Watchtower; September 12th, 19:47 EST
“Diana, are you sure you don’t want to take more firepower with you?” Superman asked, concern etched deeply in his face as he studied her.
“No, Kal,” she stated, shaking her head with absolute resolution. “Artemis and Shayera should be more than enough help to get Bruce out of the Underworld and back home.”
“When do you leave?” Flash asked, appearing nervous in the wake of the dangerous mission his friends were about to embark on.
“Tomorrow morning,” Diana revealed. “We’ll leave for Themyscira from the manor and then down into the Underworld.”
“We will gladly do whatever you need us to do while you are gone,” J’onn reassured her. “We’d be happy to check in on Alfred and your family for you as well if it would help ease your mind.”
“Thank you,” she replied, touched by their support. “I truly appreciate it, J’onn. I believe Dick, Jason, and Tim have things under control in Gotham and Donna and Alfred can manage the children.”
“I still don’t like this,” Wally grumbled, crossing his arms against his chest like a sullen child who wasn’t getting his way.
“Wally, none of us like this,” Superman said. “Diana’s going and that’s the end of it.”
“I won’t let Bruce stay down there any longer than necessary,” Diana told him with steel like resolve. “My children need their father…I need my husband…and Gotham needs its protector.”
“I know, Wondy,” Flash replied with a sad smile. “I just…I can’t stand the thought of you guys not coming home.”
“You do remember who is going with her, right?” Shayera said with a scowl. “Artemis and I aren’t about to let anything happen to Diana and we’re sure as hell not leaving the Underworld without Bruce.”
“I can handle myself,” Diana reassured her friends.
“We know you can, Diana, but we’re still worried about you,” Clark told her. “We want you all to return safely.”
“Can you tell us anything about what you might encounter down there?” John asked, worried about his wife’s wellbeing.
He’d never stand in the way of her going with Diana or try to dissuade her from helping their friend. He knew that she needed to go. If she hadn’t insisted on accompanying her, he would’ve gone with Diana to get Batman back. Bruce was one of his best friends and he wanted him back just as much as everyone else. Still, he couldn’t help worrying about what they were going to encounter down there.
Diana drew a deep breath, releasing it slowly as she chose her next words. “It’s not going to be easy,” she began, her forehead creasing with thought. “Hades isn’t going to let us just waltz in and take Bruce away from him. My father will likely throw up many obstacles to block our journey, but my biggest fear is for Bruce.”
“What do you mean, Diana?” J’onn asked, sensing her statement went far beyond fear for her husband’s wellbeing.
“The longer he is down there the greater the chance of Bruce losing himself,” she revealed with a haunting tone.
John’s dark eyes narrowed with concern. “Lose himself how?”
“He’ll begin to forget things…forget about himself and his life here on Earth,” she told them. “He’ll forget who he was, what he did, and how he got to the Underworld. Soon, he won’t remember any of us.”
“What? He can’t!” Wally exclaimed. “He loves you too much, Di. There’s no way he’d ever forget you or his family or even us. I’m mean we’re all family here too. We’re all too important to him to just forget about us.”
“It’s not intentional on his part, Wally,” Diana clarified. “It’s the dark powers of the Underworld. It’s to help ease a person’s transition into death.”
“But he’s not dead!” Wally cried. “We’re his family. We’re all important to him.”
“Well, some of us are more important to him than others,” John said with a frown, his glance indicating Diana.
“You know what I mean,” Wally responded with a huff of annoyance. “We’ve all been through too much together for him to just not remember us.”
“I’m going there to bring him back before that happens, Wally,” Diana reassured him.
“What about you, Shayera, and Artemis?” John asked. “Will being down there affect you the same way?”
“No, we will be entering the Underworld through the gate beneath Themyscira,” Diana informed him. “While Bruce didn’t die, Hades personally took him to the Underworld himself just as if he had died.”
“This is just so messed up,” Wally groused.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help if Bruce returns with memory loss,” J’onn informed her. “I might be able to resurrect what he lost.”
