Occupation of Gotham City: Day 2
Selina shoved today's food tray under the fence. GCN studio heads repeated the information they had discovered yesterday while waiting to go to Vicky Vale's location. "Do you think they drew straws or she figures Bane didn't kill her at the stadium so she has immunity now?"
"He wants to keep the world's attention on Gotham until the reactor bomb blow up." Bruce never turned his head from the television set.
"How long do we have on that?"
"Months, I'm not sure how many." He curled his arm around her hips after she sat down. "Once I read Pavel's paper, I concentrated less on the calculations and more on how to make it not blow up."
And now that Bane killed Pavel, Bruce was probably the only one in Gotham who could defuse the bomb. Like she needed more pressure to keep him alive.
GCN finally brought the slim brunette to the screen. "This is Vicky Vale live from outside Blackgate Prison with reporters from other Gotham news channels. Our news organizations were all given the same invitation from Bane's Army to come to Blackgate and bear witness to the next stage of the revolution. They're… they're coming."
The camera panned off of her and focused down the street. Three camo-painted Hummers drove slow enough to keep pace with the men marching beside them. They parked across the street from the prison wall. The armed mercenaries took positions on the steps of the columned building. Bane climbed on top of the Hummer's roof. The camera followed him up and the white stone columns behind him cast a perfect democratic appeal background. "Do they teach public relations at mercenary school or is Bane naturally gifted?" Selina asked.
Bruce's hand on her thigh curled into a fist. "The League honed Bane's talents."
Before she could question his certainty on that point, Bane launched into his speech. "Behind you stands the symbol of oppression, Blackgate Prison, where a thousand men have languished under the name of this man." He paused pull out an eight-by-ten photograph; the same head shot used during his campaign, his funeral, and the festivities annually honoring his memory. "Harvey Dent, who has been held up to you as the shining example of justice."
Selina frowned. Where was he going with this story? Everyone in Gotham knew Batman killed Dent because the Commissioner, the Mayor, and the City Council all repeated it. But she was sitting next to the man who had saved Harvey Dent and didn't let her shoot any of Bane's men. Bruce stared at Bane.
"You have been supplied with a false idol." Bane ripped Dent's photograph in half down his handsome All-American face. "To stop you from tearing down this corrupt city," he continued ripping the photograph into confetti. "Let me tell you the truth about Harvey Dent from the words of Gotham's police commissioner James Gordon."
Bruce squeezed his fist tighter.
Bane unfolded sheets of paper he pulled from his coat's pocket. "The Batman didn't murder Harvey Dent. He saved my boy, then took the blame for Harvey's appalling crimes, so I could--to my shame--build a lie around this fallen idol. I praised the madman who tried to murder my own child. But I can no longer live with my lie. It is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth and it is time for me to resign. And do you accept this man's resignation?"
The camera picked up the roar of men's voices.
"And do you accept the resignation of all of these liars? Of all the corrupt? Retake Gotham from the corrupt!" Bane waved his hand at the Hummer behind him. The man lay on the roof and braced his rocket launcher.
The camera jerked to the reporters running away from the massive black steel gate that had given the prison its name. The cameraman turned back to Bane from a safer vantage point, so now the screen showed the whole street.
Bane shifted so he spoke to the reporters and the prison. "The rich, the oppressors of generations, who have kept you down with myths of opportunity. And we'll give it back to you," he threw out his hands in a sign of generosity, "the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please."
The rocket launcher shot the black gate. Bane's mercenaries marched through the jagged hole in the metal.
"Step forward those who would serve, for an army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive as they learn to serve true justice. This great city, it will endure. Gotham will survive." The camera panned to the stream of men in orange jumpsuits brandishing weapons over their heads as they marched onto the street.
"Gotham will survive until Bane blows it up." Selina crossed her arms.
"They didn't get Gordon."
"What good will that do? He just resigned."
