After Ramirez and Stephens had dropped the evidence they'd found back at the MCU, Ramirez headed straight to the hospital to see her mother. By the time she arrived it was close to midnight, and the corridors were eerily quiet. The lady at the reception desk told her that visiting hours were over, but after some gentle persuasion she had allowed Anna to go in anyway.
She could see people in their beds, sleeping – mostly peacefully. The quiet was… disconcerting at first, but after a while it became almost comforting. If everything was quiet, she reasoned, then it meant that nothing bad was happening to anyone. Anna tip-toed along the corridor, afraid that her heavy feet might disturb the calm.
Forensics had said that they'd try to get the analysis on the red piece of plastic she'd found done as soon as they could, but she knew that it would be at least the afternoon before they could give them any results. That meant that, tomorrow morning, she and Stephens would be heading over to the second crime scene – Lee's house, out on the edge of the city – to look it over. It gave her about eight hours… eight hours to be with her mother.
When she reached her mother's room she was relieved that – apart from the still unconscious figure of her mother and a nurse quietly tending to her – it was empty. Good, she thought. I don't think I could deal with Alex tonight. Her mother still slept peacefully, but Anna was sure that she could see the life being drained away from her. She hated feeling so powerless. She'd done so much… betrayed people she'd thought of as friends, destroyed lives. But it had made no difference. Her mother was dying.
The nurse spent some time with them – changing her mother's sheets, making sure she was comfortable. Anna sat in silence, waiting for her to leave. It had been a while since she'd sat with her mother alone – there had always been her brother, or doctors, or her mother's friends. She needed to say things… things that she hadn't said to anyone. Secrets that she needed to tell.
It was selfish, she knew, and cowardly; telling her secrets to someone who she knew – deep in her heart – would never wake up… but she couldn't find the courage to tell anyone else.
After what seemed an age, the nurse left, giving Anna a sympathetic look as she walked past. Now they were alone, with only the steady beep of the life-support equipment keeping them company. She leant forward and gently took her mother's hand, squeezing it slightly.
"Mom", she said, softly. "Mom, I'm so sorry… I said I'd help make you better, but I haven't". Her eyes began to wet, and the first tears started to run slowly down her cheek.
"I don't know what else to do", she continued. "Every time I try to make things better I just end up hurting someone I care about. Like you. Like Alex… Jim. And I don't think I can take it anymore. My head just feels… like it's going to explode.
She wiped the tears from her face, and sniffed loudly. Then she looked around, making sure that they were alone in the room. "I need to tell you something", she said. "It's something that I haven't told anyone else. Hell, I probably wouldn't be telling you if you weren't…" Her voice caught in her throat. If you weren't dying…
Ramirez laughed bitterly. "What does that make me?" she continued. "A coward? Or something worse? I don't know what's happening to me. It's like… when you first got ill, and I had to face the possibility that you were going to die, I was filled with all these different feelings – fear, sadness, anger… But now I'm just numb inside. And you know why? It's because back then I still had hope. I still had faith… in life, in people. That's what drove me to do things that I wouldn't normally do – I had faith that the people I trusted would be able to deal with whatever came their way.
"But since you… went to sleep… a lot of horrible things have happened. Things that proved me wrong. Harvey Dent is dead, mom! They guy everyone thought was going to save this city single-handedly. And not just that… he was broken before the end. Everything that he was was torn away, and it happened so… easily. It's frightening, how quickly a person – even someone as seemingly incorruptible as him – can be brought down to the level of a common thug.
"And that's not all. Batman has been torn down as well – Harvey Dent did horrible things, but Batman is taking the blame. I mean… I understand why it's happening, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. And Jim… Commissioner Gordon – my boss, remember? – he's the one who has to deal with all of it. And pretty soon, I'm sure, he'll be broken too… like Harvey, like the Bat.
She paused then, working her courage up to say the things that she had been avoiding. She steeled herself – she didn't really believe that her mother could hear anything that she said, but saying her secrets out loud frightened her, even when there was no one to hear them.
"It's my fault", she said. As the words passed her lips, she felt a wave of… not relief exactly, but relaxation – the words were out there now, she couldn't unsay them, and the world hadn't ended. "I made a deal with the devil, and my friends are paying the price.
"I don't know where to start, mom… I couldn't give you anything – I didn't give you the love that you deserved when you were with me… All I could do was get you the best treatment. But the bills were… too much. I just couldn't afford it after a few months. But I couldn't face up to it – I couldn't admit to Alex or Uncle John that the one thing I'd promised you I couldn't give. So I… discharged you from the hospital. And I didn't tell anyone about it. I was going to keep you hidden away at home until… until I could figure something out.
"But then things started to go wrong… This… monster showed up. Out of nowhere. The city just went into chaos – everyone became terrified of their own shadow. And as time went on, things just got worse and worse. And the mob started to pay a lot more attention to the MCU, and Harvey Dent, and Batman. And they paid a lot more attention to me.
"No… that's not true. They didn't care about me. I was the one who went to them, not the other way around. This was my fault. I think I can finally own up to it, at least to myself.
"I needed money, for your medical bills. I mean… it's not your fault… I didn't have to go to them. There were other options, I guess, but none that I could see at the time. So I went to the mob, and I promised them whatever they wanted".
In the days after she would think back to this moment and wonder… did she hear the beeping? Did she realise, subconsciously, what was happening? She knew that her only reaction at first was to try and get the words out as quick as she could.
"I sold out Harvey Dent and one of his colleagues, Rachel Dawes. I handed them right over to the mob, knowing what they were going to do. I killed them… I may as well have tied them down and planted the bombs myself. And I don't know how long I can go on living with it".
As the door to the room burst open, and the doctors and nurses rushed in, Ramirez consciously noticed the beeping noise for the first time. It was her mother's life-support machine. She was dying.
She watched, helpless, as they struggled to try and get her heart beating again. They tried for minutes – long, agonising minutes – but her mother did not respond. As she was watching them, a terrible kind of calm passed over her – she had finally accepted what was going to happen, and she had finally come to terms with the idea that she could do nothing to stop it.
As the beeping morphed into one continuous tone, she knew that her mother had died. The doctors looked at her, pity in their faces, comforting words flowing from her lips. She didn't see any of it. She stared at her mother's lifeless body long after the others left the room.
After... what? An hour? Two? She slowly moved towards the bed, and put her hand gently on her mother's.
"Goodbye", she whispered, before wiping away her tears.
She left the hospital, knowing what she needed to do. She needed to make things right.