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The thread may not be broken but I sure as fuck am

Chapter Text

In tough times, Bruce liked to look up at the sky.
It made him feel more at ease, more relaxed. In recent times, he always searched for the Bat signal, it became his beacon of light, of stability. It gave him purpose, the thought of someone needing his help. He felt useful. It wasn't always like this. In the begging, it symbolized danger for him as much as it did for Gotham. When he saw the bat signal, he got into his suit and left out for what he believed to be a good purpose. He wanted to help people, he really did. And his father's past was only half responsible for feeling like this.
He knew, he realized it even before anyone else pointed it out. He realized after everything with Children of Arkham, Harvey and Oz went down. While he always tried his best to stay true to his codex, feelings started to get in the way. Although the stuff with Harvey and Oz had left a mark on him, he tried his best to recollect the pieces. Then Lucius died. The memory of his death was still fresh in Bruce's mind and it haunted him at night. He kept seeing his face, ''Tell Tiffany I love her, that I am sorry I wasn't around more.'' and then it all went blank. But Bruce pulled through, he had to. And as much as he wanted to be honest with Tiffany, he couldn't endanger her like this, he couldn't endanger anyone.
What happened with John was a series of unfortunate events caused by Bruce's own doing and he knew, he will probably blame himself for that forever. That was what did it for him. He never had anyone actually fight beside him for real like this. Sure, he and Selina were on the same side, especially as of recent, but he didn't let her in. He couldn't let her in, the memory of his friend's death was still fresh in his mind, he kept remembering when Vic-Lady of Arkham held Alfred as her leverage. And he had to, he had to take his mask off. There were limits, those limits were pushed too far since Waller arrived, since Pact happened, since he got so much closer to John. Bruce realized he couldn't do it anymore. He tried his best to save everyone and in the end he ended up just making everything worse. And he wondered, if Alfred was right. Was he the cause of all of it? Was Avesta right too? He was right at the center, perhaps if he just stayed in Arkham, none of this would have happened. Maybe it should have been him that died in the alley. Whatever his father may have done, Bruce still had good memories of him. And it burned, it burned way more than the alcohol in his throat or his stinging wounds from the fight with John. He let John too close, he twisted him around, but he didn't want Harley to do it. He was worried about him, he wanted John to just be happy but also to be healthy and he was blind. He shouldn't have put so much blind trust into John. But at the time, Bruce didn't think of it as blind, he just saw John and what he could become and his nice, green eyes, his sense of humor and...
And the way he seemed to be infatuated with Bruce. Now, with a bottle of strong whiskey, he could admit that much to himself. It made him feel sick about himself. He used John, but not in the way anyone thought. He used John for his own emotional security and even the thought of it hurt and burned so much, he wanted to throw up. Bruce wondered if he felt better staying Batman. He decided that he definitely would, but this wasn't about him, he couldn't make it about himself. He's done enough damage to this city as it was. Everything was a mess. He hurt Selina many times too, even though he wanted to be her friend. He was glad she was out of the city for good. Hopefully, she would find happiness there with her cat. She didn't leave him any message yet and Bruce didn't blame her. Although he did save her and blew his cover for The Pact, he still gave her away to Gordon back then, she must have mixed feelings about all of this. Bruce had too. Only Alfred remained by his side, Bruce still gave him a vacation for which he would be leaving tomorrow and Bruce was realizing just now that it meant being alone. Alone in this mansion with its now useless cave. His own reputation as Bruce Wayne left a lot to be desired. In his quest to protect the city he had to do some shady stuff and while he kept telling himself that it was for the greater good, it didn't sit well with him. Maybe he should have kept the mask on. The opinion of Batman was much higher these days and certainly much more positive than the one of Bruce Wayne.
He missed John. He missed his jokes, he missed their conversations at cafes, he missed John's mismatched buttons... he missed the way John looked at him.
Now all he had was the burn in his throat and the dark sky with no star in its sight. Always too much light pollution in Gotham, despite the city always being dark.
Was he really the cause of it all? He wasn't the first masked vigilante, that place belonged to Riddler. Bruce tried to gather as much information about him before he got infected with the virus that made him the monster he became, he believed in good, he knew that people definitely had to start as good. He had to in order to get at least two hours of sleep at night.
Bruce didn't go to the cave much anymore. There were no reasons to spend anytime there, but to mourn. Bruce always sneaked down there in the late hours. He didn'thave his computer turned on, nor did he check on car. He always went down to the pedestals. He'd stare at what was left of his past opponents. He always tried to not touch anything, that always triggered all the memmories, both pleseant and unpleseant. He couldn't stay away from John's stuff. No, not John's, Joker's. He should be glad, Bruce told himself angrily. He should be glad that John is getting and hopefully will be able to figure out who he is. Maybe he really does belong in Arkham. After all, he doesn't have memory of any other place, how could he not feel at home there? And all the strange stuff he or doctors might notice is happening there, for John it was home and maybe that was fine. He shouldn't be hanging onto other people for a sense of identity. Bruce knew that, so then why did it bother him this much? He certainly wasn't a good example of anything, definetly not a role model he always wanted and striked to be. John needs to find an identity on his own without any interference, especially from Bruce. He was safe in Arkham, right? After what happened, Leland wouldn't let him get too close with any of the doctors, right? It wasn't healthy, he shouldn't be friendly with doctors for his own health, not when it's someone like John. With grimace he downed his drink and wanted to go pour another one, but his attention was once again brought back to the night sky. The beautiful, enticing dark sky. How he would love to glide in there, just once more. To hide behind a mask instead of hiding behind his own face.
Bruce was so lost in his own thoughts he didn't notice Alfred standing behind him until the latter gasped and softly gripped his hand.
,,Master Bruce,'' he said with widened eyes. ,,You're injured.''
Bruce own eyes wandered down to the wound, it was a long, deep cut he accidentally made when holding John's Jokerang. He hoped he hid it back in the table where he kept it for now before he went to the balcony.
,,It's nothing, Alfred.'' he replied in soft voice and pulled away from his touch, which seemed to hurt Alfred more than anything.
,,I know I must sound like a broken record,'' Alfred started with a heavy sigh. ,,But you really shouldn't push everyone away.''
,,It's not like that, Al.'' Bruce tried to sound cheerful, but it came out as anything but that. ,,So you have everything you need packed?'' Bruce changed the theme quickly while staring off into distance.
,,Yes, everything is ready for my departure.'' Alfred cleared his throat. ,,I have bought fresh ingredients for meals, prepared you some for a few days.''
Bruce would feel some kind of dread upon realization of having to cook for himself and not burn the mansion down. He began to realize just how much he truly depended on Alfred. Perhaps too much. And there he was, thinking about how John needs some time alone, perhaps he could use that too.
Maybe I am just destined to be alone, Bruce pondered. If that was true however, he should have just stayed Batman. What is he supposed to hang onto? What is supposed to keep him alive? Selina is gone for good, Alfred is leaving as well and most importantly, John is back in Arkham, way out of his reach. It's like the past weeks never happened, Bruce kind of wishes they didn't. He wishes nothing of it would happen, he wishes his father would have just been a good person, wishes he would never become Batman, he wishes he had never been bo-
,,Master Bruce?'' Alfred's concerned voice interrupts Bruce's inner turmoil, who jumps slightly. ,,I know I am leaving for some time, but I-''
,,Don't say it, Alfred.'' Bruce says in quiet, almost broken tone. ,,I can't hear it right now.''
Alfred seems taken back. ,,I-I apologize...'' he replies, clearly being filled with sadness. ,,I just, I just want to make sure I am not leaving you in dire state.'' his eyes flicker down to the cut.
,,It really was an accident,'' Bruce defends himself. As miserable as he was slowly starting to feel, he hadn't considered physically hurting himself yet. He was realizing, in the back of his mind, that the whole Batman thing could be considered self-harming to a point. He tried to shut that train of thought. It was just that recently he started reading much more on psychology and even considered having a few lectures, but then he realized that it wouldn't do any good to his strained relationship with John. Maybe he should just take Leland on her word and schedule an appointment with her. But he couldn't trust her, not with the stuff he would talk about. He began to realize just how much strain it was to his mental health. The past year, everything just seemed to happen too fast and now that he actually had time to sit down, it began to catch him. He began to doubt if he even liked John at all. Perhaps he just felt guilty, he thought he liked Catwoman too and yet he thrown her to Gordon out of some kind of misguided sense of justice.
They say time heals, but all it did for Bruce was to remind him of all his mistakes and beat it over his head and just when he thought the beating was over, the memories came and knocked him out. He was sure he deserved all of this. He had to, otherwise bad things wouldn't be happening.
,,You can talk to me Bruce,'' Alfred pleaded with him. ,,I will leave tommorow, but if there's is anything you want to get off your chest, please, don't keep it all to yourself.'' Alfred said and took a deep breath. ,,You shouldn't be so alone, atleast talk to someone...''
Bruce frowned and downed another glass for courage. He looked back at Aflred, who had such a sad look in his eyes that it broke the leftover's of Bruce's already smashed heart. It hurt so much, that Bruce let the words out without even thinking about them that much.
,,I love him.'' said Bruce quietly. ,,Just as I loved Oz, all those years back.'' Bruce felt his eyes burning. He couldn't remember the last time he even cried. Must have been when Oz left, back when they were children.
Alfred seemed even sadder now, not surprised in slightest. He must have known when they were chasing Joh---Joker down. He seemed to even realize something as he pulled Bruce into a hug.
The reason why Bruce felt as if he had to stay alone.
,,You shouldn't blame yourself for this.'' Alfred reminded Bruce, who pulled away from the hug and put some space between them.
,,I have to blame someone.'' replied Bruce bitterly and reached for the bottle, that was on the ground to take another gulp, not bothering to spend time pouring it into his glass. ,,May as well blame myself. After all,'' he took another swig of the liquor and seemed to regret it instantly. ,,Life is in our own hands.''
,,Not always,'' Alfred reminded and sighed wearily. ,,What are your plans during my absence?'' he asked, hoping to change a theme. He didn't want to leave on such a sad note.
,,Well, there is the fund raiser for the orphanage,'' Bruce breathed out, he was getting a bit dizzy, he shouldn't be drinking this much, especially when he isn't feeling well in the first place. ,,I suppose I should get back to Wayne Enterprises and try to do a better job of being a CEO...'' Bruce yawned. ,,Also I promised I'd stop by the Arkham to visit John.'' Bruce didn't miss the way Alfred flinched. ,,You don't need to worry about me.'' said Bruce and turned to finally go back inside. ,,I will be alright, you just worry about yourself now.''
Alfred nodded slowly and wished Bruce a goodnight. Alfred watched the sky for a while, but unfortunately did not miss Bruce stopping by his desk and taking out one of Joker's--John's Jokerangs with him. Alfred felt tired, too tired. He didn't like that he felt an actual relief upon leaving Bruce, but he supposed it couldn't be helped. That didn't mean he felt comfortable with leaving Bruce, but time would eventually, heal all.

Chapter Text

Bruce considered cancelling the meeting with John in the Asy-hospital. He didn't feel ready, he felt too broken, to hurt, but when Leland told him, that John keeps talking about meeting him at every therapy session, he had to go and see him. Leland was a bit taken back by Bruce's excitment and made it clear, that she would be present during it and if she saw anything that could compromise John's recovery, she would terminate any contact between them. Her attitude towards Bruce made him wonder, if John told her anything about his indentity or if she still stands behind Bruce needing to see a proffessional help. If he would be honest with himself, ever since he gave up being Batman and actually settled into somewhat calm enviroment, atleast one that didn't require violence, a lot of things started to settle with him, the death he witnessed, people he failed to save, it haunted him to a point where Bruce would just completely disconnect himself from the world. Sometimes it went for minutes, other times for hours. It was definetely a matter to be concerned about.
He wasn't sure Leland would let him visit John if he admitted himself to a psychiatric care, not to mention the public opinion was far from positive and he couldn't risk losing company right now. He had to pull through, he's done it in past, he can do it again. Right? He can do it.
Bruce replayed Alfred's words in his head over and over. That he would eventually drive everyone away. He wanted to protect Tiffany after what happened to Lucius, he thought not letting her join Batman would help her stay safe. All it did was to drive her in Waller's arms. Bruce felt as if it didn't mattered, as if everything he set out to do was doomed to fail from the start. Selina was gone for good too, for that Bruce was glad. Despite their different methods, she was far from being a villain, helping her find a better life outside Gotham was one of the few good things he has done, even if it meant they would never see each other again. Harvey, Oz, Selina... John.
All of them meant something to Bruce. And all of them he managed to fail in some way. Bruce couldn't decide, if he was victim of circumstances or if he was toxic after all. It all became too blurry, too grey. He wasn't even sure he could be Bruce Wayne anymore. He sacrificed way too much in order to stop The Pact. And what was left he sacrificed for John.
Bruce inhaled sharply and finally stepped out of the car. Not without attracting attention of what he assumed was a press photographer. Great, it was going to look really nice, his reputation already being damaged and now there were going to be rumors about him going to Arkham. Wonderful, splendid.
It's going to be hard picking up pieces of his Wayne reputation when there are no pieces to pick up in a first place. He got to doors and was immidiately being greeted by Leland.
,,Doctor.'' he reached out his hand to greet her. She had hard look in her eyes, clearly displeased.
,,Attracting attention of the press is the last thing I want for the patients.'' she folded hands on her chest and Bruce sighed.
,,I didn't mean to.'' he defended himself.
,,Perhaps if your arrival was less...'' she stopped and searched for the right word, staring at Bruce's overly expensive car. ,,Flashy,'' she looked back at Bruce, frowning. ,,Maybe we wouldn't have this problem.''
Bruce felt guilt creeping up on him and he sighed. ,,I'm sorry.'' he apologized. He didn't know, what he would do, if Leland would not allow him to visit John. ,,I will get something less flashy for the next time.'' he said.
Leland shot him a look and led them inside the hospital. Bruce was immidiately taken back, it defenitely looked different. The walls were repainted, he noted that there was more staff around and it seemed to be on a good way to reconstruction. While Bruce did fund the repairs, he didn't have time lately to look into it himself.
,,It's...'' Bruce breathed out. ,,Different.''
,,Well, thanks to your funds,'' Leland noted. ,,We are trying our best to modernize this place while also trying to perserve the core of it. Most of our patients are here for life and have lived there for long enough that change would distress them.''
Bruce nodded. ,,Hopefully you will hire better guards too.'' he murmured with a hint of resentment in his voice.
,,No one wants that to happen again, Bruce.'' Leland stopped in her steps to look at him. ,,We are working to improve it all and, I don't think that anyone has told you that, but we are grateful to you.''
,,Don't be.'' Bruce sighed and rubbed a hand on his face. ,,I didn't do it for any sort of recognition.''
Leland nodded and they continued walking along the hallway. It made a completely different impression on Bruce now, than it did when he was here the first time. The inmates didn't seem to be escaping and the halls were more quiet. They finally got to the door of John's room, Bruce stopped in his tracks, his heart threatening to burst out of his chest. ,,Doctor?''
Leland turned to Bruce, who's throat went dry. He didn't know, if he could do it. Ask for help. Could he? All he knew that the past year left a mark on him, something he will carry with himself for the rest of his days. Bruce was worried, maybe he should have waited until he met with John, what if she stops him now? Refuses to let them meet? She was staring at him expectantly, waiting for an answer. Bruce supposed he already started the question, there was no way out of it now. He let out heavy sigh. ,,I was wondering, if you perhaps,..'' Bruce closed his eyes, he certainly couldn't find the words. Leland continued to stare at him, she seemed a bit uncertain now and Bruce realized that this might have come off in a wrong way. ,,Last time we met, you said I needed professional help.''
Leland seemed to relax a bit and nodded. ,,That I did.''
,,And recently...'' Bruce let out frustrated sigh. Why couldn't he just ask for help? Just say it?
,,I have an open space for a new patient.'' she said and looked down on her board she was carrying. ,,If you were amendable for it, I can arrange sessions. But,'' she paused and made sure Bruce understood her. ,,You need to take me seriously, Bruce. I will not be able to provide help if I am going to be rejected each time. Also,'' she frowned. ,,I certainly do hope you are not asking me this just to have a chance at seeing John more often.''
,,What?'' Bruce's widened. ,,Of course not! I would not decieve you in such a way... I just...''
,,I'm sorry Bruce.'' she seemed to regret her words. ,,I did not mean to devalue your request. I know it must be hard to ask for help.'' her look softened for a moment. ,,I will ensure you get the help you need.''
,,Thank you.'' Bruce replied and let heavy sigh escape his lungs. He felt sick in his stomach, all he wanted right now was to see John.
Leland nodded to the guard to announce Bruce's visit and Bruce's heart skipped a beat upon seeing the person he missed so much in the past days.

Chapter Text

Leland told Bruce she would allow them to see each other, but in her opinion, it was too early for a full visit. Bruce wondered if her judgement was in any way influenced by him seeking a help from her, he hoped it wasn't. Even if he wasn't allowed to be in one room with John yet, he would take what was offered to him at the moment. He missed John, he regretted everything that has happened between them.
And blamed himself for most of it.
If John was supposed to be an Arkham inmate for life, the least Bruce could do was to seek a way to help himself too. He wondered what Alfred would say once he eventually returns. He didn't even want to think about returning to the empty manor right now nor the articles media are going to come up with since they already know about his visit in Arkham. As long as John wouldn't be caught in it as well, Bruce kept telling himself. He was used to media tearing him apart by now, he could take it.
But he already knew that the opinion of him wouldn't get any better with him being in psychiatric care. It was making him anxious. Leland seemed to realize too just by watching him. Perhaps she was taking precautions with the way things turned out with John.
Bruce wondered what she would think if she knew he is, well was, Batman. That would certainly complicate things. She can't know, that would surely terminate all chances of him seeing John.
And with a good reason, he supposed.
The peephole to John's room opened and Bruce realized he wasn't ready. He could never be. Nervously, he straightened his tie, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by Leland. Finally, John's face appeared and he laughed, when he saw Bruce, which hurt the latter. Was John laughing at him? Mocking him perhaps? After what happened, Bruce wouldn't blame him. He deserved worse for what happened. The cut on his hand hurt and for a moment, Bruce even enjoyed the pain it gave him, which should terrify him and it would, once he would be back at the manor with a bottle in his hand, but right now, it helped to take the edge off a bit. Helped him focus on something else than John's wide eyes and his smile, which Bruce assumed was mocking him. That's fine, he should be mocked for being a naive, stupid-
,,Bruce!'' John interrupted his thoughts with excited voice. ,,I'm so happy to see you, buddy!''
That calmed Bruce's nerves a bit. John wouldn't lie to him like this, would he? If he didn't want to see him, he'd say it, right? Bruce wasn't certain of anything anymore.
,,Happy to see you too, John.'' Bruce smiled back, feeling a wave of warmth spread from inside of his heart. It was at this moment he truly realized how much he missed John. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around him, to tell him he's sorry for everything, to tell him that he keeps visiting the shrine he made for all his past enemies and that his is the one he spends the most time with. That, he realized, probably wouldn't come off good. John wasn't his enemy, he definitely shouldn't be thrown into a bag with Penguin or Quinn.
John's face was twisted in a sorrowful expression. ,,I am sorry for it all.'' he breathed out, looking into ground and then quickly back at Bruce. ,,But you know I wouldn't do any of it if-''
Bruce interrupted him, glancing at the guard. ,,I know John, I know.'' Bruce breathed out. ,,I'm sorry too.'' there was sharp sudden pain in his chest and Bruce gripped on his suit. John seemed a worried all of sudden and the guard looked at Bruce suspiciously, who quickly regained his composure, trying to overcome his own shock. ,,I can't be talking to you for long yet.'' he breathed out.
John frowned and seemed sad for a moment, but quickly shook it off and smiled again. ,,I'm still happy you came to see me.'' he bit his lips. ,,I wasn't sure you would after, you know...''
,,Of course I would, John.'' Bruce reassured him and it was worth it to see John happy for moment, even if the pain in his chest got worse as they spoke. ,,Leland promised we would be able to see each other,''
John perked up. ,,So you'll come to see me again?'' he seemed to be in joy, in too much joy, Bruce noted. ,,I don't presume you can come in?''
Guard eyed Bruce cautiously, who cleared his throat. ,,No, I can't.'' he replied regretfully. ,,But, hopefully in time.''
John nodded. ,,Agh, I wish I could hug you right now,'' John sighed. ,,It's a bit lonely here, after everything that's happened.''
Bruce took a deep, shaky breath. He wasn't sure what to say, he shouldn't encourage John's dependence on him, but at the same time he wanted John to know that he still cares, that he missed John too. ,,Me too.'' he admitted eventually and John looked at him, surprised.
John seemed to think for a moment. ,,So we're still friends?'' he brought his hand up to the opening, sticking out his pinky. Bruce's chest tightened even more. He wanted to talk to John more, but at the same time he wanted to get out and never return. Eventually, he brought his hand up and stuck his own pinky out.
,,Friends for life?'' John asked in hopeful, desperate tone. Bruce was aware the guards eyes were on him and he seemed to want to step into it, clearly aware of how dangerous John could be. Bruce locked their pinkies together for a brief moment before he could upset the guard.
,,Friends for life.'' Bruce nodded and stepped back from the door. ,,I will visit you as soon as I can, alright?''
John nodded in excitement. ,,Take care, buddy.''
Bruce gave him one last look at turned around to leave. The awful sensation in his chest somehow got even worse and he just wanted to go home.
,,Bruce.'' Leland called out to him on his way out. He stopped in his tracks and turned around, trying not to look as shaken as he felt.
,,Yes, doctor?'' he flashed his smile, trying to show some of that Wayne charm. It failed miserably, not like it would have worked on professional such as Leland in the first place.
,,I have scheduled an appointment for you.'' she said and handed him a piece of paper with a date on it. Bruce took it a bit uncertainly. He may have agreed to it himself, but that didn't mean he was one hundred percent comfortable with it, not by a long shot. ,,If you could not make it, give me a call before hand, although I would highly suggest that you'd make time for it.''
Bruce nodded. ,,Thank you doctor,'' he took a deep breath, the pain on his chest was still present. ,,I appreciate you making time for me in such a hurry.''
,,I would not turn away anyone who comes asking for help,'' Leland replied. ,,No matter his actions.''
Bruce ignored the last bit and wished Leland a good day on his way out.

