Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: I started this story about a month and a half ago and have about fifteen chapters written. So hopefully the updates on this one will come much faster than my other stories. This one will be much shorter than Stranger, which I'm still working on, BTW.
I know there is another BMWW story dealing with a similar scenario. I promise I started writing this before it was posted, and the two stories are sufficiently different in plot that I thought it ok to post my story here.
As always, thank you, KN, for the wonderful beta.
Bruce woke up, instantly feeling a sharp pain in his head. It was only when he tried to move that he realized he was strapped to a slab of concrete.
"Ah, you are awake." The sound of Ra's al Ghul's voice filled the empty cavern of the Batcave.
Trying to remember how he had ended up here, Bruce closed his eyes. Alfred was somewhere upstairs, most likely still unconscious.
"You are probably wondering why we are here."
Bruce finally turned his head to look at his captors. Standing next to Ra's was his faithful henchman, Ubu, and his daughter, Talia.
"Your curiosity seems to have deserted you, Detective. Well, let me explain the reason for our visit. It seems you have rubbed off on my daughter, and she has developed an appetite for revenge. While I do not normally encourage petty vendettas, I will this one time make an exception."
Ra's al Ghul turned to look at Talia, giving her a brief nod. "She has been most loyal, and it was the least I could do to show my appreciation." The warmth in the ancient voice disappeared as he returned his attention to Batman. "I will not lie; your removal suits me as well. In dispatching with you, I will be ridding my side of its most stubborn thorn."
Bruce growled, struggling against the chains that lashed him to the stone platform. He stared across the way at the "loyal" daughter, eyes filled with hate. Whatever attraction or affection Bruce felt towards Talia al Ghul had long ago evaporated. It had been years since he had thought of her, and he had all but forgotten the beautiful brunette's existence. He was now kicking himself for that oversight.
"But it is only temporary, Father." Talia said, voice slightly raised and accusing. Walking over to Bruce, she continued explaining. "We have modified the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit. While many of the side effects remain, you will not die. Father assured me of this before I would even consider doing such a thing."
She tucked the hair that perpetually hung in her eyes behind her ear before removing Bruce's cowl. He could feel her whisper against his ear, "Forgive me, Beloved." Her lips sought his for a parting kiss, but he turned his face, disgusted.
Blinking back tears, Talia walked back to her father's side.
At Ra's's signal, Ubu began turning a crank, lowering the platform into the abyss of the Batcave. Straight into the heart of the Lazarus Pit Bruce had created years ago. This was obviously not his intended purpose when making it. He had already been through the process of destroying all the known Lazarus Pits, not wanting Ra's to have access to them. But when he learned the pits were necessary to maintain the earth's stability, he had created one in the Batcave. Another mistake he was kicking himself for.
As the stone slab began its shaky descent, Bruce assessed the situation. His utility belt was gone, and he had no lock picks on his person. Even if he did, the locks had been placed on the under side of the platform. Supposing he could dislocate some body part and twist free, he didn't have his grapple. Alfred was unconscious somewhere in the Manor, and if he weren't, Ra's would have made sure the butler would not be able to call for help.
His only hope at this moment was the Justice League, which he had virtually abandoned months ago. Still, he mentally called for his teammates, was angry when they couldn't seem to sense his dire straits. Why couldn't Clark hear his struggle? Or J'onn read his mind?
And Diana…Of all of them, she should know, sense the danger he was in. Where was she?
The platform lurched, one side falling two feet farther than the other. The lopsided descent and gravity worked against him, pulling the chain even more painfully into his chest and sides.
"Talia, don't let him do this." Maybe he could break through to her, reach that part of her that still cared for him and would spare him.
For a brief moment, he thought he succeeded. Her brown eyes sought his, looking for something. But it was something he could not give to her. Her eyes hardened, and she practically hissed, "You would not let me have my beloved, and so I will not let you have yours."
Talia turned to look at her father, who was clearly unimpressed by the outburst.
In a calmer voice, she intoned, "Perhaps when you have thrown off the madness of the Pit, you will not be tainted by her, and we can be reunited."
"Don't hold your breath."
R'as lifted a scornful brow. "How ironic, considering I advise the exact opposite...As always, Detective, it's been a pleasure."
Turning toward his faithful brute, R'as commanded, "Ubu, release the platform."
And then Bruce was weightless in freefall.
The impact with the pit crushed the air out of him, and he heard more than a few snaps of bone. Certainly a few of his ribs, possibly his tibia and radius.
Gritting his teeth, he struggled against his bonds, hoping that the pit would dissolve the chains, but it didn't. That was not one of its properties, much as he wished.
The fumes of the Pit burned. His eyes watered, and he started to cough from the hazardous vapors and eventually the pain. His bones were already starting to knit back together.
The slab sank, slowly being engulfed by the bright green fluid that bubbled up from the ground. He could feel it crawling up his legs and arms. In a few seconds, he knew it would enter his mouth and nostrils, fill his lungs. And then there would be madness.
If Ra's was not lying, he would live through this. But he did not know what other alterations they had made to the Lazarus Pit or what schemes they had devised. He had heard it could be manipulated to bring people under mind control. And of course, there was the madness and insanity induced by the pit's "restorative" powers. While he might not die, it was possible he would never be Bruce again.
Time was short. He remembered his parents, Alfred, Dick.
The green fluid seeped into his mouth, and he spit it out, trying to keep his mind clear. There were only a few seconds left, and he decided they would be spent on her. It had been so long since he had allowed himself to think about her, but her face was recalled instantly. Not one detail was incorrect; she was perfect.
He could feel his mind slipping.
She would be his last memory as a free, thinking person.
He no longer knew himself.
To Be Continued
A/N: Thanks for reading.