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03 November 2012 @ 07:29 pm
No Holds Barred, pt. I  
Title: No Holds Barred
Pairing: Bane/John Blake
Words: ~9300 [/54,500]
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Based on this prompt. Talia brings Bane a gift in the form of fiery detective John Blake, intending to watch Bane break him -- but Bane likes John's spirit too much to try and quench it, and is too head-shy about sex to use him in the way Talia wants. Too bad John thinks he's a psychopath.
Warnings: attempted noncon, dubcon, violence
part two, three, four, five, six

Before the blow to his head which leaves all senses jangling, John Blake has the disjointed thought that Miranda Tate fights like a man twice her size—and immediately corrects himself. She fights like somebody exactly her size, but with that much more cunning and craft packed into her curvy frame. Like a weasel against a bigger predator. She has precise knowledge of inflicting hurt that enables her to maximize pain while minimizing contact. She is elegant and terrible.

He lands one fucking blow.

It's more a startle reflex than any kind of skill.

She stops playing with him then. Her boot hits him in the side of the head and he slams into the brick wall, dazed. It's all over before it can even really begin. She shoves him face-down onto the slushy pavement with callous efficiency; he wavers into consciousness in time to feel his own handcuffs snck tightly around his wrists, behind his back. Dizzily he watches her smooth down her coat and stroll into the open to intercept the truck that might or might not be carrying the bomb. Apart from the small bruise on her cheek there's not a scuff on her. The next moment, stronger arms than Miranda's are hauling him upright, dragging him away.

His vision blurs out again, and somehow, all he can think as his mind wipes is that he should be protecting her, that they obviously have something on her, to force her to do this, that Miranda Tate is a trusted ally of Bruce Wayne and if John cannot trust her, then none of them is—

He lands on his knees on hardwood. His head is spinning, ears ringing, vaguely nauseous. Miranda is still there. Her hand rests lightly on his shoulder.

He looks around. He doesn't recognize this place. A skyscraper, judging by what he can see through the windows from his vantage point. There's a huge wooden table, some fake plants and blossoms in the corners, paintings on the walls. Gilded figurines arc out of the floor; black leather chairs and sofas are arranged in a square. The walls are sleek wood panels. Men surround them, looking on curiously; nearby, the man their intelligence has identified as Bane's lieutenant stands guard over them, rifle in hands, bulletproof vest strapped on. Why have they brought him and Miranda here?

Noticing his sudden awareness, Miranda stoops down in front of him. She wipes away what feels like a trickle of blood from his forehead, gently, and smiles. Helpless, hands bound behind his back, John clasps that smile to him, lets it give him hope.

“Everything will be okay, John,” she says softly.

He hears Bane before he sees him coming: heavy footsteps, a mechanical wheeze for breath. A pair of double doors opens, and Bane emerges out of the shadows slowly enough to send a cascade of icy panic down John's spine. This is the first time he's ever seen Bane face to face, not on a TV screen. The real thing is terrifying. A smaller man might buckle under the sheer weight of the coat he wears; and that on top of multiple other layers. His thumbs are hooked into the straps of his vest, and it seems to John, from one wild, half glance, that he's protecting his chest with this seemingly casual attitude.

Miranda straightens up. John wants to bring his legs under him properly and get up, but he can't seem to coordinate his limbs, and the walls sway when he moves his head too fast.

There is brief silence, except for Bane's soft mechanical inhalations.

“Why are you here?” Bane says at last, politely curious—and curiously polite. His voice is scratchy and warped as it is on TV, like it's coming from a reverberant metal tube. John dares to look up. Bane's chilling gaze is resting on Miranda, emotionless, unblinking.

John's heart gallops in his chest, but Miranda's voice is light, sure. “I came to bring you something.”

Bane inhales. Rasps, inflectionlessly, “I can see that.”

“This is the thorn in your side,” she says, fingers curling over John's shoulder again. “John Blake. Gordon's pet detective; friend to Bruce Wayne. He has been giving our men some trouble.”

“Friend to Bruce Wayne,” Bane says, giving the name special weight, as if he can taste it behind his mask. His tone gives John no doubt that Bane knows precisely who Bruce Wayne really is. Bane's eyes fall to John with curious interest, gaze piercing him. He feels like a bug pinned to a card, under Bane's gaze.

“Keep him,” Miranda says, her voice ringing out confidently. None of the men present are speaking. “He has outlasted his usefulness on the outside. His capture will demoralize Gordon and the others. It will distract them.”

Bane looks to her again. His gaze rests on the bruise on her cheek. “Did he strike you?”

“It is nothing.”

“I have no need for him,” Bane says.

“He has spark in him,” says Miranda. “He will be difficult to crush, this one. And he can do less mischief here.”

“I could kill him now.”

“No,” Miranda says, beautiful and reckless as John has never seen her. Her eyes shine with the light of a fanatic. “Take your comfort from him. Break his spirit. I want to see you do it.”

Bane just watches her.

And then something incredible happens. She steps forward, closing the space that stands between her and the monster. John works his throat to speak, to shout, still stupid from the head injury, struggling to parse all this. Bane looks down at her. Impossibly, foolishly, she raises a hand to clasp the side of his face, right where the mask digs into his skin.

“He will be good for you, my friend,” she says, and she rises on tiptoe to press a light kiss just underneath Bane's eye.

He could crush her. He could pull her spine out through her chest and tear her head from her body as easily as one would pluck the wings off a butterfly.

And instead, all he does is blink, for the first time that John's ever seen. It makes him look, for just a second, almost boyishly baffled. Something in his steel-grey eyes thaws.