Chapter Text

Giving up Batman identity made a number on Bruce. Suddenly, he found himself with nothing to do, nothing to think of. He pulled to his manor and with heavy sigh exited the car. The camera flash of someone on the other side of the road did not go unnoticed by him as he exited the car. Can't he have a moment of goddamn peace? He decided to not look for the photographer and quickened his pace in order to get inside faster. The odd pain in his chest was back for a moment and he found himself struggling for air. He tried to shake the feeling off and entered home. The door shut off with loud bang and Bruce became aware of the deafening silence that instantly engulfed him.
,,Alfred?'' he called out as he navigated his way to the living room. He could use a drink right now. His visit in Arkham left him feeling empty, conversation with Leland was replaying in his head and the piece of paper she gave him was burning in his pocket. He sighed and then he realized that something felt off. The manor was empty. ,,Alfred?'' he called out again, the events with Lady Arkham were replaying in his mind, as he tried his best to stay calm. Alfred had to be around somewhere, he had to fine. His heartbeat quickened once again, he came to an empty kitchen and once his eyes laid on the pre-made meal, it finally hit him.
Alfred was gone.
He had forgotten.
With shaky breath he supported himself on the kitchen counter.
,,We caused so much pain.'' Alfred's words echoed in Bruce's mind.
He had known it. Bruce began to realize it during his time with The Pact. Spending time with Bane, Freeze and Harley. They wanted the serum cure them of their ailments. Yes, they had done plenty of bad things, murdered a lot of people while they were at it, but Bruce couldn't even blame them anymore. His own feelings got in the way and so many people died. And the worse is, Waller was right. He could have prevented it. He should have known, he should have known, how dangerous and deadly they were. But what was he supposed to do? Catwoman's life was on the line, it didn't matter, if she was his friend or not, how could he put her life on the line? That was his own undoing. Catwoman may have robbed a lot of people, good and bad alike, but death? Death was an ultimatum. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he should have left her there. Catwoman had to know, what she was getting into. All she wanted was a payback for Riddler's death, wasn't it? Could Bruce really justify deaths of so many people to save her? He didn't know anymore and it hurt him to think about it. He shouldn't have let himself get involved. He shouldn't have started to be Batman in the first place, but how could he ignore threats such as The Children of the Arkham? This wasn't what he set out to do, when he first put the mask on.
Bruce decided he needed a drink and some music. He took out his phone, that he connected to the stereo in the living room and put on some classical music. Beethoven had always been his favorite and right now it even suited his mood. He felt an inner turmoil remembering the events of past year. He wanted to forget everything for a moment, but he could never. And there was no longer any mask he could hide behind, only his own face which has became something of a mask in itself. He no longer had any friend to turn to with Alfred gone.
,,You are going to drive everyone away.''
He had been right, Bruce knew what he was doing. But he always justified his loneliness, he told himself it was better for him to be alone than to cause pain to others, than to put them in danger. And when he finally let someone in, they ended up bruised and broken. Bruce gritted his teeth.
He began to remember his beginnings, back when it was just about stopping a few small crimes like theft. Things were so much more easier back then, weren't they? Since when did they get so hard?
Bruce went to the balcony where he left his bottle of whiskey yesterday during his conversation with Alfred. There was barely anything left, it made no difference to him right now, he had a stash of some finer stuff anyway. He took a large swig of the burning liquor and gulped it down with displeasure on his face. Then he stared back at the sky. Normally, it looked much more different in the day, but right now, it seemed as if it fall on him at any moment, crushing his bones, tearing apart his limbs, knocking the air out of his lungs.
Would things be any different had his parents not died in that dirty, forgotten alley? He used to think his father was a bad person, but now, he wasn't so sure anymore. He felt like his entire world had been collapsing, everything he believed in seemed so rotten now. Was his father perhaps once like him? Alfred said so too. He mentioned his own obsession ultimately became his undoing. Was he his father's son after all? He didn't want to be, he wanted to make up for all his father's crimes, but in the end all he did was to cause pain. Has his father struggled with the same thing? Bruce took another large swig, the reality seemed to slip away from him. No, he told himself. Bruce, you need to put yourself together.
But what for? Everything, everything I worked for is gone, everything I believed in was a lie. Everyone I loved is gone. Either driven away by my own doing or damaged by my mistakes. Does everything I touch become rotten in the end?
I need to focus on the positives. Arkham is going through reconstruction, that has to help in the bigger scheme of things.
Yes, but what have you been doing to improve Gotham itself, Bruce? Crippling muggers? Using fear tactics to traumatize your victims? You have done way more damage than good, Wayne.
Bruce tightened his grip on the bottle and drank down the leftovers. It wasn't enough, he needed more alcohol, he needed to numb down the pain, to slow down his fast heartbeat, to stop the slight tremble in his own hands. With annoyed groan, Bruce went back inside straight to the fridge and took out another bottle. In a fit of anger, he swung his arm up and wanted to throw the bottle, to shatter it to pieces. With shuddering breath, he eventually lowered his hand and placed the bottle on the counter. Bruce searched with his eyes for a TV remote and turned the damn thing on. He already knew, what the news were going to be filled with, but a part of him wanted to hear it nonetheless. The face of a reporter showed up on the screen.
,,-And in other news.'' the reporter cleared his throat. ,,The city is recovering from the terror of terrorist known as The Joker.''
Bruce sighed heavily and leaned on the counter, opening the new bottle. The TV showed pictures of his-Batman's and John's---Joker's fight.
,,Batman has shown to save the city once again.'' reporter said, but then frowned. ,,However, we have gotten several reports of Batman and Joker working together.''
Bruce closed his eyes and took another gulp of the cold liquor. It burned in his throat.
,,Could it be that Batman has not been the hero we held him out to be?'' reporter questioned. ,,On the subject, we have invited Lieutenant Bullock to share his opinion.''
Bruce's face twisted in displeasure.
,,If you ask me,'' Bullock started in cold tone. ,,Batman was just another freak in costume.''
,,But he has protected the city several times.'' reporter protested and straightened his glasses.
,,Yes, but all he did was to beat the damn bastards.'' Bullock looked straight into the camera and Bruce felt as if he was looking directly at him. Bruce gripped the bottle harder, gritting his teeth. ,,If you ask me, he was no better than any of them.''
,,I have sacrificed everything in order to protect you,'' Bruce growled, his voice rising in volumes. ,,While you were all incompetent, letting the likes of Waller take this city,'' Bruce's heart was speeding up, his blood heating up, with his anger rising. ,,I was out there trying to save you all!'' Bruce raised his hand up and gripped on the bottle full of liquor stronger. ,,And all I get is you complaining about me not doing enough! I have lost everything for this godforsaken city!'' Bruce spat out and in a fit of anger her threw the bottle with all his strength on the TV, destroying them both and effectively silencing both the reporter and the corrupt officer. As the silence settled, Bruce backed into a wall, horrified at his own actions and falling down on his backside, throwing his head back into the wall in order to feel something, even if it was pain. Just when sob was about to break out of his throat, his phone started ringing. He considered ignoring it, but decided he could use some distraction.
,,Yes, Bruce Wayne talking.'' he croaked.
,,Bruce?'' the womanly voice inquired. ,,Am I interrupting something?''
,,No,'' Bruce coughed, trying to calm his thoughts, heart and his trembling hands. ,,Is something the matter, Regina?''
,,Oh no,'' she reassured him immediately. ,,Nothing urgent, just wanted to talk to you about the fund raising event for the orphanage that will take place this Saturday.''
Bruce took a deep breath. That's what he needed, yes, a distraction and doing some good for the world while he was at it. He didn't need therapist, he survived without therapy so far. All he needed was some drinks, fake smiles and gratitude. That would fix him right up.
,,Bruce?'' Regina inquired after a moment of silence.
,,Ah, yes.'' Bruce blinked, his vision was doubling. And it wasn't just from his indulgence from alcohol. ,,Give me a moment, I will arrive to Wayne Tower as soon as possible.''
,,Thank you Bruce.'' she replied, somewhat relieved at the conversation ending. ,,Will see you there.''
,,Goodbye Regina.'' Bruce replied and ended the call. His eyes settled on the mess he made and what was left from his TV. He let out a bit annoyed, but mostly a tired sigh. A gesture he found himself making a lot as of late.
Right, getting up. On his wobbly legs he stood up, his head was a bit dizzy, but it was nothing a some pills wouldn't fix. He grabbed a few, he always took just one, but he supposed two wouldn't do any harm. Well any more harm given his current state. He gulped them down without any water to help him, but thankfully they didn't get stuck in his throat. He passed a mirror but did not have the courage to look in it. He paused before opening the door, his eyes still stung a bit. He reached into a drawer for a pair of yet to be unpacked sunglasses he bought a long time ago, yet didn't wear them.
Well, this seemed like the perfect occasion to try them out.
Bruce stepped out, his legs still a bit wobbly and as he walked to his car, a bit defeated and exhausted, he forgot to look up to the sky.
He forgot that the sun never rose up in Gotham.

Chapter Text

Driving under the influence of alcohol has certainly not been Bruce's brightest moment. Add that to the list of mistakes he's made. At least no one died this time. After leaving the last thought settle in Bruce's head, he felt even more misery take place in his mind. He parked messily, stopping halfway on a sidewalk and scaring one of the pedestrians. Great, splendid, just wonderful.
Good job, Wayne. Without the suit, you are just useless, aren't you? What am I saying, you're even worse with the suit on.
Bruce gripped on the steering wheel and then forced overly jovial smile. It felt like his skin was going to peel of his face at any moment and Bruce wasn't sure what would he look skinless. Perhaps without any skin he'd get less heat and hatred from everyone. Bruce promptly shut down the dark train of thoughts and exited the car. He tried his best to ignore the looks of onlookers, but now that daylight came to contact with his body, he was more aware of the dire state he was in. He entered the company, his company.
But is it really, Wayne? For how long? I wonder when the next Cobblepot is going to come around.
,,Ugh, shut up.'' Bruce muttered under his breath, while passing the receptionist at the entrance, who gave a him a suspicious look. It wasn't the one who got beaten up by Quinn, that lawsuit had yet to be settled.
Bruce tried his best to smile and greet the workers he passed, but most got out of his way before he even approached them. There was an unfortunate man that had the absolute pleasure of sharing an elevator ride with him. He greeted him professionally, but Bruce didn't miss the man frowning and his nostrils flaring. Bruce sniffed quietly and realized, that he must have reeked horribly of alcohol. He mentally kicked himself for it. He didn't think of that when he left. Had Alfred been there with him, he would have said something. He would have made him to take a cold shower first and brush his teeth.
But Alfred is gone, driven by your own doing, Wayne. He was in army, he could take that on, but some time with you and look at what it's done to him? You're toxic Wayne, you poison everything you touch.
,,Ehm, mister Wayne?'' the man seemed reluctant to speak up. It took a while for Bruce to register the man's words.
,,Yes?'' he replied, turning to man, who was now unable to hide his disgust at the reek of alcohol.
,,Your stop?'' he inquired and looked like he was about to puke. Bruce felt like he was kicked in the gut, as he pressed the floor's number and with guilt written all over his face, he decided to spend the rest of the ride staring into the floor. The man got off on lower floor and seemed very glad for it. He was in such a rush to get away from Bruce that he forgot his manners and did not say goodbye. Bruce felt sick with himself and in the corner of his eye noticed his reflection.
,,You look like shit, Wayne.'' the reflection showed him in a Batman suit, it was sneering. ,,Better than your father?'' he scoffed. ,,At least your father could look good while murdered people. Hell, he at least looked them in the eye when he did.'' Bruce gritted on his teeth so hard they hurt, he curled his fingers in fists, digging his nails into skin. ,,It's easy isn't it? Walking around in expensive suits when all your victims are faceless.''
Bruce growled and struck him fist to the mirror, destroying it in the process, shards digging into his skin, causing him so much of that grounding pain, letting blood splatter all over the confined space. Suddenly the stranger in his reflection was gone and all he saw was his deranged expression, just as he arrived to his office and the door opened.
,,Bruce, I-'' Regina stopped talking, staring in shock at Bruce, whose hand was bloody, as he was standing in a pile of shards, smiling forcefully. She took a step back when Bruce entered the office.
,,Regina,'' he greeted her with overly joyous tone. ,,I am afraid the mirror broke, could you please send someone to clean it up?'' he came over to his desk. Even she did not miss the stench of alcohol. Her eyes slid down to his bloody hand, but she did not dare comment on it.
,,Right away, mister Wayne,'' her face twisted as he passed her to sit down in his chair. ,,I left the appropriate materials on your desk, I will be back in a minute to discuss them with you.''
Bruce nodded and tried to forget he has a bottle of whiskey in his drawer. Instead, he turned his attention to the papers on the desk. If only they didn't print it so that all the letters were blurred. He should get new printers then. Just as he was deciphering the title, his comm buzzed.
,,Sir? The GCPD would like to speak with you. I sent them to your office.'' the receptionist informed him.
That seemed to sober Bruce up immediately. Gordon? Here? Right now? Bruce whined in high pitched voice and let his head fall down on the table. This was exactly the last thing he needed right now. He has to have a bottle there somewhere, right?
Shutting that train of thought, he quickly started searching his drawers for any sort of fragrance at all. Then he remembered he never found them useful enough to actually have them in his office. He felt like he was about to crack. Was the GCPD here to ask questions or bring him in? Neither was a really good predicament. He shouldn't have drunk so much, what was he thinking? But what then again, what else was he supposed to do? How is he supposed to handle it all? How can he do this all and now he can't even justify it by being Batman. His mind flashed back to visiting John in Arkham, the way at least one person seemed happy to see him.
And it was an Arkham inmate. That didn't look good for him, did it? But John was his friend and he is all alone right now. It's been what, a day, and it's already started to tear him apart.
Being Bruce Wayne is much harder than being Batman.
There's still time. Put my face on, Wayne. You know it's going to feel good. You know you are going to enjoy beating the teeth out of some lowlife.
The sound of the elevator door opening interrupted any thoughts he might have had and Bruce was ready to meet his executioner. He may stood up for Jim when Gordon was firing him, but that couldn't have been enough. Gordon had good instincts, he knew that there was something off about Bruce, just not in the way he thought.
,,Commissioner Gordon,'' Bruce suppressed the urge to vomit. ,,Good morning.''
,,Evening,'' Gordon corrected coldly and stepped into his office, followed by Montoya, who only frowned at Bruce.
,,To who do I owe the visit?'' Bruce managed to say without slurring. This really was the worst time for a police call. He realized that both Gordon and Montoya must have taken note of his glasses, but he wasn't sure if he would be better of removing them. They were hiding not only his red, stingy eyes but also the deep circles under his eyes, that signified just how much he didn't need a therapist.
,,Waller is out of the city, Wayne,'' Gordon reminded him.
Bruce felt the world spinning, watching Gordon and Montoya get sucked into a vortex. An inescapable dread surrounded him and he saw Batman standing behind Gordon, smirking in victory. Then he saw him taking out Jokerangs and slicing Gordon's throat. Montoya turned around in horror and was pulling out her gun, but Batman was quicker, stabbing another Jokerang into her gut and letting her fall to the ground and watch Gordon, the man she admired, bleed out and die. Bruce felt consciousness trying to slip away from him.
,,I had not known that,'' Bruce replied and stared into Gordon's eyes. Was this how he was going to end up in the end? Despite his best efforts, he would be locked away in cold cell?
And what did you expect, Wayne? Your actions has caused people not only to suffer, but to also die.
,,Is that so?'' Gordon stepped closer to Bruce's desk. The murderer dressed in black moved with them. ,,You were so buddy-buddy with each other I would have thought you knew.''
Bruce was tired and cold. The alcohol no longer kept him warm, all it did was to suck away any source of warmth it may have originally provided. Bruce rubbed his face with his hand, he tried to suppress the awful running sensation in his stomach he felt. He just wanted to get back to work. He just wanted to set up the fundraiser for the orphanage, try to get back into the reality. Yet everything and everyone just kept making it harder and harder.
,,I doubt you came here to reminisce about director Waller,'' Bruce just wanted to get straight to the point. If Gordon was going to put him away for life, may as well get over it. It would ironic, wouldn't it? Man who sacrificed all he had for the sake of the city only to be locked away. Bruce thought that it was that kind of irony John would have liked. Perhaps he would be able to tell him if they sent him to Arkham. But, knowing it was the GCPD, it was probably the Blackgate for him.
Oh well, at least he would catch up with Cobblepot again. Just like the old times eh, Oz?
Bruce suppressed the sob that tried to force its way out of his lungs.
,,No, I came here to tell you that the investigation I was running about you is in the motion again, Wayne.'' Gordon frowned at him. ,,Waller may have erased any recordings of your friend Quinn and Doe being here, but guard has certainly not forgotten.''
,,Not to mention your visits to patient John Doe.'' Montoya threw newspapers with a picture of him exiting his car to go to the Arkham Asylum.
Bruce felt heat stirring in his blood. Going after him, fair enough, but going after John? He had been through enough already. Not to mention Bruce didn't want John to go through anymore pain, and definitely not because of his own self-ish needs to see John.
,,You want to go after me,'' Bruce took his glasses off, his eyes did not sting anymore. He had no idea, how he looked right now, but he pulled an expression he dared to use only when he was safe behind Batman mask. He could imagine what kind of a look he must have had on his face by the way Montoya instinctively reached for gun and Gordon stepping in front of Montoya to protect her. ,,Fine. But leave. John. Out of this.'' Bruce almost growled. He didn't feel himself, not anymore.
For the first time that day, he was glad Alfred was gone. Because whatever is going to happen next will not have any good consequences for Bruce. He regretted it instantly. He straightened back into his chair, a momentarily look of fear passed on his face. What was happening? He wasn't like this, was he? Was he really growing up to be his father?
No Wayne. Batman sneered behind Gordon and Montoya sneered at him. You are growing up to be even worse.
,,Any way I can assist you in your investigation, commissioner?'' Bruce inquired, trying to suppress the tremble in his hands. He failed.
,,Oh, I think you've done plenty already.'' Gordon replied and Montoya pulled out a recorder and replayed Bruce's last words back to him.
Even in the recording it just didn't sound like him.
,,So is it going to be Arkham or Blackgate, Jim?'' Bruce asked, unable to look into the officer's eyes.
,,Oh, is that why you rebuild the hospital?'' Gordon asked Bruce incredulously. Bruce felt as if the walls itself started to close on him. Now he did feel the tears building up in his eyes. ,,You knew you were going to end up in it, weren't you?'' Gordon leaned on Bruce's desk and looked him straight in the eye. ,,Not as long as I am on the force, Wayne. You are going to end up in Blackgate for life if it's the last thing I do!'' with that the officers turned around, but Montoya did look back at Bruce a bit uncertain for a moment. ,,And clean the glass here if you don't want anymore lawsuits before I lock you up there, Wayne.''
The elevator door closed.
Bruce stared ahead for a long time, unable to come to terms with reality.

Chapter Text

Bruce didn't sleep until the session with Leland was supposed to happen.
He got another visit from Gordon at his home this time. He came with a determined look in his eyes and in his hand was the most powerful weapon of all.
It was a search warrant. Bruce had to sit down for a few good minutes to process it all while GCPD started going through all his things.
,,What happened to your TV, Wayne?'' Gordon asked immediately as he noticed. He was also hit with a strong smell of alcohol, that was spilled all over. ,,Got anger issues?''
Bruce dug fingers into his cut. Then he realized a grave mistake, another he made. Joker's Jokerang was in the drawer of his table. His heart suddenly felt as if it was squeezed, ripped apart. If the GCPD find this, not only John would get involved in the case, but it got dangerously close to Gordon connecting the right dots this time. He didn't know, if it mattered anymore. He was going to end up locked away one way or the other, but involving John in this, that was a big no. He kept watching the table, the officers hadn't searched there yet. He had to take it out no matter what.
,,Obsession will be your own undoing.'' Alfred's words echoed through his mind. He had to retrieve it no matter what. But how to do it without noticing? Gordon's eyes were focused on him.
,,Where is your butler?'' Gordon asked, still keeping his eyes on Bruce.
,,He is away on vacation.'' Bruce replied and his mind raced through possibilities. He had to create a distraction.
,,Vacation, huh?'' Gordon scratched his chin. ,,Maybe he was just unable to take it anymore with you.''
Bruce looked at Gordon with a look of absolute surprise and betrayal, pain twisting his face. That cut deep. Gordon seemed to regret his words immediately and turned away to order his people. Despite how much it hurt, it gave Bruce the distraction he needed as he stepped to the table under the pretense of looking out of window, to perhaps ponder on Gordon's words. He didn't need to ponder, Bruce knew it was true. Right now his feelings were secondary, he needed to make sure John won't get caught up in this mess. While Gordon was unable to look at him, Bruce knew Montoya was definitely watching his every step. He needed a bigger distraction. He took out his phone, he could set off one of the GCPD's cars alarm, but that would draw attention to the windows and possibly make the GCPD act more erratic. He definitely didn't need that. He got a better idea and within seconds, all of the officer's phone started ringing and buzzing. While there were distracted with that, Bruce opened up the drawer and hid the Jokerang in his pocket.
,,What was that?'' Gordon frowned and looked at Bruce. ,,That tec of yours isn't so flawless, is it?''
,,I am just the CEO, Commissioner.'' Bruce replied. ,,And nothing is flawless.''
Gordon still gave him suspicious look, but decided not to press it any further. With Bruce's approaching verdict, he knew there was one last thing he had to do before he got locked up, before the news spread everywhere about being investigated again. Well, there were two things. ,,I don't have to be present for the search, do I?''
Gordon shot him a look, clearly he didn't want Bruce leaving anywhere, but at the same time he still didn't have a solid evidence to lock Bruce up.
,,Do whatever you want Wayne, while you still can,'' Gordon said. ,,Just make sure not leave Gotham.''
Bruce nodded, his eyes showing the extreme tiredness. The press hasn't arrived yet, he needed to get into Arkham as soon as possible and hope that Leland would let him see John. He wasn't so sure after what news must have already covered, but there still had to be a way.
He got into his car and tapped something on his phone. He needed to have that ready no matter what.
They need him rotten? He can do that.
He used his voice scrambler, it was sloppy, but he did have a sample he could use. Wasn't sure it would work, but he had to try.
,,Arkham hospital, how may I help you?'' receptionist inquired. Bruce started up the car.
,,This is Willy Deever, can I talk to my friend, John Doe?'' Bruce breathed out. This wouldn't work, would it? But it was the last hope he had.
,,Give me a moment,'' the receptionist yawned. That made Bruce feel awful. He thought, he had hoped that Arkham wasn't as it was before. If it was this easy, was all Bruce's work for nothing? That was that, wasn't it? Blackgate and everything, all of it was useless in the end. All his effort, nothing good came out of it.
,,Willy?! Buddy is it really you?'' John's voice interrupted his thoughts. Bruce turned the scrambler off and took a deep breath. He was tired of fighting, tired of resisting, tired of being tired all the time.
He was just done.
,,John, it's me.'' he only said. There was silence on the other line and a deep breath, if Bruce didn't say something fast, John would give him away. ,,Look, I don't have much time. Don't tell them it's me, they will terminate the call.''
Bruce could actually see John nod, even if he didn't see him. It made him smile, but there was no humor in it. ,,So, you're doing well, ehm, Willy? Nothing bad is happening, right?''
,,John, I have to tell you something, listen to me, please,'' Bruce's voice cracked. It was now or never. And it was unfair and despicable putting John in this position. After what he is about to do, he can willingly surrender himself to the GCPD. It won't matter afterwards. ,,Eversince I first met you, I fell in love you with you.'' Bruce squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop the tears from forming. There was a gasp from the other. ,,All I have done back then, I tried to balance it all, tried to be good and tried to let my feelings stay in check. It's all my fault. It's my fault it all ended up like that.'' Bruce heard Leland's voice on the other end, approaching John.
,,John?'' she seemed surprised. ,,Who are you talking to? Didn't we talk about you needing some time away from others? Who let you on the phone?''
Bruce closed his eyes, smile forming on face. Ah, there was still hope for the hospital, wasn't there? It wasn't all for nothing, was it?
,,It-It's Willy, doctor,'' John quickly said, his voice seemed a bit strained. ,,Bru-I-''
,,I love you John.'' Bruce let his eyes burn, did not blink away the tears this and let them fall down his face. It was sort of freeing in a way. He hadn't let himself cry in such a long time. ,,Goodbye. And I'm sorry for all the pain.''
,,Bruce!'' John called out before Bruce terminated the call. Then he clicked through his phone with a faint smile on his face. He felt free, as if he could do anything right now. With his vision blurry, his fingers trembling and his heart being squeezed like it was going to burst at any moment, he pressed the command on his phone and ground shook under the manor, the police officers running out in hurry, as the cave underneath began collapsing on itself. Something similar must have been happening in Wayne Enterprises as well, with the leftovers of Lucius' work. Although, he had set up an alarm there to give everyone chance to get into safety.
It was all gone, any traces of Batman were eradicated from this world. Bruce looked through his tears at the phone and smashed it in his hand. Then he stepped out and threw the Jokerang into the sewer opening.
And then he just waited.
He waited for the justice to take him.

