It can creep up inside and consume you. A disease of the mind, it can control you.“Disturbia,” Rihanna
The air was cool against Bruce’s face, as he pulled a smiling Harry along out to the balcony. He wrapped Harry possessively into his arms and, grabbing his champagne flute and emptying it off the balcony, he kissed Harry deeply, delighting in the gasp he pulled from Harry’s lips.
“What was that for?” Harry asked breathlessly, his eyes not properly focusing after Bruce pulled away.
Bruce smiled at him gently, pulling Harry closer to his body and kissing his lips lightly. “For being here tonight, with me.”
“On your arm, as it were?” Harry teased, his dark green eyes glinting passionately. “I’ve never been a wall flower before.”
“You’re hardly that,” Bruce agreed, leaning in closer once again. Harry was absolutely intoxicating, and seeing him mingling in the crowd, feeling him by his side as he gave his speech for Dent—it was driving him mad with want. Now, for the first time, he could concretely see their future together, how exactly it would be if they moved about in society, raising their son, coexisting between the Muggle and magical spheres of existence. It was absolutely intoxicating.
The door from the penthouse swung open, and Bruce heard the click of heels. “Harvey may not know you well enough to understand when you’re making fun of him, but I do.” Rachel’s voice was stern and harsh, and she walked up to the two of them, glaring at Bruce. She didn’t even look at Harry, which angered Bruce.
“I meant every word,” he replied back coldly, “or else I wouldn’t have said it.”
She breathed out loudly through her nose in an approximation of a scoff or a polite snort. “Please, Bruce, I’ve known you since we were children.”
“Perhaps,” Harry agreed, inserting himself into the conversation and forcing Rachel’s eyes to flicker to him. “However, if he was making fun of anyone, it was at our son’s habit of going around the penthouse saying ‘I believe in Harvey Dent.’ I never should have recorded that television film that had advertisements in it—he just won’t stop.”
Bruce laughed quietly in agreement. Rachel stared at him again in reproach, which sobered Bruce’s mirth.
“I did mean every word,” he tried to placate her. “It’s happening. Gotham is changing; it’s getting safer. Harvey locked up half of the city’s criminals and he did it without wearing a mask.”
“Unlike you,” Rachel argued, looking at him boldly.
Bruce didn’t even swallow.
“The only mask Bruce wears is to help moisturize his skin,” Harry responded lightly, and Bruce turned to stare at him incredulously.
“I don’t—“ he began to argue, but Harry only smirked.
“You must. Your skin is too soft. An aftershave can’t do that without some sort of help.”
Bruce leaned forward and nudged their noses together. “Maybe my skin is just naturally soft,” he murmured seductively, and smirked smugly when Harry’s breath caught. He turned back to Rachel. “Gotham needs a hero with a face—and your Harvey could be that hero.”
“Bruce,” she began, but the door swung open again, and the three turned to see Harvey Dent.
“You throw a party, Wayne, I give you that. Thanks again. Lord Black,” he greeted.
“I’m never going to get away from that,” Harry griped, and Bruce laughed, pulling him slightly closer around the waist.
“I doubt it. You’re stuck with the title.”
“Well, it’s better than this ridiculous one that was given to me when I was a toddler,” Harry admitted and Bruce quietly wondered what he meant.
“You mind if I borrow Rachel?” Harvey asked, when Bruce didn’t turn his gaze away from Harry.
“Not at all,” he murmured, his eyes never leaving his fiancé, who glanced at him from the corner of his eyes. “She’s all yours, Harvey.”
He barely noticed when the two of them left.
Harry turned to him, his green eyes shining with suspicion. “Why does she keep on going on about you being the Batman?”
“She thinks I’m responsible for everything that doesn’t have an explanation,” Bruce sighed, leaning his forehead against Harry’s, allowing the night air to cool his heated skin. “I’m certain I’ll be responsible for Roswell soon enough.”
“Roswell,” Harry repeated in confusion, his eyes screwing up a little.
Bruce chuckled and leaned forward to kiss Harry once again, hoping to distract him. It worked a little too well.
“What were we talking about?” Harry gasped, several minutes later. His eyes were wide with lust and his cheeks heated slightly despite the night temperatures.
“I’m not certain,” Bruce sighed, closing his eyes momentarily. The feel of Harry in his arms was perfect, but he knew they should get back—there was a reason, he knew, although his mind couldn’t dredge it up. Teddy was asleep and he and Harry had all the time in the world.
