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03 November 2012 @ 10:28 pm
No Holds Barred, pt. IV  
Title: No Holds Barred
Pairing: Bane/John Blake
Words: ~10,000 [/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 one, two, three, five, six



***
Circumstances keep Bane at City Hall overnight. It's upsetting, because he's already itching to touch Blake's body again.

Being at City Hall makes him feel closer to Talia, but for once it's not a comfort. His instincts nag at him that he shouldn't have left Blake alone, even in Barsad's care. Blake is in no shape to take care of himself, not after what Bane did to him. More and more, he regrets leaving. Will Blake know it was duty that pulled him away, not a whim?

His own concern amuses him, when he thinks about it. He's curiously fond of Blake. It's an interesting feeling. It's different from his love for Talia. Surveying Blake's body the next morning, mottled with bruises, he'd felt a tinge of guilt. He hadn't felt that when he'd dislocated Blake's shoulder or sprained his wrist, even though he hadn't meant to do those things either. Blake does strange things to him.

When at last he returns to the tower, it's with a foreboding sense of having been proven right. There's a cluster of men on the street outside the doors. Nadeem is barring the way: standing across from him, James Gordon.

“Take me to Bane,” Gordon is shouting. Rallied around him are some pistol-wielding men, presumably part of the resistance, and they guard five men who Bane recognizes as his own. Hostages, he surmises, intrigued. His own men are flocked around the doors, rifles trained on the policemen.

They relax when they see Bane walking up. He waves a hand, and they lower their weapons. The cops, swiveling to face him, do not. He recognizes one as the police officer he let go: the man's hands are shaking.

“Ex-Commissioner Gordon,” Bane says congenially, bringing his hands up to clasp the straps of his vest. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“You know damn well what we want,” Gordon says hotly. When Bane simply raises his eyebrows, Gordon says, “John Blake, Bane. Bring him here!”

Bane squints up at the high-rise, affecting disinterest. “Blake is otherwise occupied.”

“We're not playing games here!” Gordon barks. “We took five of your men as hostages. They've been treated well. That's more than you can say for Blake. I want an exchange, these five for my man.”

Bane looks at his men. Their hands are tied behind their backs and each bears an expression of stoicism. They won't have told Gordon anything, if he bothered to interrogate them. Bane gives them a nod of faint praise, then looks up to the rooftop of the opposite building, where he knows Barsad will already be in place with a few others. He raises a hand.

Barsad is the best sharpshooter in Bane's army; he doesn't miss. Five cracks of gunfire split the street and the cops lunge to cover Gordon. It's the hostages who fall, a bloody bullethole in each man's head, one after the other without a sound or struggle.

“I have many more men,” Bane says, turning back to Gordon, who is warily lowering an arm away from his face. “I have only one of Blake. I find your offer unsatisfactory and I decline.”

“Are you going to kill us?” Gordon demands.

“Kill you?” says Bane, with an expression of incredulity. “To do so would make you a martyr, Gordon. Of course not. I intend to let you leave, with your tail between your legs.”

Gordon does. He has no choice. Bane lets his hands drop away from his vest and watches the cops straggle away empty-handed.

“Clean these up,” he says to no one in particular, nudging a corpse with the toe of his boot. Several men move to obey at once.

He's still watching the retreating cops when Barsad appears at his side, rifle slung over his shoulder.

“What did they want?”

“Blake,” says Bane. He turns and enters the building. “I need to see him.”

“There was some trouble this morning,” Barsad says, keeping pace with him. “He was involved.”

As he says this, another wave of concern rolls over Bane. He growls, pushing Barsad impatiently out of the way. “Move.”

Barsad follows him into the elevator despite this indication of Bane's mood. He presses the button to ascend, then says, “Some of the men took advantage of your absence to take liberties with him.”

Bane is practically snarling with impatience as the elevator glides serenely past each floor. “Is he hurt?”

“He fought well,” Barsad says. “I was in another room; I was there within seconds. He's a little scraped—and a little shaken, I think. He took a knife to the arm. But he did well, considering how many there were.”

“Where are they now?”

“Upstairs. I killed the one who knifed him.”

It's more of an effort to drag each breath into his lungs when Bane is breathing hard like this, enraged. He shouldn't have left. He should have known the animals that surround him would try to despoil Blake.

There are six battered-looking men bound and gagged on their knees on the living room floor when Bane steps off the elevator. Four are Blackgate conscripts, but two are Bane's own men. “Bring any man you can find here,” Bane orders Barsad, who nods.

Forcing himself to take calming breaths, Bane walks past the prisoners and down the steps to the bedroom. He finds Blake lying on one of the couches with a book in hand, the kitten asleep on his belly.

“Hey,” Blake says warily, looking up. “Welcome back.”

A bruise circles one of his eyes; another has bloomed over his jaw. Bane didn't put those there. He clenches his fists repeatedly, and can tell by the way Blake shies from him slightly that he's starting to frighten the detective.

He turns and starts to head back up the stairs.

“Hey—wait, wait!” Blake is up, dumping the kitten on the couch and sprinting after him. There's a stiffness in his stride that would otherwise have given Bane satisfaction. He gets in Bane's way. “You don't have to kill them.”

“They hurt you.”

“Yeah, not as much as you did.”

Bane bats him aside angrily. He doesn't need the reminder. “Men like that never learn. Death is the only thing that stops them.”

“Look,” Blake says, forcing himself into Bane's path again, “you're a killer, I get that, it's who you are. But you kill those guys, then you're killing them for me. I don't want to be dragged into this.”

“They dragged you into it.”

“I know this is what Talia would have asked you do to,” Blake says, grabbing his arm. “But I'm not Talia. Okay?”

He glares up into Bane's face, reckless and proud and stubborn. Bane lifts a hand, hesitates, then touches his thumb to the dark bruise under Blake's eye gingerly. Blake's eyelids flutter shut for a moment, his tongue appearing to wet his lips.

“I didn't mean to hurt you,” Bane says.

“I know you didn't.”

