Rebecca spun out from her hiding place - and she fired.
Harvey yelled as the bullet grazed his shoulder. His hand dropped from James reflexively and Gordon lunged to pull his son away.
Harvey had no time to grab the child as he was forced to dodge out of the way when Rebecca fired again in his direction. Gordon quickly pulled his son behind him while Harvey bellowed and, throwing caution to wind, lunged at Rebecca. She didn't dare shoot him in case it turned fatal but this left her at a disadvantage as Harvey tackled her.
Gordon started yelling as he shielded his son and Barbara was flat-out screaming by this point as Harvey wrestled Rebecca on the ground. He twisted her injured hand, making her shriek in pain and her hand loosened on her gun. Harvey pulled her gun away and threw it to the side before he punched her hard across the face.
"Harvey!" Gordon yelled, running forward to help his Sergeant in alarm.
But Harvey dragged Rebecca up by her neck and pointed his gun at her, forcing Gordon to stop in his tracks once more.
"Nice trick." Harvey spat in Rebecca's ear and she grimaced as he squeezed her by the neck, choking her. "Sneaking in your favourite detective while you distracted me."
"He didn't." Rebecca choked, trying and failing to loosen his grip, while Gordon protested urgently, "Harvey, I swear-"
"Shut up." Harvey screamed, spittle flying as he glared at Gordon and then at Rebecca. "Both of you, just shut up!"
He shook Rebecca like a rag doll and she gagged. Gordon held his hands helplessly before him as Harvey roared like a lunatic.
"You lie and you lie and you try to justify yourself, but in the end you're no better than them!"
As Gordon struggled to come up with a response or a way to plead for Rebecca's release, a gravelly voice suddenly sounded from the shadows across the warehouse.
"Let her go, Harvey."
Rebecca's eyes flew toward the direction of Bruce's voice. Harvey also looked around wildly, his eyes scanning the darkness until he could just make out the familiar outline of Gotham's vigilante.
"You. I should have known you'd come." Harvey let out a mad laugh and Rebeca's insides twisted. This couldn't end well…
"You don't want to hurt Rachel's sister, Harvey."
"It's not about what I want. It's about what's fair!" Harvey bellowed, his hand tightening around Rebecca's neck. His fingernails dug into her skin, drawing blood.
Behind his mask, Bruce's jaw tightened but he showed no outward reaction besides slowly approaching Harvey as the madman snarled at him and Gordon like a rabid dog.
"You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time!"
He waved his gun around them. Rebecca twisted in his grip but he just brought the gun back to her temple, forcing her to stop moving as he fixed his gaze back at the Batman.
"But you were wrong. The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance."
Harvey kicked Rebecca in the back of the knee, causing her to drop with a yelp of pain. Bruce tensed while Harvey kept his gun on Rebecca as he used his free hand to draw his charred coin from his pocket.
Harvey looked from the Batman to Gordon.
Harvey looked down at Rebecca as she glared up at him but remained still in the face of his gun in her face.
Rebecca's breathing quickened as Harvey's mad gaze bore into hers and he hissed, "I let you go once. This time, you get the same chance Rachel had. Fifty-fifty."
Rebecca was tempted to remind the insane man he hadn't let her go, he'd left her with the freaking Joker, but Bruce took another step forward then, speaking urgently.
"What happened to Rachel wasn't chance. We decided to act. We four."
"Then why was it me who was the only one who lost everything?" Harvey hissed.
"Rachel was Rebecca's sister." Bruce reminded the other man. Harvey laughed hollowly.
"Oh yeah. But she still has you, doesn't she?" His lips twisted into a grimace and it was impossible to say if he meant to smile or frown. "The 'hero' she loves more than her own sister."
Bruce frowned, wondering where Harvey had come up with that madness, but Harvey was already unravelling.
"But me, I only had her. And when I lost her, I lost everything. All because the Joker chose me!"
"Because you were the best of us!" Bruce interrupted sharply, trying to get through to the grief-stricken man under the madness the Joker had incited. "He wanted to prove that even someone as good as you could fall."
Harvey recoiled, but then he breathed deeply.
