Recalled to Life by Reya Wild
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or any creators associated with the franchise. They all belong to their respective owners. I only own the original character created solely for this story.
Summary, RATED M: As Gotham falls into a state of dystopia, citizens try to survive and get by without inciting the wrath of the rogues and mobs. While Commisioner Gordon leads a resistance, a woman uses all her abilities to make some kind of difference in the lives of those the rest of the nation forgot, that is until she catches the attention of Bane himself.
Chapter Thirteen: The Last Dream of My Soul
Bane expected her to rise from the ashes, a force to be reckoned with. He thought that breathing life into her would make her into the best evolution of her body and soul. He forgot that she was not born of fire, but from the water instead.
It was perhaps for that reason that Riley spiraled into a cloud of depression.
He left her to recover from the experience in her room, waiting for her to recover her strength. In three days, she refused to leave. She picked at the feed her brought her personally, and she was listless. It was a disappointing turn of events, but he was a patient man. It was his patience and tenacity that brought him to where he was today.
In those three days, Riley was left to settle and sink in her tangled thoughts. It set in that she'd nearly died. Bane, her captor, had killed her, but for whatever reason, he resuscitated her. The snarky part of her, the one that had existed before her brush with dead, pointed out that maybe he wanted to kill her more than once, but she knew that wasn't right. He'd taken care of her after. He tended to her and monitored her vitals. It was almost like he was coddling her.
That brought her to the flip side of the coin.
Bane was snaking his way beneath her skin, flowing through her veins like he belonged there. The dreams had not ceased. Every time she closed her eyes, she couldn't help but fantasize the rough pads of his fingertips skimming along her skin. She remembered how he bathed her, tended to the wounds he caused, and she knew that she should be appalled and disgusted with him.
The only feelings she could summon were those of intrigue and curiosity and a craving for more. She didn't understand what had happened to her. Everything used to be so clear, but now it was just so muddled.
From there, her thoughts only continued on a downward trend. Once she began her pity party, she found that she couldn't stop. It was all those awful things that she'd been keeping locked away. Her life lacked purpose, and she knew it. It made her wonder if she ever had purpose. Her mother groomed her in her image, she knew that much. With Retribution, she wanted a taste for rebellion, and she got it with the anarchy group along with her first love. Afterwards, she simply became Riley Watson, a regular young woman. She went to school, she worked. There had been nothing remarkable about her. She made sure of that.
Now she was Rabbit. She belonged to Bane, the man who continually gave her life. Did it count as saving her life when he was the one who caused her death?
Her lips twisted into an ugly smile. Fiver was curled next to her, mewling softly. He butted his furry head beneath her chin to try and bring her some sort of comfort. They'd hardly left the room. Occasionally, he would follow Bane out, but he inevitably returned to where his mistress was.
Riley had once been fascinated with death. She contemplated suicide as she told Bane, and she even attempted it before chickening out. It was interesting to her, in a detached way, to have died. Wasn't it near death experiences supposed to give a person a new lease on life? So why didn't she feel rejuvenated?
Maybe because her life was going nowhere and fast as it had been for nearly the past decade. Bane was the most interesting thing that had ever happened to her since Michael died. She'd felt so much more in the weeks she spent as his prisoner. For the first time, she was able to see what a sham her life had been before. After losing Michael, all she wanted was to be a perfectly normal girl to get by, but she hadn't been happy, not really.
Being with Bane was the first time in a long time that she'd truly felt alive. He made her fight for her life, for every second, and for her freedom.
This wasn't what happy felt like, was it? There was an ache in her chest that she didn't know how to fix. With no solutions in mind, she remained in bed. Most of it she spent sleeping, and when she was awake, she merely laid there sleeping.
By the third day, Bane had had enough.
"What do you want from me?" he asked her one morning over breakfast. He brought her toast with some jam that morning along with some milk. He knew that she was hardly eating, and much to her faint annoyance, he sat with her to make sure she ate at least a little.
For a moment, she imagined him as a mother hen, and it almost made her laugh.
