8 years ago


Rebecca turned in surprise at the familiar voice calling her name.

"Bruce?" She asked, her surprise only growing when she saw Bruce carrying a medium carry-on. "What's going on?"

"Chill is being released." Bruce answered without preamble, and Rebecca's jaw dropped.

"What?" She whispered, certain that she'd heard wrong.

Bruce just nodded tightly, and Rebecca demanded, "Why?"

"Apparently, that murderer agreed to testify against Carmine Falcone." Bruce answered bitterly, and Rebecca frowned as she asked incredulously, "The mob boss?"

"Yeah." Bruce answered, shaking his head.

His eyes were hard as he explained, "I'm leaving for Gotham now; someone has to stand up against Chill."

"Bruce, I'm so sorry." Rachel said softly, reaching up to hug her oldest and dearest friend. "I'd skip class now and go with you, but I have an exam tonight and it's kind of late to try and push that."

"No, it's okay." Bruce answered firmly, though he returned the hug tightly. "I just wanted you to know why I'd be gone."

Rebecca frowned as she felt Bruce tremble slightly, and she pulled back as she asked, "Bruce? What's wrong?"

She could easily see the tension in her friend's face, and the grim lines and cold look in his eyes worried her. Rebecca was only a year into Princeton, starting her major in Criminal Justice and taking psychology courses for her minor already. However, it didn't take a genius to know Bruce was upset - no, what was tugging warningly on her gut was something else.

She knew Bruce, better than almost anyone, and she could see something in his eyes as his old friend, something that caused worry to pool in her stomach.

"I'm fine." Bruce answered, and she noted a little flatly, "It would be even weirder if you were actually fine with this."

Bruce hesitated, and Rebecca shook her head.

"I'll go try get my exam postponed and go back with you." She said determinedly, but Bruce shook his head quickly.

"No, I know how much you want to do well with your professors." He disagreed. "Don't worry about me; I promise I'll be fine."

"Are you sure?" Rebecca asked hesitantly.

Bruce nodded once, before he glanced at his watch.

"I've got to go." He muttered, pushing back his loose brown hair as the front curls threatened to fall into his eyes. "The plane'll be waiting for me."

"Right – private jet." Rebecca muttered, and Bruce cracked a strained smile.

"Just, be careful then." Rebecca sighed as she gave Bruce another tight hug.

She wasn't quite sure why she was telling him to be careful, when he was only going to court to watch Chill's hearing. But Bruce could be a magnet for trouble when he wanted to be, and she had an uneasy feeling in her stomach, a feeling she had long learned to trust. Especially when it related to Bruce.

When she had been fourteen, a then sixteen-year-old Bruce had informed her of his plans to go skiing with Alfred in Vermont. Somehow, Rebecca had had a bad feeling when he left – and sure enough, Bruce and Alfred had returned to Wayne Manor the next morning in a twin-rotor helicopter after Bruce broke his leg and gained a slight concussion. The billionaire heir had gone skiing illegally after hours when he had arrived too late to go on the slopes – despite never having skied before in his life.

She had shaken her head every day while he recovered, scolding the older teen for being so reckless and almost getting himself killed. Heir to the Wayne family he may be, but he had always just been Bruce to her and as such she treated him like the older brother she'd never had.

Bruce remembered that time too, as well as all the other times Rebecca treated him like just another boy albeit one she was extremely close to.

It was something Bruce had always secretly appreciated, as well as the fact that she had never treated him differently even after his parents were killed. Many people had pitied him and even Rachel had grown a little distant after he allegedly changed after his parents passed away.

But Rebecca stuck with him through everything, always just treating him as Bruce and never afraid to snap him back into place. Even at Princeton University, she was the only one who treated Bruce like any other college student – though she could sometimes be brutal in her honesty because of it. He still remembered when he'd gotten severely drunk at a party and she had had to be the one to take care of him the next day. Suffice to say, he'd never drunk that much again.

However, at the moment, Bruce didn't want Rebecca to remind him of what was right. He wanted revenge on Chill if the man was going to be released despite killing his parents, and he knew Rebecca would do everything to stop him.

So, Bruce kept silent as Rebecca let him go again, patting his back as she did so.

But as she turned to go back to class, Bruce grabbed her arm and turned her towards him once more.

"Becky-" He began, but then he faltered.

His eyes dropped quickly to her lips before going back to her curious blue eyes as he hesitated.

