Love your blog! Wonderbat team! Can you make a fanfic where Diana tells Bruce her story?
WonderBat Week 2018: Day #6 – Make Up
Title: TellTale Sign
Rating: G / K+
Word Count: 3,191 words
It was remarkable that she had finally made it home to Paris after the adventure she had had in the battle against Steppenwolf. She had flown to Gotham, traveled to Metropolis, then fought Steppenwolf in Russia only to return to Bruce’s childhood home in a matter of days and Diana Wonder Woman was exhausted. Nevermind being an Amazon or an immortal – saving the world from an intergalactic threat was tiring work. She refused to even consider the fact the possibility that Steppenwolf was merely the gateway to an even greater evil preparing to reign down upon Earth; as she locked her condo’s door behind her, it felt like Diana had finally reached her only safe haven in this new world of heroes and villains.
A floral-scented bubble bath and a few restful hours of sleep were the only ‘missions’ she was devoting her time to for the time being.
Her suitcase rattled as she wheeled it across the floor towards her couch, and unceremoniously did she drop into the closest cushioned seat. Normally, she would have taken her things to her bedroom immediately, sorted through her laundry and toiletries, then perhaps caught up on any correspondents she neglected while away. However, it was taking Diana a great deal of willpower to drag herself out of her seat and even consider grabbing a glass of water from the fridge before diving into her post-trip regiment.
As if to instantly punish her for her uncharacteristically lazy behaviour, the tablet in her purse began to sound off with waves of multiple ringers after connecting to her secure home wifi. A groan rolled out of her with a childlike insubordination she kept hidden from the world. The surge of technology that she had watched over for the past few decades had become so utterly consuming that she was now more obedient to the ring of her devices than she once was to her mother’s scoldings.
Against her will, Diana leaned forward and pulled her carryon onto her lap, then returned it to its seated position on top of her luggage after retrieving her tablet. She frowned when she saw that it had a mere nine percent battery life – it couldn’t have died before she walked in the door? With all of her settings modified to hide the contents of every pop up on her lock screen, she opened the device and noticed that most of her attention would be pulled between her email and some anonymous players she had made through the app ‘Words with Friends’. Her finger hovered over the the more fun loving of her two options, until yet another notification rolled onto the top of her home menu.
It was an email from the one and only Bruce Wayne, titled ‘Long Overdue’.
There were a mix of emotions that passed over her as she read his name. Having just spent a very intense amount of time with Gotham’s Batman, it was impossible to pin down one reaction to seeing him immediately call for her attention the moment she found the chance to rest at home. She respected him as a fellow warrior and wondered if the email held a call to arms within it.
And yet, her Amazonian pride did not compel her to click on it right away. No, there was something within her that found his name upon her tablet’s screen to be irritating. Beyond the realization that he could essentially call her back to America at anytime if he so needed – perhaps Bruce and Alfred would be the first to invent a teleporter of some kind, one to keep in the reconstructed Wayne Manor? – Diana knew that she had unresolved feelings with the way Batman had handled the situation regarding Superman.
They had fought and reconciled after the fact. She had even admitted to being appreciative of Kal El’s resurrection if it meant they could defeat Steppenwolf and the danger that was the Mother Boxes. As individual heroes, though, the argument where he dragged her past out in front of their fellow heroes would never have happened. If she resigned herself to Europe and left all of America’s problems to the Metahumans and mortals with a death wish like Bruce to their own devices, she’d be free of past wounds being salted by supposed comrades…
She had forgiven him, truly, but it did not keep her from feeling wary of him when her intimate details were involved, and it was via email where Bruce had revealed that he knew of her only photograph with Steve.
What was overdue? She was hesitant to find out.
She had spent so much time deliberating over whether or not she wanted to enter the rabbit hole that might be the ensuing conversation that the notification slipped away. Snapping herself free of her nervousness with a shake of her head, Diana click on her email application and was ready to click open Bruce’s email before it even finished loading. With tense shoulders and a furrowed brow, she looked over the words he sent her.
From: Wayne, Bruce
Subject: Long Overdue
And sorry again.
I meant it when I said you are vital to the team.
I appreciate you keeping them as your priority.
And just like that, she was finished reading the words she had dreaded literal moments ago. The message in terms of its word count was minimal, but the message behind them was complex from line to line.
Tossing her gaze to the ceiling in order to clear her head, Diana ran a quick calculation for the time difference between Paris and Gotham. It was almost midnight when she got in, which meant that it was roughly six in the evening for him. Was she merely a business correspondence on his checklist for his day at the office?
Diana knew she was merely being antagonistic for thinking of his digital olive branch in such a bad light. Just as her pride had made her defensive, his pride turned his apology into sound like a petulant addition to an otherwise kind email. Her mouth drew into a flat line, the corners pressing into her cheeks as she tapped the reply button rather harshly in the hopes of getting the exchange out of the way.
