A/N: ... Omg. Epilogue time! I can't believe this story's over! (I can't believe I actually finished a story!) But, of course, in reality, it's only just begun! Sequel is coming soon, and the the title will be A Harbor In The Tempest, so keep an eye out for that :D it's going to be a decently long story and there will be actual plot too, and of course, tons of the stuff that makes us all love BatCat so much. Now this is where I sit here and blubber about how much I love everyone who's read and/or reviewed this story, because right now it's very close to hitting 500 reviews, and I've never written anything so well-received before, so THANK YOU, all of you! (special thanks to ehecatl for your last review - and all of your past ones as well. You always make my day with your amazing words! :D) And I have to thank midnightwings96 for helping me so much with the plot of this story, giving me amazing ideas, and reading over chapters before I posted and just generally being freaking amazing. This last month has been difficult for me, to say the least, but writing and getting to read everyone's feedback has made things just a little bit easier and a bit more bearable. So again, thank you guys so much, I love you all, and look out for the sequel! :D you're all amazing!
Selina took a deep breath of fresh, humid air as she stepped out on to the deck of the house Bruce had rented for them to stay in while their house on Cat's Cay was being built, and she wondered if she'd ever get used to the place that she was now calling home.
Where Gotham was cold and hard, industrial and bustling, this place was warm and laid-back, friendly and utterly foreign to her. They were staying on a slightly larger island than the one Bruce now owned, one that was only a ten minute boating excursion away from Cat's Cay, and as much as she loved the rental house with all of its considerable luxuries, she hadn't been spending much time indoors since they'd arrived seven days earlier. The palm trees and sandy beaches put her mind at ease when she was near them, and though the air was so thick with moisture that she felt like her lungs were swimming every time she walked outside, she found that she quite liked it. It wasn't polluted, oppressive air like in Gotham. Nothing here was like Gotham, and that was one of the reasons why she loved it so much.
Dressed blissfuly simply in shorts and a black tank, she walked briskly down from the deck and kicked off her sandals as her toes sank into the sand. Her eyes became fixed on the rolling waves as they crashed on to the beach that sat in the backyard, and it was all still so breathtaking that she momentarily forgot about the small roll of photos in her hand.
It was early evening, and the sun was getting lower in the cloudless sky as the heat of the day thankfully waned a bit. A breeze blew through the branches of the palm trees that lined the house, combining with the sound of the waves to give Selina the sort of soundtrack she'd always dreamed about as she sat down at the beach's edge, letting the water rise and fall over her feet as her eyes drank in the island beauty around her.
It was after a few moments that she glanced down and remembered what she held in her hand. Her expression was neutral as she unfolded the little roll of three photos, but a smile crossed her face as she looked down upon their contents.
They were ultrasound photos that had been taken at her new doctor's office on the not too terribly far away island of Nassau, and they showed a perfect little shrimp of a baby nestled in her womb with the fluttering heartbeat of a champ. She ran her finger over the outline of the forming child, amazed by how small and yet how strong this baby already was, having survived quite a bit already in its extraordinarily short life.
She thought back to the ultrasound, of lying there on the exam table while the doctor had performed the scan, Bruce by her side and holding her hand as they laid eyes for the first time upon the child they'd created. She'd expected to feel fear, which she had been feeling a lot of lately, or worse, more panic, but instead, she'd felt... warm. Incredibly warm.
Then the sound of the furiously ticking heartbeat had filled the room, and she'd looked at Bruce then. His smile was infectious, and she couldn't help but grin along with him. For all the fear and the unknowns, the possibilities that plagued her anxious mind every day, that moment had been one that was truly something. The baby was real now, not just an abstract concept confirmed by a doctor's test - it was a living thing, with a heartbeat and a delicately forming body.
It was her baby, she thought as she continued staring at the photos. And she knew that this was when the true fear would start to take hold - the moment she allowed herself to become attached to the child, that's when she'd be screwed.
The problem was, she had a sneaking suspicion that this kid had stolen her heart the second she heard its tiny one beating in that exam room. And that may have been the single most terrifying thing she'd ever experienced in her life.
She could feel her mind going off into places she'd been trying to avoid, dark places where she stashed her worst fears and deepest insecurities, and she didn't think she could stop it this time.
But just as she felt herself sinking into her doubts about herself as a mother and all the different ways in which she could permanently screw up the kid and alienate Bruce in the process, a voice wafted through the air and pulled her back into reality.
