|Bruce Wainright has (onerule) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-07-21 20:45:00
|Entry tags:||batman, door: dc comics|
Who: Bruce Wayne
When: Recently. Like, now-ish.
Warnings/Rating: SPOILERS FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Do not read if you haven't seen it yet.
Wayne Manor was silent. The door echoed loudly as it swung shut, the last sliver of Passages' hallway disappearing as locks slid into place on impact. Bruce opened his eyes slowly, the familiar sight of his rarely-used bedroom almost soothing, and after a few seconds, during which he was entirely still, he reached behind himself and pressed his fingers into his back, along the base of his spine. They trailed upward, following the curve of bone beneath muscle and skin, and his exhale was barely audible as he accepted the fact that it was as it should be. Unbroken. Not yet touched, it seemed, by a man who possessed a level of physical strength he had never before witnessed.
Mere minutes had passed since he'd left the theater. Unlike the previous two films, which Luke had watched while Bruce remained an observer within his mind, he had chosen to see the last and final chapter of the Dark Knight legend--his story--himself. In a manner of speaking, that is. Luke was reluctant at first, but eventually relinquished control so that, while it was his body seated before the screen amidst Batman fans young and old, Bruce was the one who inhabited it. He was the one who watched, which meant that he was far more affected by this, by what he saw, than he had anything else. Unlike the comic books, this Bruce Wayne was him. This was his source, his past, and had he remained in his Gotham, perhaps it would have been his future. What he saw reached him on a personal level that no one could hope to understand, and he had nearly left countless times, most notably a few minutes before the end, when he had believed that he--or the Bruce Wayne on screen--had truly died, that he had finally given everything to Gotham and, by doing so, becoming the hero it finally realized it needed.
Now he was here, safely in Gotham, and his body was not broken, nor had he lost all his money and been reduced to a former billionaire. Once he had assured himself of these two things, Bruce prowled Wayne Manor calling for Alfred, voice echoing loudly in the empty halls, though he knew, logically, that his absence was due to Iris' poor mental state rather than his deep-seated concern that his resignation in the film had somehow carried over. Then, after suiting up as Batman, he scoured Gotham, searching for any differences, wading through the sewers, hunting for even the slightest hint that Bane and his mercenaries had taken root. But there was nothing, and all was as he'd left it. Eight years had not passed, and in this Gotham, the lie he and Gordon had created never led to any such 'Harvey Dent Act'. In his Gotham, it had not yet reached the stage of being passed, though a few more months and it would have been. No, Gotham remained unchanged, and he had not expected to feel as disappointed by that conclusion as he found he did.
Bruce returned to Wayne Manor, though he did not enter the Batcave or even through the front door. He sought out his parents' graves, two headstones in a miniature cemetery on the grounds, and saw that there was no third, no stone that bore his name. Thomas and Martha Wayne, but no Bruce, and he knelt before them, a somber sight, though as the Bat he blended in effortlessly with the darkness.
Every time he closed his eyes, he saw flashes from the film-- his life, which had not yet occurred. The shadow of a man Bruce Wayne had become during eight years of peace. Bane breaking his back as though it was child's play. Being trapped in the prison, failing time after time to escape, and watching Gotham become reduced to chaos. Then, his rise, though in order to rise he had first been required to fall, Talia's betrayal, and Batman's ultimate sacrifice. His death-- though he had not truly died, Bruce believed it for a moment, and the feeling lingered. The aftermath, passing on the mantle to John Blake, Bruce Wayne's 'death' being largely disregarded while Batman was hailed a hero. And he, living a life across the ocean with Selina Kyle, finally free. Rise indeed. Yet none of that would ever come to pass. Not now.
'What upsets you more, Bruce?' The voice was not Luke's, nor was it his own. No, it was Ra's Al Ghul, a man long since dead, and Bruce squeezed his eyes tighter, as though willing the hallucination or whatever it might be away. 'That you made the decision to leave Gotham in the hands of another and departed, free to live a life of your choosing, or that any chance of such a thing occurring was lost the moment you arrived here?'
Bruce's eyes snapped open then, and he turned his head wildly, seeking out the ghost from his past, but he was alone in the darkness. The words struck deep, and he wondered if they had come from a place so deep within himself that he refused to acknowledge them as his own. For after seeing the film, the end to his tale, he realized a great many things.
His Gotham could be saved. His Gotham had a chance, had hope, despite the lie it had existed upon for eight years. Yes, he had fallen, but in the end he had risen, triumphant, and Gotham had learned to save itself. It had fought against Bane and what he stood for, proving its worth. In his Gotham, Bruce might have had the chance to move on, to finally no longer need Batman, but here, it was merely a wisp of a dream in the air. This Gotham was much, much worse, and while he thought of it as his city regardless, it was not. It never would be. The citizens of Gotham still failed to understand how to follow his example, how to take the fate of the city into their own hands, and without most of his core allies, Bruce fought alone. He had a son he couldn't understand until he'd lost him, a Catwoman who wanted things from him he could not give, a Batgirl he did not know and, thus, could not fully trust. All he truly had was Alfred, whose presence was often denied him due to circumstances beyond his control. And Rachel-- Rachel's presence here had been so brief, so fleeting, and now he knew that his belief in her had been misplaced. She had never intended to wait for him. The future he thought he could have was a lie, and it felt like one more blow added to many in such a short span of time.
And his enemies? They were countless, and the system was too broken to deal with them properly. The Joker, Riddler, Crane, Freeze, and now the Court of Owls-- how many more would come? Bane had broken the Bat, and he had done so alone; what would happen if he arrived, in the midst of so many other adversaries? How much could one man, Batman or not, endure?
Once, Bruce had believed the day would come when Gotham would no longer need Batman. But here, that day seemed to get further and further away with each passing moment, until he realized it would never come. He would live as Batman until the day it killed him, whether that day was tomorrow or next month or in ten years. And when he died, regardless of when, Gotham would truly be doomed.
Yet, he could not afford to think like that. In a city so lost, so desperate, he needed to have hope. He had to be the example no one else could be, and if he lost hope, then he would also lose the right to put on the mask and fight. Why do we fall, Bruce? He looked up, the name of his father carved into stone faded in the darkness, and he felt a pang of yearning stronger than it had been in years.
"So we can learn to pick ourselves up. But how many times can I fall, how many times can I rise, before the day comes when I can no longer pick myself up?" His question was met with silence, and Bruce sighed, the sound lost in the air. The answer did not matter. He had made this choice, to become Batman, and he had dedicated himself to saving Gotham regardless of how impossible the odds became. He'd started this, and so, he had to be the one who finished it, however and whenever that end came. Until then, Batman needed to be the symbol of hope he had intended him to be, regardless of the struggles waged by the man beneath the cowl, and he needed to stop all those who threatened what he stood for, despite the cost to himself. What he wanted simply could not factor in. Not now, not ever.
As he rose from his crouch, cape rustling against the ground, Bruce thought of something that had been said during the film. By Bane, no less, yet it stuck with him, even as he set out for the streets of Gotham once more.
There can be no true despair without hope.