for i think of you, flung down brutal darkness;
crushed and red, with pale face.
i think of you, with your hair disordered and dripping.
and myself, rising red from that embrace.
AU MEME : Blake/Barsad, past Bruce/Blake + Arkham Asylum AU
Post occupation Gotham is anything but a smooth road to recovery. With escaped convicts and League of Shadows members still out running the streets and a general sense of unease and chaos life is hard for those trying to get back on their feet and those struggling to reenact order and the proper system. Struggling perhaps most of all is Batman’s chosen heir John Blake, under trained and overwhelmed as well as dealing with is own grief over the death of Bruce Wayne he finds himself feeling a mere cheap substitute for the hero the city truly needs now. It comes to a head nearly a year later when Gordon is critically injured on the job and a ghost returns to Gotham. Having finally begun to establish himself as Nightwing, John now feels that with Batman back no one will truly accept him when the real hero has returned.
Abandoning his gear, he goes to his apartment- only to immediately be seized by men working for Hugo Strange. Strange has had his eye on the supposed heir of the Dark Knight he’d been fixated on and wants him to confirm if he really was Bruce Wayne. Shepherding John to Arkham Asylum , he arranges it to look like John’s moved out of his apartment and skipped town. And he’s not the only one who has been watching. Recuperating from his wounds with the help of Barsad and other remaining loyalists Bane had been planning to kill John once he’d fully healed so Bruce wouldn’t have a legacy and all Talia’s work wouldn’t be in vain. Knowing Strange has him, he believes John eventually be killed by him so he doesn’t interfere and now focuses on getting well enough to confront the reemerged Bruce.
Strange originally sees John as nothing more than a means to learn more about Batman but as John resists his psychological torture/behavior modification and manages to hold onto his sense of self far longer than any of his other victims have Strange starts seeing him as quite interesting in his own right. And soon he doesn’t want to simply exploit John, he wants to weaponize him. He wants have him as partner even if the power dynamics are never fully equal. But then John exceeds his expectations: he out-monsters the monster. The little robin turns into a bird of prey hungry, for his pound of flesh.