DISCLAIMER: The Justice League of America characters are the property of DC Comics. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2005 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
Peering Through Splintered Glass
I. Lines of Breakage
Bruce stood in front of the
security drone at the entrance to the Fortress of Solitude, waiting for the
mechanism to register him as an authorized visitor. As it whirred in front of him, not seeming to
recognize him, Bruce wondered if
The drone finally clicked a
few times then flew back as the door to the Fortress opened--
Sighing, Bruce began the walk
to the habitat areas. Lights came on as
he went, illuminating a space only as long as he was in the area, then going
off again, returning the rooms to blackness.
If it had been the Batcave, Bruce would have
used such darkness for effect. He had a
"Anyone home?" he asked as he approached a well lit area.
Bruce noted he wasn't in his uniform. The casual clothes he wore seemed at odds with the alien-inspired Fortress.
"You tell me."
Bruce didn't return it. "Where is she?"
"Oh, is that why you're
Bruce followed as
Motioning for Bruce to hang
She nodded, her smile growing
softer as she touched
"Hi," she said, her voice weak as she held her hand out to him.
Walking to the bed, he took her hand. "Rough day at the office?"
"You have no idea. But I won. You should see the other guy." She laughed, but the laugh turned into a cough.
She nodded and closed her eyes again.
Looking up at Bruce,
"I'll have to take your word on that."
"What's eating you?"
Bruce paced around the table set up outside the small kitchen. "You call in a report that she's been hurt. A few hours later, when I call the Themysciran embassy for a status report for the monitor logs, they don't know what I'm talking about. Needless to say, they're a bit concerned."
"Don't worry. I called them a little bit ago. I wanted to wait till I had better
"That's not the point,
"I know. She came to me, and I brought her here."
"And you didn't think of
taking her to
"If she'd wanted to go
to the island, she'd have gone to the Embassy."
"You have in the past?"
"And Lois doesn't mind?"
"Probably since you married her. But maybe even before."
"It's not about her."
"So I take it she's perfectly all right with this?" Bruce looked back down the hall.
"What's that supposed to
"You know exactly what it means."
"You think something's
going on? What? An affair?"
Bruce could tell he'd pushed too far. "What worries me is that one of our most powerful members is out of commission for who knows how long, and the League has little to no information on her status. And you don't appear to care about that."
Bruce resisted asking if
"Bruce, I'm not sure I understand what your concern is."
"No. I know you don't."
There was a long
"Your relationship with her transcends the League. It's distracting--and not just for you--and I believe it's dangerous."
"My God. You do think we're having an affair, don't you?"
Instead of answering, Bruce walked to the door.
"I've never cheated on
Bruce turned to look at his
friend; he appeared to believe what he was saying. "
"I was just
leaving." The walk back to the
entrance was uncomfortable and seemed to take forever. Bruce could feel
II. Fragmentary Distortion
regiment was regrouping. Their forces
behind the lines had secured more weapons, and the Cantavrian
leadership was finally worried enough to meet with the League. Clark and Diana were up front talking to the
"How many wars do you think we've managed to avert because of their earnestness and powers of persuasion?" Wally asked, stopping near Bruce. He'd been working off steam, zipping between the two lines inventorying weapons.
"Countless," Bruce answered.
"They're a hell of a team."
Bruce listened for more in that message, but Wally seemed sincere. "Yes, they are."
"And what I wouldn't give some days to be Superman," Wally murmured, his tone a little dreamy.
Bruce shot him a look.
"I mean...to be her friend. Her best friend." He put an interesting emphasis on the word "best."
"I am not sure I follow."
"The hell you don't. I know you watch them." Wally leaned closer. "The Flash sees all."
"Perhaps, but you understand very little."
Wally laughed at the insult. "What's not to understand? They're...close."
"They're...friends." Bruce was not entirely sure why he was
defending them. This was exactly what
"Like I said. Friends." Wally shot him an unapologetic grin. "And there isn't a man among us who wouldn't like to be that kind of friend to her."
Bruce turned away, stalking down the lines. There was work to do; he didn't have time for this.
"Was it something I said?" Flash asked with a laugh. "Or just something you can't have?"
