Summary: Bruce Wayne dies and things don't change. But people do.
Justice League does not belong to me. Sadly.
Beta reader: sakuramail, or my lovely sister Karen.
Dedicated to Jazyrha, because she is lovely and awesome and it took a while to translate This Promise Means Everything to portuguese. I apologise deeply for that.
The Wind Beneath My Wings
So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name - for so long,
a beautiful smile to hide the pain.
Bette Midler, "The wind beneath my wings"
His grave is in Gotham, as everyone would expect. It's a nice grave, with a beautiful stone angel decorating it and a lot of people crying for him. Bruce Wayne died in a car accident while he drove to the Wayne's Manor. He died instantly – his body was carbonized. Nothing is left but his memories and his money that goes all to Alfred, who leaves the town right after that.
Olliver Queen is present at his funeral, but Dick Grayson is the one who says the words. Barbara Gordon is there too, with her father, and a lot of old friends suddenly remember that, despite being a playboy, Bruce Wayne was a good person.
Shadows are watching from a safe distance. One is black, the other is blue, and another one is green. Three League members observe the commotion with watchful eyes, just in case something goes wrong.
The black one should be dead.
It's a cold night in Gotham and there is a robbery happening. One of the richest families of the city is finding that life is not always rainbows and butterflies and that's the main reason why Batman isn't down there already – the other ones are the children and the guns; two things that doesn't go well together.
"I don't understand how you can do this".
The voice is red with anger, just like his uniform. Batman attention drives from the robbers to the Flash.
The look in Batman's eyes is sharp and makes mostly everyone squirms. The Flash feels uncomfortable, he can't deny, but tries not to show. He is too mad to show any weakness right now – something that not even his enemies have seen it and it's not pretty.
"I don't need you to understand".
There is a silence between them. That type of silence that simply hurts. It's sharp and deep and it's almost crazy to think that it's a silence made by two heroes; it looks more like a silence that The Joker and Lex Luthor would have, right after discussing how to kill Batman and Superman with a gun that shoots bullets of kryptonite.
Who could imagine that Wally West could be so fearful? Batman didn't. But he has no time to be impressed; the robbers are ready to go away. He gets ready to chase them when the red voice says again:
"You should, you know".
"What?" He really does not understand.
"You should make me understand how you can do this".
He stays in silence for a few seconds, and then he's not there anymore. He jumps and goes after those robbers, without even saying goodbye to his comrade. But Flash is a big guy; he will understand someday.
Batman really hopes so.
In minutes three of the four robbers are unconscious; the other one is trying to run from him by foot. He doesn't have a chance, but not because of Batman. A red form grabs him and punches him right on the face and the tentative to robber that big, rich house is over.
That conversation is not.
"You killed yourself, Bruce".
"I will save much more people being Batman for forever".
Yes, but who will save you?, is the question Flash wants to say, more than anything. It's the question that matters, after all. It's the only question it should be voiced in that conversation. Who will save you, from yourself? Who will save you, Bruce, from Batman? Who will save you, now that you killed your human self?
Wally doesn't say, though. He just stares while Batman leaves before the police arrives. The last piece of Bruce Wayne goes with him. That dark silence is there again and the people who watch them can feel it. It hurts – much more than bullets and death – and they quite can't understand what's happening to their heroes, but it can't be good.
Before walking away, Bruce only says:
"I don't need to be human".
Gotham is the living proof that his statement is true.
Batman lives in the Watch Tower now.
He scares much more people now.
He saves much more people now.
He is not Bruce Wayne anymore and things are easier. He does not miss the balls, the girls, the fake smiles. He does not miss the looks, the paparazzi, and the company. He does not even care about those who he left behind; his family is always near him – Talia, Damien, Tim, Dick, the League, Alfred, Helena and Selina – and knows that Bruce Wayne was nothing but a boy, scared of the dark and bats and bad things.
Batman, instead, it's not a playboy, nor a little boy.
Batman is a shadow, a Dark Knight.
Batman fears nothing.
Flash does not look him in the eyes.
Flash does not call him of Batman.
Flash does not joke with him anymore.
Flash acts like a hero but only call Batman of Bruce, but he can't help it. Bruce Wayne is dead and yet he can't help it. It's so easy to say this name. It's so easy to recall who really Batman was. It's so easy to turn the fear into a human thing – a thing with a heart.
