Astute Contemplations by Hanks-a-lot

INTRO— This is a Batman point-of-view story. It will not be influenced by a certain professional writer by the name of Bruce. Some say that since he shares the same first name as the character (and perhaps transposes himself into the hero), this individual presents Bruce Wayne as Mr. Invincible. Batman can beat up gods, giants and who-knows-who. No, this Batman is portrayed realistically in physical attributes. He's very aware of himself and at times impatient.

In this three-chapter story, three fellow Justice Leaguers are seen through Batman's eyes. Sometimes, two of them will not be looked upon favorably. The third, well….

For reference sake: Metropolis in the DC Universe is New York here. Gotham City is Chicago.

Disclaimer: All Characters, except three, are properties of D.C. Comics. Grandma Kent is "based" on a character from another reality and hence this story cannot be considered a crossover. Miguel Florencio dela Fuerza and Pastor Flores exist here only.

Chapter One: Relief and Reflections

"We're here," a strong, feminine voice announced over his communicator's ear piece. Batman recognized the voice and immediately knew who the other person of that "we" was— they were becoming insufferably inseparable. Still, it was a welcome message that brought a promise. It meant that the increasing sound of gunfire was going to diminish fast. And under a cloudy morning sky, the inside of the building, where he stood, seemed to appear brighter.

He stepped back from the Venetian blinds. Though he was trained to move stealthily, the creaking of the old wooden floor betrayed his movements. Surrounded by the peeling, off-white walls of the living room, Batman continued to hold the mini-screen steadily in his right hand. He still wanted to see the images sent from the adhesive-backed, penny-sized cameras that he placed around the outside walls of the building.

The Batman finally acknowledged the transmission and smiled. Outwardly, the smile was out of place—the dark-attired figure was never known to exhibit such facial exercises. There was also the current situation that made the rolling of his cheeks quite bizarre. He and Plastic Man were in South Venezuela, inside of a three-story orphanage. Armed government opposition forces had engaged the army in a large gun battle on the far side of the mountain. Their fight was expected to wrap around to this side of the mountain at dawn. The few families in the small village evacuated quickly after the League representatives alerted them. But without enough adults to shepherd the young orphans, the night exodus would have proven just as dangerous for them.

When the sky exchanged her garment from black to grey, the battle indeed reached their side. The children were gathered in the upper floor of the home built against the mountainside.

The Justice League did not take sides in the war, but now two of its members were on the ground floor guarding the entrances to the building. NO ONE—not a rebel, not a soldier—was going to enter the orphanage in order to set up a sniper's nest. If that happened, the opposing gunnery would bombard the building without a care for the children and caretakers.

Still, Bruce's peculiar pediment of ivory white rested upon three pillars. First, the fact that they were here testified to Batman's success in reminding the League that the world could go out in a collection of whispers as well as a big bang. Wonder Woman and Superman exerted their influences in support of Bruce when he said that they should be more attuned to regional events. Braniac and Darkseid were not coming daily to destroy the planet. The League again began looking around instead of only up.

Second, this new blue-and-red Dynamic Duo out there were probably disarming the fighters and dumping them miles apart from each other. Their action afforded Batman a rare treat of light contemplation.

Speaking of which, Diana and Clark were also the third reason for his smile. The nonsensical parry and dodge of two extremely powerful people afraid of each other's reaction was about to end. Not a moment too soon— it was getting on Bruce's nerves. Clark, the timid, was about to grow a pair and finally come out and reveal his feelings later today. Bruce knew what her answer was going to be, so he had no care about his friend's forwardness. But that didn't mean that he had to be there for all the gushy-blushy B.S. that would follow. Plastic Man was going to fill out the report afterwards. Bruce was heading back to Chicago.

If anyone had dared think that Batman cared for any of this triviality and had asked him if they were good together, he'd say: "Look at Clark. That spineless attitude of 'Please-Mr.- Bad-Guy-don't-do-anything-wrong- because-I'd-hate-to-hurt–you' is gone. He's more assertive, proactive, and unapologetic."

The New York City Police Department had heard rumors about Superman playing games. He was gun-stripping mob bosses and dropping them into the midst of rival gangs. The promise of these little friendly visits has provided a lot of information on future activities. And if they were to press kidnapping charges against Superman, … well the Kryptonian's memory might slip and he'd forget where he left the boss on the next play-date. Last minute rescues are harder to perform in that instance. This had all the flavor of an Amazon interrogation. Good for Clark.

The land-rich, pockets-poor farm boy was also playing hardball with Grandma Linda Kent's beach properties in Santo Largo and Colorado Point, Aruba. Not so good for Bruce who needed those areas to expand his resorts. This just had to be a result of a friendly Amazon influence, also. Damn, he never met anyone who reveled in bargaining like Diana. It was more than an obsession with her.

Going back to the question, Bruce would add, "Look at Diana. The regimented demeanor that barely registered life has dropped all guardedness. For a year and a half Clark has had her laughing at something stupid he says or does every ten minutes."

Speaking of stupid, no one had better get Bruce started on the silly malady with which Clark had infected Diana. For example: Two mornings ago, at the League cafeteria, Superman sat down with a plate of pancakes opposite Bruce. To no one's surprise, Diana joined them on Clark's side. The demure princess gingerly but assertively reprimanded Clark for not eating healthier. She pushed the butter and syrup away from his reach. She then offered to share the fruits and berries on her plate, but he refused.

