Disclaimer: I do not own DC or any of the respective heroes associated with the brand
A/N: Well this took awhile to finish simply because I have been busy, busy, busy with the end of my formal education. I am now officially a college graduate and that took up so much time my stories kind of gotten side tracekd other than a few one shots. However, now that I am done with college I am back at it and this is my first chapter of the next segment of my BM/WW story. I hope everyone enjoys it and as always if send me any questions and comments that you may have. This one is going to be a bit more of a doosy than the last ones so buckle up because I think you will like it. As always thanks so much to my beta MGD for helping me out with this, because only with her input can I confidently say I am really satisifed with my work. Enjoy!
The Real Man Under the Mask
Chapter One: Line Drawn in the Sand
Any given day, over 100,000 alerts are sent to the Watchtower. These alerts came from all over the world ranging from bank robberies to large scale natural disasters. Every alert was screened by sophisticated software that designated the priority level. With only six fulltime members, the heroes of the Justice League usually only dealt with wide scale natural disasters and super villain threats. The only location exempted from this system was Gotham City, which was not a surprise to any Leaguer. During all hours of the day, a League member was stationed on duty in the monitor womb to coordinate the Leaguers on the ground to threats in their area. While the work was incredibly monotonous, everyone, even Flash, understood the importance of the task and worked their assigned shifts with the utmost concentration.
At the moment, it was John's turn. Shifts were not excessively long to ensure no one burned out or lost focus. However, John was incredibly bored after four hours of zero activity. Monitor duty could be exciting at times managing several different threats and allocating resources all over the world to properly deal with them. On some days, like today, there was very little activity that even registered above the minimal threat level, which was handled by local authorities.
All in all, it was a boring, mind-numbing shift. Yet, it still gave John time to catch up on the other planets in his space sector. His duty with the Lantern Corps along with the Justice League was incredibly time consuming, but space sector 2814 was generally peaceful, besides Earth. Regardless, John had to be vigilant, even if Earth seemed like the only trouble spot, so he kept up with current events through his ring.
Halfway through his briefing, the door hissed open. Hawkgirl stepped in to relieve him from monitor duty. Now, this was a woman that a guy could appreciate - strong willed, fiery, determined, and one hell of a fighter. Most people were thrown by her wings, but John found that it added to her appeal. His only complaint was her helmet that never seemed to come off in anyone's presence. Secretly, he wondered if she slept in the thing. Coming up next to him, she gave him a look. With a little grin, she said, "You're in my seat, soldier boy."
Not backing down one bit, he looked right back at her with his own cocky little grin. Her nickname always brought a smirk to his face. John shot back, "Last time, I looked your name wasn't on it, bird girl." Yeah sure, it was a little third grade, but she shouldn't know that.
Cocking her head to one side, she gave him an assessing look. Shayera suggested, "You know I think I could have a good time with you, Stewart, if you didn't have such a big stick up your ass."
Whoa! John defiantly didn't have a comeback for that one. Another quality that he admired was her sayings that came out of left field. As he quickly joggled his head for something to say, an alert went off signifying an incoming message. Swiveling to face the monitor, he pretended not to notice Shayera's smile of triumph. For now, he had work to do and that trumped their banter, regardless if he had a comeback or not.
Quickly, John looked over the message seeing that it originated from Wayne Enterprises. Opening it, he scanned over it quickly realizing it was a party invitation addressed to the entire league.
Wayne Enterprises formally invites all the members of the Justice League to a celebration on September 2 at the Gotham Palace commemorating the two year anniversary of the partnership between Wayne Enterprises and the Justice League as well as the one year anniversary of the construction of the Watchtower Space Station. Cocktails followed by dinner at 8p.m. Black tie.
Blinking in surprise, John looked over at Shayera just as she turned to look at him. They saw the same confused expression mirrored on the other's face. Both turned and reread the message to confirm what they had just saw.
"We're going to need to bring this up at the next Founders meeting," John commented still a little surprised by the invitation.
Shayera let out a chuckle that caused John to look at her in bewilderment. Deciding to let him in on her personal insight, she said, "Bruce Wayne and Superman in the same room."
