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03 November 2012 @ 11:33 pm
No Holds Barred, pt. VI  
Title: No Holds Barred
Pairing: Bane/John Blake
Words: ~6200 [/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, four, five

John wakes up on his side with Harvey tucked into the curve of his body, curled up and fast asleep. On his other side, he's immediately conscious of Bane.

He groans quietly, pushing his face into the pillow. Last night was probably a monumentally bad idea. Especially considering... Fuck, and now he remembers the conversation that followed. Bane wants him.

This is too much to deal with two days from doomsday.

There's a knock at the door. Bane shifts and growls—John suspects he's been awake for some time. He relaxes, waiting for Bane to tell whoever it is at the door to go away. There's a second knock; and then, not waiting for permission, Barsad enters.

He doesn't even spare a glance for John, who wants to crawl under the covers and disappear. He doesn't even look surprised. He holds a big glass of some thick green liquid.


“No,” Bane grumbles into his pillow.

Barsad walks to the desk and sets the glass down. “Drink.”

Bane grunts. Then, throwing the covers back, he gets out of bed and prowls past Barsad, grabbing up the glass and a pair of pants on his way.

“Drink it!” Barsad calls after him sharply. He receives another grunt in reply before the bathroom door slams shut. A moment later, they hear the shower start.

Barsad shakes his head.

“Like a child,” he mutters, seemingly to himself.

John, with the bedcovers practically pulled up to his chin, says, “Does he shower with the mask on?”

“I don't know.” Finally, Barsad looks right at him. “I've never joined him.”

Harvey is poking her head out of the covers curiously, peering round. She clambers out and pads to the foot of the bed, near where Barsad is standing. He moves closer, expression unchanging, and crooks a finger to rub his knuckle against her cheek. She pushes her face into his hand, purring raspily. It's the closest John has ever seen Barsad get to anything resembling fondness.

“She slept in your place on the bed, back at the tower,” Barsad says. He lowers his hand. “I expect she missed you as well.”

“Did you?” John asks, with a forced smile.

Barsad doesn't blink. “Only as I had lost a decent sparring partner,” he says. “Now put some clothes on. The truck is here, it will leave shortly.”

John sighs. “I'm not getting on the truck. I told Bane already.”

Barsad looks, knowingly, at the closed bathroom door. Then he looks at John.

“I saved your life,” he says. “Now you choose to put my efforts to waste?”

“It's not about—look, I'm really grateful. Really, I am,” John says, because he's never been so scared in his life as he was on that roof. “But I'm not ... I'm not just leaving everyone I know here to die while I get a free pass, just because I—”

He can't finish that sentence. Frustrated, he says, “Look, Bane accepts that I'm staying here, so you can stop caring what happens to me.”

“He accepts?” Barsad echoes skeptically.

John can't look at him. So he rolls out of bed, pushing away his discomfort, and starts pulling on his clothes quickly. Hell with modesty. Barsad paces behind him.

He rounds on John before John has finished pulling his shirt on. John stops back involuntarily. Barsad's sudden anger bristles off him like an aura.

“For a month I've watched him moon over you,” Barsad says viciously, pointing at the bathroom door. “He doesn't know, but I noticed. Others will have as well. In two days our work here is done. We need him to make sure our message is sent—and you mean to leave him sulking in a bedroom and thinking about you. I know him like a brother; I know you are the only thing on his mind. And you won't even grant him the peace of dying knowing that you are safe?”

John glances uneasily at the bathroom, but Barsad waves an impatient hand. “He can't hear us.”

“I didn't ask him to moon over me,” John says in a quiet voice, just in case. “I didn't ask for any of this, in case you've forgotten. Talia's the one who brought me to him in the first place—”

“And you are the one who went willingly to his bed,” Barsad replies coldly. The words are like the lash of a whip. There's no escaping Barsad's scrutinizing gaze. Then some of the tension leaves his shoulders. “I arranged the truck for you yesterday. You are guaranteed safe passage out of Gotham if you go now.”

“I can't,” John says softly. He never intended to be caught up in this mess. “I have to stay. To help the cops ...”

“Then you're a selfish fool,” Barsad says. He says it without anger, and that makes it worse. “A fool and a child.”

He rubs Harvey's cheek one last time and then walks to the door.

“Goodbye, John Blake,” he says quietly. “Make sure he finishes the protein drink.” He pauses in the doorway. “Talia knows you're here. If you intend to return to Gordon, leave now.”

“Thanks for—” John starts, but the door clicks shut behind Barsad before he can say everything.

He sighs and sits down on the bed. Then gets up again a second later. He knocks on the bathroom door. There's no response. He enters.

Bane is sitting on the counter, wearing his pants now. The shower is still running.

