You, me, and an army of two.

BY : Amos
Category: +A through F > Batman: Arkham City
Dragon prints: 66
Disclaimer: Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros own Batman: Arkham City and the characters, I make no money.

“You know, it’d be better if he did kill people,” the new recruit said bluntly, out of nowhere in the emptiness of the room that he and the Arkham Knight stood alone in. Arkham Knight looked at him from across the room, checking the ammo boxes’ supplies. He gave a noise from behind his mask and the recruit turned his head to look at the man before quickly averting his gaze again. “...Sorry,” he said. Then, the silence again, only lessened by the tampering of ammunition boxes once the two turned their attentions back to the things at stake.

It was another few minutes doing that, even rolling to ten; just checking all of the goods, some new kid with a guy born of vendettas, while the others of the army checked stock elsewhere, kept guard, and gave more recruits their own armor.

Then, just after the ten minute mark, the Arkham Knight spoke up, scaring the shit out of the recruit. “Why’s that?” he asked, his voice strange and short of unique from the synthesizer that kept his identity secret. The recruit glanced back and saw his boss facing him, taking a seat on one of the crates, like he expected the conversation to continue, or go places. Why would it?

The recruit cleared his throat and turned away again. “...I… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“What, scared I’ll give you shit for talking on the Bat like that? No, go on, I want to hear it,” Arkham Knight jeered lightly, and as always when he spoke, the admiration of hatred towards Batman was more than evident. The recruit bit his cheek, wondering if he would get shot or not, and then deciding that giving in would probably be best.

“You know, he just, says that he doesn’t kill and all for morality, but what about all of the damage and shit? I mean, he wrecked half of Gotham already just by driving that… that tank, and all of the wounded? It’s like he thinks that leaving people as vegetables is better than leaving them dead. They wish they were dead.” The recruit was facing Arkham Knight now, turning and throwing a hand up and shaking his head in disbelief and aggravation. With the way Arkham Knight sat there, watching him with a mask that hid where exactly he was looking, the recruit realized that he had probably said too much and dropped his gaze again, his chest beating out of control at not only the fear of Arkham Knight putting a bullet in his head, but in his own hatred of Batman. It stirred up old feelings. And, by the way he saw Arkham Knight stand up in his peripheral, he had noticed.

Arkham Knight walked over to the recruit, his steel-toed boots clacking on the metallic flooring, echoing in the quiet room like seconds to the recruit’s death. The recruit stood in wait of pain, or blackness to come over him, edging away slightly like a dog caught with a piece of food, about to be kicked. But, no pain came. He brought his gaze up slowly, looking to the blue, shiny mask that hid his boss’s every emotion.

“Sounds personal,” the boss said, and the recruit could feel his heart beating in his own ears. He looked away again before giving a little nod in response. That was it. His mouth didn’t move to form any words. “Why do you hate the big bad bat?”

The recruit opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out, and he shut it again lest he feel like a moron, of which he already did. He swallowed, and it was an audible gulp that further exposed his being a moron. Then, Arkham Knight put a heavy arm over the recruit’s shoulders, too buddy to be buddy buddy. “Go on kiddo, I wanna hear your take on things,” he said with the same buddiness that his arm held. What kind, was beyond the recruit, who had decided that this was his boss, and that he wouldn’t be paid for nothing. Or killed.

“...Broke my dad’s arm once, in front of me,” the recruit finally said, and he could feel Arkham Knight’s fingers grip his shoulder, adding to the insecurity that he felt, “I was twelve, and he snapped his arm right off of his shoulder. Broke right through the cartilage. And not only that. Gave my dad too much brain damage that he was just a freak in a motorized bed, eating fluids from straws and shitting himself, pissing himself, with one arm because the ligaments from the other were too damaged and it had to be amputated. So much for breaking a bone, and he didn’t even remember me when I came to see him,” the recruit spoke, his voice rocking with tremors that threatened to take it down all together. He was so filled with anger and hatred at the memory that he was seething, speaking through clenched teeth. He had forgotten his fear of being killed until the fingers on his shoulder slipped away and the Arkham Knight was actually patting his back, like he was congratulating him on something.

“Well, ‘looks like we have something in common, huh?” Arkham Knight spoke highly, though the recruit couldn’t tell what sort of expression he had while saying that. “What’s your name?”

“Lionel.”

“So that’s what brings Lionel to the biggest army against the Bat. Might be throwing my cards in, but I think you’re the only one with a real, blood curdling vendetta, am I right? I mean, everybody else are just lowlifes wanting their own turn to wear the cowl. What do you want?”

The recruit looked at Arkham Knight’s mask, trying to see his face, but not being able. He didn’t need to, though, to say, “I just want to see him suffer.”

It was like God breathed a gust of air into the room: all of the tension and depression left from the air, and Arkham Knight let Lionel go with a woop into the air.

“Man, you’re something. I’ll bet you could’ve been the next Robin had he not fucked up like he always does, huh? Did you wanna be the next Robin?”

Lionel scoffed under his breath. “No. A guy only gets kid after kid to work for him for one reason, right?”

Arkham Knight paused in his step of striding across the room and Lionel swallowed again, watching him. Now, he had said something wrong, by the way the Knight kept his back to him, not saying anything. Lionel turned his own back to the Arkham Knight so that he wouldn’t see a gun in his face as the last thing before he assumedly died, but once again, he was still alive for a prolonged period of time. When he glanced back at his boss, the man was gone. The recruit blinked a few times in surprise and looked around, but it was from behind him that the voice sounded.

“You know Lionel, I’m glad you’re here. We’re gonna make a good team,” Arkham Knight spoke. Lionel looked at him, at the faceless mask of only the color red. He nodded a little, cautious.

“…Me too,” he said in reply. Why wouldn’t they? Arkham Knight may have gotten lowlifes as an army, but at least they all had the same goal. Kill the Batman. Lionel didn’t even want to see who he was underneath his mask. He just wanted to see him hurt, man or psycho vigilante.

“I mean it,” Arkham Knight spoke up again, catching Lionel’s attention further. “How do you feel about being my right hand man? Different, from Batman and his toys. You’ll get a hand of your own life.”

Lionel stared at Arkham Knight, his boss a weapons crate away from him, standing there in his red and black checkered cargo suit that fit him in all of the right places. Lionel himself wore some casual red and white armor, courtesy of Arkham Knight, and even that didn’t make him look nearly as fit as the man before him. He didn’t need strength though. He was great with a gun.

The recruit was stunned for a second, blind-sided by the offer. It took him a minute to stop moving his mouth like an idiot, trying to speak yet his words holding back, until he could finally say, “Y-yeah… I’ll help you.”