Hearing Shayera's explanation, John recalled the vast amount of times that Superman complained to Diana about Bruce Wayne. John couldn't contain his own laughter. Both couldn't wait until the meeting tomorrow knowing that they were going to vote to attend the party just to see what would happen.
The weekly Founders Meeting was nearly done. Wally was counting the seconds impatiently waiting for it to end. It wasn't that he found the information boring - contrary to popular belief, he was deeply interested in the meeting. It was just you tend to get impatient with the average pace of people when you live your life at the speed of light, especially when it required you to sit still for the duration of the meeting.
As they wrapped up the last item on their agenda, Wally sat on the edge of his seat. He didn't have monitor duty today, and his work at the forensics lab was ahead of schedule. Currently, he planned to cruise Keystone City keeping the peace and possibly visiting some hospitals to cheer up the kids. After all, it was hump day.
Shaking off his stray thoughts, he almost gave a yelp of joy as Superman wrapped up the meeting. Gazing around the room, Superman looked for anyone to speak up about anything as he said, "Unless anyone has anything else to add, I think we are done here."
Superman's gaze stopped on John and Shayera, who were sitting a bit closer than normal. Both wore a knowing grin. Oh boy! They almost never agreed. Everyone knew it that was their odd way of flirting, but when they were both in on something Wally just knew that it was something really good.
Apparently, John won the pleasure of breaking the news. With a nod from Superman, GL hit a few keys bringing a message onto each of their screens. He said, "We do have one other item that we should discuss before the meeting adjourns."
It was an invitation from Wayne Enterprises to the Justice League. Wally now understood their grins and knew that one was already planted on his own face. Looking at Superman was enough to make anyone burst out laughing at his sad attempt to mask his distaste.
"This is ridiculous. I mean . . . I can't believe the nerve of him . . . he thinks that he can call us at his whim to act as trophies at his parties to boost his image. I refuse to boost his ego. By Rao. It's bad enough that he snared Diana," Superman ranted. CRUNCH! He was abruptly cut off by the sound of metal being crushed and twisted. Turning in the direction of the noise, the League saw that Diana had a death grip on the table, which literally folded beneath her hands like soft clay. Wally knew two things for certain at that exact moment: Diana was pissed, and Superman was in a butt load of trouble.
She rose to her feet as she simultaneously extracted her hands from the table. Diana spoke in a low dangerous tone, "So, you believe that I have been snared into his schemes and that Bruce Wayne took advantage of me, am I correct, Superman? How dare you accuse me of anything when you are so blinded by your disdain? Can you even give him a chance? No, you judge without truly knowing him. That's what this party is, a chance. Bruce sees how much it tears me apart to have you constantly disapprove of our relationship. He wanted to meet you and try to show you who he really is just to ease my mind. He acts as a hero while you sit there acting like a child. There is no honor in what you do. I do not have sit here and abide it."
"Diana," Superman started to talk as if she was a child, "Bruce Wayne had been an infamous womanizer years before you came to Man's world. All of his past behavior shows that at some point he will take advantage of you. When you will finally see what kind of person he really is, I don't want to see you ger hurt. You'll see that afterwards I was right and that I trying to keep you from making a huge mistake."
Wow! Wally could not believe his ears. Each male members of the League had at some point said some dumb things to women in the past – at least that is how he recalled it - but Superman just took the cake. Wally slid down in his chair waiting for the ensuing fight because he knew there was no way Superman getting off easy. Everyone knew the two were going to come to head about the matter at some point and this looked like that point, afterall the tension between the two on the matter had been building for months.
Diana rose out of her chair quickly sending it crashing to the floor. Diana clenched her fingers into tight fists before taking a deep breath. She seethed at Superman's allegations, "You sit there and dishonor me. You dishonor my traditions, my friends, and who I am. I stated my peace on the subject several times. Yet, you refuse to listen. If you refuse to listen, then perhaps we should settle this matter like Amazons do, in the arena."
