The Knight and the Warrior
Episode 1: The Grip
By LT Tran
Disclaimer: All DC characters are owned by DC Comics. This fic is not intended to make any monetary value. This fic is created in pursuit for the entertainment of the others.
Author's note: This story is based in the JLU animated series continuity the story is set after the second season of the JLU or the 4th season of JLA (depending on your point of view). Actually, as long as you have a basic knowledge of these two iconic characters, you can pretty much figure out what is going on. Okay, enough chit chat! Time to raise the bar!
Gotham City 3:00 a.m.
Through the canopy of the city's metal and concrete jungle of sky scrapers, the Batman was on the prowl and on a time limit. Through the cold and unforgiving rain, the dark detective ran and jumped from roof top to roof top, he was determined and focused. A killer was on the loose, a killer of the worse breed. His target's name was Connor O'Hanlan, a child molester and a murderer. This hunt took special hold of the Dark Knight because child murderers were the most abhorrent of all the criminals he had ever dealt with. O'Hanlan had 4 young victims already with each body showing signs of molestation and mutilation. This affected the crime fighter deeply.
The last couple of weeks of detective work had led him into the slums of Gotham City. The trail of clues and body locations all fell within a certain pattern which indicated that O'Hanlan was getting overconfident and getting more careless; all the easier for the Batman to find. O'Hanlan was from out of town and holed up in the Lucky Inn Motel, this put him only a couple of rooftops away from the Dark knight's location. He finally reached the motel and took note of how scruffy and decrepit the building looked. The building was on a list to be demolished next month, a perfect hideout for the killer. The building was totally dark except for a single window which was lit by a low candle light. That was where Batman needed to be. Batman noticed that the motel had a fire escape and along the structure, there were two guards on the escape and there were two more on the roof.
The cold rain was heavy and did more than an adequate job of masking Batman's movements as he jumped onto the rooftop. The knight stayed crouched, he was careful not to alert the two goons in front of him. They were armed with machine guns and chatting amongst themselves. The masked detective pulled out his batarang and mentally readied himself.
Aren't these idiots even aware of whom they're protecting? This was the only excuse he needed to not hold anything back. He stealthily positioned himself behind the two chatting guards and with all his strength, he threw one batarang at the left guard. The weapon hit the back of the guard's head and instantly knocked him out. The guard next to him didn't get a chance to process what was going on. Batman hit the man in the back with both fists clenched and the goon bent over with one swift knee to the man's face, the knight managed to knock out the assailant and a few of his teeth.
Batman made his way towards the fire escape and looked down at the last set of goons guarding the lit window a few stories down. The knight reached into his utility belt and grabbed a rope, and a dart gun which contained a sleep toxin. He then aimed the dart gun at one goon and fired.
With a silenced burst of air the dart hit its target and one of the goons fell to the grating of the fire escape. The second guard noticed immediately but before he could react he felt a rope wrapped around his chest and he felt himself being pulled through the air. The goon reached the roof and he hit the building's roof ledge and the next thing he knew he was on his back looking straight up at an imposing silhouette with white eyes staring down at him. The rain pelted the goon's face as the shadow picked him up held him in the air.
"Batman!" The thug said nervously.
"I'll ask and you answer!" The Knight directed as he tightened his grip on the captive.
"Y-yes sir!" The guard answered fearfully.
"Are there any more guarding O'Hanlan?"
The goon shook his head no.
"Has he done anything to the little girl?"
"N-no! The sicko hasn't started yet! He's washing the little girl right now. The kid is only 9 years old."
The Knight frowned. "You called him a sicko and never bothered to stop him before? You are as evil as he is."
The knight clearly saw a combination of fear and shame on the goon's face. Batman growled and punched the goon in the stomach and kneed him in the face with a jaw-shattering force. He broke the goon's jaw and lifted him over the side of the roof and let him hang on the side of the building.
With no time to waste, he quickly made his way down the fire escape and reached the lit window. Peering through the glass, he saw that O'Hanlan was tying up a little blonde girl to the bed posts. The girl's eyes were clearly red with tears and her face was flushed. The knight looked at O'Hanlan and saw that he had red hair and he was a man of small and wiry frame. The maniac was smiling at the little bound girl.
"It's okay little girl. It'll be over before it starts," Whispered, O'Hanlan.
