A/N: The second version of Ponders of the Night after the review Galinda-girl left. Hopefully it's improved c:

Slipping and Pulling

Gotham yields to no man. She teases with hope, yet remains barren of any love or care for her children. She possesses only darkness, providing a blanket for gang wars, prostitution and her own brand of crazies. Her belly is warm with blood, shame, and filth.

I won't let her tame me. I won't let her children suffer any longer.

And yet, my body is aching. Scarecrow eludes justice once more. I push aside thoughts of my parents. The need for shelter drives me. If anyone saw me in a weakened stateā€¦

The street lights flicker as I leave the main road. The darkness of the alley invites me in, calling me home. I welcome the friendly shadows as my body graces the cold cement. I vaguely wonder if this is the same street that took my parents' blood. We're not together long. I feel Robin (Nightwing, I correct myself) pulling me up, lifting me atop his shoulders, flying through Gotham in the Batwing.

Blues, grays, and black blur across the bleeding night sky.

"You seem to be handling the Fear Toxin well."

My lips move. I think I answer.

Beneath us, Gotham is screaming. I can taste my parents' blood; warm and metallic and rotten.

Everything burns. I pull off the cowl. Cursed thing is acid on my flesh. I take in a lungful of polluted air. Everything burns. Everything rots- including Gotham.

Dick is talking again, and I can't hear him. I can't look at him. I can't see what he's become while the Toxin fuels me. We're landing.

Alfred greets us. Thankless years of servitude deteriorates him into a withered skeleton. His bones strip me of my suit. I tell them I don't need help. I tell them I destroyed their lives. They ignore me.

I still can't look at Dick, at what he's become.

I look down. Stitches weave themselves along my skin like a web. Am I the spider or the victim? No, no... I am the diligent crusader. I patch up and soldier on.

I somehow make to a bed, an IV with the antidote in my vein. I squeeze my eyes shut and bare my parents screaming. I'm so, so sorry.

I need to be Batman. I should be the constant, the rock for Gotham and my makeshift family. I will always be Batman. I sometimes forget that I'm human, and that maybe Bruce Wayne the man needs someone. Someone unchanging, unyielding. Someone who can always stay strong in the face of the countless struggles we face.

There's a bulky figure standing beside me, too imposing to be Dick or Alfred. I try focusing on the colors, blue and red. Ah. The Toxin hasn't distorted him yet, or maybe this is an illusion. A dream? Outside of this little makeshift family, he is the only one I trust to see me like this.

Still, this is weakness and I hope he is only a drug induced delusion.

Clark, the ultimate boy scout of America. The Man of Steel who remained good and pure throughout the years. I laugh. Superman, the farm boy is essentially goodness incarnate and cherishes each life- even Bruce Wayne's. There's relief in the knowledge of someone valuing him without any thread of dependence.

The IV drips.

No, corrects the part of my mind coming off of Scarecrow's drug, that is not accurate.

"I cannot be your rock," Clark says, his jaw line stern.

My laughter escapes at the cruelty and truth of those words.

The lead lined vault containing kryptonite is proof enough that Superman needs Batman as much as Batman needs Superman. Yin and yang. Incomplete and unbalanced without the other's pushing and pulling. Clarks needs to be reminded that the world can turn sour. I suppose I need my masked tugged off to see that there's more to life than the shadows.

Gotham offers no colors. I do not deserve the splash of sunlit beauty that Superman provides, but I need it.

Sleep overwhelms me. Clark disappears as does the shadows of Gotham. I dream of a different reality, where perhaps he and I would still be friends if villainy didn't exist- if we weren't drawn together by necessity.

My dreams allow me a sliver of hope.

A/N: The relationship between Superman and Batman has sparked this. I doubt I'll write one from Supe's POV, but who knows? If I did, it would be called Sour Truths c:

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you catch any mistakes and feel free to leave some critique.

Edit 10/22) I fixed a few mistakes pointed out by Ersatz Einstein.