From the Archives of Pain and Sorrow

So, I have a confession to make.

About a thousand years ago–give or take a decade–I wrote a het Batman fanfic. I didn’t even know what fanfic was, back then, or that it had precedent, and it was before ZoomBoy was born, I’m not even sure if there was an A03.

So I showed my friend, absurdly proud of it. She wasn’t a bestie or anything, but I thought she was a friend and she laughed her ass off. She thought it was hysterical that I’d be putting my time and energy into something this stupid. She would go on to completely screw me over as an administrator–I guess looking back to that moment, I probably should have known.

But in a way, this right here is one of the places I started, because I obviously haven’t lost my love for Batman, although I now picture him with a happy ending. A different ending, but a happy one.

So here you go–enjoy. But if it triggers hysterical laughter in you, uh, be kind?

The Seduction of Batman
They lost. They didn’t often lose—they were too good for that. He’d been working the streets for nearly eighteen years, and she for five, and together, they were like ballet. They might have saved the family, if Dick had been there, working for them, or even Tim. But Tim was away at prep school, so Robin was out of commission. And Dick was NightWing now, and he was in a completely different city, looking dangerous and savage, and so much like the old man that Barbara couldn’t believe she hadn’t slept with him when he’d been Robin. But she hadn’t, and there had been nothing to hold him in Gotham, except his love of the old man, but Bruce had been kind, telling him to be his own person and all that. Bruce was always kind, Barbara was thinking on the ride home. It was one of those things that made him great.

So the family was lost—and not to any of the really colorful, dangerous wackos out there that usually ended up in Arkham, but to one of the casual, run of the mill wackos that so often got lost in the bigger shuffle. Bruce hadn’t lost him—he’d known he’d been out there, knew he was a bomb about to blow up, but he’d been snagged on the way to the house. Save the family, or keep the bomb from blowing up a crowded mall? In the cartoon they could have done both, but not even Barbara’s frantic call (with voice disguiser, of course) to her father helped them do it in real life. They had sorted through the rubble of the home afterwards, the blood stained walls, the stuffed animals and games that were all that remained of two very happy childhoods—terminated in the most brutal way of all. Barbara had been appalled. She had wept, and she never wept—it was too hard being a superheroine in a man’s world to cry often—and Bruce had held her, gently, using that big warm wall that was Batman to soothe her as he often did for other people.

And she had been soothed, too. In spite of that brief flirtation with Dick, she really did live for these moments, when he stopped treating her as a partner, and treated her as a woman. But something had prompted her to look into his eyes, and she’d sobbed all over again. He had on his game face, of course, but he was destroyed. Devastated. Nothing looked back at her but pain and guilt and anguish—and that curious, unbidden self-loathing that always seemed so out of place in Batman. Without realizing it, Barbara found that she had wrapped her arms around him, and was now whispering to him as though he were a child. He was fifteen years older than her—he had always been the older brother, the brooding uncle. So many people in the city depended on him, trusted him, and believed in him until he was something larger than life. She did not realize, in all those years of schoolgirl crush on Batman, and real love for Bruce Wayne, the absolute schism between the two people in one soul—until she saw the pain there that bridged the gap.

Without knowing how or why, they found themselves back in the car, speeding out of Gotham. It wasn’t dawn yet, but they had done this long enough to know, bone deep, that nothing else of importance would happen that night. They were only superheroes—not Gods. They couldn’t go back after standing in that house. And Barbara, in the stillness of that silent ride, planned her first seduction.

They arrived back at the cave, and Alfred was there, as usual, with clothes, baths in the double bathroom that Bruce had had installed when she had joined the team. It had been a sweet thing to do, she had thought then, at eighteen, still afflicted with maidenly modesty. But in the five years since, she had realized that it had also effectively cut her off from him. If he came home wounded, she never saw him bleed. She’d asked Dick, before he’d left, and Dickie had told her that before, in the old days, the two of them had limped upstairs, and gone to their separate rooms, bathed, and fallen asleep. So the boys and girls locker room had been a sweet concession—and also a way of being a team, but still being alone. Not tonight.

She emerged from her shower room clean, but for a few scrapes and bruises, and wrapped in a huge, fluffy pink towel. The pink, she thought, was Bruce’s idea of a joke. Batman had no sense of humor. She caught Alfred before he walked into Bruce’s side of the locker carrying medical supplies and a robe, and silently took them from him. Alfred looked at her kindly, cocked his head, and she shrugged. Are you sure? He asked. You will only get hurt. She responded, Pain or pain? You tell me which one’s worse.

Bruce was sitting on the massage table, naked, propped up on his arms. His head had sunk to his chest, and she saw he was bleeding, rather heavily, from a gash on his shoulder. She had not known he’d been hurt. How often, she wondered, had he kept her from harm, and been hurt himself, and she had not known? Anger made her hands sure as she stitched up his wound—they’d both read up on medical tapes and done some field surgery. It was part of the job.

