"It's not him."
It was a simple statement of fact. No shock. No surprise. No great revelation.
Bruce gritted his teeth against the pain.
"What?" Hawkgirl stepped forward, her lips twisted with fury. "It has to be!"
"His DNA matches Bruce Wayne's but he doesn't have the kryptonite stimulant," Superman explained. Eyes still locked onto Bruce. "He's another double. From the other world."
A simple conclusion.
His head pounded, his leg ached, and his mouth tasted of copper. Bruce fought to keep his features impassive. His eyes an angry glare.
He was bound in thick metal gauntlets that twisted his shoulders and spine to hold his hands above his head. His own gloves, belt, cape and cowl had been removed. Only the shadowy logo of the Bat remained.
It would have to be enough.
"Well," Black Adam said slowly, "if there is no use for him..."
"We'll execute him," Superman said. "If the resistance believes their leader dead they'll lose all hope. Batman can't let that happen. He'll have to stop us. He'll have to come and rescue him." Eyes cold. "We'll use this Batman as bait. Bait to catch the real one."
A simple plan. But a plan that would lead to yet another brutally simple conclusion.
Bruce tried not to see his friend in the familiar lines of his face as he coolly ordered his execution. Tried not to see Clark in the blue of his eyes.
Hawkgirl's lips pinched together in a tight pale line that slashed across across angular features. Her eyes were hidden behind the curved shape of her golden mask. "I captured him," she said briskly. "I don't want to babysit him."
Bruce kept his eyes matched with Cl-no-Superman. This wasn't Clark. This wasn't his friend.
Pain up his spine. Muscles cramping. Head crushing.
"He is fighting off a concussion," Yellow Lantern said with a leer. "Plus his leg is fractured in two different places. I don't know what he was doing before we picked him up but this Batman is as harmless as a clawless kitten. What are you afraid of?"
"Afraid?" The woman spun to face him. "What do you know of what my kind fears, Hal?" A sneer. "I just don't want to waste my time. If you do then go ahead."
"I think," the Lantern flexed his ring finger. Yellow glittered. "You'll find I know a thing or two about fear."
"I'll take him," Superman said. Hawkgirl, Adam, and Lantern looked up. "The fortress would be able to hold him even if he was in prime condition." A thoughtful lowering of his brows. "And if he knows something I plan on finding it out."
A simple lie.
Mouth tasted like old blood.
Hawkgirl, Black Adam, and Yellow Lantern all tipped their heads in a quick, informal bow, and marched out of the room. As she passed Hawkgirl landed Bruce's belt into Superman's hand. The door slid closed behind them with a hiss and a hollow thud.
"You're quiet," Superman observed, carefully weighing the belt in his hands. Sparks flew where the ends of the broken charge brushed by indestructible fingers. "If I recall correctly," he continued, "one of these pockets has kryptonite in it." Another pause. "Which one?"
He didn't answer.
"You think me the enemy. Why? Have you met our world's Batman?"
Superman's lips curled. "You sound like him," he muttered, "perfectly."
Superman threw away the belt. Metal clattered too loud in the confined room. "But you're not him."
Superman moved forward and tore him from the wall, tossed aside the useless shackles, and hauled him into the air.
Bruce growled with pain as his leg bumped against Superman's. He wouldn't cry out. Wouldn't whimper.
"Just like him," Superman repeated. His voice remained still. Cold.
The world blurred and a rush of icy air pounded against him.
He was flying. White tipped waves flirted along a rolling expanse of sea below. Freezing clouds struck him like blows, air struck the bottom of his lungs like a million miniature knives, and the pain in his leg awoke with an agonizing flare. Holding him firmly around the shoulder was Superman.
"What happened to you?"
Superman looked down at him. Dark. Angry. "You did."
An instant underwater and they were in the Fortress. Ice walls glittered with an indifferent alien beauty, distant memories flashed off crystal surfaces, and Superman's infamous crest glared from red banners hanging off sharpened shafts.
"The Joker," Superman dropped him. "He killed my family." Eyes glowed red, lips curled, and hands folded into fist. "That mad man killed the woman I loved, my son, and destroyed all of Metropolis. All because you didn't end his miserable life when you had the chance."
