Batman dreamed, and in his dreams, he was lost, trying to find his way out, but there was only blackness and a suffocating pressure that robbed him of breath. It was like drowning in an inky ocean of confusion and fear.
Where was everyone? Where was his city, his people?
Just as he began to despair, he saw, in the distance, a glimmer of light in the gloom. He moved toward it, his muscles moving so very slowly, yet he fought, pushing himself forward. Every muscle ached and he shuddered but he refused to give up, refused to fall.
The light grew larger as he moved closer and he kept his pace. Then it became too bright for him to see, and he squinted, and slowly the outline of a figure was there, then a face.
"So." the voice growled, gravelly and mechanical. "You are as strong as I foresaw. Good."
He tried to pull back, but he couldn't move.
"Here. Drink." a glass was held to his lips and he drank before he could stop himself. It strengthened him, and added clarity. He blinked and his eyes tried to convince him of what his mind could not fathom.
The huge figure leaned over him, covering him and looking him over cursorily.
"Where am I? What have you done?" Batman demanded, his voice surprisingly weak.
"You are in what's left of Gotham Memorial. I have not done anything. I am a survivor, as you are. There are not many of us left. We must...fight together if we are to live." Bane replied.
"I don't understand."
"Rest. When you are stronger, we will talk again."
Bane played with something up by his head and the darkness claimed him again.
When he woke the second time, his head was much clearer. He looked around and wondered at the gloom. It was daylight, but the light outside was different. Pale and hazy. Winter then?
Bane was in the corner, sitting in a chair, watching him.
"You are awake."
"You wished to know what had happened."
"Then come here."
Batman slowly pushed himself to a seated position on the bed, taking deep breaths to steady himself. Then he stood, his hand braced on the bed. It took him a few moments, but when he could stand on his own, he slowly moved to where the man sat. Bane rose and let him sit on the chair.
He looked out the window and just....stared.
Where his city had once been was now a ruin. Only the hollowed shells of a few buildings remained downtown. The landscape was devoid of life, and gray. No green, and no light except for the faint glimmers through the heavy clouds that sank so he could see them.
"We do not know. We woke to this. A world changed. People gone...except for Them."
"The ones who come out at night, and try to finish what they started."
"Who are they?"
"Creatures of darkness and death."
"But you... are evil."
"They covet my strength. Only the strong have survived."
"Your friends are gone. The Commissioner. The butler. Fox. They are all dead."
"You will see. We will meet in an hour."
Bane gave him food and drink. When he was done, he rose and went to the bathroom, moving a bit better. He washed and realized his mask was off. He sighed, but then Bane had known who he was, there was no reason to hide now. He washed himself, then slid back into his suit. His mask was on the table beside the bed when he came out.
"Only I had access to you. Most do not even know you survived." Bane said quietly.
"Why didn't you kill me?"
"Because we need strength. I told you. And you are...strong."
The corridors were silent as Bane led him from the hospital basement into a corridor that ran beneath the ground to the next building, The Gotham City University Science department.
They moved through it, up the stairs to a large auditorium. There were hushed voices inside which stopped abruptly as Bane walked in. When Batman stepped out behind him, the silence grew almost painful.
Then a voice said, "Well, well...this is...fascinating."
Cultured, analytical, and insane. Jonathan Crane sat up by the podium, and he looked rather pleased to see Batman actually. The man who was half draped on his lap did not.
"Not fair! Not fair!!" The Joker whined. "Bats was dead!! I was sure of it!! Why is he here? Kill him!"
"Do not be a fool." Bane intoned. "He is strong and we need strength. We lose people every night! We need him."
"Bane is right." Scarecrow agreed. "Logically..."
The Joker cut him off. "Don't care! Logic, logic!! Sick to death of your logic!! Kill him now!"
Crane looked at him, patting his greasy hair. "Now, now...let's not lose our heads...Batman can be helpful, and if you don't behave..."
"I'll throw you outside, alone." Bane interjected.
The Joker subsided, and pouted, still glaring at Batman.
He looked around. There was Bane, Scarecrow, Joker, and a handful of Arkham criminals. He could hear sounds in another room. "What's in there?"
"The other survivors. We've been using them as bait, trying to keep Them off of us." Bane replied.
Batman was horrified. "Let me see them."
Bane shrugged and had the door unlocked. Inside was a handful of men, but two at the back lit up when they saw him. "Batman!"
"Dent! Blake!" Batman exclaimed. The District Attorney and the police detective rushed up and shook hands.
"Release them." Batman demanded.
"The men in this room. You want strength, we need numbers and we need intelligence. Harvey Dent and John Blake are Gotham City's best and you should know that." Batman said evenly. "You want my help, they go free."
Bane seemed to consider it, then he said, "I agree, with one proviso."
"You will do as I ask, without argument. We can't have more than one ruler. It will not be anything that you cannot do."
Joker hated the release of the men even more, but Crane took him to a corner and soon they were too busy mauling each other to complain about anything.
Bane wanted to show Batman something, and he insisted that Dent and Blake come too. In another room, reinforced with many locks, something was banging against the door.
"Be ready. They are...wily." Bane warned.
He undid the locks, one by one, and inside there was now no sound.
When the door swung open, Batman wasn’t sure what he expected, but he blinked and wondered if he’d gone mad. Perched on a box on the floor was a young boy, blond, blue-eyed and perhaps 10 years old.
“What is this?” Batman growled. “He’s a child!”
“No.” Bane corrected. “He looks like a child. He is not.”
“Help me.” The child’s voice was soft and pleading.
Batman looked at Bane. “This is wrong. It is a child. How could a child possibly hurt you, or any of us?”
“Because it is not a child.”
“It is! Look at him!”
The child looked up at him and his eyes filled with tears. “You will make them release me, won’t you Batman? You will make them let me go?”
“He is not what he seems. Do not be fooled by appearances.” Bane warned.
Batman turned and looked at Dent and Blake. They were looking at the child with fear. “You think the child is dangerous?” he asked them.
“When Gordon was taken, he was killed on a silver sword, wielded by a little girl who was as young as this boy. A beautiful little girl. He bent over to see what she needed. He was worried. And she killed him without a thought.” Blake said tightly.
“He needed to be cleansed.” The boy replied sweetly. “Just as you do.” He stared at Blake with an intensity that was frightening.
“I don’t understand what you’re doing but if you’re killing men like Jim Gordon, you are…evil.” Batman growled.
“Without their weapons, they are physically weak. But psychologically, they play on people’s sympathies. It is something that your city’s people learned very quickly. “ Bane said slowly.
“So who is alive?”
“Those they haven’t gotten to yet. It has only been 5 days since it happened. We estimate about 2/3rds of the population of Gotham is gone.”
“Only those who need to be cleansed. Some may stay forever.” The child said with a smile.
“And who might that be?” Blake demanded.
“Not you, sweet one. You are too pure, your very presence here is wrong. You should’ve been one of the first. But these others… they are different.”
Batman didn’t like how that sounded.
“You say that Blake is too pure. What do you mean?”
“Selfless, compassionate… all he wants to do is help people, to see the light again. He cannot live here.”
"Why kill those who are innocent?" Bane asked curiously.
"We do not kill. We cleanse them. You have nothing to fear, Bane. You are not innocent." the child said sweetly.
"I do not fear." Bane replied evenly.
The child smiled. "Yes, what perfect evil is it that feels no fear..."
Bane just looked at him and Batman said. "So, you will 'cleanse' all the good from Gotham, and leave the evil? To do what?"
The child smiled. "You would not understand, Batman. But it is a just cause and as such, you should let it take its course."
"And if I don't agree?"
"Then you shall reap what you've sown..."
Batman sat with Bane, Dent, Blake and Crane. Crane had red lipstick smeared across his mouth and smeared on his pants, but the Joker was now resting quietly in the corner, watching sleepily as the other's spoke. Apparently he had been placated.
"What happens when the sun goes down?" Batman asked.
"They come out. And the screams begin. Then people disappear." Dent replied.
"Do they have to be out in the open?"
"No, but hiding does help." Blake replied.
"How can they be fought?"
"If they have no weapon, they can be taken. With a weapon..." Dent shook his head.
"Their weapons are mystical in nature. They hold much power." Bane commented. "Once struck by such a weapon, the person is gone."
"Instantly." Blake added soberly.
Batman shook his head. "But why here? Are they everywhere?"
"We don't know. There's been no communication out of Gotham city. And any exits from the city are impassable. We are trapped."
"The Bat! I could fly up and...."
"Everything in your Cave is destroyed." Bane replied. "That was where I found you. In your mansion, under some rubble."
Batman slammed his fist into his hand. "There has to be something we can do, I refuse to believe we're just going to sit here and die!"
"Oh, according to him, not all of us will..." Crane pointed out. "The logic of these creatures is sound. Gotham will implode and turn upon itself, and we will all be gone."
