-Bat Cave, four years ago-
"You realize that this is a whole new level of paranoia, right?"
Batman doesn't even look at his young ward, instead he points to a computer display that shows the schematic of Wayne Manor. "Contingency Tango-"
"'In case an enemy combatant or combatants, should breech the Wayne Manor perimeter defense and gain access to the mansion itself, while members are in their civilian identities…' blah, blah blah…" Barbara spouts in her best teacher voice.
This time Batman does turn to face his two protégés. Dick had always had a smart mouth and although it sometimes annoyed Batman, he learned to tolerate it. Dick used sarcasm as his mask and as long as it didn't compromise their work, Batman let it slide. Barbara on the other hand, had never displayed anything but awe and obedience. To see her starting to adapt some of Dick's less desirable traits was disturbing. "You realize that the scenario is entirely plausible, right Batgirl?"
Barbara immediately straightens up. "Yes Batman." Despite her training and all she had done in Gotham, Batman still had the ability to make her feel like a kid being sent to the principal's office. So, she pays more than the usual attention as Batman goes over the exit strategies in case the worst should happen.
-Wayne Manor, Now-
Barbara hopes Martian's so-called reinforcements get here soon, because she was quickly running out of options. She is hesitant to use any of the contingencies Batman detailed that day. On the extreme side, there was the detonation of either an entire wing or the whole mansion; not an appealing option. Especially since she was a guest.
Other more sane options included a weapons cache on the third floor and an impregnable panic room in the East Wing. The panic room, on the surface seemed the best option but given that she has no idea know when her back up will show, or what the three villains are here for to begin with, she doesn't want to be cornered.
The fighter in Barbara is leaning more towards the weapons cache hidden in a sealed room that only she, Dick, Bruce and Tim had access to. Still thinking it over, she doesn't like the idea of a firefight or what may come from that. Learning that a billionaire playboy not only had a stash of supremely powerful weapons in his possession, but that the Commissioners' daughter knew where to find it could do more to compromise Batman's identity than her donning her costume. People as a rule, were generally naïve, but even that naiveté had its limits. Given the weapons in Batman's arsenal people already suspected Wayne of at the very least funding his efforts.
So for now, delay feels like the best option for her. Aiding her is the fact that the mansion is huge, but there aren't many places to hide from the nose of a hyena.
Apparently, Joker rarely traveled without them and had returned to his van to set them loose in the house. A closed door or two keep them away from her, but they still led them to her hiding places. She doesn't know what she hates more; having to elude them in the first place or having to wait on rescue.
"Obviously Wayne isn't here and the more time we waste chasing after the girl, the more likely someone else is going to show up…" Two-Face growls from somewhere a few rooms away from Barbara's current hiding place. "We came here for a reason remember…?" When Riddler promised them more than just money, Two-Face was intrigued. In his former life he was a friend of the man whose house they now inhabit. He could speak from experience that Bruce Wayne was more than he seemed on the surface. Plus, when it came to schemes, Riddler always seemed to know where the valuables were. But he doesn't like the fact that Nigma didn't give them more to go on.
"Who's gonna show up Harvey?" Joker questions back. "All communications are cut off- good boys! Daddy loves you!- If anything, the longer this takes the more likely it is that the rich boy shows up himself… not really seeing a problem here…" Joker wasn't interested in money, never has been. It's always been a means to an end to him. So when Riddler dangled the money carrot in front of Two-Face, Joker had every intention of leaving them to it. But when Riddler promised the answer to the greatest question of all, he became intrigued. In his more lucid moments, he suspected some sort of connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne and even if Riddler was wrong, the rich boy had proven himself good for a laugh or two in the past.
"Don't. Don't call me that…" Two-Face warns coldly. "And suppose Gordon shows up to check on his daughter?" This whole crime was out of his particular wheelhouse; he favored crimes with a duality about them; crimes that reflected the double-sided nature of man and himself. He was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with chasing a girl around a mansion.
"Relax Facey baby!" Joker counters. "Harley's in the van and she'll signal us if anyone shows up. Or take care of them herself… We may not be here for the Commish's daughter, but nothing to stop us from having a little fun in the meantime…!"
Barbara is relieved her father had no idea about her relationship with Wayne so there would be no reason for him to come here at all. In fact, far as she knew he had been to the mansion only a time or two before. She was a little concerned about what sort of "fun" Joker had in mind. She'd called him insane, but insanity was something that could be treated. Joker was twisted beyond any comprehension.
Interrupting her brief period of reflection is the telltale scratching outside the room she currently is hiding in. A lot of the rooms here, connected to adjacent rooms in some way, except, or course for this one. She tried confusing the dogs by doubling back to previous spots, but their sense of smell, much keener than a normal dog, could distinguish between older and fresher scents.
"I do believe we have a winner…!" Joker laughs in delight outside the door. "I'll take door number one Alex!" Kicking in the door, the light from the hallway floods the room, revealing a defiant Barbara Gordon.
If she was going to have a last stand, she is determined to make sure someone pay the full price for it. The pain in her ribs had settled into full-blown scream of agony, but she had been trained to use the feeling. Extreme pain and panic results in a flood of adrenaline to the system. It didn't last long, but if she could get in enough solid shots she'd be satisfied with that.
Upon seeing her looking ready for a fight, Joker pulls out a gun and points it at her. "Miss Gordon. Please be aware, there are no cute flags in this gun…"
"I wonder then amigo… have you loaded it with an explanation?"
Upon hearing the voice, Barbara's blood runs cold. It makes perfect sense that Bane would be involved. He knew who Batman was and hated Bruce more than anyone else on the planet. Or more accurately, hated what Bruce represented; the one man capable of out-thinking and out fighting him. She was now at the mercy of three men who had very little qualms about killing.
"Bane?" Joker's curiosity laden question confirms what Barbara had feared. "Didn't I beat you to within an inch of your life not too long ago?"
