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With Arms Wide Open
Gotham City, 1:15 AM
Wonder Woman sat on her heels and dug through a filing cabinet in the First Bank of Gotham vault, holding a small flashlight in her teeth. She was on a JLA mission to find some evidence on an international criminal's possible holdings in the bank. She hadn't broken in, the Bank Manager was more then happy to let Wonder Woman nose around.
"Only a few more cabinets to go." She sighed, running a hand through her raven hair, "I better hurry; it'll be fun explaining to Batman why I'm not only in his city but also apparently 'breaking into' a bank." She wouldn't be there if Batman would have responded to the JLA calls. J'onn the Martian Manhunter has been trying to get in touch with him for a week, but for some reason Batman has cut himself off from everyone, even, as Nightwing informed, his family and partners.
"Something has to be bothering him." Wonder Woman mused, "Wonder what it is. Probably just the Joker or some other arch criminal has his tights in a bunch." She shook off the thought and continued to dig through the cabinets.
"Andrea! You don't have to do this!" came a voice from the front of the bank, causing Wonder Woman to freeze. She hadn't heard anyone enter; whoever was out there now was extremely good.
Wonder Woman turned off her flashlight and eased to the edge of the Vault door to see who it was.
"This Bank is controlled by evil men, Bruce, they must be punished!" a deep menacing voice sounded.
'Bruce... is the other person Batman?' Wonder Woman pondered to herself while listening and trying to get to where she could see what was going on without alerting them to her presence.
"Andrea... please... don't do this..." came a voice Wonder Woman recognized to be the Batman's, but there was something different about it. It sound very different then what she had heard before, it was like neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne's voices.
"Bruce, this is the only way for me to let my father's memory rest. You of all people should understand this." The other person stated.
"Andrea, think about it, your father's dead, how will this help? It changes nothing!" Batman responded.
"Does your crusade relieve the pain from your mother and father's deaths, Bruce?" The person asked knowingly
"Andrea, we've been through this before. It's different."
"You're right Bruce, it is different. Your Parent's deaths only took your parents from you. My father's death took away everything. And it was also different with you only had one to blame, while I have many: I have the Mafia for taking away may family, friends and finally my own arm, and also..." the person said as the voice changed from a deep to a higher feminine voice, " I also blame the Batman for taking my lover and my heart."
Wonder Woman's deep blue eyes blinked with confusion and curiosity, whoever this was knew more about the Batman then the entire Justice League put together. The two finally came into her view and she recognized the unknown person as the vigilante killer that has been attacking several international criminals as of late, calling him-or-herself the Phantasm. And then Wonder Woman turned her attention to the other person, The Batman, and she couldn't believe her eyes. The Dark Knight had his cowl pulled back, completely revealing his face.
"Andrea, listen to me... please... don't you remember?" Batman pleaded, "Do you remember the times we had together, before you left? Did those times mean nothing to you?"
'Just how close were they?' Wonder Woman mentally questioned while listening to the conversation, with a strange feeling she had never felt before stinging the pit of her stomach. She believed it was what the women in Man's World called Jealousy, though she couldn't understand why she was feeling it now.
"Bruce...maybe you're right..." the Phantasm said seemingly lowering her guard. Batman lowered his guard as well, even he should have known better. Phantasm threw something at his feet, and gas exploded around him. Batman started to stumble and fall forward.
Wonder Woman started to get up and go to his aid, but in a black flash, Phantasm grabbed him and with one arm threw him into the vault and shut the door.
Few moments later...
"Batman, are you alright?" a voice called him from his darkness. His eyes finally focused to find a pair of deep blue eyes filled with worry. Batman slowly set up and looked around.
"What happened?" he asked, pulling his cowl back over his face, "Princess? What are you doing here?" he asked coldly.
Wonder Woman sat back and looked slightly hurt, 'he let that psycho see his face and talked all nicely two, and what do I get, ally and team mate? I'll never understand the ways of Man's World.' Wonder Woman thought, adding in a few curses directed toward the Dark Knight.
"Ok." Wonder Woman said as she stood up, "Lets get out of here." She then flew toward the door and swung at it with a punch, expecting it to give way. Instead she felt a surge of electricity flow through her body, kicking her back against the far wall.
