A/N: Thank you all so much! :) So happy you enjoyed that last chapter. PS: A lot of you are asking for Supes and Lois... Do not fear, they are returning! :) And if you're all interested in a sequel (I have a trilogy planned), they'll be regulars in the next story.
And someone mentioned Bruce being OOC... I refer back to the comics: the Heart of Hush, Hush, and several others. Bruce can definitely let loose and chill with someone he loves. When he's really in love, he often jokes around. It's uncommon, but it's still canon. If he can be like that there, then growing up with Diana he'd border on being slightly normal. :)
PS: I keep changing my mind, but due to my love of Person of Interest, I'm thinking Bruce as Jim Caviezel (think his gorgeous long hair from the end of Count of Monte Cristo) and Diana as Emily Didonato.
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The woods were cold and dark, and a creeping, haunting wind moaned through the black, craggy trees looming overhead. The grasses crinkled beneath my toes, biting into my skin. I was alone in the dark jungle, but I felt as though someone were watching me. I reached for any weapons at my belt but discovered I wasn't wearing my armor - I was wearing a white, gauze dress - one I'd worn before on Themyscira.
Was I on Themyscira? It was too dark to tell...
An owl hooted, and I whirled around. A giant, horned owl glared down at me with glowing yellow eyes. I tried to burst up to fly - but I couldn't fly! I tried to jump, but it was as if something were holding me firmly to the ground.
What was going on?
The grasses wound around my toes, making it impossible to pull away. As I struggled, a burst of flame lit the dark night, right before my eyes, and the woods roared to light. The heat - the heat was too much. But I couldn't move! I tried to call out, but my throat seized, and I gasped for air. The fire burned closer, right near my toes -
A sudden wave of flames erupted right in front me, and I tumbled back to the ground, shielding my eyes from the violent blaze. As I blinked, a dark figure stepped through the fire. I squinted in an attempt to see who it was...
The hooded figure stopped just in front of me, its cloak crackling as the flames licked the hem.
"Who are you?" I tried to get out.
A burst of flame lit the figure's face - the hood burned away, revealing the face...
Athena. Her cold grey eyes burned hotter than the fires that engulfed her. She rose to her full impressive height, her cloak billowing around her in the raging inferno. The owl hooted again, soared down to perch on her shoulder, glaring at me with those golden eyes.
Golden eyes mixed with grey - both cold enough to send a chill through me against the heat.
"I warned you, Diana," she rasped. "I warned you. You have turned on your sisters. You will pay for your betrayal of the Amazons. Of your own people. What I've done to Alkyone is nothing compared to what you will suffer..." She drew even closer. Still, I couldn't speak. Still I couldn't move.
And a pair of red-rimmed, glaring white eyes rising out of the dark -
"Diana," I heard a familiar voice rasp.
"Ares," I breathed as a burning, giant hand reached for me -
Athena's voice came out as a guttural hiss as she burst forward and shrieked: "I WILL DESTROY YOU!"
I jolted awake with a gasp, only to realize that I was encased by a pair of strong arms, and someone was urgently speaking to me. I blinked, breathing deeply, to find myself staring back at a grim Bruce. Wait, what? I gazed at him, discombobulated for a moment, until I remembered the events from last night.
"You were having a nightmare. About Themyscira... and Ares. You were muttering his name," he said gravely.
I sighed, ran a hand through my hair, and fell back against the pillow. He lay back down, held me to his chest. I curled up into him.
"I thought my nightmares before were bad... But this..." I sighed, shutting my eyes as his hand stroked through my hair. "This felt so real. Like it was a warning."
He was silent for a moment. "We haven't seen or heard from Ares in years. Why do you think he'd show up now?"
"He... I don't know," I admitted. "Before, he was after me for my mother. But I already went back to Themyscira... Unless Hippolyta still wants me back. I don't see why she would."
"She could want revenge. You two didn't end on the best of terms."
"No," I said glumly. "I guess I didn't expect it to. She... really hates men. Hates that I don't hate men. But it's really about revenge on Ares, too... He betrayed her. And so did I. But then... she betrayed Hades, in a way. Oh, Bruce... why is my family so messed up?" I groaned.
His hand pressed warmly against my shoulder. "It's early, and we've had a late night. It could've been just a dream. Try to sleep." He snorted softly. "This coming from me. We are really messed up, Di."