He always had the knack for pulling her back from the edge and back into safety, and half the time, he didn't even know that he was doing it.
"Thought I'd find you out here."
She rolled the photos back up, pretending she hadn't been staring at them for the last unknown number of moments, but she knew he'd see through her ruse. She didn't know why she was bothering to try to hide it at all, but for some reason, it was her automatic impulse.
He settled down next to her in the sand, and as she glanced at him, her stubbornly disobedient heart fluttered. He was no longer merely the only man she'd ever allowed herself to fall in love with, and the one who loved her so much that he'd given her not just the world, but his world and his life, but he was now also the father of her child. And somehow, that made him even sexier in her eyes now, and that was saying something.
He was dressed casually, a white t shirt and khaki shorts, and his long, dark hair was tied back at the nape of his neck. This was a new look for him, but one that suited him well, she thought. Even though she knew full well that underneath this new laid-back exterior lay a man struggling with his own fear of what was to come, of being a failure and not knowing how to raise a child to be a decently functioning adult.
She also knew he was still struggling with what he'd done weeks ago in Gotham, when he nearly became everything he stood against, and she suspected that only time would change that.
His eyes flickered down from hers to the pictures in her hands, and quietly he asked, "Can I see those again?"
"Of course," she replied, handing him the photos and watching as his eyes softened at the sight of the baby's image.
"It's still hard to believe," he said softly, staring intently at the pictures. "After all this time, after everything... I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to be a father. I didn't think I'd even be alive at this point, let alone have all of this."
He said "all of this" in that new, reverent way of his, and she knew he didn't mean the island or the house, or the yacht he was talking about purchasing for them soon. He considered himself a rich man now indeed, but it had nothing to do with his financial wealth.
"You never did tell me how you survived that nuclear bomb," Selina said, watching his eyes darken just slightly at her words.
"Yeah I did," he replied.
"Besides the autopilot," she said. "I mean, you had seconds to spare. I don't understand how you didn't get incinerated even with bailing out." She then paused and added, "And while we're talking about it, I don't understand why you told me there was no autopilot as you were leaving."
He lowered the photos along with his hands into his lap, and he looked out into the horizon as she waited for an answer. She understood his discomfort. There were things she would still prefer to not discuss with him, and keep to herself, but they were beyond secrets now, whether they liked it or not.
"Did you want to die?" she asked quietly.
"I'd been dead for eight years, Selina," he half-whispered.
She paused, not surprised by his answer. "So what changed your mind?"
He kept his eyes on the horizon as he paused. "Alfred told me last year, before I brought Batman back, that he wasn't afraid that I'd fail, but that I wanted to fail. And I think he was right. The pit changed things and I... learned a lot. I learned how to save Gotham, but I still didn't know how to save myself. When I knew we couldn't stop the bomb, I thought that was it - this was how I was going to go out, this was the end, and I was okay with that."
"And then what?"
Now he finally turned his eyes on her. "Well... as I was flying over the bay... I realized that I did have something to lose. And that I did want to live."
"You're still not telling me what changed your mind."
"I think you know," Bruce replied softly.
"Maybe I'd just like to hear it."
He looked at her for a moment before answering. "It was two things. The first was when you kissed me. Even though I was walking to my death, literally, you made me feel alive. More alive than I'd felt in years. And the second was Alfred. He deserved better from me."
She let his words settle for a moment before she replied, "Well, then I'm very happy I decided to kiss you."
He let a small grin grace his lips before he said, "It wasn't just that kiss, though. It was everything. Especially after finding out who Miranda was and realizing that though I was wrong about her, I'd always been right about you."
Even after all of this time, her first reaction was still to tell him that he was wrong. She'd done so much in her life, whether it was all out of necessity or not, and her guilt over betraying Bruce to Bane would haunt her until her dying day. In fact, the deeper in love that she fell with him, the stronger that guilt became.
"And if you want to know how I survived," Bruce said, "I'm honestly not sure. I hit the water headfirst and blacked out."
"And you didn't drown?"
"Lucius added a self-launching flotation function to the suit the last time he'd touched it up," Bruce said. "I told him it was unnecessary, but he thought it might come in handy. I woke up and it was dark... cowl was shattered and half my armor had come off... I swam my way back from the bay and I don't remember a lot about that night. Which is why the Joker was able to see me and figure out who I was, I guess."