"The Vault is protected with anti-Meta-human defenses, including a 6000 volt electric field." Batman stated with little emotion.
"Gee thanks, Batman, I appreciate the warning." Wonder Woman hissed with heavy sarcasm.
"You didn't give me a chance to, Princess." Batman dryly stated.
"Stop calling me that." Wonder Woman snapped, "Call me Wonder Woman, or Diana, I hate being called 'Princess'. I'm not a princess anymore."
"Very well, Di... Wonder Woman." Batman said, catching himself.
"Ok, Batman." Wonder Woman started setting down, "How do we get out then."
"The vault is well ventilated so there is no immediate Danger." Batman said, walking over toward the wall, wrapping his cape around his body, "We wait."
"We...wait..." Wonder Woman asked, slightly irritated.
"Yes." Batman answered, "We either Wait for the first shift to open in the morning, or if I'm not mistaken, the Joker and Two-Face are currently on the loose, but there is little chance of them or any other petty bank robber hitting this exact bank on this exact date and if they did, you discovered it is well protected."
Wonder Woman gave a slight chuckle at the thought of some bank robber actually opening this vault to find two members of the Justice League. One thankful for being let out of a 'cage' with a person with the known personality of a two by four, and the other about to knock their skulls in.
"Hungry?" a voice from beside her brought her out of her trance.
"Huh?" She asked, looking toward the Dark Knight, who was leaning against the filing cabinet beside her.
Instead of asking again he pulled two candy bars from his belt and tossed one in her lap. "Here."
"That belt of yours really does have everything." Wonder Woman stated, taking a bite from her candy bar.
Batman merely nodded and began to eat his own.
"You never answered my question." Batman stated emotionlessly.
"What?" Wonder Woman asked, looking up to him, "Oh, why I'm here? Looking for information on Baron Donyankavich. He's a..."
"International thief and conman, who has been known to rip off millions from royal families and small governments in Southern Europe and the Middle East," Batman finished for her.
Wonder Woman blinked a few times gathering herself, "uh yes, and J'onn got word that he might be hiding some information in this bank. I didn't find any, but it was worth investigating."
"Why wasn't I contacted?" Batman asked, his glare not wavering.
"We tried to contact you," Wonder Woman stated with a glare of her own, "all ways to contact you were cut off. We tried through Nightwing, and he said you wouldn't even talk to him, haven't for the last two weeks."
"Oh." Batman said, and to Wonder Woman's shock seemed to back down.
"Does it have anything to do with the Phantasm?" Wonder Woman asked, and she could have sworn Batman flinched at the question.
"You two seem to have a history." Wonder Woman stated looking down at the floor.
"...What makes you say that?" Batman asked, obviously struggling to keep his emotionless tone of voice.
Wonder Woman stated counting them off on her fingers. "Number one: She knew your name, /Bruce/. Number two: You knew her name. Number three: you let her see your face. Number four: she knew about your parent's murders. Number five..."
"Ok... you've made your point..." Batman sighed. angrily cutting her off.
"So you going to tell me about it?" Wonder Woman half asked half ordered.
"No." Batman growled, the coldness returning to his voice.
"Don't make me use this." Wonder Woman stated with a smirk, while gripping her golden lasso.
Batman sighed and set down cross-legged beside her. "Do you really want to know, Diana?" Batman asked in a tone of voice that made a chill run down her spine.
Batman set back and leaned against the wall, "I know you will not share this info with anyone." Batman stated in an almost commanding tone, "Not even Clark knows about this."
Wonder Woman sat up slightly and turned to look at him.
"It... all started 14 years ago." Batman started, his eyes glazing over slightly as the memory returned. "I had just returned to
Gotham from my training journeys, and was visiting my parent's grave. Then I heard someone talking, and thought maybe they were talking to me. I followed the voice and found a woman standing over a grave, carrying on a seemingly one-sided conversation. That was the first time I met Andrea Beaumont." He then pulled something from a compartment on the buckle of his belt; a small piece of paper that seemed to have something wrapped in it. "We hit it off very well, I even decided to give up on my promise to my parents, and try my luck just being happy with her. Even asked her to marry me."
