung open, revealing the bat-like image as he descended. The first attacking strike Batman attempted was easily avoided by the thief. The motion he made to avoid it was smooth and almost worth of Bruce's admiration. That was of course until he struck again with another punch that followed by a sharp kick to the man's midsection.
It felt like hitting a steel wall and a very hot wall at that as Bruce wisely retreated a few feet to mentally nurse his limbs. Metahuman was the first thing he thought of. There was no way he could be anything else without showing some signs of injury.
Without missing a beat though, the villain charged forward, intending on slamming Batman into the pillar. A quick step to the side was all Bruce needed before he grabbed the man's arm and tossed him into the pillar face first.
A cracking noise not made by flesh was what Batman heard.
He spud around with a overhead kick, followed by a few skilled jabs, all of which Batman managed to dodge. Not really caring about whether or not he could actually hurt the assailant, Batman reflexively returned a few hits of his own. Contact was made every time and again Bruce's skin flare up with unnatural heat and gripping pain. Quick reasoning came into play; if he were going to win this fight, it would be without making too many skin contacts.
Using the cover his cape, Batman pulled out from his utility belt several smoke pellets. Lost of consciousness would occur in seconds. He cleared enough space between himself and this opponent before unleashing his weapons.
He stood there obviously seeing the objects coming towards him. Instincts in Bruce's experience should have kicked in to at least shield one's self, if at all jump out of the way, yet the assailant remained still. Standing proudly with an almost amused look on his face.
"Unnecessary," he said calmly.
He whipped his arm in the air which was followed a spectacle display of fire that emerged from his limb. Instantly, the fires consumed the incoming pellets along with the gas they contained. Batman's mouth opened slight in shock before the fire sprinklers went off, bathing the entire building in protective watering.
The villain raised his hands allowing the water to pour on him. He looked above and before Bruce's very eyes, fire emerged from the man's body. There were streams of the flames, moving almost alive across him. Scattering from limb to limb until the water pouring around him evaporated.
A clear demonstration of the power he possessed, but Batman was not impressed. He had seen far more than his fair share of beings with superpowers to be overtaken in awe of something such as this. The Dark Knight's response was a well guided batarang throw at the villain which only share the same fate as the smoke pellets.
He made sure his prize in his hand was kept safe. He wanted to fight the Batman and test the mantle of his legend. But above all he reminded himself, he could not lose the acquired item. It was going to be easier in defeating the Dark Knight then he dared to admit. He easily noticed when Batman engaged him again that the Dark Knight was trying to avoid making too many contacting attacks.
A strike there and a blow there, nothing was really doing Bruce any good and he was fed up with it. Although making his avoidance of contact obvious to even a novice in combat, it was necessary to keep the man occupied as Bruce rotated around him, and the pillar. The man's overconfidence and belief that he was in control of the situation would lead to his downfall.
"Your pathetic, Batman, you know that?" He mockingly indulged to stoop down to the low skills that Batman was displaying. "And here I though you were some sort of master of the combative arts."
Just keep talking, Batman mentally said.
A quick left swing and his arm smashed into the pillar, taking a chunk out and was enough to put him off balance. A mistake Batman took full advantage of as he reached from the other side of the pillar for a object that he hoped would aid him win the fight.
He was bored now, and his grand visions of battling the Bat were drying fast. The Dark Knight's cape flew around making it looked as if Batman was trying to flee from the other side of the pillar. His reaction time was dead on as the villain raised his arm and powerfully hurled it downward behind him at the masked figure. To his unsuspecting senses, the villain made contact with a cool metal object that burst open against his strength. The results were painfully freezing as he had unknowingly attacked a fire extinguisher Batman held and avoided when it exploded open.
"Ahhh!" the villain shouted violently fidgeting around the cool cloud of fire retarded chemicals.
A logical guess as Batman remained within a safe distance. Combined with the falling water from the sprinklers, he hoped it would be enough to a least weaken the man to a manageable level. Bruce was not surprised though when the man emerged looking thoroughly ticked.
"Raahhh!" he charged at Batman and with added speed had managed to grab hold of him by the neck.
He was furious, a dirty tactic that he didn't see coming. It was enough to break the man's cool mentality as he held the hero effortless in the air. In his rage he wanted to squeeze the life out of Batman or allow his powers to burn a hole in his throat. Once his self-control returned and he came to his senses however, he thought otherwise.
Bruce grabbed at the hand that was choking him, trying to free his airway if not to remove the burning his skin was feeling. This guy was strong and his powers were something he was not prepared for in dealing with. It was painfully regrettable at how bad he had underestimated this foe before the battle had begun. Especially now that Bruce really needed air.
Pride would not allow him to kill the Batman so easily after what he had played against him. A simple death at the hands of his strength was not good enough. So he did the next best thing; with all force, the villain tossed the Dark Knight effortless through the front glass doors of the S.T.A.R. Lab.