Bruce could hear his laughter following him down the line.
III. Radial Fractures
"You're awfully quiet," Diana said, glancing across the table at Bruce. The watchtower was deserted, other than Clark who was on monitor duty, they had the place to themselves.
Bruce had started popping in
when Clark or Diana was on duty. The
other was often hanging around the tower.
He had a feeling that if he weren't present, Diana would be in the monitor
room talking with
"Why are you here, Diana?"
"Kal and I are going to work out later."
She studied him, a strange little smile playing on her face. "He told me what you said. What you think is going on."
"There isn't a lot he doesn't tell me."
He shook his head. "That could be a point in favor of my position."
She laughed. "Or we just might be very good friends." Reaching over, she touched his hand. "I'm not sure why this is a problem."
Was she lying? Could she lie? "You don't see a problem?"
"Kal and I are friends. Why should our being close be a problem?"
"I guess it depends on how you define 'close.'"
Her smile faded, and she finally looked angry. "However we define it is none of your business."
"Is it Lois's?" He leaned forward. "What do you think she'd have to say about all this?"
Her eyes darkened even more. "I have no idea what she'd say. I haven't asked her. But I think that she's a strong, self-confident woman who isn't going to read too much into this."
"I see." He laughed, let the sound come out
scornful. "So you think
"I really don't know."
"And you really don't care, do you?"
She stood up and he thought
he'd pushed her too far, but then he realized
Diana shot him a look, and
there must have been a world of info in it, because
"Bruce is worried about Lois--what she might think about my being at the Fortress."
nice of him to look out for her."
Bruce kept going, "Does she know you're up here 'sparring' or does she think you're still on monitor duty?"
Rolling her eyes, Diana
stalked over to
Standing, Bruce said, "I was just leaving."
Both Clark and Diana looked like that was good news.
IV. Proximity Cuts
"You are disturbed over something?" J'onn was sitting well back from the fire, tucked into the shadows the way Bruce was.
J'onn shook his head, then turned to look at where Clark and Diana were sitting by
the fire. They had sat close together, almost rebelliously close after
"You realize that your present approach will only drive them closer together?" J'onn murmured.
"I'm aware. Becoming more so by the day." He didn't really want to talk about this--at
least not within range of
J'onn apparently had no such compunction. "Perhaps a less angry tack?"
Bruce took a deep breath and shrugged.
"Do you know why you're angry?"
Bruce smiled grimly. "Well, if I don't, I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"You see their closeness as a threat. The important question is exactly what--or whom--do you see as being threatened by this."
"There's his wife."
"A very nice woman. I like her. But I doubt you are acting like this on her behalf."
"The League then."
J'onn seemed to consider that. "I see," was all he said.
"You don't agree?" Bruce's voice rose more than he intended, but Clark and Diana were talking and didn't seem to notice his agitation.
"When will you admit that you want her?"
Bruce smiled tightly. "When will you?"
J'onn only shook his head as if disappointed by Bruce's answer. "Their relationship does no harm to me or to the rest of the League. While we may not fully understand all the nuances of their relationship, we accept it. We always have, and we probably always will."
"It is a distraction."
"Yes, I've noticed that you are often distracted by it."
Bruce pushed himself to his feet. "You do not know everything, J'onn." Even if the Martian was probably pulling this right out of his mind. Damned telepathy.
"Don't I? Then why are you about to run away?"
Bruce had no answer for that. He forced himself to sit down.
Diana glanced back at him,
her expression worried. Their eyes met--hers
confused, his probably not hiding the anger he felt. She frowned, but then
Like she always did.
V. The View from Outside
Bruce was on his third drink. It was unusual for him to drink this much. Stupid for him to drink this much. If he hadn't come up with a compound that would rid him of the effects of too much alcohol it would be criminally stupid. Bat-tox, Alfred had called it as he'd tested it, washing away the effects of four glasses of champagne before going happily back to his more traditional butlering duties. The success of the test had left Bruce free to indulge. Which he was doing--it did wonders for his playboy image to be seen actually appearing to enjoy himself.
Besides, he was damned sick of restraint.
"Mister Wayne," a sultry voice sounded behind him. "You seem to be enjoying that martini."