"It wasn't you," he finished for him. "But tell me, Bruce, have you killed your world's Joker? Is that the difference between our universes? Have you saved my family? Have you killed that monster?"
Eyes hard. Unforgiving. "Just like him." Head tilted. "Except you don't have the kryptonite stimulants." Hand seized Bruce's jaw. Dragged in painfully to his feet. "You're as fragile, as helpless, as any normal human."
He didn't feel the blow. Just the blood. Hot and sticky, it splashed across his chin as he fell. His whole world retreating into the safe black familiarity of unconsciousness.
He woke aloft. Hanging from his wrists. Muscles twisted, throbbing, aching.
His fingers were numb. Whether it was from the cold air, the tight hold of his restraints on his wrist, or the amount of time they had been held above his head was unclear. It didn't matter. They were too stiff, too clumsy, to be put to work breaking his bindings.
He doubted he would get far even if he could.
The room was dark save for a tiny glow embedded in the core of the crystalline structure. Silent but for the ragged, broken, sound of his own pained breathing.
His stomach reminded him that it had not been sated. His mouth impossibly dry. His injuries a brain numbing pain he could never quite escape.
He woke with a start having not remembered falling asleep. Gritted his teeth against the sickening swirl of hunger, thirst, and mind numbing pain. But he could work through the pain. He could work through the hunger. He could work through the thirst... he needed to escape.
Needed to find Joker. Needed to find this world's Batman. Needed to stop this madness. But how? Without his cowl and belt he had no access to the data files needed to hack the fortress. Nor could he understand the lanuage well enough to begin to deconstruct it himself. That was assuming he could break out of his cuffs and walk.
His suit had been scanned. All gadgets removed.
He sucked in a pained breath of air, narrowed his eyes, and glared at the figure that floated into the room. Red billowed from square shoulders.
"Did you follow your Joker to this world?"
Bruce remained silent. He needed more information. Needed to know the stakes.
"I won't ask again."
He couldn't give Superman knowledge. Not until he knew what was important. Not until he learnt what was secret.
The other man's eyes flashed red and Bruce felt the skin on the palm of his hand heat, pucker, and burn. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air. He twisted, cried out, and gagged. Didn't say a word.
"You protect him," Superman spat. "Just like you always did. Why?" Another flash of red. Another mark seared into his skin. He bucked forward with a snarl, reattached his stare onto Superman, and kept his mouth shut.
"He has been seen," Superman continued. Voice trembling with fury. "You can't hide him. You can't keep your precious little monster a secret. The whole of Gotham's underworld is reeling with the news. Their hero has returned!" A third blast of heat vision. A third stripe branded into his hand.
"He killed my family and you bring him here?! You bring him back?!"
"I followed him," Bruce hissed through clenched teeth.
Suddenly Superman was inches away, hand on jaw, dragging Bruce's gaze toward him. "To do what?"
"Take him back."
"So he can kill your world's Lois?"
"The revolving doors of Arkham," Superman growled. "When has that hell hole ever held him?"
"You're just like him," Superman muttered, "just the same as this world's Batman. Just as guilty." A fist tangled in his hair, yanked his head back, tore his eyes away from Superman. "There is no difference between you two is there? No differences between our universes. It's just it hasn't happened in your world yet. The Joker hasn't killed Lois, destroyed Metropolis, and I haven't stopped crime. I haven't saved the world."
"You're a dictator," Bruce said through clenched teeth as he glared up at the cystals above him. "A tyrant. You rule through fear. You destroy those in opposition. You haven't saved the world," sucked in a sharp breath as the hand in his hair tightened painfully, "you've stolen her freedom."
When Superman spoke again his voice was cold, careful, little more than a whisper. "You'll never understand, Bruce. You'll never see the bigger picture. And I'll never understand you. You should be the only one that does. With what happened to your parents I always thought you would be the first in line. You should have been my greatest ally, my truest most trusted friend, my general... but instead you chose to become my enemy. You betrayed me when I needed you most."
"No, Bruce. It was you. It will be. You haven't done it yet but you will." Bruce felt the heat prickle along his neck, the warmth of a building heat vision, stilled by the touch of a powerful freezing breath. "There is no difference between you and this world's Batman," Superman continued. "Only time."
