|Diana is a wonder (whipoftruth) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-10-18 17:00:00
On the job Luke was the younger, less experienced of the two, but when it came to the hotel he definitely had more experience than Matthew. Nearly two years of having Batman in his head meant that he’d learned a thing or two about how to deal, and how to balance two lives in what was arguably the worst door in the hotel. But that was Gotham; it was no fairy tale, and he didn’t exactly have someone who was willing to sit out on the gritty bits. No, Bruce was right there in the middle of everything so, yeah, he thought he could help his partner out. He always had his back out on the streets, after all. This was sort of like paying him back. He had no idea who his partner had or what his door was, but having a friendly face around to deal with magic doors and fiction might help, and if worse came to worst, he knew that Bruce could handle anything and anyone.
He waited outside, in front of the hotel, hands in his pockets and his back against the wall. At least he wasn’t sporting any new injuries these days, nothing serious, just the usual bruises hidden under his clothing.
Matt was no stranger to surprises and learning how to think fast on his feet, but there was a big difference between keeping his cool under gunfire and finding another person in his head. This wasn't as bad as the worst of his days, he was still sure nothing could go there, but it was stranger by far. He was an experienced soldier and officer, and that meant little when he found a suspicious journal and started talking to people on it. It took him a few days to ask Luke more. At first he thought his natural curiosity could go to hell, because it was a road to trouble. The voice got stronger and more insistent, and damn was she bossy. His sharp rebuke that he'd talk to his ex-wife if he wanted to get pushed around was met with more yelling. If he was going to get peace of mind, he'd have to figure this out, and to do that he needed his partner's help. That at least he'd be all right with, even if they were used to it being the other way around.
He approached the hotel warily and knew it was now or never. He saw Luke there and approached him with a firm nod, taking his sunglasses off and putting them in the front pocket of his jacket. "How much am I going to regret this?"
Luke looked up as Matt approached, smiling a little at the firm nod and returning it with one of his own. “I think that depends on who you have, honestly,” he told him. “You know.” He tapped his fingers against the side of his head. “It might not be so bad.” He hoped as much, at least. It could have been worse, he could have had someone like the Joker or even Crane, who seemed to get every single one of his Vegas-side people killed, but Batman wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either. Maybe his partner would get lucky.
Despite not intending on using it, he had his own key with him; carrying it had become habit. “First thing’s first, we have to find your door.” He pushed away from the wall and turned, pulling open the front door and stepping into the lobby. “There’s more than one floor, but you should be able to… feel where the right door is, if that makes sense,” he explained with a shrug, as though to say yeah, it sounded crazy, but it was true.
"It's a woman, that's mostly what I have so far. And this isn't what I think people mean by getting in touch with your feminine side." The gender part was an unexpected twist, and Matt was surprised to find that might be the worst part for him. Or maybe just the extra push over a breaking point. His head hurt. He'd ask more questions after this part was over with, like how to get rid of her, or how exactly anyone co-existed with an unknown trespasser in their head. Or if she was going to keep commenting on his lifestyle choices.
"It doesn't, but we'll see how it goes." Matt followed Luke inside and took out his key. It was old and made of silver and had a strange circle shape at the tip. It looked vaguely like a crown. He held it in his palm and waited. At first he felt nothing, and he was going to comment on it snarkily to Luke. And then … he did. It was a flutter in his gut, an impulse, as if his key was vibrating in his hand. He resisted at first, but gave in and followed it to the right door. It was the same as Luke's, although he was unaware of it when he arrived. "That was … different." He was a little shaken, but it didn't show.
He knew that gender didn’t always match up when it came to their headmates, but for the most part everyone Luke knew was pretty much consistent. Men had men, and women had women. He’d never imagined what it might be like to have someone of the opposite sex living upstairs, but it was better than a villain. Unless it was a female villain, and then it just didn’t matter. “No, probably not,” he said, trying very, very hard not to laugh. “A woman might not be so bad, though. She can give you a whole new perspective on things.” He couldn’t hold back a smile then, but it was good-natured and he didn’t mean anything by it.
For a moment he considered trying to explain further, but he figured showing Matt what he meant was the best way to make him understand. If it worked, that is. Luke knew how he’d found his door but he didn’t necessarily know if it was the same for everyone. He’d end up looking pretty stupid if it didn’t, but there wasn’t much he could do; when Matt pulled out his key, which he glanced at curiously, all he could do was wait. Seconds ticked by and he’d begun to think that maybe letting the key guide the way was a dumb idea when his partner started moving. Eyebrows raised, Luke followed, and he almost laughed aloud when Matt stopped at the DC door. “You think that’s different, just wait till you cross through.” He turned to look at him, shaking his head. “This is my door too. It’s DC. You know, like the comics?”
