Even though I love the way the story ended in the last chapter, I wanted to post an epilogue chapter because I realize that there are a few loose ends to tie up. You're probably wondering if Bruce and Rachel ever dare to go back to Gotham. And of course there is the other big thing: the baby. I hope this wraps up all of those questions for you. I really enjoyed writing this story. Maybe I'll come back to it someday with a sequel or a story to fill in the missing years in this one. You never know! Enjoy and thank you so much for reading this story.
"Bruce, honestly…" Rachel groaned as she rolled over and buried her face in the pillow. "We've been away for four years. Ten minutes more is not going to hurt."
"You've been asking for ten more minutes for the past twenty minutes."
"Because you woke me up before six in the morning," She sighed.
He fell silent and she dared to hope he was going to actually let her sleep a little longer. She'd glanced at the alarm clock moments before to see 5:45 in the blue numbers on the screen. She had been wanting to at least last until the alarm buzzed at 6:15, knowing they had a fifteen hour flight ahead of them at 11, but Bruce had apparently had other ideas. He had tossed and turned in anxiousness all night long, keeping her awake as well.
A rustling of the sheets one minute later alerted her that she was about to be woken up once more.
"Rachel…" He whispered. "Did you go back to sleep?"
"Yes," She told him emphatically.
The bed dipped down behind her, the sheets being lifted up slightly off her legs. She opened her eyes and rolled over to see what her husband was up to.
"Bruce, what in the world are you doing?" She asked, finding him mostly disappeared under the sheets. She quickly felt her foot become trapped in his grasp, his fingers beginning to assault the bottom of it in quick motions. She immediately let out a gasp, trying to tug it away. She failed miserably as laughter began to spill out into the room, his joining hers. "Alright! I'm getting up!"
He reemerged, a wide grin on his face. "Finally!"
"Bruce Wayne, when are you going to learn that I like to sleep? You always seem to be keeping me from doing so."
"Well, you're lovely when you're asleep, darling," He told her, pressing his lips to her forehead. "But I enjoy your company much more when you're awake."
She tried to hide her smile as she shook her head. "You should be ashamed of yourself. Kenneth doesn't even wake me up this early."
"No, but he used to."
"I'm not really sure that's a credible point for your argument, Bruce, unless you're comparing yourself to a three year old."
"I apologize, Mrs. Wayne. But now that you're awake, do you hear that?"
Rachel strained her ears to listen, her interest peaking. But she found that she did not hear a thing. "Hear what?"
"Exactly. It's quiet. Kenneth is still asleep, and we have approximately forty-five minutes until he's awake. That's enough time to squeeze in a shower."
Rachel stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds. "That's why you woke me up? You think I need to take a shower?"
"What?" Bruce reared back. "That's not what I was going for at all! I promise. I meant that we could take a shower-"
Rachel's laughter cut him off. "I know what you meant. I'm teasing you."
Bruce sighed in relief as Rachel sat up and ran her fingers through his hair. She leaned toward him and pressed her lips to his, lingering there for several seconds as he kissed her back. Then she pulled away and slipped out of the bed.
"Where are you going?" Bruce asked.
She looked over her shoulder at him just before she disappeared into the bathroom. "Something tells me there is about to be a woman in your shower, Bruce Wayne. Are you going to join her or not?"
Bruce grinned, chasing after her into the bathroom as the water turned on, locking the door behind him as he went.
One Week Earlier
Bruce rolled over in the bed, sighing heavily at the sheets that were wrapped around his legs. He flopped his arm over his sweaty forehead. Gotham was haunting him. His ancestors were haunting him. No amount of avoiding it or throwing himself into family life was enough to drown out the voices, images, colors, and flashes of Gotham.
"Bruce?" Rachel asked, rolling toward him and placing her hand on his heaving chest. "Are you alright?"
He nodded, reaching for her hand and squeezing it.
"Yeah," He whispered.
She sighed, rolling onto her back beside him and joining in his staring contest with the ceiling fan. They were quiet for several minutes until at last she released an "Okay…"
"Okay? Okay what?" Bruce asked, looking over at her.
"We've both known that it's been coming for a while now."
"We haven't dared to talk about it in months."
"But the longer we stay here, the more your dreams are happening," As he nodded, she swallowed hard and looked at him. "I think we both know it's time."
They stared at each other in silence, barely making out each other's features in the dark bedroom from the nightlight in the bathroom. At last Bruce spoke. "Rachel, are you sure?"
"Maybe I can go for a few days and then come home to you and Kenneth. Alfred will stay with you for a few days."
"We both know that won't do anything but make your need to go back even worse."