From: Prince, Diana
RE: Subject: Long Overdue
There is no need to thank me. But I accept your apology.
Do you mean, that I see them as a priority even when disagreeing with you?
It irked her that he didn’t sign his emails, so she hoped he’d follow her example once he read her reply. She sent it quickly to avoid reading over and letting herself question if she mean what she wrote. A sigh fired out of her mouth as she leaned back into her couch, her mind drawing her back to that conversation they had when she reset his shoulder. When she had vulnerably broached the topic of him utilizing Steve’s memory to his advantage, Bruce had shown a fair amount of remorse. That being said, she couldn’t understand why it sat with her long after she had understood the reasoning behind his words.
Diana could only assume it was because she had been letting the ghost of Steve haunt her memories much longer than she should have; she carried him with her one hundred years later, which was the curse of a disobedient immortal who joined a war her mother warned her to avoid. She had always known that Steve would have wanted her to move on as well, given that he was the most kind-hearted man she had ever known, and he would never wanted to have seen anyone suffer. But those first few days in ‘Man’s World’, as her Amazonian sisters used to call it, had been life-changing and would forever be apart of the woman she became.
Her first day home from America, however, would be tested by the emotionally stunted yet swift-to-reply Bruce Wayne. Another email fired into her inbox in a matter of seconds, it seemed. Rolling her head from side to side in order to crack her tired neck, Diana dove back in.
From: Wayne, Bruce
RE: RE: Subject: Long Overdue
I merely meant that your leadership ability knows no bounds.
That made even less sense than his first email! So vague, his words were left open to whatever interpretation she chose to take. That could be a genuine compliment or a backhanded when he decided to send to her and ruin her handful of hours before she had to run off to work. For a detective, he was poorly skilled when it came to being aware of what clues his own words offered to other people.
Once more, she readied her fingers and typed back at him.
From: Prince, Diana
RE: RE: RE: Subject: Long Overdue
Please type as bluntly as you speak.
It was genuinely a fair request. If her bath time was going to be stolen for such a cryptic conversation, he owed it to her to straighten himself out and get straight to the point. Yes, Diana knew she could go to the bathroom and begin running her water while she waited for the end of their email conversation, but something inside of her convinced her to avoid bringing the negativity that was filtering through her tablet near the space in which she hoped to soon be relaxing.
Then, her video call ringer startled her into an upright position.
Looking down at her screen, she was almost frightened to see that Bruce was trying to call her with Facetime activated. Almost too aggressively did she throw her tablet onto her coffee table and force it to rest upright by bending the case accordingly. She cleared her throat, straightened her blouse, and inhaled deeply one last time before clicking the green button to accept his call.
“Bruce?” She greeted him with his name instead of any pleasantries, and for a good reason: as her screen shifted from her home menu to the video feed her provided, she was surprised to see him sitting in his BatCave, suit on, with a wipe being dragged back and forth over his eyes. It was a rather confusing and unexpected image to be greeted with after he initiated the call.
“Sorry, one second.” He muttered behind his hands as they worked on his face. A few moments passed before he brought his hands down, revealing smoky smudges around his eyes that were unable to come off with the wipe he had used. Diana raised her brows while her eyes remained fixated on the scene in front of her.
Bruce was trying to remove the black makeup he put around his eyes when he was wearing the Batman costume.
“Hi.” Was the blunt way he began their call from his end.
“Hi.” Was how she lifelessly responded as she tried desperately to avoid snickering.
Then, there was an awkward pause, one that should have been filled with his reason behind choosing a Facetime call over their continued email correspondence. After shifting his eyes all around the screen, he finally spoke up with a reserved explanation. “I wasn’t trying to be vague.”
Diana hummed as she leaned forward. “No, but you seem to be very good at intending to do one thing and accomplishing another.”
The hidden meaning from their shared experiences – such as resurrecting Superman and nearly creating an unstoppable monster – lingered between them. Bruce frowned and let his hands drop on his desk, creating a defiant thud. He marched his words past her accusation and elaborated further, “What I meant was, we…had our differences, but you led the team into Steppenwolf’s lair. All while managing to save him from the parademons in the process. You took your role as a leader seriously in the end and I thank you…for sticking with the plan of gathering more Metahumans to join our team.”
The sincerity that he shared was enough to melt the ice she had started to build around her heart, when it came to him. Bruce had many walls that kept him safe and hidden from the world, each one wearing a different facade that pushed people away or made them bend to his will. It was unintentional, but his speech gave her reason to believe that she had dug under his emotional barricades and struck gold by reaching the part of Bruce Wayne that was willing to put his pride aside. Put his pain and antisocial urges aside, too.
Diana dropped her shoulders then to let the tension go. “Thank you, Bruce, for taking the time to tell me how you feel.”
