Recalled to Life by Reya Wild
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman or any creaters associated with the franchise. They all belong to their respective owners. I only own the original character created soley for this story.
Summary, RATED M: As Gotham falls into a state of dystopia, citizens try to survive and get by without inciting the wrath of the rogues and mobs. While Commisioner Gordon leads a resistance, a woman uses all her abilities to make some kind of difference in the lives of those the rest of the nation forgot, that is until she catches the attention of Bane himself.
Chapter One: It Was the Age of Foolishness
Even as a child, she'd always been adaptable. She was able to shift and flow with the tides of life without a qualm. As a child, her adaptability came with a complacency that her parents enjoyed. She had been a quiet baby, rarely wailing her discomfort. There were whimpers and soft cries of discontent, but none that compared to the cries of her siblings. As the youngest, she was the one her family doted on the most. Her father adored her, calling her the jewel of his collection. Even then, she'd be her father's daughter. There were some envy amongst her siblings, but in the end, they were always a close knit family. Her mother encouraged her to enter all sorts of activities as she had done with her other children: ballet, sports, academics.
She was a happy child, naïve and innocent, but she was only afforded that state of mind for the first sixteen years of life. After that, things fell apart, her family fell apart. Her father wasn't the good man she thought he was, and her mother was just as guilty. It was deceit and bad deeds that caused the tears throughout their family, and she learned quickly that things would never be the same again.
So she shirked the chains of her family and its name. From the ashes of the girl, she became Riley Gray. She took pride in the name. It sounded brazen and independent, everything she wanted it to be. As Riley, she entered the life of living as anyone without support would. She was poor, trying to keep her head above water. She found poster and news alerts as her family tried to track her down, so she buried herself deeper. Gotham was where she ended up, and she slowly built herself up. She cut her long hair off into a short, choppy style, dying the bangs that framed her face blonde. Sardonically, she considered it an ode to the two people she was now, the girl she was before, and the girl she was now. Piercings and tattoos decorated her flesh, the most prominent was a beaded bar through her left eyebrow and ink that scored the inside of her bicep and crawled along her spine.
After awhile, her family thought her dead and gave up the search for her. It made life easier. She didn't have to constantly look over her shoulder in fear of being dragged back home. It wasn't until six months after the search was called off that she finally released a breath of ease.
In the four year span that she lived unearthed and free was one of the most exhilarating times in her life. She developed a taste for rebellion which served well to her ability to adapt. Riley Gray hated authority, bucked at it at every turn. She fell into a group that lived and breathed anarchy and resistance to the social norm. They took advantage of the skills she nurtured as a child, and one of her best talents, they learned, came with technology. It had always fascinated as a child, coming only second to her passion for dance. Practice and experience built up her repertoire until she was able to level up her hacking skills to impressive levels.
The group, a cell that was hardly a cell or even formidable, called itself Retribution. It was a name that Riley thought was ridiculous, but she went along with it because for now, they served as her family. They organized little acts of rebellion and criminal mischief to get their voices heard, and they supported themselves through Riley's ability to hack into ATMs and big corporations. They always made sure to only take money from those that had too much. It was the sort of life that she thrived on. The excitement and the purpose it gave her made her feel so alive. Retribution was hardly going to make big waves among Gotham with all its harder criminal activity, but it was something. Something was always better than nothing, a lesson she learned during her first year on her own.
Of course, being a young, still somewhat impressionable woman, the best thing about Retribution for Riley was a boy, a boy that was teetering that line between boy and man. Michael swept her off her feet upon their first meeting, and their relationship began as a whirlwind before it settled into something rich and comfortable. She'd never been in love before, and Riley was so sure she'd never feel this way again about anyone. While Retribution could offer her purpose and excitement, he gave her something the group as a whole couldn't. Michael loved her, nurtured her body and mind. It had felt like so long since she'd last been loved without something tainting it. Memories of her family still left a bitter taste in her mouth. He never knew who she was or where she came from. Riley Gray was more than enough for him.
In the sanctuary of their bedsheets, they made plans. Michael wanted to marry her, give her his name.
"Riley Watson," he told her with a grin, "sounds so much better anyway. Riley Gray is a porn star."
She slapped his shoulder with a laugh, but he silenced her indignant protests with a kiss. Michael took her into his arms, kissing her soundly. When they broke apart for air, that same grin was on his face. "Well, you fuck like one anyway."
Michael was going to be her path to something better. They were going to make a life for themselves, maybe even leave Retribution soon. Together, they amassed their own nest egg to take care of themselves comfortably. He'd slipped a ring on her finger, a simple circle of dull steel, with the promise of something shinier and brighter in the future, something that she deserved. It didn't matter to Riley either way. She belonged to him, just as he belonged to her.
All good things came to an end. It was another thing she was learning. It happened before, and it would happen again. The more seasoned and jaded members of Retribution wanted more. They wanted to make a bigger difference. They were tired of being hardly a blip on the radar. Gotham didn't take them seriously, and they wanted to make a big splash. They allied themselves with the new big name in town, the Joker. The rogue set Riley ill at ease, and she voiced her opinion that they were getting in over her head several times. Her warnings went unheeded, and Retribution went into the Joker's service, Michael included.