Bruce fell silent, and Selina did as well. She knew he still had nightmares often, though they weren't as violent as they used to be and he didn't try to sleep away from her anymore, but it still wasn't fair in her eyes. She hated Gotham for what it had done to him.
"So your head hitting the water... do you think that's the injury that caused your... headaches?" she asked cautiously, almost as if saying the word "headache" out loud might cause the horrific ones he used to have to come back.
He shrugged. "I don't know, maybe. My head got thrown around a lot back then."
"But you haven't had anymore headaches since you woke up in the clinic?" Selina asked.
He nodded. "None that I can't handle, anyway."
She nodded and looked out towards the sun as it sank lower in the sky, preparing to set, and after a moment of silence, Bruce asked her something she hadn't quite been expecting. "Have you thought about names yet?"
"Names? You mean -"
"For the baby, yeah," he nodded.
She almost laughed. "The baby" still sounded so utterly strange a term to come out of his mouth. "No, I haven't."
"Well, I had a few ideas."
"Oh?" she grinned.
He smiled. "I know it's early, but I've been tossing some ideas around in my head. Today especially."
"Alright, tell me what you're thinking."
"Well, if it's a girl, I was thinking we could name her after our mothers. Maybe Helena Martha."
The smile that grew on Selina's lips was a genuine one. "Really?"
"Do you like it?"
She nodded, still smiling. She loved it. "It's perfect."
"I think they deserve it," Bruce smiled back. "If it's a boy, I was hoping we could come up with something together."
Selina glanced at the water for a moment before it became obvious in her mind what the logical choice for a boy's name would be. "Thomas Alfred."
Bruce looked surprised, but happy, with her quickly decided-upon choice. She explained, "You're the only good man I've ever known in my life. I don't have a father or brother, or anyone, to name a boy after. And I'm obviously not the type to have a list of names I dreamed up for future babies. So why not name a boy after the two men who had the most influence on you?"
Bruce smiled and put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her against him and kissing her gently. The waves had calmed and the sky was turning brilliant shades of pink and orange as the sun began to set over the water, and she let him move her fully into his arms and leaned her head against his shoulder as his lips left hers.
"How do you feel?" he asked, running a finger slowly up and down her arm.
"Tired," she said, closing her eyes. It had been a long day for her, with a trip to Cat's Cay in the morning and then a trip to Nassau for her doctor's appointment, then back here, and she'd thrown up twice in the course of the day. Between the nausea and exhaustion of early pregnancy, she thought she could go to sleep now, at not even seven o'clock at night, and sleep until noon the next day. "I might fall asleep right here."
He dropped a kiss to the top of her head and said, "Go ahead. I'll carry you inside when it gets dark."
She smiled as she settled in against him, looking up at him with heavy eyes as she said, "I'm getting boring."
He chuckled. "You'll never be boring, Selina."
She felt him shift a little bit under her, and then she felt his fingers place a cool strand of familiar pearls around her neck. "You've had these packed away too long," he said, fastening the clip at the back of her neck.
"I didn't want to lose them or break them while we were moving," she murmured as his fingers swept away some strands of hair from her face. "Bet you didn't think back when you caught me stealing those that you'd end up here with me."
"I don't think you foresaw any of this either," Bruce replied with a small chuckle.
She shrugged slightly, her eyes still closed. "Good thing, too. I would have ran for the hills and you never would have seen me again."
"To be fair, I may have done the same thing at first," Bruce said, smiling against her hair.
"I guess we're both still suckers, then," Selina said, feeling her ability to fight the sleep tugging at her eyelids slip.
He smiled at her words as her breaths became even and she fell asleep in his arms. He looked out into the horizon, watching as light slowly gave way to darkness in the sky but feeling the opposite shift take place in his life for the first time. He was just as scared of the future as Selina was, and he was still on the road to recovery from the horrors he'd seen in his life, but for the first time in a long time, he was happy. And now that he had a family to protect and live for, he wouldn't let anything or anyone, not even himself, come within a mile of compromising that.
The sun slipped just beyond the ocean and left a half moon hanging in its stead, the sky a dark blue as the stars lit it up from far away, and as Bruce swept Selina up into his arms to take her to bed, he felt himself at the closest to peace that he could remember ever being.
Tomorrow, the sun would rise again, and so would he. And thankfully, finally, he no longer dreaded either.