What was not part of the job was her yearning to touch more of him. His skin was smooth—and pale to the middle of his arms. Of course, she thought sadly. He was a playboy by day—but how could he explain those scars, and there were not a few, at the pool. She knew now why he always sent her to the country club, when it needed to be done, and felt stupid for not guessing. Ah… that had hurt. He tensed, and she realized in depth how powerfully he was built. The black leather of the costume tended to minimize him, but his shoulders were broad and heavy, and even his slim waist was encased in muscle. His chest had a smattering of hair, but not much.

“Damn, Alfred, you’re losing your touch.” He swore, and she mumbled something, wondering when he, with his lightning reflexes and laser mind, would realize that she was most definitely not Alfred. But then, she realized with a pang of guilt, this was the one place in the world he felt safe, and she had intruded.

“You’re quiet tonight.” Bruce was saying, stretching his neck out by leaning his chin even further into his chest. “Normally you’d ask me how this happened.”

She looked at him, so weary, so wounded, and not just on the shoulder. This will not last, she thought. I can not cure him. He will not cure himself. Nevertheless, she hopped up on the table next to him, relieved when he didn’t startle, and leaned her head on his shoulder.

“How did it happen?” She asked. He looked down at her, his face still fell and grim. It was a fine face—planed cheeks, a good, straight nose, sensitive mouth. Everything put together to make him handsome, but not too much so. She loved his eyes the most—silly thing, really. Romantic. On any given day she could hardly tell what color they were, because their hazel color was so completely nondescript. She loved his eyes because they were so good at hiding his wounds. Because when she looked into them now, she could almost believe they would leave the street some day, retire, have babies. Be happy. It would never happen. But for a while, while she was young, they could have the night together.

“It happened when that piece of shrapnel from the explosion almost took your head off.” He said harshly. They had enclosed the bomb, surrounded it with steel and kevlar so that it had only destroyed a room, not three thousand people. The bomber, thinking he had succeeded had run home, killed his ex-wife and her new family, and then himself. Batman and Batgirl didn’t lead pretty lives.

“I didn’t see it.” She said honestly. “You shoved me in front of you—like you always do.”

His face tightened, almost too much to be devastatingly handsome—now he was just devastating. “Your father loves you very much.” He said. “I have enough blood on my hands.”

She slapped him, hard. She trained as much as he did, and she drew blood, just a little, from the corner of his sculpted mouth. He just looked at her with those weary, lying eyes, and didn’t bother to mop it up. She looked at her hand, smaller, but strong, and showed it to him.

“And now I have your blood on my hand. So what do we do now?”

He looked away, chuckled, but not happily. “Your father would love to have you date Bruce Wayne, Barbara Gordon. But he’d die before you married Batman.”

“But he loves you both.” She told him truthfully, and he glared at her, and the lie fell away from his eyes. He was exhausted. He was tortured. He didn’t want to be saved. The sardonic part of her mind, the one that would save her wholeness and sanity when all this was over, thought wryly that he was pretty much every girl’s fantasy. Danger was an aphrodisiac.

“You will hate me in the end.” He told her, the shadow to her thoughts so close that she startled.

“Only one of you.” She told him truthfully. She closed her eyes and breathed in, smelling him. He had a smell unlike any other man—it wasn’t cosmetic, or even the leather that seemed to linger on him even when he was in his day clothes. It was danger and darkness. Even Dickie, she knew, had not smelled quite so dark. There had been a neon electricity to Dick that was missing in Bruce. Bruce was all shadows, and she was hungry to hide in them.

“Which one?” He asked, and she could tell that he was worried. And, finally, the human emotion she had waited for, that would let her do this, she could tell that he was scared.

“The one that drives me away.” She leaned very close to him, touched her lips to his shoulders, and she felt a soft kiss in her trademark red hair. He took her upstairs then, and then took her, period. It was skin and skin, and the shadowed magic she craved, and again. And again. And again, until she was sore and throbbing and exhausted—and possessed. No matter what befell them, she knew, no matter who she ended up with in the end, she would never quite shake off the possession of the Dark Knight. Those other women, she wondered, who had shared Bruce Wayne’s bed—had they felt like this? She asked him, as they drowsed off to sleep.

No. No, he whispered, and she could hear something alien in his voice, something not whole, not in control. They hadn’t felt like this. They hadn’t loved him like she did. It would be, she perceived then, a very short ten years.

0 thoughts on “From the Archives of Pain and Sorrow”

  1. K. Tuttle says:

    Yep, you can tell that it's an early writing sample, but only because I've gotten to read your later works, which have grown in confidence and characterization since then. This is a lovely piece. I myself got a whole little chapter written once about Han and Leia canoodling after Return of the Jedi, but was never brave enough to let anyone read it. Now you're a celebrated author, and that witch is stuck in school administration hell. Sweet!

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