Spoilers: Maid of Honor, Starcrossed
Category: Fluff, BMWW UST, humor (?). This is a more light-hearted companion piece to Icarus.
Being Bruce Wayne was work.
And, like any job, it came with certain rules. Don't let them see you favoring one limb over another. Be every inch the stuck-up rich kid with money to burn. Flirt. Laugh. Enjoy yourself.
Enjoying himself was exhausting. In most cases he actually preferred a knock-out, drag-down fight. At least when you were beating the hell out of some cretin, you were being honest about it. There was so little honest about being Bruce Wayne, and that was why it was work.
But this night, of all nights, felt different.
He wouldn't admit that it was because of her, because that led to inescapable conclusions and he was always a man with an exit strategy. Surely there was some other reason that, tonight, the smiles had come a little easier, the phonies around him had mattered less, and life generally seemed a little less crappy. The air of freedom in the city, maybe. The feeling, short-lived though it no doubt was, that with the Thanagarians gone all that had once been wrong would be made right. Having thrown off the yoke of the invader, having survived large-scale invasion, the day-to-day problems that had faded into the background would stay there permanently.
Out there, in the darkest spots of Gotham, the shadows were gathering. Men who had been too afraid to steal, rape and murder under the watchful eyes of the hawkmen were feeling bold once more. It was probably a mistake to be ignoring his patrol duties tonight. Rumors might spread that Batman had been a casualty of war.
But no. He had the night off. Clark had insisted, and sometimes it just wasn't worth arguing with Clark.
Kent had probably gotten to the princess, too. That was why she'd pretty much invited herself along. It certainly couldn't have been her idea.
At least she wasn't bad company. If nothing else she helped garner the kind of attention he'd hoped to attract. Even during the occupation -- dressed down, hair up and sans bracelets and tiara -- he'd seen the knowing stares she'd attracted from the general populace. Now, braceletted, hair down, dressed in the slacks and Chinese-red blouse Alfred had brought forth as though by magic, she cut an impressive and immediately noticeable figure.
She was stunning.
Of course, stunning hadn't been his word. The maitre'd had used it -- "Miss, you look stunning tonight" -- and in response Bruce had given all the appropriate leers, most of which were inappropriate. They'd been lead to a booth near the back of the room, and he'd been hyper-aware of the attention they'd garnered. The men wanted to be him. The women probably wanted to lock him in the coat room and tell Diana to run for her life... or at least her virtue.
After dinner, drinks. Work, not a date. Date. That was ridiculous. Sitting at the end of the bar with a half-ignored martini was simply part of the evening's charade, as he had told John. And a successful charade it was. From the couples on the dance floor to the barkeep who kept replacing warm drinks with cold ones, the smirks on their faces were easy for him to read.
Although when Diana successfully translated them, he was surprised. She leaned towards him -- the dancers were loud, the music louder, and he didn't have advanced hearing -- and asked, "They think I'm your bodyguard?"
He leaned his elbows against the edge of the bar, facing their surreptitious audience, and grinned as though she'd just whispered something especially tawdry in his ear. "Emphasis on the 'body'."
Annoyance flashed in her eyes; for a second he thought his drink might end up on his head -- or in his lap -- but her anger wasn't directed at him. "No wonder you hate this," she muttered, giving the dance floor a dark look.
This, of course, just reinforced the image he was going for. They--
Wait... what had she said? "What makes you think I hate this?"
She looked at him incredulously. "Because it's all for show. These people," she nodded to the drinkers and dancers, "are enjoying themselves. You're not. You're trying to act like you are, but you're not."
And that was the ironic part. He was enjoying himself... at least more than he usually did in these situations. He felt less alone than he typically did, less a fish out of water, a little more like a short dance in Paris...
"Maybe not," he said shortly, careful to keep his expression placid. "Maybe we should call it a night."
He stood, put his arm comfortably around her back -- continue the pretense -- and guided her off her barstool. She came without a fight, or started to, but then she stopped, turned, faced him. She seemed especially tall in those heels, and shouldn't he be wondering why Alfred had had a woman's wardrobe, replete with heels, just lying around the--
She kissed him.
He wasn't as quick on his feet as he had been last time. Last time, it had been a perfectly acceptable diversionary tactic, perfectly reasonable, perfectly explained away. It wasn't necessary here, now. Anything that wasn't done publicly, the tabloids would fill in on their own. He wasn't expecting it. She'd caught him off guard.
He still managed to kiss her back before she pulled away.
He was, after all, Bruce Wayne.
Last time -- he needed to stop thinking about last time -- she'd at least appeared a little embarrassed. Not now. She looked at him steadily, blue eyes reflecting a hint of scorn and what in anyone else's face would have been called deviltry. "Part of the show," she reminded him with a smirk.
If Kent set this up, he thought, he's in big trouble.
"If I didn't know better, Princess," he said, pleased at the control in his voice, "I'd think you were enjoying yourself."
Blinking, suddenly the very picture of innocence, she asked, "What makes you think I'm not?"
On second thought, maybe Clark wasn't the only one in big trouble.