It had been over four weeks since the Thanagarians invaded Earth, and no one was happy with Batman.
Wonder Woman (or Diana of Themyscira) paced up and down the brightly lit hallway with noticeable agitation. She was not in a good mood and it was obvious- her shoulders were tense and her face was drawn into a scowl.
'-and ignores the third call!' Diana was shouting.
Nearby (though standing a safe distance away) was Superman, who looked as though he wanted to be anywhere other than the place he was in. The place was, in fact, the makeshift headquarters of the Justice League- an abandoned company building (Superman had mentioned that it could have been an old Wayne Enterprises building) just outside of Metropolis. Batman hadn't said how he'd gotten the temporary HQ up and running and no one had really wanted to ask.
'I know, Diana,' the man said patiently, 'and I'm sure he'll come around when he realises how unreasonable he's being.'
Diana snorted, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder. With his antisocial tendencies, asking for Batman to realise he was doing something wrong was like Hades asking the sun to rise in the north. Without a lot of help and persuasion, it was never going to happen. She knew it, and she knew Superman knew it, so why was he insisting on being difficult?
Superman sighed, apparently realising that Diana wasn't looking for advice; she was looking for some way to vent her feelings that didn't involve hitting anything (Wonder Woman had already worked her way through most of the trainingbots the previous morning). The Amazon thought she was well within her rights to be angry at Batman, but knew the situation was… complicated. Batman was being more and less like himself, and the irregularity was beginning to confuse the other heroes.
It was irritating because he hadn't done anything that was- well, wrong. Or at least, nothing specifically wrong. That did not mean that the other members of the Justice League weren't annoyed at him though.
The real problem lay in his behaviour. He had always been cold- a little distant from the others. But throughout the months the League had been in operation, he had seemingly warmed up to everyone. He was still hard on them sometimes, but they had grown used to his company. It wasn't hard to call him a friend now- Batman had become more than just an ally in the eyes of the other Leaguers, but recently, something had just been off.
They weren't sure if he was angry with them -or if he was really just very busy- but as of the end of the incident with Shayera and the other Thanagarians, they had suddenly seen a lot less of him.
They called and he didn't answer.
They tried to include him in things and he didn't make any effort.
He made up excuses, seemed more detached than he had been since they'd all first met, and Diana was getting frustrated.
At first it hadn't been all that noticeable. There had been a few odd comments; a few moments that made the heroes think they were getting the cold shoulder and so forth. Pretty soon, however, the whole thing had escalated out of control.
Flash had expressed worries that his and Superman's excursion through Batman's house might have had something to do with it- that Batman was a lot angrier about the incident than he had previously let on.
Superman had admitted that he wondered if Batman thought he was getting too close to the Justice League- that maybe this was Batman's way of getting space or trying to keep the others away from him.
It could also have been that Shayera's betrayal had caused him to wonder who else couldn't be trusted. With everything that had gone on during the month, there were too many options and too many unknowns.
Then there was the Robin problem.
Since learning about his son, "Robin", (or maybe adopted son, as Superman had mentioned) every member of the League had expressed their wanting to meet him. The only members who had actually seen the boy were Flash and Superman, and the fact that the kid had taken them out with toast and a candlestick holder meant that the others were interested.
Who was this kid? How long had Batman had him for? Why had he never been mentioned? Batman had always been secretive, but withholding that kind of information was just ridiculous.
Diana had been fairly adamant about it, seeing as Batman being a father showed a new layer of his personality- something he worked hard to hide.
Was he worried that being revealed as a father would ruin his reputation? She hadn't thought he would be so petty about things like that, but apparently Diana had been wrong.
With Batman's current behaviour, it didn't look like meeting the kid would happen any time soon. Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman were currently as likely to meet Robin as they were when they hadn't known he'd existed.
Even Shayera wanted to meet the child, and despite her flipping allegiances during the invasion, the others (most of all John) were adamant that she meet him too.
Diana… wasn't sure how she felt towards Shayera. On the one hand, Hawkgirl had proven herself loyal to the League and fought against her own people to save Earth. On the other hand, she had lied to them all, betrayed them to the invaders and shaken their faith in each other. Hawkgirl had taken a leave of absence since then, but she made regular contact with the other members and had the full support of Green Lantern.
