Unmasking the Bat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Then the chant. It pulsed through the dawn air like a song of soldiers heading to war. "Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat!"

Submitted: November 17, 2010

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Submitted: November 17, 2010

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 Dimension: The Batman cartoon (2004-2008)

Author's note: This goes on the end of the second episode of the beginning of Clayface, continued from when Bruce was knocked unconscious in the boys' locker room. This continues as if Ellen Yin does not revoke her promise to unmask him.

I just kinda wanted to do something with what would happen if each character knew the secret identity of the Batman. So I experimented.

And, obviously, I do not own these characters.

So here goes.


Unmasking the Bat

He awoke to a surprising din of noise. He blinked a few times, trying to get a sense of where he was.

All at once, it came into focus.

He was upright, on his knees. His hands were bound behind his back, and his wrists were chained to some sort of pole. He felt the cold metal cylinder against his back as well, and realized his hands were probably only an inch off the ground.

The next thing taken into account was the ropes across his chest, also binding him to the pole.

Then came the pain.

His legs had fallen asleep and his neck was beginning to cramp because of its bowed position. He had not yet moved it.

Every bone in his body ached. It had been a long night. He felt the bruises along his back, probably inflicted when he was tied to the pole. There were also contusions along his forearms, but those he remembered getting from Ethan.

Ethan…Clayface…and now here? Where was he?

He searched his memory for explanation, but the last thing he could remember was the cold tile floor of the boys' locker room… And now he was handcuffed to a pole. How did that make sense?

He squinted but did not move the position of his head, waiting for the ground to come into focus.

Asphalt. A road. Hmmm…

The surprisingly loud din of noise came next. First, he heard a reporter.
"…questions have risen about his identity, and rumors say…"

And then another.
" …look around you. Who's not there? Who's missing? Are they the one behind the mask?"

And another.
"Chief Rojas, who claimed himself in charge of this event, wishes to refrain until he awakens…"

Even another.
" It is said that this vigilante has been helping the city, but he is public enemy number one…"

And one more.
"The Batmobile has not been opened but is currently under high security; we are sure that the caped crusader has no escape plan."

Then the chant. It pulsed through the dawn air like a song of soldiers heading to war.
"Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat!"

Another reporter caught his ear.
"The Bat-Wave taken from his belt is emitting a signal; scientists are presently trying to trace it back to its source…"

It seemed every news channel was represented.
" Residents at Arkham Asylum have gathered around the TV to see the true face of the one who placed them there…"

"Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat!"

The chant became his heartbeat.
"Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat!"

It pounded in his ears.
"Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat! Unmask the Bat..."

His eyes showed him the ground. Quickly he flicked them up once, then back down.

He knew where he was.

He had seen City Hall. He was in the parking lot. Tied to Gotham's flagpole.

He had seen bright flashes. They were taking pictures.

He had seen the reporters. There were at least 10 channels represented. MTV. CNN. The whole nation could be watching.

He had seen Chief Rojas smiling into a camera. He thought he had won.

He had seen the mob of civilians, all awaiting the answer.

And he had met the eyes of Ellen Yin. She was tired; her eyes were shadowed. She barely nodded to him, imperceptible if not expected. She was embarrassed. She was ashamed. She was guilty.
It was her fault he was here.

"Chief Rojas, are we ready to begin?"

"As soon as he awakens, my dear mayor."

What a pompous *&#^$$^#&* (string of swear words), he thought.

He decided there was no postponing it.

"I am awake," he said defiantly.

"Well then," said a leading reporter, "shall we see the man behind the mask?"

"Why not?"

All of the cameras focused on Batman.

"Detective Yin, will you do the honors?"

She remained seated, slouched in the shadows on the ground against the police van.

"You know I couldn't do that."

"You were the one who brought him to us."

"I didn't sign up for this. You're the one who wants the mask off, anyway."

" Look, Ellen, I'm trying to prove some rumors wrong. They say you're working with the bat. I'm trying to clear our name, here. And I know you want to know who he is."

" Yes, I want to know. But this?" she exclaimed, gesturing towards him as she stood up. "Public humiliation? Is that really anyway to treat him?"

" Unmask him or I get your badge."

" You can have it. I won't-"

"And your fiancé's."

"What?" she squeaked, all coherent thought stopping midstream.

"You know what I said. Do it."

She hesitated. "You've had one too many shots," she muttered as she walked over and crouched before Batman.

"I would let you go," she whispered, "but I don't have a knife or the handcuff key." Her head bowed as well. Her ponytail was loose; a few free strands framed her face.

"Just do it."

Her hand slid along his cheek until her fingers slid under the fabric. Then it drew back, limply falling away. "I can't. Not after all you've done for us."

" You have to. For him. But just give me a minute."

She nodded and shifted away, giving him a clear line of sight to Chief Rojas.

"Still nothing? What a pity."

" Apparently I need to ask for permission to speak."

" Go ahead."

" Two questions. How much have you had to drink tonight?"

" None of your business. But frankly, I can't remember. But that's beside the point!"

" And this: why are you doing this?"

" Gotham doesn't need another shady character."

" For three years, I've protected this city. Why is it so wrong of me? We're on the same side, Chief." Batman's voice was not pleading. It was cold, hard, controlled.

"No freak is on my side."

"What is so wrong about protecting the city we both love?"

"You dress like a bat. You're insane."

Bruce looked down.

"I know why you're doing this," he told the ground darkly. "It isn't because of public interest. You covet my success."

Rojas gave a snort of laughter. "Aren't you the little accuser. Keep your dignity."

" Why treat me like a child? I know what I'm doing. And how can I lose my dignity? I'm about to be stripped of it," Bruce spat.

