Batman (Nolan-verse) fanfiction.
Summary: The day Batman buries his mask. Oneshot. Probably AU-ish.


Whoever the Batman is,
he doesn't want to do this for the rest of his life;
how could he? -- Harvey Dent

Everything was burned. Like it never existed. The equipment, the suit, the computers, the files. A symbol dying in flames and ash, disappearing as mysteriously as it came to be. He wondered if anyone would notice.

The good people of Gotham, the ones whom his father believed in, were few and far between. He'd said that the day would come when the city no longer needed Batman, but now he knew that Gotham could not be saved. He had started out with the aim of giving people hope, inspiring them, but he never thought he would have been doing this for so long.

He was pushing fifty-five now. Time was naturally catching up with him, even as he remained by general standards in fit form for his age, but criminals were only getting younger. Pain flared in him more easily, scars and bruises made their mark on him more frequently. Help was scarce, with Gordon and Fox both retiring long ago. They had all grown weary: worn-down old men against an ageless war. And Batman couldn't keep doing this.

He looked down at the tombstone. Alfred's passing had made the last eight years the hardest to bear in all the years he'd spent with the emergence of his alter ego. Those eight years made him realise how truly alone he was. The man had been as much a father to him as Thomas, their graves lying side by side in the Wayne Family cemetery. Kneeling in the grass, Bruce pulled out from his bag the one item spared incineration. He held the cowl in his hands, staring into the hollows where his eyes would have been. The mask was all he really knew. With it went who he was, interred under the dirt, under the piles of earth he was digging with a hand spade on Alfred's grave. To rest with the only person who understood what hid behind it.

Because he didn't know what his life meant now.

A/N: Just going with the idea what if Bruce did have to do this for the rest of his life. Sidekicks in the Bat family like Robin and Batgirl have been purposely excluded.