Barbara watches in amazement as Bane knocks Joker into the wall with a vicious left. Before he can react he dispatches Two-Face with equal ease. The hyena's leap to the defense of their master, only to have their heads clapped together. They drop to the floor without a whimper and Bane looks up to meet the eyes of Barbara Gordon. His expression hid by his trademark mask.
-Themyscira, Diana's room-
The two of them left the archive library, flush from their earlier activity and manage to make it back to her old room without raising an alarm. Once in her room, Batman examines the surroundings. Diana watches him in amusement; he simply cannot stop being a detective. He moves along her room taking in the various works of art on the walls until he stops at her dresser. On top there are several pictures of her.
Diana opens her mouth several times to speak but closes it just as quickly. She wanted to talk to him about what they just did, what they were going to do going forward, her mind alive with questions.
"It is difficult for me to imagine it, but here is undeniable proof; Wonder Woman was once a child." Bruce laughs dryly holding up a picture of Diana as a child, riding the shoulders of her mother. It was an incredibly normal picture, which made Batman wonder what else he didn't know about her. And also how a race so stringent upon interference from the outside world, managed to procure a camera in the first place.
"Well I was!" Diana announces playfully snatching the frame from his grasp and placing it back on the dresser. "Just because you've been training to be Batman since you were five-" She catches herself, realizing her misstep but the words are already out. How could she be so stupid, she wonders. "I'm sorry…"
Bruce lost his parents at a very young age it was a story that everyone knew and she manages to wade into the minefield that is his childhood. Right after he had just let his guard down.
"That's just close enough to the truth to be funny…" Batman nods and she can see it beginning. The walls he placed between him and everyone else coming back into place. She will not allow that to happen, not after what they've shared tonight. She takes a seat on her bed, back against the headboard and motions to him.
"Join me." She sees the conflict in his eyes and motions again. "Please." For a long moment she is afraid he won't comply. He stands there in front of her, his face so unreadable he may as well still be wearing his cowl. When he takes his first step towards her she realizes she's been holding her breath this whole time.
He sits on the edge of the bed and looks at her. In his eyes there is still the steel she has gotten used to seeing, but now she also notes a small amount of apprehension there as well. She takes his shoulders and eases him back until his head rests in her lap. With her fingers she begins slowly rubbing his head reassuringly. Diana wants him to know he is safe here with her. That he can let his guard down with her.
"You never speak of them…" Diana states, continuing to run her hands through his hair, trying to coax him to relax.
"It is not something… that is pleasant to speak of…" Bruce answers shifting slightly. The image of his parents' death, the manner in which they were taken from him is as vivid now as if it had happened yesterday, not more than a decade ago. So is the anguish and fury that has fueled him ever since. There were times that it seemed he had an absolutely bottomless pit of rage in his soul. No wonder he had been tabbed more than once to become the living embodiment of vengeance on this planet.
"I do not mean their… death…. I mean their life. Dwelling on how they left this world, makes it seem as if their exit from it had more of an impact than their time on it…" Diana choses her words carefully not wanting to upset him, but wanting to draw him out.
"I suppose, no one has ever inquired…" Bruce remarks slightly amused. "Most people know not to ask the Batman about his past." She feels him stiffen up a bit before relaxing under her touch again. This is how it would always be with him; the dichotomy of his heart. One side desperate to love, to trust, the other desperate to protect himself. It was why he took Dick Grayson in. Why he formed the Justice League. And she hopes, why he was with her tonight.
But she wouldn't press him, she knew better, even though it went against all her instincts, she would remain patient.
Silence fills the room, but it is a comfortable one, a silence that says more than his words might. The fact that he seemed content to allow her to cradle his head in her lap filled her with more joy than any heartfelt revelations might have. But she would be lying to herself if she didn't admit to wanting more.
"What I remember most about them is their love…" His voice vibrates against her thigh, startling her and she wishes she could see his face. "They were happy. They truly enjoyed being together, enjoyed each other's company. That's not to say they never had fights or disagreements, but those instances never lasted long. They radiated a warmth that… enveloped you… the reason I… don't speak of them is I find it hard to communicate that in a way that anyone who had never met them would understand…"
Diana listens attentively not wanting to interrupt him. She understood full well how difficult some things could be to effectively explain. Diana had similar trouble trying to communicate why she felt compelled to intervene in the world of men in the first place, why she chose to stay and why she fell so completely in love with the haunted man in her lap. Her mother simply couldn't fathom any of it and she would be equally confused when Diana informs her that she plans on returning. It took a lot for her mother to extend the olive branch she had earlier and earlier Diana had every intention of taking it.
"And maybe…" Batman sighs heavily before continuing. "Maybe there is a part of me that wishes to keep those memories to myself…" Because of the way he lost them, he has always been protective of their memory, of who they were. It's why he fought so hard to keep Gotham safe; in dark shadows of alleyways and in the fluorescent lights of the boardroom.
Diana speaks up softly. "Then why… why share this with me…?" In the moment the question is out before she can think about, but she is glad she asked. It is important to the dynamic of their relationship. And it could represent a breakthrough.
Bruce groans before sitting up and turning to face Diana. "Because I'm tired…" Diana's confusion must be evident on her face because he chuckles lightly and takes her face in his hands. "What I mean is, I'm tired of fighting this. Fighting my feelings for you. Tired of burying my affection for you in my work, in the mission…"
Leaning into his touch she smiles. "I never thought I'd be able to wear you down… That you'd always be afraid someone might use me to get to you…" The feel of his hand on her cheek is enough to cause her heart to pound in her chest. She never noticed how completely he affected her until tonight.
Raising an eyebrow Batman shakes his head. "That was never my concern."
Diana, slightly taken aback, asks: "Then why-?"
Bruce stands and walks away, pacing and she knew this was it. This was perhaps the final wall erected between them and if he is willing to share, then they might have a chance. A small one, but a real chance at something better than she could have hoped.