"We'll be messed up together," I muttered, resting my cheek against the crook of his arm and chest.
"Sounds good," he replied quietly before we both drifted off to sleep once again.
It was a strange sensation, waking up in another bed. I'd been back in Gotham for several months now and had gotten used to my own bed. But Bruce's bed was so much larger. I curled up into the covers and felt a hand brush my arm. Still tired from the past night, I started to fall back to sleep.
I barely heard the door creak open. Didn't even hear the quiet pitter patter of tiny feet creeping into the bedroom. Didn't see the small figure standing by our bed with her stuffed tiger in her hands. But I was aroused from my sleep to the feeling of the bed dipping near my feet. I didn't even have to open my eyes to know it was Cassie. She crawled right in the space between Bruce and me, got under the covers, and curled up to me. I pressed a kiss to her head and held her. She must've come looking for me to start our morning routine of me reading to her...
Cass let out a soft sigh and fell back asleep.
It was strange. Alkyone hadn't heard any noises coming from either Cass's or Diana's room. She peeked into Cassie's room first, but it was empty. Although expecting to find her daughter and granddaughter in Di's room, neither of them were there, either. And she hadn't heard them come downstairs. How odd.
Then, she looked down to the end of the hall... and saw that the door to the master bedroom was slightly open. Curious, as it was always closed, Alkyone crept down the hall and sneaked up to the door. She didn't hear anything. Hesitantly, she poked her head through the doorway and glanced around the room. Her gaze halted when she saw Bruce and Diana asleep, and in between them, Cassie was silently playing with her stuffed tiger. Alkyone grinned and shut the door.
As she came downstairs to find Alfred pouring some tea and coffee, she said, "Well, I think Bruce and Diana have worked things out."
"Finally," Alfred muttered. "That boy is so bloody stubborn. I thought it would never happen."
"Alfred!" laughed Alkyone, surprised. "I'm shocked by your tone, dear!"
Alfred placed a cup of coffee in front of her. "You know as well as I the trouble I've had with him... getting him to understand that he is not alone and that he has the most wonderful young lady right in front of him. I don't know where he got his stubbornness from. His parents, God rest their souls, were the most easy-going people I've ever met."
"Maybe he got it from you," Alkyone teased, prodding him gently in the chest.
Alfred smiled. "Or perhaps it rubbed off your daughter, my dear."
"Speaking of said daughter... it's her birthday in a few days. She'll be twenty-three. Twenty-three!" Alkyone muttered, rubbing a hand over her head. "I feel like it was just yesterday that I was chasing her around the apartment... reading her story-books... changing her diaper... feeding her bottles of warm milk..." She bit her lip; and on one of these rare occasions, the hardened, weary Amazon warrior became the tender, wistful mother.
"Are you well, my dear?" Alfred asked gently, placing a hand over hers.
Alkyone's lip was trembling. "I never did tell you, did I, Alfred?" she said quietly, almost a whisper. "Never tell did tell you about that night. When I almost killed my own daughter."
"You do not have to tell me anything," said Alfred firmly.
"Yes, I do. Not just for you... for myself. Diana knows... but that doesn't make it any easier." Alkyone looked away to the window, out to the rolling hills. "We were all barren. I'd lost my husband and child during the war against Ares... and Hippolyta had forbidden any of us to leave. Most of us did not want to. And eventually, my heart grew hard. I forced myself to forget. At least, I tried. But that hole never healed. I dedicated my life to the Queen, was overjoyed when she chose me for the Captain of her personal guard." She shook her head bitterly. "But in my heart, I knew it wasn't enough. It would never be enough.
"Some of us made carvings out of wood and stone. We called them Whittle-babies. Even I had one... but didn't tell anyone else. I tried to destroy any other whittle-babies I found - more for myself than anyone else. I tried to convince myself that I was happy, immortal, burdened with a royal purpose. And then... I learned that Hippolyta would have a daughter. And I couldn't let that happen. I told my sisters that the baby would destroy the island, destroy our civilization." Alkyone's gaze fell to her hands, and her voice was shaking, her body trembling. "Alfred," she whispered. "I'll never forgive myself for that night. I told myself that I would kill her. I would kill an innocent baby.