Arkham Knight put his foot on the crate and leaned forward, cutting into Lionel’s space like a stranger offering a watch from his trench-coat. “Help me what?” Though his voice was warbled from the synthesizer, it was starting to become apparent that he had a tone of voice. Lionel could always hear the hatred of Batman through it, but now he was starting to realize things like sarcasm, and tell-tale things like humor. Things like he was an actual human. No, he knew that he was a human. Now, he was realizing that he was… young. He didn’t sound like a forty year-old drill sergeant with a vendetta, he sounded like he was close to Lionel’s age, like he should be in college.

“Torture Batman.”

Arkham Knight laughed. “Torture? And what about killing? Why not put that on the table?”

Lionel shook his head. “He should get to wish he was dead. Killing him is… too easy. Not for all the stuff that he’s done. Not for all of the lives.”

“Now you’re starting to sound like a real vigilante. Now, you sound like only us two really understand that Batman’s the real bad guy. Finish inventory,” Knight stepped off of the box, turning away from Lionel to walk to the exit of the room, “Then come and see me later.”

l.l

“See me later” meant to come and find him, during all of the nonstop planning he did. One place led Lionel to another, and asking one person meant asking five others. When he finally found him, the Knight was in the middle of a briefing, for some recruits newer than Lionel. He had been on Arkham Knight’s army for around twenty days. These recruits, only a few.

“There is no such thing as heroes, or a mystery called the Batman. Heroes are pussies who bend over your knee once you put a bullet to their skull, and Batman is just a guy with a superiority complex and spandex!” Arkham Knight called out, somehow letting the recruits see the humor of it, when Lionel, standing just outside of the entrance like a student waiting for their teacher to finish a speech, understood the truth in it. Batman was just a man with issues, who somehow thinks that nothing he does has repercussions. Like a spoiled brat, who thinks it’s okay to tell people how cheap they are.

No repercussions. Until now. Now, karma would strike back like the bitch it was. Karma, not just for Batman, but for the guy who thought he was so goddamn important.

It was the same speech that the Knight told every other group of new recruits, some things added or left out as he realized what sort of speech bought them over more. A learning experience for even him, because everyone was different. Some wanted Batman dead, some wanted his mantel, and others wanted the fame of bringing him down. Most of all, they all wanted to see who it was underneath the mask.

Lionel slipped into the room once the briefing was finished, as everyone started to leave to their respected areas and posts. The Arkham Knight stayed where he was, but Lionel couldn’t tell if he had seen and was waiting for him, or if he was just inside of his head.

“Look who it is,” the Knight spoke, proving that he was probably looking at him, “Pretty boy with a vengeance.” Pretty boy? Lionel didn’t know if he was just saying that, or if he himself actually looked like a puss. He had done plenty of things, been roughened on the edges- surely he didn’t look like a college pretty boy. “Man, ‘hope you aren’t that sensitive on the field,” the Knight said with a tease in his voice and Lionel narrowed his eyes.

“I’m not sensitive. Just not used to the nice guy treatment,” he retorted, though he probably shouldn’t have, because his boss suddenly started stepping forward towards him.

“You think that’s nice? No, that’s just name-calling. Wait ‘till you see me being real nice, then you can decide if I’m a “nice guy”.” The Knight casually brought a gloved hand up to brush Lionel’s shoulder, like he had dust or something there. “Where ya from, Prit?”

Prit? Is that still for the pretty boy thing? “...Here. Gotham.”

“Mm, you’re a good liar, too.”

“W- I’m not lying,” Lionel spoke, looking at the blue mask in front of him, hiding whatever face it was that he and everyone else here was supposed to die for. No, not die. Batman doesn’t kill people. Fight for. Lie in a hospital for two years for.

“You don’t look like a Gotham kid. You’re Blüd Haven, aren’t you?” Lionel was going to say something, but the Knight didn’t let him. “You’re too soft for Gotham, you don’t have any of the… scars. But, the Bat’s too personal for you. You’re a Blüd Haven kid grown up in Gotham.”

This time, there was nothing to say. Lionel kept his mouth shut, watching the Knight like he was invading his space, because he was. He was too close to him, touching him, and reading his mind like a book. Knight pat his shoulder, just like before, like it was something that did normally to people. Made them feel… uncomfortable.

“That’s okay, Lionel. You can lie, that’s a given. Could’ve fooled me, won’t fool Batman. I need you to get your story straight.” Lionel furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, but the Arkham Knight was all ready to explain. “You were born here, in Gotham, in the sewers. Your dad ran off and your mom, she always told you stories of the Bat. Gave you dreams, you know. Now she’s dead of syphilis and you’re looking for the big bad bat because you...”

l.l

“I’ve… always thought about you. I’ve always wanted to meet you in real life, and say… thanks. ...I mean, this isn’t the thanks I had in mind, but...” Lionel glanced behind him, at where Batman helped to release him from his binds. He was small. Lionel always knew that he was just a human, but he had always… In his dreams was a giant bat, with red eyes and white skin, and the scariest, darkest voice that he had ever heard. But, again, he was only twelve years old, watching his dad be beaten and tortured in front of him. This voice that came out of Batman now, it was… pathetic compared to what Lionel had remembered.

“Why were they after you?” Batman asked, stepping away from Lionel once he was free from the zip ties that had dug into his wrists. The recruit looked around, at the wet stone floor of seven of Arkham Knight’s men, beaten unconscious. He himself harbored a bruised face with a busted lip and bloody nose, the taste of metal sticking in his mouth. He sniffled through his bleeding nose and glanced back at Batman, who… looked at him. Human height, human build, human eyes.

A freak in disguise.

The Bat suddenly brought a hand up and a light flashed into Lionel’s face from his wrist, blinding him. “You have a concussion,” Batman spoke, and Lionel wanted to scoff, though he could assume that he did have one.

They aren’t gonna take it easy,” Arkham Knight told Lionel, who stood among seven… bigger, recruits. He nodded.

I can take it.”

Can you? We’re gonna beat up that pretty face’o yours,” one of the guys said and elbowed another, the two breaking into snickers. Lionel didn’t look at them, watching the Knight’s blue mask.

I can take it,” he said again. He wanted to know what kind of expression the Knight held behind his mask, because all the man did was motion to the recruit and Lionel was suddenly dead legged from behind into falling to the ground.

“No, I’m… fi-” Lionel suddenly felt a rush of vertigo travel through him and he lost his balance, falling forward but not hitting the ground. No, something… evil, caught him first.

“You need to see a doctor. I’ll call for a-”

“No,” Lionel brought a hand up to grip Batman’s shoulder, of incredibly firm and solid armor, “I… They’ll kill me...”

Swallow this,” Arkham Knight spoke behind his mask, holding out a memory card of some sort to Lionel, as the two waited for the seven others to come and “kidnap and beat” the newer.

