Author's Notes: I'm submitting this unbeta'd because I haven't posted anything in forever and this'll probably get like no reviews, anyway.

I heart Batman.

But not Christian Bade. Bleh. Anyhoo – read on!

jack-o-lantern's weather

"You're home late."

She smiles apologetically and brushes the hair out of her eyes, avoiding his eyes. "Yeah … it's hell getting a taxi in this town." He laughs, that beautiful Bruce laugh, and takes her coat. "You didn't have to wait up," she adds guiltily, because he's so good to her when she's been so awful.

He smiles as he hangs the sopping jacket on the rack. "What can I say? I'm paranoid," he laughs, yawning. "Call it the price of two faces."

She frowns, because it's not funny, and flops onto the couch. "Don't say it like that," she scolds him as he sits beside her. "You risk your life every day for this place – and how do they repay you? They don't. They – they squander Batman's name and – take you for granted – it doesn't seem worth it to me, Bruce."

He's silent and she knows she's gone to far but feels somehow satisfied, as though hurting him makes things better because he's always so damn unbreakable. "Rachel," he says softly, turning his flickering gaze onto her and not letting her look away, "I do what I do not for myself – but for Gotham. For the little boys whose parents are murdered by drug lords, and for little girls being raped by those let free by a corrupt legal system."

She tears her eyes from his almost angrily and stares into the fire. "And what about you?" She asks, quietly. "You're giving up your life for this, Bruce. You're giving up – " She wants to say Me but that sounds so selfish, so arrogant, and she needs him to know that she's self-sacrificing, too.

"Let's not fight about it again," he begs, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. "I love you, Rachel," he whispers, and a shiver dashes up her spine. "I do. But I love Gotham too, and I owe it to my parents – I owe it to myself – to fight for it. Bruce Wayne is willing to be involved with Rachel Dawes. Rachel Dawes is the one who isn't willing to be involved with Batman – although he hasn't extended an offer."

"Batman is Bruce Wayne," she argues, her voice resigned. "We've been over this."

He sighs, he hands running up and down her arm, and for a moment neither speaks because it hurts to much to face what's right in front of them. He leans his forehead against her neck and murmurs, "No, Rachel … Bruce Wayne is Batman."

And he's said it before, but somehow it makes more sense in the dark. She smiles, a little, although he can't see and nestles into him. "I never really liked bats," she teases lightly. "They're sort of disgusting." His laughter resonates through her and she joins him. He gently takes her chin in his hand and turns her face to his. "I like billionaires, though."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

They stare at each other for a moment, neither sure what to do, and then he leans in – slowly – slowly – until their lips are almost touching. "We're a dangerous lot, you know," he murmurs, so close that she can feel him speak. "We burn our houses down and get kicked out of Princeton."

She smiles. "Well, my lot don't even get into Princeton."

He kisses her, laughing, and she kisses back. He's perfect, he's Bruce, he's Batman, and she loves him. "They'll be a scandal over this, you know," she murmurs, snuggling into his chest.

"Oh, good," he returns, dropping a feather-light kiss the top of her head. "Gotham could use a little excitement."

She smiles, the warmth of the fire and the warmth of his arms forming a gentle cocoon around her mind and coaxing her to sleep.