The Joker came and draped himself over Crane. "We will have the city to ourselves. We'll have the best time..."
"Until someone else wants what we have, and takes it." Crane admitted.
"No one can stop us." the Joker kissed Crane's temple then dragged his red tongue down the side of his face to his mouth.
Crane kissed him hungrily for a few minutes while Batman and the other 3 men moved away. He joined them, straightening his tie.
"Sorry about that gentlemen, but love you know is a fickle thing. Must keep the home fires burning, so to speak..."
Batman felt as though he might throw up in his mouth, just a bit. Dent and Blake wanted to risk showing Batman the city but Bane thought that was folly.
"Our strength lies in staying together, giving them no reason to chase us."
"To know one's enemy is important. You know this." Batman countered.
"Leave us." Bane ordered the others. They walked away; Dent and Blake waiting til Batman had nodded.
Once they were in the other room and they were alone, Bane turned to him. "You made an oath to follow my orders."
Batman frowned. "You know we need more information. Without that, we are doomed to fail."
"Perhaps failure is the endgame for these creatures. They know us...they know our limitations. Perhaps we are already doomed to fail." Bane replied quietly.
"I refuse to accept that."
Bane smiled slightly. "This is why I saved you. You simply do not know how to lie down and die."
"Neither do you."
"You are not strong enough to go out. Tomorrow night will be soon enough." Bane finally agreed. "Tonight you must rest...and gather your strength."
Batman relayed the plan to Dent and Blake and they spent some time picking a place and a time, then after the other men were fed and asleep, Batman ate and explored this sanctuary. Crane and the Joker had a hidey-hole in the university tunnels, with a couple dozen men. Dent and Blake took the south end of the hospital with the other survivors. Batman found himself looking for Bane.
The behemoth had disappeared as quietly as he usually appeared, and Batman was curious. Bane was not just a rabid animal, even though many saw him as such. He was highly intelligent, and his physical strength only matched that.
Batman searched, noting exits and places that were strategically superior. He found Bane in the place he would've chosen for himself: A small room that had two exits that both went down or up out of the building, and reinforced doors. It had a sink and a washroom and Bane had thrown mattresses on the floor and a candle burned in the corner.
"Nice place." Batman said softly.
"It is a defensible place. And it is far away from the others."
"You don't like other people, what a shock."
"Neither do you."
Batman couldn't say anything back to that. It was true, parts of him loved being alone, because Bruce Wayne seldom had been. Batman liked solitude.
Bane sat down on his mattress and let out a grunt.
"My mask...needs work. It has been damaged. It hangs wrong and it’s difficult to breathe."
Batman went closer. "Can I look?"
Bane's eyes were dark, but he allowed it. His hands rested in his lap while he let Batman look at it. Parts of the air intake were smashed or crushed, and the side of the mask was cracked.
"You have no replacement?"
"Can you survive without it?"
"Yes. But it will be...painful."
"Sometimes...pain can be managed other ways. Take it off." Batman told him, sitting back a bit.
Slowly Bane removed his mask and Batman looked at him as his face became visible. His face was a mixture of strong handsomeness, and grotesque monstrosity.
His eyes were....liquid. Dark and long-lashed, his nose strong, and one cheekbone almost regal. The other was smashed and deformed, like the mouth that was scarred and torn. Batman knew the tale of how Bane had been beaten almost to death, defending the child of Ra's Al Ghul. Once he could've been a good man.
Bane took a breath, then another. They were silent; the only sound the first tentative, then stronger inhales of the large man.
"How is the pain?"
"It is barely there..." Bane admitted sounding almost stunned.
"The pain?" Batman asked, incredulous.
“I have not had the mask off in decades, the pain is almost gone..." Bane could barely speak.
"Well, that's a good thing, right?"
"I would not have...if you hadn't..." Bane shook his head and his eyes met those of the man kneeling on the floor beside him.
The silence between them grew and Batman was suddenly aware of how wholly Bane’s presence filled the room, of how strong and charismatic the man was without even speaking.
Bane’s eyes were full of dark light and he slowly reached toward him, touching his cheek with tentative fingers. And Batman was stunned enough to just let him.
He slid his hand up, removing Batman's cowl and revealing the face of Bruce Wayne. "I hid my face, both to enable me to live with the pain and to hide my face from the world, but you...you who are almost beautiful to look upon, you hide yourself as well."
Batman felt his heart thud in his chest, his mind reeling from the feel of Bane's strong hand on his cheek.
"Come, Dark Knight, share this night with the man whom you have set free." Bane pulled him into his arms and crushed his mouth to his.
And the world melted away.
Bane could crush a man with one hand. His strength was superhuman and his knowledge of the human body legendary. He knew how to cause pain and death. But as a lover he was like the gentle giant of fables.
He touched Bruce's face, pulling his costume from his body, removing his own clothes and he took so much time to become acquainted with Bruce's body. Light caresses, almost whispery against the Dark Knight’s skin. He returned the touches in kind, and marveled at how powerful Bane’s body truly was. It was like an aphrodisiac to trace each and every muscle on his body. Bane’s fingers traced his as well, slowly, yet each touch was like fire to Bruce’s skin. It brought them both to a fever pitch, and Bane growled softly. To have the Dark Knight aching for him, to have him beg him for more, was more than he could believe was possible.
Bane's fingers were tender, as he began exploring wet, dark places, ensuring that the pain was minimal. He kept kissing Bruce's chest, his muscles, almost as though he loved each one. Bruce was swept up in the passion, his hands running over the huge muscles of the man, bemused and how those arms felt as they surrounded him.
When he finally turned onto his stomach and Bane's hands pushed his legs apart, Bruce was more than ready. The threat of death, the loss of his friends, his family, and his city; he needed this. He needed to feel alive.
Bane's cock was built like him. Wide and strong. He began pushing inside, using some lube from a drawer. It was good they were in a hospital, with access to such things, because he would've split Bruce in two otherwise. Bruce moaned and swore, spreading his legs wider, feeling the skin tighten and burn.
Bane's harsh breaths were in his ear, and he felt him slide in further. "Is the pain bad?" he whispered.
"Just do it." Bruce rasped, his strong muscled hand sliding back to pull Bane's body closer.
Bane pulled back then thrust deeper as Bruce's body arched to recapture him. The result was Bane's manhood spearing Bruce's body and the pain knifing through Bruce's body like a dagger.
He let out a cry before he could stop himself, then he dropped his head down on the mattress. "I can't...oh...so...much..."
Bane let out a low, animal growl and began to pull out and thrust in, impaling Bruce's body over and over again. Bruce couldn't think, couldn't breathe...he just kept moaning and crying out and begging for more. His cock sprayed under him, then began filling again, but Bane just kept rutting in him, until he suddenly growled and lifted Bruce's body in the air, holding him on his cock, while his hot seed gushed inside Bruce's bowels, scalding his insides.
Then he lowered him onto the mattress and slowly pulled from him. Bruce was shaking, but Bane stroked his back, then when he could breathe again, and became aware of how hard his cock still was, Bane kissed his neck and whispered, "Your turn, Dark One."
Bruce looked at him and Bane presented to him, every muscle of his body glistening with sweat.
He slowly covered Bane's body with his own and fumbled with the lube so he could slide his fingers inside the dark, hair covered hole. Bane grunted and when the way was slick, Bruce stood behind his body and slid his dripping manhood down into the man's body. He drove into him, and Bane's guttural moans of pleasure made Bruce's cock jerk inside him. He fit him like a glove.
"Harder." Bane growled and Bruce began to slam down, driving deeper until he felt Bane clench around him as his seed joined Bruce's stains on the mattress and Bruce's seed was milked from him by Bane’s body’s convulsions.
He collapsed against him and slowly slid from Bane's body. Bane turned and caught him, then laid him on the bed. He covered him with the blanket and then joined him, pulling him into his embrace.
In his whole life, Bruce Wayne had never felt so safe, so secure and at peace, than in the arms of his enemy. Bane had broken him once, and now he had broken him in a much deeper, permanent way.
And the Dark Knight did not care.
Morning came and with it, the scent of Bane. Bruce inhaled and burrowed closer to the heat of Bane’s body. The other man chuckled deep in his throat, then combed the dark hair back with his gentle touch.
“It is morning.”
“I don’t see the sun.” Bruce replied, gazing around in the darkness.
“I don’t need to see the sun to know that it is time to get up.” Bane said quietly. Bruce knew that for most of his life, Bane had lived in darkness. He sighed and rolled onto his back. Bane slowly rose, sliding his arms from around Bruce’s and when he stood, Bruce was stirred again by the sight of his powerful body. He reached out and touched Bane’s back as the man pulled on his pants. His touch was fleeting but Bane turned and looked at him. A small smile played on the ruined mouth.
“It is time to rise, Dark Knight.” He mocked gently.
