Author's Note: I think this qualifies as a "lengthy drabble." No plot to speak of; merely a quick attempt to peer inside Batman's head. Just what does he brood about when he could be dating Wonder Woman instead?
In other words: If you came in here looking for romantic banter and exciting slugfests, then boy, did you click on the wrong story!
(Oops! I think I hear about 90 percent of my readers clicking away from here in a hurry, now that I've warned them! Am I too honest for my own good?)
A Rich Kid With Issues
It's always awkward, being the richest man in the room.
Bruce Wayne is never free of that awkwardness. In the normal course of events: if a young woman makes a flirtatious remark to a young man at a social function, it may mean that she is attracted to him . . . or just staying in practice . . . or trying to make some other fellow jealous enough to finally express his own feelings . . . or perhaps she has any of a dozen other motivations, most of which are harmless enough.
But if she makes the same flirtatious remark to Bruce Wayne, he is bound to wonder if his position as "Gotham's richest bachelor" has something to do with it.
Likewise, if some man tries to be all buddy-buddy with him, the questions automatically arise: Is he trying to sell me something? Or soften me up for a loan, or a charitable donation, or an inside tip on what WayneTech is researching and developing?
When Bruce is wearing a tuxedo and mingling at a cocktail party, he finds himself missing the "good old days" when he was traveling around the world, often using the creative alias of John Smith, mastering the many different skills he thought he'd need to finally become the ultimate detective and crimefighter. People reacted to him, positively or negatively, on his own merits and not because of the Wayne fortune. When The Great Zatara complimented "John" on his deft hands and being a quick study, it wasn't just an attempt to stroke the ego of a rich brat. When Zatara's precocious daughter flirted with her father's student, it was simply because she liked him, without knowing anything of his background. He knew all along he would have to abandon that hoi polloi lifestyle when he resumed the role of Bruce Wayne in Gotham, but he didn't look forward to it.
But now he enjoys leaving that problem behind each time he dons the cape and cowl. Batman is just "the grim guy in the pointy-eared costume." Very few of the people he meets know anything about his bank balance, and the rest generally are too busy to speculate about it. The villains are trying to fatten their own wallets as fast as possible (or satisfy other kinks), and the heroes have other priorities as they head into a fight. Most Justice Leaguers still have to worry about balancing a checkbook when they're at home, but when they're on the Watchtower or out in the field they shove all that to the backs of their minds.
So far, none of his fellow Justice Leaguers have ever tried to borrow money from him. He hates to think of it happening—but in his heart he's sure it will, someday. He'll probably lend it, too; it's not as if he'll go hungry if it doesn't get paid back soon (or at all); but he's not looking forward to getting a reputation as an easy touch in superhero circles. It would contaminate the relative purity of his current social relationships on the Watchtower.
(Although if he dies, each current or former member of the League will receive a large sum in cold cash, to do with as he or she sees fit. Batman has never mentioned that to anyone, and never intends to, because he doesn't want anyone to think he's trying to buy their friendship. But after he's gone, that angle won't matter. When Dick and Alfred read the secret instructions attached to his will, they'll find the details of how these bequests are to be distributed without leaving a paper trail.)
On the other hand: On those occasions when a female Justice Leaguer tries to flirt with him, he has the comfort of knowing that if it's not just a joke (which it probably is), then at least it's not because she's tempted by his material assets. Aside from the fact that most of the Leaguers still don't know his real name, there's also the certainty that anyone who cheerfully risks her life several times a week for the good of other people is not primarily motivated by the dream of accumulating large piles of cash; there are much easier ways to pursue that goal!
Of course he never encourages any of his female colleagues to keep flirting, no matter how charming they may be. After all, Batman has an image to maintain. But at least it's nice to know that they sometimes feel the urge to try.
The fly in the ointment is that Wonder Woman refuses to take the hint when he gives her the cold shoulder.
He can imagine what some of his other friends—Flash, for instance—would say if Batman ever bothered to ask for their opinions on such personal issues. "You're filthy rich, you're still pretty young and definitely handsome, Wonder Woman is practically throwing herself at you, and you know darn well she doesn't want your money or care about your social standing. My heart just bleeds for you, Bats. You do realize that practically every other guy on Earth would love to have your 'problems'?"
But that shallow perspective would overlook one of his other problems—it seems to be a natural law of the universe that any woman Bruce seriously considers marrying is going to have all sorts of nasty baggage pop up to prevent that from ever happening.
Andrea Beaumont—disappeared for years and then returned as a vengeful killer; Selina Kyle—turned out to be an utterly shameless thief; Talia—let's not even get started on the subject of her father and the influence he can still exercise over her; Kathy DuQuesne—far too reckless and over-the-top in her efforts to punish her own father . . . the trend is unmistakable. As if some cosmic power is bound and determined to ensure that Bruce's personal life contains plenty of drama but never a "happy ending." For Diana's own sake, it's best if she not get too close to Bruce Wayne. Otherwise she's likely to develop an incurable, painful disease and die in his arms . . . or something equally nasty.
Sooner or later she'll come to understand that, or just plain give up on him and set her sights on some other guy who might actually be able to give her a happy home life.
Of course, if she ever does start showing serious interest in some other guy, then Batman will budget the time to do a thorough background check into the man's life, probing into every nook and cranny since the day he was born, just to see if there are any skeletons hidden in his closet which would make him painfully unworthy of Diana's affection . . . going all the way back to looking for any trace of shady associations in the social circles of the man's great-grandparents, if necessary, just in case the entire family is secretly part of some secret society with long-range goals for world domination or whatever.
But all that will be done strictly out of friendly concern for the tender heart of a valued comrade-in-arms, naturally!
Author's Note: I'm not clear on just how many of the Justice League (in the TV continuity) ended up knowing Batman's secret identity. I think the other six founding members all knew from early on, but I chose to assume that the newer recruits didn't need to know and weren't told.
Incidentally, while I am firmly opposed to the idea of a serious romance between Bruce and Diana in the continuity of the DCU (meaning the world where DC sets the regular comic books about its superheroes), I find myself much more sympathetic to the notion as a possible future development in the separate timeline of the DCAU. (Odd place to draw the line, isn't it?)