"Clark..." the word spilled out of him. Treacherous. Wrong. A lie. But pinned, held, pained his mind had slipt. Had mistaken that familiar voice with that of his friend. Had reached out for the man he wished to be there. Clark. His Clark. His friend. Not this world's monstrous Superman.
Superman let him go and Bruce let his head roll back into a comfortable position before he lifted his eyes back to the Kryptonian floating before him.
"Yes Bruce?" The man asked. Face impassive.
He didn't answer. He didn't have an answer.
Superman's face crumbled into a savage snarl. "You disgust me. You have walked the streets of this world's Gotham. You have seen the news." His voice was dangerously low. "I have created the world you always fought for. A world in which no one has to ever lose their family to crime... and yet you continue to fight me. My best friend. My worst enemy." A hand slid, gentle, slow, down the side of Bruce's face. Tracing the line of his jaw, the shape of the bruises there, and the pucker of his bottom lip. "What can I say that will make you understand? What can I say to make you realise your betrayal? To realise your mistake? What can I say to make you join me in the light?"
"Say this is over," Bruce rasped. "Say you'll give the rule back to the people. Say we're free."
"We're? You don't have to be one of them Bruce. You're one of us."
"I am one of them. I'm not a god. I don't have powers like you."
"That never mattered," Superman said softly. "It never mattered between Lois. Nor should it ever matter between us."
Bruce stiffened as Superman floated closer, his fingers trailed down the side of his neck to gently pluck at the corners of his armour, and his eyes fixed intently onto him.
"It should have been you," Superman continued. "After Lois. It should have been you." Stare intense, touch tender, closeness aggressively deliberate. "It still could be, Bruce. I'll send Diana away. I'll give you back your position. You could rule at my side."
"You don't want me," Bruce growled. "You want him. Your Batman."
"He's the one that betrayed me," the man continued, unphased. "You," hand slid across muscled shape of his armour. "You never have." He paused, scrutinized Bruce's pale stare, and smiled. A smile so close to Clark's... so close he felt his heart twist.
"You never will," the alien finished. He leant forward.
A kiss. Unrelenting lips deliberately kind. Coaxing. Fingers soft. Their touch practised. Stimulating. Body firm against his. A rock. A wall. Breath slow.
Bruce felt Superman's tongue slip by his teeth, slide easily into his mouth, and sweep his own tongue up in a dance. Strong hands descended to his hips, rocked him forward, and pressed their groins together. Their chests fit like two pieces of a puzzle.
Superman groaned, wrapped his arms around Bruce, deepened the kiss... and realized Bruce wasn't responding. Realized the stillness to the man he held. The clench of the teeth his tongue was between.
He drew back in a blur of motion and struck Bruce hard enough that his face snapped to the side.
"Whore," Superman hissed. "You fucking whore. You've been begging for it for years. From everyone. Slut."
"I won't, Superman."
"Now it's Superman," he spat. "What happened to Clark?"
"He died," Bruce growled. "The same day Lois did."
Superman exhaled strong enough to smash Bruce into the ice wall behind him. Pain coursed up his spine, flared white hot where his leg fractured, and brought a fresh surge of blood and bile up his throat.
"You don't say her name, whore!"
Bruce spat the blood and sucked in a frantic gasp of air. Felt his gaze start to blur. Swirl. Spot with the reaching tendril of blackness. Of unconsciousness.
"No," again that hand tangled in his hair. Yanked his head up. "You don't get to go. Not yet."
A fist drove into his stomach. Hard enough to push him back into the wall, to push a strangled, pained, cry from him, and to push his mind away from his body. Just for a moment. A quick breather in blackness. And then a shock of cold air to the face and he was back. Back to the pain, back to the swinging shackles, back to the red eyed Superman.
Two beams shot from the Kyrptonian and cleanly sliced the bindings that held him aloft. Bruce dropped. Landed on his bad leg. Fell to all fours with a broken gasp.