"I chose this life…" Batman begins, still facing away from her. "While my clothes were still stained by my parents' blood, I chose to become who I am today. And in that choice I put my efforts into becoming Batman. I trained until my body nearly broke and then I trained some more. I spent hours developing skills, honing my mind and my body all for one purpose. But that purpose has only one end."
Diana stands from her bed and approaches him slowly. She has an idea of what he was saying; after all, she came from a race of warriors who had taken the same pledge. Service to truth and justice at all costs. "I know that, I know what you are and I do not fear it…"
Bruce turns to her and smiles painfully. "Diana, there is no retirement for people like me. This life I've chosen comes with one conclusion. My end won't come surrounded by a loving family lying in bed slowly ebbing away. It will be in the dark, cold, alone and bleeding with my enemy standing over me as I breathe my last. I understand that and I accept that. I remain alone because I don't want anyone going through that. I don't want someone's life completely upended by my certain and violent death. That's why we- why I wouldn't-"
Diana silences him with a finger and stares into his eyes. This admission is, she can tell, beginning to cause those walls to rise again. Stating his fears out loud likely have him thinking just how valid they are. She needed him to see the truth. "For the worlds' greatest detective, you are an idiot sometimes!"
Bruce smiles and Diana chuckles lightly. "Am I, Princess?"
"Yes!" Diana takes both of his hands in hers. "Dick, Barbara, Commissioner Gordon, Tim, Peter, Clark, all of the League…" She pauses and bites her lip nervously. "Me. We will all be irreparably hurt by your loss if it comes in thirty minutes or thirty years. Do you think that by pushing us away, by being aloof or distant has somehow managed to keep us from caring about you? Are you so blind you don't realize what you mean to us already? What you mean to me?" Her voice cracks slightly with that last statement. Dinah told her that professing your love to a man was a big no-no, but Diana did not like deception.
He doesn't respond with words. He pulls her in and kisses her deeply, locking his fingers in her hair and forcing her mouth closer to him. Her tongue explores his mouth with a gentleness that seems to run contrary to her previous words. The uniform that she'd hastily put back on pools around her feet and he lifts her from the floor, freeing her from it completely. She wraps her legs around him and holds her aloft by cradling her ample butt. Diana groans in his mouth as he firmly kneads the flesh there, breaking their kiss.
Taking the opportunity, he kisses her neck, searching for a spot he located not too long ago and is rewarded by another moan of approval. She was so sensitive to touch, he didn't know whether to attribute it to her lack of experience, her feelings for him or some combination. But you would not hear him complain either way.
Recognizing the desire and need in her plea he eases her back down onto the bed. In their passion and desire for each other their limbs entangle, making it hard to determine where he ends and she begins. He looks over her naked, flushed skin and sighs.
"I wish you could see yourself, Diana…" Bruce whispers overcome with emotion. "See yourself the way I see you… then maybe you would understand how difficult staying away from you has been…" As both Bruce Wayne and Batman he's had women that men would sell all their valuables for. Models, actresses, reporters, cat thieves and daughters of power mad despots, all stunning in their own ways. And yet the woman before him was in a class all her own.
Diana smiles and brings his face closer to his. "And I wish you could see yourself the way I see you… then you may understand why I could not allow you to…" Their lips meet again, ravenous for the feel of one another. Diana locks her left leg around his hips to bring his hardening excitement flush against her quickly dampening mound. Although his pants slightly bruise the soft lips of her she doesn't release her hold.
Still kissing her deeply, Bruce leans back slightly to disengage his trousers and with only a slightly disappointed murmur she allows him to. She was finding that she desired to be close to him, regardless of the circumstances, she craved the feel of his body on hers.
Having to stand away from her in order to remove his pants, she takes a moment to look at her lover in the much better light of her room. By the time he is finally free of his pants she grabs him and throws him to the bed, straddling him eagerly. Again she captures his lips with her own, but he sits up to breaks their kiss and drags his teeth lightly along her collarbone. Diana shivers, reveling in the sensation; she grabs his shoulders to steady her excitement. He trails his mouth down to a set of very erect nipples and encircles them with his tongue.
Diana, feeling him rise beneath her rotates her hips against him furiously. The memories of what he did to her in the library still very fresh in her mind she would not at all be opposed to a repeat performance. Especially in a bed, since their options were floor or table before.
With a small display of her strength, she pushes him flat against the bed. She no longer had any intention of being passive with him. Diana wanted him to know exactly whom he was laying with. She is not just any woman; she is a champion of Themyscira.
His hands tickle the sensitive flesh of her back as she assaults his mouth. She tries to control the emotions raging within her, remembering that she is powerful enough to shatter mountains if properly motivated. Reaching in between them she wraps her hands around his now solid shaft and strokes it lightly. The hiss that escapes him as she grinds her soaked lips against it are almost drowned out by her own gasp as the head inadvertently discovers her clit. She coats him with more of her juices, being careful not to allow him to slip from her grasp. Diana watches his face run through a host of expressions and she moves her hand to encircle the moist head.
"Are attempting to conquer me… Wonder Woman?" Bruce asks amused. Diana looks down into his eyes, which at this moment are alive with desire and affection.
"It is my way, Batman." She responds, ripping the silicon mesh Bruce wears beneath his uniform, the last vestige of clothing between them, from his chest. She tosses it to the side with a playful snarl revealing his bare chest. Completely naked and at her mercy she bites his chest lightly, never releasing him from her grasp. "I am a warrior, remember?"
"I seem to recall something to that effect…" Bruce muses. Locking his leg over hers he shifts his weight and climbs on top of her in one swift move. "Something that we have in common." He knew that it was her nature to be the aggressor. Before in the library she was unsure, of both herself and of him. Now that they have been together, more of her personality was coming through.
Pinning her wrists to the bed he looms over her menacingly. She stares back into his eyes with equal parts excitement and defiance. "I could free myself easily… you do realize this?"