“You're supposed to drink that,” John says gently, pointing to the green drink, which is on the counter next to him.

Bane rumbles, not looking at it or him.

“So,” John says, shifting his feet. “Thanks for yesterday ... for helping me and the other cop out. And ...”

“Leave,” Bane says flatly. “Take your cat, and leave.”

He looks up when John falters.

“Did you expect me to call it off?” he asks mockingly. “To free Gotham, disarm the bomb so that John Blake might live?” His eyes narrow. “You are nothing to me. Leave.”


Leave!” Bane roars, on his feet suddenly, eyes blazing, and John's nerve fails. He ducks out of the bathroom, grabbing Harvey up on his way to the door despite her startled meow, and the glass whistles over his head and smashes against the wall, spraying the protein drink. John flings himself out the door into the empty hallway, heart in his throat, and slams the door behind him.

All is quiet. His heart throbs and his eyes sting.

Harvey mewls again, questioningly.

He lets go of his breath. Then he tucks her into his coat and zips it up.

“Okay,” he says to her, under his breath. “We're leaving.”

It's a long, cold trek back to the base of operations. He tries to make himself hurry, taking Barsad's warning to heart, but he has to take a lot of back alleys to avoid more patrols. Harvey dozes most of the way, fortunately. She peeks out once, squinting against the wind, and decides it's much nicer inside John's coat.

He's glad to have her, if he's being honest. Having her makes him feel less ... lonely. And then, realizing that, he feels like a dick for taking her away from Bane.

Everyone is still there when he staggers in out of the cold. Gordon is on him immediately, concerned—he's heard what happened from Jakobsen—but John waves him off, wanting to just be miserable somewhere else, alone.

“Nothing happened. He just wanted to talk,” he lies.

Gordon looks like he doesn't buy John's story, but at least he drops it. “What the hell is that in your coat?” he asks.

“A cat,” John says, remembering her in there. He unzips the coat and Harvey peeks out curiously, awake again. “Her name is, uh, Harvey.”

Gordon looks at the cat carefully, at her burned face, and John is suddenly embarrassed. Gordon was friends with Harvey Dent, wasn't he?

“Um,” he says.

But Gordon just shakes his head, exasperated. “God help you, son,” he says.

City Hall is a cold, barren place since the occupation. Bane perches on a windowsill, playing idly with a length of rope in his hands and staring out the window. Talia's slender hands slide down over his shoulders and squeeze lightly.

“We're so close to the end now,” she says.

Bane nods, distracted.

“Look at the city you have conquered,” Talia urges him. “Are you not pleased?”

Barsad stands by the door. He is Talia's bodyguard in these crucial final hours, protecting the trigger. She speaks as though he isn't there at all. He fades himself into the wallpaper well, but Bane can feel his lieutenant's shrewd eyes on him.

“I am pleased,” Bane says. “This is your victory as well as mine, though.”

“Yes,” Talia agrees. She rubs his shoulders comfortingly, then stops. “It isn't perfect, though.”

Bane should jump to his feet, ask what she needs and bring it to her, no matter how improbable. He stays seated. He's been twisting the rope into knots and untying them, over and over, and he stops only when she says this. “What can I do?”

“Bruce Wayne. I need to know he is suffering.”

“He is.”

“His body, perhaps,” says Talia. “I need to know his mind is being tormented.” She brings her hands back to Bane's shoulders, apparently thinking. “Where is the camera?”

“Another video?” Bane asks doubtfully. It's late in the game to guarantee anything like that making the news that reaches Wayne's cell.

Besides—Blake hadn't liked Talia's last video. Bane reminds himself that Blake won't be in this one. What does his opinion matter, anyway, compared to Talia's pleasure? Nothing.

“We've let the free cops run loose for too long,” Talia says. “We should find Gordon and Blake, put them in front of Crane. Search the area where Blake was arrested. Get Lucius Fox too, if possible.”

Bane nods at Barsad, who opens the door and issues a swift order to the guard standing outside.

“And me,” Talia says thoughtfully, bringing a hand up to the necklace at her throat. “Show him that you have me.”

Barsad shuts the door and nods to Bane: it's being done. Their patrols will flush Blake out and drag him in front of the guns again, this time not to be rescued. Bane ties a quick, tight knot, almost pulling the rope in half.

“I know,” Talia says suddenly. She drops to her knees in front of Bane, her eyes alight with glee. “I have it. A video to tell him I am with child, right before we die. It's perfect.”

“With child?” Bane says, amused. “Whose?”

Her smiles widens. “His, of course.”

Just like that, Bane's amusement is gone.

Very distantly, he can hear her saying, “My only regret is that I didn't have more time with him before the siege—but no matter. We have the leverage we need to make his suffering exquisite.”

“You—” Bane can hardly speak. “He laid with you.”

