Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to "Batman" or any of its characters, including Bane, nor do I own any rights to the comics or the films. I own nothing save for any original characters I have created.
A/N: I have been active in the Nolanverse Batman fandom for quite some time, but up until now I have only ever written stories centering around Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane. I thought it would be good practice as a writer to explore other characters, and I absolutely adored Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, so I decided to dedicate a one-shot to him. I hope you enjoy!
He has long since forgotten what he used to look like.
He remembers that he was handsome, or at the very least he had been told that he was; in truth, he had not contemplated his appearance often, save for on occasions where it had been brought to his attention—when he would catch a glimpse of a woman staring at him before quickly averting her eyes, embarrassed at being caught, or when a much bolder girl had approached him, a flirtatious smile playing across her lips. He had not been a particularly vain person, and physical beauty was not as important to him as it was to other men. If he was guilty of anything, it was a lack of pride; he was almost ashamed of his looks. To him, they were a hindrance; he had wanted to be taken seriously, and men seldom respect a pretty man.
He doesn't have that problem any longer.
He remembers the sensation of a hand gently stroking his cheek, of soft lips pressed against his own. He remembers hands in his hair and the scent of delicate perfume, and he remembers a time when pain was something he experienced only in times of defeat.
But he cannot remember his former face.
Gone is the visage that inspired intrigue in women and mockery in men; it has been replaced with scars and ruin and bright waves of pain, the product of cruel, hateful hands. The prisoners had robbed him of much more than his appearance—they had stripped him of his identity. When Ra's al Ghul had denied him, he had felt the last lingering piece of his former self die, crushed and atrophied inside a husk of a man. It had been the final step of his forced reincarnation, and the first step towards his new life.
The mask is his constant, cold companion, and it is as much a part of him as his flesh. Never again will he feel lips against his or smell a fragrance, and never again will a woman approach him with twinkling eyes and a playful grin. Those days are over—that man is dead and it will do no good to mourn him.
At times he finds himself searching through his memories, trying to piece together a portrait of a handsome man who is now a stranger to him. Each time he is unsuccessful, and it occurs to him that perhaps he does not want to remember. It is his current face that matters now; it is the one that strikes fear into the hearts of otherwise strong men, and the one that will be burned into the minds of the citizens of Gotham.
And so with each passing day the handsome man fades further into the recesses of his memory, blurring together with everything else the pit destroyed until Bane wonders if he ever existed at all.