Chapter Text

,,-Reports suggest that Bruce Wayne, the CEO of the Wayne Enterprises has-''
,,-Atleast dozen injured after an explosion in Wayne Enterprises-''
,,-We have gotten reports of Wayne's manor having an underground explosion-''
,,-GCPD was investigating at the time, many officers were-''
,,-Bruce Wayne is being charged with-''
,,-Seems like apple doesn't fall away from the tree, a saying many of us witnessed to be true, after Bruce Wayne-''
,,-For now he has been taken to GCPDs custody for questioning, however, to all of us it seems like that Wayne will not be able to escape punishment this time-''
,,-Seems like Arkham was not enough for the former CEO of Wayne Enterprises-''
,,-Looks there is no helping Bruce Wayne. Commissioner Gordon refused to speak on the matter-''
,,-Lieutenant Bullock hints at Blackgate-''
Pale fingers eventually pressed the red button at the top of the controller. The man sat staring into the wall, unable to process what he was hearing. Surely, it must have been some sort of a joke? Bruce would never... he would never...
John stared into the wall, there was smile stuck on his face, while tears dampened his cheeks.

Chapter Text

Quick, uneven steps filled the busy hallway. Conversation between the two officers seemed to quiet, yet everyone could hear it, but no one dared to make a comment on it.
,,Just as his parents,'' Gordon growled. ,,He endangered the lives of so many people, many good officers, not to mention the workers at Wayne Enterprise. Ugh, the name itself feels like poison on my tongue.''
,,But he did ring the evacuation warning, didn't he?'' Montoya argued back. ,,If he wanted to kill them, why would he let the warning play?''
,,What about us, Montoya?'' Gordon stopped in his tracks and turned to her. ,,We didn't get any warning, did we? It was probably automated. Some sort of system in his tech. Besides, why would he blow up the mansion in the first place?''
,,The explosion occurred underground, Commissioner,'' Montoya pointed out.
,,Well, to me it seems like there was something he didn't want us to find.'' Gordon shot back. ,,Probably wanted to bury us along with it.''
,,If that was true,'' Montoya argued, she knew that there had to be more to the story, something they weren't seeing. ,,Why would he wait for us to escort him? He had plenty of time to drive away.''
,,Maybe he's just crazy, like everyone were saying.'' Gordon almost shouted. He was on edge. First the stuff with Agency, now he has two, for what he knows, could be deadly attacks. ,,Or maybe he is a mastermind. And he knows exactly what he was doing. Maybe he wanted to watch us die and get a sick laugh while he was at it. Either way, I will not let him slip this time. He is getting locked away for life.''
Montoya didn't get a chance to reply, as they opened the door the interrogation room. Gordon wanted to be the first one to grill him.
Bruce was handcuffed, sitting on the chair and watching the table intently. The room was dark and he realized that for the first time in his life, he had a hard time seeing anything. Usually, dark suited him the best. He looked to look into Gordon's eyes, who placed a radio on the table and played the reporters talking about what he's done. Every word they said got stuck in Bruce's memory, the mention of Blackgate had his heart threatening to burst out of his chest. But, he noted with relief, no one died. He regretted doing it this way, but he had to erase it all. Everything.
,,You are in deep shit, Wayne,'' Gordon turned the radio off. ,,Endangering the lives of hundred's of people, not to mention my officers and my own.''
Montoya crossed the room to take a better look at Bruce's face. She felt it, something was off. This didn't look like the man, who believed in her innocence. She saw something far darker.
Bruce looked back down on the table, it was supposed to reflect his own face.
It didn't.
,,You have everything you need,'' Bruce spoke up, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat. ,,What else is needed? A confession?''
Gordon frowned. ,,You told me I was wrong about you.'' he said and Bruce's mask cracked, twisting in sorrow. ,,This doesn't seem like I was. You know why I am even questioning you?''
Bruce looked up. Gordon's eyes hard and cold. But there was still a glimpse of pain, some kind of unspoken betrayal between them. ,,You need to determine whether to place me into Arkham or in Blackgate.''
Gordon frowned and shot Montoya a look. Bruce had no trace of fear in his expression. He felt empty. He felt like the husk of a man he once was. Shattered to pieces. And all he got was Batman laughing at him, when all of this was Batman's fault in the first place.
,,You see, I don't think you are crazy,'' Gordon slammed his fist on the table, Bruce forgot to flinch, which didn't bode well for him at all. ,,I think you know exactly what you have done.''
Batman's smile widened. Bruce's mask stayed the same. ,,And what have I done, Jim?''
A shiver ran through Gordon's spine. He didn't like it, he felt as if Wayne was able to get out of cuffs and then knock both Montoya and him out. ,,I have a lot of charges on you. Corrupting my officers, being in one bed with the Quinn gang and even if I don't have solid evidence for either, I know you blew up the tower and manor and you really are insane, if you think you are ever walking free.''
,,I know.'' Bruce replied, calm as ever. ,,I know, you will do the right thing, Jim. You are a good police officer-''
,,Be quiet, I don't want to hear that from the likes of you!'' Gordon slammed his fists on the table.
Bruce missed Alfred, he missed his mother, he even started to miss his father, but the memory of his last conversation with John filled him with guilt the most.
But he had to do it. He couldn't live like that anymore.
,,What were you hiding under your manor?'' Gordon looked him straight in the eye. ,,Whatever it was, pieces of it were in the Tower and in the car too. I should mention it almost killed another one of us, but it's not like you care, do you?''
,,You're a good cop.'' Bruce said eventually. ,,You will figure it out one day.''
,,Oh, you think this crazy crap is going to get you nice, warm place in Arkham?'' Gordon spat out. ,,No, I meant what I said, it is Blackgate for you. You will face justice for what you have done. I will not let you get off easy on pretending to be insane, when I know you are perfectly aware of what you have done! Last minute love confession to an Arkham inmate is definitely not going to secure you a place in there, quite the opposite. You know what I think, Wayne? You can't stand not being in the center of attention. Well, now you've got it.''
Bruce's smile faltered. He was not going to see John, never again.

Chapter Text

When he was being transferred, Bruce almost wished in the back of his mind, that someone would try to assassinate him again. But at the same time, he felt so free, he felt as if a boulder was lifted of his shoulders. Batman was dead and somehow, that was something that filled him with such happiness he hadn't felt in a long time. He felt as if he was being reborn, finally able to move on past Batman.
It made only sense that his life would end there as well.
But he served justice and he had to face it as well. For all the pain and death he's caused.
There was one sentence, replaying in his mind. He wasn't sure, where he heard it or read it, but he remembered the words clearly: If you thought Arkham was hell, you have never been to Blackgate.
He wondered if he was also going to get beaten up as soon as he arrives. He won't have John to protect him this time.
This is what he deserved, after everything.
He hoped Alfred wasn't keeping with Gotham news, god he hoped. When he blew everything up, he didn't think of that. He wasn't thinking much of anything, he just needed anything that had to do with his other mask gone. At times like these, he missed Selina. Despite their differences, she understood him. She would have been horrified seeing him like this. But it was his choice to be alone and he knew it was better.
He didn't hurt that many people right now, did he? Well, besides those who he injured by--Bruce immediately banged his head against the car's window. He messed up, didn't he? Leland was right, back then, way back when they first met. Maybe if he had gotten professional help, none of this would have happened.
And now, it was too late.
Was he doomed from the start? From the very moment he became Wayne?
He had hoped to see a phantom of Batman, something to justify his own actions right now. He saw nothing, only the guards watching his every move.
Did he throw everything away for a moment of weakness?
No, he had to face justice. The last villain Batman will put behind bars. The guards were saying something to him, but he tuned them out for the most part, he was busy realizing the consequences himself, didn't need others to point them out too.
,,-Well, at least Cobblepot is going to be happy.'' one said and suddenly Bruce's head snapped to the guard, who flinched at first, but then he sneered. ,,He won't shut up about you. Quite the interesting things he says too.''
,,Oz?'' Bruce blurted out. The guards shot him a strange look.
In the state Bruce was in, he forgot to think about him as Penguin. He forgot to think in general.
Well, that was just perfect, wasn't it? Oz would make sure, he would make sure that he would get, what was coming to him.
,,Interesting you should call him that.'' one of the guards said. ,,Didn't know you two were that close.''
,,Damn, you really were rotten from the start, weren't you?'' the other said. ,,Almost had me fooled there for a second.''
Bruce didn't reply, he had such mixed emotions about possibly seeing Oswald. He thought he would never see him again. Alright, perhaps he wasn't as resigned to his fate as he thought. Perhaps he should have gone to Arkham.
This time, Alfred won't save him.
Alfred...
Bruce closed his eyes. The exhaustion eventually was too much even for him and he fell asleep.

He was woken up by a sharp pain in his face. Dizzy, Bruce opened his eyes to find himself on a hard, cold floor. The guards have thrown him on the floor on order to wake him up.
,,Wake up, sleeping beauty,'' one of the guards chuckled as the other opened the door of the van.
,,There's not much of the beauty left, is there?'' the other laughed back. Bruce almost rolled his eyes, even in the state he was in.
He found himself unable to stand up on his legs, so the guards effectively dragged him out. There he was met with the Blackgate Institution. Tall, dark building with iron bars over all the windows. At the moment, Bruce was too tired, too caught up in the process of realizing the past few days and his own actions to be properly scared or intimidated.
As it was now, all he wanted was to lie in the bed and just sleep. Maybe this was all a horrible dream and he would wake up, having a therapy with Leland and meeting John afterwards.
Maybe.
It was alright, it was fine, Bruce wasn't scared.
Not until the gate to the prison shut behind him and he realized one thing. He was truly alone.
Even when Alfred left for the vacation, he still had John. What did he have now?
Lawsuits, that's what.
And lifetime sentence in prison.
Bruce realized, he couldn't really breathe. He didn't want to breath. He didn't want to accept the reality of this.
Would he go back to being a prisoner of his own creation? Or was this better? A day ago he was sure the latter was definitely better. Now?
He wasn't so sure anymore.
Well, maybe they'll throw him into the same cell as Oz, that would have surely been funny, right?
He almost laughed at that, didn't have time to. Because as soon as they entered the building, everything seemed to go quiet. That's when it hit Bruce, he sent a lot of people in here as Batman, but there were a few that ended up being here because of Bruce Wayne.
Payback time.
The whole admitting process was a blur for him. He was still a bit intoxicated and more than a bit sleep deprived. He was sure he may have even said his name was Willy once. Then he got stripped of his suit, the last thing he really had to a Wayne's name and he had been given prison attire instead. He had gotten many raised eyebrows over the large amounts of injuries and scars all over his body, but most importantly, he got to wear something, he never got chance to wear before.
Another suit he could slip into. Another mask he could create. Another identity to take on.
Then he almost slapped himself. He's here because he couldn't balance two identities in the first place, never mind if he gets a new one. He's just going to be plain ol' Bruce. Wait, who was that guy again? The one that saved the woman from Riddler? Or that injured people out of his misguided sense for justice? Maybe it was a chance at a fresh start! That was one way to look at this disaster, right?
He was led into his cell, assured that other inmates were very excited to meet him. Bruce carried himself with a fake smile so practiced, that he was sometimes able to fool himself as well.
He heard very lovely things. Such as ''You're going to die, Wayne'' or ''I will rip your tongue out!''. Bruce liked his new neighbors already.
,,To ensure your safety,'' the guard spat on his foot, Bruce barely noticed. ,,We have placed you in a cell with someone of a... similar reputation.'' then he took out a baton and hit Bruce into his knee as hard as he could. Bruce's eyes widened and he didn't have time to suppress his pained scream. ,,Don't resist us, Wayne.'' the guard growled. ,,This is what happens when you resist.''
Bruce barely had time to recover from the pain, before another blow came, this time to his ribs. His wounds from fight with John were far from healed and he felt them opening up.
,,Gents, come on,'' a very familiar voice came from a cell there were heading to. ,,You ain't gonna break this handsome man, are ya now?''
A wave of nausea immediately hit Bruce and he looked up to see him.
Confusion, relief, anger, sadness, feelings were battling themselves inside of Bruce and he longer had the strength nor a reason to fight it.
Oswald was sneering at him, clearly very pleased with what he was seeing.
Bruce was having hard time to even concentrate on breathing, never mind everything he was feeling.
When he locked his eyes with Oz that was time he truly knew, it was the world telling him, screaming at him, that this is it.
This what you get.
This what you deserve.
At least he would be yelled at by someone who was actually there, not his own phantoms.
The real dread settled in when the door to Oswald's cell opened and he was thrown in there.
And the door got locked behind him.

Chapter Text

The world was spinning, his body hurt like hell and somehow, it was comparable to his beat up from Bane. Bruce kept forgetting the is human, underneath all his masks. He felt acidic taste on his tongue and tried his best to suppress gagging reflex. Even though his life was going to be very different. If he could call it a life at this point. He tried to calm down his heartbeat, feeling uncomfortable tingling sensation in the tips of his fingertips. He felt like his head was about to burst open, not to mention the awful running sensation in his stomach, as the alcohol was wearing off.
The pain was still numbed down, but Bruce was aware it was going to get worse. He didn't expect any medical attention.
,,Bruce, Bruce,'' he heard the sickly familiar speak to him. Then the man crouched down to him, even in his state Bruce noted, that he had difficulty with legs, staring directly into his face. ,,Getting into trouble, are we?''
Bruce inhaled shakily, his ribs hurt like hell and he felt the prison uniform sticking to his body. Was he bleeding? Great, that was exactly what he needed right now, with Oz in the cage with him.
,,Speechless, are ya?'' Oswald searched for something in Bruce's face with his eyes. Bruce focused his attention on his former friend, but he wanted nothing than to crawl into the bed, even a corner would do at this point. ,,I was speechless too.'' Oswald chuckled.
Bruce tried to slow down his racing heart, cold sweat covering his forehead. ,,Hi, Oz.'' Bruce managed to say before having coughing fit. ,,Heard you were a model prisoner.''
Oswald's face twisted in disgust. ,,So this is how last Wayne falls?'' he sneered, almost as cruelly as did Batman behind him. ,,Fitting.'' he walked over to the bed and sat on the edge of it, watching Bruce carefully.
,,Well,'' Bruce managed to say, the reality spinning away from him, as he watched Batman snap Oswald's neck. ,,Why are you still here? I buried you, I buried you along with everything I ever believed in and loved. Yet you still won't leave me alone?'' he growled at Batman.
Oswald raised his eyebrow in surprise. ,,They were right, weren't they, eh?'' he chuckled despicably. ,,You really have lost it all.'' he looked at Bruce darkly. ,,Buried me? Bruce, my mate, you haven't buried anything. Actually, this is like winning a damn lottery, ain't it?'' Oswald laughed mockingly. ,,You are finally answering for everything you and your father have done to my family.''
Bruce breathed out, anger rising in him once again, despite how miserable he was. Emotions were waging a war in him and no matter, which one emerged as the winner, it was a defeat for all sides. Bruce giggled darkly and then looked into Oswald's eyes with such a dark expression, it made Oswald flinch for a moment. He has seen this look before. He knows these eyes, even if the face was hidden at the time.
,,That's it then,'' Bruce finally managed to pull himself up, his body swaying unsteadily. Then he smiled. ,,I'm glad your legs have healed, Oz.'' Bruce closed his eyes, preparing for any incoming, sweet blows. He could see the fire in Oswald's eyes, it was just as it happened back then, right? But would Oz be able to even bruise him? Without the tech? It was certainly a very pitiful attempt back at the park. Maybe Oz has learned a thing or two here in Blackgate. Maybe he was the justice Bruce was supposed to face.
His mind flashed back to his final fight with John-Joker, to hell with it all. His mind flashed back to the final fight with the man he loved. What did he even love about him? It was sick, wasn't it? In retrospect, John has been more like a child. So eager to learn, so happy to please.
,,-done bending backwards to please you!''
Bruce felt absolutely disgusted with himself, for falling in love with the man, using him, manipulating him. But he couldn't resist, could he? John had such a warm smile and warm hands. Bruce lost it, it was such a long time since anyone believed in him. He should have realized it sooner, how grave the consequences of his own influence could be. how toxic he was to anyone, who has crossed paths with him. But--But he just--
,,Let me tell you one thing, Bruce,'' Oswald yawned and unexpectedly laid down on the mattress, stretching his arms. Now Bruce saw it clearly, Oz's legs were bent slightly inwards. That was his fault too, wasn't it? He should have taken better care of the Cobblepot park when he still could. ,,There are a lot of inmates here, who would absolutely looove getting their hands on you.''
Bruce leaned on the wall and eventually sat down on the floor, his body protesting. Bruce wasn't sure how much more beating could his body really take. ,,And you are just going to be so happy letting them, won't you?'' Bruce breathed out in pain. The alcohol was wearing off, that wasn't good. Bruce didn't want to even imagine the amount of pain, he was going to be in once he's sober.
,,I think you are going to get what you deserve,'' Oswald rose up from the bed to look into Bruce's eyes. ,,Oh, but don't get me wrong luv,'' he looked at Bruce with a dangerous smile. ,,I'll make sure you have time to recover first. After all,'' Oz slid his fingers into Bruce's hair and tugged on them hard. Bruce let out a surprised gasp, his heart started hammering in his chest, clenching in pain. ,,What for would it be to beat up a dead horse?''
,,You should just-just kill me,'' Bruce fought to keep up his consciousness, at least for a while more. ,,Maybe I'll walk free soon, you don't know that.''
Oswald let go of his hair and touched his face mockingly. ,,Oh, Bruce,'' Oswald laughed almost heartily. ,,There's a higher chance I'll walk out of here sooner than you.''
,,On those legs?'' Bruce heard someone in his voice say and then walk over behind Oz, smirking at the state of Oswald body. Oswald didn't seem to hear anything.
Bruce, sitting down in a sorry state himself didn't comment on it, just smiled sweetly into Oswald's face, who seemed to lose patience.
,,If you mock me, at least have enough courage to say it out loud.'' he shook his head in disappointment. ,,Anyway, I think you could use with some sleep, eh? You look like absolute shite.'' and with that, Oswald knocked the lights out of Bruce's brain, who was more than grateful for it.

Chapter Text

,,-Revolution is knocking on Gotham's door.'' Oz announced in loud voice. ,,Make sure you are on the right side, Bruce-''
,,-Wayne?!'' Vicki stepped back in horror. ,,No, no this can't be right. Bruce-''
,,-Waynes. Now get out of here, before I have you booked for obstruction of-'' Harvey played with his coin.
,,-justice! But you're liars, and you're murderers, and you're so...GODDAMN RUDE!!" John shouted and jumped on the edge of the bridge, as the whole reality swirled got sucked into a hole of darkness.
,,You and me Batman,'' familiar voice giggled. ,,We are going to do such great things together!''