"Somewhere in California my ex just started laughing hysterically, and she has no idea why." Matt did not get an evil sense from her. If anything she seemed overly righteous. He would probably long term have more of a problem with a criminal in his head, so this was survivable. Just irritating. So was the entire situation, but Matt wasn't one to stay in denial for too long. He rolled with the punches, no matter how far out of left field they ended up being. He started to come up with a few more questions about this whole thing, and it was logged away for a later conversation.
"Like the comics," Matt echoed and then nodded. "Superman's DC. I was more of a Captain America guy myself." He grew up with them selling comics for a buck or less at the corner store, and he went through the usual boyhood phase of being invested in them. After awhile he grew out of it or got distracted by the rest of his life. But he knew what they were. He looked over at Luke and at the door, and squared his shoulders, decision made. He put the key to the door and it opened for him. "Here we go." He wasn't sure what the code was here, if they were supposed to use Luke or his key going through the same door, but this was new to him so he'd go with it.
Matt came out the other side and changed significantly. It was a beautiful and mild day in the Californian harborside area of Gateway City, and Diana found herself standing on top of the apartment building she used to live in. It'd been some time, but it was just the right rush of nostalgia to go with the confusion of what was happening to her now. It rushed around in her mind and she connected the facts together for herself. Quickly too, but bizarre things happening to Wonder Woman was common. She'd been to numerous alternate realities and met with Gods. She was in her uniform and felt the wind in dark hair, checking her wrists to see the bracelets firmly where they should be. The golden lasso hung on her hip, and she needed only a minute to take in a deep breath and let it out. May the Gods be with me. She turned to see if her companion was coming through with her, curious as to who it would be.
Luke smiled when Matt mentioned his ex’s amusement, but he left it at that. Too, he could have tacked Batman onto Superman’s DC, but in about ten seconds he’d find out who he had in his head anyway. “There’s a Marvel door too,” he said. “I think there was a Captain America around once, but DC has enough problems as it is. I don’t really get a chance to play catch-up with other doors.” Part of him knew that the chances of Matt’s girl knowing Bruce were high, but the chances of the Bruce she knew being this Bruce were slimmer. On the bright side, he wasn’t as much of a giant jerk as some comic versions of Bruce Wayne were, but the downside was that he basically had to start from scratch with a lot of people who showed up. Having secondhand knowledge of someone just wasn’t the same as fighting side-by-side with them for years. Maybe he should have prepared Matt for as much, but oh well. Whoever it was, Bruce could work it out with them.
He hung back, letting his partner use his key to open the door and planning to follow behind. It wouldn’t open to Wayne Manor, since he was pretty sure all the Batkids were accounted for, but wherever it was in DC Bruce would probably recognize it, right? Except maybe not, because once Luke stepped through the hotel hallway changed to somewhere sunny and warm. Not that Gotham was cloaked in perpetual darkness, but even when the sun shone there was an underlying sense of darkness, grittiness, nothing like Metropolis. A good majority of the time Bruce was in his Batsuit when he was through the door, and it just so happened that he’d been in it the last time he’d crossed through, which meant it was Batman who stepped out onto the apartment building. He usually worked in the cover of night rather than during the day, and the sunlight left him feeling oddly exposed despite being encased head-to-toe in black armor.
This Bruce knew of Diana, but in his world he’d never met her and no previous version of her had come, not like Clark, so the familiarity that came when he looked at her was entirely secondhand. She would expect to know him, and he was admittedly apprehensive as to how she might react to someone she’d known as a friend never having met her. After a moment Bruce extended a hand, aware that she might find the gesture strange and planning to elaborate from there. “Hello.”
A look of relief crossed Diana's face openly when she saw who stood beside her, so he was right. She recognized him instantly. They'd been friends for a long time, and while they had their ups and downs, she counted Bruce as one of the few men she trusted. Diana was not as skilled as the others at hiding her emotions or thoughts behind a facade. It showed clearly, with confusion and apprehension in her eyes when she looked at his hand. He never if rarely did that. "Is that a welcome to this side of madness?" She asked him with some amusement, taking his hand and shaking it. She and Clark never wore masks, so it was not difficult to read them. Bruce was difficult with or without the mask.