Bruce presses both her shoulders slightly before releasing his hold on her wrist and she almost seems disappointed until she tries to move her arms. "What deviltry…?"
"Strength is a valuable asset," Bruce comments kissing the soft spot where her wrist meets her palm, running a trail down her left arm. "But there are other methods… nothing you can do will allow you to move your arms again." Bruce has never used his knowledge of pressure points in this manner before, but Diana has him doing many things he never thought he would. Much as he cared for Selena and Talia, both were never more than a distraction. There was no future in either relationship and he liked it that way. Now, he has to admit, he wants more from Diana than just sex. Although he would by no means turn that down.
A sliver of surprise crosses her face. "Impressive, as always… Do you plan on leaving me like this all night?" At the moment she finds herself in no hurry to move as his mouth leaves a burning trail of pleasure down to her core. Few times in life does fantasy equal reality, this is one of the even more unlikely moments where reality actually surpasses fantasy.
"My plan, Diana, is to fill this island with your screams of delight… I trust you won't mind?"
-Wayne Manor, now-
"Well I do mind!" Barbara hadn't meant to be so harsh, but he had really unnerved her.
"I can only continue to offer my apologies…"
Martian Manhunter had taken many different forms in his time on earth, but there were still times when he simply forgot that he was imitating someone else. He supposed it was an occupational hazard. After all, underneath his imitation he was still himself, even if people looking at him couldn't tell.
Unable to reach anyone close enough, he flew from the 'Tower as quickly as he could. A quick telepathic scan told him who was on the property. It also let him come up with the bare bones of a plan. Posing as Joker first so that he could approach Harley without issue and then assuming the form of Bane he was able to eliminate the threat to Batgirl. In his haste however, he didn't change form until after Barbara had charged him, causing them to end up in a tangle of limbs. His attempt to lighten the mood of the situation had not gone over too well. He, like M'gann still had difficulty grasping human humor.
"I'm sorry J'onn…" Barbara mumbles securing the restraints on an unconscious Joker. She should be ecstatic. Joker, Two-Face and Harley Quinn were all going to be shipped off to Black Gate. With Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Deadshot and Deathstroke already accounted for, this was a good day for the good guys. "I appreciate you coming here…"
J'onn nods. "I restored communication and contacted the authorities to let them know they have three dangerous criminals to pick up." The device Harley was using to jam the personal satellite that Batman had dedicated to the airspace above his mansion was much more sophisticated that he had suspected. The only way to deactivate it had been to phase his through the device, damaging the circuitry. Batman, he knew would want to take a look at it regardless, to learn how to counteract it in the future.
"Right. Good guys win again, right?" Barbara murmurs ruefully, suddenly very aware she is dressed in a t-shirt and an old pair of gym shorts. She looked nothing like the avenging angel of the night she was purported to be.
Picking up on her distress, he grasps her arms firmly so she has to look at him. "You have nothing to be ashamed off, Batgirl. Were you in top form, I doubt you would have needed my assistance at all. In fact, judging by the scene I arrived on, you may not have needed it anyway."
Barbara smiles warmly in spite of herself. "Thanks for that, J'onn. It's total crap, but thank you." Barbara is thankful that he had been the one to show up and not anyone else. Most people would have tried to make light of the situation, or worse tease her about it.
"Shall I wait here until the authorities arrive?"
"No- Yes actually, that would be best." Barbara ordinarily would have sent him away, but explaining not only how she managed to subdue three of Gotham's most wanted and what she was doing at Bruce Wayne's mansion would require some subterfuge. "I'm going to need your help explaining things…"
"So these three just knocked on the door and started rummaging through the place?"
Barbara could tell that Bullock was not convinced, not yet anyway, so she needed to lay it on as thick as possible. "No. Dick and I were in the sitting room, watching a movie and he heard a vehicle drive up. He thought it might be Alfred coming back since Mr. Wayne is out of town. When he looked out the window, that's when he saw them." Barbara tries to inject as much fear as she can into her voice without going into hysterics. She knew from experience that people would still be too numb to really freak out about the situation.
"That true, pretty boy?"
"That's what she said ain't it Bullock?" Barabra has to hold back a chuckle as J'onn plays Dick's indignation perfectly. "They picked the lock and we tried calling you guys but neither of us could get a signal out."
"And then they just decided, "Hey, robbing this rich kid is boring, let's beat each other unconscious?" If that's what yer selling kid, I ain't buying!"
"They were looking for something, Bullock!" This part was crucial. "Whatever it was they couldn't find it so they started arguing. The girl- Harley, I guess?- says something smart to Two-Face he hits her. Or at least it sounded like he did. He and Joker get into a scuffle-"
"And Captain Wonderful here takes them out while they're in a tizzy…"
"Joker had hit Two-Face with some sort of drug or something, he was already woozy…" Dick explains. "And Joker may be a maniac but he fights like a five year old girl!"
Bullock snorts at this and writes something down in his pad. "So you found some zip ties, secured them and called us? Got it… You'll understand if we want to bring you in later, just to dot the t's and cross the I's?"
"That won't be necessary Detective, I think you have enough…"
Bullock didn't like the story he was being fed, but he wasn't gonna roast the Commissioners' daughter for it. Whatever the truth was, he'd take the collar of three known felons as payment for going easy.
"I'm glad you were here son," James Gordon replies, clapping J'onn on the back gratefully. Leading him away from Barbara and Bullock he waits until they are out of earshot to continue. "If you weren't I shudder to think what these animals may have done to my dear Barbara…"
"I think she could have held her own sir…" J'onn gives Barbara a wink which she returns as she continues to talk to Bullock.
Gordon smiles looking at Barbara detailing the story to his detective. "Yeah, she'd have given them hell all right… one thing troubles me though…"
"Sir?" J'onn thought the story they crafted was air tight, but no one seemed to be buying it.
"I thought you two weren't seeing each other anymore?"
