Disclaimer: I do not own the Dark Knight Rises or the rest of the Nolanverse Batman and I make no money off this work.

The characters Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle as used in this story come from the Dark Knight Rises movie. The characters Queen Hippolyta and Princess Diana of Themyscira originate with DC Comics, and Hermes from Greek mythology. I revised their origins to fit this series.

Thanks to Nrgburst for the extensive beta reading she did on this story.

This story is set after Signs and Portents: Partners and before the final scene in the Dark Knight Rises. Also because I don't know Latin, when the dialogue is spoken in that language, I gave you the translation in curly brackets since that punctuation mark doesn't have another job in fiction.

Signs and Portents: Entwined Fates

Selina pinched the bridge of her nose. There was no way she heard him right. "An implanted tracking device, is that what you said?"

"Yes. Can't be removed, the frequency is so narrow passive scanners miss it, not that you'll have to worry." Bruce's voice was light, like they were discussing paint colors for their new house back in Florence instead of how she couldn't sneak a tracking device past the terrorists that almost blew up Gotham. "The League keeps their bases old-fashioned. Master the basics first philosophy."

"That's the only positive thing you've said about the group. Now back to Lojacking my body."

"You don't like the idea?" His puzzled glance was genuine. "I thought it would make things easier."

She looked at the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea below the Cessna Skyhawk. "It sounds like you don't think I can play my part in your plan."

"A lot can go wrong with my plan. Starting with if you're wearing one, they can take it off you."

"Only if they find it first. Why would the criminal taking them over have a tracking device? I wouldn't, so they won't look."

"We avoid the whole issue with the implanted one. So what's the real problem?"

"It's permanent." She stopped from elaborating on ways why that would suck when he shook his head.

"Why does the permanent part always upset everyone? I don't sit at the computer all day watching what people do."

She ignored his pique in favor of curiosity. "How many of these devices have you implanted?"

"Gordon and Blake each have one. Alfred and Lucius turned them down."

"I have got to hear how you convinced Gordon to give him one." Bruce didn't answer as he stared out the windshield. "You never asked him; you just did it! What paranoid reason made that okay?"

The plane shuddered. Bruce's attention snapped to the instrument panel. The plane shuddered again and the controls wrenched out of his hands.

"What's wrong?"

"Don't know. Strap in." She checked the latch on her seatbelt while he fought with the steering wheel.

Lightning flashed, coming from nowhere in the clear blue sky. The plane spun like a Tilt-a-Whirl while all the alarms on the instrument panel shrieked. The blue of the water exchanged itself for the blue of the sky with a flash of green.

The spin stopped with a crumpled lurch and all she saw was black.

Selina groaned and blinked. The sun still shone, but the world outside the cracked cockpit tilted. Green scrubby trees grew at an angle above the sandy strip. She hung by the seatbelt and the world heaved back into place. Water was up to her right knee. The airbags had inflated and deflated and she tasted the gritty dust in the cabin air. "Bruce?"

The left side of the Skyhawk was higher than the right, so he slumped against the seatbelt above her. Her heart lurched. So many blows to his head; she shoved Bane into her mental box of things not to think about and looked at her door. The right wing had dug into the sandy soil. The door could maybe open an inch, and waves pushed water in through a crack she couldn't see. The instrument panel was dead, except for the backup compass which didn't stop spinning. The Cessna wouldn't tip, so she balanced on her seat to reach Bruce.

His airways were clear, breathing strong, and pulse steady. She slid her hand between his back and the seat, and felt his spine. The awful crack that reverberated in her nightmares had been his armor giving way when Bane smashed Batman on his thigh. Bane had intended to break his back, but had only managed to dislocate some vertebrae. That had paralyzed him for weeks until the Pit's primitive health care worked. The doctor in Florence was amazed at the healing, but still gave them a long list of what could reinjure his back. Selina had taken a few days to manage her panic over it. The same panic that clawed at her as she felt the vertebrae through his shirt.

Everything felt normal to her. "Bruce, wake up." No response. She put her mouth against his ear. "If you wanted to go skinny dipping, you didn't have to crash the plane." His body didn't stiffen, which typically happened when she purred like that. "Stay put until I figure this out." She climbed past him, opened his door and pulled herself out.

She sat on the edge of the hatch and propped open the door. The propeller and the engine had been sheared off, exposing the firewall of the cabin. She tore her disbelieving eyes away to look at their surroundings. The deserted beach was nestled on the inlet formed by two spurs of rocky cliffs jutting into the water. "Great, we crashed on an unpopulated side of the island." Pulling Bruce out the door alone, she groaned at the thought.

She eased down the Cessna's side to the cargo hatch. Luckily, she had never handed the keys back to Bruce after they had loaded the plane. She pulled out the most important bag--the first aid kit. The wing strut made an excellent dismounting pole and she landed in waist-deep water. She dropped the first aid kit in the sand close to the trees and trudged back for the second most important bag--the one with all the Batgear in it. She ended up soaked from head to toe, but she got the monstrosity of a hardback suitcase next to the first aid kit.

First Bruce and then the rest of the gear before the adrenaline wore off. She took out his utility belt and grapple gun, and headed back to the plane. He was still out cold. "You owe me so much for this. And don't you dare think I won't collect." Once she figured out the winch device on the belt, it felt like she was playing a new version of the claw arcade game. She reeled him up and out of the plane, lowered him into the water, and dragged him to the splash zone of the beach before laughing.

He better wake up soon, while this was still funny.

Selina didn't bother to time how long it took her to unload the plane. She dropped exhausted next to the last duffle bag and stared at the ruined vehicle for a minute. She wished she hadn't always found something better to do when Jen watched Survivor.

She checked on Bruce again. He groaned and his pupils constricted under the light from the flashlight, and despite his not waking up, she felt better about scouting. She took a pair of binoculars and the grapple gun with her to the top of the closest rocky spur. All the islands in the Mediterranean had people on them, even if they were privately owned. She just needed a high enough vantage point to get her bearings.

Unfortunately, higher ground blocked her view to the other side. She scanned the visible area: no people, no clearings, and no water rushing out to the sea. Water was a problem. Bruce had intended on getting that and more food supplies when they landed in Georgia before heading into Uzbekistan. "Best laid plans of bats and cats," she muttered.

A rustle through the trees caught her eye. It moved against the breeze and Selina's instincts kicked her in the gut. She dropped, belly crawled to the trees' shadows, made sure no reflection gave her away, and watched through the binoculars. Her eyebrows crawled up her forehead as the troop of women emerged from the woods.

Breastplates, skirts, and helms--had they crashed on an island of reenactors? But these women moved with the precision of professional soldiers: spears ready to throw, pivoting to look for enemies, scanning the beach, no talking and gesturing orders with hand signals. Where was the backboard stretcher? The unease in her stomach doubled. Two of the women sprinted to the wreck and thrust the spears through the open door. She wished she had her gun when the rest surrounded Bruce's prone form on the sand.

They checked him instead of stabbing him. That eased her desire to kick them, but didn't dent her thief's instinct to stay hidden until they left. One pointed at something in the sand, and two of the women followed it. Crap, it was Selina's own footprints. She froze. The women stopped where the sand met the rocks. Their argument floated up to her, and she wished she knew more Greek than a few cuss words. They rejoined their pals. More discussion followed the pair's return before four of the women grabbed Bruce's arms and legs and carried him behind their leader. The last woman fell into step behind them.

Selina scowled. No friendly cries of 'hello, we're here to help' even in Greek she didn't understand. They came for a fight, took Bruce, and bolted. They also knew she was around, which meant they'd go home and heighten security or come back to find her or probably both. But right now, they left a trail back home, no breadcrumbs required. She climbed down the rocks, grabbed snacks from their supplies, and started after them.

Hippolyta sat at her tapestry loom and added a thread to the image. This blue thread matched the shade of her daughter's eyes. Someone knocked on the door of her gynaikon . She lowered material over the loom. Others would not understand the theme of the tapestry and that would worry her subjects needlessly. "Enter."

Captain Aikaterine closed the door and knelt on one knee in front of her. "We have returned from the mission, my Queen. A strange ship wrecked on the far shore, and we recovered an outsider man."

"What kind of man?" Hippolyta's hand tightened on the shuttle.

"Injured, he is with the healers under guard. Well-muscled, has all his teeth, as tall as we are, in the prime of life, and numerous scars." Captain Aikaterine bowed her head again. "I did not remain at the healers for the final tally."

Hippolyta smiled. "That does not matter when I shall see them. What injury prompted you to take him to the healers?"

"We could not rouse him. The healers suspect he took a blow to the head, but he will waken."

"When he awakes, I wish for him to be presented in my andron . My daughter should attend as well."

"My Queen, there is more. Someone removed him from the wreck before we arrived, but they had left. Either a companion traveled with him--"

"Or an Amazon is a traitor," Hippolyta finished. "Take as many guards as you need, Captain, and find whoever it is." Aikaterine bowed her head again before leaving the gynaikon. Hippolyta uncovered her tapestry and stared at the uncompleted image of the laughing little girl. Was this outsider the answer to her prayers?

The bay dogs howled like a play's chorus and the sound bounded through the stream's valley between the two hills. Diana pointed her spear toward the noise. "They have found the boar."

"Uncanny how well you hear, Princess." Chrysanthe ran ahead. "I can barely hear Argos and his bark is the loudest of the pack."

Pelagia snorted as she fell behind Diana. "We are blessed that the Princess joined our hunt. Who knows how lost we would be without her skills?"

Diana ignored the older woman's disdain despite how it jabbed and the younger woman's awe. "The boar will hurt someone if not stopped." Her attempt at unconcern sounded haughty instead.

"I know my duty as a hunter, Princess." Pelagia hurled the title like an insult.

Chrysanthe, a child just initiated as a warrior last full moon, shushed them both. "You shall scare the beast," she said as an excuse.

Diana accepted the rebuke, but heard the grey-haired warrior mutter "Baby-faced twit." Chrysanthe did not and continued ahead of them through the forest. Diana watched the blonde braid swing between Chrysanthe's shoulders. Pelagia had the right as eldest warrior to lead this hunt, but Diana's position and skills took it away from her. Women have grumbled over less.

The squeals of the enraged boar pierced through the din of the hounds. Chrysanthe stopped and turned to the older hunters. Diana gestured for the younger warrior to flank left. Pelagia was already moving to the right. Diana hefted her spear and moved forward.

The dogs danced around a monster of a boar. Its belly could brush the ear tips of the tallest dog in the pack. That didn't stop the dogs from forcing it against a boulder. Diana eased into the clearing. No wonder the entire crop in the western fields was destroyed.

The boar's coal-black eyes focused on her through the leaping dogs braying around its head. The massive snout with its sharp tusks lowered to the ground.

Diana lined her spear with its chest. With the luck of Artemis, the boar would impale itself if she kept her arm steady.

The hind legs bent, then straightened, and sent the bristling black-furred body through the pack of sleeker-haired dogs. The snout and tusks caught one dog by the belly. The boar never broke stride as it tossed the yelping dog aside.

With a shrill war cry, Chrysanthe charged out of the underbrush to Diana's left. The boar turned and headed for the blonde woman. A white dog bit down on the boar's ear, but was slung toward Chrysanthe. Her gaze shifted from the boar to the dog and her spear drifted away. Her attention snapped back, but not her spear.

Diana stabbed her spear into the boar's shoulder as she ran. Her arms wrapped around the boar's head like it was a wrestling opponent. The tusks scraped against her skin. The boar pushed her back into Chrysanthe's legs, and the younger woman fell. Diana's feet kicked against the ground but found no purchase to push against.

