Disclaimer: I do not own Batman. All associated characters, plotlines, etc. seen here belong to DC Comics and all others who own the rights to Batman; I'm just playing in their multi-billion dollar sandbox.

Written for The Fireplace Alliance Open-Cycle Challenge: Cycle III

A note: I only had the novelization of The Dark Knight to go on when I wrote this, so the lines between Harvey and Rachel are not exact.

Inglorious Blaze

If I had known it would end like this, I never would've left the penthouse this morning.

The thought keeps circling my mind as red, glowing digits tick away at my life. Tick. Tick. Tick. If you'd asked me this morning, I might've told you my life would end quietly in some Gotham nursing home bed, that there would be no blaze of glory to mark the passing of one Rachel Dawes.

Now, I'll quite literally go out in one big blaze. It might not be glorious, but with all these oil drums, it sure as hell'll be a blaze.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

And you know, it's funny. I'm sitting here saying nothing to Harvey, trying to say everything…and here you are, Bruce, circling through my head. You're probably rushing here right now, aren't you? I don't doubt it. You're always rushing, always running yourself ragged, and all to save Gotham.

"Can you move your chair?"

"No. Harvey, we don't have much time."

I barely hear myself talk, because like always, I'm worried about you. I'm tired of worrying about you. How long 'til you fall apart, Bruce? How long will it be until you let your guard down for one wrong second and that second costs you your life?

"Harvey? Harvey, what's going on?"

"They…they said something about only one of us would make it. That they'd let our…our friends choose."

I don't want to be around for that, Bruce. I don't want to be around to watch you fall…and I may just get that wish granted.

No, I hear your voice say in my head. Don't think like that.

Too late, Bruce. Too late. There are less than two minutes left, now. If you make it in time to save me, then someone else had best make it for Harvey, too. I won't go back on what I said in the note I left with Alfred.

The note. God. Should I have even left that for you? You're not going to get both of us. You can't be in two places at once; you're not that good. And now, no matter what, you're going to read that note. That's what you'll remember of me, past that kiss—the heartbreaking notion that I went back on my word after all.

Or will you read it? Alfred knows you. I told him to give it to you when the time is right, and it may never be right. He'll know, though. That's why I left it with him. And yet, the fact remains: I told you I'd wait for you…

I was right about another thing, too. Bruce Wayne is your mask; Batman is who you really are. And if that's actually true, then my note brings to mind that same conclusion I sort of came to the day we stood on the smoking remains of your manor.

You'll always need Batman; you'll always be Batman.

"No! Not me! Why did you come for me?"

I sit up straight. So you got Harvey. Oh Bruce, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry I told you I'd wait for the day Gotham no longer needed Batman—needed you. I'm sorry I wrote that letter and told you I was going to marry Harvey. I'm so sorry I lied and singed your heart in a fiery, inglorious blaze like the one that's about to go off and kill me.

If I had known it would end like this, I never would have told you.

Reviews are appreciated.-MJ-Skywalker