In the Middle of A Broken Constellation – Pt. …

Pairing: WonderBat (Wonder Woman x Batman)
Rating: 14A / T
Universe: N/A – Reader’s Choice
Previous Chapter: <- Chapter One

The cool glow of the computer screens gave the young man before them a haunted glow. Not a single light was on in the BatCave – no machine aside from the teleporter standing by – and it gave them the impression that the surrounding darkness would be ready to swallow if they so dared to let that glow disappear. Standing with his back to the light he provided, Jason’s body language implied that he had calmed down some since that first toss of a batarang at their heads.

The lessened tension visibly calmed Kal and he left Diana’s side to approach their wily greeter. “You wouldn’t recognize us like this, but perhaps you’d know us better as Superman and Wonder Woman.”

His introductions were peculiar to her, but ‘Wonder Woman’ said nothing of it. Still in their civilian clothes when they traveled to Gotham, it would have made sense to call them Diana and Kal. But Bruce had a rule that he expected to be followed by any and all superheroes who were in his fold: superhero names were used at any meeting or on any mission, birth names when dressed down and in public.

Given that the situation placed them in the middle of his criteria, Superman chose to straddle himself between the two criteria, she could only imagine.

However, Jason’s pointed finger would disprove the viability of his choice. “I remember hearing about the adventures of Superman while I was away, but I can’t say I know of a Wonder Woman. Though, you are really wonderful, I can tell.” A wink was sent her way and she wished she could have repelled it with her bracelets too.

Unfortunately for this Jason of the BatClan, she wasn’t in the mood for jokes. Diana stepped closer to the computer and spoke candidly while she walked. “I’d like to know what you meant when you referred to yourself as the ‘reigning member’. You clearly have access to the BatCave, so are you one of Bruce’s protégé?”

“Was.” Jason nearly spat the word out. The harsh tone slowed her pace until she stopped herself a couple feet away from him. Even with the space between them, his energy was broiling under that blasé demeanour and it was nearly begging her to take notice of it.

But she wasn’t here to bond with Jason. “What makes you the reigning member then, when the BatClan is rather large, from what I remember?”

A tick in his jaw was outlined by the light coming from the computer screens behind him. He crossed his arms inside his noisey leather jacket and leaned back against the desk. “I don’t think I was done interrogating you, and you’re on my turf. Whether Batman ever mentioned me or not, I’m in charge now, and I want to know what you’re doing in my cave?”

Instinctively, she wanted to grab her lasso and make him into a bat yo-yo! This ridiculous back and forth wasn’t progressing anywhere since none of them could validate each other without Bruce. The only truth Jason had said was a mere suspicion on his part – not once had she heard about him from his supposed mentor. Was he the black sheep of the family?

That detail didn’t matter to Kal. He was careful to stay in the backlines as he took on the role of the ‘good cop’ in their own version of interrogating Jason. “The same thing as you, I imagine. We came here because we haven’t seen or heard from Bruce in weeks and it isn’t like him to put his ego over being a hero.”

While Diana turned her head back around to face Jason, she heard a disdaining scoff. “Then you don’t know him as well as you think you do.”

Hate, tempered rage clearly forged that remark and it even managed to give Diana chills. She would never presume she truly know Bruce – there were so many sides to a man as complicated as him – but the mere implication of the disdainful darkness that Jason had seen of him was genuinely destabilizing for her. For one of his own to speak of him with such spite in his own home, in his own haven was frightfully telling.

So stunned was she, that she allowed an awkward moment to pass them by. “Do you know where he is, Jason? Or is there something you’re not telling us? He was working on something for the Justice League and we need to know what it is he has discovered. His research is vital to helping hundreds if not thousands of people and we can’t afford to waste anymore time.” Diana knew she was laying it on thick, but if fighting fire with fire wasn’t the best way to break through that Bat-persona, then perhaps the stakes they were facing would appeal to him.

The BatCave was cold, underground much like Jason was. It suited him if he was going to run the Batman’s world one day, but Diana refused to believe it would be today.

Without moving an inch or giving any indication that he cared for their plight, it was almost surprising that he answered them. “Bruce had been reaching out to me a couple weeks ago, and I never answered.”

“Why?” Was reporter Clark Kent’s next question.

Jason sighed as his shoulders fell, almost as if he was crumbling into himself. “I have my own missions to complete, and we don’t have the same methods anyway. I figured Dick or Babs could help him out if he needed it. Had no idea he had his own club of super friends going too. Don’t know why I even bothered coming back here, then.”

Diana was having none of his self pity, and made it abundantly clear to him. “Because you wanted to see if things are okay, and they’re not. You know as well as I do that something is wrong with Bruce.” Speaking those words aloud for this rebellious ward was hard for her to do, because it made her concerns for her friend’s safety a group matter, a group issue.

The only thing she could tell that the two of them had in common was this singular fear, given how heavy his sigh was after he heard her statement. He rubbed the back of his neck as the situation boiled down in his mind, “If Dick is caught up in dicking it up in Bludhaven and Barbara is too busy playing the perfect daughter to find him, then that’s their problem. They can live with the consequences of whatever’s happened here. Me? I say we go find Bruce right now and drag his ass back home. No clue where he’s at, but three heads are better than one, right?”