"But even after my sisters and I sneaked into the Queen's chamber that night... even after I knew that I was only in mourning, insanely jealous that Hippolyta could have a baby - and I was forever barren! Forever! I would never have a child of my own - while Hippolyta, who had forbidden any men or children on the island, had a daughter! Do you have any idea how that felt?"
Alkyone felt all of the past emotions pouring out of her. While her Amazon instincts chastised her display of weakness, of emotions... in front of Alfred, her dearest friend in her lifetime, she felt nothing but relief, but comfort, and knowledge in the fact that he knew her better than anyone. She'd been living for thousands of years, but in only nine years she'd come to feel for and know Alfred Pennyworth more than any other person - even more than her first husband. He understood her. He knew her.
They'd been through hell and back, the two of them. Together. More than friends, with the deepest love and respect for each other. He was the best man she'd ever known.
And right now, he was patiently listening, holding her hands in his own for comfort, emboldening her to continue her sad story.
Alkyone shook her head, one hand resting over her mouth. "That night will never leave my memory. I remember everything, Alfred. Everything. I wanted a baby so badly... And she refused to let us have one. I remember..." Her breath hitched. "I remember the moon was red. I remember the Queen asleep, the baby in her arms. I remember... lifting the sword over the baby. I was going to kill her. I told myself that I would."
She fell silent, and her eyes shut.
"But how could I know?" Her voice grew soft and small, intensely emotional. "That the thing we hated and feared most, that I tried to convince myself would tear our tribe apart... would be more beautiful, more radiant than a thousand suns?"(1) Tears glittered in her eyes. Alkyone had only shed tears only once before... When she learned that she had cancer. But this... this was something else entirely. This was pure shame... regret... and extreme grief.
Another pause, and she wiped her nose and cleared her throat. "I had no idea what I was doing, only that I was incurring the wrath of the gods, that I was betraying not only my Queen, but my sisters, my entire race, and I was entering a world that was just as alien as if I'd gone to another planet. I didn't know until after Diana came back that Hippolyta truly didn't deserve Diana. Hippolyta had always been cold... but to send Ares after us... after her own daughter... and to try to keep her on Themyscira by force..." She shook her head. "Someone's been looking out for Diana."
Alfred took both of Alkyone's hands in his. "And, I must say, she has turned out quite wonderfully," he said, smiling gently at her. "You've done an exemplary job all these years."
Alkyone smiled back. "That means the world, coming from you. As for me..." She gave a self-depreciating smile and ran a hand over her bald head. "Well, you see what I mean."
"Rubbish. If you hadn't noticed, my dear," said Alfred, "my hair has been thinning as of late. Price of being old, I'm afraid."
"Oh, please," said Alkyone. "You're still young. You're only fifty-two."
"No, no, it's no use fighting it," said Alfred with a sigh. "But we shall brave the world with our fabulous hairless heads together." He pressed a warm kiss to her hands and smiled.
Alkyone burst out laughing and leaned across the counter-top, embracing him tightly. "This is why I love you, my dearest friend."
When I finally woke, Bruce was starting to rouse from his sleep as well. He stretched, blinked, and then looked over at me, then down to Cass, then back to me. A faint smile crossed his features. He pressed a warm kiss to Cass's head and ruffled her hair.
"You all right, Cass?" he said, his voice thick with sleep.
Cassie nodded and looked up at him with those large, luminous black eyes. She then leaned up and pecked her lips to his unshaven cheek; then, she made a face and pulled back, rubbing her hand against his cheek.
I grinned, and Bruce smiled ruefully, rubbing his jaw.
"Yeah. I do need to shave."
Cassie nodded, then clambered off the bed, signed, "Going to eat," and ran out of the room, her little footsteps pattering down the hall to find Mom and Alfred.
Bruce watched her go, then looked back at me. His eyes were soft, and he leaned over and pressed a warm kiss to my lips. Running his hand through my hair, on my cheek and neck, he gazed at me, silent for a long moment.
"For the first time since I was eight years old..." His voice was rough. "I didn't have any nightmares last night, Diana. I'm just sorry you did."
"You didn't... so I don't care," I told him.
He kissed me again, then sat up, pulled off the covers, and rose to his feet before abruptly dropping to the floor to do his morning set of push-ups. I watched him for a moment before getting out of bed myself. I poked his side with my foot.