"I'm going to pay for this…" Barbara muses watching the last squad car pull away. Her father wasn't happy leaving her here and even less happy that she was spending time with Dick Grayson. He may not have known the whole story behind their break-up but he was never in favor of their relationship to begin with. And to sell the story, she had to be up at Wayne Manor for more than a visit.
"Your father, does he know-?"
Barbara looks at J'onn and then out the window at the fading lights of police cars. "I suppose, Batman would say he knows what he wants to know." She never gave much thought to whether her father knew about her nighttime activities, but she knows he is not a stupid man. He was a gifted detective before he became Commissioner, thinking he was completely in the dark about the vigilantes of his city would be a mistake.
J'onn nods in understanding. He'd come to realize that humans often wrapped themselves in layers of self-delusion. It was a defense against the cold realities of life and a skill he wished he possessed. He knew full well that the reason he spent so much of his time at the Tower was so that he could avoid becoming too attached to this world. Because he knew, in his doing so, the memories of his wife and daughter would fade even more than they already had. There had been nights when his dreams of Mars contained blank faces instead of those he had lost. Being surrounded by the warm and beautiful thoughts of women like Batgirl certainly didn't help.
Barbara turns back to J'onn and notes the troubled look on his face. "We must be so confusing to you… humans I mean…" Although his face remains impassive, Barbara swears she sees the remnants of a smile. "We wear masks to fight crime, masks to hide the fact we fight crime and we lie to ourselves and everyone else… yeesh… just saying that out loud is giving me a headache! I can only imagine what it's like for a telepath…"
This time J'onn does smile. "It's not as awful as you make it seem… Besides at their core most of the humans I've encountered are-"
"-insane, slightly narcissistic, insecure…?" Barbara laughs lightly, running a hand through her hair absentmindedly. That last description fits how she feels right now. J'onn always seemed to have such an air of nobility about him, a gravitas that made you feel small. With no one else around to act as a buffer she realizes that air is simply who he is, which is a more frightening prospect.
J'onn grabs her by her shoulders and looks down at her. "Would you like to know what I see in you?"
This is the one being on earth that might be capable of putting Superman down if it came to it, yet he has such a gentle way about him. Her voice fails her so she nods her head nervously.
"You are Intelligent, creative, disciplined and determined. You care for people, more than you care for yourself and would gladly lay your life down for a complete stranger. You're loyal to a fault, passionate and confident while still knowing your limitations."
Blushing furiously, Barbara tries to brush off the onslaught of compliments. "Sure we're talking about the same Barbara Gordon?"
J'onn looks down at her and the intensity in his eyes causes her to look away. "Of course I'm sure." He lifts her head up so that their eyes can meet. "Do you not see those same qualities in yourself?"
Instantly Barbara feels as if she is standing in front of the Martian naked and wraps her arms around herself defensively. She had never had anyone speak so definitively about her or so complimentary. Sensing her unease, J'onn backs away.
"I apologize, on my world, we tend to speak our minds and given that we can read one another's thoughts, there isn't much use or need for tact…" J'onn offers thoughtfully. It seemed every time he tried to offer comfort to one of his teammates he ended up falling short of the mark. "With the communication back up I'm sure you'll want to get in touch with Batman and let him know what's taken place here. I should head back to the Watchtower. The transporters are still down and all our best scientific minds are elsewhere at the moment…"
J'onn turns to fly back but Barbara stops him. "I could help you take a look at the array… I had some design input when they were constructed…" Barbara offers nervously. She realizes she hadn't really spent a great deal of time around him before and that she wants to.
"I would appreciate that greatly, Batgirl."
"Call me Barbara…"
-Titans Tower, morning-
Peter didn't want to head back to the mansion. He'd had the most disappointing night that he can remember and although he knew that wasn't saying much given his amnesia, the last place he wanted to be was Gotham. So he left Gotham train station, took to the rooftops and swung through the city until he arrives at Titan Tower.
Walking through the HQ, he finds things unusually mundane.
Beast Boy on the Xbox, M'gann and Kara chatting animatedly while eating breakfast; he walked by them without them even noticing. He continued down to the lower levels where he found Cyborg where he always was, his laboratory. Peter found it ironic that the former star athlete was now one of the most gifted scientific minds on the planet. Some of that of course had to do with his cybernetic enhancements, but they really just enhanced his natural talents. He notices he's on a video conference with the Martian Manhunter and steps in the room.
"-Batgirl has been invaluable to getting the array back online, now it's just a matter of re-synching it with the defense grid to keep out any further interstellar incursions." Batman mentioned to Peter before that he and Atom had been working on a way of keeping any transporters from working on Earth. Peter figures that must be what the Martian was referring to. Although, it was a surprise to hear that Batgirl was on the Watchtower instead of resting at home.
"Good to hear, J'onn! If you need any help, let me know." Cyborg disconnects the call and turns to Peter. "Surprised to see you here, Spiderman."
Peter's mind goes blank until he realizes the last time he was in the same room with Cyborg, he'd quit the Titans, quit being a superhero altogether. "You know how it is, Vic, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…" Am I right?" Peter jokes.
Vic nods his head. "Believe me I get it. You looking for Ravager?"
He hadn't been, but he was curious as to how she was recovering. "Isn't she still in the infirmary?"
"What do you think?"
"Right." Peter nods with a smirk. There's no way Rose could be bothered by something as normal as "recovery". Peter turns to head to the training room, but stops short. "Wait, what made you think I was looking for her anyway?"
-Titan training room-
Even at less than a hundred percent she was still poetry in motion.
Agile, fierce and determined, she makes her way through the various drones with ease, only favoring her injured arm slightly. He knew she healed quickly, but her recovery was pretty astounding. A special cast allowed the arm to heal while still keeping it safe.
"Like what you see, bug boy?" Rose asks without turning around. She takes down the last drone and catches the towel Peter throws to her.