Bruce woke up with a shout, covered in cold sweat. There was too much happening at once. Ringing in his ears, sharp pain pulling on his insides and a running sensation in his stomach. He was going to vomit, he knew this feeling all too well lately. In his disoriented state he realized, that he was lying in a bed, yet he had no memory recollection of actually getting in there. That seemed to be the last of his worries, as he felt something wet running down his stomach.
,,Oh, god,'' he ran a hand down his face. The contents of his stomach were going round and round. He gagged as he tasted stale alcohol on his tongue. He quickly looked around the room, there was a toilet by the corner, one he had to share with Oswald. The thought itself made his stomach turn and he tried to quickly stand up, but the pain did not allow him to and he fell down on his stomach. ,,Ugh.'' he gulped the awful, horrible taste back inside.
Have to get to toilet. It's just a few meters from him.
Using his hands to crawl, Bruce eventually managed to land his head on the edge of the bowl and it was just in time too, as the liquid forced its way out from his insides and out of his mouth. He must have looked horrible and he was feeling even worse. He slid his hand up, to the painful, damp area on his belly.
It was wet and hot.
Bruce didn't have to look down to know what it was.
This was that then, wasn't it? He was going to bleed out and die, covered in his own vomit. That was one for the headlines, like there weren't enough of them already.
,,Oh, Bruce,'' he heard a worried voice behind his back. He laid down his forehead on the cool ceramic bowl, trying to catch his breath. ,,Ya seem to be spilling around everywhere. Nasty.''
Bruce looked to the side, where the voice was coming from, but all he could see were two skinny and unnaturally bent legs. The image and the memory behind it made Bruce's head spin and let out more of the acidic liquid out. ,,If you want to laugh,'' Bruce managed to get before more vomit escaped his mouth. ,,Here's your chance.''
,,Not gonna lie,'' Oswald crouched down and Bruce noticed the wince on his face. Apparently the damage to his legs was permanent. Bruce felt even sicker upon the thought. ,,I don't enjoy seeing ya suffer like this.'' he shook his head, brushing the sweaty strands of Bruce's hair from his face, to get a better look at the miserable expression Bruce was wearing. ,,Well, not that much.'' he sneered.
Bruce felt another wave of nausea approaching. He looked away from Oswald and threw out another pool of acidic liquid.
,,Gee, look at you, Bruce,'' he continued. ,,I would have laughed if it wasn't so, so sad.''
Bruce shuddered, he was cold. Cold and in total pain. And there was no one to turn to comfort.
,,This is your own doing,'' Batman told him, as he sat on the bunkbed, playing with bloody Jokerang.
Bruce shook his head and noticed the trail of blood following him all the way from bed.
,,But I really do hate you seeing like this,'' Oswald patted his cheek, clearly he did not mind the vomit, in which was Bruce's chin covered. ,,And you do want it to get better, right?''
,,Hey, what's the commotion over here?'' stranger's voice echoed through the room. Bruce tried to turn his head in order to see, who was speaking, but found that he had no strength to do so. ,,What happened here, Cobblepot? I didn't think you would actually injure him like this.''
,,Me? Oh no,'' Oswald placed his hand on Bruce's back in soothing gesture and his other on his wound, in what seemed to be an attempt of stopping the bleeding. ,,I am trying my best to stop him, my mate Bruce here is a little self-destructive.''
The guard shined his flashlight into Bruce's face and noticed that his lips were swollen. Probably from Oswald's punch, Bruce figured out. ,,Yeah? And what about his face?''
,,Oh, he wanted to take it even further,'' Oswald put on his best impression of a worried voice and dug his fingers into Bruce's bleeding wound. Bruce wanted to cry out, but found vomit silencing his screams. ,,But I stopped him, isn't that right, Bruce?''
Batman chuckled from his seat on the bed.
,,Yeah,'' Bruce said and gritted his teeth when Oswald pushed his fingers even deeper inside, ripping the leftover stitches apart. ,,Don't know what I'd do without Oz.'' he growled, staring into Oswald's eyes.
,,Well, it seems like you have it under control here,'' the guard whistled and went on.
Bruce's eyes widened, his fingers started to tremble again. Was the guard letting him to just bleed out? Was he really going to die here? Despite what lies he would have liked to tell himself, he was far from being comfortable with death. Not to mention, he promised John that he would visit again.
Oh god, John.
,,I can help you, Bruce,'' Oz whispered into his ear. ,,I can help you make all the pain go away.''
Bruce flinched, he was beginning to get scared for real this time. He knew, he knew that dying here like wasn't justice, not for him, but why would Oswald wanted to help him? Wasn't this the perfect chance to see the last Wayne have his last breath?
,,Wh-'' Bruce began to ask, but Oz interrupted him.
,,All I ask is a smaaall favour.'' Oswald smiled darkly. ,,Come on, you can do it. It's nothing big.''
Bruce's facial features twisted in displeasure. But this wasn't about him, was it? This was about keeping at least one goddamn promise, at least once in his life. He wondered what John was doing right now. He must have known, right? Bruce's face must have been plastered all over the news. Damn it, what if John does something stupid? Bruce hadn't thought of it from this angle.
He had to pull through. He had to live, no matter his demons.
He owed John that much.
,,What do you want?'' he growled through his gritted teeth and regretted it immediately, as Oswald thrust his fingers deeper into the wound. Oswald looked deep into his eyes and put on a victorious smile.
,,I want you to stay on your knees, lean down, lick the tip of my shoe,'' his smile widened, as Bruce's face twisted in fear. ,,Look into my eyes and beg me, say: 'Oz, you are smart and handsome and the only solution to my problems. Please, I beg you, save my pathetic, rotten life.' And you better say it like you mean it.''
Bruce was now very aware that the guard wasn't the only one watching them. Another guard, who was transferring a handcuffed inmate stopped in his tracks and watched the situation before him unfold.
Bruce didn't want to die here. He couldn't die here.
He watched Batman using the edge of his Batarang to slice Oswald's throat and then going over to bars to gut the group of onlookers. Before they could run away, Batman gutted them one by one. And they all dropped to the ground.
Bruce looked at Oswald with a look of absolute hatred, one Oswald seemed to revel from him.
,,Come on Bruce,'' Oswald seemed to become more and more excited by every passing minute. ,,Have some dignity in defeat.''
Bruce felt more and more cold by each passing second. He had to act fast. He could feel Batman watching him, as he supported himself on his elbows and stuck out his tongue. He hesitated for one last time before eventually pressing his tongue onto Oswald's foot, licking a long stripe and trying his hardest to ignore the unsettling pleasant tingling going out from his spine. He looked into Oswald's eyes. ,,Please, Oz. I can't do it without you.''
Oswald seemed too taken back to correct him, to repeat exactly the words he wanted to hear. A very pleasant feeling spread from inside his stomach.
He was ecstatic.
,,Alright gents,'' he looked at the guard, trying to calm down his own excited breathing. ,,Help out my friend Bruce here, will ya?''

Chapter Text

Bruce wasn't sure, if they had doctors at Blackgate ready or if they didn't want him getting out. He hoped it was the first option.
,,I don't think he ever shut it during the time I was working at Blackgate.'' Quinn's voice carried through the halls. Bruce took a deep breath, all that moving around was making his heart beat at an impossible speed. His head was spinning, his body felt heavy. He was sure if he tried to stand up on it's own, without the guards helping to support his body, he would fall down. Cold sweat was building up on his back, it was sickening.
He was taken into what maybe once was room with walls painted in white, but now it was covered in headache inducing yellowish mold. And it didn't smell all that great either.
God, why was this entire city in disrepair wherever Bruce ended up at?
He used to accept it as a part of it, didn't even view it as something that disastrous, not until recently. After everything that has happened with the Children of Arkham and definitely with Agency. It forced him to change his own outlook on the whole vigilante thing, Alfred's words still rang in his head.
Alfred... Bruce wondered if he knew, if the news of his imprisonment reached him on his vacation. He hoped they didn't, what would Alfred think? Would he realize, why he did it? Bruce was relieved that Lucius wasn't here to see this. All his work, gone like that.
,,Sit down Wayne,'' one of the guards interrupted his thoughts, as they pulled up a steel chair for him. ,,And don't try anything funny.''
Bruce wasn't sure what could he even try at this point. His wound hurt and blood was spilling everywhere, Oz definitely left a mark on him, not to mention the disgusting taste on his tongue. The taste was worse than the pain itself, Bruce was used to physical pain by this point, but the taste? That was awful. Would the guards help him, if he asked without involving Oz? They should, right? What if they would? Why would Bruce do something like this?
It made him feel sick to his stomach.
One thing was certain, Oz's word had value here. Bruce had deduced that much even before being admitted to Blackgate, from the newspaper articles. Bruce sat down on the hard, steel chair, suppressing the urge to vomit. He looked down on the prison garments, they were more red than orange at this point and more blood was just spilling out. The doctor was a middle aged attractive woman, her dark brown hair hid some grey strands in her ponytail.
It was a bit strange that the male ward would get female doctor, Bruce pondered for a moment. He knew the likes of people that were committed here.
,,The likes?'' Batman was crouching in the doctor's table, grinning at Bruce. ,,Look who's talking.''
,,Bruce Wayne, was it?'' the doctor went through some files and pushed her glasses higher on her face. ,,You raised quite the commotion being committed here.''
Bruce breathed out, even more hot liquid escaping from his body. He couldn't tell just how bad his wounds were, but he didn't like the amount of blood it was spilling.
,,I did?'' Bruce blinked a few times, was he going to get accused and played with before receiving any help?
,,Well, I suppose you've caused a bigger one before getting committed.'' the doctor regarded him with cold look. ,,But that's not why you are in my office.'' she rose up from her seat and walked over to the cupboard behind her to get some utensils out. ,,Take off the upper part of your clothing.''
Bruce looked at his handcuffed hands. ,,Might be a bit hard.'' he noted and looked at the guard.
,,No way you are getting out of your cuffs Wayne,'' he huffed. ,,We all remember what you did to Cobblepot year ago.''
Bruce breathed out and tried his best to unzip the clothing. He considered getting out of the cuffs, but realized that it would probably not bode well for him in this situation. His hand hurt as well and Bruce noticed it was spilling blood as well. His heart clenched, it was from his accidental cut when he was holding John's Jokerang. He heard the guard's breathing hitch when he managed to get the upper part off. Bruce realized that his body was covered in many scars, he looked up at the doctor, who raised an eyebrow at him.
,,How did you get all of these?'' she breathed out in surprise. Before Bruce could think of an answer, the guard behind him snorted.
,,Well, from what I've seen him do to Cobblepot,'' he sneered at Bruce. ,,I highly doubt it was from a fight.''
After that, Batman had outright furious expression on his face as he took the guard by his head and smashed it into a wall, hot blood splashed onto Bruce's face and on the doctor's back. She didn't seem to mind, neither did the guard who still had wide smirk on his face. The doctor seemed like she couldn't care less about how Bruce got them, but she did have a bit worried expression on her face. She may not like Bruce, who did really, but she seem to care about well being of her patients, even if they were inmates.
,,Cut myself shaving?'' Bruce offered and she snorted in response.
,,Look at them,'' Batman growled and walked behind the doctor. ,,All these scars on your skin are there because you protected them! And now all they do is laugh.''
,,Well however you got them,'' she motioned for him to lie down on the surgical table. Bruce noted there was some dried up blood there. ,,Just make sure not to start anything similar here.''
Bruce nodded and rose up with difficulty. His heart was threatening to burst out of his chest and he felt the strange, unpleasant tingling at the tips of his limbs. It was getting difficult to breathe again, his eyes were watering with tears. He didn't know, what this was, but suddenly he was aware that there were bars on the windows, that the door, the only escape out of this room were heavily guarded and the oxygen was disappearing quickly.
,,I can take them out for you,'' Batman walked quickly to the guard and turned his masked face to Bruce. ,,We can take them down together.''
Where has all the oxygen go? Bruce looked up, there was a vent, but it didn't seem to be working, were they planning to suffocate him? Did Batman close them on their way in?
,,Mr. Wayne?'' the doctor inquired after watching him struggle to breath.
Bruce tried to reply, but nothing came out, his tongue felt like jelly, he couldn't move it, nor unclench his jaw, his teeth felt like needles were being stuck inside. His eyes kept looking all over the room, he needed to escape, he needed to get out, he was going to suffocate, but his legs wouldn't move. It was like he was stuck in this horror forever, until he dropped dead.
He wished it would be soon, because he didn't want to go on feeling like this, it was the most awful he has felt, he wasn't himself. The doctor was saying something, but Bruce couldn't hear her over the ringing in his ears. He couldn't catch his breath, he started to struggle for air as fear filled his entire being.
Out, out, he needs to get out, he needs to get out on the fresh air.
,,Mr. Wayne?'' the doctor walked over to him quickly and hurriedly put her hand over his bleeding wound in order to slow the bleeding out. The guard stepped in, thinking this to be some kind of a ruse.
,,Don't get so close to him, Mrs.-'' he started, taking out his baton.
,,Doctor,'' she corrected him, as Bruce struggled for air.
I'm going to die here, he thought. This must be what death felt like.
,,Help me get him on the table,'' she said quickly. ,,And remove his cuffs, before he bleeds out.''
The guard seemed hesitant to comply but did as he was told, helping the doctor lift Bruce up and laying on the table. He still cuffed on his hands to the table and walked over to cuff the other one too, he wasn't taking any chances with the reputation Wayne got.
,,He couldn't have fallen into shock, he didn't lose that much blood.'' the doctor noted, putting on surgical gloves. At least they were new. ,,The wound is not that severe.''
,,Maybe the golden boy is just pretending.'' guard commented and earned disapproving look from the doctor that told him to shut up.
,,Mr. Wayne, can you hear me?'' the doctor asked him. ,,---''
,,---'' the guard replied.
Bruce couldn't decipher what they were saying anymore, he started shaking, it was like he was losing his own senses. He noted he was losing feeling in his limbs. This had to be what it felt like to be dying. And the last action he has done was to lick Cobblepot shoes.
,,Going out with the bang, eh?'' Bruce heard Batman say, as he closed his eyes and gave into the exhaustion that was engulfing him.
,,John...'' he murmured as the reality slipped away from him completely.

Chapter Text

,,-Bruce was just saying how much he liked you, Pud.'' Harley smiled, as she was leaning on the front car seats. ,,Isn't that right?''
,,Yeah.'' Bruce wanted to say, but Batman wrapped his fingers around Bruce's throat and replied instead.
,,You're a useful tool.'' he said instead and Bruce watched horrified, as John's eyes widened in shock and his expression seemed to twist in sadness. Bruce's chest tightened, he struggled to pull Batman's hand off him, but it was a pathetic effort. The corners of John's mouth fell down and he had look of complete betrayal in his eyes, like his world was collapsing.
,,I just want you to know.'' John said, as he continued to steer the car. ,,The feeling's mutual.''

Bruce woke up from his nightmare covered in sweat, with Oswald leaning over him with curious expression. He rose up into sitting position quickly, pain shooting from inside of him and going through his entire body.
,,Hey, hey,'' Oswald put his hands on him. ,,Easy there, don't want to break the stitches, do you?''
Bruce gulped, tasting something awful on his tongue. His eyes darted downwards on Oz's feet, as he remembered the chain of events that happened before he passed out. ,,Thanks.'' he said, closing his eyes. He needed to calm down his heart, what was happening to him lately? What happened back at the infirmary?
Oswald regarded him with suspicious look, but eventually smiled. It couldn't have been more fake if he tried. ,,Well, I wouldn't want you dying on me,'' Oz let go of Bruce and walked to the other side of the cell. Bruce watched his bent legs seemingly struggle to walk straight. He was the one who's done this.
,,Yes, you did.'' Batman crouched down next to Bruce, glaring right into his face. ,,And you wanna do more, don't you?''
,,Enjoying the view, Oz?'' Bruce managed to get out, as he gripped on his prison clothing, there was a lot of his dried up blood on there. They smelled horrible, as his own sweat soaked into the fabric.
,,Oh yes,'' Oswald gave him such raw, predatory look, that Bruce couldn't suppress the shudder and the strange tingling it gave him. ,,Looks good from where I'm standing.'' he walked over closer to Bruce, leaning down so they were at eye level. He touched Bruce's cheek, who found the cold touch sickly pleasant. ,,Red suits you.''
Bruce's breathing hitched. What was happening? And why did he find himself leaning into Oswald's touch? Oswald seemed pleased by Bruce's reaction. ,,Oh, hey, Bruce,'' he said nonchalantly and licked his finger. ,,You seem to have little something on your-'' Oswald brushed his finger over Bruce's lips, the exact place he striked him earlier. ,,There.'' he said, his voice shaking Bruce to his very core. ,,Good as new.'' Oswald tormented him with his piercing look for just a moment longer. ,,Gonna have a lunch soon. You should really eat something, Bruce.'' Oswald straightened and climbed up on the bunk bed, landing down on the hard mattress with loud thud. Bruce stared into the wall for a long time, his mind flashing back to him on his knees, licking a stripe on Oswald's shoe. The sick pleasure he felt while doing it, the way his shuddered right now just thinking about it. His emotions were all over the place, while Batman stared back at him, leaning on the wall in the same spot Oz stood just seconds ago. He just wanted to take off the his clothes and maybe take a nice, long shower. Bruce wondered for a moment if he could strangle himself with the shower's tube, but then realized that Blackgate probably had the water coming out straight from the wall. So much for that plan then. It was as if Oswald was reading his thoughts.
,,I can get you a nice rope,'' he hung his head down from the bunk bed, staring at Bruce. ,,If that's what you're thinking.''
,,Wouldn't you like to do it yourself?'' Batman replied instead of Bruce, but it still came out from Bruce's mouth.
Oswald turned his head to the side, curiously. ,,Tempting.'' he admitted. ,,But I'm a model prisoner, Bruce. I would never do such a thing.''
Bruce looked down at his blood soaked clothing with disgust. Somehow, it made everything even worse.
,,Payback, Bruce.'' Batman reminded him. ,,After what you've done you deserve worse.''
,,I could, theoretically,'' Oswald laid back on the bed, so Bruce couldn't see him anymore. ,,Get you a new set of clothing.''
,,You need second shoe cleaned?'' Bruce let his body fall onto the bed, unintentionally slamming his head into the wall. He groaned silently in pain. Oswald shifted on his bed abruptly in response to the sound, which one Bruce didn't know and didn't dare guess.
,,Oh, I could think of a few uses for that tongue of yours.'' Oswald purred and while the implications made Bruce's whole spine tingle, his own reaction to it made him want to vomit again. What's wrong with him? He felt cold and sick and lonely. He just wanted everything to end, how did his life come to this? Sharing a cell with Cobblepot, a long path covered in sharp thorns and broken glass from when they were playing together as little children. Now, alone with his thoughts with nothing to his name but suffering, he could admit to himself one thing, he loved playing with Oz when he was little. He always looked after him, hugged him whenever times were tough. Now times were shit and he could use a hug, but there was a higher chance that one of the guard might touch him first before Oswald went anywhere near him.
,,Come on, Bruce,'' Oswald stretched up on his mattress. ,,It's not like I'm asking you to 'join a revolution' or something.''
Bruce shook his head, there was no way Oswald knew, how would he? It was surely just his own mind playing games with him, he was very sleep deprived after all.
,,No, thanks.'' Bruce growled in response, still clinging to his last shred of dignity, as he curled into a ball on the mattress. ,,I think I'd rather sleep covered in my own blood forever.''
,,Really?'' Oswald chuckled, clearly amused. ,,Let's see how long you keep that up, pretty boy.''
Bruce didn't want listen to him anymore. For a moment he almost considered asking Oz to punch him again to knock him out, but found that sleep came to him much easier than it ever did at home.
It was a bit refreshing.

Chapter Text

,,-Tell Tiffany, I'm sorry,'' Lucius battled against time, trying to disable the signal. ,,--We really made a difference, didn't we-''
,,-Batman! You're too late!'' Penguin roared. ,,The revolution has already started!''
,,You can't fool a friend, Bruce, someone who really takes time to look.'' John shot him a look full of betrayal.
,,John...'' Bruce watched in horror, as Joker broke into hysterical laughter after fatally injuring the agents. He clenched his hand and took out batarang. He had to stop him, he had to, but couldn't bring himself to throw the batarang at him. He couldn't do it, he failed, he failed himself, he failed Alfred and most importantly, he failed John.
,,I really, really hate them.'' Oz sobbed, rubbing his eyes. ,,Making fun because... my mom... because she's in Arkham.''

