As I mentioned in the 11th chapter this morning, today marks one year since I started It Will Come to You at Night. This was my first venture into longform contained storytelling and it was certainly a challenge. I can't thank my betas enough for their help and a big thank you also goes out to the readers for their support and enthusiasm for the story. I'm beyond happy that it has resonated with so many people and I'm so proud of the finished story. Thanks for sharing the ride with me. So without further ado … the epilogue.
Five Days Later
Barbara was standing on the roof of Wayne Enterprises' tech lab and she knew he was there. He was always good about finding her during patrol. Not that she was exactly hiding — and she knew he'd want to talk to her. Might as well not avoid the inevitable.
Barbara turned from the city view towards the very familiar voice.
"Hello, Batman," she said, "I see you're back."
"And you're alive."
Well, so much for easing into the topic. She was about to answer him (to come up with an answer), but they were joined by the Boy Wonder.
"Hey Robin," Barbara said, "How was Monaco?" She knew that Tim had been excited to travel out of the country (and on a mission, no less), so anything to change the topic would be … good.
"It was really awesome," Robin said with a smile, "We got the intel for Belgarde and his company — waist deep in money laundering just like we thought. He tried to escape but we totally caught him before he got to his boat at the harbor." His face lit up. "Oh, and I got to go to the Monaco Cathedral before we left. Did you know that parts of the building are over—"
"Robin," Bruce interrupted, "Why don't you go update that software into the batmobile?" It was more an order than a suggestion.
"Oh," the 14 year-old said, looking between Bruce and Barbara, recognizing the tension as something he really didn't want to see play out. "Yeah, I'm going to … update that software. See you later, BG."
Bruce waited for Tim to grapple down to the street before he spoke.
"You've been busy, Batgirl."
She shrugged. "A little bit. Just doing my job."
"The Rameriez girl got out of the hospital today." Bruce didn't feel the need to explain how he knew, she noted.
"And they have the heads of the families in custody with more than enough evidence. As long as they don't make deals," Barbara added.
Bruce didn't respond right away.
"I heard about Talon Marcotti."
Her heart stopped. "What about him?"
He looked towards her. "That he committed suicide as you were coming in."
Barbara stopped herself from looking relieved. "Yeah. That was … horrible."
"And I heard who you were working with."
And there it is, she thought bitterly.
"Did Nightwing tell you?" She was absolutely ready to give Dick Grayson a piece of her mind about minding his own damn business.
Bruce stared her down. "He didn't need to. I saw the news report."
Well … shit.
She turned to lean on the railing, looking out over the edge and prepared for the standard unpleasant Batman lecture.
"Good job on this one."
Barbara practically felt the whiplash as she snapped up to face him.
"Really?" she asked. It wasn't that he didn't praise her, but she wasn't expecting him to praise her for … that.
"You worked with someone … questionable, but you saved the Rameriez girl," he elaborated, "You helped the GPD take two mob families down a few notches and managed to save a dozen other girls in the process. Good work."
"Oh," she said, "right." She turned back out to the city, ready to meet Robin below.
"But Red Hood," Bruce said, stopping her in her tracks, "He's dangerous and he hurts people. I can't have you working with him."
Taking a moment to center herself, Barbara turned back towards him. "Absolutely," she said, her voice level, "It was a one-time team-up anyway."
Bruce nodded. "Good. Why don't you take the rest of the night off?"
"Are you sure?" Barbara asked halfheartedly — she couldn't see herself being able to be around them for a full patrol tonight, but Bruce didn't need to know that.
"Robin and I can handle tonight."
"Thanks," she said, "I guess I could use a night off." She went back to the edge of the building, preparing her grappling hook to jump off.
"And Batgirl," he said, "… really good job."
Barbara couldn't get off that roof fast enough. She tried not to think of anything in particular as she moved through the city. All she really wanted to do was get back to her place as soon as possible. While she finally hit the fire escape, she climbed up into her apartment, pulled off her cowl and turned back to look out at her slim view of the Gotham skyline. It was beautiful at night — even knowing what she did about the city, it was beautiful.
"You saw him, then?"
Barbara didn't turn around. "Yes," she said, hearing his footsteps come from the other room towards her.
"And he believed you?"
"Because I didn't lie," she said firmly, "I told him I wasn't going to work with Red Hood again. It's the truth."
"That was all you said?"
"That was all he asked."
She felt his steps hesitate for a moment before he finally came up behind her, slowly wrapping his arms around her middle. She felt her body ease into his touch on cue. His lips met her neck just under her left ear and it triggered a sigh out of her mouth without her permission.
"Come to bed, Barbie," Jason whispered against her skin, the warmth in his words demolishing what little willpower she had left.
He eased them to her bedroom and even then, Barbara knew she should stop this. This secret on top of all her other secrets was playing with fire and there were sure to be consequences. Nothing was settled between them — he was still a killer and what had happened the other day still happened. This shaky concession couldn't last. But as they undressed each other and he lowered her onto the bed and they became lost in each other, Barbara knew she needed to give herself this compromise. Let herself have this one thing.
Damn the consequences.
No one's ever lost forever
They are caught inside your heart
If you garden them and water them
They make you what you are
— Amanda Palmer