What is it?”

Your insurance into the Batcave.” He held it out further and Lionel took the card, looking it over. 15. GB., it was… just a phone’s memory card. The Knight didn’t say anything, and Lionel figured that he was probably waiting for him to swallow it. The recruit opened his mouth and set it on his tongue. Once he swallowed it, The Knight grabbed him by the chin and applied so much pressure to Lionel’s jaw that the recruit opened his mouth again, wincing and making a noise of discomfort. He couldn’t tell if the Knight was or not, but he assumed that he was making sure the card had been swallowed. It had.

The Arkham Knight let Lionel go and the recruit brought his own hand up to rub his jaw, watching his boss. “...What did I swallow?” he asked skeptically, cautiously.

It’s a murder that you filmed while bird watching; robins, of course. And now, it’s made you the most popular kid around.”

When Lionel woke again, he couldn’t see anything. He thought that it was whatever room he was in, but it became apparent that it was actually his own vision. His hands were free, so he brought them up to his eyes and felt a cover. He gripped it to pull the thing up, but a strong hand grabbed his wrist, scaring the shit out of him.

“I’m sorry, but you can’t take that off,” Batman’s voice sounded, and Lionel wasn’t sure if he’d ever get used to it. He didn’t need to, though. “Your concussion has made you sensible to lights, and I need you to recover as soon as possible. Try not to move, either.”

“Wh… No, I need to-”

“You need to rest,” Batman said firmly. Like a human man. “Can you tell me now why it is that those thugs were after you?”

Lionel breathed through his nose and pressed his lips together before “giving in”. “...I… I recorded something I shouldn’t have. I… didn’t even mean to, I just… Anyway, they want it, pretty bad.”

“Where is the recording now?”

“It’s… I swallowed the memory card. ...For insurance, I guess. So they wouldn’t kill me. Then they said that they’d just cut my stomach open and get it out, so I just sealed my fate even more.”

Batman was silent for a while, and Lionel would have thought that he’d left if his hand wasn’t still on his arm. Finally, the bat said, “We’ll have to wait.”

“...Wait for what?”

“A bowel movement,” Batman said, and the tone of his voice made Lionel want to hurt him even more. How could he say it with so much… normality?

“No, no, no, I need to,” Lionel used his free hand to sit up on whatever surface he was laying upon, but the motion caused an incredible dizziness that made his stomach turn. He quickly turned his head to the side and puked.

“...Or not.”

Lionel knew that Batman would watch the recording without him, and he himself also wanted to know what was on it. He had somehow managed to talk his way into some sunglasses, or something of the like, Batman let him into a wheelchair to cross the Batcave, an actual cave, to the monitor screens that set in the middle of the giant hideout. The first thing to cross Lionel’s mind was, how much money had gone into this place? It looked like a movie set come to life, and everything was real. What sort of spoiled brat was this?

Batman put the card into some device and the recording started playing on the largest screen there. The lense focused on some robin birds, resting on a tree’s branch and chirping to each other. Then, a sudden BANG rang out and the birds took off into flight. The screen rolled to look at a group of men, the Arkham Knight standing in front and pointing a gun at another, who sat on his knees. The kneeling man was sobbing, his hands clasped together while he looked up at the Knight, pleading by the looks of it, but the camera was too far away to catch any audio aside from his loud cries.

On the ground next to him was another person, but this one was dead. The result of the gunshot, probably.

Batman leaned forward and started typing some things on his keyboard, and a square popped up around the group of men before suddenly enlarging, zooming them in to the screen. Now, the audio could be heard.

“Cry for Batman, cry, cry cry,” the Knight teased, making his men laugh. The kneeling man cried in Spanish, though some words were heavily accented English. “He’s not coming for you! Look at him!” Knight pointed the gun to the body on the ground, blood splattered from their head into the rocky gravel that they all stood on. “Look at him!”

The crying man looked at the body for only a second before turning his gaze back to the Knight. They were probably friends, or related.

“¡Por favor, por favor! ¡No tengu tu dinero! ¡No tenemos dinero!” the man sobbed, and the Arkham Knight pressed the gun against his forehead.

“Who’s “we”? Can’t count, seňor? One of y’all left the party!”

The man sobbed harder, and then another man from the Knight’s party came into view, with a rucksack. He brought it over to the Knight and opened it, though the camera couldn’t see what was inside, even with being zoomed in. It didn’t need to, though.

“Ah, looks here like we got some money! What’ya say about that, Raphael? Huh? What’s this?” The Knight took the bag and thrust it into the man’s face, making him fall backwards onto his butt. The Arkham Knight handed the bag back to his man and used his thumb to crank the gun’s hammer back, making the Mexican start sobbing and pleading as loud as he could. Then-

BANG!

The man fell back, a hole in his forehead and brains and blood flying from the back of his skull. The Arkham Knight looked to the side, his mask facing directly into the camera. Not a second later and the video stopped.

Lionel wondered who actually had shot the video. Were they dead? Of course they were, but it still made him question.

“How long ago was this filmed?” Batman asked, and Lionel didn’t have an answer. He hadn’t been told.

“A while back,” he said simply. It had to have been: the Knight was too preoccupied with his growing army to deal with personal things like that recently. And, it seemed to be enough for Batman, because he just changed his question to, “How long have they been after you?” “I didn’t know they were, until a few days ago. People had been… following me from work, and I’d been getting messages.”

“I want to see those messages.”

“I meant, calls.” Lionel looked at Batman, to see if he’d noticed the slip, but he didn’t look like it.

“Do they know where you live?” the man asked, turning his gaze to Lionel finally. Lionel shook his head and regretted it because of the dizziness.

“No, I started taking different routes when I noticed them following me. They must have got my number from work, but I don’t know how they found me.”

“They’ve been doing research. Do you know who that is, in the video?”

“...The dead guy?”

“No, the shooter.”

“No. I don’t know any of them. I was just… I was just bird watching.”

Batman watched him for a second before leaving him with the monitors to what looked like a computer. “Where do you live?” he called out. Lionel glanced back at the frozen screen of the Arkham Knight looking at him.

Riverside Apartments, room 113 on the fifth floor.”

“...Riverside Apartments, fifth floor in room 113.”

Batman typed for a minute and when Lionel looked at him, he was frozen, like he was… stunned, or something. Lionel gave him a look.

“...What’s wrong?” he asked. Batman looked back at him, like he was looking him over, and then turned back to the screen.

“Your name is… Jason, Fletchers?”

Lionel nodded, though it wasn’t seen. “Yeah.” “Your name’s Jason Fletchers, you strictly go by Jason, no “Jay” or “Jayce”.” “Just Jason, though. Name’s a given, and Mom didn’t like no nicknames.”