Wonder Woman couldn't help but watch and listen in awe. The Batman, Bruce Wayne, the REAL Bruce Wayne wouldn't open up to anyone, not even his family, not even Alfred, who was like a father to him. Yet he was right here, telling her of a part of his life that, chances were, he has never told another person. Her, She was barely even considered a friend to him, no not a friend, an ally, an occasional teammate, not a friend. But he was opening up to her all the same. And what she heard was something she could never imagine Batman would have done. It made her realize how very little she knew about the man sitting beside her.
"We were so happy, Diana." Batman continued, "We had it all, and still wanted more!" Batman then set back and looked up toward the ceiling.
Wonder Woman then felt a sudden sense of dread creep into the pit of her stomach. If he was so happy, why did he become the Dark Knight? She was beginning to think that while his parent's deaths may have been behind his desire to become the Batman, this Andrea Beaumont also seemed to have a lot to do with it.
"Then it all came crashing down..." Batman sighed.
'Here we go...' Wonder Woman mentally said, feeling her own eyes beginning to dampen from seeing the look on Batman's face, "You... you don't have to tell me..." Wonder Woman stated, gently placing her hand on his shoulder. Batman brought his hand to hers and gave her a light squeeze that under another circumstance would have frightened her beyond belief, but this time had a very different reaction: her heart hadn't beaten that fast when she was facing Darkseid and his horde.
"I... I really need to talk about this..." Batman stated in the same tone of voice he was using with Phantasm earlier, making Wonder Woman's heart jump lightly.
"I was... exploring some caves in my estate, when Alfred came to me. He hadn't looked that sad the day of my parent's funeral. He said this came in the mail." Batman then handed Wonder Woman the paper he was fiddling with. Wonder Woman slowly opened it and a small diamond ring fell in her hand.
I really don't know how to say this, but I can't marry you. Dad said we're too young, and need more time. I'm sorry I don't think we'll ever see each other again.
"Oh, Bruce..." Wonder Woman sighed, a tear sliding down her cheek, "I'm so sorry..."
"That day, I worked all day on a suit. I was hurting. And I wanted those that that hurt others to hurt as well." Batman stated, coldness returning to his voice. "When the sun set, I would make those that would stalk innocents feel my pain, I became the night."
"Bruce..." Wonder Woman sighed sadly.
"I didn't hear from her again for years. Then some old mobsters began to have 'accidents.' I investigated and found that someone with my taste of clothes was murdering them. The Phantasm." Batman stated his soft tone returning and he suddenly found the floor interesting. "The Phantasm took out several mobsters and I took the blame. About that time Andrea returned, and it seemed as though we were going to work out after all." Batman then made a light chuckle, "I was even going to give this up."
Wonder Woman didn't know if she could take much more of this. No wonder Batman stayed so distant from everyone.
"All evidence seemed to point to Andrea's father, I asked her about it and she told me that her father told her 'he'd take care of them.' I believed her. Maybe I was just blinded. I have the Joker to thank for opening my eyes."
"The Joker?" Wonder Woman asked slightly confused.
"Yes, I was 'examining' Andrea's apartment when the Joker attacked it with remote controlled toy helicopters with Bombs attached to them. That was when it clicked. The Phantasm wasn't Andrea's father; the Phantasm was Andrea herself."
Batman stated his voice seemed to break slightly; only someone with super hearing could have caught it though.
"What... happened?" Wonder Woman asked, not one hundred percent sure she wanted to know.
"I went straight to where Joker was hiding. The remote planes he used to bomb the apartment could only come from the old World's Fair ground. I arrived just in time to see Andrea being out matched by the clown. I jumped in and I had ever intension of taking Joker down once and for all. It ended up a draw with both of us battered and beaten. Finally Joker decided to show his ace card... he rigged the entire part with explosives. Andrea grabbed Joker and then the entire park exploded. I fell into a drainage pipe under the fairgrounds."
Batman then fell silent for a moment, "when I came to, I returned to the cave. I had minor injuries, and I found at the end of the cave a heart-shaped pendent that I had given Andrea when we first started going out years ago. Learned shortly after she didn't make it out as unharmed as me. She lost her left arm from just below the elbow."