Batman grunted as his body went through the glass and he rolled several times on the ground before coming to a stop. He was hurt and knew damage had been done to his body. The right side of him was now having a jutting pain that made returning to his feet very difficult.
Emerging from the new exit way Batman's body had made, the assailant stood proudly watching his opponent struggle to his feet. It was by no means to him a fair fight, and he did have a great respect concerning the Batman.
Still, he felt the need to press for a fight against him.
"A warning, Batman," he baited.
Bruce knew he was being made game of and he was in no shape now to continue. His heated throat made every intake of air painful and his body was already demanding that he rest. Yet, he rose to the challenge as Batman stood proudly displaying his willingness to fight on.
He couldn't help but admire him, a true testament of unyielding prowess. He knew better than to indulge in continuing a fight with Batman. After all, he'd win from all standpoints; Batman was only a normal man in a play suit.
The Dark Knight's stance though difficult to read displayed the pain to his side. The assailant was trained better then to indulge in such pointless battles. There was no gain and he already possessed what he was after in the first place. Fighting with the Batman was just one of those unsuspected bonuses that he could not diverge in any longer. He was ready to leave and allow the hero to live past tonight.
As he made obvious intentions to leave, he stopped.
Batman lifted his hand and with the motion of his fingers, he dared summoning a continuation of the their duel. The Batman made challenge to him. A challenge that the man simply could not refuse or not smile at.
Attaching the box to his side, the villain cracked his fingers and fired up his fists with his power. It still wasn't a fair fight, but now that the Batman was asking for it, he could overlook the technicalities. There was still time before he simply had to leave as he launched a stream of fire at the Batman.
Batman quickly rolled to the left, effectively dodging his opponent's attack. By his guesses of the heat level, it was enough to punch a hole in Bruce's chest if it managed to hit him. Back on his feet, he tossed a few more batarangs. Nothing got through as all three were destroyed by the assailant's power.
Batman was the figure of all he wanted to possess as far as his martial skills were concerned. Without having any power of his own, Batman's skill and prowess had built legends of himself being the most feared human on Earth. It was almost annoying for the assailant in thinking the Batman could do all that and he had to build his own sense of fear in people with the aid of his own superpowers. He hated it, and his rising emotional state should have been enough for his trained mind to end this pointless fight. To leave while ahead, but he recalled when first saw Batman moments ago. The first thing his mind registered; fear.
He was scared when he saw the Dark Knight for the first time. And now revenge for making him feel that way was on the assailant's mind. Being so easily frightened by a mere man with no powers to speak of.
He advanced into the battlefield of the parking lot, kindly reminding his mental training how much he wanted to do this. Besides, how many chances came along at killing the Batman?
Clark was beginning to grasp at the obsessive concept that Bruce seemed to always be in. Standing proudly in the Monitor Womb arms folded across his strong chest, the Man of Steel made his best face in looking interested at all the current screens displaying various missions. As far as anyone around him could tell, the righteous leader of the Justice League appeared to be in no different mood then from any other day.
That was far from the truth.
He didn't want to admit it, but the conflict that resulted in the disappearance of his two nemeses left Clark unsettled. When the self-proclaimed god's return, Superman had tapped into power he rarely used or enjoyed using to defeat the juggernaut Darksied. And as strong as he fought, that was not enough as the dark lord who appeared to have only died with Luthor in a brilliant explosion of light.
He truly wished they both were forever gone. But that was a groundless hope. As Batman put it, neither of them had likely died. Bruce was rarely wrong and Clark's instincts were telling him that his dark crusading friend was right.
"You can stop worrying about them," J'onn said in his always calm manner as he approached the Man of Steel.
He faked a smile. "Worrying about whom?" No point in hiding the truth, Superman told himself after he spoke remembering that every thought he had could be read by his green friend.
"Darkseid and Luthor. I sense that they have not left your mind for days now."
With great exhaustion Clark sigh, unfolding his hands allowing them to dangle at his sides. "I'm still not ready to put it pass me they are truly gone." He looked at his Martian friend with the concerned face. "Darksied was one thing, but being in the company of Luthor only spells trouble for us when they return."
"Nor should you allow yourself to believe that they are gone." J'onn dismissively returned his gaze at the monitors. "Whatever item Luthor had given to that monster, it clearly was far more interesting to him then killing you."
"I think I'll take that as a compliment."
Sensing Superman's continuing discomfort J'onn turned his attention to him. "In the event that either one of them choose to return," he paused with a stern face. "You won't have to face them alone."
Superman smirked. "It's good to have you back, J'onn."
J'onn was always one that could give comfort to anyone who needed it. But the comfort was short lived with the Martian moving away. Clark's eyes lingered to the floor; mind asking simply what Darksied had said in awe to what Luthor was presenting him that day.
What did he call it?
The Anti-Life Equation.