"Enough!" Batman barked causing Diana to close her mouth with an audible click. Wally looked at the Dark Knight as a chill ran through his veins. He hadn't always feared Bats. Near the beginning, he had even found some of the reactions of fear towards him humorous. All of that changed on the mission to Eastern Europe. In hindsight, Wally knew that he had made an ill-timed joke about the little girl, and it definitely taught him to think before speaking, especially in front of Batman.
It was the stare that had truly frightened him. Wally did not understand why people feared Batman until he was on the receiving end himself. As soon as Batman had settled his gaze on him, it had sucked the warmth from his bones and made him feel like he was standing on the precipice of death. That stare promised something worse than death. Looking into Batman's eyes, Wally knew what everyone who had been on the receiving end of that gaze thought. Maybe today was the day that Batman dropped his moral code and would cross that unspoken line.
"Sit down, Princess," Batman ordered with the authority of a master addressing a pupil. Diana visibly shook with rage as she slowly backed away from the table. She replaced her chair and retook her seat glowering at Superman. Batman reprimanded the quarreling teammates, "Princess, you will not strike a team member in this room, and, Superman, you will treat your teammates as equals."
When Superman opened his mouth to argue, Batman didn't even give him a chance issuing the same orders for everyone, "Attendance is mandatory. There will be no discussion on the matter unless someone can replace the millions of dollars that Wayne Enterprises finances each year." Obviously, Batman was done talking about Bruce Wayne much to Flash's disappointment. Wayne was the most exciting topic thus far in the meeting, and the scariest.
Realizing that something was odd, Shayera tried to figure out his intent. She asked feigning innocence in the tone used, "If attendance is mandatory, I assume that we can expect to see you there as well, Batman?"
Batman said, "No."
"That's not fair," Flash whined, "You just said it was mandatory attendance, but it's not mandatory at all if you don't have to come."
From memory, Batman recited, "Article four section sixteen states: Part time League members are exempted from all forms of public relation events if they so choose, including events that are deemed mandatory for full time League members."
After his statement, it was like a miniature bomb went off in the form of complaints inside the conference room. Apparently, everyone thought Batman should have to attend if they did. Wally even wanted Batman to go, so he could witness him wear a tux with that bright yellow utility belt. He wondered if anyone would have the guts to say anything to good ole' Bats.
"Forcing us to attend while exempting yourself is unfair," Superman pointed out quickly, "It also separates you from the team."
"The team stands together, Batman, every time and in every place," John stated with conviction.
Surprisingly, Diana agreed despite her personal objections, "You're a vital part of this team and should be recognized."
With a raise of his hand, Batman effectively silenced them. He calmly explained, "If you want to change the rule, call a vote."
Superman jumped quickly at the suggestion. Superman called for a vote, "All in favor of changing the mandatory publicity attendance rule to include part-time members say aye."
A chorus of ayes spread throughout the room except for Batman, who voted nay. Batman had just been out voted six to one. It looked like he would be attending the party with them. Clearly, the smiles on the faces of the rest of the members showed that they were happy at the prospect.
"Motion denied," Batman said seriously.
"What? You lost six to one. Majority rules, right?" Flash complained losing his confidence when a knowing smirk appeared on Batman's face.
Batman explained, "Voting on League matters will be decided by the seven official inner council members, and the majority vote will be recognized as the final decision. However, any ratifications to article four section sixteen requires a unanimous vote of all seven inner council members to insure that the interest of part-time League members is not infringed upon."
"That's not fair," Shayera blurted out angrily, "You can't make rules and write in exceptions for yourself without us knowing."
J'onn, who had been silent up until this point, decided to chime in with his opinion, "I was aware of these clauses. In our first meeting, Batman asked if we had any problems with the charter. At that time, this clause was already outlined, I believe no one objected."
After hearing J'onn, the League essentially knew that they were not going to win this argument. This was definitely the last time that they agreed on something without reading it first. Heck who knows what Batman could try and slip in next if they were not careful. With a sigh, Superman ended the meeting. Flash zipped out of the room at full speed, probably to go grab some food oblivious to the conversation that was about to take place in the room he left.
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