A Torturous Affair

by DC Lady


Synopsis: Ra's al Guhl wants something the Justice League has and is willing to sacrifice the Dark Knight in order to possess it.

Disclaimer: All of the characters in this story are owned by DC.

Author's Note: Both animated and comic continuities are used in this story. Spoilers for "Starcrossed" are also included. Please forgive all occurrences of character assassination.

This story is not a continuation of my "Under The Shadows Of A Portrait" series. It is a 'stand-alone' fic.

Thanks to HeyBats and Athena Phoenix for their beta expertise.

He replayed the evening in his mind, finding it difficult to control the emotions that tonight's conversation with her was intended to alleviate. The emotional control he'd carefully maintained over the years had slipped on more than one occasion in her presence. Despite his obvious longing, he decided that Batman could no longer afford the distraction and earlier this evening, he'd told her so.

Gotham's misty nights had always soothed the raging emotions that stirred within him. But, tonight there was no reprieve to be found and as the roof's gravelly surface crunched beneath his boots he silently cursed her reaction and the feelings that stirred within him as a result. Surprisingly, she did not get angry as he'd thought she would…as he had hoped she would. If she had gotten angry it would have made it easier to walk away and force his feelings into the recesses of his mind once again. Instead, she gracefully accepted his words, even smiling when he'd lamely told her that he wanted to remain friends

Patrol. Gotham. The mission. This was what he wanted - no, it was what he needed. So, why couldn't he stop thinking of her?

Frustrated with the lack of activity in the city - activity he'd counted on to provide an outlet to vent his frustration – he contacted Oracle and informed her of his plans to head home.

He raised the grapple towards its target; however, he paused as the glimpse of a shadow caught his attention. Keeping a steady hand he turned slightly, calling upon his highly trained senses to determine the potential danger. His training paid off a moment later as the breeze stirred a familiar scent – Channel No. 5 mixed with a exotic hint of dried orchids and lavender. Dropping the grapple gun to his side he spoke. "What do you want, Talia?"

"Do I have to have a reason to see you, beloved?" The daughter of the Demon's Head stepped out from the shadows. She casually sashayed closer to the Dark Knight, stopping when he signaled that she'd approached close enough.

Seeing Talia brought back a rush of memories. Memories of love and betrayal. His already foul mood worsened. "I'll ask once more, what do you want?"

"I've come to issue a warning. My father is aware of certain Thanagarian technology that is in the possession of the Justice League. He will stop at nothing to possess it."

Batman's features betrayed nothing. "And you tell me this because…"

"Don't toy with me, beloved. I am trying to protect you. I will always protect you against my father."

"It makes no difference. He will not get what he seeks. I will make certain of it." Batman turned and lifted his grapple gun at its target.

Talia rushed to his side and grabbed his arm. "Beloved, you do not understand. He believes this technology will allow him to accomplish all he has striven for these many years. He is a man possessed. I fear for your safety."

"As well you should, my daughter." Ra's al Guhl stated as he stepped out from his own shadow on the roof. It wasn't often that the Batman was taken by surprise. Then again, Talia had a way of distracting him that only Diana surpassed. Still, Batman had to give him credit - Ra's al Guhl had obviously had developed – and employed - a few stealth skills of his own.

The older man cupped Talia's chin in his hand in a fatherly gesture, however his features betrayed no emotional attachment to his progeny. He settled his gaze once more on his opponent. "She must love you more than I ever gave her credit, Detective, to risk my wrath for this treasonous offense."

"What do you want?" Batman growled, slipping into a defensive stance as Ra's had never been one for small talk.

"Exactly what my daughter has told you. Thanagarian technology. More specifically, I want the schematics for the defensive shield."

Batman remained impassive. "Everything was destroyed from the Watchtower impact. Nothing was salvageable."

"Ah but, I know the truth. Did your insider not provide access to their computers and download the information before the weapon was destroyed? Don't take me for a fool, Detective."

Batman smirked. "Your sources are wrong. But, even if they were correct, surely you realize I would never willingly hand it over to you?"

"I thought as much." Ra's grinned, then touched a button on the lapel of his jacket; obviously a signal to his followers. "In fact I would have been disappointed if you had."

A helicopter suddenly roared overhead. Batman was impressed as he swiveled to observe its approach. The rotor blades employed an airfoil design that rendered the sound of its approach as ambient noise to a casual observer. Only when the machine was directly overhead did the noise turned deafening. The pilot expertly settled the craft on the helipad, all the while training the machine guns and rocket pods directly towards him.

Batman smirked at Ra's as if to chide the man for thinking that the display was sufficient to intimidate him, and then regretted the smirk when two identical machines appeared on either side of him. "All of this for me? I'm flattered." He muttered, surreptitiously trying to open his comm. link to the Watchtower.

"Don't waste your time." Ra's sneered. "We carry our own dampening fields. Your communicator is useless."

Batman's senses alerted him to the sudden change in air pressure, but his reflexes weren't fast enough to stop the dart that penetrated the exposed skin of his face. The effect of its contents was immediate. Batman sank to his knees, his eyes locked on Talia - an unspoken question etched on his face - another betrayal?

"Father, please." Talia pleaded. "What will you do to him?"

"Daughter, if you value his well being, you will do as you are told," Ra's warned.

She stared back at him, deliberating how far he was willing to go to stop her. 'Far enough' she thought, then backed away.

J'onn slipped into his seat in the Watchtower's conference room. "When was he last seen?" he asked.

"Seven days ago," the younger man replied, already sitting.

Superman paced the room as they questioned the young hero. "You think he encountered a problem on patrol?"

"He must have. He told Oracle he was calling it an early night. But he never made it home."

"Do you know of any cases he may have been working on?" the Green Lantern questioned.

"Minor stuff that I already checked out. All dead ends," he answered. "I checked with Arkham on possible escapes, but nothing. Everyone is exactly where they should be. He just disappeared. I need your help."

"You did the right thing by coming here, Nightwing." Superman placed a reassuring hand on the shoulder of Batman's son. Then, turning to his teammate he continued. "J'onn, you and I will go to Gotham City and conduct a telepathic scan. Maybe that will give us a clue to his whereabouts."

To be continued