AN: Just recovering from my radiation therapy and (insert sarcasm here…) looking forward to chemotherapy this January (end sarcasm). But before that, I want to wish everyone happy holidays. I just hope when chemo-brain attacks, it will do something to revive the BMWW shipper within.

Live wonderful lives…don't scrimp on smiles…life is very precious.

Chapter Fourteen

At Last

He blinked a few times when he awoke and just stared at the softly swaying fabric of the curtain as a soft breeze entered through the partially open window. Trivially, he tried to guess the time but since it seemed a little cloudy outside there was no telling.

And there was no telling either how long he was lying in his bedroom, how long since that night.

Surprisingly, he felt nothing at first…as if his mind was still coping up with all that had transpired, as he looked absentmindedly at the IV attached to his left hand, as he listened to the faint echo of falling raindrops, as a part of him welcomed the scent of the rain kissed earth.

Rain…it was raining when he finally asked her to be with him.

He gingerly felt the wound on his chest thru the gauze as the pain slowly made its presence felt.

Old, he felt very old.

And he felt weak.

He was tired of losing the people he loved.

And he wondered just how he would be able to face the world again knowing that the most important person, the one he counted on to be the constant in his life, was now truly gone. Everything was vague now, because she took with her the clarity in his life.

Regret was the first to arrive.

He could live with her anger, her hate. He could even bear the pain if she fell in love with someone else. Just as long as she was real, as long as she was alive.

Now…

He was about to give up on everything when there was a knock on the door. Superman needed no invitation as he let himself into the room.

"J'onn told me you have just woken up. So I volunteered to visit."

He wanted to tell J'onn that he wanted to be left alone for the moment but he knew his friend was just concerned. But he really could not summon the will to talk to anyone just yet.

"How are you?"

How am I? He asked himself.

Frustrated..?

Angry..?

Regretful..?

Grieving..?

No…he was not feeling any of those things. Mostly he was just tired and emotionally…numb. He knew they would all come later but right now…he was just numb.

"Where is…she now?" His voice was raspy as he finally looked at Superman.

Superman sighed. "Back in Themyscira."

Of course, where else would she be laid to rest?

"I'm…sorry, Clark." Though he really felt the confession, his voice was very detached.

"What are you apologizing for?"

"I failed."

Ironically and very confusingly, Superman's face registered a hint of relief.

"Bruce…she's alive."

His heart beat faster at the words. It was a cruel joke if it was not true. But Superman would not lie.

"What?"

"You did not fail, she's alive."

He finally felt the blood inside him rush, the coldness gradually dissipating as the unbelief departed and hope returned.

"She requested me to see you the moment you wake up."

"Where is she?"

"I just told you earlier…where you even listening to me then?"

All he could do was smirk. And it felt good to finally do it after all this time.

"She has to do some…penance for what she did. I told her we'd interfere in her behalf but you know how she is," Superman shrugged. "I told her she could have her job back when she returns."

He knew there was the probability that she might not return at all if her gods would not allow her. But he did not want to think about that for the moment.

"She wanted me to convey her gratitude for what you did," Superman looked at him sincerely. "Thank you, Bruce. Well done."

She's alive, he thought once again before attempting a smile. "If ever there is a next time, it's going to be your job."

"Very well," Superman conceded. "See you at the Watchtower soon, old man."

He sighed as bright lights appeared to teleport the other man away. And he knew he was still smiling after a few minutes had passed.

Never mind how long it took.

He was going to wait for her.

Everyday was still a struggle. The world still suffered from numerous disasters, was face to face with evil at any given chance. There was still too much suffering to be ignored. And she had been witness to almost all of these things, with others who shared the same dedication she had fought for justice, for what was right, for salvation.

There was no question about her strength, her courage, her determination.

But…she had to sigh as she opened the door.

Thinking of him transformed the warrior into any other ordinary woman…vulnerable.

When her gaze fell upon the interior of the room there was a calming sense of familiarity. After all, this place had been her temporary refuge when her spirit roamed free, before she turned into…someone else. Feeling a tug of guilt in her heart, she closed her eyes to the truth of what had happened even if she had no memory of anything after that painful night. She felt so betrayed even if she could not and would not blame him for his actions. And the hurt consumed her too much to the point where her mind wanted to forget everything.

And she was lost for a while, before he found her again. He braved the pits of Tartarus for her.

She was almost gone, but his cry brought her back…

She opened her eyes once more to gaze at the painting on the wall, remembering the briefest of moments when her true self fought free from the darkness at the sound of his voice.

Never had she heard Bruce like that before. His voice was filled with so much desperation.

Walking near where the French doors opened to the balcony, she let the gossamer touch of the wind soothe her senses, the cool evening mist very comforting as it played with her hair, the soft fabric of her dress. But in her mind was the small voice that asked if things would ever be the same between them.

She loved him still, there was no denying that.

But the knowledge that she was capable of evil was still haunting her, even if her gods accepted her plea for forgiveness, as her victims recovered and were serving their own judgments.

Does he still love me?

She heard him confess that truth. Those were the words that first started waking her up from the terrible embrace of darkness.

And she believed him.

But eight years after the fact could cast a shadow of doubt, a very imposing shadow.

"Diana?"

His voice seemed to come from a dream, like it did so many times when she watched him take temporary solace in his sleep. When she turned she saw him just standing by the door, still in his coat, trying hard to conceal his ragged and uneven breathing. And in his face was etched the vision of uncertainty.

"Are you real this time?"

