Barbara (htbthomas) wrote,

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Birthday fic: A Touch of Care, 1/1

Title: A Touch of Care
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Justice League (Toonverse, with a few comics touches)
Pairing: Diana/Bruce
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,818 words
Summary: Bruce Wayne may think he doesn't need anyone's help... but that isn't going to stop Diana.
Betas: van_el (for much alpha help as well – thanks for letting me steal a few ideas) and mark_clark.
Author’s Notes: A birthday fic for seraphkre. As I step outside my normal pairings, I wait with nervous anticipation…

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Good evening, Miss Prince.” Alfred nodded at his visitor, his phlegmatic expression at odds with his words. “Lovely to see you again.”

“And you as well, Alfred.” Diana nodded in return, staying still on the doorstep.

His eyes crinkled slightly and he offered with little conviction, “Master Bruce has instructed me to accept no visitors. He is not feeling well this evening, after the whole Bane business.”

“I understand.” He had no need to elaborate further. They were both well aware.

“There has been little change in his condition since you were here a few hours ago with… with Mr. Kent.”

“Oh, but there has been,” she contradicted with a small smile.

Alfred simply raised an eyebrow, waiting.

“I’m here alone.”

Alfred mirrored her smile and then stepped aside, gesturing. “You offer a compelling argument. By all means, please come in.”

“Thank you.” Diana’s smile turned bright and she entered through the doorway, tucking a strand of wavy black hair back into her up-do. Here as Diana Prince, she had worn a fitted dress suit and glasses… but somehow, in the mansion for the first time as her alter-ego, she felt more exposed than in her spangled briefs and red and gold brassiere. “I hope I won’t be getting you in trouble for this.”

“Even Master Bruce could not expect me to be able to defend myself against someone of your… talents.” He closed the door behind her with a quiet click.

She placed a grateful hand on his arm and then turned toward the staircase. Taking a deep breath, she walked quickly across the polished floors, heels clicking loudly.

“Miss Prince,” Alfred called, halting her steps. “Will you be requiring anything this evening?”

“No, I’ll be fine.”

“Very well. I have a few errands around the estate that…will likely consume my time for a while.” He bowed formally, almost conspiratorially, and then left toward the kitchen.

Once upstairs, the fine rugs muffled the sound of her footsteps. She could have easily floated down the hall, but she preferred to take her time this evening. As long as she had been waiting for this day, she could make it last a little longer.

Bruce’s bedroom door was slightly ajar, and the sound of a news announcer filtered through the opening: “…have confirmed that Zsasz is once again in safe custody, along with Two-Face, the Joker, the Scarecrow, and the Ventriloquist to mention a few. However, some notable criminals remain free after the Arkham breakout, such as Killer Croc. Authorities have not been forthcoming on how a large-scale breakout happened in the first place…”

She peered inside, observing the scene for a moment. Bruce lay in his bed, propped up at an angle, watching the news coverage on a flickering screen across the room. A laptop and a voicechat headset lay on his bedside table, no doubt connected to the main computer in the Batcave. His stony face was as emotionless as always… but now there were bags under his eyes and stubble across his normally clean-shaven skin. Bruises covered much of his body, and he looked almost gray in color for lack of food and rest. To tell the truth, he was in a terrible state – too weak to go out himself, but strong enough to refuse his friends’ help.

Before she could take a step into the room, however, Bruce’s voice rasped from the bed. “I thought I told you I didn’t want any more visitors.”

Diana walked in calmly, now that her presence was revealed, and stood beside his bed. “I should have known I wouldn’t be able to surprise you.” She nodded toward the computer on the other side. “Bruce is never far from his toys.”

“And don’t forget your reflection in the television monitor.”

Her eyes only widened slightly, impressed, though he’d proven his detective skills a thousand times over in the time that they’d known each other. Sitting down, she caught his gaze with hers. “I know what you said, Bruce…” She placed a hand on top of his. “But surely I am more than just another visitor by now.”

He twitched as if to move his hand, but left it in place. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“You do, oh, World’s Greatest Detective,” she chided gently. “You forget, it’s me you’re talking to. No matter how many times you say that to our teammates, we both know better.” She dared him with raised eyebrows to deny it.

The news across the room suddenly changed to a blaring commercial, and Bruce shifted to reach for the remote control. Though he tried to hide it, for an instant his face twisted into a grimace as he extended a little too far.

Without comment, she watched him switch off the television and settle back. She could have easily done it for him, but she knew when to let him do things himself. They had all the familiarity of long-time companions, but somehow they had never taken that final step to become more. Not with Bruce’s unwillingness to let anyone get too close emotionally… in his mind, closeness led to tragedy. And Diana had always respected that distance, even while she tested its edges.

Tonight, she pushed a little farther in. “I care about you, Bruce. And I know you care about me, although you pretend I’m just a friend, a fellow soldier in the fight.” She lowered her voice, emotion threading through it. “But Great Hera, Bruce, even the gods don’t fight alone.”