,,I'll smash all their damn faces.'' Bruce murmured in his sleep, then he abruptly opened his eyes and found Oswald crouched down, staring right at him.
,,Damn, mate,'' Oz whistled. ,,Some interesting stuff you say in your sleep. Who is 'John'?''
Bruce's heart rate accelerated at the mention of John's name. He shouldn't talk about him and definitely not to Oswald.
,,A friend.'' Batman replied, using Bruce's mouth, who suppressed the urge to sob, but let his head fall into his hands, tired. His chin was itching from the beard that grew in past few days. He didn't like the feeling of it, which is why he shaved regularly.
,,Really?'' Oz raised his eyebrow and then looked closely into Bruce's eyes, searching for something. ,,Who's face were you going to smash?'' he grinned, like he remembered, like he knew exactly what Bruce's dream was about, at least a part of it anyway and enjoyed it immensely.
,,I never said that.'' Bruce didn't break away from the eye contact and watched Oswald's eyes shift and turn darker. Oswald opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by painful groan from Bruce, who pressed on his stitched wound. Now that all the alcohol has worn off, it was sending painful shots through his nerves.
,,Aw, poor Bruce,'' Oswald chuckled, amused. ,,Does it really hurt that much?''
,,Yeah,'' Bruce found himself replying to Oswald's taunts. Oswald's face morphed into Penguin's mask, making Bruce twitch in shock. Cold sweat dripped from his forehead, at least he wasn't bleeding anymore, even if the pain was tearing him apart. It was like all the injuries from past year were catching up with him and now he didn't have any painkillers nor a way of getting them. He didn't realize until now how much he relied on them to keep his body working. Bruce stared into the wall behind Oswald's shoulder, trying to find a way for accept his current situation.
He thought he deserved this, but did he really?
,,Didn't know you could be this honest, Bruce.'' Oz shook his head and continued watching Bruce, who seemed to be unconsciously moving himself closer to him. ,,Well, I suppose there isn't a reason to lie much about anything, is there mate?'' then he raised his hands up to Bruce's head and tapped on two specific points. Bruce flinched, he didn't like what Oz seemed to be implying to know. Surely, there was no way, he just needed more sleep. His chin started to itch even more, almost as if there were bugs walking all over there. Bruce wanted to just peel his skin off, anything to get rid of the goddamn itching. Again, it was as if Oswald was reading his thoughts.
,,Uncomfortable, Bruce?'' Oswald's fingers ghosted over Bruce's chin, making the skin itch even more. He pressed on the swollen, painful spot on Bruce's lips, that made Bruce instinctively pull away. Bruce whined in his throat, this wasn't good. All of this sudden closeness between him and Oz was confusing his already messed up brain even more, pushing him even further, blurring the lines between what was supposed to make him feel weird, what was supposed to be over the line, what was supposed to be right and what was wrong.
And that line was pretty blurry already, Bruce wasn't sure he wanted to mess it up even further.
,,I'm sorry for punching you, mate,'' Oswald pressed on the wound even harder. Where did all the guards go? So everyone is here to see him humiliating himself for Oswald, but when Oswald is hurting him, no one is here to step in. ,,I just wanted you to get your beauty sleep.''
Bruce tried to find a reason to care about putting distance between him and Oz, but couldn't find any. Even though they were barely touching, there was such a pleasant warmth irradiating from Oswald's body and it was such a long time Bruce felt's anyone touch.
It was, right? It felt like eternity since he saw John and all they were allowed was a pinky swear. Upon remembering the promise he made to John, Bruce's face twisted in pain, his chest clenched, his insides shrunk inside of him.
,,Thank you, Oz.'' Bruce replied, but didn't have the courage to look back into Oswald's eyes, he felt sick to his stomach. He was cold and his chin was really, really starting to itch. Bruce's mouth twitched uncomfortably. He didn't have anything to shave with.
He finally turned his attention away from Oswald and stood up, wincing at the pain. He pressed his palm into the wound, trying to support himself on his feet. They felt like jelly as he slowly limped towards the bars of the cell. He finally looked out to take the insides of the prison in. There were two floors as far as he could tell, the cell he was in, his cell, was in the corner seemingly away from the others. Long hallway was separating them from the other cells, but he could still feel the stares of many pairs of eyes. It was dark, Bruce didn't know, whether it was day or the night, he couldn't see any windows, but then again, all the colors seem to fuse into each other, maybe there was more light Bruce could make out at the moment. Bruce supported his weight on bars, his body was swaying seemingly on its own, his fingers were trembling from the cold. That seemed to attract the attention of other inmates, as they also stepped closer to their bars, but Bruce couldn't make out anything other than their eyes. It was as if they were glowing in the dark, floating, countless sets of eyes staring right at him, boring into him. Bruce's stomach turned, he gulped and closed his eyes for a second, almost went back to the bed, but then remembered that Oswald was there and he didn't know, which was worse.
That was when he noticed a pair of eyes standing very close to him, staring at him with such an intense look it made Bruce's shiver. Somehow Oswald moved right next to him without making any sound. Bruce stumbled back, startled. His weakened legs weren't enough to support him anymore, but a pair of warm hands caught him and prevented his fall. Oswald narrowed his eyes at him.
,,Aren't you cold?'' he asked, if Bruce didn't know any better, he would almost consider Oswald's tone tender.
The word 'no' got stuck in Bruce's throat, Oswald's touch was melting his skin. For a fragment of a second his considered leaning into it. Oswald took advantage of the moment of weakness and slowly slid his hands up Bruce's shoulders and stopped at his face, placing both his hands of Bruce's sweat covered face.
,,Geez, Bruce,'' he exclaimed, his expression turned into a surprise. That had to be trick, right? ,,You are freezing.''
Before Bruce could reply, Oswald walked him over to the bed and wrapped the itchy blanket around him.
In the back of his mind, Bruce noted that it smelled like Oz. He was quite comforted by it and didn't have it in him to fight it anymore.
Maybe deep inside, Oz really wasn't that bad after all, Bruce thought as he involuntarily leaned into Oswald's arms and closed his eyes when his head hit Oz's shoulder.
Oswald froze for a moment, but resumed caressing Bruce's arm, warming them up.
Bruce looked up and thought he saw a twisted smile on Oswald's face for a moment, but when he blinked, it was gone and he wasn't sure, if he really saw it or not.
Ah, what did this remind him of? It felt oddly familiar. He felt something like this once before too, that strange calm feeling, settling in his heart. When did he feel that? He searched his memory, feeling light-headed. With who was it again? Bruce didn't let people touch him that much, excluding business greetings.
John.
It was when John hugged him at the funhouse.
Upon replaying that memory in his head, Bruce reached out with his own hands but let them fall, before he could do something stupid.
Oswald wasn't John.
But John was out of Bruce's reach now, John wasn't here.
,,And whose fault is that?'' Batman asked Bruce, looming over Oswald. But he didn't incite any violence on him this time, he just observed the situation. Bruce couldn't stand looking at Batman, couldn't stand the implications behind his look, so he hid his face into the crook of Oswald's neck and closed his eyes.
Oswald wasn't John, but Bruce was lonely and cold.

Chapter Text

In the aftermath of Bruce's arrest, John refused to talk for days. He shut himself in his room, not bothering to come out anymore. At first, he refused to believe it, tried to forget, that he saw Bruce's arrest on the TV, not everything on TV was true, right? Maybe it was some kind of a joke?
John wasn't laughing.
There was no way, Bruce promised, he promised that they would see each other soon. He even pinky swore, no one breaks pinky swear promise, right? That's not a very nice thing to do. Bruce has made some mistakes, but John would never expect him to do something like this.
But it seemed it wasn't that surprising for the orderlies. John just came out of his room after days of isolation and decided to sat down in the common room, Leland allowed him to spend time outside his room, especially after what happened with Bruce, and he kept scrolling through the news. But they kept saying the same thing over and over, about how Bruce is no different than his father, about how many people were injured, some reporters were going as far as to dissect Bruce's life, that was what John was most angry about.
,,I knew he was crazy,'' one of the orderlies commented on the news, it was one of the new ones, the ones John didn't know. A lot of he staff got replaced, making John feel out of place, they were also much more observant and definitely not as tolerant. Not all of them, though. Doctor Leland was here and a new orderly, who sometimes even chatted with John, going as far as to joke around. John wasn't sure, what to think of him, he was kind of slim and possibly younger, but from time to time John managed to convince him to sneak him slushies. ,,Shouldn't be let out there after he beat Cobblepot up.''
John tried to ignore the conversation, but failed miserably. This conversation shouldn't even be happening, Bruce should be here. Bruce should have come to visit him by now.
,,Heard they share a cell,'' the other one replied and John's head snapped to them, but it didn't go unnoticed by them and they promptly shut up.
Now, that started to worry John. Maybe it wasn't Bruce at all, maybe the whole explosion has been some sort of plot to get Bruce into prison? What if Bruce is in danger?
,,Fitting,'' the orderly coughed. ,,Man, I ought to stop smoking.''
Whatever conversation followed, John wasn't listening. He kept looking up at the TV, seeing Bruce's pictures on every channel.
,,-Have to start wondering,'' John kept the channel on some newscaster, but instead of Bruce's picture in the background, he saw Batman. ,,Where has Batman disappeared to? After stopping the terrorist known as The Joker, Batman seemed to have gone underground. No one knows anything about the whereabouts of the Gotham's masked vigilante.''
John suddenly became annoyed more than anything, but it quickly left him and he felt sad again. He slunched on the chair, letting out long breath. And for a moment, he actually let himself think that it would get better, that he and Bruce would reconcile, but of course, he should have known better. Part of him just wished he knew why, not that it really mattered at this point, all that mattered is that Bruce broke his promise, didn't he? Was it Cobblepot's fault? If it was, John was going to make sure that-
,,John,'' Leland entered the common room holding a clipping in her hands. ,,It is time for your session.''
At that, John seemed to perk up. He always liked talking to doctor Leland. She always seemed to be able to explain exactly what he was feeling, even if he couldn't understand it himself. He rose up from his chair to follow Leland to his room, but paused when he heard Bruce's name in the news yet again.
,,Rumors about Bruce Wayne, who is in-'' the TV's monitor suddenly turned black with Doctor Leland holding the remote.
John frowned, he really wanted to know more, he needed to know more.
,,You can resume watching news after our session,'' she said sternly. ,,I don't think after everything this much stress is good for you.''
The anger left as quickly as it appeared and John slowly followed Leland to his room. Then threw himself on the bed, face down and exhaled.
,,How are you feeling, John?'' Leland asked him, as she reviewed her notes from their last session.
,,How do you think?'' John's reply was muffled by the pillow, but he eventually sat right up and looked at Leland with blank look. Leland patiently waited for his answer, so John eventually gave it. Leland was a good person, John thought, she didn't deserve to be used as his own personal punching bag, but at the same time, John wanted to take his anger out on someone. He sighed, fidgeting with his fingers. ,,I'm worried.'' he said eventually.
Leland nodded. ,,Worried about what?'' she made a note in her files.
,,I don't know,'' John sighed, his previous energy was gone completely. He looked to his left, on his picture with Batman. ,,About everything, I guess.''
,,Do you want to talk about Bruce?'' she inquired carefully, knowing this was a tricky territory.
,,Bruce isn't like they say,'' John stared at his hands. ,,Bruce always cared for me and even when he made mistakes,'' John's eyes darted to his picture with Batman. ,,He always tried to make up for them.'' then he looked at Leland, heartbroken. ,,I feel like this is my fault.''
Leland frowned in response, confused. ,,Why would it be your fault, John?''
John dug his nails into his palms, scratching his skin. ,,Why wouldn't it?''
,,John, you remember, why he was committed here in a first place,'' Leland was trying to find a way to steer the conversation in different direction, even though she was predicting something like this. ,,He hurt someone.''
,,Bruce isn't a bad person,'' John raised his voice unintentionally. ,,He is smart, handsome and...'' John hid his face in his hands. ,,And he cares...'' he finished quietly.
,,Even good people are capable of doing bad things, John,'' Leland reminded him, but upon seeing her patient so miserable, she eventually softened. ,,Bruce spoke to me, shortly after he visited you.''
That caught John's attention, as he stopped fidgeting and jumped on his bed, closer to Leland. ,,He did? What did he say?''
Leland looked away for a moment, she could really regret saying this, wasn't sure if she wasn't regretting it already. ,,He scheduled an appointment.''
,,With you?'' John squeaked in surprise. ,,Bruce? Seriously?!'' John crouched, his eyes were jumping around the room, excited.
,,Yes,'' Leland nodded and waited for John to settle down. ,,He wanted to schedule an appointment with me.'' Leland sighed. She wondered if this was her fault too. Did she failed as a therapist? She shouldn't have Bruce leave the first time he was at Arkham, or to be precise, she should have tried to be more convincing.
,,Doctor,'' John murmured and then gave her a pleading look. ,,You must know that Bruce doesn't belong to Blackgate.''
Leland sighed and closed her notes. She wasn't sure, what to tell John. She definitely couldn't give him false hopes, but neither she could lie about something that was this crucial for John. ,,I can try to appeal to authorities about this,'' she looked at John, who's eyes seemed to light up. ,,But you need to take care of yourself too, Bruce wouldn't want you to be ignoring yourself for him, right?''
John seemed to think about that question for a moment and eventually shook his head. ,,No, I don't think he would like it.''
,,So for now,'' she opened her notebook again in hopes of getting John talk a little bit more. ,,You need to take care of yourself.''
John seemed to disagree, didn't really see a reason to do so, if Bruce wasn't going to be around, but doctor Leland wouldn't lie to him, right?
,,Alright, doctor,'' John slapped his knees and then supported his head on his hands, grinning. ,,I can tell you about the sorts of dreams I'm having lately.''

Chapter Text

Bruce wasn't sure, how many hours or days have passed. He spent long time just sitting in one place, hiding his face in the crook of Oz's neck, who didn't protest nor did he taunt him. He even caressed Bruce's back, neck and arms. It was soothing, Bruce let go of himself and got lost in the touch. Oswald smelled really nice, it wasn't any specific smell, it just smelled like... well, like Oz. But then the memories of his actions in prison so far came flooding to him, filling his lungs with water, suffocating him and he fell right back into reality.
He had to let go, he couldn't keep succumbing into something like this, not to mention Oz is acting strange. The whole world felt like it was upside down.
,,Maybe it was always supposed to be like this,'' Batman told Bruce. ,,Maybe this is where we were supposed to end up the whole time.''
Bruce refused to believe that, he refused to believe that all his attempts to fight crime have been for nothing. Right now, he had to believe that he's done some good things in his life in order to keep his mind intact.
,,What are you doing, Bruce?'' Batman shook his head, pitifully. ,,What would Alfred say? What would John say?''
Bruce flinched, yes, what was he doing? After everything that has happened, he would just let himself end up like this? No Bruce, you have to put yourself together, you have done it before. Maybe it will all work out in the end, maybe this is not the end, it couldn't be.
,,Oswald isn't John, Bruce,'' Batman told him. ,,You can't substitute for John like this, what would that even say about you? Wasn't it you, who said, have some dignity in defeat? Is this what you call dignity?''
Upon the realization, Bruce pushed himself away from Oswald and walked over to the toilet to vomit again. At this rate it's going to drain all his energy and he's going to waste away. If this is his reality, the least he could do is to 'have some dignity in defeat'. It was ironic that the words he once said to Oswald now applied to him so perfectly.
It was also very concerning.
Bruce was glad Oswald let him be and didn't touch him again nor did he talk to him. Thanks to the silence he thought he could manage to collect his thoughts. Well, he couldn't really collect many of them, it was hard to focus with his head spinning and with his weakened bones sending painful spikes through his nerves. Bruce resisted the urge to lay his head down on the ceramic bowl, got up and flushed it all down. Just as he was about to figure out into which corner of the small cell to hide.
Not to mention he really needed to, well, he really needed to go to the bathroom. Even if he could stay dressed in blood covered clothing, he couldn't fight against nature. He stood, staring at the toilet, trying to figure out, how to do this.
,,I can knock him out,'' Batman offered, sitting on the upper bed, with his legs tangling down the edge. ,,I'll just take him head and smash it against the wall, that way we can solve multiple problems at the time.''
No, Bruce mentally replied. The reason I'm here is because I wanted to stop using violence, to stop being Batman. I have to think of something else.
Bruce shivered in displeasure and he looked over his shoulder and as he suspected, Oswald was watching him closely. His attention seemed to be focused entirely on Bruce and what he was going to do next.
And, Bruce realized with his stomach twisting, Oswald knew exactly what was Bruce's mind.
,,Something the matter Bruce?'' he asked nonchalantly, his eyes showed no fear nor disgust, it almost seemed as if this was a normal thing to do, which from Bruce's perspective just wasn't.
,,Ehm, I-'' Bruce felt heat spreading into his face. He felt very awkward, this wasn't Bruce's world, full of banquets and empty words, this was Oswald's world, full of harsh reality. ,,Can you-''
,,What?'' Oswald turned his head to side. ,,Need some help, mate?''
Bruce was just realizing how quiet it was in their cell. He could hear his own breathing, could swear he almost heard something very close to rustling fabric of his own clothes. It must be from the lack of sleep.
,,Please,'' Bruce looked away. ,,Just-just don't look.''
Oswald chuckled. ,,Well, since you're asking so nicely.''
Bruce looked down at his clothing, trying to figure out, how to uncover as little of his body as possible. That didn't even bother him that much, what terrified him was the silence.
,,Need me to sing you song?'' Oswald chuckled from the bed, immensely amused by the situation.
Bruce's toes curled in his shoes, he felt ill, he thought he could take it, he thought he would comfortable with any punishment, but he was discovering just how wrong he was in thinking that.
,,Performance anxiety?'' Oswald was suddenly breathing on his neck, staring down, right between his legs, leaning on Bruce's body.
,,Oz, don't-'' Bruce choked up on his words and had to close his eyes, he couldn't stand the absolute humiliation he felt at the moment.
,,I mean, just returning the favor,'' Oz whistled, as he gripped Bruce's wrists, slowly massaging them, trying to relax Bruce into the whole situation. ,,From way back then, I don't expect you to remember.''
Bruce did, but he definitely didn't want to think about that, he'd feel even sicker from the whole situation. ,,Why?'' Bruce asked.
,,Just want you to feel more comfortable,'' Oz shrugged his shoulders. ,,I know, how scared you must feel right now.''
Bruce tried his best to ignore Oswald's words, the sooner he gets over this over with, the better. Just as Bruce was begin to accept the situation, Oswald breathed into his ear.
,,Just imagine I'm 'John','' he whispered. ,,Should be be-''
Bruce just let go and started to force the liquid out. The sound of water splashing, mixing with his urine was louder than anything Bruce has ever heard and Oswald stopped talking completely. Bruce couldn't open his eyes, he couldn't know, where Oswald is looking or what kind of a look he has on his face. It was as if the time stopped, Bruce held his breath, he just wanted to disappear. He finished with quiet whimper and was about to quickly zip himself up, but Oswald stopped him and shook his hands lightly, making Bruce shook his own too.
,,You gotta be sure to get all the drops out,'' Oswald's silent voice broke the silence between them. ,,Don't want to stain your clothing even more, do we?''
Bruce didn't have time to think about it all, didn't have time to properly react, he was too shocked to do anything, as Oswald zipped him up and patted his hands before stepping away just in time for the alarm to start ringing. Bruce's heart started beating in fear, but he couldn't move, he just stared at the tiles before him, completely frozen.
,,Come on, Bruce,'' Oswald called out to him on his way out. ,,It's lunch and you don't want to get there when it's full,'' his voice got more quiet and somehow sinister. ,,You definitely don't.''

Chapter Text

Eating was one of the many things Bruce has neglected during his mission as Batman, he still refused to call it a crusade. He wasn't sure, how his body did it, probably was going to take its toll on him at some point. Maybe since his body was relatively in calm state in past days, weeks, however long it's been, after all the damage he put his body through, was it catching up to him now? Bruce considered asking, if there was prison gym at Blackgate, but then he realized, he probably is not well liked here and his body is not in condition to withstand any potential fights. And while he still thought he should get some sort of punishment for what he's done, he's owed it to John and Alfred, to stay alive, pull through. That didn't mean he wasn't feeling miserable considering the current state of things. Bruce couldn't remember the last time he has felt this many emotions at once. But mostly he felt confused, tired and lonely. All three combined provided him with a strange, warped reality in which Oz hugged him in what almost seemed like a comforting gesture. That should probably be the last of his concerns now, but Bruce couldn't think of the other two interactions, it made him want to vomit. And vomiting was another of the long list of things he should be avoiding right now if he wants to survive.
Didn't you say it, Bruce? No one is beyond reach, why don't you apply it to yourself for once?
Bruce frowned, he shouldn't be thinking like that, not like he's having a conversation with himself. He already saw a phantom of his former self to criticize his every move, he shouldn't be trying to disconnect with himself even more.
But it did help to cope with everything. While he knew it was all his own doing, being able to talk to himself like he was someone else was able to provide other points of view on certain situations.
Or it used to.
As soon as he got out of his and Oswald's cell, he felt the sudden urge to go back and just hide in there. The halfway was half empty by this point, most of the inmates were already gathered in the canteen. Bruce hesitated, he considered just getting back in and lying in his bed, but that thought itself shook him. He wasn't like this, was he? Even when things got tough, he always picked himself up, always tried to find way out, he never felt this helpless. It was as if he was thrust into completely different world, one that was not his and he wasn't sure belonged in no matter his actions. Did everyone feel like that at first? Or was this just another Arkham for Bruce? Is he going to find himself struggling quite hard?
,,This wouldn't have happened,'' Batman walked behind him, speaking in quite menacing tone, Bruce didn't even recognize that voice as something that would ever come out of him. ,,If you just stayed with me, Bruce.''
Bruce inhaled deeply, trying to ignore the pulsing in his limbs. As he walked, he found himself instinctively following Oswald, or at least Bruce assumed that the blurred moving person before was Oz. It was now, that he was finally walking around, when he begun realizing just how little energy he had left. But that was also good, Bruce told himself. Maybe most of the confusion was caused by skipping a several days worth of food and water, not like he could count the alcohol. That was a good sign, it meant that once he ate and drank, maybe his head would clear a bit and maybe the urge to vomit would pass too. As of now, Bruce's world was walking through the ruins of his collapsed world, with all the colors merging together into one and most of the sounds were murmuring, with only Batman's and Oswald's voice being the ones he could understand.
That didn't bode well for him, but since he knows it and was able to identify the problem, overcoming it should be easier.
Right?
,,Aren't you ashamed of yourself?'' Batman asked him, as Bruce began to get closer to the stairs, that led to the canteen. ,,Look at how everything turned out, look at yourself.'' Bruce looked at Batman, who seemed to be studying him with judging eyes. All at once, he seemed to lose his footing, when one of his foot didn't quite land at the stair he thought was there. He gasped audibly, started shaking in shock and reached out with his hand to support and catch his body using the wobbly, steel railing. He felt it move with him, as his body began falling backwards. He didn't have time to think of anything to save himself, his last thought was of his phone call with John.
Yet again, a pair of warm, slim hands somehow managed to support his weight. Bruce blinked a few times, trying to regain focus, trying to recognize the shapes of objects around him.
,,Geez, Bruce,'' Oswald huffed and let Bruce lean on him in order to walk down the stairs. ,,If you need help just ask for it.''
Bruce kept his mouth shut, grinding on his teeth, they started to hurt as well, that was going to make eating difficult too.
Like things were easy to begin with.
Bruce didn't know, what he expected at the canteen, but what he definitely didn't was the entire, huge room to go quiet, as soon as he and Oswald entered. And he wasn't sure, if it because of him or Oswald. Neither of the options resulted in pleasant outcome for Bruce. A wave of light-headedness washed over him, his ears were ringing yet again, with quiet groan he pressed his palms into the stitched wound. It didn't occur to him that he may have gotten infection and he didn't know, if the doctor even had the proper tools to even fix this sort of thing. From the general moldy look of the prison and the smell of rotten flesh in the air, he didn't like his chances about that. He supposed that there was no point in thinking about it now. Well, it had its consequences of course, but there was nothing he could do about it. Bruce was trying to make out various shapes, the silence in the canteen made things a little bit easier to focus. He was sure that brown stack of something contained a tray for food, he looked to his right at Oswald, who was chatting with someone. Bruce wasn't sure about anything. He experimentally reached out his hand to touch the brown thing, it was firm and flat, so pretty close to tray. Just when he was finally gathering strength to take tray off, before something slammed into him, pushing him right on the ground.
,,Move, Wayne,'' a deep voice told him, Bruce looked up at the source and could make out a human shaped something, large and intimidating. Bruce felt like he was shrinking on the ground, it was fine, it was alright, all he had to do was to get up and go. The food would help him. ,,What? Can't look at me? Am I not good enough for you or something?!'' the voice continued and the huge human sized mass moved to Bruce closer. Bruce felt fear fill him, all new and unknown. He wasn't used to this, he used to use himself in order to spread fear. Was this what it felt like to all the people he battled with? At this moment, Bruce was glad that he used the toilet before going, because he was sure he wouldn't be able to hold his bodily fluids now.
,,Hey, I'm talking to you!'' Bruce heard the voice say, even Batman was not for here for his rescue this time.
As close as Bruce was to this world, it wasn't his.
,,Leave my mate alone for now.'' familiar voice said and Bruce felt the familiar pair of warm hands on him, helping him stand up.
,,Yeah?'' the deep voice raised up in volumes. ,,And why should I do that, Cobblepot?''
,,Oh, you should,'' Oz lowered his own voice in contrast, but it sounded much more threatening and almost frightening to Bruce's ears, Oswald's accent got much thicker, sending shivers down Bruce's spine. ,,If you don't want to find your insides splattered all over here.''
In the corner of his eye, Bruce would swear he saw one of the cooks take the advantage of the situation and he spat right into the bowl of Bruce's food. But then again, he may have as well just be adding more to his plate. Bruce couldn't tell the sounds apart anymore and all he saw was blurry images of something moving.
,,Hmph,'' the humanoid shape snorted and waited for Bruce to presumably take his portion, who struggled to even keep himself standing up, he was sure his hands were going to bent under the weight of not only the plastic tray, but also the weight of the bowl and the food, that was supposed to go with it. Not to mention as he was picking the tray up, he managed to spill his cup of water, that he couldn't even remember placing there.
,,How about you help my mate Bruce here,'' Oswald continued. ,,And you better make sure not to spill anything.''
Bruce hoped the growl he heard as response wasn't real, otherwise he really didn't like his chances here.
,,Don't be so cocky, Cobblepot.'' the man replied and took the tray from Bruce harshly, almost making him lose his balance again. This time, Bruce focused his hardest to not fall, but found that he was unable to support himself and walk without Oswald's help. That thought itself felt like a punch to Bruce's jaw.
,,Come on, mate,'' Oswald wrapped his arm around Bruce's waist and used his other to carry his own tray. ,,Let's get you seated.''
,,Thank you.'' Bruce found himself saying and felt Oswald's grip tighten on him in response.
,,Don't mention it, mate.'' Oswald whistled, sneer forming on his face. They walked into the corner of the canteen, sat at the table with several other inmates, but none dared to say anything, even though Bruce could feel their eyes on him. He blinked several times, trying to clear his vision to at least tell the colors apart and that's when he realized, there definitely was spit in his food.
Oh.
Oh no.
Bruce stared blankly at the plate for what felt like several minutes.
No, no, no.
He really was hungry, his stomach was twisting in pain and if he didn't eat soon, wouldn't he die? All that saved him up until now was his muscle mass, but most of it wasted away. Bruce was glad he couldn't see himself in the mirror, he couldn't even imagine, what he must have looked like and he didn't want to imagine.
What was he supposed to do? Just eat the spit? Bruce tried to identify, where exactly his food got contaminated, he couldn't even tell what the food was supposed to be. Narrowing his eyes and staring much more closer to his plate, he eventually found the cook's saliva, but it was soaked into what seemed to be meat? That made Bruce effectively lose his appetite.
That's it, he was going to die.
He flinched when realized Oswald leaned to him over the table. ,,I can get you a new portion.'' Oz told him.
Bruce's eyes seemed to light up in hope and Oswald almost felt bad for crushing that hope immediately.
,,I'm going to need a small favor, though.'' Oswald sneered, Bruce's felt as ig the room got several degrees colder. He continued, when Bruce didn't reply for a while. ,,Remember that big guy? Just go over to him and tell him: Even in this state, I'm still better than all you trash.''
Bruce pondered that for a moment, either he starves to death or gets beaten to death. But he didn't want to stir more trouble not to mention he definitely didn't want to get into physical fight. Violence just made him feel sick after the fight with John.
Everything made him feel sick after his fight with John.
Oswald waited in anticipation, but Bruce refused to take the bait this time. Oswald seemed to realize and sat back into his seat, resuming in eating his own portion. Even the sound of utensils was squeezing Bruce's stomach. He considered Oswald's offer again, but eventually decided to not go with it. He should get up and go back into his cell, so what if he-
,,-the Arkham inmate, right?'' the man from before said, seemingly too loudly, almost as if he wanted Bruce to hear, even if it wasn't directed at him. ,,I mean, I'm not surprised, who else would ever go for Wayne.'' he laughed along with other prisoners, staring directly at Bruce, who was watching his food, thinking.
,,Yeah, isn't that why he gave bunch of money to the hospital?'' the man continued, making Bruce's fingers twitch.
Oswald kept watching closely for Bruce's reactions. This could prove very interesting, but Bruce didn't have enough energy to withstand the fight. He took his own plate and exchanged it for Bruce's, making the other inmates exchange confused looks with each other.
,,Aren't you hungry, Bruce?'' Oswald inquired, smiling at Bruce.
Bruce was about to start eating immediately, he had to, he was starting to be afraid of dying. That's when he noticed, he had no eating utensils. At this point, would his image really change if he ate, whatever was that thing on his plate, with his bare hands?
,,C'mon, Bruce,'' Oswald continued, his accent soothed Bruce once again and he exhaled, closing his eyes for a moment. ,,I can give you the utensils, all you have to do is just to walk over there and give him piece of your mind.''
Bruce shook his head, he couldn't, he didn't want to fight anymore.
,,Yeah, I bet he sucked Wayne's cock good to get himself some comfy shit into the hospital,'' the man said and at that, Bruce unconsciously bared his teeth, staring into the plate. ,,I mean, all that money, I bet he's not even sick.''
Bruce tilted his head to side, trying to calm himself, to not get angry, he searched for Batman with his eyes, but he was nowhere to be found.
,,I bet he's getting some real 'special' treatment.'' the man was no longer looking at Bruce, who's eyes went blank. He rose from his seat and slowly walked over in the man's direction. No one perceived him as any threat after what happened just minutes ago. It seemed as if Bruce was just going to pass them and return to his cell, but just as he was passing the taunting man, he grabbed him by his hair suddenly and smashed his head into the plate full of food. If Bruce thought the canteen was quiet when he first entered, now everyone went silent immediately, watching Bruce hold the inmate's face in the food. Bruce didn't know, if there were any guards and he didn't care.
Disrespect Bruce? He could take it, he could take all of it. But no one here had any right to speak badly of John. However, the man was definitely stronger than Bruce and freed himself for Bruce's hand immediately. He was outright furious with his face covered in food and Bruce figured that this was his sentence, this was the person who would eventually kill him. Before any of that could happen, the guards stepped in, for the first time since Bruce arrived here. Either they sensed that something really bad was going down or... Bruce returned to his seat, ignoring the pairs of floating eyes, staring right at him. He sat back into his seat and Oswald handed him eating utensils, for which Bruce thanked and quietly and calmly finally filled at least a part of his empty stomach.
He didn't miss the fond look on Oswald's face, he held an eye contact with him for a moment, before finally slicing a piece of hard meat and bringing it to his mouth.
It tasted almost as good as the dirt on Oswald's shoe.