All she heard was the boar's ragged breathing and enraged squeals. All she saw was one murderous coal-black eye surrounded by bristles. She stared into that eye. "Stop fighting!"

She said it out of frustration and fear that the boar would slip out of her grasp and kill Chrysanthe. The boar stopped moving forward. It shook its head and she clung on. Before it charged again, its entire body shuddered and it screamed before slumping to the ground.

Pelagia pushed her spear further into the carcass from behind the boar. Her dark eyes under sweat-drenched bangs met Diana's. "Do you bleed, Princess?"

"No." Diana pried her arms off the boar's head.

The gray-haired warrior nodded before stomping to Chrysanthe. "What fool-urged act was that?"

The young woman looked up tearfully from a whimpering dog. "It was killing the dogs and you both were letting it!"

"No dog is worth even a man's life, much less the Princess'."

"Like anything can hurt her? She's not even hurt now!"

Diana turned her back to them, especially the note of fear in Chrysanthe's voice. The tusks had torn her chiton, but her skin was undamaged.

Pelagia inhaled. "What would you do if you were hunting with the rest of us who bleed! Your sister Amazons depend on you as a teammate."

Diana remembered this speech well from her own training. And it was not learned faster with an audience. She seized the boar's carcass and dragged it away from the other women. "I will take this meat to the butcher."

Pelagia waited until Diana had reentered the trees, which took time as she bent over to drag the carcass behind her. The older warrior dropped her voice, but Diana heard whispers as well as she did shouts. "It is impossible the Queen bred with a mortal man to produce her, but you do not speak of it with anyone. Hippolyta killed the Princess' nursemaid for such talk."

Diana's shoulders slumped. Why had she fooled herself that she could go on a hunt like a normal Amazon? She heaved the boar onto her shoulders and marched toward town.

Did they crash land on M. Night Shyamalan's sequel to the Village? Selina frowned as she crouched in the underbrush outside the small city, built like an ancient Greek city that had learned how to build balconies on their buildings. She also ignored the quiet voice in her head telling her she was acting just as paranoid as Bruce while she watched the women populating the city. They wore knee-length togas with sandals or bare feet. Not one person in jeans that she could approach for help. Time travel wasn't possible, so what was these people's deal?

No one watched the forest and she eased to the rear of the nearest row of houses. One medium-sized house gave off good vibes. She fired the grapple gun and it anchored around the railing of the second-story balcony. No one ran around the houses or onto the balcony to examine what had made the noise.

Her gloves barely protected her hands from the monofilament wire as she climbed up the building. If Bruce needed something constructive to do while waiting on the League of Shadows, she'd ask him to install a winch system in her suit's belt. That had more use than his stupid tracking device implant. She crouched and listened to the house. Satisfied it was empty, she entered the bedroom. Colorful woven blankets draped the bed and hung on the walls, but Selina headed straight to the wooden chest. It contained extra togas.

She found a bag and shoved her crusty, preppy camper outfit, her boots, and the grapple gun into it. Then she dressed in a dark blue toga that pinned over both shoulders, belted around her waist--covering the bruise from the seatbelt--and ended at her knees. She copied a ribbon-wrapped hairstyle she saw worn by others, and carried the bag right out the unlocked front door.

No one on the cobblestone street gave her a second glance.

She reached the public square on the town's outer edge and spotted more breast-plated women led by the same woman who took Bruce. They left the largest house, a three-story building next door to the larger temple. The military women marched past her, straight for the path that led to the plane.

Where do they put prisoners? Two military women stood guard at the largest house's door, but two more did the same at a much smaller house across the square. And there were a whole slew of them in the mowed meadow beyond the square. Other women loitered to watch them, so Selina wandered to the onlookers.

She sat in the shadows and divided her attention between watching the guarded spaces in the square and the military drills. A line of archers faced the woods and fired primitive bows, but most hit near the bull's-eyes on their targets. The rest paired off for duels with swords and shields, though a few brought different weapons like spears, poleaxes, and maces. Beyond the practice field, she saw plowed rows and toga-dressed people working among the plants.

The crowd called out for their favorites. Selina let the names roll over her. The door of the smaller house opened and Bruce stepped out. Her heart thumped to see him, even as four guards surrounded him with his hands tied behind his back. She'd known she had it bad when she turned the Batpod around to save him from Bane, but it still surprised her after all these weeks. The merry group marched straight across the square, ignoring the women who gaped at them, and entered the largest house.

She mused about entering it while the crowd continued to rally for different fighters. She never matched any of the names with their owners as the shadows lengthened. The drills ended. The participants gathered the weapons and carried them to a shed adjacent to the largest house. Selina grinned when she saw there was no lock on it as she let the crowd sweep her up. A few men and young boys also dressed in knee-length togas joined the crowd from the farmland. Most women were as tall as Bruce, but none of them noticed when she slipped into the temple. Braziers and torches burned in the inner sanctum, but no priestesses appeared to have evening duties.

Statues of the goddesses towered over the space. Their heads brushed the ceiling. Their stone hair and faces were painted and gilded, but their togas were actual cloth and four of them hung all the way to the floor. Altars at their feet brimmed with tokens of devotion. She didn't remember the ancient Greeks separating the pantheon of gods like this. Temples dedicated to one god or goddess, yes, but she recognized Hera, Athena, Demeter, Aphrodite, and Artemis all equal in importance.

The houses bolted up tight against the night. She slipped out of the temple. Even the guards had gone inside. She strutted to the shed's door. "Too bad it isn't my birthday."

Bruce groaned his way to consciousness. He had no idea where he was. He could hear Alfred's sardonic voice through the thundering headache. "Shouldn't you be used to waking up in strange places by now, Master Wayne?"

Funny it was Alfred telling him off and not Selina. "Selina?"

The voice that answered him was not Selina's and she spoke a language he didn't know. The oldest woman he had ever seen bent over him and repeated herself.

"I don't understand."

Strong and callused hands forced him to sit up. The old woman held an earthenware cup to his lips. He choked the bitter beverage down and she hobbled across the room. He took stock. His shirt was off, but he still had on his pants, boots, and Batman's belt. Why was that buckled on him? This room was made of mud bricks, lined with wooden shelves filled with dried herbs and earthenware jars. The old woman explained something to a teenage girl as they worked over a table under the only window. He sat on a cot across from them. The four hands that gripped his arms belonged to two women dressed in bronze armor. And Selina wasn't present.

He remembered fighting with the Cessna's controls. What had happened to Selina? He breathed to quell the sudden surge of fear. If she was injured, she'd be here. He hadn't lost her. "Does anyone here speak English?"

The woman holding his right arm barked a command at him. The old woman turned and approached him. She tilted his head, and the sunlight hit his eyes as she studied the pupil reactions. She commented to the girl, who nodded as she peered over the old woman's shoulder. The old woman let his jaw go and waved at the door.

His guards twisted his arms behind his back and bound his wrists. They never noticed his trick to increase the space between his hands, and pushed him out the door when they thought he was secure. His headache was better and the bright sun tolerable as the guards on the door joined their mini-parade. The buildings looked like a recreation of ancient Greece. It matched the knee-length chitons all the women wore. But wasn't that the male version? They crossed the paved square and passed a bubbling fountain in the center. Civilian women stopped in their tracks and gaped. He still hadn't seen Selina, and if they considered him a prisoner, mentioning her wouldn't keep her safe.

Diana knotted her girdle around her waist and the clean, red chiton. She rolled her neck and shoulders, not that they were stiff from carrying the boar. Protect love and peace will follow. Fight for love and respect will follow. Live in peace and love will flourish. Knocking down the next sister who claimed Diana was not normal would not uphold the Amazon ideals. Nor would it be suitable for a Princess. She sighed as she walked onto her bed chamber's balcony.

Sotiria, her nurse, died from burns when Diana was four-years-old. She remembered Hippolyta's sadness. It was ridiculous that Pelagia believed her mother capable of killing in such a way. Fear could serve a ruler, but love was better. She stared over the training field, the cropland beyond it, and the people of Themyscira she would someday rule. What did her father matter in the light of all this responsibility?

Her hands rested on the sun-warmed stone railing of the balcony. It did not change that she wanted to at least meet the man, and the goddesses had never answered any of her prayers about what Diana must have inherited from him. She was not a monster for she had never harmed anyone. It would be nice to have confirmation she was not related to any monsters.

Diana shook her head. She knew better than to dwell on these things. Her compassion will win the hearts of her subjects, eventually. She'd spend the rest of the day at the Academy and see if Panagiota needed any help with her water wheel improvements. Someone knocked on the door when she reentered her bed chamber.

Thekla, one of the house servants, shifted her feet as she turned her head from Diana's door to look down into the courtyard. "Oh Princess, the Queen wishes to see you immediately in the andron."

Her heart sank. Chrysanthe or Pelagia must have said something. She had been careful to drag the boar's carcass once she reached the town. Now she had to face her disappointed mother and explain publicly how she lost control during the hunt. She hated disappointing Hippolyta, and repetition did not ease the guilt. The least she could do was appear like a proper princess. She plucked her gold laurel-leaves crown off the shelf. Thekla craned her neck to see three floors below. "Do you know why my mother wants to see me?"

Thekla's head jerked back to the door and she rubbed her hands on her yellow chiton. "The Queen did not say, but it must concern the prisoner the guards led into the andron. He must be an outsider; his legs are swathed in a garment I have never seen pictures of."

Diana stepped onto the porch to look into the courtyard herself, but everyone was out of sight. The first outsider on Themyscira in seventy years, of course her mother would want Diana to witness that. Maybe she should be suspicious of his arrival, but if he kept Hippolyta from hearing how she wrestled a boar unscathed, she was inclined to offer him life-long thanks. She headed down the stairs.

Bruce's parade approached the largest house facing the square and the two guards at its gate opened it. They stopped in a courtyard while one of the guards talked to a woman in a yellow chiton who greeted them. Covered porches on all three floors ringed the courtyard on three sides. A set of straight wooden stairs left the courtyard to the second story porch on the side opposite the outside gate. A set of stairs, one on the left and one on the right, started on the second floor near the ends of the porch, and reached the third floor. They had never learned the architecture trick of landings apparently.

The woman in yellow hurried up the steps to the second floor and knocked on the door closest to the stairs. A few minutes passed and another woman stepped out of the room, wearing a full-length purple gown. Unlike the chiton, the fabric pinned together on her shoulders was folded over so a second layer hung loose to her belted waist--a peplos. The brooches on her shoulders matched the gold diadem sitting on her salt-and-pepper hair. She came down the stairs in perfect debutante-style while the woman in yellow scurried up to the third floor. Her gaze swept over their group and locked onto him. He met it and kept his expression blank. She reached the courtyard and swept into a side door in the left wing with a command to his guards. They pushed him into the room after her.

The guards placed him in the center of the rug. The woman in purple sat on a padded bench in front of a purple and gold wall tapestry. The guards stepped back, two angled closer to the woman in charge and the other two blocked the doors out of this room. More padded benches circled the room under painted murals of women sailing ships and building a city. He caught that much before focusing on the woman in purple again.

Her brown eyes calculated something before she spoke. None of the guards responded. She repeated herself and pointed at him.

He let his expression crack into confused playboy. "I don't understand. Does anyone speak English? My name is Bruce Carton."

She looked annoyed and Bruce wished he hadn't indulged in a fit of teenage rebellion when a tutor wanted him to learn European languages and he chose East Asian with the exception of Latin instead. She repeated the question and he shrugged.

One of the doors behind him opened and the woman in purple smiled. "Diana."