And then Miranda leaves, and John is still there, on his knees, with his hands cuffed behind his back.

“Very well,” says Bane at last, all quiet ferocity once more. He walks closer, and John's heart thuds louder and harder in reaction to his proximity. Bane stops in front of him, eyeing him critically. “Stand,” he says.

Finally, John finds his voice. He grits out, “Fuck you.”

There's a pause. Bane's men are all watching.

“Yes,” Bane says appraisingly, “you do have a spark in you, don't you?”

Then he grabs John by the arm and, in one swift, economical motion, pulls him upright and separates his shoulder from its socket. John yells aloud.

“Leave him in the bedroom,” Bane says to his second, dismissively, and John is dragged away, feverish, gasping.

Bane's lieutenant, the one they call Barsad, resets his shoulder for him. Then he locks him in another room, chained to a bedpost on the floor at the foot of a huge bed, and leaves him in the dark.

John's arm is killing him.

It's a nice room, as far as prisons go. Big. More hardwood, but with rugs on the floor, though not where John is forced to sit. There's a desk, and more leather couches against one wall. A TV is mounted on the opposite wall. The bed, unmade and comfy-looking, is massive. He can't budge it, no matter how hard he tries with his one non-sore shoulder.

John forces himself to think about what he knows, which is that Miranda Tate is in league with Bane, is close to him, even, and that at this moment she's probably at the hide-out with Gordon and Fox and the other resistors. She has given him to Bane as a—a gift of some kind, intending to break him.

John thinks like a cop. He will operate under the assumption that somehow, he will get out of this. In the meantime, he needs to listen and learn everything he can. He won't get anywhere with his hands cuffed like this, his arm lancing with pain. Whenever they let him out, he will be quiet and observant. He'll look for the triggerman if he can (even if Gordon is still convinced that's a bluff), and he will put himself in exactly the right place to strike at a critical moment.

Most importantly of all, he will not break.

Leave him in the bedroom. That has such awful implications. He closes his eyes and tries not to think about what will happen when Bane shows up.

A guard brings him water in a small glass after a day has passed. It's easy to judge time even with blinds shuttering all the windows; a little light still seeps through. The water wets his throat but barely satisfies his thirst.

“I need to—” he says, gesturing to his crotch. The guard shrugs, and leaves.

The same guard is back later with another few mouthfuls of water in a glass, and some watery, bland form of porridge which eases the ache of John's hollow stomach not at all.

His whole lower body goes numb from kneeling: feet, legs, tailbone when he tries to sit. He has no space to stand. It's Barsad who finally shows up and leads him at gunpoint to the ensuite to relieve his bladder, and then he's locked to the bed again.

He wonders if anyone is looking for him, and concludes probably not. Even Gordon must have known that the hot-tempered rookie detective would go and get himself killed during this siege. Maybe everyone had known it but John himself.

The next few days are the same, thirst and numbness and boredom, and then one night the door opens and it is not the familiar guard or even Barsad standing there, but Bane, just as awful and real as before, framed by the light from the staircase outside. He flicks a lightswitch, filling the room with dim, rosy light.

“Officer Robin Blake,” Bane says, shutting the door.

John flinches—from the light as much as the voice. Then he shakes his head, licks his dry lips.

“Actually, it's John,” he says. “And I'm a detective now.”

“Robin suits you,” says Bane. “Like a bird, you have no concept of how very fragile you are.”

He says this musingly, as if to himself. His cadence is wrong, leaving the sentence hanging at the end as though there is a but coming.

He unclasps John's handcuffs with a key, and up close he smells like wet leather and sweat; not dirty, just male. John can't stand—it's been at least a day since Barsad's last bathroom visit—so Bane pulls him up by the scruff like a kitten, like he's nothing, and John gasps in pain as his blood finally starts to circulate again. It's agonizing.

Bane gives him a cup to drink out of, tells him there is soap and a razor in the bathroom. Once there, John drinks tapwater greedily, and bathes and shaves at the sink. He's not quite comfortable enough for a shower or a bubble bath in the fucking jacuzzi tub. When he emerges, Bane has left out clothes for him. He refuses to change, even if they are cleaner than what he's wearing.

“Where are we?” he asks, finally.

“This is my room,” Bane says, which tells him exactly nothing. “You are mine; you belong here.”

He sheds his coat carelessly, baring massive arms, and drapes it over an armchair next to the bed. John grunts.

“Don't you ever sleep?” he asks, because he's been here for days and Bane hasn't rested here once.

“One can rise above such needs,” Bane says, and he might sound amused, but it's almost impossible to tell through that mask. “But I am only human.”

What a joke. He's not a man. He's not even an animal. He's a fucking force of nature. Up close, it's easy to see how Batman could have lost against him; in fact it's hard to see any way that Batman might have prevailed (though John still holds out hope that Selina Kyle is just a pessimist). Does any sensation at all penetrate that hulking body? Or would the most bone-shattering blows only rain down on him uselessly?

John is forced to walk several times around the room, now that the pins and needles in the soles of his feet have largely faded. It still hurts. Bane gives him a bag of trail mix, makes him eat while he walks, and watches him do both. John calculates, knows that now, with the door closed and God-knows-what on the other side, is not the time to act. But he has to ask.

“Why am I here?” he says. “Why not kill me now?”

“Because she wills it,” says Bane simply. “Your demise must be slow and calculated, Blake.”

He turns just in time to meet the fist that smashes into the right side of his face. John hits the floor, blinded by pain. Stars burst in his vision and his head rings. He brings his arms up to protect his face from further attack and kicks out, but Bane is done with him.

“You are fortunate to have only landed one blow upon her,” he says, dark and dangerous, “or I would be repaying you more severely.”