"Hey Mr. Muscles. I'm going to go have some breakfast."
"All right," he grunted. "Be right down."
I grinned, ran a hand through my messed up long hair, and headed downstairs to find Alfred and Mom cooking bacon and blueberry pancakes. Cass stood with her in front of the pan, dropping colored sprinkles into the pancakes. Mom was holding her, murmuring things into her ear. I knew Mom had severely missed having a little girl around, so she was overjoyed when Cass arrived. Thankfully, Cass loved her just as much.
"Morning," I said, stretching.
Mom and Alfred glanced at me; and Mom smirked, glancing down at my clothes. Oh, right. I was wearing Bruce's clothing. I reddened.
"Mom - it's not what you think -"
"Did I say anything?" she said.
"You were going to," I said, my eyes narrowed.
"I didn't say anything!" Mom argued.
"You were certainly going to, dear," Alfred said calmly, pouring me a cup of coffee.
Mom shot him a dirty look, pressing a kiss to Cass's head and rocking her slowly from side to side. "Sweetie, you sure want all of those sprinkles in your pancakes?"
Cass nodded emphatically.
"Okay..." Mom pulled away and let Cassie jump off the step-stool. Mom came up to the island, standing across from me, and gave me a hard look. "All right. I won't snoop, but seeing as how Alfred and I raised you both, we deserve some kind of answer. Are you officially together or not?"
"We've... well, I guess so. I think so. We love each other." I leaned back as Cassie jumped up to sit on my lap. I rested my head on hers.
"What kind of an answer is that?" Mom demanded, exasperated.
"What kind of an answer is what?" Bruce entered the room, still in his sleep pants, but he wore a T-shirt now. His hair was all askew. He took a seat next me at the center island and yawned.
Mom's gaze was firm. "Bruce Thomas Wayne. Are you in love with daughter or not?"
Bruce didn't even flinch. "Yes," he said simply. "We're going to get married soon."
Alfred and Mom and I stared at him; he sat there, calmly taking a sip of his coffee.
"Excuse me?" Mom glared at both of us. "Why don't I see a ring? Preferably over two carats?"
"Mom!" I groaned. "Leave him alone... He hasn't even proposed yet."
"What? Why not? What in Hera's name are you waiting for?" Mom said, shoving Bruce lightly. "Cass is going to need some siblings to play with!"
"Mom!" I said, coloring deeply.
"I will," said Bruce solemnly. "But it has to be the right time. And I have to go away for a few days - a business trip in Metropolis. I'm looking to buy the Daily Planet newspaper."
"You didn't tell me that," I muttered.
"Last minute. I was going to tell you last night before patrol, but..." He trailed off, and his eyes grew dark, undoubtedly remembering last night in the Cave. I reddened at his intense gaze.
I coughed. "Right. Well... when are you coming back?"
"Tomorrow night. I'd ask if you were all right to patrol without -" Bruce suddenly cut himself short, glancing down at a seemingly oblivious Cassie. "If you were all right without me... but I don't think I have to worry about that."
Whew. Close one. "No, I'll be fine," I assured him. It would be strange, however, to patrol without him. I'd never gone solo before, and neither had he. This would prove interesting.
Patrol without Batman was cold and lonely. No one to talk to, to take down criminals with, and no one to drive the Tumbler. As I curled up on a gargoyle, watching the city below, a gunshot rang in my ear. It was coming from inside a closed restaurant. Probably the mafia. I jumped down and sneaked around to the back, just in time to see a man hurtling through the back door. I flew back to avoid him and watched in astonishment as another burly thug was tossed through the door.
Then, a figure in black and violet leaped through the door, flipping over a third man onto the ground. Billowing dark brown hair surrounded a sharply masked face. The figure pointed a sleek crossbow down at the man.
Who the heck...
"I'd stay down if I were you, sweetie," drawled the figure - a young woman in purple and black armor. Her outfit revealed her tanned, toned stomach and her arms and legs, and a black and purple cape billowed around her.
"Because trust me, this will hurt." The arrow pressed into his skull.
No. It couldn't be. I stared at her in disbelief.
Suddenly, she looked up to see me floating a few feet away. "Hey, you," she said with a sly grin, before she kicked the man unconscious. "I was wondering when you'd show up."