Diana was made out of clay and brought to life by the Greek Gods. She was much more accepting of strange things happening to her. After a beat she removed her hand and smiled at him. "I was not aware it would bring us here. You must feel quite out of place." She had a formal way of speaking, even archaic compared to modern slang, and with the carriage and regal tone of someone accustomed to people listening to her. It was rare to see Bruce outside of Gotham, or in the JLA headquarters. "I am merely thankful we did not turn up on Themyscira, you would be most uncomfortable." And greeted with hostility by the Amazons. They accepted Diana's allies, but that did not make them welcome.
Once, Bruce had asked himself what the right version of himself would have done more often than not. The right version being, of course, the man the others had known, before he’d realized that not all of them came from the same world and thus their Bruces were not the same man. But those days, when he was labelled wrong and was constantly in the shadow of someone he was not and would never be, were over, and he no longer compared himself to alternate versions of himself. He was him, and no one else. Diana’s expression told him that her Bruce likely hadn’t engaged in handshakes often, but he didn’t let that deter him. He had no desire to pretend to be a man he was not and she deserved honesty, not deception. Besides, while he knew a great deal about her, not even he could pretend to be the man she’d known; that sort of familiarity could never be mimicked successfully, not for long. He didn’t answer when she asked if it was merely a welcome to what lay beyond the door, completing the handshake with politeness before letting go.
“It’s certainly not Gotham,” he said, of feeling out of place. Adaptable as he was, he hadn’t left Gotham in years, not for any extended period of time. Bruce Wayne might have gone on vacation from time to time but Batman didn’t have that luxury. Themyscira was a term he knew through secondhand knowledge, which was enough to have him nodding in agreement. Yes, he would have been uncomfortable there, and likely unwelcome. “Where the door leads to depends on who is stepping through. It’s specific to us.” His would open to Wayne Manor, or the Cave, or even Wayne Enterprises depending on the circumstances. Aware that she would continue to speak to him with familiarity if he didn’t explain, Bruce decided that sooner was preferable to later. It had been quite some time since he’d had to have this conversation, but one constant was that it hadn’t ever become easier.
He turned to look at her, gaze serious behind the cowl. “There’s something you should know,” he told her. “I’m not the man you knew, from your world. I am a different version, if you will. There are many. Most here, through the door, come from different points in time and even different universes.”
"A door to our world. To many worlds. I suppose it is neater than other ways we have been thrust in and out of universes." To say Diana had history with Bruce was an understatement, but that was true of the Justice League, and specifically the two of them and Clark. The three most well known and respected superheroes in their world. They did not always see eye to eye, especially after Max Lord, but she thought they were moving in a better direction. And now they were in this strange new direction.
In time she might have noticed the differences about Bruce before he admitted to it. Instead she faced him while he explained. "I see. This is not the first time we have come across alternate versions." It did not always go well, too. The other Superboy being a prime example. Diana took a step back and gave him quick look from head to toe. Hm. "I would say any version of Batman is an ally worth having, but I might find myself regretting that." There was always at least one who turned out wrong somehow.
After a pause she locked eyes with him. "We crossed paths with many villains before who masqueraded as us. Or controlled our actions." Diana was fresh from that, and it was raw in her still. She was more suspicious and less trusting than she was even a year ago. It was rude to simply attack this Bruce, or force him into her lasso for confirmation, but it was on her mind. It was the arrogance of the powerful or her implicit trust in Batman that stayed her hand now. "How do I know this is no trick?"
This Bruce had minimal experience with other universes, but he’d done his research and knew that the others, and alternate versions of himself, had dealt with them on more than one occasion. He nodded, though he was more immediately concerned with how Diana would react to what he said. Admittedly, she was calmer than some had been before her, though Clark had reacted in a similar manner. That she had experience with alternate versions was encouraging, though he suspected she might have encountered one, whether it was himself or another, who had turned out wrong. That was to be expected, however. What he hadn’t expected, though he should have, was her suspicion. None of the others had asked for proof of who he was; they’d simply been upset that he wasn’t the right Bruce. “Your doubt is understandable,” he said calmly, and when her gaze locked with his he returned it steadily, unflinching. “I would give you my word that this is no trick, but you have no reason to trust me.” He paused. “There are others you can ask. Clark. Hal. I’m not their version either, but they know me.” He wasn’t sure what else he could offer her, as any information he gave would prove nothing except that he had knowledge of himself. “I’ve been here a little over a year, Diana. There are numerous people who can confirm that I am indeed who I say I am.”