Kal swooped in at the speed of light as if he had been waiting for this break through the entire time. “Welcome to the team.” His good cop attitude was clearly just a faceted of his actual personality as he offered Jason his hand. The two shook, despite the blatantly confused look on the young man’s face as he went along with the gesture.

It was all Diana could do not to laugh at the domineering ‘reigning member’ as he stared at Kal with an immediate resistance to his cheery nature. It was quite in character, given whose ward he was.

But the moment came and went and it was now time to move.

Clearing his throat, Jason attempted to brush away the sudden social courtesy with a rather important jab. “So team, here’s a question for of us to ask ourselves before we go anywhere: has anyone talked to Alfred yet?”

“You haven’t?” Kal wondered at her side, voicing Diana’s exact thought.

Jason chuckled as he made his way towards the stairs that would take them all to the main level. “I have my own way of getting in here.”

“Well, I’m sure Alfred can at least provide us with a location.” Superman mused as he took off his glasses, not needing to wear his entire civilian disguise around the Wayne Manor butler.

Diana was ready to see the older man too. She always appreciated Alfred’s wit, wisdom and delicious treats. He was a beacon of levity in the otherwise dreary home, which explained why Bruce could never let him go. It wasn’t unrealistic in the least to assume that his butler would have his location, even if it was merely as vague as the name of the city he had traveled to in pursuit of a possible perpetrator.

If he was still in Gotham?

Oh, he would wish he ran away from his precious city, once she got her hands on him.

Third in line on the stairs, all she wanted to do was push through the other two and throw that old clock out of their way. Jason pushed something along the wall that she missed, and the secret door opened, a beam of natural light greeting them as they climbed the steps.

“Wh-…What on Earth!?” came the startled voice of an older man.

Staring up at Jason, Diana watched him lock eyes with someone and smile instantly, more naturally than anything she had ever seen before. “Alfred! Long time, no–”

“What are you doing in my home!?” Screamed the butler, the fear in his voice familiar to heroes who had naysayers constantly terrified of their powers.

Kal looked over his shoulder at her, bracing himself with a dangerous shadow casted over his eyes due to his furrowed brow. Meanwhile, unsuspecting Jason merely made a bigger mess of the matter. “I know it’s been a while, but c’mon Alfred! It’s me – your favourite smart ass!”

Being locked on the staircase was troubling, because she wasn’t sure if there was a way to rectify the situation if she couldn’t judge the poor elder man’s reaction for herself.

The sound of a sword being drawn was unmistakable, as was the draining of emotion from Jason’s face.

“Jason.” Kal whispered, trying to call to him, to pull him away from the hurt he was feeling.

Instead, the ‘reigning member’ of the BatClan did what his predecessor would have: he held out his hand to indicate that they should escape while unseen, and he threw himself at Alfred’s feet by closing the secret door behind him.

With a heavy thud, they were left to handle the weight of their reality in that moment: Alfred couldn’t help them, and he might have lost his mind.

Someone had infiltrated the Wayne Manor and manipulated Bruce’s butler.

Someone knew who Bruce really was and had brought the fight to his home.

Terror roared in both of their ears as Diana and Kal looked to one another, knowing they couldn’t find their answers in the one place they had hoped would shed some light on this mystery. Neither of them had ever been more scared for Bruce’s safety, and it pained Diana to leave Jason with an Alfred who was out of sorts.

Thankfully, Kal spoke the truth she needed to hear. “We have to go.”

That was all Diana needed. She nodded and spun around, leaping down that massive staircase without a second thought. Kal had already flown past her, reaching the control panel of the teleporter.

She didn’t hesitate as she ran over to the humming platform. “Anywhere in Gotham.”

“We should head back to headquarters and consult with the rest of the League.” Kal argued when there wasn’t time to do so. His fingers hovered over the keys and glared at her with a look that showed her just how wrong he thought she was.

Just as quickly as she had jumped on, Diana leapt off the contraption and made sure she imprinted her determination into the heels of her shoes. “Bruce isn’t here to keep us out of Gotham; you and I can canvas the city right now and determine if he is here.”

“We can’t let our emotions dictate what we do, like he did!” He fired his words at her with such panic, it was ironic that he dared to scold her for the very same thing.

Nevertheless, she was having none of it. “Then return to headquarters and assemble who you can. I am going, and I’ll call the others over our comms when I get there.” Diana stood tall against the Kryptonian because she knew her plan of action was the most practical. There was no telling when the home was infiltrated and to completely leave Gotham and return in the next few hours would allow for Bruce’s captor more time to escape.

She would rip the entire place apart to find him and if need be, she’d do it alone.

Kal’s chest expanded, his nostrils flared, but she watched him reset the coordinates against his better judgement because of her. Appreciating his willingness to comply with her, Diana decided to be more specific with their search so as to alleviate some of his apprehension. “If we can come close to Wayne Tower, it’s in Old Gotham. We can each take half of the city, then meet at Arkham Asylum and cross the river.”