He twisted his neck and saw a woman in a red knee-length chiton and a gold crown of laurel leaves set atop her wavy black hair. Her blue eyes opened wide as they rudely looked him over. She passed him, approached the woman in purple, and listened as the woman talked to her and waved her hand at him. They both looked at him when she finished.

Bruce focused on Diana. "Do you understand English?"

Diana turned to the woman in purple and shook her head.

The woman in purple shrugged and asked Diana something else, with the inflection of an order. Diana circled around Bruce. He didn't watch her and looked at the woman in purple instead. The oil lamps hanging from the ceiling tinted her grey hairs orange. Her brown eyes gazed at Diana's inspection with the same calculation she had before. Diana crossed in front of him and he catalogued enough similarities between the women to call them mother and daughter. The younger skin was tanned a darker tint of olive.

Diana spoke to the woman in purple without taking her gaze off him. The woman in purple responded smugly, and then added something else as she stood. Diana whirled around, and shock twisted her calm expression away. Her voice rose in protest.

The woman in purple set her hands on her daughter's shoulders. Her voice soothed and cajoled. Diana bit her bottom lip and glanced at Bruce again. The woman in purple's voice turned coy. Diana nodded. The woman in purple embraced her, and then clapped her hands before giving an order.

The guards behind him pulled him out of the room. In the courtyard, he realized the sun had set. A fire burned on a waist-high stone stand close enough to the pillars holding up the second story porch so it was protected. The smell of cooked fish drifted from somewhere deeper in the building and he clenched his empty stomach. The guards escorted him up the stairs to the third floor of the right wing and into a bedroom.

Diana passed their group and closed the heavy tapestries across the opening to the balcony. She turned to them with annoyance fighting with regality on her face. Regality won out as she gave an order.

The guard on his right glanced at the wooden-framed bed, and made a suggestion.

Annoyance filled Diana's face and she told them off. The guards dropped his arms and marched out the door. Diana bolted it behind them. She set her crown on a shelf before sitting at the table. She straddled the bench to face him, and her chiton slid up to reveal her knees. Her legs were almost as pretty as Selina's.

So far, this beat waking up in the Pit even if he was a prisoner. The headache lurked on his mind's fringes, but right now he needed to learn this woman's intentions and make an escape plan.

She said something slowly in their language. She didn't point to anything in the room, just watched him.

"No, I still don't understand you."

She tried again, but this time the unfamiliar words reminded him of the Greek he heard in Athens many years ago when Alfred decided it would be good to get sullen teenage him out of Gotham for the summer. But he had never bothered to learn Greek because everyone switched to English for the rich American boy.

"Amerikanós," he remembered that. Her blue eyes narrowed. "Den xέrw ellhnikά." He hoped he hadn't butchered the pronunciation of the decades-unused phrase.

She moved onto a different language. "Tu loquerisne Latinam? {Do you speak Latin?}"

Bruce nodded. "{My name is Bruce Carton. Where am I?}

Diana smiled with relief. "{You are on the island of Themyscira. I am Princess Diana.}"

"{I crashed my vehicle here. Why am I a prisoner?}"

"{We have learned that men from Man's World use violence to escape their fate. No one has. Do not believe you will be the first.}"

He smirked. "{Tell me this fate and let me judge that.}"

Her lips quirked to the side, unimpressed with him. "{You can never leave. In a few days, we will hold a series of games and all Amazons of breeding age will compete. The winner will own you, and you will sire her children, perhaps sire other Amazons' children if the bloodline keepers approve. You will work to provide for the community. You will die in peace. That is something you have not experienced enough of.}" She looked at the scars covering his torso.

Alfred always said the womanizing act would get him in trouble. He doubted this is what his old friend had in mind. "{No wonder men behave badly when they hear that; no one wants to be an imprisoned slave. So why was I brought here instead of a cell?}"

She bit her bottom lip again and jumped up from the bench. "{My mother.}" Her agitated pace turned her back to him and he palmed a Batarang before she faced him again.

"{The woman in purple, your mother? Is she the queen of Themyscira?}"

"{Yes, Queen Hippolyta.}" She pulled on a lock of black hair. Nervous, why? "{My mother wants a granddaughter, and there is a chance I would not win the games.}"

"{So you are cheating.}"

"{What does that matter to you?}" Her blue eyes flashed as her face reddened. "{All men chase the pleasure of the deed. Commitment to the women sharing their bodies factors not in their desires.}"

"{That is not true of all men. I have a partner who I will not disrespect with infidelity.}" His face hardened. He didn't know what had happened to Selina, and didn't trust this princess enough to ask. The edge of the Batarang pressed into his palm. Only Selina could have put Batman's belt on him. He clung to that thought.

Diana pressed her lips together before she spoke. "{Your life out in Man's World is dead now.}" He chuckled. "{That was not a joke!}"

"{That is why I laughed.}" She didn't know it would be his fourth declaration of death and he didn't want to explain. "{Putting my feelings for my partner aside, I have a quest to complete in a land far from this island, so yes, I will be leaving without siring yours or anyone else's children.}" He sawed the Batarang against the rope.

Her face hardened and she stepped closer. "{I can force you.}"

"{Now who is introducing violence?}"

Her expression twisted with self-contempt. "{Please consent and I will guarantee to make your life on Themyscira a good one.}"

It was easier to turn down the begging from bimbos who were only interested in his wallet. The last fiber of the rope parted between his hands. "{I am sorry, but I will not.}"

Her bleak face stared at him. "{I cannot disobey my mother.}"

"{Tell her the truth.}" He shrugged, threw a smoke bomb at her feet, and dived through the tapestries. On the balcony, he leapt and grabbed the edge of the roof. He pulled himself onto the terracotta tiles.

"Fancy meeting you here."

He looked up at the ridge. Selina perched there dressed in a dark knee-length chiton showing off her mouthwatering skin. "You're okay."

"I was waiting for the household to go to sleep before going in." She clasped his arm and helped him up. "Should've known you wouldn't. Rope?" She tsked. "All my fantasies use cuffs."

"Can we talk about that after we get me off this island without a paternity suit?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Maybe I should go in anyway."

"We need to go to the plane." He tightened his grip.

She led the way across the roof on her bare feet. "The plane is a no go."

"I can fix it."

"There's nothing to fix. The engine's gone." They reached the opposite side of the building next to a taller one resembling the Parthenon. She unwrapped what he thought was a belt from around her waist and unfurled a bullwhip. She snagged one of the decorative projections, and then used it as a rope to climb to the higher roof.

He waited until she was up before making the climb himself. "What else did you find?"

"Don't take that tone with me. I'll leave the clothes behind, but they didn't lock the armory." He touched the pair of Tekko-Kagi, hand claws on a forearm bracer, tied to her belt. "I thought they were cute."

"Or too claw-like for Catwoman to pass up?" He rubbed his head when she smirked. "Did you find a boat?"

She shook her head as she retrieved the whip. "I was busy finding you. Plus the soldier gals sent after me haven't come back yet."

"What did you do?"

She led them across the shallow-inclined roof and tossed her head. "I got your unconscious ass out of the plane all by myself so all they had to do was pick you up off the sand. You're welcome. They didn't see me, but they know you weren't traveling alone." They reached the roof's summit and she pointed to a dusty road leading from the square into the woods. "That's the opposite direction from the plane, and it's more used. If they have a marina, it's probably at the end of that road."

"Can't hurt to look. Let's get down before the alarm is raised."

"Your department." She unclipped Batman's grapple gun from her belt. "Getting up here killed my gloves."

He fired the line at the roof peak, set the winch controls, and gathered Selina in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and curled into him as he took a running leap and flung them into the air. His bad leg stumbled on the landing.

She planted her feet on the grass. "You okay?"

"I'll be better once we've left." The brace was working. He wound up the grapple line while she retrieved a bag left behind the Parthenon-copy and put on her hiking boots.

"An island filled with women who want to have sex with you and you can't wait to get away. The tabloids would have said this was paradise for Bruce Wayne." Her sarcastic voice covered the apprehension her eyes gave away.

He pulled her to her feet and into his arms. "It wouldn't be much of a paradise without you in it. And I doubt they'll let you keep me. Let's go."

Diana coughed and staggered away from the smoke. How did he make smoke without fire? He was a warrior, not a sorcerer. The stance of his body and the scars it bore screamed that. Blindly, she grabbed the window tapestries and yanked them open. The balcony was empty.

She scowled. A man loose on Themyscira and it was her fault. She should have had the guards tie him to the bed like Nomiki suggested, but she wanted... to not cheat, unlike her mother asked of her. And he had deduced that!

The empty ground below the balcony taunted her. Did he grow wings? A piece of tile rolled off the roof and fell onto the balcony floor. She glared up. Most prisoners would have broken their bodies to reach the ground, but not Bruce. It spoke well of his intelligence. Without wings, he still had to find a way down and then she would recapture him. If she brought him back, no one would be the wiser that she had let him escape.

She pulled the coil of rope from her chest, tied it to the railing, and swung off the balcony. The grass cushioned her landing. She left the rope dangling and headed around the rear of the house. Her scan of the roof almost lost her the target. He and an Amazon headed down the road to the harbor.

Was that sister Amazon insane? Diana froze with shock. Hippolyta would kill any Amazon breaking the laws like this. Diana shook off the stupor and ran, moving as silently as possible to not raise the alarm.

Bruce heard her approach despite her care and whirled around. He didn't stop Diana's hands from seizing her target, and tossing her aside. The Amazon in a dark chiton rolled into a crouch. Her face twisted in anger, but Diana yelled first. No one could hear it from town. "Are you so ready to die?"

Her flash of anger hardened to determination, but she stayed down.

"{Diana, no!}" Bruce grabbed her arm, but she broke the hold and swept his legs out from under him. He tucked into a roll as he fell.

"{The Queen will kill her for helping you!}" Diana turned to chastise the girl further only she leaped onto Diana's back and wrapped her arm around Diana's throat.

This Amazon promised something full of malice in Bruce's tongue. How had she learned it so quickly? The other Amazons didn't bother, content with the royal family's translations. Her arm tightened against Diana's throat.

"Selina!" Bruce stood. Why was he calling upon Artemis? The attacking woman's hold weakened. Diana flung her off.

The shorter woman twisted in the air and landed on her feet, but Diana grabbed her and slammed her against a tree trunk. She didn't recognize this Amazon. "The Queen ordered me to copulate with him before the Games. What is your excuse, Sister?"

"{Let her go!}" Bruce pulled Diana back. The stranger kicked. Diana's stomach caught the shod foot and she staggered back. He swung her away from the stranger.

Diana dug her feet into the dirt and stopped the swing. She grabbed his throat, only hard enough to stop him. "{Do you want her death on your conscience? The Queen will kill her and maim you!}" She lifted him off the ground.

He clawed at her fingers. Lightning tore across the sky. The stranger jumped between them and brought the clawed bracer she wore down on Diana's outstretched arm.

The blades shattered against her skin.

Diana's world shattered with them as she released Bruce. Lightning skipped across her skin. Bruce tackled the shorter Amazon to the ground before the energy tore through the air where she had stood. It slammed into a tree across the road. The tree split apart and Diana threw herself aside as the burning wood fell across the road. She stared at the flames as her mind leaped and blazed among her thoughts in a similar way.

Diana remembered Sotiria, a woman older than her mother who cared for her when the Queen was busy. The bronze knife reflected the lightning flash as Sotiria screamed over her cries. "Great Queen Hera, accept this sacrifice of the desecration to your honor!" The knife sliced through the air and the lightning bolt shattered the vision.

Sotiria died from burns when she was four-years-old. No one had ever told her how Sotiria was burned.

She remembered confronting her mother gravely for her age after Sotiria's death and before formal lessons. "Who was my father? Other children know who sired them."