Bruce rolled to his feet and got dressed. He watched as Bane dismantled the mechanism of his mask then put the empty shell back on. He looked at him, confused.
“I do not wish others to know. Do you understand?” Bane asked.
Bruce nodded. He did. Bane didn’t want people to see his true face. No one understood that better than he.
They went up to meet the others, Bruce going first. Bane came a few moments later from another direction. The others were stirring and they ate together then made plans to scavenge for food and water. Blake knew where the University stockroom was, and he took a group of men to bring back as much as they could. They found dollies to help carry more and in the meanwhile, Harvey sat with Batman, Bane and the deranged duo of Scarecrow and Joker.
“We need to figure out a way to beat these things, or to get out of Gotham.” Harvey said firmly.
“I will take Batman to the City Centre. They mass there. He can see how they move, how they kill.” Bane said in that strange voice. Bruce found himself thinking of how soft and natural his voice was without the mask, his mind wandered as he gazed on Bane’s hands. So gentle…
“Batman?” Dent was staring at him.
“Hmmm? Sorry. I was lost in thought.”
“Are you comfortable with that? Blake and I can accompany you as well….” It was clear that Dent had no trust for Bane.
“No. I’ll be fine. If Bane wanted me dead, he could’ve left me to die.” Batman pointed out.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself.” Bane replied dryly.
“Should’ve…” muttered Joker but the Scarecrow hushed him.
“If what the little demon says is true, we are in no danger.” Joker suddenly blurted. “Why fear them? We should be out there, enjoying the spoils of Gotham!”
“Unless they’re lying, and they want to lure us out into the open to kill us all.” Scarecrow said patiently. It sounded as though this argument wasn’t new.
“I’d rather take the chance than have to be allied with Dent and the Batman!” Joker snapped.
“Then go.” Batman told him. “We won’t miss you, I’m sure.”
He didn’t trust the Joker to follow Bane’s orders and he sure didn’t want the clown covering his back. Bane shook his head.
“We decide things as a group. We are stronger this way.”
Scarecrow nodded. “I agree.”
“I do not!” the Joker rose and his mad green eyes glared at them all before stalking off.
“I’ll talk to him.” Crane said quickly.
“He will follow our decisions, or I will feed him to the demons as an experiment to see if he’s correct.” Bane said evenly.
Crane nodded slowly and left.
Bane rose, and then slowly moved away from Batman, and out of the room. Batman rose to follow but was interrupted by the sound of the men coming back with the food.
They unpacked the food and water and began to plan meals, while Blake listened to the plan for the evening. He didn’t like the idea of Batman going off with Bane alone either.
“I trust him. I don’t want to risk losing you two. You’re the last two good men I know.” Batman replied, he looked behind him as Bane walked back in, carrying some weapons. “Bane saved me, he won’t sacrifice me now.”
They ate, then practiced with some weapons with some of the other men who weren’t fighters, then had a small meal before heading out into Gotham. They used the sewers, Batman following Bane in the darkness, him using his night vision, Bane using his own remarkable eyesight. They began climbing slowly after an hour, then the sewer tunnels became a bit lighter until Batman could see normally. Bane opened a manhole and they climbed out.
They were hidden in a small alley; Gotham City Hall was across the road. And it was deserted.
“They’ve gone.” Batman said quietly, “Or they’re hiding.”
“Shhh. It isn’t time yet.” Bane put a finger to Batman’s lips and it took all Batman had in him not to lick that finger, or kiss it, or suck it into his mouth…
Batman touched Bane’s shoulder, his finger tracing the muscles there, and Bane gently took his hand and removed it.
“Do not distract me. Or yourself.” He chided.
Batman knew he was right. So he tried to turn off his emotions as Bane had done. They sat quietly, and as the sun finally disappeared, there was a glow and from the sky came rays of light that coalesced into the small figures of beautiful childlike creatures like the one at their hideout.
They sang to each other in lovely, ethereal voices that made Batman’s heart ache. Then they began to move around, still singing. Part of him wanted to go to them, to hear the song, but another part warned him to be wary.
He sat back waiting.
Then he saw him. Blake. He was walking down the street, alone, his eyes almost glazed. He rose but Bane grabbed his arm and shook his head. “No. They are trying to bait you.”
“I can’t let Blake die! What’s he even doing here?” Batman snapped.
Blake kept walking and the creatures moved closer, singing, calling him to them. When he was still about 100 meters away, Batman pulled out of Bane’s grasp and darted out from the shadows.
“John! What are you doing? You have to get away from here!” he shook him.
The song faltered and the creatures looked at him.
“Leave him, he is ours.” One of the closest said.
“I beg to differ. He is my friend and I’ll be taking him with me.”
“Do not be a fool, Batman. This one is pure, and would not be a friend of you, or of Bruce Wayne. Leave him and go.” Another said mildly.
Batman didn’t stop to consider how they knew who he was, he just gripped John Blake’s arm tighter. “He’s coming with me.”
The creatures raised their weapons of silvery light, all different kinds. Swords, maces, long knives, but all had the same sheen along them. They moved and one struck out as Batman whirled and kicked out.
The creature fell but another creature struck out.
His sword rang out on the pavement, leaving sparks where Batman had been.
Bane had barreled through the creatures, picking up Batman and Blake in his arms and running down the empty road. The creatures followed by they weren’t as wily as their quarry and within an hour, all three men were back in the university wing of the hospital.
Blake was still a bit dazed.
“I went to go and follow but when they began singing and I just couldn’t…they were calling me…I didn’t care, I just wanted to hear the song.”
“It is a beautiful sound, but…” Batman had known it was their way of luring them, and had ignored it. Why couldn’t Blake? He had to know that it was a trap.
“He is weak.” Bane growled. “The song is how they lure the weak.”
“I just know that I couldn’t stop. Even when Batman came out, I just wanted to stay there.” Blake shook his head. He looked almost embarrassed.
“When I kicked the one, he went down. They are not physically imposing.” Batman stated. “They can be hurt.”
“But can they be killed?” Dent asked slowly. “I haven’t seen even one go down.”
“We have one. Let us see.” Bane rose and they followed him. Batman didn’t know whether he agreed with this.
“The creature might be more valuable as a hostage. Bane, just listen for a moment.”
Bane ignored that and kept walking. They got to the closet and opened it. The creature looked at Batman. “So, you have chosen your side and I had such high hopes for you. Be wary, Batman. Would you not rethink your decision?”
Batman just stared at him, trying to ferret out his meaning.
“You have been tempted by evil. Is it so easy for you to fall?”
“Killing innocents is evil.” Batman countered angrily.
“That is true.” the eyes of the creature bore into his. “Who are you to say who is innocent?”
“Who are you to decide?”
“Enough.” Dent stepped forward and grabbed the boy. He lifted him and with one swing, smashed the boy’s head into the concrete wall, caving it in.
He dropped the body, and it lay there, unmoving. Then it simply vanished, leaving nothing behind.
“There. Now we have an answer. They can be killed.” Dent said with some satisfaction.
But to Batman, all that was certain to him was that they now had more questions.
He followed Bane back to his lair afterwards. He was barely in the door when Bane backhanded him to the ground. Batman stared up at him, stunned, his head still ringing.
“What?” he rose, blocking Bane’s next blow and shoving the behemoth back with difficulty.
Bane picked him up and slammed him against the wall. “You promised me! You promised you would follow my orders! What you did today was foolish! You might have been destroyed trying to save that weak fool!” he raged.
Slowly Batman slid his hands up and undid the mask that covered Bane’s face. He traced his cheeks, cupping his face.
“It is who I am. You cannot expect me to be otherwise. Would you respect me any other way?” he asked him quietly. “I had to save him. And you saved me. Do not be angry now. We don’t know how long we’ll have…”
After a long moment, Bane lowered him to the ground, and Batman removed his cowl. His eyes sought Bane’s. “I was not afraid today. I knew you were there, I knew you wouldn’t let them take me.”
“You will get us both killed.”
Bane turned his back to him and Batman traced the hard muscles of his back, then slowly helped him remove his shirt. He removed his own, then began to massage Bane’s shoulders, rubbing the knots out, tracing them with his tongue as time went on, tasting Bane’s sweat. His head swam a bit and he nuzzled the back of Bane’s neck, tickling the soft hairs, his mouth moving over his neck to his shoulder, mouthing his way down.
Bane’s body began to relax and finally he turned and gathered Bruce in his arms. His mouth covered Bruce’s and he sighed as he sank into the kiss.
He lifted him and carried him to the bed, helping him to undress before undressing himself. He laid back and Bruce straddled him, leaning over the huge body, kissing his chest, his neck, his jaw…nibbling at it as the heat between them grew.
He leaned on his hands, grinding down on Bane’s swollen organ, teasing himself. Bane growled softly and reached for the tube by the bed. He prepared himself and pulled Bruce’s ass cheeks apart so his thick fingers could pull him open. Then he pushed up and into him. Bruce’s mouth opened in an O of pleasure and pain.