"Bruce?" Rebecca asked, frowning slightly as she looked at him worriedly, and Bruce decided against it.

It would only hurt her if things went wrong tomorrow, and he could never do that – not to Rebecca.

So, instead, he asked, "Will you wait for me? To come back, I mean." He added hastily as he saw her concern.

"Of course." Rebecca answered, wondering what was wrong but certain in her answer. "I'll always be here for you, Bruce."

She gestured to where she stood beside him to emphasize her point, and Bruce whispered softly, "Thanks, Becky."

He hesitated for only a brief second, before he leant down and pressed a soft kiss onto Rebecca's cheek.

Then, he turned and walked quickly away while Rebecca stared after him with worry in her blue eyes. As he disappeared, Rebecca turned back to her class absently while silently deciding to call her sister and Alfred to make sure Bruce was looked after in Gotham.

At the time, that had seemed the best decision to make. And Rebecca would remain unaware how much she would regret not following Bruce that day for another thirty hours before she received the call.

Alfred called her late the next night to ask her frantically if she'd heard from Bruce because the young master had not returned home that evening. Rebecca quickly called Rachel, who was hysterical as she blamed herself for letting Bruce go see Falcone himself after she and Bruce had gotten into a fight about Chill and justice in general.

Rebecca heard it all with dread, before she packed up instantly to return to Gotham to help search for Bruce. They searched for months, Rebecca even taking a semester off Princeton before Alfred forced her to return to her schooling.

And as months led to years, they were one by one forced to give up on ever finding Bruce.

Rebecca had been the last to let go and move on with life. It had taken Alfred's kind but firm words and her sister's pleading for Rebecca to finally realize that whether Bruce was dead or alive, he wasn't coming back to them. Not right now, and perhaps never.

And though she never quite believed that, just like Alfred, Rebecca had agreed she needed to live her own life and so had instead turned to invest all her time and effort into becoming a GCPD detective.

She was determined that there would be no more Bruce Waynes - people whose parents were murdered by muggers and people who might disappear without any consequences to the mob that organized their disappearances.

With that goal in mind, Rebecca had graduated top of her class three years later, going on to join the GCPD under Sergeant James Gordon. She had soon become one of his most trusted officers, and was promoted to detective at the tender age of 25. It was hard work, but Rebecca was determined.

After all, things were always darkest before the dawn, and Rebecca believed the dawn was just waiting to break for Gotham City. It just needed the right push from the right people.

Rebecca yawned as she sat beside Gordon in his car. They were making their usual rounds, checking the Narrows for any people needing police assistance, while Gordon's partner Detective Flass made the rounds of the docks.

They all knew why Flass had insisted on doing the patrol on the docks, but it wasn't like they could do anything to really stop the man anyway. Rebecca still protested it vehemently to Gordon, but her superior was firm that she stick with him to the Narrows and not after Flass.

It was in the middle of one of her grumblings that Gordon received a call, and he sighed as he answered, "Gordon here."

He then frowned as he asked, "Wait, slow down, you've got what?"

His entire face changed, and Gordon replied shortly, "We'll be there in five minutes."

He hung up, and Rebecca glanced at him as Gordon immediately hit the gas, driving them quickly… towards the docks.

"What's going on?" Rebecca asked, concerned, and Gordon explained, "That was a police patrol that was just making it's midnight rounds – when they caught a bunch of men smuggling a shipment of drugs."

"A patrol caught them, you say?" Rebecca repeated, frowning, and Gordon nodded.

"Well, to be more accurate, the officer who reported it said, quote, 'they were all sitting on the edge of the docks, tied up like turkeys'." Gordon elaborated, drawing even more surprise from the young woman beside him. "Not only that, but the officer said that there's also a surprise that we have to come see."

"Another surprise?" Rebecca asked, just as they pulled up to where a crowd of reporters was already on the scene.

Gordon ignored the reporters as he drove them through the police barriers, driving up to where the officer leading the midnight patrol was waiting for them. Rebecca climbed out of the car with Gordon as the officer – without needing to say a word – turned and led them to where a bunch of thugs were sitting, tied up in a line.

"Falcone's men?" Rebecca checked, but before the officer could answer Gordon said gloomily, "It doesn't matter. We'll never tie it to him anyway. But at least we've got-"

"I wouldn't be too sure of that." The officer interrupted Gordon, making the other two look at the man in surprise.