“The party,” Harry reminded him quietly, and Bruce groaned.
“You’re the one who decided to throw it,” Harry reminded him gently, leaning up to kiss his lips lightly once more before slowly untangling himself from Bruce’s embrace.
Bruce, though, wouldn’t let him go completely. He held firmly onto his hand and when they were no longer touching anywhere else, intertwined their fingers. Harry smiled at him.
“I did it for you,” Bruce whispered, and Harry smiled at him gently. “For you. For you and Teddy.”
“Thank you,” Harry breathed out, and he was once again in Bruce’s arms, arching up against him and offering his lips. “Do you know how much longer—?”
“Soon,” Bruce promised, leaning down for a languid kiss under the moonless sky. “A month or two. Three at most and then I’m done.”
“You won’t regret it?” Harry prodded as Bruce dropped kisses along his jaw line. “I don’t want you to regret—“
“I had nothing to live for in the past,” Bruce assured him carefully, his breath ghosting across Harry’s skin, which elicited a delectable shiver. “Only revenge and ghosts. Now—Now—“
“Yes,” Harry agreed quietly, reaching up and caressing the side of Bruce’s face. Their eyes met and Bruce saw nothing but love shining out of Harry’s gaze. “Yes. We have each other now—and our son.”
“Our son,” Bruce repeated, kissing Harry once more before leading him back to the crush of Gotham’s elite. Their fingers remained intertwined and Bruce and Harry circled each other among the crowd, barely separated even when forced into different conversations.
Bruce was on his supposed fourth glass of champagne—he kept on emptying them into shrubs out of habit, although a part of his mind did realize that he didn’t have to pretend to be a drunken billionaire playboy anymore since he was now a family man—when he got word of the Joker—and his target. He looked over at Harry who was actually having an animated conversation with Mrs. Pegfield about something or other, and then toward Rachel and Dent. He set his jaw in a grimace.
Harvey needed to be out of sight before they arrived at the penthouse—and Harry had his wand. Still, the heat boiling in his stomach told him exactly how soon he wanted to hang up his cape and mask.
“It’s someone else, isn’t it?” Harvey was asking as Bruce strode toward him from behind. Bruce could see Rachel’s desperate face, her hair pulled to one side in a twist.
“Harvey,” she begged, her eyes instead meeting Bruce’s. That was never a good sign. Somehow he felt like they were discussing him, even if peripherally.
“Just tell me it’s not Wayne,” Harvey began; Bruce had been right. “The guy’s a complete—“
Bruce locked his arm across Harvey’s neck, holding his head with his other hand so as to knock him unconscious—albeit by strangulation.
“What are you doing?” Rachel gasped.
He only looked at her. “They’ve come for him,” he told her, his voice already low and gravelly as Batman. He hated the sound of it—he wanted to be Harry’s fiancé in that moment, not the masked knight of Gotham City. “Stay hidden.” He dragged Harvey into a closet and slipped a pole through the handles so that he couldn’t get out until Bruce got there.
A shot sounded through the penthouse. A warning shot, he promised himself. Harry was safe and capable—and Teddy was behind several wards—but how dare the Joker—
He pushed away that line of thought, as he strode purposefully through the bedroom, only to see a couple—an older man and a younger woman, who were both married to other people—get up and fixing their clothes from his and Harry’s bed. He wanted to sneer at them, but forced his face to remain impassive.
“What’s going on out there? Wayne?” the man, a congressman, asked. Bruce would be sure that he did vote for Civil Unions, given the fact that he knew the congressman’s wife was home sick and therefore knew nothing of his tryst.
Bruce pushed the panel on the wall and entered through it.
“Oh, thank God, you’ve got a—“
The door shut automatically behind him, silencing the woman. He moved quickly around the room, putting on his batsuit and transforming himself into the Batman. Blackjack is safe, he reminded himself as he hurried through the familiar emotions. Teddy is safe. Nothing else matters.
He strode back out again from a side door so the couple wouldn’t see him and make any connections. He could hear the Joker’s crazed voice coming from the large drawing room.
“She can’t take it. I just want to see her smile again. Hm?” Bruce craned his neck and saw that the Joker was holding Rachel, a knife pressed to her face. “I just want her to know that I don’t care about the scars. So, I stick a razor in my mouth and do this to myself.”