It's name alone gave Superman pause as he resumed his gaze at the monitors. If Darkseid was dangerous before, he just stepped up a level from what little was known of the equation. Superman admitted to himself that he was scared and uncertain of what to do with the new threat. The memory of the pain still lingered through his body like never before with the world blocked out by his own screams. It was death and yet he still lived in a moment in time where all he could do was cry out from what the Agony Matrix was doing to him. He fought against it with every ounce of will that flowed through Superman's veins.
Darkseid's voice echoing in calming pleasure at his own merciless pain.
"Still alive?" he paused. "You impress me kryptonian. More, your valor has touched my heart. Oh yes, there is some part of me that knows mercy. I will end your pain." he reached for his arm and removed a small device.
He drew its green blade out. "With something that I have been saving just for this occasion," he paused to listen to the the man's screams that were growing quieter. He was indeed dying from the pain. Darkseid would not be robbed of his chance of personally removing the life from this annoying pest.
"I am going to carve out your heart and put in on a pike in my throne room."
I am going to die, there is no escape, he's going to kill me. And the earth, will burn. No, God help me, I can't! So much still left to do, Superman's mind rang.
With all the pain his body was receiving his mind still possessed the strength to think. All of the things still left undone, all the things still left unsaid.
Lois..... I never told her.
My friends..... I failed them.....
Bruce..... Diana....... I'm sorry, I failed you both......
His last thoughts as Superman regretted not having been given enough time to finish everything that he wanted to see and accomplish. To tell Lois his secret, that he loved her and wanted to marry her. His parents, giving no kids for them to have and to hold. All of his friends here on Earth and in the Justice League. And for Bruce, the stubborn man who is his best friend.
Clark had only become recently aware of it but was certain Bruce would never admit to himself or to anyone of his caring for Diana. The coldness man alive who has a heart. How obvious it sat there between the two. It was Clark's intent on giving the shove the man needed in the direction he was too afraid of taking.
Despair, it ran through the entire fighting with Darkseid.
So much to do.... and I going to die before I get to......
He approached, ready to remove the most powerful part of Superman's body that gave him the strength and the courage to do what others simply could not. To give and never take, giving everyone the fair chance and then some at life.
He stood ready to strike and then Superman's agonized ears heard him. That man's voice, "As much as I would enjoying see that, first you got some business with me."
He approached cocky as ever, and as powerful as ever. A tie and suit, a statement to the undying force that was Luthor's ambition. He adjusted his cuff. "Sorry it took me so long," a slight tie adjustment. "I had to go get my power suit."
He stared in awe at this mortal's boldness. "You would dare challenge me?! Insanity."
"Oh, I'm not here to challenge you Darkseid. Quite the contrary," he reached into his jacket. Lex truly loved moments like this, live and death. Choices that decided the very course of the universe itself. "I've got something you want." He offered it, glowing brightly in his shielding hand. He opened his fist. "The only thing you want." Unleashing the brilliance of the equation and all of its splendor for Darkseid and the world to at last see.
He approached, "The Anti-Life Equation!" Like a moth to the flame he followed, nothing else around him mattered.
"My gift to you." Luthor continued to hold it out as the dark creature's eyes grew in awe of the equation.
Superman couldn't comprehend it, he couldn't get over his pain as it drained away whatever life remained in his body. But from the dimming view of his eyes, he saw something or someone. He recognized him and as much as Superman was experiencing at the moment, he found comfort in sight of his friend, Batman. If he was here, then somehow, everything was going to be okay. He would make it through this day as long as Bruce was there to fight. He was too stubborn to die and was even more stubborn to let anyone else.
They touched the equation and was thrown into a spectacle of white light. His sighs dimmed and faded. Willing with his last breath, Clark wanted the world and himself to know that he did his best to stop him. That he died protecting the planet that he had come to love.
He was leaving this life....
Then it released him.
He rose, his body battered but his will strong again to battle against his exhausted nerves. He was a hero and he needed to save Lex, even if he was the villain. Saving lives was all that mattered.
He blocked him. "It's too late!"
Batman was right, it was too late, for both of them. Wind and dust whirled around as the two villains exchanged their admiration for what they were seeing. Superman had to try but his body was to weak and still needed time to recover. Batman grabbed him, forcing him to flee from the creator that his own might had created.
The light was consuming the villains and everything around them.
Clark knew Bruce was tired, he may not have gone as long against Darkseid as he had but being only human, Bruce's body could only take so much. Yet it was him that was carrying Superman, it was the strength of the Dark Knight's unbreakable will that overcame his fatigue, pain, and exhaustion. He pulled both of them out of the creator just in time.
Batman carried him, still not looking back.
He was a hero.
Retrieving himself from that the near death experience nightmare not so long ago he lived through. And smiled remembering later how he explained the story the rest of them along with trying to thank Batman for his heroic deeds. All he got in return was a stoic stare and a 'can we get on with the meeting?'