He turned, saw Lois smiling--even though she was drinkless. "Can I get you one?"
"A free drink from such a handsome man? How can I resist?" She seemed about to say more, but then she looked away and her smile faded suddenly.
Bruce turned to see who had come in; it was Diana. He turned Lois gently, leading her off to the bar, away from the entrance.
"Protecting me, Bruce? Or are you protecting her?" Lois's voice was even, but the look she gave him was blistering.
"Just buying a pretty lady a drink."
"That sounded awfully down homey for you. Especially when I know you're a city boy, just like I'm a city girl. Not like Smallville or"--she looked back at where Diana was standing--"island girl."
He laughed softly as he ordered her drink.
"What? You're not a fan of hers?" Lois took the martini from him.
"I didn't say that."
"So, you are a fan."
"I didn't say that either." He gave her his best playboy grin, the one that would never, ever be seen on Batman's dour face. Then he turned to watch Diana. She was talking with someone Bruce didn't recognize--he made a mental note to find out who the man was and what he did. She listened attentively, and the man looked very pleased with himself, but Bruce caught her searching the crowd occasionally.
"She won't find him," Lois said softly. "He's not here."
"You know who." It was a game they played. Never admit they knew the truth about the secrets in each other's lives. Always beat just enough around the bush to let the other off the hook. But Lois was right--of course he knew who Diana was looking for.
"How do you know she's looking for him?"
"A wi--woman knows these things." She took a quick sip of her drink. "She's the most beautiful woman in the room, isn't she?"
"That's a pretty subjective area." He smiled at her gently. "I've noticed several men drooling this way since I've been talking to you."
"You're a nice man, Bruce."
"No, I'm not. That was just truth." He could feel his eyes grow cold, hard--Batman eyes.
Her eyes seemed like
mirrors. He could feel the resignation
in her as she turned to the entrance as
Lois threw back her drink. "Can I have another?"
"Sure, if you answer a question. Why do you put up with it?"
She looked down. "Drink first. Answer after."
He got her the drink.
She sipped this one slowly,
and at his look said, "
Bruce thought that Diana was
probably drinking water. Knowing
Lois sighed. Not very loud or very long, but the sound had a deep sadness to it that Bruce didn't expect. She looked up at him, then back out at Clark, who was getting closer. "Some days, I don't know why I put up with it." Leaning up, she kissed him on his cheek, then rubbed the lipstick off gently. "Thanks for the ear."
"I do, don't I?" Her tone was defiant, the sparkle in her eyes dangerous. "And yes, maybe you should be jealous."
Bruce decided not to stay for the explosion he had a feeling was coming. "I'll leave you alone with your beautiful wife." As he walked away, he decided he'd put a little too much emphasis on the word "wife."
Diana saw him coming and
smiled at him. "Hello, Mister
"Madame Ambassador." He took her drink from her--he'd been right; it was water. "Let's dance."
She didn't fight him, letting him lead her to the dance floor. "Awfully bossy of you, Bruce."
"Just trying to get you out of the line of fire. Lois isn't in a good mood tonight."
Diana met his eyes, and hers seemed sad. "If you think I'm the cause of that..."
"You know you are. I just don't know if you mean to be or not."
"Well, at least you give me the benefit of the doubt."
Pulling her closer, he whispered, "Oh, I do, Diana. But that may only be because I want you too much not to."
She stiffened, faltering a bit as they danced. He couldn't remember ever seeing her do that.
"I want to believe in you, Diana. I want to think the best of you."
"Who said I wanted you to believe in me?"
He laughed softly, twirling her and sensing she was still a bit unsteady. "That's the problem. I don't think you know what you want."
This time she did try to pull away, but he held her fast, and short of creating a scene by tossing him across the crowded dance floor, she was stuck. He nuzzled her hair, over her ear, then worked his way to skin, kissing her neck.
"Damn you, Bruce."
The song was ending, but the band moved quickly into the next song, and he didn't look up to see if anyone else was waiting for her. No one was brave enough to tap him on the shoulder if they were.
"You need to back off
this thing with
"This thing, as you call it, is a friendship."