Bruce released her hips and pulled his arm across his chest. "Don't, just don't."
"Dent tried to kill Gordon's son. You stopped him, didn't you?"
He turned his head away from the television screen, but focused on the rocky ceiling above. "Yes, but he had already killed the two police officers guarding him at the hospital, Detective Wuertz, Sal Maroni, Maroni's bodyguard, and Maroni's chauffeur. Gordon and I are the only ones who remember those six men."
"Well, it's so modest compared to the Joker's spree from the same time."
"Don't," Bruce's voice dropped closer to a growl.
"No guns, no killing," she snapped back at him. "How could you cover up six murders and the attempted murder of a child?"
He closed his eyes. "It was my fault."
"How can you believe that?"
"Dent loved Rachel. The Joker killed her, worked on Dent's mind when Dent's mental state had him refusing medical care, and Dent went after everyone responsible for her death. If I had kept her safe, none of it would have happened. I had to take the blame, so the good Dent did, his legacy, would survive him. I owed him that much."
"You loved Rachel too," she said softly. He flinched before he stopped himself. "So you punished yourself by destroying your legacy."
"What legacy?" he countered. "I have never mattered. The last and worthless Wayne living off everything better ancestors created. The one thing I could do was stand between the good people of Gotham and the evil that preyed on them, and now I can't even do that. I can't even stand with Gordon while he takes the blame for my idea." He flung his arm at the television screen, and then sucked in air at the pain he caused himself. "I matter even less now."
So what was she to him, and did it even matter when there was no way in hell she could make up for losing Rachel the love goddess? She shouldn't even care, since thinking he was worthy enough for a rescue didn't even register. So maybe she needed to impress him with an actual rescue. She got up without uttering one single sarcastic word over his bullshit reasoning. The magnetic lock was suddenly interesting.
The lock was welded to the door frame of the gate. A pipe was welded around the power supply and it was welded to the cage frame above. All the seams where something could be potentially wedged in had been welded together. Not that disrupting the power supply would unlock the door, but all the welds meant she couldn't rig up a way to electrocute Barsad. Now that was a pity.
The key to the lock was a slender, ten-button keypad screwed onto the door frame. She recognized the cheap brand: enter the right five digit code and it released the lock. The code breaker in her belt could break the one hundred thousand combinations in a few seconds. Too bad her belt had been taken as a trophy.
Since conversation with Bruce just upset them both, she had nothing but time to kill. She pressed the one button five times. The lock didn't buzz. She repeated the action with the two button. No buzz. At least she was facing the tunnel and saw Barsad walk silently to the cage. The whole damn group of them needed bells tied to their shoes.
"What are you doing, Traitor's Whore?" Barsad said when he reached the cage.
She batted her eyes at him. "Just admiring your security features. I thought a silent alarm would be too advanced for whatever third-world nation you guys hail from."
"Leave it alone, Whore."
"My name is Selina, Ms. Kyle if you're nasty, which you are, Barsad." He blinked at her. "I get bored easy and you won't let us change the channel." She pressed the same key five times, now she was up to number six.
Barsad frowned as he punched in the code with a minimum of hand movement so she couldn't figure it out. She backed up to the cage's midpoint, and he followed after the gate's lock engaged once it swung shut. "And just how bored will you be if I tie you up again, Whore?"
Selina stepped closer with a hip cocked to one side. "Kinky bastard, aren't you?" Barsad's whole body stiffened. "So what did you do to piss Bane off to get stuck down here with us?"
"It is a great honor to guard the Traitor, but what would a thieving whore know about honor?"
She smirked. "Just enough to feel sorrier for what the guy on the real shit list must have ended up with if this is the reward for a job well done." Barsad swung his fist, but she ducked under it and straightened leaning one hand on his chest and the other on his hip. "What skill it must take to guard a mere woman and a man who can't move."