Bruce didn't like being thanked or praised for his acts and wanted to dismiss the hero's praise entirely. Ma and Pa Kent always taught Clark to repay any kind acts of friendship with the same if not more acts of friendship. Bruce neither wanted favors nor did he want friendship as far as the Man of Steel could tell.
The gruesome truth of the nature of Batman was that he didn't want or need anyone around him. He blamed it on the their safety and would compromise his mission if any of them got hurt. Clark knew better then that and so did Diana; one of his supposedly non-existent friends. Bruce was a hurting man, hurt by the loss of his parents, and among many other things that Superman still had no idea of. Never allowing himself the chance to be hurt again by remaining in the shadows of his work, appearing to most as a soulless monster.
That of course was never how Clark saw him.
At least not any more.
The Man of Steel's mind was made up in thinking of anyway he could return a life saving favor to Bruce but his thoughts were cut short when a alarm went off.
"What is it?" Superman asked unfolding his arms as J'onn examined the computer counsel.
"There is a disturbance near Metropolis." The Martian's eyes never let off the computer monitor.
"Around the outer limits of the city, a S.T.A.R. Labs facility." J'onn paused as he brought up the a current satellite image of the facility. "It appears that some sort of metahuman has broken into the lab without tripping the primary alarms. It also appears that...."
Superman was growing impatient. "What J'onn?"
"One of our own is already on the scene and is engaging him."
J'onn looked at boy scout. "Batman."
The visual was all too clear; Clark saw the flames seemingly appeared from the person and it darted across the parking lot towards Bruce who leaped out of the way, avoiding the blunt of the attack.
What was Bruce doing in Metropolis?
Not important, he needed help.
Clark's eyes widened as he and J'onn witnessed the fire exploded around Bruce knocking his body forcefully into the air like a rag doll following a hard landing onto the roof top of a parked vehicle.
"Who is the closest person we have in the area?"
J'onn typed away bringing up a very short list. "Question and Huntress are in a local area working on an investigation, but they would take too much time in getting there to assist."
"They wouldn't be much of help to Bruce, who else?" Superman desperately asked hoping to send someone strong enough to go to the aid of his friend.
J'onn typed some more, then the name came up. "Diana is about eight miles from Batman's current position."
J'onn needed to say no more as Superman tapped at his ear-piece communicator. "Diana this is Superman, come in!"
There was static at first but Diana's voice quickly came in loud and clear. Her voice reciprocated the concern that she heard in Clark's voice. "I read you, Superman. What's wrong?"
"Batman is not from from your current position and he is in need of assistance," Superman tried to speak calmly, but the dread in his voice was easily picked up.
There was a moment's pause. "Where is he?"
"In front of S.T.A.R. Lab's just outside the city. J'onn will relay his position to you, I'm on my way now. The transporters are still down so I'll be coming in late."
"Understood. Meet you there."
Diana didn't want to think about what could be happening so gravely that Bruce needed help from anyone, especially from the League, who she knew he was not on any working cases with at the moment. Hearing J'onn relay the directions, the Amazon Princess plowed through the air as fast as she could towards where Bruce was. Raven hair caught in the wind and tossed around as she offered a prayer to her gods in hopes of making it before it was too late. Not surprising to Diana that her heart was already racing faster then it should.
When it came to Bruce Wayne, the Batman of Gotham it always caused the Amazon's heart to beat out of control. Maybe it was his dark appearance or the mystery in the bottle that Bruce was that Diana needed to open.
Her heartbeat she realized, only further confirmed that she like Bruce a lot. And despite his cold nature towards her, Diana had still liked him. There wasn't a time that the Amazon Princess could recall just like this morning of not having a liking towards the Dark Knight. It was those same feelings for Bruce that caused the terrible sense of dread in her about his safety beyond being a simple comrade. If a situation arose in which the Batman himself needed help even from her, that was more then enough to become concerned about.
She tried his communicator, the first thought to the Amazon with any hopes of reassurance that Bruce was alright. Just the sound of his voice could settle the growing fear within her. The few moments of static from his side made Diana's heart sink in her chest not wanting to think the worst has happened. Her hands began to tremble with the possibility. No sooner did a hot anger overtake the princess at the idea that he might have fallen. Hera help whoever was responsible should anything have happened to him.
Diana could only image what the extent of her wrath would do to a person. Before she indulged in the idea further then she should, another thought steeled the princess's spirit. Diverting her mind away from the fear of Bruce being lost. While he was on his solo act as Batman, he never held an open communicator link with any members of the League when working outside of them. Switching it off to anyone that was not in his little batclan club.
Then he was alive and waiting for someone; for her to come and help him.
Burning through the sky with a wind breaking sound falling behind her, every part of Diana told her to hurry for Bruce's sake. He had a warrior spirit like her own, but like her own, even that needed help from time to time.
"Urrragh!" Bruce shouted as another explosion again tossed him into the air by his opponent.
