After this was all over, it would be time to put his cape and cowl to bed for good. There would be another, after him, and already, there were some out there that fought for their own motivations, to keep their own demons away from eating up their souls. Despite the armor and the bravado, Bruce was a hollow man fueled by rage and the need for vengeance. He was haunted by agony and delirium, tied up in foolish hopes that one day he would win his crusade and there would be a sun on his horizon, rather than endless darkness wherever he went. Soon, it would be time to rest. The city wouldn’t need him anymore.
He plunged into the cold waters of Gotham’s bay, having ejected himself from The Bat just as it reached deeper Atlantic waters and stopped skirting the coastlines. He was a good two hundred feet under, safe from the brunt of the blast radius and with an automatic rebreather. The compression of the suit and cowl kept the water from popping things out of place, but the bomb’s blast reached him anyway. The pressure of the shockwaves threw him into a rock formation and his head was thrown back, cracking the cowl.
With ears ringing, Bruce ran on autopilot, disengaging the locks and pulling the exterior suit off. Now that the bomb had blown, the harbor would be riddled with nuclear pollution. The city would either do nothing about it or focus their efforts and budget in cleaning their waters and not rebuilding the city itself. In shock, the man watched the various pieces of the batsuit sink as a muscled arm wrapped around his chest and started tugging him away from the site, moving toward land. They never broke the surface until they had swum to the China Docks that dotted the western side of Downtown Gotham.
The area was vacated completely, small boats floating in their slips without a care. The water lapped at the rocky shoreline. Soon the blast would bring in rougher waves. The diver hefted Bruce onto a pier and the weary man lay there, staring at the cloudy sky. As the haze of panic and shock receded he knew needed to get away for awhile, recuperate and find a new strength, one that wasn’t based in hatred and regret. He was burnt out. This city had almost killed him and he didn’t doubt that her pull on him was strong enough to bring him back to her. The diver sat himself beside Bruce, wiping the water from his face and slicking back his hair with one large palm. Without him, Bruce would be very dead, atomized maybe.
His companion stood, seemingly aware of Bruce’s newfound determination to move. He offered a hand to the billionaire to help him stand. Denying assistance, Bruce got up on his own, mimicking the other’s move of smoothing out his hair. Appearance meant nothing to him now, but there would be nothing gained from having water drip into his eyes.
Before his avid rescuer could open his mouth to say anything, Bruce placed a hand on the other’s elbow, said a quick “Shut up, Clark,” and marched onwards. He did not want to hear anything the reporter had to say today. Bruce would relent to getting an earful later, when his world wasn’t as lost. He might even say thank you, out loud. For now, just that was enough.
As he walked the broken, narrow streets to find a subway entrance, Bruce tried to figure out what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to get away, but this time, he did not want to go alone. He needed someone to bring life into his despondency and darkness. Alone, he would brood and become that angry, wretched monster of vengeance and revenge again. There had to be more to himself.
"I still think there’s more to you," he’d said to her. Remembering that, Bruce knew then and there, sitting on a nearly-empty subway train, that he wanted Selina with him. She was the metaphorical defibrillator to his unfeeling heart. He felt things when he was with her. There was no one else quite like her, no one else suitable enough, or brave enough to withstand him for an extended period.
Seven stops later and he was in the Narrows. A short walk later and he was standing in front of what Bruce knew to be Selina’s last known permanent location. After slipping his way inside her building, he crept up the stairs to her door, finding it to be wide open already. Selina was inside, then. She wasn’t gone. Something warm blossomed in his chest when he thought about her and their shared history together, even if she had betrayed him to Bane. He’d meant it when he said that he had been only let down. He’d expected more from her, but time and time again, she always reminded him that she was only a thief, that she was a bad person.
Bruce had to believe that she was more than that, despite what she thought of herself. He stood in the doorway, watching Selina move about the room. He was dripping all over the scuffed up wood flooring. In nothing but his black skinsuit, he was certainly a sight. She was still in her Catwoman gear, though the top portion had been undone, hanging around her waist. Eventually, her hassled movements stopped and she plopped herself down into a torn up armchair that had several coats draped over it.