"And he was right." He murmured darkly, his eyes dropping back down to Rebecca who stared back at him defiantly, refusing to beg. She no longer held the hope Bruce hadn't been able to abandon. Not after the way he'd left her with the Joker. And she wouldn't give him or the Joker the satisfaction of reducing her to begging.
Bruce, however, was not above pleading as he said beseechingly, "You're the one pointing the gun, Harvey. So point it at the people responsible."
It was the wrong thing to say. Harvey's expression turned cold and he answered in a deadly voice, "I already am."
With only that warning, he flipped the coin in his hand. Bruce lunged forward just as Harvey caught the coin again. Heads. Harvey fired at Bruce, hitting him right in the chest. Barbara shrieked, clutching her children tightly in her arms and Gordon yelled as Bruce bent over, winded and bruised by the surprise attack, while Rebecca launched at Harvey.
"Stop! Traitor!" Harvey shouted as Rebecca grabbed at his gun and forced him to point it in the air. "You betrayed Rachel!"
"Funny, I was going to say the same thing to you, Harvey!" Rebecca shouted back as she tried to wrest the gun from his grip.
He fought against her, when he hit an unsteady beam on the ground. Harvey tripped over backwards, taking Rebecca with him as she toppled over at the sudden loss of balance.
"BECKY!" Gordon yelled. Barbara's scream mingled with Rebecca's as the older woman watched the redhead disappear over the ledge - when suddenly a dark blur raced past them.
Bruce threw himself over the edge of the warehouse floor without hesitation and he grabbed Rebecca as she began to go into freefall. Rebecca gasped as she felt the arm winding tightly around her waist and holding her while she stared wide-eyed down the approximate ten floors below her. Ten floors that Harvey fell and landed with a sickening thud mere seconds after Bruce caught Rebecca.
Rebecca closed her eyes against the sight of Harvey lying broken on the ground below and took a shuddering breath.
Rebecca looked up to see Gordon peering over the edge with frantic eyes. His panic softened when he saw she and Batman were safe. But Rebecca was now aware of the tension in Bruce's jaw and the tightness of his breath as he barely clung onto the wooden beam that kept them from joining Harvey's fate.
"Here, take her." Bruce rasped, using every ounce of his remaining strength to hoist Rebecca up.
She reached up and grasped at the wooden beams making up the edge of the burnt warehouse floor as soon as she was able, trying to alleviate the burden she was putting on Bruce. Gordon reached over to help Rebecca up, all but dragging her back to safety as Rebecca kicked at thin air for leverage. She turned as soon as she could to help Bruce - but it was like seeing her finally safe sapped him of the last of his strength.
As soon as Rebecca was mostly pulled up, Bruce's fingers gave way. And Rebecca turned in time to see him drop.
Pushing herself to her feet, Rebecca launched herself forward in a desperate attempt to reach for Bruce, an attempt Gordon foiled with an alarmed cry.
"Becky, there's nothing you can do!"
Rebecca didn't hear him as she stared for the few seconds she could still see Bruce's eyes. They were soft, too soft, before he closed them as he hit a couple wooden beams further down and Rebecca could only watch in horror as Bruce's body was turned and battered until finally he landed with a crash beside Harvey.
Rebecca cried to the heavens as she tore down the stairs, heart hammering.
Not Bruce, too. Please, I can't lose him too, please, not Bruce!
She heard Gordon scrambling to follow behind her, but she didn't stop or slow down in the slightest as she all but tumbled down the stairs in her haste. The journey down felt impossibly long and her legs were shaking with more than terror by the time she reached the bottom. But still Rebecca forced herself to push on as she circled around Harvey's prone body without a glance toward the blond figure, before she dropped down beside Bruce. Ignorant of the way the gravel bit into her knees, Rebecca anxiously leant over Bruce's sprawled body.
"Bruce?" Rebecca whispered in a terrified voice, unsure if she should be relieved or not when she saw he was still breathing. Barely.
"Bruce. Please, Bruce..."
Bruce cracked his eyes open at her please and he stared up at Rebecca, his breaths coming in quick gasps as he fought to get air into his lungs. She almost passed out in her relief.