He had been dodging and thrown around from one side of the parking lot to the other trying to stay alive for the past twenty minutes. He could not keep this up for long and was tiring quicker thanks to his injuries. His adversary looked to have not lost an ounce of strength from all his fiery expulsions and was very well enjoying himself.
Bruce tried melee combat, but again each time any part of his body came in contact with his person, the Dark Knight's skin would burn instantly.
The man had to be a walking inferno or something.
Firing a grappling hook towards a lamppost saving himself another painful fall; he needed something to gain the upperhand.
Swinging around the lamppost, Batman gliding sternly before forcing himself into a dive towards the fiery foe. His legs extended and poured every ounce of strength in his body into a double footed kick to the man's chest. Connecting, it the first blow Batman made in knocking the villain off his feet. Stunningly as Batman landed with his cape collapsing behind him, his opponent twirled around, landing smoothly on all four limps that were spread out to absorb his weigh.
"Nice," he began with a great sense of admiration. "You nearly made me hit the floor. My turn."
Batman made it look like a dance as he spun around his attacking opponent. But before able to return an attack himself, Bruce saw a sharp backhand hit him in the face. It was followed by a series of quick and powerful knee kicks to his mid section. The results to the attacks made him collapse under the weariness of his body.
The assailant looking down at him, like the Batman was some dog or something. Arms crossed with a pleasing arrogant look of success at his handiwork. The guy was strong and his attacks had done damage to where Bruce's body didn't want to move.
"It would seem that I am your better, Batman." He smiled wanting to say more, but before another word could be drawn, he received a powerful uppercut punch to the jaw. The moment of opportunity was not lost as Batman fired another grappling hook and was again in the air. Putting some much needed distance between himself and his opponent to recover.
He couldn't hold onto the hook for long. Bruce could feel his lower body screaming and tightening with pain. Side aching and the muscles riled with fatigue which only by mere willpower allowed Batman to continue the fight.
His trip in the air lasted only so long before Bruce's strength had given out forcing a rough landing onto the paved ground. He fell on his knees and immediately grabbed at his lower torso feeling the sting of the attacks he had been dealt.
Having fought against the criminal insane minds of a verity of peoples, along with a number of metahumans and self-proclaimed gods, there wasn't much that could surprise Bruce at the advantages his foes possessed. He could easy out think any of them and come up top with a victory. Yet this unknown foe he was glaring at, displayed powers and some descent skill in combat that had brought him to his knees. He hated being bested and from the look on the man's face, this fight was coming close to a conclusion.
"That. Will. Cost. You."
It should have been a jaw breaking hit with the amount of force Bruce had put into it. He growled under the sharp intakes of his own breathing. For all his strength that reached the peek of normal humans, it counted for nothing against this metahuman.
The assailant recovered from what little damage inflicted to him and with a angry fed up look, he stretched out both arms aiming solely at the kneeling Batman. His face turned cold bearing no emotion or remorse for what he was about to do to another life form as his hands blazed up with a hellish fury. Charging with a powerful blast that Batman was certain to leave no traces of his existence.
It was stunning at what this man was capable of and Bruce knew he was going to die if he didn't move. His legs strained over the course of the fighting felt as if a ton of weight were holding them down. There was nothing left the damaged state his body was in for any strength to summon another avoiding dash.
Knowing he couldn't move, Bruce wasn't sure if he was afraid or not; a lifetime of near death experiences had removed his fear of dying a long time ago. But staring at the flames boiling up on the man's hands, the Dark Knight dreadfully concluded that if he was not able to move within the next ten seconds he was going to be incinerated.
The fiery menace reaching a satisfactory amount of flame grinned before spewing two thick streams of fire directly at the injured hero. There would be no mistake in hitting him, leaving little if anything left to look at afterwards. He was going to kill the infamous Batman.
The fires came at Bruce just like the fires of an explosion would have, burning with all of hell's consuming fury. He narrowed his eyes to an angered scowl than flung his cape in around his body. Designed to be flame resistance but Batman knew by the looks of the fire that his cape wouldn't protect him for long.
The Dark Knight closed his eyes hearing the flames sizzling through the air submitting that if he were to die it would be quick. He avoided death every time he dawned on the mask, but tonight was the night it finally caught up. To die no less from a enemy Bruce knew nothing about.
He waited intently for the flames to eat away at his flesh before a gust of wind brushed past and the few seconds that Bruce calculated for the flames to reach him, nothing happened. He snapped his eyes open and stared in the direction of what should have been his demises. There, he saw a familiar figure standing in front of him, blocking the path of the fatal flames with her bracelets.
Diana braced herself against the impact of the flames knowing fully well that her invulnerable bracelets could not protect her from something like this. The force of the oncoming flames heavily impacting pushed her back a few inches before Diana could get a solid footing. It was powerful and she could feel her hands burning while her legs struggled to stay locked in place. She wanted to scream but only managed a painful groan thinking to herself it was better than having Bruce being burned to death.
