Blah blah don't own anything in the DCU, only own the fic, blah.Broken Glass Kiss
There are bats on the roof tonight, my darling.
You can hear them, can't you? Skittering across the tiles, the clicking of their sharp little claws echoing down the drain pipes. Why, they're practically in the room with us now.
Strange, really, because you don't associate bats with Valentine's Day. After all, isn't that, you ask me mutely, through your lovely, staring eyes, when all the darkness in the world is chased away? Isn't that the one day of the year when love reigns triumphant, and fear is chased back into the undergrowth of the human heart? Isn't this, you enquire in your charming, quavering voice, my least favorite time of the year?
Not at all. You silly child. Quite the contrary.
All sorts of memories rise to the surface of my mind whenever Valentine's Day rolls around. Some of them are recent, or, if not so recent, drilled in by such repetition that their memory feels as fresh and raw as if they were.
Poison Ivy drawing a shard of glass down the length of her slender arm, in the middle of the Arkham flower beds, sobbing something incoherent about Love-Lies-Bleeding and how it won't grow, it won't grow for her, it doesn't love her any more.
Victor Fries collapsing into a screaming fit in the middle of the mess hall, fancying that there are cracks in his refrigeration suit and that molten heat, the heat of a thousand unwashed and insane bodies, is seeping inside, infecting his brain. If that happens, if he is infected, his beloved Nora dies. It is this last imagining which sends him shrieking, in the grip of two orderlies, off to the Hole for the next three days.
Harvey Dent, gripping the metal edges of the hall telephone so tightly he will find their imprint on his skin days later, refusing to surrender the phone to any other inmate until Renee Montoya answers his call on the other end. She will not do so. She never has. She most likely never will.
Guards slipping into female inmates' cells at night, and the noises that emanate forthwith, noises that do not bear thinking about. And I, lying there and listening, a heavy book opened and flat upon my chest, weighing against my ribcage. Are those the printed words that pound against my body, I wonder, demanding to be let inside? Or is it my heart, tripping irregularly, thumping quietly against the pages, attempting to escape my dominion?
Painful and futile and riddled with terror, love is everywhere. It seeps through the cracks in Arkham's shambling brickwork and spreads, a black, malign plague, through the darkened city below. The bats feel it. They move uneasily across the rooftops this evening, shivering against the poison tide that rides across the clouds, this airborne disease called love. They will all feel it, no matter where they are: Nightwing, cartwheeling across the polluted skies of a crumbling seaport; the Huntress, wrapped in her purple cloak, watching the blood-red moon; Robin, balanced, ever so precariously, upon the edge of a rain gutter.
He could be anywhere, you know. Ensconced beneath the cracked concrete, embedded in the earth, shrouded in the silence of his underground fortress. Divested of his dark and kingly attire, wearing a false face of normalcy, laughing at a party or pretending to care for some sweet young thing at an overpriced restaurant. Prowling the streets in search of a fight, or a black-clad, feline lover, or both.
Wherever he is, I know, he is alone.
As am I, of course. To nobody's surprise, I'm sure. No roses to be found laid upon Jonathan Crane's pillow; no tattered cards that whisper words of secret admiration; not even the roughest of jailhouse propositions.
I don't mind. You see, I realised, long ago, after the tears had ceased to burn in my young eyes and my heart had turned to scar tissue, that love is actually quite a lot like glass. Placed under intense and scalding heat, it turns white-hot, dripping and molten. It can be made malleable. It can be warped into any shape you please, if you possess the skills and the determination to do so. It can be made strange, alien, beautiful. It can be made into an object, gorgeous, remote and inanimate. It can be twisted into submission. It can be fixed so that it can never hurt you, never turn on you and wound you, never humiliate you and bring you to your knees, crying and pleading and begging love me love me love me – never, ever again.
You can break it, if you want to. Shatter it. Trace your tongue over its jagged edges; feel its sharpness biting into your skin. Shallow cuts, at first. Then deeper. Deep as you can go.
So, no, darling, I don't mind that you aren't really here. I don't mind that I'm tied down, under lock and key and watchful eye. I don't mind that the sounds of sweat and grasping hands and hungry mouths echo down the corridors and wind themselves around me, here in this cold and single bed.
The important thing is that those around us never know about you and me. About our intricate, winding dance through trash-littered streets, through shadow-strewn brick. You don't know who you're dancing with, of course, but you feel it, you feel me. I am everywhere: around you, inside you, in your mind, and you'll never see me unless I want you to, and I want you to.
I am everything you've ever wanted. You do want your fears confirmed, don't you? Want them made real, concrete, a dragon you can slay. You want them to come to you – so much easier than having to seek them out. I am doing you a favor, for I do love you so. Oh, the things you make me do, you wicked, delicious creature.
And so, I come. Shifting my shape. Changing my face. I'm those footsteps that echo behind you on a dark and lonely street. I'm that rustle in the dry, dying leaves that whisper above your head. I'm what makes you fumble at the doorstep, looking for your keys just that little bit faster.
I don't know who you are just yet. I don't know your name, your age, your sex. I am, after all, still here, still separated from you by these hard brick walls. But in time, you will know me. I will be your best friend, your brother, your lover. I will become more real to you than you yourself could ever be. I will be the grandest and most beautiful terror you will ever experience. I will tell you something. I will tell you everything.
But don't push me. Don't rush me, don't hurry me along. All in good time. No need for impatience. The Devil, as they say, is in the details.
Soon. When all is quiet. When this thin, bespectacled, hapless face that greets me in the mirror every morning – this stranger's face – is eradicated by soft brown leather, and dark red stitch-scars. When this body, all gangly limbs and delicate, breakable bones, is wrapped in layer upon layer of prickly burlap armor, restrained and lashed in rough-hewn rope. When these walls melt away, as they always do, in time. When it's least expected. When it's most anticipated.
I will come to you, and I will make you my valentine.