He ran his fingers down her back, relishing the feel of his skin tripping over her bare shoulders, then across the silky fabric. He felt her shiver. "No, Diana. It's not just a friendship."
"Bruce, stop it."
"Why?" He switched to her other ear.
She moved slightly, probably seemed to just be getting closer to him, but suddenly he felt as if his hand was in a vice. "Let me go," she said, "or I'll break every bone in your hand."
He could tell by her voice that she was not kidding around, and pulled away slowly. "Temper, temper, princess."
Her face froze. "Don't do this, Bruce."
"I'm not doing
anything. Not a goddamned
thing." He let her go, left her
standing in the middle of the dance floor.
And he didn't look back to see how long it took
VI. Concentric Cracks
Bruce glanced over at Diana. She was pretending to be enthralled by the report she had in her hands, but he knew that she'd read it before he got there--he'd seen her analysis of it in his message queue.
The watchtower was bustling, but no one came into the room they were using. He'd seen her and had sat across from her at the small table without her invitation. She'd ignored him, acting as if she was alone in the room.
"Hmmm." Her eyes were glued to the report.
He reached over and pulled it out of her hands. Taking a deep breath, she looked up at him. Her expression was calm, but her eyes fairly crackled with irritation.
"We need to talk," he said.
"If this is another opportunity for you to lecture me or to try to make me feel bad about myself, I'd rather we didn't." She picked the report back up.
"Forget the report," he said, pulling it away and pushing it to the side.
"I'd like to forget a lot of things, Bruce. And interestingly enough, you've said most of them." She started to get up.
"If you run away now, I'm going to assume everything I think is true."
She didn't sit back down, but she also didn't walk out of the room. "What exactly do you think? Just how bad am I?" She slammed both hands on the table, leaning forward--he tried to keep his eyes up but failed.
She saw what he was looking at, and any warmth left in her expression seemed to disappear. Straightening slowly, she sighed. "What do you want from me, Bruce?"
He meant to say "nothing." Or maybe "restraint" or "better judgment." What he said was, "Everything."
He so rarely saw her speechless. Now she was.
Standing slowly, afraid that if he moved too quickly he'd spook her, he put his own hands on the table and leaned in the way she had. "This is where the rubber meets the road, Diana. Just how much do you love him? And are you willing to walk away from that to try something else? Something good."
Since he'd left her on the dance floor at the party, he'd practiced this conversation. Never, in all the renditions, had it gone like this.
What the hell was he doing?
She sat down slowly, pulled the report back to her.
"I can't do this right now, Bruce. I don't know why you're doing this. I don't know what you feel. And I'm not sure I even care." She looked up and met his eyes, studying him like he was a sample under a microscope. As if she was trying to classify him.
He wanted to tell her he was human. That he was a man. That he loved her.
But...did he love her? Or did he just want her? Did he want her because he'd made her his
current obsession? Had he made ending
her relationship with
"Do you even care about me, Bruce? Or is this all for the League? To stop what we're doing to it--Kal and I?" She slammed the report down, her hand falling hard then twisting as she crumpled the paper beneath her grasp. "We're not doing anything. Can't you get that through your head? He's my friend. He's my best friend. I know he's married and that it's irregular to be as close to him as I am. But it's the way it is. Why can't you just leave it alone?"
"I don't know," he said and was shocked to see her start crying. He wanted to comfort her, but also felt a small surge of satisfaction that he was finally getting through to her. If she was starting to hurt over this, he was getting through to her.
"Leave me alone," she said, sniffing as she seemed to stop crying by will alone.
"I'm sorry, Diana. But it's time to wake up."
The look she turned on him was dead. Cold and hurt, and as he stared back at her he got a chill. What if J'onn was right? What if he pushed and pushed and only ended up pushing them into each other's arms for real?
Backing away from the table, he said softly, "I don't want to hurt you."
"I'm not sure I believe that anymore, Batman."
He winced at the title--she never used it when they were alone. It summed up everything she disliked about him, and he knew it.
Some days, it summed up everything he disliked about himself.
VII. Thermal Stress Fractures
The night was cold but the body armor Bruce wore kept him warm. He crouched between Clark and J'onn, waiting for Diana and Arthur to give the signal.