Peter doesn't answer; he simply keeps staring at her. Her long, silver hair pulled back in a playful ponytail. Her well-toned legs, leading up to a fairly ample backside held in check with a pair of black fighting togs. She was frighteningly beautiful in that she could kill you all with an amazingly bright smile on her face.
Noting the way he is looking at her she begins to blush. "Take a picture, it'll last longer." She offers trying to come off offended.
Peter playfully takes out his cell phone. "Well if you insist…" As he manages to take a photo, she moves quickly and tries to take it away from him but as fast as she is, he is faster. Every time she reaches to grab a hold of the phone he evades her and takes another picture. Finally she stops going for the phone and goes after the man himself. She manages to catch him off balance and land on top of him.
"Getting slow there, Spider?" Rose teases holding his arms down as she looks down at him. She knew he was nearly untouchable in a fight, but he managed to fall victim to a simple trip move.
"Every consider Rose," Peter shifts his weight and flips position with Rose, with him now on top. "That I allowed you to gain a momentary advantage… in order to set myself up exactly where I wanted to be in the first place?"
Rose, in spite of herself, feels her heart begin to pound in anticipation. There was something about Peter that made her act like a schoolgirl with a crush. It was both exhilarating and annoying at the same time. "Why would you want to be-?"
"Isn't it obvious by now, Rose?" As he answers her, he leans in closer to her. She licks her lips in anticipation and sighs slightly as he lips finally press tentatively against hers. The first thing Peter notices is how remarkable soft and full her lips feel on his. Her tongue slides into his mouth and she shifts her legs to allow him room between her legs.
While they kiss, his hands loosen the tie holding her hair back and lift her head from the floor to gain more of her mouth. Her own hand slips below his neck but when she moves her other arm along his back, under his shirt, she winces in pain.
Peter breaks their kiss to look down at her. "You okay?" He had been so eager to kiss her and so happy she didn't immediately try to kill him, he forgot she was still recovering from a serious beating at the hands of Deathstroke.
Rose pulls him back to her and smiles. "I forgot about my broken arm…. But my lips work just fine." She wraps her legs hungrily around his hips and pulls him flush against her again and they resume their lip dance.
Peter slides his own hand up her shirt and cradles her sports bra clad breast in his hand. Her moan causes her to accidently bite his lip. "Sorry…" Rose apologizes a little embarrassed at her reaction. "No one's ever… I mean I haven't-" Despite the fact she once showed up in Robin's room wearing nothing but her eye patch, she was pretty inexperienced.
Peter understood what she was getting at and caresses her face warmly. "Neither have I…" A disturbing thought occurs to him; he has no idea how far he's gone with a girl. That thought causes him to pause and Rose notes the change in his mood.
"Peter…?" Rose asks breathlessly. She grabs his face and turns his attention back to her. "Whatever happened before, none of it matters now, because we're here now. And we both want this, right?"
Peter smiles and pulls her from the floor into his lap. "Absolutely!"
"Ravager? I've told you a thousand times once you finish a session you need to disable the drones and put them away!" Cyborg thankfully is not looking in the direction of Rose and Peter as he says this, which gives the two of them time to stand up and assume a position of complete innocence.
Ordinarily Rose wouldn't have cared who might have walked in on them, but she knew Peter would care. He was sweet like that. A fact that made him even more desirable in her eyes. "As advanced as those things are Tin-Man they should be able to police themselves up!"
Peter hides his chuckle with a cough. "Sorry Victor, someone obviously got a little… carried away with their training…" Rose smiles wickedly at Peter's remark causing Peter to raise a playful eyebrow in her direction.
"I'm surprised to see you training again so soon, Ravager." Starfire states, leading Robin, Beast Boy and Beetle into the room. Joining the four of them Wonder Girl and Miss Martian.
Wonder Girl, never really a fan of Ravager, echoes Starfire's statement. "You should be recovering. You're no good to the team if you keep pushing yourself like this. What are you trying to prove?"
"Didn't know you were so concerned about me, Wonder Bra." Rose quips causing both Beetle and Beast Boy to chuckle softly.
"You are a teammate, Ravager, we are concerned." Starfire answers before Wonder Girl can react. "We want you to be in the best shape you can. Not just for us, but for yourself."
"Well not all of us have superhuman alien bods, Goldie. Some of us actually have to work to stay in shape." Rose counters nastily. Even before the alien had made her intentions towards Peter clear she disliked the woman. But now she has even more reason to hold a grudge. She didn't know if Peter knew about Starfire's intentions, or if he was attracted to her himself, but that didn't matter. She was determined to stake her claim.
"Well since there appears to be no convincing you otherwise..." Starfire states coolly. "Spiderman, Robin wanted us to engage in a team training exercise, will you be able to join us?" No one else knew about his blow up with Robin before the mess in Gotham, as far as anyone knew he was still a part of the Titans. He himself isn't as sure. While he liked working with the others and felt close to them all, there was a lot about the way Robin handles things that he doesn't like.
"-Spider and I just finished working up a pretty serious sweat, I think we'll hit the showers." Rose interrupts Peter, linking her arm protectively around his.
"Separately!" Peter adds a little too adamantly, causing Robin to look at him quizzically.
"Can I have a moment, Spiderman?" Robin asks in a way that lets everyone know that it is not a request. Following Robin to the other side of the room, Peter stands waiting for Robin to speak. "Does this mean you're unquitting?"
"I thought you were supposed to be some sort of a genius, Drake? You know that's not a word, right?" Peter jokes trying to lighten the mood. Robin doesn't seem amused.
"And I thought we discussed the fact that when the masks are on, we use code-names only? Especially considering that Slade managed to make his way in here not that long ago…" Robin chastises softly. Peter nearly points out the fact that although Robin was wearing his mask, he was not, but decides against it. He got the point and understood, even if he didn't like it.
"Of course, my mistake, Robin… if that's all…?" Peter turns to leave, but Robin grabs his arm firmly.