“It was part of the plan,” Talia says. She gets up and sits on the window ledge, at his side. “You have broken his body and his mind. All I wanted to make his punishment complete was to break his heart. But he went to you sooner than I expected.”

“He touched you,” Bane says numbly.

It's suddenly all he can think about. All he can see in his mind's eye is Bruce Wayne, his hands crawling over Talia's unblemished skin, her beautiful, breakable body that Bane fought with his life to protect. He has never imagined—childishly, never imagined—that Talia would—

But of course, she has been a long time in Gotham, carving a place here for Miranda Tate while he has been crumbling governments in West Africa and Eastern Europe on behalf of the League. They have been apart a long time, and no one has been here to protect Talia. She has, Bane realizes with an ill feeling deep in his stomach, matured into a woman while he was not watching. She gave her body to Wayne, the murderer of Ra's al Ghul. How could she do that? How could she have not told him, that she allowed a man other than Bane to, to—

He clenches his hands tightly and looks away when she kisses him under the eye, sliding her own hand over his fist.

“It was necessary,” she whispers, and squeezes his hand. “Don't be angry.”

“Only with him,” Bane says, forcing himself to unclench. Never with you.

She slips her hand into his and squeezes tightly. “I know what will make your last night better.”

He hears her get up and cross the room, to where Barsad is. Breathing hard, he starts knotting the rope again, roughly and mindlessly.

“Change the orders,” Talia says to Barsad. “Have Blake brought directly here when he's recaptured. I told him he still belongs to us. Have him brought here and this time, keep him from escaping. Can you manage that?”

From the corner of his eye, Bane sees Barsad bow his head, hands clasped behind his back.

“With respect, Lady,” he says, “my loyalty is to Bane, not to you.”

A stunned silence settles over the room. Bane is still, not sure what he's just heard. Talia, too, is frozen. She's not used to being refused. Nobody disobeys her. Not in Gotham, not in the League.

“That was an order,” she says, cold anger starting to settle over her like a cloak.

“Yes,” Barsad says, raising his head to look at her. “I heard it.”

No one moves for a moment. Then Talia slaps him, hard. Her nails rake across his face and leave two bleeding scratches on his cheek. Barsad doesn't flinch, scarcely even blinks, and he doesn't move to retaliate. He won't: but Bane suddenly realizes, that isn't on Talia's account. It's on his, Bane's.

Bane rises to his feet slowly. They both look to him. Talia's face is flushed angrily, eyes glittering. Barsad looks—resigned.

“Leave, Talia,” Bane says.

She hisses, “If you don't make your dog obedient—”

“I will,” Bane says.

“In one minute I will be back, and if he isn't—”

“He will be.”

She leaves, slamming the door behind her. Bane and Barsad look at each other.

“She is the daughter of Ra's al Ghul,” Bane says, his voice low and cold. “She is a princess, and she is the heir of the League of Shadows which you pledged yourself to.”

“I know,” Barsad says. “And I gave the word that you are looking for Gordon and Fox, but I will not bring John Blake here on her orders.”

“Explain,” Bane demands.

“You love him,” says Barsad.

Bane is silent for several breaths. Then he punches him. He doesn't hold back. The force of it slams Barsad into the wall, and it's a few seconds before he straightens up, squaring his shoulders. He spits a mouthful of blood on the floor and looks Bane in the eye.

“If you were any other man I would have killed you where you stand,” Bane bites out. “Tell me why I shouldn't still.”

“You still have time to save him,” Barsad says. “You aren't what Talia believes you to be. You have no need to prove yourself to her—”

Bane hits him again, furious. Who does Barsad think he is, to say these things—to imply that he needs Talia's approval, or John Blake—he's sick and angry and this time it takes longer before Barsad stands up straight, blinking blood out of his eye.

Then, lightning-quick, he hits back.

“You fool,” he snarls when Bane stumbles back, guarding the mask. “She acts as though she owns your mind and your heart, and you let her piss all over you. I saw your face when she told you she slept with Wayne. She's not a child anymore, Bane. There are only two people left who care about you now, and you are going to let her kill one of them on camera—not for your pleasure, but for her revenge on Bruce Wayne. This has always been about Wayne. She has never cared—”

Bane grabs him by his scarf and drags him in close, up on his toes, choking off his words. He pulls harder, until Barsad can't breathe, let alone speak. Barsad has never spoken to him like this before. He wants to keep pulling until Barsad never breathes again.

“Bring John Blake here.” The words hiss out of the mask into Barsad's face. “Your princess gave an order. Disobey once more and die.”

Bane releases him. Barsad's eyes flash, just for an instant. Then he lowers his gaze.

“I understand,” he says softly.