He presses his thumb to the corner of Blake's mouth, just for a moment. Blake's lips are slightly chapped, but soft, prettily shaped. If Bane were at all a sentimental man—

He pushes that thought out of mind, gently moves Blake out of his way and heads up the stairs. Blake follows him.

Barsad has rounded up every nearby man. Bane doesn't waste time on pleasantries.

“Some of you are having trouble understanding what belongs to me.” Every eye in the room is fixed on him. Bane lets the sound of his forced breathing fill the silence for a moment before he continues coolly, “John Blake is mine.”

He has a hand at the small of Blake's back. He can feel Blake looking up at him, uncertain.

“He belongs to me.” Bane moves his hand from Blake's back to his shoulder. With one swift push, he shoves Blake onto his knees at Bane's side. Blake makes a sharp, startled sound when his knees hit the floor. “He submits only to me,” Bane growls.

“Fuck you,” Blake hisses, trying to struggle upright.

“Only I may touch him.” Bane lets go of Blake and strolls forward. Men fall back, while behind him, he hears Blake scramble to his feet, breathing hard. “If you lay a hand on him ...”

Bane stops in front of one of the prisoners. He hoists the man to his feet and slashes his bonds.

“Be prepared to lose that hand,” he finishes, and with one hand he grinds the man's bones into splintery pulp. The man howls, and crumples to the floor when Bane does the same to the other hand. He writhes there, screaming in pain.

Bane turns.

“Do we understand now?”

There's an immediate rumble of assent.

“Do the same to the rest of them,” Bane tells Barsad, gesturing to the prisoners. Barsad nods, and goes forward to do his business. As the sound of crunching bones and screaming (“Please, fuck, I didn't know!”) fills the room, Blake vanishes back into the bedroom.

The other men trickle out, as well. Bane stays to watch the punishment carried out. Once it's done, he follows Blake to the bedroom, orders the guards away, and closes the door behind him.

Blake is seated on the couch, petting his cat.

“Thanks a lot for that,” he snaps, sardonic and angry. “That's really gonna make them respect me.”

Bane walks to him. The cat leaps off the couch, bristling, and runs for cover. Sensible creature. Bane doesn't falter; he drags Blake up off the couch and picks him up, backing him into the wall with a thud. Blake yelps, shoving at his chest.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Bane just growls, and presses the mask to Blake's neck.

Blake falls tense and unusually silent, and allows Bane to keep his face there, breathing in and pretending he can smell Blake's warm skin. It's easy to hold Blake up with one arm; Bane takes the other away and shoves a hand up under his shirt, spreading his fingers over Blake's chest to feel his heartbeat. Blake tries to lean away, has nowhere to go, and submits to this touch, panting. Bane wishes his mouth were free, just for a moment, so that he could bite a ring of possessive marks around Blake's neck to claim him.

At last, he pulls his hand away and lifts his head.

“They will never respect you,” he says. “It doesn't matter how much you learn from Barsad. If you refuse to kill your enemies, you will always have a dozen at your back.”

“I'm not a killer,” says Blake steadily.

“Then they will never fear you. Yesterday there were seven, and Barsad was there to pull them off you. What if he isn't there tomorrow, when there are ten? You may dislike it, but until you are willing to protect yourself properly, the best way I can protect you is to claim you.”

“So I'm your prison bitch now?”

Bane backs away from the wall, walks him to the bed and tosses him onto it when he's close enough. Blake sits upright, glaring, but a second later Bane is there, crawling over him, pressing him flat with one hand on his chest.

“You can't—” Blake squirms. “I—hey, stop for a second!” Bane does, and Blake, pulling in quick breaths, says, “I'm still sore, I thought—I thought the other night was a ... one-time thing.”

Bane sits back. Blake's face is flushed; he determinedly avoids Bane's gaze.

“I see,” says Bane.

“I didn't think... It took you like an hour to come. You really want to do it again?”

“Not if you're so unwilling,” Bane says bitingly.

“Hey, I didn't hate it,” Blake says, struggling to sit up while Bane is still straddling him. “I'm just—that's the first time I've ever done that, okay? It was a lot to handle. I just need some recovery time.”

“I don't want to hurt you,” Bane says. But some of his irritation leaves him at the earnestness in Blake's tone, and he says, “May I touch you?”

Blake stares at him like he can't believe Bane is asking this after grabbing him up and pinning him against a wall and throwing him onto the bed. Then Bane rolls a hand lightly over Blake's crotch, and he shivers.

“You are safe here,” Bane says firmly.

“Okay,” Blake says softly. “Just go easy.”

Bane makes him lie there while he takes off his own coat and boots, then he strips Blake of every scrap of clothing. Blake is still trying to be annoyed, and he's amusingly bashful when Bane is clothed and he's not. Bane hates the bandage on his arm. He examines it, then rolls Blake onto his belly, ignoring the way Blake instinctively moves away from his touch.

“Let me see,” Bane admonishes. Blake hides his face in the sheets, and Bane pries his legs apart carefully. His hole is red and abused.

“You were right. The guards heard us,” Blake says petulantly, muffled in the sheets. “Your friends are real nice. They told Barsad to take off my pants and stitch me up.”

He's trying to sound cool, but it doesn't work. Bane trails a hand down his spine several times. “You should have stayed in my room,” he says, regretting that Blake was so humiliated.

“I was hungry.” With his face still buried, Blake doesn't see Bane reaching for the lube. “You know, Barsad warned me not to seduce you.”

“Barsad is a mother hen.” Bane slicks one finger, stretching himself out over Blake's back; then he traces it around Blake's hole.

Blake squirms away at once, trying to twist over. “Stop. I can't,” he says, trying to use his stern police voice. He's about as intimidating as a small dog.

“Relax,” Bane says impatiently. “I said I wouldn't hurt you.”

Blake searches his face carefully, what little he can see of it.

“Okay,” he says at last. And he lies back down.

Bane understands, suddenly, that he is being entrusted with something precious. He strokes Blake's back a few more times.

“Relax,” he says again.