John groans, and feels Bane drag him back to the bed to cuff him again. Just don't kick, John thinks wildly, curling up to protect his soft belly, but his punishment is over. Bane leaves him there on the floor. Before he sinks onto the mattress with an audible squeak, he reaches up and flicks another lightswitch, plunging them into darkness once more. John doesn't sleep at all that night.

The routine is depressingly the same for the first week or so. The same guard comes in twice a day to give John water and food; not much, just enough to keep him alive, and Barsad lets him go to the bathroom when he remembers John is there. Bane comes a few times with extra supplies—a book from one of the shelves against the wall, a handful of more palatable food, fresh clothes that John is no longer too proud to spurn. He retreats to the bathroom, pulling on the new outfits swiftly, and he showers now, but as quickly as possible.

Take your comfort from him, Miranda had said, and John's not a fool. Every time Bane nears him, to hand him food or to uncuff him, John's heart lurches with a brief spike of panic.

He sees his chance one day. He's been watching the door, whenever it opens. He catches glimpses of the staircase outside. It goes up six steps, then turns right; another six steps, and he'll be in the room where he first woke up. There's one other door at the far end of that room, and he'll have to take his chances there. He's willing to fight anyone who gets in his way, even if he's not at full strength.

Bane leaves the door open one day when he comes in, that assured of his power over John. John waits, waits until Bane is crouching in front of him, unclasping the handcuffs. The second the cuffs fall away, John bunches his body up like a coiled spring and kicks at Bane's face as hard as he can.

He knows the heel of his shoe has connected with Bane's mask by the metal clunk and the muffled roar. He's already turned over, scrambling up, launching himself toward the door.

Bane moves like lightning. His hand is around John's ankle almost right away, sending him crashing to the floor. He drags John back toward him and flips him onto his back like he's no more substantial than a ragdoll. The fury blazing in his eyes is the scariest thing John has ever seen.

Bane keeps him flat to the ground with a palm to his chest while he uses his other hand to adjust the mask. John can hear him breathing: ragged, rasping inhale, hissing exhale. His huge fingers flicker deftly over the tubes attached to the grille of the mask, checking that everything is in working order. Then he stands.

He drags John with him. John's instinct is to curl up, become dead weight, but he forces himself to stay upright. He can't quite meet Bane's eyes, though.

“You wish to leave?” Bane asks at last, breathing less laboriously. He shoves John around, pushes him toward the door. “Leave.”

John walks falteringly to the doorway and looks. Standing there on the near landing is Barsad, rifle in hands, features impassive. His finger rests on the trigger.

Bane's fingers curl over John's shoulders, tightening gradually until he winces. He turns John to face him again.

“That was unwise,” Bane says. This close to his face, John can faintly detect a chemical smell. He hasn't even dented the mask. “I hope for your sake that you do not waste your next opportunity so spectacularly.”

His fist lands in John's gut, then, and John's whole body folds up around it. It's like a wrecking ball to the solar plexus. He hits the floor and heaves soundlessly for air, writhing. At last, in one painful rush, the ability to breathe is restored to him and he gulps in great sobbing breaths.

“For that, no water or exercise tonight,” Bane says. He's already cuffing John's hands again, then standing up and moving away. John is learning that punishment from Bane is swift and immediate, and no more is said or done about it.

Before he leaves the room, Bane says, lightly, “If you are restless, Blake, you have only to say so.”

John thinks this means something, that maybe they'll let him out for awhile the next day, but it doesn't happen. When Bane at last returns, making no mention of it, John thinks he's going to go out of his mind.

Then he thinks about what Bane said.

“I'm sick of this room,” he says. His voice is hoarse and cracking. “I want to get out sometimes.”

Bane reclines on his bed with both arms folded behind his head, making the mattress squeak.

“Very well,” he says.

A long time ago, in the pit, Bane had come across a fledgling bird dragging its broken wing along the ground. He'd picked it up, felt its heart flutter against his fingertips. Once, he had been able to touch such things without breaking them.

He meant to crush it, to snuff its little life out and cease its suffering. There was no reason for it to be down there with them. Beautiful things had no place in the pit. But then Talia was there, prying at his thumb, wanting to see the fragile creature he held in his palm.

It won't heal, he told her. Killing it would be a mercy.

One day she would have a very good understanding of this, that there are few worse things than to be alive and suffering. But then, she was only a child; and he her helpless thrall. She begged him. They found a cloth and squeezed drops of precious water down the bird's throat. She thrilled when it accepted softened bread crumbs from her hand. He knew she believed the bird would get better, would someday fly out of that place, and she would send her spirit soaring with it. He wanted that, too. He wanted her to fly.

The bird died in the night while Talia slept, Bane trying to force water down its gullet, furiously willing it to swallow. He felt its heart stop fluttering, and he hated this creature who would die to spite a child, who wouldn't drink to save its own miserable life. He should have killed it. He buried it, and in the morning told Talia some of the other inmates had seen it and wanted to destroy it. She merely let a soundless tear or two escape, and these he wiped away with his thumb, dirt from the grave still embedded under his nails.

He dreams about that bird, that night.

Hope is such a dangerous weapon.

What, he wonders, does John Blake hope for?

When Talia visits, she takes one look at him and orders him to take his shirt off. Bane peels off his layers bit by bit, sighing when the waist-belt and the braces come off, his body that much less strapped together. He lies face-down on the bed that used to be John Daggett's and lets Talia's clever fingers find all his sore spots. She is the only one allowed to touch him like this.