The officer nodded to something further down the docks, and both Rebecca and Gordon turned to look.

Rebecca's jaw dropped while Gordon's eyes widened and both took incredulous steps forward towards the large searchlight set up at the end of the docks. The light was switched on, shining brightly towards the sky, but Rebecca was far more interested in the man strapped to the light.

"Falcone." She murmured in shock, Gordon just nodding numbly beside her as they stared at the man spread-eagled against the light while some of the other officers were working on freeing the mob boss so they could arrest him.

Gordon meanwhile turned to stare up at the sky, his brow rising as he stared at the giant symbol that lit up the cloudy night sky. Falcone's body atop the light had created a dark shape in the middle of the circle of light shining up in the sky, a shape that looked almost like a bat.

Rebecca, noticing Gordon's preoccupation, also turned to look, and her blue eyes widened even further.

"Oh, my God." Rebecca muttered, and Gordon nodded again.

"You said it." He murmured numbly, though his thoughts were elsewhere.

'Watch for my sign.' That crazy man from the other night had said. Well, he sure knew how to make a statement – Gordon had to give the man that.

Rachel meanwhile stared up at the symbol, thinking something similar. Whoever had managed to pull this off was clearly intent on sending a very clear message to Gotham. Whether the man was doing it for good or not remained yet to be seen, but something in Rebecca's gut told her this was going to be a positive start for them.

There was only one thing that bothered her…

"It just had to be bats." Rebecca muttered, and Gordon finally broke out of his shock to bark a laugh

"Seriously?" He asked as he glanced at his best officer. "Of all the things you could come up with, your phobia was the one you decided to comment on?"

"What can I say? Imagine if it was a giant, hairy spider, Gordon, and you'd know how I feel." Rebecca shrugged, before she looked down as her phone vibrated.

"Oh, hang on, I need to take this – it's my sister." Rebecca explained, and Gordon nodded as he looked back towards the men cutting Falcone off the searchlight.

"Go ahead – I don't think there's anything for us to actually do yet." He told her, and Rebecca nodded before taking the call.

"Rachel? Are you okay?" She asked, concerned. Due to their busy and hectic lives, the sisters usually only left each other messages; they never called unless things were urgent.

"I'm fine, but listen." Rachel sounded a little breathless, but Rebecca quickly forgot about that as her older sister continued sounding excited and overwhelmed, "Some weird guy dressed like a, a bat or something, just saved me from Falcone's men when they tried to attack me on the way back from work."

Rebecca almost cut in right there, but sensing there was more to the story, she held her tongue and waited as Rachel rattled on, her excitement starting to win out, "He then gave me some photographs, ones that incriminate Judge Faden. If we can just catch Falcone now, we've got it cinched!"

"Well, about that." Rebecca murmured as she turned to look at Falcone.

"You got him?" Rachel asked, sounding absolutely giddy with delight, and Rebecca confirmed as a small smile of her own appeared on her face, "Yeah, we got him. There's no way he can get out of this now if you're certain Faden'll rule by the law."

"He will." Rachel confirmed. "Oh my God, Becky, I can't believe it. This is actually happening!"

"I know." Rebecca murmured, but something else was tugging on her gut.

"Rach, you said it was a guy dressed like a bat?" Rebecca checked, and Rachel answered, "Yeah."

Rebecca could picture Rachel's shrug in her mind as her sister continued, "I mean, it's definitely strange, but stranger things could happen. Interesting choice, though, a bat - I know you hate them, but..."

"Yeah." Rebecca murmured as she stared up at the bat symbol in the sky. "I do. So we'll have to see if this guy can prove me wrong about bats."

"I don't know yet," Rachel answered, "but he did save me so I'm willing to give him a chance."

"He caught Falcone, got back on Faden, and saved you, all in one night." Rebecca replied. "I think it's safe to say I'm willing to give him a chance too. Even if he's a bat."

Rachel laughed, making Rebecca's smile widen.

Meanwhile, far above Rebecca and hidden in the deep shadows, a figure watched silently, dark brown eyes lingering with a soft longing on the smiling redhead below.

Of course, the press went crazy the next day. And it wasn't just the newspapers but everyone in the city as people talked about the mysterious 'bat' who had managed to catch one of the most untouchable crime bosses in the whole of Gotham City.