Hippolyta drew her onto the purple-covered lap. "He is not on Themyscira, my lightning child. When I decided to have an heir, none of the men we kept here were worthy. I slipped to Man's World, like our foremothers did before founding Themyscira, and left your father there once you were in my womb."

That answer did not stop the whispers that the Princess' father was not a mortal man. How could he be with everything she could do and her mother could not?

Lightning flashed in the sky and Diana flinched. She heard the running feet growing fainter. Bruce and the other Amazon had fled, but she could not let them frighten the rest of Themyscira. She ran after them.

"I didn't think I had to tell you to turn off the crazy bitch magnet after we hooked up. That was a mistake, so please turn off your crazy bitch magnet." Selina followed Bruce down the dirt road.

He turned his head and scanned both sides of the road. "None of it was Diana's idea."

"Acting under orders forgives everything."

He turned through an opening between two trees. "From what she shouted at me, she wanted to prevent the rest of them from killing you. And her mother ordered her--" He broke off as he looked back for pursuit.

Selina didn't feel the same reticence. "To rape you."

"Diana wanted consent."

"How long did that last before coercion started?" Anger and dread collided in her stomach while he rubbed his forehead instead of answering. He had been hurt and it was her fault. Again. She should have fought off those soldier women and never have let them take him. She was worse at this partner stuff than she'd feared. She slashed through the underbrush with the claws on her left hand before changing the subject. "Did anyone tell you she was part electric eel?"

"Did you see the look on her face?" He led them down a barely-there trail through the forest. He latched onto her hand so the broken claws wouldn't cut him. "I don't think she knew she can generate lightning."

She had been busy tugging on him to run like hell to look at his want-to-be-his-baby's-mama's face, so she'd take his word on that. "How is that possible? Did a freak storm have the best timing ever?"

"You have to have clouds to produce lightning." He pointed through a break in the trees at the bright stars. "Diana caused it, some how. Nothing I've seen here points to anything as advanced as a steam engine, much less genetic engineering."

"And just where is here?" She didn't hear anything behind them, but she kept her voice down.

"They call the island Themyscira. My geography class skipped it."

"Mine too." She swiped at another branch.

They broke into a clearing that surrounded a building matching the larger temple in the town square, but only about the size of the smallest houses Selina had noticed. A hill rose behind it. He swiveled back the way they had come. She heard the rustle of moving underbrush. "We have her outnumbered," he whispered.

"But can we hurt her?" Selina whispered back as she untied the bullwhip from around her waist. "I didn't even cut her with these claws with the shitty warranty."

"Get inside. They don't want to kill me."

Selina grabbed the hand that released hers. He wore less protection than when he faced Bane, and Bane hadn't shot lightning. "You used up all your self-sacrificing gestures. We both hide."

For all the columns, the unlit interior of this building lacked windows or another door. Bruce turned to pull Selina out and saw Diana emerge from the woods. "She's here," he whispered. They moved away from the doorway. The scent of olive oil filled the room along with the sound of trickling water. Neither furniture nor a cache of weapons stored here and they had only seconds before Diana realized they went inside.

Selina pulled the satchel strap over her head. She dumped the soft contents onto the floor. "Put it over her head and run like hell again," she whispered and pressed the satchel into his hands.

It was marginally better than his idea to tackle Diana so Selina could run. He passed her the flashlight from his belt. "Blind her." He took position next to the doorway. Selina moved to the opposite side.

Diana's sandals scraped against the marble stoop. "Adelfή, egώ den tha blάpsei oúte esάs." She stopped inside the doorway. "Parakalώ, Adelfή, epitrέpste moy na exhgήsw." She took another step.

Selina pivoted and clicked on the flashlight. Diana jerked her head from the light beam and Bruce pulled the satchel over her black hair. She latched onto him before he moved away. Her foot twisted behind his good knee and pulled him off balance. He grabbed her arms and kicked her legs in return. They both fell to the floor.

"{We are taught how to fight blindfolded, Bruce.}" Diana said in Latin. She shifted to get off of him, but her upper body yanked up. Her hands grabbed the leather pulled tight around her throat.

"I warned you." Selina pulled the whip and leaned back. "But no, you just had to touch him again."

Bruce scrambled backwards along the smooth marble floor. Diana yanked the whip off her neck as she twisted her body, and Selina skidded across the floor. He threw himself between her and the wall. She collided hard with him, but it wasn't the worse blow his body had ever absorbed. "Are you alright?" His arms curled around her as he sat up.

"I'll know once the room stops spinning." Her hand flailed until it found his cheek and cupped it. "I guess we should have packed the Batpod."

He leaned into her touch. "We'll get out of this."

"I won't let her hurt you again." She made a fist with her left hand and showed off the claws.

"Those didn't work before."

"{Is she all right?}" Diana had pulled the satchel off her head and sat on the floor, but made no move closer to him and Selina. She still blocked the doorway.

"{Now you care if you hurt her?}" His arms tightened around Selina. "{It did not matter just a few minutes ago.}"

"She's ready to use her words instead of her fists now?" Selina asked.

Diana spoke before he could respond to Selina. "{I did not know! I only wanted to stop you and the Amazon who should know--}" She shook her head. "{I am stupid. She is not an Amazon and she already owns you.}"

"{Slavery has been outlawed by the rest of the world.}"

Selina pushed herself more upright. "What stupid thing did she say now?"

"It's not her fault she doesn't know." He released Selina since she wasn't moving like she had cracked her skull. He focused on Diana who studied them. "{Her name is Selina.}"

"And I'm not a member of their be-more-anachronous-than-the-Amish group," Selina muttered.

"{She is the one you called partner, but you treat her like a súzygos.}" Diana shook her head again while he suspected he wouldn't like what súzygos meant. "{Regardless if partner has a different meaning now, you would never accept the outcome of the Games.}"

"{Do you think we will stay here long enough for you to hold them?}" Brave words considering Diana had picked him up with one hand. Only Bane had managed to do that before.

Diana rubbed her face and muttered something in Greek. Selina snorted. "What did you tell her?"

"That we aren't staying. You know Greek?"

"Only the cuss words. Are you trying to make her shoot lightning again?"

Bruce rubbed his temple. "Diana brought it up."

"It's usually a lot easier to escape when you don't tell the captors." Selina picked something off the floor. "Are we waiting for reinforcements?"

He should have thought of that. He ignored the pounding in his head and translated the question.

"{I did not raise the alarm. My people will believe me a monster, but to be seen as incompetent?}" Diana looked at her hands. "{I do not wish to fight you or your partner.}"

"{Then we will leave.}"

"{You cannot! No one leaves Themyscira. I must stop you from doing that.}"

Bruce gritted his teeth. "I haven't dealt with such circular arguments since cleaning up the mess Ra's al Ghul made and that involved Gotham's entire Department of Public Works." He tried to drill his fingertips into his temple. "She doesn't want to fight, but she can't let us go either."

"Can we argue with the lights on?" Selina handed him back the flashlight.

"We will." He turned it on and stood. Diana rose and blocked the doorway. He played the beam over the interior of the building. The olive oil smell emanated from a scone next to the doorway. "{Will they see the light from here?}"

"{No one stays awake this late.}" She stared at the flashlight. "{How does it not burn your hand?}"

He pulled out a flash-bang and set it off in the oil. The sparks lit the scone which was connected to a trough built into the wall. The flame traveled around the room until it reached the second scone on the opposite side of the doorway. He turned off the flashlight and tossed it to Diana.

Selina smirked as her gaze dropped to the utility belt. "What don't you have in there?"

"Food," he answered as he scanned the interior again. No other exits, the walls were covered in bas-relief sculptures of men in chitons painted in life-like colors, and the fountain on the back wall trickled clean water into a shallow basin shaped like a sea shell. He went straight to it, cupped the water from the spigot in his hand, and drank.

Selina picked up the satchel and glanced at Diana. She was too absorbed with the flashlight to notice Selina's annoyed anger, but he saw it and Selina's guilty anxiety aimed at him as she knelt next to the clothes pile. She wiped the expression off when she saw him watching and began repacking the bag. "They didn't feed you?"

"No." He rubbed his head, knowing it didn't help. "I don't know how long they had me before I woke up, but they didn't feed me after."

"Granola bar or trail mix? I should've brought more stuff, but I wanted to travel light. Wrong call to make." Her lips twisted with distaste.

"Granola." She handed him a mashed wrapped bar. He watched her while he chewed to see if she would settle down or spit out what was upsetting her.

"Your head hurts?" Her neutral expression focused on him. "You keep rubbing it."

"They gave me a concoction that blocked the headache, but it's worn off. Did you pocket any painkillers?"

She shook her head. "Do you remember what happened before the crash?"

"You were emphatically turning down my sensible suggestion of an implanted tracking device. Changed your mind yet?"

"I found you fine without one." She snapped before the flash of guilt that she tried to hide by looking at the wall.

He closed the distance between them. Her eyes tracked the rope tied around his wrist. "And prepared to rescue me again."

"Some rescue." Her brown eyes glared at Diana. "Trapped in here by your rapist because I was too damn cautious, and you're the only one who can talk to her--"

"That didn't happen." He tilted up her chin. "Their law says I should be a prize in a competition, but the Queen ordered Diana--"

"We covered that."

"Diana was still asking for consent when I escaped." His hand slid up her cheek to her brown hair. "And you're the main reason I escaped."

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. "So you're fine?"

"I'm glad you think so." He grinned. "And you look beautiful in that shade of blue."

"Thought you'd like it." She grinned back.

"{It does not matter what you call it, she owns you with love.}"

Diana's words reminded them that they weren't alone unlike the recent weeks. Selina dropped her arms, and he turned and glared at the Amazon Princess. Diana only nodded and looked back at the flashlight in her hands.

Selina turned back to the artwork on the walls. "They really gypped the male half of the pantheon. The goddess got a better temple in town."

"Everywhere I've been has decorated walls. Why do you think this is a temple?"

Selina rolled her eyes. "The money spent on your education was wasted. All Greek art represents the pantheon with the same iconography. There's Apollo with his lyre. Zeus is there with his lightning bolt and eagle." She pointed to the man in the center of the back wall who held a jagged bolt of white over his head and a bird perched on his shoulder. "Piping in the water fountain under Poseidon was a nice touch." She turned back to Bruce. "And I didn't even go to Princeton; what's your excuse?"

He shrugged. "Why waste time learning about dead gods?"

"Who says we're dead?" A male voice asked from the door. They whirled around and Diana stepped out of his way. The young man wore a white chiton, held a caduceus, and the sandals on his feet had decorative wings furled out from the soles. Selina clutched Bruce's arm when he nodded at them. He stepped inside and turned to Diana with a broad smile. "Greetings, Sister."

"Sister!" Diana cried. "The Queen has no other children!"

Selina's grip on Bruce's arm tightened. "I understood that. She switched to English."

"It is hard to deliver messages if the mortals cannot communicate," Diana's self-appointed brother answered. "I found it is easier to insure the mortals all understand each other before starting. It will wear off in a few days."

"Handy trick," she said. "You always were my favorite Greek god, Hermes."

"And that has nothing to do with your light fingered ways?" Hermes smirked with a wink and Selina laughed.

Bruce scowled. "You really think you are the Greek god Hermes?"

"You are a cautious mortal." Hermes moved closer and Bruce stiffened. "Are you not, Bruce Wayne?" His hand brushed against Bruce's head, but Bruce refused to flinch.

"He is also a trickster," Diana said, "fond of raising ire in mortals and immortals alike. However, you are the only man on Themyscira without an owner's mark, so this is no imposter."