Her knees after only seconds began to buckle as the fires pushed against the Amazon's strength. Her hands left exposed the flame were burning and the pain was becoming near unbearable, yet she pressed on not wanting a single second of these flames to hurt Bruce. And a warrior's heart never gave up the fight.
The villain's eyes widened at amazement at Wonder Woman struggling against his powers. No one without similar feats had stood up to his powers of this extreme for long. How did she manage to endure such flesh incinerating heat?
His amazement for the Amazon brushed off instantly seeing the fighting hero slowly dropped to her knees. She wouldn't, couldn't last and it was foolish to think that even the famous Amazon would survive with only the protection of a pair of bracelets. Hardly an effective shield against his fiery onslaught.
Diana's skin was burning and the smell of it was filling the air around the two heroes. She still wanted to scream but found no energy to do so. Her body shook with agony that was flowing from her arms to the rest of her body.
His focus was absolute and the flames nearly drowned out the view of the heroes. All he went by now was the groaning sounds of pain that Wonder Woman let out as his flames continued to scorch her flesh. She was hurting and not long before he felt that she was collapsing under the strain, a incoming projectile collided with his head with a pounding force. The batarang after impacting, let out a sonic ring that reached in the man's skull and was painful enough to throw his mind off balance causing his attack to cease.
He grabbed his head that was screaming for attention from the sonic blast, trying ever so hard not to let out a scream of agony. First instinct was to tap into using learned skills he acquired to subdue the pain to a manageable level. His vision was impaired from the attack, but a quick moment of concentration allowed the world back into focus. He wasn't sure what the batarang did, but once his blurred vision cleared, he saw a super powered Amazon coming at him. Her eyes maddened and posture ready still after all her injuries for a fight.
Without hesitating Wonder Woman flew straight at the man delivering several punches to him. Her burned hands hurting with each contact against his flesh gave no deter to Diana's will to stop this person. Her strength rarely matched by anyone was being challenged one hit at time by this man as she knocked him back.
Still on his feet, absorbing several attacks from the Amazon, the villain made a decisive strike at Diana's side forcing an end to her onslaught of punches. Her attacks hurt but was far from being enough to put him out of the fight.
He mentally licked his wound and to Diana's surprise he smiled. She was hurt and he was more than ready to take on the Amazon as he charged both hands with a fire emitting glow. He made a low chuckle seeing the extent of the damage done to Wonder Woman's skin before growling at his own injures. His head was still ringing with a sonic pain and the front of his body felt as if it when one-on-one with a semi-truck.
Not willing to let his wounds or his injured pride impair him, he took a fighting stance against the floating Wonder Woman ready to finish the fight.
Forgetting the pain of her hands, the Amazon warrior's facial expression dare him to try and compete with her in a one-on-one match. He may not have known it, but Amazons were not the type who quit when confronting pain. She would never quit; if not from the warrior spirit within her than by the need to protect her friend that was still trying to get to his feet behind her.
His smile turned mischievously, mentally welcoming the chance at showing one of the world's most powerful heroes just how weak she truly was. He advanced a few steps, charging to leap into the air towards her. Gaining footing off the ground he was ready to strike. Then another whispering in the wind caught his attention. The same sound of moving wind that followed Wonder Woman when she arrived rush through the villain's trained ears.
The moment of distraction was enough for the opposing hero to make two strong punches at his face and chest. He fell back in pain onto his feet, easily skidding on the ground followed by his hand for balance. He looked up at the floating hero wanting to begin again, but the howling wind from afar was growing louder. Given the city, it could only be one other as he turned his sights to the sky, confirming his fears in seeing the incoming projectile dot that was Superman.
Taking to the attack at his distraction again, Wonder Woman charged with two more powerful punches aimed at the villain's face. It felt like his jaw had been shattered as he absorbed the impacts, but rather then continue a drawn out fight, the assailant quickly summon his powers and drew his fist back for an attack. Growling with rage he force a massive flame to form on his backed fist than slammed it against the abdomen of Wonder Woman.
His female foe shouted painfully absorbing the blow as the attack threw her back hard. She flew in the air powerless to stop herself, followed by roughly scrapping on her side against the ground before coming to a stop near the Dark Knight.
Diana was hurt and badly as Batman grew close to her. He felt the inhumanly made heat her attacker left on her body. Forgetting how he summoned the strength to move so quickly under his own injuries, all that mattered now was to make sure Diana was alright. He carefully moved her on her back hoping she was still breathing. To Batman's relief she was and already coming to her senses.
The villain took a second to recover and found himself staring at the two heroes. It would have been so easy to incinerate both of them right there and then but the growing whistling wind told the assailant he didn't have much time before the Man of Steel arrived. Given that he himself was already tired and his jaw hurt like hell, there was little chance he could go one round against Superman.
