Afterlife

The afterlife is a confusing place, indeed.

Whatever happened to pearly white gates, harps and angels, ancestral reunions, or the River Styx? She'd even take the seventy-two virgins now, compared to this. At least that would have made some sense.

Instead, she sees people who laugh that shouldn't, and people who cry for no reason.

She sees Bastet scream strangled howls of anguish, tormented by wounds only visible to her. Sometimes a woman appears next to her. This has happened five times so far, and it's always the same person. Likes to dress in black. But sometimes no woman appears when the lamentation starts, and as the goddess screams the women (woman?) sob. Such a strange scene, but a familiar one, too. Somehow she feels as if she knows their pain.

She sees Apollo with his laurel crown and golden quiver, smiling at her like an old friend, ambrosia eyes twin sunsets on a summer evening. But always beside him sits Dionysus, grapevine draped over his shoulders, wild eyes dark as the winter's new moon. He repulses her with his unnerving aura, yet draws her in as though he knows something about her. Something about her death. Something she can't quite place, yet isn't sure she wants to…

She sees Ra's al Ghul briefly – and ran far away at first sight – yet he never stays. She sometimes comes across the bearded mystic at intervals, but before she can blink again he is gone, a sore-stricken Lazarus at his heels.

She sees Mother Earth weeping for whom she calls her "lost child". At first she assumed the deity to mean the planet Earth, or humanity, or the natural environment, but now it seems as though she is referring to only one person. She wants to comfort the grieving Mother, but Father Time warns that nothing but Spades lie in store for her child, and not just for digging her grave.

She sees an iceberg floating in the distance, where a most bizarre tea party is held. The hosts, a Mr. and Mrs. Cobblepot, make small talk about how they wish they had had a son or daughter to leave behind and uphold their honorable family name. Paying no heed to their nervous, shame-filled glances, a pleasant-faced Nora Fries laments that she was unable to have a child before her illness struck. She seems quite shaken by this fact, as if standing in a snowglobe. A bitter old woman comments that children are useless little demons – her grandson is most likely burning in hell with the crows by now. And always – always – a couple with bullet holes in their chests and with hearts that melt the ice away seem to stare right at her, yet neither she nor the couple can place where they have known each other from. They then turn to their closest afterlife friends, the Napiers, who claim to have a son around the age of the couple's boy. The four go off in wild stories of their boys' various escapades and streaks of brilliance, and remark just how delightful it would be if the sons were to meet; why, they have so much in common, they'd be the best of friends from the start!

Then, at the most unexpected of moments, the party is interrupted by the roaring of thunder and the crackling tremors of time itself. Bastet stops howling, Mother Earth stops weeping, Apollo and Dionysus stop smiling, and the iceberg guests suspend their conversations as all eyes rise in homage to the sacred, terrible event.

Sometimes it's Thor and Loki, striking hammer and shapeshifting figures, flowing to each others' movements to best overpower the other till Ragnarök descends its twilight upon them.

Sometimes it's Vishnu and Shiva, preserver and destroyer, vying for dominance to the beat of black-hole Brahma's inexorable heart, pulsing the two into being from the same source.

And sometimes a simple sunrise appears on the horizon, a moon passing in front to eclipse it, forming a perfect yin-yang in the sky as a ghostly laughter sings on the wind.

The dead and divine spectators aren't sure what the occurrences signify about events on Earth, but they know what they mean for themselves. She knows, as they all know, that the battle was what brought them to this limbo, and won't let them leave until it is settled. For they each have a stake in it, on one side or the other, and until one reigns victorious, no one is free.

So they watch, and they wait, praying to these two unnamed gods to resolve their struggle and bring peace at last to their immortal souls.


A/N: I've been playing around in my head with Batverse's parallels to all sorts of mythological lore, so here's something I whipped up real quick this evening. Lots of research went into this, if you're interested look these up on wiki, it's really fascinating stuff. This is just scratching the surface.

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Bastet was the cat goddess, which here parallels Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The five women refer to the five lives she has already lost, meaning that at this point in time she has four more left on Earth before she's gone for good. The lamentation refers to when she dies or when Batman keeps eluding her advances, ending in a romance as catastrophic as Bruce and Rachel's. So Rachel empathizes with Selina on that one.

In Greek mythology, Apollo is the god of light and reason, while Dionysus is the god of madness and wine. Such is used to represent Harvey Two Face in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, as well as other sources, I'm sure. Apollo being Harvey, the logical side; Dionysus being Two Face, the mad side.

The mention of Lazarus refers to the Lazarus Pits of the comics, which Ra's al Ghul utilizes to give him immortal life and ensure his continuing survival throughout the centuries to lead the League of Assassins. The actual sore-stricken Lazarus refers to the origin of the term, found in the story of Lazarus of Bethany whom Jesus resurrected in the Gospel of John. Of course, not sure how Lazarus Pits would translate into Nolanverse, but in my opinion there was something about Liam Neeson's expression before the train crashed that tells me that it's not over between him and Bruce...

The lost child of Mother Earth, of course, refers to Poison Ivy, and the Spades that lie in store for her refer to Harley Quinn, the Queen of Spades. The pun of spades (shovels/cards) amuses me. :D

It only seems fitting that ice should be part of the world of the dead in this universe, because the two ice-centric villains - Penguin and Mr. Freeze - haven't yet made an appearance (and Freeze never will according to Nolan). The old woman complaining about her demon grandchild is of course Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow's grandmother, who raised him by beating him over the head with religion and brimstone preachings.

The unnamed couple is of course Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the Napiers are Joker's unnamed parents. I've always wondered what it would be like if Batman and Joker's parents met each other and got to talking about their brilliant children. Makes me wonder what could have been...

In Norse mythology, Thor is the god of thunder, and Loki is a shapeshifting trickster jotun whom Odin the Æsir god king takes in as his blood brother. Ragnarök is the final battle between the gods and the jotuns that will ultimately end the world and all that exists of the life tree of Yggdrasil, much like what would happen when Batman and Joker finally destroy each other. In other words, Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin'-geddon, in the wise words of Marilyn Manson. If you're interested, look up "The Arrival of Thor and the Bondage of Loki" on wiki, there's some definite Batman and Joker parallels there.

In Hindu lore, the great trinity - if you will - is Brahma, the creator of the world; Vishnu, the protector/preserver of the world; and Shiva, the destroyer/transformer of the world. If you look up either Vishnu or Shiva on wiki and look for relation to the other, there's such a Batman and Joker parallel I think I pissed myself from it's pure awesomeness. Shiva even covers himself in ashes and has matted hair. And apparantly, Shiva once met Vishnu's female avatar and..."procreated" with her. DID ANYONE SAY BATMAN/JOKER SLASH REFERENCE?! xD

The yin-yang...I could write an essay about what I think it symbolizes for the two of them. I've spent enough of your time here with this long-ass author's note that's probably longer than the fic itself. Apologies, friends and reviewers. *hinthint*