“Dark Knight Dark Secret”
(Immediate Sequel to “Clara’s Coming Out Party”)
[Rated PG-13]

Bruce Wayne stood on the roof of the Metropolis Waldorf Astoria Hotel. He looked over the roof railing as he stripped off his dinner jacket, tie and shirt. The city below was beautiful, but Bruce was looking for something dark and deviant that he could descend upon and obliterate. He hoped to find some local heads to bang together so he wouldn’t have to wait until he got back to Gotham City to flex his muscles and vent his frustrations. When Bruce looked for something unlawful or evil to pit his incredible skills against, he usually wasn’t disappointed. His disappointments were reserved for other aspects of his life. He had just put himself in a position he knew he shouldn’t … but couldn’t resist. In the process, the scab had been yanked from a deep wound – a wound that he had convinced himself was healed. Now he knew that he was just fooling himself and that he couldn’t dismiss his feelings no matter how futile they were. He felt that the best way to put the pain aside was to shed the identity that was vulnerable and become someone else – the Dark Knight, a creature of the night, the Bat. He would take his pain and use it … vent it in a way that was of some use to society.

Bruce marched back to his personal transport vehicle – a miniature Bat Plane with vertical takeoff and landing capability. He roughly threw the clothes he had removed into a space behind the seat and pulled out a small satchel. He reached into the satchel and pulled out a gray shirt with a bat emblem on it. An envelope came with it and fluttered down to the roof top. He picked it up and saw the embossed “LL” on the envelope and gritted his teeth in anger. The invitation was sticking out enough for him to read, “You are cordially invited to attend a coming out party for Clara Josephine Kent ….” He pulled the invitation out a bit more and shouted as he read the word that infuriated him, “LUTHOR!” He balled up the invitation and threw it off the roof muttering, “My Girl Scout would probably be mad at me for littering.” He watched the invitation drift down toward the glass roof of the ballroom where Clara’s party was still continuing. He could make out Lex on stage lifting Clara into his arms … then leaving with her. The crowd began to dance and the lighting in the room was lowered and took on a reddish cast.

Bruce could barely stand thinking about Lex caring Clara away … and knowing where they were going. He clamped his eyes shut thinking to push the image out of his mind, but other images appeared in the dark void he had created. In his mind’s eye, he still saw the red glow, but instead of being a dance floor, it was a gymnasium floor in an area of his Bat Cave. He could almost hear the hum of the red solar field generators. He saw Clara’s face again and again as he threw her to a mat and pinned her to the floor. He could remember the smell of her sweat and how hard it was for him to find the will to release her again and again. Then he could see her the first time her training took hold. She made a move he wasn’t able to anticipate, climbed on top of him and held him helpless despite her lack of powers. He clearly saw the shocked look on her face when she realized what she had done … followed immediately by a dazzling smile more beautiful than anything he had ever seen before. His eyes snapped open because what he had just seen in his memories hurt him almost as much as watching her sing a love song … and knowing that it was meant for another. Bruce stretched his shirt over his massive muscles and without turning said, “The party is downstairs Diana. What are you doing up here?”

Diana said, “Bruce, don’t go on patrol tonight. If you want, I’ll watch over Gotham City for you.”

With his back still towards her, Bruce coldly answered, “Don’t worry. I haven’t had anything to drink. I’m as sober as it’s possible for a human being to be.”

With a sharp tone in her voice Diana said, “Go on patrol now and you’ll kill someone … or worse, you could make a mistake and get yourself killed.”

Bruce said, “I’ll make certain that whomever I choose will richly deserve what I do to them. And if tonight is my night to die, so be it!”

Bruce felt Diana’s arms snake through his and wrap around him from behind. She embraced him firmly and laid her head on his shoulder as she softly said, “You never should have come tonight. Some limits should not be tested. I overheard your offer to Clara to resume the lessons you were giving her. You’d only be torturing yourself. She loves him very much, you know.”

Bruce said through gritted teeth, “He doesn’t deserve her.”

Diana said, “And you deserve better than to tear yourself apart over something that can never be. If you make the choice to be happy, you will find that there are many options open to you.”

Bruce turned quickly and his lips found Diana’s. They ran their hands through each others’ hair. Their kisses became so passionate that neither of them could catch their breath. Their faces slid across each other and they embraced so tightly that there was no air left between them. Their hearts pounded in unison and beat so hard that their bodies shook with each pulse. After a long while, Bruce lessened his grip and began to pull his head back. A strong hand forced his head to return to the place that it had been. Diana whispered in his ear, “Don’t pull your head back Bruce … or you’ll see that I’m not … her.”

Diana felt Bruce inhale sharply and then felt a stillness in him as if all his bodily functions had come to a halt. A few seconds passed and Bruce released a gasp of air. His body began to shake … then convulse. There was a strange noise that sounded like something had cracked deep inside Bruce’s throat. In his mind he had desperately struggled to become the Bat but had lost the fight. At first he snapped back to being Bruce, the man … and then became Bruce, the boy suddenly orphaned who felt alone in the world and unloved. As Diana held him tight, the man who criminals fear more than any other … cried like a child.

The End.