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Pulling Your Bat out of the Fire

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Pulling Your Bat out of the Fire
by Jane St Clair


It's a source of some concern to him that this time Batman doesn't wait until he's sleeping to turn up. He just perches on the arm of the couch in true acid-induced style. Jack is never, ever consuming anything within a hundred feet of the Doctor, ever again.

Batman grins at him. It's not a nice expression. "How're you doing, Jack?"

"I've been pulped by an omnipotent psychotic, I'm still trying to remember where we put the damned Belgians, and I'm stoned, I guess. Pretty fucking bad."

"Mmm. But you're still in one piece." Batman pauses and shuffles something between his gloved hands. Jack abruptly feels like someone's sorted through his brain with a blunt instrument. "And the Belgians are worshipping the Lord as polite, conservative Protestants, just like you told them to."

"The Lutheran Earth."


"Fuck. We'll have to go round them up. Maybe remind them that mostly they were Catholic this time last week."

He gives up on trying to meet Batman's eyes and just sits on the floor. Tries to pretend he's not naked except for a pair of embarrassingly ratty boxers. Batman looks at him hard, and he has to concentrate very hard on breathing to keep his body from responding. It's bad enough that he's hallucinating; he really doesn't need whatever repressed homosexual urges he has surfacing.

"Jack, I thought I told you to loosen up."

"Look, don't take this the wrong way," and he really means that, because at the moment he's not entirely sure he could kick this guy's ass, "but stay out of my Id."

A multi-sectional insect crawls up the wall and pauses at head-height, blinking at them both. Considering the number of entities that've visited the Carrier lately, Jack can't even decide whether the thing's a delusion or not. Batman holds a hand out to it and lets it crawl over the back of his gauntlet. Delusion, then. Maybe its thirteen eyes should have clued him in.

Jack says, "Uh, from one control freak to another, what the fuck is up with your hanging out in my head? Because I'm supposed to be protecting this planet, and that's gonna be really hard if I'm crazy."

Batman looks at him. Maybe blinks, though it's hard to tell with the cowl in shadow.

"OK, crazier than's usual around here."

"I'm just here to remind you that you're still behaving like you've got a stick up your ass. And you're still not queer."

"Nor likely to be. Will you leave me alone?"

"I'm just a product of your imagination and some very fine chemicals. So I can't, as you so eloquently put it, stay out of your Id. I *am* your Id."

"My Id looks like Batman?"

"It might be a symptom of your subconscious lust for Midnighter."

"*Fuck* you."

Batman reaches out a leather-covered hand and catches Jack's chin. Pulls it up, hard, so that he's staring into cowled eyes from a distance of six inches. Four. One, as Batman tilts his head and kisses him again.

Barefoot as he is (as he always is, but it's just that much more noticeable when he's this close to naked), it's fairly obvious that his toes are curling. The curl gives him a good grip on the carpet while he rolls to his knees and pushes himself up towards all that moulded rubber. Very smooth and cold. It feels good on his bare arms when he wraps them around Batman's shoulders to play with his cape. Good against the front of his boxers. He's close to just humping one big thigh for all he's worth.

Batman pushes him back down onto the rug and grins thinly at him.

"That's all you get. If you actually want to work off some of that repressed desire, you're going to have to find a real, live male body to do it with."

"Not fair. It's not like there's a plethora of men around here. 'Specially with Apollo and Midnighter being exclusive."

"There's the Doctor."

"That's so profoundly sick I can't even begin to address it. Have I explained to you that every alien organ I have considers him a threat? It's all I can do to keep from smacking him as he passes in the hallway."

"You should keep those kinds of urges under control. People might start to think you're anti-social." Pause. "Rumour has it he's good in bed."

"Says who?"

"Angie, for one."

Low blow. He's been trying very, very hard not to think about that. She never kept it a secret, exactly, but she probably thought she was discreet. Didn't realize that the chemical fog surrounding said junkie had soaked into her skin and hair, so that Jack could smell her even from across the Carrier. "You're a cruel man, Batman."

"I'm in the business of shaking things up. Same as you. But you really will be better off if you just get off the straight and narrow and let yourself fuck the next warm body. No Gentleman Jack. No flowers and romance. Let somebody hold you down."

"Doctor couldn't do that on a bet."

"You'd be surprised. If the bedframe suddenly reached out and grabbed you, I think you just might be stuck."

That thought shouldn't be as arousing as it is. Makes him wonder exactly what state his Id is in. Maybe if he got to run through REM sleep a couple of times a night like a normal person, it'd have the chance to defrag before things got this bad.

"Resentment's not good for you, Jack. Get out there and do something." Batman pats him on the shoulder and gets up. Jack leans forward and rubs his face against the cape as it swirls by him.

"Think gay thoughts." And leaps out the Carrier window like it's not there. Just a big swirl of cape and cowl so dramatically slow-mo that it would never work in a universe of Newtonian physics.

Jack lies on the floor and stares at the ceiling for a while. Thinks about going down to Amsterdam for the night to put his head in order. He's still stoned, but as long as he's down there, it's not likely to matter. There's pot smoke in the bricks. The hookers are nice. For some reason, his alien physiology doesn't object to the current social mix; it just points him at freakish civil servants who're about to crack and kill large numbers of people. It's a very comfortable place to be.

Of course, it's somebody's hometown, but he's carefully not thinking about that somebody right now.
The bug stares at him. Someone on the other side of the door who smells like opiate derivatives and charged ozone carefully doesn't knock, just radiates power and other fucked-up vibes at him and stands there.



Forgive me?