“How are you enjoying your gift?” she asks him. Her fingers dance delicately over the scar that runs down his spine. She knows how painful that one is, and kneads the pitted tissue expertly.

“I have no use for him,” Bane tells her again. “Barsad is baby-sitting him now.”

“I am sure Barsad loves that.” He can hear her smile. “You're wrong, though. You can use Blake. Can't you see the anger that burns in him?”

“He has spirit.”

“And innocence,” she says. “Such a rare find in this city. Blake is an idealist and a sentimentalist. The king of the orphaned boys.”

“An orphan?” That does get Bane's attention.

“Like Bruce Wayne,” Talia finishes his thought for him. “Did you really think I had no reason to bring him to you? Blake is like a young Bruce Wayne. Show him his broken white knight and Wayne's suffering will be even sweeter.”

“I'm satisfied with the torment I have exacted on Bruce Wayne,” Bane says, but he is intrigued.

“Besides,” Talia says, like he hasn't spoken, and she leans down and presses a light kiss to his bare shoulder. “You need somebody to take care of when I cannot be with you ... and somebody to care for you, too. He would warm your bed nicely.”

“My bed is warm enough,” Bane says, making her laugh fondly.

“Stubborn as always, my Bane.”

He looks at Blake in a new light after that. He can see what Talia means. Blake is young, proud, and angry. He is begging to have his spirit broken. There's a simmering fire in him not unlike Wayne's. Bane wonders what it would take to quench it.

Bane's men, the mercenaries who have been with him since the beginning, peer at John askance and mutter under their breaths in a language he doesn't understand. It drives him mad.

He asks Barsad what they're saying.

“They're calling you a whore,” Barsad says. He sees how John colours angrily, and adds, “Be glad they don't know you're a police officer.”

John is getting the lay of the land, slowly, piecing together a picture based on what Barsad allows him to see. Bane's headquarters are a high-rise building, the top floor converted into a luxurious penthouse. The men have made a living space out of the other floors, having chased away all the affluent former residents. Occasionally, Barsad takes John onto the roof, for fresh air. This is the extent of John's freedom: run of the bedroom, visits to the roof or the rest of the penthouse with Barsad's supervision, and occasional glimpses of the rest of the building, if Barsad permits him to come along during some errand.

Barsad treats him mainly with indifference. He finds tasks for John to do that don't require the handcuffs to leave his wrists; or else simply orders him to stay put in a corner. Barsad is slight, almost of a height with John, and he always looks at ease, but John is careful not to underestimate him. He has shrewd eyes, seeing everything, missing nothing; and he has a fanatic's devotion to Bane and his madness. Barsad is no fool: he is a zealot, and an intelligent one. That makes him doubly dangerous.

(Barsad's accent is impossible to place—some mongrel mutation of Russian-English-German-French, seemingly shifting all the time, and when John asks where he's from, he answers bluntly, “Africa,” which tells John nothing—he wishes he'd paid attention in middle school geography instead of staring at the teacher's chest all day. So he's surprised to hear a similar accent from a number of the other men.)

The conscripts from Blackgate, who are sometimes present on the roof, smoking, are less subtle than Bane's men. They eye John openly, leering. “Wish we'd had you around when I was in the joint,” one tells him in passing, licking his teeth. Barsad hears this and says nothing. John decides to ignore it, too; but it's hard. The men from Blackgate are lewd, starved of touch. They reach for him frequently, just to relish his cringing away.

He's angry with himself when that happens. He's a fucking cop. He shouldn't be letting this scum unnerve him so easily. That his nerves have been on edge for days is no excuse.

It's difficult to learn much about what they're planning. Bane meets with his intimates in another room of the penthouse, and even if John could hear more than the faintest murmur through the walls, he's pretty sure they're speaking in another language. He meets these intimates one day when Barsad takes lunch with them and allows him to join. These men have a different air about them than the lesser mercenaries; they don't look at Bane with quite the same fanatical hunger, and they are more jocular, relaxed. Two out of the five that John meets refuse to speak English, or can't, in his presence, and they eye him coldly, but two are like Barsad: indifferent to his plight, but willing to acknowledge him. The last is a man much younger than the others, whom Bane doesn't pay any heed to, but the four and Barsad seem to tolerate his company the way they would a kid brother (and actually, that's exactly what these men remind John of—the boys at Saint Swithin's, familial and comfortable with each other, not real brothers but close enough).

The young one, Ekene, seems to amuse and annoy them in equal parts, and he takes much more interest in John than the rest. It's he who tosses John an apple, which he scrambles after gratefully.

“You run away from this guy,” Ekene says, jerking a thumb at Barsad. John isn't sure if that's a request or not, so he says nothing, which he knows is correct when the young man continues with satisfaction, “He rip your liver out through your mouth.”

John glances at Barsad, who goes on peeling his own apple with a knife and doesn't say anything.

“I can fight,” John says.

This causes uproarious laughter among the other three men, and even the two who won't speak English start smiling.

“Rip you in half,” Ekene affirms. He makes a violent gesture to demonstrate. “Like a weed. Like a little twig.”

“I can take 'im,” a scarred man puts in. He's bigger and heavier than Barsad, who so far has taken no part in this conversation.

“He about broke your arm last time,” Ekene scoffs. The other shrugs.

“Shoulder was stiff. It was rainy.”

“It's always stiff. Maybe you ask him nice enough, Bane will rip it off for you. Like he almost did Talia's gift, eh?”

“Talia?” John asks.

The man flutters his eyelashes. “Bane's beloved.”

The third man cuts in. “He doesn't need Talia now. He's got this one.” He indicates John, and they start laughing again. John has eaten his apple by now; Ekene neatly bisects a pear and throws half to him.