It was silent for a while, taking about a minute or so before Batman started typing again. Once he was done, he turned to Lionel, his mouth firm. It was… another awkward silence. “...I’ll scope your apartment, make sure that there’s nothing suspicious. Once I’m done, I’ll take you there.”

“Wait, what? But there are people out there trying to kill me! You’re just gonna leave me for… them?” Lionel scoffed, looking at the Arkham Knight. Batman followed his gaze.

“No. I’m not leaving you. I’ll keep an eye on you and stop them before they get anywhere near your home. But you should rest, and you won’t do that very good here.”

Lionel looked at him again and pressed his lips together. “...What do you mean you’ll watch me?”

“That’s it; I’ll watch you. From afar, just to make sure that you’re doing alright.”

“So you mean like, spy on me?”

“I can put surveillance in your room if that makes you more comfortable.”

“N-no… What about like, just a way to contact you? Like a phone number or something, jeez. I know I’m being hunted, but I still want a life.”

“...I’ll give you a way to contact me. And just know that I’m not leaving you on your own. Don’t worry about being discovered, just know that you’re safe.”

Lionel stared at him, not knowing what exactly to do or say. Finally, he nodded. “...Okay, I guess that’s alright.”

Batman turned away from him, walking off to get a glass of water from beside the bed that he had been laying on earlier, and bringing it so that Lionel could drink it. The recruit did, and he didn’t realize when it was that he passed out.

l.l

When he came to, he was in “his” apartment, laying in bed with a headache. It was when he moved to sit up that he noticed his hand was clenched around something, and though he couldn’t see what it was because of the darkness of the room, there was a bat-shaped imprint on the surface, and a small red light. His thumb brushed a button and he pressed it, causing the red light to disappear and a green one to take its place.

“Fletchers,” Batman sounded from the device. Lionel blinked and turned it, looking it over the best he could.

“It’s Jason. ...There aren’t like, a bunch of cameras littering my place, are there?”

“No, there aren’t.”

“...Then how are you watching me?”

“How are you feeling?”

Lionel narrowed his eyes at the device. He had avoided the question. Were there cameras? And if so, how many? How would- “I’ll come and check in at night, three, then two knocks on the window.” -The Arkham Knight check in? Lionel needed to know the rest of the plan, and he needed to tell the Knight that he had been in the Batcave- seen what it looked like.

“...Okay. I have a headache. And my nose is stuffed up.”

“Drink water and try steaming your face, it’ll moisten the dried blood in your nose.”

“Thanks. ...How long has it been?”

“Almost four hours.” Midnight? It felt later than that, but Lionel had just had the shit beaten out of him. “You need the most rest right now, so I didn’t wake you.” Like you’d be able.

“...Sure. I’m… gonna go, now. Get some water.”

“You should. If you need anything, just press the button and I’m here.”

“Okay. ...Bye.” Lionel pressed the button again and the green disappeared into red once more. And, not even a second after, knocking sounded on the door to his apartment. Three, then two. The recruit eased himself up from the bed and turned on a lamp rather than the actual light switch, because he was, as Batman regrettably said, sensitive to lights right now.

He walked to the door in an almost straight line and opened it, to a guy in a Pizza Hut hat with a box in his hands. “Pizza delivery,” he said, his head turned downward, probably to keep his face hidden from any cameras: in or outside of the room. Lionel reached out to take the box.

“...He says there aren’t any cameras in h-”

“There are. Don’t worry about contacting, I have eyes on you 24/7.” I. Lionel blinked and looked at the pizza man’s face, but it was covered by the bill of the hat. When he turned to leave, he brought his hand up to his hat, “adjusting” it, but only further hiding his face from the cameras. The cameras, and/or Lionel. Lionel backed into his room and shut the door, carrying the pizza box to his bed and sitting to open it in his lap.

Inside was a more than half eaten pepperoni pizza, with a note taped onto the inside of the lid. Lionel took a slice of pizza to eat while reading the letter, leaving it taped up so that Batman wouldn’t be suspicious of him pulling a paper out of a box.

You work dishwasher at David’s Bar and Grill. We can’t risk you coming back to base, so slip out the back entrance and meet me at the west-port shipping dock, 7:30 every night until I tell you otherwise. Be on your best behavior and gain all of Batman’s trust. You’re his trustee. His friend. Don’t reach out to us other than the meetup times, Batman has you under his best eyes. So do I.”

What did it mean, knowing that the Arkham Knight had Lionel under his eye? He wouldn’t betray him, no, he had an idea of what would happen had he done that. Maybe it was for if he messed anything up. If he messed up any part of the plan, either he’d be killed off like a loose end, or… maybe the Knight would fix it.

For right now, Lionel focused on the cold pizza that members of the army had probably attacked before he’d gotten it.

l.l

Batman told Lionel to call in sick for a few days, so that he could get better after his assault. Which wasn’t a problem, because he didn’t actually have a job there. Though, he was curious as to what would happen if Batman called in to check Lionel’s story. Did the Arkham Knight have his own people working there? Ready to excuse the falseness of Lionel’s story?

In the few days to himself, he had gradually started becoming more aware of the surveillance that he was under. The very, very faint glow of red lights once the lights were all shut off, coming from the corners of the rooms: the bedroom, kitchen, living room, one just outside of the bathroom door. Because of the bathroom’s being allowed some privacy, it became evident that these cameras were Batman’s and not the Knight’s. But if they weren’t the Knight’s, where was he watching Lionel from?

He walked out onto the cheap, wobbly balcony plenty of times, trying to see if there was the glint of a shiny blue mask on any rooftops, and the night before last, thought he had seen it, lest it be a trick of the light. This time, he walked out simply for a smoke and breath of fresh air.

He got out his cigarettes and pulled out a stick, lighting it and slipping it between his lips before reaching into his pocket for his lighter and realizing that he had left it inside. He turned to step back inside and get it, but something brushed against the top of his head and he reached up to brush it away, on;y to find that it wasn’t a bug or cobweb, but a lighter, on what felt like a string.

“Don’t look up,” the pizza man’s voice sounded from the balcony above, and Lionel snagged the lighter from the string, turning back to the outdoors and lighting his cigarette.

“...Is that you?” he asked, looking out across the night buildings.

“Don’t think too hard, it makes you look needy.” The tease that the Arkham Knight’s scrambled voice always held. Lionel puffed his cigarette.

“He has cameras everywhere.”

“Yeah, with audio, too. He shouldn’t be able to catch our voices out here.”

“...”

“How many cameras?”

“Four in each room, so twelve. There’s another near the bathroom.”

“Ah, he’s got you under like a puppy, huh?”

Lionel puffed again and flicked his stick. “...What’s his deal? Why’s he so… observant of me? It’s weird.”

“It’s personal, is what it is. You just need to let him go like he is- the more he likes you, the more we can break him.”

