Disclaimer: I do not own DC or any of its characters
A/N: Last installment in this particular chapter of my BM/WW saga. Thank you everyone for your kind words of encouragement and for your great reviews. This one took a bit longer to get out than I thought, but I think it wraps this entire chapter of the story up pretty well. I have not started on the next one yet, but my muse that was absent is starting to come back so we'll see what happens. Big thanks to MGD for helping me once again beta this. As always questions, comments, criticisms, are more than welcome. Additionally if you have any suggestions of what you want to see in the future in this story include it. I may not use your idea, but who knows where inspiration comes from. Thanks so much for the people loyal to this story and now lets get on with it!
Chapter 7: Consequences
Upon returning to the Watchtower, Superman ordered everyone to write a post mission report that included comments on the incident involving Wonder Woman and Batman. Diana hadn't heard his command still feeling numb after what had happened. Instead, she wandered towards her room. Entering her safe haven, she stripped off her uniform and turned the water in the shower on full force. Collapsing under the spray, she sobbed uncontrollably as her mind replayed the events of tonight. Diana could only run on rage for so long before the enormity of what happened kicked in.
Tonight, she was betrayed by the one man that she had truly come to trust and made her feel happy in this world. She knew everyone would wonder how she did not see through his deception. Diana trusted Bruce; she completely trusted his word when he claimed not to be Batman. Glimpses of all the laughter that he brought to her life flashed through her mind. Now, the memories were tainted by the aspect that each of those occasions were opportunities for him to catalog more information about her – when he lifted her spirits after the exile, when he introduced her to Alfred, and when Batman taught her how to fight. It had all been done for selfish reasons.
Sobbing uncontrollably, Diana lost track of time huddled in the corner of the shower. She didn't care how much time passed or how cold the water grew. Her spirit was crushed once again like upon her exile. Diana was alone again in the world. Bruce always made sure that she had someone to talk to, to show her that she was appreciated, and kept her from feeling isolated.
As minutes turned to hours, Diana eventually stumbled from the bathroom to bed without bothering to dry herself. Her bedding soaked up the moisture from the shower and her tears. Finally, she fell into a haunted sleep filled of nightmares. Scarecrow failed to make her nightmares come alive, but Batman tortured her in her dreams. He left her alone in the dark, lost, and alone.
Diana's alarm clock went off rousing her from sleep. It was time to prepare for an early mandatory meeting that fulltime League members conducted each morning. Getting up slowly, she reminded herself that her duty was more important than anything else, so she dragged herself to the bathroom.
Looking in the mirror, the person looking back at her was a stark contrast to the woman she had felt like 24 hours ago. Her eyes were still puffy and red from crying, and her hair was a mess. The makeup from last night was smeared across her cheeks, which were still streaked from tears. She looked like a pale imitation of herself. Upon seeing this reflection, Diana made a decision.
Despite her isolation in this world, it was still her duty as an Amazon to teach the women of Man's world about truth, justice, and love. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she vowed to herself in that moment that she would forge on with her mission regardless of how she felt. Nodding her head, she acknowledged her pledge. Then, she started the shower.
In her mind, she repeatedly chanted the phrase 'Last night was just a memory and nothing more'. This memory would not ruin her hard work. She was the Champion of the Amazons and a Justice League member. Her problems must not interfere with her duties. Today, there was a mandatory meeting, and Wonder Woman would attend it.
After showering, she quickly prepared for the day. Donning her uniform, she stepped out of her room and headed towards the commissary. The League always met for a morning cup of coffee before heading towards the conference room for official League business. Everyone eased up over the impromptu coffee. That was not the case today.
As the League sat around the conference table, the tension in the room could be cut with a knife. The room was plagued with silence since no one knew how to breach the topic from last night. Glancing at her fellow member, Diana noted how they avoided meeting her eyes. They did not understand the justice in her actions. Batman betrayed her. His actions required swift punishment, so she planned to push for his expulsion from the League during the meeting this morning.
Upon Superman's arrival, each member of the League rose quietly from their seats in the commissary and headed to the conference room. Usually, the short journey to the room was full of chatter and Flash's jokes, but today it was like marching in a funeral procession. Taking his seat at the table, Superman sighed as he looked upon the faces of each member. This meeting was going to be horribly gloomy. Scanning the room, he did a double take realizing that they had company this particular morning.
"Please take your seats. I am only here to deliver a brief message," commanded a well-cultured British voice startling the League.
Diana was shocked. She knew who this man was while the rest of the League had no idea who he was or how he got on the Watchtower. Standing in front of them was Alfred Pennyworth, butler and father figure to Bruce Wayne, the Batman. Why was Alfred here? Why didn't Batman come on his own behalf? Before she could address him, Superman asked in alarm, "Who are you, and how did you get on this station?"