Her heart knew his pain and she wanted to cry at the doubtful sound of his voice, she wanted to apologize for ever making him feel this unsure. But the most that she had been longing to do was to finally hold him. And neither time nor death would not be able to prevent her from doing that now as she walked into his arms.

"Yes, I'm real."

As if too overwhelmed by everything, she felt him tense the slightest, with his heart beating fast, before his arms covered her in their warmth. Then she felt him rub the side of his face to her, as if still wanting to prove she was real, that she was flesh and blood.

"J'onn told me…" he whispered in her hair before letting go to study her face. "But I've seen your image too many times that I'm not sure…"

"I'm real this time." She touched his face. There were more lines than she remembered.. "I'm sorry for doing---"

"It's all my fault."

Her heart broke at the sight of regret in his blue eyes.

"I was too selfish…" he confessed. "And I lost you because of that."

"But I'm here now. You found me."

He looked back at her as his arms continued to hold her, his eyes reflecting so much emotion. "I was ready to die, Diana. You have been my anchor for so long that…if I can't have you back…"

"You were…under the spell."

"The spell only made me face what I've been hiding from. And to lose you all over again…" Though she knew he fought against it, a drop of tear slowly fell. "I love you too much…"

"I know." She saw his pain. She had been there when he dealt with the grief, the guilt. "I know, Bruce."

He leaned in once more to feel the comfort of holding her, the feeling that she was finally with him. How she missed being held like this, in his arms, like nothing else mattered…that even if the world was mostly covered in darkness, his love was her hope.

"I'm sorry, Diana."

"I'm sorry too. I did not know I was capable of being---"

"No…" he interrupted. "It's never your fault."

She had to smile. Even in this state, he was still stubborn. "Are we going to start arguing again?"

She felt him heave a sigh of relief.

"I'd welcome it any day."

She felt his hold on her tighten, the clean scent of him filling her with such happiness that fate was able to spare another chance for her. And having him this close once more reminded her that she almost lost him forever.

"Bruce…" This was a new page where they both would start anew. But before that could happen, she wanted to be sure. "I became a monster. Can you still love me, knowing what I am capable of doing?"

"Yes." There was no trace of doubt in his reply. "Do you still love me?"

"Yes."

"Then…that's all that matters."

She nodded and took her time in studying his face. The blue orbs of his eyes used to be filled with doubt, distrust, even anger. His lips seldom found a reason to express happiness, most of the time displaying seriousness if not being harsh.

Now his gaze held her gently, his love no longer hidden behind his eyes.

She closed her eyes when she felt him lean closer and held her breath for a moment in anticipation of his touch. There was not a day in those eight years that she did not think of him, and she even dreaded the possibility that when she came back to the outside world he would no longer be there. But when his lips softly met hers, all her qualms disappeared. He was so soft, so warm against her, so loving.

A satisfied smile hovered on her lips when they pulled away gently. Then she remembered. "I…need to tell you something."

His face suddenly registered concern. And she immediately felt guilty for sounding grave.

"I still can't use my powers."

An expression of relief washed over him. "Until when?"

"I have to be a mortal for a decade to…pay for what I have done. I've served about eight," she replied. "Because of good behavior Mother finally let me out of the island."

He appeared to consider. "You need a safe place to stay in the meantime."

"The Watchtow---"

"Is totally not a safe place," he cut her off. "It's practically a floating target."

She was about to suggest something

"Don't even think of the Fortress." He shook his head. "No way."

"May I ask why?"

"You know why."

It was a little malicious on her part but she liked the way he tried to conceal his jealousy. "So the manor is the logical choice then."

"Only the logical choice. Besides, I can't have my wife sleeping in someone---"

"Your wife?"

He grinned. "Technically…we are still married. We were both too busy to work up the papers, remember?"

That had her thinking for a while. She never really thought she would be married so she did not know the first thing about divorce.

He interrupted her confusion by touching the tip of her nose. "But I can propose again if you want. We can be married this time with all of our friends as witnesses." He freed his right hand and started feeling the pockets of his coat. "We have to restrain Shayera though…"

She had to suppress laughter when he produced a ring from his coat. "You've been carrying that with you all along?"

"When Clark told me you were alive…" he confessed. "I bought it as soon as I could."

"And you had to wait for eight years…" she whispered, thinking of the time that passed them by as she looked at the sparkling gem.

"I can wait longer, Diana. After all that has happened…" he let his voice trail. "I've been shown what it was like to live without you and I don't want that. Eight years is a short punishment for what I---"

"Bruce…you saved me. You braved the underworld for me." She remembered his valiant effort to save her, despite of his limitations.

"And I'd do it again if I have to. You make me feel stronger than I really am."

"So stop acting as if everything is your fault."

He kissed her forehead. "I guess I've been used to that."

And she knew better than to change him.

Then he looked at her for a long time again, as if memorizing all the details on her face, being able to reflect the true feelings thru his gaze at last. She knew he was as grateful as she was for this day, this moment, as she smiled at him in return, glorying in the present, thankful for this chance to share life with him once more.

As he smiled her heart did the familiar somersault. After all this time, she could not help but sigh with joy at the sight of his face lighting up with happiness for there were just a few people who were very blessed to see it.

"Diana…will you marry me? Again?"

There were no pretenses anymore. Life was too short, ironically even for an immortal.

And life was not a fairy tale. You just have to live it one day at a time, in good or bad, in light or dark.

And she would always choose to live either with Bruce.

"I will."

Fin