“Thank you, J’onn,” Diana said with a nod of gratitude.
“Okay, if there’s nothing else to discuss, I guess we’ll dismiss for now,” Clark said, feeling as though they might never see their friends again. It was an unsettling feeling that made him almost physically ill.
Diana stood from her chair only to find the scarlet speedster wrapping his arms around her and squeezing her tightly and making it difficult to draw a breath. “Please…come back to us, Wondy,” he softly said, his voice thick with emotion. “And bring Bats back with you. We need you guys.”
She smiled affectionately as she patted his back. “I will…I promise.”
Wally suddenly released her, leaving in a red blur as he raced out the conference room door without another word. Diana knew he was having a hard time with it all, but she wasn’t really doing much better if she were perfectly honest with herself and everyone else. She felt as though she was barely holding herself together at times, but she knew she had to.
Too many people were relying on her, her family needing her to be the anchor…Bruce needing her to come rescue him from her father right now.
She shuddered to think what Hades was putting him through at that moment, but she didn’t have time to dwell on it for long as J’onn enveloped her in his arms. “Please, be careful, Diana.”
“I will,” she said as she returned his embrace.
John and Shayera each took turns hugging her and showing their support. “I’ll transport to the manor bright and early,” she told her.
“I can’t thank you enough, Shay,” Diana replied.
“There’s no need to thank me for anything,” Shayera told her with a frown. “You would do the same for me if the situation was reversed.”
“I promise I’ll watch her back and bring her home to you,” Diana reassured John.
“I’m not worried,” he gruffly maintained with his typical Marine swagger.
“Whatever,” Shayera huffed with a roll of her eyes. “He’s only lectured me at least half a dozen times about making sure that I make it home in one piece along with every single feather.”
“Just being protective of my wife,” he claimed, leaning in and kissing her cheek.
“Come on,” she told him, taking him by the hand. “We need to get the kids tucked into bed.”
“Thanks, guys,” Diana said as they exited the conference room, leaving Diana all alone with Superman.
Diana turned towards him to find the typically strong Man of Steel looking for all the world as if he’d just lost his best friend. Tears stung her eyes as he immediately charged at her, wrapping her up in a bear hug that would’ve crushed a lesser woman, but she was no ordinary woman.
She returned his embrace, burying her face in his chest as the tears began to escape against her will. She quickly pulled away, wiping the drops away in embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she murmured.
Clark just as quickly captured her hand, keeping her from walking away from him. “Diana, you have nothing to be sorry for,” he told her. “You and Bruce are my best friends. We’re family. If you’re hurting, I’m hurting too.”
“I just can’t lose him, Kal,” she softy confessed.
“You won’t, Di,” he reassured her. “You’re going to rescue him and bring him home.”
“I just hope he’s still my Bruce when I find him,” she said with a haunting look in her eyes. “I don’t know what I’ll do if I bring him home only to have completely lost him in the end.”
“We’ll just have to help him regain his memories,” he told her. “J’onn is more than willing to work with him to regain whatever he loses. Maybe there is something that Zatanna or Dr. Fate could do to help too if it happens.”
“I don’t know,” she replied with shake of her head. “I just wish I had a better idea about what my father is planning to do with him.”
Clark pursed his lips as he studied her. “I wish I could go with you.”
“You can’t,” she adamantly stated with a shake of her head. “You would lose all your strength in the Underworld without the sun’s rays. Besides, the world needs you here in case there’s trouble.”
“Just make sure you all come back safely,” he said.
“I will,” she promised with a forced smile that never reached her blue eyes before turning and walking out of the room.
Clark sank into a nearby chair as he stared at the door she had just left through. This was beyond dangerous, beyond anything they’d ever gone up against before. They had all believed that facing Ra’s al Ghul adorned in Hades’ armor was the worst they’d ever had to face.
Now, he was beginning to rethink that notion.
