Chapter 2: Old Friends
"Happy?" Wonder Woman asked irately to the green skinned hero who was looking over some read-outs from the scans.
"Well..." J'onn said, looking up at her, "You seem perfectly normal. But that doesn't explain why you almost broke the Batman's jaw last night."
"He had it coming. Can I go now?" Wonder Woman answered dryly, getting off the examination table.
"Why?" J'onn asked innocently.
"Why what?" Wonder Woman asked, spinning around to glare at her teammate.
"What did he do to you to make you want to take his head off?" J'onn asked, causing Wonder Woman to turn deathly pale like she had the night before.
"You won't tell anyone... not even Superman." Wonder Woman commanded, setting back down on the examination table, giving J'onn a death glare.
"You have my word as a Justice League Member." J'onn stated, "Besides, have I ever betrayed your trust before?"
Wonder Woman then sighed before explaining to J'onn what happened that night in the vault.
"Oh cosmos..." J'onn lightly gasped, "I believe I need to sit down."
"You..." J'onn asked again, looking up with a disbelieving look in his yellow eyes, "and him... had... oh cosmos..."
"You won't tell anyone, will you, J'onn?" Wonder Woman begged, looking pitifully at her friend.
"Diana..." J'onn stated, shaking his head, "you think anyone would believe me if I did?"
"That bad huh?" Wonder Woman sighed, staring at the floor.
"Diana..." J'onn sighed as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "An earth saying goes, 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder' if something Batman does gets your attention, it's your life."
Wonder Woman nodded and gave a faint smile, "So you think I should go after him?"
"Like I said, Diana," J'onn stated, standing up, "It's your life. I'm not saying a thing."
"Thanks J'onn." Wonder Woman whispered as she stood up. She turned and left the room.
The Martian watched her leave before shaking his head, "her... and him... oh cosmos..."
Meanwhile in Gotham City, the Batcave.
"Any luck figuring out where the Phantasm will strike next, Bruce?" Tim Drake, better known as Robin, asked as he walked down the stairs into the cave, followed by Dick Grayson and Cassandra Cain, "Bruce? Batman?" Tim asked again, looking back to the others with a worried expression.
The three walked toward the main computer where Bruce Wayne was seated staring blankly at the screen, "Earth to Bruce." Dick chuckled, waving a hand in front of his face.
In a flash Bruce had Dick's hand in a painful grip, "How long have you three been there?" he asked, his eyes not moving from the screen.
"Only... a... second..." Dick gasped, trying to get his hands free from Bruce's vice-like grip. When he finally let go, Dick moaned and cradled his hand. "I think you broke it." Dick moaned cradling his hand.
"I have a feeling Phantasm will attempt a murder tonight." Bruce stated, ignoring Dick's volley of muttered curses.
"Where?" Cassandra asked, her curious eyes looking at the point Bruce was staring.
"We're going to all pay a visit to Arkham." Bruce stated, standing up and walking toward the Bat suit vault.
Meanwhile... Metropolis, Clark and Lois Kent's apartment...
Clark and Lois were cuddled together watching the news when they heard a knock on the door. Clark got up and went to answer it. He opened the door and his eyes widened in a sense of fear. "H-hello Diana..."
>>> Delete the first comma (watching the news when they...)
"Hi Clark," Diana said sheepishly, "Umm sorry about last night, I...umm... didn't hurt you bad when I...umm... kicked you did I?"
Clark merely flinched slightly, "What can I do for you tonight, Diana?"
"Umm, I was wondered if I could talk to Lois for a little while, if... if she isn't busy that is." She asked, her voice pleading.
An hour later, Clark sat in the living room, cursing at Lois' idea to put soundproof insulations around the bedroom, and the fact he couldn't listen in to their conversation because that was where the women went to talk. Curiosity killed the Superman.
Lois finally walked back in and sat down next to Clark after letting Wonder Woman out.
"What was that all about?" Clark asked, shoving some popcorn into his mouth.
"Just some girl talk, Clark, nothing for you to be worried about." Lois replied as she grabbed some popcorn herself.
"But..." Clark begged, "I really want to know!"
"You have to swear not to tell anyone." Lois stated, glaring at her husband, "She made me promise not to tell anyone."
"I swear." Clark said, placing a hand over his heart and holding the other in the air.