He steps away just as Talia reenters the room, still visibly bristling. The sight of Barsad's blood seems to mollify her a little.

“No videos,” Bane says. “It's too late. But Blake and the police will be hunted down.”

“I think I know of someone who could find him,” Barsad says quietly, dabbing at the blood that seeps from the corner of his mouth.

“Then bring him to me,” Bane growls.

“Not him,” Barsad corrects. “Her.”

Bane hasn't seen Selina Kyle since she brought Batman in front of him. She looks nervous to be brought to him now, dragged in by two guards whom she shakes off as soon as they enter. She's still rubbing her arm when the door closes, leaving her alone with Bane and Barsad, who is in the corner holding a cloth to his face. Talia is gone.

“Your boyfriend looks a little beat up,” Kyle quips with false bluster. “Trouble in paradise?”

“There is someone I need you to find,” Bane says. He's still sitting on the window ledge, knotting and untying the rope restlessly, looking out the window every now and then. Barsad's words chase themselves around in his head. Kyle folds her arms over her chest.

“Or what?”

“Or I will kill you,” Bane says.

Kyle sighs, dropping her arms to her sides. “Yeah, that'll do it,” she says. “Who do you want?”

“John Blake. You should know him as the detective who arrested you. Barsad can give you more information.”

“You want him here?” Kyle asks.

“I want you to give him a message,” Bane says. In the corner, Barsad lifts his head. “Tell him he still has one chance to leave Gotham if he chooses.”

Kyle raises her eyebrows. “That's it? Really?”

“If he's willing to accept, I can arrange one more truck. I will send it to him. Tell him that. If not ...” Bane struggles for a moment. “If not ... then when you return to report to me, if there is anyone in the room apart from Barsad and I ... then say you couldn't find him.”

Her eyes flick between him and Barsad, whose face betrays no emotion.

“Okay,” she says at last.

“Tell him—” Bane adds just as she turns to go. She stops, and he says quietly, “Tell him he is not nothing. He is something.”

“Anything else?” Kyle asks sardonically. “Do I need a piece of paper and a pen?”

“No. That's all.”

“And what if I really can't find him?”

“Then you will die,” Bane says simply.

“I'll be back by tomorrow,” she says, and leaves.

In the silence that follows, before Barsad goes after her, he says quietly, “I see that Talia does not rule your heart, after all.”

Bane stands, dropping the rope.

“If we are still alive when all this is done, Barsad,” he says, “then I will kill you myself.”

“Okay,” John sighs, brushing his hands off onto his jeans. His apartment, coated in a layer of dust, is now officially Harvey's. He's made a nice warm blanket nest for her on the floor of his bedroom and set out a bowl full of as much canned meat and tuna as he could find. She's going to be staying here until the bomb goes off, so he wants her to be ... happy.

She stares at him, her stub tail sticking up. When she doesn't move to climb into the nest herself, he picks her up and puts her in.

“There you go,” he says. “It'll be nice here. You won't have to worry about ...”

But she's already climbing back out, unimpressed with his efforts. He sighs and stoops down.

“Just be good,” he says, stroking her. “Everything's gonna be okay. And if Gordon's stupid plan works, I'll come back for you ...”

She rubs against him. He hates this, all of a sudden. He's not just saying goodbye to Harvey: he's saying goodbye to his apartment, to Gotham, to his life. Once he steps outside that door, the fact that they have less than ten hours to save Gotham will be a stark reality.

He pets Harvey once again, quickly, wanting to thank her for being his friend back at the tower, but talking to the cat makes him feel foolish, so he doesn't. He gives her one last pat and stands up, and he leaves with her questioning little meow following him.

This was his last order of business, he'd told Gordon. Now he's ready to help them. They're going to free the cops tonight. With any luck, all hell is about to break loose.

He walks to the base and calls out “Hey,” expecting to find a bustling hive of activity, everyone checking their weapons last-minute. Instead, pretty much everyone is just sitting around, listless.

Gordon's not there. John stops dead.

“What happened?”

“It's over,” one of the other men says dully. “The commissioner and his patrol were arrested. Lucius Fox, too.”

“Where's Foley?” John demands.

“At home with his family, if he's got any sense.”

John turns around and leaves.

It's a message, he thinks. Bane wants to draw him out. He knows John will try to rescue Gordon, and once John is out in the open, Bane's got the leverage to make him do about anything. Get on a truck out of Gotham, for instance. John could punch a brick wall, he's so frustrated. This shouldn't matter to Bane!

But then, maybe Bane isn't behind this. Maybe Gordon and the others have been taken straight to the mock courthouse. In that case, there isn't a whole lot John can do ... unless he appeals directly to Bane to intervene. It seems all roads lead to Bane, in the end.