The feel of his thickness, it filled him so completely, he couldn’t imagine ever feeling so full. He slowly slid down on it, feeling every fraction of an inch enter his body. His own cock was dripping on Bane’s stomach and the man began to fist Bruce’s cock, watching his face twist with lust.
The feel of his strong hand, fondling him, and of his cock, impaling his body, brought Bruce to a peak much faster than he’d thought possible. Bane slid his hand up and down twice and Bruce cried out, as he ground down on Bane’s thickness, his cock spurting all over the man’s hand and stomach.
Bane looked surprised, then smiled almost amusedly. “Do I please you that much?” he teased gently.
Bruce was still jerking, unable to answer, but he began to ride Bane faster, wanting more of him. He arched his back and let Bane almost slide from his body, then slid back down, whimpering as the blunt head force him open.
Bane pulled Bruce closer, then turned so he was on top of him. He pushed Bruce’s legs over his shoulders and began to thrust into him with bruising speed.
Bruce’s hands gripped the huge biceps and Bane growled as he lifted Bruce on his cock, letting him feel the jets of hot semen filling his body. And when Bane finally lowered him, Bruce’s legs were shaking so hard that Bane began to rub them.
Bruce’s cock soon filled again, aroused by the strong fingers working his leg muscles. He slid his hand between Bane’s legs, lightly teasing his hole, wetting his fingers in his mouth, then pushing them inside the man while he massaged him.
When Bane finished rubbing Bruce’s legs, he looked at him, his eyes tinged with need. Bruce didn’t say anything; he just moved Bane onto his stomach, covering his body with his. He lubed his cock, then pushed Bane’s legs apart. He entered him slowly, but once he was inside the tight warmth, he began to use long, deep thrusts, wanting to make Bane make those soft, growling purrs that he did when Bruce hit his prostate and made him feel good inside.
He wanted to make Bane feel as good as the other man had made him feel. He wanted to please him, and that shocked him. Bane had always been his enemy, but here, in this world, they were so good together. Even in the battle, Bruce had taken an almost animalistic pride in his lover. Bane’s movements were so fast, so calculated and devastating. He was incredible, and he was Bruce’s….
He began thrusting faster, his body slapping against Bane’s, and as Bane growled deep in his throat, Bruce felt his orgasm rising.
“Bane….” Bruce almost whispered as he began to shoot inside the man, bringing another peak from the man under him. Bane’s cock was spattering the blankets and without even being touched by anyone. When Bruce slid from his body, Bane turned onto his side and after putting a towel down he pulled Bruce down beside him.
“You made me soil our bed…” Bane growled, nibbling his ear.
“I’m sorry, I’ll try to be less good in bed…” Bruce replied with a smile and kiss. He traced the ruined lips and Bane turned his head slightly.
“Don’t turn away from me.” Bruce said quietly, gently pulled him to face him again.
“My face is like me. Monstrous.” Bane cupped Bruce’s cheek. “But you are so beautiful, Dark Knight. So perfect.”
“I’m nothing even close to perfect.” Bruce answered firmly. “It’s what’s inside that count as beauty. And in that department, I’m no better than the Joker.”
Bane looked at him searchingly. “You truly believe this.”
“I have done…” Bruce lay his head down on Bane’s shoulder. “… so many things that I am ashamed of. So many things that were evil, that I thought would be good, but ended up making things worse.”
“But your intentions were good.”
“You know what they say about good intentions…” Bruce tried to smile.
Bane just rested his lips against Bruce’s temple and sighed. Bruce closed his eyes and dozed when suddenly there was the sound of feet and a banging on the door. He jerked awake but Bane was already up and he went to the door.
“What?” he demanded through the door.
“It’s me, Crane. That mad fool is gone! He took off while I was sleeping!” the Scarecrow sounded a bit unglued himself.
“I’ll be there soon.”
“Find Batman, too. We’ll need him!” Scarecrow called as he ran away.
Bane looked at him and Bruce frowned. “I know what you said about strength in numbers but I don’t think either of us should be risking our lives to find that nut.”
“We will need to know if his theory is correct.”
Bruce just rolled his eyes and rose. He began to dress and looked at Bane. The large man’s eyes were on him, and were thoughtful.
“You risked our lives for Blake without a thought.”
“Blake is a good man. He deserves to live.”
“The Joker is mad. Is the fact that he is insane what makes him unworthy to live in your eyes?”
“No, the fact that he’s killed people and will never change does.” Bruce replied, but he didn’t look Bane in the eye. He didn’t like how the dark eyes seemed to see into his soul.
“You do not know that.”
“You are colored by your dealings with him in the past. By his animosity towards you and vice-versa.” Bane stated quietly.
“Perhaps. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a murderous criminal, and not worth us shedding our blood for.”
“Us.” Bane paused. “And two days ago, would you not have put me in the same category as the Joker? A murderous criminal?” he rose and left the room, leaving Bruce there, his cowl in his hand, staring after him.
The Joker had spent his time being busy. He’d set himself up in a huge toy store and was busy playing and drinking from a bottle of champagne when they found him.
They watched from a building across the way and waited. He had lights on, was playing music and then as it got darker, he went out to a large ice cream truck, put in music and began driving up and down the street, playing the music and careening up and down the road. He was begging to be taken.
And nothing happened.
Batman tensed as he saw a group of silvery beings crossing the road, but they didn’t even take any notice of the Joker, intent on their quarry in another place.
The Joker even honked at them.
“Nothing….” Bane observed quietly.
“Even they don’t want him.”
Bane ignored that and they watched until dawn, then returned to the hideout. Scarecrow was waiting.
“He’s fine. He’s at the FAO Swartz’s by City Hall. Look for the big ice cream truck with the music blaring.” Batman told him.
Crane looked incredulous. “Did they see him?”
“Yes. He honked at them.”
Crane was stunned and he quickly left the building.
“So we can go?” one of Crane’s men asked slowly.
“If you want to chance it, go ahead.” Batman replied.
Bane didn’t stop them, but he warned them. “Once you leave, you will be alone.”
They didn’t care, they all left and it was the few men who had been held prisoner, Blake, Dent and the two masked men.
“You aren’t going?” Dent asked Bane.
“Why should I? I do not trust how this is. Why not the Joker? Because they are only after the innocent? What sense does that make? Are you innocent Dent?”
Bane shook his head and grabbed some food before disappearing. Batman watched him go, feeling so alone suddenly. He knew Bane was disappointed in him, which was almost a joke.
After all the heinous things Bane had done in his life, why should he even care what the man thought of him? But he did. He wanted to go and explain, let the man tell him it was okay and find solace in him.
But his pride held him back.
Bane hadn’t fought with the Joker for the last 15 years. He didn’t know how insane the clown was, how utterly depraved. He spent the day resting and talking to Blake and Dent. Blake wanted to go and see if any of the kids from the orphanage were still alive. He checked almost daily, but it was getting late and Dent made him promise to wait til morning. For some reason the sun wasn’t staying in the sky as long. Did these creatures have the power to change the length of the day as well?
It was an hour after dark when suddenly the light in the middle of the room went out. They were far inside the building so Batman didn’t worry overly at first.
“Need a new battery?” he asked going to turn on his flashlight. But it didn’t go on.
“I put a new battery in yesterday.” Dent replied, his voice tense. There was a soft sound that rose around them. The song.
“No.” Dent muttered, trying to move. He ran into a box of something and Batman heard him fall. Then the room lightened and the song grew louder and there was 10 of the creatures there, looking at them.
“No!” Batman rose. How had they found them?
“The men you let go had much information. They were willing to sell it to us for their lives, but of course, we already knew where you were. You are the last…all are gone except for the impure, the evil…”
“So you will take the good and leave the evil here for what? To do what? Your bidding?” Batman demanded.
"To fester in its own putrescence. To loll in the filth of its own creation. To let it expend itself and in the end, die." the child replied.
Suddenly there was the sound of weapons cutting the air, then silence. The prisoners were gone.
“Come, John Blake.”
Blake was brought forward. He didn’t look afraid, he looked…mesmerized by the song.
The child brought her sword down, and Blake was gone.
“NO!” Dent moved forward and the creature ignored him. “He was the last. Enjoy your city, Dark Knight. We have cleansed it for you.”
“This city is now nothing but evil. You may spend your last days the way you have lived. Becoming what you fought against your whole life.”
“Are you saying that we’re the evil?” Dent demanded.
“Yes, Two-Face, you are the evil.”
Batman looked at Harvey, confused.
“Who is Two-Face?” he asked.
Dent shrugged and the creatures were gone. It was the two of them, and the light was on. They were alone.
“I need to talk to Bane, I need to let him know…”
“I’m going out. If I’m so evil, I have nothing to fear.” snarled Dent.
“Harvey! Don’t be a fool! It could be a trap!”