His question jarred her from her dreary reverie, and she looked up blankly at him. His gray eyes pinned her down, studying her intensely. He sat, leaned forward in his seat next to her bed, and rested his arms on his legs. His fingers were steepled together as he watched her.
"What?" she murmured, her voice a bit raspy from disuse. Bane looked at her with an unimpressed look.
"What do you want from me?"
The words were repeated, but she didn't know understand the context behind it. What did she want from him? She could ask for her freedom, but in her three day wake, she realized that she really had nowhere to go. Her bunker was compromised with Pross around. Belatedly, she thought about returning to her previous work of staking out supply drops with Missy and Selina, but a darker part of her, a part that Bane and his reckoning had deeply touched, wonder what the point of it was.
This reckoning showed her the ugliness of human nature. There was nothing but savagery beyond the safety of this home with Bane, and really, when she had ever considered it safe or a home? She knew how tangled she was when she thought of things in those terms. Without the confines of law and order, everyone returned to base instinct. They raped. They stole. They plundered their soul to the very darkest depths.
So where did that leave her in terms of wants?
Riley studied Bane as he studied her. She wanted him. There was a growing part in her that wanted him. She was fascinated by her captor. Whether it was genuine affection after all the bizarre things between them or Stockholm syndrome, she didn't know anymore. What she did know was that she fantasized about this monster-man before her. She fantasized of his touch, of his embrace, of the warmth and fullness he could give her.
Wryly, she reminded herself that it had been awhile since she'd been properly touched by a man. There were a few sexual encounters over the years, but none that really left a mark on her memory, only enough to sate her needs.
"You're punishing me," he spoke again when she didn't answer. "For drowning you."
There was something in his tone. She tried to put her finger on it. There was petulance there, but also something more. Repentance. Apology.
She took the realization and turned it over in her mind.
"So what must I do to make it up to you?"
Had she been eating the untouched toast, she would have choked on her food. Never in her time with Bane did she expect him to try and win her over, not so genuinely.
"Why are you doing this?" she finally asked, gazing at him with an arched brow. Her gaze was sharper now, and it lacked the fog the depression had created. Bane was glad of it, but it also made him want to shift in his seat from the intensity of it. There were several beats of silence between them. He realized what he said next was important. The tiny slip of a woman was testing him. Once, he would have been angry. Now, he was simply taken.
"Because you are mine," he answered simply as if it made all the sense in the world. "You are mind so wholly whether you like it or not. I breathed life into you. You breathe now because of me."
Riley let out a bitter, dark laugh. Her gaze pulled from him to look down at Fiver who curled in her lap. Absently, she rubbed his head.
"I think that you didn't own very much growing up," she mused thoughtfully. Bane frowned at her, unsure where she was going with this train of thought. Instead of answering, he simply inclined his head in confirmation. Riley knew him well enough by now to know that it was an affirmative. "At first I thought you wanted to own me because it was some sick game of yours. You wanted to subjugate another person for pleasure and perversion, but I think I was wrong."
It was the most she'd ever said in one sitting since her drowning. Usually, they sat her meals in silence. Bane allowed her to continue. The softness of her voice was not the beguiling siren's call like Talia's. It was like a burning hearth and fleece, and it was the sort of home he imagined every day as a child in the Pit.
"I think you want to own me so badly because you've never truly had something to call yours."
Her words were spoken so frankly without any sort of deception or manipulation. The analgesics were no match for the truth. There was a resounding ache in his chest. He had no idea that it throbbed in time with hers.
"On the contrary," he protested though there wasn't much fight in his words. "I had Osito."
He wasn't sure how or why, but his words made her lips twitch slightly. A small smile graced her features, and she looked more like the Riley he'd come to know.
"That is very true," she agreed with a nod. "You did have Osito."