He looked up at the sky seeing only seconds of a escape window before looking back at his foes. There would be another time he was sure of it. He glanced at his side seeing that he still had what he came for. Despite the fact he couldn't finish the fight, tonight had proven to be a success. Not only did he defeat two heroes alone but also managed to acquire the materials needed for his future plans in Metropolis.
Not wanting to really leave the fight unfinished, the assailant shot a poorly aimed fire stream at the heroes before the villain turned and sprinted with an unnatural speed away from area. He could hear Batman following from behind as he leaped over a henge of bushes outlining the S.T.A.R. Lab parking lot.
Batman felt his body ache which to an normal human would be unbearable and would force them to stop. He had no intention of stopping as continued to run with whatever speed his unwilling body granted. He was going to stop him whatever the cost. If not to make that man pay for what he did to her.
Bruce saw the man jump behind a henge of bushes then within seconds a series of red and orange light appearing like the dawning sun followed. The curious lights faded as quickly as they appeared, Bruce approached cautiously peering over the bushes. Not much to his surprise he saw nothing, the villain had....
"Ugh," Diana groaned, tiredly rising to her feet. She felt sluggish as her body stung with pain. Her eyes squinted as the Amazon lifted her head to see the Dark Knight approaching.
"He got away?" she asked groggily.
"Yes," Bruce responded flatly. He saw her coping with the pain of her body Probably even more then what his own body was feeling.
Diana clenched her badly burned fists which were unmistakably shaking. He stared at her body's reaction to the injuries which even Amazonian pride and her unique blessings could not suppress. She tried to hide it from him as her body tensed up, but the pain she was enduring was plainly written on over her face.
Gently Bruce reached for her hands and easily placed them into his, easily turning them open to examine the extent of the damage. She made a hissing intake of air as her skin was horribly burned. If it had been anyone else, the burns would heal and leave disfiguring damage to every inch of the effected skin. The movement caused a slight addition to the pain but Diana didn't resist his touch. Her hands were hurting and strangely became unimportant.
She could not help but bear the slightest of smiles.
"It's not as bad as it looks, I'll be healed in a day or so," Diana said not wanting him to let go of her hands.
His attention turned to Diana as the white lenses covering Bruce's eyes stared at her. In response to his gaze, Diana felt a warming sensation travel down her spin that flowed painfully to the rest of the Amazon's angry body, causing more tension from every inch of her. That hardly matter much as Diana found the feeling a too enjoyable experience even when it caused her additional body pains in the end.
She hid the pain well enough, as Bruce looked at her. Diana held a straight face but he noted that she was indeed hiding a great deal of pain that her body was feeling. That was hardly surprising, but what threw Batman off guard was the fact that Diana was unmistakably beginning to blush. Her cheeks turned slightly pink and a weary worn smile crept on her lips. The skin reaction on Diana's face was not being caused by the heat from the fight, he could see through that, least of all a smile.
He tried to make a logical excuse for Diana's reaction, anything that would sound reasonable in his mind.
With all the logic and intelligence he possessed, nothing came to mind. The blushing was being caused by him and it was unsettling. But thanks to the cowl she didn't pick up on Bruce's discomfort. He looked back at her hands and without hesitating reached for his utility belt removing a cylinder object.
He didn't say a word. Choosing to remain silent if only for his own sake as he pressed down on cylinder that instantly released a cooling spray onto Diana's hands. The Amazon's stinging nerves were settling significantly all across her burned areas that Bruce sprayed at. Slowly he flipped her hands around and continued with the other side carefully making sure the moment caused the least amount of additional pain to Diana. He focused intently as he applied the spray generously on her wounds; daring not to look into her face. Almost dreading to even picture those angel blue eyes and her perfectly scrupled face looking at him the way she often did.
"The pain should be subsiding in moments. It's not going away anytime soon, Princess, but that should help and avoid infection," Bruce said tucking the device away in his belt.
His hand returned to holding hers and he continued to look at them. Her flawless skin was charred and reddish from the flames, but that didn't stop them from still appearing as beautiful as ever on their bearer. He didn't want to let them go.
"Third degree burns are a cause for concern, but given your remarkable healing rate this should not pose to be much of a problem."
"I'll be alright, how about you?" Diana said softly. Bruce was better at hiding pain then anyone else, but being around the Dark Knight long enough she knew what to look for from what the common eye would miss.
Slowly he lifted his head daring again to look at her. He had assured himself that he had gotten rid of whatever he was feeling for Diana a while ago. Suppressed it like everything else that didn't belong within the Batman.
That still didn't hide the truth from him.
Diana's beauty was flawless, a picture of seer perfection with her blue eyes and raven hair falling gracefully down her body. Her cheeks molded into the sweetest look of faces coupled by her naturally ruby lips. She never let up on her smile making Bruce feel relax as he continued to hold her hands in his own. She was a goddess of beauty with a heart of tendering care Bruce did not see in anyone else. How he adored that quality in Diana while his eyes never steered away from the sight of her.