But Dent was gone, and Batman quickly ran down through the hospital. He got to Bane’s lair and the door was open. He burst in, “Blake’s gone, they’re all….” He stopped.
Bane’s lair was empty.
And on the bed was the mask.
Batman stared at it blankly.
He went and picked it up and just cradled it in his hands, staring desolately and wanting to scream.
Gotham was now a madhouse.
It reminded him of Arkham Asylum but on a city-wide scale. The evil and the insane were in charge and it was anarchy. Chaos. The streets ran with blood because they killed each other daily, and then would rise the next day to do it all over again.
For that was another perk of this nightmare. The dead were only dead temporarily. They rose again, which they soon discovered.
Batman watched as the Joker killed Scarecrow one night. The Joker was upset once he realized he’d done it, and sat by the body all night, berating Crane for upsetting him.
“You asked for it, yes you did. I told you, TOLD YOU, that the suit was for me! You had 1000’s of suits to pick from. That one was MINE. Now look what you made me do? Who will help me dress? Who will sing to me at night? Bad man! Selfish! That’s what you are!”
He wept for a bit, then started berating the corpse again. Batman watched, almost moved to pity. He left, unable to listen to The Joker rant any longer.
But to his shock, the next night, he saw The Joker with Crane beside him, eating in an Italian restaurant. They were eating some burnt food which they had obviously made themselves.
He just stared as Crane wiped the Joker’s mouth delicately.
Was he going mad?
A few nights later, he came upon them in a large department store. They were in the beds, rutting on them like animals.
“MY turn!” Joker called through his moans. Crane was slamming him from behind and he shook his head. “I’m…not…done…yet…”
The Joker tried to pull away and Crane impaled him again, pressing him into the bed. “Let me finish!”
The Joker let him thump against him, and Crane came soon after. He pulled out, kissing the Joker’s shoulder.
“Okay, your turn.”
The Joker smiled and even from where he was, Batman knew that wasn’t a good smile. It was a “run like hell” smile.
He reached out, grabbed Crane’s cock and yanked a knife from his pocket. He sliced Crane’s cock off with one movement, then turned him onto his stomach and began to thrust inside him. Crane was screaming so the Joker stuffed the dismembered cock in his mouth and held it there while he raped him.
By the time he was done, Crane was dead. From blood loss or choking on his own cock, Batman couldn’t tell.
The Joker rose and said, “Next time, I go first.”
And then he lay down next to him and fell asleep. And the Batman knew he would just rise again in the morning, and they would fight and fuck and the chaos would continue.
As Batman walked listlessly around, he noticed that this immortality just made the people around him more evil. They had nothing to fear, so they became animals.
He expected it from the Joker. The man was insane.
Even Crane, brilliant as he was, was certifiably crazy.
But the others were soon just as bad. They raped, they burned buildings, they sliced each other up, they beat each other and the next day, it began all over again. It was like a contest to see who could be the worst.
Batman began to avoid people. He didn’t want to see anymore. He didn’t want to know what was going on. He just wanted to be anywhere but here. He hated this.
The Joker found him one night and began to beat him, and after seeing that he didn’t fight back, others joined in. They hit him, struck him with clubs, cut him, stabbed him and the last thing he felt was a blow to his head, probably caving in his skull.
And in the morning, he was alone and he rose and slowly walked away.
After that he returned to Wayne Manor and just sat, staring at the walls. He didn’t eat, but apparently starving wasn’t how he was going to be allowed out either. Weeks went by. He took his armor off. He didn’t care anymore.
Bruce Wayne/Batman…both were evil men…?
What had Bruce Wayne ever done? Wasn’t he innocent?
“No. He is a part of you, Batman, and you did evil things.”
He turned. Sitting on a chair by the empty hearth was a young girl.
“I tried to save people, to keep my city safe.”
“At first, yes, you did. But you became the Batman to punish the evil. To pay back those who took your parents. And as time went on, the line between good and evil became blurred and you were feared. You started to become like those you hunted. Feral. Mad.”
“You took Bane.”
“Bane repented. The first time you made him feel like a man, like a creature of worth, he repented of every evil he had ever done. He made a choice to be a good man. To be worthy of you, ironically.”
Bruce wanted to cry. He still carried Bane’s mask with him. He missed him so much.
“I would rather die than stay in this nightmare.”
“That is part of your punishment, Dark Knight. You cannot die.” She paused, “But…you may unmake a decision, if you wish.”
Bruce sat, thinking for a long time, then he looked up. “Everyone’s life is worth something, even the Joker’s. I should not have said what I did.”
The girl smiled.
“Look, people do change. Even you…”
She walked close and began to sing. He didn’t block it out this time, he let it flow over him, let it lull him, and then his eyes opened.
It was bright and he blinked, covering his eyes.
The light was dimmed by the sound of a curtain being closed slightly and Bruce blinked. He was in his bed, in Wayne Manor. John Blake was sitting in a chair with Lucius Fox, and Jim Gordon was by the window, looking shocked but happy. Alfred was leaning over him, giving him water to drink.
The men were up and over to him, all talking at once. Bruce just blinked at them.
“You’re alive.” He managed to rasp out.
“We’re alive?” John laughed. “I like that, he’s on death’s door for weeks and we’re the ones who are alive.”
“You’ve been very ill, Master Bruce. We thought…even the doctors thought you were going to die. I brought you home, I knew you would want to be here. You’ve been in a coma for 2 weeks.”
“Gotham’s fine. You let us worry about that. Robin’s been out taking care of business and the PD’s been with him.” Lucius said in that firm tone of his.
“I don’t understand. Everyone was gone except for me and Harvey.”
“Two-face?” Jim Gordon asked.
“No it was Harvey, he wasn’t…” then Bruce understood why it had been so strange. Harvey Dent was like he’d been, before Two-Face. But some part of him knew, because they hadn’t wanted him, to them he was evil.
“You rest. I’ll get some clear soup.” Alfred went off and Bruce just lay there while the other men slowly told him little bits of things about his illness.
“Bane is dead, or presumed dead anyways.” Gordon replied. Bane’s body had been taken after Batman had gone after Talia.
“Bane was there with me. He saved me.” Bruce mumbled.
John looked at the others and Bruce shook his head. “I’m not crazy. He was there he kept me alive…”
“Who else was there?” Lucius asked slowly.
“The Joker, Scarecrow and you.” He looked up at Robin suddenly. “You were there, until they took you. You were the last one. The last innocent…”
Then he stopped. Robin was here, looking baffled. He hadn’t been there. It had all been in his head? A coma-induced dream?
Jim and Lucius went to the other side of the room, talking softly, but Robin looked at him. “Where was I taken?”
“The creatures…angels I guess, they took all the innocents, and left Gotham to the evil to rip itself apart. You were the last one they took.”
“But they left you?”
“I wasn’t good. I had made choices…they said I didn’t deserve to leave. Until I made the right choice, then she let me hear the song and follow it.”
“A beautiful song. It played when they lured the good out. And the good would leave but I kept blocking it out. I had things to do. But at the end, I heard it, and I opened my eyes and I was here…”
Bruce was tiring and Alfred returned with a mug of soup. He drank it and then lay back, dozing.
When he woke, he was more coherent. He sat up and his muscles protested but he made himself do it. He sipped some more soup and looked out the window at the grounds of Wayne Manor.
Robin came in, looking at him.
“You’re looking much better.”
“I’m awake. I need you to do me a favor. No questions.”
“Of course.” The younger man sat down by the bed and looked at him.
“I need you to use the resources in the Batcave. Find Bane.”
“What if Bane is dead, and I can’t find him.” Robin asked slowly.
“Then I want to see his body.”
Robin nodded and rose. “I’ll get right on it.”
“And not a word to anyone else.”
Robin nodded and left and Bruce sat back. He took another drink of his soup and began to form a plan.
It was a week before Bruce could move around, feeling like himself again. He was eating again, and even exercising, though he hadn’t patrolled. He had been pale when he woke, and tired looking, which he found a bit amusing as he’d been asleep for two weeks, but now he had color in his cheeks and was looking more like himself.
Robin had come to him at lunchtime.
“I found something, it’s small, it could be nothing, but it’s all I could find.”
“Let me see.”
It was a sighting, very fuzzy, very dark. It looked like a large man, huddled in a corner, in a cage. On his face was a mask, Bane’s mask.
“It could be him, or not.”
“Where was the picture taken?”
“Of course.” He should’ve known. He rose and looked at Robin. “Thank you.”
“You’re going after him aren’t you? You’re going to go to that hellhole you almost died in and you’re going to try and find him.”
“Yes. And while I’m there, you’re in charge here. Keep our city safe, I’m counting on you.”
“I could help. The city’s been quiet….”
“No. I need to do this alone, and if anything goes wrong, I need you here.”