Scowling as her thoughts swirled around her head, Diana folded her arms. 'What are we supposed to do, Superman? He's being strange enough already, and if we try to confront him about it, he may disappear altogether!'
So maybe she wasn't just angry at Batman- maybe she was more than a little concerned about him too. Superman put a hand on her shoulder, and Diana sighed, giving him a little smile.
'If he won't come to us then we'll go to him,' said Superman. 'If we have to go to Gotham to stop him from ignoring us, then so be it.'
Diana sighed. 'Hera, help us,' she said softly, rubbing her temples and trying to ease her headache. 'Superman, one does not simply walk into Gotham.' He laughed and Diana gave him a confused and annoyed look. 'What?'
He just shook his head, smiling.
It was about two in the morning and in the late hours of patrol when Bruce's Justice League communicator went off.
'Yes?' he asked in a bored tone. The hour of morning ruled out Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter. That left only Superman and Wonder Wo-
Why hadn't he left the comm-link behind?
'Batman,' she said. Her voice seemed loud, but that was probably just because everything around Bruce was so quiet.
High above the city streets, Batman was a solitary, imposing figure on the landscape. From his post, Batman could see the bright lights below- a perfect bird's eye view, or maybe bat's eye view. His cape rustled every now and then as a light breeze brushed it.
It was getting quiet, and most of the action of the evening was over. Robin had been sent to patrol the third route (one Bruce had picked out- no rogues hung around those spots, so the people there were ones Robin was allowed to deal with) and should have been arriving at the specified point soon.
The sound of a muffled car horn below stirred Bruce, who jumped from where he had been perched and entered open air. His hand closed around his grapple gun, which he immediately fired. Falling could be a great feeling, but Bruce didn't indulge himself.
'Princess,' his voice was much quieter than hers had been. He dropped onto the roof of a building. Looking for the source of the sound, Bruce lent over the edge. Down below, there were several cars waiting for the light to change- nothing to be concerned about. Batman took a few steps back. 'Anything I can help you with?'
'Oh, so you're answering me now?'
He winced slightly at the tone. I probably deserve that. 'Excuse me?' he growled. Bruce could have apologised, but Batman certainly couldn't.
'You know what I mean!' she snapped, and Batman sighed, leaning against the wall. He had the sudden urge to hang up on her, but realised she was probably in a bad enough mood already.
Batman knew he had been withdrawn from League activities for the last few weeks, but since his revelation after the invasion, Batman decided he had good enough reason. He had realised that the members of the Justice League weren't just allies any more. With every fight they had drawn closer together, and he knew he was starting to consider the others as friends.
It was a worrying thought for Bruce because it had happened without him noticing, and because despite his often cold disposition with the others, they had managed to push (or maybe slip) past his defences.
'I'm busy,' he replied. Bruce could almost hear her rolling her eyes.
'Of course,' Diana said irritably. 'So for four weeks you've been too busy to even talk to us, but you can spare five minutes to add gas masks to the schematics of the new Watchtower?'
'Two minutes,' he said softly.
'I don't care how long it took!' she all but hissed. It reminded him of Catwoman, but there was no way he was going to tell her that. 'Now,' her tone was deceptively reasonable, 'you're going to come in tomorrow morning, at exactly eight o'clock and sit through a meeting and prove you are still alive. If you don't -I swear to Hera- I will hunt you down.' There was a pause, and Batman said nothing. 'Have a nice night.'
He should have agreed to the meeting, but something rebellious in him refused. She could not tell him what to do, and if she was going to take that kind of approach, then the game had begun.
Hunt me down? Let her try.
'All clear on the east.' Batman very nearly jumped in surprise, but managed to steel himself. There were only a handful of people who could sneak up on Batman like that, and he was proud to say that he had taught the one who just had. Bruce turned and saw a cheerful looking Robin playing with his grapple. 'A couple of drug dealers and one robber,' he reported. 'They were all picked up by the police along with the evidence. Quiet night, isn't it?'
Batman slowly inclined his head. It was a quiet night, but he had the feeling the morning was going to be very noisy.