Chapter Text

Something didn't sit right with him. He lit up his cigarette, shamefully ripping away the nicotine band aid.
Jim Gordon was writing the report on the Wayne case, going through all the records of his company, but so far, he didn't find anything dirty.
Not with Wayne as their CEO, there was plenty wrong with Cobblepot's time as the CEO, but no matter how hard he looked, he couldn't find anything dirty on Wayne. Well, apart from the explosions. He sighed and decided to continue searching Wayne's manor, he needed a reason. Bullock kept saying, that it was just matter of time before Wayne shows his true nature, but Gordon wasn't sure about this.
He knew that there was something off about Wayne, not everything was as it seemed, but to go as far as to sabotage his company after fighting so hard to clean its name? It wasn't adding up for him.
He was the last officer at the manor, he sent the others home, the manor was in shambles and he didn't need his officer's getting hurt until the city decided, what to do with the building. He wasn't ordered to stop the investigation and even if he was, he couldn't stop, he had to find out, what Wayne tried so desperataly hide and destroy, risking everything he had to destroy it.
It didn't make sense to Jim. If he was trying to cover his tracks, wouldn't there be a more elegant way to do so? Or has he really lost it? There was more to the story than it seemed, Jim could smell it.
,,Commissioner?'' Renee Montoya stepped out of one of the rooms. ,,I thought you had left already.''
,,Could say the same about you.'' Gordon shook his head and crushed the leftovers of his cigarette and put it in his pocket for now. ,,So what are you doing here?''
Montoya hesitated, but decided to answer truthfully. ,,Something just isn't right about this.'' she frowned. ,,I know it's stupid, but I can't sleep at night, thinking about it.''
Jim exhaled, Montoya had good instincts on her, if she thought so too, perhaps he should keep looking into the case. ,,Well, there's still a chance he may have just lost it,'' he grumbled. ,,But I agree. Something stinks about it, what has Wayne tried to hide?''
,,Well, whatever it was,'' Montoya sighed, rubbing her face. ,,Once we find that, I think we'll have our answers.''
,,Are you sure?'' Jim asked her, looking around the rooms that were still standing. ,,Maybe I'm wrong about this and we are just wasting our time, not to mention the city hall doesn't want any more funds directed into this case. As far as they are concerned, it's closed.''
,,I became a cop because I wanted to help people.'' Montoya said. ,,Not to mention Bruce Wayne helped clear my name, so you could say I feel a little bit in debt.'' she looked at Gordon. ,,But even if I wasn't, I can't shake the feeling that we are missing something. I can't take some simple answer like that he has lost it.''
,,Well, you have seen him at GCPD.'' Gordon noted. ,,He didn't really seem to have it together, but that being said, he has aided me in past a few times too. I don't really think he has done that just to seem good. If he cared that much about appearances, would he really do, what he has done?''
,,And there has to be a reason for the explosions,'' Montoya continued. ,,He set off explosions at three places. Wayne Enterprises, his own home and his car. Why?''
,,Yeah, I have been thinking about that too.'' Gordon replied. ,,But there's other things to take in account as well. Wayne seemed like the person who at least seemed to value his company and he hasn't shown any tendecies to destroy any of his own property in past. Would person who wanted to keep some sort of charade confess to an Arkham inmate, for god's sake, what are we missing?''
Montoya sighed, lost in thought. ,,I know, that there is something off about this case, but I'm sorry, I just don't think Mr. Wayne is the monster everyone is making him out to be.'' she seemed sad for a moment. ,,Maybe I'm just naive.''
Gordon looked at her and eventually patted her shoulder. ,,Let's get to the bottom of this together, yeah? I think investigating, what exactly he blew up here is a good start, Wayne Enterprises are in chaos right now and we can't forget that Wayne Tec is all over this city.''
Montoya seemed happy with Gordon helping her and it gave her confidence, that she wasn't the only one, who thought something was off. ,,Let's get started then, but we should be careful.''
,,Yeah, don't want anything collapsing on us.'' Gordon replied and fought his need for cigarette. ,,We should probably go straight to the crater.''
Montoya nodded, there was no point in waiting around. ,,The explosion has seemed to come from underground, so there had to be some kind of a way in.''
,,Either we find, what kind of shady business was he in or at least figure out, what he sacrificed his life for.'' Montoya said, as they walked to what seemed was some kind of home office, or it used to. All the furniture was blown into pieces, walls were covered in black dust from the explosion. The official report said that there must have been a hidden bomb in the wall or behind a some kind of sealed space, but so far they haven't found anything. Or they just haven't tried hard enough, as far as most were concerned, Wayne has snapped and his bombing in his manor was an attempt to take out the GCPD.
,,The city hall refuses to give me funding to clear the collapsed ruble,'' Gordon sighed. ,,I think they want to just demolish the rest of the manor,''
,,If they do,'' Montoya inspected the blast closer. ,,They will bury whatever is, or was there. We don't have much time.'' Montoya hesitated. ,,Maybe asking him directly would help us.''
Gordon snorted in reply. ,,Didn't seem to get us anywhere the last time. He just kept saying that I'm a good cop and that I will figure it out.''
,,Maybe he will respond to me better,'' Montoya tried, Gordon seemed to be about to disagree. ,,Please, commissioner. I have to find out, what has happened, what has really happened.''
Gordon seemed to think it over. ,,Fine, I will investigate the bombings, you look into Bruce Wayne.'' he looked back at the blast. ,,Not like we are going to be able to get into whatever in the cave was through here, dammit.''
,,Maybe there is another entrance somewhere?'' Montoya pondered the options.
,,Worth a shot.'' Gordon agreed. ,,Let's get out of here, this place is giving me chills.''

Chapter Text

,,Recently, I have been seeing him everywhere.'' John brought his knees under his chin, holding onto them tight.
,,Who exactly?'' Leland crossed her legs, observing him.
,,Both of them.'' John sighed, closing his eyes. ,,Both Batman and Bruce.'' he looked on the photo of him with Batman, that was sitting on his desk. ,,And they are both saying different things to me, I'm confused.''
Leland nodded and reviewed the notes from her past few sessions. ,,What are they saying?''
John frowned. ,,It doesn't matter, what they're saying.'' he almost shouted. ,,It's bothering me.''
,,Well,'' Leland cleared her throat. ,,I think we could figure out, how to overcome this, but you need to think about, why are you seeing them.''
,,It's not like I think he's really there,'' John sighed, rubbing his eyes. ,,I know, he's not here, but... but I don't know.'' he sighed, pulling on his hair. ,,It's not fair. He promised he would see me and now...'' John hid his face in his knees. ,,I just don't get it.''
,,Is Bruce the only person, you are seeing everywhere?'' Leland raised her eyebrow.
,,Yeah?'' John looked back at Leland. ,,Who else would I see?''
,,What about Harley?'' Leland asked carefully. If her presumption's about John's illness were right, either Bruce or Harley could have an impact on John. While Quinn was out of Gotham for good, it seemed at least, Bruce was very much close. John looked at Leland, a bit surprised.
,,Wow, I-I haven't,'' he fidgeted with his hands. ,,I haven't thought about her ever since I returned here...''
Leland nodded, she expected this answer, but it wasn't comforting her.
,,That's strange, isn't it?'' John frowned, letting his legs hit the ground again. ,,I mean, I mean I loved her and all that.'' that confused him. He loved her, he was sure of that. But he still stayed by Bruce's side when it came to it. Weren't you supposed to stay by the people loved to the end? Well, maybe not. After all, Bruce told him he loved him and yet he wasn't there. He meant it, right? Bruce wouldn't lie to him like that? Or would he?
John started chewing on his fingers. He thought of Bruce a lot, but he thought of him as his friend, no it was more than that. Bruce wasn't just his friend, Bruce was, Bruce was.
Bruce was Bruce.
,,What does Bruce mean to you?'' Leland watched John closely, it looked like her suspicions were slowly being confirmed. If she was right about him, John being separated from Bruce would have a huge impact on him. It already had, John seemed to lose a bit of weight ever since the news of Bruce's imprisonment reached him.
,,Bruce is...'' John thought of the answer for a moment, his chest clenching in slight pain. ,,Bruce is... Bruce.'' he said eventually.
,,You have done quite a lot for Bruce, haven't you?'' Leland put her notebook down, realizing it made John more uncomfortable. ,,Why?''
John was confused, he hadn't thought of that. ,,Don't all friends do that?''
,,Not typically,'' Leland answered in quieter voice, she didn't want to bring John more over the edge. ,,Are you sure you behaved just as friend would?''
John's heart started beating faster. He did, didn't he? He's done so much for Bruce, he wanted him to be happy, but also needed from him to do the same. And he should have, right? That's how friendships worked. Or he would think anyway, they always said that on TV. Friend was supposed to stay with you no matter what happened, so why couldn't Bruce understand that? Why was Bruce somewhere entirely else? And why did it bother John this much? ,,I would have done anything for Bruce,'' John defended himself. ,,And he should have done the same, right? That's what friends do.'' he started to feel anger rising in him. ,,I gave up Harley for him, Harley!'' John slapped his knees. ,,The love of my life! And, and I trusted him, I trusted him with my life!''
Leland gave him sympathetic look. ,,Are you sure, that's what friends are supposed to do?''
,,He would have done the same for me.'' John said with such conviction, it made Leland feel sorry for John.
,,Are you sure, it was a good idea,'' Leland continued, aware of stepping into dangerous territory, be she hoped John wouldn't shut off. ,,To let one person rule your life to such degree?''
John didn't know, how could he know. He never thought of it like that, he just did what came naturally to him and making Bruce happy made him happy too. It was when John stopped doing it when everything stopped working as it should. No matter how much he liked Bruce, he felt like he was betraying himself, or the remains of who he was.
But no matter how much he tried, Bruce was always important to him, it was important, what Bruce thought.
And it was really important that Bruce liked him, he wouldn't be able to stand if Bruce ended up hating him. The thought itself made him want inflict pain, on Bruce and then probably on himself. Bruce wouldn't hate him, right? Bruce couldn't hate him, Bruce visited him, Bruce protected him.
,,How are you feeling, John?'' Leland noticed, how tense John suddenly became.
,,Bad.'' John looked at the picture he took with Batman. ,,But you gave me something to think about.''
Leland nodded and gathered her notes, ready to end their session.
,,Doctor?'' John looked up at her, when she stood up, ready to leave his room.
,,Yes, John?'' she gave him a comforting smile.
,,Is it normal I felt like that about Bruce, even though I loved Harley?'' John asked, looking desperate and miserable at the same time.
,,I think it is perfectly normal for your case.'' she reassured him.
,,Really?'' he perked up.
,,Yes,'' she nodded. ,,I think for now it would be good if you've thought about the events of past months and tried to find, what exactly went wrong. I can't be quite sure yet, but I think we are getting somewhere. Don't worry, John.''
John sighed, a little bummed out. ,,And Bruce? You promised you would do something.''
Leland inhaled sharply, but her look softened. ,,I will, but these things take time. I think it'd be better if you focused on something else than Bruce for a little while.''
John seemed to disagree, but didn't push the issue any further.
,,Is there anything you need at the moment?'' Leland noticed the empty cup of slushie, that John tried to unsuccessfully hide from her.
,,Ehm,'' John thought about it. He supposed that saying Bruce wouldn't be a very good answer right now, so he just shook his head and laid back onto the bed. Leland told him to rest for a while and left the room.
As soon as John was alone, he took the framed picture of him with Batman and pressed it on him chest, closing his eyes.
,,Bruce...'' he murmured and thought of Bruce's last visit to him.
It made his heart clench, but also filled him with happiness.