He gritted his teeth, stepped back, and backhanded her across the face. She dropped to the cot, but Bruce caught her shoulders before she face-planted on his chest. She pushed her hands under his shoulders as he pulled her down into a hug and snarled at Barsad. "Battering defenseless women; how the mighty League of Shadows has fallen."
"Keep your judgment, you worthless traitor!" The gate buzzed for him and he slammed it so hard the cage shook and small rocks rolled down the slide.
"It sounds like a big, fat lie when he says it," Bruce said.
Selina turned her head. Barsad was already beyond the bend in the tunnel. She frowned down at Bruce. "Defenseless?"
"Like that isn't what you want him to think."
She felt her smirk melt into a smile when his hazel eyes glittered. "What did I end up with?" She pulled her hands out from under his back and held up an unsheathed Ka-Bar survival knife. "Did I cut you?"
He rolled his head from side to side. "Hide it quick."
She turned to the rock slide eating up their space. The fencing was tore off the dented horizontal support pole before the metal vanished between the boulders and rocks. A third of the solid rock wall joined the rock slide, but all the puzzle pieces looked jammed together. And they didn't have a movie poster of Rita Hayward to paper over the hole. Plus Barsad would check the rocks first thing.
The metal table top was a solid slab as wide as the hilt guard of the knife and set against the chain-link fencing. She pushed on the fencing. It gave enough, and she wove the long blade through the diamond-shaped links. When she let go of the fencing, it pressed the knife against the table and out of sight.
She returned to the cot and brushed off her knees when she sat down. "Do I need to keep it out of your reach?"
He frowned, but his eyes focused past her as something slid into place for him. "That's why Alfred didn't tell me what Rachel had decided." She opened her mouth to not apologize for hinting that he was suicidal, but he continued. "No wonder he accused me of just waiting for things to go bad and suicide via Batman was what I really wanted. He was right, up to a point. What good is Bruce Wayne to Gotham? Batman has a purpose, and things are too bad for me to take that way out. Not when so many will suffer for it."
"Okay, I believe that. I wish your reason was more selfish, but I believe you."
"I'm selfish." He reached up and cupped her cheek that Barsad didn't slap. His expression shifted between adoration in his eyes and bared teeth. "I want to pound Barsad until all he knows is pain for hurting you."
"That's your idea of selfishness?" She leaned into his caress. "You want that for me, and it's sweet enough that I might leave you some of Barsad after I'm done making him whimper like a dog."
"You should be prying the lock apart right now to get out but I want you with me."
"Now that's selfish, but I'm not leaving without you." She kissed the palm of his hand. "Besides, I don't want to do that until I figure out all the alarms. Expecting overkill from your playmates."
"They've renamed you traitor. Obviously there is history."
He grimaced. "You hadn't asked about that."
"You still owe me disclosure. And no, showing me your toys is not the same as telling me."
They both heard the running feet down the tunnel. Bruce dropped his hand as Barsad jerked open the gate. "You thieving whore! Where is my knife?" He grabbed her hair and yanked her from the cot.
Bruce wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled back. Barsad seized her arm with his other hand and heaved her toward the rock slide. Bruce screamed as he tumbled off the cot. He let her go to catch himself, but still collapsed.
Selina landed back first on the sharp pebbles scattered across the floor. Barsad yanked her wrists against the fencing between the rock slide and the port-a-potty toilet, and tied them together with a zip tie. She shifted her wrists to give herself slack and rammed her knee into his thigh. He knelt and trapped her legs between his knees. "Where is my knife?" He shoved the baggy grey T-shirt over her breasts as his hands slid over her skin.
"Maybe you left it in your other pants!" His knuckles collided with her cheekbone again. Nobody liked her sarcasm today.
While she was dazed from that blow, Barsad moved off of her. He kicked over the cot. Bruce swung a fist in his direction, but Barsad shifted out of the path as he patted down Bruce's legs. Bruce hit him when he moved back up his body. Barsad snorted as the punch didn't even rock his body. "You are so weak. You cannot even protect your whore without your mask. What did Ra's al Ghul ever see in you?" He drew his arm back and knocked Bruce's head against the floor.