Gotham; September 13th, 02:19 EST
Red Robin studied the street below him, his eyes narrowing as he watched a couple walking down the sidewalk hand in hand. They paused to share a kiss, causing a faint smile to tug at the corners of his lips as thoughts of Cassie began to drift through his mind.
They’d gone out on a date tonight, both knowing that his time was going to be limited over the next several days depending how long it took Diana to rescue Bruce. He was more than willing to do his part and fill the shoes of his parents until they returned. Thankfully, Cassie was very understanding and more than willing to do whatever was needed to see him through this difficult time.
He honestly didn’t think he’d be able to get through this right now without knowing she was there for him. Just knowing she was by his side gave him the strength that he needed to do what he knew he needed to. With any luck, this would all be over quickly, and life could go back to normal…or as normal as things got for his unique family.
They weren’t exactly the perfect picture of a typical, all-American family, but it was his family and he loved them dearly. He knew that he wouldn’t have his life be any other way. He never would’ve guessed when Bruce had taken him in that Wonder Woman would someday become his mother, Troia his sister-in-law, or Wonder Girl his girlfriend.
He had a good feeling that things would be looking up for them once they got Bruce back. Damian was starting to be a little more tolerable and with time would probably even be liked by everyone as long Talia never came back. Jason and Artemis were a couple, though he was a little concerned about how volatile those two could be together.
The toddlers were as mischievous as ever, but it was to be expected. They were four and almost three, not to mention the offspring of Bruce and Diana. He could only imagine what Dick and Donna’s twins were going to be like as toddlers. He knew they were going to be a mighty force to be reckoned with.
“Nightwing to Red Robin.”
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Gotta admit it’s gonna take some time to get used to your new code name,” Nightwing told him.
Tim smirked. “If an old dog can be taught new tricks, then I’m sure you can learn too.”
“Hey, just because I’m older than you, it does not make me an old dog,” Nightwing stated in no uncertain terms.
“You have to admit you’re getting up there, bro,” Tim countered. “You were the first Robin after all and now Batman’s on Robin number four. Not to mention, you’re going to be a father in a few months. That makes you old.”
“That has nothing to do with it,” he bit out. “How are things on the south side?”
“Quiet for the moment, but it won’t last.”
“It never stays quiet in Gotham for very long,” Red Robin pointed out.
“How’s the new Robin doing so far?”
“Not…bad,” Nightwing cryptically replied.
Red Robin chuckled softly, imagining how well Damian was listening to Dick’s orders and instructions. “That good, huh?”
He heard Nightwing release an almost imperceptible sigh before responding. “Just need to work on a few things,” he told him, trying to be tactful about it.
“Skills or obedience?”
“Mostly obedience,” he admitted. “Skills are very good…probably a lot better than I was when I first started out as Robin.”
“I was better than you when I first became Robin,” Tim teased him.
“I highly doubt that,” Nightwing countered.
“We’ll just have to ask Bats when he gets home,” Red Robin decided.
“If they make it home,” Nightwing amended.
“They will, ‘Wing,” Tim insisted, his voice hard like steel. “You know mom isn’t going to let him stay down there. I almost feel bad for Hades if I didn’t hate him so much. Mom’s going to make him wish he’d never left his home.”
“I know,” Dick confessed. “I’m just worried about how hard Hades is going to make it for them to get out. He’s not going to let them just walk right out of the Underworld even if Diana is his daughter.”
“Mom can take down Hades,” Tim resolutely stated. “No one gets in her way when it comes to protecting members of her family and especially Bruce.”
“You’re right,” Dick agreed. “I’m just afraid of what this will do to Donna if Diana doesn’t make it back or isn’t able to bring Bruce home. They share a strong emotional connection. She can feel everything that Diana feels. It’s not going to be good for the twins if she completely falls apart.”
“Donna is strong too,” he reminded him. “Besides, we’ll all be there for the both of you. You guys aren’t alone. You’re stuck with all of us whether you like it or not…even Jason and Damian.”