“For someone who has never been allowed to come here, you sure know the layout.” His tease was meant to dispel the tension his outburst had caused. Luckily for him, she never intended to hold it against him. He joined her on the teleportation pad as the machine began to roar and looked straight ahead, focused more like a soldier than the boy scout he had been labeled as.

Diana decided to stand the same way, given her time training as a warrior on Themyscira. “Wonder Woman isn’t,” she remarked with an almost cocky inflection in her tone. “But Diana has visited once or twice.”

Kal broke his serious facade so that he could chuckled thrice while the platform lit up with a blinding light that tore them out of the BatCave.

When they regained their vision, they were standing in an alleyway that was the perfect depiction of what Gotham’s underbelly might have looked like. Given that it was midday still, Diana managed to catch the sight of the spilled over garbage she was standing in, soggy wrappers and newspapers that couldn’t be contained in the dumpster right next to them. The smell was putrid, just as blaringly loud as the traffic in the street at the end of the lane. It was obvious by the puddles on the ground that a rainfall had just swept through, but the clouds above warned of another and refused to disperse.

It was picturesque for the Gotham City she had been warned about.

“Where did you send us?” Looking up at the sky had shown that they were standing between a pair of two storey buildings.

No tower was so short, especially one owned by Bruce Wayne.

Fixing his signature curl when dressed as Clark, he explained their placement as if it was ingenious. “I didn’t want to send us directly to his office building in case there are security cameras over every inch of it. I moved us over a few feet over so we could move in secret.”

Still shaking the newspaper off of her precious Jimmy Choos, Diana could only agree with him on a practical level.

As the Gotham Times went flying from the bottom of her heel, she let the puddle splash around her ankles, ready to carry out her search with hopefully the same precision as the detective they were trying to find.

They walked out of the alley like they had every right to be lurking in it, and looked from left to right as they assessed the street they had landed on. The nearest intersection said they were on Kane Street and–

A limousine ripped past them, slamming on its breaks a few buildings down the street and causing a symphony of horns to echo down the road as it parked. A frantic driver raced around to the opposite side of the car, ripping open the passenger door on the right and bowing to whomever was exiting.

With both of their enhanced abilities, Kal and Diana’s hearing focused on the commotion without even realizing which boulevard the limo had parked in front of.

No, it was the voice of the man exiting the car that clued them in.

“Sorry about the late lunch, but you did once say you’d do anything for an interview, Vicki.” In one smooth motion, it was none other than Bruce Wayne himself stepping out onto the sidewalk. That face that was perfectly suited for a scowl was impossible to miss, even when he was smiling like the socialite Diana knew he could be. He was behaving like a shameless flirt as though there was no other concern in the world than wooing the female reporter within the stretched limousine.

They had located him – the man of the hour, the Batman in the middle of his city – and it was so deflating that it left them both in shock.

A giggle answered his flirtations, and all they could see was a wave of a beautifully manicured hand. “Even if it means being scolded by Mario, just for you, Bruce.” The woman referred to as Vicki was all too familiar with this version of him, Diana realized as they spoke. It only cooled her blood further to think that he could possibly be playing out some civilian fantasy while the rest of them were lamenting over his return to the League? Let alone, with a cure?

Bruce’s chuckle was the straw that broke Kal’s restraint, as he began to make his way over to the unsuspecting man a few feet away. Diana watched from her hidden location, unable to stop her friend from possibly pummeling the other. The entire situation had been utterly chaotic and to have the end result be such a flippant encounter on the streets of Gotham had truly shaken her opinion of Bruce.

In her eyes, he deserved whatever Kal had to say to him.

Bruce patted the top of the limo to send it on its way, unaware the towering man that was coming up behind him. Diana listened in to their conversation while resting her back against the wall of the alley, hoping Bruce wouldn’t see her peeking. She imagined that her presence could only make matters worse.

“Bruce!” Kal shouted after him, and when that seemed to garner no results, he tried to play the part of a respectful reporter. “Mr. Wayne!”

There was a moment of pause between them, and that could have been caused by an assortment of emotions. But when Bruce replied with a simple, “Yes?” His tone was almost vacant.

Kal chose to play it smart, most likely due to the doormen of the Wayne Tower watching nearby. “Clark Kent, Daily Planet. I know you’re a very busy man, but I was wondering if I could get a moment of your time?” The bite in his tone could have been the derision of a man hunting a story, and hopefully it would be perceived as such.

However, the way he replied to Kal made her nervous as Alfred’s confusion flashed in her mind, feeling almost reminiscent of the amnesiac they left Jason to deal with.

“Daily Planet… Ah, don’t I own that one?”

((Omg I hated the original beginning I had for this so I had to restart it this morning! But I promised I’d update on Mondays so I made sure this was done TODAY! I hope you enjoyed and are excited to follow along as we learn about what the heck happened to Bruce and Alfred!? ~ Maiden))