"Leave him alone!" Selina screamed.
Barsad sneered at her, and then pulled Bruce until he lay perpendicular at her feet and on his side. While Bruce screamed out the pain racking his body, Barsad grabbed her legs. "Where's my knife, whore?"
"Go to hell, you fanatical bastard!"
He let go of her left leg to unbutton his pants. She drew up her knee and hammered her heel into his pectoral muscle. That unbalanced him enough for her to sweep him. He landed on the rock slide. She drew both her knees against her stomach to kick again. He brushed himself off as he stood. "Stay like that, whore. A hungry belly will make you submit."
Selina didn't relax her legs until Barsad disappeared down the tunnel. "Like I've never dieted before, asshole." She twisted her wrists and bit down on her lip when the zip tie pushed into her bruises.
Bruce gasped for air. "Selina?"
"I'm fine, just--" Her elbows flapped against her ears. "It'll take longer than I thought to get loose. Just wait." Her eyes watered as she pushed her hands apart.
"Don't hurt yourself." He rolled onto his stomach with a grunt that almost became a cry.
She craned her neck to look at him. "Same to you."
"Pain can be put in its place." He raised his upper body onto his forearms. He closed his eyes in concentration, and pulled himself in line with her using deliberate movements and controlled breathing. "Pain does not work for you, you work through pain." His lower body nestled against hers as he reached up and grabbed the fencing. He focused his now open eyes on her wrists.
Selina drew her jaw back up. "How did you?"
"Something I learned in India." He inhaled deeply before grabbing the plastic zip tie and pulling on it. That gave her another centimeter to pull one hand free without cutting into her wrist. "Harder to do with a concussion." He looked down at her face as she pulled her other hand out. Blood from his reopened forehead cut oozed into his eyebrow. He let go of the zip tie and latched all his fingers through the fencing. A tremor ran through his bicep. "You should move before I collapse."
She pushed up and captured his lips. "Just so you understand it's not you, it's the rocks merging with me."
He lowered himself onto his chest after she slid out from under him. He licked his lips. "Do you think you can take down Barsad? Honestly."
"Without my boots or any other weapons? He'll win. Hell, one of his larger buddies got the drop on me and I was dressed for a fight." She dragged the cot beside him. "Let me know when you're ready."
She didn't topple over this time putting him back on the cot and managed to drag it back where he could watch the television after he turned down her offer not to. Bruce watched her as she cleaned his cut again. "I want you to run."
"You know what Daggett told me when I said I wanted the CleanSlate? Want doesn't get. Stop making that dead asshole right." He frowned. "I'm looking for a successful way out, okay? For both of us."
"Okay," he said with a sigh. "Lay down with me?"
She put the water bottle and bandanna rag on the table, picked up the blanket, and lay down beside him. His arm curled around her and pulled her closer so her head rested on his shoulder. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't." He stroked her arm. "Everyone in Gotham knows about my parents. Fourteen years after that, the D.A.'s office gave their murderer, Joe Chill, early parole in exchange for his testimony on Carmine Falcone. I came home from Princeton to kill Chill, only Falcone saved me from myself by killing him first. Then after a fight with Rachel, I decided to follow Falcone's dubious advice to find a place in the world where I wasn't known and learn about criminals."
Selina caressed his chest as he let the rest of his biography tumble out until the truth behind the Narrows Riots. She stopped the disclosure there by bracing herself over him and kissing him. He looked up at her, confusion furrowing his brow. "That explains so much. They're terrified of you. For good reason, you took out the mercenary they've built a cult around."
"Ra's al Ghul destroyed himself. I just made sure his plan didn't destroy Gotham. Too many innocent lives were at stake." He frowned like he was positive she missed the point.
"That's not how they see it." She kissed him again.