“Good thing I kind of like you guys,” Dick softly replied, trying to keep his tone light but failing miserably as his emotions seeped into his voice. “I just don’t have a very good feeling about all of this.”
“You’ll feel better when we return home to Alfred’s fabulous breakfast in the morning,” Tim reminded him. “It’s only gotten better over time.”
“I am going to love staying at the manor for the next week,” Dick agreed. “Don’t get me wrong. Donna is a good cook, but no one compares to Alfred’s cooking.”
“I’ll be sure to let Donna know that.”
“She already knows, and she wholeheartedly agrees with me.”
“I’m sure she does,” Tim replied. “She’s eating for three.”
Nightwing groaned, causing Tim’s stance to grow rigid. “I gotta run,” Dick told him. “Robin just took off after a couple of hoods. Later.”
“Later,” Tim said before signing off, a large grin plastered on his face.
Tim was more than relieved that Dick had volunteered to partner with Damian on his first night out. While he liked to think that he had the patience to deal with his new brother, he had to admit that it was pretty thin at times. He was fierce when it came to his family and the fact that Damian was making it so hard on everyone did not sit well with him in the least.
Taking out his grappling gun, Red Robin fired it across the street, knowing that he needed to continue his sweep of the area. There were rumors running rampant that the Joker was scheming again, various pharmaceutical companies being robbed of varying drugs.
He internally shuddered to think of Joker getting anywhere near Diana again. When he’d heard that she’d had a run-in with him that had ended with her paralyzed it had made him sick. Any encounter with Joker was a bad day, but he’d hoped that his mom would’ve been able to avoid being introduced to him for a while longer.
Joker now knew of her existence among the Batclan, making her another target in the psychotic clown’s book. It was bad enough that Batman had been his obsession for so long, but Joker had extended that circle to include anyone connected to Batman in any way, shape, or form.
He hoped they could get their hands on him before Bruce and Diana returned home. It would be a nice reprieve to not have to worry about what the Joker was up to when they got back. They could just focus on recovering from their most recent ordeal without having to leap directly into the next catastrophe.
“Red,” Nightwing hailed him. “We just spotted Joker in a green van at the corner of Sixth and Park. He’s heading your way now.”
“On my way,” Red Robin responded, feeling a surge of determination. With any luck, they’d be able to end Joker’s pharmacy looting spree tonight before Diana even left for the Underworld.
Swinging past a street light, he landed on the balls of his feet, racing down an alley where his Batcycle was waiting for him. He leapt onto his cycle, taking off down the narrow street and coming out the other side just as a bright green van flew right past him.
Red Robin took off after Joker and his gang, catching a glimpse of Joker’s face in the sideview mirror of the vehicle. Joker waved at him, no doubt releasing that infamous cackle of his, but the sound was drowned out by the roar of his Batcycle as he chased them through Gotham.
He ducked down, leaning into his cycle as one of Joker’s gang members threw what appeared to be a rubber chicken. It exploded the second it hit the ground, forcing him to serve to avoid the attack. Three more rubber chickens were flown in his direction as the Batmobile came screeching around a corner at a high rate of speed at that moment, nearly taking out a fire hydrant.
Dick slammed on the gas to catch up with Red Robin, prepared to back him up and keep Joker from getting away. Rubber chickens exploded around them, one of the gang members leaning out of the window of the van with a modified rocket launcher.
“Crap,” Damian mumbled under his breath from the passenger seat as they shot at the Batmobile in an effort to stop them.
“Don’t worry,” Dick reassured him. “Your dad built this thing to be like a tank.”
The launcher fired with a resounding boom, a large rubber chicken slamming into their windshield and exploding upon impact. Damian ducked, stunned to find the windshield completely intact once the smoke cleared, Red Robin closing in on the van.
“We need to get closer!” Robin told Nightwing.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve done this,” Nightwing snapped. “Just hold on.”