“Keep up your strength, he'll be back soon and lonely!” he says. They roar with laughter, and John tries not to squirm queasily. Bane hasn't touched him yet—why are these men so convinced that he will?

“Enough,” Barsad finally speaks, silencing them at once. He's looking at the younger man. “Don't speak of things you know nothing about.”

“Hah.” Ekene waves a hand. “You gonna fight Basir, or what?”

Barsad pauses, knifetip hovering over his apple. “After eating,” he says at last. The others cheer, Basir cracking his knuckles pointedly.

John is surprised when he gets to go with them to the roof to watch the fight. There's a few other soldiers hanging around who wander over, interested, when they see Barsad and Basir facing off. Barsad stands there, loose-limbed and languid, while Basir gears himself up with a little shadow-boxing.

John's actually looking forward to this, but the ending is so fast as to be almost anticlimactic. Basir gives a yell and rushes at Barsad, fists flying. In a blur, Barsad slips out of the way, hits in him the stomach, then the jaw when he starts to double over, and then sweeps his footing out from under him. The surrounding men all cheer while Barsad graciously helps the other man to his feet.

“Where'd he learn to fight?” John asks Ekene, the one most likely to reply. He's right: the younger mercenary is eager to boast on Barsad's behalf.

“Militia. Then the League of Shadows. Good, eh? You think twice about running away from this bastard now, huh?”

“League of Shadows?” John asks.

“Ninjas, from the mountains.”

“He's a ninja?”

A hush falls over all of them suddenly, and John turns. Bane is there, standing by the doorway to the roof with his hands at his vest, surveying them all coolly.

“Having fun?” he asks dryly, raising an eyebrow.

Ekene breaks the silence, nudging Barsad. “You wanna take 'im, too?”

Bane walks closer. Everyone moves back except for Barsad, who straightens his spine, expression unchanging. For a second, John thinks they actually are going to fight. Then Bane raises a hand, arm bent at the elbow. Barsad smiles and clasps it.

It's a brief, surprisingly brotherly gesture.

That's when John first has a thought: Barsad could be the triggerman.

Bane draws back after a second, gestures loosely to John and says, “Take him to my bedroom.”

“Hah.” Ekene punches John lightly in the ribs, smiling wryly, before Barsad takes him away. “Like I said. Keep up your strength, friend. You gonna need it.”

The first time John sees Bane kill a man in person is the first time Bane personally takes him out. John finds almost right away that he prefers Barsad. Bane's mere presence, vast and brooding, is enough to unsettle him.

Bane's speaking with his inner circle, having delegated John to the corner with a book, when the man appears from a hallway. He starts speaking rapidly in the same language Bane and his men are using, while Bane rises silently to meet him. The man's voice grows higher and more pleading while Bane listens.

Apparently, Bane doesn't like what he hears. He doesn't snap the man's neck or bother with a weapon—he wraps one huge hand around the victim's neck and crushes his windpipe. Then he drops the body to the floor and turns away to take his seat again.

“Why did you do that?” John demands, getting to his feet from the corner where he sits and reads. He's shocked into speaking, and at once regrets it. All of the men at the table look at him, including Bane.

“The loss of this life bothers you?” Bane inquires genially, turning to face John.

“You had no reason to kill him.” John doesn't know that. All he knows is that the man's life had been snuffed out as easily as squashing a fly, without a single word from Bane.

Bane's eyes glitter.

“Would you and your men not kill him if you met him on the street?”

“Look, I only kill to save my own life,” John says, gritting his teeth, thinking of those construction workers. “That was pointless. He's one of your guys.”

Bane shrugs, sitting back in his seat. “He made a mistake. It will not be repeated. Word will spread. A warlord requires the respect of his men, Blake.”

“You're a terrorist.”

“So I am,” Bane agrees. The meeting resumes with the body still lying on the floor.

Sleeping in handcuffs is uncomfortable, and John soon learns that trying to sleep in handcuffs on a cold leather couch is even worse. Still, he's reluctant to take the bed. Bane sleeps in that bed, when he bothers to sleep here at all.

Eventually John is too exhausted to think about it. Bane's not here; it's late. He's obviously not coming tonight. John collapses into the bed and drops into the best sleep he's had since he was captured two weeks ago. He makes this a nightly habit: waiting, waiting for Bane to appear, and when he does not, sneaking furtively under the covers. He feels better when he's well-rested, better equipped to take whatever they throw at him next.

He wakes up one morning and can sense the presence of another warm body in the bed before he opens his eyes to confirm that Bane is lying within arm's reach, on his side facing the wall, shirtless. John sucks in a breath, not sure what to do. He ends up lying there, breathing shallowly, until Bane suddenly stirs and rolls out of bed like he was never asleep at all.

Maybe he wasn't.

It's a jarring experience, and the next time he can hear Bane's voice in the penthouse late at night, he curls up blanketless on the couch instead, and shivers. He's dozing when Bane comes in, and without a word the mercenary scoops him up and dumps him onto the bed as if John being on the couch is somehow an inconvenience to him. John lies there, throat dry, watching as Bane pulls off everything except his cargo pants and drops onto the other side of the massive bed, where he promptly rolls onto his side again and stays like that for the rest of the night.

What the hell, John thinks. He closes his eyes and the sound of Bane breathing—he doesn't snore, but every breath sounds like a forced effort through that mask—is somehow soothing enough to lull him back to sleep. After that John just takes the bed every night.

After all, when Bane finally gets bored enough to make proper use of him, John being a few more yards away isn't going to stop him.