Wonder Woman looked sadly at the Batman and noticed something. The Batman, The Dark Knight, was crying. "Bruce..."
"I couldn't save her..." Batman muttered sadly as silent tears fell to the floor.
"Batman... Bruce... you can't save everyone... no one can..." Wonder Woman soothed.
"I need to be able to." Batman said, attempting to regain the coldness of his 'Batman' voice.
"Bruce, there is nothing wrong with being human." Wonder Woman stated in a commanding voice.
Batman started to say something else, but Wonder Woman cut him off by gently placing her hands on both sides of his face forcing him to look her in the eye, "There is nothing wrong with being human."
Batman was suddenly lost in Wonder Woman's deep blue eyes, till he noticed what she was doing. She was slowly sliding the cowl back off his face. "No." he whispered placing his hands on hers, but was shushed by Wonder Woman pressing her lips to his.
Wonder Woman slowly fluttered her eyes open at the sound of voices. She quickly sat up and a moment later realized she was completely nude. Then the memories flooded her mind overtaking her morning amnesia. "Oh Hera..." Wonder Woman gasped as she saw the vault door slightly open and she quickly clenched her makeshift blanket to her bare chest. She then looked down to see her blanket was in fact Batman's cape. "Oh Hera... it wasn't another dream... Oh Hera..."
She then quickly gathered her uniform, which was scattered all over the vault. Using her super speed, she dressed in a few seconds. "Ohhh Hera..." though she was now fully dressed she still clung to Batman's cape so tight her knuckles
were beginning to turn white. She then timidly peaked out of the vault. She looked around and saw several police officers outside, but the only two inside were Batman and an older man in a trench coat and a white mustache.
"Oh Hera..." Wonder Woman whispered, her face turning as red as her uniform. She slowly walked over to the two men, finding it very difficult to pull her eyes from the floor.
She walked up to the men and the older one nodded to her before turning his attention back to Batman, who was talking about Phantasm. His words and actions made it seem that not a single thing happened that last night. 'Why that cold hearted son of a...'
"Wonder Woman?" Batman asked coolly.
"Y-yes, B-Batman..." Wonder Woman said, cursing herself for stuttering.
"May I have my cape back?" Batman asked, turning his cold glare down to her.
"Here!" Wonder Woman snapped, pushing the cape into his chest and storming out of the Bank.
Batman watched her go and then turned back to Commissioner Gordon when he heard him chuckling. "What?"
Gordon just turned the way Wonder Woman went, "You dog." He then turned back to Batman, and found he was gone. "I hate it when he does that."
Batman then leaned up against the wall on the side of a skyscraper facing away from the morning sun. Batman let out a loud sigh as a covered his face. It had taken every ounce of willpower and self-control to hold off the blush and smile when he faced Gordon, who had opened the vault. And even more when Wonder Woman finally came out. "Hope she isn't too upset at me..." Batman mused to himself as he fired his grappling hook and started home.
Short while later in New York City...
Diana stormed into the apartment she shared with her 'sister' Donna Troy. "Morning, Di, you were out late." Donna said lazily as she set down with a cup of coffee.
"I just got stuck in a bank vault with the Batman, that's all." Wonder Woman replied, removing her Tiara, "I REALLY need a shower, then I'm going to bed, if anyone calls, leave a message, k?"
"Why do you need to go to bed, surely you got a good night's rest being stuck in a vault with him, I mean, he probably didn't say two words to you, what could you have possible done to wear you out that much?" Donna asked, taking a drink from her morning coffee. She looked up and saw how red Diana's face had suddenly changed to, and immediately spit her coffee all over the kitchen table, "NO WAY! YOU HAD SEX WITH... WITH... BATMAN? THE BATMAN??? THE DARK KNIGHT OF GOTHAM CITY??? THE MOST ANTISOCIAL MEMBER IN JUSTICE LEAGUE HISTORY?????"
"You're not helping, Donna." Diana sighed. turning bright red.
"Diana, what's going to happen? You have a JLA meeting tonight." Donna stated, starting to clean up her mess.
"I... I don't know..." Diana stated, turning around and walking toward the bathroom.