He runs straight to the building where Bane took him a couple nights ago. The power is out now, so he has to take the stairs to Bane's floor, and there's ... nobody in the building, anywhere. He hammers on the door of Bane's room, finally kicks it open, and finds it abandoned. Empty.

He can't think where else to look that won't get him killed. The tower is too far from here to walk without meeting a patrol of mercs. He can't go to the courthouse on the off chance that Bane is there. He sinks onto the bed, holds his head in his hands for a minute. Think.

Bane might be looking for him. If he doesn't know where the base is, where might he go to look for John?

John goes back to his apartment.

The door is open.

“I knew you'd—” he starts wearily, and stops when he reaches the bedroom. A graceful young woman is sitting on his bed, petting a purring Harvey at her side.

“Hi, honey,” she says sweetly, and he recognizes her. Selina Kyle.

His hands close into fists. He doesn't know whose side she's on; only that she's more dangerous than she looks.

“What do you want?” he asks.

“Relax,” she says, deadpan. “I just have a message for you. From the big guy.”

“Bane?” John says, perking up. She's going to tell him how to get Gordon back.

She nods. “He said to tell you you can still leave Gotham if you want. He'll arrange it.”

John waits. When she doesn't offer anything more, he deflates.

“That's it?” he demands. “Nothing about the commissioner?”

“There was something else, actually,” she says, remembering. “He said you're not nothing, you're something.”

“What does that even—” John starts angrily, and stops, blowing out a sigh. You're nothing to me, Bane had said.

For just a second, all the stress and worry leave him, and he takes Bane's words and holds them to him. They're less than six hours from detonation now and Bane is worried John will die thinking he means nothing.

“Tell him I'll leave Gotham,” he says.

Selina raises her eyebrows, surprised. “I thought all you good guys were about self-sacrifice.”

“I'm not really leaving. Tell him to send a truck here and that I'll be on it. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.”

She hums. “Maybe I'll take your place.”

“Do whatever you want,” says John, suddenly tired. “I'm not going anywhere.”

The truck comes to his building. His last chance to leave Gotham. He watches it from his window. It leaves after five minutes, and he turns away. He's got some cops to rescue.

It's dawn by the time John gets any of the cops free, and his big plan goes to shit almost right away. He's never been so glad to see any person in his life as he is when Batman shows up to save him.

Conviction washes over him: It's going to be okay now.

Gotham is going to be safe now.

He wants to fight. He wants to—see Bane again, before the end. He wants to apologize and then he wants to show Bane how hard he's willing to fight for his city.

And Batman is sending him away.

“Don't you need me here?”

“You've given me an army,” Batman says. John look at the tunnel where more and more cops are trickling out, hundreds of them. “Now go.”

John swallows his protests. He knows somebody's got to get people out of Gotham, just in case. Someone who knows how dire the situation is has to sound the alarm and get people moving. But why him?

Then Batman pauses, and says, quietly, “I'm sorry for what happened to you, John.”

His sympathy—Batman's sympathy—is unbearable. John feels a cold numbness stealing over him. Bruce knows. The video made it to him. And John gets it: he wants to keep John away from Bane. Like the other cops, trying to protect him. They have no idea.

“Are you going to kill him?” he asks.

“Would you?” Batman says evenly.

John shakes his head. He can't read the eyes behind Batman's mask.

“Go,” Batman rasps.

John runs.

The bus is nearly at the bridge when John actually asks himself: What the hell am I doing?

He looks back at the kids—who, before the siege, he would have counted among the most important people in his life. And now there's—Gordon, and Bruce, and there's Bane, even Barsad, and they're all fighting for their lives outside City Hall and John ... isn't there.

He bounds up to the front of the bus and has it pulled over.

“Keep going,” he says, when Father Reilly tries to stop him from getting off. “Tell them the situation has changed, the city's about to blow and you have to get people over that bridge.”

“Where are you going?”

“Where I'm supposed to be,” John calls over his shoulder. He's already on the ground and running.

It's snowing. He warms up fast, running hard as he is. His breath burns in his lungs and his eyes sting and blur in the cold air. He doesn't even know what he intends to do. Stop Bane from killing Batman? Stop Batman from killing Bane? What if he can't stop any of it?

Then at least I'll die with my city, he thinks grimly.

He's out of breath, chest searing with every expansion of his lungs, when he reaches the street where the mercs and the cops are fighting. There are a lot of bodies on the pavement. He weaves his way through as hurriedly as he can, taking an elbow to the head and almost getting clocked in the face with the butt of a gun. He scrambles through the melee in time to see Talia stepping into one of Batman's stolen tanks—guarded by Barsad, who doesn't see John before a bullet fells him. Talia doesn't even pause.