He slides his finger in slowly. Blake makes a soft sound underneath him.

“In the pit,” Bane says quietly, close to Blake's ear, “men were expected to live out the rest of their lives with only one another for company. If you were small and soft ... if you showed weakness ... then you were less than a man, and treated as such. Sometimes a prisoner knew how he would fare, and he would take it upon himself to seek out a protector, or else a man might claim him, offer protection in exchange for the ignominy of being called his wife.”

“Is that what I am?” Blake asks, his ears pink, eyes half closed. Bane eases a second finger in and hushes him.

“I grew up to the sound of those men being claimed nightly,” he continues. “A man could do as he pleased with his wife. He had the power to make him scream out in pain ... or, sometimes, to make him sing with pleasure ...”

He knows he's doing this correctly when the tips of his fingers come across a small knot inside Blake's body, and it makes him shudder and mewl like a wounded animal, his hands clenching up fistfuls of the sheets.

Ah—”

“Every man in the pit would have wanted you,” Bane says. “They would have lined up to take you.”

“What—what would you have done about it?” Blake puffs out, caught between shying away from Bane's fingers and pressing himself back onto them.

“I'd have fought every last one of them to the death,” Bane says darkly, “and I'd have rutted you in the drying pools of their blood.”

Blake manages a weak laugh. “Romantic.”

Bane strokes again, and Blake arches his back with another full-body shiver.

“God,” he gasps, mouth falling open. He falls limp, trembling, when Bane does it again. “Fuck ...”

“You are not my wife,” Bane says in his ear. “But you do belong to me. Know that.”

Blake makes little gasping, ragged sounds, clenching and squirming around Bane's fingers. Bane goes as slowly and carefully as he can, letting the pads of his fingers skirt around that spot over and over. Blake's sensitivity is a surprise; he's afraid of accidentally hurting him again. So he skims and teases and watches how Blake reacts, how his body flushes all over and he arches back into Bane's touch and then flinches away. He claws up handfuls of bedding, muffles his moans in the sheets.

“Does that feel good?” Bane asks.

“God, I don't know.” Blake has his eyes squeezed shut. He rocks against the sheets, trying to find friction, and Bane realizes he must be erect. “Feels ... ahh ...”

One last twisting stroke of Bane's fingers and Blake arches again, shuddering against him with a strangled shout. He pulls away from Bane almost at once, gasping. Satisfied with this reaction, Bane slips a hand into his own pants, strokes himself for a bit, and then just watches Blake.

When he's recovered, stretched out flat on his belly, Blake rests his cheek on one of the pillows. His eyes are wet; he's beautiful. For the second time that day Bane wishes he could kiss him, and he's almost glad the mask is there to prevent him, so that he wouldn't have to see Blake flinch away. The exchange of pleasure is a simple dance that even Bane can navigate, but such intimacy is more complicated.

He lets his thumb brush Blake's eyelashes. Blake rouses himself.

“I'd still stop you from destroying Gotham if I could,” he says.

“I know that your allegiance hasn't changed.”

“You can't just fuck me into being on your side.”

“I would be disappointed in you if I could.”

Blake pauses, as though there's something he's gathering himself to say. What comes out after a moment, though, is, “I think Barsad's your wife.”

Amused, Bane rolls him over onto his back, just because he can. “He would hurt you badly if he heard you say so.”

Blake chuckles, pulling his own mask back on. “Can I have my clothes back now?”

“No. I prefer you this way.”

Blake punches him in the stomach. Bane almost sort of feels it.


***
It's sad, in hindsight, that once Bane teaches John the pleasure that can come with being receptive, they only have three days together to enjoy it.


*
The routine changes.

In the morning, John wakes up (usually well after Bane has gotten up and left), showers, has a quick meal, and spends the rest of the morning working on jujutsu with Barsad, struggling pathetically to overcome his soreness from the nights previous. Barsad is patient, fortunately. John asks him outright one morning if he's the triggerman, just to feel like he's still doing something for his team. Barsad smiles.

“The trigger is in the hands of a citizen of Gotham. I'm the next biggest target to Bane. Why would I have it?”

This is how John finally surmises that the trigger is actually not in the tower at all. He could scream in frustration.

The thing is, he's not even trying to escape.

The guards leer at him. Bane's men ridicule him when he limps out to the roof with Barsad, laugh about Bane punishing him for getting himself knifed. But he doesn't want to try to leave. He's not afraid of hurting Bane's feelings, or anything. It's not that. He thinks Bane would understand if John had the chance to escape, and took it.

He's just ... actually, fairly content where he is. And more importantly, he feels ... safe with Bane. He says to himself that he's still gathering intelligence, that this is not Stockholm syndrome, he does not empathize with Bane or have any desire to see his plan acted out. He's just not getting the kind of intelligence that Gordon might find useful—and he's definitely not employing any methods of questioning that the GPD would consider above the board.

The afternoon is spent alone with Harvey and his books. Evening and night belong to Bane.

He and Bane spend a lot of time talking, over those three days. Harvey grows so accustomed to it that she's able to sit in John's lap while they talk as long as Bane is a comfortable distance away; but he soon finds that Bane prefers to be on the bed with John's head in his lap. It's a terrifying position to be in, at first. There's something awfully vulnerable about prostrating himself like that. But it's a little late by now to get shy; and he very quickly starts to find it—comforting, rather than scary. He realizes very soon that Bane has all these little fascinations that he can't seem to get enough of: John's mouth, and the reassuring rhythm of his heartbeat, and his hair. He likes to stroke his fingers through John's hair over and over as if he's a lapdog. It's strangely soothing.

And he likes to hear John talk. He asks question after question until John's answers start to bleed together into an exhaustive unbroken narrative, until he loses breath and trails off, and Bane asks him a new one.

John tells him about growing up in Gotham. He tells Bane about his father and the constant struggle to make ends meet and the murder that made an orphan out of him. He tells Bane more about the foster homes, how people oozed sympathy and compassion until John grew from a troubled kid to an angry, suddenly-not-so-cute teenager, and how the sympathy dried up fast. How he finally found a channel in beating up bullies, and decided it was only logical to make a career out of that.