"And no more Latin," Selina added. "Owner's mark?"

"Why are you addressing me as sister, Hermes?"

Hermes frowned. "This was not the welcome I expected. We share the same father, Diana."

Diana caught herself against the doorway. "Zeus seduced my mother?"

"He has that reputation," Selina muttered.

Diana's hands curled into fists as she stepped towards Hermes. "My mother went to Man's World and left my father there. Why have you come to Themyscira with tricks?"

Hermes pointed his staff at the empty floor. A laden table appeared. "No tricks. Father commanded that I meet you here and give you the gifts from the gods when you came."

Selina released Bruce's arm to move closer. He grabbed her shoulder. She glanced back at him, but her annoyance faded when she saw his face. He glanced at the doorway. There was no way to escape without Diana noticing. And his observations wouldn't improve the Princess' mood. "The Queen lied about your conception."

Diana whirled to face Bruce. Selina stepped in front of him and held up the hand claws. "Use your words not your fists."

"You do not know anything about my mother!" She did keep her distance.

"But you do, and she already asked you to go against your laws tonight."

Diana turned to Hermes. A quivering lip broke her stoicism. "Zeus tricked my mother?"

Hermes shook his head. "Hippolyta was supposed to tell you everything. That you are a daughter of Zeus with a destiny important to the entire world." He gestured at the table. "Receive the gifts from the rest of your family."

"My destiny?" Diana repeated. "Gifts?"

"For Athena's champion." Hermes moved to the table he had conjured. "The Amazons always were her favorites. She sent you these bracers." He picked up a pair of seamless silver cuffs that would cover half her forearm. "Formed from the remnants of Aegis, they will also protect you from blasting someone else with lightning. That you inherited from Father."

Diana's olive complexion paled. "I killed Sotiria? Like I almost hit Selina with lightning?"

"To be fair, she tried to stab you; not that it would have killed you," Hermes answered. "Back to the gifts, Pallas Athena also blessed her sister with great intelligence, military prowess, and the gift of languages. You may not know why it was said, but you will learn how to say it like that." He snapped his fingers and picked up a coil of gold rope that glowed slightly. "The Lariat of Hestia forged by Hephaestus from the golden girdle of Gaia. With the Lariat, you can command Hestia's gift over the Fires of Truth. Coil this rope around someone and they cannot lie to you nor fight your commands."

Diana planted her hands on her hips. "And I suppose the armor is from Ares?"

"No." Hermes sighed. "Everything the Amazons taught you about men; that is Ares. Do not look for any aid from that god, Sister. The armor is from Father, including the sword and shield."

The armor looked like leather, but Bruce didn't trust that conclusion unless he had the garment under an electron microscope. The red cuirass had a stylized gold eagle spreading its wings across the breast cups. The bottom half started with a blue kidney belt decorated with silver stars. Embossed blue leather strips hung from the kidney belt to cover the thighs. The broadsword with an ancient Greek hilt was sheathed in a gold scabbard on a gold belt, which had a rope holding loop on the opposite hip. The red shield was triangle shaped and bordered in blue with a flying eagle stretched across it.

"These are the nicest material gifts any of his offspring have ever gotten, Diana." Hermes stepped away from the table. "Now we must cover the blessings."

Selina poked Bruce and nodded at Diana, who looked more stunned that Hermes hadn't stopped yet. "Were you this shocked when you found out how much was in your trust fund?"

"Alfred never hid how much was in my trust fund."

Hermes ignored them while he rattled off the list. "Father is the source of your super-speed, stamina, and agility. Upon your birth, others from your Olympus family gifted you with more. Demeter blessed you with strength drawn from Gaia's bones. Aphrodite blessed you with great beauty and a loving heart. Artemis graced you with Eyes of the Hunter and Unity with Beasts. Me, well, I waited until now."

He set his hands on Diana's shoulders and kissed her forehead. The pair of them glowed. "Now you can soar, Diana."

It was an impressive list and one that Bruce had a hard time disbelieving. He had a sadistic vision of Diana shoving a League of Shadow ninja soldier through one of their temple walls. Now that was just wishful thinking.

She backed away. "No, it is too much. This is not my destiny! I am a princess; I shall rule Themyscira after my mother. I cannot be Athena's champion."

Hermes looked like Diana sucker punched him, and her glare dared him to argue. Bruce glanced at Selina who stared at the gifts.

"Sister, this is not a choice." Hermes shook his head. "There is no choice."

"Free will is just another crazy idea we mortals had?" Bruce demanded.

"There is no free will in matters of the Moerae, Batman." Hermes ran a hand through his curly dark hair.

"You cannot make me. The Amazons need me!"

"Hold up." Selina moved between Diana and Hermes. "Percy Jackson is fictional, right? There's not a camp full of demigods out there because you gods can't practice birth control?"

"It is fictional. We gods got over our sowing wild oats period."

Selina nodded. "And the demigods were the first heroes, the ones to slay the monsters when mortals couldn't, right?"

"Often, I am not surprised those stories are remembered."

"Okay, moving onto current events. Gotham City could be an outlier, but a yellow alien tried to eat Coast City before some guy wearing green saved it. And now nearly all the Greek gods are giving gifts to the first demigod," she pointed to Diana, "in centuries because the Moerae told you to. How close are we to Armageddon?"

Hermes looked at Bruce. "You should take care, joining yourself to such a clever woman."

"Is she right?" Bruce crossed his arms.

"The end of the world? Not exactly." Hermes rubbed the back of his neck. "The Moerae don't take an active interest in how life unfolds, so when they called for a council and dictated how we were not to screw this up, everyone went a tad overboard."

"A prophecy?" Bruce asked.

"More like a portent. Heroes must rally behind the saved son of a dead world, the mantle of the bat, and the daughter of Zeus for the good of the entire world. So Zeus must grant Hippolyta's request and the rest of us should not interfere. So we agreed and even told Hippolyta the truth about you."

"Hera agreed to this?" Diana frowned.

Hermes nodded. "As long as Father had no contact with you."

Selina leaned closer to Diana. "My advice is to take the stuff. You'll probably need it." She turned to Hermes. "So no prophecies about the woman who moves like a cat?"

"Check with your favorite goddess," Hermes answered. "Now, I must go. Good luck, Sister." He bowed to Diana before waving his staff at the table. "And a gift for such a clever thief." He vanished as he stepped out the doorway.

The table expanded and an array of dishes covered the new half. "Thank you," Selina called out as she took an apple. She pointed it at Bruce. "See if eating helps your headache."

"The headache's gone." The pounding had stopped when Hermes touched him. He picked up a piece of the carved lamb.

Diana ran her fingers over the shield's eagle. "Hermes called you Batman."

"That doesn't mean their portent was talking about me."

Selina swallowed. "You think they were talking about Blake?"

"I gave him the mantle of the bat."

"No," she replied with an I'm-so-patient-with-idiots tone. "You gave him Gotham City. And if comes down to who people will follow you or Birdboy, you win." She held a plate of stuffed grape leaves to Diana. "Hungry?"

Diana shook her head. "I have no appetite." Selina set the plate down. "I do not understand. Why did Hermes call you Batman?"

He picked up another piece of lamb. "It's a long story, but Batman is the name I assumed to fight crime in Gotham City."

"We have no crime on Themyscira."

"Rape and slavery aren't crimes?" Selina asked with an edge to her voice.

"He is the first man I have met who turned down sex!" Diana pointed to him.

"If the rest of them are slaves, how can they turn down a proposition?"

"We take care of them, give them peace."

Selina growled. "And the worst pimp I ever met was a woman. She'd be right at home here."

"Are you trying to make her shoot lightning again?" he asked Selina. She glared, took a savage bite out of her apple, and stomped to her bag. "We weren't supposed to come here," he explained to Diana. "We crashed on our way to another destination."

"I do not believe that," Diana answered. She stepped close enough to return the flashlight. "The Moerae say we are to be allies; I doubt you could have bypassed Themyscira, no matter how hard you tried."

"You do know how to show a girl all the sights." Selina pulled on a long-sleeved cotton shirt over the chiton. "Florence is winning over this land that time forgot, and I'm betting this will be better than Uzbekistan." She lodged the apple in her mouth, held his wrist, and picked at the knot in the rope.

Diana watched them. "I apologize to you, Selina, for my actions and my mother's."

Bruce managed to keep his lips from smiling but they did twitch as he plucked the apple out of Selina's mouth. "You can't apologize for someone else, and what exactly are you apologizing for?" she asked.

"The lightning was an accident. Also, I knew what my mother, my Queen, asked of me was wrong. It broke our laws, and now I find out it is not all she has broken." Diana waved her hand at the table of gifts. "I did not want to disobey my mother and I did not want to rape." Her cheeks reddened as her chin rose. "But I would have won the Games to have him."

Selina raised an eyebrow. "And if I didn't win, you still wouldn't have him because I would have stolen him back." The knot loosened and she grasped his other wrist. "That's not much of an apology considering it won't happen."

"True, but it is still inappropriate. Even Amazons know better than to meddle with what Aphrodite has united. I will not."

"You've never seen love between a man and woman before?"

Diana's hand pulled on a lock of her black hair. "You both act like paired Amazons. No, I have never witnessed that from a man on Themyscira."

Selina shook her head. "I used to be a better poker player. Apology accepted for your inappropriate thoughts. You aren't the first and you won't be the last to have them about him."

"I'm standing right here," Bruce said.

"And how many years did you win Gotham's most eligible bachelor list?" She finished untying the rope and took back her apple.

Bruce knew better than to answer. Besides, it wasn't his fault he had been put on the list right after his birth announcement had been published. He turned to Diana. "What happens now? Do you turn us in to your mother?"

She looked bleak and her shoulders slumped. "The law is clear that I should."

"Damn it," Selina muttered as she stopped tidying the remnants of their meal. "We can't stay here; I finally own real estate and I want to enjoy it with him."

She picked up the coil of rope that glittered in the light. "She lied to me, insisted on copulating with you, for what purpose?" She dropped the rope on the table. "Hippolyta has always been a fair ruler and loving to me. I do not understand."

"And if we told her Selina and I just want to leave?" Diana snorted with derision. "Do you have another suggestion?" he asked.

"Kick her ass." Selina picked up the bullwhip. "She's not my queen and I'm still miffed about the setting you up for rape. Apparently more miffed than you."

"She is still my mother," Diana said.

"So we're left with escaping," Bruce replied. "We should go now."

Diana shook her head. "The waters are dangerous at night. You will crash again. Wait for sunrise."

"And you won't turn us in while we're sleeping?" Selina asked.

"Of course not!"

Selina shrugged at Diana's indignation before wiping her hands off on the chiton and unlatching the Tekko-Kagi from around her left forearm. She shifted the satchel on the floor and then lay down using it as a pillow. "Good night then."

Diana stared at Selina in bewilderment. Maybe she was insane. Bruce looked down at her too, but his expression had a fond exasperation. "She's right; we should rest while we can." He knelt down beside Selina. Diana sat down against the opposite wall and watched the pair.

He pulled Selina off her makeshift pillow and put his own head there, but then shifted her to lie on him and wrapped his arms around her. "You're already shivering."

"I'll pack a sleeping bag the next time I rescue you." She settled her hands on his shoulders and her cheek against his chest.

"We need to get our stuff." He dropped his voice to a whisper, intending for only Selina to hear.

Selina matched his whisper. "Stop planning. Getting knocked unconscious does not count as sleep. If you want pillow talk, how come you know Latin when European languages people actually speak were too much trouble?"

He stiffened at the question. "My father knew Latin."

Selina kissed his chest. "The money I put on the house in Florence that you were nice enough to not ask where it came from? It was my profit from your Lamborghini."