"OK... I guess." Lois stated as she gave him a suspicious look, "but she wanted to talk to someone, and she tried to talk to Donna about it, but she just made fun of her. So she came to me cause she knew I wouldn't."
"What's going on?" Clark asked as he grabbed another handful of popcorn and stuffed it in his mouth.
"She's fallen for a guy." Lois said nonchalantly.
"Who?" Clark asked again, getting into the conversation.
"Batman." Lois said plainly, causing her husband to get strangled on his popcorn.
"That's not all, Hon." Lois said with an evil smirk. She then leaned over and whispered into her husband ear and his face suddenly changed to the color of his cape. "G-Great Scott..."
Back in Gotham...
"Seems quiet to me." Nightwing said over his radio as he glanced over at the napping Batgirl.
"Same here, Nightwing." Robin responded, standing by Batman's side on the other side of Arkham Asylum.
"Keep your eyes open though, Robin." Robin heard as he replaced his radio, "See anything, Batman?" Robin asked.
"Batman?" he asked again after he waited a moment. "Batman, you ok?" he asked again, nudging the Dark Knight.
"What is it, Robin?" Batman finally responded coldly.
"I asked if you could see anything." Robin asked again, getting a slight bit worried.
"Sorry." Batman growled and went back to watching the south wall.
"Why have you been spacing out?" Robin asked.
"I haven't been 'spacing out'. I don't 'space out'." Batman stated with no emotion.
"Has Catwoman been flirting with you again?" Robin asked with a smirk.
"No." Batman snapped back.
"Then who?" Robin mused, "Who else could get you daydreaming? Zatana? Talia? Wond..."
"Pay attention." Batman snapped, not taking his eyes off the wall, and Robin could have sworn Batman gave a slight blush.
Robin was about to comment again when an explosion rocked the Asylum. "She's already in there!" Batman snapped grabbing his radio, "NIGHTWING, BATGIRL, MOVE!"
In an instant Batman was back in his element. With one fluid motion he pulled his grappling hook and fired toward a tower overlooking Arkham, then swung toward the new gap in the North Wall, looking for all intents like a bat in flight.
Batman landed and quickly wrapped his cape around his body. "Where to, Batman?" Robin asked, landing at his side.
"Harvey Dent's cell is this way." Batman stated coldly as he shot down the hall.
"Two-Face?" Robin asked, running behind him, "Why Two-Face?"
"Phantasm said night-before-last that the evil men who owned the bank must be punished." Batman explained as he made his way down the hall, "Two-Face is one of the leaders of the mob that unofficially controls the First Bank of Gotham."
"Oh." Robin stated, still not fully understanding, "Makes sense."
Batman and Robin made their way to Two-Face's cell and Batman stopped dead in his tracks. He was too late.
"Oh no..." Batman gasped sadly, "Robin... stay out here." Batman ordered as he slowly walked through the ruined door.
"B-Bruce... Grace..." Two-Face gasped from under the wreckage of his bed.
"Yea, I'm here Harv." Batman said softly in his 'Bruce Wayne' voice, as he slowly moved the broken plywood covering his former best friend.
"I... I c-can't see too good..." Two-Face muttered, breathing roughly, "What h-happened... L-last thing I remember... I-I was about to... win the Maroni case..."
"Don't worry about it, Harvey, you... you won that case... no question." Batman said with a forced smile, looking down on the beaten and stabbed Two-Face, no, on Harvey Dent, his best friend for years.
"P-past tense, Bruce?" Harvey asked weakly, "How long... h-have I been out?"
"A... a while..." Batman replied
"That l-long... huh?" Harvey chuckled, "I...I'm going to bite it... a-aren't I, Bruce?"
"I... I'm sorry, buddy." Batman whispered sadly.
"Shame..." Harvey said sadly, "d-did Grace... wait for me?" He asked, trying to smile.
"...Yeah, yeah she did Harv." Batman lied, "You know she loves you with all her heart." Might as well not lie completely.
"That's good..." Harvey sighed, "Y-you always... was... a terrible liar. You never could hide anything from me."
"You know me too well old friend." Batman said, " I'm sorry."
"B-Bruce?" Harvey gasped hoarsely.
"H-Have..." Harvey gasped, feeling his life leaving him, "Have... you found... that special... girl?"
"What?" Batman asked, a surprised by the question.