He talks about the city's transformation under the combined influence of Batman and Harvey Dent. He talks about the police force and how maddening it is that nobody ever wants to listen to him, how he'd have gone nowhere if Gordon hadn't noticed him. He talks about growing up watching Batman on the news and only ever wanting to be like him. How all the other boys in the home revered Batman, sure, but only John knew what really drove him, and he cherished this small connection.

Bane listens, and pets him, and says nothing.

It's a while before he opens up, too, and John cracks him inadvertently. He offers to give Bane another massage, since he's getting tired of talking, and maybe this will relax Bane enough that he won't feel like having sex afterward. It sort of works, at first. After just a few minutes of this, all the tension is starting to seep out of Bane's massive frame. Then he starts to talk.

He'll only talk about the pit. John figures out why when he notices a pattern: Bane isn't lying, but he only tells John the things he thinks John will like to hear. It's sort of endearing, in a way. The pit is the only place where Bane considers he's ever been a good man, so it's the only part of his life he'll reveal to John.

It amounts to a lot of talk about Talia. Contrary to what he expects, John finds that it's not quickly tiring. Barsad was right: Bane is not in love with Talia. He loves her, in the all-consuming way that a parent loves their own child. No parent could love a child more than Bane loves Talia. He doesn't have to say it—it's in his voice when he says her name, even mechanized and warped by the mask.

John learns that when Bane says he was born in the pit, he's being figurative. Bane was sent down into the pit before his memory reaches to live out the life sentence of a father he didn't know, for a crime Bane didn't commit. He was raised by guards, inasmuch as they gave him food and water and clothing. They kept him apart from the prison populace, to protect him, but this meant he was left alone in a cell for much of the day, without human touch or company, just the elusive circle of blue sky above. He was integrated before he was ten, by which age he could stab and maim any man who sought to take advantage of him. He grew up having no friends in the pit, no knowledge of the outside world except what other prisoners could tell him, and little interest in this. He could fight and kill and read and meditate and these four things took up most of his life.

And then (he says, and his tone changes so suddenly that John, who's completely forgotten what he's doing, is startled out of the pit and back to reality for a moment) there was Talia's mother. She was beautiful. She was locked away from the general population. Bane would sit next to the bars of her cell and he came to know her and Talia this way. And when their cell door was left unlocked by the guards, and the men stormed in like animals, it was Bane who swept in and gathered Talia into his arms. It was Bane who raised Talia with as much knowledge of the world as he could impart, instructing her in how to defend herself, bartering with other prisoners in exchange for them teaching Talia to speak their tongues, so that she would have the best chance possible on the outside when he was able to free her.

He stops abruptly. John waits for him to keep going, but he doesn't.

“You did it,” John prompts gently. “You saved her.”

“Yes,” Bane says.

He's quiet again. John waits.

Then Bane rolls over carefully, and John moves aside. “There are many nights when I dream I'm there,” Bane says slowly, “in the dark, without her ... in agony every second of the day. I can barely walk or move ... I can't speak, even to beg for a blade between my ribs. And I don't know if she is alive or dead.”

I have no mouth, and I must scream,” John says softly.

Bane looks at him sharply, with so much wretched understanding reflected in his eyes that it does something funny to John's chest, just then.

Panic ignites itself a second later, like the thrashing of bird wings against his ribs. What are they doing here? What right does Bane have to humanize himself to John like this? Why is John even listening to him? Nothing he says excuses the crimes he's committed; saving one child's life does not account for the no-doubt hundreds he's taken...

Bane rests on a hand on his chest, where John's heart beats. John takes a deep breath, feeling calm steal over him.

Then Bane is moving away, and saying speculatively, “Why do you continue to visit the boys' home?”, and John understands that Bane is done talking about himself.

Bane notes one day that the book John is rereading, about a boy and a tiger lost at sea together, is an adequate metaphor for John's own situation, and this strikes John as not untrue. He is not Bane's friend, nor has he tamed or changed him. It was always in Bane to develop something of a blind spot for John; that's why Talia gave John to him, not that she would understand that. John's morals make him a rarity in Bane's world. They make him, somehow, innocent.

Bane likes innocent things. Unlike Talia, he never outgrew this quality.


*
They talk in the evening. At night, they fuck.

Having been introduced to his prostate, John is determined to make better acquaintance with it. He should say no, because every night he's still sore from the last time. He tries to put it off, to satisfy Bane with hands and mouth first, so that he can still indulge his own curiosity. But then Bane wants to touch him, and it makes John so insanely hard and wanting that he can't stop himself.

Bane seems to derive endless entertainment from the fact that John is so much smaller and lighter than him, and yet still fights him for dominance. Maybe because he's surrounded by so many die-hard followers—any of Bane's men, if ordered, would submit to him; probably even Barsad, unless he were ordered to put up a good fight (and that would be something to see). Bane gives over at first; he lets John get on top and ride him, patient and indulgent while John gasps and winces through it. Once John adjusts, he finds a good rhythm, figures out how to twist his hips just so every time he fucks down onto Bane's cock so that the head strokes his prostate deliciously. It's usually not long after his first orgasm that Bane gets bored of letting John take the lead, flips him over onto his back and starts pounding him into the mattress, no matter how John struggles and fights him. (If John's being honest, he does it just for the thrill of being held down.)

No one had to teach Bane how to fuck. John's no judge of gay sex, but he'd say they're doing pretty damn good. Bane alternates deep and painful with short and quick thrusts, and he mimics John's movements to bring himself into contact with John's prostate, milking it relentlessly once he's found it. There's usually a lot of tears and sweat and groaning and a second orgasm by the time Bane is near to spending himself.

He shoves John around because it pleases him, covers John's body in bruises, leaves him wrung out and positively glowing with pain every night. John should be running for the hills, screaming all the way.

And still, he stays right where he is.