"You got fair market value for it then."

"Better because of the miles you didn't put on it. Poor thing deserved a better owner."

"That doesn't just apply to the things I used to have. People I knew deserved better too."

Selina's hand rubbed his chest. "You're protecting them. They'll understand."

"I couldn't lose Gordon." Bruce's voice filled with rage fueled by pain. "If I had thought of the implants sooner, we wouldn't have wasted so much time, wouldn't have lost Rachel and Harvey. After the Joker's capture, Gordon stood between Gotham and the remnants of the mob. I had to make him safe."

His anguish brought tears to Diana's eyes. This was too private a moment for her to witness. But moving now would illuminate that she was a witness.

Selina slid her body up his until they were nose-to-nose. "I think you've overlooked something. Would Rachel have let you implant a tracking device in her?"

"Are you kidding?" The anguish vanished. "She didn't even let me tag her car. Told me since she didn't know if I was alive or dead for seven years, I had no right to know her location. She would have slapped me if I had suggested it." He snorted. "Fox said no, Alfred said no, you said no; I'm not asking anymore."

Selina's mouth pressed down on his, which stopped him from talking, and for so long Diana worried that she cut off his air. "I'm not your damsel in distress," she said when she pulled back. "Now go to sleep." She tucked her head against his neck.

He remained silent and their breathing softened. Diana wondered how it was possible for them to sleep after that. She put the things they had talked about out of her mind--easily since she did not know what they were--and concentrated on their emotions. Passion and devotion, though they attempted to keep it hidden, burned between them. The only revelation that felt stable under her feet tonight was her decision not to insert herself between them.

But her Amazon sisters would demand Bruce be the prize for the Games, and kill Selina to stop her protest. What would Bruce do if that happened? Fear crawled up her back like a spider. No matter what, she was the Princess of Themyscira and responsible for the safety of her people. Helping them off the island so they could resume their quest kept everyone safe.

What did that leave for her? She turned her head and gazed at Zeus with his lightning bolt, the father she did not have. It was not the Amazon way to glorify the male contribution to the child, but it was not dismissed. The men had freedom to nurture their children. Something Diana had witnessed and thrust down the envy lest it consumed her.

Her gaze fell on the gifts. A lifetime of neglect bought with gold tools to fight as Athena's champion. And the reason Athena needed a champion presented on the same night. Too heavy a burden for too cheap a price, she thought regretfully.

Diana climbed to her feet. The pair of mortals--and her heart rebelled at the difference between her and the rest of the world--continued to sleep. She left the temple. The building abutted a steep hill, and she climbed it. Her head broke free of the trees at its summit, though it did not have the height to show her the entire island. The stars on the velvet black of the sky shone down on her. The glow on her skin matched.

The Moerae ensured that she was born. Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos forced this fate on her and she did not want it! She screamed wordlessly in fury and frustration at the sky. The glow on her skin exploded from her, streaking jaggedly into the cloudless sky. The rent air collided with a boom that flung her off the hill.

The ground stopped her falling body. She blinked up at the hole through the tree canopy before pulling herself out of the shallow crater she had made in front of the temple. Third time of feeling like an utter fool in one day: when she let Bruce escape, when she defended her mother, and now this.

The remains of her tattered and burnt chiton fell off her body. Diana swore with words her mother and tutors had insisted were not proper for a princess. She had to wear the armor now. She pulled a twig out of her hair. These gifts were an element of her flesh and blood, and she could not part them from herself.

Perhaps Selina's advice on the gifts was the only practical solution. If her anger called forth lightning from a clear sky, who knew what else she could do? What trouble could find her because she was a demigoddess? She pulled another scalp-scratching twig out of her hair.

So that was the answer. If Man's World needed Athena's champion, Bruce would know where to find her. She peeked into the temple. Bruce and Selina's breathing had quickened, but they turned away from the doorway, giving her much-appreciated privacy.

Selina blinked as she woke. Sleeping on Bruce was more comfortable when they were naked on a mattress. His belt had left an indent against her hip on top of the bruises from the Cessna's seatbelt. She eased off him, rubbed her face, and glared at the doorway that showed a pink glowing world.

She left him lying on the floor and went to Poseidon's fountain. She stripped off her shirt and dried her face with it before looking around the temple. She found Diana sitting on the floor and twisted to reach the last buckle for the red and blue armor she had put on. "Need help?"

"Yes, please." Diana slumped out of the contortion.

Selina smirked as she tugged the leather tight. "I hope you're not putting this on to fight us."

Diana pulled her black hair out of the way. The silver bracers were already on her arms. "No fighting. It is best if you two just leave. I will help you do that."

"That won't get you in trouble with your mother?" Bruce sat up with a stretch.

"What can she do to me? I cannot die."

Selina checked the rest of the buckles. "You're good." She patted Diana's back before she stood and moved to Bruce. "In one piece?"

"So far." He accepted her hand to leverage himself up. He turned to Diana. "How do we get off the island?"

Diana buckled the golden sword belt around her waist. "All we have that can reach the mainland are boats. Can either of you sail?"

Bruce nodded. "It's been a few years, but I know how."

She attached the gold rope so it hung coiled on her right hip. "I can show you a cove to hide in while I find your belongings." She slung the shield over her back. "I am ready."

Selina picked up some fruit and Bruce opened the bag for her to put it in along with her shirt. "What do you think of Egypt?"

"Sandy and hot." He slung the bag over his shoulder and checked the grapple gun holstered on his belt. "And we're not sailing there."

"What about for a vacation after we're finished with the League of Shadows?" They followed Diana outside. The yard looked like a meteor had fallen in it and left red linen scraps in the crater. Diana walked past it without a glance. So they weren't going to talk about the thunder and tremors that woke her and Bruce up last night.

Bruce shook his head before tilting it at Diana. Selina nodded, agreeing not to tease the Amazon. "You want to meet Isis?" he asked.

"You know me better than that."

They pushed their way onto the road again and fell silent. The crisp air goose-pimpled Selina's skin, wet from the dew. They continued to follow the road up a slight hill. Once they crested the top of it, they saw the road ended at a natural cove. A stone wall extended from the rocky coast to close it from the sea, leaving a wide gate. Two long stone buildings sat on the sandy beach and a wooden pier extended into the bright blue water next to them.

The sailboat tied to the pier reminded her of the Argo from the old Jason and the Argonauts movie, only smaller and without the oars. How could something that small leave sight of land? And what story could cover their arrival in a modern port in that? Selina shook her head as they headed down the hill. At least the harbor was deserted. Maybe it was too early for Amazons too.

The underbrush exploded when they reached the halfway point. Selina kicked and rammed her foot into a bronze breastplate. The soldier Amazon fell back. She didn't have time to count their opponents as the next one rushed at her. Selina's boot hit the soldier's helmet but the kick threw the soldier to the ground.

Diana yelled for them to stop, but it was countered by a command of "get the man!" and unsheathed swords.

Bruce ducked the first sword swung at him before grabbing the Amazon's arm. He tossed her onto her back and kicked the sword out of reach.

Selina ducked the punch aimed at her head and swept the woman off her feet. Her eyes locked with Diana's conflicted blue ones. "Get him out of here!"

Diana nodded, pushed an Amazon out of her way, hugged Bruce from behind, and then went up. The Amazon guards fell back in fear. Selina bolted into the trees. So Hermes hadn't spoken metaphorically about his gift. She grinned as she shoved her way past the branches.

Selina was born and raised and trained on the streets of Gotham City. Had she met this squad of Amazons there or any other city, they never would have found her, much less tackled her into the dirt. Before she spat the leaves out of her mouth, a sandaled foot kicked her stomach.

Hands seized her arms and pulled her up against a knee centered on her back. She recognized the woman sneering in her face as the leader of the group who took Bruce. "How dare you help the outsiders escape!"

Selina laughed in her righteously angry face. It reminded her a little of Bruce and how furious her capture would make him. Her sacrificial lamb gambit hit the field early and with the wrong opponents, but she was adaptable. "You bitches just unleashed a world of hurt on yourselves." Her head rocked back from the backhand blow.

"Take her to the Queen!"

Diana wanted to gape as she flew over the trees. But the man she carried thrashed and pounded on her arms. "Bruce, stop! We will fall!"

"Go back!" He snarled in a raspy voice that somehow fit better with his scarred body and the martial stance he tried to conceal. He rocked his body and grabbed at her head with his legs.

She reared back, but didn't release him. They fell and she curled herself around him as her back broke tree limbs again. He threw his weight to the side, she matched it, and they hit the ground in a roll. Her arms sprang open. He marched toward the harbor before she sat up. "Selina might find that endearing, but I do not."

His hazel eyes shone with fury. "She won't find anything endearing if they kill her."

"They will take her to my mother." Diana climbed to her feet. "She can blame me, Mother will--"

"Did you even listen to her last night? She wants to confront Hippolyta. What will they do if their queen is attacked?"

She felt the blood drain from her face. "She would not--"

"Selina has spent most of her life doing what she shouldn't. And God help you if you hurt someone under her protection."

"But you were not hurt!"

"But Hippolyta tried." His fist hit his thigh. "That's all the justification Selina needs."

Diana took a deep breath. "We can reach my mother's house before the squad as long as you stop attacking me."

"Fine," he rasped. He remained true to his word as she carried them over the trees.

The aroma of baking bread filled the air above the square of the waking town. Knots of dread solidified in Diana's stomach and left no room for bread as she set Bruce on his feet inside her house's empty courtyard.

He headed straight to a stack of strange boxes and bags piled under the porch next to the storage room. She had never seen the like, but he pulled one box free by its handle and opened it. "Your belongings?" she whispered. He nodded and pulled out a pair of black bracers with gloves attached.

Before he could pull out anything else, they heard a commotion in the square. She lifted the bags and Bruce shoved his box back in place. The commotion moved closer. She grabbed Bruce and lifted them up as the servants spilled out of the kitchen to meet the guards. They flattened themselves against the roof tiles and looked down.

Captain Aikaterine shoved Selina down on her knees. Next to Diana, Bruce tensed. He pulled on the gloves without moving the majority of his body. The bracers had three black blades of graduated sizes along his forearms. More doors opened beneath them. "Captain, report!" Hippolyta ordered.

"She helped the outsiders escape, my Queen. And she answers all questions with nonsense."

"How did the outsiders escape?" Hippolyta moved down the stairs from the second floor.

Aikaterine shifted her feet. "They flew away." Hippolyta stopped on the stairs. "I know what it sounds like, my Queen. But the armored warrior grabbed the male prisoner and they rose into the air without wings!"

"I see." Hippolyta resumed walking down the stairs. "And what is your story, prisoner?"

"I don't recognize your authority, and I have one hell of a report for Amnesty International," Selina answered. Bruce's exhale strangled in his throat.

Hippolyta strode across the paving stones until she stood in front of Selina. "I am your Queen, Amazon. What is your name?"

Selina tilted her head up. "My name is Selina Kyle and my current address is Florence, Italy."

"You speak our language perfectly." Hippolyta rested her hands on her hips.

You heard the grin in Selina's voice. "Magic!"

"And is your magic responsible for the disappearance of my daughter?"

"I never said it was my magic." Selina shrugged best she could with her hands restrained behind her back.

Hippolyta struck Selina across the face. Bruce jerked as the smaller woman hit the paving stones. "Where is my daughter?" she demanded.

"Don't like the sandal on that foot, do you?" The guards righted Selina and held onto her. "How many families screamed for their sons when you took them?"