Before he could respond, Diana suddenly noticed a patch of bright red blood starting to soak a new slash into his bandages. She stood, reaching for the medical kit on the other side, but he brought one hand up to stop her. Keeping a surprisingly firm grip on her wrist, he pressed a call button with the other hand. “Alfred can get this…”

For a long minute, Diana stayed in place, enjoying the heat of his bare hand on her wrist. Was he feeling the same spark of electricity, even at so business-like a touch? He looked from the doorway to her patient expression to the call button… and punched it again with annoyance.

“I think he said he’d be busy with errands this evening…” she mentioned off-handedly.

Bruce’s mouth quirked. His one hope of rescue gone, he simply released her hand.

Diana leaned across him carefully, grabbing a wash basin and cloth as well as the bandages, and made for the master bathroom. She felt his onyx eyes on her back the entire time as she filled the basin with cool water, twisted the spigot closed and turned toward him.

But he was not looking at her at all by then, focused on loosening the soiled bandage from its adhesive.

She walked calmly back to the bed, placed the items on a nightstand, and sat beside him. Her hands stilled his fussing with the bandage, and she watched his face carefully for signs of a reaction… but there was none.

As she slowly peeled away the bandage from his skin, he coolly lifted a hand to type one-handedly on the keyboard to his right. She glanced idly at the screen as she worked – he seemed to be keeping an eye on Robin and other operatives as well as the police – but she mostly focused on removing the bandages with the least pain possible. Not that he was reacting in the slightest, but all the same…

The wound wasn't deep, but it was several inches long – if not for the protection of his bat-suit, it could have been much, much worse.  The edges were held together with butterfly adhesive, which needed changing. It was certainly not the least of his injuries... but it was something he couldn't do for himself.  And thank the gods, he was allowing her to help him in this small way.

The bandages removed, she dipped the cloth in the cool water and dabbed carefully at the bare skin around the bloody slash across his chest. Mottled with bruises and scarred from previous encounters, his skin was almost fascinating, especially when she rarely suffered wounds like these herself. And not to mention the fact that he was normally covered head-to-toe in a Kevlar-lined suit.

She wrung out the blood-soaked cloth into the basin and reached for the alcohol and cotton swabs. “This will…” Probably sting, she started to say, but she realized even if it did, he wouldn’t show it. Still, she tried to be as gentle as possible.

Finally, she replaced each small butterfly bandage, her fingers brushing across his skin.  She tried to be as methodical as possible, concentrating on the work – but with each touch, her fingertips seemed to burn with the contact.  Outside of the one dance they had shared in Paris so long ago, any skin-to-skin contact was extremely rare.  If only it were under different circumstances...

Bruce suddenly spoke. “Dermabond would have been quicker.” His eyes never left the laptop screen.

Diana chuckled quietly and secured the last piece, sliding her fingers across the unbroken skin to the side of the wound.  Bruce's fingers paused briefly in their rapid clicking on the keyboard, and she lifted her own fingers away, as if she hadn’t meant to linger in her touch.

Applying antiseptic cream, covering the wound in fresh gauze, re-taping the overlying bandage – all of these final steps were performed with delicate care. And each time she could get even the slightest pause, the smallest shift in his posture, it felt like a victory.

Her hands smoothed across the bandage one last time, and then they traveled higher, up his collarbone and to his face.

Bruce could ignore her no longer. “There’s no wound there, Diana.”

She caught his gaze, trying to show the depth of her feeling for him in one searching look. “I know.” And then she lowered her mouth to join with his.

Bruce was still with apparent shock for several seconds. Then with a throaty growl, he reciprocated, lips moving feverishly against hers. Diana’s hands threaded through his hair, and she shifted to sit on the edge of the bed, never breaking the kiss. They would need to be careful – but as hurt as he was, Bruce was also one of the strongest men she’d ever known. And Divine Aphrodite, she had waited so long…

- - - - -

Alfred had barely managed to stop Master Bruce’s young protégé in time. He stood firm at the top of the stairs from the Batcave. “Absolutely not.”

“But Bruce made me promise to report the moment I got in, and he hasn’t been responding to signals for the past half hour.” Tim shifted in nervous agitation, unable to keep still, darting glances past Alfred’s shoulder.

“All is well, Master Timothy.” Alfred’s eyes drifted upward, toward the upstairs bedroom, and a pleased smile flitted across his face. “Master Bruce is in good hands.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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Tags: birthday fic, fanfiction, justice league

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  • Dear Yuletide Author

    Hey, Yuletide Author! We were matched, whee! Below, you'll find some extra info about my requests and general tastes in fic. Hopefully you'll see…

  • Writing buddy needed...

    Going to try to work on my New Girl NYR today (before the Community bigbang starts up for real, not to mention the PB). Anyone in the mood to word…

  • Yuletide Reveals Time!

    So I wrote nine stories this year, with a wordcount of ~20K, which passed my previous all-time-high yuletide wordcount of ~17K in 2009. I was quite…