The girl was wracked with fear and helplessness and she started to cry. Next thing she knew there was a large crash through the window and a shadow ran across the room and grabbed the maniac. She tried to see what was happening and as quickly as it started the room was empty. A few minutes later, a dark figure reappeared; he was not O'Hanlan but the Batman. The dark knight walked over to the little girl and cut her loose.
"Are you ok?" Batman asked gently. She hugged him tightly.
"Did he touch you in any bad way?"
She shook her head no.
"It's alright now. You're safe; the police will arrive and take you home in a few minutes." He assured the little girl as he hugged back.
Moments later, on the rainy roof top, Batman held his prey in his grasp. "You're going to jail, O'Hanlan."
The small man did not struggle nor did he have any fear, he only wore a smug smirk on his face. With that look, it was the only excuse the Knight needed to punch the little man in the gut. The wind was knocked out of him.
"I know who you are O'Hanlan. Do you think you can get out of this with your parents' money? It's over. Kiss your lifestyle good bye."
"Heh. I had a good life. A real good life," said O'Hanlan. "No matter what you do to me I'll always have my memories and it was a fun ride while it lasted."
Batman did not react to this strange statement. Then he saw the man bite something in his mouth and O'Hanlan started to laugh. The man started to convulse in the Knight's grasp and his eyes rolled back into his head. O'Hanlan was dead. The knight was stunned but did his best to be stoic. The knight opened O'Hanlan's mouth and examined the contents in his mouth. A cyanide tablet. The monster committed suicide and got away. Batman angrily threw the limp body of the murderer to the floor. Distant police sirens were approaching and the outcome of this ordeal was not good. The monster was gone and he would not harm another innocent soul again and yet, the victory did not belong to the Dark Knight. The rain felt especially bitter and cold tonight.
A few days later the Justice League held their bi-weekly meeting all of the core members were in attendance; Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and the Green Lantern. Throughout the meeting, Diana sat and listened to the other members as they each contributed to the meeting. Subjects spanned from personal adventures with certain villains, to world politics. Batman, she observed, was quiet. Oh sure he was always quiet during meetings but he always had at least one thing to say in each meeting. He was a statue. Not moving, not reacting, he seemed to be deep within his shell. He ignored any inquiry from the other members about how he was doing.
When the meeting was finally over, everybody exited the room except for Batman and Wonder Woman. Diana stood up from her chair and walked over to Batman. She perched herself next to the Dark Knight. She looked at him and saw how deep in thought he was.
"Are you okay?" Diana inquired. She waited a few moments; no response.
The princess took Batman's gloved hand and squeezed lightly. She leaned closer to his ears.
"Bruce?" She whispered. "Are you in there?"
After another long moment, the dark knight finally stirred he turned to look at her. Diana's eyes were intense yet nurturing. Before her warmth was able to take further effect on him, Batman stood up from his chair and quickly walked away. This was not a place to be, not right now. He needed his sanctuary. He walked out of the meeting room and towards the transporters.
"Batman! Wait!" Wonder Woman shouted as she chased the knight down the corridor. He swiftly walked into the transporter room and stepped in to the transporter and with a brief flash of light he disappeared. Wonder Woman tried to follow him but the transporter would not activate.
"Locked." She hissed. Then Superman walked into the room.
"How is he?" asked the Man of Steel. "Were you able to get to him?"
"Only enough for him to run away. Have you ever seen him like this before?"
"Yes, but very rarely. Last time he was like this was after the black mercy incident a couple of years ago. He got over it eventually."
"Yeah I remember."
"Maybe you should let him be. He'll come around." Super said, as he patted her shoulder. With that comment, Superman left the room and Diana stood there alone.
A few minutes later, Diana was in the media room checking out the latest news. She was surrounded by monitors, all broadcasting different news from different regions of the world. However, Diana was not paying attention to anything coming from the monitors; she was thinking a lot about her current situation in life. She was happy in general. Spiritually, she's healthy; physically, she's at her most prime; mentally, Diana feels sound and at peace. Socially, she has many friends. Romantically…well, that's still in question. She didn't come to Man's world to seek romance. Her mission was to bring peace to a world that was spiraling out of control. She prepared all her life to be where she is today. She strived to bring this violent world from the brink and give it the peace it deserves.
"Connor O'Hanlan, the only heir to the O'Hanlan Family Fortune was found dead in Gotham City on Wednesday morning. Police reports indicated that Connor O'Hanlan was linked to a series of child murders. O' Hanlan committed suicide before police were able to apprehend him. His latest victim was rescued by the Batman."
Diana narrowed her eyes; there was the missing piece of the puzzle. She had to go to the Batcave, in to his world and see if this piece of news has anything to do with his behavior.
It took J'onn half an hour to bypass the security measures placed by Batman. Once Diana arrived in the Batcave, she immediately felt the darkness surround her and there was a cold drafty reception from the Dark Knight's domain. She looked around for the Batman, the cave was near total darkness, the only sources of lights were emanated from the monitors of his super computer and another source close to the computer was a pillar of light. In the light there was a high back chair almost resembling a sort of throne and in the warmth of the bright pillar sat a brooding Batman. He was just sitting there, most of his body was visible in the light except for part of his upper chest and beyond; his elbows rested on the arms of the chair and his hands were clasped. The Dark Knight's head and neck was completely shrouded in the chair's shadow. She could see the Knight's white eye lenses were narrowed and fixed on her. Diana responded to this by staring back at those white glowing slits. As she gazed back at him she tried hard to imagine what his real eyes were doing. Were they nervous? Hurt? Blank?
Suddenly she felt the need to confront her team mate and reach out to him as a friend. To bring him back from whatever darkness that has consumed him. Wonder Woman stepped out of the transporter unit and walked towards the chair's occupant. She was nearly halfway to her destination when his tired voice stopped her in the middle of her tracks.
"Diana, why did you come here?" asked the Batman.
"I wanted to come and see you."
"Didn't locking you out of the transporter give you any indication of me wanting to be left alone?"
"Yes." Diana replied.
"Then why didn't you respect my wishes?"
"I came here because…." Diana stopped and thought for a minute at this question. She looked into his cold white eyes. He was becoming different, something worse was taking place. From what the princess could tell, he was in the process of being consumed by his weaknesses, his obsessions.
"Bruce, I saw the news about O'Hanlan. Is this the cause of your distancing?"
The detective was silent. Diana walked over to him and knelt in front of him. She ungrouped his hands and held them in hers. He could feel her warmth permeating through his gloves. He looked into her eyes through his cowl's lenses. Something in him did not like the view through his lenses. It was dulling her beauty. His eyes were sore.
He slipped back his cowl over his head and he could feel the vapor of perspiration let loose. Despite taking off the mask, his face was still in the shadow's curtain. Now, with no obstruction of his view of Diana, he began to feel the veil of darkness slowly loosen its grip on his soul.
"What happened, Bruce?" She asked him in the most comforting voice she could muster.
When she spoke the way she did Batman could almost feel the key within him turn. Her voice was the calm he needed to soothe the storm which ruled him for most of the week. He allowed himself to relax. He wiped away the sweat beading down his forehead and breathed in to focus.
"I was there Diana. I was there when O'Han- when that thing died."
"Tell me, Bruce. Why does this bother you so? Didn't he die? Isn't it the end of his bloody trail?"
"He knew he was going to die anyways in death row." Bruce added immediately. "He committed suicide."
Diana started to understand, where Bruce was headed with his statement. She just listened as he spoke.
"The night he died, as soon as he knew I was there it was all over. Next thing I knew, he won. He died on his own terms. He died before justice was able to deal its hand. He won that night Diana. I was not fast enough. For once, I did not prepare for all the possibilities. I became over confident and I paid the price with bitter defeat."
"Bruce…, you can't help that. You're—"
"Not superman?" Bruce interrupted gruffly.
"No." She said, as she gripped Bruce's gloved hand. "What I meant was not perfect." Diana corrected.
"He died happy."
"Bruce, you can't say that."
"Died without answering to the victims' families."
"DIED KNOWING HE DEFEATED ME!" He yelled fiercely as he pulled his hand away from Wonder Woman's hand. He stood from his chair and went into the shadows.
"Bruce, this is too much for you. You're letting this memory eat away at you. Don't let him win even more."
"I…I know, Diana. I just don't like to lose. Ever."
"I understand, Bruce. You're just being too hard on yourself. Harder than anyone can expect."
"This war I'm waging. How far will it go? I've sacrificed too much of my life to this cause", He asked doubtfully from the shadows. "I can't fathom risking another loss like that. Failure is not an option for me."
Diana was surprised by this sudden sense of doubt coming from the usually steadfast Dark Knight. She wasn't sure how she should answer this. She has never been in so deep within Bruce's personal world. She could do her best to tell him of her thoughts but that would only in end up in debate. For now, she can only think of one thing to do to alleviate Bruce's sense of burden. It was Amazonian in nature.
"I think we should go to the city. The sun had already set 2 hours ago. We should work for the answer to your question rather than try to talk it out to find one." Diana suggested with a tinge of hope in her voice. "I will accompany you but I will stay out of your way."
Bruce was taken aback a little by this suggestion from the Amazon princess. Rather than verbally answer her, he simply put on his cowl over his face and stepped out of the shadows and walked past her.
"Let's go. We're going in the Batmobile."
They both walked towards the Batmobile as the vehicle was being rotated towards the cave entrance. The canopy of the car opened up and both Wonder Woman and Batman sat in the vehicle's seats. As they buckled, Diana looked up at him and smiled slightly. He saw her smile and paused for a moment. Then he turned the key and the fierce engine of the Batmobile came to life. The canopy closed and the dashboard readout came to life with lights and glowing gauges. The car rumbled fiercely and in a split second, the Batmobile roared out of the bat cave and headed towards Gotham City, to Batman's hunting grounds.
Gotham City, Wayne Tower
The two stood on the highest perch of the building, the highest point in Gotham City. To Diana, the city looked immaculate at night; it wasn't a day city like Metropolis. This city was ugly during the day. Only in the twilight did it truly come to life, this was the City of Midnight. She gazed over to Batman and watched his cape flowing in the wind. The Dark Knight was kneeling on one knee as he placed two fingers on his cowl's left ear scanning the police radio. This was definitely his city. Batman and Gotham City were one with each other…almost like lovers.
Six hours later, they were back in the Batmobile headed to a destination unknown to her. Through out the night, Diana stood back and watched as Batman worked his city's underworld with an intense determination and ferocity. He worked the criminal element as if Achilles himself was reincarnated in the Dark Knight. She wondered how many years it took for him to reach this level of conditioning and discipline. To what ends of the world did he traveled to acquire all the tools and skills needed to attack the hearts and minds of all criminals. This holy war of his seems downright daunting from an outsiders' point of view, from her point of view. Is he in it to abolish crime altogether? Or will he stop at a certain level which is more manageable for the police? Or will he keep fighting until the very spirit of his being is spent? Or is it something worse? Does he even know at all? She took note of this. This is what she'll have to ask him by the end of the night.
She took the tally in her mind on what was accomplished so far. So far, he has stopped three muggings, an attempted rape, stopped a 20 man gang rumble, and put a pimp out of business. Overall, all of these went down flawlessly. She peered over to Bruce; he seemed to be more in peace. She decided to break the silence.
"There were many victories tonight. Are you feeling better?"
There was silence for a moment. "A little bit."
"Did you figure out what you were looking for?" She asked.
"The patrol tonight was what I needed to get my mind off of O'Hanlan. Tonight, was my first night out on patrol since that incident."
"Wow. That must've been one heck of an impression for him to leave behind."
Batman nodded slightly as he kept his eyes on the road. "When I succeed so many times and in such frequency, sometimes I forget that I can lose once in a while. Somehow, each time I am defeated, I'm always caught off guard."
Diana nodded in agreement. "It is never easy to be humbled. I know how you feel. I have the strength of many and yet, no matter how hard I try, defeat always manages to rear it's ugly head."
"You reminded me of something important tonight, Diana."
"What was that, Bruce?"
She waited as he looked for the words he needed.
"You reminded me that the night with O'Hanlan was a small defeat in the overall crusade. . It was a strategic victory but justice was defeated. I haven't lost the war, just the battle. I allowed myself to become too wrapped up with O'Hanlan. Thank you for reminding me of what's important."
Diana smiled at his gratitude. She fixed her eyes on the road ahead. It felt nice to be the one to bring him into the light.
"You're welcome, Bruce."
The Amazon looked in the corner of her eyes and for a moment, she almost saw a smile on Bruce's face. It was nearly 4 o'clock in the morning and fatigue had started to set in on the princess. She wiped the corner of her eyes to keep them open. Next thing she knew, the Batmobile's dash board started to make a few beeps and the then she smelled the aroma of coffee coming from in front of her. A cup of coffee slid out from the dashboard and she took a needed drink from it. The warmth of the coffee revitalized her senses and lifted her awareness.
"Thank you. I needed that."
"It's a special brew concocted by Alfred."
"So where are we headed?"
"One last stop, Arkham Asylum."
She tightened up a little bit. "Arkham?"
"I have to make a routine check on someone."
This is something new, Diana thought. This is as far as she has ever been into his world. Is this a new direction in there friendship? It was interesting to see him in action. To see his enemies cower before him. When she fought along side him they would usually go up against megalomaniacs and world invaders. His strength was his strategic mind. Out here in Gotham he was a symbol of fear to those who dare tread in the dark. He was a force to be reckoned with if you were his enemy. On the other hand, he was a powerful ally and a loyal friend. She felt fortunate to have met him and to work alongside him. However, few and far between they spend anytime together.
Only another leaguer had ever been to Arkham and that was the Green Lantern. As far as she could recall, the Green Lantern had to deliver the Joker to the Asylum after his capture in Metropolis. When GL returned after the drop, she remembered how glad he was that he didn't have to deal with the likes of Bruce's rogues' gallery on a daily basis. As the Batmobile approached closer to its destination, the Asylum's silhouette became more visible. Diana mentally braced herself.
As they walked down the corridor which was designated as 'Special Cases', Wonder Woman followed behind Batman as they walked past each room; all of which had a clear observation glass as a wall. On each cell door there were name plates. She followed Bruce past the first cell assigned to the Scarface. As they walked past the glass, she glanced over and saw a little old man talking to a ventriloquist dummy dressed in gangster clothes. The old man slapped himself with the dummy's hands. Batman ignored this as he walked past the cell. Diana felt pity for the little man.
Then they walked past Killer Croc's cell. She saw that the occupant was huge in stature and his gray skin looked very reptilian. The Croc's face was dressed in blood and he had a rat's tail sticking out of the side of his mouth. Then Diana heard a crunch as he chewed. He was silent but his yellow eyes followed her as she walked away.
Next was Poison Ivy's cell. Her cell was decorated with greenery unlike the ordinary cells previous, her cell seemed lush and alive. The lady inside had green skin and red hair she was strikingly beautiful. Ivy smiled and for a moment Diana was entranced by her Aphrodite-like appearance. She started to walk towards the glass when suddenly she felt a firm grip on her shoulders.
"Don't let her get to you." Batman said as he tapped Diana's shoulders.
This snapped Wonder Woman into attention. "Sorry, thanks."
As Diana and Batman walked away, Ivy pressed herself against the glass and stuck her tongue out at the two. Then they walked past Jonathon Crane's cell. The only thing she saw was a tall gangly man standing in his corner in a scarecrow outfit being as still as possible except for the piercing glare coming from his eyes.
"My, my, a fair mare. Welcome to my cold lair." The man rhymed eerily.
Next was Harvey Dent's cell, as she followed Bruce, she saw a man wearing a suit with two different halves, a black side and a white side. His face was covered in shadow; he was seated and flipping a coin in the air repeatedly. When she walked past him, he accidentally dropped his coin. He bent over and picked up his coin. His face was exposed to reveal a grotesque half and a normal half. The Princess couldn't help but feel a bit shaken by his outward appearance. Two-face smiled and managed a twisted sounding whistle.
Finally, they reached the final cell, labeled only Joker. Before they stepped in front of the glass, Batman stopped and turned around. He had a look of slight concern on his face. They were both standing in the shadow between the cells.
"What? Why?" Diana asked.
"I don't want you to be on his black list.
"I met him before, I can handle him."
"I know you can, please respect my wishes."
Diana understood his motives and smiled slightly. Don't know why she did. But she couldn't help but smile. "From one warrior to another." She nodded in agreement and stepped back. Batman nodded and walked away into the light in front of the cell's observation glass.
"Batsy! Batsy! You were late! I was beginning to worry about you. I missed you sooo much."
Diana could hear them both clearly as they talked. Despite the Joker being human, he was eerie and gave her the creeps.
"I've been keeping tabs on your adventures on the outside, Batsy. That O'Hanlan one must've really got under your skin. Personally, I was hoping that you'd catch him so I can give him a dose of his own medicine."
"Is that so?" Batman replied.
"Of course! You see, heh heh, this is how I see it. I'm your exact opposite; I'll do things you would never dream of doing. I complement you more than you realize. If he was brought here you KNOW I would have a word or two with him. There's nothing we have in common but if there is something we share is our disdain for child rapists-murderers. You see? HAHA! There are worse monsters than me roaming around out there! HAHAHAHA! Isn't that a kicker? If you let me loose Batsy, let's work together and round up the herd! You do the detective work and I'll show you how handle that kind of evil! Imagine that! Joker and the Bats working together! "
Batman did not respond.
Joker laughed for a moment and was silent. He gazed at the Dark Knight. "What's wrong Bats? Cat got your tongue?"
"I'll never work with you. Ever."
"What's wrong? Scared to admit it? Admit it! You know we'll work well together! C'mon! You know you want to! Imagine that! The Chaotic DUO! No no! How about the Ying Yang Twins! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Batman walked off, this was sufficient enough conversation to know that the Joker was really in his cell instead of another imposter. Diana followed suit as the laugh of the Joker echoed throughout the whole corridor. The sooner the better the warrior thought, but she tried not to show it.
Once they arrived at the Batcave the time was already close to 5:00 am. As Diana stepped out of the Batmobile, she looked over to Bruce as he stepped out of the cockpit of the vehicle. Since leaving Arkham Asylum, the two have been quiet with each other. She straightened the bangles on her wrists and made her way towards the transporter pod that led back to the JLA Watchtower. Batman escorted her to the entrance of the pod. Before entering, Diana turned towards the Dark Knight.
"Bruce, I need to ask you something before I leave."
"How long will it last?" The Princess asked.
"How long will what last?" Bruce replied.
"This war of yours. How will this all end?"
Batman narrowed his eyes. For a long while, he was silent.
"Do you even know?"
"Yes, I do." Bruce replied. "As long as it takes, Diana. Why do you care?"
"Tonight showed me how determined you were to do things alone. It nearly swallowed you whole. I've watched you over the years as we fought together and I watched the old news videos of your exploits. When you succeeded, you did so very magnificently. But whenever you don't succeed, you fall hard…harder than a bronze statue falling over."
"Thank you for the psychoanalysis." Bruce said sarcastically. "And your mission, Diana? Is your mission any shorter or different?"
"No, it's not different. Only….I can live in hundreds of lifetimes. While you…"
Batman interrupted. "You don't have to say it. Go home Diana."
The Detective started to turn away. Before he could walk away, he felt a strong grasp on his arm stopping him from moving.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."
Batman's back was towards her still. He looked towards the ceiling exhaustedly.
"Why are you still here Diana?"
"Listen to me now. You're tough Bruce. No one can do a lot of the things you're able to do. Not me, not Superman, no one. When things don't go your way, I don't want you to fall this hard again."
"Is that right?"
"Yes, that's right." Wonder Woman stated. She walked over to Bruce and whispered into his ear. "When you fall, Bruce, I want to be there for you. You descend into very deep depths. Please don't push my friendship aside like some token."
Bruce's hardened exterior slacked a little. "I…I won't promise you anything but for you...I'll try. I'm sorry; I just can't help it sometimes."
Without much indication, Diana kissed Bruce lightly on the lips. With that gesture of warmth and tenderness, he closed his eyes and allowed all of the remaining bitterness from the O'Hanlan incident and the visit to Arkham Asylum lose their grip on his soul. When Diana pulled away, he looked into her intense yet gentle blue eyes. She smiled and pulled away.
"Sometimes, you can't make it on your own, Bruce. All it takes is Wonder Woman to pull you through."
With that final remark, she winked at him and disappeared into the transporter. With a brief flash of light, she was gone. The Knight was alone now. It's too soon for him to process what just happened with Diana. Usually, he would torture himself with scrutiny and over analyze the moment. Not right now. He allowed his humanity to take over. Bruce smiled.
"Until next time, Princess…until next time."
To be continued…
Episode 2: Savage's Prey