About three weeks after John's arrival, things finally come to a head with the Blackgate conscripts. It happens when Bane leaves John alone on the roof to read while he and Barsad and two of the others discuss things in one of the rooms below, a private meeting. Maybe he does it on purpose; John doesn't know.

They ambush him silently—two of them. One attacks from behind, grabbing John's elbows and lifting him, unable to bring his arms around because of the handcuffs, while the other rushes him from the front.

Instinctively John brings his feet off the ground and kicks out, throwing off the second man, and in the same motion he swings his head back and connects with the other's face. He's dropped unceremoniously, and leaps upright, using his momentum to headbutt the man in front, who is rallying. Blood fountains from the man's nose. John swings around in time to leap back, avoiding a jab from a blade the other one has pulled. The second jab nicks his side, and the man behind him shoves him forward, intending to impale him, but John twists and can't correct in time due to the way his hands are bound.

He overbalances and hits the ground, and knows immediately that it's over. He curls up. They fall on him like wolves on their prey.

A crack of gunfire gets their attention. John dares to glance up and sees Barsad standing there by the doorway to the stairwell, rifle pointed at the sky. Then, like a silent, wrathful god, Bane descends on them.

John curls up again, just to block out the sight and sound of Bane slamming their skulls into the ground and then throwing their bodies off the roof, but Barsad is there in a moment to haul him to his feet.

“Foolish,” he says, in typical laconic fashion, and John doesn't know if Barsad means him or the men.

Bane's mask makes him look, now more than ever, like a snarling animal. His eyes are narrowed when they focus on John.

“I suppose you mourn them as well,” he says bitingly.

John just glares at him, one hand pressed against the cut on his side. Bane brushes past him.

“Patch him up,” he growls, on his way out.

Barsad does just that, dragging John back to Bane's bedroom and leaving him cuffed to the bed again when he's done. It doesn't seem fair, that John should be punished when he didn't do anything wrong. He doesn't feel any safer in here than he did out there. This fact is brought home when Bane arrives that night. Apparently this is one of the nights he'll spend in his room.

He handles John roughly while uncuffing him, and gives him a bottle of water. John sits against the wall and drinks it, watching him carefully.

“You were losing,” Bane says, when a long stretch of silence has passed. “Badly. Do they not teach police officers in Gotham how to fight?”

“There were two of them,” John says, prickling with defensiveness. “They had a weapon.”

“So have you.” Bane spreads his hands, looking down at him mockingly. “Your body.”

“Yeah, well,” John says, snide, “that's true when you're built like a tank, but I'm not quite there yet.”

“If your opponents are bigger and stronger than you then you must be faster than them. You must know where and how to strike so as to incapacitate them as swiftly as possible. That is how Miranda Tate defeated you.” He says her name like it's foreign and sour on his tongue. “Get on your feet.”

John does, because he's feeling reckless and angry. Bane moves closer, until he's looming over him.

“Hit me,” he challenges, “if you can.”

John looks at him. He thinks about how controlled Bane is in his violence, how he never rushes anything. Fast. John can be fast.

He feints and throws a left jab. Bane swats his hand aside without looking away from his face.


John flushes angrily. He circles, Bane turning slowly to follow him. He swings. Bane knocks his arm away and kicks his legs out from under him. John shouts when his injured shoulder hits the floor.

“Get up.”

John breathes for a moment, before Bane drags him up by the scruff. Seizing the opportunity while he's close, John lashes out. Bane catches his fist.

“Your body betrays you by telling me where you intend to strike. You're sloppy and uncoordinated. You have no plan, make no use of my weaknesses.”

“I'd split my hand open,” John gasps, his knees starting to buckle as Bane's hand tightens around his fist. The bones grind together. He imagines Bane crushing his hand into dust, as easily as he'd crushed that man's trachea. He thinks of the sound it made.

Abruptly Bane twists his arm behind his back and shoves him face-first into the wall. John squeezes his eyes shut.

“Would you have killed those men, if you could?”

“No,” John grits out. “I'd have hurt them enough to make them stop. But I couldn't.”

“You think death is the worst thing that can happen to a man,” Bane says, musingly. He's about to wrench John's arm out of its socket again. “Do you not think that to be left alive, suffering, is a worse fate?”

“Anything is better than death,” John wheezes.

Bane, leaning on him, goes still for a moment; and John has a second of terrifying clarity. That weight on the back of his thigh is not Bane's leg, like he'd thought. It's his arousal.

He clamps his eyes shut. Waits for it to happen, because he's too fucking weak to do anything about it. Bane has made his point. Next to him, John is as helpless as a child. It infuriates and terrifies him but fuck, at least the nauseating wait will be over. He pants like a cornered animal.

Slowly, Bane eases his weight off of John's back. He lets go of his arm, and John gasps as sensation returns to his fingers, his wrist badly wrenched. He cradles his arm to his chest, not daring to pick himself up off the wall just yet.

“I see,” Bane says, after a pause.

“See what?” John asks, his voice a ragged whisper. He can hear Bane crossing the room, back to the bed.

“Why Talia chose you,” Bane says. The light goes out.

Bane still doesn't touch him again after that night—not to give him another impromptu lesson in pain or for anything else.

At night John lies there in the dark, baffled, sharing his air, hating him. He thinks his wrist is sprained. He says nothing, but Barsad notices, and binds it for him.

When they leave his handcuffs off one day, he tries to escape while Bane sleeps, willing to take whoever's guarding the stairway. Bane lets him get to the landing this time before intercepting him. John is starved and isolated in the bathroom for three days, and at the end he's forced to eat bread from Bane's hands, to swallow the water Bane trickles past his lips. He gets the message. He is alive because Bane wills it, not because of Miranda Tate. He reverts to his previous plan: listen, learn, and don't be rash. Find out who has the trigger. Take Bane down from the inside if possible.

