A/N: This is my first Batman fic. I do have an OC, but there shall be no romance with her. I like romance fine, but I suck at writing it. Angsty darkness is more my thing. Oh yes, this will be dark, very dark…

Disclaimer: I disclaim (did I use that right?) that I have absolutely no connection to Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan, DC, or any of those other people. Now, on with the show…

Chapter 1: Joker's First Trick

October 31

11:28 pm. Bruce felt numb as he stared at the body on the ground before him. Her brunette hair was matted with her own blood and the filth of the street. He couldn't bring himself to look past her face, past her staring eyes and shocked 'O' of a mouth, to her ripped blouse and splayed legs. Rage, coupled with sorrow, was building a steady knot in his chest; the pain was physical and worse than any blow he'd taken yet as Batman. But he forced it down, into the back of his mind, and replaced it with a cold logic as he knelt and picked up the playing card that rested on her neck. He studied the laughing joker on it briefly before putting it into one of the pockets of his utility belt.

Then, gently, ever so gently, he picked her up. The Tazer that she always carried fell from her limp hand, unused, and clattered to the ground. He stopped and stared at it for a long moment, then dropped to his knees with Rachel still in his arms. He bent over her still form, his shoulders shaking with sobs. Had anyone walked into the alley at that moment, they would have been met by the sight of Gotham's Dark Knight reduced to tears over a single death. He did not look fearsome now, just sad and pathetic. He lifted his head and let out a howl of such pain and rage that rats scattered and dogs began to bark in response.

Eventually, the sobs subsided. No one had seen, no one would know. Bruce couldn't bring her into the hospital; Batman only did that for people who were still alive. Corpses were left for the cops to pick up when they cleared the scene. So he set her back down again and began to straighten her hair and clothes. He couldn't give her the dignity of him taking her in personally, but at least the police wouldn't have to look at her like… like that. Finally, his mouth set in a grim line, he vanished into the shadows. Not a breath stirred in that cold alleyway after he left.

November 1

2:57 am. Jim Gordon felt sick as he looked at the body on the stretcher before him. She had been one of the best assets to Gotham's judicial system, and here she was, unable to defend herself when she needed to most. It was an irony that he'd rather not have to realize. The coroner zipped the body bag closed and pushed the stretcher into his van, then turned to Gordon.

"Well, most likely, it was blunt trauma to the head, but I won't rule out strangulation or a possible spinal dislocation until I can do further analysis," he said tiredly.

"Thanks Art," Gordon ran a hand through his graying hair, "I'm sorry you had to stay out for so long. You can take her in and go home now."

Art nodded, smiled grimly, and got into his van to drive away. Gordon sighed as he watched the retreating headlights, then walked over to his own car, thinking of his wife and daughter. He'd missed reading Barbara a story tonight. Again. He guessed that he'd be missing a lot of stories in the next few weeks, and his little girl was growing up so fast. He wondered if it would be her reading to him at the next story time. He pulled his keys from his pocket and unlocked his door, then turned at a sound behind him. Batman materialized from the darkness, silent and forbidding as always.

"We found her, just like you said," Gordon looked at the masked man, who continued to stand silent and unmoving, "I, uh, I have to get home. My wife, you know…" he stopped, watching for some sign, some indication. Batman nodded, almost imperceptibly, and Gordon breathed a sigh of relief. He felt like he should say something else, something worthy, but nothing came to mind. He only remembered the visit from two hours earlier, remembered how Batman, the symbol that drove fear into the hearts of criminals, had stopped by and told him about the dead body of Rachel Dawes. And his voice had cracked, pitching up from the normal deep rumble that characterized him and sounding, just for a moment, like someone else entirely.

Gordon pulled himself back to the present and met Batman's eyes. He was still unmoving, gazing impassively at the tired lieutenant. Gordon nodded curtly and got into his car. He watched the unnerving stare even as he drove away. Then a column of steam and the cloak of darkness obscured him from view. But Gordon had the feeling that Batman was still watching him, even through the darkness.

4:03 am. Leah Bowden was lying on the couch when her parents came home from their shift at the hospital. They both smiled tiredly at one another at the sight of her. She was still wearing jeans and a sweatshirt from school, her long brown hair in its usual braid. A large book rested on her chest as it rose and fell evenly, and she'd fallen asleep with her glasses still on. Mrs. Bowden removed the book and glasses, setting them on the small coffee table as her husband covered their daughter with a blanket. She stirred slightly, then sat up and put a hand to her face. Her mother handed the glasses back to her and she put them on thankfully.

"Morning, sleepyhead," her dad said softly. He patted her head gently and went to take a shower while mother and daughter talked.

"'S morning?" Leah slurred, glancing at her watch, the uttered a soft, "Oh."

"How long did you wait up for us?" her mom asked.

"Not too long, a few hours maybe…"

"Liar," a smile touched Mrs. Bowden's lips, "I'm sorry we worked so late. This is always a busy night."

"I know. Don't worry about it.

"Alex said to stop by tomorrow, or he'll start spreading rumors about you."

"Tell him I'll drop by after school. I don't want the orderlies getting any ideas."

"No, I don't think your father would like that either," she laughed, but her face grew serious after a moment, "Did you take your medicine today?"

"Yep," she nodded to a small black case on the coffee table. Inside was a line of syringes, each filled with a pale gold liquid. One was missing from the far end, "All properly disposed of."

"Good," Mrs. Bowden bent and kissed her daughter on the forehead, "You have school in a little while. I'll let you get some sleep."

Leah nodded and sunk into the couch, "Sleep sounds like a good idea."

"Glasses," her mother reminded her, reaching for them.

"That sounds like a good idea, too. G'night," she murmured, surrendering the black frames.

"Good night, sweetheart."

Hello, I'm back. Now, if she seems too Mary Sue, tell me, I'll kill her and replace her with someone else. No, I'm just kidding. But seriously, I've got a backup Leah all ready to go. You just have to let me know. Thanks for bearing with me this far, and please tell me how you feel. If you liked it, review, if you didn't, tell me what you didn't like.