They fell into silence once more, unsure what to do with one another. There was a new game now, and neither were completely sure of the rules. Bane knew that he wanted to cultivate her, make her stronger. She was his equal now, no longer his pet. It was difficult for him to begin with her when she'd been floating away from him these past three days. He wasn't sure what he'd find this morning, but he resolved himself that if it was more of the same, he would shake her out of this trance and return her to a former glory. Riley was fire and heat, meeting him for every barb and attack. After surviving death by his hand, he would make sure she was untouchable. Talia might be his angel in the sky, but he wanted Riley to be demigoddess of life.
"And now I suppose I'm yours too."
His eyes focused in on her again, unsure whether he heard correctly. Riley was staring down at her lap still. The fog of sadness and something almost otherworldly was back in her gaze.
"I've never really found a place where I belonged," she began quietly. She still refused to look at him. It frustrated and relieved him all at the same time. There was a kind of truth and hurt in her gaze that he'd only seen a few times out of her, and like the fire he liked to compare her to, it burned him all the same.
"My mother, I told you she was a good Catholic woman. I was supposed to go to school, grow up to be a proper lady and find a husband to respect and please. I didn't want that. Everything about my family I abhorred."
Bane cocked his head to the side. There was little information on her family in her records aside from their deaths. Her profile read normal. As he thought about it now, he thought that perhaps it was too clean, too normal in fact. She'd spoken very little of her family which led him to understand that it was a delicate topic. The fact that she was talking about them now was a testament to how she badly she was shaken.
"Do you miss her?" he asked evenly. He willingly went along with the new tangent as long as it kept her talking. Riley finally looked up at him, and he steadfastly held her stare. His question seemed to remind her of his presence and their current topic. She clammed up again on instinct.
"Do you miss your mother?" she countered.
"I hardly remember her," he pointed out. "Years of toiling away in a prison has a tendency to erase the existence of anything beyond it."
Riley snorted at him. This time, it was her turn to look unimpressed. "You remember that she gave you Osito."
Bane became quiet when he realized she had a point. He did remember that she'd given him Osito. It was one of the few memories he had left of her and certainly one of the few good memories he had at all.
"You are a very clever rabbit," he conceded. His lack of argument made her brighten a bit. Her pallid complexion became a bit rosier. His words were a genuine compliment without the mocking he'd added in before.
She remembered his deal about question for a question. Begrudgingly, she bit out an answer, "Sometimes I miss her. I suppose all children miss their mother after all."
Bane made a sort of humming noise while he reflected on her statement, giving her room to continue if she so wished. He wasn't disappointed.
"I think I've missed her more these past few weeks than I ever have in a long time," Riley said as the realization dawned on her.
"Am I that much of a monster that you miss the mother you seem to hate?" he raised his brow at her. He settled back in his seat, stance relaxing.
"I never said I hated her," she replied defensively.
"No, but any time you've spoken of her, you speak with hate softened by years of separation."
Riley glared at him. Crossly, she spread jam on her toast and took a bite. Bane was pleased that she was eating instead of him forcing her.
"What are you, my psychologist now? Are we going to sit here and talk about my feelings?" she spat at him. This time, she elicited a grin behind his grotesque mask. There was his spitfire.
"I have studied many subjects. Psychology has always fascinated me, I must confess," he said agreeably. "The human mind is such a complex thing. That in conjunction with instinct and the human spirit never fails to entertain me."
"So you believe in a soul then?"
The conversation was spinning and spinning into all sorts of things, but he didn't mind. Bane enjoyed her quick mind and wit. A philosophical conversation with her was one that he'd been looking forward to.
"Why shouldn't I?" he questioned simply.
"Because," Riley spluttered at him. Bane was everything bad. He brought people down to their base instincts and insisted on this savagery upon Gotham. "Because look what you've done. Everyone out there is only looking out for themselves. There's no kindness, no civility. There's nothing but cruelty and a taste for blood and greed."
"And for that, they should not have a soul?"
"I hope they don't have a soul for the sort of things they've done!"
Her reply was fiery and indignant. Bane wanted to nurture this fire in her. He didn't want the water to wash away her brightness.