Bruce had been surprised when J'onn had split Clark and Diana up for this one. It would have made sense for them to be the ones to infiltrate the camp, to give the signal that it was time to attack and foil the latest scheme to end the world.
J'onn looked over at him, a
frown deepening on his face. *I split
them up because they are distracted,* he said mind to mind. *All of us are--because you cannot let go of
turned back, said softly to
"Diana knows what she's doing."
"They are still taking too long."
Bruce sighed. Normally, all this would have been taking place via a mental link. Did J'onn not trust the three of them to keep their private thoughts corralled? Was Bruce's own turmoil echoed by Clark and Diana? J'onn's excuse for not using a link for this mission was that he thought one of the villains had enough psychic ability to pick up any large-scale psi activity, such as the energy J'onn had to expend to maintain a link for all of them. Everyone had acted like they bought it. But had any of them really believed it was true?
He saw J'onn look at him again. *It was not an excuse,* he heard echoing in his mind.
*Then why can you take this risk? Talking to me this way?*
J'onn's mindvoice was very deliberate, as if he was talking to a slow child. *This is easy. This is small. Linking all of us--each of you to me and then to each other--that is not small.*
*Okay, okay. * He looked back toward the camp. "What is taking them so long?" he
asked aloud, earning himself another sharp look from
"You need a vacation,
"Don't go there,
J'onn looked like he agreed
that the direction
"I'm serious. Maybe you wouldn't obsess so much about what
Diana and I are up to, if you'd get a girl of your own."
Diana chose that moment to give the signal, and Bruce thanked every god he didn't believe in for her timing.
"Let's go," he said, getting up quickly and heading down the hill--he was looking forward to kicking some bad guy ass.
VIII. Evidence in Shards and Dice
They were sparring. He was watching them from the balcony, hidden in the shadows. He didn't think they'd seen him come in.
She knocked him halfway across the floor. "I would never say that." Her laughter filled the room.
Bruce moved closer, wanting to see her face. His cape rustled slightly, and he froze, but they went on with their work out, never faltering.
"Lois is out of town
again so I'm down a dinner partner. You
want to get Chinese when we're done?"
"Can we go to
She fell hard, but rolled away as he launched himself at her. He grabbed her by the hair, and she yelped. "Damn it, Kal. No fair."
He let go, but since he was
straddling her, there was nowhere for her to go. Smiling,
She struck out, knocking
They sat motionless, staring
at each other. Then Diana began to move
down slowly, her lips moving closer and closer to
"Is this what you want
to see, Bruce?"
Giggling, she grabbed
He faded back farther into
the shadows. When his cape rustled, he
so stealthy, my friend. I know when you're watching us. I always know."
He waited until they went back to sparring to sneak away.
IX. Visible Damage
"I called us here
because we need to talk. The three of us."
Bruce had a sudden urge to help
"I care too much about the League to let that happen," Diana said, taking his hand. Her skin was warm against his, and it took all his self-control to pull his hand free. She left hers close, not touching him but not easing away either.
"I take it you want me to change?" He looked from one to the other, trying to see what was behind their even expressions.
"Yes. But I think we all have to."
She looked down, drawing her hand away from Bruce. "Maybe we are too close--even though..."
"I don't make the rules,
They watched him as he made the rounds of the kitchen.
"We want to make a deal with you," Diana said softly.
"You stop watching us, and we'll cool it. We'll back away in public--"
"--and when you're just with the League," Bruce said softly.
She looked betrayed but she nodded. "And with the League. Not entirely, but enough that it doesn't look like we're involved that way." Her voice caught. "Bruce, don't you understand that we didn't do anything wrong?"
"I don't make--"
"I look out for the League. I always have." Even if his ways were more often dark than not.
"Like when you almost killed us all?" Diana's mouth was set in an ugly line. "And don't give me that. You're not looking out for the League."
"Or for Lois,"
Bruce shot her a look. "Not much you don't tell him either apparently."
Bruce looked down.
"And I know when I'm faced with an impossible situation. If I keep Diana close, show the world how much I value her, then I'm judged for it. Yet...how can I not keep her near me? She is my best friend, and I do need her."