“Are you going to tell Alfred? Because he was almost mental when you were ill. Wouldn’t listen to the doctors, threw them out because they said you were a vegetable.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
Alfred wasn’t exactly thrilled with his idea.
“Master Bruce, you just woke up from a two-week coma and this is how you take the doctor’s advice to rest and recuperate?”
“It’s warm in the Caribbean.” Bruce smiled.
The butler was not amused.
“I need to do this, Alfred. I know it was a dream but I need to see Bane, if this is him. I need to at least try to make this right.”
“To make what right? Master Bruce, you’re talking in riddles.”
“I can’t explain, just trust me.”
“I don’t imagine you’re leaving me much of a choice, but if something happens to you, I will be very displeased.”
“I’ll be careful, Alfred, I promise.”
Bruce left, heading for the Batcave. He would take the Bat, and on the way there, he would try to figure out what he would say and do. Because even he knew this was bordering on crazy, no matter how much he knew he had to do it.
Getting into the prison was the next thing. Even with money, it was too risky to go in as himself. That was just asking for more trouble. So, he angered the local constabulary just enough to get himself beat and thrown in. He had others ready to bring him out if necessary, but for now, he needed to do this alone.
The prison was just how Bruce remembered it.
The smell of death and unwashed bodies. Of despair. And the pit that was the only way in or out.
He was thrown into a cell, and the guards pretty much ignored him. There were other easier men to harass and even they weren't much fun. The prisoners weren't the only ones who were captives in here.
From the old doctor, who remembered Bruce well, he learned that only he and the blind man were still here from before. The others had been made an example of by the League of Shadows for letting Bruce escape.
But the doctor and the blind man had been here most of their lives and they knew where to hide. When more men were put into the prison, they slowly began to come out and mingle. Now, they were a part of it again.
"Is HE here?" Bruce asked slowly.
The doctor looked at him steadily. "Is that why you have returned here? To seek revenge on the one who put you here last time?"
"No. Not for revenge." Bruce said quietly.
"To have a conversation. One that I must have, to find peace in my life."
The doctor looked at him, as though gauging his sincerity. The blind one said something to him, and Bruce waited while the doctor considered his words.
"He is here. He was brought here, in chains, and in disgrace by the Demon Head himself."
"Ra's Al Ghul. He lives?"
"He cannot die." the doctor said dismissively, as though it was common knowledge. "He brought him here, and said that he would die here for his failure to ruin Gotham and kill the Batman."
"Where is he?"
"In the deepest pit, the cell reserved for those who are sentenced to death."
The pit had one narrow stairwell above it, and Bruce used some rope and slowly scaled his way down. It stank and there was nothing at the bottom but a stone floor. The steady drip of water was the only source of drinking he imagined was available. Carcasses of rats were all over, which told him if food was ever given. Apparently not.
Yet in the corner, there he was, still alive and still formidable.
A huge hulk of a man dragging himself to his feet.
"Who...?" then he sniffed. "You!" His voice was odd, but his.
He strode forward, picking Bruce up in the air, slamming him into the stone wall and roaring. "Why are you here!!?"
"I need to talk to you." Bruce said firmly.
Bane was shocked speechless. He just stared at him, his eyes glittering in the dim light. Then he slowly managed, "What?"
"I need to talk to you."
Bruce looked at him, his hands resting on Bane's biceps, not squeezing, just clasping them firmly. "I almost died. I was in a coma, I was almost gone, and in my dreams, you saved me."
Bane almost laughed.
"So have you come to thank me then, Bruce Wayne? For saving you in a dream?"
"You became more than what you are. And I was reminded that every man, even you and I, can be something different than we have been. We can be more."
Bane laughed. "Are you insane? More? Next you will tell us we were friends...."
Bruce looked at him, touching his cheek suddenly, realizing that the mask was now gone. He was aware that Bane was able to kill him, and probably would but he had to try.
"We were more."
Bane's eyes were suddenly bewildered and almost afraid.
"What are you saying?" he almost whispered.
"We were together. You and I, we were..."
Bane suddenly threw Bruce to the side and almost screamed with rage. "You lie!"
"No, I would not lie about such a thing." Bruce said calmly.
Bane backhanded him and Bruce leapt back up and hauled off and struck out, knocking Bane back. They stared at each other, their harsh breaths all that could be heard in the room.
"Why are you here?" Bane demanded, his voice a harsh rasp.
"To release you, to give you the chance that you gave me."
"In your dreams...."
"And if I choose to come after you, to finish the job that I was bred for?" Bane asked.
"Then I will fight you. But you deserve at least this chance to be more."
Bane just stared at him.
"We fought together, in my dream. We battled, trying to save each other. You kept me alive. Together we were very strong."
"Why would I save you?"
"Because you said that I was strong, and strength was needed."
Bane was silent.
"Will you come with me?"
"Do not be foolish, I want out of here, of course. Afterwards we will see." Bane growled.
Bruce climbed up first, Bane after him. They fought the few guards who cared enough to try and stop them, and at the mouth of the pit, Bruce whistled. A sling was lowered and Bruce turned to the blind man and the doctor. "Come, live in the world again."
"We are too old, and we cannot live in this new world. Go, and live your life, Bruce Wayne." the doctor shook his hand and returned to his cell.
Bruce and Bane stepped onto the sling and they both rose to freedom.
On the plane Bruce looked at Bane, who was crouched in a corner, blankets covering his naked flesh, empty bowls of soup next to him, with empty water bottles.
The dark eyes watched him, but Bane seemed to be in shock, not believing he was free.
"The Demon Head will come for me. He will be angered that I escaped."
"He doesn't have to know. The doctor will put a body down there, the guards will report you dead. I have left money to ensure their silence. Those that are left, at any rate."
"He is Ra's Al Ghul. He is immortal."
"He's a madman." Bruce replied dryly.
"Do not disparage him!" snarled Bane, half rising.
"He left you to die. Your loyalty is misplaced. Consider that."
He sat back and pulled up his own blanket. He really wanted to shower, and he could hardly wait to get to their destination and do so. He closed his eyes. "We have ten hours before we arrive. Rest."
Then he fell asleep.
When he woke, Bane was asleep, but he woke as soon as Bruce moved. He looked around balefully.
"How long has it been?"
"Another half hour in the air."
"Then where shall I go? To your prison?" Bane asked. "You do know that I am a wanted man in America."
"We're not going to America. We're going to my home in Switzerland. We'll rest; you can recuperate, and then decide where you want to go."
When they landed, the car was waiting. His estate in Switzerland was in the foothills under the watchful eye of the Swiss Alps. It was beautiful, and very private.
Inside, food was being prepared and Bruce showed Bane to the guest suite. "I have had some clothes sent out, they're in the closet. You have a bathroom through that door. Supper will be in a couple hours. Rest ‘til then. Should I have the doctor come out?"
Bruce went to his own suite, ignoring the rush that went through him as Bane dropped the blankets wrapped around him as he closed the door. His body was still so impressive.
He showered, then dressed and went down to pour himself a drink. He was tired but he felt much better now that he'd gotten this far. Now he would see if he was as mad as Robin, Alfred and the rest of his friends thought he was.
He knew it was insane, but he also knew he wouldn't be able to let this go until he'd done what he felt he needed to do.
He sent a message home, letting them know he was in Switzerland, with Bane. It was almost supper time when his guest came down, clothed and washed.
"This home is decadent." he observed.
He kept his face slightly averted, as he'd kept it covered with the blanket on the plane.
"I have seen you without the mask." Bruce pointed out.
Bane looked at him, confused, and Bruce suddenly laughed, almost hysterically. "In the dream your mask was damaged, I took it off and you were fine without out, the pain was gone."
He realized how utterly ridiculous that sounded, but Bane looked at him, and Bruce was stunned. "You looked, exactly as you do now."
"Madness." Bane said shortly, but he kept his face visible after that.
They were called into dinner and went into the smaller dining room.
It was a silent meal, both eating, though Bruce had made sure that there was stew and soft foods for Bane. After, he rose and went into the study that looked out onto a lake at the bottom of the Alps. It was lovely.
He poured a brandy for himself, and one for Bane.
Bane was looking through the music CD’s he had on at the side and he picked one and put it on. The music played softly and Bruce was troubled.
“What is it?” Bane asked.
“That song…it’s so familiar. What is it? Is it mine?”
“It was here.” Bane shrugged. He flipped the cover over and read, “Stile Antico. Audivi vocem de caelo.” He paused and looked at Bruce, “’I heard a voice from heaven’. A strange choice for a Dark Knight.”
Bruce walked over slowly, the music still stirring something deep within him. A memory? Something….
His hand shook and he held the brandy abruptly toward the other man.
Bane gave him a look but took it, sipping and looking out the window. The music continued to play, and Bruce suddenly looked toward the CD player. “That song!” he reached down and grabbed the case. “This was the song that they sang to call the people to them in my dream!”
