I heard you laugh.
Amongst the resonance that my hearing is well accustomed to…of impatient sirens, sometimes the occasional noise of explosions…of gunshots, the cries of despair…it was a most welcome sound.
You're celebrating your triumph over Wally's defeat of who got the last slice of cake. But true to who you are, you shared the bounty with him.
I think it was more of a giggle and less of a laugh, actually. Though I know that you would argue my over analyzing. I always over analyze when it comes to you.
Like how your eyes get a deeper shade of blue when I have managed to catch your ire, like I almost always do lately. Like how you tap your regal fingernails on the table in an impatient gesture during boring meetings…like how you're glowing right now, a small distance from where I sit, as you listen attentively to news about the Kent farm and how you would love to visit…
But of course, you would never know how much I pay attention to you. Nor would you know that waking up every single day to this sometimes cruel world gets a little better, because you are in it.
Cliché, I know. I've been clichéd ever since that day I met you.
But those are truths that you will not know. Life is less complicated this way.
Maybe…I'll get the courage to tell you someday, when I'm old and gray while you're still young and radiant. Of course, you wouldn't hate me then for not telling you sooner because I'm old. I have that privilege, or do I?
But…will fate be kind enough to give someone like me that opportunity? I will get old…or not, given our line of work.
While he…the other one, my friend and rival…he will not age like I do. And it is very likely that…he will outlive me by several lifetimes. Like you will, too.
And…as much as I do not want to acknowledge it, there will come a time…probably not now, while your heart still has a place for me (yes, I know…from the way you sometimes look at me, act around me), that you both will realize how much…you need each other. All it will take is just one spark…one moment. And I pray that I would not be around anymore when that time finally comes…
You have loved me for so long. I know you have, even without words. Despite of what I am, what I do to push you away.
What you do not know is…I love you more.
I've loved you from that first day, I love you now…and probably until my last breath I will love you. It is surprising how someone as callous and bitter like me could believe in that word, and feel so much. But that is what you are…you inspire people, you give them hope.
But I am sorry, because for all that courage I have shown…this is where I am weak. Weak to the truth that…I've never felt so vulnerable in all my life, every time that you are around me.
I love you Diana. And I am sorry for never telling you.
She looked at his handwriting for what seemed like an eternity, as the moon provided her the needed light to read again the words he had carefully written so many, many years ago. Afterwards, she neatly folded the old, tattered paper before smiling regretfully at the headless gargoyle, the same statue that had the misfortune of being present while Bruce enumerated the reasons why they should not be together.
Somewhere in her heart, she wished that the message did not reach her today…or ever. She sighed and fought off the feelings, the deep, buried feelings his letter managed to stir up to the surface again.
And she silently blamed him.
Why Bruce…why now? After all those years…why did you need to send me this letter? What was the use of this love now? When you are gone?
She shook her head while a tear fell, the first of several. "Even in death, you can still make me angry," she whispered in the lonely night. Alone…she never felt more alone. "After all these years…you can still make me-" she wiped away the dampness on her face as a familiar sound approached.
"Diana?" He floated a few feet away from her. "Are you all right?"
She was not. And she could not lie. "No…no I'm not."
Superman sat beside her by the ledge, allowing himself the luxury of being by her side as if nothing else mattered. The world…and the universe, could wait for a while because she needed him.
And he needed her too. She was the only one left who made him feel that he still belonged to this changing world, that her smile was the comfort he needed at the end of the day and her eyes…
"You could tell me… if you want to."
The silence stretched for a while. But it was not uncomfortable.
"It's Bruce." She turned to him with a sheepish grin. "Even in death, he could still get on my nerves."
"What did he…do this time?" It seemed a little strange to ask that question.
"He sent me a letter…a very old letter."
From the tone of her voice, he could sense the depth of her feelings. Because he knew her only too well.
"You…miss him." Somehow, that statement made him wince inside.
And her honesty made him wince again.
"I…miss him too," he admitted. "I miss many of our friends. But it was his…passing that was the hardest."
"Because he was such a remarkable person."
"Yes, he was." He turned slightly to face her, searching for the right words to make things better. "You know…I never got around to using the cash gift he gave me."
She smiled at the recollection. "I admonished him when I thought he got you gift certificates."
"And…" he continued. "I remember…the last time he joined us for milkshake."
She was starting to giggle now, remembering how Alfred told her how many times his charge had visited the loo after their milkshake date. "He did not talk to me for days."
"You got off easy," he smiled. "I got a memo."
"I got a memo because he got an upset stomach," he remarked. "Now we know he did not have counter measures for that in his utility belt. He probably has a kryptonite in there, but not Loperamide."
She was laughing now at the mental picture of Bruce in the bat suit scurrying off to the nearest toilet.
And her laughter suddenly drowned out everything else. She seldom laughed with anyone else other than him. And for that, he was very thankful. Because watching her eyes light up with happiness was one of the priceless sights his eyes had been blessed to see. And with his long life, he had seen many. But nothing could compare to the sight of her.