His face look heartless, and was the face Batman gave to everyone. Yet Diana could see past Bruce's glares and emotionless facial expressions; somehow she saw something more. Bruce may not have even been aware, but it was there. That sincere look of caring and feeling that Bruce hid from the world and from her. The cowl and the lenses hindered little of what Diana could see in him.
The moment almost seemed perfect as their hands held the other and the pain of their bodies fell into obscurity becoming simply a unnoticeable annoyance. He wanted to tell her, just those simple words that lingered in Bruce's mind that he struggled to bury. His mental disciplines and control over the nagging emotions were quickly evaporating. It was on the tip of his tongue as he looked at her. She cared for him and as much as he tried to deny himself of it, Bruce cared for her considerably. It was not far to think that he love this woman. That he-
Bruce gasped, his face turned into a shocked and frightened look that quickly caused the princess's smile to fall. She could feel his gently holding hands tense but not close on hers; his whole body tightened and the unresponsive look on his face sent an alerting fear in the Amazon. Her hands, laying in his palms gently took hold his.
"Batman?" Diana asked concernedly. He didn't move and the look of utter terror still remained painted on the Dark Knight's face. She could feel his body growing cold. Her eyes looking feverishly at him for any sign of movement. Was he even breathing?
"Batman, what's wrong?" not hiding the fear in her voice as she spoke into his ear. She was within inches of his face. "Bruce?"
The world Bruce was in moments ago fled from him. He heard her cry out to him. There was pain, horrible pain running through his mind.
The day they died; that night where everything of a normal life was stripped away from him. It was unreal, yet was as clear as day. The gun delivering judgment onto Bruce's family. He wanted to scream for all the life that was in him. Death that surrounded Bruce howled and cackled with its red eyes beaming down from the heavens. Than there she was in the heat of it all. Lifeless, cold, and yet in pain. If it was her pain or his, Bruce was not certain of.
All he could think and hear was her calling out to him. Her voice carrying the concern and the very life that he could not ignore for anything. He felt the world around him again and the pain of his body returned. He groaned losing his balance and fell to only be caught in her arms.
"Bruce!" she said elevating to volume of her voice.
Bruce snapped back into the world, taking only a second to regain footing. Like the nights before, Bruce could almost swear his soul was pulled away from his body. Once he gain solid footing he saw Diana staring concernedly. Whatever happened, the Dark Knight halted any further thinking regarding it. He would not be so weak as to show any misgiving effects to anything that happened to him.
Standing under his own power now, Diana's arms released him. Almost changing into another completely different person, the Amazon saw the Batman persona return into place.
His red boots touched down onto the earth. "Batman, Diana," Clark openly stated as he walked towards them. He noted the look on Diana's face that was nothing short of dread. "Diana?"
She said nothing in response to her friend Kal.
"Bruce?" she asked again.
Bruce moved his head slight to Superman's approach. His emotions gone, sealed away again behind the persona of the Batman.
"I'm fine." He turned his body around.
"What happened?" Superman asked.
"A thief broke into the lab. He made off with something from one of the vaults."
"Did you recognize him? Who was he?"
"Unknown. This is someone entirely new."
Superman saw that Batman was holding himself painfully, no doubt suffering some injuries he had sustained from the battle. The Man of Steel than glazed back at Diana, she too was hurt but at the moment it didn't look like it bothered her nor did look as if she cared. Her face was unchanged towards Bruce, obviously Clark had missed something important that just taken place.
He turned back to Batman, "Your hurt, Bruce. Want me to take a look?"
Expected, but Clark had to ask. Blamed it on whatever friendship he had with this person. "What did he take?"
"Unsure." Batman looked at the glass doors his body had been thrown through earlier. "But I am going to fine out." He stormed off silently to the lab holding to his strong bearing. Bruce rarely allowed his weaknesses show and tonight was no different. Footsteps carefully landing at normal pace onto the pavement without allowing his body's pain to be visible in his movements.
Both of their eyes were trained on Batman before he disappeared into the darkness of the lab. Clark closed the distance between himself and Diana. Her eyes never wavering away from the direction Batman had left in. Bruce was hurting no doubt from the fight. Yet the look on Diana's face told the Man of Steel that something had happened to Bruce far more than a few battle hurts.
"Diana? What is it?"
The sound of Kal's voice nor the sound of approaching police sirens had managed to distract Diana's mind from going over what had just happened. Even if she wanted to; how could she explain to Superman to what had just happened?
The fight once over allowed Bruce and her another share moment of bliss together. A few seconds in enjoyment of being in the other's company. Yet by some cruelty of fate that followed, the two were interrupted once again.
The Amazon Princess watched something overtake Batman without warning. Making him look and feel more of statue than of a actually person. Locked for several long seconds in a state of pausing terror without even drawing a single breath.
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver. - Barbra De Angelis