"You're right. You are. Ellen!"

She barely moved at the sound of her name.

"Wait, one last thing."

Rojas looked at the mayor, who nodded.

"Make it snappy, Bats. And no funny business."

" Ethan. I know you're here. I know you're watching this." His gaze found the ground again. "You better be."

Bruce looked back up. He saw his face plastered across every electronic billboard – live. He quickly found the culprit camera doing so and looked straight into it.

"I tried to tell you, Ethan. I tried."

" Ellen!"

" I can't, Chief."

" I'm trying to disprove some rumors, here! Clear your name!" Rojas hissed.

"You have to," Batman whispered. "Once I'm gone, Gotham will need you. It'll need everything it can get."

She, again, crouched in front of him.

"I seriously don't want to do this to you."

"Just do it. They're going to unmask me either way. Better you keep your badge than lose it."

" You're sure?"

" You better get on with it before I change my mind."

She smiled weakly. Her fingertips slid again under the mask until they brushed his hair.

"You're right, you know. He covets your success."

" Wasn't too hard to figure out."

" Will I be surprised?" she whispered fearfully, stalling as much as she dared.

"Yes, Batman, will we be surprised?" asked an eager reporter, shoving a microphone in his face. She was immediately attacked by the police, who dragged her away, but Bruce still managed a reply.

"I am what I am to cover what I do."

Ellen only let the confusion show for a moment, before she had put herself back directly in front to the Batman again. Her hand had never left his face.

"Here goes nothing," she murmured as she lifted the fabric off the bowed head of the Batman.

Or, now, Bruce Wayne. His face was projected across Gotham, and probably also broadcasted on a few more American's TV sets.

There was a short, collective gasp and then everyone fell silent. Even the chattering reporters, who couldn't be paid to shut up.

Ellen scrambled backward, the first to obtain coherence. "You? No, no… it can't possibly be you… not you… no, no, no… that's all wrong…" her voice drifted off but she could not stop the string of 'no's.

"Can't argue with this evidence," Bruce said dryly as hushed whispers streamed throughout the crowd and reporters began quietly chattering into the lenses.

"Playboy Bruce Wayne" … "The Batman? It seems impossible…" … "It cannot be true… yet it cannot be argued with…" Many phrases circulated around the group, all of them of incredulous bewilderment.

Chief Rojas, for one, looked stunned. "All this time," he said, "it was you… I trusted you…"

"And I didn't let you down."

Rojas shook his head. "The apple falls far from the tree."

These words stung, but Bruce knew in his heart they weren't true. His father was proud of him, looking down.
Right?

Luckily, Mayor Grange had a different opinion. "I sure don't know where you get it from, but I'm glad you have it. But… why? Why dress like this? Everyone hates bats."

Bruce was about to say that that was exactly the point, but he didn't get a chance to answer.

"I believe it was the trauma years ago. A tragedy such as losing one's parents can cause insanity. Especially witnessing the killing. It's a wonder he's been stable throughout his childhood. Though, that is up to debate now, I suppose," a raspy voice said. Bruce looked up and into the brown emotionless eyes of Dr. Hugo Strange.

"I didn't realize you were here, Dr. Strange," said Chief Rojas, shaking his hand.

"I do believe we have a place for him, down at the Asylum."

"I'm not insane," Batman mumbled uselessly.

"You dress like a bat. How can you not be insane?" Rojas snapped.

He did not reply.

All of the sudden, from the top of a TV van, a gray-colored mass of clay appeared. It flew like a slinky and pooled right in front Bruce.

"Don't waste your bullets. They'll just piss him off," Rojas instructed intelligently.

"Here's another troubled man," said Strange simultaneously.

The gray mass began to take shape, morphing into the rough figure of a man. It seemed to solidify, becoming more and more detailed until it was no longer Clayface but Ethan Bennett that stared back at Bruce.

"I mean no harm," he assured the trigger-happy cops.

"Obviously," said Bruce, smiling at the sight of his old friend. "He would've taken me now if he was."

Chief Rojas eyed the men suspiciously. "You better hope so, Bat - I mean, Bruce. Otherwise the whole city will be on the lookout and price placed upon your head."

Bruce turned back to his friend. "Listen, Ethan, I—"

"I don't want to hear it. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I-"

"I'm your best friend. The clay isn't who I am."

"I know- "

"I'm still me, Bruce. I haven't changed."

"I know, okay? I was going to tell you, but you had to go, and then so did I-"

"That's not exactly the type of thing that can wait."

"How was I supposed to say it, anyway? Oh, and by the way I'm the Batman? Nobody says things like that."

"No, apparently they don't."

"I'm sorry, Ethan. I'm sorry you had to find out like this."

"Me too."

"All right, Bats. You've had enough time to say your good-byes. We're checking you in at the asylum," Rojas interrupted.

"Don't I get a trial?"

"You'll wait for it at the asylum. We can't let you loose."

"Okay, then," he said, not seeming the least bit intimidated by the guns pointed at him. The police formed an eight-man circle, slowly advancing inwards.

"Ethan! One more thing. I need a favor."

"Anything."

"Next time you see Catwoman I need you to tell her something for me." The police released the captive, slicing the ropes that bound him and unlocking the chains and handcuffs. He was nudged upright, and he stood. Swaying for a moment, yes, but up nonetheless.

"Tell her this: Irony sucks."

Ethan nodded sullenly before falling apart and becoming one with the ground.

Bruce had three guns touching him as he was led off into the police car and down to the asylum.

Back in her apartment, two words echoed through the mind of Selina Kyle.

"Irony sucks."


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