(Every now and then, of course, he has a little crisis and remembers exactly what he's doing. Lots of guys enjoy a little ass-play, but there is definitely no justifiable excuse for letting an insane terrorist fuck him every night. “I'm not into guys,” John says lamely one night; and Bane, balls-deep inside him already and holding John's wrists above his head, only laughs at him and says, “Does it matter, when your body accommodates me so nicely either way?”

“Just barely,” John gasps.)

For three nights they do this. The mask doesn't come off again. Bane knows what to expect now, and he controls his breathing as he fucks John. There's no temptation to attack him, even if John had the will. They're way past that point now.

They're almost ... comfortable. And their situation could have gone on indefinitely; but it changes again abruptly.

The night before John gets shot, he's woken from a deep, sound coma by Bane suddenly pulling him close with a guttural animal sound, mantling over him like a dog over a bone. Then he relaxes, his grip on John not so urgent.

“I see you found some use for him,” a voice in the dark says, sweet and accented. “Hello, John.”

It's Talia, perched at the edge of the bed. Panic tears through John. He opens his mouth to speak, and suddenly Bane's hand slides over his throat, squeezing just hard enough to cut off airflow. He's still looking at Talia.

“Are you pleased?”

“Very,” she whispers. When John focuses on her, there are actual tears in her eyes. “I knew he would be good for you. Didn't I?”

Bane releases John. He gulps air soundlessly, understanding that this was a warning not to speak. He still shoves at Bane angrily for it. Bane sits up, easily trapping John's wrists and pinning him down at his side.

“Why are you here?”

“I wanted to see you ... and John. Gordon misses you,” she says to John. His chest gives a pang. “But he forgets you more every day. Help isn't coming for you.”

She wants to see his reaction to this bit of hope being snuffed out. John looks away.

“He knows he isn't going anywhere,” Bane says dismissively. “He's been taught.”

“But he still hopes. Look at him.” She smiles at Bane, eyes glittering in the dark. “Would you take him right now? I want to see how prettily he squirms.”

Revulsion hits John hard. She really is different from Bane, for all that he claims their ideals are the same. John sees her now, as if for the first time. He could never see her through Bane's eyes. She's sick. Ugly. The monster is not the one holding him down. It's the one who smiles so beautifully at him now, as if he's a child in need of comfort.

If ever Talia was innocent, then her innocence died a long time ago.

Bane lets go of him. John curls up immediately, bracing to defend himself, but Bane doesn't touch him again.

“I've had him already tonight,” he says dismissively. “He needs to be used sparingly. Otherwise I'll damage him, and have no use for him at all.”

“Maybe he needs to learn. Look how he resists you.”

Bane rolls out of bed suddenly, and starts pulling on his pants. “We can talk elsewhere. John Blake isn't going anywhere.”

They go up to the living room together, leaving John in the bed, unsettled and alone. Only then does he remember what Barsad said—she will want to see you damaged and afraid—and he knows he hasn't satisfied Talia yet. She may be pleased to see Bane, at long last, taking comfort from John; but it's not enough. She knows John isn't broken yet.

His mind works frantically. If Talia figures out the nature of his and Bane's relationship, he'll be dead. He knows it. She has some plan for him, and this is not it.

So what the hell happens now?

When Bane returns, alone, John says, “What did she say?”

“Nothing that concerns you.”

“She wanted you to fuck me in front of her. She wants you to break my spirit, and she knows you haven't. That concerns me.”

“You are mine to do with as I please,” Bane says carelessly as he gets back into bed. “She knows that.”

No,” John says impatiently. He finally understands why Barsad was trying to warn him. “I really don't think she's done.”

“Do you think Talia controls me?” Bane asks coolly.

“I think you're blind to how dangerous she is.”

“I know she's dangerous.”

“To me, Bane,” John says. Bane is silent, and John doesn't know how to voice his fears. I'm worried you can't protect me from her.

I'm worried you
won't protect me from her.

“You have nothing to fear,” Bane says finally, “except the bomb.”

That's when John knows, and the knowledge settles in his stomach, a hard sickly knot. He has to get out of here.


*
The roof is the way to do it.

John wakes up in the middle of the night with this knowledge, rooted deep and sure inside him, and almost at once falls back into sleep.

The next time he wakes, it's in a warm, borderline smothering embrace. A tight fist strokes up and down his cock and John moans wantonly, his back arching. Bane's touch makes him shudder, but not the way it used to. He pushes helplessly into Bane's hot fist, aching for it, even though he came three times last night.

“Good,” Bane praises him, low and deep in his ear. John can feel the metal tubing and warm exhalations of the mask against the back of his neck. He presses himself back into Bane, relieved to find no erection there. Bane is touching him for the sake of John's pleasure, not his own.

“I think you overestimate my virility,” John says hoarsely. “Just because you can only come once a day ...”

“And yet your body aches for me every time.”

It's true. His balls are already swollen and throbbing with the need for release. He allows it; he gives in to it, with no reservations for once. This will be his last time with Bane, it's already decided. He may as well enjoy it. Bane uses the precome he's leaking copiously as slick, easing the drag of his palm. John curls up around his pillow, breathing hard, and it only takes an expert flick of the wrist for Bane to make him spurt onto the sheets. He shivers through it, all his soreness from the night before starting to seep back into his muscles.

Bane drags his fingers through the warm mess on the sheets, curious, and then brings his fingers to John's lips. John, half asleep, doesn't think about it in time; he parts his lips obediently, and the taste of his own come is a shock. He twists away. Bane pulls him down onto his back, patiently gathers some more onto his fingertips, and offers again. Equal parts repulsed and intrigued, John lets his tongue flicker out for another taste. It's not the worst. He opens his mouth reluctantly, and the look in Bane's eyes as John laps and sucks at his fingers is positively reverent.

John pushes away again, firm this time, and Bane lets him go.

“Sleep,” he says, swiping his clean thumb over John's eyebrow. “Don't think about last night. I'll be nearby.”

So he knows that Talia's visit rattled John. John just nods, watches him dress and leave. Harvey comes out of hiding to bat around a broken tennis ball John found.