"Diana! Wait up, I have something else to ask you!" Donna yelled as she pursued Diana through the apartment. "Diana!" Donna begged as the bathroom door slammed in her face.
"WHAT?" Diana snapped from the other side of the door.
"Can I ask you one last question then I'll drop it." Donna begged.
There was silence then Diana finally spoke up slightly calmer, "Ok. I'm listening."
"How was it?"
The door opened just long enough for Diana to throw her uniform in Donna's face then it was slammed back shut.
"Well... it was just a simple question..." Donna grumbled and headed back to her coffee.
Several Hours Later, JLA Watchtower...
Conversation filled the meeting room, inside was Superman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, The Flash, the Green Lantern, Plastic Man, The Batman, and Wonder Woman. The meeting would take place in a few moments and the group was broke into chatter, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, and the Flash were sharing adventure stories, while Superman and Martian Manhunter watched Batman and Wonder Woman's unusual behavior.
'What do you think happened while she was in Gotham, Kal-El?' the Manhunter telepathically asked the Man of Steel.
'Not sure, J'onn,' Superman responded, 'maybe he jumped at her and startled her. But I seriously doubt one of Batman's scare tactics would affect Diana this badly.'
The two heroes continued to watch their teammates; Wonder Woman continued to just stare at the ground with a bright pink shade to her cheeks, and the Batman was to the naked eye looked no different, except his gaze hasn't left the Amazon
for the last fifteen minutes.
'Something had to have happened while Diana was in Gotham last night.' Superman mused before clearing his throat. "OK, lets bring this meeting to order." Superman waited for the room to fall quiet before he spoke again. "Wonder Woman,
did you discover anything about the Baron last night?"
Wonder Woman froze and everyone except the Batman seemed to suddenly be concerned when Wonder Woman went a deathly pale.
"Diana, are you ok?" Martian Manhunter asked.
"Did something happen while you were in Gotham?" Superman asked again with concern in his voice.
"IT'S NONE OF ANY OF YOU'RE BUSINESS IF ANYTHING HAPPENED OR NOT!!" Wonder Woman yelled jumping to her feet, before quickly covering her mouth.
"This is a waist of my time." Batman stated emotionlessly, "The Phantasm is still loose in my city. You can all stay here and inquire on Wonder Woman's love life all you want. I have work to do." Batman then stood up and started out the door when...
"YOU COLD HEARTED BASTARD! GO ON BACK TO YOUR PRECIOUS ANDREA, SEE IF I CARE!"
Wonder Woman uncharacteristically yelled causing no visual effect from the Batman. "YOU SON OF A..." She yelled as she jerked him around and slugged him in the face, sending him flying backwards.
Superman grabbed the struggling Diana long enough for J'onn to psychically calm her down. Once she had calmed down, Superman looked toward the Martian, "I think you're right, something did happen in Gotham last night."
Later That Night, New York City...
Donna and Cassie was both spread out on floor watching a movie on the television when a knock came on the door. The two looked at each other and Donna went to the door, "Superman, Diana, what's going on?" Donna asked the Man of Steel and her sulking sister.
"She had a slight... outburst... during the meeting. J'onn wants to do an examination first thing tomorrow to see if it has some kind of spell or something or another causing her unusual behavior." Superman explained with a seemingly strained voice, "Until then I thought it was best for me to see her home. For her sake... and someone else's."
"You ok, Diana?" Cassie asked walking up behind Donna.
Wonder Woman just grunted something and walked into the apartment and into the kitchen. "Well," Superman started, "I better go, goodnight, ladies." With that Superman walked away from the door, though Donna noticed he was walking slightly bowlegged for some reason.
Donna shrugged it off and turned to Diana who had changed into jogging pants and a T-shirt and was carrying a jar of pickles, "You ok Di?" Donna asked as the three set down in the living room.
"Yeah I'm ok, not sure what came over me earlier." Diana stated munching on a pickle, "oh, want one?" she asked holding the jar toward the girls.
"No thanks, Diana, why are you eating pickles anyway?" Cassie asked.
"Not sure," Diana said digging out another, "Just had a weird craving."
With that Cassie and Donna looked at each other with worried expressions.
To Be Continued...
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