"Look at you. On your knees." Superman kicked him hard enough to flip him onto his back. "It's what you want, isn't it, whore? To be forced." Another kick. Bruce felt a rib crack. "I can hear your heart beat. This makes you hot?" A foot on his chest. Forcing him flat. Pressed on his newly fractured rib. "This is all I needed to do all these years?" Superman sank down on top of him. Pinned him. Whispered in his ear. "You could have been mine, Bruce. We could have walked out of here hand in hand." He captured both of Bruce's hands under one of his and slid is spare fingers down the side of Bruce's face. "We still can."
It would have been easy. A way out of the pain. A way out of the pain to come. All he had to do was turn his head and kiss those fleeting fingers. To look up at the man who crushed him into the freezing ground and smile. To call him Clark... it wouldn't be that hard. He wore the face. The crest. He spoke with the voice... but he wasn't... he wasn't Clark... Clark would never do this.
Bruce forced his eyes open, forced his lips back, forced his tongue to shape the sounds the gurgled from his throat. "Go... to... hell."
Superman picked him up and slammed him back into the ground. Another rib. Another strangled roar of pain. And then the man was on him again. Indestructible fingers ripped through his armour, scraped again his newly exposed skin, and tossed away chunks of hybrid frabric and chest plates to clatter against the icy floor.
Bruce tensed his muscles, pushed against the impossible force of the man holding him down, and tried to buck him off. He knew it was useless. He knew there was nothing he could do. But he would not lie down and take it. He couldn't. He had to fight. Even if it was hopeless.
Superman's lips curled into an ugly smile as he noticed the movement; noticed the hard line of Bruce's mouth and the change in the bare muscles laced down his chest.
"Fighting me, Bruce?" A horse bark of laughter. "Go ahead. I always imagined it rough with you. It'll just make things all the better."
Mouths crushed together. A kiss so alienated from their previous he could hardly believe it from the same person. Hard. Merciless. An invading tongue forced apart clenched jaw. Unrelenting lips pushed aggressive gaping patterns into the movement of their touch. Teeth sunk hungrily; hard enough to draw blood.
Superman let go of his hands to rip at the remaining armour around his waist. Freed, Bruce twisted suddenly and pushed at Superman's hips aiming to use the alien's extra weight against him. The momentum staggered Superman enough to give him pause.
He laughed. "I can't be thrown," he reminded Bruce. "I can fly." He pushed himself hard back down onto Bruce. Hard enough to knock his wounded leg against the floor. Bruce cried out. "But I guess you had to try."
Last of his armour tossed casually aside. Back pressed into icy floor. Lips forced against his.
Bruce felt himself being folded. Felt those hard, unforgiving, hands seize his thighs and wrap them around rocking hips. Felt first one finger, then another. He arched away from the brutal invasion. Arched into Superman. Then pushed himself roughly away again.
"Such a whore," the man was muttering. "You want it so bad."
Those fingers began to work. Test his walls. The knuckle pressed against the pucker of his muscle, the curve hooked inside him, the movement in time with the roll of Superman's hips. And Bruce felt his own body's traitorous response.
Felt the prickle of blood as it rose to his cheeks, heard the ragged heavy hitch and gasp of his breathing, and saw the hardening of his penis as it rose against the other man's body. Superman floated slightly so he could wrap his second hand around Bruce's shaft and begin pumping it; forcing Bruce's reactions and smirking at his own mouthed arousal.
Bruce clenched his teeth, swallowed the noise that threatened to leak out of him, and glared up at the man now sitting on his hips.
"You're just the same as him," Bruce heard himself rasp.
"Your world's Superman? Does he do this to you?" A savage laugh. "Here I was worried what might happen if he hopped the boarder too. Guess I could just give him you naked and bound."
"No," Bruce spat. "Not him. You're nothing like him."
Head cocked. "Who then?"
"Joker," he replied. "You're just like the Joker."
Eyes darkened, hands froze, muscles clenched. "I'm noth..."
"You're just the same. You kill without remorse. You hurt. You hate. You laugh." He spat blood. "I'm not afraid of you, Superman. You're just another monster."
He expected the blow. Turned into it. Welcomed it. Let the pain flare hot, heavy, unchecked. Let his mind recede from the humiliation of being pinned on the icy floor of the fortress; of being naked, panting, and hard under his enemy's touch; of being raped by a man with a face he so trusted.