Nightwing swerved to avoid more explosives being fired at them, a death grip on the steering wheel. Chasing Joker through the streets of Gotham was dangerous to say the least, worry about any innocent people getting tangled up in the chase always a constant fear in the back of his mind. Thankfully, cars were getting out of their way.
“Why don’t you fire at him?” Robin demanded to know.
“I can’t risk hitting Tim,” Nightwing stated.
“Can’t you get closer?” Robin suggested. “I can climb out and—”
“Hell no!” Nightwing growled. “You’re staying put.”
Damian scowled darkly, his elbow coming to rest on the passenger door frame, his head propped up with his fist. This was definitely not how he had imagined his first night patrolling Gotham to go. With any luck, the van would crash he’d finally get to see some real action.
Wayne Manor; September 13th, 06:32 EST
The Batmobile pulled into the cave just as Tim parked his Batcycle, Dick and Damian exiting the car with scowls. All three heroes approached the main platform exhausted from the long night of crimefighting and chasing. They spotted Diana sitting in Bruce’s chair wearing the same clothes she had worn last night before they’d left for patrol.
“Have you slept at all?” Dick questioned her with a frown as he cleared the last step leading up to the platform.
“I’ll sleep later,” she quickly dismissed the question. “How was patrol? I heard you spotted Joker.”
“Yah,” Tim confirmed as he dropped into a nearby chair with a yawn. “Chased him all over Gotham before finally losing him by Robinson Park.”
Diana scowled as she remembered her first encounter with the Clown Prince of Gotham. She was anxious for a rematch with the psychotic clown that was more than determined to take Batman down. She wasn’t going to standby and let him hurt the people of Gotham let alone her husband or her family.
“I wish we knew what he was up to with these drugs he keeps stealing,” she said more to herself than the others, her brow furrowing as she considered it.
“We’ll get to the bottom of it and we’ll stop him,” Dick reassured her. “You just worry about staying safe and bringing Bruce back.”
Diana shook her head as she turned Bruce’s chair back to face the computer system. “I won’t be able to stop worrying about all of you while I’m gone.”
“Well, we’ll all be worrying about you guys too,” Tim reminded her.
Diana turned back around to face her sons, concern veiling her face. “I want you boys to be careful while we’re gone,” she told them. “Joker is no doubt up to something big again. You know that he’ll try to target Batman, or anyone remotely connected to him.”
“We’ll be fine,” Damian reassured her from his position next to his oldest brother. “Dick doesn’t let me out of his sight for more than thirty-seconds anyway so I know I’ll be perfectly fine when you come back.”
The corner of Diana’s lips quirked slightly. “How was your first night out on patrol?” she asked him.
“Great if I can get my handler to lengthen the leash a little bit,” Damian uttered with a scowl, casting a sidelong glare at Dick as he crossed his arms against his chest.
“Hey, I’m not going to let anything happen to the new protégé on my watch,” Dick adamantly stated. “Besides, Bruce would kill me if I let you run rampant on your own and something happened to you.”
“I can take care of myself,” Damian maintained with a rather scary Batglare that could rival the man who originated it.
“We all know that you can, Damian, but everyone needs someone to watch their back for them,” Diana reminded him. “Even a Meta needs backup sometimes.”
“I still think you guys are being too protective,” the grandson of Ra’s al Ghul claimed.
“Maybe you should be thankful that we all care enough about you to not just throw you to the wolves and let them devour you,” Tim pointed out. “You don’t want to come face to face with the Joker your first week out with no one there to watch your back.”
“You don’t want to come face to face with Joker ever,” Dick added.
“He’s the worst of the worst,” Tim bit out. “Joker’s the one who killed Jason before your grandfather resurrected him in a Lazarus Pit. He also shot our close friend Barbara. She’s paralyzed in a wheelchair now. Then, there’s all the horrifying things he’s done to Batman over the years.”
“That’s why I’m keeping you on a very short leash, Damian,” Dick resolutely stated, an unmistakable edge to his voice. “I refuse to let Joker hurt any more of my family.”
“Anything else going on in Gotham that I should know about before I leave?” Diana asked as she stood to face them.