"You have no right to question me, prisoner. My foremothers ruled Themyscira before Italy was civilized." Hippolyta's glared down at Selina. "If you expect a ransom--" Selina interrupted with a chuckle. "Where is my daughter?" Hippolyta hit Selina until only the guards kept her upright.

"Your backhand is soft. That's why you shouldn't delegate your dirty work."

"Tell me what you have done to my daughter!" Hippolyta grabbed Selina by the jaw and pulled her up.

Diana grabbed Bruce's arm to prevent him from moving. He forced his breath through his teeth. His gaze never left the scene below.

Selina coughed when Hippolyta dropped her in Aikaterine's arms. "I have no idea where your daughter is, bitch. Maybe she ran away to live with her father."

The worry on Hippolyta's pinched face slipped into pure fear as if Pan had blown his conch directly into her ear. "What do you know about Diana's father?" Selina did not speak. Hippolyta seized a sword from the closest guard. "No calculated nonsense now?"

"Didn't realize there was a custody dispute," Selina said.

Hippolyta moved faster than Diana had ever witnessed. The sword's edge slid across Selina's arm and left a red ribbon along her skin. Selina hissed like an outraged cat. "You bleed, mortal." Hippolyta set the sword against Selina's neck. Bruce's body beside Diana's nearly hummed with coiled tension. "Where is my daughter?"

Selina did not flinch. "I don't know."

The Queen of the Amazons stared into Selina's brown eyes. She handed the sword back to its guard. "Kill her and go find the outsiders and my daughter."

Aikaterine pushed Selina to the middle of the guards and drew her sword. Selina stood tall.

Bruce shook off Diana's hand as he pushed up. The device he pulled from his belt fired a rope like an arrow but with a noisy blast of air. He swung off the roof on the nearly-invisible rope. Aikaterine flung herself to the ground, the other guards jumped aside, and Selina grinned as she watched him. He seized her with one arm before his feet smashed through the house's wooden gate.

"Kill them both!" Hippolyta screamed and the guards scrambled after them. Diana crawled over the roof tiles to the edge that faced the square.

"Took you long enough," Selina said.

He cut the rope between her hands with the blades on his bracers. "You didn't have it under control?" he rasped. They grasped hands and spun each other around. They each kicked back the guards that had moved behind the other's back.

More guards poured out of the barracks with their spears. Her mother followed Aikaterine out of the splintered gate. "Kill them both! Now!"

The swords and spears swept Bruce and Selina across the square. Other guards made a corridor and protected the gawking civilians. Bruce caught one sword between the blades on his bracers and broke it when he pulled his arms apart. Selina unfurled the bullwhip and wrapped it around another guard's knees. The guards that moved in closer lost their swords or their spears and flew back before landing on the ground.

Selina's back pressed against a wall. Bruce stepped in front of her, shielding her. Not that he could stop the spears leveled at them. Diana stood on the roof. This was not how their journey was supposed to end, not with their love, not if Bruce was the mantle of the bat. She pulled the shield onto her left arm and leaped.

"For the last time, kill them!" Hippolyta screamed.

The guard in front of Bruce coiled her arm back. The spear hit Diana's shield as she landed between them and the wooden shaft cracked.

Diana lowered the shield enough so they saw her face. "You shall not kill them."

"Princess?" Some of the guards stepped back. Others raised their spears. "Princess Diana." They parted for Hippolyta.

Her mother's lips pressed together as her eyes roamed over Diana's armor. "You do not know what you are doing, Diana. That man behind you attacked your sisters like a rabid dog. Step aside so we may do what must be done."

"And let you destroy the proof that Man's World can be saved? I cannot, Mother. Our foremothers founded Themyscira because they gave up hope that Man's World would know love and peace." Diana felt Bruce tense behind her. "The one you call a rabid dog fought for love. Not unlike we Amazons do."

The crowd around them murmured, but Hippolyta smiled condescendingly. "He fought to protect his property. He lied to you if he told you differently."

"Somebody get another set of those hand claws and let me at her," Selina muttered.

"He could no more lie about his love than he could lie about being a warrior." Diana glanced at her sister Amazons' skeptical faces. Her words alone were not convincing them. "With the Lariat of Hestia and the Fires of Truth, he cannot lie to anyone." She held up the gold rope and looped it around Bruce with a flick of her wrist. She shifted her stance to watch him and her mother. The rope glowed as she tightened the noose around his arms and chest.

His stoic expression cracked and he bowed his head. Pain and anger vibrated down the rope between them, but no deception. "Bruce, what do you feel for Selina?"

His face twisted between a smile and a grimace. "I love her and it doesn't hurt." His voice dropped the growl, but the pain was still there.

Diana winced as his lips pressed tightly together. She closed her eyes and saw the same expression as he stood on a field of blackness. They will not understand that, Bruce. I am sorry, but I must ask for more.

The inner Bruce appeared unappeased. I am not Amazonian entertainment.

You are a man who follows the Amazon way without ever learning it. My sisters must hear that from your lips. She asked aloud. "Why do you love her?"

"She walks the night with me and it doesn't frighten her." Diana saw a flash of a grieving man with white hair of age but beardless. Another flash of a different brown-haired woman with bright blue eyes filled with anger and fear as Bruce rendered a blond man between them unconscious. "It doesn't break her," Bruce added. The blond man laid at Bruce's feet but half his face was a layer of bloody muscle and ash.

She inhaled as Bruce's memories faded. She opened her eyes. Sadness kept his head down. She closed her eyes and recoiled from the snarling inner Bruce. Can't handle the pain, Princess? Selina is tougher than you are for all your super powers.

She didn't respond to him mentally. "Why Selina above all other women?"

"Underneath, she is more, just like me." Selina, bundled against the snow, twisted the arm of a man about to beat a child. She caught a red apple flying through the air before a second man lunged at her with a knife. She redirected the knife into the attacker's backside. "How could I not love her when she loves me?"

The flash of Selina in black garb astride a wheeled mechanical steed sending fire at a mouth-less Titan almost shocked the next question from Diana. "Why did you attack the Amazons?"

Now the growl returned. "I will not lose anyone else I love!" Diana saw two crumpled bodies on a street and a small boy sobbing as he knelt between them. Another figure blocked this image: black as night, pointed ears extending from the smooth head, giant bat wings outstretched, but Bruce's eyes shone out of that blackness.

A hand squeezed Diana's arm and shook it. Diana blinked down at Selina's angry eyes. "Let him go. You've heard enough."

Diana looked at her Amazon sisters. Most stared at Bruce. She loosened the noose and lifted the lariat off him. He shook his head before realizing Selina stood in front of him. He pulled her closer to him and behind Diana, and then he scanned the guards for signs of attack. Selina let him protect her and concern replaced her anger. One of the older guards recognized his behavior and snorted. Diana turned to her mother.

Hippolyta straightened her spine. "Men do not fight on Themyscira. You would dismiss this law? You cannot battle all your sisters, Diana."

"You sentenced his wife to death. Every Amazon fights to protect love. You would demand his death for following our ideals?" She shifted to shield Bruce and Selina. "I do not want to battle my sisters, but we both know I will beat them all, Mother."

Hippolyta gave her another searching look. "Did these outsiders bring you that armor?"

"No, it was my brother."

Her mother winced before her training composed her face. "Very well. You have argued your case and won. The outsiders will not be put to death, but they shall leave Themyscira tomorrow morning."

"Gladly," Bruce and Selina said in unison. The guards sheathed their swords and raised their spears. Diana lowered her shield.

"Now, the matter of your disobeying a direct order from your Queen." Diana knelt. Hippolyta continued. "Perhaps Man's World has progressed in the centuries we have lived apart. We shall send you as an emissary, Diana, to teach them the Amazon way. You may return to Themyscira once Man's World has peace. Do you accept this charge from your Queen, Princess Diana?"

"I accept the charge, my Queen."

"You shall leave tomorrow morning as well." Hippolyta sighed. "What else the Moerae have in store for the daughter of your father, I have no knowledge of."

"I understand, my Queen." Diana stood, even though it did not answer why Hippolyta had lied.

"Come, the outsiders shall have Amazon hospitality." Hippolyta led the way across the square. Diana nodded to Bruce and Selina and they followed her.

They gave Selina and Bruce a long room next to Diana's. She set her duffle bag down while he bolted the door. The wide bed looked comfortable, and a table with a pair of benches finished off the furniture. She pulled off her hiking boots. No balconies, just a couple of windows set high in the outer wall.

She heard the gauntlets hit the duffle bag Bruce had dropped by the door. Before she turned, his bare arms wrapped around her and tipped her back. His mouth slammed down on hers.

He trembled around her. She twisted to push her breasts against his chest. His hands shifted to her hips before he nudged them further into the room.

She curled her arms around his shoulders, holding on as he set her on the table. He stepped between her thighs and let her pull back for air. His strong hands cradled her face. But his body continued to tremble and she saw in his hazel eyes that it wasn't because of crashing adrenaline. It hurt worse than all the blows she had taken to see him in pain. No matter how necessary it was.

His fingers skimmed over the sore spot on her cheekbone. "Selina," he whispered.

Luckily, she knew how to be the distraction he needed. She ran her bare foot up his jean-clad thigh. "How badly do you want me out of this toga?"

"It's a chiton; Romans wore togas."

"That didn't answer my question. How badly do you want me out of this chiton?"

The haunted look eased as his hands dropped to her thighs and pushed up the blue linen. "I wanted you out of it the second I saw you in it."

She ran her hands down his scarred arms. She untied the bullwhip and the belt around her waist and let them fall onto the table. "Looks like we're finally alone."

His grip tightened and he pulled her across the table until their groins were only separated by clothing. The Batbelt scratched her leg. She spread her knees wider to see the damage while Bruce removed it and dropped it on top of the whip. "Sorry." His hand brushed over the red mark on her inner thigh.

"Not as sorry as you'll be if you stop now." He looked at her face and she kissed him quickly on the lips. She unfastened the pin on her right shoulder.

His hand caressed her inner thigh. "You missed our alone time too?"

She hummed as she ran her hands across his pecs and down his abs. "You shirtless is a look I could get used to."

"Don't think I like it." He tilted her head back with his hand not drawing circles on her thigh. "Scars take too much explaining." He said before kissing down her neck. Shivers rippled out from where his stubble scratched her skin.

"Not shirtless in public again, no. People don't keep their hands to themselves."

Bruce chuckled and scraped his teeth against her shoulder. "And you are the worse offender."

"But you like my hands on you." She stroked those hands up his neck and into his hair. It was getting long enough to cut the black dye out. If he could laugh, maybe tonight wouldn't be a fight with nightmares.

"That is true," he admitted. His finger traced the lace of her panties. "And public indecency as the first charge on our shiny new records is sad."

She laughed despite the heat coiling in her belly. "You know mine; should I ask about yours?"

"Let's just say I wasn't kicked out of Princeton because of my grades." Her laughter turned into a moan when his fingers went under her panties. He kissed her, tongue and fingers mimicking each other. The hand on her head trailed down her body, brushed over the fabric-covered nipple, and joined his other hand at her hips. The elastic in his grip snapped apart.

She tugged his hair as she pulled back. "I have a limited number of those."

"I'll buy you more." His fingers teased her and she threw back her head. She undid the second shoulder pin even though his lips latched onto her exposed neck. She rested her weight on her hands.

She intended to hold out until he was inside her, but he knew her body too well. Fireworks exploded and left her gasping. He caught her when her arms gave out. She had enough energy to wrap them around his neck. "Pants off."

