Fandom: Batman; The Dark Knight Rises
Pairing: Bane/Max (Female OC)
Rating: R, for starters. I’m sure it’ll go NC-17 at some point.
Timeframe: Fuck what you heard and what you think you saw; Bane didn’t die. Therefore, this is AU.
Disclaimer: Bane = not mine. Everyone else = mine.
1: Finding Positano
According to Bane’s research, she was working at the University of Salerno. She taught courses in pharmacology and organic chemistry and did research in the pathogenesis of adverse drug reactions. It took him some time; but he had plenty of it when he wasn’t focusing on the massive construction project beneath Gotham. She was using the name Veronique Rothschild, but he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that name was as phony as a three-dollar bill. But Max’s writing style was unique and he had become very familiar with it when he stayed with her. So once he found an article that sounded like something Max would write, he started backtracking to find previous research under that same name.
Bane hadn’t planned to seek her out; he intended to respect Max’s wishes to stay out of hers and Kyle’s life. But the unthinkable happened; an acute case of “Whatdafuck?” and he had to get out of Gotham fast and undetected. He was injured; some of the tubes in his mask were broken and he took a shotgun blast to the chest. Fortunately, his chest armor was strong enough to absorb most of the blast, but he still sustained a deep muscle injury; likely some broken ribs. He had an extensive network of resources and comrades who helped him get out of the city. When asked his destination, he said “Italy.”
Kyle was often on his mind, in spite of his plans to decimate the city of Gotham. In times of deep quiet, his thoughts turned to his son. He was not father material; Max had been absolutely right when she said that, and she stressed the need for Bane to stay out of their lives. She thought it better that Kyle not know his father and informed Bane that she was perfectly able to take care of him on her own. He didn’t doubt that and didn’t argue with Max’s wishes. But everything changed when things didn’t go as planned in Gotham. He had to regroup. But before that, he had to get better. His last fight with Batman caused serious damage to his mask, and although Talia screwed the tubes back into place, they were cracked and his anesthesia constantly leaked out. The pain couldn’t be kept at bay and he tried to control it with illegally-obtained prescription meds, but what he needed was the gas in his mask.
Max would fix it. Max was the only one who could fix it.
The province of Positano was a small vertical village on the Amalfi Coast. The main part of the city sat in an enclave that led down to the shore. It was a beautiful place. She lived in a renovated villa on the coast. It had a terrace and three floors. Bane’s associates told him that the best way to get into Positano was by boat, as the roads were very narrow and winding, and there were a lot of stairs. Because Max’s villa was right on the water, it would be very easy to get to her house and he could go in under the cover of darkness if he needed to. But he didn’t want to scare her by showing up at her house unexpectedly. He wanted to know for himself how best to approach her, and so he took it upon himself to study her movements in spite of his increasing agony.
Max taught classes four mornings a week and kept office hours on two different afternoons. She drove a bright blue Mini Cooper; something small enough to handle the narrow roads. It was definitely a far cry from her Ferrari, but it fit her life. She always left by three-o-clock, and she didn’t report to the university on Fridays. Every morning, she dropped Kyle off at a school that was in walking distance of the college, and every afternoon she was waiting for him when he got out. Kyle always ran to his mother and Max always picked him up, in spite of the fact that he was big.
Like his father.
One of his associates informed him that there was an empty residence not far from Max’s villa and he took up unlawful residence there so he could monitor her home life. She employed a housekeeper who prepared meals and maintained the house. When they got home, Kyle had an afternoon snack and an hour of TV while Max relaxed. Then they had dinner and she helped him with his homework, gave him a bath and read him two books before he went to bed at eight p.m. every single night. Their routines varied slightly; sometimes she played games with him or they watched TV together. Sometimes she took him for walks on the beach. After Max put Kyle to bed, she would go to her room and take a bath. She lay in bed and worked on her laptop for a couple of hours and then went to sleep. Friday mornings, she worked at home.
But Friday night, the housekeeper stayed late to watch Kyle, and Max went out for the evening. She met a man in town and they had dinner at a plush hotel, and then went upstairs. Bane wasn’t stupid; he knew she was fucking the guy. Sometime later, Max left, looking appropriately disheveled and went back home. Saturday afternoon, she dropped Kyle to an art and music class and then met a different man for lunch and an afternoon delight. But she was always there in time to pick up Kyle and take him back home.
Max’s appetite was apparently healthy.
