Comme si, Comme ša

by 'rith



Let's call this one R-ish for adult themes.

This is...odd. I'm playing with a concept here; don't nobody panic. Something like a year and a half ago, I wondered on a mailing list: what if *Bruce* were straight but *Batman* wasn't? Or vice versa?

Hm.


#####


Everyone who knew him, who knew his secrets, joked about how he was really two people: Bruce Wayne and the Batman.

They had no idea.

***

Comme si:

They were so different, but in some ways, their problems were exactly the same. Just...reversed.

Bruce Wayne fell in love with women who saw that he wasn't nearly as shallow as his public persona would have the world believe: Julie, Silver, Shondra. Good women, who in the end were always disappointed when Bruce proved himself unable to commit. They went away saddened, wondering how they had failed, what they'd missed. It wasn't their fault. Inevitably, the fact of Bruce's nocturnal life as the Batman demanded too much. Bruce longed for a woman who might know, and accept, the necessity of his dual identity.

The women who threw themselves at the Batman were of a different kind. Selina, Talia, Ivy; dangerous creatures drawn to a dark knight, each always convinced she would be the one to breach his fašade of indifference.

Conveniently, they attributed his refusal to iron self-control. It was a useful mistake. It kept everyone from noticing that he really *wasn't* attracted to them at all. That cases involving Two-Face were always more difficult for him.

Harvey had always known how to push his buttons.

Opportunities were...limited. Who did he know, after all? His rogues' gallery--unthinkable. (Harvey, of course, *wasn't* Harvey any longer.) His allies? He felt physically ill whenever he came across insinuations about himself and one of the Robins. As for Nightwing--no longer a child--there was far too much history between them, too much tangled emotion, to think of such a thing. Even if Batman had an inkling of how to approach the idea in the first place. Jean-Paul Valley walked a razor's edge of sanity as it was; Batman suspected deep denial, but wasn't inclined to push.

Other heroes? Once, years ago, he'd wondered about Kal. But that was before Lois, and Clark had never indicated he might be interested otherwise. Most of the others were either attached or in-between relationships, determinedly heterosexual. Of those few who weren't: Hero was far too young, Connor likewise (he thought regretfully); Off-Ramp and Tasmanian Devil were...distasteful; Frostbite was an elf!, Mikaal an alien and worse, indiscreet; Piper was too close to Wally and a former criminal besides.

The last time had been a chance encounter with his Hypertime reflection, the Midnighter, who'd taken one look at him, discerned just how *long* it had been, and proceeded to rectify that. Batman shivered a little, thinking about it. Mid was different enough from himself so that it'd been something more than a complex form of masturbation. On the other hand, because they *did* instinctually know each other so well, they'd been in complete agreement on a number of things...to their mutual pleasure.

But that had been a unique circumstance. So much for the heroic community. The Batman wasn't about to go trolling among the mundanes, too much of a security risk.

Before Midnighter appeared he'd almost gotten desperate enough to look up John Constantine, but John was an even bigger gossip than Mikaal--and more likely to brag.

It was all idle speculation anyway. There wasn't room in the Batman's life for a--partner. Best to not even think about such things, distractions from his mission. His oaths to his parents and to Gotham.

And if by chance Wayne some day found a woman willing to accept the both of them...a highly improbable "if." Regardless, Batman wasn't inclined to share. Besides, it would hardly be fair to the poor lady, since Bruce was so rarely just himself. Bruce's identity, his own desires, had been sacrificed for a greater cause.

The Batman wouldn't surrender his unending battle for anything.

***

Comme ša:

It would have been easier, Bruce sometimes thought with irony, the other way around. Wasn't Batman supposed to be beyond the fringes of "normal" anyway, outside the lines, a renegade? Those who snickered about the suggestiveness of a grown man partnered with a succession of teenaged boy sidekicks wouldn't have been at all surprised. If it was true.

It wasn't. Batman had Selina and Talia to dance with when he felt the need, or they did. Bruce had his frivolous society belles to provide cover in social situations. It was only *after* the parties that he might find company more to his liking. "Gentlemen's clubs," exceedingly discreet, used to catering to the eccentricities of the very rich. Men who, like him, were trapped by their own wealth and celebrity.

He'd tried to make things work with women because he felt he *should.* His alter-ego, after all, had no difficulty. But his relationships with them were always awkward, uncomfortable. In the end he always retreated back into his much-used "brainless Wayne" mask, or else--as with Silver--they found out about Batman, and couldn't deal with it.

The men he met in those clubs might not understand about the Batman either, but then they didn't have to know. Anyone who *did* know found the situation altogether too confusing. Fortunately, that wasn't many; only Alfred, Dick, and J'onn (and him only because of his telepathic link) realized the truth. In some ways it was easier to conceal Bruce's secrets than the Batman's. Most everyone else, including Clark and even Tim, only ever dealt with Batman--or occasionally, Batman in Bruce's clothing. Bruce Wayne was a cipher to everyone, including himself.

Diana might have an inkling, now that he considered it. When she'd been new to "Man's World" it had only been natural that the latest superstar would meet one of the world's richest men. Tired of being ogled, she remarked once that accompanying Bruce at the odd social event was something of a relief. But she'd never said anything more to either himself or to Batman. Diana knew what it was like to have people speculating far too freely about one's personal life.

As far as anything lasting--impossible. Those men in similar situations to his own were no freer to live as they liked than he was. A "companion" was equally out of the question. Cameras followed him everywhere short of Wayne Manor already; any more speculation about his personal life would be disastrous to the Batman. That reality firmly suppressed his occasional perverse impulse to simply out himself and be done with it. He was a hostage to the Batman, but not an unwilling one. They'd been his parents, too.

Bruce Wayne lived around the edges of the Batman's life, his needs secondary to the Bat's crusade. He'd accepted that years ago. He should be grateful, he supposed, for what he had for his own. The occasional companionship of someone sympathetic, which was more than the Batman could boast of. *Not* having images of his parents' deaths constantly behind his eyes. The ability to sleep without nightmares.

The truth was, Bruce wouldn't trade places with him for anything.



{end}



Before you ask: No, I *don't* think the canon Batman is this dysfunctional. Just a few steps short of it, maybe. *g*

Title: [Fr.] "Like this, Like that." I'd heard that "comme ca" is a euphemism for homosexual. If this is incorrect, please let me know!

Characters by DC, words by 'rith. Thanks to Dannell and Darklady for encouragement/inspiration!





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