His eyes jerked up from her chest to her face. "Selina." His fingers hovered over her bruise from the Cessna's seatbelt. "I can't hurt--"

She held his head so he couldn't look away. "The airplane did that." She locked her legs around his hips. "Now pants off before I kick your ass." His tremors vibrated against her but he freed himself from his jeans without argument. He hissed as he slid into her and she pulled him closer. She trailed kisses up to his ear. "Let go, Bruce. I'm here." His arms wrapped tighter around her back.

Selina dug her nails into his shoulders and urged him to go harder and faster until she lost words and cried out. His mouth fell on hers and swallowed her cries. Then she swallowed his.

They leaned against each other to catch their breath. His hand brushed up her arm until it reached the cut from the sword and he flinched. The look from earlier was back in his eyes as he stepped back. "Have to rethink the League attack. Too dangerous for you." He inhaled deeply. "I have to change the plan."

"Whoa, Bruce, whoa." She sat up. He already had his jaw locked at its stubborn angle. "I'm exercising my veto powers."

"There aren't any veto powers in a relationship."

"You are not changing any plans already set in motion when you haven't had enough sleep or food in the past twenty-four hours. After some sleep, you'll see I'm right." She patted his cheek before she hopped off the table and stepped out of the chiton and tattered remains of her panties. "Now, I've got two things I want to talk to you about, but we can debate in bed."

She took two steps toward the bed before his hands on her shoulders jerked her around. "The League will want to kill you."

"I haven't forgotten the plan."

His grip tightened, but she didn't react to his fingers digging into the bruise. "I can't lose you."

"And you won't lose me to those fanatical terrorists because your plan is brilliant, especially the part where you're going to come back from the dead on their asses." She stroked his cheek. "Come to bed, talk a little, sleep, have some more sex. We've got the boat ride to talk about the League of Shadows." She knocked his arms apart and his hands off her shoulders. She crawled onto the mattress, pulled back the blankets, and waited.

Bruce seethed as he sat on the edge and took his boots off. The anger clung to him as he stripped off his jeans and flung himself onto the bed.

She ignored his glare, pulled the blankets over him, and nestled against his side. She tucked her head on his shoulder. "I changed my mind. You can implant the tracking device in me. But I do have a condition."

That startled the glare from him. "What's the condition?"

"That you get one too and show me how the equipment works."

He rolled and faced her. "I can agree to that. Will you tell me what changed your mind?"

"You need a reassurance I'm not going anywhere. I need it too."

"Most people get that from a pair of rings and a ceremony."

"I won't put you through that."

"You think I can't commit--" He rose up on his elbow.

She hugged him. "I know what you're capable of. But getting through wedding vows without a meltdown isn't on the list." His flinch wiped away his indignation. She pressed tighter against him. "I know how you feel, I've known since you gave me the pearls. I wouldn't put you through that."

He buried his face in her hair. "Alfred would be disappointed in me not making an honest woman out of you."

"How the hell can I steal anything when you can see exactly where I've been?"

He laughed, rolled onto his back, and pulled her on top. "Valid point. Are you really okay with not having a wedding?"

She kissed him slowly. "Making our own normal. I'm not a traditional girl."

He rubbed her back. "What was the second thing?"

"We should keep Diana."

"She's not a stray cat you can adopt."

She propped up to look down at his face. "I thought this hero business meant looking out for people, but call it what you want. Don't worry; you'll always be my favorite stray." She traced loops on his chest.

"You cannot consider me a stray."

"Alone, homeless, starving, and in need of medical attention; what part of stray doesn't fit?"

He shook his head. "I thought you didn't like her."

"What gave you that idea?"

"When you put her in a strangle hold and said 'touch him again and I'll claw your eyes out.' Somehow I didn't imagine you two bonding after that."

"I'm not holding a misunderstanding against her, especially after she got exiled for helping us." His hand caught hers on his chest. "Plus she's not ready for anything off this island."

"That's obvious." His hazel eyes studied her, but she wasn't sure what reaction he searched for.

"And she needs to test her demigod abilities, right? The League makes a great collection of practice dummies." He smiled, one that didn't reach his eyes. "You've already considered it."

Her aggrieved tone cracked his reserve and the skin around his eyes crinkled as his smile widened. "Back at the temple when Hermes rattled off everything she can do, I imagined her putting one through a wall." He caressed her face. "We can offer. She may not take it."

"And you won't persuade her to change her mind? I'll believe that when I see it."

He rolled them over. "Such faith in my powers of persuasion." His hands slid under her back as he kissed her.

"But you can't persuade her like you do me."

The noise from the outsiders' room startled Hippolyta and she stopped on the third floor porch to stare at the door. She could admit her error in judgment; not just any woman would do for this outsider man, even if the other woman was her daughter. The servants scattered with a gesture from her. The outsiders had earned privacy after what they had been through. She knocked on Diana's door and entered after permission was granted. Her daughter had changed out of the armor, bathed, and now ran a comb through her wet black hair. She still wore the silver bracers on her arms with a red chiton. A storm brewed in her blue eyes. "I know you are angry with me, but I must ask. Your brother is not disguised as the outsider, is he?" Hippolyta waved a hand at the armor sitting on the table.

"They are both mortals. Hermes did not come in disguise," Diana answered. "You promised to prepare me for this revelation. Instead, you lied to me. I stumbled onto the truth while chasing Bruce and Selina, and shocked Hermes when he learned that I knew nothing!"

Hippolyta sighed as she sat on the bench and set her cloth-wrapped package next to her. "It was so easy to promise that before I had you, held you in my arms, fed you at my breast. I do not know what awaits you." Tears gathered in her brown eyes. "Not all of Zeus' children survived their tribulations. And you did not ask for this destiny, so I never told you while I sought a way to relieve you of the burden."

"Mother, you sought to go against the Moerae." Diana's eyes widened. "How fortunate are we that you did not succeed?"

"I am losing you, Diana. Forgive me for not feeling blessed that you will ensure that the world continues on its path." Her eyes burned but she refused to let the tears fall. "I thought the male outsider--"

"Bruce," Diana corrected.

"Bruce was the answer I had been seeking. If you had a child--"

"The Moerae would pass my destiny to her?"

"Or a piece of you would stay here." Hippolyta swallowed against the pain in her throat. "I never intended to hurt you. I hope in time you will believe me."

Diana's stormy eyes brimmed with tears. "I believe you, Mother. But it was still wrong."

Hippolyta nodded. "Yes, and I hope in time you can forgive me."

Her daughter's arms enveloped her neck. The dam in her brown eyes broke as she returned the hug. "Of course I forgive you, Mother."

"Thank you, Diana." She released her. "Now I have an addition to your armory." She handed Diana the cloth-wrapped oval. With a puzzled frown, Diana unwound the white linen and revealed a gold tiara decorated with a ruby star in the center. Hippolyta stood and kissed her stunned daughter on her forehead, right where the star would sit. "In Man's World, you will be Athena's champion, but you are always Princess of Themyscira. Never forget that."

Not having to pretend to be archeologists testing a replica relieved Bruce. One of the stone boat sheds built in their harbor contained a Dana 24 pocket cruiser with a Bermuda rig. The Amazons who fished used a lateen sail and dry docked the modern boat rather than learn anything new. They stared from the beach as he moved the sailboat to the dock. He worked quicker without eager but useless help who wouldn't listen to his instructions, but at the same time, it irritated his lifelong hatred of being the center of attention. "All they need are cameras."

Selina heard his mutter as she dropped the duffle bag on the dock. "You know, they'll probably tell stories about you for generations--the one who got away."

He checked the knot on the cleat before standing. "Thanks, I hadn't thought about that."

"Before your ego inflates, I haven't decided if it's a good thing. Chaos in the system doesn't fix anything." Her somber brown eyes focused on something colder than this warm island. She answered any questions he had about the Occupation of Gotham, but she never volunteered any stories. He didn't know how to ask for what she went through, what made her downright gleeful to help him take down the League of Shadows.

"I don't think their Queen will let it get out of hand." He set the Batsuit suitcase in the boat before jumping in himself.

Selina stared at the boat. "Are you sure it's big enough to get us to the mainland?"

"It's a bluewater cruiser." He moved the suitcase inside the cabin doors, turned back, and caught the clothes duffle Selina threw at his head.

"The only boat travel I have done is the Gotham River ferry. Now's not the time to show off the advantages of your upbringing." She crossed her arms.

"It can cross the ocean, so we'll be fine." Stowing the bag in the cabin gave him a chance to hide his smile. She wasn't thinking about Gotham now. She tossed the next duffle at his chest.

He had finished stowing the luggage in the cabin lockers by the time Diana joined Selina. "We said our farewells in private, Selina."

Bruce followed Selina's gaze down the dock. Queen Hippolyta stood on the beach and the crowd had grown. "Did everyone come to watch you leave?"

"Nearly." Diana hefted her sack and stepped into the boat. "Despite the many years we have kept this ship, I have never seen inside it." She continued into the cabin.

He held his hand out to Selina. "Come on. Or did your mother have advice about strange men and boats?"

"Getting drunk prevents seasickness." The hand that clasped his was rigid, unlike when she never touched him to hop into the Bat.

He tugged and her eyes widened as her balance shifted. He caught her around the waist and she sank her nails into his biceps. "You're not afraid of water, are you? Cats and water is so cliché."

"Shipwrecks," Selina said. "Titanic made an impression."

"No icebergs in the Mediterranean." He set her on the cushioned bench behind him. "And we only have water on board."

"I'm getting blitzed when we land, dock, whatever. And you can't stop me."

"Okay. Can you let go before you draw blood?" She opened her fingers with a crooked smile. He released her waist and caught her face. "It'll be fine." He kissed her.

Diana climbed out of the cabin. "I shall cast off." She untied the ropes while he set the sails to fill with the wind. Her push off made Selina sink her claws into the cushion. Diana flew to the sailboat and sat at the rudder. "Are you well?"

"Nope. Are you?"

She guided the boat to the mole's gateway. "Everything is a reminder." She waved at Selina's jeans and T-shirt and then gestured at the red chiton she wore. "You hid among us so easily. I do not have that ability."

Bruce returned to the cockpit and sat next to Selina. "We can help you with that. And give you an identity free from being Athena's champion."

"I do not understand."

Selina's elbow found his ribs. "You missed your calling to be a master forger by this much." She released the cushion to pinch an inch of air. "You just can't resist secret identities."

"Athena's champion goes straight to becoming a symbol greater than flesh and blood."

She rolled her eyes as her elbow hit him again. "Save Cape Theory 101 until after she signs up for it." She leaned forward to look around him at Diana. "What Bruce is trying to say is you can stick with us and we'll teach you about the rest of the world, so you won't end up imprisoned or worse. We owe you that much." Diana's forehead furrowed, so Selina continued. "Your mother exiled you because you sided with us."

Diana's forehead relaxed. "Do not blame yourselves. True, Mother had to punish my defiance, but she also must protect Themyscira. My remaining there endangers them."

"Handy excuse," Selina muttered.

"We want to help you, Diana," Bruce said. "A lot has changed since Themyscira was founded."

"But you are on a quest?"

"Quest? Is that what we're calling it now?"

He sighed at Selina's smirk. "I didn't have time to go into the whole story."

"Dark Knight."

He sighed again. "Do you have to keep calling me that?"

"You always bring it up." Selina's brown eyes danced before she turned to Diana. "If you joined us, we could do both."

Diana glanced over her shoulder at the shrinking island. "I would like that."

"I'd count that as a deal, but he's the stickler for full disclosure. So give her the whole story."

He hoped they didn't confuse Diana. "Selina and I are from the United States of America."

"We know about the United States. We saved soldiers in the war that involved all of Europe and found out about it then."

He nodded. "I was born in Gotham City as Bruce Wayne. When I was eight-years-old, my parents were killed by a robber, right in front of me."

The End

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