He paid one of Max’s students a sum of money to schedule a meeting with her after class. The student made the appointment and accepted the cash without question. Bane knew that he couldn’t simply barge his way into Max’s life now; he would have to be more tactful in his approach. He knew it was wise not to go near the house because she would very likely try to kill him if he was that bold.
Bane wore a motorcycle helmet so that he wouldn’t be recognized, and as quite a few students rode bikes to campus, a motorcycle helmet wouldn’t draw much attention, especially if the visor was up. He walked with confidence to her office, as he knew where it was. She had no clue that he’d spent the last week sitting in two of her classes; in the rear of the lecture hall and out of sight. He knew everything about her life, just like any tactician with an objective.
Max’s office was small. She was standing with her back to the door. Bane appraised her. Her hair was secured in some sort of knot and she wore a red shirt and gray slacks. She wore earphones and was looking at a piece of paper. Bane removed his helmet and knocked on the door. He had never knocked on a door before in his life and it felt strange.
“Dario,” she said, turning around. “Come posse aiutare?”
When she saw who was at the door, the paper fell out of her hands. Her eyes widened and with one trembling hand, Max pulled the earphones out of her ears. She was listening to Mozart and the faint sounds of “Requiem” wafted through the speakers.
“Max,” he said.
She stared at him. Bane was bigger than she remembered and he dwarfed her small office. A million thoughts flew through her mind. She hadn’t seen him in almost four years.
“Your Italian is flawless, but I expect no less from someone like you.”
“What—what are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“It took some time, Dr. Rothschild.” He didn’t know if he liked the name, but it didn’t matter because he knew it wasn’t her real one.
Max swallowed and cautiously made her way behind her desk. “Why are you here? What do you want?”
“I need to see you.”
“Why? Why, Bane?” Then she looked at his face and frowned. “Your mask is broken.”
“Do I even want to know why? Jeez, why did you come here? Do you know that you’re a wanted man?”
“They might think I’m dead.” He didn’t stick around long enough to find out for sure.
“I took a shotgun blast to the chest.”
“I was wearing armor, which took the brunt of the blast. But I’m sure I have some broken ribs, and some of the tubes in my mask are cracked.”
“And this has what to do with me?” She was still staring at him like she’d been poleaxed.
“I need you to help me, Max. I don’t trust anyone else.”
“Bane, I can’t help you.”
“You built the mask. You can fix it.”
“Bane, no. No!” She started rubbing her hands together. The look in her eyes was fearful. “Are you here for…for Kyle?”
“I told you why I was here. I can’t fix these tubes without the proper equipment and my gas is leaking out. I’m in pain, Max.”
“I…I don’t care. I told you…I told you to leave me alone. You—I know what you did! The whole world knows what you did…and you show up here? How do you know they won’t find you? Jesus, you brought them here! You brought them to me; you brought them to my baby…!”
“No one knows where I am.” Bane’s network of fanatics would die before talking.
He moved closer to her and closed the office door. Max sat down and balled her fists. “I told you to leave me alone. I told you I didn’t want you or anything about you touching my son! I told you to leave us be! How did you find me?”
“Through your research. I know how you write. And no, I didn’t come here with the intent to hurt you or my son—”
“Kyle is my son! Mine! You’re nothing more than a sperm donor.”
He was calm. “I recall being a lot more than that, but I’m here because I need your help.”
She put her head in her hands. “You’ve jeopardized my son’s life by coming here. You’ve jeopardized mine. Your enemies will come after us because you brought your stupid, stupid ass here! I told you to leave us alone!”
“No one is going to bother you, Max.” Once he knew where she was and it was imperative he had to go to her, he put sentinels in place to watch over her and their son. They did not know who the woman and child were, but it didn’t matter. The men obeyed Bane without question and they would do whatever was necessary to keep Max and Kyle safe. “No one knows I’m here. I left Gotham under cover of darkness that night.”
She was trembling. “You stay away from Kyle. You stay away from him. Don’t you go anywhere near him, do you hear me? I swear, Bane, I will fucking kill you if you cause any harm to even one hair on my son’s head! I will poison you and I’ll make something far more lethal than Kirrah to do it!”
“Max, I can’t promise you that.”
“Then you can leave. You can get the fuck out of here. Damn it! You’re smart enough to fix it yourself! You know how that blasted mask works!”
“I tried. I can’t. The tubes need replacing.”