"Y-You heard me..." Harvey said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"I..." Batman started, "I don't know... I think... maybe... but I'm not sure yet."
"D-Don't wait... to long, Bruce..." Harvey whispered, "If... anyone understands... that... that you shouldn't w-wait... I do right... now... Listen, Bruce... You... you have... you have to grab a hold on every bit of happiness you can...while you still...c-can..."
"I... I don't... I don't know..." Batman stated, emotions that hadn't been active sense Jason Todd's death rising.
"B-Bruce... have I ever... led... you wrong..." Harvey coughed, "Besides... a-after what happened... to... your folks... if... if anyone... deserves... to... to be...happy... it's you... my friend..."
"I... I'll remember that, Harv." Batman whispered sadly.
"Bruce... o-one more th- thing..." Harvey gasped, signaling him to move closer.
"I-is..." Harvey gasped feeling weaker and weaker, "is... she... hot?"
"Very." Batman responded with a smile.
"B-Brunet?" Harvey asked quieter.
"Yeah, and very long dark hair, at least a size D, and legs to die for." Batman said, Bruce Wayne completely taking over for a moment.
Harvey brought his hand up and weakly slapped his face playfully, "Good...b-boy..." he said as he let out one last sigh.
"Harv?" Batman asked "Harvey? Oh, Harv..." he sighed as he closed his eyes tight to hold in his tears.
Outside Robin was starting to get worried. He was about to go in after his partner when
Batman stormed out.
"Come on, Robin." Batman growled, "She's going to pay for this. I'm going to stop her once and for all."
Meanwhile in New York City...
Diana, Donna, and Cassie set around their kitchen table, enjoying the time off that J'onn had suggested that Diana take. "You just going to stair at the pizza, or you going to eat, Di?" Cassie asked bighting into her slice.
"Hmm...umm" Diana's responded in a dazed.
"What's wrong, Diana?" Donna asked worriedly, looking at her sister.
"Not sure..." Diana sighed, "Just... had a weird feeling I was needed somewhere."
Diana then stood up, walked out on her balcony, and looked out into the night sky. She couldn't help but think Batman was in trouble. She could fly there in a second and be there, but he'd only take more offence to it. 'Can't really say I blame him for wanting to distance himself from me.' Diana mused, pushing her long dark hair away from her face; 'I did knock him out for well over twenty minutes just a few days ago.'
She then sighed loudly and looked up at the moon, "Bruce." She whispered softly, " please be careful." She then turned and walked back inside to her worried friends.
Back at Gotham...
The Batmobile roared back into the city limits, Robin sat in the passenger seat holding on for dear life. In the drivers seat, Batman was on the hunt, and nothing was going to get in his way.
"Umm, Batman... do you know how fast we're going?" Robin asked, gripping the seatbelt.
"Yes." Batman replied coldly, "95 miles per hour, why?"
"Oh..." Robin said with a gulp, "just it's a 35 zone."
Batman said nothing as he swerved to dodge a slower moving vehicle, "I have to stop her tonight, Robin, I won't let her hurt anyone else."
"Just remember like you always taught us," Robin said trying to relax, "always keep your cool."
"You did listen." Batman stated with more emotion then usual, bringing a proud look to the Boy Wonder's face.
'Phantasm spotted on the corner of Main and Broadway.' The dispatcher's voice came on the police radio.
"Hang on." Batman said as he made a right hand turn in the left hand lane into traffic making Robin scream like a young girl.
"Did you even listen to me about keeping your cool?" Robin growled.
"Do I look like I'm losing my cool?" Batman asked with no emotion, causing Robin to sigh in defeat.
Batman pulled the Batmobile into an ally and opened the top, "Robin, take it home, and drive carefully."
Robin started to comment but decided better of it and just unhooked his seatbelt as Batman fired a grappling hook to the closest roof.
Batman slowly slinked through the shadows on the large roof that was close to where the Phantasm was last seen. "She's close." Batman whispered to himself, as he looked around every angle for the Phantasm.
"You shouldn't have followed me, Bruce." Phantasm said from behind him.
'I'm losing my touch, or she's gotten really good.' Batman thought as he jumped to dodge her attack.
As Batman landed and spun around to face her, he felt a sharp pain in his side. He touched it with his hand, and pulled it back, and saw blood on his glove. "You've improved." Batman complemented as he took a fighting stance.