"Oh, thank God." She mumbled just as the sound of feet kicking up loose gravel sounded behind her.
Looking back, she saw Gordon hurrying toward them. His face was painted with worry and as he got closer, Rebecca called out to him, "Sir, we need to get medics on the line-"
Rebecca cut off as Bruce's hand closed around hers. Looking down, she watched him shake his head before he pulled himself painfully up into a sitting position. Gordon had reached them by this point and he bent down to help Bruce get upright even as he protested, "You shouldn't be moving."
Bruce just ignored him as he instead turned himself heavily over onto his hands and knees. Rebecca's hands fluttered helplessly around him as Bruce shoved himself to his feet with groans of pain. Gordon watched with equal impotence and greater confusion as Bruce got himself upright on his hands and knees, still panting with exertion.
Rebecca was less surprised by Bruce's actions but was no more eager to just stand by so she protested, "You need medical attention."
"But-" Rebecca started to protest but Bruce cut her off firmly.
Rebecca bit her lip as her eyes traced over Bruce's hulking form. Based on his posture, she estimated that he had broken at least two ribs if not more, and his entire body was probably covered in bruises. But Bruce was already moving his gaze to Gordon and Rebecca didn't dare say much else lest she give him away in front of her boss.
Gordon meanwhile examined the pair intently. His earlier suspicions from the other morning (had it really only been a day?) had returned, especially as he saw the look in those dark eyes behind the black mask. Eyes he had seen beside the car wreck that had saved Coleman Reese. But Gordon didn't voice his thoughts. Instead, he took a step forward to ensure he had the Batman's attention.
Once he was certain he had it, Gordon said quietly, "Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me." Bruce answered gruffly but Gordon disagreed.
"Yes, I do." He answered with a firm nod of his head.
Bruce didn't say anything else. Gordon glanced at his best Sergeant, who stared back at him with a mixture of the remnants of relief, fear, weariness and despair. The last was aimed primarily at the dead body lying beside them and Gordon sighed as he finally let himself look at what remained of Harvey Dent.
"The Joker won." He mumbled despondently, staring at the scarred face and the empty eyes that stared unseeingly up at the rafters. "Harvey's prosecution, everything he fought for…"
"Everything Rachel died for." Rebecca muttered thickly. Gordon bowed his head.
"And all of it undone." He said heavily.
At that, Bruce pushed himself heavily to his feet. Rebecca helped him, giving him something to lean on which Gordon saw from the corner of his eye. Again, he didn't comment on their evident closeness. Their secret was theirs to keep, especially now of all times. And so instead, Gordon focused on the gravity of their situation.
"Whatever chance you gave us at fixing our city, dies with Harvey's reputation." He said morosely. "We bet it all on him. The Joker took the best of us and tore him down."
"He wasn't the best of us." Rebecca answered, her fingers tightening reflexively around Bruce's arm. He felt it and was touched; but he wasn't what Gotham needed. They all knew that.
Because he knew they all knew it, Gordon didn't even bother to say so aloud. Instead, he said bleakly, "It doesn't matter. Either way, people will lose hope."
For a moment, they all remained silently staring down at the charred remains of their hope. And then…
"They won't." Bruce spoke so suddenly that for a moment Rebecca was confused as to what he was referring to. Then her jaw dropped as Bruce suddenly turned to her and Gordon fiercely.
"They must never know what he did."
Rebecca couldn't believe her ears and Gordon echoed her incredulity. "Five dead. Two of them cops. You can't sweep that under-"
"No." Bruce agreed, causing the two officers to fall silent as they watched him curiously. Rebecca felt a prickle of dread growing in her as she saw the determination flaring in Bruce's eyes.
"But the Joker cannot win."
Bruce bent down and rolled Harvey gently so that it wasn't his scarred side facing up but the undamaged side. The face Gotham had known and loved.
"Gotham needs its true hero."
Gordon's lips parted as he belatedly understood what the Batman was saying. Rebecca however was already shaking her head.
She started in protest but Bruce placed a heavy hand on her shoulder, silencing her with his gaze.
"You either die a hero… or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
He turned his gaze back to Gordon, who stared back with mute horror.