They all believed that this would changes things, that Gotham would wake up and see the discrepancy between the wealthy and its poor. The city needed to be shaken. Slowly, Retribution members fell at the mercy of both the Joker and the Batman. They were pawns in this game between them, and Riley was filled with fear, true and utter fear, for the first time since taking on that name. It was that apprehension and two pink lines on a stick made her urge Michael to quit Retribution with her now. She'd begged and pleaded, telling him that this was only going to end badly, but Michael had always been an honorable man.
"Just this last job, Ry," he promised her, trying to soothe the worry etched on her face. His hand reached out to rub her flat belly adoringly, already loving the life that was growing there. "We're doing something bigger than us here, and after it's done, after we wake up this sleepy little town, I'll make an honest woman out of you."
When the dust settled, Michael was dead like the rest of the Retribution members. They were all dead as far as she knew. The war that raged between Batman and Joker engulfed all of them, and the only reason Riley made it out unscathed was due to her technical abilities. She ran interference, monitoring and assisting from their home base. Hacking into city cameras, she kept an eye on everything like some kind of helpless Big Sister, and she watched as Michael was caught in the hospital explosion. He'd been there visiting a Retribution member that had been injured during an earlier skirmish, and thanks to his compassion and heart, he'd lost his life. Things only went worse from there, burning hotter and hotter. It was the wake-up call Gotham needed, but Riley was apathetic. She was numb.
In the end, Harvey Dent was dead, killed at Batman's hand. The Joker was apprehended, but the damage was already done. There was nothing left to do for Riley to do except move forward. There was a life inside of her that needed nurturing, and she had no ties left to her now. With her ability, she cleared away the existence of Riley Gray. With a flurry of keystrokes and clicks of her mouse, she took on a new identity once more.
When the Dent Act passed, she was Riley Watson, the quiet and sweet coed at Gotham University. She'd gotten rid of most of her piercings and the color in her hair until she was as natural and normal looking as she could be. She didn't want any traces of Retribution in her. The tattoos she could do little about save for covering them up when possible.
She pressed forward with a silent and grim determination, mourning Michael openly only once. It was after her first doctor's visit to for her pregnancy, and she discovered with heartbroken clarity that she had a false positive. There was no life growing within her. She wasn't allowed to have a piece of Michael to keep her going. That day, she went home to her new apartment and wept. Everything that had been neatly placed and decorated were ripped apart and thrown with such ferocity during this tempest of emotions until she was finally worn out.
Riley drunk herself into a stupor that night. She wasn't pregnant, so there was no longer a fear that she was hurting her baby. She cried, lying flat out on her belly in her living room, with a bottle of vodka clutched in her hand. On a chain around her neck, she wore Michael's ring, and she resigned herself to the fact that it would be the only piece of him she would get to keep, that and his name.
This new stage of her life was something she entered with quiet pain and resignation. It wasn't chosen by her like her previous transition was, but it was something she had to do regardless. Eight years passed quietly. Gotham realigned itself. Creatures like the Joker and Batman faded until they were only a memory, and the Dent Act brought the city into a time of peace. College was something she did well, and she buried herself in her studies to keep her heartache at bay. The nest egg she and Michael built up help paid for her tuition, and she began real work at an internet café. It would have been so easy to just take the money as she had done before, but Riley wanted to differentiate herself from her life before.
She graduated with a degree in information technology, going on to work for the tech sector of Wayne Enterprises. The job Lucius Fox provided for her bored her out of her mind at times because she knew she was capable of so much more. Any time she craved excitement, she firmly reminded herself where that excitement led her, and she sated herself with the coding and work that was required of her.
In eight years, she grew comfortable and maybe a little happy. It wasn't true joy, so perhaps it was only a lazy contentment with her life. Riley made friends, even dated a little though it never amounted to much in the end. She was relatively normal as normal as a girl with her past could be. She was okay with this track in life because she never expected anything more.
Riley expected life to continue on in this quiet and lazy peace, maybe even expected to grow old and frail and lonely someday. There was no drive or fire in her. She'd set those things aside when Michael died. Living quietly was safe, and there was no safer city than Gothamn nowadays.
"I do away with such childish things," she murmured to herself at night, curled in her bed as she felt the tedium of her life stifle her.
And then, Gotham fell.
Author's Notes: This is my first foray into writing fanfiction in a long time as well as my first attempt at writing an original character into a fandom. I watched The Dark Knight Rises fairly recently, and both Bane and Blake resounded with me. I'm a comics fan through and through, a fan of both Marvel and DCU. I'm hoping to incorporate some things from the comics into the story just to be fun little Easter Eggs for those who are familiar. I'm very conscious of how I'm writing Riley, and I've fleshed out a deep backstory for her that I plan to divulge as the story goes on. I'm hoping to keep her as far away from the Mary Sue trope as possible, giving her layers and dimensions to make her more relatable and believable.
For Riley, I've casted Summer Glau into the role for two reasons. I love the look of her, first and foremost, but I also think she fits the character I've created very well. During Riley's time with Retribution, I kept her appearance in Alphas as Skyler Adams in mind. From here on, I simply imagine Summer Glau in all her naturalness. She has this seemingly innocent look as well as a cold hardened look about her at time that works well for Riley especially for what I have planned.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter, and I'm working on the second as we speak. Please review with your thoughts and criticisms!