Lionel almost looked up, but remembered not to and leaned further on the balcony. “Okay, so why are you risking coming here? What happened to meeting at the docks?”

“We’ve got a change of plans. Someone rattled, and the shipments you were going to help with got busted. Along with fourteen guys.”

“…,” Lionel knitted his eyebrows together, dragging from his cigarette, and then realized that the boss probably thought it was him. “Hey, it wasn’t me, I-”

“I know who it was. They’re in the junkyard, now. Good thing about that is, it means that the Bat’s buying the story. Only reason they guy rattled, was because he was trying for more information. On us. And he’d only do that if he was re-al worried about ‘ya.”

“...So, does that mean he found something?” To link back to the army?

“Nothing important. It was arms, but hopefully he just thinks its for a turf war and not what we really got planned. He’s on his way here now.”

Lionel blinked and looked side to side, to see if he could see the- Giant bat, roaring with a voice from Hell as it flew overhead, hunting them, hunting Dad - Batman over the rooftops, but he wasn’t in view. “We slowed him down. We can do the shipments without you, the guys just got a little jealous, with you dancing around out here and all with Batman.” The Knight’s voice played with the name of “Batman”, chewing it, and spitting it out. “So, we got a new plan. Three days, slip out the back door at the bar and head to… The boys’ll bring you. You’re gonna get roughed up, but ain’t nothing your pretty face ain’t been through before. Just remember to act.”

Lionel snubbed out his cigarette. “I got a concussion.”

“I got fourteen men with worse. Play the part, make the meet. Do what you’ve got to make the Bat need you. This is phase one of the operation. Do it. And dye your hair black.”

“...Okay.” Lionel asked something else, but there was no reply. The same when he called out to his boss, so he was alone. At least, until the Bat was due, whenever that was. And, since the Bat told him not to worry about being in trouble, he decided that now would be a good time to get the hair dye, because early was on time and on time was late. Especially with the Knight.

He went for a walk, called a cab half of the way. There was the feeling that he was being watched, or followed, but there wasn’t really anyone there. That he recognized. He bought some cheap hair dye and made the trek back home, skipping a cab this time around because he didn’t want to go broke before he got paid. And it wasn’t a question that he was going to get paid. The Knight had money, he had to, to support his armory. And if he ran out, he could get it just as quickly as in that video. He probably had a bunch of guys like those two dead, owing him money for their lives. And, they weren’t even American. He must have some long stretch. He even spoke Spanish. If he couldn’t kill the Batman, no one could. He seemed like the most vengeful.

Once he got home, he flicked the lights on and almost jumped out of his skin at the sight of Batman, standing like a creeper in the middle of his room. He dropped the sack of hair dye and breathed heavily.

He’s just a man.

“Fucking Christ, what are you doing here in the… dark, like that?” Lionel asked, with a slight- “Dad!”- verge of anger.

“Where were you?” Batman asked, not skipping a beat. Lionel knelt down to pick up the fallen bag.

“Getting some dye. I thought it’d help me lose them, so I can go back to work.” He brought the bag over to the coffee table and looked at Batman again, who hadn’t moved; standing like a statue. He outta be one.

“You aren’t safe,” Batman said simply. Lionel gave him a look.

“Of course I’m not. But, what makes you say that?”

Batman’s eyes shifted from Lionel to the kitchen, and the recruit watched him cautiously before walking towards the room and turning the light on.

It was one of the shipping crates, filled to the brim with weapons that he was supposed to help with. “...What’s this?” he asked out. “Guns, from Tijuana,” Batman said from directly behind Lionel. Tijuana? He’d never questioned where everything came from. “Well… what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you’ve been caught in the middle of illegal weapons trafficking. These can be traced back to major mafia hands in Mexico, the kind that don’t leave witnesses behind.”

Lionel looked at Batman, his humanly blue eyes circled in black coal or something of the like. “Why are they doing it?” he asked, and something about the way he said it made Batman turn away. It was just trafficking weapons, Lionel had heard of worse.

“The man in the video, with the mask. They call him the Arkham Knight, and he’s getting ready for something. He may be trying to bring his operation here into Gotham; it’d bring Penguin out of business, not to mention Black Mask.”

“Okay, so what’s wrong with bringing those two into it?”

“It’d just add to the gang war we already have right now. But, there’s just something that’s not… adding up.”

Lionel swallowed and glanced back at the weapons crate. “What’s that?”

“With the ruthless brutality that rumors say the Arkham Knight is, you should be dead already.” Batman looked at Lionel and the recruit looked back at him when he felt his gaze. He pressed his lips together, hoping for some sort of lie to creep its way up his throat. He couldn’t think of one.

“...When my mom was sick,” he said, “She said, “You’re gonna be my good luck. You’re my lucky charm.” ...I mean, she’s dead now, but… I don’t know, maybe I am lucky.” He huffed a tiny smile, a fake expression to support his lie of a backstory. No, it wasn’t a lie, but his mom wasn’t the one to tell him that. She never had a part in his life. His dad was an Irish immigrant who just… fell into the wrong crowd. “My lucky charm.”

“...Now’s the part where you say, “There’s no such thing as luck”,” he added, looking at Batman’s face. The bigger man was quiet before replying with a quick, “I believe in luck more than I do karma.” Which was ironic, because karma was going to end him.

Lionel decided to walk by him into the living room again, to get the hair dye from the sack. “I’m going back to work in a few days,” he said, getting the box out. The only thing Batman said was “Black”, and Lionel looked at him before looking at the box. “Yeah, everyone has black hair.”

“Not so much as blonde.”

“Brown, black, same thing. Blonde’s its own thing. Besides, I’ve always hated my hair color.” That was a lie. He neither hated nor loved it.

“It suits you, Jason.” Batman’s words were slow, like he was thinking them through while speaking them. Lionel looked at him again.

“Not as much as black will.”

Lionel watched Batman walk up to him, but it was when the man put a hand on his shoulder that he felt the most violated he had ever been. Batman, touching him. Not just touching him, looking at him, with a… human gaze, of some emotion that he was far too disturbed to know what was.

“...What are you doing?” Lionel asked, attempting an awkward smile through his chest of boiling blood. Batman didn’t say anything, just… watching him. Then, as Batman’s mouth moved to say something, a rock suddenly smashed through the window, rolling on the floor near their feet. Lionel was engulfed into the man’s arms for protection, entirely to his dislike. They both looked at the shattered glass, a hole just as big as a hand in the center. Lionel was utterly confused before remembering the letter in the pizza box.

Batman has you under his best eyes. So do I.”

Did the Knight do that? Why?

“I’m okay,” Lionel spoke, wanting desperately to get out of Batman’s hard chest.

“You shouldn’t stay here.”