Chapter Text

Time has lost all its meaning. Bruce could no longer tell, if it was day or night, there wasn't a window in his and Oswald's cell and the prison was dark throughout the whole day. All meals tasted the same, Bruce still vomited at least a half of it each time, but at least he his vision was clearer and his teeth didn't hurt as much. He hasn't managed to get into the showers, every time he got inside there, he started feeling helpless and vulnerable. For some reason he felt as if his life was on the line. The dried up sweat mixed with blood at least made other inmates steer clear of him.
All of the inmates, except one.
Oswald didn't seem to mind. He hasn't commented on it at all nor has he shown any disgust, despite sharing cell with Bruce. In fact, Oz seemed to be staying even closer to Bruce on purpose.
That was a bit unsettling for Bruce. Even he would probably steer clear of himself, yet Oswald didn't seem to miss any chance to touch Bruce. Whether it was his shoulder, his back or when he brushed his hair away from Bruce's face. Bruce felt intimidated, Oswald's presence itself was knocking the air out of Bruce's lungs and since everyone stayed away from him, he started to crave touch, any touch at all.
And just when he actually started to lean into Oswald's touches, Oz started to distance himself from Bruce as well.
He still didn't miss any chance to talk Bruce's ears off, who had no idea, what he was even saying, Bruce was just glad someone was talking to him, but his touches started become less and less frequent. Bruce was trying his hardest to find, what he has done wrong. Oswald didn't seem disgusted by him, quite the opposite actually, yet he started holding himself back and that hurt Bruce. Oz was the only person who even smiled at him anymore and he has helped him so much in his time in prison, so what happened? He seemed pleased after Bruce has smashed the inmate's face in the meal, so what happened? Why has Oz started to spend so much time outside their cell so suddenly? Did he also get fed up with him?
Was everything in Bruce's life just supposed to fail from the very start?
Maybe he could help Oswald somehow, show him he is not completely useless. Yes, Oz has been nothing but helpful from the start, he secured him meal, he protected him in the canteen and all Bruce has done was to be even a bigger burden. Oswald had a reason to hate him after all, maybe the biggest reason out of everyone. Well, maybe beside one other person, but Bruce couldn't even think about him now, he was sure that if he did, his heart would completely shatter.
And his heart was the last thing he had left.
Bruce didn't realize he was scratching his chin so often lately. Not until the unpleasant feeling started to keep him awake, the itching has started to become stronger and at times, Bruce was sure he could hear almost hear it. Thanks to the prison 'food' his nails became weaker and anytime he started scratching the itchy skin, at least on his nails broke off. He almost considered washing his face with the toilet water, but something told him that it would just make the itching worse. It must have been either morning or late night, Bruce thought, as he ground his teeth, cringing at the painful sparks it sent through his nerves. His entire body was just in constant state of pain and there was no escape. Bruce had hoped the pain in his teeth would eventually disappear as he would get more food into his body, he had the same hope for his body, but he had no means of getting rid of the beard. His skin wasn't usually this sensitive, Bruce was able to withstand a lot of physical pain, he had to in order to be Batman.
,,You're not part of me anymore,'' Batman told him, as he was somehow hanging down from the ceiling. Bruce tried not to look at him that much, he looked nothing like him anymore. It was almost as if he morphed with the suit itself. Batman seemed much more skinnier and the mask did not look like a mask anymore. It no longer hid his face, it was as if it was his face. The gloves of the suit extended and seemed much more claw like, Batman didn't even had the cape anymore. His own skin was stretched over the bones, black and disgusting. He seemed like something straight for nightmares, every time he appeared before Bruce, black acidic liquid dripped from his mouth whenever he spoke. ,,You're pitiful.''
Bruce wondered if this was what Batman has always looked like and he has just never realized. It would explain, why so many people were afraid of him, even when he tried his best to protect everyone.
,,John needed you,'' the bat-like monster accused him. ,,He needed you and you let him down.''
But that was what he wanted at the beginning, wasn't it? To strike fear into the heart of his opponents. It was all wrong, wasn't it? He knew it, he has been trying to ignore that part of reality, but it caught up with him and that's why he had to get rid of him.
To get rid of Batman, of anything that might suggest Batman even ever existed.
Alfred had told him that everything has became so grey and it took all of this for Bruce to see the complete truth of it. Except it didn't feel gray anymore, it looked dark and felt cold.
And Bruce didn't want to be alone in it anymore.
He didn't want to be in it at all, but the loneliness has started to eat away on his mind and Batman, or whatever this monstrous version of him has been, no longer provided him with any company.
He begun to realize, that this is exactly how John must have felt and Bruce has left him in it, twice. He has failed John, the one person he never should have. Bruce bit on his nail, tearing half of it off, revealing blood covered, soft flesh.
It didn't hurt as much as his heart did and all the thoughts of John. He seemed far away, so far away now, but that didn't make it any better. He could hear John's giggles and felt sick to his stomach. He's done worse things than John, far worse. Was this how John felt too? Did he also feel this torn apart during his time with Bruce? Just thinking about hurting John to this degree was suffocating him, making him want to just pick up a knife, even blunt and bring it to his own-
Where was Oz?
And the worst was, Bruce knew this was his own mistake. He drove everyone away, he thought that their lives were more valuable than his own feelings, but he couldn't do this anymore. He didn't want to feel this cold, spreading from inside his bones.
,,Oh, Bruce,'' Oswald entered their cell and took Bruce's blood covered hands into his, raising his eyebrow at coldness of Bruce's skin ,,Don't hurt yourself like this, luv.''
Bruce's lips started trembling, Oswald's hands were warm, not just warm, they were hot, it felt like it could melt his own skin off. ,,Oz.'' he croaked, his throat burning, hot blood was dripping from his bitten nails and it became much more painful whenever Oz got this him.
And Bruce began to like that, it were the only moments he has felt at least a different degree of pain, not to mention the look in Oswald's eyes made his skin crawl, which Bruce began to develop liking to, even if it still filled him at least partially with fear.
,,I-'' Bruce's voice sounded weak even to his own ears, but it caught Oswald's attention. ,,I feel like I haven't... I apreaciate what you've done...'' Bruce looked down to the ground. It was scary, Oz was the only person for him in this hellhole and he couldn't be alone again. Not only he always thought of John, but it was tearing him apart.
,Aw, Bruce,'' Oswald smiled at him, affectionately, Bruce was far too gone to notice the malicious look in his eyes. And even if he did, it would probably just pull him closer at this point. ,,That just warms my heart to hear you say that.''
Bruce's body begining to warm up from inside, he didn't know why, but he needed to hear Oz more, he needed to see Oz smile at him, to have Oz be pleased with him... to please Oz.
Oz has became his world in this prison, he would never see John again and he could never even look into John's eyes after all this.
He wasn't even sure if he still was the Bruce John even knew or liked.
As far as he was currently concerned, Oswald was the only person that mattered right now, that could put up with Bruce and not get hurt. Bruce was happy he couldn't see John right now, he wasn't sure, what would have happened, if he did. Yet he couldn't shake off the feeling that none of this would have happened if he would be spend more time with John.
But, of course, that was his fault too, right? The way it all turned out.
And now John wasn't here, Alfred couldn't tell him, what was wrong and what was right and all he had was Oz, who he had to make absolutely sure he wouldn't also end up hating him. No, hate was fine. He just needed to make sure Oz wouldn't ignore him.
,,Well,'' Oz let go of his hands. ,,It seems you are getting better, it's good you ate something.'' he said and laid onto to the bed, letting his knees bend and legs fall down the bed.
Bruce's heart sank, he could make the odd shape of Oswald's knees from this angle, it made him realize, that it was his fault. No matter what he would do, he couldn't heal Oswald's legs.
,,Seems like you don't need me anymore, eh?'' Oswald stared up, stretching his arms.
,,Huh?'' was all Bruce managed to say. What did Oz mean?
,,Oh, wait,'' he sat up, smirking. He reached into his pocket and pulled out something metal. ,,There's something that has been bothering you, right?''
It was a razor blade. Did Oswald really grow tired of him? No, he couldn't have.
I'm sorry, John, Bruce thought as he dropped to his knees, hesitantly placing his hands on Oswald's legs, but he decided to tighten his grip on Oz's legs, he needed to show some sort of determination. Oz wouldn't want to keep him around, if he was this useless. It was the first time Bruce saw genuine surprise on Oswald's face since he arrived here, but he knew, he couldn't get distracted.
Because Bruce has realized something, during his time in prison. He realized that Alfred has been right the whole time.
Bruce didn't want to be alone, he couldn't take it anymore and he would do anything to convince Oz not to throw him away. Wasn't he the reason Oswald turned out like this anyway? Just like with John.
Bruce shook his head, grinding on his teeth. He couldn't think of John, definitely not right now, he shouldn't be even thinking of John at all, especially considering what was he about to do. He had nothing to lose anymore. So he would hang on whatever he had with his all might. Before he could collect his thoughts and spring into action, Oswald brought the razor blade close to his neck.
Bruce froze and looked up at him. It was as if he started spinning and getting away, far from his reach. Bruce closed his eyes, this was alright too. If this was what Oz wanted, Bruce would take it.
That would be a nice ending to it all, wouldn't it? John will be able to move on and Oswald will get his revenge.
That was how it was supposed to go.
He braced himself for the pain, trying to ignore the fear, that started to fill his heart, despite thinking he accepted his fate.
John deserved better.
Ah, Bruce thought. He wished he could have hugged John one last time.
But the pain he braced himself for didn't come. Instead Oz gently placed his finger under Bruce's chin and made Bruce tilt his head up. ,,Don't move.'' he warned Bruce, as he placed the edge to the blade to his throat and then slowly moved it up to his chin, making sure Bruce's head was stable.
Strange tingling shot through Bruce's spine, as he opened his eyes to watch, what Oz was doing. Oswald started humming a song, that sounded strangely familiar, yet Bruce didn't know, where he heard it. The sound of the blade moving swiftly on Bruce's skin made him feel even more uneasy. From the corner of his eye, he noticed the bat-like monster holding his ears, baring his teeth viciously and screeching in discomfort. Fear was rising in Bruce, he dug his fingers into Oswald's legs, more cold sweat dripping down his forehead.
,,Aw, Bruce,'' Oswald chuckled, as he continued sliding the razor blade on Bruce's chin, carefully getting rid of Bruce's facial hair. ,,What were you thinking I was going to do?''
Bruce didn't know anymore. The whole world seemed to be upside down, he never imagined a reality where he would be comfortable with Oswald holding a knife to his throat, but it wasn't just fear he was feeling. He wished it would have been just fear, it would have made everything easier. Was this really what Bruce was really like? Shuddering in pleasure, while putting his own life on the line? Selina had been right, when they first met, hasn't she? It was him, who was the delusional one. God, everyone knew better than him it seemed, maybe he just shouldn't fight it anymore. Bruce closed his eyes, tilting his head up, giving Oswald better access, who hummed in approval, sending more waves of pleasure through Bruce's body.
This was wrong, this whole thing was messed up.
Then why did it feel so good?
If this was the only pleasure Bruce was allowed to feel, he would take it. It felt as if Oswald was peeling of his skin, revealing feelings and emotions Bruce kept buried deep within himself.
,,You're not gonna be self-ish, are you?'' Oswald stared closely into Bruce's face, looking for any left-over facial hair. ,,Feeling good all by yourself?''
Bruce perked up, he could do something, he could be useful. And he wanted Oz to feel good too. Embarrassed blush formed on his face, which both amused Oz and seemed excite him. ,,C'mon Bruce,'' he breathed out and set the razor blade on the bed next to him. He threaded his fingers through Bruce's sweaty and greasy hair. ,,You know, what to do.'' he whispered, pulling Bruce's head closer to his crotch, spreading his legs apart.
And to make it all worse, even through his lust-filled gaze, he still smirked and taunted Bruce. ,,Are you imagining I'm John?''
Bruce inhaled sharply, sliding his hands from Oswald's knees up to his hips. ,,I'm not.'' he replied truthfully and saw Oswald's half-erect penis twitch in his pants. For some reason, it sent Bruce's heart racing, even though he had never desired this before nor had he ever done this before. But for some reason, it was exhilarating, the way Oswald spoke to him, how he looked at him and just the thought itself, that Bruce managed to make Oswald feel like this. And the look Oz gave him made Bruce feel desired, it sends sparks down his spine, making his fingers tremble. He couldn't think straight anymore, he didn't really think that much. All he felt was the intense desire, dominating both his mind and body. Nothing else mattered anymore, the rest of the world seemed to not exist, all that existed for Bruce right now was Oswald. He exhaled shakily and finally moved his hands higher and palmed Oswald's cock through his pants.
,,Hmm,'' Oswald threw his head back, humming in pleasure. It was hard for him to contain himself, all he wanted was to fuck Bruce's throat, but he knew, he had to let Bruce discover that for himself. ,,Yeah, Bruce, that's good.'' he drew out his moan experimentally, seeing what kind of an effect it had on Bruce. And Bruce reacted in the exact way, Oswald imagined him to. He knew it, Bruce was always like that. He might have not realized himself, but he always tried his best to please other people, no matter what it cost him. It wasn't about being good person, it wasn't about helping others, Bruce did all of it just to get those words of praise. Oswald had noticed that much, during the short time he they talked year ago. ,,C'mon,'' Oswald petted Bruce's head affectionately. ,,I know you can do better than that.''
Bruce looked up at him with hazy, clouded eyes, his own dry lips were shivering, as he licked them and nodded, unzipping Oswald's pants. He didn't think about it, the reality was far away from him, he didn't even realize, that this was the first time he has ever done this and he had completely forgotten that it has been such a long, long time he has ever been with anyone this way. So long he couldn't remember with who it was. But that didn't matter right now.
All that mattered was that he wanted to taste Oz, to hear more praises, to make Oz feel good. It was certainly strange, to hold someone else's erection than his own and the thought itself had never excited him before, not like this, not to the point he was shivering in anticipation of what was to come.
Oswald breathed out, pulling at Bruce's hair, getting Bruce's mouth exactly where he wanted. Bruce whimpered and opened his mouth, but there was a voice at the back of his head and he hesitated. What was he doing right now? Was this really who he turned into? But before he could put too much thought into it, claw-like hand forced his mouth forward from behind and his mouth was filled up.
Bruce shivered in pleasure, it made his own cock already leaking pre cum in his pants, he didn't realize just how excited he really was.
,,Yesss,'' Oswald moaned in total bliss and looked down at Bruce, who had his eyes shut, with tears running down his eyes, clearly trying his best not to gag. ,,Look at me, Bruce.'' he tugged on Bruce's hair hard. Bruce complied, his eyes were red, his eyelids kept fluttering shut, as he was trying to process, what exactly was happening to him. ,,Damn, Bruce,'' Oswald chuckled, mockingly tracing his finger on Bruce's cheek. ,,This is really doing it for you, isn't it?'' to make his point, he pressed the tip of his shoe between Bruce's legs, confirming his suspicions.
Bruce whimpered in response and didn't need any encouragement to start sucking Oswald off. He knew, what was happening, he knew it to a point where he consented to it, but he hasn't processed the whole situation quite yet and definitely did not think of the consequences.
He was lonely and sad and this was making him forget everything, he could get lost in the pleasure, he felt loved for a moment. Even when Oswald held his head in place and started thrusting his hips forward disregarding Bruce's own comfort completely. It sent spikes of pleasure down his spine whenever Bruce gagged, he didn't bother to muffle his own moans, this felt like the ultimate victory for him, to have Bruce, Bruce Wayne, kneeling on the ground before him, letting Oswald fuck his throat, this was better than any other humiliation he put Bruce through, this was the most delighted he has ever felt in his life and he certainly didn't plan the keep quiet. Let them see, let the entire world see, that Bruce goddamn Wayne, that Batman, the Gotham's greatest vigilante, was nothing more than just Oswald's fucktoy. Oswald's eyes rolled at the back of his head and he pressed his shoe into Bruce's crotch harder, simultaneously pulling onto Bruce's hair. His own pleasure surged, when he realized that was all it took for Bruce to come as well. Oz kept breathing hard, the corners of his lips were twisted up in smile as he realized, that they were definitely noticed. It took a little while longer for Bruce to pull himself together, most of Oswald's cum landed on Bruce's chin and clothes and Bruce only spilled more on himself, as he started coughing it out. It was when Oswald rubbed off the cum on Bruce's shoulder and then zipped himself up. As soon as Bruce startled to settle in afterglow, he noticed Oswald's limp cock just hanging out on his shoulder and then it seemed as if the realization hit him. As if he realized just now, what has happened. His eyes widened in fear, it seemed as if he finally snapped out of his own misery and couldn't believe, what just happened.
,,Huh...?'' his own eyes widened in fear, his hands started to tremble in fear, as he stared at them, as he realized, what he has just done. His voice weak, there was pain inside his throat and he smelled horrible.
Why did he do that? What for?
No, no, no, no, no.
This wasn't him, this wasn't Bruce.
As if he was filled with intense self-hatred, guilt and confusion more than anything, Oswald rose up from the bed and patted his Bruce's cheek lightly, he didn't react. It felt as if he wasn't even there, it was as if he was mere observer, he didn't do that, right?
He didn't.
He couldn't have ever done that, no, there was no way.
This was all a nightmare, he would wake up soon and he would go to Stacked Deck with John and this all was just some kind of an awful dream.
John.
Was this how you felt after you found out about everything?
About Waller? About me using you from the start?
When you thought that our entire friendship was a lie?
Ah, I finally understand it all.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
,,See Bruce?'' Oswald sneered down at him, his eyes were filled with such strong malice, it made Bruce finally open his eyes. ,,I said I'd find a use for that mouth of yours, didn't I?''
Bruce wasn't aware that tears started rolling down his cheeks, he just stayed kneeling on the ground, until the disgusting evidence of his shameful act dried up and soaked through his clothes completely.

Chapter Text

She has never been to Blackgate prison before, only heard stories about it. And those haven't been exactly positive. She had announced her visit beforehand and could already tell, that she wasn't really welcomed. Especially when she told them, what was the purpose of her visit. Montoya was greeted by a guard at the entrance.
,,Could you show me your badge?'' he asked, even though it was clear he had known, who she was. Most people had known her name after she murdered Carmine Falcone. The memory of that still incident still burned in Montoya's mind, she wasn't sure if she could ever forgive herself. But it was Bruce Wayne, who helped her stay on the force, who cleared her name. Why would he do something like that if he was really that dirty? And Montoya could mostly tell, what people were like at first glance. Batman had told her to trust her instincts and she did. She took out her badge and showed it to the guard. He grunted in response and opened the gate for her. It seemed that Blackgate either didn't like GCPD or any interference with their work.
Batman, what happened to him, she wondered.
What kind of a city this is, if it corrupts its best fighters? She shouldn't have let Bruce Wayne get locked up so easily, she sensed that something was off even back then, yet she hasn't dared to oppose the commissioner. Montoya had hoped she would never have to choose between what her gut was telling her and what commissioner thought. She was glad that it didn't quite sit with him either, it would have been hard for her to move on her own and go behind commissioner's back.
Montoya followed the guard inside, exhaling a long breath she didn't realize she had been holding. She definitely didn't feel welcome at all, the guards were almost looking down on her and she didn't know why. Montoya frowned, deciding she didn't have time to think about this. She wasn't here to make good impressions on anyone, she was here to find out, why has Bruce Wayne done, what he has done. She might have not known him all that well, but she had seen and dealt with with criminals, with people who liked to make others suffer for their own pleasure and Bruce Wayne just didn't seem like he was one of them. There could always be more under the surface, she was considered a murderer herself, but because someone believed in her innocence and that someone was coincidentally Bruce Wayne, she was able to clear her name and return to the task force. Not only she owed it to him, but she owed it to herself. Justice was one thing, but in order for people to grow, you had to understand their reasons.
It was something she had learned while working with commissioner Gordon, although she knew always to put justice first. Recently though, she started to doubt if what they were doing even was justice. It used to be so easy, lock up the criminals and move on, but after Agency's stay in Gotham, nothing was quite as black and white as it used to. Montoya sighed, she's been told by commissioner several times to take a break, but how could she? Crime never sleeps and so she couldn't afford that either.
,,We would have moved you to an interrogation room,'' the guard scratched his chin, eyeing Montoya quite openly, making her even more uncomfortable. ,,But Blackgate doesn't have one to start with and no one really wants to even get to close to that nutjob.''
Montoya looked up at the guard. ,,Nutjob?'' she raised her eyebrow. Were they talking about Bruce Wayne? She had a really bad feeling about this, her gut was telling her, that something was very wrong and she wasn't one to disregard that.
,,Yeah,'' the guard winced. ,,We even gave him a new uniform, but he wouldn't wear it, he wouldn't even look at it.''
Montoya stopped in her steps, something was definitely wrong. ,,What do you mean? What happened?''
The guard's face twisted in disgust and he looked at her from the corner of his eyes. ,,Well, you'll see it.'' he said, as they walked closer and closer the the cell. ,,We moved Cobblepot to a different one for the time of your interrogation-''
,,Cobblepot?'' Montoya felt her head spin, an anger started building up from within inside of her. ,,Don't you know, what has happened between Wayne and him?''
The guard chuckled in response. ,,Well, whatever bad blood they had between them, they settled it real quick here.''
,,What?!'' Montoya hissed, she started to regret her behavior towards Wayne back at the station. She was about to ask, how they settled it, as the guard stopped at someone's cell. But as far as she could tell, it was empty. The beds have both been abandoned and she didn't notice anyone. ,,Why have we stopped?'' her nose twitched, as the smell of blood and sweat filled the air. And something else too, but she didn't even want to think about that, made her stomach turn.
,,Wayne?'' the guard announced loudly. ,,You have a visitor.''
Montoya couldn't believe her eyes or ears, as she narrowed her eyes as she finally noticed something moving in the corner.
,,Wayne!'' the guard banged on the bars. ,,Or do I need to go get Cobblepot for you to listen to anything?''
Loud gasp echoed from the corner and Montoya's heart filled with dread, as the skeleton like person turned to her and she could hardly recognize him as Bruce Wayne.
,,Mr. Wayne?'' she stared at him in horror. What have they done to him here? She turned to the guard in anger. ,,What has happened here?''
,,Ask him yourself.'' the guard chuckled. ,,Quite the show he provided.''
Bruce covered his ears and turned away from whoever was standing there. He couldn't make the person out, even though the voice seemed familiar, it would force him to face the reality.
He had enough of that with Batman constantly reminding of everything.
,,Mr. Wayne,'' Montoya started hesitantly, realizing her own lapse in judgement. This wasn't the face of someone, who had the guts to do all the horrible things he was accused of out of some spite. ,,I have come to ask you a few questions.''
,,She came to laugh at you.'' Batman said, sitting on the bunk bed. ,,It's not enough, is it? You need to suffer more.''
,,I want to help you.'' Montoya tried, she felt responsible for this. There had to be more to the story. ,,Please, talk to me.''
That seemed to catch Bruce's attention for a fragment of a second, but just as quick as it came, it was gone. There was no helping him, not after everything he's done. ,,Just leave me, please.'' his voice broke at the end of the sentence.
Montoya couldn't do that, she opened her mouth to ask more questions, but Bruce interrupted her. ,,You have good instincts on you, detective.'' Montoya's heart sank, as she was struck with an intense deja-vu. ,,Don't let them go to waste, detective. Leave me.'' Bruce's voice turned into monotone. ,,Please.''
Was it just coincidence she thought and was about to ask more questions, but the guard stopped her.
,,It's going to be dinner soon and I don't think you are getting more out of him,'' he nodded in Bruce's direction. ,,He's been sitting like that for hours, I'm surprised he even talked to you in the first place. Besides, we need to move Cobblepot back to his cell, can't risk having him in less secure one.''
Montoya looked at Bruce one last time, she couldn't do anything for him right now. ,,I'll get you help.'' But Bruce didn't hear her, for Batman has covered both his ears and eyes. Montoya turned on her heel and took out her communicator to call Gordon.

Gordon kept walking around the mansion, inspecting every standing door and wall, but so far, he wasn't able to find anything. There was something under the mansion and that something held answers to his one and only question: Why?
And he needed answers.
Gordon wasn't sure, why it mattered to him this much, but the more he thought about Wayne, the more doubts about the whole case he had. It was as if the man's action didn't match his words at all. Either Wayne was really dirty and knew how to play it right or he's been just really unfortunate. And Jim couldn't take the chances, because those options had been completely different, thus the outcome should not be the same. And Gordon wasn't a cop to just accept theory with the most probability, he needed solid evidence.
Was he becoming more reckless with age? No, there was a solid evidence of Wayne setting the bombs off, yet it still didn't sit right with Jim.
He decided to stop thinking about it for now and focus on investigating Wayne's manor.
Gordon looked down the collapsed hole, if he was careful, there had been enough space for him to squeeze down. But was this worth risking his life? What if he falls down and only finds a stack of corpses of something? What if won't be able to get out afterwards?
No, there wasn't a choice.
Either it was his life or Wayne's and Gordon wasn't feeling comfortable making it.
With a heavy sigh, he experimentally kicked a bit of the rubble, watching, how deep it would fall. He watched it land with a loud, metallic thud. He frowned and looked inside. There were lines connecting something down there. It almost seemed like an elevator.
Gordon knew, he could feel it, this was exactly what he was searching for. He inspected the cables, the somehow still seemed intact, protected by some sort of plating. He looked around the hole, trying to find anything to call the elevator up with. The button was busted and the cables inside seemed torn.
,,Dammit.'' Gordon swore under his breath, but he couldn't leave. He had a feeling that once he steps outside, the answers will slip away from him forever. He sighed. ,,Well, here goes nothing.'' he carefully inspected the busted cables and eventually carefully connected them. The inside of the shaft lit up and Gordon watched the metal box ride up to him. He barely managed to suppress shiver, as the elevator opened up to him.
Maybe Wayne wanted someone to find whatever was down there? Or maybe he was very sloppy at covering his tracks. He inhaled deeply and stepped into the elevator, praying it wouldn't fall down with him. The elevator door closed automatically and he held his breath as it started descending.
Wayne, just what are you hiding down there?
Instinctively, he checked if he had a gun on him and held his breath.
Anticipation build up in him.
Whatever was down there, it would be the answer to everything. The elevator shook as it moved down in high speed, Gordon felt his old fear of closed, small spaces rising in him and closed his eyes. How much deeper could this damn thing go?
After what felt like eternity, it stopped and the door opened.
He expected so many things, but definitely not, what he found there. He was greeted by large underground set of rooms as he stepped out. Dust build around the place, making his eyes sting and his lungs burn. Quickly, he stepped out and wanted to take out his flashlight, but the room lit up after a few steps. Surprised, he stopped in his tracks, trying to figure out, what exactly he was seeing.
It looked like a large, underground office. This was it, this was what Wayne has been doing all these years. He knew it, he knew there was something off about him. Slowly, he started walking around, large computer immediately catching his attention. He inspected and found a large button, pressing it in hopes of it being the power supply. As he waited for it to turn on, a chair emerged from the ground, startling him.
So this was what Wayne has been hiding all these years. The screen turned on and he saw various files pop up on the screen. His heart started beating hard, he saw his own name there, Harley Quinn, Montoya, Cobblepot, Dent, Lady Arkham, Joker, Waller... what was this for? Wayne had been connected to all of it, Gordon finally had a proof of everything. But why? What had Wayne hoped to accomplish? He noticed a file about Selina Kyle, it set off alarms in his head, what was he missing? He decided to look on the other platforms as well first, unable to contain himself. Quickly, he walked over to a set of pedestals, feeling of dread settling inside him. Lady Arkham's mask, Penguin's mask, there were Catwoman's goggles, card with 'Vote for Harvey Dent' written on it. He was close, so close, he could almost touch the truth, yet it still wasn't clear. He almost ran to the next, it seemed to be a platform for something with a road heading out of the cave. A car, the one Wayne blew up! Gordon turned on his heel and ran up to the last platform, as he finally saw the truth.
He laid his eyes on sat of various weapons and picked up a blade in bat's shape.
No, was this really the answer?
Gordon slowly walked over to a glass case, displaying an old, black armor, with a bat's symbol on its chest. His head started spinning and he had to sit down for a second, trying to process the truth of it all, as his communicator beeped.
,,Commissioner? Montoya here, I have something-'' she was talking quickly, almost forgetting to breath.
,,Montoya?'' he accepted the call. ,,I think I have found out-''
,,-what has Bruce Wayne been hiding this whole time.'' Montoya finished his sentence and silence settled between them.

