It started with a look. A look I had seen in his eyes so many times before. A look that told me I meant everything in the world to him. A look that told me he loved me more than he had ever loved anyone in his entire life. A look that promised me everything I had ever wanted. A look that stopped my heart in its tracks, because he loved me and I loved him. And in that moment, staring into his eyes, nothing else in the world mattered. I wanted him, and he wanted me, and so I kissed him. I kissed him with a kiss that showed him that he meant everything in the world to me. A kiss that told him I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone in my entire life. A kiss that promised him everything he had ever wanted. A kiss that stopped his heart dead in its tracks, because I loved him and he loved me.

After that kiss, nothing was ever the same again.

Chapter One: Under the Mask

"You didn't have to be like that to him," Rachel scolded softly as she stepped up behind Bruce in his penthouse. His shoulders stiffened at the sound of her voice, just as they always did when he was fighting off the desire to take her right there.

He barely made a sound, staring out at Gotham. His tie had been loosened. He was no longer in the mood for fake parties. He saw straight through every false smile and every disguise. Maybe it was because he wore a mask almost every night, and because he knew the point of them; hiding what mattered most. "Like what, Rachel?"

"Cold."

Bruce sighed, not moving an inch. "He dished it right back."

"You have to understand, Bruce. Who you are and who Gotham thinks you are is two very different things. If Harvey really knew…he wouldn't be like that."

"I know." Silence fell over them and Bruce's head hung between his shoulders. He let out a long sigh. His double-life was wearing on him; the thrill gone and the daunting task of saving Gotham overwhelming.

She frowned in concern and stepped toward him, discarding her wrap and clutch on his couch as she made her way to him. She put her hand on his shoulder. "What is it, Bruce? What's bothering you?"

He reached for her left hand, his thumb traced over the engagement ring on her finger. The ring Harvey had given her not so long ago. He was not in the mood for the disguise tonight. He wanted to be transparent. "This is," His finger stalled over the ring as he slowly raised his eyes to hers. "You've given up on me."

She wasn't expecting that response, but she handled it with grace, just as she always did. She too had a disguise; one that made her look constantly put-together, never rattled, and forever confident. "I have no choice," She whispered.

"Why?"

"Because I'm afraid you won't give up Batman."

His face was pained, and he tried to hide it. "It's almost over, Rachel. The day is coming when I can put down the mask."

"You've been saying that for two years," She was getting defensive and tired of having this conversation. "Time is slipping away from us, Bruce. I'm thirty years old. I want to have a family, and a real life. The doctor told me I needed to do it soon if I was going to. Every year the odds for me having a successful pregnancy drop. You know that…you've always known that my pregnancies were going to be high risk. We've talked about it. The risk is going up with every year. I know I told you I would wait, but what will be the cost? What more do I have to give up?"

He nodded, looking down. A moment of silence passed between them, but neither of them moved away from each other. He wanted desperately to throw down the mask and scoop her up in his arms and run; but his parents…this city…how could he abandon it all?

"I need a little more time," His voice was deep, soft, and even desperate.

"I don't have more time. I wish it didn't have to be this way, Bruce. You know that I do. But I can't wait anymore. I can't be alone anymore."

"You have never been alone," Bruce whispered as he turned completely toward her, taking her face in his hands. "I have always been here for you…always loved you."

"Bruce…" She shivered, knowing this was about to go farther than it should. Her body was responding to his, her barriers falling rapidly, her mask of control tumbling to the floor.

"Give me more time…"

"I can't…"

"Please," Bruce begged. "Rachel…you're all I have."

She shook her head, staring him straight in the eyes. "I can't. Bruce, I want to have a family, to have the life I've always dreamed of having."

"You dreamed of having that life with me," Bruce reminded her. Her gaze fell from his.

"Things are not what they were back then, Bruce. Everything has changed."

"I can still give all of that to you. I love you. That hasn't changed. It never will change."

"You can't give that to me right now."

"I can."

She shook her head. "You can give me a baby, but you can't be a father. You can marry me, but you can't be a husband. Not when you spend your nights flying from rooftops. You can't be here for me and a baby and save Gotham at the same time."

"I can hang up the mask right now," Bruce insisted.

"And leave Gotham without their hero? No you can't. We both know that."

"Harvey is their hero."

"You're the hero they don't recognize yet, Bruce. They need you."

"I need you."

"You don't need me."

"Rachel, stop denying it! You know how I feel. You know how much I love you, how much I want you. I would give up everything for you. I would give up Gotham for you."

"Saving Gotham is your dream."

"Saving Gotham was my Dad's dream and it was yours. You, Rachel Dawes are my dream. I became Batman for you. I did it all for you. I will do anything for you."

Rachel stared at him and before she knew what she was doing, she was kissing him. Her kiss was enough to send him over the edge and all of his pent up emotions and feelings for her came out. She quickly found herself pressed up against the cool glass wall, his body following her and pressed tightly against hers as Gotham's night stretched out below them. His lips found their way to her collar bone and she gasped and let her head fall back. Her fingers grabbed his hair as he nibbled at her skin. He picked her up effortlessly and her legs wrapped around his waist as he began to carry her toward his bedroom. She spent the rest of the night in the bliss of his loving arms, keeping her hidden from the harm of the Gotham night.