Ten Minutes

By E Kelly

Disclaimer – definitely still don't own any of this.

A/N – Rachel Dawes is a great character who was criminally underwritten in both movies, so…






He can't die. He can't die for me. He can't die because a selfish man loves me – it isn't fair...

I remember the Manor when it was full of life and parties that Bruce and I were banished from at nine o'clock. We would sneak to the top of the stairs and crouch, peeking through the balustrade, watching the grownups in their fancy clothes. If Mom caught us, we were sent straight to bed. If Alfred caught us, we were sent to bed – after he'd given us a light and crusty cream puff, or a decadently chocolate petit fours. I remember the Manor the day Mom came to me and said we were leaving it. It was only two weeks after the murders, and even though the house's beauty was undiminished, the pall of isolation made every inch of it look grayer. There wasn't going to be any more entertaining at Wayne Manor, you see, and with only Bruce to look after, two full time servants were a bit much. I didn't understand, of course. I was only nine. No… even now I don't understand it. Maybe it's just my own arrogance to think that if we – if I – had still been around, it would have made a difference. Not that I was removed from Bruce's life completely. Alfred arranged outings, to museums, the aquarium, the park. He invited Mom and I to visit for friendly dinners, afternoons in which Bruce and I chased each other through the gardens as if things were the same.

They weren't.

We took each other to our first school dances, me, standing awkward and fidgety while Mom took our picture before Alfred drove us over to the public junior high where I went to school, Bruce formally offering me his arm, already self-possessed in a way that the kids at my school found odd and intimidating. At his school, I was afraid of feeling shabby, and when I told him that, my face hot, Bruce just frowned. Go buy whatever you want, he said. Alfred will take care of it. I kept it a secret from Mom, but I did exactly that, and hid the expensive dress in my closet for years.

When he turned sixteen, Bruce bought a Ferrari and took me driving. He laughed while he frightened me by driving at insane speeds down the long, lonely roads of the Palisades. His laugh was a hollow sound, lost amidst the roar of the engine. I told him I hated it, hated him being like this. He shrugged, wearing that cold, controlled smile like a cloak. He took me downtown to the glass towers and velvet restaurants, but I shook my head and pulled against him and we ended up in a tiny pizza joint with bare brick walls at a dirty counter eating messy slices. He made me laugh with his off-hand comments on the realities of human fallibility (we were watching another young couple and the boy was trying so hard to impress his girl, the way Bruce never tried to impress me). I snorted soda up my nose and choked and he put a hand on my back, brushed the hair back from my face as my eyes watered.

I was already in love with him.

I don't want to think about this now, but panic is stealing my self-control. My wrists ache from the ropes and the spiky smell of gasoline is rolling my stomach. I try to scream again, the little glowing light on the phone taunting me for I know it's only there to make things worse. Harvey is at the other end of that line – brave, noble Harvey who knows how to crusade for justice within the bounds of rationality, Harvey who I understand, who has vulnerabilities, who was afraid of those rich idiots that were just tools that Bruce manipulated. Harvey, who is going to die tonight. The tears taste bitter on my lips.

You could almost call what Bruce and I did in high school dating, but it wasn't really. Bruce didn't care about girls, he didn't really seem to care about anybody except for Alfred, and me. No matter how they threw themselves at him, he maintained the ability to acknowledge it without letting it affect him. It wasn't just the money that attracted them. Something about the brutality of his good looks and the emptiness behind his eyes was irresistible. I harbored the secret pleasure of knowing none of them could get close. Not like I could. I was his one confidant, his one real friend. I'd been there when it happened, the great tragedy that others whispered about when they saw him. Nothing could make me angrier than to hear a stranger make light of it, of him, and the kids at my school did it just to provoke me sometimes – out of jealousy, out of fascination. It happened more often whenever Bruce came to pick me up from school, waiting by the curb out front of the building, leaning against the sports car, unconcerned by the stares. He was used to being stared at. Some people wanted to befriend me, thinking they could get close to his rarified world, or the ghostly drama that clung to him. I was unfailingly unkind to anyone who tried.

Sometimes when we sat alone on the balcony of the Manor, I wanted him with a virginal ache that would make my legs seize and my lips tremble. But he never even kissed me. When he left for Harvard I walked through grey days, plodding through my courses, thinking I would never know brightness again. That was funny now, sadly funny, to think I once imagined Bruce as the sunny spot in my life.

I finished undergrad and he drifted from Harvard to Columbia, leaving in his wake a reputation for being… not dissolute, not lazy, not – anything. To most people he was noticeable simply for being rich. He didn't bother finishing classes. I worried about him, I took two a.m. calls from him, and there was a whispered intimacy in that, for his long silences would draw me out and I would find myself confessing all my hopes and fears for the future. He, on the other hand, didn't seem to know there was such a thing as the future. Maybe, for him, then, there could be only the past. By the time I got out of law school, he was finally starting a graduate program at Princeton, but he was still uninterested, just … floating.

I was the opposite. I was flush with pride and the excitement of youthful idealism. Mom thought I was mad for shooting for the DA's office. Not because that was ambitious, but because it was useless, in Gotham. No one believed a difference could be made in this city. No one, it seemed, but me.

I gather my tattered courage around me again and scream, "Harvey!", and wait through pounding heartbeats. Nothing. The clock ticks down – 9 minutes. My eyes close. Ramirez's voice haunts me, the way it trembled as she told me, he… he said… Joker said, it'd be one of you or the other. He told me to tell you, "I'm going to let your friend choose." That's all. That's all he said. She whispered her last words to me, I'm so sorry…

My eyes close. Your friend. Your friend will choose. The words had turned my blood to ice, for they were Harvey's death sentence. I wonder if I am flooded with these memories because I am searching for the point at which I could have stepped outside of this insanity, that I could have disengaged myself from Bruce Wayne forever – I tried so many times...