She was so very beautiful. She personified the word, in every aspect.
That was why Bruce loved her.
"All that…because he could not stand the fact that if he did not go…it will be just the two of us." He sobered when her expression changed. "When it came to you…Diana, he sometimes forgets who he is."
He could not help but marvel at the sight of her lovely face, as the moon gracefully outlined her. Then his gaze dropped to her lips.
I forget who I am…
And he wanted to kiss her. He wanted to kiss her for so long that it hurt.
For her part, she could not help but remember Bruce's words…as Kal moved so slowly towards her.
All it will take is just one spark…one moment…And I pray that I would not be around anymore when that time finally comes…
It seemed to take forever, as if the lifetimes between them, the many years of friendship, of pain were too hard to bridge. But when their lips touched…it felt as if time stopped, and everything else dissolved into a distant background.
She felt so soft against him. So warm, so sincere, so perfect.
It was all worth the wait for him.
And as they floated gently away from the rooftop, still in each other's embrace, oblivious to the world, two tattered pieces of paper remained on the cold stone ledge.
The first was the letter of a confession of a love held in secret, from Bruce to Diana.
And the other, a letter to a trusted friend…from Bruce to Clark, asking to finally confess the same, hidden feelings for the same woman, while time still permitted the chance.
He sat bolt upright. Then he was greeted by sunlight filtering through the curtains of his bedroom. He was about to climb out of the bed when a feeling of weakness prevented him.
"It is best that you remain in that bed while you…hydrate, Master Bruce."
Hydrate…he remembered now why he was in bed and weak. Then he heaved a sigh of relief before a smile appeared on his face.
"Are you running a fever, sir?" Alfred's hand felt cold on his forehead. "You are smiling silly."
It was just a dream. "I'm just…glad to be alive."
Alfred looked at him suspiciously. "I never thought diarrhea can have this positive effect on you. Whatever did you eat yesterday anyway?"
"I had milkshake. With Clark and…Diana."
"Oh…" the older man was still doubtful. "And because of the fact that you can't leave them alone, you set aside the fact that you are lactose intolerant."
"I'm better now. Trust me."
"All right, Master Bruce…if you say so. But if I were you, I'd tidy up myself a little."
The grin he had before was erased. "Why?"
It was Alfred's turn to grin. "The Princess will be arriving in a few hours."
"She somehow felt guilty for what happened…though I told her it wasn't her fault you were too jealous of Mr. Kent that you'd rather suffer an upset stomach than leave the two of them alone…on a date."
"Alfred…" He was sitting on the edge of the bed now. Somehow, the thought of seeing her soon managed to liven up his spirits.
"Just kidding, sir." The butler looked smug. "Though she was really feeling guilty that she accepted my offer of dinner on your behalf. But it will only be soup for you."
Dinner. Just the two of them. Or is it?
He had to make sure. "Did you invite…anyone else?"
"Master Kent? He called earlier-"
"Did you invite him?"
"Sir, the look of you feeling this…threatened, this jealous, is very refreshing." The butler stopped when a glare was cast his way. "No, I did not invite him. Of course, I would not want to ruin your chances."
His relief was not lost on the other. He stood up and stretched his over-rested muscles.
"Are you finally going to tell her?"
He was about to reply when the butler pre-empted him.
"Don't deny it, sir. I know she's the reason you've been tossing and turning, not to mention mumbling how you'll deal with Master Kent later, in your sleep a while earlier."
"For the love of everything sacred, Master Bruce…"
"I'm not going to confess my feelings on the very same day I'm recovering from…an upset stomach. That's just not a very romantic story to tell our kids someday…" he was just stating a fact but the full weight of his statement was not lost on Alfred. "I mean…"
"I know what you mean sir," Alfred looked at him proudly. "This makes me one happy, old bloke. Too happy that I can, at least, let you have some pasta."
"Just make sure no milkshakes," he quipped.
"Certainly, sir." Alfred turned to him again before making a beeline for the exit. "Seriously, Master Bruce…I am very happy for you, and for her Highness. Whatever you…dreamt earlier…I am thankful it happened."
He smiled, knowing what the other meant. As the door closed, he stood in the middle of the bedroom, looked around and reveled in the present. Then he closed his eyes and remembered his dream. It was a very real dream that he had to suppress a shudder at the recollection.
It was also a dream that was not too far-fetched in the future. But that future was still very far away, and he was suddenly thankful it was and that he was still here, breathing and very much alive. And that he still had the privilege of looking at her beautiful face. And that he still had the chance to tell her everything.
"I love you, Diana," he whispered, with his eyes still closed. "I. Love. You."
He sighed yet again. "That was not hard after all," he thought aloud before going to the bathroom.
Meanwhile, a few seconds earlier and a few feet away…
She was about to knock on the door to check on him, after passing Alfred by the hallway. But her hand stilled and a smile radiated from within after her very sensitive hearing picked up the words, as they were spoken with clarity and conviction.
I love you too, Bruce, she thought and decided to wait for him downstairs, with more lightness in her steps than before.