Instantly, he grew flustered. “After everything you’ve done for us – for this team, and for me alone – it’s the least I can do. I didn’t buy a bank for you, after all.”
“Nothing,” He fired the word off like a bullet, killing her question before she could press him further. To guarantee his success, he decided to touch upon the other note of his email before ending their talk. “And I hope…I don’t need to explain the apology.”
The words popped into her mind at the very same instance they reached the tip of her tongue. “Actually,” she began her sentence with slight panic, as she had allowed her emotions to precede her sense of control. “I wouldn’t mind if you did.”
Bruce didn’t dare show shock on his face, but he couldn’t hide the way it tugged his body back ever so slightly in his seat. His brain, unlike her own, couldn’t seem to string together any set of words in order to concoct a reply. Silence filled the gap that was created between her request and his ability to answer it. She didn’t need a bank, whatever that may mean, but she would like to hear something of greater understanding from him, her partner in crime, someone who could end up knowing many more intimate details about her life and could weaponize such information again if he chose to do so.
Finally, Bruce seemed to collect himself enough to whisper just loud enough for his computer mic to pick up his words, “I apologize for bringing up your past like I did. Like I said afterward, it wasn’t my place to do so.”
“No matter the reason.” She prompted him to say what she needed to hear.
“No matter the reason.” He repeated a bit louder than his sentence before, his earnesty stamped onto every word with his tone.
“Good to know.” Diana said with a breath of relief. Bruce’s expression softened as he witnessed her chest rise and fall, and she realized immediately that she had shown him just how much his words had bothered her. Before, it was merely an awareness of common sense that his call out about Steve had offended her. Now, while miles apart and conversing through a set of screens, he had witnessed her ability to relax after truly accepting his willingness for reparation.
Diana straightened her shoulders and readied herself to end the call, but a suddenly confident Bruce dared to ask. “Would you ever be willing to tell me about him?”
She felt blindsided, absolutely astounded to hear him request such a thing. Unceremoniously, she inquired quickly, “Why?”
“Because it’s easier to be uncaring about a man’s memory when you know nothing about him, other than the fact that he was a pilot.”
“You know he fought in World War I and heroically sacrificed his life.” She sounded defensive against her will. Bringing up Steve Trevor so suddenly had put her on edge, metaphorically and also brought her physically to the edge of her couch.
“No,” he answered calmly. “I didn’t know that. All I see in that picture is four men standing around you in 1918 Belgium, and I know from public record that one died that same year. You were there when he died, weren’t you? You knew this man very well.”
“Yes.” Her voice was hoarse, her eyes fogged over with memories that threatened to slip through her mind.
Bruce carried on whether he noticed or not. “Well, I’ve been told for years by Alfred that talking about these things – memories, the pain of loss – helps the scars they leave heal. I won’t make you talk, Diana, but just because I said you have the power to lead doesn’t mean I expect you to endure everything alone. Especially not anymore.”
The conflict of emotions he had presented to her were not lost on Diana, only bewildering to what was left of her weary, unsuspecting mind. How she was expected to the respond that, she didn’t know. Being alive for more than a century had in no way prepared her for this moment, especially when she had spent a great deal of that time alone. In some ways, she was so similar to Bruce that it frightened her to see herself reflected so clearly in another languished soul. In other ways, they were so different – on opposite sides of many spectrums – that it was no wonder that they clashed and failed to see eye to eye sometimes.
But neither Alfred nor Bruce was wrong about talking about Steve, she knew.
And she knew that she couldn’t keep his haunting of her silent forever.
Bruce was waiting on the other end of their call, expectantly, patiently, as if he hadn’t been about to run off and fight crime. Somehow, he found the time to be patient for her and it both soothed and aggravated her indefinitely. Everything had to be on Bruce’s Wayne schedule, and magically, he had found time to listen to her talk about her past if she chose to do so.
It felt like her own sword had been lodged in her throat, while the Lasso of Hestia squeezed around her chest, begging for her pain to be released from within her heart. As she sat there on her couch, presenting herself as Diana and not as her alter ego of Wonder Woman, she knew that if she decided to take this leap, there was no going back. She would never be able to take back her words.
She’d never be able to step backwards in her relationship with Bruce.
By the Gods, Diana knew it was about time she let her heartache spring free from her body. The mere thought of speaking out about the horrors she endured brought tears to her eyes, forcing her to drop her head and compose herself before she dared to carry on.
“Diana,” Bruce called to her, sounding as concerned about her wellbeing as she felt.
That was the final push she needed.
Slowly, she lifted her gaze from the floorboards of her living room and looked back into the eyes of the damaged being on the other side of her tablet screen. Staring directly into the lense where the camera was, Diana pushed herself in a way she never had before, and spoke soft and slow, “Steve Trevor was the first man, and still the best man I have ever known.”
Harley Quinn by John Keaveney