It's looking more and more impossible by the day. Bane is everywhere. He's not just muscle. He's cunning, maybe smarter than anyone John knows, and impossible to figure out. Why, for instance, is he keeping John here, if he doesn't intend to actually do anything with him?

John is having lunch with Barsad and the other five when one of the two who never speaks English suddenly says in a slow, heavily-accented voice, “How does one so small submit to Bane and not break?” He's staring at John, his eyes narrowed.

Ekene, the young one, says with interest, “You seen Bane with 'is pants off?”

One of the others clears his throat, chewing on a mouthful of crackers, and holds his hands up not a modest length apart. John's mouth is too dry for him to speak. Ekene whistles through his teeth and says, “Like a damn warhorse.”

They all turn and stare at John with something close to awe.

Desperate, John looks to Barsad, the only one not staring at him—and, he senses, somehow, the only one who might know what Bane does or doesn't do with him in the privacy of the bedroom. He has no idea what the right thing to say here is. Barsad answers his silent plea without even looking up.

“Bane hears you talking like that, he'll snap your necks.”

It's enough reminder to quiet the others. They find another topic.

“He's never fucked me,” John blurts out, when Barsad takes him back to the bedroom that evening.

“Perhaps,” Barsad says dryly, after a pause, “you aren't his type.”

“Is he going to? They all seem to think so.”

“Don't worry yourself.” Barsad pats his shoulder before turning to leave. “Don't piss him off.”

This isn't exceptionally reassuring.

He's leading up to some grand finale, John concludes, some big message to Commissioner Gordon, to Batman if he's alive. John knows his days are numbered. Bane is simply waiting for all the pieces to fall into place.

Bane's speaking with Barsad and a couple of others in the penthouse's meeting room when one of his men drags in three cops, their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and makes them kneel. John, from his seat in the corner, recognizes them even in their plain clothes. They look wary and afraid, even more so when they see the brute sitting in the shadows.

Bane glances over them, rises to his feet slowly. “I see we have guests.”

“Police officers,” the guard says, “tailing one of our trucks.”

“And you felt you needed my involvement for this?”

The question is light, cordial, but the guard senses he's made a mistake and shuts his mouth, blanching. Bane's eyes narrow. He turns to the cops.

“Well, gentlemen,” he says, addressing them, “I will do you the courtesy of offering you a choice. I can send you to Crane's courtroom or I can kill you now.”

“Fuck you,” one of them says boldly. Just like John had done at the start. The guard slams the butt of his rifle into the man's stomach, doubling him over, and John can't watch this.

“Wait,” he says, getting to his feet.

“Make your choice,” Bane says, ignoring him.

“I said wait!

John surges forward, until he's at Bane's side, close enough to touch him. “Don't. Don't kill them.”

“Blake,” one of the cops whispers. John refuses to look at them. Bane turns his head slowly until he's looking down at John.

“I don't recall asking for your opinion.”

“Let them go,” John says, breathing hard.

“Your sentimentality is what makes you weak,” Bane says. “It will be your downfall. Take them to Crane,” he says to the guard.

“No.” John gets in his way when he turns to walk away, and a dangerous light flickers in Bane's eyes. John hurtles on anyway, rashly. “What do you want for them?”

“You have nothing to bargain with,” Bane says scornfully.

John thinks of Bane pinning him against that wall, the heat and weight against his thigh, and says recklessly, “I can suck you.”

Bane stares, unblinking, at him. John forces himself to stare back. It's gotten easier, with time. His heart pounds in his ears, hectic and loud.

The guard starts to move, and stills when Bane raises one hand without looking away.

“Would you,” he says, in a low, questioning almost-purr.

John nods. His mouth is dry.

“Blake,” the cop says, louder.

Bane turns away, suddenly, and paces the width of the room. His voice is booming. “Do you believe Gotham deserves to be saved, Blake?”

“Yes,” John says, with fierce, quiet conviction. Bane turns to face them again, clearly enjoying this.

“Then you, colleagues of John Blake, have a new choice to make. I can kill you, or you can watch this man sell his body to me to keep you alive for another few weeks.”

The cops kneel there in miserable silence. The oldest of them is the first to speak. “Just do it,” he says, looking at John. The third cop nods. At last, so does the one who'd spoken his name, slowly.

Bane is back at John's side in a flash to grip his jaw tightly, fingers digging in with bruising force. “We have a deal, then. If you can bring me to climax, I will let your three friends live. You can, of course,” he adds, changing his tone to one of lilting geniality, “stop this any time you please, John.”

John clenches his fists, swallows the queasy knot in his throat and feels it slide down to settle in the pit of his stomach. This was going to happen sooner or later. He'd rather here and now than later, in Bane's room, being forced to the bed and taken. He just wishes the other people weren't in the room. Barsad is the only one who looks disinterested in how this goes, though he is smiling to himself, as if at some private joke.

Bane sits, spreading his thighs. He lounges on the chair like an indolent panther, all his strength hidden away, ready to explode to the surface at a moment's notice. John walks to him numbly, kneels on the floor. Bane fingers a strand of his hair briefly, a startlingly careful gesture out of place in this tableau. Then he sits back.

John has to work to get him out of his pants, his fingers slipping repeatedly on nothing. He's not used to Bane being this still or this quiet. He's aware with every passing second of just how close they are, that Bane could reach down at any moment and grab him by the throat. Finally his cuffed hands find Bane's cock, draw it out of his pants.