He didn't want to be witness to that. He didn't want Clark's face to mean this. He didn't want to look at his friend and only ever remember this. He would much rather drift away. Let his body struggle. Let his mind wonder.
But, like before, Superman had other plans.
Icy air pounded against his face. Fingers snapped closed around his throat. Elbows jabbed deliberately at fractured ribs.
"I don't want you to miss this."
Superman entered him. Forced the head and shaft of his cock into him in a single, agonizing, thrust. Bruce screamed. Struck back against his tormentor with as much force as he could muster. Felt the bones in his hand crack against that godlike jaw.
Superman looked at him in surprise. A flash of startling blue in his eyes as he peered through the skin of the hand. Grunted as he counted the broken bones there.
Began to thrust.
It hurt. Hurt more than it should. Hurt because of his broken bones. His bruised and battered body. And the force the man put behind each targeted roll of his hips. It hurt because of the defeat. The loss of control. And because some part of him still felt a prickling of pleasure. Of need. Of want.
He struggled to stay silent. To stay stiff. To stay cold. Unresponsive. A corpse. Let him be fucking a corpse. A corpse that still pushed at him. Still fought to throw him. God... he couldn't be both.
Superman rocked forward and kissed him.
Lips, teeth, tongue, breath... he kept as still as he could. As hard. Jaw locked closed. Lips pinched. Breath held.
Fingers returned to the base of his cock. Rolled up and down in time with Superman's beat. Teased. Clasped. Glided softly over his head. He sucked in a breath. And Superman pushed in his tongue.
And... God... but he couldn't... he couldn't...
Bruce groaned. A single, ugly, sound prolonged by the sudden attentiveness Superman showed him. By the skill of the hand working on his cock, the precision of his trusts, and touch of teeth down the side of his neck.
Another timed roll of hips, and flex of finger. Bruce bucked forward and moaned. Superman read the signs. Shifted his angle inside him. Pumped him faster.
And Bruce couldn't ignore... couldn't pretend... He was panting. Gasping. Crying out in sheer, undisguised, pleasure. He was struggling, snarling, fighting, but also giving, moaning, and coming. Coming for him.
And he hated it.
Superman suddenly stopped, shuddered, and began pushing into Bruce harder. Faster.
They came together. A chorus of spilt pleasure.
And then they were kissing. Open mouthed. Wolfish. Enemy to enemy. Pouring their tongues into each other, embracing, shoving, hurting, touching.
"You're," Superman gasped between kisses, "good."
Bruce's eyes snapped open. He saw himself. Reflected on a million shards of glass. Tangled, touching, moving with the man who had betrayed him. Who had just raped him. He froze.
"No," Superman growled. "Don't start fighting again." A long tender kiss. Bruce remained stiff. Cold. "Don't please. It was good. It was better. I won't force you again. I won't. I love you, Bruce. I love this." Another kiss. Desperate. Warm. Open. "God, Bruce, I need this. I need you. I can't keep doing this alone. I can't... I can't bare it... Diana isn't you. She isn't..." Again. Lips together. "Come on. I know you liked it. I know you didn't mean anything you said. I didn't either. Please." Again. And this was the last time. Bruce felt those lips change. Felt the warmth fall away. The desperation melt once more into rage.
Like a pendulum. He swung. Lost to the tide of his madness.
Superman withdrew, eyes glowing red, jaw clenched. "Fine." His eyes blazed. Bruce bucked, roared with pain, sucked in a mouthful of air. Air that tasted of burnt flesh. "But you won't forget." He removed himself in a blur of movement.
Bruce stared up at the ceiling. At the reflection of himself. At the raw red brand of Superman's shield imprinted into his flesh. Across his cheek. Low. The corner would be visible even if he wore the cowl. An ugly signature, a token of his humiliation, a savage parting gift designed to stamp his identity, to cripple him as batman, and to last forever.
Superman floated in the air. Looking down at him with cool disdain. A pair of androids floated up to him and tipped themselves in elegant bows.
"Clean him up, care to his injuries, and get him back into his armour. We'll execute him tomorrow."
Spoken together. "Yes master."