"Believe it or not, I'm glad you've decided to stay on." Robin admits, startling Peter, which causes him to chuckle. "Seriously, man, I may give you a hard time, but you're a great addition to the team… and a good influence on Rose…"
Peter looks back at Rose interacting with Beast Boy and Beetle and smiles. "She's a good influence on me too..."
Robin notes Peter's expression and nods knowingly. "Since you're back officially, mind if I offer a word of advice?"
"Do I have a choice?" Peter groans, knowing the answer already. One of the many things Robin and Batman had in common was the infuriating tendency to ask permission for something they were going to do whether permission was given or not. In Peter's opinion it would be better for them to not even offer refusal as an option, since it wasn't really one anyway.
Rather than answer, Robin continues. "Nightwing tried to cultivate a relationship with a team mate once, it didn't work out well for either of them. It rarely does." Starfire and Nightwing's break up caused Starfire to take a temporary leave from the team. In fact, she only came back once Nightwing moved to Bludhaven and started his solo work.
Peter nods but doesn't agree. "Maybe you and Batman can live the life of solitary vigilante. Keep a person at an arm's length, refusing to open up to anyone, maybe that works for you. And I'm not knocking it. I get it. I may not have been at this thing as long as either of you, but I can see the logic behind it. But I can't be ruled by logic, by being safe. And if you think about it, what's logical about putting on a mask and fighting insane criminals in dark alleyways risking your life every night? What's safe about rushing headlong into danger the way we do?" Peter hadn't meant to go on a rant, but he was getting tired of people "suggesting" how he should live his life.
"I just want you to be careful, Spiderman." Robin states, placing his hand on Peter's shoulder. "There's a lot that you still don't know about this life, about yourself. With everything that's gone on the last few months, just… just be careful…" Robin knew that nothing he could say would stop Peter from doing what he wants to, but he hopes that he will at least take the implications of his actions seriously. He knew there was some connection between Peter's sudden appearance and all that had been going on with Ares. In his mind, that meant that his presence in their lives might only be temporary. He was sure that Peter himself had to have come to that same conclusion.
All the confidence Peter had a moment ago is drained by those words and he stands in front Robin feeling unsure. Rose wanted him to live in the now, Bruce and Robin wanted him to discover his past and the Spectre kept hinting at some great conflict in his future; all of it was aggravating to no end. "… I'll give your advice some thought…" Peter mumbles.
His trip to New York had offered him nothing in the way of explanations; it only left him even more confused and aggravated. Spectre showing up reinforced just how little he really knew about himself. Living for the moment was fine when he thought that his past didn't matter, but now he realizes until he finds out the truth about himself, he'll always be filled with doubt.
"That's all I ask…" Robin responds, watching him closely. He hadn't meant to crush Peter's spirits, but he also wanted him to be aware of the consequences his actions could have. Rose wasn't that far removed from a criminal past. The team was just beginning to trust her and she them, meaning that her situation was still fragile. "For the record, I don't think the solitary life works for any of us. Batman's had his share of relationships and despite what he may tell you, they meant something. Pretending that we don't need people to care about us is the lie we tell everyone else… even though we all know the truth…. Why do you think Batman was so eager to get to Themyscira?"
Peter hadn't been expecting that admission from Robin and smiles gratefully. "That did strike me as a little odd…" Peter answers amused. "You're all right Drake."
"Don't let it get around…" Robin turns to his other teammates and yells. "All right team, let's run situation bravo!"
Rose rolls her eyes comically at Robin's drill sergeant routine and notices Peter leaving. "That's my cue…"
"Since when do you pass up a chance to train?" Beast Boy asks stretching in preparation for the drill.
"There are other ways to work up a nice sweat… right?" Rose answers Beast Boy, but is looking at Starfire who meets her gaze obviously confused. Rose doesn't elaborate or give her a chance to ask about what she means, she walks swiftly to the exit Peter just left from.
-Themyscira, Flash's room-
"Ugh… is it morning already…?"
Wally looks back at Artemis as she stretches and yawns. If she hadn't spoken he would have chalked last night up to an incredibly vivid dream. But there she is; the Amazonian warrior who had shared both a shower and a bed with him. "Yes, it is, how did you sleep?"
"I did not," Artemis smirks naughtily. "Or have you forgotten?" After they enjoyed each other's bodies, they talked. She found him surprisingly interesting and intelligent. Wiser than his comical act would have led her to believe. At some point though, talking had ceased and she craved another type of communication. And he proved himself more than up to the task.
"How could I?" Wally rejoins her on the bed and looks at her. She was so different from any other woman he knew. Most women could never understand the life he chose for himself or the way he lived. Artemis not only understood, but also could empathize. Her beauty was natural, without the aid of extensions, make up or any of the other artificial enhancements so many needed. Just thinking about her in comparison to his past lovers, made him wonder what he could have ever saw in any of them. Pulling her to him she yields to him as he kisses her. "You're so beautiful…" He whispers in awe as they break their kiss.
"Gods, Wally, how can you say that?" Artemis sputters embarrassed. "My hair is a tangled mess, I am sure my face has faired no better and between the sweat and-"
"If it makes you feel better, we could take another shower…" Wally offers wickedly. That had been the biggest surprise of his life. And the best.
Before Artemis can answer, the door swings open revealing Hippolyta and two of her attendants. Thanks to his speed, Wally is able to cover himself under the sheets, but the fact remains that he is now in bed with the queens' most formidable and loyal warrior.
"I had come here to offer you breakfast, yet I see you may have an appetite for something other than food…" Hippolyta condemns with a stern look.
The comment causes Wally to laugh, thinking of how he had devoured every inch of Artemis last night and had every intention of doing so again, but Artemis looks down embarrassed.
"My Queen, I can explain-"
"Can you?" Hippolyta asks raising a judgmental brow in her direction. "Tell me then; did some strange malady afflict you causing your imminent demise? Then, just at the point of death, you discovered that only through the semen of a mortal would you yet live? Is that why you parted your thighs as any harlot might and eagerly accepted the cure?"