Bane looked surprised. “Really, you must have listened to this before and forgotten…”
Bruce imagined he was right, even though he didn’t even remember buying that particular CD. He finally just nodded and took a deep breath, trying to move past it.
Bane was looking at the large chess board in the corner. Bruce watched him then said, "Do you play chess?"
"Would you like a game?"
He grunted his assent and they began a game. It was a good game, and Bruce was hard-pressed. Bane was very cunning, and yet he risked when Bruce didn't expect him to. He was constantly keeping Bruce off-guard, much like the man himself.
They had another brandy and Bane had to smile when he won 2 games of chess in a row. "I am suddenly unsure of why you are held with such esteem by the Demon's Head. You can't even win at chess against a simple man such as me."
"I'm smart enough to know that you are anything but a simple man." Bruce retorted. Bane just smiled, but he knew that Bruce respected him.
"So, this dream, why were we fighting together?" Bane asked conversationally, as he set the board up again.
"The world had ended. These creatures, angels I suppose, had taken all the people away, all the good people, leaving Gotham to all the criminals, and madmen. I thought they were evil, but they were just taking the good to heaven. They took you."
Bane looked at him, his gaze suddenly intense. "That must've been strange for you."
"I had become too much like those that I fought. You saved me, and saved another man. A good man. You had become a different person. You were strong, but you weren't evil."
"And you were."
"In their opinion, yes." Bruce shrugged, remembering how he'd felt when he realized he was being found flawed and evil and that Bane was gone.
"And when you woke, this dream inspired you to find a man who was supposedly dead and whose last meeting with you had not gone particularly well, and give him this chance to be this man you met there?"
Bruce looked at him. "Well when you say it like that..."
Bane suddenly chuckled.
"I think, perhaps, this illness might have perhaps eroded your mind, Bruce Wayne."
"I don't see what you're complaining about; you're out of that pit." Bruce pointed out, rather sharply.
"Do you ever wonder what kind of life you may have had if you hadn't been raised in that prison, trained to be in the League of Shadows, to be nothing but a killer? Don't you ever wish you could've had a normal life?"
"What is normal, Bruce Wayne? Your life?" Bane inquired mildly, moving a chess piece.
"No, not mine. But other people..."
"People's lives are their own. There is no 'normal' life. There is just life. What is that American saying? "You play the cards you're dealt." I played mine, you play yours." Bane replied.
"I don't know." Bruce shook his head, staring at the chess board.
Bane sat back as Bruce finally made a move and looked at him, amused. Bruce saw it immediately and groaned. Bane moved his piece and smiled. "Checkmate."
In the week that followed, Bane grew stronger. He began eating more, and using the gym and pool for hours during the day, making his body back into the weapon it had been.
He played chess with Bruce every night, and while Bruce did occasionally win, Bane won more, and while he didn't mock Bruce openly, his smile said it all.
"You play too conservatively." he offered one night. "Sometimes, you must take chances."
"You sacrifice some pieces, yes, but not the important ones, not the ones that could win you the game."
"Or lose me the game."
"When you think that way, you've already lost." Bane observed, rising to pour himself another brandy. He favoured the Calvados. He held up the bottle to Bruce, who held out his glass.
The butler brought in a tray of cheese, crackers and sausage with some small pastries. They ate and played chess for a bit, and Bruce lost again. He almost growled as he sat back with a huff.
"I beat my father all the time, and he was a doctor."
"He let you win."
"You don't know that."
"I've played with you enough to know that he definitely let you win." Bane replied.
Bruce just glared at his brandy.
And Bane chuckled again.
"I think I'll go for a walk. Good night Bruce Wayne."
Bruce woke with a start. His phone was ringing and he picked up quickly, only a few had his mobile number.
"Bruce, you have to get back here." the connection was scratchy and cut in and out.
"You have to get here! Now! It's happening!!"
The line went dead.
Bruce tried to call him back, to call Alfred, and Fox. But he couldn't get through, all rang busy. He called the Gotham PD and got the same sound.
Something was wrong.
He called and got his pilot to ready the jet. He went to Bane's suite and knocked. Bane opened the door, no trace of sleepiness in his eyes. "What is it?"
"Something's wrong in Gotham. I need to go back. You stay here, as long as you wish. I have to go back. Immediately."
"I see." Bane said slowly.
"I will call when I know more."
Bruce left 15 min. later for the airport, and when he got on the jet, he still couldn't get a hold of anyone in his city. He berated himself as the jet took off and headed toward the States. He never should've left for this long...
The flight back was long and he tried to sleep, but it was fitful. He knew he needed his strength though.
The jet flew silently, and Bruce tried repeatedly to contact anyone in Gotham.
He finally sat back and tried to imagine what could be happening. He had to figure this out, or he would be flying in there blind, and he had no idea what he was up against.
“This is Bruce Wayne, I am flying into Gotham airspace. Please answer.” He tried again.
He changed into his Batsuit and checked what weapons he had at his disposal. Not enough, he imagined, but it would have to do now. He thought fleetingly of Bane, hoping the man decided to make something of his life, something good and worthwhile.
He hadn’t even had a chance to see if anything else in his vision could’ve come true. He remembered the feeling of Bane’s arms around him in the other place, of sleeping in the man’s embrace and feeling nothing but the reassurance that he was safe. Nothing would harm him.
The plane shook and Bruce rose, heading to the cockpit. He took it off of autopilot and tried to get a reading. He knew that he was about 10 minutes from Gotham airport, but his radar said nothing. It was blank.
He looked out the window, seeing nothing. No lights, no airstrip in the distance. No lights from his city. It was like flying into a black hole. It wasn’t just dark, it was nothingness. The absence of light.
He reduced speed and then made a decision. He started the landing cycle, hoping there would be something to land on and began his descent.
The jet shook violently and then suddenly, he had no power at all. The jet was in freefall. He tried to get back to the cabin, opening the door and looking out. His cape would help him fly down, as long as he wasn’t too high, but it was so hard to tell where he was.
He looked out, his eyes trying desperately to find anything that would help him.
Then he was suddenly struck from behind and flying through the air, and then there was impact and nothing.
He woke slowly.
A large figure loomed over him and he whispered softly. “Bane….”
“You almost died, Bruce Wayne. You waited too long.”
“How did you know? Where did you come from?” Bruce managed.
“The hold; I stowed away before you took off.”
“I owe you this much. After this, we will be…even.” Bane said quietly.
Bruce didn’t care why he was here, he just felt an overwhelming feeling of relief that he was. He sighed and looked at him, his vision clearing a bit more.
“Where are we?”
“A small building on the edge of the city. Looks like it was a power transformer. It is without power and from what I see, so is the rest of the city.”
Slowly he pushed himself up to sit and looked around.
“We need to get into the city. But first I want to stop at Wayne Manor and see if I can get us weapons and a vehicle. It should be southwest of here.”
Bane nodded and helped Bruce get up. The man was moving a bit slowly.
“Are you hurt?”
“You landed on me. You are not light.” Bane answered.
“How close to the ground were we?”
“100 ft, give or take. Your cape slowed our fall.”
Bane just grunted and they left. They found an electric cart and used it to travel quicker, and by the time it ran out of power they were close to the Batcave. They entered and Bruce tried to power up his computer. Nothing. But there was emergency lights running off of a solar battery and he gathered weapons and though the vehicles wouldn’t work, they took a boat and put it in the Gotham River and got in. They floated quickly toward the city and as they grew closer, Bane made an observation.
“Gotham’s population could not just disappear like this.”
“But they have. And we need to find out how.” But inside Bruce was disquieted. This was beginning to seem all too familiar. Was this what his vision had meant? Was it a warning of things to come? But this wasn’t exactly the same. Bane was here, but they weren’t in the hospital, Joker and Scarecrow weren’t here. Harvey had become Two-Face and he was gone.
They climbed out of the raft by the Narrows. It was dark and shadowed and silent. The Narrows were never silent. There were always the furtive movements of its denizens. But there was nothing.
“We should rest until morning.” Batman said quietly.
They found a place where the door was unlocked. Inside was a home, empty but with everything they needed. They found the bathroom and Bane helped clean up Batman’s wounds a bit more.
His touch was so gentle.
Batman slid his hand up, touching the man’s skin lightly. “Thank you.”
Bane just ignored him.
As he stood in front of him, Bruce couldn’t help reaching up to lightly trace the strong chest. “You didn’t owe me anything.”
“Of course I do. You set me free. You saved my life.” Bane replied bluntly. He looked down at Batman, their eyes meeting and suddenly bent down, crushing the Bat to his chest, his mouth finding the other’s at the same moment.
The kiss was electric and they came together, both wrestling against each other til they were naked and their bodies were straining to capture each other, to find that place of peace.
Bane lifted Batman in his arms, his hands on the bottoms of his thighs, opening the Batman to him. His thick member was too much to just push inside, so he found something in the cabinet beside them to help and then began to push inside the tight entrance.