"I never wanted to hurt her." Diana took a deep breath, and again he saw the strange defeat in her eyes. "Do we have a deal?" She stood up. "You leave us alone; we'll be careful what 'image' we send to the League...and to the world."
"Deal." He held out his hand, wasn't surprised when it took them a long time to shake. "Tomorrow we start over." He walked to the teleporter. "You coming?"
She shook her head. "No. We need some time. It's not like we'll get much of that anymore."
He looked at their faces, then nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow."
All he could hear from the kitchen area as he walked to the monitor room was silence. He opened the door to the watchtower's nerve center, saw Plastic Man sitting looking bored.
"Hey, Bats," he said, starting to get up.
"I've told you not to call me that. And I'm leaving."
"Yeah, that's a loss. Supes still monopolizing the Wonderbabe?"
"Yes," Bruce said, not wanting to waste words right now.
It was all the answer Plastic Man needed, though to judge by his face, not the answer he wanted.
Bruce turned and headed to
He set it for
He'd promised them that tomorrow would be another day. He'd made no assurances about not watching them for the rest of the night.
X. 'Spontaneous' Breakage
It took them longer to teleport down than he thought it would. He heard them talking quietly as they walked down the hall. When they passed him, they were holding hands, and Diana seemed to be crying.
She looked up at him, her
arms held open, inviting him in.
"Do you want to stop?" he asked.
She shook her head, pulling him to her almost viciously. "They think we're doing it. They're taking away everything else." She touched his cheek. "I need you."
"I need you too,"
And then he was pushing down
slowly, and Diana cried out in what sounded like pain, but as
Her first time. This had been her first time. Bruce wanted to be anywhere but here, yet at the same time he was locked in place, mesmerized by the beauty that was these two together physically.
The beauty that he'd created.
He'd been a damned fool. J'onn had tried to warn him. J'onn knew their minds as well as Bruce's. He'd known what they were capable of if Bruce insisted on stripping away what they had. Their friendship had been a safety zone. Their public affection had been a barricade between what they wanted and what they'd allow themselves.
And he'd been too obsessed to see it.
He looked down, felt suddenly dizzy. What the hell was the matter with him?
He wanted out, but there was nowhere to go. He didn't think he could force himself to try to sneak past the door. What had he been thinking when he chose this room? What had he been thinking when he came here?
Had he been thinking at all? Ever? This was his fault.
And his punishment was having to watch and listen as they made love over and
over. They finally lay still,
His movement made the hall light wink on, forcing Bruce back, making him squint at the sudden brightness.
"I'm going to close this
door now, Bruce,"
Bruce stepped into the
"Are you happy
"No." Bruce took a deep breath. "Are you happy?"
"God, you never
"So if you're so damn
unhappy, then this is a one-time thing?"
Bruce knew in his heart--the one that most people probably thought he
didn't have--that it would never be a one-time thing for them. He had pushed their relationship from never
into often, possibly into forever. At
Bruce made sure he was clear of the habitat area before calling the teleporter. He checked his watch. It was tomorrow now. Time to stop watching them.
They'd kept their word. He had a feeling the world would never see them be openly affectionate with each other again. And if he'd thought that easy rapport had been hard on the League, he couldn't begin to imagine what their affair would do if it broke wide open.
He'd just have to make sure
it didn't break wide open. This was his
fault, and he'd deal with it. And wait
and see. He was good at that--or he used
to be, back before he let one woman affect him enough to allow his heart to overrule
his head. But now that his heart lay
Either they'd wither away
from each other--victims of love's entropy--or they'd come out into the open as
a couple. It was up to him to protect
them until one or the other happened.
And he was betting on option number one.
It was their first night together, and
It occurred to him that J'onn must have realized that the more he'd told Bruce to lay off Clark and Diana, the more he would resist that suggestion. Was this what J'onn had wanted to happen? To bring about the kind of change that would ultimately set both Clark and Diana free? Providing of course they weren't actually meant to be together. If that was the case, now that he'd brought them together, he imagined nothing would stand in their way. Not even time.
It was all very
confusing. And Bruce would not solve it
tonight. He prowled the rooftops of