"Hey!" Wally interjects, dressing and leaping from the bed. "You may be queen around here, but you don't get to speak to her like that!" He found her words not only harsh, but also unnecessarily cruel. She was intentionally trying to hurt Artemis and belittle his feelings for her.
"Wally?" Hippolyta yells angrily. "He is Flash to you, Artemis and when he leaves you will not speak of, or to him again. Leave before he soils your station and my opinion of you further!"
Wally opens his mouth again to protest, but Artemis grabs his arm and she pulls herself free of the bed. Wrapping herself in the sheet, she walks head down from the room. She turns back to look at him, but before he can speak she turns away and leaves.
"Satisfied?" Wally asks exasperated. He knew there were rules here about these sorts of relationships, but he didn't think Hippolyta would react so critically towards Artemis.
"Not until you and your ebony clad conspirator are off my island… and if you darken our shores again, you will see my less diplomatic side." Hippolyta answers with a venom that leaves no doubt as to her seriousness. If men were forbidden before, he could only imagine what it might mean for one to wander on these shores accidently.
"What is your problem anyway?" Wally asks incredulously. "Why do you hate men so much?"
"Because all you know how to do is destroy. Whether that destruction falls upon buildings or hearts, you care not. Now, please make your preparations to leave. Whatever courtesy or favor you may have accumulated with me is spent."
Diana knew he wasn't asleep, but she didn't want to move.
She doesn't want this moment to end.
Despite his rather formidable stamina, they spent most of the night and early morning talking. They shared stories of their early lives; some made them chuckle, others were more serious in nature. The whole time she lay across his chest, listening to the rough timber of his voice as he spoke of things few people knew. When it was her time to share, he stroked her hair soothingly or ran his calloused hands up and down the small of her back. She tried not to allow his touch to entice her, and for the most part she had been successful.
At some point, while the sky was still dark, she fell asleep in his arms. So when she stirred in the morning and found herself in such a wonderful position she didn't want to disturb the moment.
"You realize we cannot stay in bed all day, don't you?"
"I cannot hear you, I am still asleep." Diana protests, burying her face into his chest further.
"People who are asleep, rarely confirm that they are asleep… I may not be the worlds' greatest detective, but I know that." Bruce jokes, lifting her face up so that he could look into her eyes. He almost wishes he hadn't; she is even lovelier now than she had ever been. The loving warmth in them was painful to look at. He never imagined he'd be here and he was still trying to come to grips with it.
"Obviously you are not a great detective or you would deduce that when a woman is naked and lying in your arms, you should do whatever she wants to do!" Diana teases, pouting playfully.
"Well then, what does she want to do?" Bruce asks with a light kiss on her forehead.
Swinging her body fully on top of his she lays directly on top of him. "I figure that we could start with something like this…" Keeping her eyes on him she kisses him softly. "Work our way down-"
"Diana!" Bruce warns harshly.
"Don't worry, Bruce I'll be gentle…" Diana answers, ignorant of the urgency in his voice, or why he was pushing her off him. "Why are you-?"
"First my Lieutenant, now my daughter. Perhaps I should simply open my borders to all the men of your world. Get it over with in one night!"
Diana scurries under the covers with a shriek of surprise while Batman calmly puts on his pants and stands in front of Hippolyta and her attendants. "Perhaps, the first thing you should do is learn that it is polite, in civilized society, to knock before entering a room that isn't yours."
"I am queen of this land, Dark Knight, all of the rooms here are mine by right!" Hippolyta argues defiantly. She had hoped her daughter would join her for breakfast, maybe a ride along the coast afterwards. They had begun to make some progress the other day towards reconciliation and she wanted to continue that. Instead of finding her alone, she finds her daughter in the arms of a man. Much the same as she had Artemis.
"With respect, your highness, perhaps that is the reason your daughter left here to begin with. Since you seem eager to control every aspect of the people you claim to love. Even God allows people to have free will, yet you, much like the men you despise, chose to rule with an unwavering iron fist. I know some dictators who could learn from your example." Batman states evenly. He often viewed Themyscira as a police state and this morning was proving his belief all too correct.
"Batman, please!" Diana pleads, stepping in front of him now dressed. "She is not just the queen, she is my mother!"
"He doesn't understand respect, daughter, men are incapable of comprehending such concepts!" Hippolyta spats angrily. She hates that this man has soiled her daughter, but is pleased to see Diana has not forgotten her role. "It is of no consequence though, I have communicated to his comrade that he is to leave, I offer the same to you Batman. Consider it mercy that I allow you to leave."
"Of course, the archives proved to offer no insight, we should return to the 'Tower to consider our next move…" Diana states. While it was true that Batman hadn't had the chance to look through the archives thoroughly, perhaps they could still piece some of the puzzle together.
"They will be leaving, but you daughter will stay here. As you promised to."
-Peter's room, Titan's Tower-
Peter lies across the bed staring at the ceiling thinking.
The Spectre told him that when this was over he could return to his former life, whatever that was or stay here. A few months ago that would have been a simple choice, but now, he had found a purpose. Made friends, how could he simply leave them behind?
Then again, who's to say those he had already left behind weren't missing him now? He'd been here the better part of half a year, but he'd been there, wherever "there" was, for all of his life. Surely there would be friends, family, that would be happy to see him return. And he would be happy to see them once he remembered who they were.
"You're wearing that frowny face you get when you're thinking too much… What have I told you about that?"
"Rose I-" Peter sits up and turns to the doorway to find Rose softly closing his door behind her. Wearing nothing but a towel, around her head. "Wow…"
"Got that right!"
A/N: Will Rose and Peter finally…? (Readers what do you think? Yay or nay on the hook up? You can sway the story!) Ares and the Justice League get equally unlikely visitors that turn the entire universe upside down! Or maybe right side up…?