“What? No, I’m fine- you said that I’ll be fine, so I’m okay.” Lionel tried working out of Batman’s grip. “You’ll stop them before they get to me, you said it yourself.” He gave up on escaping. “I’ve always believed in you.” And tried not to vomit at his own words. Finally, he was released, with Batman looking at him.

“...You won’t be hurt.”

“Thanks. I’m… not ready to die. Like, at all. ...Thanks for watching over me like this, I’ve… been on my own for a long time. It feels nice, to have someone take care of me like this.” Lionel looked away. “I mean, -”

“It’s okay. Thank you for trusting me. Jason.”

l.l

Three days went by as slowly as they could. Since Leonard was supposed to be in fear of dying, he couldn’t go out as much as he’d like, and since he didn’t have to go and work for the Knight, sitting at the apartment for those days was death. He could only watch so much TV without getting bored or being stuck with re-runs. Now, today, was the day that he was to go to “work”. Although the Knight didn’t give him a time, he assumed that it was the same as the note: 7:30. It was just after sundown, a little earlier than when Batman usually was seen.

So, he started the walk to the bar, with his black hair that he still wasn’t accustomed to. He had to do a double-take every time he passed a window or mirror, and even then, he didn’t look like himself.

David’s Bar and Grill was a little bigger than average, but still smelled the same as every other bar in the city. Cigarette smoke, burgers, beer, and piss. As he walked through the crowded night-time bar, he did notice that a few of the men standing around in the crowds broke off to follow after him. He didn’t recognize them, but as far as he knew, the Knight had to get more recruits after the other fourteen were caught. And, there were hundreds of men in the army.

He didn’t see a back door until one of the bartenders saw him and glanced off to the side, without a single exchange of words. Like he was in on the plan, too. Lionel didn’t like being left out of so much information. Where were they even going?

He made his way to the door and pushed it open, where he stepped outside into an alley. The door fell shut behind him but only for a second, because the men whom had followed were right on his tail. He turned to them once outside, but something pressed against his lower back, and a voice said, “Keep forward”. He blinked a few times in surprise but stayed forward.

“...Where are we going?” he asked.

“We can’t tell you.”

He thought that it was a hand, clasping tightly over his mouth, but he realized in a split second that it was a wet rag. His eyes widened and he tried to duck away from the rag, but he was grabbed on both sides and held still as he struggled, the person with the rag holding it firmly in place.

“Breath it in, pretty boy,” they said, and the rag was pressed tighter against his face, but he tried his best to avoid it, though the chemical vapors worked into his airway on their own regardless. One of the men punched him in the gut and he coughed before inhaling deeply as a reaction, the chloroform burning his sinuses and making his face hot. He lost feeling in his fingers and his legs buckled beneath him, threatening to take him to the ground if he wasn’t being held up. Then-

“Wake up.” Someone pulled his hair, and slapped his cheeks, slowly working him into consciousness again. He blinked his heavy eyes open and looked around, his vision hazy, but not mistaking him. There was a group of recruits around him, the one whom had woken him just at his side.

“...Where am I?” he slurred, his head falling forward again and eyes rolling shut until the recruit snapped his fingers in his face to wake him up again.

“Come on, wake up. Up, up, let’s go.” They started clapping in his face and Lionel woke up again, blinking away the blurriness in his eyes.

“What’s happening?” he asked softly, his throat weak from the gasses of the chemical.

“We gotta make a video, for Batman. Just act like ya been and we’ll be easy.”

“What?”

“The Knight-”

“Is right here.” The Arkham Knight came into whatever room they were in, stepped right into Lionel’s vision. He dipped down to look at Lionel’s form, sitting slumped in a chair. “Hey, you did pretty good,” he said. Lionel looked at him.

“...Huh?”

“I get it, you’re still tired. Well, we gotta film a little video for Batman, make him take the bait. Just remember who you’re working for and you’ll get yourself rewarded, huh?” Knight spoke, bringing a hand to run his fingers through Lionel’s dark hair. Lionel nodded, though he felt incredibly heavy. Then, Knight leaned in to his ear. “Remember, we’re a team. You’re my right hand man. Me and you, torturing Batman. It’s gonna get rough, but just remember: you and me, and a team of two.” The last was whispered so quietly that it sounded more personal than it was supposed to, and all Lionel could do was nod, because yeah: they were the only ones who knew what kind of pathetic person that Batman really was. They were the only ones who wanted to really make him beg.

“Alright.” The Knight stood up from Lionel. “Let’s start the video.” He turned, so that his back was to Lionel, and he faced a tripod that one of his men was behind. The man pressed record and gave a thumbs up when the red light came on.

“Hello, hello, Batman. You’re probably in a panic, wondering where your little pet is, but don’t worry- don’t you worry one bit. Because I’ve got him right here.” The Knight stepped to the side and backed up behind Lionel, grabbing him by the hair and pulling his head up. “Jason Fletchers, you know how hard it was to find him? It wasn’t. You think you’re so high and mighty, but look who has him now!” He yanked a little too hard and Lionel made a noise of discomfort. The Knight put a hand to his masked ear and bent over to Lionel’s face. “Oh, what was that? Batman? Oh, no, no, no, he’s not here. It’s just you and me. Actually…” He let Lionel go to hold his arms up, beckoning his men to come into view. “Us.”

Lionel looked at everyone, of about seven faces that he recognized in a crowd of about thirteen. He, disgustingly, said, “You won’t get away with this.” To which the Knight laughed, laughed. He then kicked Lionel’s chair, making him crash into the floor with the wooden seat. When he tried to get up, he realized that his hands were bound. Not behind him, but in front. Though, he was too woozy to do much of anything. He got up onto his hands and knees only to collapse to his side.

“Beat him up, boys!”

Kicks and stomps started racking Lionel’s body, the recruit covering his face with his arms but not shielding much, because he was being assaulted on all sides.

“Call for Batman, see if he’ll come for you!” The Knight jeered. “Call out for him and we won’t break anything.”

“No,” Lionel managed before a kick to the nose that split it right on the bridge, causing blood to stream down Lionel’s face and the recruit to cry out in pain. He brought his hands over his nose and saw the Knight’s mask turn into the man’s direction of whom had broken Lionel’s nose. Or, maybe he was just too out of it and imagined the sight.

Lionel hollered something so jumbled from the blood swelling his mouth and throat from his nose that the Knight had to hold up a hand and stop his men from beating him.

“Well, well, Batman, looks like he’s got something to say!” The Knight walked over to Lionel and looked down at him, putting a boot on his hip, the recruit laying on his side. “What was that? Did I hear a beg? A plea?” Lionel said it again, mumbled, and the Knight rolled him onto his back before kneeling beside him. “Alright hot stuff, what’dya got to say, huh?”