Even limp as he is now, Bane is impossibly huge. John had known, really, but it's only brought home now, when he's preparing to put it in his mouth. He takes deep, shaky breaths, his hands trembling just a little.

Bane's hand catches him by the chin again, forcing him to look up. His eyes glitter malevolently.

“There is no gun to your head,” he reminds John.

But there is one to the three cops behind him. John glares, steeling himself. Evidently satisfied by what he sees in John's eyes, Bane grunts and lets him go.

One orgasm in exchange for three lives is a pretty good deal, John tells himself as he tentatively lets his tongue touch Bane's skin. It sends a shudder through him all the same. John's never done this; has been paid by others to have his dick sucked, once or twice when he was young and desperate, maybe let them slip a finger or two in his ass while they sucked him if they were into that, but that's as far as he's gone with another man. This is brand new to him, and pretty intimidating. He wraps both hands around the base of the shaft, holding it up to his mouth, because Bane's not erect yet. The skin is surprisingly soft, blood-hot to the touch, stirring with each pulse.

John strokes him, at first, and can't help admiring the way the foreskin rolls with his hand, dragging back just enough to reveal the tip of the head on each downstroke. Bane is silent, patient with his ineptitude, starting to grow hard in John's hands. Encouraged, John leans down, puts his mouth over the tip, and even this stretches his lips. He forces himself to go further until there's a good inch in his mouth—then, daringly, thinks to try to put his tongue inside the foreskin, seek out the glans that way. He finds it with the tip of his tongue, sucks as if he can coax it out of hiding, and Bane growls softly. He's definitely hard now.

Once he can get past the unique flavour of salt-sweat-musk, and the stretch of his mouth, John is better able to break this down into impersonal, clinical motions. Lick, suck, stroke. Repeat ad nauseum. He thinks about what he likes, thinks Bane would like it rough, and he digs his fingers in, drags his tongue up and down harshly, sometimes nipping and scraping with his teeth. Bane's thighs, like tree trunks on either side of him, flex ever so slightly. Everyone in the room is silent; there's nothing to be heard except the humiliating sounds that escape John's mouth, and his brief gasps for breath.

Bane doesn't seem to dislike it—he isn't stopping or correcting John—but after ten minutes or so, John is starting to flounder. He switches up the pattern now and then, experiments. He plunges into this like he does everything else, taking more and more of Bane's cock into his mouth each time. His breathing grows more laboured and the sounds he's making are wetter, sloppier as he inhales Bane's cock and squeezes his eyes shut, now focusing on the taste. It's so...


But he's struggling before long. His jaw muscles are starting to burn. He's never used them like this before. He pushes himself to keep going and wonders how long it's been. What the fuck is it going to take to make Bane come? He lifts his eyes to Bane's face, just for a second, and finds that he's not even paying attention. He's staring at the wall over John's head, arms sprawled over the back of the chair.

At first, John was dreading the spill of semen into his mouth. Now he attacks Bane's cock like he needs it to breathe, desperate to wring an orgasm out of him. Please, please. He turns inward, goes numb to everything else. There's just the push and pull of his mouth on Bane. His hand cramps; he switches to the hand with the sprain and it hurts too much. His jaw is stiff. His tongue feels swollen and dry. He sucks like he's starved for it, like he's been doing this his whole life (and it's starting to feel like he has), but the knowledge is settling into his bones, inexorable.

It's not going to happen. He's been played.

He loses track of time. It feels like it's been an hour but, in reality, has probably only been thirty minutes when Bane touches the side of his face, startling him. John abruptly recovers his senses, and realizes what a spectacle he's making of himself. His mouth is swollen; tears are running down his face. Every breath comes out a sob. His knees on the floor are numb, beyond pain, and the ache in his jaw is agonizing.

“Enough,” says Bane.

And John knows he's beaten.

He sits there on the floor, gasping raggedly for breath, while Bane stands without self-consciousness and tucks himself away.

“Your efforts are not unappreciated,” Bane says. Mocking him. “One may live, to scurry home to Gordon and tell him his Detective Blake is still alive, and how far he's fallen. The other two will die.”

No, John tries to shout, but no sound comes out. He can't work his tongue and jaw.

The guard fires once. Twice.

John flinches both times.

“Take him down to the street and let him go,” Bane says, and the guard hauls the remaining, shell-shocked cop to his feet, spattered with the blood of his fellows, and drags him away.

Bane rests a boot on the back of one of the dead cops, the older one, who'd spoken out in favour of John sucking off the mercenary to save their lives. He waits until John has dragged his gaze up to Bane's face.

“Do you still believe Gotham deserves to be saved, Blake?” Bane inquires.

Then he walks out of the room, followers at his heels, leaving John shivering on the floor with tears still leaking from his eyes.

That night, Bane takes the handcuffs away. John isn't going anywhere.

MAY NEE ACK UL LEE LAUGHING BRIDGE24_centuries on November 4th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)

akalilLynakalillyn on November 4th, 2012 04:39 am (UTC)

^-^kamikaze_bunny on November 11th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
I found the prompt for this and followed the link and found out the author was you!!!!! I'm so super excited to read this! Aughhh, you're such a fantastic author--thank you for continuing to write :D
First Battalion Transvestite Brigade: sponge and pat happyrabbitsix on November 23rd, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
So good, I can't even post a properly appreciative comment. You're wonderful.
loismurrayloismurray on September 7th, 2013 04:00 am (UTC)
good one
loiscrumleyloiscrumley on September 8th, 2013 08:42 am (UTC)
animedubbedonlianimedubbedonli on September 9th, 2013 11:23 am (UTC)
nativemedianativemedia on September 25th, 2013 07:33 am (UTC)
very nice