A crush of bodies bars the way as John fights his way frantically toward the steps of City Hall. In a minute he's not even sure where Barsad fell. He has to stop, fighting for breath, and a low explosion within the chambers of City Hall distracts him entirely.

He forgets his fatigue, and races up the steps.

Selina Kyle is the first person he sees, perched on some sort of bike equipped with smoking cannons. There's Batman, getting to his feet, and that massive crumpled figure at the end of the hall—

John hurtles past them. He hits the ground on his knees and slides the last two feet to Bane's side, pulling him over onto his back. His brain goes static and dumb trying to process. Blood, holy shit, blood everywhere

Bane's eyes are open, just barely. He focuses, brow furrowing.

“John,” he rasps.

“Hey,” John says, like his heart isn't about to throb itself right through his throat. He swallows with difficulty. “Hey.”

Bane has to force in a breath with more effort than usual. The mask is broken, the tubes disconnected. His eyes are glazed over with pain and confusion.

“You were ... supposed to be gone,” he breathes.

John starts trying to connect tubes, hopelessly, not even sure what he's doing. One of them reconnects, and Bane's eyes flutter shut as he pulls in a meagre amount of anesthetic.

“I came back,” John says.

“Blake!” Selina yells, over by the entrance. “We're leaving!”

“Talia,” Bane gasps. When he opens his eyes again, they're shining, wet. He looks like a muzzled dog, helpless and afraid. “He'll kill her ... if the bomb is stopped ...”

“He won't,” John promises, starting to panic at the sight of Bane's unshed tears, his stark fear. “He won't, I swear, he doesn't do that—”

“Save her,” Bane begs. “She is ... all I have... Please.”

“You have me,” John says, desperate to give him some modicum of comfort right now. Unthinking, he bends down and presses a kiss to Bane's face, above the mask—just to make him know he's not alone, dying here on the floor. Bane closes his eyes, tilts his head away from John with a weak groan.

“Go,” he croaks.

Blake!” Selina yells.

After one last glance, John gets up and goes to her. She's bristling with impatience. Bruce is already gone. John guesses they're on the same side now.

“We're pushing the convoy east, toward the reactor,” she says, practically shoving him onto the Bat-bike or whatever it is. She climbs on expertly. “I didn't know good guys stopped to gloat.”

“I didn't know bad guys stuck around to help fight,” he says.

“I'm a girl.” She guns the engine and flips her goggles down. “Different rules.”

It takes everything he has in him not to look back.

After the end, when all is said and done, John wanders back to City Hall to watch the mercs being rounded up. There's a lot of dead men on the street. No one's gotten around to those yet.

Maybe Bane's still there.

He wars with himself for a few minutes on the steps before going inside. Just to see.

Bane is gone.

Blake finds him in the tunnels, slumped against a wall, waiting for death. Bane's whole body is starting to ignite with pain, spreading down his back and into his limbs. His knuckles throb, a sensation he hasn't felt for years, even when they were split open and bleeding.

With his eyes closed, he hears Blake's footsteps. Then he feels the detective's gentle hands at his face, working at the mask. Bane opens his eyes, and Blake's face, brow furrowed in concentration, swims into view. Another tube connects. Bane has to force his chest to expand, and his broken ribs scream in protest, but it's worth it.

“Talia?” he rasps.

Blake doesn't say anything.

Bane pushes him away. He feels as weak as a child, but Blake still falls over and has to fling out an arm to catch himself. Ignoring him, Bane puts his head in his hands. He can't look at Blake. He can hear himself making a low, raw, animal-sound of grief. Talia is gone.

“I'm sorry,” Blake whispers.

It strikes Bane, dimly, that he's serious. However he hated Talia, he is sorry that Bane is in pain. Bane hates him and wants to hold him all at once.

After a minute, collecting himself, Bane lifts his head with an effort and strains to bring Blake into focus.

“Barsad?” he asks.

“I saw him get shot,” says Blake quietly. “I didn't see him get up.”

Bane thinks about his steady lieutenant, and the way they left things. He'd been angry, and rightly so—but Barsad has been loyal. His most faithful of followers. Bane regrets hitting him now. Things are different, now.

“He is ... strong,” Bane manages to wheeze out, one breath at a time. His eyes slide shut. Trying to convince himself as much as Blake, Bane adds, “He will ... find me.”

Blake pauses. “I think it might just be you and me this time.”

Bane has no energy to argue. It took the last of his inhuman strength to drag himself from the floor of City Hall into the sewers, like a fleeing rat. He's unspeakably ashamed that Blake has to see him like this, weak, the strength ebbing from him. Speaking is growing harder. He tries to convey his need in as few words as possible.

“Mask ... I need ...”

“I can bring you whatever you need,” Blake says. “Okay? If you just stay here and don't move, I can get—”

“No,” Bane whispers, reaching blindly for him when he starts to rise. Unexpected panic grips him at the thought of Blake leaving. “Not ... just yet.” His voice is barely audible, even to himself. “John.”