Lionel gathered a puddle of blood into his mouth and reached up, hooking his bound hands over the Knight’s head and grabbing him by the back of the neck to spit the blood onto his mask. The red dripped down the shiny blue quickly, thinned because of the saliva that mixed with it. The Knight laughed again and dipped out of Lionel’s grip to look at the camera.

“I think I like your pup more than you do!”

The Knight suddenly gripped Lionel’s hair again and lifted his head to smash it into the ground, repeatedly until Lionel thought that he would pass out again. “Oh, no, you can’t sleep yet, kiddo,” the Knight spoke, bringing his hand from Lionel’s hair to pet his cheek. “We gotta have more fun for Batman.” He pat the plump flesh and looked away from the bruised, scraped and bloody face to his crew. “Alright guys, go and get the toys.”

“W… what toys,” Lionel asked in a breathy whisper, his vision fading on him and his head a mess of a dizzy headache. The Knight looked back at him and pinched his cheek.

“Just some things for Batman. You’re okay with that, right? It’s all just one big plan, waiting to explode. Just remember to act; your our best actor.”

Lionel must have faded out, because he was suddenly wide awake when a surge of electricity traveled throughout his body, making him wake with a scream.

The next was history. He was thrust onto his stomach and his shirt torn open to show his bare back. “Man, you’re pretty smooth for a Gotham kid,” the Arkham Knight sounded, though it was only for the video, because he knew that Lionel was from Blüdhaven.

“Fuck you,” Lionel muttered, of which the Knight said, “Now, do you kiss your mom with that mouth? No, wait a minute, she’s dead, now, isn’t she? She was a whore, right?” Another lie. Everything that the Knight knew about Lionel, he swapped around, to feed into the bullshit story that they had let Batman believe. But, it showed a significant amount of trust and respect: He fed into the lies. He didn’t say one thing about Lionel’s dad. Not one thing about Blüdhaven. It was like he’d made a promise, and he was keeping it. “No wonder he’s a pretty boy, Batman! His momma was a whore!”

Then came the crack of a whip against Lionel’s back, making him cry out in anguish at the split of his skin and a burning sensation that didn’t fade. It wasn’t the Knight, though, because now he was holding the camera, in a mask clean of blood, showing Batman all of what they were doing to Lionel. Jason Fletchers.

He got fourteen whips, “One for every man taken at the pier”. But, once that was over, came the unexpected part. The tugging down of Lionel’s pants and boxer briefs. He tried holding them up, but he could only bring so much strength to his arms from the wounds to his back.

“No,” he said, his briefs being pulled from his fingers. A weight came over him, someone straddling his back, and he could see that the camera was in another recruit’s hands now. “Get… off’me...” He was tired, exhausted. He knew that he had a bad black eye, and his whole body was in pain.

“Shh, shh, shh… You know what to do, didn’t your mom teach you the ropes?” the Knight sounded from behind Lionel, and the recruit tried bucking him off, but it just made his hip bones dig into the ground more. He couldn’t push him off either, because of his bound hands that rest under his chest, stifling any deep breathing. “Call out to Batman, go on. Come on, I’ll be easy. Did he say that to you? That he’d protect you? Maybe… “You won’t be hurt”, or “trust me”?” The things Batman had said the night the rock came in through the window. “Because you know, you look pretty hurt to me.”

The weight shifted on Lionel and gloved hands pulled his cheeks apart. It was humiliating. Degrading. Act? How do you act for this? “Please,” Lionel spoke through what absolutely bewindled him, a sob. “Don’t.”

“What, scared? You shouldn’t be, this outta run in your blood. Have you slept with Batman yet? He loves ‘em young!” the Knight bellowed in his hatred of the man. Then, something probed at Lionel’s entrance before forcing itself it, causing an immense pain that Lionel didn’t keep quiet about. It felt like his ass was being torn. “Well,” the Knight sounded, like he was looking at his crew, “I guess not.”

There was nothing gentle about the rape. The Knight fucked him hard, and Lionel couldn’t tell if the heat that he felt was simply the pain, or if he was bleeding. There was no spit or lube to make it easier, but once the Knight dragged a hand over Lionel’s back, making him squirm and cry out screams and curses of pain, he pulled himself out and felt wet going back in. He was using Lionel’s own blood.

“How’s that, Batman? Knowing that I fucked him before you could, how much does that bite, huh?” Knight called out to the camera before slamming his hips against Lionel’s, forcing himself in further than he had before, because now he had the lubrication to do so. It made Lionel cry and try twisting underneath the Arkham Knight, but Knight only grabbed his hips and forced him still again. With each thrust, he seemed to get deeper, his cock grazing against Lionel’s canal and brushing against a spot that made his face heat up with a strange a tension in his gut, but it did nothing to stop the pain of the fuck.

The Knight suddenly pulled out and got up from Lionel, but he wasn’t done. He grabbed the recruit and rolled him over onto his back, making him scream bloody murder in pain of his whiplashes touching the ground, his body spasming as he tried to keep any sort of gap between his bloody flesh and the rough cement. “See Batman, this is what happens when you give people fake trust! It gets turned around and then they’re fucked ! Everyone dies! Everyone dies on account of you!” the Knight yelled at the camera before looking back to Lionel. He grabbed Lionel’s legs to force them open, but Lionel had enough strength there to kick at him, a kick to the chest almost knocking him off of balance. The Knight laughed. “I like the fight in you.” He maneuvered in between Lionel’s thighs and grabbed his legs by the knees, forcing them open and holding them so. Now, Lionel couldn’t kick him. He was too close.

The Knight pulled Lionel to him, the recruit screaming as his back scraped along the cement flooring, and then lifted his lower half enough to be able to fuck him again. Once he was in, he let Lionel’s legs go to lean over him, rolling his hips along Lionel’s ass into a rough friction that Lionel couldn’t get away from. The recruit brought his arms up to push at the Knight, and he almost pulled the mask from Knight’s face, but the man used a strong hand to grip Lionel’s wrists and hold them down against his chest.

“Be careful there, Prit, or we’ll need to do a reshoot,” the Knight breathed, and there was a stutter in his hips followed by an airy chuckle of arousal. He was close. Lionel could feel his cock twitching inside of him. The thrusting got rougher, harsher, enough to make Lionel lay groaning and moaning in pain, tugging at his restrained hands.

“Stop it,” he strained, back arched to keep his back off of the ground, “Please, stop it.”

“Now, when we’re almost done?” Knight chuckled. “You should be begging for more- shouldn’t he be begging for more?” he asked and looked up at his crew. “What kinda slut begs for the fun to end?” He thrust inside again and struck the bundle of nerves that made Lionel’s gut flutter, and the recruit gasped sharply, turning his head to the side as the heat traveled to his face. Knight grabbed his face and turned it back to look at him. “There we go, now someone’s showing their colors! Hear that Batman? He could’a fucked you twice over had I not come along! And he sure is a tight one.”