It was a field day at the police station as well, as corrupt officers wondered what was going to happen to their side bonuses now. The others like Rebecca and Gordon meanwhile wondered if this so-called 'Batman' could really be the key they had been looking for to tip the scales of justice back to the right balance.

Either way, everyone was busy around on the clock to find this Batman even if for different reasons. Commissioner Loeb himself had laid out the order to catch whoever could have been the Batman, furious that one individual – no matter the man's intentions – was taking the law into his own hands.

Corrupt cops were eager to get the Batman before the man could pull the rugs from under their feet.

Rachel was less certain. A part of her was ready to find the man, shake his hand and thank him for what he was doing. However, a part of her was also wary of the 'masked vigilante' as he was being called because Loeb was right in some ways. It could be dangerous for one man to place himself above the law in this way, especially if the man turned out not to be doing it for the good of the people.

Rebecca was willing to give the man a chance – especially since he saved her sister – but she was also ready to tread carefully on this one.

The last thing Gotham needed was for 'Batman' to become its next threat. Besides, who in their right mind dressed as a bat?

Bruce Wayne woke up with a start, shying away from the sudden bright light in his bedroom with a groan.

"Bats are nocturnal." He complained as he brought his sheet up over his head in a desperate attempt to escape the sunlight.

"Bats may be." Alfred retorted as he turned from where he'd pulled the curtains in Bruce's bedroom. "But even for billionaire playboys, three o'clock is pushing it."

The butler placed Bruce's breakfast tray – which held a green health juice specially made to help Bruce maintain his physique – along with the morning's newspaper on his charge's beside table as he added, "The price for leading a double life, I fear."

Bruce groaned again but removed the sheet from his face as he ran a hand over his tired face.

Alfred meanwhile picked up the newspaper, unfolding it as he held it out to Bruce while saying with a hint of sarcasm in his polite voice, "Your theatrics made an impression."

That got Bruce's attention, and the billionaire finally lifted his head to look at the front page before he took the paper from Alfred. Sitting up, he quickly skimmed the paper as he muttered, "Theatricality and deception are powerful weapons, Alfred. This is a good start."

Alfred meanwhile pursed his lips tightly as he examined the two nasty bruises already appearing on Bruce's right shoulder and bicep.

"If those," the butler stated flatly as he pointed at the deep purple bruises, "are to be the first of many injuries to come, it would be wise to find a suitable excuse. Polo, for instance."

"I'm not learning Polo, Alfred." Bruce answered instantly, looking up with a scowl on his face to show the depth of his disgust.

He returned to perusing through the paper, while Alfred noted pointedly, "Strange injuries, a nonexistent social life."

Bruce rolled his eyes as he tossed the paper to the side, reaching for his breakfast while Alfred continued, "These things beg the question as to what exactly does Bruce Wayne do with his time and his money."

Bruce sighed as he lowered his now empty glass, but he humoured Alfred as he asked, "What does someone like me do?"

Alfred shrugged as he listed, "Drive sports cars, date movie stars," Bruce dropped down to the ground as he began his 'morning' pushups, "buy things that are not for sale."

As Bruce continued to huff while he worked his muscles, Alfred said in exasperation, "Who knows, Master Wayne, maybe if you start pretending to have fun, you might even have a little by accident."

"Right because wasting my money on things I don't need and dating hot, shallow women is definitely going to be fun." Bruce said sarcastically. Though, he wouldn't say no to the sports cars – Bruce had a soft spot for driving fast.

"Have you spoken with Miss Dawes yet, sir?" Alfred inquired suddenly, and Bruce froze for just the shortest moment in the middle of his first set.

That was another, larger and much more important soft spot; and Bruce couldn't believe Alfred would press it so openly.

Then again, he thought as he returned to his workout routine, he shouldn't be surprised. Alfred could be caring and coddle Bruce like a mother but he was also stern and firm when he needed to be – like a true parent.

Plus, Alfred had always had a soft spot himself for one Rebecca Dawes.

"You know I haven't, Alfred." Bruce replied between presses, and Alfred asked with a raised brow, "And why haven't you, sir?"

"You know why, Alfred." Bruce answered shortly, and Alfred nodded.

"Yes I do, sir." The British male replied pointedly. "And you know I disagree with you. But if you are adamant to follow through on your act, sir, you are going to have to be far more convincing than you are now."

And with that, Alfred left Bruce to stew in silence.