Batman threw some punches, but Phantasm parried every one of them.
"You can't defeat me, Bruce." Phantasm stated emotionlessly.
"My name is...Batman!" The Dark Knight yelled as he threw a punch toward the Phantasm's masked face.
Phantasm seemingly caught the punch in her fist with ease, and chuckled lightly at the Batman.
Batman tried to free his fist from her grasp, when he heard her chuckle. She brought her blade-like prosthetic arm to a button on her belt.
"Venom..." Batman realized, his eyes widening, "You're using...Venom..."
The Phantasm answered by bulking up slightly, "Handy tool." Phantasm stated as Batman went down to one knee from the pain of her almost crushing his fist, "It makes the weak strong." She said as she pulled him to his feet, "I used to be weak, Bruce, and you were stronger. Now who is the stronger?" she asked as she stabbed him in the side with her blade-arm.
The Batman gasped in pain, and on instinct kicked hard, pushing her away, and the blade slid out of his side. Batman landed on one knee, gripping his wound. He quickly jumped toward the Angel of Death, but was slashed across the chest.
"You can't win." Phantasm said as she kicked him in the face. Batman fell backwards and caught the edge of of the four-story building. "Will you join me, Bruce?"
"Go to hell." Batman growled as he spit at her.
"Very well." Phantasm said as she placed her foot on the hand that supported the Batman, "The Angel of Death awaits, Batman." She hissed as she kicked the hand away, sending Batman tumbling down toward the pavement.
Batman quickly fired his grappling hook, and though it didn't take a firm grip on the side of the building it did slow his fall. Batman crashed into the windshield of a parked car, breaking at least three ribs, but not killing him.
Batman slowly grabbed the radio on his belt, "Nightwing... Batgirl... I could use a hand..." He said as he dropped the radio and lost consciousness.
The Next morning in New York City...
Donna slowly dragged herself toward the kitchen, scratching the back of her head. "Diana? You up yet?" she asked, walking past her bedroom. As she got halfway between Diana's room and the bathroom, Diana's door flew open and she ran
"Out of the way! Out of the way!" Diana ordered as she shot into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
"Diana? You ok in there?" Donna asked knocking on the door, but only heard some low gagging sounds. "Diana?"
"I'm ok, Donna," Diana finally said weakly, "Just something was in that pizza that didn't agree with me, that's all."
"Umm ok..." Donna said as she heard the toilet flush and the sink water turn on. A moment later Diana walked out, drying her mouth. "You sure you're ok, sis?" Donna asked, looking worriedly at her.
"Yes, I'm ok, Donna, really, so stop worrying!" Diana said, smirking at her.
"If you say so..." Donna whispered.
"I do say so." Diana mock growled, "Now will you stop acting like a mother hen and let me get to work? I have a lot to do before the meeting tonight."
"Like learning anger management?" Donna whispered, hiding it in a cough.
"I heard that!" Diana said, going back toward her bedroom.
That evening in Gotham City...
Bruce lay in his bed in the master bedroom, his chest and torso almost completely wrapped, and also a small bandage around his forehead covering a cut he had from the car he landed on. Dick, Tim, and Alfred stood in the room looking down at him.
Bruce then fought to a sit up, "I... have to go...I have a JLA meeting... and ... Phantasm's still on the loose." Batman grunted as he tried to get up, only to be forced back down by Alfred and Tim.
"Bruce, Phantasm took you at one hundred percent, what makes you think you could handle her like you are now?" Tim argued, giving a look that he had to have learned from Bruce himself.
"I have to at least go to the meeting." Bruce growled, "The last one was canceled because of... circumstances."
"I can cover for you." Dick stated coolly, "Besides, I haven't seen Wally in a while. It's a good opportunity to catch up."
Bruce looked around at the glaring faces and finally surrendered, rolling on his side, "Fine, do what you want, I'm going... to... sleep..." Bruce muttered as he faded away.
"You drugged his food, didn't you, Al?" Tim asked with a smirk.
"Heaven forbid!" Alfred mock-gasped, "I would never once think of doing something so... so... devious!"
Less then three hours later, in the JLA Watchtower...
The Justice League set around the meeting table, Flash and Green Lantern were talking about sports and even Superman began to get involve with the conversation, and Aquaman was fighting off the urge to strangle Plastic Man because of his pathetic jokes with Martian Manhunter trying to keep him calm.
Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was gnawing on her lower lip as she looked down at her twiddling fingers and back up to the Batman's empty seat.
She then shot to her feet, startling everyone when she spotted Nightwing walking into the meeting room.
"Sorry." Nightwing said coolly toward Superman, "Batman isn't going to make it."
"I-Is..." Wonder Woman started before clearing her throat, steadying herself, "Is he alright?"
"Well..." Nightwing said, looking down to find the words, "He had a bad night. The Phantasm gave him a good rumble and knocked him off a four-story building. He's going to ok, just needs to rest up and heal."
The whole room then turned toward Wonder Woman, who was making some slight sniffing sounds. "Wonder Woman, Are you alright?" J'onn asked with concern.
Wonder Woman rested her hands on the table and leaned over slightly letting her bangs hide the tears threatening her eyes.
"I... I'm sorry... I...just... I don't feel very well all of the sudden..." Wonder Woman said as she stood up and slowly walked toward the door. "I'm sorry... I ... I'm just going to go..." Wonder Woman then walked out the door.
Superman and J'onn looked at each other with knowing expressions, Aquaman gritted his teeth, and Plastic Man, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Nightwing all looked dazed and confused.
"Any idea what the hell's going on?"" the Lantern asked, looking toward Plastic Man, who shook his head rapidly and turned toward the Flash.
"I'm just as lost as you guys." Flash stated waving his hands in front of him, "Dick?"
Nightwing just leaned against the wall, "Don't look at me."
An hour later Wonder Woman soared toward Wayne Manor, just outside Gotham City. She slowly floated toward the master bedroom window. She landed on the balcony and gave a faint smile when she saw the large door-like window open.
She silently tiptoed into the room and saw Bruce lying on his back, sound asleep. She silently made his way to his bedside and looked down at him. She gently set down on the edge of the bed and ran her fingers through his uncombed
hair and gently traced the bandage over his forehead. Anyone who saw him like this would never believe he was the Dark Knight. He looked like an innocent sleeping boy. Diana rested her palm on his cheek before bringing her lips down
to his in a gentle kiss. Less then a second later the Amazon Princess pulled away with a faint blush on her cheeks. She sighed in relief when she noticed he was still sound asleep.
"Why? Why are you so reckless, Bruce?" Wonder Woman whispered, slowly standing back up so not to disturb him. As she turned around she saw her answer. On the wall was a large painting of Thomas and Martha Wayne. "What do you want from him?" Wonder Woman asked angrily, "Why do you keep tormenting him so?"
"It's not them, my dear." Came a voice from the door. Wonder Woman spun around to see Bruce's butler, "He torments himself, and will continue until he lets go of his pain."
"But..." Wonder Woman started, looking back toward Bruce's sleeping form, "If he keeps up like he is, he'll be killed."
"His decision I'm afraid." Alfred said sadly, "But Master Bruce always was a bit stubborn. He'll come around sooner or later. Maybe... with someone's help." Alfred stated, emphasizing the last part.
"I... know his history." Wonder Woman said sadly, "Andrea Beaumont, Zatana, Vicky Vale, Talia, Selena Kyle the list goes on and on." she sighed.
"None of which were able or willing to accept his... unusual night time activity." Alfred stated, "You on the other hand know of him, and have fought by his side. If anyone can get through his shell, I believe it would be you."
"Wha...how...how can you know this?" Diana sighed, slightly depressed from her thoughts.
"I bloody well should know." Alfred mock-snapped, "I changed his bloody dipers, and potty trained the child!"
Wonder Woman giggled lightly, she had never once imagined Bruce as a child. Then a very evil thought crossed her mind, "Mr. Pennyworth?" Wonder Woman asked with a devious smirk, "you wouldn't have any..."
"Baby pictures?" Alfred finished for her, "Albums, my dear!" He said with an evil smile. 'I may be fired, but a beautiful woman like her should not be allowed to stay sad for long.' Alfred thought as he walked up to the girl, "Come with me, and oh, the stories I have to tell! The photographs to show! If you have the time, I'll share with you over a hot cup of tea." Alfred stated, taking Diana's arm.
Diana thought for a moment, "Alright, Mr. Pennyworth, I'd love to."
"Very good, my dear," Alfred said with a smile, "and do call me Alfred."
To Be Continued...
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