He gets up and goes straight to the shower. He won't be able to fall asleep again, he knows that. He needs to think about how he's going to get out of here; the sooner the better.

The idea returns to him while he's washing away the remnants of last night: the roof. Before now he's considered the elevator to be the only way out of here, and even if the whole penthouse weren't guarded, the elevator always is.

There's no way down. It seems the only way out is up.

He waits for Barsad to collect him, and goes through training as normally as he can. Barsad is good about not remarking on his stiffer stride, even if he shows no mercy. When they're done, for once, John stays on the roof with him. Barsad seems surprised but doesn't comment. He sits with John and starts mending a couple tears in his vest with thread and needle from one of his many pockets. His fingers are nimble and dextrous; he stitches clothes as well as he does wounds. John is afraid to make even light conversation; afraid that as soon as he opens his mouth, Barsad will see his intentions and stop him.

When Barsad is done stitching, John half expects him to linger, maybe to practise his sharpshooting over the edge of the roof, as he sometimes does with the other men. Instead Barsad pulls his vest back on and heads back into the penthouse. Finally, John is alone.

He walks the entire perimeter of the roof, slowly, taking in every detail. Three of its four sides give way to sheer, dizzying drops—no escape to be had there. However, on the west side of the building, there's a fire escape lower down that he can drop on to, hopefully without breaking anything major. Below that, a second rooftop square over the lower adjacent building. Beyond that he can't see.

It's his best chance to escape Talia ... and Bane.

He takes a minute to sit down and really think about what he's doing. What does he know? Bane doesn't love him. For all John knows, Bane is going to come after him as soon as he's free, and kill him.

Or maybe Bane will be hurt. Maybe he'll miss John.

Maybe John will miss him, too.

“Idiot,” he mutters, forcing himself to stand up. It's time to leave. He's not safe here anymore, and he needs to look out for himself. This is a reckless plan, a foolish and dangerous one, because the risk of injury is so great, and the chance of actual escape so slim. It took the very real threat of Talia to drive him to this. He'll take his chance.

His lower body aches profoundly when he slides one leg over the edge of the roof. He has to stop thinking about Bane. A tiny, selfish part of him acknowledges that he would rather wait out the rest of his limited days here—in the warm bed where Bane takes him apart nightly and then curls up around him in sleep—than out there, in the cold, sharing space with a dozen other men, fighting futilely against the clock. He's ashamed of that part of himself, however small it is.

At Gordon's side, that's where he belongs. Not Bane's.

He settles himself on the roof edge, legs dangling, looking down at the fire escape. It's a long way down. His legs hurt from the way Bane had stretched them apart last night and forced himself between them. God, the ache had felt so good.

He takes a few deep breaths. Boy Wonder, his partner Ross used to call him, always willing to do the most reckless thing possible. This is reckless. This definitely counts as reckless.

Just as he's preparing to jump, Ekene's voice behind him nearly scares the life out of him.

“Hey, little spitfire!”

John is still trying to calm his racing heart when Ekene drops onto the ledge at his side, lighting up a cigarette.

“You want one?” he asks companionably.

“No thanks,” John says, relaxing. Ekene either doesn't know or doesn't care that he was about to jump. The mercenary looks down at the fire escape and whistles through his teeth.

“Long way down. Break your damn legs trying to jump that.”

Maybe he guesses. “Yeah,” John says. “Probably.” He sits back a bit. “Barsad send you up here to keep an eye on me?”

Ekene scoffs. “What, I can't have my own reasons for keeping an eye on the boss's fucktoy? You keep Bane in a good mood. We're all making sure you don't get knifed again.”

“Right,” says John.

Ekene smokes in contented silence. Just when he flicks the cigarette stub off the roof and John thinks he's about to leave, he instead thumps John's shoulder amiably, nearly toppling him off the ledge altogether.

“Come on, spitfire,” he says. “Show me if you can kick my ass yet.”

John gets up resignedly. He can make the jump later.

It turns out to be a good thing that Ekene is there. John is squared off with him, raising his hands, ready to give him a good fight, when he notices the figure lurking next to the door to the stairwell. Startled, he thinks for a moment that it's the tattooed brute who put a knife in his arm, but there are no tattoos on this man, though he looks very similar. John straightens up, lowering his hands warily.

All becomes clear when the man snarls, “Hey, bitch. You got my brother killed.”

Then he shoots John in the stomach.

John crumples up and hits the ground.

He's never been shot before. It bites deep, deep and hot, and then it's surprisingly numb. Winded, stunned, he lies there.

It's Ekene who saves him. The younger mercenary draws his own gun, lightning fast, and shoots twice. Then he drops down to John's side and feels for a pulse.

“Shit! Shit!” he keeps saying in a strangled voice. He lets out a rapid stream of words in his own language, panicky, then says, “Stay there, hey, don't move, I'll get Barsad—”

But Barsad is there in an instant, shouldering through the door. He looks down at the dead conscript and then at John, and bounds over.

“Get Bane,” he says to Ekene, dropping to his knees.

Ekene scrambles up and dashes off, and Barsad starts working the scarf loose from around his neck. He wads it up and presses it against John's wound, much harder than necessary, in John's opinion. The pain returns, hot and blinding, and he opens his mouth, but only a feeble cry comes out.

“Breathe from your stomach,” Barsad says, bringing him back to his senses. John looks at him desperately, and realizes he's panting rapidly through his mouth. “Deep breath. Breathe with me. Now—”

John struggles, manages to take a single, slow breath from his abdomen.

“Good boy.”

A sudden wave of shivers wracks John. Barsad holds him down, and John panics, gasping, trying to push him away. He wants, foolishly, to just curl up and wait for the pain to go away. Then Barsad says, very steadily, “You know what to do, John.”

It's the first time he's ever used John's name when speaking to him. For some reason, it's that which calms John, just long enough for him to take another deep breath and understand what Barsad means. He knows what to do. He's a cop. He knows first aid. He has to lie still and let Barsad apply pressure, or he's going to bleed to death. He's already slipping into shock.