It's so, so easy to try to make him remember that he is more human than a fear; that people remembers who Bruce Wayne was. It's so easy to not forget the memories of the Wayne Manor and it's easier to forgive Batman if you think that he only did what he did because he is afraid.
But Batman is not afraid anymore and Bruce Wayne turns to be nothing but a memory.
Things do not change.
Batman is still Batman. Sharp, strong and hero like.
Flash is still an idiot. Bubbly and stupid and for-the-sake-of-god-he-will-never-shut-up like.
People do change.
Batman is faster, smarter and more paranoid. He watches the newbies with the glare he only used with the Joker and does his best to make the Watch Tower more impenetrable.
Diana and Shayera kind of understand and J'oon and Clark don't stop him, because it looks like it's a smart thing to do. There are more threatens on other worlds than from any villain on Earth.
Flash is smarter too. He knows things shouldn't be like this and decides to try to convince people he is right. He fails a lot of times, but the heroes who aren't the seven firsts start to open their eyes. There are too many bad things in the universe, yes, but there is much worse things inside Batman's mind. Why is he much more paranoid? What he lost to be like this, this time? What the hell is that new weapon and why only the seven knows how to use them? What the fuck is happening in here?
There are no answers and the fear only grows.
No one knows about the Lords of Justice except seven heroes too strong to be possibly good.
The amazons still exist, John still breathes and his relationship with Shayera is doing great, thank you. Lois Lane is still alive, just like, Selina, Talia, Dick, Helena, Tim, Damien and Alfred. The League is strong and no hero has lost his or her life.
Lex Luthor doesn't die. Flash doesn't die.
No one dies and things do not change.
No one dies, but people do change.
The dreams; the ideals; the honor; the hope dies. All that is important and abstract dies. Their hearts, their souls, their smiles, their beliefs are dead.
It hurts more when you watch happening and you're sure you cannot help them. You cannot help anyone.
He looks at Batman one last time, looking for the man behind the mask. He can't reach Bruce anymore and it lefts a bitter taste in Wally's mouth. Just like Uncle Barry.
No, exactly like Uncle Barry.
"I couldn't save you. I thought I could, but I couldn't. I'm sorry".
Batman only looks at him as if he was retarded.
"I never needed to be saved".
Now, that's what you think, he wants to say, but doesn't dare. He doesn't say a lot of things lately. Wally wonders when he changed so much to the point of not saying a thing to Batman when he needs to say.
Probably it happened when he became comfortable with that Batman; the Batman-fear, not the Batman-Bruce. Because when you get comfortable with humans with no hearts, it's easier to not fight against them. They become normal and you become weak.
(A strong hero is only strong when he does not get used with crimes and villains, Wally, remember that¹)
But what could he do? He is just one person and people change. And then there is only two choices: you can change with them or you can leave them.
"Then, I think it's time for me to go".
But before he leaves the room, Wally West stops and looks Batman in the eyes.
"Perhaps you can tell me, Batman: when did I lose you for a Lord of Justice? Because I really cannot remember when I died".
Batman does not deny what he has become.
"It was when you didn't notice that people change. That villains change and people die. It was when you chose to close your eyes to live in a better world".
Wally resigns the Justice League. Nobody quite understand. Question and Orion resign later; the first because he is too paranoid and the second because he simply knows something is wrong.
They are the first to be killed, when the Justice League becomes the Lords of Justice, without the death of Flash. That's what scares the most: they changed because people change, not because Flash is what makes them remains the same.
Flash is the last hero to die. He dies by Batman's hand – hands that tremble when its owner sees the smile on that freckled face. It's the last time he hesitates.
No funeral is made for him. No grave has his name. No news says he's dead. No statues are left in his honor. The Lords of Justice decides to erase him from people's mind, just in case they decide to believe in hope.
The Flash never is forgotten.
¹ – No, Barry never said this to him. I made it up. It's just that, if I were a superhero, I would say that to my protégé.
A/N.: I do not believe that is possible, but it's nice to write about it. And sad. Very sad. Almost cried at one point, because it broke my heart to believe Flash wasn't strong to stop them.
The main idea is the fact that people change, not always for the better.
Hope you guys, Jazhyra mainly, enjoy this fanfic. First try in English, in this fandom!~