Blake hesitates. Then he sits back down and presses himself to Bane's side. He takes one of Bane's hands, flinching a little to find it cold for the first time, then holding tight.

“Okay,” he says. “I'm here. I'll—I'll keep you safe.”

Bane can feel the shift of his entire paradigm under his feet. He has always been the moon to Talia's world, circling, guarding, always in her orbit. But Talia is gone. Blake seems to have a gravitational pull all his own, and Bane is drawn helplessly towards it. It's a new feeling. Where Talia was dark and deadly and beautiful for it, Blake is bright and brilliant. He shines.

Too good for this city. The thought of Blake making his way around a post-siege Gotham, rounding up thugs and roughs, is suddenly unbearable. He doesn't even know how precious he is; doesn't treat his body with the regard it deserves. He needs help.

He needs Bane.

What Bane wants more than anything is to lie down and close his eyes, succumb to the suffocating blackness and let it bear him away from the pain, join Talia in the long sleep. But it's not what he deserves. He failed her. There has been no redemption for him in Gotham.

Not yet.

He closes his eyes—only to sleep. Just to make sure, he forces out raggedly, “When I wake up ... will you ...?”

“I'll be here.”

Bane nods, letting his head loll onto his chest.

“I'm glad ... glad you came back,” he breathes.

“Don't talk,” says Blake softly. “Just rest. I'll stay here with you.”

Bane lets this comfort him. He can be weak, for today. He leaves his hand clasped in John Blake's, and he sleeps.

duckwinds on November 4th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
I knew there was a reason I drank more caffeine today than usual :-)

This story was amazing and as always, your writing just sucked me right in. Will need to re-read soon.

Will you be posting this and recent stories to AO3? I like to download them for my reader.

Thanks again, keep on writing!!!
Ravynravyn_09 on November 4th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
omg YES that was amazing.

Now I want more~~~~

Good job as usually Whisky <3
faeryqueen07faeryqueen07 on November 4th, 2012 04:40 am (UTC)
Holy shit. I haven't even watched this movie, but now I really don't want to. I want it to end the way you ended it. :( *wibbles* This was just amazing and I've had to pee since part two have not been able to move. So.

This was so wonderfully written. Thank you!
Winterwinter_rogue on November 4th, 2012 06:46 am (UTC)
this was like 100x better than the actual film
klovesgayklovesgay on November 5th, 2012 04:13 am (UTC)
Ha! Sad but true...
MAY NEE ACK UL LEE LAUGHING BRIDGE24_centuries on November 4th, 2012 08:01 am (UTC)
I will have to respond in detail when I have actual thoughts in my head aside from:


You gave me fiercely intelligent Baaaaane. *sighs happily* Alas, I have work in three hours so I must off to sleep.

OMG THIS! OMG YOU! <3333333333!
4clovesofsummer: belledarlinghoots on November 4th, 2012 08:02 am (UTC)
This is amazing....so many feelings!
Everything was just perfect....like there are not enough words to describe how perfect this is...
Keep up the amazing work! =)
delilah_lilithdelilah_lilith on November 4th, 2012 08:08 am (UTC)
This was absolutely amazing. I could not stop reading it. Bane and John together was just breathtaking. I love love love this story and I wish it never had to end! Beautiful work.
deathbymutationdeathbymutation on November 4th, 2012 08:11 am (UTC)
You really do amaze me with your writing.
Elizariaelizaria on November 4th, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this blew me away. This is the first Bane/Blake I've read and it's awesome.
soapiefansoapiefan on November 4th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
This story was amazingly written. I enjoyed the humanity you gave to Bane. I loved how the two men interacted especially the last chapter.
I really hope you write more about these guys. I love your writing style and look forward to more from you.
tiger_iristiger_iris on November 4th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
This was absolutely amazing. I'm just in awe. I've read the whole fic in just a few hours and I still feel shaken.

I don't know how you could make a Bane/Blake story work, but you did. It was beautiful, and very sad. I kept on thinking, Whisky doesn't do unhappy endings, but I couldn't see how this could end well. I think you gave us what you could, given the premises of this story, but I would like to read more, even though it doesn't seem possible. When watching the film, I was struck by how Bane seemed truly human,despite his monstruosity, and I think you really did justice to his character. Thank you, really.
heerozero: simonheerozero on November 4th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I have no words, this was just too perfect. Wonderful work as always, whisky! The ambiguous ending was so heartbreaking and fitting. And as much as I adored it, I am a sucker for happy endings and would be super excited if you were to write a sequel in which Bane lives; I just loved how you wrote the interactions between him and Blake. But in any case, thank you so much for sharing this great story!
midnite_visionmidnite_vision on November 4th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
I don't even really like the movie, but this is brilliant. It's a fascinating character study.
Shantal MohammedShantal Mohammed on November 5th, 2012 01:47 am (UTC)
Oh gosh. I read this all today on the kink meme. I really love you right now.