He sat up and ran his hand through his hair. "I hate to take you back there… After all of the pain and…"
"Bruce, Gotham is not at all what it was then. You know that. It's open to change for the better."
"I know, but-"
"Gotham always has been and always will be your home. You carry it with you everywhere you go, and you are not complete without it. It's in your blood. And it's time that it's under your feet again," She sat up, wrapping her arm around him.
"I spent so many years living behind that mask, Rachel. The Bruce Wayne Gotham knows is not the same man as Batman. How in the world can I change Gotham for the better without that mask?"
She paused, formulating her words. "Bruce, how many times have you told Kenneth that as long as he stays true to who he really is that you will be proud of him? How many times have you tried to teach him that the best and most righteous thing he can do in this world is to fight for the things he believes in with courage, honesty and pride?"
Bruce looked down, letting out a breath of air in realization. Rachel knew he hated when she threw his words back at him, but it seemed to be the best way to make a point to him. Their son, Kenneth Alfred Wayne, had been born a spitting image of his handsome father, and had the darling, sweet, caring, and empathetic heart of his parent's combined. His love for the world around him knew no bounds, and the three year old's adoration for his father reached even beyond that. Bruce taught him things with grand emphasis and words that left the little boy looking and listening in awe. If anything could make a point to Bruce, it was the things he spent so much time attempting to instill in his precious son. "You're right."
"The only thing Gotham has ever wanted from you was your heart, Bruce. Your father poured a lot of work into Gotham. But more than anything, he poured his heart and soul into it. He believed in it, and he loved it. So do you. So don't worry about trying to be the perfect hero, Bruce. Don't worry about putting out a perfect reputation or be afraid of messing up. Don't hide behind the mask because you're afraid that Gotham won't accept you for who you really are. Those days are over. It's time to come out of the darkness and help Gotham in the light of day."
He stared at her in awe and then leaned toward her and kissed her in the most loving and passionate kiss he had ever given her.
"Is my love enough, Rachel?" He asked, his lips a mere inch away from hers. "Is my love enough to ask you to go back there? Is my love enough to last through the pain and bring us out on the other side even stronger? Is my love enough to save Gotham?"
She nodded, tears coursing down her face. "Your love has always been enough, Bruce Wayne. It's all we've ever needed."
"Rachel…" He took her face in his hands and kissed every inch of it. "Rachel, my love, it's time to go home."
The four of them stood on the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises just as the sky was beginning to lighten. They'd arrived in the middle of the night, hoping to be able to draw less attention from the city that had been waiting for their return for years. Bruce had wanted to lay his eyes on Gotham again without a flurry of paparazzi to welcome them. That was not the way he wanted to introduce his son to the city Bruce hoped Kenneth would one day grow to love as much as he did.
Now, Alfred held the little boy in his arms to the left of Bruce as his tiny hands rubbed his eyes and fought sleep. Bruce stood, his hand firmly holding Rachel's as they waited for the sun to rise up over the skyline of Gotham. Pink, orange, and purple hews were being painted across the sky as the cool and damp morning air sent invigorating chills of anticipation down their spines.
"I never watched the sunrises," Bruce said, breaking the silence with the sudden realization.
Rachel looked up at him. "You were too busy waiting for the sunsets."
"Not anymore, Rachel," Bruce told her. "I promise you. I'll live this life waking up to the sunrises with you."
"And go to bed when the sun does, Daddy?" Kenneth asked.
Bruce looked over at him with a grin, surprised the little guy was awake enough to be listening. "Exactly."
"That sounds like a wonderful plan, Master Wayne," Alfred told him with a smile. "Work is done better in the light of day anyway."
"That's what she keeps telling me," Bruce said, kissing Rachel on the forehead.
They fell back into silence, though Bruce could practically hear is heart beating. At last, the sun peaked up between the buildings, shining on them in a brilliant glisten. And in that moment, Bruce saw his beloved Gotham in a whole new light.
"Bruce…" Rachel whispered.
"I see it, Rach."
She reached up to wipe away a few tears. "I didn't know how it would feel being back here. I was afraid of the memories…But now, seeing it…Bruce…I feel…"
"I know," He told her, wrapping his arm around her waist. "I know. I feel it too."
"Where are we, Grandpa Alfred?" Kenneth's voice asked, his head daring to lift off of Alfred's shoulder.
Alfred was too overcome with emotion to speak.
"This is our home, Kenneth," Rachel told him. "This is where your Daddy and I grew up and fell in love. This is Gotham."
"Gotham?" Kenneth repeated, looking out over the city. "I like it. I think it's pretty."
Bruce looked at his son in proud awe, knowing that his son was going to grow up in the Gotham he'd always dreamed of. "It is. It's a beautiful and brave new world. And one day you'll know just how much it means to me."