Category: Angst, HG/GL, and a little BM/WW if you're so inclined
It's too hard to look away, too much to turn his back on her, so he sits on a rocky outcropping and watches as she dwindles, until she's just a speck against the sky, and then even less.
Funny, but he's the one who feels small now, uncomfortable in his costume and naked without his ring. Powerless. He couldn't have followed her even if he wanted to... and he knows that she'd never let him catch up.
She's the one who lied, he tells himself angrily, watching the last rays of sun reflect against the waves. She's the one who told them how to defeat us. Even if she didn't know the scope of their plans, she put this entire world in danger. You shouldn't even be here. You shouldn't be feeling this way. You should get up, get yourself together, go inside and tell the others...
But he can't face them right now. Can't take their eyes watching him, not even those hidden behind masks. He doesn't want to deal with J'onn's gentle probing of his mind, his mood, his feelings, doesn't need Flash's half-hearted jokes, or Diana's simmering anger, or...
He realizes with a start that he's let his head drop into his uninjured hand, and when he raises it he sees that the last of the light has left the western sky.
She's out there, still, flying through the darkness. John can picture her outlined against the moon, a dark shape against the pale face.
The sound of footfalls reaches his ears. A slow, even pace. Heavy. J'onn's approaches are nearly silent. Flash is never this quiet. Superman would just as soon fly.
He straightens, takes a breath, but doesn't look back at Batman. "I'm fine," he says, surprised by the gruffness of his own voice.
The footsteps stop. "She's gone?"
Glad that his face is masked by darkness, turned towards the water, John closes his eyes -- the finality... -- but only briefly. "Didn't say where."
"We can find her," says the Bat. "Unless she's planning on moving into Gorilla City... someone will see her eventually. Almost everyone on this planet can recognize a Thanagarian by now."
John finds a niche on the rock to place the heels of his boots, bringing his knees up, and he leans back with his weight on the one good arm. "You want to bring her back?"
The silence before Batman responds is just slightly too long, and when he asks "You don't?" John knows that he's surprised the other man. Wow. Surprised Batman. Gotta put that in my diary.
"If she... when she comes back," John corrects himself quickly, wondering if Flash's optimism is as contagious as it is misplaced, "it has to be on her own terms. We go looking for her, all we'll do is scare her off." Not that some people, he thinks, would mind.
Footsteps again, moving from behind him to his right. John glances in that direction despite himself, surprised at what he sees. No cowl. No cape. Simply a dark-haired man in an open-necked shirt; the playboy, the millionaire, takes a seat on the rock just a few feet away.
"You still love her."
Ah. That explains the costume change. It probably ruins the Bat mystique to have this kind of conversation as the Dark Knight. Unless, of course, he's going to remind John to 'get over it'. "Be easier if I didn't."
"Mhmm. And since when do you do anything the easy way?"
John feels his eyebrows reach for his hairline. "You're one to talk, Mr. Ride-the-Watchtower-to-your-death."
Silence. John has always figured that Bruce Wayne is more talkative than this.
He sighs, leaning forward, holding his broken arm carefully in his lap. "She didn't even want to know how we voted. Guess I can't blame her, really, and I know it wouldn't have stopped her from leaving. But at least she would have known that w... that most of the League forgives her."
What he wouldn't have told her, of course, was that he had abstained. Pulled out. Figured he was too close to see this rationally... and after listening to Flash, J'onn, Superman and Diana, he'd figured that one less vote would prevent a tie.
He just hadn't counted on Batman.
"I don't know that it's a matter of forgiveness," says Bruce slowly. "I was angry. I still am. But if it comes down to trust... as much as it pains me to admit it, I agree with Flash."
"Superman seems to think otherwise."
A small laugh; an unfamiliar sound. "I don't see things as black and white as Clark does. Or Diana, for that matter. They're upset. They have a right to be. But they won't be forever."
The vote was 3 to 2 in Shayera's favor. John knows what Bruce is saying... that eventually Superman and Wonder Woman may change their minds. What good does it do now? "And in the meantime," he says, remembering J'onn's words, "we rebuild. Just like that, hmm? New Javelin? New Watchtower?"
"My checkbook's ready if you are."
"And in the meantime?"
There's a soft scuffle as Bruce Wayne stands, stretching out his back as though he's stiff from a few minutes of inactivity. Quite the actor. "In the meantime... we stay vigilant. We heal," he says with a nod towards John's sling. "We help try to put this world back together."
John looks up at the unmasked face, so slightly touched by light from the Manor, so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. For the first time he notices the leather jacket slung over Bruce's arm. "Planning on starting tonight?"
For a split second, the other man looks embarrassed... but it may have just been a trick of the light. "Not exactly. Seems the city's enjoying its first night without a curfew," he says, as though that's explanation enough.
"Including the criminal element, I would assume." The Thanagarians had disarmed the police; the slime of Gotham is no doubt in full swing already.
"One of the benefits of belonging to a team," says Bruce easily, swinging the leather jacket over one shoulder. "I'm... taking the night off. Just in case word got out that the Manor was attacked, I figured I'd put in an appearance at my usual haunts." He paused; there was that trick of light again. "Diana's coming too."
"Oh really?" John pushed himself to his feet. "That wise? Being seen with her, I mean."
"Bruce Wayne and Diana of Themyscira have already been 'seen together'," he says with a half-shrug and three-quarters-smirk. "And people believe what they want to believe. Namely that he was hanging onto a superhero's apron strings when all Hell broke loose."
For the first time in a long time, John finds himself wanting to smile, and not only at Batman's third-person references to himself. "Just her apron strings, hm?"
"Careful... you'll start a rumor." And then Bruce did smile... and it was weird.
"Well... have fun." The words sound ridiculous, and yet what else can he say? Watch your back? Watch your heart? Diana isn't Shayera, and the Bat doesn't need advice on women from him of all people. "Tell the others I'll be in in a little while."
Bruce hesitates, nods, takes a step towards the mansion... and then pauses. "John..."
"I'm fine." He turns away, looking out over the black water. "Go show off the apron strings." He pauses. "And don't tell her I said that."
"I wouldn't dream of it."
"I'll be in soon," says John, and finally hears Bruce's footsteps fall back into the night.
A little while later, he hears a car leave the property.
He sits down again, looking up, waiting for the first glimpse of the moon as it makes its way west.
He's still there when the sun rises in the east.
Seriously. If my parents knew how I spent this weekend, they'd make me start taking my medication again...