Max stood up again and folded her arms. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. She worked hard to make a good life for Kyle and things had been very lovely indeed for the past four years. Then all of a sudden, this. She was certain he died in the mess he created, and so when Kyle asked about his father, she didn’t have to lie about it. But she knew Bane. She knew him well. He was in her life for a brief period of time and it did not take long for her to learn that he was absolutely obstinate, calculating and ruthless when he wanted something. She knew that he wouldn’t leave unless she did what he asked. But he wasn’t his usual abrupt self and that spoke volumes.
Max turned to him. Gosh, he was so big. And to his credit, he was big all over. She was quite thrilled to find that out. “All you want is for me to fix your mask? That’s all you want?”
“Some of the tubes are cracked. The gas has been leaking out. I’ve tried to keep my intake down as to not be wasteful.”
“Are you in pain?”
“For how long?”
A look flashed in her eyes. “How bad?”
“It wavers above my threshold. The pain in my chest adds to it.”
“You just want me to fix the mask? That’s it?”
“Yes.” For now, anyway.
“I can’t do it here.”
“I am aware of that.”
“Bane, I don’t want you around Kyle. I don’t want you anywhere near him. You know how I feel about this. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I feel the need to stress the importance of you staying away from my baby.”
“Then please, propose a solution.” Bane wanted to respect her wishes because he knew what her—their—son meant to her. But now that he was here, he knew he couldn’t leave Positano without seeing the boy. They would deal with that in time.
Max closed her eyes. “I still have all my research, and I still have your original mask. I can bring it to you to wear while I fix that one. I’ll give you some extra canisters and make you some painkillers.”
“I need it tonight. The pain is…unbearable.”
Max looked away. She knew he was in agony. “You can’t come to my house, Bane. I forbid it. I won’t have it.”
“What do you want me to do?”
She turned to look at him. “I don’t even know, damn it. You think I was prepared for this? I have to dig that stuff out of a cabinet somewhere. Look, just meet me here tomorrow at two-o-clock and not one second later. That’s the best I can do. You just show up here unannounced and you expect me to pull a rabbit out of my ass? I’m good, but I’m not that good.”
He nodded. Max stared at him. “I’m sorry you’re hurting, but that’s really no longer my problem, Bane.” She turned off her computer and started packing up her bag. “I need to leave. I have to pick Kyle up from school.”
Bane stepped back to give her space. “Max. Please.”
Max paused in the middle of stuffing her tablet in her carry-all. She had never ever heard the man utter such a word. She turned slowly and stared at him, mouth parted. “Did you just say please?”
“The pain is…bad.”
“It must be if you just said please.” She sighed. “Okay. Where are you staying?”
He was prepared. “I have a small rental space near 48 Via Grotte del Incanto.” It was procured by one of his men.
“I know where it is. I will come by in four hours. I will bring you some painkillers and a replacement mask. I will try to repair this one, but if I can’t do it within thirty minutes, I’ll have to do it at home. My schedule’s full, but I’ll try to do it Friday morning and I’ll drop it off on the way to my appointment.”
He knew what appointment she meant.
“Then you will go. Do you understand me, Bane? I will do this once. Once. And then I never ever ever want to see you again. I don’t want to uproot my son and start over somewhere else, but I’ll do it. I’ll do it if it means protecting him from you and your chicanery.”
He grabbed the collar of his jacket. “I’ll leave you then and expect you this evening.”
Max shouldered her carry-all. “Open the door.”
“My office is ten times smaller with you in it and I bet Dario saw you and your big ass scared him off.” She locked her office.
“Actually, I paid him to set up a meeting with you. I knew that I couldn’t see you any other way. Bear in mind, Max, that if I were engaging my more…blunt…tendencies, I would have just shown up at your house and stayed.”
She closed her eyes as she started walking down the hall. “And I would have killed you. Do not, for one second, think that I’m incapable of murder. I will do anything to protect my child.”
Bane nodded curtly. He was well aware of the bodies Max left behind.
When she got to the front doors, she looked at Bane. He put his helmet back on. Max waved him off. “Go.”
“I was going to escort you to your car, so I’ll know what you’re driving.”
“I drive a blue Mini Cooper. Now you know. Please, leave.”
Bane knew what she was doing. Kyle’s school was a short distance from the college and Max didn’t want him to know where it was. She was determined to keep him in the dark when it came to his son. He didn’t know what she was going to do when she found out that he already knew everything there was to know.