I grinned at my oldest friend. "Sorry I'm late..." I couldn't call her "Helena," even if these men were unconscious.
"Huntress," Helena finished. "Not as flashy as Wonder Woman, but I figured it'd work for me." She slung her crossbow over her shoulder and came over to me. "Can't let you go around having all the fun. Speaking of which, where's your boyfriend?"
"He's not my - " I trailed off and sighed at her look. "Oh, fine. He's away for a couple days. I thought I'd be patrolling alone... but then again..." I couldn't contain my excitement. "If you'd like to partner up with me..."
"Are you kidding?" said Helena with a grin. "Hell yes. I've never felt so alive." She kicked another man in the face to ensure he'd stay unconscious.
I smirked and grabbed a mobster's jacket and hauled him to his feet. However, the next moment, a couple cop cars and a deep blue car screamed up to the sidewalk.
"And here comes the cavalry," muttered Helena, retreating with me into the shadows. The cops swarmed the scene, muttering about Batman and Wonder Woman. However, a familiar figure stepped out of the blue car.
"Oh, no," groaned Helena. "Not him again."
"And what have we here?" said Sage sharply, looking at Helena. "Found yourself a sidekick, Wonder Woman?"
I had to hold back a snorting laugh at the look on Helena's face.
"Sidekick?" she growled fiercely, starting for him. "I'll sidekick your ass into the next century-"
I cleared my throat and stepped in between them before she did some damage to the detective. Folding my arms over my chest, I adopted my coolest, most intimidating Wonder Woman look. Although the detective was tall, I matched his height.
"Detective, I'm not here to fight you. And neither is the Huntress."
"Says you," mumbled Huntress.
I shot her a look. "I'm investigating the incoming shipments of weapons into Gotham, Detective Sage. Something larger is going on, and I'm trying to figure out what."
"Then you should leave the investigating to the law enforcement," growled Sage, glowering at me and Huntress. "You think you're doing some good, dressing up in those little outfits and running around like you own the city?" However, underneath that fedora I saw him give a quick look to Helena.
"Flying, actually," I said archly.
His eyes narrowed. "I don't know what you are, but I'm going to find out."
"I'll save you the trouble. I'm an Amazon. You know, a society of immortal, ancient warrior women. Not that you'll believe me... but honestly..." I glanced around. "This is Gotham. Weirder things have happened, I'm sure. Just look at Metropolis. They have a super-powered alien." I smirked faintly.
Sage didn't look too amused. "This isn't a game," he snapped. "And this is not your playground where you can just do whatever you want."
"You're right," I said grimly. "It's not a game. It's a war." And I paused. "You're a good cop, Detective. One of the few. I hope you'll see that we're on the same side. Because trust me..." I turned away. "When things get worse - and they will - you're going to need us on your side."
"Is that a threat?" he snarled.
"Not at all," I said coolly. "Just a warning." And I rose into the air. Helena used her crossbow to fire up to a building and zipped up beside me. Once out of sight, I helped her onto the top of a nearby building. Helena brushed off her outfit and muttered under her breath.
"Aw, I think he likes you," I teased, poking her. "He was looking at you... I think someone's got a little crush, hmm?"
"Oh, shut up, you stupid Amazon!" And she punched me in the arm.
But we both burst out laughing.
At four-thirty in the morning, I bade good-bye to Helena and started to fly home. It was still dark, as black clouds covered Gotham City in a dark, grim haze. Although I was ready to burst from happiness from the past day's events, as I flew over the city, a strange, uneasy feeling crept over me. I paused, alighted on a building, and looked around. It had grown strangely quiet, and a wind rustled through my hair.
A sharp, suddenly sick feeling pounded into my stomach, and I swallowed at the rush of unpleasant feelings - something was making me feel hot, and dizzy... My sense were being overwhelmed with conflicting emotions - emotions I hadn't felt in a long time - not since...
I froze. I hadn't heard that voice in years. Slowly turning, I came face to face with the god that had haunted my dreams for almost ten years.
"Ares." Instantly, anger burned in me hotter than a raging wildfire. That burst of fury, of pure rage and darkness overwhelmed my senses - I wanted to paint the sky red with blood... No! I had to focus! "You shouldn't have come back," I gritted out, clenching my fists. I couldn't let his war-mongering influence taint me. It was extremely difficult to do, considering it was already in my nature, ingrained in me as an Amazon. I needed blood... I needed to slice through flesh...
