Chapter One: Bad News

"Run it again." Bruce demanded.

"Mr. Wayne I-"

"Run it again!"

"Huh…" The doctor sighed and pulled up a stool next to Bruce. "I've run the test three times already. The results are indisputable. You've developed an extremely rare heart condition known as-"

"It's impossible." Bruce cut him off. "I have medical examinations every week, I have no heart disease in my family history, and I take constant precautions to maintain my health."

"This disease often shows no signs or symptoms until the first attack, which you just experienced. They will only get worse from here. And it is believed to be caused by continuous stress on the heart. Repeated overexertion, consistent injury that interferes with blood flow and dozens of other factors. I don't know what you've been doing to beat yourself up so badly, but it's taken a definite toll on you. You did this to yourself, Mr. Wayne."

"What is it? The disease? How do I cure it?"

"This disease is so rare that an actual medical term has still not been assigned to it. But many refer to it as Explosive Heart Disease, or EHD. And as of right now, there is no cure."

"There must be something!"

"I can give you medication to slow the effects down, but I'm afraid that's all I can do."

"What about a heart transplant?"

"Wouldn't work. You're entire system is so damaged now that a new heart would soon fall into the same condition as the one you already have."

Suddenly Bruce grabbed the doctor by the collar of his shirt and pulled him forward. "There has got to be something!"

"There is just nothing I can do. And anger won't do a thing to change that, Mr. Wayne. I am truly sorry, but the fact is… you're dying." After a long pause, Bruce let go of the doctor and breathed a deep sigh.

"How long?"

"With the medication? About a month. A month and a half, at the most." The doctor said grimly.

"Then when can I go home?"

"Let me do a quick exam, write up you prescriptions, and you'll be on your way out. I suggest you say goodbye to your loved ones, Mr. Wayne. Make the most out of the time you have left."

And as the doctor got up from the stool to retrieve his clipboard, a strange thought floated into Bruce's mind. Who are my loved ones?

Twenty minutes later, Bruce stumbled out into the parking lot, and moved automatically toward the expensive black car waiting outside. It had to be around two in the morning, maybe even later. The night had started out normally, he'd gone out on patrol, found some thugs trying to jack a car, and moved in to stop them. But during the fight, he became increasingly dizzy. Then he started spewing up blood, and his entire body hurt like never before. Everything became numb, and one of the thugs had struck him in the head with a crowbar. He had no idea what happened after that. He could vaguely remember crawling back to the Batmobile, where he set it to drive itself back to the Batcave. Alfred had found him covered in blood, barely alive, and couldn't find the problem on his own. So Alfred had gotten Bruce out of costume as quickly as possible, and rushed him to the Emergency Room.

It had taken over an hour just to get Bruce stable, and then the testing began. And now, as Bruce stumbled through the parking lot, it all seemed so unreal. It felt like a terrible dream, and the worst part was that deep down, he knew that he would never wake up. He fumbled with the latch on the door, finally pulling it open, and took the passenger seat.

"What happened?" Alfred asked, very concerned. There was a long minute of silence. "Sir?"

"Alfred…" Bruce choked. "I don't think I've ever told you how much it all means to me."

"Come again?"

"You've raised me since I was eight years old. You've helped through tragedy after tragedy, and pulled me out of a lot of dark places. You're always there for me, no matter what." Bruce closed his eyes to prevent the threat of tears. "Thank you."

"Master Bruce… what is going on?"

"I have a little over a month to live, Alfred." Another long silence. "EHD. There's no cure for it. It's going to kill me."

"Well… we – we'll run more tests when we get home. We can research this and find a cure!" Alfred insisted. "We can-"

"No. I've felt it for a while now, Alfred. I tried to ignore it, but I've known that something was wrong. I know it's going to happen, and I know we can't stop it."

After a dead minute of quietness, Bruce opened his eyes, and allowed a single tear to fall down his cheek. "I'm dying Alfred."

"We will look into this back at the manor." Alfred said sternly, and turned the key in the ignition.

"Don't take me home yet." Bruce pleaded. "There are some people I need to say goodbye to."

A/N This is my first try at a drama story, so reviews are appreciated!