Blue eyes narrowed slightly, and her look was puzzled, inquisitive. "You know who I am, but not enough to jump to the obvious test. That is interesting." Diana tilted her head at him and unhooked her lasso. "This is the lariat of Hestia. Anyone within it can only speak the truth." More than once, Bruce voluntarily put it around himself to get her to move past the questions. He hated it, of course, he always had his secrets. She respected them, in a general way, but preferred expediency in certain situations. In that, she and the Dark Knight were usually on the same team. It troubled her somewhat he was different, but in their situation, she would take an ally where she could get one.
"If you are willing to take it and say who you are, I will believe what you say without question." People ran the risk of being vulnerable that way to a different line of questioning. Diana chose when they were done. But if he heard enough about her, he should know she was an honorable woman. Deceit was not her way, it was why she had the lariat. "Once you do that, I must ask, who is here? Have you seen Superman?" It was always best when the three of them put their heads together. Anything could be accomplished.
Once she mentioned what the lasso was capable of, Bruce felt a spark of familiarity flare within his mind. The truth was, of course, useful in numerous situations but as his gaze dropped he was torn between wariness and curiosity, not particularly thrilled by the thought of subjecting himself to its powers. He had nothing to hide but he was a very private person, more so than most. “What I know comes from secondhand sources,” he admitted. “But I remember now. The lariat of Hestia,” he repeated, almost to himself. “Interesting.” In his world, there had been no one with superpowers. Here there were many, and he was still accustoming himself to that new reality.
He regarded the lasso for a few moments longer before nodding. Nothing he could recall suggested that Diana would abuse her power and use his temporary vulnerability against him, and if he refused, he risked making a very poor first impression. “Very well,” he relented, holding out a gloved hand to accept the lasso. Putting it around himself was one thing, but being tied up was something else entirely. Regardless, she needed to be warned of how things were, now, with the JLA and the threat they and the government posed; he doubted the arrival of Wonder Woman would please them. But, with her, the true League would be even stronger. Once he had the lasso he carefully wound it around himself, looking up for approval before speaking. “Yes, I’ve seen Superman. He’s here. Many are. Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood, Catwoman, all three Batgirls, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Huntress, Supergirl, and Red Robin.” He paused. “And the villains, of course. You should be aware, however, of the existence of an organization called the Justice League of America. The government runs it, and they stand in direct opposition to us. You and I,” he said, gesturing between them. “Green Arrow is a member.” He paused again. “Would you like me to say who I am?”
Diana used her lasso more harshly on criminals, but on a friend, it was a simple gesture. She had no intention of grilling him about his past, at least not while he was compelled to tell the truth. When they first met, she felt somewhat differently, but she grew into her position as Wonder Woman the same as he did as Batman. It was dishonorable to treat a friend that way. The Amazons saw honor as one of the most important qualities for a warrior to have. She handed the lasso to him, and it being around his wrist was enough for the magic to work. People who didn't believe in the gods or magic were taught differently once they were put in that position.
Diana nodded her head when he listed the others there. She knew all of their names and many of them personally. "Which Green Lantern and Arrow?" They were two of her friends too, if he was talking about Oliver and Hal. Diana got along well with the others too, Kyle and Connor, but they were not quite the same men. She paused when he asked if he needed to say who he was, and she was still trying to struggle with the idea of the government opposing them. She shook her head and took back the lasso. "I am troubled by what you say. We may not always see eye to eye with the government, but no one else can fight the battles we do on a global level." Diana was a diplomatic envoy from her island too. "Why would they stand against us, and how does Green Arrow factor in?"
For a man who once would have scoffed at the prospect of magic and superpowers, Bruce had learned a great deal in the past year and, he thought, adapted quite well. Now, faced with a lasso which could compel those who wore it to tell the truth, he wasn’t as skeptical anymore. He had no intention of lying to begin with but he knew this was the only way to prove that, while he wasn’t the man from her world, the core fundamentals of who he was remained the same.
“Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen,” he said without hesitation. He would have said who he was had she asked, but since it no longer seemed necessary he handed the lasso back instead. “From what I understand, they’re worried about power going unchecked. They want to keep us in line. Specifically, those like you and Clark and Hal, who possess power beyond that of a normal human. Green Arrow believes in their cause. He’s with them, Diana.”
"Hal and Oliver," Diana echoed with a small amount of relief. She was closer to them than the others, and if Bruce did not know her, she would take what connections there were. She needed no more proof from him. His willingness to take the lasso, and his bearing and voice, those all spoke the truth as much as any words could. She did wonder at the differences between him and the man she knew, but that was a question for another day.