Bruce grimaced at the story, a flash of black hair catching his line of vision on the right, but he forced himself to continue to stride forward toward the Joker and Rachel. He couldn’t be seen. Not yet. He needed to be right on top of the Joker when he finally realized he was there.
“And you know what?” the Joker continued, his voice now hysterical. “She can’t stand the sight of me. She leaves.” His face crooked into a gruesome jester’s grin. “Now I see the funny side. Now I’m always smiling.”
“Stop!” Harry called out, and Bruce stilled, looking as his fiancé stood forward, a grim expression on his face. “Don’t lie. Not about that.”
The Joker stilled, but held Rachel firmly, the knife still pressed to her cheek, a quiet threat. “Green eyes,” he murmured before a gleeful expression turned his grotesque smile even wider. “Green eyes.”
Rachel stiffened in his arms.
“Don’t lie,” Harry said again, prowling forward and emanating confidence and power. “Don’t cheapen the sacrifice you made. How even though you knew you would be punished, that they would hurt you, you still tried to defend me and keep me safe.” Bruce could hear a half-smile in his voice, though he was almost certain that one didn’t flicker across his face from his position behind Harry. “You saw what they did was wrong, shouted at the horror, and they mutilated you for it. And then you made me laugh after it was all over. Holding me even when you were still bleeding.”
“Why so serious?” the Joker asked in a calm voice, instead of the savage tones he’d been uttering before. The phrase haunted Bruce as he remembered it, Harry whispering it at strange times as if to bring himself comfort, as the Joker now wanted to do as he shared in the memory.
“Yes,” Harry agreed quietly, stepping forward without fear. “I’m here. I’m safe.”
The Joker shook his head, his grimy hair swishing about his head and whipping against Rachel’s cheek. “No. NO,” he shouted suddenly, digging the knife deeper so that a thin trickle of blood pooled at the tip of the blade. “No, you’re not. I called. I told them. They wouldn’t listen.”
Harry stilled and cocked his head to the side. “Told who?”
“I called,” the Joker told Harry, his voice dark and menacing. “I told them, Green Eyes. Said that Crane had locked you up. That he stared at you. That he would come into your room at night.” He paused, taking a deep breath before his voice gained a strange singsong quality to it. “Came at night and stroked your hair, kissed your lips when you were sleeping.”
Bruce closed his eyes painfully at the images, knowing that it probably happened like that, that the Joker spoke the truth.
“Who killed him?” the Joker demanded. “I wanted to do it. I wanted to rip apart his face, like he did mine.” An inhuman laugh escaped from his lips, his yellow teeth glinting. “I wanted to kill him for raping you like a dog. Why wouldn’t they listen?” he whined.
“We’re sorry,” Rachel pleaded, and the Joker jerked her head back by her hair. A gasp escaped her lips, but she looked firmly at the Joker. “I know you called. I saw the notes, but—“
“You did nothing,” the Joker shouted, staring at her before letting his gaze sweep across the room. His gaze never landed on Bruce, who had shrunk away again into the shadows in shock. Bruce could see by Harry’s stance that he didn’t want to be interrupted. “He locked Green Eyes up. He came in, so beautiful. No voices in his head. They locked him up and threw away the key.” He cackled. “Like a fairy story. They put him away when they murdered his squeeze so he wouldn’t talk, so he wouldn’t tell the authorities—and then they made him go a little mad with all of their poisons, and touched him and raped him. They let me out, yes, yes.” His blue eyes gleamed in the light. “Let me run free, but they locked my Green Eyes up and threw away the key. Who did it, Eyes? Who?” the Joker demanded savagely, anger twisting his disgusted smile even more. “And where is Harvey Dent?”
“Why do you want him?” Harry asked quietly, his voice low. His eyes were cast down on the floor, and Bruce saw a blush on his lower neck, symbolizing his embarrassment, clearly at the Joker’s words. All of his darker secrets were being spewed out to Gotham’s elite, and yet still he stood firm, his back erect and his shoulders thrown back. Bruce saw in that moment the quiet power in him, the Defeater, as Natascha had called him. The hero of the wizard’s world and their war.
“He didn’t listen—none of them did. They need to pay.”
Harry paused, clearly digesting the information, and Bruce felt the room take in a breath as they watched the horrifying exchange.
“What’s your obsession with the Batman then?”
