Part 1 - Bricks
Summary: A six-part series covering Rachel Dawes' funeral, each part showing the regret of a man watching - Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Mayor Garcia, Harvey Dent, and the Joker.
Notes: Kicking it off with Bruce!
For some men, regret is a load of bricks. They stack and stack, building a burden one will carry for an entire life.
Bruce Wayne did not know when Rachel Dawes' funeral had turned into a citywide event, but he hated it. Rachel would have hated it. All these people with their fake sympathy and their shallow sadness. But what turned Bruce's blood the most was the ones with a morbid curiosity for the woman who had died stuck between the Joker and the Batman in their epic criminal face off.
He wanted to be alone with her, or at the very most, alone with a small procession of her friends. He wanted to collapse to his knees, to hell with the million dollar suit they had shoved on him, dig his hands into the grass to hold on for dear life, and sob into the dirt until his couldn't breathe. But Bruce Wayne could only stand stony-faced as he paused before the closed casket and then made way for the next face in the crowd.
Every move he made seemed sluggish, weighed down by sorrow and regret. The picture frames set up near the foot of the casket, candid snapshots that showed Rachel grinning sheepishly from among her law books, Rachel's fingers laced with Harvey Dent's, a younger Rachel with her mother and the Wayne family, reawakened every memory of Rachel. Every memory of that night. Why had he believed the Joker, the man who reveled in chaos? Why had he trusted the police to be fast enough? Why hadn't he checked out Gordon's unit as thoroughly as Harvey Dent insisted?
He might as well have killed Rachel himself.
His legs nearly buckled beneath him, and Bruce cast around frantically for the nearest chair. He sat down heavily and buried his face in his hands, no longer caring who saw the extent to which Bruce Wayne was grieving for Rachel Dawes. A hand fell on his shaking shoulders, and Bruce looked up sharply at the police commissioner before letting his head fall back down.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Wayne," Jim Gordon said softly. "I understand you and Miss Dawes were close?" The question in Gordon's voice was understood: just how close were you?
"I loved her!" Bruce wanted to scream, but his persona, the necessary Bruce Wayne persona, beat it down before it reached his tongue. Let Gordon draw his own conclusions.
"Come on, Mr. Wayne, let's get you to your seat," said Gordon, helping Bruce to his feet. The Commissioner's eyes flicked between Bruce, who was leaning heavily on Gordon for support as he walked, and the seat reserved for him at the front. "I may have a pick-me-up myself when this whole affair is over." The guilt in his voice froze Bruce, and he wanted to look the man in his eyes and tell him that nothing was his fault. And Bruce Wayne wasn't about to be another brick for the Commissioner to bear.
Bruce barked out a laugh and separated himself from the officer, forcing his body to stand tall on its own, hold the weight. "As good an idea as any," he said, voice husky. "Sorry." He held out his hand to Gordon and gave him a firm handshake. "You're a good man, Commissioner. There's your seat; I think I can make it to mine on my own now."
Gordon looked unsure, but Bruce flashed him a winning smile and strode to the front, his gait easy, purposeful, and strong.