Her stance and the authoritative tone of her voice coupled with the determined blaze in her eyes gave all three of them pause. It was as if Bruce himself was standing before them asking for a sit rep or a breakdown on how patrol went.
Their father figure was definitely rubbing off on her although Dick was fairly certain they were merely witnessing the Amazon in the woman…the warrior about to head off into a deadly battle. Her mindset was ready focused on the dangerous task that laid ahead of her, the wife and mother suppressed in order to do what only she could do.
And they had no doubt that she would.
“Just the usual gang activity,” Tim reported, looking a little tenser than he had when they’d first arrived home. “I did have a little chat with one of Batman’s informants. There might be some trouble brewing with Riddler. He’s going to see what else he can find out and let me know.”
“Be on your toes at all times,” she instructed them. “The Riddler is dangerous in his own right. Don’t let Joker distract you from other dangers.”
Dick placed a reassuring hand on Diana’s shoulder. “Diana, we know,” he reassured her. “This isn’t the first time we’ve tangled with Riddler and it definitely won’t be the last.”
Her shoulders slumped slightly as she drew a deep breath, releasing it slowly through her nose. “I know…I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I didn’t mean to sound like you guys don’t know what you’re doing. You’ve dealt with Gotham far longer than I have and you’ve been trained by the very best.”
“It’s okay,” Dick told her with a grin. “You don’t have to try to be mom and dad while Bruce is gone. Just focus on getting Bruce back and we’ll do what we do best.”
She nodded her head in acknowledgment, her lips pursing. “I know you will,” she replied. “I trust all of you. I just hate being someplace where I can’t be there if you need me.”
“We’ll call in Supes if things get that bad,” Tim reassured her.
“Please do,” she said with a pleading note to her voice. “We all know how your father is about asking for help or letting outsiders into Gotham, but we’ll both be gone. I’d rather have you call Kal for backup than try to struggle through on your own and end up in worse trouble. I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to any of you.”
Tim took her hand in his, squeezing it firmly. “We’ll be fine, mom,” he told her. “We’ve been doing this for years.”
“Okay, enough worrying,” Dick interjected. “I’m starving and you have to leave soon. Let’s go eat breakfast.”
“That’s the best thing I’ve heard all night,” Damian said with a scowl as he left the platform in a hurry.
“Partnering with me wasn’t that bad,” Dick told him as he followed him.
“It wasn’t that good either,” Damian countered, his voice growing distant as they headed towards the stairs that would lead them up into the manor.
“Hey, I can make it very unpleasant for you if you keep it up,” Dick shot back. “Have you ever tried running on top of a train before?”
The rest of the conversation was nothing but a distant murmur as Tim stood to his feet, shaking his head in amazement. “You’ll probably be glad to be away from here for a few days,” he said. “I’m sure Damian will have a lot more to complain about in the coming days.”
A faint smile graced her lips as she began to follow Tim off the platform. “I’m sure you, Dick, and Jason can handle him.”
“Well, Dick and I can, but I’m not so sure Jason will be able to,” he decided. “I have a feeling we’re going to find Damian strung upside down, bound and gagged in the training room if Jason has his way.”
Diana couldn’t help but laugh at the image that popped into her head. “You’re probably right.”
“Hey, please don’t worry, mom,” he told her as they came to a stop before the stairs. “We’ll be fine. We’ll take care of Gotham and we’ll watch over Nick and Kaia.”
She smiled softly, her eyes sparkling brightly. “I know you will, but that never stops a mother from still worrying. Besides, I don’t know how long we’ll be gone. I’m hoping it’ll only be for a few days, but it could potentially be a couple of weeks or more and I don’t know when I’ll be able to communicate with any of you.”
“We’ve dealt with Bruce being gone for an extended period of time before,” he reminded her. “We’ll make it work.”
She couldn’t help the surge of pride she felt as she gazed at the young man that Tim had grown into. He was filled with such confidence and strength. She knew that Bruce deserved the credit for the majority of it, but she liked to think that she had a little influence in his maturation.