That had clearly been the wrong question to ask—at least for Rachel. The Joker pushed the knife against her cheekbone in frustration, the knife tearing open the skin, and leaving a large gash. She cried out in pain, which only made the Joker yank her back harshly by the hair, the blade slipping back into and irritating the wound. It would scar unless immediately seen to, Bruce thought to himself somewhere back in his head as his gaze shifted back to Harry, who stood calmly despite the cruelty and pain in front of him, betraying no emotion to the room.
“He didn’t save you. Years. For years. Like them, like all of them. None of them would listen, Green Eyes.”
Harry once again completely stilled. “But he did,” Harry whispered. “He did save me. He saved me from the fire my grandfather set to Bruce’s manor.”
“To what?” the Joker argued again, his yellow teeth barred. “It should have been me. I’ve tried—so hard—“
“I know,” Harry soothed, coming forward and gently grasping the wrist that held the knife to Rachel’s face, although he made no attempt to move it. “I’ve seen the letters you wrote to Teddy. The doll. He’s sleeping here, you know.” Harry’s voice was solemn, and he turned his head to the side until the corner of his gaze met Bruce’s. A silent command was in them, and Bruce nodded in acceptance.
Bruce slipped away, into the secret passageway, tearing off the suit. Teddy, his mind told him, and he rushed out again, buttoning his evening jacket as he came up to the hall. “Master Wayne,” Alfred sighed in relief as Bruce hurried forward.
“Teddy. Is he—?”
“Sleeping,” Alfred promised him. “It’s safe for him inside?”
“Yes,” Bruce agreed firmly. “Get in there as well and lock the door. Either Blackjack or I will get you out.”
“You’ll need a wand,” Alfred warned, his eyes flashing at some knowledge of whatever protection was over the room. Bruce just knew that Harry had come by just before the party, murmured a few words, and then left, promising Bruce that nothing could harm Teddy now from the outside short of a nuclear attack. Bruce had never been so glad as at that moment that Harry had been overly precautious for the fundraiser that night.
“Blackjack has one.” He strode away, back toward the large drawing room, slipping between the stunned guests and inching forward.
Rachel was now kneeling on the floor, her chest heaving as she took ragged breaths. The Joker was holding her still by the hair and the knife was pressed right up against her throat beneath her jaw, showing off her profile to the room.
“He threw you from one rapist’s bed into another again,” the Joker accused hotly, his gaze fixed only on Harry. “He should have taken you away from it all. I want you safe.”
“I never touched him,” Bruce announced truthfully, and every head in the room turned toward him in astonishment. “I kept him safe, hidden—and made certain that the D.A. and the police never came close to him in the investigation into Crane’s death. I love him.”
“You’ve raped him,” the Joker continued, thrusting Rachel forward so that the underside of her jaw was sliced as she fell forward to her hands. “What did you do? Bribe the Batman to get him for you? Have him murder Crane so that you eliminated the competition? It was him, wasn’t it?” he mused aloud. “That Batman smothered the Scarecrow Crane.”
Harry glanced down. “No. I don’t know who did that. Someone came in the night. It wasn’t the Batman. They found me and killed Crane while his arms were still wrapped around me. I don’t know—“ He took a deep breath and sighed. “They got me to safety—to here—to Bruce.”
“And he raped you.” The words were bit out savagely, hatred shining out of the Joker’s eyes toward Bruce.
Bruce stared him down. “No. I agreed to keep him safe and to help him through detoxification. The only crime I’ve committed is falling in love with him at first sight.”
“Please,” Harry murmured. “Old friend.”
The Joker turned to him. “It should have been me.”
A shiver ran through Bruce. It should have been me. His gaze flickered between Harry and the Joker, looking for any sign of lust and love from the crazed madman, but only saw affection.
“He’s dead,” Harry promised, and Bruce now realized that the Joker still wanted to be the one who killed Crane, which was understandable. “Smothered with a pillow as I was tied up and—and in pain. Please. Teddy’s here—sleeping in the next room. I don’t want—“ His voice became raspy and Bruce came up to him from behind, offering him silent comfort and strength. “I don’t want to have to tell him tomorrow that his fairy godmother who wrote him letters is in prison.”
Fairy godmother. Bruce looked the Joker over and the thought of him being his son’s fairy godmother made his stomach churn. The man was insane and homicidal—and he’d given Teddy one of his favorite toys, was his fiancé’s defender—
“Please. Just take your men and go.”
“How can I protect you if I go?” The words were said in a twisted voice, but Bruce could feel the emotion shine through them. “The Batman might come back again.”
“He wouldn’t hurt me.”