Seconds later, Clark mumbled something about sissy armies and manly armies. He cut up his pancakes and, using his fork as a catapult, he hurled pancake pieces as boulders onto the soldiers of fruit on her plate. She leaned into him, laughing. Whatever the measure of her army, Diana wasn't a sissy general, if that was what Clark thought. When she collected herself, she countered with her own cannonballs of fruit. Bruce was growing tired of the silliness. Just as he reached the limit of his patience, a truce was settled. In the end, they agreed that pancakes with fruit were better than pancakes with butter and syrup.

Looking back, Bruce wasn't the only one who noticed their growing intimacy, but he was certainly the first. He was Batman, after all— he (and others) expected no less of his perceptive powers. Clark had those once in a quintet-decade Hollywood, multi-mega-good looks that could charm a strong-willed tightwad billionaire widow out of all her assets. Diana noticed his effects on women, so she playfully called him "Ug"—for ugly— when she thought no one was around. Of course, Bruce thought he could beat him a country mile in the looks department. Unfortunately, the hood hid much of his grandeur. Without Batman's mask, Bruce Wayne was the number-one sought-after bachelor, after all. Who could possibly argue the fact? Hmm— probably the she-half of that previously mentioned "we." But definitely, no rational mind would.

On the other side was the princess. Diana had that once-in-a-quintet-century, demi-goddess level of beauty that, at first sight, hammered a person's brain numb to all the surroundings. Clark saw how she could turn men's heads, so he countered her tease with his own. "Hid"— for hideous—was his covert response. How could they not find each other attractive?

Like everyone else, Bruce's eyes bulged when she had been introduced to him (thank God for the white filters attached to the eye-openings of his mask). Several times he had to fight back the urge to make his move on her, but reality was a perfect gate-keeper.

Where would it have gone? She was brilliance, like the sun, chasing away darkness. He was the less radiant moon. He lived in and exposed the dark. She was so perky—some days to the point of nauseating him… just as Clark did. Bruce was more earth-centered. She soared up above the pure summer rain looking to rescue. Bruce sparred in the trenches, dirtying his hands in the act of rescuing. When reason slept, he would love nothing better than to have her as his. When rational had awakened, he knew he'd never leave his wife— Chicago.

Bruce, though, did take mistresses during his "marriage." He had Selina, Vicky, Thalia, Kimiyo, Cindy— wait, was Cindy the real name of fellow Leaguer, Gypsy? Was he mistakenly giving the heroine a name that belonged to another? Was Cindy the young detective that he pushed off onto the Red Tornado because she became too clingy?

Didn't matter, he needed variety. But he always returned to his "wife." Come to think of it, that need for variety would have cost him a loss of a plumbing instrument if a certain Amazon was won over and became as clingy as that other woman.

Even if one would take all that out of the equation, there was the time element. What would happen in 12 years, when he'd slow down, but she'd remain physically sharp? What would happen in 22 years when he had to dye his hair and surgically stretch his face so that wise-mouths wouldn't refer to Diana as his daughter? In 32 years when age and his pursuit of justice took their toll and a walker helped him come to the dining room when he'd invite the ever-sturdy Clark to dine with him and the ever-youthful Diana? That would be the biggest blow to Bruce.

Thanks, but no thanks. He'd have to live with the disappointment of never having Diana's love by getting lost in the arms of… of – hmm, whose turn was it? It's the beginning of the month— Lois, Clark's old flame, is always scheduled at this time for a weekend in Wayne Manor.

Bruce came around to the present with the acknowledgment that the gunfire had stopped. He again approached the Venetian blinds. Outside, the road was crumbling due to age and reddening due to the baking sun. It led Bruce's eyes to the neighboring abodes. The sparse houses in the small village were still standing. Most likely the inhabitants would return and find the benefit of air-flow cooling in their homes, thanks to the bullet holes.

Suddenly he heard a crashing sound coming from the kitchen. Batman's silent sprint towards the back of the house slowed as he neared his destination. Again, the wooden floor moaned underneath him as he stopped just a step before the archway entrance into the kitchen. His keen mind had already come up with three different scenarios of attack in the event that the noise meant that one combatant hadescaped Superman and Wonder Woman.

A threatening, deep voice spoke out in English with a light but distinguishable accent.

"Oh come on, Murcielago ("Bat"). Come out from behind that wall. I will not shoot you. Instead, there is something I need. We'll find something that can benefit both of us."

Batman cautiously revealed his head to the intruder. Sitting on the kitchen floor with half an orange in his hands was the half-wit whom Bruce avoided calling "Plastic Man." Where Clark was, at times, forgivably childlike, this fool was constantly childish. Now this imbecile was on the floor looking puzzled. Behind Patrick— the Plastic Moron— O'Brian's left shoulder, an athletic-looking figure stood. His dark uniform looked nothing like that of the olive-green Venezuelan Army outfits.

His deep-set eyes only brought more attention to his defined, dark eyebrows. The dark goatee adorning his squared chin was just as striking. The man's right index and middle fingers were on the rings of two hand grenades which were secured in his left hand.

In a cold voice he said, "I will not have this territory open to a future possession of the rebels, Murcielago. Give me this: Tell your two friends outside to return allllll the soldiers here. And I'll give you this: The house and the children will not go" – a wicked smile stretched across his hardened face— "poof."