Certain Dark Things
Bruce is not proud that his nightmares have minds of their own.
They burst into his waking hours without mercy, a relentless barrage of fury, fear, and endless leathery wings. They inform his every breath, his every word, his every step—and they dictate the way in which he falters, the precise pattern in which he staggers and bleeds. They govern the tides of his pain, each crest higher and fiercer than the one before. Sleep, when it comes, is restless and, of necessity, drugged.
In his fretful slumber, Bruce dreams of countless terrible deeds.
He robs those who beg him for help of their lives, at last too shattered and simply too tired to care. He slices and strangles, kicks and crushes. He lets them fall to their untimely ends, whether in steel-fraught wreckage or splayed upon dust-weathered stone.
Bruce is not proud that the last of these certain dark things are true.
Rises From the Earth
When he arrives out of nowhere, rises from the earth, you don't know whether you're falling or flying. He's flying, gliding, but you? Are mesmerized, bound to the spot. Time and again, you ask him if he would be so kind as to hit you.
You know that he wants it, know that he wants you. These are the tricks of the trade.
Sometimes, he's even so good as to oblige. Most of the time, though, you know he's indulging some gruesome pet fantasy. He thinks that he's better than this. He thinks that his trip-wires and gadgets are merciful, and he thinks that sparing you any major broken bones is always worth the effort. Such a perfectionist, your dear wayward Bat. He's so faultlessly conscientious that it's almost funny.
You remember what it feels like: that body, that breath. You remember having him.
This time, it looks as though he might honor your request. Such a gentleman. Three steps' advance on him and smack, there it is, right upside the head—followed by one arm slid around your neck and there, ta-da, you're down. And he follows you, oh, he does.
How nice, when one's wayward lover returns. Yes, he still hates hearing it, and yes, he's only too glad to hit you again. His weight and his warmth are distracting. Blood clouds your vision, but you can see his mouth.
You remember his kisses: harsh, unyielding. You remember dying.
Don't Know Any Other Way
And Bruce will kill Joker again, blow upon blow, because once is not enough.
There's blood on Bruce's gloves, but he continues, unrelenting. No words can describe the horror of this particular nightmare made flesh, and still he keeps on going. He's known ever since those evenings, by catacombs and rooftops and all his wretched foolishness, that there will never be any fate sufficient to repay this monster for what he's done. Never mind the fact that Bruce had, perhaps, deserved it.
The punishment had not fit the crime and had, in its failing, become the crime itself.
Laughter. The bastard is mocking him, hounding him still. Even through ruined lips and in spite of both split brows, this madman speaks to him, praises him, pleads with him. It's only then that Bruce stops and forces himself to roll away, panting hard as he glares into the glimmering wet asphalt. There is failure here, a failure so deep that even to claim they don't know any other way would mean—
What comes down is no more than he had expected and no less than he deserves.
Your Eyes That Close
Knowing what you want and knowing how to get it are two entirely different things.
You're bent over Batman now, and it's your eyes that close. The blood that's everywhere is yours—but then, that's not so new. You've grown accustomed to this sort of...thing. Affair. Fling. Whatever the hell it is that's going on here, because somehow, you're beginning to have your doubts about what you always thought was the point. The Bat tenses under you when you lick your lips. Good boy.
The question now is if you can stand this, if you can drink your fill and return.
No drugs, no restraints, and no inquiries made. Bothering to ask is nothing but trouble, so you just get on with it and hope for the best. Even through all that fucking armor, he's just as warm as you remember. And that's the very thing you cannot forget.
Any moment now, your head will be spinning again with the pain of the blow that's surely coming. But in the meanwhile—
It's your eyes that close, and there is no escaping, ever, from this moment.
Between the Shadow and the Soul
For this is the space between the shadow and the soul, and neither of us, no matter how hard we try, can forget it. There is no moment but this, in which there is no you and no me, and that old story about your hand upon my chest? Forget it.
Remember only that I will destroy you as I have so longed for my own destruction. One or none; what difference does this fractured eternity make? Turn the corner and it will find us; cut our bonds and we are only as free as this fragile, captured space in time permits.
If you remember nothing else, you must remember this.