“He let you be raped. They all did. They drink their booze and have their swanky parties.” He brought his hands up and waggled his gloved fingers in a sordid imitation of a jazz movement, the knife swinging dangerously from them. “And left you to rot. Your green eyes stopped sparkling. So many years.”
Harry sighed and leaned back against Bruce. “I’m safe. Teddy and I are safe and happy. Go. Please.”
“Aw,” the Joker cooed as he signaled for the various men around the room—all dressed as clowns—to exit toward the hall. “Why so serious?” His eyes met Bruce’s over Harry’s shoulder, and he smacked his lips grotesquely.
A moment later and he was gone.
Everything was silent for a long drawn out moment, as their footsteps echoed away from the crowd.
There was a pause.
Chaos erupted around them. Harry turned and Bruce wrapped his arms around him as they leaned against each other, drawing strength from one another.
“Hush, you’re safe,” Bruce promised as he whispered into Harry’s ear. “It’s over. He’s gone now.”
“Teddy?” Harry mumbled as he buried his face against Bruce’s neck, his body shivering.
“Safe. Alfred’s in the room with him.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry gasped. “I couldn’t—I couldn’t let you get shot at by them. They want you and—you needed to be safe.”
Bruce closed his eyes and pulled Harry closer. He understood his meaning although to any outsider who might be listening to them—which was impossible in the din—the words would betray nothing. “I know. I understood.”
“I can’t believe—he—“
“I know. I know,” Bruce whispered.
The police arrived soon afterward and everyone was split up for questioning. With an officer’s permission, Bruce led Harry into their bedroom where they rested on the bed, facing each other although neither of them was remotely tired. Bruce saw Rachel looking at him accusingly as a medic cleaned the two gashes on her face. She seemed to be refusing to go downstairs to the ambulance and waiting, it seemed, for Harvey to be revealed. Bruce didn’t offer up his location, pretending he didn’t know as no one but Rachel had seen him drag Dent away. About a half an hour later he heard pounding come from inside the closet and then listened as police found and released Dent. He sighed, reaching up and brushing Harry’s hair behind an ear.
“They’re going to come for me,” Harry murmured. “Everyone heard.”
“I won’t let them take you away,” Bruce promised. “I’ll threaten them with a lawsuit so large that they’ll run away.”
Harry offered him a weak smile. “Bruce Wayne, Defender of the Innocent.” He leaned forward and kissed Bruce gently. “I don’t want to talk to them at all.”
“I know. I know.” There was nothing else he could say.
Half an hour later Harry became restless and after arguing with a young deputy, finally left to go check on Teddy, who was peacefully sleeping. “I told Alfred to stay in there with him,” Harry murmured when he returned. The two of them were being separated out, as Bruce was the host of the party and Harry clearly knew the Joker and spoke with him—as well as now having known evidence of Crane’s murderer. “He’s sleeping peacefully. The wards won’t let anyone through.”
“It must be near morning,” Bruce sighed as he turned to look at the clock. It was half past four.
“I hope everyone’s gone by the time he wakes up,” Harry agreed, “though somehow I doubt it.” He settled into the pillow and gazed openly at Bruce. “I love you,” he murmured, and Bruce smiled gently at him.
“I love you, too.”
The three alternate final chapters for this fic will not be posted due to their controversial nature and because they do not, perhaps, do full justice to the story as it was initially intend. cen
Original Note Written and Posted (at the end of “part the first”) when I took Blackjack off FF.net:
July 2011. The rest of the fic has been taken off of this site because of flames due to the controversial nature of the ending. It seems that all my readers feel that it was better that the ending and perhaps the entire 17 chaptered fic was never written; so you got your wish. I must say that I am completely horrified by the lack of respect most of the reviews exhibit—and as such am taking a very long hiatus from fanfiction if not retiring from it permanently.
ExcentrykeMuse, who once enjoyed writing for you all
One thought on “(Blackjack16) Part the Sixteenth”
It was so lovely to read this again and since the idiots of the past had you taking everything down, I never got to tell you how much I had enjoyed the original ending. It was sad and perhaps for you at the time, not your usual ending, but it seemed to fit the narrative/atmosphere that I got off the fic in the first place. Bruce was always looking for the other shoe to drop I felt.
Anyways, I am so happy to have been able to read this again. Kudos, as it was an amazing fic that really tied the two worlds together so convincingly. If ever the muse struck again to revisit this, I would be happy with whatever was added.