"Everyone out there is a survivor, Rabbit, just like you," he reminded. His words were uncharacteristically gentle. She forced down a bite of toast and tried not to let it affect her. "I would like to think it is the indomitable human spirit that keeps them going."
"And for the people who reap only hatred towards others? Where's the human spirit in that?" she scoffed.
"You cannot have good without evil. What would make good what it is without the stark contrast of evil to mark the difference it makes? I have seen much throughout my journeying, and I have found that you cannot have one without the other. The human soul is just as capable of being good just as it is to be bad. You cannot dismiss one for being soulless simply because they took to the darker part of the spectrum. Doing so would only void the point entirely."
Riley's lips drew into a slight frown. She hated that he made sense. A great, bellowing laughter echoed through the room when he saw her pout. Bane's shoulders shook as he slapped his knee.
"It appears that I have bested you in this argument, little one, and you are none to please," he declared, clearly amused.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," she huffed at him. Her reply only brought him more mirth. Fiver popped his little head up to see what all the commotion was about. He was on his way to nice laugh when Bane's laughter made his little chest reverberate. Riley leaned back against her pillows, eyes closing, as she allowed herself to float away on his laughter. They had more of a tether to her than his thoughts did. She wished that he would laugh more. Despite the mechanical edge to it thanks to his mask, it was a nice laugh. She could nearly imagine him as a different man with a different life and much different circumstances.
When his laughter finally settled down, they sat together in silence. Bane saw that she'd finished her toast and most of her milk. He hoped he would have the same success with later meals. He got to his feet and moved to take the plate and glass from her, deciding to leave her be. There was progress. His plan was slowly being laid out. Thanks to Riley, he discovered that he could do more than break things. He could put broken pieces back together. It would take time, but it was a side project that he was taking great joy out of.
He thought that maybe she'd fallen asleep, so he automatically set his plans for the day. While Riley was something he enjoyed, Gotham and Talia was his duty, and he had to see it through.
"You asked me what I wanted."
Bane turned to face her and saw that she was looking at him. There was a set determination to her features.
"I did," he agreed with a nod.
"I know what I want."
"And what is that, my clever little rabbit?"
"I want to belong somewhere, be part of something. I'm tired of being alone. I want a home," she answered quietly. Riley had finally pinpointed the very center of her listlessness and sadness. Coming face to face with the fact that she had no one, that no one would care but her whether she lived or died, was a difficult thing.
Silently, Bane observed her. He set the plate and glass aside and perched at the edge of her bed. Reaching out, he took one large, weathered hand and rested it lightly along her cheek. He was warm. Riley found herself leaning into his touch before really thinking about it.
"You have such brightness to you," he rumbled. "You are like the light to my darkness, and together we show two spectrums. You are mine, Riley, and because of that truth, your home is now with me."
She was surprised and taken back by the fact that he actually used her name. It was an unsettling sort of feeling, exciting her and confusing her in one fell swoop.
"This won't last forever," she pointed out when she found her words. Riley felt an odd sort of heady thrill. It extinguished the rest of her melancholy as it burned off from the fire in his words. "Eventually, you will let me go, or I will die. This reckoning you've brought unto Gotham will most certainly kill me in the end."
Behind his mask, he smiled at her. Leaning in, she felt his mask brush along her hairline, a simple ghost of a kiss.
"You've already died once, and here you are yet," Bane reminded her.
"So where does that leave us?"
He didn't answer her. Bane only pulled back slightly from her, so that he could gaze down into her eyes. He was invading her personal space, but she didn't feel threatened or bother. Her hand reached up to rest lightly along his mask. He didn't flinch.
"Down the rabbit hole," she answered for him. The corners of his eyes crinkled slightly, eyes glinting with amusement.
Author's Note: I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter. The characters just ran off from me at some point. My main goal was mostly transitioning to the next stage of their relationship. Riley's head space and feelings are all over the places, and I wanted to convey that. Somehow, I ended up writing Bane's perspective as well. Hopefully, you enjoy the look into their minds and how things develop between them. Please review and let me know what you think!