"My name is Alfred Pennyworth, and I have been in Master Wayne's employ for all his life. I have come to speak on his behalf," Alfred stated not the least bit ruffled as he came to stand behind the seat Batman normally occupied.
With the grace of Cicero, Alfred recited the message, "Effective immediately, Master Wayne resigns from the Justice League in all capacities, including his active duties as a temporary member. He also requests that the League does not contact him in his roles as Bruce Wayne or Batman. Gotham shall remain off limits to the League unless you are contacted by him first. Furthermore, he understands the necessity of the Justice League and has chosen to continue to fund League operations."
Stunned silence fell over the room. Batman sent his butler to announce that he quit the League. He did not deem them worthy for a personal visit, Diana thought. Such cowardice boiled her blood. This just continued to reinforce that the Bruce she thought she knew did not exist. Her Bruce would have faced them with honor.
"He can't leave!" Flash bellowed from his seat to the surprise of everyone in the room, "How many times has he saved each one of us? Bats has always been the brains of the League. How will we ever know what to do without him?"
"He betrayed us," Diana reminded him, "I planned to lobby for his expulsion from the League today. But the presence of Alfred just reaffirms my argument, the man has no honor. That coward sent his butler to resign instead of facing us. His ways hamper the League instead of help it."
Alfred's head swiveled to look at her. Diana saw something that she had never witnessed in Alfred before, cold hard anger. His tone cracked through the room like a whip. In an icily tone, he defended his ward, "I am sorry that he does not meet your approval, Miss Diana. I am sorry your faith in him is so weak. I thought his actions over the past year would have earned a higher degree of respect from you, Miss."
"There was nothing to have faith in. He is a coward and liar. If there was honor in him, he would be here instead of sulking like the rich playboy he is," Diana spat back. She was not prepared for Alfred's response.
It happened in an instant. For a moment, Alfred stood mere feet away from her. Then, suddenly the sharp cold edge of a sword was pressed against Diana's throat. Looking into his anger filled eyes, she knew that Alfred was willing to protect Bruce to his last breath. Signaling the League to remain calm, she kept eye contact with Alfred. She hoped that her mother's eyes would rage with the same fury as Alfred's if her honor would ever need to be defended.
In an unassailable tone, Alfred spoke righteously, "Master Bruce is unable to attend this meeting due to your actions. I was forced to sedate Master Bruce into a medically induced coma to aid in his healing from internal injuries. While all of you slept comfortably, I helped him fight for his life, not even five hours ago. I had to do this because of the thoughtless actions of the one person in this room that he had grown to trust. You speak of honor as if you know the meaning. Honor demands that you defend your allies, not attempt to cripple them. Honor is in trusting your friends and listening to them, not lashing out in anger. Honor is having faith in your allies. Where are the honor, the dedication, and the so-called love that you preach of? Master Bruce exemplifies these qualities more than anyone in this room. Everyone in this room has been blessed with an extraordinary gift that Master Bruce does not possess. Honor is when he defends those who cannot defend themselves, every night putting his life on the line for them, regardless of the personal sacrifice he endures. Dedication is when he immediately returns to his training after finishing a mission without celebrating his successes. And love . . . love is when an eight year old boy sees his parents murdered before his very eyes and vows to fight so that another child never loses their mother or father."
Each sentence hit Diana like a jackhammer pummeling her deeper into shame. Was Bruce in the hospital because of her, and how could he not tell her about his family, she wondered. Apparently, Alfred wasn't finished, "I honor Master Bruce's ideals now, but make no mistake, I will take action to defend my son. I was a soldier once and have not forsaken that training. Miss Diana, should you attempt to approach the manor while Master Bruce is in distress, I will kill you."
The cold, unflinching look on Alfred's face told Diana that his promise would be carried out without hesitation. With those last words, he slid the sword under his coat and exited the conference room. Devastated at Alfred's words, she realized that she never stopped to consider Batman's mortality when she reacted. Batman always stood as an indomitable figure that could not be toppled. He showed less pain, emotion, and weakness than anyone in the League.
When she stuck him, she forgot that he was just flesh and blood.
To top it off, Alfred's revelation about Bruce's parents made her heart ache. She wished that she had known, but Bruce didn't like to speak about his parents. The only information that Diana knew of was their passing. It horrified her to learn that Bruce witnessed his parents being gunned down when he was just a child. They were friends; yet, last night she never let him explain or tell her why he did what he did.
To be continued...