“I’m going to get the kids up and dressed,” she told him as they ascended the stairs. “Artemis and Shayera will be here soon.”
Tim groaned as they entered the manor, a thought suddenly occurring to him. “Ah, man,” he grumbled. “I totally forgot about Artemis going with you.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Jason is going to be a pathetic mess with her gone,” he pointed out as they entered the main foyer. “Can’t you just take Jas with you guys?”
“Sorry, but he needs to be here to help out with covering Gotham.”
“It’s not like he’s helped much for the last week,” Tim said. “He’s been too busy with Artemis.”
Nicholas ran past them at that moment still dressed in his Green Lantern pajamas. “Daddy home yet?” he asked, hopeful expectation in his bright blue eyes as he looked around for his father.
Diana leaned over and picked him up, kissing him on the cheek. “I’m sorry, little warrior,” she replied. “He’s not home yet. Remember…I’m going to help him and bring him home?”
Nicholas laid his head on his mother’s shoulder, clutching his bunny to his chest. “Don’t go, mama,” he softly said. “Stay wif me.”
Diana swallowed hard, feeling her heart breaking even more than it already had. “I’m sorry, Nicholas, but I have to. If I don’t go, your father won’t be able to come home.”
Nicholas wrapped his arms tightly around his mother’s neck. “I go with you,” he mumbled against her neck. “I can help you and daddy.”
Her eyes fell closed as she struggled to keep the tears building behind her eyes at bay. “I need you here,” she told him as she rubbed his back. “I have a very important job for you while we’re gone.”
“What?” he asked, pulling back to look at her with curiosity in his eyes.
“I need you to help Alfred take care of Kaia for me,” she revealed. “She’s too little to go along with us so I need you here to help watch over her. Do you think you can do that for me?”
Nicholas nodded his head, his arms wrapping around her neck again as he hugged her with all his might. “I watch Kaia, mama,” he agreed.
“Me watch me,” Kaia announced with a scowl as she ran towards her mother.
“You’re too little, Kai,” Nicholas told her as he looked down at his little sister.
“Me not little,” she insisted, holding her arms up to her mother.
Diana leaned down, sweeping Kaia up into her other arm. She held her children close, savoring the moment. She didn’t know if or when she’d be able to see them again or hold them like this. It created an unbearable ache in her chest that nearly stole her breath.
“I want you two to be extra good while I’m gone,” she instructed them. “Take care of Peanut and Ace and go to bed when you’re told to…no throwing fits.”
“Otay, mommy,” Kaia promised her, throwing her arms around Diana’s neck and kissing her cheek.
“Always remember your daddy and I love you both very much,” she told them, doing her best to swallow past the lump that had lodged in her throat.
At that moment, Jason and Artemis walked in holding hands. Nick and Kaia wiggled out of their mother’s arms, anxious to see the new arrivals. “Sorry we’re late,” Jason apologized as he picked Nicholas up, giving Diana a sheepish grin.
Diana just shook her head in amusement, the corner of her lips quirking. “It’s okay,” she reassured him. “I just need to say goodbye to Alfred. Shayera should be transporting down in a few minutes. I’ll give you two a chance to say goodbye.”
“We’re fine,” Artemis told her with a smirk. “We’ve been saying goodbye all night.”
“I did not need to know that,” Tim stated as he walked towards them with a plate of eggs and pancakes in one hand and a fork in the other. “Come on, Nick and Kaia. Your breakfast is getting cold.”
“Let’s go eat,” Jason agreed, carrying Nicholas as Kaia ran behind them towards the kitchen.
Artemis studied Diana for a long moment, sensing the emotional storm that was brewing inside of her. “I will not fail you,” the Bana-Mighdall Amazon promised her. “We will bring Bruce back.”
Diana bit her bottom lip, drawing a deep breath as she nodded her head. “There is no other acceptable outcome, Artemis.”