“Fuck y-” Lionel gave a breath when the Knight thrust against his spot again, and he didn’t stop, either. The Knight pulled out to slam right back in, striking Lionel’s spot and then thrusting right into it every time after. Each thrust was quicker, and Lionel could hear the Knight panting from behind his mask. Lionel didn’t have a hard on, but his chest was still hot from the feeling of… stimulation, that he didn’t know what was. He wasn’t gay. He didn’t even know the Arkham Knight was.

The Knight’s grip on Lionel’s wrists got tighter and when he thrust inside again, he did to the hilt, pressing his body flush against Lionel’s as he came, his cock pulsing cum into Lionel’s ass, the recruit feeling the organ twitch against his insides and the heat of the cum that followed. The Knight dipped his head down beside Lionel’s and the recruit thought that he would say something, but he didn’t. He only panted before pulling himself out and getting up from the ground to tuck himself away.

“You know Batman,” he said, looking at Lionel, the recruit too spent to do anything other than roll onto his side to protect his lashes. “I think he’s worth keeping around. I won’t kill him. We’ll wait for you. If you even decide to come for him. That’s a common theme, huh?” the Knight looked at the camera, “Leaving people to rot,” he said darkly, even through his synthesization. After gazing at the camera for a moment, he snapped his fingers and his man stopped the recording.

“Knock him out,” he said, without looking at Lionel. A kick to the head was all it took.

l.l

Lionel woke up on his side, laying in a bed. His body felt sore, so he didn’t try moving. He knew that what had happened hadn’t been a dream. He looked at his hands, bandages around his wrists from either the Knight holding him, or wounds from the bindings. It looked like he was in another apartment, but everything was silent. There were no birds, or traffic, or technology whirring.

There was nothing to do. The room was empty, and he couldn’t move. It was like he had run a marathon, carried two hundred pounds, screamed at the top of his lungs. He was exhausted, but he didn’t want to sleep anymore.

He did, though, close his eyes again.

The next time he woke up, his left arm was lifted up into the air. Looking, he saw the Arkham Knight, a bare hand holding his wrist up and checking his pulse, his other gloved hand holding a watch. There were scars on the Knight’s bare hand, on his knuckles. Lionel pulled his hand away and put it back onto the bed, and the Knight’s blue mask turned to him.

“Looks like you’re awake,” he said in his charismatic, synthesized voice. Lionel wasn’t buying it this time around.

“You raped me.” His voice cracked, and the damage of screaming had now become evident.

“And you did some great acting, well done.”

Lionel was silent, averting his gaze to the wall as he still lay on his side. “...You lied to me,” he said, knowing how pathetic it sounded, but saying it regardless. The Knight didn’t move.

“I lied?” he chuckled, “No, that was Phase 1.”

“You said I’d get beaten, and I was ready for that. Not for-”

“Are you saying you can’t take it? The pressure? I know what I’m doing, and I know what you can take. You took it, didn’t you? You played the part.”

“It’s not “playing a part”, it’s trust!” Lionel croaked, looking at the Knight. “I trusted you.”

The Knight didn’t skip a beat. “Trust? I let you trust me. I let you know that you’d be damaged and you agreed. That was one day. Try six months , Lionel.” The Knight was close to Lionel now, and if he wasn’t wearing a mask, they’d be sharing breaths. Lionel breathed deeply, watching his boss. He hadn’t the slightest idea of what he was talking about. Six months? What?

“...So I’m a damaged good?”

“A damaged good is still good.” The Knight stayed there for a minute before straightening up, like he was gathering himself. “Are you still with me?”

Lionel stared at him, eyes narrowed. “...With you for what?”

“Phase 2.”

“I don’t want any surprises.”

“No, not this time. This time, it’s only Batman.”

l.l

“Hi, Batman,” the Knight spoke, watching as the Bat walked into the room; stiffly, appearing strong, though his clenched jaw missed the memo. He was riddled with emotion.

“Where is he?” he asked, his voice teetering on the loud side.

“The whore? Well, you outta make a guess on that one. Where do you think he is?”

The Batman suddenly rushed forward, grabbing the Knight by his front and slamming him against the wall behind him. The Knight stiffened. “Where is he!”

“Why do you want him so bad, huh? You failed to protect him, what makes you think you really want him?”

“I’ll break every bone in your body if-”

“You always come back to that, don’t you? Breaking bones, cracking skulls, never killing, though. No, never killing. It’s fine if they teeter on the edge, as long as they don’t. fall. over. Do you think you really know him?” The Knight laughed from behind his mask. “You don’t know anything about him! Give him the name “Jason” and you fall head over heels- give him a sad backstory and you feel the need to help- Well guess what? You ruined his past. You birthed him, in a sick vengeance,” Batman punched the Knight in the face, though his mask held. The Knight laughed and looked at him. “He never had a mother- his father made a living with the drugs, and the robberies, but it was a living. You came along, like the big great hero you are, and you killed him!”

“Shut up!” Batman yelled angrily and punched him again, but the Knight continued.

“You didn’t kill him that night, but you ruined his arm, you made him into a crippled vegetable-”

“Where is he!” Batman punched the Knight again and the mask flew off, clattering to the ground. Lionel brought his gaze back to Batman, a broken nose and bruises staining his face. He halved a smile to the Bat, who’s lips parted and who let him go.

“I’m here,” Lionel said, “And my dad lasted two years before he died. On account of you.” He stepped closer to Batman. “Do you know what the foster systems are like for kids like me? No? Then how about Jason Todd? You fed him the same bullshit, but that time he died, didn’t he?”

“Jas-”

“My name’s Lionel.” Lionel watched Batman for a second before bringing his hand up to point passed him. “That’s Jason.” Batman turned just in time for the Arkham Knight in a red mask to zap him in the face with an electric rod. The man collapsed and Lionel looked at the Red Hood. “...We don’t kill him.”

“No, he doesn’t die. Not any more than they do.” The Hood pulled his own mask off, showing Lionel the J scar that was burned onto his left cheek. He had seen it before, just after being told about Phase 2. Once Phase 2 was explained, everything came together. The name Jason, the black hair, the torture. Lionel was still bitter over his abuse, but it was okay now that they had Batman.

Jason knew who Batman really was. Lionel didn’t care. He didn’t want to see him as a human. He was just a mistake.

“You can torture him,” Lionel said, because he didn’t want to see Batman’s real face. “I just want to see him beg.”

“I think we both do.” Jason brought a hand up to pinch Lionel’s chin before dropping down to grab Batman’s arms and start dragging him.



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