A/N: Basically the first fight scene shared between Batman and Bane but told through Bruce's perspective. It's deep and dark and relatively short, but the following chapters will be an expansion of missing scenes I'd have loved to see. Plus I'm hellbent on getting Bruce and Selina some off-screen time too.

There I stood: posed for battle while all too aware of my pitiful weaknesses.

Afraid, truly, but not of death. It has been a great many days since I've felt fear — a finite end that's hunted me closely for years. Lurking within shadows created by my cape, hidden in the darkness of my cowl. I've seen it. It's become an old familiar stranger.

Here, now. A sick twist of fate patiently awaited my arrival; I am a man too far gone for hope during these times. There was never a whisper that The Dark Knight would have safe return, not even from those I counted highest in regard.

Alfred might hav-no, Alfred was right. About everything.

I realize how reckless this all has become: gambling Gotham's innocence with my life as the wager — yet a man exists to serve a purpose, does he not? This was mine. Self-sacrifice be dammed, I was hellbent on finishing what I started. What Gordon lost not only integrity but his dignity over as well.

But death is not what I sought this eve. Suicide is not an easy way out. Doing nothing would be simple, painless. But I...

Doubts waved upon me like a surge of high-waters: 'what would Gotham gain from irrationally mishandling this terrorist?' I questioned myself in a moment where hesitation would capitalize and deliver.

My answer came by his fists, falling onto me like wartime rockets — sounds and feelings and sensations quickly dulling.

I am here though, risking life and limb for Gotham City. Or ...was I acting David: throwing myself at Goliath as a way prove something? A thing long ago abandoned — a starve all my own, waiting for the right moment to feast.

I needed to know I could still be Batman. That Gotham needed Batman ...despite my fictitious, not to mention wildly false, act of violence that ended Dent's life and ruined Gordon.

No matter of import now; a madman was dealing me his finest.

This other: a masked bringer of death and one feared by thousands, appeared to be waiting on movement then. A pause of sorts. I was to strike back, of that the enemy made certain. Like riding a bicycle, a man's knuckles will remember the concussive force of physical battle. But was Bane taunting me by offering a chance?

This night had all the fixings of an eerie, unplanned homecoming party. Though it wasn't my first time back in the ring, his damage told of how ill prepared the Batman was. How foolish was I? Indeed.

Shivering inside, I kept on.

I knew the stakes; my arms had risen, readied to bring darkness and anger. This, an effort to disable my demonic opponent, would reveal itself fruitless.

The first attempt was unsuccessful.

I knew then that none of it, the fight, my efforts, would be worthwhile.

Like an icy chill rolling inside — a cold carved bone-deep, I felt ...hopelessness.

While I understood the level of intensity needed to fulfill destiny, even one so temporary as this, I couldn't wholly realize how blinded I'd been. I thought I had known better, but no, I was dead wrong. Perhaps dead all too soon as well.

I'd done this. I all but delivered myself to Bane and Bane to me; might as well have been gift-wrapped for the psychopath.

I didn't have the heart — or conscience — to laugh at my own depressing monologue.


A flash of her red lips came to me; like an explosion of color, I became less certain of my mind stability. Remembering fully well who had lead me down into these hollow depths, I thought of that name: Selina Kyle. The cat burglar that admittedly, I felt drawn to in an unusual way. Instantly, a sweeping anger had risen with these thoughts of her — no surprise there — but you see, I was not a man who sought to blame...besides, wasn't it I who asked to be brought to Bane? Couldn't justifiably call what she did betrayal, though shock was immediate at the sound of a cage door crashing onto concrete behind me. A cold-hearted move from a cold woman. She might not have lead me against my will but Selina had surely trapped me.

Once before — before now — I sensed there was more to her than self sustainability. Perhaps I misjudged.

"No," I reason with myself quietly. Even now I feel her presence above and behind those bands of piped metal. She's there because she's afraid of what might happen. Or maybe she's there to watch me die. I can't decide, not with Bane's force bearing down on me all the while.

I hear this madman's taunting words; voice altered by the mask he wears. He's telling me he was born in the dark...that light is but blinding to him. I don't recall blowing the lights yet apparently I had done so. I'm losing. Focus and life are waning.

Next moment, I feel concrete slamming into my back, or no, was it me who was meeting the ground? Up is down and down is up. I hear words coming from my mouth at times but it matters little at this point what I say.

I see Selina one last time. Her gloved-fingers weave carefully into the small squares of my prison gate.

It's the beginning of the end. I can't breathe through this pain; Bane's fists are relentless. As though made of solid iron, he strikes until he massacres.

I feel a pooling of blood and bile and mucus in my throat. Spitting off to my right, I notice quickly my left eye isn't ...why can't I see?. My cowl — Bane brok-...but that isn't possible.

I watch him, he holds a detonator now. He's speaking again but my head feels cloudy and I'm moments away from unresponsive bliss.

Bright lights cloud my vision but not from fading consciousness. Bomb blasts above us. Concrete falls— I see an unpainted tumbler. I think of Lucius, of Alfred, of Rachel and my parents. Of Selina. Even the Joker floods my thoughts.

I stand — somehow I'm standing. My legs are beneath me, arms outstretched for more. More heaven or hell, whichever comes closest first, will be the one I fight.

This killer speaks of my spirit and my body breaking. I take a shot of iron to my stomach. He lifts me above his head.

I'm falli-...blackness.