Chapter Text

How could she have not seen this before? Now that she finally found out the truth, it made so much sense. Her question has been answered, now she could finally have some sleep, right? No, she couldn't run away from this. She had seen the way Bruce Wayne looked, she was pretty sure it was going to haunt her through her sleepless nights. And knowing how much he sacrificed for this city... it made her feel sick to her stomach. Now it made sense, why has Bruce Wayne been protected by the Agency, Waller must have known.
But what was she supposed to do now?
Even if Wayne had his reasons, he has still endangered the lives of many and clearly, he wasn't in his right mind anymore. And the state she found him in... he needed to get out of Blackgate, yet at the same time, they couldn't release him to society.
They needed to help him. Montoya sighed heavily. Where were those times, when everything seemed so clear? When criminals were just criminals?
No, perhaps it never worked like that. It was more plausible she just didn't see it. She kept looking into the ground, as she slowly walked back to the station. She would have taken the car, but most were already taken. They were severely underfunded and while the walking did not bother her much, she started to realize the lack of money could get into the way of solving the crimes. Investigating Wayne was also an overtime she nor commissioner would get paid for, but it's not like either she or Gordon had been doing this for money in the first place.
Their job used to be to lock criminals, but Montoya was starting to realize that things were much more complicated than that. She stopped at the news stand and hesitated for a moment. She glanced through the headlines of newspapers: 'Billionaire found guilty of terrorist attacks', 'Does Bruce Wayne walk the same path his father did?', 'Bruce Wayne: The Wolf in sheep's clothing'. Montoya felt bitter after reading those and angry upon the realization, that she would have thought the same, had she not looked further.
,,What's it gonna be, ma'am?'' the vendor asked her and noticed her reading the headlines. ,,Pretty sick, isn't he? It's good he's off the streets, if you ask me. Had me fooled he might have been a good guy for a minute, goddamn psycho.''
Montoya hesitated and eventually looked behind the vendor at the selection of cigarettes. ,,Can you recommend me some?''
The vendor stared at Montoya for a second. ,,First time, eh? Probably something lighter would be good.'' he turned around and picked cigarette pack with blue design. ,,Something to lit up with?''
,,Yes, thank you.'' shamefully, she paid for the cigarettes and left. She looked at the package for a moment, but eventually opened it and took one out, placing it between her lips and lit it. As soon as smoke filled her lungs, she had a coughing fit and felt light-headed, considering just throwing it away, but after a few more drags, she got used to it, even starting to relax a bit more. It didn't help her feel more at ease as she had hoped it would, it actually just made her more restless, but she paid for it already and may as well have put it to good use.
The city suddenly seemed much more darker to her, the clouds were forming in the sky, it looked like it was about to rain soon. Fitting for her current mood, but not comforting.
Bruce Wayne was Batman this whole time. A revelation that perhaps should have been more surprising, but it just made her feel sick. She kept seeing his hollowed out cheeks, his empty eyes, his pale skin.
She used to believe so much in her work, but seeing the truth like this it just made her question everything.
,,Montoya.'' she heard familiar voice call her as a police car pulled up to the sidewalk she was on. Gordon looked just as miserable as she was and his expression fell even deeper, upon noticing the cigarette she was holding.
,,Commissioner.'' she felt shame spread through her body, as she threw the cigarette away and stepped inside the car.
For a while, neither of them said anything. Neither knew, what to say.
,,I visited him in Blackgate.'' she started and rubbed her face. ,,He-'' her voice broke and she took a deep breath. ,,He looks horrible, commissioner.''
Gordon's fingers clenched on the steering wheel. He was unsure what to make of the situation. How to act, what to do, where to go next. ,,I can't believe, I haven't realized it before.''
,,What did you find inside his house?'' Montoya asked, unconsciously digging nails into her palms.
,,I managed to get inside the cave, that was what he tried to get rid off.'' Gordon sighed, reaching into his pocket for a cigarette. Montoya offered him one of her own and waited for him to continue talking. ,,He had files on us. On all of us. I read them, it was a mix of collection of thoughts on us and information.''
Montoya looked at Gordon in surprise. ,,Only on us?''
,,No,'' Gordon shook his head and finally started up the car. ,,There were so many people . Harley Quinn, Falcone, Waller, Joker, Cobblepot and so on. All the people he has defeated as Batman.''
Montoya let out a long, defeated sigh. She was unsure what to do with the situation, Gordon didn't seem to have many more ideas either.
,,While I was leaving the mansion, I got a call.'' Gordon continued. ,,It was doctor Joan Leland, from Arkham Asylum. I told her we would meet her in 20 minutes.''
,,What did she say?'' Montoya looked up at Gordon.
,,She said she wanted to help.'' Gordon replied and for the rest of the ride, neither of them spoke up.

Neither Montoya or Gordon have ever been in the Arkham Asylum, they both just heard stories. And most of them weren't very pleasant, but things seemed to have changed ever since Wayne invested money in it. While the outside still seemed very old and falling apart, the inside seemed to have been reconstructed recently. Upon their arrival, a lot of the patients seemed restless, both Montoya and Gordon were a bit scared at first, doubting if this would be any better for Wayne than Blackgate, but the orderlies started going from room to room, calming each patient down. Leland greeted them at the entrance and invited them to her office.
,,I have called you here to talk about Bruce Wayne.'' she told them, as they sat all sat down. ,,He had been my patient once, as you know, but refused to stay in the end. However, before he sent to Blackgate penitentiary, he actually scheduled an appointment with me.''
That surprised both Montoya and Gordon and also filled them with guilt. Wayne was actually reaching for help and they both felt responsible for taking it away from him.
,,We actually wanted to talk to you as well, doctor.'' Montoya started. ,,About Bruce Wayne.''
,,Really?'' Leland raised her eyebrow. ,,What happened?''
Montoya hesitated. ,,He doesn't belong to Blackgate. I-I've seen him this morning...'' she looked down on her hands and squeezed her eyes shut. ,,I-I couldn't recognize him at first.''
Gordon glanced at Montoya for a moment. Whatever she saw, it seemed to have an impact on her.
Leland frowned ad opened her mouth to speak, but they were all interrupted by a knock on the door.
,,Doctor?'' a pale, green-haired man stepped in. ,,I was wondering if-'' he stopped, locking eyes with both Gordon and Montoya. ,,Oh, good morning.'' he smiled at them.
Montoya and Gordon both froze when they realized, that they were looking at Joker. However, he didn't seem deranged, if anything he seemed friendly, calm.
,,John?'' Leland rose from her seat. ,,Is something the matter?''
,,Oh no,'' John shook his head. ,,I just came to ask you for a remote.''
Leland reached into her drawer and John walked over to her, thanking her. He glanced at Gordon one last time, biting his lips. ,,Is this about Bruce?''
,,John,'' Leland talked to him in calm voice. ,,Can you give us privacy?''
,,Oh, of course,'' John nodded. ,,Sorry, I just didn't expect to see commissioner of all people here.'' he looked at him, his smile disappearing. ,,I hope you actually help Bruce after all he's done for you.'' his voice had a venomous edge to it.
,,John.'' Leland walked over to him to let him out of the office. ,,I will talk to you later, alright?''
John looked to the ground, disappointed. ,,Alright.'' he murmured and left.
,,Was that?'' Gordon looked at Leland in surprise. ,,Jok-''
,,John,'' Leland corrected him. ,,And yes, although you know him in quite different way.''
Gordon and Montoya exchanged a look. If Arkham was able to help people like The Joker, Bruce Wayne surely wasn't a lost case.

Chapter Text

It does not matter, nothing does.
My entire body feels like it's engulfed in flames, I keep seeing him everywhere. Whether it's hanging from the ceilings or inciting violence on nameless, faceless people. I am not sure, if I really saw Montoya yesterday, a week ago or was it a month? The room is so dark, I don't know, what time it is and I'm too exhausted to even try to keep a track of it.
There nothing to wash the awful taste out of my mouth and even if I could do that, the evidence is still soaked deep into my skin, through the bloodied clothes. The cut on my hand burns stronger than it ever did. I realized a while back I kept tearing apart and now it's all swollen and refuses to heal. Not like it matters to me that much anymore, not like anyone ever cared about it in a first place and the one person, who might have, is out of my reach.
Forever.
I no longer feel like this skin is mine, I just want to rip it off. Maybe if I start with the cut, I will be able to skin myself, maybe I would find peace.
Faceless, unknown, all evidence of my past life gone, just like that.
It's good that I am alone.
I thought, I was hoping that if I gave him up, if I gave all of that up, I would be able to start again.
But no matter how much time passes, he keeps reminding me of my mistakes, of the lapses in my judgement, of all the people, whose lives I ruined.
Pain, suffering, agony.
I must have caused quite a lot of that too, didn't I? What was I thinking back then?
I was so naive, so stupid.
But is that an excuse? No, no it is not.
I knew, I did feel it deep inside, that they were all right, that I was a monster, not to be trusted.
Yet I continued to fight it, I kept getting up, I kept blindly following a cause, to which I sacrificed everything in the end.
I sacrificed my family, I sacrificed my friend, I sacrificed myself.
I thought no price was too high to pay, I thought I could make a difference, but did I really?
No, violence causes violence. But back then I thought there were no other means to use.
I was reckless, too blind and far too gone to see from the start, blinded by the grief of losing my parents, never growing up, still a little, scared boy at the heart.
I should have realized it earlier, while there still was time. I should have stopped chasing it after Alfred got hurt, yet I kept turning my eyes away from the truth, I could not watch others suffer.
That's what I thought.
And in the beginning, it was true, maybe even towards the end, but it got out of hand and when I realized, it was too late to stop it all. Suddenly, I had to make choices not between friends, but which principles I had to let go of, which person meant more to me than the other, which mask was more important to me.
I started it all to prevent anyone else turning into what I did, yet more people got inspired by my transformation than beig scared by it.
And before I knew it, other masked broken people were running around, trying to defend their own truths. I realized that there was no right or wrong, there was just what you believed in. I realized you can't judge a person based only on their actions. Or maybe you can and should, but I just could never do it. People I cared about kept betraying me, turning their backs on me and I couldn't do anything to stop them.
I have done all of it to prevent other people turning into me, yet instead it seemed as if I was showing them a way.
I can no longer run away from the responsibility, I can no longer hide from it, but I cannot carry the weight of it on my back.
I keep seeing the faces of people I couldn't save, I can feel their misery, as they were looking me in my eyes, realizing I could not save them, that I was not as invincible as they thought.
That under all the layers, I was still a human, having a childish dream of changing the world.
I did change the world, but only for the worse.
And even if I never put the mask on back again, I have still left a mark on the world and I doubt it's going to be forgotten anytime soon.
Breathing hurts, my heart feels as if it's going to explode at any moment. My body is growing colder and I do not have the strength to warm myself up.
I regret so much. I had someone, who was willing to follow me to the depths of hell and instead of dragging him out of there, I pulled him down with me. Maybe I have been alone for too long, forgotten that humans can be warm too.
And so it's only fitting the same has been done to me.
John, I do not know, how can you be this strong to pull through after what I have done to you. How could you still smile at me when I last saw you. How could you not hate me for what I have done.
Perhaps, after this, you will finally be able to feel almost as much hate towards me as I feel towards myself.
It's cold and dark. I never wanted it to end like this.
Soaked in blood, sweat and semen, lying on prison floor with a knife in my hand.
I had hoped to make the world a better place, yet all I did was to poison it.
It's time to get rid of the poison.
Ah, it's not as painful as I expected it to be. I make no sound, as I press Oswald's knife to my throat.
The last thing on my mind is you, John.
I'm so happy I got to meet you, I didn't deserve someone like you, not at all.
But I'm still self-ish to the end. I am still so glad, I got to meet you, I got to share a part of my life with you.
You knew more about me than anyone else.
You knew me better than I knew myself.
You loved me more than I ever loved myself.
And I'm so sorry.
I'm sorry for being a coward, I'm sorry for being a liar, I'm sorry for using you.
I'm sorry for running away, but if you ever found out, you would leave me.
If you ever found out, how rotten I truly am, you would surely hate me, despise me, regret to have ever met me.
And I'm sorry, but I can't be around to see that.
I want our last memory to be happy.
I want you to hate me for this. I want you to blame me for everything.
I want you to move on.
I hope you will get to be happy.
Somehow, I expected this to hurt more.
I thought death was painful, but I am not in pain. I finally feel free.
I should have known, that this was the answer all along. But I didn't and all I did was to cause more pain.
I wish I could have seen you, one last time. Your smile always filled me with happiness, always made my heart melt.
I'm so sorry for betraying all of that.
Forget me, John.
It hurts less than I expected it to. I thought death was supposed to be more painful, but perhaps it's always just painful to us, because we get to deal with the fallout.
And as the air is escaping my lungs, I feel a set of warm, familiar hands on my throat.
Oz, I open my eyes, are you here to finish me?
You finally got what you wanted, right?
Then why do you look so sad?

Chapter Text

Dying is not painful, it's what comes after.
Bruce had never considered ending his own life, he believed that you had only one chance at life and it should not come to waste. He had forgotten that part of himself along with everything else. Somehow, waking up in a hospital bed didn't come as a shock to him at first. He wondered, if it was all a dream, perhaps he was still just a little boy and at any moment, his mother would walk up to him, checking his temperature and reassuring him, that everything was going to be alright. And Bruce would be soothed by her voice and her gentle touch on his forehead. Yet instead of his mother, he found commissioner Gordon sitting in chair by the window and Montoya holding an unlit cigarette between her fingers, playing with it.
Somehow, the scene seemed strangely familiar and although he didn't know, where he was or how he got there, he felt strangely calm. Something inside was telling to stay like this for just a little bit longer, but his throat was dry and he needed some water.
,,Gordon?'' he spoke up in quiet voice and immediately regretted, as pain shot from the side of his neck through his nerves. Both Gordon and Montoya seemed to have snapped from their trance and moved to the bed Bruce was on. He felt someone's someone's head resting on his leg. His heart broke when he realized it was Alfred. ,,Bruce!" he almost shouted, his eyes were red and he was trembling. Oh. Bruce hadn't even though of him. He hadn't thought much of anything back then. ,,Alfred...?" he managed to say before breaking into a coughing fit. His throat was burning and his heart squeezed painfully in his chest. Alfred broke into tears immediately, wrapping his arms around Bruce's limp, weak body.
,,Mr. Wayne?!'' Montoya freaked out, she took Bruce's hand into her own without thinking. Bruce noticed she had tears in her eyes. ,,I'm so sorry.'' she apologized, tears spilling from her eyes. Bruce had never seen her like this before. Confused, he looked up at Gordon, who didn't seem to be doing any better than Montoya herself, but held himself back.
,,Sorry?'' Bruce blinked a few times. What was happe-
Oh.
Memories came flooding to him, crashing into each other in his mind, crushing him, shattering as soon as they came into contact with each other.
The bombings, his goodbye with John, Oswald's sneers, his touches, the agonizing loneliness he has felt during his time in Blackgate, him on his knees and the immense pleasure he has felt.
,,We're both so sorry we've put you through this.'' Gordon looked him in the eyes with regret written all over his face.
Bruce's head started spinning, as he choked up and started coughing. He felt the strangely familiar tingling in the tips of his fingers. He felt as if he was being ripped apart while listening to Alfred's crying. ,,You were just doing what you thought was right.'' Bruce replied and squeezed his eyes. ,,As did I.'' he looked down on his hands. Alfred's crying ripping him to shreds. ,,I'm so sorry, Bruce." Alfred managed to say through his cries, Bruce wished he had enough strength to hold him back, but his hands wouldn't move.
His heart began to beat rapidly. Montoya and Gordon seemed to spinning away from, as he started losing touch with reality.
His eyes widened in fear, as reaction to everything. His own actions, that he never thought he was capable of doing. The name Wayne had lost its value, he can't ever come back from this, can he? What was going to happen next?
,,Why did you have to save me?'' Bruce asked, as tears build up in his eyes. He was just so exhausted, he couldn't deal with this. What more did the world want from him? Had he not sacrificed enough?
Was death also too much to ask for?
,,Huh? What do you-'' Gordon started, but was interrupted.
,,Why couldn't you just let me die?'' Bruce spoke in quiet, broken voice. His hands were trembling, as tears started to fall down from his eyes. ,,Have I not suffered enough?'' he whispered.
Alfred looked up at Bruce with painful expression, one that was too much foe Bruce to bear. Montoya squeezed his hand harder, pain written all over her face. ,,I'm sorry, Mr. Wayne. I'm sorry we were both so blind.''
,,So you did find out.'' Bruce was trying to calm his fast beating heart, it started to feel like he was suffocating, he already felt so weak and this was making him light-headed. The machine he was hooked up to started beeping in alarm and a sister immediately ran into the room.
,,I told you it was too early!'' she said, regarding the police officers with an angry look. Gordon looked at Bruce and couldn't not blame himself for this. Maybe if he had just looked further back then, before he let Wayne lock up, things would have turn out different.
,,I'm-I'm fine.'' Bruce took deep, long breaths. He wasn't sure, when he would be able to talk to Gordon or Montoya again.
,,But-'' the sister started, but Bruce waved his hand, weakly.
,,Five minutes, please.'' he pleaded with her and she reluctantly agreed.
,,Five minutes maximum, you need rest, Mr. Wayne.'' she turned on her heel and shot Gordon poisonous look before leaving.
,,So,'' Bruce breathed out, gulping. ,,What happens next?''
,,You really should rest, Mr. Wayne.'' Montoya objected. ,,We can come later.''
,,No, I can't rest.'' Bruce looked up to the ceiling. ,,I can't rest.''
,,Well,'' Gordon ran hand through his hair. ,,I-We can't really just let you walk out, Ba---Wayne.'' he sighed wearily. Alfred looked at Gordon angrily. ,,You can't just send him back!" he frowned at Gordon. ,,Look at him!" the tone in which he was speaking was tearing the leftovers of Bruce's heart.
A feeling of absolute terror filled Bruce's mind, as even the thought of returning back to Blackgate occurred to him. Before he could started panicking again, Gordon finally walked over to him, placing his hand on Bruce's shoulder in comforting gesture. ,,I think you've helped us all plenty, haven't you? Let us help you for once, please.'' A thought surfaced in Bruce's mind. ,,How... How did I survive?" Gordon and Montoya exchanged a look, Alfred looked at his hands, frowning. ,,Cobblepot saved you." Gordon said. ,,Surprised us all, never thought we would all be grateful to Cobblepot of all people." he exhaled. ,,World sure is a strange place lately."

,,Oz...?" A choked up sob eventually broke out of Bruce's mouth, as he finally let go of himself and started weeping.

Chapter Text

Arkham looked welcoming, comforting even.
Bruce had never thought there would ever come time in his life, where Arkham would be a beacon of light for him.
Funny, how life works out sometimes.
Once he had thought that nothing could make him go back to Arkham, now he had gone there willingly.
It didn't take much time for Gordon to transfer him there, Alfred was against it at first, but once Bruce told him at least half of the truth of what happened to him, he conveniently left the part with him having sex with Oswald out, he begrudgingly agreed.
,,If this is what you think it's the best for you,'' Alfred sighed. ,,Then I will support you in your decision.''
But Bruce could tell, that Alfred looked as if heavy load has been lifted from his shoulders. Bruce hoped it was because he was getting help and not because he was leaving. He couldn't really tell anymore, what would make more sense, it made his head hurt.
The reality seemed all twisted, tangled up and upside down.
Arkham was a symbol of hope and Oswald had saved his life.
Bruce wondered if he would be able to ask him why one day.
Right now, he didn't want to think about him anymore. He was just reminded of how Oz used him and it kept suffocating him.
He couldn't understand, why didn't he just let him die, he thought that that was what Oswald wanted. But the again, maybe he didn't really know him all that well, he didn't even know himself anymore.
If he could go back in time and stop himself from blowing up Batman tech, would he?
Did he regret it?
Bruce was led through the gate to the Arkham Asylum, many reporters were waiting for them at the gate. He heard Gordon swear and felt Alfred's hand on his shoulder tighten.
Bruce didn't care. It didn't bother him at all, he thought that there were possibly much bigger problems than this in his life right now. Out of the window of the car, he saw Leland step out of the hospital with a group of orderlies.
He must have been considered dangerous then, if it took this many people to escort him. However, to his surprise, the orderlies started to push the reporters away, asking them to leave. Gordon himself got out of the car and flashed his badge, threatening to lock every single one of them for disrupting the order of Arkham. That managed to get some of them away, enough for Alfred to help Bruce step out of the car. He was still far from back to healthy weight and a piece of his tooth in the front actually broke off from his constant clenching and grinding, not to mention his aching bones.
But somehow, it all seemed secondary to him right now. Leland stared at him in shock upon noticing his state, but escorted him inside.
,,I will ask you for leave for now, please.'' she turned to Gordon and Alfred, who were both about to protest, but she shut them down. ,,You need to leave it in our hands now, we will help him and inform you of any changes to his state. And when you can come to visit him.''
A feeling of terror started engulfing Bruce once again at the thought of being alone, but someone patted his back comfortingly.
,,You can trust us.'' John said and after taking a better look at the state Bruce was in, his smile faltered and he hooked his fingers on Bruce's sleeve. ,,...Bruce?''
Bruce's heart ached and his eyes felt damp, as he instinctively turned around and wrapped his arms around John and Bruce realized, that John was right in what he once said.
They were two threads in the same stitch.