David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines
hradzka

New story

Part one of "Escape Artistry" is up on my ff.net site. My longest story to date, it's too long to post here, but one part will be up at ff.net every day until it's done. JL cartoonverse, mostly. Six parts in total, romance/action, and only slightly more innuendo than the actual show.


With the fight over, the villains imprisoned, and the insurance companies notified, the Justice League retired to the Watchtower to dress their wounds. Some of them had more wounds than others.

Wonder Woman's had healed, fortunately, by the time she reached her quarters, but that didn't make the experience any more enjoyable. Given the level at which the League fought, she was used to muscle soreness, fatigue, even the occasional bruising; but it still made her uncomfortable to see the red-tinged water swirling down her shower drain. For someone who was, under ideal circumstances, immortal, it was a disturbing reminder of mortality.

"Come to Man's World," Diana muttered to herself. "Meet interesting and exotic people, and break their legs. See marvels of architecture, as they're being pushed on top of you." And find out that despite the wild claims made by manufacturers of hair care products, every single one of their offerings is ineffective at getting out caked blood.

Big, fluffy bathrobes, however -- ah, now *those* Man's World had gotten right. The bunny slippers weren't bad, either.

The knock at the door caught her by surprise. She cinched the robe and peered into the corridor, where a urban legend stood, looking slightly worried.

"Are you all right?" said Batman.

"I'm fine, thank you," said Diana. "I'm just lucky you had that handcuff key in your utility belt."

"Luck had nothing to do with it," he said.

It was a very Bat thing to say. "'Chance favors the prepared mind,'" said Diana. "And the paranoid perfectionist."

"Guilty as charged. Are you sorry?"

"Not in the slightest," she said. "Please, come in." She stepped back from the door, leaving it open for him.

After a moment's hesitation, Batman entered the room. He took everything in with a glance -- and stopped cold. "Bunny slippers?" he said.

"Yes," said Diana cheerily. "They're terribly comfortable. You should get some."

His expression didn't change. A small, strangled noise, barely perceptible, came from the depths of his throat. "I'll think it over," he said.

Diana fought off a smile at the image. She had to throttle the giggles quickly, or he'd stalk out of her quarters in a huff and glower at her at every League meeting for the next month. "Thank you for checking up on me," she said. "I healed very quickly."

"I was worried," he said. "I'd never seen you get caught like that before."


"And by friendly fire, on top of everything else," said Diana. "The poor security guard was was terrified. He caught a glimpse of me in the shadows, went for his gun, and grabbed the handcuffs by mistake. I think he was just as surprised about it as I was. Then, before we could rectify the mistake, Luthor's robot caught up to me and -- well, you know the rest." The robot had pummeled Diana mercilessly before tossing her aside to focus on Superman. It wasn't one of the prouder moments of her career. When Batman had caught up to her, she'd barely been conscious.

"I'd have gotten to you faster," said Batman, "but I've seen you bench-press a Volkswagen. I thought you'd just break the chain."

He didn't know. That had never occurred to Diana. "I couldn't," she said. "It's my weakness."

"Weakness?" he said. She could tell he hated having to ask. Superman hated dishonesty, the Flash hated freshly-waxed floors, and Batman hated, hated, *hated* not knowing absolutely everything. Wonder Woman decided to make the explanation as short and sweet as possible.

"When a man binds an Amazon," she said, "she loses her strength."

He stared back at her, expressionless as ever. She wished his jaw would drop, or his head cock to the side, or something; when Batman stared like that, she was never sure whether he was close to turning his back in disgust or just fighting off laughter. If he laughed. The League had doubts.

"You're kidding," he finally said.

"It was a curse of Zeus," she said. "His son Hercules needed to make amends for misdeeds, so Zeus condemned him to a year as the servant of Queen Omphale of Lydia. But Omphale let it go to her head. She was of Amazon blood, and she remembered how Hercules had treated the Amazons. She made him spend that year in women's clothing, sewing and spinning." Diana shrugged. "Zeus was humiliated by proxy, so took his revenge the same way."

"That's disturbingly perverse."

Now Diana stared back at him. "Well, we *are* talking about a god who impregnated women by manifesting to them as a river, a swan, and a shower of gold coins."

"Point."

He sounded uneasy. "Does talk of gods make you uncomfortable?" she said.

His jaw set so fast she heard his teeth click against each other. "You getting beaten, then tossed into a cinderblock wall by an eighty-foot robot makes me uncomfortable," he said.

"It wasn't particularly comfortable for me, either," said Diana. She decided not to mention the caked blood on her shower drain. "Should I carry a handcuff key?"

"What about ropes? Chains? Padlocks?"

"You *are* paranoid," said Diana.

"Am I?" he said. "As often as the members of this League get bound, tied, or otherwise restrained, I think I'm taking a decidedly optimistic view. You didn't just lose your strength when you were handcuffed. You lost your speed, your agility, your resilience. You can't afford to wait for help from one of us. If an opponent manages to bind you, you could easily be killed."

"I can be killed out of bondage," she said.

"Not easily."

"You've thought about it, have you?" she said. He didn't say anything to that. The corner of his mouth quirked for a split-second. Oh, she thought. He has. Apparently, he *did* plan for every contingency. She wasn't sure if the thought was comforting or terrifying.

"What do you think I should do?" she said.

"Train," he said. "There are skills. Ways to escape from ropes, to pick locks. Look into it."

"Will you teach me?" she said.

He looked almost startled at the question. For someone capable of identifying two and two separately, he didn't seem to think of adding them to make four. Unless -- "You do know how to do those things, don't you?" she said.

Now he looked affronted. "Of course I do," he said.

Diana raised her hands in a placating gesture. "All right," she said defensively. "I didn't know. You used a handcuff key, after all. For all I know -- "

"I could have gotten you free in as little time in three different ways *without* using a handcuff key," he said harshly.

"So show me," she said.

He stood there silent for a long moment.

"Tomorrow night," he said finally. "In Gotham. We'll run through some basics, to begin with. It'll take some time. You'll have homework."

"All right," she said. "How often? Every week?"

He looked at her as if she'd just suggested they take a skiing holiday. "Every day," he said. "There's no sense wasting time. We'll take a few days off in between once you get your sea legs. But that will take at least a week."

A trip to Gotham, every day? Diana raised an eyebrow at that. "That's quite a daily commute for my lessons," she said.

He looked back over his shoulder as he left, with a grim half-smile. "I'm worth it," he said smugly.

As the door closed, Diana's eyes shot daggers at his back.
Tags: dcu, fic
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