He's surprised to realize just how scared he is.

“Lucky you,” Barsad says, seemingly as unruffled as ever. “A handgun. Small bullets make small holes. This is nothing. You're with the League of Shadows now. A little bullet is nothing to you.”

This is worse than falling through the ice and almost drowning, because John knows he's dying, and it's slow and relentless and there's nothing he can do about it. It's happening.

“Keep your eyes open. Breathe with me again. Inhale... Good. Breathe like that.” One-handed, Barsad wrestles his coat off. He throws it over John. While he does this, he asks conversationally, “How old are you?”

It takes everything John has to unclench his teeth and answer, instead of giving voice to his pain and fear. “Twenty-four,” he gasps.

“Young and strong. Where'd you grow up?”

“Gotham,” John gulps. His eyes feel hot and wet.

“This is your first time getting shot?”

John nods, shivering, eyes slipping closed again. He's so scared. He knows what Barsad's doing, and it still doesn't help. His fingertips scrape uselessly against the cold roof, seeking something to hold onto.

“You're not doing your job, then. What kind of police are you? This is nothing. I'd been shot a dozen times when I was your age. Take a few more bullets and talk to me then.”

John clings to Barsad's steady voice, trying to make himself as calm as Barsad sounds. His heart is racing, pumping more and more blood to the hole in his abdomen. He has to be calm. He starts making a conscious effort to breathe slower, forces himself to stop panting frantically.

“That's good. Good. You can get past this. Just keep breathing like that.”

John keeps his eyes closed and nods again, trying not to gulp air. Barsad keeps talking, but John can't focus on anything except the blood leaving his body.

And then Bane is there. He blots out everything else, though John can hear some other men hovering in the stairwell door, curious. It's been maybe ten minutes. Air drags rapidly in and out of Bane's mask.

“He's alive?”

“Yes.”

Bane starts pacing, his hands twitching, like a smoker in desperate need of a fix. He turns, pounces on the dead conscript's body and throws it over the side of the roof, furiously. Then he goes back to pacing, wheezing and flexing his fingers.

“Is he going to die?”

Barsad doesn't answer right away. John tries to move a hand, to beg Bane to come nearer and help him, to be there, but Bane doesn't see his feeble effort.

“Breathe, John,” Barsad says at last. To Bane, he says, “I don't know. Put your coat on him. Help me keep him warm.”

Bane obeys at once, draping the heavy shearling over John's body, like a warm shell just for him and Barsad's hands on his stomach. Bane crouches down, his hands hovering over John's body, unsure what to do. Then he gets back up. Crouches down again.

His voice is terrifying. “If you let him die—”

“I'm not going to let him die,” Barsad says patiently. For the first time, he looks up at Bane. “He needs a doctor.”

“No,” Bane grates.

“I can't control the bleeding. I don't know what the internal damage is or whether there's an exit wound as well. He needs to get to a hospital, as fast as possible.”

Bane snarls. John's starting to panic again; he thinks he feels tears on his face. The pain is receding. He's going numb. Dimly, he notices that it's started to snow. Barsad and Bane stare at each other over his body.

At last, wordlessly, Bane gathers John up in his arms and lifts him as though he's a child. It jostles John, and he cries out weakly before Bane manages to press a hand to where Barsad's scarf is. The world spins around them, and John tucks his face into Bane's shirt as Bane starts to carry him away. He folds himself up into the small, warm space between his body and Bane's chest, where he's curled up and safe and no longer hurt, and he stays there.


*
When John starts to recover his senses, the first thing he's aware of is the sound of Bane breathing through the mask nearby. His initial reaction is relief. He doesn't know where he is. He just wants to put his head in Bane's lap, let Bane stroke his fingers through his hair and be lulled back to sleep like that.

The pain starts to seep in gradually.

“Tell me,” Bane breaks the silence, distracted and quiet.

He pauses for so long that John forces his eyes open a crack. Bane is sitting on a table across the room from John's single bed, holding something that blinks a little red light at him, a ... a camcorder.

At length, he exhales and says, “Tell me the nature of the boy's injuries, doctor.”

Someone clears their throat on John's other side.

“Ah. He has ... a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen.”

Bane's rasping breaths fill the room.

“And,” he says.

“And, ah, a stab wound to the right arm ...”

“And.”

“Multiple contusions indicating repeated blunt force trauma over a long period,” the other man says. “A cut on his side, mostly healed. A healing wrist sprain. A bruised rib. And—” he gulps a bit before his voice becomes steady again “—trauma consistent with sexual assault.”

“Thank you, doctor,” says Bane politely.

John wants to raise his head, make a noise, but he can't seem to do either. He's so tired and his body is so heavy.

Bane falls silent again. Then, as John forces open his eyes again, Bane turns the camcorder around toward himself. It looks like a toy in his hands.

“Your friends in Gotham are missing you, Bruce,” he says quietly.

The little red light goes out. Bane pockets the camcorder and stands up.

“If he dies,” he says, “you should consider putting a bullet in yourself as well.”

John's eyes close again. His eyelids are heavy, too. He doesn't hear Bane coming closer, but he feels the thumb that Bane swipes gently over the swell of his lower lip, a lingering, intimate touch. Bane doesn't say a word before he leaves.

As John succumbs to unconsciousness again, he can hear the doctor moving around him, muttering to himself.

“You'd probably rather die than be handed back to that monster. Well, I'm sorry, my life's worth more than that. Hmph.” He snorts bitterly. His voice wavers, betraying him; his hands shake as he slides a needle under John's skin. “Do no harm, indeed.”

John doesn't see Bane again for a long time.


*
The next several days are a confusing conflagration of pain. John's pretty sure the doctor is injecting him with painkillers regularly, but they wear off quickly. He's also pretty sure he talks aloud sometimes as he drifts in a haze of unconsciousness, but he doesn't know what he's saying.