Her eyes widened and then narrowed very quickly. "They are concerned about the power imbalance from people like me to the average citizen. Oliver did always preach about social equality. He might see this as his crusade, protecting the weak from the strong." It fell in line, at least partly, but it did not make her feel any better about it. Diana not too long ago fell out of grace with the common people. They once loved her, but when she killed Max Lord, they became frightened. "But the government running our team, that was never an option, their wants are too selfish. I will have to speak with him." Diana was unwaveringly confident in herself and her powers of persuasion.
"It sounds as if there is much to do. Where can I start to help?"
Despite his faults, Bruce had already learned that Hal was a good man. Impulsive, yes, rash and childish, but he would sacrifice himself in an instant if it meant protecting those in need. He felt as though he’d known him and Clark for far longer than he truly had. Oliver, however, was a different story. He didn’t trust him, nor did he particularly like him. Not after what he’d done to Kara. Not when his loyalties were to people who wanted to keep people like him on a leash as their own personal pets, to heel when commanded and attack when it suited their needs. “Perhaps. Hal has attempted to dissuade him numerous times, but he hasn’t had any success. Even after they threw him in prison as a scapegoat, Oliver still chose to stay loyal to them.” He knew that the public opinion of them was mixed; those with superpowers were in an especially precarious position.
“It’s not our team. I know of the Justice League, even though it didn’t exist in my world,” he said. “We discussed forming it here, Clark, Hal, Dinah and I. Then other things… took precedence.” As for her speaking with Oliver, he raised his eyebrows but didn’t comment. She was welcome to try.
He thought for a moment. “Speaking to the others is a good idea. Things have been quiet as of late, but that won’t last, and we’re stronger together than we all apart.” Once, Bruce would have thought differently, but he’d learned that remaining isolated here, working alone, was near impossible and did more harm than good.
Diana struggled at first with all of the men she met. It was no surprise she came with a background of certain prejudices, and she found in many ways they were well placed. The response to her at first, from the men in power, was not always positive. Eventually she eased into the culture and met exceptional men who she would lay down her life for. Loyalty was earned, and Bruce and Clark in particular deserved it. She would put Oliver on that list too … but this information troubled her.
"That does not sound like him. He has believed the government is designed to protect the people in the past, but to be thrown in prison by them …." She frowned and considered it. "Are we certain no brainwashing has occurred? It would not be the first time one of us was overtaken." It happened more than a few times. It was why Bruce secretly made plans on how to take each of them down. That turned out poorly for them, and caused a fracture in the JLA for a time, but it was true they fought against one another. "We should form it. If this world is faced with trouble on a global level, they are not equipped to handle it alone. Perhaps that will prove to them we are a force of good."
Diana smiled, tilting her head at him. "The self-proclaimed loner, promoting teamwork," she teased. Bruce worked with them regularly, so for all his talk, he was an excellent member of the team. And he had his own, in Gotham. "I am glad to see you, Bruce. Whether you know me or not."
Hal had, at first, believed the same, insisting that Oliver had been brainwashed into his allegiance with the JLA. But even he had come to see the truth, despite the two being close friends. “It was considered,” he said, “but ruled out. Oliver comes from a different world, I believe, but he’s still himself.” Distrustful by nature, it was difficult to look at a group of superpowered beings and not see the risk, but he wasn’t going to get ahead of himself. Kara had difficulties controlling her powers but she was learning, and Hal, well, he could usually be made to see reason. “Perhaps,” Bruce agreed. “The world needs to know that we pose no threat.”
A self proclaimed loner indeed. “It’s a change,” he admitted. Being in this Gotham had forced him to work with others, and it wasn’t always easy. Even now the temptation was there to do things his way, without having to worry about the opinions of others and the complications they brought; he’d simply gotten better at compromising. He nodded when she said that she was glad to see him because, if nothing else, he was relieved she hadn’t reacted badly and all that he knew of her was good. “I’m glad to meet you,” he said. “And I hope to get to know you, in time.”
So Oliver was from a different world too. Diana was going to have to draw a chart to make sense of it. "The Oliver I know is headstrong and stubborn, but he has a good heart. We shall see about this one." She agreed with him about the world and set a hand on his shoulder warmly. "We did it once before and we can do it again. The world was not ready for the Justice League the first time around either. Take heart." They went through very difficult times recently and she did think it was all about to break apart. But they'd done that before too. Broken apart and come back together. Diana had faith, and she hoped the others would too.