Was she in shock as well? She seemed distressed. She should be happy. She was safe, bar any radiation poisoning that might have affected the city and its population. She had her new start with the Clean Slate program. He could say anything to break the silence. He could announce is presence with soft-spoken words meant for soothing away worries and fears. Bruce wasn’t the comforting type though, but then again, Selina wasn’t the emotive type either. This day had been distressing enough for the world to turn upside down for a little while. He could also strut in with bravado and ask her to run away with him, pull her out of Gotham life for awhile. He was no fool. Gotham wouldn’t let the both of them stay away for long. She would likely laugh in his face. She’d done so before.
Bruce relied on old fallback methods. Facts and short statements worked best. Of all things to say, surely there were better words but nothing else felt suitable.
"You haven’t left yet."
Selina could not manage recall an instance where she had felt more exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally. A hiss left her lips as she lowered herself onto Holly’s favorite armchair, not bothering to dump the coats that had been draped over it onto the floor. Everything that she had ever known had been raped, defiled, and destroyed in the tragedy of one single day. Ideally, Selina would have loved to declare her hatred for the city that had left her for dead time and time again, but the void she felt in her heart did not allow her to do so. Gotham had served many roles in her life, becoming her best friend and her most vile enemy. It was the threshold of her youth, the only place that reminded her that once upon a time she had been normal. All of it was gone now, hidden under ash and debris, molested by Talia’s intense lust for destruction. Most of all, he was gone and something inside her told her that she’d never be okay with even the thought of that.
Holly was nowhere to be found, and in the moment Selina couldn’t bring herself to genuinely care. She’d turn up eventually, like she always did. Right now, the only thought possessing her mind was the hauntingly clear image of the only person who made her feel safe blow himself into smithereens. The replayed image stained her mind, bright red fireworks signifying the safety of the greater good and the termination of her someone who’d actually meant something to her. He was her favorite part of Gotham, and now he would never know. The amount of guilt she felt was nauseating. Selina had been the one to turn her back on him, she betrayed him and presented him to Bane in trade her her own safety. Maybe, if she hadn’t done so he would have found a reason not to blow himself up. Maybe, they would have been happy. Self loathing hs always enjoyed an unrequited love with Selina, and it snaked his arms around her tired form as she sunk further into the armchair.
His familiar voice shattered her thoughts, and she quickly decided that she was so exhausted that she was hallucinating things. She promptly let out a bitter unladylike snort, her eyes still fixed on the creases of leather in her tight fitting pants. Great, not only was she broken but now, she was also delusional. A desirable combination, clearly. Even still it was nice to hear the warmth in his tone, and relive how it used to ease the pattering of her heart. She preferred insanity over silence, and she wasn’t sure what that said about her.
The movement of a shadow was what it took to tear her from her trance like state, and Selina glanced up at the doorway with furrowed brows, trying to rack her brain for where she had hid her weapons. Looters, rapists, and murders were still on the loose, and Holly had been stupid enough to leave the door unlocked. Bomb or not, locking the door was the smart thing to do especially in Old Town. Just because Selina was the best thief in town, did not render her the only thief. However, any frustration she felt towards Holly melted away, for the vision that met her gaze was not the mangy looter she had been expecting. It was Bruce. There he was, in all his glory, sopping wet wearing the same look of fatigue as she was.
Broken. God, he was so fucking broken. A different sort of broken, one she had not seen on him before. Sure, bruises and cuts were peppered across his body, a mix of blood and salt water dripped onto her rotting wooden floor, but this break in him went far past his physical state. It was glazed in his eyes, it was laced in every tired breath that left his lips, she could hear it in his voice. The Bat had divorced his city even though his love for her was boundless. Selina would wonder later, when he was fast asleep with his lazy breaths tickling the skin of her neck, whether this annulment meant that he had chosen her instead, and set his boy-scout-esque behavior aside to be with her as some form of self rebellion. At the time, all she could muster was a blank stare.
“I couldn’t go.” Selina choked out in a hoarse voice after several moments of silence had gone by. Not without you.
The sorry sight of Bruce triggered something deep within her that had been hibernating for many years, hiding inside her as she sported her fearless facade. Her lips parted, and there was a hot burning behind her eyes. She couldn’t remember crying past the age of eight or nine. Gotham had hardened her to the point where nothing much phased her, anything horrid was expected and when the occasional blessing wheedled it’s way into her life it was a pleasant surprise and certainly not an expectation. Desperately, Selina attempted to swallow the lump forming right in the middle of her throat but was unsuccessful and she felt like the same little orphan girl who used to camp out in quiet allies in the richer parts of town and sob at the sight of girls her age with loving, living parents and sparkly barrettes.
Tentatively, Selina rose from the chair, hands bunched into fists at her sides. She wanted to touch him, to make sure he was still there to remind her that there was good in the world. She didn’t care if he was wheezy and weak, as long as he was truly before her. Taking a small step towards him, her heart rapped against her ribcage trying her hardest to suffocate the idea of his presence as a cruel illusion, a ghost of what should have been. And then, merely inches away and the distinct scent of sea water and blood greeted her nose. Swallowing harshly as the tears now threatened to leak from the corners of her eyes, Selina placed a hand on his chest. He was soaked, and shaking, and cold, but there he was, as tangible as he’d always been. That was enough to sending her drowning in a pool of sentiments, of feelings that she was sure she didn’t even have names for. Wordlessly Selina wrapped her arms around his middle, and laid her cheek flat against his chest. Her eyes were clenched shut and she focused intently on the consoling rhythm of his heartbeat, tears now splayed across her cheeks.
“I hate you,” she whispered in shaky breath, her fingers lightly gripping the fabric of the front of his suit.
“You should have told me,” she breathed, not even bothering to make her voice sound firm. She didn’t have the willpower to do much of anything, save for marvel in the notion that Bruce was very much alive encased her arms. Suddenly things weren’t as grim as they had been five minutes ago.
Gotta keep the creeps outta my hair somehow, Pam. I’ll meet you whenever you’re free. Bring Harleen with you.
The Killers - Sam’s Town
“Spies…” He quirked an eyebrow, “Is that what people are saying these days?”
He sighed, began to walk towards her just to see how she’d move. If she’d back up to move away, or stand tall and straight, pretending to be an immovable piece of wall in his path. Even subtle movements betrayed fight or flight, and he wanted to see how she measured up—cats were unpredictable creatures after all.
“It’s the irony of the game isn’t it?” he dragged out the question like smoke from a cigarette, “All this town’s little, uh…operations get blown way out of proportion. What I have is…muscle and reputation.”
He tilted his head, reptilian, bringing the image of her into his brain slanted. He was quite close to her now, close enough to hear the slight creaks her suit made when she shifted her weight. The eyes that peered out at him from the depths of the mask were dark and unimpressed, but her red mouth was drawn in a tight line and that told him all he needed to know.
“Thing is, I’ve been in this town as long as him”
He didn’t have to explain to her, she knew who he meant.
“And all people know is that, uh…I don’t bluff. And you’re gonna help me because you know I’m the one person who can get him. Because I know his linear little way of thinking. His priorities. And you’re right up there, aren’t you? Of course you are, just look at you.”
He chuckled, spreading his arms as if to widen his point.
“It’s the vigilante codependence that’s just too cute. None of you really work alone, even if you’d like to. I don’t need to threaten your life, because you already know he’d crumple without you. But you…”
He opted to lean against the wall beside her, tongue poking out briefly to swipe across his lip as he jammed his hands back into his pockets.
“You still think you can limp on without him. Heh. It’s why I’m giving you a choice. I want you to do it because he uh, trusts you. Because you’re good at it. Because he has his fingers in so many different pies and I wanna know what he’s up to. It’s never hard to find out what the Bat is up to. Bruce Wayne though—he’s got a lot more political sway.”
He was incredibly curious what the Bat got up to when his suit was three buttons rather than Kevlar. The bargains and deals that went on behind closed doors. The Batman’s fall had been something he’d started years ago, and was almost brought to fruition by a man in a mask. But the whole saving Gotham from the bomb fiasco—it’d restored the faith. How hard did a guy have to push to topple someone? He sighed.
“I’m giving you a choice, ‘Lina.”
His eyes rolled back for a moment, as if double-checking that the corner of the room was still empty before they settled back on her.
“You can save face for him, or you can save his life.”
Selina kept her dark eyes fixed on him, watching him as he tentatively inched towards her. She could feel his eyes sizing her up, aching to figure out who she really was for pressure and fear had a terrible way of stripping all cloaks that people slipped on. It left you stark naked. But Selina Kyle had competed in these sorts of games her entire life, lying to police officers about her father’s enslavement to the bottle at the early age of seven, staring up at them with innocent green eyes and then later on in life Selina became skilled in brushing her lips along the underside of a politician’s jaw only long enough to filch his diamond encrusted cufflinks from his wrist, tricking men into believing her lust was true. This game was her life, and it would be till her blood went cold.
She stood before the Clown, stony and stoic, despite the frantic hammering of her heart against its cage of bones. As he leaned beside her, and she willed herself not to wince, not to turn away from him in horror. Selina could make out the scars that peppered his face, giving him the image of a man who was blessed with boundless happiness. The photographs that were printed in the newspapers or the images that plagued the channels of TVs all across the city of Gotham did him no justice, for he was a gruesome sight to be seen.
All of these thoughts were flung from her mind when the proposition was introduced.
Her first reaction was panic.. It swirled her brain like a noose, fogging her thoughts until there were no thoughts at all, regret placing it’s hands around her neck and tightening. Suddenly the breath that had been entrapped in her lungs was leaving her mouth in raspy wafts.
If the Joker had bestowed such a venture a year prior, Selina would have agreed without haste in return for a bank account stocked to the brim. It would have been something similar to a business deal to Selina, leaving both parties guilt free and strangely satisfied with their new prize. However, things were tremendously different now. Selina had spent many months with Bruce, becoming familiar with him and soaking in his presence. He was Bruce Wayne, who stole most of the blankets in his sleep, had a friendly rivalry with her house cat, and trusted her despite all the numerous times she had betrayed him. He was Bruce Wayne, who had arms that made even a thief who had forgotten how the warmth of affection felt, feel protected and wanted. How could she ruin him and all the aspirations he wished to achieve? How could she go through with scheme that had malignant objectives towards he who was so tender with her? More importantly, how could she end his life? The thought of his lifeless body being buried underneath the world, to decay and to be forgotten made her heart sink. She couldn’t perform this diabolical task of terminating the city’s faithful guardian. She loved him too much.
“Generous of you to give me an option.” she said with a scowl, turning her head slightly in order to catch his disfigured face out the corner of her eye.
“Are you expecting me to pick from the two at his very moment?” she asked him coldly. Her tone was surprisingly harsh, sounding stronger in the air than Selina had expected. This was something she was grateful for because she knew with each passing second her mask of recklessness was briskly disintegrating. The proposition triggered a hopeless in Selina that hadn’t weaved it’s way into her life since childhood. She should have known better than to accept such an ambiguous invitation from a psychopath, for nothing good ever stems from meetings called on by the Joker.
“What happens if I chose to do nothing?”
Marina & The Diamonds - How to be a heartbreaker
Primadonna - Marina and the Diamonds
download ( here)
Bruce let her talk, cut the rest of his salmon filet into tiny pieces while he listened, and when she was finished, he allowed the silence to wrap around them both. What could he say to make her understand why he was back in the cowl? Were there even words? It was just something he had to do, something he had to see through to the end. The streets of Gotham were his and his alone. Nothing would change that. His mission didn’t mean as much to John. He was doing it to be a protector, to be above the law and do things he couldn’t as an officer. It was—different, for Bruce.
"Every criminal that I take off the streets is one less person out there with the capabilities of hurting someone else," he said finally, after rolling the words around on his tongue for a good few moments. What was it about Selina that got him to open up so quickly? He was never any good at personal confessions or explaining himself past the superficial. But this—this mission was something he’d been doing for years and she was someone he found himself confiding in over and over. She made him feel. She made him believe. “It’s one less gang member dead. It’s one more mother who doesn’t have to worry about her son getting in with the wrong crowd; one more family that gets to stay together."
Thomas Wayne had believed in the sanctity of life and lived every day with that ideal in mind. Bruce had taken it for one of his own standards, adopted it as a code to operate under. He’d had a lot of time to think about his crusade—what it meant to him and why he was doing it. At first, he had thought that becoming the Batman would be a way to avenge his parents. He would kill Joe Chill just as he had taken what was most important to Bruce, but that was not the case. His was not a story of vengeance. It never would be. Though he told himself he continued being the Batman to fight crime, he did it to overcome his fears—fears of the world, of who he was, of what would happen to the city without him. He let his heavy gaze settle on her, wanting so badly for Selina to understand. Bruce didn’t think she would.
"I’m aware of the dangers. I know what to expect," he continued to say, “And I don’t care, Selina. This is just a body. It heals, with time." He’d faced off with Scarecrow, Harvey Dent, Joker, Bane, numerous gang members, and hundreds of petty criminals. He’d been injured, broken, and beaten bloody. Of course he was aware. And he knew how easy it was for someone he considered an ally to turn their back on him. His trust was hard won and placing it with others was back-breakingly difficult. “Even if it’s twenty, thirty, fifty, or just one, I’m still going to try because preventing even one person from being hurt is better than none at all. So don’t tell me it’s not worth it, Selina, because it is."
Eventually, he tore his gaze away to focus on the repetitive camera clicks he could hear several tables over. The reporter he’d noticed earlier seemed to have gotten over his social etiquette skills long enough to feel like he was free to snatch a few more photos for the gossip columns. He glared, feeling sufficiently annoyed, and turned back to Selina, noting how little of her food she’d actually touched and how late it was getting. Owner of his company or not, he still only had an hour for lunch break. He debated on offering to buy her dinner later, but knew she would reject it on principle. “We should go soon. You can get a box for that, if you like.”
She hated this. And she knew that he knew. She hated the way he’d talk to her like she were some sort of clueless child, with an unwavering and noble tone. The way he spoke of justice and how another’s life weighed more than his own. It was utter bullshit. Selina was aware that Bruce was not striving to adopt a condescending tone, but his speeches consistently sounded so damned patronizing to her. He would always play the martyr and she would always play the criminal. That’s why one of the reasons that she deserted him in Italy. Heroes and thieves do not share the same bed without someone becoming gravely maimed in the process.
No more words were exchanged as the food was taken from in front of them, and the last of their drinks were gulped down. No words passed the two when they rouse from their table and ambled towards the door. No words were traded as they stood on the sidewalk, both not entirely sure what to do or say given that they were so skeptical of the other. Selina reacted first. She usually did.
It would be awhile until they saw each other next, or at least that’s what Selina had presumed for a multitude of reasons. Bruce would be juggling the company, elaborate events, whatever exotic girlfriend he had that week, maintaining his image, and of course, the cowl. Nostalgic visits to Old Town did not suit him. They never did. He always looked horribly out of place, with his expensive suits, Italian-made shoes, and flashy sports cars amongst the modest crowd of Gotham’s worst. Regardless, it was evident that he would no longer be available for her to pester or for their lax relationship to rekindle, whether he craved her company or not. So, she thought about kissing him as a small good bye gift, seeing as she was unable to before her abrupt departure in Italy. She pondered kissing on the mouth, though that signify too many feelings of remorse and hope and Selina Kyle was not about to make herself appear as some love struck moron in front of Bruce. Besides a move that bold that would only stroke his already large ego. It would proclaim that she was resigning herself to him, and she most certainly was not. She had never belonged him, and she never would. Selina Kyle belonged to the City of Gotham, and the city only. One man could not handle her temperament, she was a rare creature that required an entire city’s attention and lustful gaze in order to feel satiated. A kiss to the cheek would hint in the direction friendliness openness, and trust, but to be frank, Selina had no intention of conceiving friendships with any soul. Especially not him. He was too much of a boy scout for her liking. A kiss to the nose was too playful. A kiss to the neck was too seductive. A kiss the forehead was too motherly. (It’s not as though she could reach, either.) She so badly wanted to touch him, to pronounce that she cared and she missed him and she would worry for his wellbeing though the scowl displayed on her mouth suggested otherwise… Selina Kyle was too good at this game of self control, too good to let herself fall through the cracks. Too skilled to fall for him.
Selina reassumed her rightful title as the Ice Queen, and placed a hand over his elbow for it was the way she was able to touch him whilst also being frosty. “Have a nice life, Wayne. I hope all your unsavory endeavors acquire all sorts success.”
Formality. She had whispered his name so many times, during mid-laughter at hole in the wall cafes located in European countries, during sleepless nights in tangled sheets with his breath heavy on his shoulder, during times of fear, during times of hope. Bruce meant comfort and protection, two things she was not accustom to but clung to when she was presented with the opportunity. She had opted for his last name because it was a cold hearted thing to do. She did it because it was the only way to voice her wrath, to stab him in the middle of a crowded street without spending the night in a jail cell. She did it because she hoped it would hurt him.
With that, Selina turned on her heel and walked, straight faced and heavy hearted. She walked away from Bruce Wayne for the second time that year. She walked and walked till she reached her home until the blisters on her feet matched the vices in her heart. She hated him for making her so fucking sentimental.