He drifts in and out of consciousness. Occasionally he can hear the doctor speaking with someone just outside the room, but it's not Bane or Barsad or anyone whose voice John recognizes.

Even as weak as John is now, Barsad's training sticks: Whenever he's awake, he gathers as much information about his surroundings as his awareness will reach. It's a small room with sterile white walls and industrial grey tiles. There's a curtain bunched up at his bedside with a track that bisects the ceiling, and an empty bed off to his left. There's another door across the room that he thinks is a bathroom. He gathers all this information hazily, not thinking about it, storing it away for future use.

When he opens his eyes blearily one evening, his senses a little sharper now, the doctor is sitting next to him, reading a book.

“Oh, you're awake,” he says, sitting up. He checks John over quickly. “Do you remember what happened?”

The memory is foggy. “I got shot,” John says, confused.

The doctor gets up and fetches a bottle of water. He seems to be refusing to look John in the face. He hands John a couple pills and makes him swallow them one at a time. John's too tired to refuse.

“Antibiotics,” the doctor says. “You can take them orally now. The liquid's almost gone. Do you know where you are?”

“No.”

“It's ... well, it was the hospital. You're lucky your masked friend found some painkillers and medicine, because the looters stripped this place bare ...”

Bane. Why isn't he here? John is mildly distressed by his absence. He doesn't feel safe without Bane or Barsad nearby. It's been three months since he's been without their protection.

“Am I dying?” he asks, with a tremor of fear.

“Not anymore, with any luck,” the doctor says quietly. “Though you've still got a bullet inside you. It lodged in your back muscle. Safer to leave it. Less risk of infection.”

“Oh,” John says. He's still muzzy. There's a bullet inside him and he can't feel it. That seems weird. “Thanks.”

The doctor hesitates.

“I have to give you back to him,” he blurts out.

“I know,” says John, not alarmed by this.

“He'll kill me. I have a family.”

“I know. It's okay.”

“So I don't want to know your name,” the doctor says sharply. “Or how old you are, or who you are ...”

“That's fine,” says John.

Mollified, the doctor sits down again. “I'm sorry,” he says, pale-faced. “I'd let you leave if I could. But there are two armed guards outside. I can't even go to the bathroom alone.”

John closes his eyes against a wave of nausea. Under the bedcovers, his hand slips under an unfamiliar shirt and over his belly, touching a linen wrap. His arm has been rebandaged too.

He opens his eyes, collecting himself with an effort. “Thank you, really. For everything.”

“Oh ... well.” The doctor sounds flustered. “You're welcome,” he finally says.

John pretends to slip off to sleep again. The doctor sits there for a while. Deciding he won't outlast the other man, John allows himself to fall asleep for real. He may as well conserve the energy while he can, because as soon as he wakes up again, he's getting out of here.


*
When he wakes up again, he's in even more pain and the doctor is fast asleep, head lolling, mouth open. Not faking. It's dark now. John slips out of bed. The sharp ache in his stomach nearly doubles him over.

He practises walking a few circuits around the room, until he can almost stand up straight. Then he tests the window. It scrapes open an inch, and a cold breeze gusts in.

He's wearing a long-sleeved shirt and loose pants with an elastic waistband, standard hospital fare. There's a coat hanging up on the wall and boots underneath, presumably the doctor's. John takes both. He finds the bottle of antibiotics and pockets it. Then he goes back to the window and opens it all the way. He has no time to hesitate. The cold will wake the doctor within a minute or two, most likely.

They're on the second floor. No guards or people are in sight. He slides a leg over the sill, mimicking his action on top of the roof. Then he squeezes his eyes shut and rolls out the window, breaking his fall in the bushes below.

It hurts like hell. His whole body is in pain, remembering all his aches from the tower, every bruise put on him by Bane and Barsad. He lies there for a minute, gasping. It's the knowledge that the doctor will wake and sound the alarm that rouses him; otherwise he'd lie there all night in the cold. He stirs himself and slowly, painfully, clambers out of the bushes.

He knows the streets of Gotham like the back of his hand. He knows he isn't far from Gordon's base of operations. Still, it seems to take all night to make what should be a twenty-minute journey. Frozen, limping, half-delirious with pain, John wanders the streets. Buildings waver in front of him and blink out of sight. He has to search for street signs repeatedly.

Incredibly, he doesn't meet any roving bands of mercenaries or crooks. It's still dark when he finally locates and staggers into the base. The cop standing guard startles at the sight of him.

“Jesus Christ, Blake!”

He leads John in quickly, hustling him to the back of the hide-out, where people flock around him. John registers that he's being guided forward, stripped of his stolen coat which is gently replaced with warmer clothes. He takes it all in dazedly and then Commissioner Gordon is there.

“I just need to lie down,” John hears himself saying numbly, over and over. “I just need to lie down for a minute ...”

“Good God, son,” Gordon says gravely, his face etched with concern, just like the others that keep swimming into John's view.

“I'll be fine,” John says, hand clamped over the bandages which are starting to soak through with blood again. “If I just lie down ...”

The room goes very dark, and John feels someone's arms gathering him up before he falls. Not Bane's arms. He is never going to see Bane again.

The knowledge doesn't make him feel as happy as it should.

Just before blackness overtakes his senses, he locks eyes with Miranda Tate, who has entered the room silently. Her cold eyes pierce him to the core, and she smiles.


next
 
 
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
duckwinds on November 4th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Can't stop reading!
It's a good thing that you're posting this on a Saturday night, otherwise, I would be late to work!

Just read parts 1-3 and amazing! How many parts are there? Just so I can prepare for sleeplessness :-)
Whiskywhiskyrunner on November 4th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
Re: Can't stop reading!
Six parts. Nearly there. XD
riotousricochetriotousricochet on April 16th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
I created an account for this site just so that I could leave you a comment, that's how much I'm loving this fucking story. Bane/Blake is one of my favorite pairings and I think you're portraying them brilliantly. I just about died when John got shot, and then Bane didn't know what to do, and oh god so many feels :'{ trying to brace myself before I push the 'next' button...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )