Mates: Book Three

Chapter: ...nine? Maybe? o.O I lost track..

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"You gave it to him? Are my ears deceiving me? Surely you jest." The Master, though obviously displeased, had not raised his voice. Not that It was surprised. Master never raised his voice. No, that wasn't the Master's way. With the Master, the more quiet his tone became, the higher the rage and thus the greater the punishment. It had displeased Master many times before and knew how things worked by now.

Yet it never seemed to stop It, despite how cruel the punishments were. That didn't necessarily mean that It enjoyed the punishments, there was something driving It, something that made It struggle against the commands.

It wanted more.

Master's voice was low and dangerous, but held the slight stirrings of amusement, which was promising. Way better than when Master's voice fell flat...toneless....

"I dunno why." A movement that might have been a shrug. "I just wanted to, is all." Not exactly groveling words, begging and screaming for forgiveness, but then again, this wasn't--

Energy was suddenly being seeped out of It's being, a hand tightly closed around its form, echoing Master's anger. Darkness was closing in and just as It was starting to feel the whispers of That Place....

He stopped. "Next time, little fool, don't be so callous in your decisions."

With that, Master faded away, leaving It alone.

A shuddering breath escaped the creature. This time was easier. Master had pulled back, before It could taste the afterlife. Mercy...he'd shown mercy.

Most of the times...Master waited until It could feel the sunlight against It's skin, peace settling in, washing away the pain... And then every time, he'd pull It back.

Those were the times that It cursed and pleaded and begged. Just to feel That Place...for just a little longer...

Yes, It desperately wanted more than this.

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Diana wasn't saying anything. Her breathing had leveled out, the bleeding had stopped, and she'd roused from slumber just a few hours ago. That she wasn't saying much wasn't really surprising, considering where some of the slashes had landed on her throat, but...

She wasn't responding to anyone either.

Not that the others had really tried to communicate with her for long. It seemed that whatever urgency had called upon them to help the two during their time of need, had quickly been snuffed out once Flash had opened his eyes. The speedster didn't even entertain the thought of being angry with them. Just the idea of anger was enough to make his stomach lurch, his mind flinch.

No, he'd feel something else. Disappointment, was a good one. Disgust, also acceptable. But never anger. Not now, probably not for a long time. Because for the first time in forever, he could actually decide. Could actually feel.

And right now, he felt...worried.

Flash had been there the second she'd woken up, rambling on at ninety-to-nothing, apologizing for everything that he'd done wrong in the past six months, and what he'd really wanted to feel at that instant but just hadn't been able to. At first, he'd thought her silence to be from the wounds. Talking had to be uncomfortable, her throat on fire most likely. Understandable. She didn't have to say a word, he'd say them all, until..

He'd actually looked into her eyes....

And had seen...

Emptiness.

There was nothing there. No light or spark...The twinkling fire snuffed out. So he'd gripped her shoulders tightly, trying to come up with something to say but his mind refused to come up with words, instead envisioning her floating in the darkness, orbs all around her. Had he been too late..?

No. No. Wasn't too late. Wasn't. That would mean that Flash had failed...and he hadn't. They had both passed the stupid challenge, they had the damned orb, so why was she staring into the distance with such a blank, shattered look on her face?!

A strangled sound of pain came from Diana's throat and he realized his fingers had been digging deeply into her scarred flesh. Almost enough to bleed, bruising most definite.

The speedster was apologetic, but it had gotten those deadened eyes to focus on him, so he managed to crush some of the guilt.

"Fl...sh...?"

Yes, yes! She recognized him! "I'm here, Diana."

Then she did the most horrifying thing of all.

She started to cry.

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The tears wouldn't stop coming out. It was like all the pent up frustration of the last several months were finally breaking free yet instead of feeling better, relieved that she could cry (finally), the trailing liquid only served to deepen the holes in her mind, the ones deep in her soul that no one seemed to notice but her.

How long had she sat there, staring at Flash, just taking in the glorious sight of him, watching emotions flit across that face? Ages, it must of been, with how worried he was acting. Only she couldn't find it in herself to care, to apologize for scaring him because all she could think...all she could focus on...

Was how bitterly disappointed she was that she'd made it out alive.

That Flash hadn't given up.

"It's okay...I know it was...scary with the orbs and when they touched you...you felt...things but we made it out okay and..."

She hadn't wanted to.

Diana had wanted...

"Y'u...din' give up?" Hurt to talk, her throat rattling with the abuse and effort it took to even form those few words. Only she had to let him know.

His face brightened. "Well...no. I mean, how could I?" A flirtatious grin. "I had a gorgeous woman depending on me."

Hera why did he have to say that? Why? Because now the tears were falling harder and her body was shaking and how could she even hope to form sentences like this? "I...I did."

A pause, about three seconds, but long for Wally. "What?"

"I din' wanna...Jus'...s'rry..." Sorry, because those words had hurt, and she knew they had. Flash had continued on because of her. He'd continued to fight for her.

Diana hadn't returned the favor.

Hadn't....wanted to.

"Oh." One word. One syllable. That was all it took, for him to convey just how crushed he was. Her soul ached, screaming at her for daring to harm Wally (how could you he's been nothing but kind and loving and you throw it in his face--), and she wanted to call out to the speedster, as he zipped away, only darkness was catching up and it was too much.

I'm sorry...I'm sorry I couldn't be as brave as you, Wally. But it hurt too much...it just...I just wanted...

She'd just wanted to see him smile again.

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J'onn was burning.

It didn't make sense, that he was burning, when his skin felt so unbelievably cold, like before when he'd thought they'd all died, leaving him alone, only this was the type of cold that seeped in everywhere, tainting everything.

He was burning. So cold he was burning--a burning type of cold.

Realized his thoughts weren't making any sense, rambling, couldn't get his mind under control, he'd felt it before it had ended, the tainted blackness that Wally had faced only he wasn't back to normal, no he was still so angry and clawing at his skin, trying to get the burning to stop. And it seemed to, burning turning to numbness as he clawed deeper, blood surfacing from the wounds, welling up so beautifully..

It calmed him, even more so when he ran his tongue along the scratches, lapping up the blood slowly.

Sensing another presence, he stopped, but then continued on once seeing who it was.

Batman.

His mate.

How wonderful.

Only, what did it matter? Bruce didn't care about anything at all anymore--why would this be any different?

A deep part of him wanted it to be. Wanted for it to matter, for Batman to be enraged at his actions, because even anger coming from the human would have been beautiful at this point. Alas, Batman just stood there with those annoyingly blank white slits.

The burning feeling was returning.

Enraged, he howled, clawing at his skin some more, desperate to make it stop, the taint it was everywhere, infecting him and he would never be whole never again--

Gloved-hands covered his own, stilling the motions. He looked up, chest heaving, angry at his mate for having stopped him. "Don't touch me."

A blank voice, "Are you going to strike me if I do?"

"You actually want to touch me for once?" J'onn's voice was full of mocking and scorn. "I'm surprised."

"I touched you earlier." The fact that Batman was still keeping up with the conversation was a bit puzzling; they hadn't exchanged this many words in months.

The fact that their words were sharp, aimed to hurt, seemed but a small price to pay.

"After I struck you." Should have been horrified as the pattern revealed itself, but instead, he launched forward in a surprise attack, successfully pinning his mate to the ground. Who wasn't struggling to get away, just staring with that damned mask--with a frustrated growl J'onn roughly pulled off the cowl, tossing it over his shoulder carelessly.

Those blue eyes, finally revealed to him, just as cold and cruel as the white slits but much more interesting to look at.

After I struck you. And then there had been a kiss, followed by a wave of peace that had made everything fade away...

J'onn wanted to feel that peace again.

Leaning down, he gave Batman a rough kiss, nipping and biting at those lips to open. Batman, for his part, didn't respond, blank eyes focused inward.

My touch does nothing for him, his mind spat bitterly, and as if on a mission, his touches and nips turned more forceful, aimed at getting a response from his stone-like partner.

It seemed to work, as a particularly harsh bite (almost breaking the skin but not quite) caused a moan to spill forth and a breath to be inhaled sharply. Heh. With a satisfied smirk, he continued on his path, hands trailing downwards, soon....

"J'onn." His name, spilling from Batman's lips, spoken in that tone, was enough to stall his actions.

"What?" J'onn hissed, hating that he could be stopped by just that voice.

A slight trembling, coming from the muscular body beneath him. Oh how he wanted to run his hands over the scarred skin.. "If I asked..." A slight hitch in tone, followed by tight swallows. "..you to stop...would you?"

The Martian cocked his head, eyes roiling with emotion as he said, "If I said no, would it matter?" Would Batman care if J'onn continued on, regardless of how he felt or would he just let that too be swallowed up in the thick wafts of apathy that seemed to be his sole foundation now?

Blue orbs swirled, the cold fog leaving them, long enough for true emotions to show through.

They screamed at J'onn, saying what Bruce could not; that he was tired, hurt, angry, and just wanted all of this to stop because it was a never ending cycle and he was so tired of all the shouting and yelling and just wanted to sleep until all the pain went away and everything was normal again. It mattered, because what they had, mattered, and Bruce didn't want to lose it to the madness. Didn't want to have to sacrifice this, not this, because it was all they had left, and anything more...would just be too much.

"Yes," Bruce croaked out, the trembling increasing the longer J'onn stared down at him.

Finally, his mate nodded. "Okay." But he didn't get up. Instead he shifted down a bit, until he could rest his head on Bruce's chest, and hear the frantic fluttering of a human heart.

The trembling slowly died down, and J'onn almost smiled when he felt strong arms envelope him, tightly holding him in place.

A wave of contentment washed over them, different from before, not as strong, but just as real, managing to ease up the pain, to erase some of the damage done, repair damaged bridges, smooth down frayed nerves..

They fell asleep, in tune with the darkening sky.

It wasn't the same as the peaceful feeling from earlier...

But it was still beautiful.

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