Batman groaned, his head falling back as he tried to push himself open to him. His own cock was dripping already, hard and throbbing between them.
He let out a shaky moan as Bane pushed even further inside him, shuddering. This was exactly how it had felt. This was how he remembered it from his dream. Bane filled him, pushing inside until there was nothing between them and he began to lift Batman’s body up and down, thrusting in and out slowly.
Batman began to moan and beg shamelessly, not wanting the ecstasy to end. Every thrust brought him one step closer to oblivion and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to take much more. Two more thrusts and he was growling in lust as his seed sprayed Bane’s stomach, but still the man kept thrusting. Even when he’d filled Batman, holding him tight against him, his body jerking against him as every thrust brought another gush of heat inside him, he kept thrusting.
Batman just held on, as Bane brought him to another peak, and another, then filled him one last time. When he finally lowered him to the floor and slid from inside him, Batman felt a huge emptiness, then the rush of liquid that covered his thighs. He should’ve felt ashamed, but all he wanted was more.
His knees were weak, and Bane lifted him again, carrying him to a bed, and they slept in each other’s arms til the day woke them.
When he woke, Bane was already up and dressed and looking out the window. “We should go soon.” He said quietly, but his voice, as harsh as it was, seemed softer.
Bruce dressed and joined him and ate some food they’d got from the Batcave and headed out. They still needed to stay hidden so they discussed various ways to travel. Batman pointed at the roofs and Bane nodded. As good a way as any.
Bane shouldered a weapons pack and he and Bruce headed up a fire escape. They needed to see more. They looked from around the top of the building. There was nothing. No signs of life at all.
“Where would people go? If they were afraid and alone? To find others.” Bane asked quietly.
“Then we must go there.”
They headed into the downtown core, making their way slowly, but surely. Hours passed but the sunshine barely made a difference in the gloom. At City Hall, Bruce finally felt a bit uplifted. There were signs of others there.
“Someone was here, recently.” He said quickly. He followed the clues and they entered the building, unlocking it with one of his belt tools. They relocked it, not knowing what was out in the City. They moved up the stairwell and then paused. There were sounds of movement up above, then silence.
“A floor above.”
“Carefully. We do not know whether this is one of the enemies or not.” Bane cautioned.
Batman nodded and they silently moved up, opening the stairwell door and slid into the hall. They moved to a door and found it locked. Bruce used a small laser and it smoked then opened.
In there he found about 30 people, pale and terrified.
“Batman!” said a voice.
“Commissioner, what has happened?” he demanded quickly.
“We’re not sure. What we do know is that almost everyone has disappeared. We don’t know why. I know Robin is still out there, looking for clues. He tried to contact you but couldn’t get through.”
“Can you contact him?”
“I have a short-wave radio. I’ll call him back right now.”
Gordon looked past him to where Bane stood.
“Bane is helping us.” Batman said quickly.
“That’s hard to believe, but we can’t be choosy right now.” Gordon relented.
They waited for Robin to arrive as Gordon was relating how the sky grew dark, there was a gonging from a bell that echoed across the city and then people just disappeared.
“I left 40 people in the outer offices and when I came out 20 seconds later, they were all gone. Vanished without a trace.” Gordon said heavily. “The story is the same for all the others too. They were with others who just were gone. In the blink of an eye.”
“It doesn’t seem possible.”
“That’s what I thought. But there’s no arguing facts. They’re gone, and we don’t know how.” Gordon replied.
Bane was silent, staring out the windows in to the night.
“The young one is here.” He said quietly as Robin entered.
Robin was relieved to see him, and even Bane. “We need all the help we can. I’ve found pockets of people, not many. I’d estimate that about 90 percent of the population is gone.”
Batman was confused. He didn’t know what was going on. He needed to go out and look around some more, but he knew that shouldn’t do it alone. He looked at Bane.
“Will you come with me?”
Robin looked surprised. “I can...”
“No, stay here, you and Gordon need to find any people you can.”
He left, taking Bane with him. They were silent, moving down the dark, wet alleyways, keeping in the shadows, but for once, the streets of his city didn’t feel like home. They felt almost alien. There was no familiarity.
He looked back at Bane. The huge man just looked at him, shrugging once. They headed to Arkham, and Batman was surprised to see light coming from it. They moved quickly toward it.
“What are you thinking?” Bane asked quietly as they stopped and looked for a way in.
“I’m thinking this is wrong.”
“All this. It doesn’t make sense. The city feels wrong.” Batman said slowly.
Bane looked interested. “Feels wrong?”
“I can’t explain it; my gut is telling me this is all wrong. My city isn’t my city, this isn’t…” suddenly Batman looked at him, his eyes clearing. “... real.”
And then a wave of dizziness hit him and the city became darker until there was nothing but shadows again. He reached toward Bane but the darkness claimed him just as Bane’s arms claimed him again.
Bane was frustrated and he opened his eyes and looked beside him where the body of his arch nemesis was strapped to the table.
“He’s questioning his reality. He will discover the truth soon.” Bane said heavily to the man on the other side of the room. He took off the helmet that had allowed him to follow the Batman’s journey.
“Impossible.” Scoffed Jonathan Crane. “This serum is perfect.”
“For another, perhaps. Batman is not a normal man. He knows this isn’t real. It doesn’t feel real to him. He will discover anomalies.” Bane replied shortly.
“So what? Try again? Making up a new reality will be hard, he’ll start to get that déjà vu feeling even more, and question more.”
“I will consider. Keep him sedated.” Bane walked out. He went to his private rooms and sat by the fire thinking.
He had captured Batman, bent on revenge. Scarecrow had been willing to help, using a new serum that would play on a person’s biggest fears and help create a reality around them. Bane had helped him, creating a helmet that followed the man’s drugged reality and allowed Bane to interact in it.
And the reality was one of the Batman’s own creation, playing on the fears in his heart. It was like a torture that would never end, and Bane liked that. He owed the Batman for humiliating him in Gotham, for almost killing him. The League of Shadows had saved him, taking him and healing him so he could exact his vengeance. But now…
Batman’s greatest fear was for his city, which didn’t shock Bane. His life was dedicated to ridding his city of corruption, for keeping its people safe, whether they deserved it or not. To him, the worst thing would be for something to happen to his city, but be powerless to stop it, or understand it.
But the second fear, which wasn’t much less than the first, was of having no one to love, of being alone.
Bane was shocked by that.
That someone of Bruce Wayne’s stature would fear such a thing, and that he wanted strength, and equality in a relationship.
That he would even consider him.
He hadn’t been fed the idea of a relationship with Bane as the other. He had come up with that on his own, including the idea of him as his rescuer. Bane found that stunning. He found himself actually wanting to believe he could be that man, be the one to save him, and vice versa.
He just didn’t know what was happening; his revenge had taken a detour, and he wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right path, or even if he wanted to. Because this just wasn’t going to work, not for long. Batman was realizing this wasn’t real, and his young helper was getting remarkably close in finding them. Soon, they would be out of time.
A part of him didn’t want to let it end, because once he lifted the serum, Batman would no longer know this as any kind of reality, he would return to his world, and in his world, they were enemies, not lovers.
And for reasons he didn’t understand, he didn’t want that.
But if it wasn’t real, did it even matter?
It was dawn when he rose. He walked to the room where Batman lay. He slowly disengaged the drip and then picked him up in his arms. He carried him to his vehicle and drove through the city until he reached the man’s penthouse. He used the same key he’d used to break in and got him undetected into his bedroom. He lay him down on the bed and sat there beside him, looking at him.
He removed the cowl, admiring the man’s masculine beauty, then slowly removed his own mask. When it had been damaged by their last battle, Bane had learned that he didn’t really need it any longer, it was now worn more as a mask for his broken face.
To enable him to hide himself from the daylight, and the eyes of those who recoiled from him.
But not his enemy. Not the beautiful Bruce Wayne.
He bent down, slowly kissing the strong mouth, and then he felt his kiss returned. He opened his eyes and looked into the steady gaze of his enemy.
In these first few hours, he would be confused a little, still unsure of what was real and what wasn’t. There would never be another time.
“Stay with me.” Batman whispered, pulling at his forearm, his iron grip tight.
Bane wasn’t sure, but if this was all he ever had, if this was their last time…did he not want it? He removed his clothes, and then pulled the other’s clothes off as well. When their bodies came together, it was better than anything he’d imagined. Better than anything in the other world.
He slowly pushed inside Bruce’s body, shuddering at the hoarse moan falling from the other’s lips.
He tried to pull back, not knowing whether he could live without this if he continued, but the iron grip of the Bat was on his forearm.
“This isn’t...” Bane tried to say, even as he sank inside the man farther.
“It’s the only thing that feels... real.”
And Bane covered Batman’s mouth with his as he thrust deep inside him, knowing that now, this world would be theirs.