I really hope you put it on AO3. Will you be posting the sequel here as well?
Inky: Image: Cerberus...cat?the_inkslinger on November 5th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
This story is so good. I have been reading it and then coming back to reread all day. So good. The characters are beautifully written. Especially Bane. He still seemed very much the same character from the movie, but seen from a different angle. If that makes sense, haha. And Barsad -- I remember feeling triumphant when he went down in the movie. Reading this, I found myself hoping Bane was right and he would somehow survive. Again, it is so good, so well crafted, I'm half speechless. I just want to keep on rereading, haha. <3
xkatchyxkatchy on November 5th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh god what have you done to me. I'm crying like a baby over here! I blame the actors for this one. They just fit together regardless of role. Your writing, as usual, is brilliant and beautiful. I read this whole thing in one sitting. It didn't hit me until I was part way through this chapter that yeah, this was still going to end badly and where did all these feels come from? You left it open at the end so he's totally not dead. It'll help me sleep tonight haha. Wonderful, work - dark and beautiful and a fantastic read. This may be my new Batman canon. I especially loved Barsad. You really didn't get that much of a feel for him from the movie. He was more important in the novelization, but you really brought him the attention he deserved in this. And the humanity your brought to Bane was just, ugh. Loved everything about this.

Edited at 2012-11-05 02:01 am (UTC)
petite_reinapetite_reina on November 5th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
This was so amazing glad I haven't seen the movie to ruin this for me.
klovesgayklovesgay on November 5th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
Yay: a non rape-y Bane! There are far too many rape blake/bane fics, when I just don't think Nolan's Bane could condone rape, let alone do it himself.

This was lovely. Blake was very believable and relateable. And Harvey was adorbs.

Thanks for sharing!
ablemouse: I have this dream.ablemouse on November 5th, 2012 05:46 am (UTC)
You're a brilliant writer.
ablemouse: I have this dream.ablemouse on November 5th, 2012 06:08 am (UTC)
Holy hell I just found out you're working on a sequel and I've not been this excited for a fic in a very long while. My whole body is clenched in anticipation.
akalilLynakalillyn on November 5th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)

I love love love how you stayed true to the movie with Bane's devotion to Talia. He is such a puppy when it comes to her, and the eventual fallout when he sees what she's become is just heartbreaking. Or should I say kitten? HAH, HALF BURNED KITTEN, THAT'S JUST. UGH.

It was really interesting to see how Blake fell under Bane's spell but still remained Blake at the heart of it all. The slow and gradual realization that BANE IS FREAKIN' AWESOME, OKAY. On that note, ugh, Bane. You kept him PERFECT. He was SEAMLESSLY cruel and kind at the same time and it wasn't out of character for him to flip from one to the other at any given moment AND YOU ARE JUST AMAZING FOR PULLING THAT OFF. It just seemed so NATURAL.

I'm sure I love more of it, but I just. Can we just talk about Barsad right now? BARSAD. I AM IN LOVE. Quiet and competent and fiercely loyal. HE'S LIKE BANE'S ALFRED IN A WAY. Just wanting what's best for Bane. That twist at the end when he doesn't take Talia's order just killed me. GOOD LOOKING OUT, BLUD. GOOD LOOKING OUT. You just brought this minor character to life for me, and it was amazing. GUH. I AM SO SAD THAT HE DIED, BUT IT'S OKAY. IT IS ALL OKAY.

The sheer length of this is amazing, but it seems necessary, doesn't it? Every little thing in this story is important, and shortening it would make the Bane/Blake that much less believable because this shit needed that time. Again, the slow and steady pace and Bane's waiting OH MY GODDDDDDDDD. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

I think I will read this again. Slowly.
Orionorion_nightbane on November 5th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
so amazing!!!! omg!!!! I somehow really hope that Basard's alive?! ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! this was so good! ♥ ♥ ♥ All the characterization was AWESOME! :D I love it~ ♥ :D
Takobellatakobella on November 5th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)

I never imagined this pairing, but you sold it so well, wrote is so beautifully....I kind of fell in love with both of them <3

This was just fantastic, I was sad to see it end lol
陌路人moluren on November 6th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
This was so, so good.
tasha18tasha18 on November 7th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
Yes. Yes it was. I think my favorite one of your stories. For once, I was even sattisfied with the ambiguous ending. That like, never happens.
rivitngtalechprivitngtalechp on November 6th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
This was everything I hoped it to be and more. :3