"I can do those things… because I'm not a hero. Not like Dent."
Rebecca shook her head, her heart breaking.
"You're more than him." She whispered, tears starting to well in her eyes. Unable to stop himself, Bruce brushed his gloved finger across her cheek to catch the tears before they could fall.
Gordon's brows furrowed unhappily as he saw the final proof he didn't need as to the man behind the mask. And he knew Bruce was trusting him with that knowledge; just as he was trusting him to do what he felt he couldn't do.
Rebecca was blind to this as she stared up at Bruce with tearful agony.
"Don't do this." She whimpered. "Don't make me do this."
Bruce cupped her face gently.
"You're strong. I know that."
She shook her head. "No. I can't smear your name, not after everything you endured, everything you sacrificed!"
Bruce's lips curved down as Rebecca's shoulders trembled, both of them recalling every bruise and cut and broken bone she'd walked in to find him nursing since he'd become the Batman.
"You've done enough! You gave up everything for this city, you don't need to do this." She pleaded.
Bruce closed his eyes. He wanted to give Rebecca everything in the world he could - but he couldn't give her this. The Joker couldn't win.
Squeezing Rebecca's shoulder, Bruce just shook his head. The tears started to spill down her face but Rebecca said nothing as Bruce turned his heavy gaze back to Gotham's new Commissioner.
"I killed those people. That's what I can be."
Gordon shook his head violently, agreeing with his Sergeant. "No, no. You can't. You're not!"
"I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be." Bruce answered as he let go of Rebecca and stepped back. "That's what it means to be a symbol… not a man."
Gordon's eyes widened. Understanding washed over him while Bruce nodded at Gordon's walkie-talkie.
"Call it in."
And with that, he disappeared into the shadows once more.
"A hero." Gordon declared, standing before the press and - through their cameras - the entire city.
"Not the hero that we deserved, but the hero we needed."
Rebecca stood just behind the Commissioner, tears streaming down her face. To the world, she appeared to be mourning the loss of her sister's fiance and whenever her expression twisted, it was assumed it was due to the hatred that bubbled toward the man who had killed their last hope. In some ways, that assumption wasn't wrong. But it took everything in Rebecca to stand there and feign agreement with Gordon's empty words that she knew he didn't mean. Not for the man they appeared to be honoring.
High above her head, Harvey's smiling face stood proudly presented as Gordon continued his speech. But as passion ebbed into his voice and emotion caused him to pause between certain words, Rebecca knew that he spoke not of the man who had died… but the man in the shadows who took the fall.
"Nothing less… than a knight."
He paused and in that brief moment both he and Rebecca thought the same thing. A dark knight.
And then Gordon opened his mouth and forced the lie out between his teeth.
It was late by the time Rebecca went home, exhausted from all the questioning she'd endured throughout the day. And the lies she'd spewed in answer.
Waiting for her in the living room, Bruce opened his arms toward her as soon as Rebecca walked out of the elevator. Tears falling down her cheeks, Rebecca rushed into the penthouse and threw her arms around Bruce, although she forced herself to remember his multitude of injuries as she hugged him. Bruce however held her closer, ignoring the searing pain the movement caused - it was a small price for the soothing balm her touch provided that warmed his aching heart.
It was pretty much in that position that they remained together the whole of the following day, curled up in Bruce's bed. Rebecca had been offered some time off to grieve for her sister and supposedly for her sister's deceased fiance. And in many ways, Rebecca did grieve for Harvey. For the way he'd fallen so far… for the way he reminded her of what she might have also become if she hadn't had the people around her to save her from herself.
*A/N I just want to take a moment to say thank you to the readers who came so quickly to read the last update. I honestly wasn't expecting much given how long it had been since I'd updated but you kind folks were not only there to read but also review and show encouragement. It means so much to me, I had to say thank you and for having so much patience with me on this story. I've hit writer's block after writer's block on this story despite loving Rebecca to death because trying to capture the amazing work of the artists in Nolan's masterpiece is absolutely daunting (RIP Heath Ledger). But all of your encouragement and enthusiasm pushes me to keep trying, so thank you!