"Ah, but we had so much fun last time," he said with a dark grin.
"The last time we met, you nearly killed my friend," I growled.
"Like I said... so much fun." His grin widened, grew into a leer, his pale eyes glittering in the dim, red Gotham light. "Now look at you. Turned from a skinny little runt into such a... divine goddess. Who knew Hades could produce such a lovely specimen? But thankfully you're a spitting image of your mother." He laughed.
"I'm not going back to Themyscira," I snarled. "Hippolyta should've known better to send you after me again. I'll snap your neck if I have to."
"Ooh... a little dangerous, are we? All the better. But I'm not here on Hippolyta's behalf. This time... it's all me. And I'm looking forward to sparring with you, Princess. Will you be as much fun as your mother?" His gaze roved over my entire form, and he licked his lips.
I smiled grimly. If he wanted a fight, he'd get one. "Oh, no. Much more fun."
And I launched myself at him, ready to wipe that evil smirk off his face.
I didn't realize how grossly unprepared I was to fight the god of war.
Another dreary night, Jim thought as he drove home. But at least things seemed to be looking up. Loeb and Flass were terrified, and that was good. Flass wouldn't even look at him now, and Loeb was too busy trying to cover his own ass ever since Wonder Woman and Batman had broken into his house and warned him. While their methods were unorthodox, Jim didn't give a crap. It was time to get rid of the scum in this city, and right now, his only allies were a flying goddess and a chilling dark knight.
What a strange pair. But in any case, he trusted them for now. And as long as they kept looking after the city and didn't do anything too outside the law, he was fine with them sticking around. Frankly, he still was worried. Barbara and James Jr. had left, but he was still taking care of his daughter, Barbara. Although she'd never been close to her mother and had declared she wanted to stay with her father, Barb was still taking the whole situation hard. Poor kid. How could she not? He'd never been a single father before... and with this job, in this city... He knew she was suffering.
Jim rubbed his eyes and turned the car down another street. Just a few more blocks, and home - and bed. He was so exhausted...
A streak of red and gold flashed in his vision, just up ahead, and disappeared into an alley on the right. He slammed his breaks on the car, staring at the quiet, dark street in disbelief. Was that... could that have been...
He wasn't about to wait to find out. He raced his car right up to the alley entrance, pulled out his gun, and stepped into the small, dark alley. He stopped for a split second in horror at the figure that lay crumpled on the ground just feet ahead.
"No..." He whispered. Rushing up to her, he scanned her quickly. So much blood - so much blood everywhere. Her eyes were closed, and her body was covered in cuts, quickly forming bruises - and he could tell from the strange twisting of her arm, her fingers, and her foot that her bones were broken.
"WHERE ARE YOU?" came a chilling roar from somewhere above. Jim whirled around, but he didn't see anyone. But the voice carried across the city, sending fear right into his chest. "I'M NOT FINISHED, PRINCESS!"
Jim looked down at the unconscious Wonder Woman, then gently put his arms under her and carried her out of the alley and into his car. Someone was after her - and he didn't have much time to hide her. He slammed his car door shut and took off down the street.
"Damn it, Batman," Jim snarled. "Where the hell are you?" He glanced back at the severely injured young woman. Of course he couldn't take her to a hospital. And he had no idea where Batman was. There was only one place to take her - home. Again Jim glanced back at Wonder Woman in his mirror. "Hang in there," he muttered. "You'll be fine. Just don't... don't die on me."
"I WILL FIND YOU, PRINCESS!" came a chilling, roaring scream that rattled his car windows. "I WILL FIND YOU, AND YOU WILL BURN!"
(1) - from Wonder Woman: The Circle, by Gail Simone.
So, I really appreciated your comments on the last chapter. :) You guys are the best. I seriously can't believe this story has come this far. We still have some chapters to go, but we're reaching that point... Well, I won't spoil it. A lot of you have already figured out what's going on for the most part. But I'm not spoiling anything. Let me just say...
It's going to get more intense. Prepare yourselves!
As for the book... Still waiting... :/ If you could keep praying, that would be wonderful.